Pakistan rest Afridi, Yousuf and Kamran Hussain

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pakistan have tried out a few newcomers already in the ongoing series against Zimbabwe, and a 4-0 advantage has further emboldened the selectors to test more players for the fifth and final ODI in Sheikhupura.

Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi and Kamran Hussain, the left-arm medium-pacer who made his debut during this series, have been omitted, while Naumanullah, Rizwan Ahmed, Junaid Zia and Abdur Rauf have been drafted into a 15-member squad.

Naumanullah was the top run-getter in the 2007-08 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, with 949 runs at over 60. He made 86 while playing for the Patron's XI in a tour game against the Zimbabweans. Rizwan Ahmed, the legspinning allrounder, has been called up while Zia and Rauf bolster the pace attack.

Of the four, Zia has previously played for Pakistan, in four ODIs against Bangladesh in 2003. He was impressive in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, with 46 wickets for Lahore Ravi, costing 26.76 apiece.

The absence of Yousuf, who scored a hundred in Faisalabad, Afridi, and Hussain mean Pakistan will make at least three changes to their playing XI for Sheikhupura. The first four ODIs had seen five players making their debut for Pakistan, and perhaps a few more are on the cards for Saturday's match.

Squad: Shoaib Malik (capt), Nasir Jamshed, Khalid Latif, Khurram Manzoor, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Naumanullah, Fawad Alam, Rizwan Ahmed, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Sohail Tanvir, Junaid Zia, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz, Abdur Rauf


Qayyum hits out at PCB stance on ICL

'The board can't stop a player from earning his livelihood'

Malik Mohammad Qayyum, Pakistan's attorney general, has attacked the Pakistan Cricket Board for its firm stance against players who have signed up for the Indian Cricket League (ICL), saying it restrains them from earning their livelihood. Qayyum said the board could be in big trouble if the players decide to take them to court.

Qayyum, a former Lahore high court judge, led an inquiry into allegations of match-fixing among Pakistan players in the 1990s.

"The ban is a clear-cut case of restraining someone from earning from his trade,"

Qayyum told Geo TV, a Pakistan-based television channel.

"If these players decide to seek redress from the court then they have a strong case against the board as the ban is not justified.

"The board can't stop a player from earning his livelihood. The ban on playing domestic cricket can be challenged by the players."

The PCB had reaffirmed its earlier stance that the six ICL players - Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imran Farhat, Taufeeq Umar, Shabbir Ahmed, Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mahmood - would not be eligible to represent Pakistan internationally or play in the domestic tournaments. The players hit out at the board's decision, arguing that it was an attempt to destroy their livelihood, and said they would discuss the issue with Inzamam before taking legal action.


Fit-again Naved set to star for Yorkshire

LEEDS: Yorkshire have confirmed Rana Naved as their man overseas player for the 2008 English county season after the Pakistan pace bowler passed a fitness test on a
shoulder injury.

The 29-year-old is now set to arrive at Headingley in April having sustained the injury during Sussex's successful pursuit of the County Championship title last year.

"I am relieved that this period of uncertainty is now over and I can become a Yorkshire player in 2008,"
Naved said in a statement.

"I am pleased with my progress and feel in good shape. I am confident I can take wickets for Yorkshire and look forward to joining the club at the start of the season."

Yorkshire are so determined to ensured Naved doesn't feel under pressure to make a comeback before he is absolutely ready they are planning to bring an as yet unnamed overseas player for ther first few weeks of the county campaign.

"We are delighted with Rana's progress; he has made a remarkable recovery and we are particularly impressed with his desire to play for Yorkshire,"
said the county's chief executive, Stewart Regan.

"We want to ensure he has the best possible chance to fully recover from his injury and therefore we have agreed with Rana and his agent to delay his debut for several weeks so that when he returns he is in top condition."

He added:
"We have an exciting contingency plan for a second overseas player to play for the club during the first part of the season. This will be announced early next week."

Naved is an experienced bowler in English conditions after three successful years with Sussex.


Pakistan v Zimbabwe, 4th ODI, Faisalabad

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pakistan 245 for 3 (Yousuf 108*, Malik 88) beat
244 (Taibu 51, Malik 3-55) by seven wickets

A hundred from Mohammad Yousuf and a fine all-round performance by Shoaib Malik led Pakistan to a comprehensive seven-wicket win over Zimbabwe at Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad. Yousuf and Malik put on 141 for the third wicket to steer Pakistan's chase, with Yousuf's 14th century the first in what has been a horribly one-sided Mobilink Cup. Malik's 88 added to the three wickets he took earlier to restrict Zimbabwe to 244.

The pair came together after Pakistan's newbie openers had gone by the 15th over. Malik had already settled by then, returning to the one-down role he had once made his own, with Younis Khan resting. He averages over 40 from 34 innings at No.3 and it was immediately easy to see why so many argue for him to move up the order. He was off the mark immediately, clipping off his toes for four and in the next over he drove and cut Gary Brent for a couple more.

Soon after, he twice cut Elton Chigumbura and then did likewise to Brent five overs later. Having grabbed the initiative then and with no real pressure, Malik's calculating approach came out, as he dabbed and nudged runs for fun. A swift fifty was brought up, and though he lofted Ray Price over the boundary and welcomed Hamilton Masakadza with a brace of boundaries soon after, he was more than happy to play second fiddle.

Yousuf, meanwhile, began regally, picking up singles when he felt like it and only occasionally breaking sweat to find the boundary. It seemed for a while as if he wasn't even there, at least until a late dab to third man in the 27th over brought up the fifty partnership.

He made his presence known after it, twice depositing Masakadza over wide mid-on to bring up his own fifty. His pace picked up to such an extent that only 34 balls later, he was bringing up an effortless hundred, the highlight of which was a magnificent loft over long-on off Price. The only blemish on a flawless innings was a mix-up with Malik, which prevented the captain from reaching a hundred of his own.

It didn't prevent Malik from taking the Man-of-the-Match award. He had already excelled earlier, prompting a slump as Zimbabwe - not for the first time in this series - let slip a position of considerable strength after opting to bat. Sean Williams and Tatenda Taibu had rescued the innings early, with an intelligent 85-run partnership, but just when much was promised, Malik dismissed both, and Brendon Taylor, during eight mid-innings overs.

The pair have been Zimbabwe's best batsmen this series and it was soon apparent why. Taibu repeatedly came out of his crease to neutralize the early swing which so bewildered the openers, most effectively when he drove Kamran Hussain past mid-off for the day's first boundary. He cut twice soon after, but the real spurt came from Williams in the 14th over.

Hussain tired after an impressive opening spell and Williams took toll, twice flicking him through midwicket for three and driving over point to bring up Zimbabwe's 50. He then targeted Shahid Afridi, driving him elegantly through extra cover to mark the fifty stand, before cutting and lofting him for six an over later.

Taibu provided typically impish support and at that stage, until Malik brought himself on little was of concern. But in his second over, Williams inexplicably chipped back two short of what would have been his third fifty of the series. Taylor went in Malik's next over and the drive quickly petered out of the innings. Taibu fell immediately after getting to his ninth half-century and runs soon slowed to a trickle.

