PSL 2018 Team Preview

ICMD, Feb 20, 2018 Pakistan Super League (PSL) is set to kick-off on Thursday as six teams would lock-horns against one another to battle for this year’s ultimate prize. Here is a preview of the participants, their strengths, weakness and chances. Multan Sultans – 5 stars The debutants from City of the Saints look stacked on all ends. Multan Sultans, convened by veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik and mentored by the Sultan of Swing himself, Wasim Akram, have been making a lot of noise in both mainstream and social media. The city did not feature in last two editions of Pakistan’s biggest cricketing Mela, but they have managed to cherry-pick some of the very best names in the business. Multan’s star-studded unit includes captain Shoaib Malik, vice-captain Kieron Pollard, Thisara Parera, Ahmed Shehzad, Imran Tahir, Darren Bravo, Sohail Tanvir, Junaid Khan, Kumar Sangakkara, Umar Gul, Mohammad Irfan among others. The team appears exciting and expectations obviously are high. Sultans have a batting line-up which calls for fireworks, and on top of that, they have very reliant balling weaponry available at their arsenal making Multan an explosive, experienced and a balanced squad. On paper, there is no stronger team that the aforementioned, but since games are not won on paper, let’s not just get carried away with stardom. Quetta Gladiators – 4.5 stars Another team that promises an exciting PSL season: Quetta Gladiators, finalists of the league’s first and second edition, look better than ever after luring veterans of the game during season 3 draft. The team from Balochistan has enjoyed more success than any other franchise in previous two editions with a win-percentage of 63. The addition of Shane Watson and Afghan spin-wizard Rashid Khan has given the Quetta faithful a lot to cheer about. Moreover, Kevin Pietersen, Jason Roy, Bangladesh’s powerhouse Mahmudullah Riyad and Asad Shafiq with Sarfaraz Ahmed pulling the strings guarantees another promising year for the Gladiators. Hopefully, this time around, the team’s foreign stars would not desert the squad if the franchise qualifies for the knockouts. Last year, all buzz was buried when Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright and others opted to quit the team since they would not prefer a visit to Pakistan. The team, however, looks up and ready for another successful year in the PSL and cricket fans countrywide expect big things from the purple knights. Will they be third-time lucky? Peshawar Zalmi – 4.5 stars Albeit Shahid Afridi parted ways with his cousin-owned franchise from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the team still looks solid on paper. The defending champions, for a second year running, will be captained by Darren Sammy, who enjoys public support like any other Pakistani cricketer, or perhaps maybe more. The more prominent names from the Zalmis include Darren Sammy, Muhammad Hafeez, Hasan Ali, Kamran Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Chris Jordan, Andre Fletcher, Shakib Al Hassan and Tamim Iqbal. The Peshawar squad is stacked. Moreover, the team has the heartthrob of Pakistan film industry Hamza Ali Abbasi and the stunning Mahira Khan as its ambassadors. Although, the two might not help much when it comes to cricket, they do, however, gift Peshawar with a cutting edge over other franchises as far as marketing is concerned. Karachi Kings – 4 stars ‘Home is where the heart is’, they say, and it proved true in Shahid Afridi’s case. After spending two seasons at his cousin, Javed Afridi’s Peshawar Zalmi, Pakistan cricket’s superstar decided to switch cities. He decided to make to move to Karachi, a place he regards as his home. Lala has been living in Karachi since he was a kid and it is reason why he joined the Kings. Contrary to the previous editions, Karachi looks more solid than ever. They have a well-rounded starting eleven including Afridi himself, Muhammad Amir, Babar Azam, Imad Wasim, Eoin Morgan, Lendl Simmons, David Wiese, Tymal Mills and season one MVP Ravi Bopara. The team had underperformed in Shoaib Malik’s guardianship, but now that Karachi has brought in the most popular cricket in Pakistan, and possibly around the globe, improvements are certain. Do not be surprised if Afridi leads his team to their first and his personal second PSL prize. Lahore Qalandars – 3.5 stars For a city that eats, sleeps and breathes cricket, Lahore has failed to live up to expectations. Finishing bottom of the table for two seasons running is far from an achievement for the city, and it seems as if the future of Qalandars does not seem very bright either. In previous two editions, Lahore had a woeful balling line-up. Batting wise, the team was not superior to other partakers either. This year around, however, the team has made some promising changes in their balling department. Bangladesh’s young starlet Mustafizur Rehman and New Zealand’s Mitchell McClenaghan provide the much needed trickery, while Sohail Khan’s signing guarantees good performances this year around. Batting wise, the team is similar to a coin toss. With skipper Brendan McCullum, Fakhar Zaman and Umar Akmal at top of the order, it’s either a master blaster performance or a quick walk back to the pavilion. There’s hardly an in-between. Moreover, Chris Lynn and Cameron Delport are decent players, but they do lack experience at the top level. One might not expect Lahore to dominate and annihilate opponents, but it’s safe to say that this seasons calls for improvements and they will be seen. Islamabad United – 3.5 stars In comparison to the aforementioned teams, Islamabad United, unfortunately, does not possess the sheen this edition. The team not only let a key player in Shane Watson slip away, it also saw mentor and coach in legendary Wasim Akram join hands with the newcomers, Multan Sultans. But despite the pre-season slip-ups, and despite the shortage of plenty of mainstream stars, United have a competitive team under the leader of Misbah-ul-Haq. JP Duminy, Steven Finn, Andre Russel and Muhammad Sami have a responsibility as seniors, while Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan, Alex Hales and Faheem Ashraf promise energy and enthusiasm to the ranks. The team, is a clear underdog this time around, but how often has Misbah faced such a situation? and how often has he produced results? Islamabad United are not the most popular or lethal on paper, but they have experience in their ranks and having already won the competition once, they must know a way out, up and above. -- DT

