Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) recently did away with the entire coaching staff. The likes of Mickey Arthur (head coach) and his support staff was shown the door. The aim for the PCB now is to bounce back from the below-par show in the 2019 World Cup.
Pakistan have also been poor in both ODIs and Tests since a while now. There is plenty of work up the sleeves of a new management. The focus is the ICC Test Championship, the World T20 in 2020 and the 2023 World Cup in India.
If Pakistan want to do well then they need a powerful figure as the head coach. They need someone who knows the system in and out and will command respect from the players and selectors alike.
At the moment, the PCB has decided to call Misbah-ul-Haq as the camp commandant at a forthcoming 17-day conditioning camp for Pakistan's cricketers. The camp is set to begin on Monday in Lahore. The camp will have 14 centrally contracted and six other cricketers participating.
Pakistan couldn't have asked for a better name to head the camp. Misbah was a true leader and a terrific batsman for the Asian giants. He commanded the side well in the past and retired as a legend of the game. His longevity, vision and class were there for everyone to witness.
Misbah was respected in the cricket fraternity from all corners. Pakistan will be playing six Tests, three ODIs and six T20Is in the 2019-20 international season. A grueling season begins with hosting Sri Lanka for a two-Test series in October 2019.
“Misbah, who has been Pakistan’s most successful captain, understands the arduous demands of the format in this day and age,” the PCB said. It is a good decision to include Misbah in the scheme of things. He will help Pakistan and get them going on a positive note from the start. That's a massive factor.
It is likely that Misbah could be offered the head coach role after the camp. If he takes it, then the side will be bolstered heavily. He brings so much quality and experience into the system.
BCCI President, Sourav Ganguly has confirmed that there will be concussion substitutes from the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Under the new ICC rule, a player who has been concussed either while batting, bowling or on the field, can be withdrawn from the game and be replaced subject to approval by the match referee.
Apart from this, IPL’s governing council also decided to schedule an All-Stars game. This game would be played for a charitable cause, although the name of the NGO or charitable to whom the proceeds would be donated has still not been confirmed. The game would be played between top international players before the start of IPL.
"We are doing the concussion substitute, the All-Star Game and the final is in Mumbai," Ganguly told reporters in New Delhi.
The doubleheaders of the Indian premier league have been reduced this time around, as only five days have been scheduled as doubleheader days. The timing, which the franchises wanted to be 7.30 pm for the evening matches, will, however, remain 8 pm as confirmed by the BCCI president.
The very very special player of India, VVS Laxman is disclosing some unique facts about his life and cricket career. In one such revelation, during a talk with India Today, Laxman credited former India coach John Wright for making bowlers a belief that they too can contribute to the batting unit by making handy runs at the end of an innings or for saving the match occupying the crease.
“I think I should give credit to John Wright for this where I convinced John Wright that it is very important that we got bowlers who take pride in their batting whether Anil, Harbhajan, Zaheer, whoever. We were very fortunate to have those bowlers who took a lot of pride in their batting and bowling,” said Laxman.
“John made it a point that each batsman in the team would become a batting coach and a batting partner to one bowler. For me, it was Zaheer Khan. We had to make sure that after each net session we gave a throw down to the bowlers so they can improve on their skills. Working as a family is very important. And then I also used to have a chat with them saying they were very good. So when the challenges started coming by especially against good bowling attacks, I used to give them strike to show my belief and trust their ability. And I used to tell them you are capable of scoring runs. Communication is very important,” Laxman added.
It was under John Wright’s coaching and Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy that India started to dominate games, even in overseas conditions. According to Laxman, communication and bonding among players played a huge role in making team India a competitive side.
The batting coach of Team India, Vikram Rathour has said that the new generation of cricketers is 'incredible' as they can perform anywhere in any condition. The 50-year-old veteran also claimed that the Indian team management is ready with the core players for the T20 World Cup starting from this October.
“Adjustments will keep going on till the last minute. But as far as I am concerned and the team management is concerned, we have the core. We know what our team is going to be. Unless there is a case of injury or really bad loss in form, I don’t see many changes happening. This new generation of cricketers is incredible. I find it amazing actually that they turn up and they are at their best straight away across the different formats, different grounds, and different countries actually. The amount of time they took to get settled (in NZ) was outstanding actually.”