Singles were grudgingly given up, boundaries even more so. Chigumbura and Chamu Chibhabha battled well without any great urgency and it was only at the death, through Keith Dabengwa, that Zimbabwe rallied. He took 19 off the last over, part of a 33-ball 45, to drag Zimbabwe to a competitive score. Competitive, but no more.

Man of The Match: Shoaib Malik


Yousuf's lawyer moves application against ICL

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mohammad Yousuf's lawyer, Tafuzzal Rizvi, has moved an application against the Indian Cricket League (ICL), saying his client had returned the money paid to him before backing out of a contract and signing with the officially-sanctioned Indian Premier League (IPL).

In the application, Rizvi, who represented Yousuf at an arbitration hearing in Mumbai on January 24, insisted that there was "no contract" with the ICL as the money was "received back by the ICL without any objection".

Based on the application, the arbitrator has issued notices to the ICL, asking their legal team to appear before him on February 20 to provide their response.

Meanwhile, a PCB media release, while elaborating on the details of this case, says Yousuf's name will be included in the IPL bidding process on February 8, which is open to its eight city-based franchises.


Three new names in 14-man squad for the 4th ODI against Zimbabwe

As expected, Pakistan have made a number of changes to their squad for the fourth ODI against Zimbabwe, to be played in Faisalabad on January 30.

Pakistan wrapped up the five-match series in Multan with a comfortable 37-run win and the plan had always been to try out as many new faces as possible. With that in mind, four players have been dropped and three players come in to a 14-man squad.

Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal are the most high-profile absences; Akmal making way for Sarfraz Ahmed was always on the card once the series had been secured, but Butt's poor returns haven't helped his case. Rao Iftikhar Anjum, who has had a poor series, and Yasir Arafat, who only played in Multan, are the other casualties.

In their place come opener Khurram Manzoor, the second-leading first-class run-scorer this season, Sarfraz and Wahab Riaz, the left-arm pace bowler who has taken over 50 wickets for National Bank of Pakistan this season.

It is expected that one of Khalid Latif or Manzoor will open with Pakistan's find of the series Nasir Jamshed, while Sohail Khan might also get a chance to add some bite to what has been a toothless pace attack so far.

Pakistan squad: Shoaib Malik, Nasir Jamshed, Khalid Latif, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Fawad Alam, Sarfraz Ahmad, Sohail Tanveer, Kamran Hussain, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz


Pakistan v Zimbabwe, 3rd ODI, Multan

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pakistan 272 for 9 ( Afridi 85, Mupariwa 4-46) beat

Zimbabwe 235 for 7 (Williams 71, Taylor 55) by 37 runs

Pakistan wrapped up the Mobilink Cup with a comfortable 37-run victory over Zimbabwe in what was, ultimately a dour, lifeless encounter in Multan. The only spark was provided, inevitably, by Shahid Afridi, who lit up the affair with a 52-ball 85, in the process rescuing Pakistan from a perilous 78 for 5. Zimbabwe battled away in their chase of 273, in particular Sean Williams and Brendan Taylor, but as has been the case at various points on this tour, they let healthy advantages slip.

In Hyderabad, they frittered away a promising position going in to the final ten overs and then dropped catches to make matters worse. Here, they had Pakistan reeling halfway through their innings, but somehow managed to concede nearly 200 runs in the second half, to essentially, the lower-order.

Until then, they had been disciplined, which was the doing mostly of Tawanda Mupariwa and fine opening spells from Elton Chigumbura and Gary Brent. The tone was set from the very first over of the innings, Chigumbura probing outside Salman Butt's off stump. It was a maiden and many more followed as Brent, at Mark Ealham's pace, found some lovely away-going curve against a left-handed opening pair.

Brent finally found reward for an outstanding spell when Butt cut to point in the 15th over. Thereafter, as Chigumbura finished his quota, Mupariwa took charge with a career- best spell. His first ball, a delicious, tempting in-dipper trapped Younis Khan in front. In his very next over, Nasir Jamshed pulled straight to short midwicket.

Zimbabwe were ecstatic when Shoaib Malik was run out, and they went beyond as Mupariwa reeled in the big one, Mohammad Yousuf. In truth, they didn't so much lose grip as have it snatched away from them by Afridi. He came in to this series the subject of debate: selectors wanted him to play, the team management were not keen. And yet, he has been indispensable thus far, taking wickets in Karachi, taking Pakistan over the line in Hyderabad and saving some blushes here.

With six sixes in the match, Shahid Afridi equalled Sanath Jayasuriya's
record for most number of sixes in ODIs

Afridi's methods were no surprise; he equalled Sanath Jayasuriya as the leading ODI six-hitter, blasting six of them here and he was busy through the innings, running hard, but forever with an eye on the big heave. Ray Price was lofted for the first six and by the time Chamu Chibhabha was struck for two more a little later, a 34-ball 50 had been brought up.

Misbah-ul-Haq provided typically Misbhah-esque support, running hard, improvising and finding the occasional boundary, but this was Afridi's show. Keith Dabengwa was lofted and bludgeoned as a century stand came up, but just when a first hundred in nearly three years loomed, he miscued Mupariwa to point. A few overs later Misbah fell in typically Misbah-esque fashion, reverse-sweeping, but Pakistan pushed on to a daunting total.

Zimbabwe still had a chance, as Pakistan's bowling hadn't made an impression through the series and the wicket was flat. Sohail Tanvir, the one bowler who has made a mark, stymied early, fanciful notions sending back both openers. When Tatenda Taibu was run out in the 15th with just 50 on the board, it seemed over.

But Williams and Taylor then revived the innings with a partnership which put Zimbabwe in control of another portion of the game. They went about it intelligently, picking up the few boundaries they could, but hustling every run on offer. Williams hit three boundaries in his 50 and Taylor only two, yet the two put on 105 at just under five an over.

But just when it seemed Zimbabwe would launch a final surge, they again let slip the initiative. Taylor was stumped in the 36th over, with 118 still needed, and as so often happens, the partner went soon after. With Williams went the match. Pakistan will be concerned at an inability to bowl out Zimbabwe a third game running, but the visitors will rue yet another game where they were in it at various stages, only to lose it at critical moments.

Man of The Match: Shahid Afridi


Run-fest expected in Multan

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Mobilink Cup journeys across Sindh to the province of Punjab, with Pakistan aiming for a series-sealing victory against Zimbabwe. A hard surface at the Multan Cricket Stadium, complemented by a lush green outfield, promises a run-spree.

Zimbabwe have already been dealt a blow with Prosper Utseya, their captain, ruled out of the match after an injury to his left ankle resurfaced while batting in Hyderabad. Utseya was forced to sit out the tour match against Patron's XI in Karachi with the same problem.

