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Tuesday,09-August-2022

International

KS Bharat makes a strong case for himself as second ‘keeper in future

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They say, one man’s loss in another man’s gain. In Indian cricket, one player having neck stiffness becoming a blessing in disguise for another player has majorly set the stone for being a turning point. In 1994, Sachin Tendulkar’s break as an ODI opener came after Navjot Singh Sidhu set the tone for him being an opener in the format. In 2021, Wriddhiman Saha, unable to keep wickets in the Kanpur Test against New Zealand, opened doors for KS Bharat to don the gloves.

Just before the start of day three, Bharat, an India A regular for the past three years, in his own words, had very little time to gather himself and be ready for keeping wickets in a Test match even before making his debut.

“I was doing my morning routine and then the support staff told me to get ready. I only had 12 minutes to get set for the game,” he had said in a video posted by BCCI on its website.

Despite very little time for preparation, Bharat was like a student who was unsure of appearing for a surprise exam on a short notice but came out with flying colours. The 28-year-old gave a good account of himself on a Green Park pitch which had variable bounce with the odd ball keeping very low and one or two rare deliveries going a bit up and down.

In his stint behind the stumps, Bharat showed his keeping finesse while being a part of three dismissals in the first innings. A well-set Will Young, batting on 89, got a thickish edge to an outside the off-stump delivery from Ravichandran Ashwin while going for a cut on backfoot. Bharat stayed low as the ball kept really low and pouched a tough catch. But when the umpire gave not out, Bharat as well as Ashwin were sure of the dismissal, which led to the decision being reversed and breaking the 151-run opening stand.

Bharat went on to take a lovely catch of Ross Taylor off Axar Patel, catching the outer edge on time from a delivery which gripped and turned. But it was the stumping of Tom Latham that showcased his athleticism. Latham came down the pitch while trying to counter a wide delivery. But the ball turned big to bounce off his glove. Amidst all this, Bharat was alert to follow the deviation and then collect the ball to stump Latham short of his crease.

In between, Bharat was motivating the bowlers with one-liners, seamlessly switching between English, Hindi and Tamil (when bowling to Ashwin). In his unexpected stint as a substitute keeper, Bharat showed confidence and presence of mind.

Though bowling coach Paras Mhambrey didn’t give a hint on whether Saha will be fit enough to play in the second Test in Mumbai, one won’t be surprised if Bharat continues the good show with the gloves from Kanpur to Mumbai apart from getting a chance to show his batting prowess. For now, he has shown that he can be a great keeper-batter for India in Test cricket if Saha is not there or Rishabh Pant is rested.

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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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