Hazlewood targets World Cup return after being ruled out of Pakistan and India clashes

Waseem Ahmed 14/02/2019
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Hazlewood will miss the ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE.

Australia pacer Josh Hazlewood remains hopeful of playing in the 2019 ICC World Cup in England as he continues to remain sidelined with a back injury.

Hazlewood had sustained a stress fracture in his lower back while bowling for Australia in the fourth and final Test against India at Melbourne earlier this year and is due to undergo a follow-up scan on Friday.

The bowler had already been sidelined for six months last year for a similar injury in the same area. The Aussie remains unsure of his return to the cricket field but is optimistic about his chances of being fit in time for the World Cup and subsequent Ashes series.

“I think we’ll know a lot more after tomorrow, to be honest. Hopefully in the coming weeks we’ll start working through it,” he told cricket.com.au.

“Hopefully it’s going along to plan. Everything feels fine so training’s coming along nicely, progressing every week. I think we’ll just work back from the World Cup really and make sure everything’s right for that, which gives me plenty of time.”

Hazlewood will undergo a follow-up scan on Friday.

Hazlewood will undergo a follow-up scan on Friday.

The 28-year-old had already been ruled out of Australia’s upcoming limited-overs tour of India and will now also miss the five-match ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE to be held towards the end of March.

The five-time World Cup winners will play three practise games against New Zealand before heading to England for the World Cup and Hazlewood is targeting a return in those clashes.

“I haven’t played too much ODI cricket in the last 12 to 18 months which is a bit frustrating, a bit of a shame,” said Hazlewood.

“We’ve got three games in Brisbane in May against New Zealand and then three in England once we get over there.

“That’s quite enough to be ready I think, so I’ll be happy with where I’m at.”

Australia open their 2019 World Cup campaign with a clash against Afghanistan at Bristol on June 1.

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PSL 2019: Shane Watson ready to fire for Quetta Gladiators once again

Waseem Ahmed 14/02/2019
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Shane Watson is ready for PSL 4.

Australia veteran Shane Watson is in confident mood ahead of the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) where he is due to turn out for Quetta Gladiators.

Watson and Quetta open their PSL campaign on Friday at Dubai with a clash against 2017 champions Peshawar Zalmi.

Speaking to Geo News ahead of the tournament opener, Watson lauded the quality of the league and hoped to contribute to Quetta’s cause in their bid to secure their maiden PSL title.

“I am looking forward to it (PSL). It is an awesome tournament and it is going to be another exciting year for Quetta and hopefully we can have another good season,” the Australian all-rounder stated.

“There is no doubt about the quality of players in PSL. Pakistan has some of the best spin bowlers and leggies.

“PSL has got some world class batsman from Pakistan and abroad.”

Watson was the leading run-scorer for Quetta Gladiators in the last edition where he aggregated 319 runs in 10 innings at an average of over 35 and a strike-rate of 135.16.

The 37-year-old struck two half-centuries in the third edition of the PSL including a 58-ball 90.

The Gladiators will be led by skipper Sarfraz Ahmed once again but they will have to make do without Watson’s services for the Pakistan leg of the tournament.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be visiting Pakistan this time around as I have a couple of things lined up,” said Watson.

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PSL 2019: Shahid Afridi in the spotlight ahead of Karachi Kings v Multan Sultans

Waseem Ahmed 14/02/2019
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Afridi (r) will line up against Imad Wasim's (l) Karachi Kings.

Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik will go head-to-head in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) as Karachi Kings and Multan Sultans get ready to open their campaigns in the fourth edition.

The Dubai International Stadium will be the setting for the first of Friday’s double-header in the PSL as the two teams look to start on the perfect note in the T20 competition.

The clash promises to be an intriguing battle with the experienced heads of Multan’s Malik and Shahid Afridi pitted against two of Pakistan’s limited-overs stalwarts in Imad Wasim and Babar for Karachi.

Both teams are yet to get their hands on the PSL trophy although Karachi Kings have been one of the more consistent franchise’s in the tournament’s history. Having made the playoffs in all three previous editions, they are hoping to improve on their best-ever third-place finish under the captaincy of Pakistan all-rounder Imam.

In Babar, they have a batsman who has been in smashing form in international cricket, especially T20Is where he is averaging over 53 with the bat. There is plenty of batting firepower in the Kings’ armoury apart from Babar with New Zealand dasher Colin Munro coming into the tournament on the back of a fine innings against India.

With the likes of Colin Ingram too and Ravi Bopara in their line-up, Karachi have an excellent batting unit in the making and that will be their major strength going into the tournament.

Multan, on the other hand, are back in the PSL under the same name but new ownership after making their debut in the league last season. The experience provided by Afridi and Malik will be key for the franchise on their return but it could be the explosiveness of Windies all-rounder Andre Russell that emerges as their trump card in the tournament.

Afridi will line up against his former employers after he was released by Karachi at the end of last season. Will the veteran all-rounder spoil Karachi’s party on his Multan debut?

TEAM NEWS

Karachi Kings will have to do without the services of Munro, Ben Dunk and Aaron Summer’s for Friday clash which should throw up plenty of headaches with regards to the team combination for Imad Wasim.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Karachi Kings: Liam Livingstone, Babar Azam, Ravi Bopara, Sikander Raza, Colin Ingram, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Imad Wasim (capt), Mohammad Amir, Usman Shinwari, Usama Mir, Ali Imran.

Multan Sultans: Shan Masood, Johnson Charles, Umar Siddiq, Joe Denly, Andre Russell, Shoaib Malik (capt), Shahid Afridi, Dan Christian, Mohammad Abbas, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan.

Match starts at 15:30 UAE Time.

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