Pakistan batsman Asif Ali credited his family for convincing him to travel to England and play the World Cup after the tragic death of his infant daughter.
Asif had to leave the UK after the fifth ODI against England following the death of his 19-month-old daughter Dua Fatima from cancer – who was in the US – last month.
Asif was not in the initial World Cup team but forced his way into the final squad with two fifties against England in the five-match series.
But the bereavement was an extremely tough time for the 27-year-old and Asif said his wife and family helped him keep his senses during that period.
“I was informed of my daughter’s health during the Pakistan Super League in February,” Asif was quoted as saying by AFP.
“It was shocking and heart-breaking but my family stood by me in those difficult times and they eased it by convincing me that I should play for the country and they will take care of her.
“They told me ‘don’t waste a chance of playing for the country’ because only lucky ones get that chance. Whatever Allah did, it was for her betterment.”
Asif said he was happy to be among the runs during the series against England which Pakistan lost 4-0.
“I need to score quick runs in the final overs and you may have seen my game during the series where I got more overs to bat,” he said. “I got 20-25 overs and that’s why I scored two fifties. If you bat up the order then it’s relatively easy to hit out as you get settled.”
Pakistan made a poor start to the World Cup after being bundled out for 105 against the West Indies. But they bounced back in style against favourites England in Nottingham. Asif said it was a great sign for the men in green.
“Beating England was awesome,” said the lower order batsman. “England have a strong batting line-up, so the win was very good. We now have the momentum and we will take it with us in the next games.”
The opening week of the 2019 World Cup has seen some enthralling action already with scores ranging from 348 to 105. Bowlers have enjoyed bowling on some of the more helpful surface while batsmen also have been provided the opportunity to score.
Hosts England made a good start to the World Cup but fell short against a re-energised Pakistan while South Africa had a horror first two games to go with a lengthening injury list.
India played their first match of the tournament nearly a week after the games began, while Bangladesh and Australia made strong starts.
Every week, we will look at decisions and strategies that hit the mark or missed in England over the summer. Here are our picks from the opening week.
Today, 'Dre Russ' bowled like a Test seamer. His first 16 deliveries were all short balls - and Pakistan were unable to cope. They collapsed, Windies chased, and we all got the early train.— Ben Jones (@benjonescricket) May 31, 2019
Report from a remarkable (and short) day in Nottingham: https://t.co/haxDQavEm4 #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/OziigerauY
They said it was going to be a 350-400 run World Cup. Bowlers would be reduced to bowling machines who can talk. But overcast conditions and some world-class bowlers have balanced the contest in England.
West Indies gave every team a template to work on this World Cup by blasting away Pakistan on a decent pitch in Nottingham. Andre Russell in particular bowled three overs of pure venom, giving hardly anything to drive. Oshane Thomas and the rest of the bowlers picked up from there and it continued in subsequent matches.
Australia quicks used the short stuff to restrict a spirited Afghanistan batting line-up. In fact, according to ESPNcricinfo, of the first 54 wickets to fall this World Cup, 23 were by deliveries that were short.
That’s not to say every short-ball barrage worked. Jofra Archer struggled to control the short ball against Pakistan and threw down multiple wides. Still, if the wicket is flat, fast bowlers know that a well-directed bouncer has an excellent change of resulting in a wicket, maybe more so than a slower one.
GREEN-TOPS IN CARDIFF
Two matches have been held in Cardiff so far and with Sri Lanka appearing in both. The matches with New Zealand and Afghanistan were played on green-tops with seamers having a field day in overcast conditions.
In the first game, the Kiwis blew away Sri Lanka for 136 while in the second game, the Sri Lankans had to fight tooth and nail to beat the Afghans by 34 runs after struggling to their score of 201. The ball jagged around throughout the match and that is not what you need in a World Cup.
Cardiff will host two more matches – England v Bangladesh and South Africa v Afghanistan. It is unfair that just these team have to contend with the vagaries of Cardiff. While we all want to see a decent contest between bat and ball, watching teams battle to reach 200 is no fun.
Australia captain Aaron Finch is expecting a testing period up front against West Indies during their 2019 World Cup clash in Nottingham.
Australia have beaten the Windies in nine of their last 10 ODIs – although they have not played each other in the format since 2016 – and warmed up for the World Cup by defeating Jason Holder’s side in Southampton.
However, while Australia started the defence of their crown with a routine seven-wicket win over Afghanistan on Saturday, the Windies made a statement the day before, hammering Pakistan by the same margin after blowing them away for 105 with their pacers using the short ball with deadly results. And Finch knows what to expect on Thursday.
Finch said: “They’re a very dangerous side. I think it’s important that you start really well.
“Those first 10-over periods are going to be really crucial because we know how damaging the West Indies can be during that period.
“I think if we’re tentative and a bit stand-offish and wait for things to happen, that’s when they can dominate you from the start.
“It’s important that you turn up with the right attitude and the right intent in the first 10 overs, bat or ball.”
Finch has welcomed a different changing room at Trent Bridge as he looks to play a role in reversing Australia’s fortunes at the ground.
Nottingham has recently been an unhappy hunting ground for Australia, who were bundled out for 60 here in the 2015 Ashes, while their last visit 12 months ago saw England bulldoze their way to a world record one-day international total of 481-6.
Finch was among those left shell-shocked last June, a few months before his elevation to limited-overs captain, but he insists there has been no dwelling on what transpired on Australia’s return to the venue.
However, with Australia the designated home team ahead of their second World Cup group game against West Indies on Thursday, Finch did admit that he was happy with a change of scenery.
Asked whether there have been discussions about the England game last year, Finch said: “None. None whatsoever.
“Just before we turned up to training (on Tuesday), a few boys talked about their previous experiences here which obviously haven’t been overly pleasant.
“But we’re in the home changing rooms which is a first for everyone, which is nice.”
Provided by Press Association Sport