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Saturday,19-June-2021

International

Smith toughest, Kohli & Rohit easy pickings: Mohammad Amir

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Former Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir has picked Steve Smith over both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, calling him the toughest batsman he has bowled to unlike the Indian duo who he feels are easy pickings.

Amir, who retired from international cricket in December, 2020 after differences with the team management was one of Pakistan’s star performers in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final, dismissing both Kohli and Sharma early.

“I haven’t found it tough bowling to either. In fact, I find it easy to bowl to him (Rohit Sharma). I feel that I can get him out both ways. He struggles against the in-swinger from a left-armer and as well as against the ball that goes away early on. I may say that I find bowling to Virat slightly tougher because he revels in pressure situations, but otherwise I’ve never found it difficult bowling to either of the two,” Amir said in an interview with Cricwick.

The left-arm pace bowler, who served a five-year suspension for match-fixing early last decade, said that Australia’s Smith is the most difficult batsman to bowl to because of his different technique.

“I find it most difficult to bowl to Steve Smith. Because his technique is very difficult [to comprehend]. He stands in such an angle that you don’t understand where to bowl to him,” Amir said before explaining why Smith’s technique makes it difficult for bowlers to bowl to him.

“If you bowl an outswinger, he raises the bat and leaves it. If you bowl on the pads, his flick is a solid shot for him. I find his technique really difficult while bowling,” added the former Pakistan pacer.

International

WTC final: New Zealand win toss, elect to bowl

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New Zealand won the toss and elected to bowl in the World Test Championship final against India here at the Hampshire Bowl on Saturday.

India have stuck to the playing eleven they had announced on Thursday. While India are going in with two spinners and three pace bowlers, the Kiwis have four pacers and no spinner in their attack.

The toss took place on the second day after the first day’s play was washed out due to rain. As many as 98 overs are scheduled to be bowled on Saturday. The Test will run into the reserve day on June 23.

Teams:

India: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah

New Zealand: Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wicketkeeper), Colin de Grandhomme, Kyle Jamieson, Neil Wagner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.

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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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