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Tuesday,09-August-2022

International

Axar Patel fills Jadeja’s shoes by sticking to his strengths

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India left-arm spinner Axar Patel’s dismissal of England’s Jonny Bairstow was very Ravindra Jadeja-like. Patel, playing just his second Test, beat Bairstow on the inside edge for leg-before wicket. The right-handed batsman played for the turn, only to realise that there was no turn. It is something Jadeja does extremely well on Indian wickets where there is turn.

Jadeja and Patel bowl a tight line, giving nothing away, instead of giving turn to the ball. Jadeja, who is yet to recover from a thumb fracture he suffered in Australia, has paired with Ashwin successfully over the last eight years of Test cricket in India, helping the team stay unbeaten at home in Test series since 2012-13.

When India last lost a series at home, in 2012-13 against England, Jadeja and Ashwin were yet to form a pair with the left-arm spinner making his debut only in the drawn last Test of that series. Ashwin and Jadeja have taken 348 wickets in the 33 Tests they have played together.

It came as no surprise then, that India’s sole concern in the bowling department ahead of the Test series against England was Jadeja’s absence. His accuracy, variations in pace and minimal turn are important assets to confuse batsmen on wickets that aid turn. Axar Patel, however, has stepped into his shoes well.

The Gujarat left-arm spinner picked up his second successive five-wicket haul, a 6/38, on Wednesday after 5/60 in the second innings of the second Test. Patel stuck to an accurate line in both innings across the two Tests and allowed the pitch and batsmen’s nerve do the rest.

“Axar is good at getting one to skid on and one to turn,” said England opener Zak Crawley, who himself fell to Patel as England’s fourth wicket after scoring a half-century.

This created confusion, to which England batsmen succumbed. Not just confused by which ball to play and which to ignore, but where to play, on front foot or back foot.

Former India left-arm spinner Maninder Singh feels both Patel and Jadeja know their limitations and that serves them well.

“The similarity between Jadeja and Axar Patel is that they know their strengths. They don’t go out of the way to do things they don’t know. They know what their capabilities and limitations are. They both know that they can’t bowl classical spin of using flight etc. That (knowing their limitations) is their biggest strength and is the most important thing,” Maninder told IANS.

“They know what they can do and they stick to that.”

The 55-year-old former spin bowler says that having a coach like Ravi Shastri who, too, played within his limitations, has helped.

“If you see Shastri’s batting, he would score off the hips, with flicks but would avoid cover-drive. Only after reaching a century, he would try that. Otherwise he would stay away from it. Ravi knew his strengths and knew the cover drive wasn’t his strength. Similarly, these two boys (Jadeja and Patel) know their strengths,” he said. On Wednesday, Patel said that he stuck to a wicket-to-wicket line as there was nothing else to do.

International

England beat Germany after extra time to win UEFA women’s Euro

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England beat Germany 2-1 after extra time in a packed Wembley Stadium in London, bringing home the trophy of the UEFA women’s Euro for the first time.

Germany suffered a heavy blow minutes ahead of the final on Sunday evening as their captain Alex Popp had to pull out after picking up an injury during the warm-up.

The 31-year-old forward had scored in all five previous matches in this tournament and scored twice in Germany’s 2-1 win against France in Wednesday’s semifinal, reports Xinhua. England, reaching the Euro’s final for the third time, couldn’t break the deadlock until Ella Toone came off the bench to score the opener in the 62nd minute.

But midfielder Lina Magull helped Germany equalise in the 79th minute.

The 1-1 scoreline was held until the 110th minute while substitute Chloe Kelly prodded in her first goal for the England team.

“What we’ve done is incredible. I knew we had England behind us- we saw that coming to the stadium,” said England head coach Sarina Wiegman in front of 87,192 fans in Wembley.

“But the whole tournament we’ve had so much support from our fans. I’m so proud of the team.”

The 52-year-old Dutchwoman, who also guided the Netherlands to win the women’s Euro trophy in 2017, is the first coach to lead two different teams to the title.

