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May 21, 2019

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Ali gets nod a day after daughter dies

Pakistani batsman Asif Ali was included in the final 15-man World Cup squad, selectors said yesterday, one day after the death of his 18-month-old daughter Noor Fatima was announced.

Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said Ali would return to Pakistan from a tour of England 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 Ali plays for in the Pakistan Super League, confirmed the child’s death in a statement issued late on 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, Ali had tweeted on April 24 that he was sending his daughter to the US for treatment. He had also asked fans to pray for her.

Condolences poured in from Pakistan, including from foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and left-arm fast bowler Mohammad 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.

“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.

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

Earlier on Sunday, 27-year-old Ali made 22 during Pakistan’s 54-run defeat by England in the fifth and final one-day international at Headingley — a loss that saw England sweep the series 4-0 after the opening match was washed out.

Ali 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 yesterday, along with pacemen, the fit-again Amir and Wahab Riaz.


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