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Thursday,20-January-2022

International

Bangladesh look to bounce back after narrow defeat in opening T20I vs Pak

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Bangladesh-vs-Zimbabwe

Having lost the low-scoring opening T20 International to Pakistan at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur on Friday, Bangladesh would be hoping to bounce back quickly when the second game of the three-match series is played at the same venue later on Saturday.

Despite having several news faces in the side from the one that played the ICC T20 World Cup, Bangladesh put up a gritty show against the tourists. But despite being reduced to 24/4, the Babar Azam-led side reached the target with only four deliveries left.

Bangladesh will be hoping it is not an emerging pattern, given they were in a winning position against Sri Lanka and West Indies in the T20 World Cup before falling away.

The bowlers did their job in Friday’s game, but given how the batters crumbled in the first T20I, Mahmudullah might be looking to ring in the changes to strengthen a batting order that was far too conservative in their approach on a good batting surface.

Pakistan, on the other hand, seem to have put the semifinal loss in the T20 World Cup behind them as they showed tremendous determination to win a game from a difficult situation. Despite the rare failure of the top order, the middle and lower order put their hands up to give Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the series.

Pakistan will be looking to seal the series in the second game so that they can test their bench strength in the final T20I against Bangladesh. Though it was not a perfect victory for Pakistan, it is unlikely that Azam will tinker with his line-up for the second T20I.

“The wicket was a bit difficult, not easy to bat on. So the credit goes to our middle order — Fakhar, Khushdil and how Nawaz finished (the opening T20I). We could have bowled them earlier, we ended up conceding 15-20 runs extra but that happens in cricket,” said Azam.

Reflecting on the loss, Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah said, “I think when we chose to bat first, it looked a pretty good wicket to bat on but there was help for bowlers too. Hopefully, we can come up with a better plan on Saturday. It would have been better to get 140 but with 127, we thought if we could get a couple of wickets early on, which our bowlers did, Taskin, Fizz, Mahedi, we were very close but the credit goes to their last two batters.”

International

Australia rise to top of ICC Test rankings, India slip down to third spot

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Australia climbed to the top spot in the latest ICC Test team rankings released on Thursday on the back of their 4-0 Ashes series victory against England while India slipped down to the third position after suffering a 2-1 away series defeat in South Africa.

Pat Cummins led Australia won the first, second, third and the fifth Test matches convincingly against England at Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart. England only were able to draw the fourth contest in Sydney, managing to save the Test by the skin of their teeth.

This relentless display has seen Australia jump up two places to No 1 in the rankings, overtaking both New Zealand and India with 119 rating points.

On the other hand, India, who were ranked No 1 in the Test team rankings, slipped down to the third spot after their series loss against Proteas and have 116 points at present. After a brilliant victory in the first Test in Centurion, they were dealt back-to-back defeats in Johannesburg and Cape Town as their quest for a first Test series victory in South Africa continued.

South Africa after their series win have climbed up one spot to No 5 in the rankings chart with 101 rating points.

Meanwhile, New Zealand, the inaugural World Test Championship winners, have retained their second position in the rankings with 117 rating points after their drawn home series against Bangladesh. After losing the first Test at the Bay Oval, the Kiwis bounced back with a comprehensive performance at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

Pakistan slipped down one spot to No 6 with 93 rating points. Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland have managed to retain their respective positions in the ranking charts.

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Sharma, Pant and Ashwin included in ICC Men’s Test Team of the Year

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India opener Rohit Sharma, wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin have been included in the ICC Men’s Test team of the year for 2021.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has been given the charge of captaining the eleven which also has his countryman and Player of the Match in the inaugural World Test Championship final, Kyle Jamieson, as well.

Apart from three Indians and two New Zealanders, England captain Joe Root, Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne, Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne, and Pakistani trio of Fawad Alam, Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi are in the eleven as well.

It is Ashwin’s fifth appearance and Pant’s second time in the Test team of the year honours while it is the first time Sharma is in the coveted eleven of Test cricket.

2021 was the year when Sharma came into his own as an opener in the longest format of the game for India. He cracked 906 runs in the calendar year at an average of 47.68 with two centuries and four half-centuries.

Both of the centuries were memorable knocks in contrasting conditions against England — one at home in Chennai and the other in overcast conditions away from home at the Oval. Though Sharma missed out on the recent Test tour to South Africa, he will have a key role to play for India in 2022.

Pant, in 2021, further established himself as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batter in all three formats, with his continuous development especially coming to the fore in the Test arena.

He scored 748 runs in 12 matches at an average of 39.36 with a memorable ton against England at Ahmedabad, a 97 against Australia, and an unbeaten 89 against the same opposition at The Gabba in leading India to a memorable Border-Gavaskar Trophy victory by 2-1.

He also accounted for 39 dismissals in 23 innings, with his glovework continuing to improve. Recently, in Cape Town, Pant scored a high-quality hundred despite India losing the series to South Africa 2-1.

Ashwin, the off-spinner bamboozled many batters with his sheer wizardry to be the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2021. Ashwin scalped up 54 wickets in nine matches at an average of 16.64, making a big impact in the home series against England and New Zealand.

He also chipped in with 355 runs at an average of 25.35, which included a vital century against England at his home ground in Chennai.

ICC Men’s Test Team of the Year: Dimuth Karunaratne, Rohit Sharma, Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Root, Kane Williamson (captain), Fawad Alam, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Kyle Jamieson, Hasan Ali, and Shaheen Afridi

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Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami named in ICC Women’s ODI Team of the Year

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Veteran Indian cricketers Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami on Thursday were named in ICC Women’s ODI Team of the Year for 2021.

The ICC Team of the Year, led by England’s Heather Knight, recognizes the achievements of some exceptional players in women’s cricket who impressed one and all with their on-field exploits in a calendar year.

India’s ODI skipper Mithali Raj amassed 503 runs at an average of 62.87 in 2021. Her runs came at a time when the Indian team struggled as a unit, which makes her contribution even more important.

The veteran batter didn’t score any century this year but made a total of six half-centuries.

On the other hand, Jhulan Goswami claimed a total of 15 wickets in 2021 and maintained an excellent economy rate of 3.77 as well.

The 39-year-old Indian pacer is still proving herself to be a force to reckon with. An experienced bowler who can keep runs in check, and pick up wickets at the same time, is an asset for any side.

Overall, the ODI team has three players from South Africa, one from Australia, two from West Indies, and two from England, two from India and one from Pakistan.

ICC Women’s ODI Team of 2021: Lizelle Lee (South Africa), Alyssa Healy (wk) (Australia), Tammy Beaumont (England), Mithali Raj (India), Heather Knight (c) (England), Marizanne Kapp (South Africa), Hayley Matthews (West Indies), Fatima Sana (Pakistan), Jhulan Goswami (India), Shabnim Ismail (South Africa), Anisa Mohammed (West Indies)

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