PSL 2018 trophy unveiled by franchise captains in Dubai

ICMD, Feb 20, 2018 The trophy for the third season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) starting Feb 22 was jointly unveiled by the captains of each of the PSL franchises at a ceremony held in Dubai on Tuesday. The unveiling ceremony was accompanied by a press conference that PSL chief Najam Sethi along with Darren Sammy, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Brendon McCullum, Misbah-ul-Haq and Sarfraz Ahmed, will address. Each of those present were given an opportunity to say a few words, starting with Sethi, who thanked Swarovski for making the trophy, and introduced each of the cricketers present at the dais alongside him. Praising Karachi Kings skipper Imad Wasim, Sethi said, "He is one of the most talented players. Handing him captaincy of the Karachi Kings is an excellent opportunity. He is the youngest captain here. If the Kings win under Imad, he will be planted firmly in my crosshairs," Sethi joked. Sethi gave Sarfraz Ahmed, skipper of both the Quetta Gladiators and the national cricket team, his vote of confidence: "If someone can lead the Green Shirts, they can lead any side in the world." Each of the cricketers addressed the event by turn, starting with Shahid Afridi. "Najam Sethi has done a great thing by holding PSL. It was a challenge and he took it on," he stated. Defending champions, Peshawar Zalmi's captain, Darren Sammy gave his best to all the other captains. "They are coming for my title," he joked. "I hope the tournament becomes more successful. I hope my team is still in the running when we get to Karachi [for the final]." Islamabad United captain Misbahul Haq thanked Sethi for his praise. "I think the last two years [of PSL] were wonderful. We enjoyed the competition, it keeps getting tougher with every season," he said. Brendon McCullum, captain of the Lahore Qalandars, thanked the sponsors and the Pakistan Cricket Board for their hand in the organisation of the PSL. "I couldn't think of a better bunch to play against. You are an amazing country and you've done great things for cricket. I can't guarantee success, but we will try our best." Sarfraz, who was introduced amid loud applause, also thanked the sponsors. "I hope this season goes as well as the last two. I hope to win this series in our home city of Karachi," he said. Shoaib Malik, captain of the new franchise Multan Sultans, appreciated Sethi's conception and execution of the PSL. "It's a great sign for Pakistani cricket. The team owners, sponsors and media have played a remarkable role," he said. Sethi also appreciated the Sultans. "Possibly the biggest leap forward has been the inclusion of the Multan Sultans. They have paid through their pocket to be a part of this. It has been an extraordinary gesture on their part." The third season of the PSL will kick off in Dubai on Thursday with a star-studded ceremony headlined by the legendary Sufi singer Abida Parveen and American pop star Jason Derulo. Pakistani heartthrobs Ali Zafar and Shahzad Roy will also be entertaining fans at the event. The tournament opener featuring defending champions Peshawar Zalmi and new entrants Multan Sultans will take place the same night at 10pm in Dubai. A total of 34 matches will be played across different venues in Dubai, Sharjah, and Lahore. The final is to be held at Karachi’s National Stadium on March 25, according to the PSL schedule. During the season, all teams will play against each other twice before the top four teams qualify for the play-off stage. -- ICMD/Dawn

