Smriti Mandhana ruled out of South Africa ODI series

Agencies
October 9,2019

Vadodara, Oct 9: The Indian women's team was on Tuesday dealt with a major blow as opener Smriti Mandhana was ruled out of the three-match ODI series against South Africa beginning here on Wednesday due to an injury.

The 23-year-old suffered a fracture in her right toe after being struck by a ball during a net session on Sunday forcing her out of the series. Seam bowling all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar has been drafted in as her replacement.

Head coach WV Raman said a call on Mandhana's return will be taken based on the assessment of the physios at the NCA.

"It is a mild fracture. It's difficult to fix the timeline as she still needs to get an MRI done. There is some swelling and it has to die down for the MRI to be taken. An assessment can be made only after that, Raman said at the pre-match a press conference.

Captain Mithali Raj said Mandhana's absence will give opportunities for other players.

"She (Mandhana) is an experienced player. But other players have scored a lot of runs in the domestic games. This series is not part of the ICC Women's Championship. So that way it's a chance for us to try out new players. And I am positive that whoever gets a chance will utilise it fully."

India won the recently concluded Twenty20 International series 3-1 against South Africa in Surat.

However, Mandhana struggled during the series, scoring 21, 13, 7 and 5 in her four innings.

Playing on familiar home conditions, the Indian women would definitely have an edge over the visitors in the upcoming series.

The onus will be on veterans like Raj and Jhulan Goswami to guide the team with their experience. Harmanpreet Kaur, Jemimah Rodrigues and Veda Krishnamurthy will have to come good with the bat in the absence of Mandhana.

The Proteas will be brimming with confidence after registering a 105-run victory in the sixth and final T20.

They will be depending on opener Lizelle Lee, who scored a quick 84 in the sixth T20I, and skipper Sune Luus to take the responsibility of their batting department.

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Will eat grass but raise Pakistan Army budget, says Shoaib Akhtar

Agencies
August 7,2020

Islamabad, Aug 7: Former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, known for his blistering deliveries on the cricket field, recently baffled many with a deadly off-field bouncer by claiming he is willing to eat grass if it enabled an increase in budget for his country's Army!

"If Allah ever gives me the authority, I will eat grass myself but I will increase the budget of the army," said Akhtar in an interview with ARY News.

The 'Rawalpindi Express', considered the fastest bowler in history said he does not understand why the civilian sector cannot work in collaboration with the Armed forces.

"I will ask my army chief to sit with me and make decisions. If the budget is 20 per cent, I will make it 60 per cent. If we insult each other, the loss is ours only," the once feared fast-bowler said.

Akthar had also claimed to ARY News interview that he was willing to take a bullet for his country and had turned down a county stint just because he wanted to fight the 1999 Kargil War.

Ties between India and Pakistan have been strained in the recent months over several issues, the latest being Pakistan's attempt to broach in the UNSC the issue of Kashmir on the first anniversary of the India's move to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and to split the erstwhile state into two union territories .

Pakistan also has not been in a good financial position and under prime minister Imran Khan, himself an all rounder cricketer, has added nearly USD 22 billion, that is 35 per cent to the nation's international debt pile in the last two years, according to an Asia Times report in July.

While Pakistan recently received USD 1.39 billion from the IMF to cushion the economic shocks caused due to COVID-19 outbreak, Akthar had a few months ago proposed that a joint cricket match be played between India and Pakistan to raise funds to fight the coronavirus. The suggestion that was put down by cricketers in India.

Meanwhile the 'Pindi boy' whose deadly pace and bounce was once dreaded by batsmen had recently taken to Twitter to deny former India cricketer Virender Sehwag's claim of sledging him.

Sehwag along with other Indian crickerters such as Harbhajan Singh and even Rahul Dravid had been at the receiving end of Akthar's sledging and antics during their playing days.

"Yes, totally self made story by him. Mujhe yeh bol k bach k jana kidhar tha us nay," Akthar tweeted to a report in which Sehwag claimed that he had sledged the 'Rawalpindi Express' by telling him that Sachin Tendulkar was his father.

During an awards ceremony Sehwag had recounted that fed up with Akthar's sledging and retaliated by telling him to say the same things to Tendulkar, who smashed the 'Pindi boy' for a six. Sehwag quipped that he told Akthar then that "Baap baap hota hai".

In the recent ARY interview, asked about the allegation made against him by former India cricketer Virendra Sehwag that he makes pro-India comments for greater following on social media channels, Akhtar said, "I cannot talk on the basis of hate." 

