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Friday,12-August-2022

International

India favourites to win T20 series vs England

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The Indian team’s remarkable win against England in the recent Test series makes them the strong favourites to win the five-match T20 battle as well. The Indian side comprises many of the players who have done extremely well against England in the longer format and that too at the newly laid pitch of the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

The Indian players are mentally in a very positive frame of mind and have now experienced the pitches in Ahmedabad. Their victory has been a big booster and this itself should make them feel comfortable and confident. England have brought in their specialist limited overs players, and many of them will encounter the difficult conditions in Ahmedabad for the first time.

In both Test matches in Ahmedabad, the wicket was not a typical Indian one. The ball spun sharply and there was awkward bounce as well. This will make batting difficult, especially in the T20 format. One feels that the initial matches will be low scoring affairs. Spin will play a major part, as batsmen will have problems playing across the line or stepping out to play their shots.

The Ahmedabad wicket will be the venue for the T20 World Cup final this year and both India and England will use these five T20 matches as an opportunity to get their core players accustomed to the conditions.

England have won a record seven series in a row coming into this series. India are not far behind, having not lost in any of their last seven series and with five continuous series wins under their belt. India’s last two victories were both overseas and that too against Australia and New Zealand.

The IPL, furthermore, being a T20 tournament has been a major factor for India to unearth many new exciting youngsters. The Indian cupboard is full of players, each one as talented and skilled to replace one another.

India’s problem would be to finalise the best in-form eleven players to take the field during the World Cup. This may be a comfortable and wonderful problem at hand, but could be tricky as well.

The series against England is an ideal opportunity for India to induct the young players who have shown their potential, mental toughness and confidence, not only in Australia but also in the recently concluded series against England.

Finger spinners will play a major part on the Ahmedabad track and India will need to play both Axar Patel and Washington Sundar, not only because they are in the midst of a purple patch, but also because they would be difficult to hit. The super form of Rishabh Pant has solved many problems as regards the depth of the Indian batting, and along with Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, K.L. Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, and Suryakumar Yadav, the top six look very formidable.

The good news for India is that Hardik Pandya is fit to bowl. He is a very important piece in the Indian line-up, as apart from his big hitting capabilities as a batsman, his bowling brings in the third pace bowling option. India need to also nurse Shardul Thakur as he has shown that he has the capability and potential to develop into a useful lower order batter apart from his bowling acumen. He needs to be given a chance because of the way he performed for India in Australia.

The return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar is wonderful for India and along with Jasprit Bhumrah and Mohammed Shami they would make a lethal combination.

The T20 is a format that gives every team a glimpse of hope of victory. Predicting a win is very difficult, as teams need to play aggressive and bold and in doing so many have fallen into despair. This is what makes the game exciting for the millions of viewers.

England, the limited overs world champions and at present the number one T20 side in the world, will definitely fancy their chances of taking revenge on India for their Test series defeat.

Eoin Morgan, their captain, has played enough of IPL cricket in India. He is an astute leader and with Ben Stokes by his side along with the likes of Jos Buttler, the new sensation Dawid Malan, Jason Roy, Moeen Ali, and Jonny Bairstow, he has just the players to cause India to worry.

One would have loved to see 110,000 spectators cheering and rooting for India at the Narendra Modi Motera stadium, how electrifying it would have been. But due to Covid-related restrictions that is not possible now. However, it will be a fitting venue where one hopes and prays India play the final of the T20 World Cup. The crowd support itself should be enough to put any opponent into a tizzy.

International

England beat Germany after extra time to win UEFA women’s Euro

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England beat Germany 2-1 after extra time in a packed Wembley Stadium in London, bringing home the trophy of the UEFA women’s Euro for the first time.

Germany suffered a heavy blow minutes ahead of the final on Sunday evening as their captain Alex Popp had to pull out after picking up an injury during the warm-up.

The 31-year-old forward had scored in all five previous matches in this tournament and scored twice in Germany’s 2-1 win against France in Wednesday’s semifinal, reports Xinhua. England, reaching the Euro’s final for the third time, couldn’t break the deadlock until Ella Toone came off the bench to score the opener in the 62nd minute.

But midfielder Lina Magull helped Germany equalise in the 79th minute.

The 1-1 scoreline was held until the 110th minute while substitute Chloe Kelly prodded in her first goal for the England team.

