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India in Sri Lanka: Half a dozen debut hopes




 Though team coach Rahul Dravid has said that India’s limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka may not throw up many new options for the T20 World Cup, scheduled to be held in October-November, it may still prove to be a platform for some youngsters to cement their places in the India team in near future.

India’s limited-overs squad plays Sri Lanka in three ODIs and three T20 Internationals, from July 18. Here is a look at six players, who we may be seen in India colours:

Devdutt Padikkal: The left-handed opening batsman scored 737 runs at an average of 147.4 in the Vijay Hazare one-dayers. He also impressed in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 — 473 runs in 15 matches and in IPL 2021 — 195 runs in six matches. He is the favourite to take over the opening slot from Shikhar Dhawan, once the Delhi left-hander retires. Almost everyone speaks highly of his ability to score runs.

Ruturaj Gaikwad: The Maharashtra batsman has been picked for his performances in the IPL and due to the backing of former Indian team and current Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni. He scored three fifties in six IPL 2020 matches and two fifties in seven IPL 2021 matches. But his returns in Vijay Hazare One-day Trophy this year were ordinary — just 182 runs in five matches. His performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 competition was even poorer — 94 runs in five matches at an average of 18.8. He may get only limited chances at best, so he may have to make the best use of them.

Nitish Rana: The Delhi left-hander has been a vital part of the Kolkata Knight Riders side, even opening for them although he was brought up as a middle-order batsman. He has been in great form of late not just in IPL but also in other domestic tournaments like the Vijay Hazare One-day Trophy. Rana aggregated 398 runs in seven Vijay Hazare one-day games at an average of 66.33 to be among the top five run-getters. He made 201 runs in seven IPL 2021 games and 352 in 14 IPL 2020 games. It will be interesting to see where Dravid plays him. Since there are already too many openers, he may be batted at No. 3 or No. 4.

Krishnappa Gowtham: The off-spin bowling all-rounder from Karnataka has been a surprise and his selection, just like Gaikwad, has raised eyebrows. Gowtham hasn’t done much of note in recent domestic tournaments, including the IPL. He played just two IPL games, aggregating 42 and picking one wicket. He aggregated 31 in four Syed Mushtaq T20 games and picked four wickets. In the Vijay Hazare one-dayers, he aggregated 28 and took three wickets in two matches. The fact that he has been playing domestic cricket for a long time and has spent time at India team nets may have got him in the side.

Varun Chakravarthy: The Tamil Nadu spinner, known to bowl mystery spin, has been successful with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and has pushed the original protagonist of ‘mystery spin’ at KKR, Sunil Narine, to the background. Chakravarthy picked 17 wickets in seven matches of IPL 2020. He also picked seven in seven games of IPL 2021. His economy has been impressive. It was 6.84 last season and 7.82 this season. But fitness remains a massive drawback for him. He was selected to tour Australia but had to pull out because of injury (labrum tear on shoulder) which he did not reveal.

Chetan Sakariya: Picked ahead of his Saurashtra statemate, the more senior and acclaimed left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat, Sakariya’s story is inspirational. For someone, who had to pay for his own cricket coaching by working at his uncle’s stationery shop, bagging a hefty Rs 1.2 crore IPL contract with Rajasthan Royals and then making Indian cut, all within a few months, is a big achievement. The left-armer bowled a few good spells in domestic competitions, including IPL without being extraordinary. But the fact that he is a left-armer, the need of the hour for India, may help him cement his place in India set-up.


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




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




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




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 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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