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Jayasuriya, Mendis help Sri Lanka to series-levelling win over Pakistan

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 Sri Lanka spinners Prabath Jayasuriya and Ramesh Mendis snared nine wickets between them to help the hosts to a 246-run series-levelling victory against Pakistan on the fifth and final day of the second Test in Galle on Thursday.

Set a record target of 508 to try and win the two-Test series 2-0, Pakistan were bundled out for 261 in their second innings after resuming the day on 89-1.

Jayasuriya picked up 5-117 for his fourth five-wicket haul in only his third Test match. Mendis, who took five wickets in the first innings, provided able support by picking up four.

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Captain Babar Azam top-scored for Pakistan, who won the opening Test at the same venue by four wickets, with a resolute knock of 81.



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Babar Azam reveals why Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim are not part of Asia Cup squad

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Pakistan men’s cricket team Babar Azam has opined that the best available players have been picked to represent the Men in Green at the 2022 Asia Cup, starting from August 27.

There has been debate over adding veteran Shoaib Malik and all-rounder Imad Wasim in the squad, however, Babar Azam believes other performers are performing well ahead of the above-mentioned players.

“After consultation with the coach and selectors, the best team has been selected. The Asia Cup is immediately after the Netherlands tour, so there is no possibility of a change in the team,” Babar said.

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“Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will be missed in the upcoming Asia Cup but Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah and Iftikhar Ahmed are players of these numbers and they have performed well. We will utilize Shadab Khan’s batting form and will look to have strong batting depth,” he added.

When asked about Imad Wasim’s return to the team, the captain said that the doors of the team are not closed for anyone but Mohammad Nawaz is performing well.

“Currently, Mohammad Nawaz is performing well in white-ball cricket and has won us matches, the way he is performing, he must continue, however, Pakistan will definitely include him in the team whenever required.

He also backed the Pakistan team’s bench strength while also hoping that star pacer Hasan Ali makes a strong comeback after being dropped from the side for the ODI series against the Netherlands and the Asia Cup.

“The bench strength of Pakistan is very talented. Naseem Shah and Shahnawaz Dahani have got the opportunity to perform against the Netherlands,” he said. “Hasan Ali is a match winner. Hopefully, he performs well in domestic cricket and makes a comeback for Pakistan.”

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Meanwhile, Babar Azam confirmed that Shaheen Afridi will only play against the Netherlands if he is fully fit.

“We are carrying him because both of our doctors are traveling with us and they will look after them. Asia Cup and T20 World Cup are also after the series, we are trying to make him ready as soon as possible. If fit, we are trying him to play one game of the Netherlands,” he maintained.

The side will depart for Amsterdam in the wee hours of August 12.The T20I players will join the squad in Dubai for the ACC T20 Asia Cup on August 22.



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Jayawardena thinks Babar will soon dethrone Root as top Test batter

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Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardena has used the latest episode of The ICC Review to declare which batter he thinks is best placed to overtake England’s Joe Root at the top of the ICC Test Batting Rankings.

Joe Root has been ruling the roost at the top of the Test batter rankings since June this year, with the Englishman enjoying a fine World Test Championship, and in a rich vein of form under new coach Brendon McCullum.

The former England captain has scored more runs than any other player since the turn of the decade, and deservedly claimed the ICC Men’s Test Player of the Year award in 2021. 

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But Jayawardena knows how many world class batters are lining up to usurp Root at the top of proceedings and has nominated Pakistan captain Babar Azam as the player most likely to claim the top ranking in the future.

When host Sanjana Ganesan put Jayawardena on the spot during the latest episode of The ICC Review, the Sri Lankan great tipped Babar to dethrone Root at the top of the Test Rankings.

“Tough one!” Jayawardena exclaimed. “I would say Babar Azam has an opportunity. He’s been consistent in all three formats and it shows in his rankings. He’s a naturally gifted player, plays in all conditions, he’s got the game to adapt as well.

“It depends on the amount of cricket, who’s playing when and how much but the Babar might be the guy.”

