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
October 23,2020


Dubai, Oct 23: Their campaign back on track with a hat-trick of wins, Kings XI Punjab will take on another resurgent team -- Sunrisers Hyderabad -- here on Saturday in a must-win IPL game for the two well-matched sides.

Both KXIP and SRH are on the same pedestal, having garnered eight points apiece after 10 games, but the Hyderabad outfit is a rung ahead in the eight-team standings, on the fifth spot by virtue of a better net run rate.

And both the teams need to win their remaining four games to guarantee their place in the play-offs.

It has been a terrific turnaround, especially for KXIP after a slow start to the tournament.

After the initial hiccups, KXIP got its campaign back on track with three consecutive wins -- over mighty Delhi Capitals, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore and the KL Rahul-led side would be hoping to carry the winning momentum forward to break into top four.

While KXIP's batting is in the safe hands of skipper Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, the shaky form of Glenn Maxwell remains a concern.

It has been an erratic season for KXIP so far despite having the tournament's top two run-getters in openers Rahul (540) and Mayank Agarwal (398) in its ranks.

But the successful return of Gayle has been a welcome relief for KXIP as it reduced the burden on the shoulders of its star openers, especially allowing Rahul to play more freely.

Jimmy Neesham's inclusion has given some depth to KXIP's batting as well bowling unit led by the experienced Mohammed Shami.

SRH too finds itself in a similar position and needs to win its remaining four matches to seal a play-off berth.

The side managed to keep itself in the play-off hunt with a confidence-boosting eight-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals on Thursday night after three consecutive defeats.

And the David Warner-led side can't slip a bit from hereon if it wishes to stay alive in the tournament.

The positive for SRH is that despite Warner and Jonny Bairstow departing early in the 155-run chase against RR in their last match, young Manish Pandey (83) and Vijay Shankar (52) rose to the occasion and shared an unbeaten 140-run partnership to secure a comfortable win.

Jason Holder's inclusion has added firepower to SRH's bowling attack as the West Indian picked up three wickets for 33 runs against RR.

But it's high time that SRH's young guns -- Priyam Garg, Abdul Samad and T Natarajan -- own up some responsibility.


Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (C), Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Shreevats Goswami, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Wriddhiman Saha, Abdul Samad, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Jason Holder, Abhishek Sharma, B Sandeep, Sanjay Yadav, Fabian Allen, Prithvi Raj Yarra, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Siddharth Kaul, Billy Stanlake, T Natarajan, Basil Thampi.

Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (C), Harpreet Brar, Ishan Porel, Mandeep Singh, James Neesham, Tajinder Singh, Chris Jordan, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Glenn Maxwell, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sarfaraz Khan, Sheldon Cottrell, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Shami, Darshan Nalkande, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Murugan Ashwin, Jagadeesha Suchith, Krishnappa Gowtham, Hardus Viljoen, Simran Singh.

The match starts at 7:30 pm.


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News Network
October 18,2020


Dubai, Oct 18: Mike Hesson, Director of Cricket, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) labelled AB de Villiers as "superhuman" after the wicket-keeper batsman played a match-winning knock against Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

His remark came as RCB chased down 178 with seven wickets in hand and two balls to spare. De Villiers played an unbeaten knock of 55 runs off just 22 balls with the help of one four and 6 sixes.

"He is superhuman, there are very few in the cricket world who could do that, we are very lucky to have him in RCB, we have seen a couple of performances like this from him this year, probably three to be fair and in the match against Rajasthan, he was as good as it gets," Hesson said in a video posted on the official Twitter handle of RCB.

"Priority for us is to get better, we won against Rajasthan Royals on the back of outstanding individual performance, we relied on the fact that ABD is as good as he was. Chris Morris was exceptional but all in all, it was not our best performance, it's a good sign for RCB that we haven't played our best cricket yet we managed to win.

De Villiers had come to the crease in the 13th over with RCB still requiring 76 runs from 42 balls.

"There was no doubt that the momentum was with the opposition, basically it was there's to win. We never lost belief, Virat, Finchy and Dev laid a good foundation for us, it was difficult to get the ball away, it got pretty soft later on. We just maintained the belief, we got literally a couple of balls to get out of the ground and we started believing from there," de Villiers said in a video posted on the official Twitter handle of RCB.

In the match against RCB, Rajasthan Royals batted first and posted a total of 177/6 in the allotted twenty overs. Steve Smith top-scored for Royals as he played a knock of 57 runs off just 36 balls.

Chris Morris was the pick of RCB bowlers as he returned with figures of 4-26 from his four overs.

RCB is now at the third position in the IPL 2020 standings with 12 points from nine matches.

The side will next take on Kolkata Knight Riders on October 21 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.


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News Network
October 17,2020


Abu Dhabi, Oct 16: Quinton de Kock delivered an impressive performance as he guided Mumbai Indians to a massive eight-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Friday.

Quinton de Kock played an unbeaten knock of 78 runs off 44 balls to help Mumbai Indians chase down a decent target of 149 runs, set by KKR.

Chasing the target, Mumbai Indians got off to a brilliant start as openers Rohit Sharma and de Kock struck regular boundaries. Both took the team over the 50-run mark in the sixth over.

Continuing the impressive form, de Kock went on to score his half-century off just 25 deliveries. Their 94-run partnership was brought to an end by Shivam Mavi as the pacer got hold of Sharma, who was caught behind after scoring 35 runs.

Suryakumar Yadav then came out to bat but failed to impress as Varun Chakravarthy bowled him in the 14th over. Hardik Pandya was the next batsman and he, along with de Kock, easily took Mumbai Indians over the line in the 17th over.

Earlier, Pat Cummins' gutsy half-century and skipper Eoin Morgan cautious knock of 39 runs helped KKR post 148 runs after witnessing a bad start against Mumbai Indians.

KKR collapsed from 33/1 to 61/5 in five overs. However, Cummins and Morgan rebuilt KKR's innings stitching an unbeaten 87-run stand for the sixth wicket. The duo smashed 14 runs in the penultimate and 21 runs in the final over to help KKR post a respectable total in the 20 overs.

KKR got off to a bad start after opting to bat first, courtesy Suryakumar Yadav fielding which sent opening batsman Rahul Tripathi back in the dugout in the third over. Suryakumar took an absolute blinder at the point as Rahul tried to cut Trent Boult for four.

Nitish Rana then joined Shubman Gill in the middle and the duo stitched a brief 15 run stand before Nathan Coulter-Nile dismissed Rana in the sixth over.

Two overs later, Rahul Chahar spun a web. The right-arm spinner first dismissed Gill and then bowled Dinesh Karthik in the very next ball as KKR got reduced to 42/4.

With Morgan and Andre Russell at the crease, KKR looked to rebuild the innings. Russell smashed a six to bring up the fifty for the KKR but his stint at the crease was soon ended by Jasprit Bumrah.

In the 11th over, Bumrah bowled a short delivery which surprised Russell and de Kock took an easy catch. However, Cummins didn't show any sign of struggle and rebuilt the KKR innings along with Morgan. Cummins whacked the ball all around the park while Morgan played the role of second fiddle.

Cummins also smashed his maiden IPL half-century as KKR posted 148 runs in their allotted 20 overs.

Brief score: Mumbai Indians 149/2 [Quinton de Kock 78* (44), Rohit Sharma 35 (36), Varun Chakravarthy 1-23] defeated KKR 148/5 [Pat Cummins 53* (36), Eoin Morgan 39* (29), Rahul Chahar 2-18] by eight wickets.


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