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Wednesday,01-December-2021

International

Harder to hit spinners than fast bowlers in Sharjah: Karthik after KKR’s win

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Kolkata Knight Riders wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik gave an insight into how the wickets will behave during the ICC T20 World Cup in less than three weeks’ time in the UAE when he said that it was harder to hit the spinners than the fast bowlers on Tuesday night.

In a low-scoring match, Kolkata Knight Riders registered their fifth win in the tournament, and third in the UAE, as they defeated Delhi Capital by three wickets chasing 127 on a difficult track. Nitish Rana’s unbeaten 36 and Sunil Narine’s 21-run cameo down the order enabled the two-time champions notch up two points at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium to take their tally to 10 points from 11 games.

Karthik shared insights on his conversation with southpaw Rana by saying, “I think it was a case of Nitish feeling good. The fact that he felt he could take on (DC spinner) Lalit Yadav, so he backed himself to hit those shots.

“At that stage, what we were discussing was that we needed to take the game slightly deep. We need to have the right intent. If it is there, we will go for it; if not, we will rotate the strike. It wasn’t an easily rotatable wicket, but there wasn’t a plan like we needed to take on Lalit Yadav. In fact, it was actually harder to hit the spinners than the fast bowlers,” added Karthik.

While the bowlers set the game up for the Knight Riders by restricting the opposition to 127/9 in their quota of 20 overs, Rana’s knock in the middle overs was the turning point of the match. With 52 required off the final seven overs, the match was firmly in the balance. On a sluggish track, Rana took the attack to Lalit Yadav and smashed 20 runs to tilt the game in favour of the Knights.

Despite the 20-run over, the Knights lost a flurry of wickets and were reeling at 96/5, with Narine and Rana holding the fort. The wicket-keeper heaped praises on Rana for his ability to absorb the pressure and guide the team over the line.

“He played a really sensible knock. The good thing was that he was not out till the end, which is very important for us. Just the way he was able to handle pressure, take on the bowlers that he thought he could take on, and it was very nice to see him mature.

“It is important that he keeps playing innings like this because he is capable of this. The most important thing in his life is if he wants to get into the national team and make a name for himself, he needs to keep producing these knocks, and he’s definitely got the talent to do it,” added Karthik.

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Pak pacer Shaheen Afridi makes it to top-5 in ICC Test rankings for first time

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Pakistan pace spearhead Shaheen Afridi has made it to the top-five of the ICC Men’s Test Player Rankings for the first time in his career after a fine show in the first Test against Bangladesh, which Pakistan won by eight wickets.

The 21-year-old left-arm bowler, who grabbed seven wickets including a five for 32 in the second innings of the Chittagong Test, has moved up three places to fifth position after overtaking England’s James Anderson, South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada and New Zealand’s Neil Wagner.

Afridi’s new-ball partner Hasan Ali too is at a career-best position after finishing with a similar seven-wicket match haul that included a five-for in the first innings. Hasan has advanced five places to 11th place. His previous best in Tests was 14th, reached in May this year.

Pakistan’s opening batters too made quite an impact in the rankings. Abid Ali may have missed out on a century in the second innings but his scores of 133 and 91 helped him shoot up 27 slots to a career-best 20th position, while Abdullah Shafique entered the rankings at 83rd with scores of 52 and 73.

For Bangladesh, Mushfiqur Rahim is up four places to 19th with scores of 91 and 16 while Liton Das has moved up 26 places to a career-best 31st position after accruing 114 and 59. Left-arm spinner Taijul Islam has progressed two places to 23rd after an eight-wicket match haul that included seven scalps in the first innings.

The thrilling draw in Kanpur between India and New Zealand had quite a few performances from either side that reflect in the latest weekly update that also includes the first Test between Sri Lanka and the West Indies at Galle, which the host side won by 187 runs.

Debutant Shreyas Iyer’s Player of the Match effort of 105 and 65 helped him enter the rankings in 74th position while opener Shubman Gill (up six places to 66th) and Wriddhiman Saha (up nine places to 99th) also made notable progress after notching half-centuries.

Ravindra Jadeja is up two places to 19th among bowlers with five wickets in the match and is also up one place to second among all-rounders. Ravichandran Ashwin is the third-ranked all-rounder and 79th among batters.

For New Zealand, Tom Latham’s knocks of 95 and 52 place him back in the top 10 as he goes up from 14th to ninth. Fast bowler Kyle Jamieson is ninth among bowlers, his three wickets in each innings resulting in a gain of six places. Tim Southee has gained 15 rating points to reach within one point of second-placed Ashwin (840) after his eight-wicket match haul.

