Mujeeb ur Rahman not included in Afghanistan squad for sole Test against Ireland

Waseem Ahmed 7/02/2019
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Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman (r).

Mystery spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman failed to find a place in Afghanistan’s Test squad for next month’s clash against Ireland.

Afghanistan are due to host Ireland across all three formats at their adopted ‘home’ ground in Dehradun, India and will play only their second Test since gaining full ICC membership last year.

Mujeeb was the biggest omission from the 14-man squad announced by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) on Thursday while wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad was left out of the T20 side.

While missing out on the Test squad, Mujeeb has been picked for the ODI and T20 matches. Shahzad, meanwhile, has been included in both the Test and ODI squads for the Ireland clashes.

Having captained the side in their maiden Test against India last year, Asghar Afghan continues the lead Afghanistan in all three formats.

Three players – Sharafuddin Ashraf, Ikram Ali and Waqar Salamkheil – have been handed their maiden Test call ups. All-rounder Ashraf has already played 14 ODIs and six T20s for Afghanistan previously and has picked up 12 and five wickets respectively in the two formats.

Ikram had a first-class experience of six matches in which he has managed to register one ton and a half-century. Waqar, meanwhile, has played seven first-class matches so far in his career and has struck four half-centuries.

It will be leg-spin sensation Rashid Khan who will be key in the sole Test against Ireland with Mujeeb missing out. The 20-year-old is currently the No1 ranked T20 bowler in the world while he is ranked second in the ODI format.

Afghanistan and Ireland are due to play three ODIs and five T20s before the start of the sole Test which gets underway on March 15. All of the nine clashes between the two sides will take place at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Dehradun starting with the first T20 on February 21.

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Uncertainty remains over Australia batsman Steve Smith's return from elbow injury

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Steve Smith's date of return from injury remains under a cloud.

Steve Smith has undergone a successful surgery for his elbow injury but the banned Australia batsman’s date of return to the cricket field still remains uncertain.

The former Australia skipper went under the knife last month after picking up an elbow injury in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). Following the surgery, Smith’s elbow has been placed under a brace for six weeks.

The right-hander currently continues to serve the one-year suspension from international and domestic cricket for his role in the infamous ball-tampering saga. The bans handed out to Smith and David Warner come to an end on March 29 with both the batsmen in the frame to represent Australia in the 2019 ICC World Cup in England.

The elbow injury had put a cloud over Smith’s participation in the World Cup and on Wednesday, his representatives informed Cricket Australia that the surgery had been a success.

Both Smith and Warner are currently sidelined with injuries.

Both Smith and Warner are currently sidelined with injuries.

The timeline of Smith’s return though, remains unclear according to Turning Point Management who represent the Aussie batsman.

“Until the brace comes off we don’t know for sure, but all current opinion is that he’ll then have about three and a half weeks (before being ready to play),” Warren Craig of Turning Point Management told news.com.au.

“The intent is that he will play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and then the World Cup and then the Ashes.”

It remains to be seen whether Smith can regain fitness in time for the IPL which gets underway on March 23 later this year. The 29-year-old is due to turn out for the Rajasthan Royals after missing out on the last season.

Meanwhile, the ICC World Cup is due to begin on May 30 with Australia opening their campaign against Afghanistan on June 1 at Bristol.

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Pakistan T20 player ratings v South Africa as Imad Wasim and Babar Azam impress

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A fine display by Imad Wasim in all three clashes.

It was a tough and chastening tour of South Africa to say the least for Pakistan who tasted series defeats across all three formats against the formidable hosts.

Despite the defeats in the ODI and Test series, the Men in Green did manage to end the tour on a high with a fine 27-run victory in the final T20 against the Proteas.

No1 ranked Pakistan gave a much better account of themselves in the T20 series where they ran the hosts close in the first two matches before finally sealing a win in the dead-rubber clash.

At the end of the T20 series, we look at how Pakistan’s players fared across the three matches.

Babar Azam – 8

The Pakistan stalwart continues to look better with each passing series and gave an excellent account of himself with an average of over 50 across the three clashes.

Fakhar Zaman – 4

A series and tour to forget for the explosive opener who was dismissed for scores of four, 14 and 17 in the three matches. He was woefully out of form in the Test and ODI clashes as well.

A tour to forget for the left-handed dasher.

A tour to forget for the left-handed dasher.

Hussain Talat – 7

The Pakistan youngster looked good with the bat in the defeats in the first and second T20s with scores of 40 and 55. However, his strike-rate left plenty to be desired at times.

Shoaib Malik – 6

Standing in as skipper for Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan veteran started the series with a battling 49 in the first T20 but could not carry that momentum in the remaining two games.

Asif Ali – 5

The middle-order batsman failed to come to the party in the first and second ODIs but scored a vital 20-ball 25 in the final match of the series.

Imad Wasim – 8

The spinning all-rounder continues to grown from strength to strength since his return to the international fold and was extremely economical with the ball in the series while picking up three wickets.

Faheem Ashraf – 5

The Pakistan all-rounder was expensive with the ball in the first T20 before being dropped for the second. He was brought in for the final match and was expensive once again although he managed to grab two wickets.

Mohammad Rizwan – 5

With Sarfraz missing, it was an opportunity for Rizwan to stake his claim for the wicketkeeping role. He failed to get going in the first T20 but did redeem himself partially with a 26-run knock in the last clash.

Hasan Ali – 5

The Pakistan pacer looked bright in the opening T20 with figures of 1-34 but then conceded 48 runs in the second match before being dropped for the final clash.

Shadab Khan – 7

After going wicket-less in the first and second T20s, Shadab showed his all-round prowess with a match-winning effort in the third match. The 20-year-old leg-spinner continues to blossom into an excellent all-rounder in the making.

Shadab's stock continues to rise.

Shadab’s stock continues to rise.

Usman Shinwari – 6

The left-arm pacer was the pick of Pakistan’s bowlers in the first T20 with returns of 3-31 but he was taken for a whopping 63 runs including 29 in a single over in the second match. No surprise then that he was dropped for the final T20.

Shaheen Afridi – 7

The teenage pacer played no part in the first match of the series but showed why he has such a promising future with figures of 1-27 and 1-23 in the two games to follow.

Mohammad Amir – 8

The Pakistan pacer did not feature in the first or second T20s but returned with match-winning figures of 3-27 in the last game to help the visitors end the tour on a high note.

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