Sarfraz Ahmed, Haider Ali and Fakhar Zaman have been included in a revised Pakistan squad for the T20 World Cup.

The 34-year-old Sarfraz replaces Azam Khan for the upcoming tournament two years after he was sacked as captain.

Haider takes Mohammad Hasnain's spot, while fellow batter Fakhar comes into the 15-man squad at the expense of Khushdil Shah.

The selectors opted to tinker with the initial squad they named after keeping a close eye on performances in the National T20 Cup.

Sohaib Maqsood has retained his place after there were doubts over his participation due to a back injury.

The batter underwent an MRI scan this week but has been cleared to travel for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Pakistan start their quest for T20 glory with a mouthwatering Group 2 clash against fierce rivals India at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on October 24.

 

Pakistan squad:

Babar Azam (captain) Shadab Khan, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shaheen Afridi, Sohaib Maqsood.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes is highly unlikely to feature in The Ashes squad in December after having a second operation on his broken left index finger.

Stokes sustained the injury while playing in the Indian Premier League in April but returned to action with Durham in June.

The 30-year-old also played through the pain barrier in July to captain a second-string ODI side to a series whitewash over visiting Pakistan after an initial coronavirus outbreak ruled out the majority of the regular squad.

However, before the India Test series later that month, Stokes announced he would take a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing and to allow his finger to fully recover.

On Thursday, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) provided another update on the all-rounder's injury progress.

"England all-rounder Ben Stokes has undergone a second operation on Monday 4th October to address ongoing issues with the finger that he injured in the IPL in April," the statement said.

"Stokes had two screws and scar tissue removed from the index finger of his left hand. 

"He will now undergo an intensive period of rehabilitation for the next four weeks under the supervision of the ECB's medical team."

 

Stokes is already set to miss the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, which starts on October 17, but the operation puts further doubt on his return in time for The Ashes.

His presence with the touring party in Australia – who will host England if agreements on coronavirus-related bubble issues can be agreed – was already doubtful but the operation makes the likelihood of an appearance even slimmer.

The all-rounder will be sorely missed by Chris Silverwood's tourists if so, with Stokes averaging 38.37 against Australia, whom he scored 135 not out against in one of cricket's most famous knocks at Headingley in 2019.

Australia captain Aaron Finch has confirmed he will open the batting with the out-of-form David Warner at the T20 World Cup.

Warner has made only two runs in as many innings for bottom side Sunrisers Hyderabad since the Indian Premier League resumed in the UAE, finding himself dropped for a second time in the tournament.

The 34-year-old lost the captaincy before the competition was halted in India due to the coronavirus pandemic and has not played a T20 for his country for over a year.

Finch expects to be ready for Australia's opening game of the T20 World Cup against South Africa in Dubai on October 23 as he recovers from knee surgery and the skipper has given his backing to Warner.

Asked if Warner will be his opening partner, he replied: "Yep, absolutely. He's one of the best players to ever play the game for Australia.

"I've got no doubt that his preparation, while he would love to be playing for Hyderabad no doubt, I know that he's still training away. He'll be good to go."

 

Finch went under the knife in August and has stepped up his rehabilitation with the World Cup fast approaching.

"Over the last couple of weeks my recovery has progressed really well so it's looking more and more likely that I'll be fit and ready to go for them," he said.

"And just in terms of the intensity that I've been able to train, the amount of accelerations, decelerations, putting load through my knee, that's all really positive. So, yeah, I've got no issues.

"I had probably my biggest session in terms of fielding, changing direction, and all that stuff with batting involved as well so that's gone as well as it could. I had a meeting with the surgeon yesterday and he was really happy with where it's at."

Lockdown restrictions have hampered Australia's preparations, but Finch is confident that should not be too much of an issue.

He said: "Training indoors or training just in the nets is no comparison obviously to game intensity so the two warm-up games and the lead-in to the World Cup is going to be really crucial.

"We get out of quarantine, I think there's three days of practice scheduled, and then two warm-up games, so they're going to be really important to get guys up to speed as quick as possible.

"But I've got a lot of confidence in the experience of the group. We've got guys who have come off long lay-offs before. We've got guys who have come off injuries before, and it's not really all that much different when you're trying to get yourself up to speed quickly.

"I think that will play into their hands and might allow us to be a little bit fresher, to be honest."

All-rounder Sam Curran will miss England's Twenty20 World Cup campaign with a back injury.

Curran's older brother Tom has been called up to replace the 23-year-old, who suffered the setback while playing in the Indian Premier League for Chennai Super Kings at the weekend.

