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Wednesday,26-January-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.

International

Malinga set to take over as Sri Lanka’s fast bowling consultant: Report

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Lasith-Malinga

Former Sri Lankan pace bowler Lasith Malinga is set to become the fast bowling consultant coach of the national cricket team after the high-profile Cricket Advisory Committee recommended his name to Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) Executive Committee.

The 38-year-old Malinga, who played for more than a decade for Indian Premier League (IPL) side Mumbai Indians, will oversee the Sri Lankan team’s preparations for the upcoming T20I tour of Australia, where the side will play five matches, a report in the The Island said on Wednesday.

While Malinga is one of the most successful T20 bowlers in the world due to his sling-shot action and is a Sri Lankan icon, his appointment has reportedly not gone down well with several stakeholders of the game in the country.

The report said that while he was adored by millions of fans, “he wasn’t the most likeable person in the dressing room with a host of Sri Lankan captains having concerns about his conduct”.

“It is alleged that Malinga deliberately slowed down the over rate with the intention of suspending the captain, an allegation that SLC has not investigated. Cricket’s playing conditions at one point dictated that slow over rates would result in fines for players and suspension for the captain. Since then, the International Cricket Council has amended the playing conditions and the captain is no longer suspended,” the report added.

Sri Lanka lifted the ICC T20 World Cup in 2014 under Malinga’s captaincy, as he was filling in for the suspended Dinesh Chandimal, but his overall record as skipper is abysmal. He led the country in nine One-day Internationals and all nine ended in losses. Under his leadership, Sri Lanka lost 15 of the 24 T20Is it played.

The report said that the Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising of stalwarts such as Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva and Muttiah Muralitharan among others, had their reservations on endorsing Malinga as fast bowling consultant coach. However, since the recommendation reportedly came from former skipper and consultant coach Mahela Jayawardene, it could not be denied, the report said.

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Afghanistan complete whitewash to grab crucial Cricket World Cup Super League points

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Afghanistan completed a 3-0 series victory over the Netherlands to grab 30 crucial World Cup Super League points, here on Tuesday.

Half-centuries from Najibullah Zadran and debutant Riaz Hassan and a three-wicket haul from another debutant Qais Ahmad helped Afghanistan to a 75-run win, setting up a 3-0 series victory in the ODI series.

After deciding to bat first, Afghanistan were driven by 19-year old opener Riaz on debut. The Netherlands managed to send back the centurion from the last game, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, for 12, but Riaz and Rahmat Shah put on an 86-run partnership to revive the innings.

Once Saqib Zulfiqar broke the partnership by sending back Riaz, the Netherlands managed another wicket soon with Rahmat dismissed in the 33rd over. Najibullah Zadran compiled a fine half-century with aid from the lower middle-order. Najibullah finished on 71 off 59 balls as Afghanistan made 254/5 in their 50 overs.

In reply, the Netherlands made a strong start with Scott Edwards once again leading the charge. Colin Ackermann gave him solid company and the duo thwarted Afghanistan’s new ball plans. Their 50 came up in 10 overs with the openers laying a solid platform.

They carried on in the same vein, putting on 103 for the opening wicket before Afghanistan’s debutant Qais broke the stand with his maiden ODI wicket, that of Edwards, trapped in front by the leg-spinner. Fareed Ahmad sent back skipper Pieter Seelaar for a duck and Afghanistan had the opportunity to put a leash on the chase.

The spinners worked in tandem and soon the Netherlands went from 103/0 to 153/5 with Boris Gorlee, Bas de Leede and the well-set Colin Ackermann, who made 81 off 96 balls, also back in the hut. The tables had turned around at this stage and Afghanistan were right on top in the game. They went on to bowl out the Netherlands for 179 to seal a 75-run victory and secure a series whitewash.

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Australia to tour Pakistan with a full-strength squad, says George Bailey

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Chief selector George Bailey on Tuesday confirmed that no Australian player has asked to be left out of the squad that is set to embark on their first tour of Pakistan since 1999.

Bailey added that the selection will be solely based on managing their workload.

“I believe the boards are still working through some of the minor details around that tour, so once that gets the formal tick of approval then we’ll announce the squad post that, but we’re reasonably well down the track,” Bailey was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia’s website.

“The two (security) briefings that I’ve sat in on, the security sounds very, very robust.”

The tour is set to start on March 3. It will consist of three Test matches to be played in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore and will be followed by a three-match ODI series from March 29 to April 2. A lone T20I will be played on April 5.

The last time Pakistan had an ICC event on its soil was when it co-hosted the 1996 World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka. The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 ensured Test cricket remained out of bounds until 2019.

In 2020, before the T20 World Cup, New Zealand and England had pulled out of the tour of Pakistan citing security concerns.

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