Pakistan rest key players, Malik to lead in Australia ODI series

By Sports Desk March 08, 2019

Captain Sarfraz Ahmed is one of six players rested by Pakistan for their one-day series against Australia, with Shoaib Malik leading a 16-man squad that includes Umar Akmal and Junaid Khan.

With a tour to England and also the Cricket World Cup looming on the horizon, Pakistan's selectors have opted to leave out some of their leading names for the upcoming 50-over fixtures in the United Arab Emirates.

As well as wicketkeeper Sarfraz, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan and Shaheen Afridi will not be involved.

Mohammad Hafeez also misses out as he is recovering from thumb surgery, while Hussain Talat is dropped following the 3-2 ODI series defeat to South Africa last month.

Uncapped quartet Abid Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain and Saad Ali have been called up after impressing at domestic level, while batsman Akmal and seamer Junaid are recalled.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah is also included as Pakistan look to manage their players carefully ahead of a busy schedule.

"Had there been no pre-World Cup matches in England, then we would not have made these many changes," Inzamam-ul-Haq, who is chairman of selectors, said in a statement.

"While Haris Sohail, Junaid Khan, Umar Akmal and Yasir Shah are returning to ODI cricket, Abid Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain and Saad Ali have been rewarded for stellar performances in domestic cricket.

"The series against the world champions will not be an easy one and these players, in fact, will be tested to their limits.

"This will provide these players a great opportunity to display their skills and temperament, strengthening their claims for a World Cup call-up as there are a few places up for grabs."

The first one-dayer takes place on March 22 with the series concluding before the end of the month.


Pakistan squad: Shoaib Malik (captain), Abid Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Sohail, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Saad Ali, Shan Masood, Umar Akmal, Usman Shinwari, Yasir Shah.

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    Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed delivered mixed news on the injury front and acknowledged his side need to improve their fielding after they were beaten by three wickets at Trent Bridge to lose their ODI series against England.

    Having lost with respective totals of 361 and 358 at Southampton and Bristol respectively, Pakistan failed to defend a score of 340-7 on Friday, despite a significant wobble from their hosts in reply.

    Ben Stokes' unbeaten 71 proved crucial for England after Jason Roy, who was dropped twice, scored 114 amid some lacklustre work in the field.

    In the post-match presentation, Sarfraz lamented Pakistan's mistakes and provided updates on the fitness of Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Amir.

    "If we were fielding well and took catches, we had enough runs on the board," said the wicketkeeper-batsman.

    "We've been working very hard for the last one and a half years and it was very improved, but the way we've fielded here in three matches is not up to the mark. We have to improve."

    Imam was forced to retire hurt after being struck on the elbow by a delivery from Mark Wood, but the opener was cleared of a fracture following X-rays and returned late in Pakistan's innings.

    Paceman Amir, meanwhile, has yet to feature in the series due to illness and it is unclear when he will be able to return, with Pakistan's Cricket World Cup opener just a fortnight away.

    "Imam hopefully will be ok," said Sarfraz. "He's got a bruise on his elbow so hopefully he will come back, but I'm not sure about Amir."

    Roy revealed his impressive innings had come as something of a surprise after he spent the night in hospital with his daughter.

    He told the BBC's Test Match Special: "I'm not in the form of my life. It was not my most fluent of innings but it was an extremely special feeling to get over three figures. I didn't see it coming.

    "I had a bit of a rough morning so this one is a special one for me and my family.

    "It was my little one. We had to take her to hospital at 1:30 in the morning. I stayed there until 8:30 and came back for a couple of hours sleep and got to the ground just before the warm-up and cracked on. It was a very emotional hundred."

  • Stokes guides England to series win after Babar and Roy hundreds Stokes guides England to series win after Babar and Roy hundreds

    Ben Stokes and Tom Curran rode to England's rescue as they overcame a major wobble with the bat to beat Pakistan by three wickets at Trent Bridge and open up an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match ODI series.

    The much-changed hosts - led by Jos Buttler with Eoin Morgan suspended - were initially cruising in pursuit of 341, reaching 201-1 inside 28 overs on the back of Jason Roy's 89-ball 114.

    Roy's dismissal at the hands of Mohammad Hasnain triggered an alarming and unexpected collapse that saw England lose four wickets for 15 runs in 17 deliveries.

    The required run-rate rose above nine per over thereafter but Stokes (71 not out) shared a crucial seventh-wicket partnership of 61 with Curran, who followed up figures of 4-75 with 31 runs, before sealing victory in the company of Adil Rashid with three balls unused as Pakistan were left to rue a series of sloppy errors in the field.

    For the third match in succession, a Pakistan century proved in vain, Babar Azam striking 115 from 112 balls in a losing cause.

    Pakistan's total of 340-7 represented their lowest score of the series so far and looked short of par at a venue synonymous with high-scoring feats in recent years, most notably when England registered a world-record tally of 481-6 against Australia last June.

    The tourists were dealt a blow early in their innings when Imam-ul-Haq was struck on his left elbow by a Mark Wood short ball and forced to retire hurt. Happily, X-rays showed the opener had avoided a fracture and he returned at the end of his side's innings to finish six not out.

    Babar, brought to the crease in the fourth over due to Imam's injury, produced some typically thrilling strokes as he shared in century stands with Fakhar Zaman (57) and the recalled Mohammad Hafeez, who made a somewhat streaky 59.

    However, none of that trio were able to accelerate effectively and Shoaib Malik's 26-ball 41 appeared too little, too late as England kept their opponents in check.

    Roy rode his luck in reply and would have been run out for seven had Babar managed a direct hit. The opener also offered chances on 25 and 33 and made Pakistan pay for their missed opportunities, kicking on superbly after James Vince had been bowled by Hasnain for 43.

    A stunning six over cover off Hafeez brought up Roy's hundred, before he, Joe Root (36), Buttler (0) and Moeen Ali (0) all departed in quick succession to breathe fresh life into the contest.

    Junaid Khan then pulled off a superb catch off his own bowling to account for Joe Denly (17), but Pakistan's fielding was hugely unimpressive on the whole and they seemingly failed to appeal when Curran may have been run out for seven.

    With Pakistan looking increasingly ragged, England gradually regained control and Stokes fittingly hit the winning run to round off an encouraging individual display ahead of the Cricket World Cup on home soil.

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