Wasim Akram backs Pakistan to bounce back in 2019 World Cup

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Wasim Akram has spoken up on Pakistan's Asia Cup display.

Pakistan might not have lived up to expectations in the recently concluded Asia Cup but former pacer Wasim Akram is backing the side to bounce back strong when the 2019 ICC World Cup gets underway in England in 2019.

Pakistan came into the Asia Cup held in the UAE as joint-favourites alongside India off the back of their impressive form in the limited-overs format.

However, things did not go according to plan for the Men in Green who slumped to two heavy defeats against arch-rivals India before crashing out of the competition at the Super Four stage.

Analysing the team’s performance in the continental competition, the legendary Akram said that India are well ahead of the rest of the pack in Asia.

“India proved to be well ahead of everyone. Their exposure is greater, they have financial benefits and the money invested in their system like the Indian Premier League is bearing fruits,” the 52-year-old told AFP.

A disappointing campaign for Sarfraz Ahmed's men.

A disappointing campaign for Sarfraz Ahmed’s men.

Eight months remain for the World Cup to get underway and the Pakistan great remains confident that Sarfraz Ahmed’s men can bounce back at the venue of their 2017 ICC Champions Trophy triumph.

“It’s hard to predict eight months in advance but I am sure Pakistan will bounce back. They have some serious work to do in both bowling and batting. Bangladesh have an inspirational captain in Mashrafe Mortaza and Afghanistan is becoming a dangerous team,” he explained.

Pakistan had managed only two wins in the Asia Cup and had exited the competition after defeat at the hands of a resurgent Bangladesh in their final Super Four clash. The team will now turn their attention to the two-Test series against Australia which gets underway in Dubai on October 7.

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MSK Prasad says Karun Nair remains in the scheme of things in India's Test setup

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Karun Nair was dropped from the India Test squad for the West Indies series.

As the controversy over the omission of Karun Nair from the India Test squad for the West Indies series rages on, chief selector MSK Prasad has gone on record over the perceived ‘lack of communication’.

Nair was picked in the Test squad for the tour of England but failed to get a single game in the five-match series. He was subsequently not picked in the squad for the two Tests against the Windies with many former India cricketers expressing their outrage over the treatment handed out to the Tamil Nadu batsman.

The 26-year-old has recently spoken about the lack of communication with the selectors during what has been a frustrating period for the batsman. Now, Prasad has given his views on the reason behind Nair’s omission.

“Communication has always been the strong point of this committee. It’s really tough to inform any unpleasant news to any player. You need to have valid reasons to explain them about their exclusion though they may not agree with it,” the chief Indian selector told the Indian Express.

The former India wicketkeeper-batsman also revealed that his colleague Devang Gandhi had been in constant communication with Nair during his frustrating spell in England and that the batsman had been personally informed after his exclusion from the squad for the West Indies series.

Nair failed to get a single game in the tour of England.

Nair failed to get a single game in the tour of England.

“Having said that, we are very clear and candid in our communication process. My colleague Devang Gandhi spoke to Karun Nair at length in England to keep him motivated and wait for his opportunities,” Prasad explained.

“I personally spoke to Karun soon after the Test squad was announced for the West Indies series.

“I also explained the reason behind his non-inclusion. I told him that we cannot have an extended squad at home and keep him waiting for his opportunity to play in the XI, and that too in a two-Test series. Rather, it makes sense to play in domestic competitions and keep scoring runs.”

The India selection chief reiterated that Nair remains in the Indian Test set-ups plans moving forward.

“He will have to keep piling on the runs in the Ranji Trophy and whatever India A series is there. Karun is very much in the scheme of things for Test cricket. Right now, we have advised him to focus on performing in domestic and India A matches,” Prasad stated.

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Ireland duo look forward to participation in Afghanistan Premier League

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Kevin O'Brien will turn out for Kandahar Knights.

When the inaugural edition of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) gets underway in Sharjah this year, two Ireland stars will be turning out for the Kandahar Knights.

Kevin O’Brien and Paul Stirling will be flying the Irish flag high with the Knights when the T20 tournament begins on October 5.

While Stirling was picked by the Knights in the player draft held on September 10, O’Brien received his call up only last week.

O’Brien, who became Ireland’s maiden Test centurion earlier this summer, revealed his delight on getting the call for the APL.

“I’m delighted to be heading over with Stirlo (Stirling) to Sharjah to join the Kandahar Knights,” the Irishman was quoted as saying by the BBC.

“The call came late last week that I was being offered an opportunity in the APL and it took a matter of seconds for me to say yes,” he added.

The two Ireland stars will be lining up under former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum in the Knights squad. O’Brien believes he can benefit tremendously by sharing the dressing room with the Kiwi stalwart.

O'Brien joins his Ireland team-mate Paul Stirling in the Knights' squad.

O’Brien joins his Ireland team-mate Paul Stirling in the Knights’ squad.

“He’s a captain who encourages his team to have confidence in yourself and express yourself on the field, whether with bat or ball in hand,” O’Brien said about McCullum.

“When you are sitting in a dressing room surrounded by some of the world’s elite cricketers, you can learn so much in their mindset and approach to playing and training,” he continued.

Stirling, on his part, believes his and O’Brien’s participation in the league would be beneficial to Irish cricket.

“With the World T20 Qualifier around the corner next year, I think it’s really important to have Irish players at these tournaments, bringing the experiences gained back into the Ireland set-up,” the Ireland batsman stated.

“We’ve seen how it has improved the Afghanistan side inside two years where they have had a handful of players play in the Big Bash and IPL getting used to playing day-in day-out against the best in the world,” he added.

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