Malaysia has once again pitched itself as viable alternative home for Pakistan cricket as it seeks the return of high level international cricket in the South East Asian region.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Najam Sethi had recently travelled to the country to inspect the infrastructure in place in their bid to seek an alternative venue for its home matches in the UAE.
With the recent emergence of T20 and T10 leagues in the UAE, the prospect of scheduling conflicts has led the PCB to seek alternatives and Malaysia was one of the countries being looked at by the cricketing board.
Speaking to Cricbuzz, Malaysia Cricket Association (MCA) president Mahinda Vallipuram has pitched the country as a possible venue for Pakistan women cricket team matches along with the PSL T20 league.
“We certainly would like to host events here. We are open to hosting as we have venues and other required infrastructure. It (Sethi’s visit) was an opportunity to discuss how Malaysia can be a venue for Pakistan. It would be great to host Australia and New Zealand, two great cricketing countries,” he was quoted as saying.
“We would love to host Pakistan in some way, perhaps even matches in the PSL or women’s cricket,” Vallipuram added.
Vallipuram believes that bringing the Pakistan team to play cricket in the country could be a tremendous boost to the sport in the region as a whole.
“Having Pakistan playing in Malaysia and major matches staged here would be a tremendous boost to cricket in South-East Asia. The game is growing steadily here but the exposure of major international cricket would fuel the uptick of the sport. Malaysia is a good hub for the Asian region,” he said.
Grand Slam-winning Indian tennis star Sania Mirza on Monday announced that she is pregnant, but did not say if this meant the end of her injury-prone career.
Mirza and her husband, Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik, posted a picture on their Twitter accounts of a baby vest and a feeding bottle between two T-shirts bearing their names.
It was accompanied by the hashtag #BabyMirzaMalik. Bollywood actor Aamir Khan tweeted back his “congratulations”.
The three-time Grand Slam doubles winner had said earlier this month that any child she had would bear the Mirza-Malik surname and that Shoaib wanted a daughter.
The 31-year-old has been sidelined since October with a knee injury. She has slipped from number one in the world doubles ranking – the first for an Indian woman – to 24.
Mirza has won at least one medal at every Asian Games since 2006 and expressed hope in January of competing in this year’s event in Indonesia.
Mirza in 2005 became the first Indian to win a WTA tournament singles title. She reached the fourth round of the US Open in the same year, and by 2007 was among the women’s top 30.
But a wrist injury ended her singles dream and she focused on doubles tennis. A partnership with Swiss great Martina Hingis produced three Grand Slam titles.
Pakistan players attended a military parade at the Wagah border with India “to get motivation” ahead of their tour of Ireland and England that starts this month.
The 16-member squad fly early on Monday and after two side games against county teams in England will play a one-off Test against Ireland at Dublin May 11-15. They then face a formidable England side in two Tests at Lord’s (May 24-28) and Leeds (June 1-5).
But before leaving for the tour, Pakistan players watched the “lowering of the flags” ceremony at the Wagah border that involves elaborate “performances” from security forces of both countries.
“We are going on an important tour. When you go there (Wagah), you get motivation when you see the parade. That is why we decided to go there,” captain Sarfraz Ahmed said on Saturday.
The 30-year-old said his players were eager to do well.
“Our hopes are very high and I am very optimistic with these new boys,” he said after a short training camp in Lahore. “The best thing about these players is that they are willing to perform well at the bigger platform.”
Pakistan will be without senior batsmen Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq who helped them level a four-match series 2-2 against England in 2016. Both retired in May last year.
“Whenever there is a tour of England the conditions are considered as tough. On our previous tour in 2016 we played matches in June but this year we are starting a bit earlier so obviously it will be difficult.
“We are obviously missing our two senior players and we have an inexperienced side,” said Sarfraz of his team which has five players awaiting their Test debut.
Openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq, batsman Usman Salahuddin and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf have featured in limited over matches but not in the five-day format.
Middle-order batsman Saad Ali was picked for the national team for the first time after notching 957 runs — the most in the last domestic season.
Pakistan will miss ace leg-spinner Yasir Shah, ruled out of the tours with a hip injury.
“If Yasir was fit he would have been an automatic selection but we still got good spinners and Shadab Khan is the best option,” said Sarfraz of the 19-year-old who has played just one Test.
While Ireland are playing their inaugural Test after being accorded the status just last year, Sarfraz said they would also be tough opponents.
“They are a strong team with most of their players regularly playing in county cricket in England, so I am expecting a good competitive match against them.”