Shoaib Malik, Pakistan's captain, shied away from naming his final XI but confirmed that the board's policy of trying out new players will be adhered to tomorrow as well. However, with Pakistan keen to wrap up the series, they are unlikely to tinker too much with the winning combination of the last two matches, the only expected change being the highly-rated Sohail Khan coming in place of the dropped Samiullah Khan.

"Our plan for the series was to try one or two players in every match,"

Malik said in Multan.

"We have an ideal opportunity to build up our back-up before the Australia series and we plan on sticking to it. However, it's an important match because we can wrap up the series. We will try and avoid wholesale changes."

Pakistan's batsmen - bar the failures of Salman Butt - have benefited greatly from some poor bowling by Zimbabwe. Nasir Jamshed, the 18-year-old opener, has been a revelation with two attacking half-centuries in his first two ODIs. With the middle order and Shahid Afridi among the runs, self-destruction is Pakistan's only batting worry.

Pakistan's bowling, however, has been a cause for some concern. They have failed to bowl out Zimbabwe so far; their fast-bowling trio of Sohail Tanvir, Samiullah and Rao Iftikhar Anjum has not threatened consistently enough. Tanvir stood out in Hyderabad, utilising helpful conditions to good effect, but the rest have been below-par. Malik's ploy of playing only three specialist bowlers - using himself, Afridi, Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq as the fourth and fifth bowlers - has not been a complete success.

In Utseya's absence, Zimbabwe will be led by Hamilton Masakadza, who shared an enterprising 137-run third-wicket partnership with Tatenda Taibu in Hyderabad, revealing not only Pakistan's limited bowling, but also a pleasing maturity in Zimbabwe's top order.

Though Zimbabwe are down 2-0, they remain confident that they are not out of it yet.

"We have played good cricket throughout the tour and have been unlucky to be on the losing side in all matches,"

Utseya said on the eve of the third ODI.

"We are taking each game separately and by working on a few areas that we lacked on previously, we hope to make it 2-1 tomorrow."

It would help if they took their catches; in Hyderabad they dropped five, compounding the problems of a wayward and inexperienced bowling attack. Robin Brown, Zimbabwe's coach, was more than aware of these failings and insisted they were being rectified.

"Obviously nobody drops catches on purpose and a few of them were not straightforward. However, the drops came at crucial junctures and we have worked on those problems."

Utseya's ongoing troubles with his ankle have meant that Masakadza has often been in charge on this tour, though Brown ruled out that it had hurt the team unduly.
"Even though we have been forced to play with different captains, we plan things before the team takes the field,"
he said.
"We sit down and discuss our strategies and apart from the bowling changes [that's the captain's decision], what you see on the field is a result of combined thinking."

A quick scan of the pitch convinced Zimbabwe's team management of its trueness and likeliness to aid strokeplay. If they win their third toss on the trot, batting first is a given.

"It looks like a decent batting pitch out there,"

Brown said.

"Winning the toss, we plan on making first use of it and posting a total in excess of 280."

Pakistan opted to bat the last time they played here, but a target of 230 against South Africa was overhauled with over 12 overs to spare. Dew played a part back then and is expected to play a part again on Sunday. Bat first and bat big may well be the order of the day.

Teams (probable)
Pakistan Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik (capt), Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal (wk), Sohail Tanvir, Iftikhar Anjum, Sohail Khan.

Zimbabwe Vusi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza (capt), Brendan Taylor, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Chamu Chibhabha, Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura, Gary Brent, Timycen Maruma, Ray Price, Christopher Mpofu.


Misbah-ul-Haq elevated to vice-captaincy

Misbah-ul-Haq has been appointed Pakistan's vice-captain, capping a remarkable six-month rise from near-obscurity to one of the country's senior players. As a result, Misbah has also moved into the top category of Pakistan's new central contracts, announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) today.

This time last year Misbah wasn't even on the fringes of the national squad, but a surprise call-up for the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa began a dramatic turnaround in fortunes. Heroic performances in the tournament and a fantastic Test series in India subsequently cemented his middle-order spot.

"The board's governing committee decided to appoint Misbah as vice-captain after a very detailed discussion,"

Nasim Ashraf, chairman PCB, said at a press conference.

"He is both a junior and senior player. He has a great relationship with the captain and is very much part of the team's think-tank."

Misbah's appointment will last till December 2008, an attempt to stabilize a post that saw three different candidates in six months last year. It might also be seen as a snub to Younis Khan, who was vice-captain - and stand-in leader - during Pakistan's tour to India. Younis subsequently announced his willingness to lead Pakistan, having turned it down earlier last year and been a reluctant leader in India.

The news is not so good for a couple of other senior players, most notably Shoaib Akhtar, with whom the board has apparently run out of patience. He has been demoted from the top category to a retainership, especially created for players who have suffered from fitness, form and disciplinary problems, but who have represented Pakistan over the last couple of years.

There had been speculation in the days leading up to the announcement that Shoaib would miss out, a result of the manager's report of the India tour, in which both his attitude and fitness were criticised. As such, his demotion to a retainership means he is now in the same boat as players such as Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Mohammad Sami, Faisal Iqbal and Yasir Hameed

But Ashraf denied that Shoaib - or any other senior player - had been targeted.

"We have a format by which we judge every player, in which things like fitness and discipline are very important. We didn't discuss individuals but a system. Obviously our aim is that every player moves to category A, which means that they are all performing well."

Shahid Afridi and Danish Kaneria also find themselves pushed down after indifferent performances over the last six months, which formed the basis of the new year-long contracts. Abdur Rehman and Sohail Tanvir have been rewarded with their first contracts, as the PCB cut down the number of contracted players from 20 to 15.

The board insists they have applied a formula which takes into account a number of weighted factors, including performance over the last six months, fitness, discipline and seniority. The retention of Mohammad Asif in the top category on this basis will undoubtedly raise questions: injuries have meant he has played only one ODI and two Tests since the last contracts were announced in July 2007.

As well as the three basic categories, another has been created to recognise the achievements of players who have impressed in domestic cricket or are emerging prospects on the fringes of national selection. Category A players will receive a Rs 250,000 (US$4016) monthly retainer, category B players Rs 175,000 (US$2811), category C players Rs 100,000 (US$1606) and category D players Rs 75,000 (US$1204). Retainerships are also of Rs 75,000 a month.

Category A: Shoaib Malik (capt), Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Mohammad Asif, Misbah-ul-Haq

Category B: Kamran Akmal, Salman Butt, Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir

Category C: Abdur Rehman, Yasir Arafat, Rao Iftikhar Anjum, Danish Kaneria, Fawad Alam

Category D (emerging players): Sarfraz Ahmed, Nasir Jamshed, Afaq Raheem, Khurram Manzoor, Naumanullah, Sohail Khan, Zulfiqar Jan, Wahab Riaz, Shoaib Khan, Samiullah Khan


Pakistan reaffirms ban on ICL players

Players who took part in the unofficial Indian Cricket League (ICL) will not be allowed to represent Pakistan internationally or play domestically, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced.

Though the players - including Taufeeq Umar, Imran Farhat and Shabbir Ahmed - were banned when they signed up with the ICL last year, the board's governing committee was reconsidering their cases. But it has now reaffirmed its earlier stance, though Nasim Ashraf, PCB chairman, kept the door open for a possible return.

