Steve O’Keefe takes Hauritz’s spot in Test squad

Steve O’Keefe’s dramatic rise from New South Wales fringe player has continued with him replacing Nathan Hauritz in Australia’s Test squad for the two games against Pakistan. O’Keefe, a left-arm spinner, impressed with nine wickets in Australia A’s two matches with Sri Lanka A over the past two weeks to gain an unexpected promotion.

Nathan Hauritz was sent home with a foot injury suffered in the opening ODI against England, leaving the legspinner Steven Smith to eye a Test debut in the opening match at Lord’s from July 13. O’Keefe, 25, is also from New South Wales and he stood out in the opening “A” fixture this month by taking 7 for 35 and scoring 61 and 47.

Pakistan sports committee to probe selection

Pakistan’s controversial team selection for the tour of England is set to be scrutinized by a sports committee of the parliament’s upper house that has summoned officials and selectors over the “injustice in selection”.

The head of the Senate’s committee on sports, Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi, said Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) would have to explain its actions. “We have come to know that there are injustices in the team selection and to probe that we have summoned officials and selectors in a meeting in Islamabad on July 9,” Qureshi told AFP.

Misbah upset over being dropped for England tour

Pakistan batsman Misbah-ul-Haq is upset about his omission from the team’s forthcoming tour of England, saying his average in all forms of the game is better than most of the touring members. Pakistan had announced the squads which will face Australia in two Twenty20 matches and two Tests followed by four Tests and two Twenty20 matches against England. Misbah was left out of both squads.

“It is very disappointing,” Misbah told AFP. “You find yourself in the XI and suddenly you are not even in a preliminary squad of 35, it prompts you to burn all your cricket equipment in anger.”

Form and discipline kept Younis out – Afridi

Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain, has said that he wanted former captain Younis Khan in the squad for the tour of England but various issues, such as form and discipline, had prevented the batsman’s selection.

“I wanted Younis to be in the team but, besides the issue of his recent form, there was also a bit of a disciplinary issue with Younis,” Afridi told Geo TV. “One must understand I don’t pick the team alone. The input of the coach and selectors is also involved in this process.”

Khawaja picked to face country of birth

Pakistan’s players may wonder about the one that got away when they peer into the Australian dressing room during the series in England next month. Sitting there will be Usman Khawaja, a 23-year-old batsman, who was born in Islamabad.

Since Khawaja’s family moved to Sydney when he was three, he has developed into one of the most impressive young batsmen in the country, sworn his allegiance to the quest for a baggy green, and become a qualified pilot. If he plays at Lord’s or Leeds in July he will become Australia’s first Muslim Test cricketer by appearing against his country of birth.

Afridi’s century flattens Bangladesh

A new-look Pakistan, led by a new-look Shahid Afridi, bowed out of the Asia Cup with little to boast about but with their reputations enhanced, while Bangladesh ended their campaign by reaffirming the gulf between them and the top-flight teams. Afridi unleashed the kind of fury he is famous for to launch Pakistan to their highest ODI score, and subsequently their first victory in 2010. Bangladesh, however, belied a complete lack of purpose in both innings, as the match meandered to the kind of denouement that has administrators concerned about the future of ODI cricket.

Dhoni plays down talk of payback win

M S Dhoni, the Indian captain, has played down talk of India’s nail-biting win over Pakistan in the Asia Cup being a “payback” for their defeat at the hands of the same opponents in the Champions Trophy last year.

“Payback, I don’t think too much about that. I think about the present and we put in a team performance,” Dhoni said. Tempers flared during the contest with Gambhir being involved in a heated exchange with Kamran Akmal, and Harbhajan squaring off with Shoaib Akhtar.

Younis not selected for England tour

Pakistan have not selected former captain Younis Khan, whose indefinite ban was recently overturned, in their Test and Twenty20 squads for the tour of England between June and September. Fast bowler Umar Gul has recovered from his shoulder injury and makes a comeback after missing the ICC World Twenty20 and the Asia Cup.

Younis, along with three team-mates, had been banned by the PCB following Pakistan’s winless tour of Australia in 2009-10. However, after filing appeals, Younis and Shoaib Malik were pardoned by the board. Malik made a comeback soon afterwards and played in the ongoing Asia Cup in Sri Lanka but Younis’ return has not been immediate.

Pakistan eliminated in cliffhanger

The Asia Cup’s marquee clash was a cliffhanger. The contest between India and Pakistan simmered tantalisingly, with one team edging ahead at several junctures only to be pulled back by timely strikes from the other. The ebb and flow went on until the match reached flashpoint during India’s chase. Tempers flared, nerves frayed, batsmen resorted to the desperate, bowlers lost their radar and fielders fumbled as margins for error became non-existent. And Pakistan, fighting to stay alive in the Asia Cup, watched Harbhajan Singh, fuelled by adrenalin and his love for a scrap, heave the penultimate ball of the match from Mohammad Aamer over the midwicket boundary to trigger explosive celebrations in the Indian dressing room.

Afridi asks seniors to show more responsibility

After losing the Asia Cup opener to Sri Lanka in spite of his blistering century, Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi wanted his senior players to show more maturity and finish off the games for the side.

Afridi made a quick-fire 109, his first ODI century in four years, in Pakistanís 16 runs defeat in pursuit of 243, on Tuesday in the first game of the Asia Cup.

“We should have won the match, we were in a position to win it. I think the solution lies in the senior players taking more responsibility and doing their part.