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Who will be Shaheen’s new-ball partner in World Cup? Babar responds

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Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam, shed light on the uncertainty surrounding the new-ball partner for Shaheen Shah Afridi in the upcoming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.

During the pre-departure presser, Babar acknowledged the void left by Naseem Shah’s absence and the unique edge that Shaheen and Naseem’s partnership had brought to the team.

“Of course we will miss Naseem Shah as Shaheen [Afridi] and Naseem bowling together gave us a different edge. It was not easy to pick his replacement, but we all sat together and got input from [chief selector] Inzamam ul Haq. We went with Hasan Ali because he has experience. He has played the World Cup before,” Babar said.

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However, Babar remained tight-lipped about disclosing who would be entrusted with the new-ball duties, highlighting the team’s decision to keep their strategies undisclosed at this juncture.

“I cannot comment who will bowl the new ball or the old ball, as we cannot reveal our strategies right now. But we have not made any concrete plans right now, it will become more clear to us when we travel to India and assess the conditions,” he further added.

Aiming to put their best foot forward in the mega tournament, Pakistan is set to leave for India tonight, where they will play their first warm-up match against New Zealand on Friday.



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Haris Rauf’s BBL participation uncertain as PCB delays NOC: report

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Pakistan pacer Haris Rauf’s participation in the Big Bash League 2023-24 is met with a potential hurdle as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is expected to delay the issuance of the No-Objection Certificate (NOC) required for his engagement in the league.

According to ESPNCricinfo, Rauf’s NOC is likely to face a delay until at least December 11, just four days after the start of the BBL. There is no confirmation of an immediate issuance thereafter.

The explanation for the delay revolves around the ongoing National T20 Cup in Pakistan, scheduled until December 10, which the PCB expects Haris Rauf to fully engage in.

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Last week, Wahab Riaz, Pakistan’s recently appointed chief selector, disclosed that Rauf had declined participation in Pakistan’s Test series in Australia scheduled for December-January.

Wahab openly expressed his displeasure at Rauf’s decision, with both sides differing on the events leading up to this point. Reportedly, the 30-year-old cited his inexperience in Test cricket as the reason for not agreeing to play in Australia. Rauf conveyed to Wahab that focusing on his white-ball game and fitness would be more beneficial.

Rauf’s potential absence from the BBL could raise concerns, especially for Melbourne Stars, who had enlisted him as a key player. Initially, it was expected that Rauf would only miss the BBL during Pakistan’s five-match T20 series in New Zealand in mid-January. However, further delays may disrupt the league’s plans.

Melbourne Stars had introduced special memberships named “House of Rauf” for the initial three games at the MCG this year, along with a dedicated seating zone called Haris Rauf Bay.

Ongoing delays in Rauf’s NOC issuance may raise concerns among Pakistan’s centrally contracted players in general. Two more players, Usama Mir (Melbourne Stars) and Zaman Khan (Sydney Thunder), are also selected for the league.

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Contract discussions between the PCB and the players faced obstacles, partly due to disagreements over the number of foreign leagues players could participate in annually. They seem to have settled on a limit of two leagues, contingent on the PCB issuing an NOC for participation.

The BBL is set to start from December 7, 2023, to January 24 2024.