"These players will not represent Pakistan internationally or in domestic cricket,"

Ashraf said.

"We have to protect Pakistan cricket. There are reports that recruiting agents from ICL are looking for more players, possibly a team from Pakistan, and that will harm cricket here."

Ashraf reasoned that opportunities - and financial rewards - were growing for players in Pakistan and so there was little need for anyone to join the ICL.

"We have given all players in 13 regional teams a monthly contract, to take away financial worries. We are giving young players retainers, others on the fringes are also making money."

"We are doing everything we can to make sure that all players benefit more and more financially within the country. Players can earn good money here so they have to decide: do they want the ICL or Pakistan?"

The players had initially filed a petition in the Lahore High Court against the decision to ban them, though the case was swiftly dismissed. There remains a possibility that legal action will be considered once again though Ashraf hinted a way out of the situation.

"If the players do not play in the ICL any more and make that clear, then certainly they can appeal against the decision and we will consider it again."

The board, meanwhile, postponed a decision on whether or not players will be allowed to take up contracts in county cricket. Concern had been expressed recently about the effect county cricket was having on several Pakistan bowlers, some of whom picked up injuries during their stint and missed international duty as a result.

"We discussed the pros and cons of county cricket,"

said Ashraf.

"They pick up good experience, but can also burn out, or pick up injuries like Mohammad Asif did. But we will take a final decision after our next meeting in March.

"The committee wants to first see a detailed presentation on the effects of the county season on a player, including financial issues such as how much a player loses out on if he doesn't play and whether there should be compensation."


Pakistan will not withdraw as Asia Cup hosts - Ashraf

Friday, January 25, 2008

Nasim Ashraf, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, has said that Pakistan would not back down as hosts of the Asia Cup, scheduled in June. Ashraf has reacted to an offer by his Sri Lankan counterpart Arjuna Ranatunga to host the tournament due to the security situation in Pakistan following former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination.

"There is no way we would withdraw as Asia Cup hosts, then I don't know why they [Sri Lanka] had to make such an offer,"

Ashraf told the News in Karachi.

Ranatunga confirmed that Sri Lanka was willing to act as a back-up should both sides agree on a neutral venue but left that decision to Pakistan.

"We have written and asked Pakistan if we can host the Asia Cup,"

Ranatunga told AFP in Colombo on Thursday.

"It's a sensitive issue, but we will understand if Pakistan refuse us."

The PCB had earlier ruled out hosting Australia in a neutral venue for the home series in March and April. General elections were due to be held in the country on January 8, but have now been postponed to February 18. A security delegation from Australia is expected to arrive after the elections and Ashraf has expressed confidence that both series would go on as planned.


Sri Lanka offers to host Asia Cup if Pakistan opt out

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has approached Pakistan with an offer to host the upcoming Asia Cup cricket tournament as violence continues to wrack the country, the island's cricket chief said Thursday.

The six-nation limited-overs tournament is scheduled to be played in Pakistan in June, but instability following last month's murder of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has put sporting fixtures under threat.

"We have written and asked Pakistan if we can host the Asia Cup,"
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chief Arjuna Ranatunga told AFP on the sidelines of a news conference to promote tourism.

"It's a sensitive issue, but we will understand if Pakistan refuse us,"
said Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to victory in the 1996 World Cup.

Defending champions Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Oman are due to take part in the tournament, the continent's premier one-day event.

He also said Sri Lanka was willing to host the upcoming Test series between Australia and Pakistan if no agreement was reached on the venues.

Pakistan this week ruled out moving the March-April series to a neutral venue, despite security concerns voiced by some Australian players following a wave of suicide bombings and riots since Bhutto's death.

"If both sides agree to a neutral venue, I hope they will play here,"
said Ranatunga.
"It will be nice to have them over. It will be a good boost for the game and for tourism."

When Australia refused to tour Pakistan in 2002, the series was played in Colombo and in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.


Pakistan v Zimbabwe, 2nd ODI, Hyderabad

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pakistan 239 for 5 in 46.2 overs (Jamshed 74, Afridi 43*, Yousuf 38*) beat

Zimbabwe 238 (Masakadza 87, Taibu 81, Tanvir 4-34) by five wickets

Nasir Jamshed scored his second successive half-century and Shahid Afridi notched an unbeaten 43 to guide Pakistan past Zimbabwe in the second ODI of the Mobilink Cup in Hyderabad. Pakistan lead the series 2-0 with three to play.

Jamshed, after the early loss of Salman Butt, shared a 95-run second-wicket partnership with Younis Khan to start Pakistan's chase confidently. Jamshed began in a hurry, lofting Gary Brent over extra cover for his first boundary of the day in only the second over. He was dropped by Brent off his own bowling early on, but there was no respite for the fielding side as he first cut fiercely past point and then drove Brent past mid-off. Elton Chigumbura then bore the brunt of Jamshed's bat - flicked over midwicket, edged over point and then turned past square-leg for consecutive boundaries.

The 18-year-old continued, smashing Chamu Chibhabha through extra cover before glancing Chigumbura to fine-leg for his 11th boundary, and bringing up his half century off only 42 deliveries. Jamshed got another reprive when on 72 - dropped by Brent again at long-off - but he was finally dismissed soon after thanks to some stunning work by Ray Price. With a quick pick-up in his follow-through, stopping a fiercely driven straight drive, he threw down the stumps and beat Jamshed's dive. Worse was to follow for Zimbabwe when Younis was run out for 35 two balls later going for a tight single.

Zimbabwe were in with a sniff as Shoaib Malik, too, followed four overs later - stumped off Price. Misbah-ul-Haq added 39 runs with Mohammad Yousuf to halt the slide but his dismissal brought Afridi to the middle. His arrival settled things once and for all as his 27-ball knock - loaded with four fours and including two sixes - finally thwarted faint Zimbabwe hopes. He enjoyed some fortune, however, dropped twice during his knock. But as Afridi pulled Hamilton Masakadza over midwicket and dispatched Chibhabha over the sight-screen, Zimbabwe were left ruing a sloppy display in the field.

Earlier, Tanvir, who was the Man-of-the-Match award, triggered a late batting collapse to restrict Zimbabwe to 238 for 8 off their 50 overs after the visitors opted to bat first. With seven overs to go, Zimbabwe were well-placed on 209 for 3 - an ideal position from which to launch a final assault. However, Tanvir captured two quick wickets as Zimbabwe lost five for nine and finished the innings fifty runs short of a competitive target.

Zimbabwe's platform had been laid by a 137-run third-wicket partnership between Masakadza and Tatenda Taibu, but none of the lower-order batsmen took advantage. The last ten overs produced only 45 runs with two boundaries - both in the last over - as Zimbabwe panicked. Pakistan's bowling, too, improved considerably, as Tanvir used the slower ball to good effect. Iftikhar Anjum, who gave away 37 runs off his first four overs, also came back strongly to capture a brace of wickets in the first over of his second spell.