Nine red cards! Violent ending to Brazil football’s derby of peace

ICMD, Feb 20, 2018 A Brazilian derby between Vitoria and Bahia this Sunday (18th February) ended at the 79th minute after the home team had five players sent off with a red card. The match was called “The derby of the peace”, as it was the first time in six games that supporters from both sides were allowed in the venue

Efforts to make PSL final a memorable event

ICMD, Feb 9, 2018 Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Friday that he had fulfilled his promise with the residents of Karachi by making arrangements for the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) to be played in the city. “All government agencies concerned and the public must now work together to make the event memorable and historic.” He expressed these views while presiding over a meeting to review arrangements for the forthcoming PSL final match in Karachi. The meeting was attended by provincial ministers for Home, Health, Local Government, and Sports departments besides the Chief Secretary, the Rangers director general, the Police inspector general, the Principal Secretary to the CM, the Karachi commissioner, secretaries for Health, Home, LG and Sports departments, and representatives of intelligence agencies. During the briefing, he was told that the stadium had the capacity to accommodate 40,000 spectators. Giving guidelines to the officials, the CM said that there should be close coordination between all stakeholders. “Integrated efforts should be made by all security agencies to enable the teams to play the match in a safe and secure environment.” “I have already issued directives for provision of civic facilities,” he said, emphasising the need to ensure that arrangements for the event would not become a cause of inconvenience to the public. IG AD Khowaja told the chief minister that he had sent a team to Lahore to be briefed on security arrangements put in place by the provincial government of Punjab for recent international cricket matches played between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in October 2017. Security arrangements on the same model would be made for the PSL final, he said. Later, the chief minister constituted different committees and divided various tasks among them. An executive committee headed by the chief secretary would monitor the operations of all other committees to ensure that there were no glitches in arrangements. Separate committees were be formed for the intelligence/security and civic related issues. The security committee included officials from the Police Department, Rangers, Army and intelligence agencies. They would share their intelligence reports among themselves on a daily basis. The CM said civic agencies under the Local Government Department and the Karachi mayor would make arrangements for provision of lighting, drinking water, parking, sanitation and first aid in and around the stadium. The meeting decided that there would be aerial surveillance of the match venue using helicopters to be arranged by the Karachi corps commander. Commandoes would be deployed around the stadium and police teams would take control of security inside the stadium. The chief minister directed the health secretary to take Aga Khan Hospital and Liaquat National Hospital on board for provision of special health services if needed. The IGP was directed to prepare a traffic plan and identify and declare alternate routes for the convenience of commuters. It was decided that the law enforcement agencies would undertake a full dress rehearsal on February 11. “We have to facilitate each and every person who wants to watch the match in the stadium,” the CM said. The chief minister decided to convene a follow up meeting onFebruary 14 to review security arrangements. -- DT

West Indies' tour of Pakistan for March is confirmed: Sethi

ICMD, Feb 9, 2018 Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Najam Sethi on Friday confirmed that West Indies will be touring Pakistan towards the end of March for a three-match T20I series in Lahore. Sethi who is in UAE told media that he has also signed a trilateral series for Pakistan featuring West Indies and Bangladesh for August 2018. That series, he said, will see the national team play international cricket on American soil for the first time. Sethi also mentioned Florida and Houston as venues for the seven-match trilateral series. The West Indies' tour of Pakistan was originally scheduled for November last year but a thick blanket of smog in Lahore and the commitment of West Indies' major players to the Bangladesh Premier League became the main reasons for the postponement of the series. -- DN

