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Steve Smith annoyed at missing hundred as first Test heads for draw

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RAWALPINDI: Steve Smith said he was annoyed at missing out on a century Monday as Australia’s first Test in Pakistan in nearly a quarter of a century headed for a draw in Rawalpindi.

Mitchell Starc was on 12 and skipper Pat Cummins four as Australia reached 449-7 in reply to Pakistan’s first innings total of 476-4 declared.

But Smith was annoyed with himself for getting out earlier on 78.

“I got a bit greedy with the field they had set. I had worked pretty hard and got myself in a nice position to go on and get a big score.”

Australia are on their first tour to Pakistan since 1998, having previously refused to visit over security fears.

Despite no rain forecast for Tuesday, the likelihood of a result in the opening match of the three-Test series looks bleak, barring a Pakistan batting collapse in the second innings on a wicket that still looks full of runs.

Smith believes there would have been a small chance of a result on the final day if not for the hours of play lost to the weather.

“Perhaps if we were five down we might have been able to push a little harder in the morning and potentially set something up for the fourth innings,” he said.

But the pitch at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium has produced 925 runs for just 13 wickets, and is unlikely to yield the spin needed for a result.

Still, Pakistan grabbed five wickets Monday, including that of top-ranked Test batsman Marnus Labuschagne (90) and Smith, with Nauman taking 4-107 in 37 precise overs.

Nauman broke a stubborn fifth-wicket stand of 81 between Smith and Cameron Green (48) by having the young all-rounder caught off a miscued sweep at leg slip by Iftikhar Ahmed.

Australia were looking for quick runs to go ahead in the first innings, but they were further jolted as Nauman dismissed Smith off a mishit sweep that caught the gloves and landed in wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan’s safe hands.

Smith batted two minutes short of five hours, hitting eight boundaries.

Alex Carey made 19 before he was bowled by quickie Naseem Shah in the fading light.

Earlier, overnight rain had left the outfield at the stadium waterlogged and the umpires only allowed play to start after lunch.

Australia, 271-2 overnight, progressed to 288-2 when Pakistan took the second new ball after 80 overs — and were instantly rewarded.

Left-arm paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi forced an edge off Labuschagne which Abdullah Shafique took diving to his right in the slips.

Labuschagne lasted 190 minutes during which he hit 12 boundaries.

Travis Head, fresh from being man-of-the-series in Australia’s 4-0 Ashes win back home in January, hit two boundaries before he miscued a drive off spinner Nauman and was caught behind by Rizwan.

Shaheen (1-80), Naseem (1-89) and Sajid (1-122) were the other successful Pakistan bowlers.

The second Test of the series is in Karachi from March 12-16 and the third in Lahore from March 21-25.

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Chairman, PCB Heads Meeting: Jason Gillespie, Gary Kirsten and the Committee for Selection

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PCB Chairman Mohsin Naqvi declared that the National Cricket Team will not include any player involved in misconduct and that there would be a zero-tolerance approach on disciplinary matters.

Chairman PCB announced during a thorough discussion on cricket matters that all players would need to play domestic cricket and that a fitness test would be required every three months.

He claimed that a new process would be developed for players looking to obtain a Nod of clearance for overseas leagues, and that N.O.C. would only be granted to those who satisfy the requirements.

The selection committee’s inclusion of head coach Gary Kirsten and bowling coach Jason Gillespie was also approved by the meeting.

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The captain of the Pakistan Shaheens’ white-ball team has been announced for the upcoming trip to Darwin.

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Mohammad Haris, a wicket-keeper batsman, has been chosen as the captain of Pakistan Shaheens for the two 50-over matches and nine-team Top End T20 series in Darwin, Australia. The matches will take place from 4-18 August.

Haris recently led Pakistan Shaheens in the ACC Men’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup 2023 in Colombo. In this tournament, Pakistan successfully defended their championship by defeating India with a margin of 128 runs.

The Pakistan Shaheens have already arrived in Darwin to play two four-day matches against Bangladesh ‘A’ on July 19-22 and July 26-29. Sahibzada Farhan is currently captaining the team in the longer format of the game.

Following the two four-day matches, the Shaheens will engage in 50-over matches against Northern Territory (NT) and Bangladesh ‘A’ on 4 and 6 August, respectively, prior to the start of the T20 series on 9 August.

The T20 competition includes additional teams such as ACT Comets, Bangladesh ‘A’, Melbourne Renegades, Melbourne Stars, Perth Scorchers, Northern Territory Strike, Adelaide Strikers, and Tasmania.

In addition, seven modifications have been implemented for the white-ball contests compared to the red-ball side.

Abdul Faseeh, Arafat Minhas, Arif Yaqoob, Jahandad Khan, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Imran Jnr, and Usman Khan are the replacements for Kamran Ghulam, Khurram Shahzad, Mehran Mumtaz, Mohammad Ali, Mubasir Khan, Tayyab Tahir, and Umar Amin.

The Pakistan Shaheens will participate in the Darwin series for the second consecutive year. In the previous year, NT Strike emerged victorious over Shaheens in the final of the Top End T20 Series with a margin of 46 runs. Subsequently, Pakistan Shaheens achieved a resounding victory over PNG by 224 runs and Northern Strike by 84 runs in the two One-day matches.

The white-ball squad of Pakistan Shaheens
Mohammad Haris is the captain of the team, and the other players in the squad are Abdul Faseeh, Arafat Minhas, Arif Yaqoob, Faisal Akram, Haseebullah (who is both a wicketkeeper and a batter), Muhammad Irfan Khan, Jahandad Khan, Kashif Ali, Mohammad Huraira, Mohammad Imran Jnr, Omair bin Yousuf, Sahibzada Farhan, Shahnawaz Dahani, and Usman Khan.

The personnel providing support to the players include Abdul Rehman as the head coach, Mohammad Masroor as the assistant coach-cum-manager, Mohammad Asad as the physiotherapist, Imranullah as the trainer, and Usman Hashmi as the analyst.

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Shaheen Afridi’s potential absence from the Bangladesh Test match is attributed to personal circumstances. Jason

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Jason Gillespie, the head coach of the Pakistan Red Ball team, may not be able to attend the Bangladesh Test owing to personal issues, as discussed informally with Shaheen Shah Afridi.

“Shaheen Afridi has accumulated a considerable amount of experience in the game of cricket,” remarked Jason Gillespie.

Jason Gillespie stated that Shaheen had bowled three times as much as Starc in a year. “Shaheen Shah Afridi is also involved in playing leagues across all three formats,” he stated.

The coach of the Pakistan cricket team emphasised the importance of effectively managing the workload of the fast bowlers from Pakistan. He specified that Shaan Masood will be leading the test crew.

“Although I have not yet had the opportunity to meet Shaan in person, I have been maintaining regular communication with him over the phone,” stated Jason Gillespie. Jason Gillespie stated that he encountered captain Babar Azam in Lahore.

The Pakistan team’s training camp for the upcoming series against Bangladesh is scheduled to commence in the first week of August.

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