Rain forces India-New Zealand clash into second day

Groundsmen work to remove water after rain stopped play during the semifinal match between India and New Zealand at Old Trafford. (AP)
Updated 10 July 2019

Rain forces India-New Zealand clash into second day

  • The teams will return on Wednesday — the designated reserve day for the first semifinal

MANCHESTER: The first Cricket World Cup semifinal will run into a second day after persistent rain prematurely ended play on Tuesday with New Zealand laboring to 211-5 against India at Old Trafford, with 3.5 overs still to bat in the innings.

Ross Taylor was unbeaten on 67 — the same score made by New Zealand captain Kane Williamson — and was starting to get on top of India’s bowlers for the first time before forecasted showers arrived over the Manchester ground at 2 p.m. local time. The rain lasted throughout the afternoon. The covers briefly came off the outfield at 5:30 p.m. and officials had an inspection, only for play to be abandoned for the day 50 minutes later.

The teams will return on Wednesday — the designated reserve day for the first semifinal — and the Black Caps will resume an innings that started very slowly and barely picked up pace after they won the toss.

India’s tight and disciplined bowling effort strangled New Zealand, which was 10-1 after seven overs and just 27-1 after 10 overs — the lowest score by any side in this tournament after the opening powerplay.

The pitch looked increasingly sluggish, preventing the Black Caps from even accelerating in the middle part of the innings after being tied down at 83-2 after 25 overs.

Williamson was forced to come in early once again following the dismissal of the out-of-form Martin Guptill for 1. India’s pacemen bowled a good line and length while also getting some movement under cloudy skies.

Jasprit Bumrah was especially economical, snaring Guptill with a lifter that drew an edge high to Virat Kohli at second slip. He had figures of 1-25 off eight overs.

Henry Nicholls was next to go when bowled through the gate by Ravindra Jadeja for 28, leaving New Zealand with Williamson and Taylor, its two best batsmen.

But they failed to seriously up the run rate, with Taylor in particular regularly mistiming his shots. Still, he hung around until the final overs and was unloading before the rain came. The 44th over, off Yuzvendra Chahal, went for 18 runs, by far the best of the innings for New Zealand.

Chahal had the most expensive figures of 1-63 off 10 overs but he did get the prized wicket of Williamson, who chopped a top-edge to Jadeja at point.

Jimmy Neesham (12) and Colin de Grandhomme (16) quickly came and went, and Tom Latham was in the middle on 3 with Taylor when play was stopped.

The reserve day will see a continuation of the match, not a restart. Umpires can, if necessary, reduce the number of overs to a minimum of 20 per side, which is needed to achieve a result. If there is no result, India would advance courtesy of finishing higher in the group standings. They were first and New Zealand was fourth. The winner plays England or Australia in the final at Lord’s on Sunday. The second semifinal is at Edgbaston on Thursday.


Pakistan set to unleash 16-year-old Naseem Shah on Australia

Updated 20 November 2019

Pakistan set to unleash 16-year-old Naseem Shah on Australia

  • Naseem got plenty of attention in a tour game in Perth last week
  • Five former Pakistan players have made test debuts at a younger age than Naseem

BRISBANE, Australia: Sixteen-year-old Naseem Shah is ready to become the youngest test cricketer ever to play on Australian soil, with Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali confident the young paceman is among a group of bowlers who can help end a long winless streak Down Under.
Naseem, born on Feb. 15, 2003, got plenty of attention in a tour game in Perth last week not only because he tested the resolve of some experienced international batsmen, but also because it came soon after the death of his mother back in Pakistan.
Flight logistics and religious customs meant he couldn’t make it home in time for the funeral, so he stayed in Australia and skipped the first innings of the drawn tour game against Australia A before returning with a fiery eight overs in the second innings that netted 1-21, including the wicket of test opener Marcus Harris. It set him up for a test debut in the two-match test series.
“Obviously, it was a hard time for him but he coped with it and he came out and bowled the very next day, which is very heartening,” Azhar said Wednesday, on the eve of the first test at the Gabba. “We will definitely be looking to play him. He’s bowling really well.”
Azhar has played with Naseem at first-class level and thinks the young speedster has the fitness and the mental attitude to cope in the test arena. And he’s not concerned about the home team’s daunting record at the Gabba, where Australia is unbeaten since 1988.
“Not many players can reach (test) standard so early, but there are exceptions and he’s one of them,” Azhar said. “When I saw him first, I was so surprised. The control he had, the pace he had, and the temperament and the composure when he bowls is so exciting to see.”
Five former Pakistan players have made test debuts at a younger age than Naseem, including fast bowler Aaqib Javed, who was 16 years, 189 days when he played New Zealand in 1989, and Azhar said there’s no reason to hold players back based only on their age.
“The good thing about (Naseem) is he is very fit. I have no doubts about his fitness and his bowling skill,” Azhar said, reflecting his general confidence in a Pakistan team that is in a rebuilding phase and not expected to be overawed by Australia’s record at the Gabba. Pakistan hasn’t won a test series in Australia, and hasn’t won a test match here since 1995.
“We go in here with a lot of confidence. We have the talent to do well here. We’re very confident that if we execute our skills ... (we can) beat Australia. To do that, I think we have to keep believing and also play with no fear.”
Along with veteran paceman Mohammad Abbas, a pair of 19-year-old pacemen are also in selection calculations, with left-armer Shaheen Shah Afridi taking 12 wickets in his three tests to date and Muhammad Musa yet to make his debut.
While most of the selection focus has been on the fast bowlers, 33-year-old wrist spinner Yasir Shah is likely to play an influential role in the series. He struggled on his last tour to Australia in 2016, but returns with more than 200 test wickets and as a far better settled bowler.
The Australians will be playing a test series for the first time since retaining the Ashes in England, where opening batsman David Warner averaged just 9.5 in the series. He and Steve Smith were making their test match returns from one-year ban following a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in 2018 and had contrasting series, with Smith topping the scoring and holding many innings together for Australia.
Warner will be combining with a recalled Joe Burns at the top of a reshuffled batting order, and Australia skipper Tim Paine is confident the veteran opener will be back in scoring form.
“Just watching him the last few days, he looks like he’s back to his best, the ball’s making a different sound off his bat again,” he said. “But the most pleasing thing about Davey was during the Ashes when he was in the worst form of his career he didn’t change a bit, and a lot of players would.
Paine said Mitchell Starc was back approaching top form and he expected the left-arm paceman to play a leading role against Pakistan after missing selection for all but one of the Ashes series tests in England.
Starc and fellow pacemen Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will join spinner Nathan Lyon in a pace attack containing plenty of success in local conditions.