Babar Azam is very close to being in same league as Virat Kohli, Steve Smith: Misbah

News Network
May 25, 2020

Karachi, May 25: Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq believes Babar Azam is destined to be a world-class player and is very close to being in the same league as India skipper Virat Kohli and Australia's Steve Smith.

"I don't like comparisons but Babar is currently very close to being in the same class as Virat Kohli, Steve Smith or Joe Root," Misbah said in an interview to Youtube channel, Cricket Baaz.

"He believes in the work ethic that if you want to better Kohli you have to work harder than him at your skills, fitness and game awareness."

The 25-year-old, who was named captain of the Pakistan T20 team ahead of the Australia series in October last year, was recently handed the reins of ODI team as well.

"Making him the T20 captain was a tester. We wanted to see how he will respond to this challenge. All of us agree that he has done a very good job and his biggest plus is that being among the worlds top players he leads by example," Misbah said.

"If you are a performer like Babar then it becomes easier for you to motivate the rest of the team and get things done.

"Even when I was made captain in 2010 my performances were here and there and I was in and out. But captaincy changed my game and mindset and I became a more hard-working and motivated cricketer."

Misbah said Babar always challenges himself and would get better as a captain with experience.

"He is in a zone of his own. He just doesn't want to be in the team. He just doesn't want to play for money. He wants to be the top performer for Pakistan. He is always pitting himself against other top batsmen like Kohli or Smith," he said.

"He loves challenges in the nets and on the field. He has really matured as a player and in time he will get better as a captain with experience."

Babar was the leading run-scorer of the T20I series against Australia last year. He also scored 210 runs, which included a hundred, at 52.50 in the Test series against the same opponents.

In the two-Test home series against Sri Lanka, Babar ended the series with 262 runs with an average of exactly 262.

Misbah feels Babar had changed as a batsman when he got runs in the Tests in Australia.

"Before that he was getting runs in tests but not consistently. In Australia and in the following tests against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh he changed," he said.

Talking about his experience as a head coach, Misbah said: "Having captained, it has helped me a lot. As captain I had to manage everything and also having played under top coaches ... I have seen closely their work ethics and how they managed things.

"It is a learning process. Having remained captain it is a big advantage for coaching because you know the players and their mood swings. You know which player will respond in a given situation,which player is feeling pressure in a scenario.

Misbah said it is not easy juggling between different roles.

"Most important thing as a coach is mentally and psychologically how you handle a group of players," the former skipper said.

"Sometimes captain and coach is different as you have to take tough decisions. Being chief selector makes it it a bit difficult but I had experience of creating and managing teams, I have been building teams since 2003. Till now it is going well."

Misbah feels in Pakistan cricket there were different parameters for judging foreign and local coaches.

"I don't know why it is like this why do we have different eye for locals and foreigners. Maybe we feel they have something special. It looks like every decision by a foreign coach is right. In contrast we tend to be very critical of local coaches no matter what decision they take," he said.

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News Network
September 16,2020

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South African star AB de Villiers believes the biggest challenge for all teams in the upcoming Indian Premier League will be adjusting to the prevailing hot and humid conditions in the UAE.

Most games will be played in the night but the conditions would still be challenging.

"I am not really used to these kind of conditions to be honest. It' very hot, it reminds me of a Test match we played in July in Chennai once where Viru (Virender Sehwag) scored 300. It was one the hottest weather conditions I have experience in my life," he said in a an interview posted on RCB's twitter handle.

"The humidity is similar to that, even at 10 at night. When I arrived here I checked the weather conditions of a few months and it seems to be getting better. It is definitely going to play a part and you have to make sure you have the energy for the backend of the innings or last 5 overs of your bowling spell."

De Villiers said he would also miss playing in front of packed crowds in India with the event to be played behind closed doors in UAE due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think obviously all are are used to playing in front of crowds in big stage, there is certainly an amount of adrenaline that pumped into you when it gets really loud, especially in Chinnaswany when the RCB crowd gets going, its difficult to stop the RCB team. So, well miss that there is no doubt about it.

"But I won't say I am not used to it, I have played a lot of cricket in empty stadiums. I grew up like that. It's only in my international career that I have played in front of crowd," he said.

The 36-year-old dashing cricketer, regarded as one of the destructive batsman of world cricket, said not just him, every player is just happy to be back on the field after international cricket came to a halt in mid-March because of the pandemic.

De Villiers' first foray into the cricket field amid the pandemic was the inaugural 3TC Solidarity Cup organised by Cricket South Africa in July.

Asked whether there will be a drop in the game's standard with players coming from a long break, he replied: "Not at all. In the 3TC I have faced some off thee best bowling in the last 3 to 5 years, the bowlers were landing yorkers, they showed some great skills with pace, variations.

"They are very hungry, the desire is there, the motivation. It's not just copy and paste, now the guys are really coming out with rediscovered energy, so I think we are going to see some fireworks."

De Villiers said young Australian wicketkeeper batsman Joshua Philippe is an exciting cricketer and he would love share his knowledge with the Australian opener in RCB dressing room.

"I have always enjoyed watching Finch play but now I know him quite well. Another guy I am excited to watch is Joshua, he is a young wicketkeeper from Australia.

