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Injured Liam Dawson Unlikely to Feature in Thi…

England all-rounder Liam Dawson has been ruled out of the rest of the tour of Sri Lanka and will return home immediately after he picked up a right side strain. The England Cricket Board has announced that Kent all-rounder Joe Denly will be drafted into the squad as a replacement.

Denly, who has played nine ODIs for England, will join the squad in Kandy on Wednesday morning, which means he will not be ready for the third ODI later in the day.

Dawson, who was part of the team for the first two games, bowled six overs and dismissed Kusal Perera, the fifth Lankan wicket of the innings, during the hosts’ unsuccessful run chase at Dambulla. The ECB confirmed that the left-arm spinner initially picked up the injury while bowling during the second ODI.

England were relying on Dawson to be the third spinner after Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, but for the next match, will have to either fill the spot with a seamer or depend on Joe Root’s part-time off-spin. The likes of Mark Wood, Tom Curran and Sam Curran will all be hoping to finally get a look-in on the tour, where Eoin Morgan till now has preferred to play only two seamers in Chris Woakes and Olly Stone.

The Hampshire man now faces an uphill task in cementing his place in the squad for the home World Cup next year. The Three Lions have another eight games before they need to name a provisional squad for the World Cup by April 23rd. After the ODI series against Sri Lanka, the English will play five more matches against West Indies in the Caribbean next year.

England’s bowling department though will receive a boost for the final two games of the five match series with Liam Plunkett, who recently got married, set to join the squad on Tuesday. However, he is unlikely to be ready for the third ODI.

De Villiers, Rabada, Gayle, Rashid Among Marqu…

Cricket South Africa on Monday announced the names of six franchises that will play in the Mzansi Super League (MSL), South Africa’s new Twenty20 league. AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir and JP Duminy have been confirmed as the marquee South Africa signings.

While de Villiers will play for the Tshwane Spartans, du Plessis will represent Paarl Rocks. Amla will play for the Durban Heat, Rabada for the Jozi Stars, Tahir for the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants and Duminy for the Cape Town Blitz.

The six teams will be competing across 32 matches from November 16 to December 16, with the player draft scheduled to be held on Wednesday.

“It was a thorough and well-audited process that led to the six winning bids from our Members as well as the collective contribution from all stakeholders involved that led to the final names and logos which we also had to make sure met our objectives for this event,” said Cricket South Africa Chief Executive Thabang Moroe.

“What was clear throughout this definitive process was that these are completely new entities and names that will operate separately from the current franchise teams. We welcome the six new additions to the South African and international cricket family.”

The six franchises will also get to pick one player each from the six marquee international players – Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy, Dawid Malan, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Rashid Khan – during the ‘American sports-styled’ player draft.

“We have received applications from over 200 top international players who expressed interest in playing in this inaugural tournament and will have their names in the hat ahead of the Player Draft process on Wednesday,” Moroe added.

“There were expected challenges in the process, of course, with some players available for a particular period because of other cricket commitment clashes elsewhere, including our Proteas, who also have to fulfill our tour to Australia for a One-Day International series.”

‘No Fear of Losing’ – Sarfraz Ahmed Strikes Co…

Less than a week ago, the Australian cricket team led by Tim Paine and Usman Khawaja’s heroics escaped with a hard-fought draw against Sarfraz Ahmed’s Pakistan. The inability to clean up the tail and storm through for a win led to many questioning Ahmed’s captaincy, under whom the side also lost their first Test series at their adopted home when Sri Lanka whitewashed them 2-0 in 2017.

In Abu Dhabi in the second Test against Australia, the pressure will be on Pakistan’s wicket-keeper captain, and he hopes his players have the wherewithal to take the team through.

“As a captain, I am confident of winning this Test match,” Ahmed said on the eve of the second Test. “As a captain, I am proud how my team responded in the first match. Things went well for us for four and a half days but unfortunately, we couldn’t win the match. Credit goes to Australia. They fought really hard on the last day. But, the way we played the first Test match, I am very proud of my team.

"There’s no such fear [of losing]. The morale in the camp is high. All of our batsmen scored runs. Bowlers put up good performances. We have a good opportunity to perform well in this Test match and win the series.”

