Pakistan win toss, elect to bat first against Sri Lanka in must-win Asia Cup clash – Arab News
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s cricket captain Babar Azam won the toss and elected to bat first against Sri Lanka on Thursday as his side takes on the Asia Cup defending champions in a must-win encounter in Colombo. 
Rain delayed a must-win Asia Cup match in Colombo between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, making it a 45 overs-a-side match between the two teams. 
Pakistan will pray for the match to finish without interruptions today as a washout would mean Sri Lana qualify for the final of the tournament against India courtesy of a better run rate. 
Pakistan win the toss and elect to bat first. The match has been reduced to 45 overs per side #PAKvSL | #AsiaCup2023
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) September 14, 2023
“Saud Shakeel and Imam ul Haq are out,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in a statement. “Saud has fever and Imam has suffered a back spasm during warm up.
“Fakhar Zaman and Abdullah Shafique come in.”
Pakistan have called in right-arm pacer Zaman Khan to replace the injured Shah against Sri Lanka for the Asia Cup tournament. 
Khan and Shahnawaz Dahani were called up as reserve pacers by the PCB as a “precautionary move” following injuries to Rauf and Shah during Monday’s Asia Cup fixture against India. 
Pakistan suffered a demoralizing defeat at the hands of India in their second Super Four match of the Asia Cup on Monday, losing to Rohit Sharma’s squad by a whopping 228 runs. Pakistan’s dangerous pace attack was no match for the Indian batters, who piled on 356/2 at the end of 50 overs. In response, Pakistan were bowled out for 128 runs by the rival team.
The PCB said Rauf “continues to recover well” after he felt discomfort in his right flank on Sunday against India.
Pakistan made one other change to their playing XI squad against Sri Lanka, dropping out-of-form opening batter Fakhar Zaman and opting instead for the aggressive Mohammad Haris.
“Mohammad Haris, Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Jr., and Zaman Khan will be in the team,” the PCB said in a statement. “Fakhar Zaman, Salman Ali Agha, Faheem Ashraf, Naseem Shah, and Haris Rauf will rest.”
Pakistan Bowling Coach Morne Morkel spoke about the team’s devastating loss to India, saying it had been a good learning experience ahead of the 50-over World Cup match where they will meet once again in Ahmedabad on October 14.
“Those are fantastic learnings for us,” Morkel, who rated Shaheen as “world-class,” said. “The more tough situations we can face leading into the World Cup, that’s brilliant. You know, we’re gonna grow from this and then come back stronger.”
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan filed a bail application in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday in a case registered under the Official Secrets Act of 1923 in which he has been accused of divulging the contents of a confidential diplomatic cable for political purposes.
The development follows the decision of a special court conducting his prison trial in the matter which turned down his bail petition on Thursday. Khan has been in District Jail, Attock, since he was arrested from his residence in Lahore in corruption case last month.
The former prime minister mentioned the diplomatic dispatch from a country’s former envoy to Washington for the first time at a rally in Islamabad right before his ouster in a no-confidence vote in April of last year, telling his party supporters it proved a US conspiracy to topple his administration.
While the US denied being involved in any such conspiracy, Pakistani authorities accused Khan of compromising the state’s secret communication system with its diplomatic missions abroad and set up the special court to hold his trial.
According to Dawn newspaper, the ex-premier petition has asked the court to grant him post-arrest bail until the final disposal of the case.
“Never before, history has witnessed the ‘arrest’ and ‘prosecution’ of a former prime minister and a former foreign minister under this law,” the newspaper shared the content of the bail application that also made a reference to Khan’s close aide and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi who is also facing allegation in the cipher case.
“The petitioner’s primary concern was to prevent foreign interference in domestic political affairs,” it added.
The bail application described Khan as “one of the few honest and dignified statesmen” of the country, saying the sole objective of the case was “political victimisation and score-settling.”
The document also maintained the ex-PM had become a threat for the “well-established political forces” of Pakistan during to his growing popularity with the masses.
While the special court had extended Khan’s judicial remand until September 26 during its last hearing, the IHC accepted his petition which will be heard by Chief Justice Amir Farooq on Monday.
ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar described Pakistan’s border situation as “alarming” in an interview on Saturday, though he ruled out the possibility of any delay in the next general elections due to the security situation on the country’s international frontiers.
Kakar made this assertion against the backdrop of rising political voices seeking the election commission to announce the date for the national polls, which have already been delayed due to the delimitation of national and provincial constituencies in the country.
President Arif Alvi had dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in August, just a few days before its tenure was set to expire.
According to the constitution, the next election should have been held within 90 days, ending at the beginning of November. However, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decided to redraw the constituencies based on a digital census conducted earlier this year in April. There is growing uncertainty surrounding the national polls since then which may now happen somewhere in February.
The prime minister told the Voice of America’s Urdu service there was no fear of delayed elections due to security situation on Pakistan’s borders.
