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International

Kiwis face challenge against India in peak form: Ish Sodhi

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New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi has said Kiwis face a challenge against India in peak form in the World Test Championship (WTC) final that begins in Southampton on June 18.

Sodhi, who has become more of a T20 bowlers in recent times and will participate in the T20 Blast in England while his team-mates play the WTC final, said India are playing exceptional cricket and are at the peak of their powers.

“It is great going to play WTC final at a neutral venue. The Indian side went to Australia and won the last two series. They played exceptional cricket. They are at the peak of their powers. So it will be a great challenge and if you go there and win, it will go down in New Zealand cricket history as the biggest achievement,” said Sodhi, who has represented New Zealand in 17 Tests, 33 ODIs and 57 T20Is, in The Grade Cricketer show on Youtube.

Sodhi, however, added that despite reaching the WTC final and winning so many series in recent times, the Test series defeat in Australia in 2019-20 season still rankles.

He felt that a Test series win in Australia will distinguish this side from the previous New Zealand sides.

“The fact that we have been able to rise above a lot of phenomenal cricket teams of this era and are in WTC final is great. Reaching and winning WTC final will be great. But it will be great to one day go to Australia and compete, and compete to win. That is what will set aside this era’s New Zealand side from New Zealand sides of other great era even though in terms of win percentage we have been the most successful,” said the leg-spinner who will play for Worcestershire in the T20 Blast.

Sodhi praised Williamson the captain and said the current New Zealand side has a great mix of leaders.

“Williamson is calm and composed. We are lucky to have a variety of leaders. We have got [pace bowler] Tim Southee who will come and be vice-captain and he is a phenomenal leader in his own right. But he is more of a guy who will get in there and say, let us go in there and do this. Get you up there. Then you have Kane at the other end — nice, cool, calm and composed. That is great balance. Kane is a great leader,” added Sodhi.

“He (Williamson) leads by example, stands up and does the hard work.”

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Sri Lanka middle order big worry for coach Mickey Arthur

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Sri Lanka cricket coach Mickey Arthur is worried about the lack of depth in the middle order as his team gears up to take on England in six white-ball matches, beginning with a T20 International in Cardiff on June 23.

The three-match ODI series will commence on June 29 and conclude on July 4.

“In Bangladesh, we got caught a little bit through the middle overs and that’s one area where we’ve focused hard on in our practice and preparation (in England). It’s about the intensity required through that middle period. Our strike rotation and intensity at the crease are really areas that we’ve worked on in this training block,” said Arthur, who has been with the team since February 2020.

Sri Lanka had lost the ODI series against Bangladesh 2-1 in May with all the matches being played at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.

Arthur feels that one of the major reasons for the middle-order not clicking is shortage of players for the No. 4, 5, 6 slots, with far too many batsmen vying for top-order slots.

“We’ve reclassified guys’ roles. We’ve got a lot of players who can bat Nos. 1, 2 and 3, but we didn’t have many guys who could bat 4, 5 and 6. We’ve consolidated that here in our training session (in England). One of two players has had to change the roles that we’ve had before. We can’t be top-heavy and have no one who can bat in the middle and finish for us,” Arthur told cricinfo.com.

“We’ve knuckled down on the roles of each guy and set the scenarios up in the nets to replicate that. I’ve got a clear plan on who’s going to drop into the middle. If you look at Kusal (Perera), Avishka (Fernando) and Danushka (Gunathilaka) at 1, 2 and 3, that’s pretty good. We need to drill down and get 4, 5 and 6 batting comfortably within their roles as well, so that those middle overs — when we need to rotate strike — we’ve actually practiced it and the people we’ve sent into those positions can handle it.”

“We’ve got to settle down on a batting order as soon as we can. We can’t be jumping around having players bat in so many positions because that just creates confusion. Each position is so different.”

Sri Lanka cricket coach Mickey Arthur is worried about the lack of depth in the middle order as his team gears up to take on England in six white-ball matches, beginning with a T20 International in Cardiff on June 23.

The three-match ODI series will commence on June 29 and conclude on July 4.

“In Bangladesh, we got caught a little bit through the middle overs and that’s one area where we’ve focused hard on in our practice and preparation (in England). It’s about the intensity required through that middle period. Our strike rotation and intensity at the crease are really areas that we’ve worked on in this training block,” said Arthur, who has been with the team since February 2020.

Sri Lanka had lost the ODI series against Bangladesh 2-1 in May with all the matches being played at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.

Arthur feels that one of the major reasons for the middle-order not clicking is shortage of players for the No. 4, 5, 6 slots, with far too many batsmen vying for top-order slots.