Pakistan missed plenty of chances to close out the match in Dubai but couldn’t take it and duly paid as the Test ended in a thrilling draw. The captain himself was guilty of missing stumpings on more the one occasion, while his on-field tactics also raised a few eyebrows.

The ineffectiveness of using the review system also stood out against Pakistan and further led to questions about on-field application. Ahmed admits to the error of judgement but says that there are plenty of factors that are taken into consideration in a very short period of time.

“There are a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration while you are going for a review,” Ahmed said. “We have only 15 seconds to make the call. So, I guess, some margin of error needs to be given for an error of judgement. Umpire’s call play a huge role when a review is taken. If it is given out and the review shows the ball clipping the bails, it is adjudged out. But, when it is not out, if the impact is minutely outside the line it will be given not out.

"When it is LBW, it is usually the wicketkeeper and the bowler. But, the fielders in front of the batsman also play a role when it comes to reviewing a decision. Like, it happened in Mitch Marsh’s case. After the umpire had missed that the ball clipped the pad first, it was our guy at the mid-on who thought that the ball had hit the pad first.”

As captain of the Pakistan Test team, Ahmed has scored one half-century in 10 innings and averages below 20. Along with the criticisms about his captaincy, there are questions about his form with the bat.

“I am concentrating on my batting and I am working hard in the nets. Whenever I get an opportunity to play a big innings for the team, I will grab it.”

For the Abu Dhabi Test, where either side can clinch the series, Pakistan have been forced into two changes. Fakhar Zaman and Shadab Khan have been replaced the injured Imam ul Haq and Wahab Riaz.

“Fakhar was brought in so he can score quick runs,” Ahmed said. “Teams around the world are now including batsmen who can score quickly in a Test match, especially in conditions such as here. We scored at a healthy rate throughout the first two sessions [of the first Test] and scored almost 200 runs. But, we lost two quick wickets and from there we had to rebuild our innings again. It is important for us to score at around 3-3.5 an over. If you don’t do it then you go almost a day behind in a Test match.”

Vijay Hazare Trophy: Hyderabad & Jharkhand Ent…

Hyderabad beat Andhra by 14 runs in the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy to set up a last-four clash against Delhi, while Jharkhand defeated Maharashtra and will take on Mumbai in the other semi-final.

Put in to bat first by Andhra, Hyderabad rode on Bavanaka Sandeep’s knock of 96 to post a competitive first innings total of 281/9.

Barring Sandeep, no other batsman crossed the 50-run mark but the fact that almost everyone managed to get decent starts saw Hyderabad end the first innings with a chance.

In reply, Andhra skipper Hanuma Vihari (95) and Ricky Bhui (52) both scored half-centuries but the lack of support from the rest of the batting line-up meant they ended the innings on 267 in 50 overs.

Mohammed Siraj was the pick of the bowlers for Hyderabad, finishing his 10 overs with 3/50. Ravi Kiran also chipped in with two wickets.

In the other match on Monday, Jharkhand rode on Shasheem Rathour’s half-century to beat Maharashtra by 8 wickets in a rain-shortened match.

Rathour scored 53 off 81 balls and was aided by Sauraubh Tiwary’s unbeaten knock of 29 as Jharkhand completed the chase with ease.

Jharkhand skipper Ishan Kishan won the toss and chose to field and his decision was vindicated by his bowlers. Anukul Roy led the way with figures of 4-32 in 9 overs.

He was supported by Rahul Shukla (3-35) and Varun Aaron (2/47) as they managed to dismiss Maharashtra for 181.

A rain interruption saw the target revised to 127 in 34 overs and Jharkhand never looked troubled.

Mumbai will take on Hyderabad on 17th October whereas the second semi-final between Jharkhand and Delhi will happen on 18th October.

In Numbers | India’s Crushing Series Win Exten…

India’s 2-0 win over the Windies, with crushing victories in Rajkot and Hyderabad inside three days, was yet another dominant performance at home. As you would imagine, sterling performances of this kind will result in some impressive numbers. Let’s have a look at a few of the more collar grabbing ones:

19: India’s Win-Loss ratio in Tests at home in the last 5 years. It has won 19 Tests and lost 1 (5 drawn). It is by far the best win-loss ratio for any team in this period. Australia, with 19 wins and 2 losses from 26 matches at home follow India.

