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Monday,01-March-2021

International

Carlos Brathwaite: West Indies no underdogs, can win 3rd World Cup

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Buoyed by their performance against England at home, a rejuvenated West Indies side will go into this summer’s World Cup as a balanced unit. All-rounder Carlos Brathwaite feels that while they are not favourites to lift the cup, they are no pushovers either.

“I think the chances are good but I don’t think we will be favourites. And I don’t think we will be underdogs,” Brathwaite told IANS in an interview on the sidelines of a Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) event.

The hard-hitting all-rounder was roped in by the two-time champions for Rs 5 crore ahead of this season.

“We know what we can do, especially after the series we just had against England. So, it’s a balanced expectation in my opinion.

“The brand of cricket we played in the Caribbean, if we can replicate that in England, we will go somewhere close to challenging for the title. We have been traditionally a good tournament team. So, hopefully we can win the third World Cup,” said the Windies’ regular T20 skipper.

West Indies, led by Jason Holder, gave a good account of themselves in the recently concluded five-match ODI series in their backyard, with the series ending 2-2 as the third rubber was washed out.

The World Cup in England and Wales starts on May 30 with the Windies’ taking on Pakistan on May 31.

Brathwaite, who made a comeback to the ODI team for the England series, scored a counter-attacking 36-ball 50 in the fourth ODI remembered for Chris Gayle’s 97-ball 162 in Windies’ chase of 419. They lost the match by 29 runs. With the ball, he took five wickets in four games.

Best known for hitting four successive sixes to finish off England in the last over of the 2016 World T20 final at the Eden Gardens, Brathwaite said it’s a happy hunting ground for him and he is happy to be back.

“It’s kind of a happy hunting ground. I have had a few good games here. In the same World Cup, I had a good warm-up game with bat and ball. I had a decent game with the ball against India as well, though we didn’t cross the line.”

KKR will bank on Brathwaite to deliver the goods with bat and ball. Asked about his goal, the Barbados-born said: “I am not a stats person. If I get wickets and score some runs, take that one or two wickets that will take the team over the line..that’s more important.

“If I can help in significant wins and hopefully help the team win the trophy as well, then that would be a successful season for me, regardless of what the numbers say.”

The 30-year-old has blown hot and cold since the historic feat, only recently making a comeback since playing for the West Indies in an ODI back at the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in 2018.

“I may not be hitting four and sixes, but I am happy to be the one who comes in and takes crucial wickets or scores an important 20 or 25,” Brathwaite said when asked about his return and form.

“Not necessarily score a fifty or take a hat-trick to feel that I have contributed. So, that mindset has helped in the last couple of years.”

Brathwaite will join compatriots Andre Russell and Sunil Narine at KKR. “He is probably the best all-rounder in the world in this format. I will continue to learn from him,” he said of Russell.

Under the tutelage of head coach and iconic South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis, Brathwaite added that he would look to come out of the tournament a better cricketer.

“I have spoken to him about my batting — as to how I can be a more consistent finisher — that I want to be. It has been light-hearted mostly to be honest. He is very relaxed.

“I am really looking forward to learn more from one of the legends of the game (Kallis) and strong personality as assistant coach (Simon) Katich. Hopefully after this IPL, I will be a better cricketer.”

International

Confused by moaning and groaning: Vivian Richards on pitch debate

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Vivian-Richards

Former West Indies captain and batting legend Vivian Richards threw his support behind the spin-friendly conditions that were on offer during the second and third Test between India and England in Chennai and Ahmedabad, respectively.

The match, which was the only day-night Test in the series, got over in less than two days with only two out of the 30 wickets that fell during the match going to fast bowlers.

Earlier, England lost the second Test in Chennai by 317 runs. A number of former players said that pitches that were dished out for both matches were not suitable for Test cricket.

“I’ve been asked questions recently about the Test match that was played in India the second and third Test match against England. And I am a little confused about the question really because there seems to be a lot of moaning and groaning about the wicket that they were playing on,” said Richards in a video posted on his Facebook page.

Richards said that playing on spin-friendly conditions is only the “other side” of Test cricket.

“I just felt that the ones who are moaning, in my opinion, should realise that there are times that you’re going to get a seaming track, a ball that is basically jumping off a good length and everyone thinks that’s a problem for batters. There are times batters sometimes cope with that,” Richards said.

