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Wednesday,26-January-2022

International

Give credit to Virat for team’s self-belief, character: Ravi Shastri

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India coach Ravi Shastri on Tuesday claimed this was the toughest ever tour an Indian team had undertaken and credited regular skipper Virat Kohli for the self-belief and character that saw the Indians win their second successive series in Australia.

Kohli had returned home after India suffered a humiliating loss in the first Test at Adelaide to attend the birth of his first child. He had led India to their first-ever series win in Australia, back in 2018-19.

“This is the toughest tour ever. We are playing in Covid and quarantine times with multiple injuries. So nothing comes close to this or surpasses this,” said the coach after India defeated Australia in the fourth and final Test by three wickets at the Gabba.

“You must give credit to Virat Kohli. He may not be here. He has gone back home. But his character, his personality is there for everyone to see in this team. For Ajinkya to take over the way he did was simply unreal. We were left with no choices, had no one left in the squad when the final Test started. India beat Australia in Australia last time but there was not a single bowler from that tour playing in this last game. It was important to keep the self-belief going,” he said.

Shastri lauded Rahane’s captaincy.

“I think Ajinkya did a great job by being calm, composed. It is not easy to go out with a bowling attack that is just three Test matches old… I think it is the self-belief. You people believe it has come overnight. It hasn’t come overnight. It is a process that has taken 5-6 years. These boys have been playing with each other for five-six years. They have had tough tours, they have had losses. What they have learnt now is never give up. Feeling defeated is one thing. But not giving up is not in our game. And that this team has shown. And you have to give credit to Kohli,” said Shastri.

Shastri said that he had tears in his eyes after the series win.

“I got emotional. I am not someone who has tears in my eyes but I really had absolutely real tears in my eyes. This is unreal. What these guys have pulled off will go down in history as one of the greatest series ever played. And when you look at the Covid situation and spate of injuries and to take everything into account and to show the stomach for fight after being bowled out for 36 is unimaginable.”

Shastri described the difficult circumstances the team had to go through ahead of the series.

“When you look at the circumstances when this team came to Australia — being in lockdown for four months where a lot of people living in metros couldn’t even get out of their flats, leave alone get an opportunity to practice and train. Then to go to IPL…. None of the guys had a proper hit in the middle. Then to come here and take on Australia in their own backyard, the world knows how tough it is. Then to go through these quarantine periods, have multiple injuries right through the tour,” he stressed.

“To be here bowled out for 36, India’s lowest score and then to come back from there and play like absolute champions is unreal. The penny has still not dropped. It will take some time. Unreal. Unimaginable. Simply superb. Especially the resolve and character the boys have shown.”

International

Malinga set to take over as Sri Lanka’s fast bowling consultant: Report

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Former Sri Lankan pace bowler Lasith Malinga is set to become the fast bowling consultant coach of the national cricket team after the high-profile Cricket Advisory Committee recommended his name to Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) Executive Committee.

The 38-year-old Malinga, who played for more than a decade for Indian Premier League (IPL) side Mumbai Indians, will oversee the Sri Lankan team’s preparations for the upcoming T20I tour of Australia, where the side will play five matches, a report in the The Island said on Wednesday.

While Malinga is one of the most successful T20 bowlers in the world due to his sling-shot action and is a Sri Lankan icon, his appointment has reportedly not gone down well with several stakeholders of the game in the country.

The report said that while he was adored by millions of fans, “he wasn’t the most likeable person in the dressing room with a host of Sri Lankan captains having concerns about his conduct”.

“It is alleged that Malinga deliberately slowed down the over rate with the intention of suspending the captain, an allegation that SLC has not investigated. Cricket’s playing conditions at one point dictated that slow over rates would result in fines for players and suspension for the captain. Since then, the International Cricket Council has amended the playing conditions and the captain is no longer suspended,” the report added.

Sri Lanka lifted the ICC T20 World Cup in 2014 under Malinga’s captaincy, as he was filling in for the suspended Dinesh Chandimal, but his overall record as skipper is abysmal. He led the country in nine One-day Internationals and all nine ended in losses. Under his leadership, Sri Lanka lost 15 of the 24 T20Is it played.

The report said that the Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising of stalwarts such as Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva and Muttiah Muralitharan among others, had their reservations on endorsing Malinga as fast bowling consultant coach. However, since the recommendation reportedly came from former skipper and consultant coach Mahela Jayawardene, it could not be denied, the report said.

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Afghanistan complete whitewash to grab crucial Cricket World Cup Super League points

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Afghanistan completed a 3-0 series victory over the Netherlands to grab 30 crucial World Cup Super League points, here on Tuesday.

Half-centuries from Najibullah Zadran and debutant Riaz Hassan and a three-wicket haul from another debutant Qais Ahmad helped Afghanistan to a 75-run win, setting up a 3-0 series victory in the ODI series.

After deciding to bat first, Afghanistan were driven by 19-year old opener Riaz on debut. The Netherlands managed to send back the centurion from the last game, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, for 12, but Riaz and Rahmat Shah put on an 86-run partnership to revive the innings.

Once Saqib Zulfiqar broke the partnership by sending back Riaz, the Netherlands managed another wicket soon with Rahmat dismissed in the 33rd over. Najibullah Zadran compiled a fine half-century with aid from the lower middle-order. Najibullah finished on 71 off 59 balls as Afghanistan made 254/5 in their 50 overs.

In reply, the Netherlands made a strong start with Scott Edwards once again leading the charge. Colin Ackermann gave him solid company and the duo thwarted Afghanistan’s new ball plans. Their 50 came up in 10 overs with the openers laying a solid platform.

They carried on in the same vein, putting on 103 for the opening wicket before Afghanistan’s debutant Qais broke the stand with his maiden ODI wicket, that of Edwards, trapped in front by the leg-spinner. Fareed Ahmad sent back skipper Pieter Seelaar for a duck and Afghanistan had the opportunity to put a leash on the chase.

The spinners worked in tandem and soon the Netherlands went from 103/0 to 153/5 with Boris Gorlee, Bas de Leede and the well-set Colin Ackermann, who made 81 off 96 balls, also back in the hut. The tables had turned around at this stage and Afghanistan were right on top in the game. They went on to bowl out the Netherlands for 179 to seal a 75-run victory and secure a series whitewash.

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Australia to tour Pakistan with a full-strength squad, says George Bailey

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Chief selector George Bailey on Tuesday confirmed that no Australian player has asked to be left out of the squad that is set to embark on their first tour of Pakistan since 1999.

Bailey added that the selection will be solely based on managing their workload.

“I believe the boards are still working through some of the minor details around that tour, so once that gets the formal tick of approval then we’ll announce the squad post that, but we’re reasonably well down the track,” Bailey was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia’s website.

“The two (security) briefings that I’ve sat in on, the security sounds very, very robust.”

The tour is set to start on March 3. It will consist of three Test matches to be played in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore and will be followed by a three-match ODI series from March 29 to April 2. A lone T20I will be played on April 5.

The last time Pakistan had an ICC event on its soil was when it co-hosted the 1996 World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka. The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 ensured Test cricket remained out of bounds until 2019.

In 2020, before the T20 World Cup, New Zealand and England had pulled out of the tour of Pakistan citing security concerns.

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