7: India has the joint-most number of innings victories at home in the last 5 years. England also has 7 but in 10 more Tests.

10: Number of consecutive Test series wins at home – starting from the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Feb. 2013 to West Indies in India, Oct. 2018. Only Australia has had a 10-series streak before (twice).

26: Number of consecutive Test series at home in which India has won at least one Test. The last home series in which India did not win any Test was against New Zealand in October 2003.

118.50: Prithvi Shaw’s Batting Average in the series. It is the fourth-highest batting average for an Indian opener in a Test series (two or more matches) after Sunil Gavaskar (154.8) in 1971 in West Indies, Virender Sehwag (122.75) against Sri Lanka at home in 2009 and Dilip Sardesai (120) against New Zealand at home in 1965.

237: Prithvi Shaw’s run aggregate in the series. He also scored at a staggering strike rate of 94.04.

34: Maximum number of boundaries hit in the series – by Prithvi Shaw.

46.25: Roston Chase’s Average in the series. With 185 runs in 4 innings, he was also the highest scorer of the series for the West Indies (and the second-highest overall).

314: Number of Balls Faced by Roston Chase in the series – the maximum by any player. He came out to bat when his team was under pressure (of falling wickets) and rescued them by not only scoring tough runs but also occupying the crease for long periods of time.

In fact only five other batsmen have scored at least 400 runs and also played more balls/innings from Number 6 than Chase since his debut in July 2016.

2: Fifties by Rishabh Pant in the series – no other batsman crossed 50 twice in the series.

(Twitter/ BCCI)

346: Runs scored by Rishabh Pant in his first 5 Tests. Just for perspective, Sachin Tendulkar scored 239 runs in his first 5 Tests and Virat Kohli had scored 202.

5: Number of consecutive series in which Virat Kohli has scored at least one hundred – 1 against Sri Lanka away, 3 against Sri Lanka at Home, 1 in South Africa, 2 in England and 1 against West Indies.

1: Ravindra Jadeja scored his first Test hundred against West Indies in Rajkot.

11 and 28.8: The highest number of wickets in the series and the best Bowling Strike Rate in the series – Umesh Yadav. His Strike Rate is also the second-best for any Indian pace bowler in a home-series (at least bowl in 2 Tests in a series) after Mohammed Shami (26.8) against West Indies in 2013.

3: Umesh Yadav picked up 10 wickets in Hyderabad. This was only the third-time that an Indian pace bowler has taken a ten-wicket haul in India (Kapil Dev did it twice – 11/146 against Pakistan in Madras in 1980 and 10/135 against West Indies in Ahmedabad in 1983. Javagal Srinath picked 13/132 against Pakistan in Calcutta in 1999).

1: This is the first-time in a Test series in India (in which Ashwin and Jadeja have both played the whole series) that a third-spinner has been the leading wicket-taker.

Kuldeep Yadav picked 10 wickets in the series. Ashwin bagged 9 while Jadeja returned with 7.

5:Jason Holder picked up a fifer against India in Hyderabad. He now has 5 fifers in the last two years. Amongst fast bowlers, only Kagiso Rabada has more (6). Shannon Gabriel and James Anderson also have 5 each in this period.

35.23: India’s Batting Average – Bowling Average (Runs scored/wicket – Runs conceded/wicket) in the Test series against West Indies – the best differential for India against West Indies in 12 home series. It is the fifth-best Batting Average – Bowling Average series differential for India against any opposition at home (Two series involving Zimbabwe and one each by Bangladesh and Sri Lanka fared worse).

Injured Hashim Amla to Miss Australia Tour as …

Hashim Amla will miss South Africa’s tour of Australia for a short limited-overs series after failing to recover from a finger injury he sustained during the Caribbean Premier League. Amla was also forced to miss the recently concluded series against Zimbabwe due to the injury.

In Amla’s absence, one of Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar and Reeza Hendricks is expected to partner Quinton de Kock at the top of the order.

