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Pakistan board chief backs Misbah as captain Malik seeks life ban review

KARACHI, April 30, (AFP): Pakistan’s cricket chief on Wednesday backed Misbah-ul-Haq as one-day captain, saying he would lead the side to next year’s World Cup. Chief selector Moin Khan on Tuesday hinted at a possible change of one-day captain, saying discussions were in progress and if there was a consensus, a change could be made. But Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi gave his support to Misbah, who has led the side in 71 one-day internationals since taking over in May 2011, winning 39 of them. “I stand by my decision to retain Misbah as captain until the World Cup,” Sethi told AFP. Australia and New Zealand co-host the 11th World Cup in February-March next year. Misbah, who turns 40 next month, has long faced criticism for his defensive approach as a leader, despite leading Pakistan to seven one-day series wins last year — a record for the country in a 12-month period. He is also Pakistan’s Test captain, having led them in 27 Tests, with 12 wins, seven defeats and eight draws.

“Whatever the personal views of any of the selectors regarding who should be the captain, I am firm on my decision,” said Sethi. “Misbah has performed very well in both one-dayers and Tests and is one of the fittest players in the team,” said Sethi of Misbah, who scored 1,373 runs in 2013 — the most in the world. Fitness is to be a key focus for the side as they prepare for the World Cup, which Pakistan won in 1992, Khan said on Tuesday. Fellow selector Mohammad Akram said the condition of all the players will be closely monitored and anyone missing targets will be fined. Despite Sethi’s support, Misbah will remain under pressure, given Pakistan’s history of sacking captains and coaches after poor performances.

Mohammad Hafeez, sensing he would be sacked, resigned the captaincy after Pakistan failed to reach the semi-final of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh earlier this month. Pakistan Tuesday announced 36 probables for a training camp starting in Lahore from May 6. They will tour Sri Lanka for two Tests and three one-days in late July. Pakistan will also play Australia and New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates in November-December before touring New Zealand for a short one-day series in January ahead of the World Cup.

Pakistan’s cricket authorities have promised to review the life ban imposed in 2000 on former Test captain Salim Malik for match-fixing, an official said Wednesday. The 51-year-old Malik met Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi to seek to overturn the sanction. Malik was banned for life in May 2000 after an inquiry commission found him guilty of offering bribes to Australian cricketers Shane Warne, Tim May and Mark Waugh to under-perform in matches during Australia’s tour of Pakistan in 1994. Malik’s name also featured in separate inquiries which resulted in life bans on Mohammad Azharuddin of India and Hansie Cronje of South Africa.

“Malik met with chairman PCB who heard his case and promised a review but we haven’t assured anything,” said PCB spokesman Amjad Hussain. Malik told reporters he wanted the PCB to take the matter to the International Cricket Council, and said he was hopeful of a positive outcome. “The ban has hurt my life badly and I want to live a normal life, want to help my players,” Malik said. “I am sure the PCB will help me in this matter and chairman has assured me of complete cooperation and I have also offered my services to Pakistan cricket.” Malik was one of the leading Pakistan batsmen of his day. He led Pakistan between 1993-1995 and played 103 Tests and 283 one-day internationals before the ban.

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