Scans revealed a lower-back issue, meaning disappointment for one sibling but an opportunity for another.

Surrey's Reece Topley will also join up with the squad after being added as a travelling reserve for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

England's opening match is against West Indies, who beat them in the 2016 final, on October 23.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed the men's and women's teams will not travel to Pakistan for scheduled tours in October. 

England had been due to play two warm-up matches ahead of the men's T20 World Cup, with the women's team also set to play a double-header in the shortest format, followed by three one-day fixtures. 

However, following New Zealand's decision to withdraw from a white-ball series in Pakistan due to security concerns, the ECB has announced the upcoming tours will not now take place as planned. 

A statement released on Monday explained that "the mental and physical well-being of our players and support staff" remained the governing body's highest priority. 

The statement read: "The ECB has a longstanding commitment to tour Pakistan as part of the Men's Future Tours Programme in 2022. 

"Earlier this year, we agreed to play two additional T20 World Cup warm-up games in Pakistan in October, adding a short women's tour with double headers alongside the men's games. 

"The ECB board convened this weekend to discuss these extra England women's and men's games in Pakistan and we can confirm that the board has reluctantly decided to withdraw both teams from the October trip. 

"There is the added complexity for our men's T20 squad. We believe that touring under these conditions will not be ideal preparation for the ICC men's T20 World Cup, where performing well remains a top priority for 2021. 

"We understand that this decision will be a significant disappointment to the PCB, who have worked tirelessly to host the return of international cricket in their country. Their support of English and Welsh cricket over the last two summers has been a huge demonstration of friendship. 

"We are sincerely sorry for the impact this will have on cricket in Pakistan and emphasise an ongoing commitment to our main touring plans there for 2022." 

Pakistan did not host international cricket for six years following the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009. 

Friday's decision by New Zealand Cricket to pull out of the ODI and T20I series just hours before the start of the opening match was met with disappointment from the Pakistan Cricket Board. 

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja used social media to convey his sorrow at England "failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most" following the latest development in the situation.

"Disappointed with England, pulling out of their commitment and failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most," he posted on Twitter.  

"Survive we will inshallah. A wake-up call for Pakistan team to become the best team in the world for teams to line up to play them without making excuses."

Virat Kohli has announced that he will step down as captain of the India T20I team after the upcoming World Cup.

Batting star Kohli said he needed to cut down his workload to be at his most effective in future, as he heads towards his mid-thirties.

The highest scorer in international T20 cricket, Kohli said he would continue to play for the team but would hand over leadership responsibilities.

He will remain captain of the Test and ODI teams, and will hope to go out on a high note as skipper in the shortest format.

The Super 12 stage of the World Cup, which is where India begin their campaign, begins for Kohli's team with an October 24 clash against Pakistan in Dubai.

Kohli wrote in a note posted to social media on Thursday: "I have been fortunate enough to not only represent India but also lead the Indian cricket teams to my utmost capability.

"Understanding workload is a very important thing and considering my immense workload over the last 8-9 years playing all three formats and captaining regularly for the last 5-6 years, I feel I need to give myself space to be fully ready to lead the Indian team in Test and ODI cricket.

"I have given everything to the team during my time at T20 captain and I will continue to do so for the T20 team as a batsman moving forward.

"Of course, arriving at this decision took a lot of time. After a lot of contemplation and discussions with my close people, Ravi bhai [Ravi Shastri] and also Rohit [Sharma], who have been an essential part of the leadership group, I've decided to step down as the T20 captain after this T20 World Cup in Dubai in October.

"I have also spoken to the secretary Mr Jay Shah and the president of BCCI Mr Sourav Ganguly along with all the selectors about the same. I will continue to serve Indian cricket and the Indian team to the best of my ability."

Kohli has been captain of India in all formats since 2017, having taken over the limited-overs responsibilities from MS Dhoni.

 Cricket West Indies chief of selectors Roger Harper is hopeful the region will see the best of fast bowler Oshane Thomas following his selection to the T20 World Cup squad.

The 24-year-old pace bowler was once considered one of the hottest prospects in regional cricket after bursting on the scene with fiery spells for Caribbean Premier League (CPL) team Jamaica Tallawahs during the 2016 season.

However, despite going on to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the last two seasons and 17 T20 international matches for the West Indies, Thomas is yet to quite hit the heights his talent promised early on.