“We’ve reclassified guys’ roles. We’ve got a lot of players who can bat Nos. 1, 2 and 3, but we didn’t have many guys who could bat 4, 5 and 6. We’ve consolidated that here in our training session (in England). One of two players has had to change the roles that we’ve had before. We can’t be top-heavy and have no one who can bat in the middle and finish for us,” Arthur told cricinfo.com.

“We’ve knuckled down on the roles of each guy and set the scenarios up in the nets to replicate that. I’ve got a clear plan on who’s going to drop into the middle. If you look at Kusal (Perera), Avishka (Fernando) and Danushka (Gunathilaka) at 1, 2 and 3, that’s pretty good. We need to drill down and get 4, 5 and 6 batting comfortably within their roles as well, so that those middle overs — when we need to rotate strike — we’ve actually practiced it and the people we’ve sent into those positions can handle it.”

“We’ve got to settle down on a batting order as soon as we can. We can’t be jumping around having players bat in so many positions because that just creates confusion. Each position is so different.”

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Good competition to bowl to Shafali: England spinner Sophie Ecclestone

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England left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone feels that bowling to India’s prolific run-getter Shafali Verma is an interesting challenge as one “never knows what’s going to happen”.

Replying to England women’s first innings total of 396/9 declared, Shafali’s 96 in the first innings and an unbeaten 55 in the second innings have been the talking point in the home team’s dressing room.

The young batter could decide whether India save the match or go on to lose the one-off Test here.

“It’s always interesting when me and Shafali match up in whatever format of the game it is. When it comes to T20, I think she’s really highly rated so it’s really interesting to bowl at her,” said Sophie, who took four first-innings wickets, after the third day’s play.

“You just never know what’s going to happen with her (Shafali), you never know if you’re going to get whacked over the top or she’s going to miss one, so it’s really interesting to bowl to her and it’s quite a good competition for me,” the 22-year-old spinner, who is the No. 1-ranked T20I bowler in the world, told cricinfo.com.

Sophie said that when she is bowling to Shafali, the only thing going on in her mind is to bowl “my best ball” and “win the battle”.

“I think just bowl my best ball and vary my pace so when I come into a Test match it’s like trying to bowl my best ball for longer but when Shafali’s batting I think it’s try and use my arm ball a few times and vary my pace, so just change it up a little bit.

“When Shafali’s batting I always want to win the battle, definitely I don’t want her getting one up on me. I always look forward to the competition of playing against her so yeah, I’m always trying to get her out first before she hits me for any sixes.”

Shafali’s wicket has so far eluded Sophie in the Test, as the Indian was caught by Anya Shrubsole off the bowling of medium pacer Kathryn Cross in the first innings.

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Aussie players will find it hard to justify going back to IPL: Aaron Finch

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Australia’s white-ball skipper Aaron Finch has expressed his “surprise” at so many players pulling out of the tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh and said that “they would find it hard to justify going back and playing the second half of the Indian Premier League (IPL)”.

Seven Australian cricket stars, including Pat Cummins, Steve Smith and David Warner, pulled out of their national team’s upcoming limited-overs tours of the two countries as Cricket Australia (CA) recently announced an 18-member squad.

Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Warner, Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Jhye Richardson and Kane Richardson have confirmed their withdrawal from the upcoming tours following which CA head selector Trevor Hohns said that he was “naturally disappointed not to have all players available for the Australian team”.

While resting Warner and Cummins was part of CA’s strategy and Smith is nursing an elbow injury, the withdrawal of others has not gone down well with Finch.

“This is only my personal opinion, I think they would find it hard to justify going back and playing that second half of the IPL purely based on the workload coming up with a T20 World Cup then a huge home summer,” Finch told former wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist on SEN WA.

The suspended IPL will likely be completed between September 18 and October 10 in Abu Dhabi, while the T20 World Cup is scheduled between October 18 and November 15.

“It’s a tough situation everyone has been put in but personally I’d find it hard to do that knowing how challenging it is mentally and on your family.”

“Pat Cummins and David Warner, that was a long-term plan for them that they weren’t going to go on this tour from the outset. Having a big summer last year followed by IPL with a T20 World Cup and a view to the Ashes, guys who are playing three formats of the game, it can be so brutal on them travelling and playing in bubbles.

“I was a little bit surprised (with the others). I’ve chatted to them all. A little bit surprised but also understandable. I know from my own point of view having gone to the UK then all the way through the home summer, I know towards the end of that year I was absolutely cooked mentally. Almost when the season finished it’s a great relief so I can understand, but wish they were there,” opined Finch.

The Australian team will leave for West Indies on June 28 to play five T20Is and three ODIs. They will ten head to Bangladesh for five T20Is between August 2 and 10.

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