Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 June 2019

Asif Ali named in Pakistan Cricket World Cup squad day after daughter's death to cancer announced

Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said Asif would return to Pakistan for his child's funeral, to be held in the eastern city of Lahore, before returning to England ahead of the World Cup, which begins on May 30

Asif Ali is currently on tour with the Pakistan national team in England and played in the 54-run defeat by the hosts in their final one-day international of the series on Sunday. Reuters
Asif Ali is currently on tour with the Pakistan national team in England and played in the 54-run defeat by the hosts in their final one-day international of the series on Sunday. Reuters

Batsman Asif Ali was included in Pakistan's final 15-man World Cup squad, selectors said Monday, a day after the death of his 18-month-old daughter was announced.

Asif played in Sunday's fifth and final one-day international against England at Headingley on Sunday.

Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said Asif would return to Pakistan for his child's funeral, to be held in the eastern city of Lahore, before returning ahead of the World Cup, which begins on May 30.

Noor Fatima had been receiving cancer treatment in the United States.

"We are with Asif in this tough time. He will return to Pakistan and then go back before the warm-up matches," Inzamam told reporters at a press conference announcing the final squad in Lahore.

Islamabad United, the team Asif plays for in the Pakistan Super League, confirmed the child's death in a statement issued late Sunday.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Asif & his family," the statement said. "Asif is a great example of strength & courage. He is an inspiration to us."

Before his departure for the limited-overs series in England, Asif had tweeted on April 24 that he was sending his daughter to the US for treatment.

He had also asked fans to pray for his daughter.

Condolences poured in from Pakistan, including from foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Dean Jones, Asif's coach at Islamabad United and fast bowler Mohammed Amir.

"I know too well the pain & anguish of losing a loved one to cancer. My heart goes out to @AasifAli2018 & his family who lost their beautiful child to this most merciless disease," Qureshi tweeted.

Jones posted a message on Twitter saying: "On behalf of my family and the @IsbUnited players and families... we send our condolences and love to @AasifAli2018 and his family on the passing of his beautiful daughter."

"Extremely heart broken with the news of @AasifAli2018 daughter passing away," wrote Amir.

Even cricket fans in Pakistan's arch-rival India expressed their condolences.

"We are very sorry to hear about @AasifAli2018... May God bless her soul," wrote one Indian Twitter user.

Asif had learnt about his daughter's illness during the fourth season of the PSL, with Islamabad coach Jones, the former Australia batsman, breaking down in tears when talking about the child's condition.

Asif scored 22 runs during Pakistan's 54-run defeat to England on Sunday as the hosts secured a 4-0 series sweep after the opening match was washed out.

He featured in every game of the series, scoring two fifties with a career best of 52 in the third ODI in Bristol.

The hard-hitting Ali has scored 342 runs in 16 ODIs at an average of 31.09.

He was not originally included in Pakistan's preliminary squad for the World Cup, but was one of three players called up Monday, along with the fit-again Amir and Wahab Riaz.

The trio will replace Faheem Ashraf, Junaid Khan and Abid Ali after selectors spoke with captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and coach Mickey Arthur following Sunday's defeat at Headingley.

Wahab, who has 102 wickets in 79 ODIs, last played a 50-overs match for his country in June 2017, but selectors chose the 33-year-old veteran over Junaid and Faheem, who both struggled against England.

"Junaid and Faheem had been originally preferred over a few other bowlers based on their recent performances and the investment we had made on them since 2017," Inzamam said.

"They had the opportunity to cement their World Cup spots, but were well below par in the series against England even though they were up against the challenge of bowling on placid and batsmen-friendly wickets.

"Furthermore, Amir and Wahab give the fast bowling attack more experience and support the relatively inexperienced but immensely talented Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain."

Updated: May 20, 2019 03:12 PM

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