Brilliant Madhwal takes 5-5 as Mumbai knock Lucknow out of IPL

Mumbai Indians' Akash Madhwal celebrates the wicket of Lucknow Super Giants' Krishnappa Gowtham during the Indian Premier League cricket eliminator match between Mumbai Indians and Lucknow Super Giants in Chennai on Wednesday. (AP)
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Updated 25 May 2023

Brilliant Madhwal takes 5-5 as Mumbai knock Lucknow out of IPL

  • Mumbai booked a meeting with holders and regular season table-toppers Gujarat Titans in the next playoff encounter on Friday in Ahmedabad
  • The winners on Friday will meet Chennai Super Kings in the final on Sunday

CHENNAI, India: Akash Madhwal took five wickets for as many runs to lead Mumbai Indians to a crushing 81-run win in the second IPL playoff game and knock Lucknow Super Giants out of the tournament on Wednesday.

Australia’s Cameron Green (41) and Suryakumar Yadav (33) put on 66 to help guide five-time champions Mumbai to 182-8 after they elected to bat first in the knockout contest in Chennai.

Madhwal then returned figures of 5-5 in 3.3 overs to dismiss Lucknow for 101 as Mumbai booked a meeting with holders and regular season table-toppers Gujarat Titans in the next playoff encounter on Friday in Ahmedabad.

The winners of that clash will meet Chennai Super Kings in the final on Sunday.

“It’s nice that it’s going well at the moment,” Green said.

“Our batting’s been really good. Madhwal has been the game changer for us; five today, and got four-for the other day.”

Green, who was the second-most expensive player bought in the auction at $2.11 million, added: “Gujarat are the best team. It’s going to be a tough challenge, especially on their home turf.”

Lucknow’s innings imploded as they collapsed from 69-2 to be bowled out in 16.3 overs, losing three key wickets to run outs.

Green, who hit his maiden T20 century in Mumbai’s previous win, looked in control during a 23-ball knock laced with six fours and one six until his departure.

Naveen-ul-Haq, who took four wickets for Lucknow, sent back Suryakumar and Green, bowled by a slower off-cutter from the Afghanistan pace bowler, in the space of three deliveries to push Mumbai onto the back foot.

Tilak Varma hit back with a quickfire 26 and a 43-run stand with Tim David, who was out caught for 13 after unsuccessfully reviewing a full toss for being over waist-height.

Naveen finished with 4-38 and Yash Thakur took three wickets but despite their efforts Mumbai’s impact sub Nehal Wadhera boosted the total with his 12-ball 23.

Lucknow lost their openers early including impact player Kyle Mayers for 18 before Australia’s Marcus Stoinis attempted to pull the chase together in his 27-ball 40.

But Madhwal struck with successive balls, including getting the dangerous Nicholas Pooran caught behind for a golden duck.

An engineer by profession, Madhwal learned the game while playing tennis-ball cricket in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand but is filling in for Mumbai’s injured pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah.

“Bumrah bhai (brother) has his own place, and I’m just trying to play the role assigned to me,” said the 29-year-old Madhwal.

Stoinis, who crossed 400 runs this season to be his team’s standout performer, was run out after a mid-pitch collision with non-striker Deepak Hooda with both batsmen watching the ball.

The innings fell further apart with two more run outs sending back Krishnappa Gowtham and Hooda.

Lucknow, who made their IPL debut last season with Gujarat Titans as the league grew to 10 teams, fell at the same hurdle in the previous edition.

The neutral venue for both teams had many empty seats, in contrast to the nearly full stadium on Tuesday when home hero M.S. Dhoni’s Chennai made the final with a win over Gujarat.

Captains face range of challenges ahead of Cricket World Cup

Updated 21 September 2023

Captains face range of challenges ahead of Cricket World Cup

  • While tactics and strategy are vital ingredients for any skipper, so are leadership and a proper grasp of human relations

Sometimes a captain of a cricket team gets a decision wrong. It happened to Sri Lanka’s captain, Dasun Shanaka, in the Asia Cup Final last Sunday in Colombo. He won the toss and chose to bat under clear skies. Before play could start, rain arrived, causing a 40-minute delay.

By the time the innings opened, overcast skies created a different set of conditions to those envisaged at the toss. In 15.2 overs, India’s bowlers demolished the Sri Lankan team, which could only total 50 runs. India then raced to victory in only 6.1 overs without loss.