“But now you’ve seen the other side, and this is why I think it was given the name Test match cricket, because of the test of the mind and will and everything else that goes with it when you’re competing.

“And the complaints have been that the wicket is spinning too much and all that sorts of stuff. This is another side of the coin guys.

“People seem to forget that if you’re going to India, you should expect that. You are going to spin land. You should basically prepare yourself to know what you’re going to encounter,” he further said.

England wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes on Sunday said that the visitors were expecting more of the same in the fourth and final Test that would be played at the same venue from March 4.

Richards said that England should utilise the time they have got between the third and fourth Tests to prepare for the conditions.

“Rather than the moaning and groaning, especially just recently how quickly that Test match was over. It gives England an opportunity and a chance to assess things, to believe that for some reason the wicket that they’re going to encounter in the fourth Test is going to be the same. If I was India or I had anything to do with the preparations of the wicket, I would bring in very much the same (sic),” Richards added.

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Shahid Afridi adds to age confusion, says he is turning 44

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Shahid-Afridi

Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi while thanking his fans on Monday for their birthday wishes, said in his tweet that he is turning 44 this year, despite saying earlier in his autobiography that he was born in 1975.

“Thank you very much for all the lovely birthday wishes – 44 today! My family and my fans are my biggest assets. Really enjoying my stint with Multan and hope to produce match winning performances for all MS (Multan Sultans) fans,” tweeted Afridi.

In his autobiography “Game Changer”, which was released in April 2019, Afridi had said that he was born in 1975 as opposed to 1980 which is what was written in the official records. It meant that he was above “19” when he hit a record 37-ball century against Sri Lanka in 1996 and not 16, which is what his official age was. However, he had confused fans then as well as he would have been at least 20 in 1996 if he was born in 1975.

“For the record, I was 19, and not just 16 like they claim. I was born in 1975. So, yes, the authorities stated my age incorrectly,” Afridi said in his autobiography.

A few on social media pointed out the discrepancy. “The Man ! The Myth ! The Legend ! …. a 16 yr old Afridi scoring the fastest centuryyyyy……… today turns 44, according to his book he is 46 and Wikipedia says 41 , happy birthday lala,” said a tweet from one fan.

“44? You sure Lala? HBD! (You still don’t exist to me in the universe outside cricket .. but absolutely love you on the field!),” said another.

“We can now officially change Shahid Afridi’s DOB to 1 Mar 1977 from 1 Mar 1980. This means Afghanistan’s Usman Ghani (17y-242d) is now the youngest to score an ODI 100 (in July 2014). Afridi in Oct 1996 was 19y-217d (& not 16y-217d) when he made the famous 37-ball 100 at Nairobi,” tweeted cricket statistician Mohandas Menon.

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Get Ravichandran Ashwin back in India ODI squad: Brad Hogg

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Former Australia spinner Brad Hogg on Monday said that India should select Ravichandran Ashwin for their upcoming ODI series against England. Hogg said in a tweet that the 34-year-old off-spinner adds depth to the batting lineup apart from being a wicket-taking option.

“@ibrahim_3337 I think it is a great option, gives the batting line up extra depth allowing the top order to be more aggressive at the top and he is a wicket taking option with the ball, as well as economical. Get him back in. #INDvENG #Cricket,” Hogg tweeted in reply to a fan asking if India should get Ashwin back into the ODI squad.

Although he remains an integral part of the Indian Test team and is a regular in the Indian Premier League, Ashwin has been out of India’s limited overs sides since July 2017. His last ODI and T20I appearances for India came during their 2017 tour of West Indies. Ashwin has 150 wickets to his name in 111 ODI matches and 52 wickets in 46 T20Is.

Ashwin became the fourth Indian to take 400 Test wickets during their 10-wicket win over England in the third Test in Ahmedabad in February. Before that, he took eight wickets and scored a century in the second Test in Chennai. Ashwin also played an integral role with bat and ball in India’s 2-1 Test series win over Australia in January.

The fourth and final Test between India and England is scheduled to start on March 4 after which the two teams will face each other in five T20I matches between March 12 and March 20 in Ahmedabad. They then play a three-match ODI series between March 23 and 28 in Pune.

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