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Pakistan pace ace Shaheen Shah Afridi was ruled out while leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed and fast bowler Mohammad Ali received their maiden Test call-ups as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Monday announced the 18-player squad for the upcoming Test series against England.
Wicket-keeper batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed also returned to the side following his recent performance in the domestic circuit.
Abrar and Ali have been rewarded for their “strong first-class performances,” said PCB Chief Selector Muhammad Wasim, according to a handout released by the cricket board.
Uncapped Mohammad Wasim Jr and Zahid Mehmood, who were part of the Test side against Australia earlier this year, were also included in the squad.
“I want to congratulate all the players who have been selected for the historic Test series against England. We have selected this 18-man squad keeping in mind the form of the players, the conditions and the opposition,” Wasim told reporters.
The chief selector said the Pakistan-England series had provided opportunities to Abrar, Ali, Wasim Jr and Zahid Mehmood. “Abrar has been on the radar since his debut first-class season in 2020-21,” he said.
There are also four notable exclusions from the squad — Shaheen, Hasan Ali, Fawad Alam and Yasir Shah — who were part of the Sri Lanka Test series earlier this year.
Shaheen underwent surgery on Sunday and was unavailable for selection. According to today’s PCB handout, Shaheen will require three-four weeks’ rest following which he will resume his two-week rehabilitation on his right knee.
England are set to tour Pakistan for a Test series in December. The tour opens with the first Test in Rawalpindi between December 1-5, before Multan hosts the second between December 9-13. The third and final Test will be in Karachi on December 17-21.
The three fixtures will count towards the ICC World Test Championship. Pakistan are currently fifth in the table and England seventh.
Squad
Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Wasim Jr, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood and Zahid Mehmood.


DOHA: In the 51st minute of a tense, cagey game against Mexico, Argentina received a free-kick in prime Lionel Messi territory.
Needing a win to keep their hopes alive, Argentina were looking to their talisman to provide them with a moment of magic at the Lusail Stadium packed with 88,966 spectators.
This wasn’t it. Messi blazed over, and the moment hordes of Argentina fans were waiting for came 12 minutes later.
Messi was found on the edge of the box by Angel Maria and the 35-year-old took a touch before unleashing a left-foot shot that went into the back of the net.
This was priceless; a lifeline to hang onto especially after Argentina had been stunned in their Group ‘C’ opener by Saudi Arabia at this very venue.
Mexico had shown good value for a win in the first half but Argentina had all the momentum now and sealed a 2-0 win when Enzo Fernandez curled in an inch-perfect finish three minutes from time.
It means Argentina head into their last group game against Poland, where a win would definitely see them progress to the last 16, but a draw may also be enough.­


DOHA: Only six minutes in here at the Khalifa International Stadium in the heart of Doha, Qatar’s hopes had sunk, their flickering flame at the World Cup they’re hosting all but extinguished as Dutchman Cody Gakpo’s shot rippled the netting of the Ecuador goal.
Just before this game kicked off on Friday evening, Qatar had been handed a second straight defeat. Senegal’s victory some 14 kilometres away at the Al Thumama Stadium meant the hosts were going out if the Netherlands were to beat Ecuador or if the game were to end in a draw. They needed an Ecuador win to stay alive, at least mathematically, till the last round of group games.
And now, Louis Van Gaal’s side had taken the lead. What a finish that was for the opening goal, though. Davy Klassen received the ball at the edge of the box and as he saw Gakpo run in his periphery, he teed it up for the exciting PSV Eindhoven prospect to pick up the ball and send a rifle of a left-foot shot past a despairing Hernan Galindez.
Qatar’s chances now rested on Ecuador.
The South Americans came back strongly after conceding and crafted a few chances, the best coming when Enner Valencia, the man whose two goals in the opening game of the tournament saw Ecuador overwhelm Qatar, cut inside from the left to unleash a shot that Andries Noppert dived to palm away.
Ecuador weren’t holding back. Though they had got their reward in additional time at the end of the first half and left-back Pervis Estupinan was wheeling away in celebration until the equaliser was chalked off for off-side because one of his team-mates was standing in Noppert’s line of sight when he tucked away the corner.
There was parity four minutes in the second half though. The Dutch needlessly lost possession and the ball was worked on the left to Estupinan. His shot was parried by Noppert and Valencia was on hand to gleefully bundle it in.
The momentum was now with Ecuador and buoyed up by the swathes of their fans behind the Dutch goal, they came at Van Gaal’s team from all angles. Just before the hour mark, Gonzalo Plata’s shot hit the upright.
In the stands, a sea of Ecuadorian yellow had blended into the Dutch orange under the bright lights but on the pitch, Ecuador were tearing into the Dutch.
But the goal they wanted, the one Qatar wanted, never came. The match finished 1-1.
Ecuador now face Senegal in what’s effectively a shootout for a last-16 berth from Group ‘A’, while the Dutch will take on Qatar knowing that a draw will take them through.
For them, unlike Qatar, the flame is still burning under Van Gaal, who’s looking to deliver a maiden World Cup title for the Dutch.
The 71-year-old, suffering from an aggressive prostate cancer, came out of retirement to revive a side that had failed to reach the last edition of the World Cup in Russia, four years after they had been semi-finalists in Brazil under him. Van Gaal has brought together a group of exciting youngsters, blended them in with the likes of Virgil Van Dijk and Daley Blind to mould this side which survived a stern examination of their credentials to keep their unbeaten run under him intact.
Qatar, meanwhile, only have pride to play for.


