Umar Akmal, Asif Ali and other Pakistan players with a point to prove in the T20I series vs Sri Lanka

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Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad will be looking to impress Misbah.

Misbah-ul-Haq’s tenure as Pakistan head coach got off to the perfect start with the hosts putting Sri Lanka to the sword in the three-match ODI series at Karachi.

The former Pakistan skipper will now hope to achieve similar success in the upcoming T20I series which gets underway on Saturday.

Misbah has already sprung a few surprises in the 16-man Pakistan T20 squad announced on Wednesday with as many as three players making their international comebacks.

As the hosts prepare to do battle in the three-match series at Lahore, we look at five players who will be keen to prove a point to Misbah.

Umar Akmal

Controversy’s favourite child Umar Akmal is back after being called up to the T20 squad for the first time since September 2016.

Despite his undeniable prodigious talent with the bat, the 29-year-old’s run-ins with previous head coach Mickey Arthur and inconsistent form saw him drop out of favour with the Men in Green.

He was given a recall to the ODI squad earlier this year in the five-match series against Australia but failed to make the most of his chance and ultimately missed the cut for the 2019 World Cup squad.

Having impressed in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) for Quetta Gladiators, the younger Akmal sibling will now hope to bring that same solid form into the T20 clashes against Sri Lanka.

Misbah has made it clear that he is willing to give forgotten players a second chance and Akmal will need to seize his opportunity if he wants to be a consistent present in the Pakistan set-up.

A second life for Umar Akmal.

A second life for Umar Akmal.

Ahmed Shehzad

Having lost his place in the Pakistan squad after failing a doping test last year, Shehzad is one of the three players who has been given a new lease of life by Misbah for the upcoming series.

Like Umar, Shehzad too, has divided opinions over the course of his international career with his inconsistent displays. While his T20I average of 26.43 might be nothing to write home about, Shehzad has still managed to register the two highest individual scores in the format by any Pakistan batsman.

He remains the sole T20I centurion for Pakistan and gave brief glimpses of his ability in the PSL earlier this year. With Imam-ul-Haq (injury) and Abid Ali missing out for the upcoming seriers, the 27-year-old could really make the opening spot his own if he can register some big scores in the three clashes.

An excellent opportunity for Shehzad.

An excellent opportunity for Shehzad.

Asif Ali

The explosive middle-order batsman was meant to be Pakistan’s trump card in the 2019 World Cup but he failed to make his mark and was dropped from the playing XI after two poor displays.

Having battled through personal tragedy in the summer, the T20 series is a chance for the Islamabad United batsman to reaffirm his limited-overs credentials for Pakistan.

He possesses the ability to clear the rope at will as his displays in the PSL have shown over the years, but his failure to bring the same consistency to the international stage has set him back time and again.

Asif was one the key protagonists in Pakistan’s rise to the top of the T20I rankings and he will now need to do it all again if he wants to remain in Misbah’s good books.

Pakistan batsman Asif Ali.

Pakistan batsman Asif Ali.

Faheem Ashraf

Asif’s Islamabad United team-mate Faheem Ashraf is another one to be given a second chance by Misbah and the all-rounder will be determined to prove a point after his 2019 World Cup snub.

Along with his ability to bowl some tidy seamers, Faheem is also a handy lower-order batsman who can pile on some quick runs in the death overs.

The 25-year-old has serious competition for the all-rounder’s spot with Imad Wasim and Iftikhar Ahmed also vying for the same place. However, he can put himself in the driving seat if he can considerably improve on his measly T20I batting average of 11.36.

Faheem Ashraf.

Faheem Ashraf.

Mohammad Hasnain

The 19-year-old turned heads with his express pace in the 2019 PSL and a Pakistan debut followed soon after in the ODI series against Australia. The teenager was able to book his spot in Pakistan’s 2019 World Cup squad subsequently but chances have since dried up for him.

The Hyderabad man has been carrying the towel in Pakistan’s last 10 ODI encounters and failed to get a single game in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka.

With skipper Sarfraz Ahmed promising to give every player a chance in the upcoming T20 series, Hasnain could finally get another opportunity to impress.