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Pakistan Cricket Board wants ICC to form strategy on growth of franchise T20 leagues

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Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Saturday that it has asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) to form a strategy on controlling the growth of lucrative franchise T20 leagues with rising concerns about its impact on the international cricket calendar.

Earlier this week, South Africa pulled out of a three-match bilateral ODI against Australia in January as it clashes with their new domestic T20 competition, the third time they will be attempting to have a successful franchise T20 League.

The next cycle of the Future Tours Programme (FTP), for 2024-31, which shows the schedule of teams playing bilateral series against each other and at what venues, is set to be confirmed in the upcoming week during the annual conference of the ICC at Birmingham.

“Growth of franchise cricket is impacting the already crammed international cricket calendar. The PCB is concerned about this development and wants the ICC to formulate a strategy on this issue,” said PCB Chief Executive Faisal Hasnain in a statement.

“We have sent a proposal to the ICC, which they have added to their meeting agenda. Two other boards have also conveyed their apprehensions to the ICC on this matter and urged the ICC to create a working group to debate on the expansion of franchise-based T20 leagues,” added Hasnain.

Talking about the confirmation of the FTP, in the context of Pakistan recently starting to host international cricket at home, Hasnain remarked, “Finalising the Future Tours Programme (FTP) is very important for us.

“This will give us certainty about which teams will be visiting us and which countries we will be touring. 80 per cent of the FTP has already been agreed upon and the remaining 20 per cent will be completed in the upcoming meeting.”

The upcoming ICC Annual Conference in Birmingham also marks the first time the meeting will happen after a Covid-19 pandemic caused a stoppage. “The annual conference presents a unique opportunity for networking with representatives of the world cricket.

“We are planning several initiatives that involve fellow members and meetings have already been set up on the sidelines with other boards to collectively enhance our common interest,” concluded Hasnain.

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T20 World Cup could be a swansong for several Australian cricketers, indicates Finch

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Australia white-ball skipper Aaron Finch has no doubt in his mind that he will be leading an “ageing side” in the ICC T20 World Cup at home later this year, and indicated that the tournament could be a swansong for several cricketers, especially batters.

As Australia prepare to defend the title they won in the UAE in 2021, Finch added that lifting the trophy in front of a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground in November would be a dream come true for him.

“It might be a full stop on everything (several players retiring from T20Is, including him) if it goes to plan like that. Fairy tales can happen in sport,” Finch, 35, was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au during the 100-day countdown celebration to the mega event on Friday.

While Finch has indicated that this could be the last T20 World Cup for him, it could also be opener David Warner and wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade’s last mega T20 event, given that both are in their mid-30s.

Wade has already said the 2022 T20 World Cup will be his international swansong, while Warner has also indicated that he might retire from T20Is to prolong his Test and ODI career. Finch will also probably turn his attention to the 50-over World Cup in India in 2023 to finally call it a day from international cricket.

Asked about his white-ball future post the T20 World Cup, Finch said, “Good question… It obviously shifts to a 50-over World Cup focus… after the (T20) World Cup, so I don’t think there’s too many T20 games in the next 12 months (after the World Cup) anyway. So I don’t know.

“I think just naturally when guys get to their mid-30s, it’s going to be that way. Davey (Warner) just keeps going; he could play for another 10 years, I think, with how fit he is and how much he loves the competition and continuing to challenge himself.

“(Matthew) Wadey has gone through a few phases (and) he’s now become so important to the structure of our team, batting at seven there and being so dynamic. But it’s an ageing side, isn’t it? Especially in that batting group,” said Finch.

Finch added that the World Cup in Australia would be “incredibly tough” after what he saw in the UAE last year where South Africa, in spite of winning four out of their five games, missed out on net run rate.

“Iit’s going to be an incredibly tough competition. We saw how brutal the format is with South Africa winning four out of their five games at the last World Cup and still not qualifying on net run rate. It’s just so brutal that you do need a bit of luck along the way. So let’s see.”

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