“What we’ve done is incredible. I knew we had England behind us- we saw that coming to the stadium,” said England head coach Sarina Wiegman in front of 87,192 fans in Wembley.

“But the whole tournament we’ve had so much support from our fans. I’m so proud of the team.”

The 52-year-old Dutchwoman, who also guided the Netherlands to win the women’s Euro trophy in 2017, is the first coach to lead two different teams to the title.

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Pakistan Cricket Board wants ICC to form strategy on growth of franchise T20 leagues

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Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Saturday that it has asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) to form a strategy on controlling the growth of lucrative franchise T20 leagues with rising concerns about its impact on the international cricket calendar.

Earlier this week, South Africa pulled out of a three-match bilateral ODI against Australia in January as it clashes with their new domestic T20 competition, the third time they will be attempting to have a successful franchise T20 League.

The next cycle of the Future Tours Programme (FTP), for 2024-31, which shows the schedule of teams playing bilateral series against each other and at what venues, is set to be confirmed in the upcoming week during the annual conference of the ICC at Birmingham.

“Growth of franchise cricket is impacting the already crammed international cricket calendar. The PCB is concerned about this development and wants the ICC to formulate a strategy on this issue,” said PCB Chief Executive Faisal Hasnain in a statement.

“We have sent a proposal to the ICC, which they have added to their meeting agenda. Two other boards have also conveyed their apprehensions to the ICC on this matter and urged the ICC to create a working group to debate on the expansion of franchise-based T20 leagues,” added Hasnain.

Talking about the confirmation of the FTP, in the context of Pakistan recently starting to host international cricket at home, Hasnain remarked, “Finalising the Future Tours Programme (FTP) is very important for us.

“This will give us certainty about which teams will be visiting us and which countries we will be touring. 80 per cent of the FTP has already been agreed upon and the remaining 20 per cent will be completed in the upcoming meeting.”

The upcoming ICC Annual Conference in Birmingham also marks the first time the meeting will happen after a Covid-19 pandemic caused a stoppage. “The annual conference presents a unique opportunity for networking with representatives of the world cricket.

“We are planning several initiatives that involve fellow members and meetings have already been set up on the sidelines with other boards to collectively enhance our common interest,” concluded Hasnain.

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T20 World Cup could be a swansong for several Australian cricketers, indicates Finch

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Australia white-ball skipper Aaron Finch has no doubt in his mind that he will be leading an “ageing side” in the ICC T20 World Cup at home later this year, and indicated that the tournament could be a swansong for several cricketers, especially batters.

As Australia prepare to defend the title they won in the UAE in 2021, Finch added that lifting the trophy in front of a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground in November would be a dream come true for him.

“It might be a full stop on everything (several players retiring from T20Is, including him) if it goes to plan like that. Fairy tales can happen in sport,” Finch, 35, was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au during the 100-day countdown celebration to the mega event on Friday.

While Finch has indicated that this could be the last T20 World Cup for him, it could also be opener David Warner and wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade’s last mega T20 event, given that both are in their mid-30s.

Wade has already said the 2022 T20 World Cup will be his international swansong, while Warner has also indicated that he might retire from T20Is to prolong his Test and ODI career. Finch will also probably turn his attention to the 50-over World Cup in India in 2023 to finally call it a day from international cricket.

Asked about his white-ball future post the T20 World Cup, Finch said, “Good question… It obviously shifts to a 50-over World Cup focus… after the (T20) World Cup, so I don’t think there’s too many T20 games in the next 12 months (after the World Cup) anyway. So I don’t know.

“I think just naturally when guys get to their mid-30s, it’s going to be that way. Davey (Warner) just keeps going; he could play for another 10 years, I think, with how fit he is and how much he loves the competition and continuing to challenge himself.

“(Matthew) Wadey has gone through a few phases (and) he’s now become so important to the structure of our team, batting at seven there and being so dynamic. But it’s an ageing side, isn’t it? Especially in that batting group,” said Finch.

Finch added that the World Cup in Australia would be “incredibly tough” after what he saw in the UAE last year where South Africa, in spite of winning four out of their five games, missed out on net run rate.

“Iit’s going to be an incredibly tough competition. We saw how brutal the format is with South Africa winning four out of their five games at the last World Cup and still not qualifying on net run rate. It’s just so brutal that you do need a bit of luck along the way. So let’s see.”

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