On the eve of the three-match T-20 international series between India and West Indies I had predicted a close contest despite the head to head record (8 to 5 in India’s favour) and the ICC ranking which have India at No 5 and West Indies at No 10. The format being what it is with any team capable of beating any other team, with there being hardly any room for error and with only the performance on the day really mattering it was highly likely that it would go to a decider with India’s home advantage being nullified by the fact that many West Indian cricketers had played in the IPL. Also West Indians are a natural for T-20 cricket with several of their leading stars regularly parading their wares in the various leagues all around the world.
The two teams dished out a riveting contest that did go all the way to the wire. But even as they use these contests to prepare for the T-20 World Cup to be held in Australia in about ten months time there are weaknesses that both teams will have to take care of. West Indies are badly lacking in bowling firepower and the manner in which they conceded over 20 runs an over so many times will no doubt be a cause for alarm. Add to this the waywardness in sending down wides and no balls – the latter unforgivable in this format – does not augur well for them. The fact that in two of the games India scored over 200 underlines the sorry tale of the West Indian bowling and they could do with a bit of an overhaul in this department if they want to harbour any hopes of retaining the title and inscribing their names on the trophy for a third time.
For India the problem is the fielding and catching. In the ultimate analysis they lost the second game by shoddy work in this department. In international cricket’s shortest format the importance of fielding and catching cannot be overemphasized. Perhaps the fielding coach has to work overtime in a bid to plug this loophole for the Indians are well served in batting and bowling. The top order in particular is probably the best in the game and the trio of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli can give sleepless nights to any bowling line-up. The discovery of Shivam Dube and the promise of Shreyas Iyer too augur well for the team. The bowling too is varied enough to trouble any opposition. Yes, there are questions to be asked over Washington Sundar’s dubious utility qualities and whether Rishabh Pant should be persevered with especially with Sanju Samson around but these can be sorted out as the preparations go on. Or perhaps the ODI series that starts on Sunday could help in solving some of the problems since many players are common to both squads.
It seems almost ironic that the proposal to gather the Indian cricket team for a conditioning/rebonding team is still being contemplated as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is headed overseas to host the Indian Premier League. So why an Indian camp?
The original thought process devised months ago was with the intent to ensure that before the Indian cricket squad embarks on its international assignments post the pandemic, the players who have been largely confined to their respective homes will have a chance to shake off their rustiness.
It would have made sense as part of the team bonding exercise if the situation of the pandemic had abetted equally across the country. That not being the case, not only would it endanger bringing the players together at a time of no international commitments but also, would have been a fruitless exercise.
However the idea has gained momentum after the announcement of the IPL to be held in the UAE.
While the same logistical issues remain about how to gather the centrally contracted players together, in this case, those involved with the IPL, there is a case being made for the opportunity to bring all the team India players together before the IPL season 13 that also involves foreign cricketers.
India's next international assignment is the tour of Australia at the end of the year which means a couple of players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari will have next to no interaction with their Indian teammates until such time.
However, while it seems like an interesting prospect, given the gamut of logistical headaches faced by the BCCI in the staging of the IPL, it might push down the rung of priorities the idea to have the Indian cricketers reconnect in person as a team before the razzmatazz of the IPL takes over. With too many factors at play, India's support staff might not get their wish after all, which could well mean that the Indian cricket squad will assemble as one only in Australia if they fly directly from the UAE.
Former India all-rounder, Irfan Pathan has expressed his desire to play in this year’s Lanka Premier League (LPL). The 35-year-old veteran player has been named among 143 overseas players who are very keen to participate in the league. Apart from Pathan, New Zealand opener, Martin Guptill has also shown his interest in the upcoming tournament.
“There are about 143 overseas players in the list who are very keen to play in this tournament and now it is up to the respective franchises to select these cricketers,” a high-profile official at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has told local newspaper Daily News.
Irfan, who decided to hang up his boots after 15 years of service in international cricket earlier this year, was last seen in action for India Legends during the Road Safety World Series back in March. He has represented India in 29 Tests, 120 ODIs, and 24 T20Is, picking 301 international wickets to his name.
Franchises will make the final decision – SLC official
Furthermore, the SLC official has made it clear the decision regarding the selection of players will be in the hands of LPL franchises. The tournament will see the participation of both international and domestic players contracted to SLC.
“We have total of 80 players who are currently contracted with SLC and they will also be strong contenders to make it to the final squad. Some Premier Clubs have also named young players in the Under-23 and Under-19 category but altogether it is up to the franchises to make a final decision."
With the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) buying England’s limited-overs captain, Eoin Morgan in this year’s auction for INR 5.25 crores, the captaincy debate was started by fans of KKR. Most debated whether it would be Morgan who would replace Dinesh Karthik or would the Tamil Nadu player continue to hold the fort?
However, the English man now seems to have put water over all such debates, with him claiming Karthik as his leader. In a chat show with Harsha Bhogle, the 33-year-old said that he would only be entering the IPL in the capacity of a player.
“Dinesh is the leader of the club. I met him last pre-Christmas and I believe that he is a gem of a person and a fantastic cricketer. He knows that I want to contribute to the team. There are many players who have had the chance to captain at some stage or the other, but ultimately it would be Dinesh who would be making the decisions,” Morgan told Harsha on Cricbuzz.
Want to contribute towards KKR’s success - Morgan
Although Morgan started out in the IPL with RCB, it was with the KKR that he got prominence as he played for them from 2011 to 2013, before being roped in by Sunrisers Hyderabad. In 52 IPL matches, Morgan has scored 854 runs at an average of 21.35 with four half-centuries. Now returning back to KKR, Morgan wants to help them in getting more success.
“I met Trevor (Bayliss) there and our relationship started from KKR. That was an invaluable time and you know the rest. Also, I learned a lot from guys like Jacques Kallis, Brett Lee, and Baz (Brendon McCullum). I’m looking forward to getting back to KKR and contributing towards their success,” said Morgan.
It would be the first time in 9 years that a member of the English cricket playing community would be honored by the Parliament of Great Britain for his outstanding work in public life. As the name of 36 new peers was announced for the House of Lords or the upper house of the Parliament, the cricket community had a reason to be proud of.
The reason was the recommendation of Legendary England all-rounder Ian Botham’s name among those 36 persons selected. He would now become a member of the unelected house. Botham, one of the finest all-rounders of all times is also one of the most vocal Brexit supporters.
The 64-year-old Botham will now sit in the British Parliament as a crossbench — independent — peer.
Only the fifth cricketer to be honoured with peerage
Prior to Botham, former England women’s team captain Rachael Heyhoe-Flint had been awarded the peerage in 2011 and apart from her and Botham, former English Umpire David Sheppard, former cricketing great from England Colin Cowdrey and West Indian legend Learie Constantine had been honored with House of Lords seats earlier.
Botham in his career played 102 Test matches for England between 1977 and 1992. But his moment of glory came in 1981 when inspired by his all-round performance, England recorded a sensational win over Australia in the Ashes.
Botham was knighted in 2007 in recognition of his services to charity and cricket.
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