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Shahid Afridi calls on Babar Azam to move down the order

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Pakistan skipper Babar Azam should stand aside and give Mohammad Haris his opener slot to boost their top-order firepower in Wednesday’s T20 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, former captain Shahid Afridi said.

Pakistan, the 2009 champions, looked set to exit the competition until the Netherlands pulled off a major upset by beating South Africa on Sunday.

Mohammad Rizwan and Babar went into the tournament ranked as the top two T20 batters but neither has managed a fifty in the tournament so far. Rizwan has scored at a run-a-ball rate while Babar, Pakistan’s premier batsman, has a strike rate of 61.90.

Both will have to up their game against last year’s runners-up New Zealand in the first semi-final in Sydney. India play England in the second semi in Adelaide on Thursday.

“Babar Azam needs to listen to suggestions,” former all-rounder Afridi told a private TV channel.

“We need to use Mohammad Haris with fielding restrictions. Babar Azam should drop to number three.”

Afridi said Pakistan’s top order should play with more intent and be as aggressive as middle-order batters Iftikhar Ahmed and Shan Masood.

“You look at Iftikhar or Shan Masood and you can see their intention in their body language, that they are looking to hit the ball. We need that kind of intention, that kind of cricket.

“What’s the point of scoring a run-a-ball 30 or 35 if you can’t finish the game having used up that many deliveries?” the 42-year-old added. 

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‘Dirty politics’: Shaheen comes out in defence of Shahid Afridi

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Star pacer Shaheen Afridi has come out in defence of his father-in-law Shahid Afridi who has been dragged into “dirty politics” by a fake statement about former prime minister Imran Khan.

“I request you all to only think about Pakistan. We should not indulge ourselves into any act which divides us further,” the Pakistani cricketer said in a statement, sharing a video statement of Shahid Afridi.

“Hum Sab ko apni apni fields me positive reh ker Pakistan ka haq Ada kerna hoga. Pakistan Noor hai or Allah pak is Noor Ki Hamesha hifazat farmayain ge, Ameen.”

Earlier, in a hard-hitting video statement, the former Pakistani captain Shahid Afridi slammed those dragging him in their “dirty politics”.

“I am observing since yesterday that a statement is being shared on social media under my name about former prime minister Imran Khan is very sad news. Whoever is doing this, is indulging in very dirty politics. Neither I want to be part of this activity nor I am involved in this.”

The former chief selector, in a visibly angry mood, said that he had the courage to say whatever he wants to say.

“I never made any such statement anywhere on my social media. So please don’t involve me in this dirty politics. Aap ko apki siasat mubarak ho. My only politics is to serve this nation.”

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Pak vs NZ: PCB revises schedule of New Zealand’s tour to Pakistan

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LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Monday revised the schedule of the limited-overs tour of New Zealand to Pakistan due to “elections in Punjab”. 

The Blackcaps are scheduled to play five ODIs and five T20Is with the PCB and New Zealand Cricket “unanimously” agreeing to make “tweaks” to the tour, the board said in a statement today.

According to sources, the itinerary was changed due to the upcoming general elections in Punjab scheduled on April 30.

As per the new schedule, New Zealand will arrive in Lahore and play three T20Is from April 14-17, before traveling to Rawalpindi where the final two T20Is and first ODI will be played from April 20-26. 

The tour will end in Karachi with the remaining four ODIs to be played from April 30-May 7.

The PCB said that this is an additional tour by the New Zealand cricket team and the matches will count towards ICC Team Rankings.

The ODIs will also help Pakistan to prepare their side for the Asia Cup and ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, while the T20I will assist the PCB to continue with their rebuilding of the side for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, which will be held in the USA and West Indies in June/July 2024.

Revised schedule:

  • April 14 – 1st T20I, Lahore
  • April 15– 2nd T20I, Lahore
  • April 17– 3rd T20I, Lahore
  • April 20– 4th T20I, Rawalpindi
  • April 24– 5th T20I, Rawalpindi
  • April 26– 1st ODI, Rawalpindi
  • April 30– 2nd ODI, Karachi
  • May 3 – 3rd ODI, Karachi
  • May 5 – 4th ODI, Karachi
  • May 7 – 5th ODI, Karachi

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PSL 2023: Babar Azam becomes top-run scorer

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Peshawar Zalmi skipper Babar Azam became the top scorer of the ongoing season of Pakistan Super League (PSL) during the second Eliminator against Lahore Qalandars at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Friday.

Babar has outclassed Multan Sultans skipper Mohammad Rizwan who has played 11 matches and scored 516 runs in this edition.

As Babar scored his 37th run during the Eliminator, his total score for the tournament so far jumped to 522, surpassing Rizwan’s total.

The match is also Babar’s eleventh match in this edition.

This is the second time Babar has passed the 500-run mark. He first achieved this milestone during the 6th edition of the tournament in 2021, scoring 554 runs.

Previous records

Despite a rough start for the Zalmi during the tournament, the side’s captain seems to be on a roll. In the match against Islamabad United yesterday, Babar became the fastest cricketer to score 9,000 runs in T20 cricket.

Earlier, during the 27th match of the tournament, the right-handed batter smashed another 50 — the fastest 50 of his T20 career.

The right-handed batter scored 73 off 39 balls to help Zalmi score 242-6 in 20 overs. It was also his 83rd 50+ score in T20s.

Two days before that, during the 25th fixture of the tournament Babar also achieved another milestone. The skipper scored his first PSL century.

Babar managed to score 115 runs at a strike rate of 171.66 during a match against Quetta Gladiators at the Pindi Cricket Stadium — silencing his critics. His knock consisted of 15 fours and three maximums.

In PSL alone, the national side skipper has scored 2935 runs in the 77 innings he has played since the maiden season of Pakistan’s premier league. While Babar has one ton to his name — which he smashed in the ongoing season — he has scored 28 50s to date.

Babar has smashed 323 fours and 46 sixes in the PSL seasons he featured in.

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