Walsh wary of rushing Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur back from injury ahead of 2019 World Cup

Waseem Ahmed 23/04/2019
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Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur Rahman.

Bangladesh bowling coach Courtney Walsh has urged caution with regards to pacer Mustafizur Rahman’s fitness heading into the 2019 ICC World Cup in England.

The 23-year-old pacer has been sidelined with an ankle injury for some time now and he is not the only injury worry for Bangladesh’s bowling unit ahead of their England and Ireland sojourns.

Rubel Hossain is currently battling a side strain while his fellow pacer Mohammad Saifuddin is recuperating from a tennis elbow injury.

With Bangladesh set to participate in an ODI tri-series in Ireland also involving West Indies prior to starting their World Cup campaign, Walsh has warned of the dangers of rushing Mustafizur back from injury.

“(Mustafizur) has got a big role to play in the World Cup, once he is fit,” Walsh was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

Courtney Walsh (l) and Mustafizur.

Courtney Walsh (l) and Mustafizur.

“Fizz hasn’t been as sharp since his injury, and he keeps picking up slight niggles. A fully fit Mustafizur can win games for you but we have to have him as fit as possible.

“We have a bit of time on our side. My concern is that I hope we don’t over-rush him, and probably use him too much in Ireland, and he is not fresh for the World Cup.”

The Windies pace legend believes that the pitches in England for the World Cup will be extremely flat and challenging for Bangladesh’s bowlers.

“It will be a big challenge. The World Cup is going to be long tournament. There are going to be some good cricket wickets, which are batting-friendly. We have to be intelligent, and try to execute well,” Walsh said.

“We have to read the conditions and the surfaces we play. Some places the ball might swing more than others. We have to assess when we get there. Most of the wickets will be docile and flat. We have to work on our variations and execution,” he added.

Bangladesh open their World Cup campaign on June 2 when they take on South Africa at the Oval in London.

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Sarfraz Ahmed relishing Pakistan's 'underdogs' status going into the 2019 World Cup

Waseem Ahmed 22/04/2019
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Sarfraz Ahmed and Mickey Arthur. Image - @TheRealPCB/Twitter.

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed is relishing the prospect of his young side going into the 2019 ICC World Cup as relative underdogs.

Pakistan are set to depart for England on Tuesday where they will first take on the hosts in a five-match ODI series and a one-off T20 before commencing their World Cup operations.

The Men in Green do not go to England in the best of forms having suffered an embarrassing 5-0 ODI whitewash at the hands of Australia in the UAE but that has done little to dampen Sarfraz’s optimism.

“Look, when we go as favourites, then it’s a problem, but if we go as underdogs then other teams feel the danger, so I think being underdogs is good for us and eases the pressure,” the wicketkeeper-batsman stated in a press conference in Lahore on Monday.

Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur was in confident mood as well in the media interaction with the South African targeting a semi-final run at the minimum.

“I think these are exciting times for Pakistan cricket and for the team,” said Arthur.

“The initial thing is to qualify for the last four and take it from there, so I think we have the potential to certainly go all the way but before that we have to play very well,” he added.

With all 10 participating teams set to play each other in the rejigged format, all eyes will be on Pakistan’s clash with arch-rivals India on June 16 at Old Trafford in Manchester.

India have beaten Pakistan in each of the six previous World Cup clashes between the two sides but skipper Sarfraz is taking confidence from his side’s 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final triumph over their neighbours.

“For us all nine matches are important so we will take every match as a match against India,” Sarfraz opined.

“We have beaten India in a bigger event recently so we will have that advantage,” he continued.

A 17-man Pakistan squad will depart for England on Tuesday with Mohammad Amir and Asif Ali as the two extra players added for the five-match ODI series against the hosts. Leg-spinner Shadab Khan has been ruled out of the ODI series with a virus and it will be Yasir Shah who will take his place in the squad.

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Afghanistan name 15-man squad for 2019 World Cup as Hamid Hassan gets ODI recall

Waseem Ahmed 22/04/2019
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Hamid Hassan (l) is back in the ODI squad after nearly three years.

Afghanistan became the latest side to name their squad for the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup in England with Gulbadin Naib set to lead the 15-man side.

Asghar Afghan has made the cut for the 15-man squad despite being removed from the Afghanistan captaincy across all three formats just recently.

There was a recall for pacer Hamid Hassan who last played an ODI for Afghanistan nearly three years ago on June, 2016. The 31-year-old has previously played 32 ODIs and 22 T20s for Afghanistan where he has picked up 56 and 32 wickets respectively.

“Luckily for us, the come-back of senior Fast bowler Hamid Hassan is a good news. However, we will take into account his form and fitness during upcoming practice matches,” Afghanistan chief selector Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai stated.

The final teams for the World Cup was selected after a 23-man probable squad was put through a training camp held at Potchefstroom in South Africa. Three of the players who failed to make the final cut – Ikram Ali, Sayed Shirzad and Karim Janat – have been designated as the reserve players for the World Cup squad.

“As chief selector, it is my duty to select a competitive team. However, there were some challenges that we needed to handle. We selected the best squad considering factors such as experience, fitness, team balance, current form and conditions,” said Dawlat Khan.

“We hope to play great cricket without any fear and with a fighting spirit in the tournament.”

Afghanistan are slated to open their World Cup campaign on June 1 when they take on five-time champions Australia.

AFGHANISTAN 15-MAN WORLD CUP SQUAD

Gulbadin Naib (C), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, CRashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan and Mujeeb ur Rahman.

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