Afghanistan advance to semis after NZ rout

ICMD, Jan 25, 2018 Afghanistan, after Pakistan, become the third team to seal their spot in the semifinals of the ICC Under-19 World Cup, following a clinical 202-run win over hosts New Zealand at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. After they opted to bat, a great partnership for the first wicket between Rahmanullah (69) and Ibrahim Zadran (68) set the platform for Afghanistan with the pair adding 117 at almost a run a ball. They were pegged back by the loss of some quick wickets, but an unbeaten half-century from Baheer Shah, and a Man-of-the-Match cameo from Azmatullah worth 63, comprising of as many as seven sixes and three boundaries in the 23-ball knock, propelled them to 309. A big chase was always going to be tough in a World Cup knockout, and the pressure demanded calm from the hosts, but they were undone not just by that, but also by the Afghanistan spinners, who made the most of the dryness and grip on the surface. They tore through New Zealand's line-up, setting them onto the back foot from the onset by reducing them to 20 for 4 in the seventh over. Katene Clarke (38) and Dale Phillips (31) resisted the Afghanistan onslaught for a fifth-wicket stand that yielded 66 runs but there was another collapse thereafter as New Zealand could only manage 107 in 28.1 overs before being bowled out. Mujeeb Zadran and Qais Ahmad both registered four-wicket hauls. What made Zadran's returns so effective was his containment of runs; giving away just 14 in 8.1 overs. Afghanistan will now meet Australia in the first semifinal on Monday (January 29). Brief scores: Afghanistan 309/6 in 50 overs (Rahmanullah 69, Ibrahim Zadran 68, Baheer Shah 67*, Azmatullah 66; Sandeep Patel 2-13) beat New Zealand 107 in 28.1 overs (Katene Clarke 38, Dale Phillips 31; Mujeeb Zadran 4-14, Qais Ahmad 4-33) by 202 runs. -- Courtesy CricBuzz Read in Urdu کرائسٹ چرچ: افغانستان نے بیٹنگ اور باؤلرز کی عمدہ کارکردگی کی بدولت ناقابل یقین کارکردگی کا مظاہرہ کرتے ہوئے میزبان نیوزی لینڈ کو 202 رنز سے شکست دے کر پہلی مرتبہ آئی سی سی انڈر 19 ورلڈ کپ کرکٹ ٹورنامنٹ کے سیمی فائنل کیلئے کوالیفائی کر لیا۔ جمعرات کو کھیلے گئے میگا ایونٹ کے تیسرے کوارٹر فائنل میں افغانستان انڈر 19 ٹیم نے پہلے کھیلتے ہوئے مقررہ اوورز میں 6وکٹوں کے نقصان پر 309 رنز کا مجموعہ ترتیب دیا۔ رحمان اللہ اور ابراہیم نے شاندار بلے بازی کا مظاہرہ کرتے ہوئے ٹیم کو 117 رنز کا جاندار آغاز فراہم کیا، رحمان اللہ 69 اور ابراہیم 68 رنز بنا کر آؤٹ ہوئے۔ اس کے بعد عظمت اللہ اور باہر شاہ نے عمدہ بلے بازی کا مظاہرہ کر کے ٹیم کی پوزیشن مزید مستحکم کی، عظمت اللہ نے جارحانہ بلے بازی کا مظاہرہ کرتے ہوئے 23 گیندوں پر 7 چھکوں اور 3 چوکوں کی مدد سے 66 رنز کی دھواں دار اننگز کھیلی جبکہ باہر شاہ 67 رنز بنا کر ناٹ آؤٹ رہے۔ جواب میں ٹائٹل فیورٹ ٹیموں میں سے ایک نیوزی لینڈ انڈر 19 ٹیم مطلوبہ ہدف کے تعاقب میں 28.1 اوورز میں 107 رنز بنا کر پویلین لوٹ گئی۔ نیوزی لینڈ کی جانب سے کلارک 38 اور فلپس 31 رنز بنا کر نمایاں رہے جبکہ چھ کھلاڑی دوہرا ہندسہ بھی عبور نہ کر سکے۔ افغانستان کی جانب سے قیاس احمد اور مجیب نے شاندار باؤلنگ کا مظاہرہ کرتے ہوئے 4، 4 وکٹیں لیں۔ جارحانہ بیٹنگ کرنے پر عظمت اللہ میچ کے بہترین کھلاڑی قرار پائے۔