Until then, things had gone well for Zimbabwe, as a spirited fightback by Masakadza and Taibu resurrected the innings after Tanvir's early double strike left Zimbabwe on 19 for 2. However, Tanvir apart, Pakistan's fast bowlers, failed to trouble Zimbabwe - as had been the case in Karachi and Masakadza and Taibu took full toll.

Using his feet well, Masakadza was particularly severe on Anjum. Overpitching frequently, Anjum was smashed through extra cover. When he pitched short, he was pulled. Even Samiullah Khan came in for stick: bowling full and wide he was driven through the covers and flicked off his legs for boundaries. As Masakadza pulled Anjum for another boundary to square leg, then top-edged one over gully and swept Malik in quick succession, he brought up his seventh ODI half-century.

Taibu meanwhile was content with singles and twos to keep his score moving. Even the normally reliable Afridi pitched short and was repeatedly cut for easy runs. With Pakistan opting for only three specialist bowlers - a ploy that failed to be tested in the first match - both batsmen scored easily. Pakistan's lethargic fielding didn't help, as easy singles were given away, and a few half-chances went begging.

Taibu reached a steady fifty off 70 deliveries, just as Masakadza lost his concentration and drove loosely at Afridi, inside-edging on to his stumps for a well-made 87, his highest ODI score. Brendan Taylor briefly took advantage of Younis Khan, cutting past point for four and smashing him for a straight six.

The return of Tanvir, however, proved Zimbabwe's undoing as first Taylor departed then Taibu soon after. Zimbabwe's hopes of posting a competitive total vanished, and although Samiullah was swept and pulled for valuable boundaries by Gary Brent, 238 proved too small a target for an experienced Pakistani batting line-up.

Man of The Match: Sohail Tanvir


Sohail, Khalid included in Pakistan squad for third ODI against Zimbabwe

HYDERABAD: Pakistan have brought in rookie pacer Sohail Khan for next week's third One-day International against Zimbabwe, selectors announced Thursday.

The 23-year-old took 65 wickets in nine first-class matches in last year's domestic season to earn a place in the national side.

"We have made two changes for the third One-day International, bringing in Sohail in place of Samiullah Niazi, and since Sarfraz Ahmed will join a wicket-keeper's camp his place is taken by Khalid Latif,"
said chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed.

Niazi has failed to take any wickets in the first two matches of the ongoing five-match series against Zimbabwe.

Pakistan lead the series 2-0 after defeating the tourists by five wickets in the second match here on Thursday.

"Sohail is an exciting prospect and we hope that he establishes himself as we are in the process of trying some young players before the all-important series against Australia,"
said Ahmed.

Pakistan are due to host Australia for three Tests and five one-day internationals in March-April this year, although security fears have put the tour in doubt.

Squad: Shoaib Malik (capt), Salman Butt, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul Haq, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Yasir Arafat, Sohail Tanvir, Khalid Latif, Nasir Jamshed, Fawad Alam, Rao Iftikhar, Sohail Khan, Kamran Hussain.


PCB plays down reports of rift

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has downplayed reports of a rift that has emerged between the national selection committee and the team's management over a number of issues, mostly revolving around the make-up of the team.

The schism first emerged on Pakistan's tour to India, with what appeared initially to be a miscommunication over the identity of a replacement player. The selectors, in apparent agreement with the coach and captain, had initially agreed on calling up Abdur Rauf as replacement for the injured Umar Gul.

Having announced it officially during the second Test at Kolkata, the board changed tack later that evening and decided to send Rao Iftikhar Anjum instead. It is now understood that Shoaib Malik, the captain, and coach Geoff Lawson had wanted Iftikhar Anjum all along and convinced the board directly later, thus bypassing the selection committee.

Since then, Cricinfo has learnt, there have been continuing disagreements over the playing XI in the current series against Zimbabwe. The selection committee has been keen to use the opportunity to blood new players in various positions. In particular, they were adamant that Nasir Jamshed should make his debut as opener; the team management, as well as Malik were instead eager to use Kamran Akmal as opener and play an extra bowler in place of Shahid Afridi.

Before the series began, a heated debate is said to have taken place between Salahuddin Ahmed, chairman of selectors, and Geoff Lawson, the coach, over the matter. But as a result of a recent policy shift, it is now the selection committee that decides on the final playing XI during a home series.

Jamshed has thus played and made an immediate impact in his first two ODIs. But Pakistan have also appeared a bowler short in both games, struggling to bowl out Zimbabwe with only three specialist bowlers and five realistic bowling options in total.

Nasim Ashraf, chairman PCB, didn't deny the reports, but sought to play them down instead, claiming them to be nothing more than everyday professional tussles.

"Everyone is operating within their sphere of responsibility,"

he told reporters in Hyderabad.

"Both the selection committee and team management have separately told me in the last few days that they have a good relationship. If they don't disagree on matters during meetings, what is the point of having these meetings at all? This is healthy debate and not signs of a rift."

Sources close to the matter maintain, however, that the issue is swiftly developing into more than just professional differences in opinion. One source adds that there has been another run-in with Malik following Pakistan's win in the first ODI at Karachi. The last selection committee, headed by Wasim Bari, was widely thought to be little more than a rubber-stamp for Inzamam-ul-Haq's choices while he was captain, particularly towards the end of its tenure. The current committee, the first in Pakistan's history to employ full-time, paid selectors, is understandably keen to avoid a similar situation with Malik and eager to assert its authority.

Ashraf also played down the contents of a report by manager Talat Ali following the tour to India, in which, according to a couple of local newspapers, the contributions of Younis Khan, Gul and Shoaib Akhtar have come under fire. The report is due to be discussed at a meeting of the board's governing committee in Karachi on January 25.

"We expect everybody to give an honest opinion in a respectful way," said Ashraf. "We expect the manager and the coach to do this in their reports. The governing board is looking at the issue and the report will be discussed professionally. The idea of these reports is not to apportion blame but to learn from mistakes on future tours."


Pakistan Under-19 beat Sri Lanka by 83 runs

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

COLOMBO: Pakistan Under-19 team defeated hosts Sri Lanka by 83 runs in the inaugural match of the triangular cricket tournament here Thursday.

Pakistan made 256 runs for five wickets in the allotted 50 overs.

Umar Amin (68), Ali Asad (42) and Umar Akmal (41) were the main scorers while from Sri Lanka, K. Paris claimed three wickets.

In reply, Sri Lanka Under-19 were dismissed for 173 in the 39th over.

K. Paris top scored with an unbeaten 62.

From Pakistan, Ammad Waseem and Muhammad Rameez captured three wickets each and Junaid Khan claimed two while Adil Raza and Shahzeb Ahmed took one wicket each.


Karachi set to host Australia games

KARACHI: Pakistan are planning to stick to an itinerary similar to the one involving last year’s home series against South Africa while preparing the schedule for the much-awaited series against Australia starting in March.

A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official told ‘The News’ that the board is planning to keep the three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 international which Australia are scheduled to play against Pakistan at the major centres of the country.

