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Pak vs NZ: Babar Azam scores another fifty as Pakistan reach 115-4 at lunch

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KARACHI: Pakistan are at 115-4 against New Zealand at lunch on day one of the opening Test in Karachi.

Skipper Babar Azam scored an unbeaten fifty for the hosts in the first session.

Earlier, Azam won the toss and opted to bat against New Zealand Monday in the first Test in Karachi.

The home team made three changes from the last Test which they lost to England at the same venue, suffering their first-ever home 3-0 whitewash.

Sarfaraz Ahmed is playing his first Test since January 2019, while pacer Mir Hamza returns for the first time in four years.

Opener Imam-ul-Haq is back after recovering from injury.

New Zealand start the Test with three spinners and as many pace bowlers.

The visitors were also beaten 3-0 by England in their last Test series.

Playing XI:

Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Shan Masood, Babar Azam (capt), Saud Shakeel, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Agha Salman, Nauman Ali, Mohammad Wasim, Mir Hamza, Abrar Ahmed

New Zealand: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Blundell (wk), Michael Bracewell, Tim Southee (capt), Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel

Pakistan

PCB acquires a multi-story structure next to Gaddafi Stadium

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The multi-story building is set to undergo renovations and be converted into a seven-star hotel, catering to both local and foreign guests.

With this development, the problem of housing foreign players and visiting teams during the Pakistan Super League (PSL)—who presently have to stay in five-star hotels in the area—will be resolved.

This will also save travel time and get rid of traffic problems while teams are traveling from their hotels to the stadium.

In addition, three significant stadiums, including the Gaddafi Stadium, are being renovated by PCB in preparation for the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy, which will be held in Pakistan.

In an interview with the media during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 9 final last month, Chairman PCB Mohsin Naqvi acknowledged the necessity of upgrading three main stadiums before moving on to other locations.

“Before the Champions Trophy, our three key venues—Lahore, Karachi, and Rawalpindi—will be refurbished. After these three are completed, we will renovate the remaining venues as well. After they are renovated, our stadiums will be state-of-the-art, according to Chairman PCB.

Later that month, representatives from NESPAK (National Engineering Services of Pakistan) gave the chairman the idea to renovate three significant stadiums.

In addition to highlighting the significance of renovating the hospitality boxes at all three locations, the chairman gave instructions to the officials about his plans to improve the view for the fans from every seat in the stadium, according to a press statement from the PCB.

“The Chairman directed the NESPAK officials to begin stadium work immediately, keeping in mind a tight window of time before hosting the ICC Champions Trophy 2025, as the upgradation plan will be finalized soon.”

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Pakistan

Shan Masood desires test matches between India and Pakistan.

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Due to long-standing political difficulties between the two adjacent countries, Pakistan and India have not played a Test match since 2007–08 and a bilateral series in any format since 2012–13.

However, only international competitions such as the Asia Cup and ICC World Cups brought the bitter adversaries together.

Their most recent match took place in front of an enormous crowd of about 130,000 in Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024, while their T20 World Cup 2022 match was seen by an even larger gathering of about 94,000 people at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

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Pakistan

Sources claim that Babar was reappointed as the cricket team’s captain.

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Reappointing Babar Azam to lead the national squad upon the call of the newly-formed selection committee was decided by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday.

Sources claim that Babar will captain the Green Shirts in the upcoming five-match Twenty20 series against New Zealand, which kicks off on April 20.

After the team’s crushing defeat in the ICC World Cup 2023, Shaheen Shah Afridi was chosen as the white-ball captain, while Shan Masood was named the red-ball captain by the previous PCB administration.

The sources claimed that Babar’s appointment as captain was suggested by the selection committee. They said he will go to the Kakul training camp as captain.

Shaheen had chosen to step down, but his close friends urged him against it and to wait for the PCB’s decision, according to individuals close to him.

After guiding the team for four years, Babar resigned as captain of the national team in all formats in November of last year. After Pakistan’s poor performance in both the Asia Cup and the World Cup, where they were unable to advance to the semi-finals, he faced criticism for several months.

Although Babar was named Test and white-ball captain in 2020 and 2019, respectively, the side has neither won an Asia Cup nor an ICC championship while he has been captain.

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