In-between indifferent spells of forms and fitness issues, the player has taken 19 wickets for the team.  Thomas has, however, looked lively in the CPL this season taking 4 wickets in six games.  The player’s rejuvenated look has been enough to attract the attention of the selectors and Harper hopes the decision pays rich dividends come next month.

“Oshane brings that sort of x-factor to the team, we know when Oshane is at his best he is a real force,” Harper told members of the media on Thursday.

“We haven’t seen him at his best for a while, but we saw him coming to that point in this tournament (CPL).  A lot of work has been done in the various T20 series, behind the scenes with Oshane,” he added.

“When he played, we didn’t see exactly what we were looking for, but now we see a bit of the Oshane that we know in this tournament (CPL) and will feel that if he keeps improving he will be the sort of bowler that could make a difference for us in the right condition.  Hsis extra pace, his extra bounce, and when he is on song he gets the ball to swing at that pace as well.  So, we think he could make a big difference in the team.”

 

 

In-form batsman Sherfane Rutherford and spinner Sunil Narine were among a few players not eligible for selection to the World Cup squad after failing fitness standards, chief of selectors Roger Harper has confirmed.

In the ongoing Caribbean Premier League (CPL), Rutherford has been one of the most outstanding players so far, scoring 201 runs in 7 matches, with an average of 40.20 and a strike rate of 136.73.  Speculation had linked the player with a late consideration for a space in the West Indies World Cup squad but, as it has for other players in the recent past, it turns out his fitness level was an issue. 

“As well as he has been performing he is one of a few players who did not meet our fitness criteria, so he was not eligible for selection,” Harper told members of the media, in explaining the player’s omission.

Narine, once the top-ranked spinner in the world, has recently shown versatility at the top of the order as a pinch-hitter and could have been a weapon for the team at the tournament. 

“Sunil Narine is a great miss for a team like this in a tournament like this.  Any team would miss having a bowler of that quality in the team but as I mentioned with Rutherford and some of the others Sunil also did not make our fitness standards,” Harper said.

Based on standards implemented by Cricket West Indies (CWI), in 2019, players must achieve a mark of 40 in the Yo-Yo Endurance Test unless given a medical exemption by the CWI medical committee.  Another player that has shown plenty of promise during the CPL campaign, but did also did not meet the fitness standards, was fast bowler Odean Smith.

West Indies chief of selector Roger Harper admits it was a difficult choice to relegate talented all-rounder Jason Holder to a reserve position, following the unveiling of the 15-member T20 World Cup squad on Thursday.

Many were left astonished after Holder, who has had a few standout stints in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and international T20 cricket in recent months, was only named among four reserve players.

“Leaving a player of the standard and quality of Jason out of our final 15 was a difficult decision and it provoked a lot of debate,” Harper told members of the media via an online press conference.

“When we look at the type of composition we wanted, considering the all-rounders that we had and the balance, he was unfortunate not to make it,” he added.

“It was a 15-man squad, everyone couldn’t make it, different things were taken into consideration and Jason just missed out, but with a player of his stature and quality it was a difficult decision and one we didn’t take lightly.”

In 10 matches and three series against Pakistan, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, Holder totalled 90 runs, had an average of 30, and claimed 9 wickets.  He, however, struggled in the team’s most recent series against Pakistan totalling just 2 runs and 4wickets in four matches.

 

Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir and Chris Morris have all missed out on selection for South Africa's preliminary T20 World Cup squad but Keshav Maharaj is included despite having yet to make his international debut in the shortest format.

Du Plessis had retired from all other forms of cricket, with an eye on the World Cup, while all-rounder Morris also misses out on a squad where Temba Bavuma has been named captain.

World number-one ranked T20I bowler Tabraiz Shamsi, who has taken 24 wickets at an average of 12.2 in 2021, will operate as the main leg-spinner with veteran Tahir, who last appeared for his country in 2019, left out.

While the Proteas opted to leave out the experienced trio, they will have the likes of Quinton de Kock, David Miller and Aiden Markram to call upon, with Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje the standout pace options.

And Victor Mpitsang, South Africa's convenor of selectors, feels the 15-man squad could challenge in October after crashing out in the group stages of the last T20 World Cup in 2016.

"There is no better time than now for us to bring home the trophy and bring the nation together in a way that only sport can," said Mpitsang. 

"We hope that South Africans will rally behind this team and cheer them all the way to the final."

Maharaj is perhaps the surprise inclusion having never played a T20I and only featuring 14 times in 50-over cricket, taking 19 wickets.