Pakistan beat New Zealand in second T20

ICMD, Jan 2018 Pakistan beat New Zealand by 48 runs in the second T20 international to level the series 1-1 in a high-scoring thriller at Eden Park, Auckland on Thursday. Finding form after a dismal run, Pakistan batsmen put up an imposing total of 201-4 after Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and chose to bat. Player-of-the-Match Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam hit fifties, while Ahmed Shehzad marked his return to the playing XI with a fiery 44 off 34 balls. Skipper Sarfraz, who promoted himself up the order, contributed 41 off 24 while back-in-form Babar Azam stayed not out at 50 off 29 deliveries. New Zealand were bowled out at 153, after a combination of pace attack, spin and brilliant fielding led Pakistan to end the Kiwis' 13-match winning streak (across all formats) and score their first win of the tour. Mohammad Amir removed Colin Munro for 1 and Rumman Raees dismissed captain Kane Williamson for golden duck off a brilliant catch by Haris Sohail. Haris ran out Tom Bruce soon after with an incredible direct hit that reduced the Kiwis to 47-3. Faheem Ashraf led the wickets tally with 3 for 22, followed by Mohammad Amir and Shadab Khan with 2 each. Hasan Ali and Rumman Raees took a wicket each. "We started our shots after the first few overs. We tried in this match to survive the power play and not take too many chances," Player-of-the-Match Fakhar Zaman said during the post-match ceremony. The Kiwis had beaten Pakistan by seven wickets in the first T20 in Wellington. Pakistan now face off against the hosts in the third and final T20 on Sunday, January 28. -- GN/Agencies

Hasan Ali named 'Emerging Player of the Year' in ICC Awards 2017

ICMD, Jan 18, 2018 Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali was named the Emerging Player of the Year as part of the ICC Awards 2017 on Thursday while the national team's famous Champion Trophy triumph was voted by fans as the Moment of the Year. Twenty-three-year-old Hasan, the top-ranked ODI bowler, took 48 wickets in 21 matches during calendar year 2017 at an average of just 17.70 per dismissal. He also claimed three five-wicket hauls and played a massive role in Pakistan's Champions Trophy win in England — making him a shoo-in for the emerging player gong. "Last year was incredible, both for me individually as well as my team," said Hasan in a PCB video. "I feel very proud. These awards motivate us and spur us to do even better." Pakistan's historical Champions Trophy win of 2017, when they defeated arch-rivals India in a thrilling final, was voted by fans as the Moment of the Year. But the biggest winner of the awards was India captain Virat Kohli, who walked away with twin awards: ODI Cricketer of the Year and the Cricketer of the Year — the former being the second such win of his glittering career. Kohli's win, however, comes as little surprise as in 2017 as he had amassed 1,818 runs in just 31 ODIs at a staggering average of 82.63. He staved off competition from Hasan, Afghanistan's Rashid Khan and his teammate Rohit Sharma. Australia's Steve Smith was named the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year — another title win which was a given considering the Baggy Greens skipper, per ICC website, had piled up "1,875 runs at an average of 78.12, with eight hundreds and five half-centuries" between "the qualification period from 21 September 2016 until the end of December 2017". Indian Yuzvendra Chahal's 6-25 against England was chosen as the T20I Performance of the Year, Afghan leggie Rashid the Associate Cricketer of the Year and South African Marais Erasmus the Umpire of the Year. The Test Team of the Year has no Pakistani representatives, although the ODI line-up does feature Hasan as well as middle-order batsman Babar Azam whose willow yielded 1,232 runs in 21 matches at an average of 77.00 during 2017. ODI Team of the Year: David Warner, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Babar Azam, AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock, Ben Stokes, Trent Boult, Hasan Ali, Rashid Khan, Jasprit Bumrah. Test Team of the Year: Dean Elgar, David Warner, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Cheteshwar Pujara, Quinton de Kock, Ben Stokes, Ashwin Ravichandran, Mitchell Starc, Kagiso Rabada, James Anderson. -- DN

