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Saturday,13-August-2022

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IPL 2022 Final: Having fair idea of Ahmedabad conditions might give RR a slight edge over Gujarat, reckon Smith and Raina

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Former South African captain Graeme Smith and former Indian cricketer Suresh Raina reckon Rajasthan Royals might have a little advantage over Gujarat Titans in the IPL 2022 because the men in pink and blue have already played a game at the iconic Narendra Modi Stadium prior to the summit clash and must have gotten a fair idea of the conditions.

The Hardik Pandya-led side stormed into the IPL 2022 final after beating Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. On the other hand, Sanju Samson-led Rajasthan thrashed Royal Challengers Bangalore by 7 wickets in the Qualifier 2 in Ahmedabad and set up the summit clash with the IPL debutants.

Gujarat Titans lead the head-to-head with two games to love against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2022. However, both Smith and Raina said that things get different in a high-stake game like finals and there can’t be any favourites.

The former South Africa captain, who was part of the Rajasthan Royals side when they lifted the title during the inaugural edition in 2008, also went on to claim that predicting a winner is tough because the two teams are full of potential match-winners.

“I think the advantage Rajasthan Royals have over Gujarat Titans is that they’ve played a game on this surface. They have got used to the atmosphere, the outfield, the pitch, and the extra bounce,” Smith told Star Sports.

“But I think it’s a one-off game and (in matches like these) if someone from the big players stands up to the occasion and puts up a massive performance, it gives a major boost to the side. Both these teams are laden with potential match-winners which makes the IPL Final most exciting,” he added.

Meanwhile, former Indian cricketer Suresh Raina — who has scored the most runs in the IPL playoffs and won four IPL trophies while playing for CSK — seconded Smith’s opinion. He, however, claimed that Gujarat Titans will be fresh as they’ve had some time to rest while the Royals will be playing their second game in three days.

“I think Gujarat Titans will have a slight edge over Rajasthan Royals in the finals because they’ve had a good rest of four, five days and also due to the tempo they’ve been in this season,” said Raina.

“I believe RR cannot be taken lightly because they are looking in sublime form and if Jos Buttler fires for one last time in this season, then it will be a huge bonus for the team. So it will be an epic clash. Also, the wicket has been brilliant here in Ahmedabad and we’ve seen a lot of strokes from the batters,” he added.

Ahead of the final, Smith also expressed his elation at the prospects of watching two of the best teams this season — Gujarat Titans and Rajasthan Royals — clashing to lift the trophy in front of more than a hundred thousand spectators.

“It’s going to be a great contest. I can’t wait for it and I reckon the crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium will be bigger than what it was in the Qualifier 2. You can imagine that atmosphere and that energy (at this venue) when there will be more than a hundred thousand spectators watching the game,” the former Proteas cricketer said.

“We have two quality teams playing the epic final and two quality bowling units and some high quality batting line-up on both sides. I think we are going to have an immaculate and exciting IPL 2022 final,” he added.

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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National

Ravi Shastri calls for reduction in number of T20Is played to counter scheduling issues

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Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has called for a reduction in the number of T20Is played to counter the raging issue of scheduling in international cricket. The month of July 2022 has seen the issue of hectic scheduling in cricket and prioritisation of franchise T20 leagues being reignited.

South Africa chose to pull out of a three-match ODI series against Australia in January 2023 to ensure their players would be available for the upcoming new domestic T20 competition in the country.

Earlier this week, England’s Test skipper and all-rounder Ben Stokes announced his retirement from ODI cricket after the first match against South Africa at the age of 31, citing the “unsustainable” workload by playing in all three formats.

With speculations coming that the upcoming Future Tours Programme (FTP) for the 2023-27 cycle will have more of T20I action, Shastri, currently in United Kingdom as a member of the Sky Sports commentary team, feels that bilateral T20Is should be reduced by a huge amount to free up the hectic international calendar.

“I would be a little careful of the number of bilateral splits, especially in T20 cricket. There’s a lot of franchise cricket which can be encouraged, whichever country it’s in – India, West Indies, or Pakistan. You play less bilaterals and then you get together for the World Cups. So, the emphasis on ICC World Cup events becomes paramount. Then people look forward to them,” said Shastri in an episode of the Vaughany and Tuffers podcast.

Shastri, a former India all-rounder and member of the 1983 Cricket World Cup winning team, further asked for creation of two divisions in Test cricket in a bid to safeguard the future of the longest format of the game.

“I think two tiers are needed, otherwise Test cricket will die in 10 years time. You need six teams at the top, and then six teams in the second and then you qualify. And those top six play against each other more often because of the corridor you open up by having less bilateral T20 cricket and just franchise cricket. That’s the way all formats of the game can survive.”

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International

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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