The left-arm off-spinner will captain in the absence of the injured Bavuma as the Proteas face Sri Lanka in a three-match T20I series starting on Friday, a decision supported by Mpitsang.

"Kesh [Maharaj] is an excellent leader," said Mpitsang. "He has the backing of the team and us as a panel. 

"He has more than proven his leadership skills in the Dolphins set up and reinforced our good decision during the ODI series against Sri Lanka which ended on Tuesday.

"His exemplary captaincy is what we believe is in the best interests of the team’s stability during this last international series that the team gets to play ahead of the World Cup."

South Africa start their World Cup campaign against Australia on October 23 before facing West Indies three days later.
 

South Africa squad: Temba Bavuma (c), Keshav Maharaj, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen

Reserves: George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lizaad Williams.

England have recalled Tymal Mills after a four-year absence from international cricket for their T20 World Cup squad, while Ben Stokes remains on an indefinite break from cricket.

Stokes had announced his break before the Test series against India to prioritise his mental wellbeing and did not make himself available for selection for England's preliminary 15-man T20 squad.

In the absence of the injured Jofra Archer, Mills features for the first time since February 2017 after impressing in white-ball cricket this term, winning the inaugural Hundred competition with Trent Rockets and guiding Sussex to the T20 Blast Finals Day.

On announcing England's squad, head coach Chris Silverwood said: "We are excited about the prospect of challenging to win the ICC T20 World Cup. 

"I believe we have selected a squad that covers all bases and has the depth to be successful in what is expected to be a very competitive tournament featuring the best players in the world.

"Tymal Mills deserves his inclusion and has demonstrated over the past couple of years, but particularly this summer that he has all skills to succeed at this level. 

"His exceptional pace is a standout, and the way he has spearheaded Sussex and Southern Brave's respective attacks in the short-form game has shown that he relishes the pressures of the big stage.

"He will add variety to our bowling unit, and we can't wait to see him play in a major international tournament."

David Willey also makes the list after the disappointment of missing out on the triumphant 50-over World Cup squad in 2019, with Tom Curran demoted to the reserves.

There is no room for leg-spinner Matt Parkinson but Lancashire team-mate Liam Livingstone is included and could have a big role to play as a third spinner alongside Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

Eoin Morgan's men, who fell short in the final against West Indies at the 2016 T20 World Cup, have until October 10 to finalise their squad.

England finish off their preparations with a two-match T20I series against Pakistan, on 14 and 15 October, before their first group-stage fixture against West Indies on October 23.

 

England squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Tymal Mills, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Reserves: Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, James Vince.

England will make a late call on whether to include Ben Stokes in their T20 World Cup squad but he will not be put under pressure to play.

All-rounder Stokes took an "indefinite break from all cricket" in July for his mental wellbeing and to also allow an injured index finger to fully heal.

Stokes last played for England in a three-match one-day series against Pakistan in July.

His team-mates, including Test captain Joe Root and limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan, spoke out to support Stokes' decision to take a break. 

The 30-year-old has been a key performer for England in all formats of the game and inspired them to the 50-over World Cup in 2019.

England head coach Chris Silverwood, who has not yet talked to Stokes, will name his squad for the T20 World Cup on Thursday.

 

"We are going to leave that one late, to give it our best chance," Silverwood said.

"I want to give him as much space as possible but there are people talking to him outside of me and it is something we will be revisiting shortly.

"I haven't spoken to him as yet. But I will not be putting pressure on him, will not be rushing him and whatever support he needs he will get.

"First and foremost my only concern is for him and make sure he's okay. That's the starting point I will be at and the rest of the questions will come.

"I need to make sure he is okay and that is my primary concern."

England's first game of the T20 World Cup, staged in United Arab Emirates and Oman, is against West Indies on October 23.

Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis have resigned from their roles a little over a month before the T20 World Cup begins.

The pair were appointed in September 2019 and were under contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for another year.

However, Misbah and Waqar informed the PCB of their decision to leave on Monday ahead of the upcoming three ODIs and five T20Is against New Zealand, with the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman also on the horizon.

Saqlain Mushtaq and Abdul Razzaq have joined the Pakistan management team as interim coaches for that New Zealand series, which begins on September 17.

Misbah's decision to step down was for family reasons amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the 47-year-old having recently spent time self-isolating in Jamaica after testing positive for COVID-19.

"The quarantine in Jamaica post the West Indies series provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the past 24 months as well as the schedule for international cricket ahead," Misbah said in a statement. 

"Considering that I would have had to continue to spend considerable time away from my family and that too in a bio-secure environment, I have decided to step down from the role.