With one eye on the grand tournament in Australia, India are currently experimenting. The national selectors are giving chances to many young players like Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Shivam Dube, and Shreyas Iyer to shine in the international arena. In the ongoing T20I series against New Zealand, youngsters showcased their talent in all three departments and contributed well to their side’s success.
Stokes made 318 runs in the four tests, with one century and a half-century, and took 10 wickets and collected plenty of sharp catches at second slip. Another high-quality showing earned him the man of the series, during which he was crowned international cricketer of the year.
“It's always such a competitive series,” Stokes said. “I just think I really enjoy the competition that South Africa always brings.”
Van der Dussen's exit was the beginning of the end but Stuart Broad produced the ball of the day, a fierce, rising delivery in the direction of Temba Bavuma's throat that Bavuma gloved behind. De Kock went down swinging, hitting six fours and a six before Wood forced him to mistime one.
There was a nice moment when South Africa seam bowler Vernon Philander was out. It was Philander's final test before retiring from international cricket and he'd been struck down by a right hamstring tear the day before. He still came out to bat and England players lined up to shake his hand as he walked off.
The series also had fiery moments; Four players, including Philander and Stokes, were fined for swearing at opponents — or in Stokes' case a fan — or for provocative wicket celebrations. Du Plessis and Broad had a verbal confrontation on the last day.
“We all obviously fight hard on the park but at the end of the day we remain, gentlemen,” Philander said, appreciating England players' efforts to congratulate him on his career.
This tour was dubbed England's ‘Tour of Hell’ at the beginning because of the illness and injury woes but it's turned out to be heavenly, with triumph and the emergence of a new breed of youngsters that contributed heavily to the success.
“The sky’s the limit right now,” Root said. “I do think we are very much at the start of something and we’ve got to look to keep learning to keep getting better.”
England blew through South Africa's resistance quickly, in the end, to win the fourth and final test by 191 runs on Monday for a convincing 3-1 series victory and its best performance in the country in more than 100 years.
South Africa was all out for 274 on the fourth day at the Wanderers, way off the huge target of 466.
The home team didn't come close as England took two wickets in the first session, two right at the end of the second, and then ran through the rest of South Africa in dominant fashion to win with a day to spare.
Joe Root said through the series that victory would be the most significant in his three-year reign as England captain. He has what he wanted.
Yet a month ago, England was 1-0 down in the series, struggling to recover from a flu-like virus that swept through the squad, and rocked by series-ending injuries to opening batsman Rory Burns and fast bowlers James Anderson and Jofra Archer.
The turnaround was incredible. England won three tests in a row, all by big margins.
“Very special indeed,” Root said. “It’s taken a lot. Obviously you look at the first game and where we were there, and to pick ourselves up and play the way we have done in the last three games is extremely pleasing. It’s taken a big effort from everyone.”
The margin of victory in the series was also significant. It's the most convincing performance by an England team in South Africa since England won a five-test series 4-0 in 1914, six months before the outbreak of World War I.
Mark Wood was England's bowling star with 4-54 in the second innings and nine wickets in the match, his second test of an impressive return after being out of the team with injury for nearly a year.
Bowling fast, Wood clinched it with the wicket of Anrich Nortje, caught behind by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler. The decision didn't immediately go England's way but the tourists reviewed and TV replays confirmed their triumph.
The England players were already celebrating in the Johannesburg sunshine anyway.
Wood wasn't even meant to play but Archer pulled up with a recurrence of his elbow injury in the warmup at the Wanderers and Wood was called back in.
"Boy am I glad I played now,” Wood said. “I’m over the moon.”
Star all-rounder Ben Stokes proved his worth on the final day, as he's done all series, with crucial breakthroughs to get rid of stubborn South Africa opener Dean Elgar (24) and captain Faf du Plessis (35). The wicket of du Plessis broke South Africa's most meaningful partnership.
Du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen put on 92 in a period of fight from the home team after lunch but England removed both in the space of an over on the brink of tea and surged to victory from there.