“There are a lot of guys we have in our thoughts who will be in the squad to Australia,” South Africa coach Ottis Gibson said on Sunday (October 14). “Hashim is injured, he is out of the squad already, as a selection group we have already discussed that with him. We want to give him as much time as possible for him to get ready for the next set of cricket that he has coming up.

"We know that Quinny and Hashim has been a fantastic opening pair for the Proteas for a long time, and we also know that Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram have also been very good in franchise cricket. The wickets at the start of the series, especially in one-day cricket were a bit tough for batting, so from that point of view we didn’t get to see as much as we would have liked, but we know where we are with those two.”

Gibson was full of praise of the bowling unit and said that the performance of the senior bowlers Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn was heartening.

“We had given Tahir time off (from the tour of Sri Lanka) to allow us to see other players and he has come back and shown us why he is our number one,” Gibson said. “I know what Rabada and Ngidi can do but for me the real excitement was watching Dale Steyn bowling in the second game in Bloemfontein. It was fantastic to see him back to that level again, bowling quickly with that skill and accuracy. That is the real exciting part for me.”

The South Africa coach, however, said that they would stop experimenting with the squad and said the window for being in contention for the World Cup next year was fast closing.

“For the last 12 months we have been looking at players,” Gibson explained. “In the next couple of months the window is closing, the players have been told that the window is closing all the time. We are getting closer and closer to the guys that we want on the journey. In the Pakistan and Sri Lanka series we want to be focusing on a core of 17 to 18 players we will be looking at.”

Virat Kohli Posts Throwback Picture to Tell Fa…

Virat Kohli is among the hardest working cricketers in the world and even when he isn’t preparing for a series, he has been known to focus on keeping himself extremely fit.

He even turned to a vegan diet recently in an effort to take his fitness levels up to another notch, further proving that old adage that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

The Indian cricket team skipper recently shared a pair of pictures of himself on Twitter and it was instantly evident just how much work he’s had to put in to transform himself into the athlete he is today.

“With focus and hard work, anything is possible. Keep working, keep believing. Have a super day everyone,” his tweet read.

Kohli recently captained India to their 10th consecutive Test series win at home as they sealed a 2-0 series win over the West Indies on Sunday.

Prior to that, Kohli had been the standout batsman during India’s tour of England, scoring 593 runs in five Tests at an average of 59.30. However, his fine form could not prevent India succumbing to a 4-1 series loss.

15th October 2000: Chris Cairns Special Takes …

On this day in 2000, a belligerent 102* by Chris Cairns helped New Zealand claim their maiden and to date only ICC title when they defeated India by 4 wickets in the final of the ICC KnockOut Trophy, in Nairobi, Kenya.

The final had the two best teams of the tournament pitted against each other and it showed in the level of cricket that was on display. India were labelled favourites after a clinical victory over South Africa in semi-finals but New Zealand too had shown remarkable resilience throughout the tournament.

India started off well after being sent into bat with Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar adding 141 runs for the opening stand in under 27 overs. Ganguly, in particular, continued off from where he left in the semis as he stroked a classy 130-ball 117 while Tendulkar cracked an 83-ball 69 to pave way for a competitive Indian total of 264 for 6 in 50 overs.

The bowlers did well to pull things back in the end overs after India had threatened to post a score in excess of 300 at one stage.

Venkatesh Prasad had the New Zealand batsmen in trouble early as he removed Craig Spearman and Stephen Fleming in quick succession. Nathan Castle cracked a trademark 37 but timely strikes from India had New Zealand in trouble at 132 for 5 in the 24th over.

Cairns and Chris Harris then got together and crafted a crucial 122-run stand for the sixth wicket to all but take their side to the doorstep of victory. Cairns fittingly then hit the winning runs also completing a century in the process to take New Zealand to a win with two balls to spare.

Sanath Jayasuriya Charged for Breaching ICC An…

The International Cricket Council has charged former Sri Lanka Captain Sanath Jayasuriya of breaching its anti-corruption code under two separate counts.