Babar is the only player in the top three in the batters’ rankings in all three formats, occupying the top spot in each of the white-ball formats and currently ranked No.3 in Tests. 

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With his recent rise on the Test charts, Babar has been vocal about being the undisputed No.1 in all formats of the game and Jayawardena said the Pakistan skipper is capable of achieving the difficult feat. 

“T20Is and ODIs, it is tough one to hold on to because there are a lot of good players who have to be consistent,” Jayawardena said. 

“As long as he can be that, because he has a very good role to play in that Pakistan setup – they have batters to bat around him, so he can play his own game – he should be able to hold on to that and at the same time, push himself to get better.

“He batted really well in Sri Lanka. I think Prabath (Jayasuriya) was his nemesis – he got him three times out of the four innings. That was a very good battle to watch. Babar got a really good hundred in the first Test match.

“He’s always going to push himself to get better. Seen in a couple of his interviews recently that it is his goal as well to be No.1 across the table. There’s no harm in challenging yourself to get there. 

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“Being the captain as well, he has taken responsibility and performed, which is great to see. (It’s) Not an easy thing to do. 

“I would put my money on him at least for a little while to hold to all three but there are some good quality players around who will keep pushing him.”

Jayawardena then went into detail when quizzed about what makes Babar such a special player, with the former Sri Lanka captain indicating he was most impressed by the amount of time the Pakistan skipper has while at the crease. 

“(I) think it is just the technique, the time that he has and the composure that he has out there in the middle,” Jayawardena said in praise of Babar. 

“He’s not rattled at any time, whether he plays T20Is, ODIs or Tests, he adjusts quite brilliantly.

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“Joe (Root) in Test cricket is the same. He knows what he needs to do, he can the tempo when he wants to, bats to what the conditions offer. Babar has that same quality, so that’s why he’s been so consistent in all three formats.”

The two stars will come face to face later this year when England tour Pakistan for a three-match Test series in December. 

Root could further solidify his No.1 spot in the upcoming series against South Africa, while Babar will have to wait until the series against England later in the year to make a charge for the top.



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Few players yet to sign central contracts, asks PCB for more time

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The fees of Pakistan cricketers in all formats have been increased by 10 per cent compared to last year.

According to details, a copy of the central contract was handed to the players during the camp in Lahore. Many have signed it while some have asked for more time to study it.

PCB released the list of 33 players on June 30 for the new central contracts, starting from July 1. Players were included in different categories of red and white contracts.

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All cricketers of categories A, B, C, D and Emerging category will be paid the same match fee across formats.

The Test match fee has increased to PKR 8,38, 530. Earlier, players received PKR 7,62,300 for this format. ODI match fee has increased to PKR 5,15,696 from PKR 4,68,815.

For the shortest format, the match fee has moved to PKR 3,72,075 from PKR 3,38,250.

Pakistan’s all-format captain Babar Azam, along with Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi has been awarded both red and white-ball contracts. Babar, Shaheen and Rizwan are in the A category of both contracts.

Hasan Ali is in the B category of the red ball and the C category of the white ball. Imamul Haq is in the C category of red ball and B category in white ball.

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Amongst the 10 players who have received red-ball contracts, Azhar Ali is Category A, Abdullah Shafique, and Naseem Shah have been placed in Category C for the first time along with Saud Shakeel, who has been awarded Category D.

Fawad Alam and Nauman Ali have been retained in Category B and C, respectively, whereas Abid Ali, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shan Masood and Yasir Shah have been handed Category D contracts.

Eleven limited-over specialists were awarded white-ball contracts.

Fakhar Zaman and Shadab Khan, who were in Category B in 2021-22, have been awarded Category A contracts, while Haris Rauf has been promoted to Category B. Mohammad Nawaz has been retained in Category C.

Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir have been promoted from Emerging to Category D where they are joined by first-timers Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Wasim Jnr and Zahid Mehmood.

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In the Emerging Category, the PCB has increased the number of players from three to seven. Players in the Emerging Category are: Ali Usman, Haseebullah, Kamran Ghulam, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Huraira, Qasim Akram, and Salman Ali Agha.



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