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Sohail Khan credits Waqar Younis for teaching him to swing the ball 'late'

News Network
July 22,2020

Derbyshire, Jul 22: Ahead of the upcoming Test series against England, Pakistan pacer Sohail Khan has credited bowling coach Waqar Younis for teaching him how to swing the ball late.

On the third day of the practice match between Azhar Ali's Team Green and Babar Azam's Team White, the 36-year-old Khan returned figures of five for 50 in 20.1 overs which saw the former fold for 181 in the first innings before they staged a comeback on the final day to win the match by six wickets.

Prior to the practice match, Sohail had a conversation with bowling coach Waqar Younis on the art of late swing. The pacer shared how the presence of the bowling legend in the support staff helped him gear up for the four-day match.

"The conditions in England are swing conducive so every fast bowler gets the ball to move. I asked Waqar bhai to teach me how to swing the ball late. It took him only two minutes to explain it to me. It is because of his tips that I took five wickets in the first innings," Khan said in a release issued by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

"I am eager to learn from Waqar Bhai. I follow him wherever he goes and speak to him about the art of bowling as he has an abundance of knowledge to share. A few days back I was struggling with something while bowling, I thought of reaching out to him and even before I spoke to him about it, he said he knew what I wanted to talk to him about and he explained it to me in a minute," he added.

During Pakistan's tour of England in 2016, Sohail played a crucial role in helping Pakistan secure a 2-2 Test series draw by returning two five-wicket hauls in as many matches.

In total, he picked up 13 wickets at 25 apiece and finished as the third-best wicket-taker.

"Definitely, it is an honour for me to return to the side. I had taken two fifers here against England in 2016 and now in the practice match, I have started off with five wickets so I am feeling very good. We had been at our homes for the past four months due to coronavirus so starting off on a high feels nice," Khan said.

Prior to Sohail's five wickets, 17-year-old Naseem Shah made a big impact when he took five wickets for Team Green. The strength of Pakistan's pace attack was further established as Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Shah Afridi picked up three wickets each providing valuable support to Naseem and Sohail respectively.
Naseem and Shaheen finished the match with six and four wickets respectively.

Shedding light on the youngsters' performances, Sohail said: "It gives me immense pleasure to see Naseem Shah. He bowls consistently at 150kph. Just like him, Shaheen Shah Afridi is another good bowler. I like both of them."

"It gave me great happiness to see Naseem pick five wickets in the first innings. He is in rhythm and is looking great. What is astonishing is that he is playing in these conditions for the first time but still he is doing so well. Shaheen has also been phenomenal," he added.

Pakistan and England are slated to play three Tests and as many T20Is against each other. The first Test will be played at Manchester from August 5.

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Indian Test squad may be asked to quarantine in Adelaide before Australia series

News Network
July 21,2020

Melbourne, Jul 21: Cricket Australia's chief executive Nick Hockley has said that the Indian players and staff will most likely be asked to face two weeks of quarantine before the four-match Test series.

This scenario will bring the Adelaide Oval and its newly constructed hotel firmly into view as the sort of biosecure bubble, ESPNCricinfo reported.

India and Australia are slated to face each other in a four-match Test series, which is to begin from December 4 at Brisbane.

"The two-week quarantine is pretty well-defined. What we are working on is making sure that even within that quarantine environment, the players have got the absolute best training facilities, so that their preparation for the matches is as optimal as it can possibly be," ESPNCricinfo quoted Hockey as saying.

"Certainly the fact that the Adelaide Oval has a hotel. It does provide a facility not dissimilar to Old Trafford or Ageas Bowl where the hotels are integrated into the venue," he added.

Hockley also said that an exacting standard of biosecurity and testing would be applied before the series against India as the coronavirus cases are spiking in the subcontinent.

"It's widely known and it's unlikely that international travel restrictions would have lifted by the time that India will be due to come into the country. Clearly there will be testing regimes. We will be able to test people before that they get on to the plane and it is the nature of the situation of making sure we have the quarantine arrangements in line with government and health authority protocols," Hockley said.

"The key thing for the players is that there's regular testing and that we appropriately quarantine them when they come in and all of those plans are currently in development," he added.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday announced the postponement of the T20 World Cup 2020 slated to be held in Australia from October 18-November 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the announcement, the BCCI is likely to go ahead with the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the October-November window. However, it is known where the T20 tournament will be played as cases continue to rise in India.
"I think the BCCI has made no secrets that they are considering what that means for the IPL. For us, it's about getting a bit of an understanding and certainty around what that means. Clearly, in a normal course, some of our best players are obviously top picks for those IPL teams," Hockley said.

"It's a bit premature to speculate on that. We need to understand what the plans are if any and once we understand that we will make decisions accordingly," he added.

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