“We are likely to finalise an itinerary similar to the one that involved South Africa (last year),”
said Shafqat Naghmi, PCB’s Chief Operating Officer. South Africa played the two-match Test series against Pakistan in Karachi and Lahore. Karachi was also scheduled to host a one-day game but it was shifted to Lahore because of security concerns.

Lahore ended up hosting three of the five matches while the other two games of the one-day series were played in Faisalabad and Multan.
“It is expected that Karachi and Lahore will host the Tests while the third one will be played either in Faisalabad or Multan. The one-dayers will more or less be played at the same centres,”
he said.

Earlier, PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf had told reporters that the board will ensure that Karachi will figure on Australia’s tour schedule. He said that Karachi has been included as a venue in the tentative itinerary of what will be Australia’s first tour of Pakistan in ten years. The schedule is to be finalised next month following consultations with Cricket Australia (CA).

“We haven’t finalised an itinerary yet — that will be done within the next month,”
said Ashraf.
“Karachi is on the tentative itinerary that we have prepared.”
Karachi has often missed out on international cricket due to security concerns. However South Africa, who had refused to play in the city in 2003, spent a big part of their last year’s tour here and played a practice game and a Test match here.

Ashraf said that the Australians should tour Pakistan because they have an obligation to fulfil.
“As the world’s number one team, the Australians have a responsibility to fulfil and we believe they must come to Pakistan,”
he said.

The Australians are reluctant to tour Pakistan because of safety fears. But Ashraf said that Pakistan was as safe as any other part of the world.
“Anything can happen anywhere. During the Ashes series of 2005, the 7/7 bombings happened and the tour went on,”
Ashraf said.
“The same should happen here in Pakistan,”
he added.

The PCB chief said that he had a “fruitful” meeting with Australia’s High Commissioner in Islamabad.
“I met the Australian HC last week and have assured top-level security for the Australian team. The president-elect of the ICC David Morgan (of England) has also urged the Australians to tour Pakistan, so we are hopeful that the tour would go on according to schedule.”


Pakistan v Zimbabwe, 1st ODI, Karachi

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pakistan 347 for 5 (Younis 79, Yousuf 72, Price 2-61) beat
Zimbabwe 243 for 7 (Sibanda 59, Williams 52*, Malik 3-34) by 104 runs

KARACHI: A record five half-centuries in a single innings propelled Pakistan to a thumping 104-run win over Zimbabwe in the first one-day international here.

Skipper Shoaib Malik hit a 56-ball 63 in Pakistan's mammoth total of 347-5 in 50 overs before capturing 3-34 with his off-spin to restrict the tourists to 243-7.
Opener Nasir Jamshed smashed a 48-ball 61 on his debut, while Younis Khan (79), Mohammad Yousuf (72) and Misbah-ul Haq (55 not out) made significant contributions after Pakistan were put into bat at Karachi's National Stadium.

It is the first time in one-day international history that five half-centuries have been scored in an innings and eight in a match.

The total was always beyond Zimbabwe's reach despite a bright start for the tourists, with an opening stand of 47.

Vusi Sibanda (59) and Chamu Chibhabha (52) added 56 for the second wicket but the tourists lost their rhythm against Pakistan's spinners.

Sean Williams was also among the runs, hitting an unbeaten 51, but the asking rate continued to climb and the task proved too much.

Earlier, the foundations for Pakistan's big total were laid by the 18-year-old left-hander Jamshed, who hit six boundaries and three towering sixes during his swashbuckling knock.

Jamshed, who broke into the team on the back of a brilliant 182 against the tourists in a four-day match here last week, made his more experienced partner Salman Butt (four) a mere spectator in a brisk 45-run stand for the first wicket. Jamshed was finally caught off medium-pacer Chibhabha in the 15th over.

Younis and Yousuf then put on 113 for the third wicket to further punish the hapless tourists' attack. Younis hit seven boundaries and a six off 68 balls, while Yousuf's 74-ball knock included five boundaries and a six.

Left-arm spinner Ray Price, who finished with 2-61, dismissed both Younis and Yousuf before Malik and Misbah gave the innings fresh impetus.

Malik, who completed 4,000 one-day runs when he reached 16, put on a brisk 99 runs for the fifth wicket with Misbah. Malik hit two sixes and a four before he became Chibhabha's second wicket.

Misbah hit four boundaries and a six in his 38-ball knock as Pakistan totted up 52 in the last five overs.

Man of The Match: Nasir Jamshed

The second encounter in the five-match series will be played at Hyderabad on Thursday.


Pakistan mull county cricket restrictions

Pakistan will consider the toll county cricket takes on its players before deciding on whether or not to allow their bowlers, in particular, to take up future contracts.

Pakistan's fast bowlers have been plagued by injury in recent years, preventing the selection of what would be a first-choice attack. Not all of the injuries have come from playing county cricket, but the board worries that an excessive workload could adversely affect their resources. In recent years, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Yasir Arafat have turned out for various counties.

"We have to look at the effects of county cricket on our players' fitness,"

Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the PCB, told reporters at the National Stadium in Karachi.

"Even some spinners have come back from their seasons completely fatigued and that is not good for Pakistan."

Danish Kaneria is the only active Pakistan spinner currently with a county contract and he has one season left with Essex on his current deal. Since coming back from the last season, Kaneria has struggled for impact in two Test series against South Africa and India. He bowled nearly 561 overs in the County Championship alone, in 13 matches.

The Pakistan board prevented Umar Gul and Mohammad Asif from taking up county contracts in 2007, though it later compensated both financially for the loss of earnings. It has also prevented Rao Iftikhar Anjum from taking up a contract for 2008. Ashraf did not say, however, whether players - if prevented - would be compensated in the future.

"In the past Pakistan players used to play county cricket because the financial rewards at home were not so high. That is not needed now because we are in a position to pay our players handsomely and they don't need to look abroad,"

said Ashraf.

A final decision on the matter will be taken when the board's governing committee meets in Karachi on January 25.


We’ll try to win all matches against Zimbabwe: Shoaib Malik

Friday, January 18, 2008

KARACHI: Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik said Friday that this is not necessary to make a clean sweep against Zimbabwe but we would try to win all matches of the series.

The captains of Pakistan and Zimbabwe attended the cup unveiling ceremony of the five-match one-day series between the two countries. The ceremony was organized by the Pakistan Cricket Board at a local hotel.

Shoaib Malik said that the series against minnows Zimbabwe would help him identify new talent before facing the real test against world champions Australia.

"Before we face Australia, this series against Zimbawbe will give us a chance to test a few youngsters so that we can identify talent,"
Malik told reporters in the Cup unveiling ceremony ahead of Monday's first match here.

Pakistan named three uncapped players -- opener Nasir Jamshed, paceman Samiullah Niazi and all-rounder Kamran Hussain -- in their 15-man squad announced for the first two matches.

The 18-year-old Jamshed hit a brilliant 182, while Niazi took five wickets in an innings and 34-run win for the Patron's XI against Zimbabwe in a four-day match which ended here on Thursday.

