Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan wants more matches against the top international sides

Waseem Ahmed 21:11 25/09/2019
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Honours were shared between Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan has bemoaned his side’s lower frequency of matches against the top international teams in the world and believes that a change in that regard is a must if they are to continue making rapid strides in cricket.

The Afghanistan skipper’s comments came after his side were declared joint winners of the T20I tri-series along with hosts Bangladesh’s with Tuesday’s final being washed out without a ball being bowled.

The Afghans had previously beaten Bangladesh in the one-off Test clash at Chattogram to record their second win in three matches in the format. However, Rashid believes that a one-off Test isn’t really going to help matters for his side when it comes to the bigger picture.

“We should have longer series against Bangladesh, like have the main focus on 50 overs and Test matches,” the leg-spin sensation stated in the post-match press conference.

“Cricket boards should think about it. There should be a three-match Test series. There’s more room to learn and have different experiences. More 50 overs and Tests would be better for both nations.”

The 21-year-old cited the example of Afghanistan’s dismal 2019 World Cup campaign in England where they finished bottom after losing all nine of their fixtures.

“We have played only twice against Australia, New Zealand and England in the last five years (in ODIs). If we played more against them, we could have known their strengths and weaknesses. It should be looked into,” Rashid said.

“The best example is Bangladesh. They played a lot against South Africa and ended up having the best result against them in the World Cup. If we want to be a good side, we should play more against the top sides. Not one match in four years.

“These teams have four fast bowlers who bowl 140-plus. We play against Scotland and Ireland, and they hardly have a 140-plus bowler.”

Afghanistan’s next international engagement will come later in November this year when they host the West Indies in three T20s, as many ODIs and a one-off Test in their adopted home in India.

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Pakistan vs Sri Lanka: Babar Azam against Nuwan Pradeep and the other key battles

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Babar will be Pakistan's leading man once again.

As Pakistan and Sri Lanka prepare to lock horns in a historic three-match ODI series in Karachi beginning on Friday, we look at the three key individual battles which could prove to be decisive.

Fakhar Zaman vs Isuru Udana

After an electric start to his international career which saw him become the fastest batsman in history to bring up 1,000 ODI runs, it has all started to go downhill for Fakhar Zaman who is averaging just around 30 this year.

A poor World Cup campaign has only increased the pressure on the explosive left-handed opener whose place could be under threat under the new regime of Misbah-ul-Haq. Fakhar, who is Pakistan’s only ODI double-centurion so far, will have to be at the top of his game against Isuru Udana who is starting to develop into a dependable new-ball bowler for Sri Lanka.

Th 31-year-old left-armed pacer put in some impressive displays in the World Cup and has the ability to find some early movement with the white-ball. He will most certainly be eyeing Fakhar’s dodgy defence.

Not the best year so far for Fakhar.

Not the best year so far for Fakhar.

Mohammad Amir vs Lahiru Thirimanne

It was a resurgent Mohammad Amir we saw at the 2019 World Cup with the left-armed pacer ending up Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker with 17 scalps in eight games. Having subsequently announced his decision to retire from the Test format, Amir will now hope to carry over that prolific white-ball form into the home clashes against the Lankans.

The Pakistan pace spearhead will be tasked with stopping Sri Lanka stand-in skipper Lahiru Thirimanne early in his tracks. The left-handed batsman is one of the more experienced stalwarts in the rejigged squad and two of his four ODI tons so far have previously come against Pakistan.

Amir was in resurgent form in England.

Amir was in resurgent form in England.

Babar Azam vs Nuwan Pradeep

The series marks the start of Babar Azam’s tenure as Pakistan vice-captain and the prodigiously talented batsman will be itching to turn on the style in front of his home fans. The right-hander will be the prized wicket for the visitors following his stellar form in the World Cup and most recently for Somerset in the T20 Blast in England.