Stokes roared in and his delivery kept low to bowl du Plessis.
Van der Dussen was out for 98 to Wood to miss his chance of a maiden test century in his debut series.
That double blow knocked the resistance out of South Africa. England finished it off effectively, taking the last seven wickets for just 87 runs.
Pakistan retained its No. 1 ranking in the Twenty20 format after rain washed out the third and final match of the series against Bangladesh.
Rain arrived an hour before the scheduled toss at 1.30 p.m. local time (0830 GMT) before umpires called off the play at 3.55 p.m. local time, to the disappointment of around 5,000 fans at the Gaddafi Stadium.
Pakistan clinched the series 2-0 after beating world No. 9 ranked Bangladesh by five wickets and nine wickets, respectively.
Bangladesh's batsmen struggled in the absence of banned Shakib Al Hasan as well as wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim, who opted out of the tour because of security concerns.
“Result-wise, we are probably disappointed,” Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah said.
“As a captain, I wanted to give a better performance, a better show which we didn’t do. The talent was there, the skill was there, but I think we didn’t execute our skills good enough and they were better than us, obviously.”
The No. 1 ranking, which Pakistan earned in January 2018, was under threat after the team lost eight of its nine T20s in 2019, but the recall of veteran batsmen Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez strengthened the batting line-up. Malik scored an unbeaten 58 in the first match, while Hafeez remained not out on 67 in the second game in two easy run-chases.
A 3-0 loss at home and a 2-0 defeat in Australia forced Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq to recall aging Hafeez and Malik after Pakistan batsmen struggled in the shortest format.
“We checked the resources against Sri Lanka and Australia, but after that, we realized we needed experience in the team,” Misbah said. “The experience (of Malik and Hafeez) came to our use and I believe the doors are not closed for any player. Form and fitness are important, and they both are in good form and are also fit.”
Bangladesh will return to Pakistan next month for the first test, as part of the ICC World Test Championship, after agreeing to split the T20 series and two test matches into three phases.
The officials of both the national cricket boards reached consensus in Dubai this month during a meeting facilitated by International Cricket Council chairman Shashank Manohar.
The first test will be played in Rawalpindi from Feb. 7-11. After a break of almost two months, Bangladesh will play an ODI and the second test in Karachi from April 3-9.
Late last year, Sri Lanka also split its tour to Pakistan into two phases when it played a T20 series in Lahore then returned in December for two test matches in Rawalpindi and Karachi, staying in Pakistan for 16 days.
Mumbai batsman Sarfaraz Khan, who recently notched up his maiden triple ton and gave Mumbai vital 3 points in the Ranji Trophy match against Uttar Pradesh, feels that Virat Kohli’s invaluable, honest advice has been instrumental in his comeback.
“I was dropped at Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2016 because of my fitness. Virat Kohli told me straightaway while there were no doubts over my skills, my fitness was not letting me get to the next level. He was very honest with me about where I was,” he revealed.
Sarfaraz Khan, who was given a chance due to the absence of regular Mumbai players Surya Kumar Yadav and Ajinkya Rahane has made full use of it. After scoring a triple ton his last innings, he has again scored a double century, playing against Himachal Pradesh. AT stumps on the first day of their Ranaji match, Mumbai are at 372 at the loss of five wickets. Out of those 372, Sarfaraz alone has scored 226 runs and is not out.
The Mumbaikar was elated with his triple century and even more by becoming a member of the elite club which has huge names like Wasim Jaffer and Rohit Sharma. “It’s a proud feeling to return and also join Mumbai’s triple-century club, alongside great players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Wasim Jaffer, and Rohit Sharma,” Sarfaraz was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar feels that there seems to be no one even close to India as far as international cricket is concerned. He reckons that Virat Kohli-led India is swiftly becoming a “ruthless” team that has no mercy for others.
Akhtar, on his YouTube channel, said “India is becoming a ruthless team as they once again proved it against New Zealand in the second T20I. If you (Kiwis) are being bowled out for such a modest total, how will you compete against a side like India which possesses a long batting line-up.”