"I have watched him play for Sydney Sixers in BBL. He is very exciting to watch, he takes on the new ball, a very talented player with all the shots in the book," he said.

"As a 36-year-old who have played international cricket for ages now, I am looking foward to give back if he wishes what I have learnt over the years."

Virat Kohli-led RCB will open their IPL campaign against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Dubai on September 21.

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News Network
September 25,2020

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Dubai, Sept 25: KL Rahul's century before the bowlers' stunning performance against Royals Challengers Bangalore (RCB) cruised Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to a sumptuous 97-run win in the Indian Premier League (IPL) match here on Thursday.

Rahul played an unbeaten knock of 132 runs off just 69 balls and then bowlers bundled out RCB on just 109 runs. Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin took three wickets each in the match.

Chasing a massive target of 207 runs, RCB got off to a poor start as they gave away three wickets in quick succession. Sheldon Cottrell dismissed Devdutt Padikkal and Virat Kohli in the first and third over of the innings respectively while Mohammed Shami dismissed Josh Philippe in the second over.

The fall of wickets did not stop as Aaron Finch too was sent back to the pavilion in the eighth over. Bishnoi bowled Finch, who scored 20 runs. In the next over, Ashwin got hold of AB de Villiers, reducing RCB to 57/5.

Shivam Dube and Washington Sundar then took the field but KXIP continued to dominate the game. Both formed a 26-run partnership before Glenn Maxwell bowled Dube (12).

Continuing their dominance in the match, RCB lost another wicket as Bishnoi bowled Umesh Yadav. In his next over, Bishnoi got hold of Sundar, who was the highest run-getter from RCB, scoring 30 runs.

Dale Steyn and Navdeep Saini were the next batsmen but their partnership also did not last long as the latter was bowled by Ashwin in the 17th over. As a result, KXIP were just one wicket away from the win.

Rahul-led team did not take much time to claim the victory as Ashwin dismissed Yuzvendra Chahal in the same over, taking Punjab over the line.

Earlier, after being asked to bat first, KXIP managed to post a total of 206 with the help of Rahul's magnificent ton. With this knock, he also achieved the highest individual score by an Indian player in the IPL.

KXIP had a decent opening stand of 57-run for the first wicket between Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. Meanwhile, Rahul, who was two short of 2,000 runs in the IPL, became the fastest Indian to reach the 2,000 run-mark in the tournament.

Rahul broke an eight-year-old record held by Indian batting legend and former Mumbai Indians player Sachin Tendulkar, who reached the milestone in 63 innings. Rahul reached the milestone in his 60th IPL innings.

Spinner Yuzvendra Chahal broke the opening partnership in the seventh over as he scalped Agarwal on 26. Nicholas Pooran joined Rahul in the middle. The duo had a 57-run partnership for the second wicket.

All-rounder Shivam Dube dismissed Pooran (17) in the 14th over as he was caught at mid-off by AB de Villiers.

Glenn Maxwell (5) failed to score big runs and was caught at extra cover by Aaron Finch off Dube in the 16th over.

Karun Nair joined Rahul in the middle and built a 78-run stand for the fourth wicket. The duo scored 49-run in the last two overs. Nair remained not out on 15 runs off eight balls. Also, Rahul got lucky twice as he was dropped by Virat Kohli two times in the match.

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News Network
September 13,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 13: India pacer S Sreesanth's ban for alleged spot-fixing came to an end on Sunday, concluding a seven-year punishment that was originally meant to be for life and was aggressively contested by the flamboyant bowler.

The 37-year-old has already made it clear that he intends to resume at least his domestic career at the end of the ban and his home state Kerala has promised to consider him if he manages to prove his fitness.

"I'm completely free of any charges nd anything nd now gonna represent the sport I love the most.will give my very best to every ball I ball even (if) it's just practice," he tweeted on Friday, a couple of days before the end of his suspension.

"Just have another 5 to 7 years max to give it all I've got nd I will give the very best to any team I play," he added.

However, with the Indian domestic season postponed at present due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it remains to be seen when exactly Sreesanth is able to make a comeback if Kerala decides to give him a chance.

The Indian domestic season starts in August but the pandemic has left the scheduling in complete disarray.

"...the BCCI is making all efforts to ensure that domestic cricket resumes as and when the conditions permit," BCCI President Sourav Ganguly wrote in a recent letter to presidents and secretaries of its affiliated member associations.

Sreesanth's life ban for alleged spot-fixing in the 2013 edition of the IPL was reduced to seven years by BCCI Ombudsman DK Jain last year.

Jain had observed that the cricketer is well past his prime having already served six years.

The BCCI banned Sreesanth in August 2013 along with his Rajasthan Royals teammates Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan.

But on March 15 last year, the Supreme Court set aside the BCCI disciplinary committee's order and asked the Board to reconsider the quantum of punishment.

"I will never ever cheat cricket even when iam playing a friendly match..I don't ball (bowl) easy ones or try to loose...so pls get that right with everyone..." Sreesanth posted recently.

Sreesanth played 27 Tests and 53 ODIs for India, taking 87 and 75 wickets respectively. He has also taken seven wickets in 10 T20 Internationals.

The temperamental pacer was also popular for his exuberant celebrations after taking wickets but his life and career went downhill after the spot-fixing scandal.

However, he maintained his innocence throughout the damaging controversy.

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