With 10 tons and an ODI average approaching 54, Babar sits on the verge of breaking into the elite batsmen category but he will need to be wary of the threat posed by Nuwan Pradeep. The 32-year-old seamer was one of Sri Lanka’s better performers in the World Cup and played his part in the recent ODI annihilation of Bangladesh. Bowls good lines and lengths with the ability to seam the ball both ways.

Pradeep can cause some headaches for Babar if he gets it right.

Pradeep can cause some headaches for Babar if he gets it right.

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Misbah-ul-Haq era starts now for Pakistan as Karachi prepares to host Sri Lanka in historic ODI series

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Misbah is all set to start his latest innings with Pakistan cricket.

Karachi will host its first bilateral ODI series in over a decade as Pakistan and Sri Lanka get ready to lock horns in a historic three-match series at the National Cricket Stadium beginning on Friday.

Nearly two years after Sri Lanka toured Pakistan for a one-off T20 clash in Lahore, the islanders are back in the country, albeit with a highly rejigged squad missing some key senior players.

It is a series Pakistan will hope can become the true ‘homecoming’ of international cricket to the country after nearly a decade of having to use the UAE as their alternate home base.

Historic occasion for Pakistan cricket

Pakistan’s international isolation began with the terrorist attack on the touring Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 and it is now the same opposition which has come to their rescue in their bid to restore normalcy back to the country.

The importance of the series was not lost on Sarfraz Ahmed who has been retained as Pakistan’s skipper for the upcoming limited-overs clashes.

“History will be made on Friday when Karachi will host the first bilateral ODI series since January 2009,” Sarfraz said on Tuesday.

“I request all local cricket fans to be part of history so that they can tell the next generation that they were at the National Stadium when an international series was played.

“Leading the Pakistan cricket team in a bilateral ODI series in front of my home crowd will be one of the highlights of my career.”

The Pakistan fans are ready to pack the stadium on Friday.

The Pakistan fans are ready to pack the stadium on Friday.

Visitors greeted by presidential level security

Sri Lanka’s touring party landed in Karachi on Tuesday and was greeted by a security arrangement usually afforded to visits by heads of state. It is a tour that is finally going ahead after some back and forth by Sri Lanka Cricket following a tip-off by its government for a potential terror threat to the touring team.

SLC were at one point even reassessing their decision to tour the country but all those fears were ultimately allayed by the Pakistan government who assured the visitors of the highest level of security.

It is still a Sri Lanka squad missing some big names such as Lasith Malinga and Dimuth Karunaratne after as many as 10 players pulled out of the tour citing security concerns. In their stead, it is Lahiru Thirimanne and Dasun Shanaka who will lead the rejigged ODI and T20 squads respectively on the tour.

Despite the absence of their star men, the Sri Lankans will hope to carry the winning momentum from their most recent 3-0 ODI series whitewash over Bangladesh on home soil.

Era of Misbah starts now

While Sri Lanka’s visit to Pakistan is historic in its own right, Friday will also mark the true start of Misbah-ul-Haq’s tenure as the new head coach and chief selector of the men’s team. The former Pakistan skipper replaced Mickey Arthur in the role after the team’s failure to qualify for the 2019 World Cup semi-final and he will hope to usher in the new era in the most positive of fashions.

The 45-year-old has already reportedly rung the changes from the players’ diets to their training regime with no stone being left unturned to take the team to the next level. The eyes of the Pakistan cricket fraternity will expectantly be on Misbah and his men on Friday and it will most certainly be an emotional start to the highly respected former batsman’s reign.

“Friday’s match will be an emotional one for me as I played at the National Stadium when it last staged an ODI, also against Sri Lanka,” Misbah said.

“Ten years later, I will start my time as head coach of the Pakistan national cricket team, so the time has moved really fast.

“As the national cricket team commences its 2019-20 international season in Karachi, I hope the crowds will once again be there to encourage us and help us do better.”

Plenty of expectations from Misbah in Pakistan.

Plenty of expectations from Misbah in Pakistan.

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