Afghanistan beat Pakistan in U19 World Cup opener

ICMD, Jan 13, 2018 Pakistan faced a five-wicket defeat at the hand of Afghanistan in the ongoing U19 World Cup at Whangarei on Thursday, courtesy an unbeaten 76-run innings from Darwish Rasooli. Pakistan, after opting to bat first, were able to manage only 188 runs in 47.4 overs after Rohail Nazir scored 81 off 105 balls with Ali Zaryab the second-best scorer with 30 off 58 balls. Mohammad Taha and captain Hasan Khan added 17 and 13 respectively to the total, while six Pakistani batsmen couldn’t enter double figures. Pakistan U19 World Cup captain Hassan Khan hopeful of lifting silverware For Afghanistan, Azmatullah Omarzai and Qais Ahmed bagged three wickets apiece. Meanwhile, Naveenul Haq accounted for two batsmen, and Zahir Khan and Nisar Wahadat contributed with one scalp each. In their reply, Afghanistan lost their first three wickets with 50 on the board, but then walked in Rasooli as he led the team towards a landmark victory. While guiding his team past the finishing tape, Rasooli hit four boundaries and two sixes. His partner in crime for the fourth wicket was Ikram Ali Khil who scored a steady 43 off 93 balls with four boundaries to his name. Apart from the two, opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz also added 31 important runs to the team total. For Pakistan, captain Hasan bagged two wickets in his 10 overs, while Mohammad Taha and Shaheen Afridi accounted for one batsman each. “It felt like it was a home game in Kabul,” said Afghanistan captain Naveenul Haq on the victory. “It was amazing to see them come here and back us throughout the match. We didn’t expect this kind of support. We knew they will run out onto the field. It was an amazing moment.” Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s manager Naveed Sayyem explained the scenes before and after the match, and how cricket is one of the most revered sports in the country. “There was no telecast, people were following it online,” said Sayyem. “Our board chairman, CEO and the Prime Minister were all watching this game. When we left the ground in the morning, they left us messages. They didn’t sleep all night. Now when the players spoke to their families back home, all of them were very happy. Nothing brings us together like cricket. It feels like Eid has come early. I’m sure they will all celebrate the full day.” -- DT

Kiwis win first ODI

ICMD, Jan 2018 New Zealand won the first one-day international against Pakistan with a 61 run lead under the Duckworth–Lewis method as the match was abandoned on Saturday. Pakistan had scored 166 runs at a loss of six wickets as they had a hard time trying to chase the daunting 316 run target set by the Kiwis before rain intervened and halted play. As the first five wickets tumbled within 16 overs, young opener Fakhar Zaman held fort and was at 82 runs when rain set in during the 31st over of the game. Earlier, after Pakistan won the toss and asked the opponents to bat first, Kane Williamson overcame blustery conditions to score a century and lead New Zealand to an imposing total of 315 for seven. The wind was so strong that by the sixth over the umpires had tired of repeatedly replacing the bails so decided to play without them until the weather calmed. Williamson remained unruffled throughout as he notched his 10th ODI century before being dismissed for 115 off 117 deliveries. Colin Munro and Henry Nicholls also chipped in with half centuries with Munro's whirlwind knock producing 58 off 35 deliveries. The New Zealand opener is in a rich vein of form after making a hundred and two half-centuries in his team's three Twenty20 matches against West Indies. He smacked six fours and two sixes before he edged a good length Hasan Ali delivery to Sarfraz Ahmed behind the stumps. Martin Guptill briefly lifted the run rate to more than seven an over until he was caught for 48, giving Fakhar Zaman his first ODI wicket. The bails were returned when the wind died down in the 28th over but came off four overs later when Hasan bowled Ross Taylor for 12. Tom Latham went for three before Williamson and Nicholls put on 90 in 13.2 overs for the fifth wicket. After Williamson went, Nicholls followed in the next over for 50. Hasan claimed Nicholls' wicket to finish with three for 61 and also took the catch to dismiss Williamson. -- Courtesy AFP

Hassan Sardar returns as national team's head coach

ICMD, Jan 4, 2017 Hockey legend and former chief selector Hassan Sardar was on Thursday handed the dual role of head coach and manager of the national team for the upcoming two-match series against a World XI side. Sardar, a former captain of the Green Shirts who won both the World Cup and an Olympic gold in a glittering playing career, replaces Farhat Khan in the dugout. He will be assisted by Rehan Butt and Muhammad Saqlain. Meanwhile, Islahuddin Siddique has been appointed the team's chief selector — a position he has previously held. The World XI are scheduled to play a one-match each in Karachi and Lahore during their four-day visit from January 18 to 21. The Pakistan Hockey Federation sees the series as an opportunity to demonstrate that Pakistan is safe to visit and to convince international players to participate in the upcoming Pakistan Hockey League. -- ICMD/Dawn