15-member Pakistan cricket squad announced for World Cup 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan met with Pakistani Cricket Team at Bani Gala (Photo Courtesy: PTI Twitter)
Updated 19 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.


Interview: Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter on standing up to ‘ruthless’ Erdogan

Updated 23 May 2019
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Interview: Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter on standing up to ‘ruthless’ Erdogan

  • ‘I have an obligation to speak against atrocities,’ basketball star tells Arab News
  • ‘Whatever I am going through in my personal life doesn’t impact my performance on court’

CHICAGO: NBA superstar Enes Kanter says he loves his homeland Turkey as much as he loves professional basketball. 

Yet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has continuously attacked Kanter, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Erdogan has arrested Kanter’s father, and bullied his family after accusing the basketball player of being part of the Hizmet movement of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the president asserts was behind a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Two years ago this week, Erdogan demanded that Kanter be arrested, and fears of violence from the Turkish state have gotten so bad that the FBI installed a panic button to help protect the player.

Kanter said he will continue to play professional basketball, and will not be silent about the Turkish government’s repression.

“His (Erdogan’s) regime’s and his hostility to me began in 2013 when I first start criticizing (the) government on unjust, unfair and illegal closures of college preparatory centers linked to businesspeople in the Hizmet movement,” Kanter said.

 “This closure pretty much became the first public clash between the Erdogan regime and the Hizmet movement,” he added.

“It was obvious that there was something that Erdogan doesn’t like about the Hizmet movement. Up until the closures of college preparatory centers, no one knew about that,” Kanter said.

“The way Erdogan handled this relationship was brutal, ruthless, unjust and unfair. I can’t stand for any of these, so I stood up against this tyranny and started criticizing. Neither Erdogan stopped his approach nor I, and we’ve kept clashing since then.”

Kanter said he will continue to play professional basketball, and will not be silent about the Turkish government’s repression. (AFP)

Kanter played for the Turkish national team at EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania, and for the Turkish U18 national team in 2009.

He led Turkey to the bronze medal at the European Championships in France, and was named Best Player and Best Center at the 2009 European Championships by Eurobasket.com. 

Kanter signed with the Utah Jazz in 2011, the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015, the New York Knicks in 2017, and the Portland Trail Blazers in February this year.

The Trail Blazers lost the Western Division Playoffs, the first step to the NBA Championships, to California’s Golden State Warriors in the final game on Monday.

Erdogan’s threats have placed enormous pressure on Kanter, but he insists it has not impacted his performance or his commitment to help the people of Turkey.

“I’m a successful professional athlete, and whatever I’m going through in my private life would never impact my performance on court,” he said.

“They’re two different worlds for me … I’ve known nothing else but basketball … since I was 13, so I guess it’s pretty important,” he added.

“I see basketball and my platform as a way to teach the younger generation how to be successful and hopeful for the future,” Kanter said.

“Once you’re a successful professional athlete, younger generations see you as a role model, so … I’m trying to do my best to set my life as a role model to them,” he added.

“I believe I have an obligation as a human being to speak up against any atrocities. I believe that as a human being I should be standing for human rights, democracy and freedom of speech … Me being a celebrity makes it easier for people to hear, see and experience what I believe.”

I believe I have an obligation as a human being to speak up against any atrocities.

Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers center

On Erdogan, Kanter does not mince words. “He’s a dictator by definition. He silences media, destroys opposition, demonizes his critics … so all these make him a dictator,” Kanter said.

“Turkey deserves a leader who’s open minded, democratic, progressive, intelligent, modest and forward thinking, a leader who embraces everybody in the community regardless of their political choices.”

The harassment from Erdogan has put Kanter’s family at risk too. “I can’t say they’re safe when my dad lost his job and got jailed based on terrorism charges because I’m his son,” Kanter said. “These allegations are baseless and ridiculous, so how could I feel they’re safe?”

He said he respects Gulen and the Hizmet movement, rejecting Erdogan’s claims against them.

“I’m so close to Mr. Fethullah Gulen in terms of his life philosophy and teachings. I admire his way of extracting an individual’s inner potential … in order to be a better person in his or her community,” Kanter said.

“Erdogan should know that he’ll be brought to justice one day and pay for his mistakes. First, he should stop all his unjust, inhumane acts against the people of Turkey. Second, he should start making everybody’s life better in Turkey.”

Before moving to the US in 2009 to attend college in California, Kanter was a star basketball player in Turkey’s premier leagues.

He said despite playing for the NBA in the US, he still sees himself as a champion for Turkey and its people.

“I was Turkey’s best basketball player, and I’m still Turkey’s best basketball player. The only difference is that I’m now representing my country in the US. I left Turkey for a better opportunity in my career, to play in the NBA,” he added.

“I think everyone in society has an obligation to speak out on issues of human rights and democracy, and to stand tall against atrocities, inhumane practices and dictatorships,” Kanter said.

Celebrities like himself “have a bigger opportunity to make a difference and to raise awareness on such issues because of our platforms,” he added.

Erdogan has continuously attacked Kanter, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers. (AFP)