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Wednesday,26-January-2022

International

IND v NZ: I think we did a great job in prising out nine wickets on the last day, says Dravid

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India head coach Rahul Dravid appreciated the efforts of the bowlers in taking out nine wickets on day five in the drawn first Test against New Zealand at the Green Park Stadium on Monday. He added that pitch did not challenge outer as well as inner edges on day five. The last-wicket New Zealand pair of Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel were defiant in keeping India away from a win, managing to save the match in a thrilling draw.

“I guess the facts of the pitch were that it was probably low and slow, didn’t have that much of bounce and turn. You probably expect a little bit more of wear and tear on these wickets in Indian conditions over the course of five days. It just didn’t seem to have that kind of bite. It’s generally in India on Day Five where you can challenge both edges, at least the spinners can challenge the outside edge for the catches and beat people on the inside edge for the lbw. In this game, the outside edge was virtually ruled out, and even till the last day none of the edges were carried. I can’t even remember a catch close to the edges. I think Bharat took a couple but other than that, it felt there was only one way to get people out which is bowled and lbw, which was probably true in the last session,” said Dravid in the post-match press conference.

“Inspite of that, I think we did a great job in prising out nine wickets on the last day. I have played in Kanpur before but it was slower and lower than I have experienced anything here before. Usually, on Day Five, you should get a bit more help, cracks widen up a little bit. Maybe it’s winter or what it was, it felt like if you wanted a block or wanted to score runs, then it felt really difficult to get people out. We saw that as quality guys were able to make a game out of this otherwise it could have easily become a dull draw,” added Dravid.

Dravid praised the team for showing the gumption to fight and maintaining their composure on what he felt was an ‘unresponsive pitch’ and admitted that light would have faded anytime in the closing stages of the match. “It was expected. I mean, we kind of knew the light was going to dip at that point in time. It has been happening sort of every day. Not very difficult. I mean, the guys were pretty switched on.”

“I thought we showed composure and great fighting spirit to be able to, sort of, worked really hard in that last session on what was quite an unresponsive pitch even on the fifth day. I think the guys were very good and did a really good effort, considering what it was to take eight wickets after lunch, three in that session, and five in the last one. Really run the game close and with a little bit of luck, could have gone our way as well. But I think the guys fought really hard today.”

The 48-year-old defended the timing of the declaration by India in the second innings, saying that the team had timed it well. “No, I don’t think so. That’s not my reading of the game. Till half an hour before we declared, we were under pressure. All the three results were possible. To be very honest with you, if we had got out, obviously Wriddhiman Saha showed great courage and character in batting with stiff neck he had, we had lost last three wickets quickly and they would have been chasing 230-240 in 110 overs, then they were looking at 2.2 or 2.3 runs per over.”

“I thought we timed our declaration really well. We lost Shreyas just before tea and then we had that partnership which was really critical for us from 167/7 to get to 234/7 was absolutely necessary. This wicket was really flat and if it was bouncing or turning and had both edges in play, there would have been a different situation. Even today if you could walk into a ground and see that the opposition needs under three runs an over, that’s not a lot of runs if a couple of batsmen get set. I thought we did well, timed it well, managed to get a wicket yesterday, and came close today. So, we timed it well. You people forget that we were under pressure as well even 45 mins before we declared.”

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

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Lasith-Malinga

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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