While he is definitely one for the future, Hasnain only needs to look at fellow youngster Shaheen Afridi’s meteoric rise for immediate inspiration.

Young Pakistan pacer Mohammad Hasnain.

Young Pakistan pacer Mohammad Hasnain.

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From Manchester Originals to Trent Rockets - All you need to know about The Hundred's inaugural edition

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The Hundred is coming. Image credit - ECB/PA.

The first players have been selected for the inaugural edition of The Hundred, an eight-team competition spread across five weeks that is set to launch next summer.

England’s Test stars were picked in the first stage of the draft process on Thursday, with ‘icon’ players from each side’s catchment area also chosen, while the team names were finally confirmed.

Ben Stokes was chosen ahead of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow by the Leeds-based Northern Superchargers, meaning the Yorkshire pair will not compete for their ‘home’ side in The Hundred.

The England and Wales Cricket Board’s brainchild has led to some controversy since it was announced as a new format, consisting of 100 balls per side with traditional six-ball overs banished.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at each city-based franchise.

Leeds

Name: Northern Superchargers

Venue: Headingley

Representing: Yorkshire and Durham

Coach: Darren Lehmann

England Test Player: Ben Stokes

Local Icons: Adil Rashid & David Willey

Northern Superchargers had an embarrassment of riches to choose from for their England Test player pick, but opted for Stokes, with Root and Bairstow set to play away from their home ground Headingley.

Manchester

Name: Manchester Originals

Venue: Old Trafford

Representing: Lancashire

Coach: Simon Katich

England Test Player: Jos Buttler

Local Icons: Saqib Mahmood & Matt Parkinson

With James Anderson acting as a ‘mentor’ in the competition rather than a player, Manchester Originals had a simple pick to take Jos Buttler. Their icon player choice was trickier, with Matt Parkinson and Saqib Mahmood getting the nod over Liam Livingstone.

Nottingham

Name: Trent Rockets

Venue: Trent Bridge

Representing: Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire

Coach: Stephen Fleming

England Test Player: Joe Root

Local Icons: Alex Hales & Harry Gurney

Root was scooped up by the Trent Rockets, who are also able to boast one of the world’s most destructive T20 batsmen in Nottinghamshire’s Alex Hales as one of their local icons.

Birmingham

Name: Birmingham Phoenix

Venue: Edgbaston

Representing: Warwickshire and Worcestershire

Coach: Andrew McDonald

England Test Player: Chris Woakes

Local Icons: Moeen Ali & Pat Brown

Chris Woakes was the only England Test player available to the Birmingham Phoenix with Moeen Ali having lost his red-ball contract, but the Worcestershire all-rounder was a simple choice as local icon alongside his county team-mate Pat Brown – who has been rewarded for superb Vitality Blast form.

Cardiff

Name: Welsh Fire

Venue: Sophia Gardens

Representing: Glamorgan, Gloucestershire and Somerset

Coach: Gary Kirsten

England Test Player: Jonny Bairstow

Local Icons: Tom Banton & Colin Ingram

Bairstow will spearhead the Welsh Fire, who also pick Somerset’s Tom Banton. The wicketkeeper-batsman has burst onto the scene with scintillating white-ball form this season and is rewarded with a pick in The Hundred. Gary Kirsten is currently the coach, although he has been linked strongly to the vacant position as England head coach.

North London

Name: London Spirit

Venue: Lord’s

Representing: Middlesex, Essex and Northamptonshire

Coach: Shane Warne

England Test Player: Rory Burns

Local Icons: Eoin Morgan & Dan Lawrence

England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan does not have a Test contract but is the eye-catching name in the London Spirit squad. They also choose Essex batsman Dan Lawrence as a local icon, with Rory Burns their Test player.

South London

Name: Oval Invincibles

Venue: The Oval

Representing: Surrey and Kent

Coach: Tom Moody

England Test Player: Sam Curran

Local Icons: Jason Roy & Tom Curran

The Curran brothers are, unsurprisingly, paired together alongside Jason Roy – who was not handed a red-ball contract after a disappointing start to his Test career.