“At the moment, I do not see any such possibility,” he told the interviewer. “It is true that there is an alarming situation on the eastern and western borders which has enhanced the security threat and our response mechanism. But we are confident that we will control the situation and complete the electoral process at the same time.”
Kakar disagreed when asked why his administration was doing almost everything other than focusing on the national polls.
“It is not right to say that we are not taking steps to facilitate elections,” he continued. “The caretaker administration has been fulfilling the Election Commission of Pakistan’s requirements and fully providing it assistance on a daily basis.”
However, he reiterated it was not the mandate of his interim government to announce the elections and was only required to provide financial, security and other assistance to the ECP.
He also maintained his government would not raise any objection if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of holding the general elections within the 90-day period.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s cricket body said on Saturday its team of medical experts was examining a shoulder injury sustained by pacer Naseem Shah during a recent Asia Cup match, as a media report claimed he might miss the upcoming World Cup in India.
Shah was bruised and left the ground during Pakistan’s second 50-over match against India that was played in Colombo last week.
Apart from losing the fast bowler in the field, the green shirts also suffered a massive defeat by 228 runs at the hands of their traditional cricket rivals.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board’s medical team has been monitoring the status of Naseem Shah’s shoulder injury sustained during the Asia Cup 2023,” the PCB said in its official statement. “Medical consultations with the experts are underway to provide the best possible care to him.”
“The PCB medical panel will decide on the fast bowler’s return to cricket based on further assessments,” it added.
According to a report that appeared on ESPN Cricinfo, the Pakistani quick could miss the ODI World Cup since the scans had revealed the injury to his right shoulder was much worse than initially suspected.
“The PCB is understood to be seeking a second opinion, but scans from tests in Dubai appear to show the injury could rule him out for the rest of year,” it said. “Should secondary results back up the initial ones, Naseem could be looking at a long layoff. His participation in the Test series in Australia at the turn of the year is in doubt, and he could also miss the next Pakistan Super League in 2024.”
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said a day earlier Shah was central to his team’s World Cup plans.
“Naseem Shah has missed a couple of [Asia Cup] matches [and] I don’t know about his recovery,” he said. “But in my opinion he will be in the World Cup.”
If Shah is ruled out from the upcoming tournament in India, it would be a major setback to Pakistan.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s national air carrier said on Saturday its flight operations were beginning to return to normal just a few days after its management confirmed its decision to ground much of its fleet amid a major financial crisis.
The state-owned enterprise is said to be on the verge of default, as the government refused to provide Rs 23 billion ($76 million) in support of operational expenses, as requested by airline officials.
Authorities had previously allocated substantial funds to assist Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). However, it continued to rack up billions of rupees in arrears and losses over the years.
The caretaker administration of Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar convened a meeting this month to review PIA’s situation and instructed relevant officials to prepare a restructuring plan to improve the financial situation of the cash-strapped airline.
“PIA flight operations have started to return to normal,” its management announced in a brief statement. “Seventy-two flights will depart from airports across the country [on Saturday]. Eighteen domestic flights have already departed while 54 overseas flights will be flying out soon.”
PIA also issued a statement a day earlier, denying the rumors of its closure due to the ongoing financial situation. Prior to that, media reports suggested the airline’s management was beginning to scale down its flight operations.
The national air carrier confirmed earlier this week it had grounded 14 out of its 31 aircraft due to the financial crisis.
But the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of Pakistan turned down its request for a massive bailout package of Rs 23 billion last week without getting a viable plan to deal with its financial crisis.
The ECC asked the Finance Division and the State Bank of Pakistan to assist PIA management, but only after the restructuring plan was finalized and approved.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Hellenic Police of Greece have agreed to cooperate against human trafficking and migrant smuggling by formalizing a memorandum of understanding (MoU), Pakistan state media reported on Saturday, months after a deadly shipwreck killed Pakistanis among hundreds off Greece. 
On June 14, a weathered trawler foundered in the vicinity of Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula, with approximately 750 individuals from Pakistan, Egypt and Syria aboard who were bound for Italy from Libya. Only 104 of them were rescued.   
Officials said more than 350 Pakistanis were among the passengers who were escaping challenging economic circumstances at home for a brighter future in Europe.   
The agreement between Pakistan’s FIA and the Greek police would allow for the exchange of critical information on human smugglers, the state-run Radio Pakistan reported. 
“This strategic collaboration will enable the exchange of critical information, bolster mutual support in criminal investigations, and promote capacity-building endeavours between the two agencies,” the report read. 
“This significant accord shows the dedication of both agencies to combat transnational crimes.” 
Following the June 14 incident, Pakistani officials had vowed to take decisive measures against human smugglers, prompting the FIA to initiate a campaign against the illicit operators.  
Last week, the FIA also announced the arrest of a “most wanted” suspect in the Greek migrant shipwreck.  
“The most wanted human trafficker involved in the Greek boat accident has been arrested by the FIA’s Gujrat circle,” the anti-crime agency said in a statement.  
The individual in question, Javed Hussain, had been sought by the FIA in seven different cases. 


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