A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

This is the start of a new era for both teams. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2019
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A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

  • Can the Whites and Green Falcons find the back of the net more often?
  • Both teams need to set the tone ahead of the important World Cup qualifiers.

LONDON: Ahead of Thursday’s friendly between the UAE and Saudi Arabia Arab News looks at the main priorities for both sides as they embark on their new eras after the Asian Cup and ahead of the all-important the World Cup qualifiers.

FIND THOSE SCORING BOOTS

For the past 18 months both sides have struggled for goals. Under Alberto Zaccheroni the UAE scored just 10 goals in the past nine matches — five of those coming against lowly Kyrgyzstan and India — and likewise the Green Falcons have also struggled to find the back of the net. Heading toward the World Cup qualifiers, now is the time to find those scoring boots.

PUT ON A SHOW

Both sides have technically gifted players, can keep the ball and at times trouble opposition defenses. But both have been too defensive, too safety-first and, at times, too dull. Football is supposed to be entertainment, and the friendlies ahead of the World Cup qualifiers might be no bad time to throw caution to the wind and see what the players can do in the final third.

SET THE TONE

As the modern cliche goes, a week is a long time in football. With all the sackings and player movements, it is not hard to see the kernel of truth in that overused saying. But, conversely, time can also move very fast in the “Beautiful Game.” It may be six months before the World Cup qualifiers begin, but it will be September before the coaches and players know it. Set the tone and tactics now and triumphs will be easier to come by then and, more importantly, further into the future.


15-member Pakistan cricket squad announced for World Cup 2019

Updated 18 April 2019
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15-member Pakistan cricket squad announced for World Cup 2019

  • The team includes three openers, four middle-order batsmen, two spinners, five fast bowlers and a wicketkeeper/batsman
  • Squad can be changed until 23rd May without informing the ICC

LAHORE: Pakistan on Thursday announced its 15-member cricket squad for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup that will be held in England at the end of the next month.
“We have selected the best available cricketers to play the very important tournament. While picking the team, we evaluated our strengths, analyzed our opponents, considered match venues, and kept the event format in our mind,” chief selector, Inzamamul Haq, told reporters here on Thursday afternoon.
Haq said that 11 players in the new cricket team had also played and won the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy in England under Sarfaraz Ahmed’s captaincy. He added that the squad included three openers, four middle-order batsmen, two spinners, five fast bowlers and a wicketkeeper/batsman.
Despite his injury, Imad Waseem has been included in the team while Muhammad Hafeez has also been take on board, though his final selection would be subject to his fitness.
“Hafeez and Shoaib are experienced players,” Haq said, “while Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Hasnain constitute the most lethal bowling unit. They have tremendous variation and variety, making it easy for them to take wickets and keep our rivals under pressure.”
The chief selector told the media that Mohammad Amir and Asif Ali would play the series against England but not participate in the world cup matches.
The ICC regulations required all participating teams to name their 15-player World Cup squad by 30th April, though changes can be made until 23rd May without seeking the ICC approval. Post-May 23, all replacements will have to be approved by the Event Technical Committee.
The Pakistan Team will play a series of five One Day International matches against the host country, England, besides playing a few warm-up matches with different county cricket teams before the start of the world fixture.
As per schedule, the team will leave for England on 23rd April for an 83-day tour. Pakistan will play its first world cup match against the West Indies on 31st May at Trent Bridge while the most interesting and crucial match of the tournament will be played on 16th June at the Old Trafford between Pakistan and India. The schedule of the team’s other World Cup matches is mentioned below:
June 03 – v England, Trent Bridge; June 07 – v Sri Lanka, Bristol; June 12 – v Australia, Taunton; June 16 – v India, Old Trafford; June 23 – v South Africa, Lords; June 26 – v New Zealand, Edgbaston; June 29 – v Afghanistan, Headingley; July 05 – v Bangladesh, Lords (d/n).
Pakistan squad includes:
Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hasnain.