Southampton

Name: Southern Brave

Venue: Ageas Bowl

Representing: Hampshire and Sussex

Coach: Mahela Jayawardene

England Test Player: Jofra Archer

Local Icons: James Vince & Chris Jordan

Jofra Archer’s stunning arrival on the international scene made him a certainty for the Southern Brave, where he lines up alongside Sussex team-mate and friend Chris Jordan as well as Hampshire’s James Vince.

Provided by Press Association Sports

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India v South Africa: Mayank Agarwal overshadows Rohit Sharma and other talking points as hosts take control

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A special day for Mayank Agarwal. Image credit - BCCI/Twitter.

An eventful Day Two in the first Test between India and South Africa saw the hosts consolidate their grip on the clash after a superb double ton from opener Mayank Agarwal.

Virat Kohli’s men rode on the superb display from the 29-year-old batsman to post a mammoth total of 502-7 before declaring their first innings.

In response, South Africa were left reeling at 39-3 by India’s spinners before stumps were drawn at Visakhapatnam.

After what was yet another fruitful day for India, we look at the key takeaways.

Agarwal cashes in on good pitch

India started the day at 202-0 with Rohit Sharma looking to kick-on from his excellent ton on opening debut. However, it was his partner Agarwal who took the spotlight on the second day with the Karnataka batsman registering his maiden Test ton before going on to double his tally in the afternoon session.

The two openers forged India’s first 300-plus partnership since Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane racked up a 365-run stand for the fourth wicket against New Zealand in October, 2016.

While Rohit’s 176-run knock was ended by Keshav Maharaj, Agarwal continued to march on in imperious fashion before raising his bat for the second time in the day.

It was just reward for the 28-year-old’s perseverance after he had previously failed to convert good starts in the 2018 tour of Australia.

With young Prithvi Shaw currently suspended for a doping violation, Agarwal might have just made the opening spot his own for the near future along with Rohit.

Maharaj’s long toil bears some fruit

With India’s openers making merry at Vizag, South Africa’s bowlers were put through the grind for the better part of four sessions. While the position the visitors currently find themselves in is unenviable, the tireless display of Keshav Maharaj deserves a special mention.

The left-armed orthodox spinner bowled as many as 55 overs over the course of the two days with South Africa’s two other spinners bowling just the 34 overs between them.

While there isn’t much for the visitors to shout home about after two poor days, Maharaj can hold his head high after picking up the three prized scalps of Rohit, Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari.

It was Maharaj’s toil that saw the hosts suffer a mini-collapse in the middle-order and go from a position of absolute strength at 317-0 to 457-6.

The 29-year-old might not possess the variations that the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin have but he showed that there is still a place for old-school orthodox spinners who rely just on one stock delivery.

Maharaj does the long toil. Image credit - ICC/Twitter.

Maharaj does the long toil. Image credit – ICC/Twitter.

India spinners rattle South Africa

The threat of more rain ahead forced Kohli to declare much earlier than he would have liked but it also ensured that South Africa had to survive 20 uncomfortable overs before the close of play.

It was a task at which the Proteas failed miserably with India’s formidable spin attack wasting no time in making their presence known. Just four overs of pace with the new-ball was enough for Kohli to unleash his spinners into the bowling attack and mayhem ensued immediately.

Ravchandran Ashwin was the first to strike with the veteran sending Aiden Markram’s stumps flying with a ripper of an off-spinner. The 33-year-old had his second scalp moments later after some superb wicketkeeping from Wriddimah Saha saw Theunis de Bruyn stumped by the barest of margins.

It went from bad to worse for South Africa before the end of play with Ravindra Jadeja getting in on the action at Vizag. The left-armed spinner’s arm-delivery gave nightwatchman Dane Piedt no chance with the visitors collapsing to 34-3.

With three days still to go in the Test and the amount of turn already available, the Proteas face a tough time ahead if they are to walk away from the game with anything other than a defeat.

For Ashwin, it was the perfect riposte after the off-spinner had fallen out of favour in recent overseas tours and he is now just six wickets away from becoming the joint fastest player in history to claim 350 Test dismissals.

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