LAHORE: Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan on Tuesday assured the British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja that the forthcoming long march would not disturb the Test series between Pakistan and England starting in Rawalpindi on Dec 1.
The PTI has announced to begin a long march against the present government from Rawalpindi on Nov 26.
England after a long gap of 17 years toured Pakistan prior to this year’s T20 World Cup to play a seven-match T20 series which the tourists won 4-3. The English Test team is scheduled to tour Pakistan for the second leg comprising three Tests to be played in Rawal­pindi, (Dec 1-5), Multan (Dec 9-13) and Karachi (Dec 17-21).
Turner and Ramiz in their joint meeting with Imran at his Zaman Park residence informed the former prime minister about the importance of England team’s tour to Pakistan and expressed their concerns over the security of the tourists that maybe compromised in case of political unrest in the country.
Imran, Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup-winning captain, during the meeting was told that the said series was crucial for cricket of both the countries and therefore it needed to be free from any possible security-related issue.
In response, Imran was very positive and assured Turner and Ramiz that his party workers would not interrupt the Rawalpindi Test, and emphasised that his political campaign would not be a security threat for the English team.
It is unconfirmed if Ramiz had gone to Zaman Park after getting clearance from Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is also PCB’s patron-in-chief, as Imran is a staunch political opponent of PM Shahbaz.
It may be mentioned here that Rawalpindi city is part of the Punjab government, where PTI is in power. Therefore, arranging and maintaining security in the city is the direct responsibility of the provincial government.
Still both Ramiz and Christian preferred to meet the PTI chairman to get assurance about the security necessary for the smooth conduct of the Test series.


The winning goal that got Saudis the lead was worthy of winning any game.
Saudi Arabia’s team left the Argentinian side stunned in a thrilling 2-1 win after eight crazy, frenzied second-half minutes of their opening match of the World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday.
The winning goal that gave them the lead was worthy of winning any game while Argentina looked devastated. This was something the team, led by mesmeric Lionel Messi, had in all probability never thought of.
Here is a look at the nail-biting match.


The Indian cricket board responded to the national team’s defeat in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia last week by sacking their senior selection committee on Friday.
India were dumped out of the tournament in Australia after a 10-wicket hammering by eventual champions England and Rohit Sharma’s side was labelled “clueless” and “out of their depth” by former players, fans and the country’s media.
Former head coach Ravi Shastri also said the team needed to appoint a new captain for the shortest format of the game. But it was the Chetan Sharma-led senior selection committee that was first to go.
“The Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) in India invites applications for the position of national selectors (senior men),” the BCCI said in a statement, adding that it was looking to fill five positions.


THE final was in the balance with four overs to play, with Pakistan marginally ahead of England on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern par score. The threat of rain, though, did not materialise. Had the skies opened up, Pakistan would be the Twenty20 World Cup champions.
Instead, that over changed everything for Babar Azam’s men in a low-scoring title clash at a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground — the scene of Pakistan’s sole 50-over World Cup triumph three decades ago. Two wickets in two balls from Wasim Akram had turned the game in Pakistan’s favour then.
This time, Pakistan saw their pace spearhead succumb to injury. Shaheen Shah Afridi twisted his knee while taking a catch to dismiss Harry Brook and leave England at 84-4 in the 13th over while chasing 138.
Having been assessed by the team doctors, Shaheen returned to the field but came unstuck after the first delivery of the 16th over. Part-timer Iftikhar Ahmed, tasked to complete the over, was belted away for a four and a six by Ben Stokes, and England won with an over to spare to join the West Indies as the only other side to have won the T20 World Cup twice. They also became the undisputed kings of limited-overs cricket, adding this to the ODI World Cup they won in 2019.
Comment: England triumph as final turns on Shaheen’s injury
Pakistan were left contemplating what could have been. They had seemed destined for the title, and could have done well had their batting fared better. Put into bat, openers Babar and Mohammad Rizwan weren’t able to provide the foundation that had led Pakistan to their victory over New Zealand in the semi-final. Their struggle throughout the tournament resurfaced in the final.
The middle order, which had been key for Pakistan during their run in Australia, failed to fire. However, Pakistan can take heart from the way their bowlers kept them in the hunt, especially against a side that had torn apart India in the semi-final.
They can draw inspiration from the way they bounced back after suffering last-ball defeats to India and Zimbabwe in their opening two matches. In reaching the final, they showed that Pakistan remain a force to be reckoned with in world cricket. In fact, this should spur them on to greater success. This should be a springboard to improve in other formats of the game — in particular, the 50-over format with the ODI World Cup set to be held in almost a year’s time.

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