He even lauded Indian fast bowlers saying that they are terrorizing the opposition. “Have seen new confidence from Bumrah and Shami as they have now started to create fear in the opposition batsmen,” said the Rawalpindi express.
World’s fastest, Akhtar is also of the opinion that the Indian team is touching the zenith of its potential and is dominating the world cricket one-sided. “At present India is dominating the world one-sided. But what will happen to other teams? What will happen to world cricket?” he asked.
“When Australia dominated world cricket, at least India and Pakistan showed fight and tried to compete. However, what we are seeing in New Zealand is that the hosts have completely surrendered before India in the first t20 T20Is,” he added.
India will now aim to seal what would be their first T20I series win over New Zealand when they meet the hosts in the third match in Hamilton on Wednesday.
It’s hard to believe that Master Blaster, Sachin Tendulkar even sledged someone. But if you were to believe Australian bowling legend McGrath, Sachin did sledge him. It was during the ICC Champions Trophy match in 1999 in Kenya, remembers McGrath vividly.
"I bowled to him, he pulled it and it went straight up in the air. I thought I had got him out and the wicketkeeper would get an easy catch. But there was a breeze there and the ball kept drifting further and further away from the wicketkeeper and then I thought the third-man is going to take it who was ready to catch it and then he started going back and back and the ball finally fell out of the fence for a six,” McGrath was quoted as saying by PTI.
"I was not very impressed and then I could hear someone saying a few words to me and I turned around and it was Sachin sledging me. That was very unusual and had not happened before," McGrath added.
From West Indies batting maestro Brian Lara to Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, McGrath had troubled the best in the business with his pinpoint accuracy on the 22-yards during his prime. McGrath took a total of 949 wickets in his international career encompassing Tests, ODIs and two T20Is.
Former Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting recently conducted a question and answer session on his official Twitter handle and the fans took the full advantage of the situation. While some people asked about his memorable innings, others asked about his favorite players in the cricket fraternity. Amidst all these queries, a fan came up with a unique question. He asked Ponting to pick the top three fielders in the world.
In his reply to the user, Ponting named his former team-mate Andrew Symonds, along with two South African batsmen, AB de Villiers and Jonty Rhodes as the three best fielders. Ponting, who is the head coach of Delhi Capitals franchise and worked with many Indian cricketers, didn’t pick any Indian name which came as a big surprise.
The 45-year-old legendary cricketer was then asked about Rishabh Pant’s future in Team India as the young player has lost his place to KL Rahul in all three formats.
“You didn't answer my question last time. Please answer this time. Where do you see Rishabh Pant going from here? He has lost his place in all three formats. Your thoughts?”
At this, Ponting replied, “Rishabh Pant is a young man with a huge amount of talent. I am looking forward to working with him again during the IPL and I am sure he will be back in the Indian team sooner rather than later.”
Yuvraj Singh and Wasim Akram have joined the bandwagon that will either play or take part as Coach in the Bushfire Relief match being organized by Cricket Australia. The match will see legends Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne captain two teams in a friendly match.
West Indies’ legend Courtney Walsh and Indian great Sachin Tendulkar have already announced their presence for the game. While Walsh would coach Shane Warne’s team, Tendulkar would be the Coach of Ponting’s XI. Apart from these international stars, Australian cricketers such as Steve Waugh would also form part of this momentous occasion.
Apart from the Relief match and the Big Bash finale, a women’s T20 international between Australia and India at Junction Oval in Melbourne will also take place. Proceeds from the match would be donated to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.
Yuvraj has scored 12,384 runs and taken 148 wickets in his international career while Wasim has taken 916 wickets. While Yuvraj Singh has not played a competitive match since the Abu Dhabi T10 league, Wasim Akram has been an active member of the commentary teams all around the world.
Famous Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle believes that the international matches should be played on the large cricket grounds and not on the small grounds like Eden Park. The 58-year-old recently claimed that the introduction of new technologies in the bats have offered liberty to young and experienced batsmen to smash big shots. The games can’t be played on the ‘tiny little' grounds.