Jayasuriya faces the charges under articles of the ICC’s code that deal with the failure to cooperate with an investigation and obstruction of an investigation. He has two weeks to respond to the charges from Monday, October 15.

The allegations against 49-year old Jayasuriya, who has also served as Chairman of Selectors, relate to article 2.4.6 and 2.4.7.

The first covers “failure or refusal, without compelling justification, to cooperate with any investigation carried out by the ACU (Anti-Corruption Unit), including failure to provide accurately and completely any information and/or documentation requested by the ACU as part of such investigation”.

The second covers “obstructing or delaying any investigation that may be carried out by the ACU, including concealing, tampering with or destroying any documentation or other information that may be relevant to that investigation and/or that may be evidence or may lead to the discovery of evidence of corrupt conduct under the anti-corruption code”.

Jayasuriya is an all-time great of Sri Lanka Cricket having played 445 one-day internationals and 110 Test matches besides being a member of the World Cup winning team of 1996. He has also been a member of Parliament and a deputy minister in the national government.

Resurgent Australia Out to Put More Pressure O…

The touring Tim Paine-led Australian side batted for close to 140 overs to stave off defeat in the first Test against Pakistan at Dubai and managed to give a good account of their batting prowess. While it was a great escape for Australia, Pakistan will treat this as an opportunity lost.

Pakistan boast of an excellent record in UAE losing just one series here till now — against Sri Lanka — and would like to continue to torment visiting sides in their adopted home.

But before the second Test begins in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, there could be a few issues that Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed and team management would want to address.

Their star opener Imam-ul-Haq, who scored 76 & 48 in the first match and formed crucial partnerships with Mohammad Hafeez at the top of the order, will miss the second Test owing to a fractured finger. This could pave way for senior batsman Azhar Ali on top who didn’t really show good form in Dubai.

Despite boasting a brilliant record as an opener — 1512 runs in 35 innings at an average of 47.25 — what could worry Pakistan is that Azhar is short of runs this year having scored only 95 runs in four matches.

Azhar though has sounded confident of making useful contributions for the team in future and leave his bad patch behind. “The key to batting will be to be patient and look for opportunities to score and try and absorb the pressure,“ Ali said. "It is the key even when you are facing the new ball or batting in any time of the day. The important thing is to stay focused and try and believe that once you get a good knock behind you, things will start rolling again.”

Until the last day of Dubai Test, the match was in Pakistan’s grip but their bowlers failed to apply enough pressure to bundle Australia out. The star of first innings Bilal Asif went wicketless in the second dig, while Yasir Shah and Wahab Riaz struggled too.

Bowling on these placid tracks is an art that Pakistan seem to have mastered, but faltered against Australia. Even though that could be a one-off instance, it could hamper their confidence.

Reacting to the situation Ali said, “We are not disheartened but, yes, disappointed, obviously after dominating the Test match throughout and then not winning it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t win but I think we also have to give credit to the Australians as well as they showed resilience and kept fighting till the end. The positive thing is that we played good cricket in all the sessions apart from one or two. We are a young side and there are players who have not played that many Tests and still performed well. We have to carry these positives and more forward.”

Coming to Australia, they will be riding high on confidence that they got from their batting effort in Dubai. What was heartening to see was debutant Aaron Finch’s ability to play according to the match situation with senior partner Usman Khawaja. The onus will be on the opening duo once again to do bulk of the scoring with middle-order heavily misfiring at the moment.

Right from Marsh brothers to all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne, all failed to provide stability. But a 72 in the second innings from Travis Head could mean a promotion in the batting order for the southpaw. Even Paine hinted at a ‘tweak’ in the batting order.

“Top six will be the same as the last Test. We may consider tweaking the batting order. I know guys had their individual meetings yesterday and all that stuff was discussed.“

In the bowling department, a lot of work needs to be done by comeback man Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc, with the latter already showing some fitness concerns. But this Australian team, which is still looking to come to terms with the loss of star players like David Warner and Steve Smith, has the single-biggest driving force to win — to prove their critics wrong.

"It’d be a massive thing for any Australian side, and for this one in particular. I touched on it last week that not many people gave us a chance over here, which is a great opportunity for us to prove people wrong and a great thing to keep driving us.”