Pakistan also take on Australia in three Tests and five one-day internationals in two months time, a series still hanging in the balance over security fears in the Asian country.

Malik, who has regained fitness after suffering an ankle injury during last month's tour of India, said his team would not take Zimbabwe lightly.

"Zimbabwe have done well in the recent past, having beaten Australia in the Twenty20 World Cup (in South Africa last year) and won a match against the West Indies (at home in November) so we are not underestimating them,"
said Malik.

Pakistan will be without pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar who has been dropped for lack of fitness, Mohammad Asif, who is recovering from an elbow operation, and Umar Gul, who is suffering from back trouble.

Malik's counterpart, Prosper Utseya, hoped his team would lift itself after defeat in the tour opener.

"We didn't play to the best of our abilities in the four-day match but one-day cricket will be different and I hope our experience will come good,"
said Utseya who missed the opening game because of an ankle injury from which he has now recovered.

Utseya said his team will have an opportunity as Pakistan try out some youngsters.

"Obviously Pakistan will not have some experienced bowlers and it may give us an opportunity to win,"
said Utseya.


Specialization Camp for Wicket Keepers & Spinners at NCA

National Selection Committee in consultation with Director Game Development Mudassar Nazar has given the following names for the Specialization Camp for Wicket Keepers & Spinners.

Wicket Keepers
1. Mohammad Salman
2. Zulfiqar Jan
3. Zulqarnain Haider
4. Hanif Malik
5. Gulraiz Sadaf
6. Amin-ur-Rehman
7. Ahmed Zeeshan

1. Danish Kaneria
2. Abdur Rehman
3. Yasir Shah
4. Tahir Khan
5. Saeed Ajmal
6. Azam Hussain
7. Dilawar Khan
8. Irfanuddin
9. Mohammad Aslam
10. Zohaib Khan
11. Junaid Naeem
12. Nayyar Abbas
13. Aimal Khan

This will be a 2 weeks camp starting from January 24, 2008.


Pakistan squad for first two ODIs against Zimbabwe

The Selection Committee headed by Mr. Salahuddin Ahmed has announced following players for the first 2-ODIs to be played against Zimbabwe starting from 21st January 2008. The names are as follows:

1. Shoaib Malik - Captain
2. Mohammad Yousuf
3. Younis Khan
4. Shahid Afridi
5. Misbah-ul-Haq
6. Salman Butt
7. Nasir Jamshedv
8. Iftikhar Anjum
9. Sohail Tanvir
10. Samiullah Khan
11. Kamran Akmal - Wicket Keeper
12. Sarfraz Ahmed - Wicket Keeper
13. Fawad Alam
14. Kamran Hussain
15. Yasir Arafat

Pakistan have called up a number of new names in a 15-man squad to face Zimbabwe in the first two of five ODIs, beginning in Karachi from January 21.

Three men - opener Nasir Jamshed, fast bowlers Samiullah Khan Niazi and Kamran Hussain - have never played for Pakistan before. Sarfraz Ahmed, the wicketkeeper, and Fawad Alam, the allrounder, have only played three ODIs between them.

Jamshed, the young left-hand opener who was a part of Pakistan U-19's 2006 World Cup-winning team, has impressed selectors through a season where he ended the third-highest run-scorer. His spot was sealed after an authoritative hundred in a tour match against Zimbabwe in Karachi this week.

Samiullah and Kamran Hussain have also figured prominently this season; the former, who toured England with Pakistan in 2006, was the season's second-highest wicket-taker with 52 wickets, playing a prominent role in SNGPL's maiden Quaid-e-Azam trophy triumph and helping the Patrons XI beat Zimbabwe this week with a timely five-for.

Kamran Hussain, another left-arm option, was an influential figure in Habib Bank's run to the Quaid-e-Azam final. He not only picked up 35 wickets at under 20, but also scored over 500 runs, averaging over 35 with four fifties.

The rest of the squad contains few surprises and Shoaib Malik's inclusion suggests that the management is confident of him overcoming his ankle injury to play in the series. Pakistan have long maintained that the series would be used to try out new faces in various departments; with Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul and Mohammad Asif not fully fit and Mohammad Sami not considered, fast bowling slots have opened up. The search for a viable opening pair continues, while Kamran Akmal's poor form behind the stumps has forced the inclusion of an understudy. Abdul Razzaq's sidelining from international cricket has also allowed for some new allrounders to be tested.

It is expected that a clutch of other players who have impressed domestically will be called up to the squad for the final three games of the series. Those expected to be given a run include opener Khalid Latif and Sohail Khan, the strapping Karachi-based fast bowler from the NWFP, who finished a remarkable debut first-class season as its leading wicket-taker.


PCB To Discuss Shoaib`s Fate

The international future of Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar will be determined at a PCB board meeting later this month.

The 32-year-old was not included in a provisional 21-man squad for Pakistan's forthcoming one-day series against Zimbabwe due to concerns over his fitness.

And those health issues, coupled with Shoaib's chequered disciplinary record, are starting to cause concern within Pakistani cricket.

PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf told the Daily Times:

"Shoaib is facing fitness as well as disciplinary problems that were even pointed out during the India tour last year."

"He has repeatedly violated discipline on a number of occasions. His case is referred to the PCB disciplinary committee and his future will be decided in the PCB governing body meeting to be held on January 25."

Shoaib, once the mainstay of the Pakistan attack, has become a peripheral figure in recent years, mainly due to a series of off-field controversies.

He was sent home from the tour of Australia in 2005 amid rumours of a lack of commitment and a year later was banned for two years after failing a drugs test, although this was overturned on appeal.

In September 2007, he was sent home before the World Twenty20 after a scuffle with team-mate Mohammad Asif.


Afridi Won`t Say No To Captaincy

Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi would be willing to take on the captaincy if current skipper Shoaib Malik is ruled out of the forthcoming one-day international series against Zimbabwe through injury.

Malik is doubtful for the five-match series against the African nation due to an ankle problem and Afridi is keen to stand in.

"Of course I will take up captaincy if offered,"

he told The News.

"Every cricketer dreams of leading his country and I'm no exception. I've played for Pakistan for more than 12 years and it would be great to bow out (of international cricket) after having captained Pakistan."

The 27-year-old is currently leading the Patron's XI in a four-day game against Zimbabwe and believes the tourists will present Pakistan with a stiff challenge.

"I believe Zimbabwe are a very good one-day side and it will be a different ball game in the ODI series against them,"

he added.


Rana Told To Prove His Fitness

Yorkshire have set overseas signing Rana Naved-ul-Hasan a deadline of the end of the month to prove his fitness.

The Pakistan seamer dislocated his shoulder when he crashed into an advertising hoarding fielding in a match for county champions Sussex last season.

The 29-year-old was later signed by Yorkshire for 2008 but the club are now concerned about his recovery.

A statement on the club's website confirmed the player will undergo a final assessment with their physio on January 31.