Sri Lanka, whose win in their first match of the ICC Men’s Test Championship put them on top of the table, also had some improvements after the Galle Test.

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne’s Player of the Match effort of 147 and 83 lifted him four places to seventh, just one below his career-best sixth position attained in August 2019. Former captains Angelo Mathews (up two places to 23rd) and Dinesh Chandimal (up four places to 46th) have also advanced.

Left-arm spinners Lasith Embuldeniya (up four places to 37th) and Praveen Jayawickrama (up six places to 44th) and off-spinner Ramesh Mendis (up 28 places to 57th) have improved in the rankings for bowlers.

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CSA assures cricketing world of bio-bubble arrangements ahead of India series

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 In a bid to assure the world about bio-bubble arrangements ahead of a very important series against India, Cricket South Africa (CSA) reiterated its capability to institute a biologically safe environment (BSE) of the highest standard.

India is scheduled to play three Tests, three ODIs and four T20Is in the Rainbow nation, starting with the first Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on December 17 and ending with the fourth T20I on January 26 at Boland Park in Paarl. But the discovery of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, along with travel bans issued by various countries meant that the marquee tour happening as per plan is in doubt.

Amidst all the uncertainty, CSA has now released a statement on Wednesday about their capabilities of organising the India tour in high-quality bio-bubbles, giving example of how the men’s team has been in bio-bubbles at home and away ever since the pandemic began. “CSA has instituted world-class standards and measures to ensure all players, staff and officials are protected within this environment.

“Our main focus was to safeguard the cricket biosphere by managing strict entry standards and limited movement outside its cordon. What we have implemented at our BSE (bio-secure environment) is a cordon sanitaire which offers full and continuous protection to all individuals who respect and abide by our very demanding guidelines and rules,” said CSA’s chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra.

On Tuesday, South Africa’s foreign ministry had lauded the BCCI for not pulling out the India ‘A’ team from its ongoing three four-day Test tour in Bloemfontein. It also gave assurances on full bio-bubble measures being provided for India as well as South Africa during the duration of the highly anticipated series.

South Africa Test skipper Dean Elgar has expressed his confidence in bio-bubble measures taken by the CSA, saying that the team has given results despite them taking a toll mentally.

“It’s hard to believe we’ve been working in these BSE conditions for a year now, but anyone who has been affected, either directly or indirectly by the Covid-19 virus, knows this is a necessity if we want to continue playing cricket. It takes a toll on a player mentally and yet this team continues to produce good results and make progress. That’s something I don’t think is being spoken about enough.

“The measures that have been put in place and the hotels chosen take into account the teams’ physical and mental health needs. We don’t know how much longer we’ll be operating like this, but it’s gratifying to know that when tours come around, the health and safety of all involved is top priority.”

His white-ball counterpart Temba Bavuma too has supported the bio-bubble measures by CSA. “CSA has to be commended for the way they have gone about the BSEs. It hasn’t been an easy year for us all. Being confined to a hotel room and being restricted from leaving the hotel and having the choice – in most places away from home – between your room and the team room and little access outside the hotel takes its toll, particularly for the all-format playing members of the team and management.

“I’m confident our BSEs are of the highest safety standards and the protocols are set with everyone’s physical well-being and mental health in mind.”

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IND v NZ: As a team, everyone is backing Rahane and Pujara, says Mhambrey

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 India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said on Wednesday that the team is backing senior batters Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara to come good ahead of the second Test against New Zealand on Friday. He believes that the duo is just one innings away from bouncing back in form.

In Test matches in 2021, Rahane has amassed just 411 runs in 21 innings at an average of 19.57, including only two half-centuries.

In the drawn first Test at Kanpur, Rahane registered scores of 35 and 4, resulting in his Test career average going below 40.

Pujara, on the other hand, is yet to score a century since his knock of 193 against Australia in the 2019 Sydney Test.

Just like Rahane, Pujara was unable to leave an impact in the Kanpur Test, making 26 and 22 in both innings.

“I think with both Ajinkya and Pujara, we know that they have a lot of experience behind them. They played enough cricket and we also know as a team that they are one innings away from coming back into form. So, as a team, everyone is behind them and backing them.

“We know that the value they bring to the team, the experience that they have will come good. So, it is just one innings away from getting back to the form. They have played enough cricket to understand what is expected out of them and what is required to get that going,” said Mhambrey in the virtual press interaction.

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