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Sarfraz wants Pakistan to post 300-plus in every Asia Cup game

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LAHORE: Pakistan cricket captain Sarfraz Ahmad on Monday expressed his satisfaction at the team’s preparations for the upcoming Asia Cup and said his desire is to see his team setting winning targets of 300-plus in every match of the event.
Talking to journalists here on Monday before the Pakistan team’s departure for the UAE, which is scheduled in the wee hours on Tuesday, Sarfraz said:” Our preparations went well in the hectic camp set up in Lahore amid hot weather. We did five days practice and then played one practice match and assessed the shortcomings.”
“In the UAE, due to hot weather and humidity, it is hard to bat in the night under floodlights and so every team will be keen to bat first,” he said. “I want my batsmen to score 300-plus while batting first as our bowling attack is really good and quite capable of defending it.”
“First priority is to get early momentum in the Asia Cup as we got it in the ICC Champions Trophy in the matches against Sri Lanka and South Africa and successfully carried it till the final,” he recalled.
“Indeed, the match against India is important and if both the teams play the final then it will be a great spectacle.”
Sarfraz admitted that besides India all other teams were also strong and no one should take any team lightly. “I looked at the list of the players of all the teams and feel that every team is competitive. Hong Kong has qualified after winning the final of the qualifying round while Afghanistan is also carrying a good number of talented players. So we have to take every contest seriously if we want to win the cup,” observed Sarfraz.
To a questions regarding his own poor performance with the bat, Sarfraz said he is doing his best to improve in every game improving get over the lean patch. “In Zimbabwe, I tried hard and showed improvement in batting. Inshallah, I will try to perforwell with the bat in the coming days,” he said.
It may be mentioned here that chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq had also expressed his concern about Sarfraz’s poor run with the willow.
Moreover, replying to a question about not grooming a second wicketkeeper as his replacement in case of any injury, Sarfraz said it was not necessary to groom a wicketkeeper with the national team. “Muhammad Rizwan and M Hasan are being groomed with the national A team as wicketkeepers,” he disclosed. “The A teams have a hectic schedule of activities in coming two and half months in the UAE against different teams. And in case of injury to me, the team can call any of them as both the teams will be in the UAE for most of the remaining year,” he said.
“Besides, since the time I have been elevated to captaincy, Pakistan have never played a full series of four rr five Tests But whenever we will be playing a long series, we will surely take along a second wicketkeeper,” he added.Sarfraz admitted that since the World Cup is drawing nearer, Pakistan team will have to find a winning combination and show better results in the Asia Cup.
He said seasoned all-rounder Muhammad Hafeez is still part of the World Cup’s pool of players and whenever the team would need him he would get his place in the team.
Sarfraz denied that he had gained weight and claimed that his last fitness test proved to be quite good.
About India’s decision to give rest to their captain Virat Kohli, Sarfraz said it was their own decision. However, when asked if he would consider taking rest at some point of his career, he replied: “It is just the start of my career, so there should be no question about taking rest at this stage.”
To a question he said pitches in the UAE were expected to be slow and the spinners could play a vital role there.
He praised the work of the foreign coaches and trainers and said the team is showing definite improvement in all departments of the game including fitness and fielding.
He said though Pakistan lacked fast bowlers who could bowl at nearly 150km, Pakistan had a very good mix of genuine pacers and medium pacers to challenge any team.


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ICC World Cup 2019: Team India to don new jersey for away matches

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The hype surrounding the ongoing World Cup in England and Wales is on an escalation with the tournament only a week away. The mega event is scheduled to get underway on May 30 and Team India is deemed as one of the favourites to get their hands on the coveted trophy. All the teams wear special kits for the World Cup and the Indian team also had unveiled their jersey for the tournament, however, there’s an addition to it.

As per the ICC’s World Cup schedule, the teams have home and away matches. The Men in Blue will not actually be completely Blue when they play those away games. The Indian team will play with a new and differently coloured clothing for all the away matches in the tournament. Their first match is against South Africa on June 5 at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.