During his most recent interview with Cricbuzz, Bhogle said, “I can understand that it is a heritage ground (Eden Park) and it’s been like this for many years. They have changed the angles and shape of the ground. But with the new game, with the power, the batsmen are physically much stronger than they have ever been and the bats are so much better. You got to have bigger grounds than this. You cannot have this type of tiny little grounds. If that is the case then the teams can come and play on TV sets.”
After winning both the T20I games against New Zealand in Auckland, the Men in Blue will play their third T20I against the Black Caps at the Seddon Park in Hamilton on January 29. The visitors have taken the 2-0 lead in the ongoing T20I series.
Little Master Sunil Gavaskar lashed out at the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) for giving Ranji Trophy, India’s premier first-class tournament a substandard treatment compared to the cash-rich IPL. Gavaskar questioned the need for the India ‘A’ team to be touring New Zealand at the same time as the senior side, calling it a ‘bizarre’ decision, as the Ranji season is at its peak.
“The national championship doesn’t mean much has been clear for a few years now that the IPL is here and it’s been emphasized once again by the way the Ranji Trophy has been devalued with the best talent out of the country,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for Mid-day.
He went on to say that it’s purely illogical that the premier domestic tournament of the country does not have its teams to its full strength.
“One can understand the national team being out as it’s a bilateral commitment in line with the ICC FTP but to have the India A team also out touring at the same time means that most Ranji Trophy teams are well below strength,” wrote Gavaskar.
“I may be old fashioned in thinking Indian cricket is a sum of club, schools, college junior cricket, corporate cricket along with first-class cricket of course. There are also the fans, the media, the corporate sponsors who have made Indian cricket what it is. It is the solemn duty of the administrators to nurture all this for the Indian national team to continue to be the magnificent team it is today and always,” said Gavaskar, at the end of his column.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has said that India’s wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant will make it to the playing XI, "sooner than later". He believes that Pant is full of talent and he just needs to utilize that talent.
"Rishabh Pant is a young man with a huge amount of talent. I am looking forward to working with him again during the IPL and I am sure he will be back in the Indian team sooner rather than later," Ponting said while replying to one of the users during his fan interaction on Twitter.
Ponting, who is the coach of Delhi Capitals, said that he is looking forward to work with Pant in the upcoming edition of the cash-rich league.
Since KL Rahul has been given the dual role of a 'keeper-batsman' in limited-overs by the Indian team management, it has become very difficult for Pant to get into the playing 11. Rahul has shown tremendous class and temperament in the New Zealand series and therefore the team management is persisting with him. In recent times, Rahul has shown satisfactory work with the glove and has been outstanding with the bat as well.
Rahul has played crucial innings in India's comprehensive victories in the first two matches as India lead the 5 match series 2-0.
Indian bowlers put up a great show in the second T20I against New Zealand at the Eden Park, Auckland. The outstanding bowling spells of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja restricted the hosts at a below-par total of 132 runs on Sunday. While Jasprit Bumrah dismissed the Kiwi batsman Ross Taylor, brilliant all-rounder Jadeja picked up two crucial wickets of Kane Williamson and Colin de Grandhomme.
However, the Man of the Match award was given to the opener KL Rahul, who played an unbeaten knock of 57 runs off 50 balls. But it seems like the popular Indian commentator Sanjay Manjrekar didn’t agree to the decision as he believes that the bowlers were more impactful than the batsman.
Taking to his Twitter, Manjrekar wrote, “Player of the Match should have been a bowler”. At this, Jadeja quickly reacted, “What is the name of that bowler?? Pls pls, mention.”
In his reply to the cricketer, Manjrekar said, “Haha…Either you or Bumrah. Bumrah, because he was extremely economical while bowling overs no 3, 10, 18 and 20.”
After India thrashed New Zealand by seven Wickets in Auckland, Virat Kohli lauded the efforts of the bowling department in a post-match presentation. He said, “The bowlers stood up and took control of what we wanted to do out there. Sticking to one side of the wicket was a very good feature for us as a team to restrict a good New Zealand team to 132 which I think was below par. The ball gripped for the spinners and I think Jadeja was outstanding. Chahal was a banker. Bumrah was amazing as well, and Shami and Shardul and Shivam making very good contributions with the ball but I think we backed it up in the field more importantly.”
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