"I understand that the timing may not be ideal but I don't think I am in the right frame of mind for the upcoming challenges and it makes sense for someone fresh to step in and take the side forward.

"The past 24 months have been thoroughly enjoyable and I want to thank my team and the management for their support. 

"I wish the Pakistan cricket team best of luck in the upcoming events and will continue to support them every time they will take the field to represent Pakistan."

Waqar's decision to step down was linked to Misbah's departure. 

"After Misbah shared with me his decision and future plans, it was a straightforward one for me to resign as we had walked into the roles together, had worked collectively as a pair and now also step down together," Waqar said.

"Working with the Pakistan bowlers, including the youngsters, has been most satisfying as they have now started to show progress. 

"Bio-secure environments in the past 16 months have had their impact, something we had never experienced during our playing days.

"The next eight months will be busy and exciting for the Pakistan team and, like in the past, I will continue to back and cheer them. 

"I want to thank each and every member of the Pakistan cricket team set-up as we stayed united in good and bad days, and hope there will be brighter days ahead."

The shock double exit came two hours after Pakistan had named their squad for the T20 World Cup, as well as the warm-up internationals against New Zealand and England.

Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah were among the surprise inclusions in the 15-man selection.

 

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Asif Ali, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Azam Khan, Shadab Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Nawaz, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Rizwan, Khushdil Shah, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Wasim.

Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins are the big names who will return to the Australia set up for the T20 World Cup.

The four stars did not feature in Australia's recent tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh. Aaron Finch's team suffered a 4-1 defeat in the latter series, while they also lost the T20 series to the Windies.

However, Australia's white-ball captain will be able to call on big hitters Smith, Warner and Maxwell, as well as paceman Cummins, for the World Cup, which takes place in the United Arab Emirates and Oman in October and November.

They are joined by Josh Inglis, who has been rewarded for his outstanding form with a first international call-up.

The wicketkeeper-batsman has had a brilliant domestic season in both Australia and England, having been the leading run scorer in county cricket's T20 competition, and takes his place in the 15-man squad.

"Josh has been on our radar for some time with his performances in white ball cricket and more recently in the Vitality Blast where he topped the run charts," selection chair George Bailey said.

"He offers the squad flexibility in the batting order with his adaptability, counterattacking ability and power striking. He is a player we are excited about for the future."

Alex Carey is the biggest name to miss out at Inglis' expense, with Matthew Wade the first-choice wicketkeeper.

Nathan Ellis, Dan Christian and Daniel Sams have been named as travelling reserves.

Australia's T20 World Cup squad: 

Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Dan Christian, Nathan Ellis, Daniel Sams.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive Nick Hockley has given his full backing to the under-fire Justin Langer.

Australia head coach Langer has come in for criticism for his intense style of management, with reports the former opening batsman was recently involved in a heated exchange with a member of CA's digital team.

It has also been claimed that some Australia players have become increasingly disgruntled with Langer's approach.

However, Hockley endorsed the job Langer is doing ahead of the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, with a home Ashes series also on the horizon.

"Justin has done an incredible job in raising the culture, values and behaviours of the Australian men's team since he took on the role in 2018," Hockley said.

"His efforts have restored public faith in the national team. He is contracted as head coach through to the middle of next year, with the focus now on a successful T20 World Cup campaign followed by the home Ashes defence.

"The team has had an extremely disruptive and challenging 18 months during the pandemic.

"Despite those challenges the side has had great success in one-day, Test and T20 cricket, when all players were available.

"Justin, his coaching staff and the leaders within the team have an equally important part to play in ensuring a successful summer ahead."

Langer took over the team in the wake of the 2018 ball-tampering scandal, which resulted in Steve Smith being stripped of the captaincy and, along with David Warner being banned from competing for 12 months.

Australia won the 2019 Ashes in England under Langer's tutelage, with Smith returning to play a starring role in the series.

White-ball captain Aaron Finch has expressed his frustration that stories have been leaked from the camp over Langer's methods.

The opening batsman told SEN Radio: "There's always tension when results don't go your way in all sports.

"Wins and losses are what count. I think anytime that doesn't happen, that all gets amplified. It's just one of those things.

"It's disappointing that things are coming to the front the way that they are, that's never ideal. It's just one of those things that keeps popping up, which is disappointing.

"The camp we had on the Gold Coast, to go through our culture and values and things like that, especially from a playing group, was really important, and one that I think players got a lot out of.

"But when things are being leaked out from inside, that's not a great look."

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