It added:

"The club has been determined to give Rana time to prove his rehabilitation from the shoulder injury sustained when playing for Sussex at the end of last season.

"If he has not recovered sufficiently to play for Yorkshire this summer a contingency plan is in existence."


Patron's XI v Zimbabweans, Karachi, 4th day

Patron's XI 479 for 6 dec (Jamshed 182, Naumanullah 86, Alam 82*, Price 4-130) beat Zimbabweans 209 (Taylor 64, Taibu 46, Afridi 4-37) and 236 (Maruma 71, Masakadza 44, Samiullah 5-42) by an innings and 34 runs

Samiullah Khan captured five wickets - including his 200th first-class scalp - to send the Zimbabweans crashing to an innings-and-34-run defeat. Although Timycen Maruma scored an entertaining 71 off 101 deliveries while sharing a 96-run eighth-wicket partnership with Gary Brent, it was always a huge task for the Zimbabwean tail to make the Patron's XI bat again on a slowing pitch.

After capturing three wickets yesterday, Samiullah was on target straight away as he dismissed Elton Chigumbura leg-before in only his second over of the day. Dropped twice by Sarfraz Ahmed off Sohail Khan, Maruma played his shots without fear. An overpitching and off-colour Kamran Hussain was edged between the slips and gully for four before Yasir Shah, the legspinner, was hit over mid-off for four. Although streaky at times, Maruma, who was ably supported by Brent's solid defence, then attacked Sohail as he returned for a second spell with the new ball.

Sohail was driven past mid-on before being blasted past extra cover by Maruma to reach his first first-class half-century. The next over saw another drive over extracover before a wild slash brought about the second drop. Riding his luck, and taking advantage of Pakistan's poor fielding as a few overthrows complemented the dropped catches, Maruma took his side past the 200-mark, a psychological achievement if nothing else before the ODI series.

Shahid Afridi, bringing himself on after the lunch interval, produced a flighted delivery that spun and took the outside edge of Maruma's bat to end a fine partnership. Striking eight fours in all, Maruma, not only managed to make the home side pay for some sloppy fielding, but also get a bit of confidence under his belt prior to the one-dayers.

Afridi managed to deceive Brent with a slower delivery - bowled off his glove - before being hammered by Ray Price for a six that landed outside the ground. Samiullah returned to pick the final wicket and inflict the innings defeat. Bowling with pace and troubling the right-hand batsmen with his in-swing, four of Samiullah's dismissals were leg-before and with six wickets in the match, his claims for a place in the ODI squad are stronger than ever.


Patron's XI v Zimbabweans, Karachi, 3rd day

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Zimbabweans 209 and 111 for 6 (Masakadza 44, Taibu 30, Samiullah 3-15, Sohail 3-30) trail Patron's XI 479 for 6 dec by 159 runs

Fast bowlers Samiullah Khan and Sohail Khan left the Zimbabweans staring at defeat; the tourists finished the third day at 111 for 6, requiring another 159 to avoid an innings defeat after the home team declared at 479 for 6.

Samiullah inflicted the damage early on: Vusi Sibanda (23) and Brendan Taylor (4) fell leg-before to inswingers. Bowling with much pace and aggression at the other end, Sohail remained luckless in his initial overs. Several plays-and-misses mixed with leg-before shouts that had summed up his first-innings effort proved to be the case this time as well.

At 36 for 2, it required a dogged innings from Hamilton Masakadza, the stand-in captain, and Tatenda Taibu to stabilise the Zimbabweans' second innings. Sharing a 63-run partnership, Masakadza remained the more authoritative batsman. Dropped at gully off Sohail, he pulled the next delivery over midwicket for a four and square-drove an unimpressive Kamran Hussain before Taibu joined in the action by driving Shahid Afridi straight down the ground.

Although turning the ball a great deal, Yasir Khan, the legspinner, was unlucky as he not only beat the edge but also had the batsmen misreading his googly. Sensing not much was being gained, Afridi brought back Sohail and his searing yorker accounted for Masakadza, who was out leg-before for a 158-ball 44. While there remained doubts about his dismissal - replays suggested the ball drifting down leg - there was none so about Taibu's. Playing loosely, he had just evaded the extra-cover fielder but another drive away from his body resulted in a edge off Sohail to second slip, Afaq Raheem completing a tumbling catch.

Samiullah came back on as well, and there were some anxious moments before the players walked off; the umpires deemed the light to be unsatisfactory. However, in a sudden change of decision, the umpires called the players back on to the field and Sohail roared in to grab two wickets off successive deliveries. Sean Williams edged one to slip and Keith Dabengwa was adjudged leg-before.

The Patron's XI bowlers did the job after their batsmen had given them a commanding first-innings lead. Ray Price grabbed three wickets in the morning but Naumanullah scored an attacking 86 and Fawad Alam chipped in with an unbeaten 82 to add to the misery after Nasir Jamshed had punished the visitors on the second day. Naumanullah, who resumed on 46, brought up his half-century in the fourth over of the morning. Flicking an overpitched delivery from Christopher Mpofu to the leg side for two, he turned the next delivery past midwicket as the dressing room applauded a well-made fifty.

Price's introduction brought about the first six of the morning, with Naumanullah dispatching a flighted delivery right onto the sightscreen. The bowler, however, had his revenge soon. Deceiving Naumanullah with a slow, looping delivery, Price induced an early stroke and took a return catch off the leading edge. Afridi was in no mood to hang around - smashing a four and a six before holing out to long-off.

Alam remained unmoved even as Price picked up his third wicket - Kamran Hussain top-edged a sweep to square leg. He was content with defence, taking quick singles whenever he had the chance.Alam took 125 balls for his fifty, but thereafter shifted gears. He slogged Gary Brent over midwicket for his second boundary of the day and then smashed a full ball between mid-off and extra cover before pulling a short delivery over midwicket.

Left stranded 18 short of his century, Alam will be content with his determined knock, one that might prove enough to take his team to an innings victory on the final day.


Saqlain would grab England chance

Saqlain Mushtaq, the former Pakistan offspinner, has said he would jump at the chance to represent England if the call came his way. Saqlain has a British passport through his marriage and qualifies in April as he begins another season with Surrey.

"If they [England] call me, definitely I'll play,"

he told BBC London.

"I've been discussing with my family and friends and they've all been saying 'Saqqy, if they give you the chance, definitely go for it'."

Saqlain hasn't played international cricket since 2004 when a serious knee injury threatened to end his career. However, following surgery he signed with Sussex - alongside former team-mate Mushtaq Ahmed - before rejoining Surrey for the 2008 campaign.

"To be honest, I love my cricket and I want to play at the highest level,"

said Saqlain.

"I've been thinking about it because last year the press asked me the question and I said I'm looking after my body and my form at the moment.

Saqlain, who has 208 Test scalps and 288 ODI wickets, adds that motivation wouldn't be an issue.

"If England needs you and asks you and you can't play with that passion, that's wrong. [But] If I'm playing for a national team, for a country, I don't want to lose."

Will Pakistan Premier League gain success just like Indian Premier League ?