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Wednesday,26-January-2022

International

I’m gonna kill you: Liam Plunkett recalls Akhtar threat on Test debut

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England cricketer Liam Plunkett recently jogged down the memory lane and spoke about the ‘frightening’ moment he came up against former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar on his Test debut.

Plunkett also stated that despite being teammates with Akhtar at Durham in County Cricket, the Pakistani pacer sent across a threat when they came face-to-face during his first match in the longest format for England.

“Frightening stuff… in county cricket, I was first-change to Shoaib and Harmy. I was at slip for Harmy and leg-slip for Shoaib. I faced Shoaib Akhtar in my first-ever Test match,” Plunkett said while speaking to The Broken Podcast as per Wisden.

“Because I played with Durham before that, I was marking my run up before the Test and he just smiled and said ‘I’m gonna kill you’ and laughed.”

Plunkett was speaking about England’s third Test of the 2005 series in Lahore, where he came out to bat in the 78th over of the first innings as the visitors were seven down for 249.

He faced two balls from spinner Danish Kaneria and the next over belonged to Akhtar, who was steaming down and bowling in excess of 90 mph consistently as per Plunkett.

“I remember it like it was yesterday because I had my bat, at that time – you think (now) these bats are so thick and stuff – but it was Kashmir willow, it was real thin,” Plunkett said.

“And I was sat ready to bat, I was next in, and the TV screen’s right there, so you can see it’s like 96, 97, 96 (miles per hour). Ashley Giles’ stumps get taken out, and I walk out to a guy who’s bowling 90 mile an hour.”

Despite him initially being a bit scared of Akhtar, Plunkett (9 off 51) did relatively well for a tail-ender in that hostile environment before finally getting dismissed by Mohammad Sami.

“I remember the first one, it looked like I played it well. You duck and you turn and you can see it travel to the keeper and the keeper catches it. I got my first medal of honour, he hit me on the shoulder. I pretty much s*** my pants at that point,” he said.

“He’s just such a big solid bloke, he’s got massive tree trunk legs, and he just steams in, and you’re like, ‘every ball’s got serious intent here’.

“I think I was like nine off 60 balls, but I managed to do a decent job. My first Test, that was a serious challenge, and batting at No.9, to be able to put up a partnership, get seven or eight but face 60 balls, I was pretty happy with it,” the England fast bowler said.

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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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