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Saturday,19-June-2021

International

Too much at stake in 2nd Test for England to lose focus: Nasser Hussain

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The England cricket team has too much at stake in the second Test against New Zealand to lose focus and get distracted by the Ollie Robinson tweets issue of the first Test, says its former captain Nasser Hussain.

The second Test began at Edgbaston here on Thursday. The first match had ended in a draw.

“I have no doubt that England’s cricketers will be able to focus on the matter at hand at Edgbaston — winning a Test series against New Zealand,” Hussain wrote in a column in Daily Mail.

“Yes, they have had a lot to deal with since the Ollie Robinson tweets emerged. But these guys are professionals and there’s too much at stake from a cricketing point of view for them to be distracted. There are places to play for and five-Test series against India and Australia on the horizon,” he said.

Hussain expects Root to not to carry the tweet controversy surrounding pacer Robinson in the first Test into the second one.

“I don’t for one minute expect Joe Root to carry the troubles of the last few days into the game,” he wrote.

“I know from experience that off-field matters can be a burden when you’re captain. My team spent a lot of the 2003 World Cup dealing with whether we should play Zimbabwe because of human-rights abuses there. But I was nearing the end of my time in the job and I was running out of fuel.”

Root, however, is not at the end of his captaincy career, pointed out Hussain.

“Root is not at that stage as a leader. He’s only 30, it’s the start of the summer and England are about to play at one of their favourite venues in front of 17,000 fans. Jimmy Anderson is set to become England’s most-capped player. Above all, the captain will be excited,” he said.

“One of the keys as leader is to have a clear mind about the cricketing decisions you need to make. Root’s focus will very much be on what kind of team he wants against a New Zealand side missing their skipper Kane Williamson and who may have one eye on next week’s World Test Championship final against India.”

Pacer Robinson made his Test debut in the first Test at Lord’s last week. Simultaneously, some of his 2012 and 2013 tweets, full of racists and sexist connotations, surfaced. Although he took seven wickets in the first Test, the England and Wales Cricket Board suspended him and initiated a disciplinary investigation.

On Thursday, England won the toss and elected to bat in the second Test against a New Zealand team that made six changes to the XI that played the first Test last week.

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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