Their away matches are versus Afghanistan on June 22 at The Rose Bowl in Southampton and versus hosts England on June 30 at the Edgbaston in Birmingham. As many as four teams- England, India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan- have blue as their preferred colour. However, since England are the hosts, the other teams will have to change their colours when they lock horns with the Eoin Morgan-led Brits.

 

Different outfits for Team India

India’s jersey is yet to be released and will see the players wear a darker blue in the front, whereas orange will dominate the sleeves as well as the back.

On the other hand, teams like Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Africa have a common colour – green jerseys. As a result, these teams will also need to look for alternatives for a few matches in the tournament. Australia, Windies and New Zealand should not have to change the colours since they already having distinct jerseys.

The opening match of the World Cup will be played between hosts England and South Africa at the Kennington Oval in London. Apart from India, England are also on the expected winner’s list for the 50-overs tournament as they are ICC’s number-one ranked ODI team at the moment.

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ICC World Cup 2019: Sachin Tendulkar picks his semi-finalists ahead of WC

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Legendary India cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has given his opinion into which four teams he feels will enter the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup 2019 which is scheduled to be played between May 30 and July 14 in England and Wales.

“India, England, Australia should be in the semis. The fourth could be one of New Zealand or Pakistan,” Tendulkar was quoted as saying by ESPN Cricinfo. ((Complete coverage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019))

Earlier, speaking to Hindustan Times, Tendulkar had said India have a well-balanced squad and they are capable of pulling off something special in UK.

 

“We have a balanced team which can go out and do something special. The whole team has to chip in, there will be some performers (in different situations, who must say) ‘this is my game; I am batting well or bowling well’. Support is needed from the other end also,” the Master Blaster said.

Tendulkar also heaped praise on wicket-keeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni and said he has a big role to play for Team India.

“Not only in batting, also behind the stumps. He has got the best view; the batters are always looking for the gaps and what areas to target. Standing behind the batsmen, he can see that. He has plenty of suggestions to make and that would come in handy,” Tendulkar said.

“His contribution will be in the form of an experienced keeper observing the game and making suggestions. Also, his experience while batting—how to play those critical moments, how to rotate the strike, when to strike, and when to just build a partnership—will count.”

The first match of the World Cup will be played between England and South Africa on May 30 while India open their campaign against South Africa on June 5.

Before that, the ‘Blue Brigade’ will take on New Zealand and Bangaldesh in two practice matches on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.

India’s 15-member squad: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami.

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Shakib tops ICC ODI all-rounders list

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Dubai: Senior Bangladesh cricketer Shakib Al Hasan Wednesday jumped to the top of the latest MRF Tyres ICC ODI rankings for all-rounders, which doesn’t feature a single Indian in the top-10 chart.

Shakib, 32, grabbed the top spot just ahead of the ODI World Cup after showcasing fine form during the tri-nation series in Ireland, which Bangladesh famously won to claim their first title in a multi-nation tournament.

In the three matches of the series, Shakib totalled 140 runs, including two unbeaten half-centuries and also picked up two wickets.

 

Shakib now has 359 points, 20 clear of Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, the previous holder of the top ranking, who has now slipped to No. 2.

Rashid’s Afghanistan team-mate Mohammad Nabi completes the top three, with 319 points.

Pakistan are the only other team to have two players in the top 10, with Imad Wasim at No. 4 and Mohammad Hafeez claiming the seventh spot.

They are separated by New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner (No.5) and England’s Chris Woakes, who leapfrogged four places to No. 6.

West Indies captain Jason Holder is their top-ranked all-rounder at number eight spot followed by Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza and Angelo Mathews of Sri Lanka.England’s Ben Stokes missed out on the top 10 by one spot, finishing eight points behind Mathews.

Kedar Jadhav, who is part of India’s World Cup team and is recovering from a shoulder injury, is the best-placed Indian at joint 12th spot alongside South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo and Moeen Ali of England.

Hardik Pandya completes the top 20 list.

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