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Monday,25-January-2021

International

Will target England’s ‘fragile’ top-order in Tests: Babar Azam

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Talented batsman Babar Azam has insisted he doesn’t want to be compared with Indian skipper Virat Kohli but instead with legendary Pakistan batsmen like Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

“I don’t want to be compared with Virat Kohli. It would be better if people compare me with one of the Pakistani legends like Javed Miandad, Mohammad Yousaf or Younis Khan,” cricket.pakistan.com.pk quoted Babar as saying in a teleconference on Thursday.

Babar averages over 50 in ODI and T20Is and a little over 45 in Tests while Kohli averages over 50 in all the three formats and is counted among the modern-day greats.

The Lahore-born batsman further said that he is eyeing to score a triple hundred in the upcoming three-Test series against England.

Pakistan will take on England in a series involving three Tests and as many T20Is in August and September, after the completion of West Indies’ three-Test series against the ‘The Three Lions’ starting July 8.

“When you score a century, you naturally want to go on and convert that into a double or a triple century. This is something I would like to do during the Test series,” said Pakistan’s limited-overs skipper. “I like to play my natural game but my selection of shots depends on the conditions and bowlers.”

He also exuded confidence of his side winning the Test series against England in their own den.

“We performed well on our previous tour of England which is why players are eagerly looking forward to the series,” Babar said. “We are currently focused on winning the Test series as that is our first goal on the tour.”

“England have the home advantage but our bowlers will give tough time to their batsmen. We will target their fragile Test top-order. Mohammad Abbas is experienced while Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi have a lot of potential. We have high expectations from our bowlers,” he added.

Former speedster Shoaib Akhtar has also urged Pakistan to not settle for a draw but go for victory in their upcoming Test series against England.

Akhtar has advised the Pakistan team to go into the series with a positive frame of mind and belief that they can beat the mighty England team in their own backyard.

“I want to see players’ (COVID-19) test negative but want their mindset to be positive. Pakistan needs to play really good cricket,” Akhtar said in a video uploaded on his YouTube channel.

“I pray to god that Pakistan won’t try to just draw the series there. In the past, we could have won many games in England but I feel the mindset of the batsmen just wasn’t there,” he added.

International

Joe Root now 4th highest Test run-getter for England

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England skipper Joe Root has gone past Kevin Pietersen and David Gower to become the fourth-highest run-getter for his country in Test cricket.

On Sunday, Root played a 186-run knock, with the help of 18 boundaries, during England’s first innings in the second Test against Sri Lanka at the Galle International Stadium.

The right-handed batsman has amassed 8,238 Test runs in 180 innings he has played so far and is fourth on the list of leading run-getters for England.

Former captain Alastair Cook is the all-time highest run-getter for England with 12,472 Test runs in 161 matches he played. He is followed by Graham Gooch, who has 8,900 runs. Alec Stewart comes third in the list with 8,463 runs.

Root is followed by Gower (8,231) and Pietersen (8,181).

Overall, former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar holds the record for being the highest run-scorer in Test cricket. Tendulkar scored 15,921 runs in 200 Test matches he played for India.

He is followed by Ricky Ponting (13,378), Jacques Kallis (13,289) and Rahul Dravid (13,288).

After the culmination of the two-Test series against Sri Lanka, the Joe Root-led side will face India in a four-match Test series beginning February 5 in Chennai.

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Disrespectful to India if England don’t play their best team: Kevin Pietersen

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Kevin Pietersen.

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen has criticised England’s squad selection for the first two Tests against India, saying not selecting the best players in the squad would be disrespectful for the England fans as well the hosts — Indian cricket team.

Bairstow, Mark Wood and Sam Curran have been rested for the first two Tests against India beginning February 5, while Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Rory Burns — who are not part of the Sri Lanka series — have been recalled.

“Big debate on whether England have picked their best team to play India in the 1st Test. Winning in India is as good a feeling as winning in Australia. It’s disrespectful to England fans & also BCCI to not play your best team. Bairstow has to play! Broad/Anderson have to play!” Pietersen said in a tweet.

“The best England players will want to play as many games as possible against India, in India. Pick them! Then they go to IPL and earn everything they deserve. Cash is king for every sportsman. They’re a business! They can have a break after that!” he added.

Former skippers Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan have also criticised the England selectors for resting Bairstow.

“I would say it’s a concern that one of England’s best three players of spin — I would say Bairstow is alongside Joe Root and Ben Stokes in that — has been given a boarding pass home and the others are going to Chennai. I’d have to rethink,” Hussain wrote in his column for Sky Sports.

“If the next Test after this series was Brisbane in the Ashes, would we send our best side? So why when it’s the first Test against India, one of the great sides, aren’t we sending our best team? It is that balancing act of being fair to the public and winning what’s in front of you and long-term planning all year,” he added.

“The only player in England’s Top 3 that’s playing the sub continent conditions with any control or calmness is resting for the first 2 Tests against the best Team in world at home #India !!! The world is officially mad,” said Vaughan in a tweet.

The first two Tests of the four-match series are set to be played in Chennai, before the series moves to Ahmedabad. The third Test will be a day-night encounter, beginning on February 24.

England squad (for the first two Tests): Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler*, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes

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Scotland’s Josh Davey extends contract with Somerset till 2023

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Scotland fast bowler Josh Davey has agreed a one-year contract extension with Somerset which will see him remain at the Cooper Associates County Ground until at least the end of the 2023 campaign.

The 30-year-old first joined Somerset on a summer contract in 2014. Since joining the club, Josh has taken over 140 wickets across the three formats, and he was one of the integral elements behind Somerset’s One-Day Cup success of 2019.

“To go from signing a summer contract to winning a trophy at Lord’s has been an incredible journey and I’m delighted that it is going to continue. My time with Somerset has been incredibly special and it’s a great place to be at the moment,” Davey said in a statement.

“There is a real sense that this team could go on to big things and I can’t wait to be a part of that. The club is second to none in terms of the support we get and hopefully we can repay them for their support by bringing home some more silverware in the next few years,” he added.

Somerset Director of Cricket Andy Hurry said: “Josh has been one of our most consistent performers, playing a key part in our successes in recent years.”

“His progress and development over the last few seasons has been impressive, and we are looking forward to that continuing for at least the next few years,” he added.

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