Expectant home supporters were left surprised and disappointed at an embarrassing performance, which was Sri Lanka’s lowest total in a home match in the ODI format. This came after the delirious scenes that greeted Sri Lanka’s victory over Pakistan the previous Thursday, one which secured a place in Sunday’s final.

Inevitably, criticism has been levelled at Shanaka. In hindsight, he should have chosen to bowl. India’s captain said that he would have chosen to bat, had he won the toss.

Irrespective of the Shanaka’s decision, it is his ODI form that has drawn the most attention. After scoring a century against India in January 2023, his subsequent 17 innings have generated only 150 runs at an average of 9.4. This fell to 5 in the Asia Cup. During his pre-final press conference, he said that his captaincy was more important than his batting. He may have a point.

Since July 2021, he has led the team in 39 ODIs, achieving a 61percent-win ratio. As captain in 48 T20Is since October 2019, his win ratio is 49 percent. While these ratios are some way short of the highest ones achieved of 70-80 percent, there has been an improvement in Sri Lanka’s results under Shanaka’s leadership. This has stabilized Sri Lanka’s fragile relationships between board, players and political forces. It even embraced victory in the 2022 Asia Cup, played in T20I format.

Another captain under pressure prior to the 2023 ICC men’s ODI World Cup is Pakistan’s Babar Azam. His place in the team is assured, given that he is regularly ranked in the top-three batters across all formats. However, by all accounts, he struggled to keep his feelings in check after his team’s defeat by Sri Lanka last week.

The match went down to the final over, from which eight runs were required. The over was entrusted to a debutant bowler, in the team because of injuries to two regular quick bowlers. It seemed as if he might be the hero, narrowing the target to six from the final two deliveries and two from the final one, Sri Lanka having only one wicket to fall, a player having been injured during the match. Amid the drama, Sri Lanka’s striker squeezed out two runs to secure a place in the final.

In the post-match press conference, Azam was gracious, remarking that Sri Lanka played better cricket and that Pakistan was not “up to the mark with its bowling and fielding.” Later, rumors emerged that he was less than gracious in the dressing room, voicing disappointment with the performance of certain senior players, one of whom took objection. Another intervened to calm the situation down. Given that the result denied Pakistan a tilt at India in the final, backlash against the result from supporters and observers would be anticipated, most of all by Azam.

Losing dressing rooms are not usually a happy place to be, particularly after semifinals. This defeat will have been especially difficult to digest and Azam’s reaction will have reflected disappointment at his own form, the loss of key players and a feeling that several players could have done more to help. In any case, such internal discussions should not be leaked and there have been subsequent denials of disharmony. In my experience, harmony within teams is difficult to achieve and, unsurprisingly, is most likely to occur when the team is winning. Even then, there are certain personalities that do not gel.

In this respect, it was revealing to listen to one of England’s most successful captains, Mike Brearley, speak this week at a talk to promote his latest book, “Turning Over the Pebbles.”

Brearley made 39 appearances for England between 1976 and 1981. He was captain for 31 matches, of which 18 were won and only four lost. Most famously, he was recalled as captain in 1981 midway through a series against Australia, after Ian Botham resigned the post.

In the third Test at Headingley, Leeds, England stared defeat in the face, five wickets down and 122 runs behind in its second innings. Encouraged by Brearley, Botham launched a ferocious counterattack culminating in Australia needing 129 runs to win. They were bowled out for 111.

This and other results have led Brearley to be labelled a “lucky” captain, something that he does not deny. However, there are many nuances and subtleties to him, someone whom an Australian player referred to as having a “degree in people.” It is an appropriate epithet.

He studied Classics at Cambridge, afterwards lecturing in philosophy. Along the way, he developed an interest in psychoanalysis, which he has practiced for 40 years. The book seeks to bring together these strands of his life, turning them over, like pebbles, to see what lies behind.

What is clear is that he relished being captain. Tactics and strategy are vital ingredients but without a proper grasp of human relations they are not enough. Empathy, truthfulness and courage are required in dealing with team members. Brearley was well versed in these attributes and was able to persuade seasoned professionals to change well-trodden paths. There are few admissions of mistakes, yet he questions if he was good enough as a player to justify his place in the team. Shanaka’s place is being questioned but he backs his leadership qualities. Azam’s playing abilities are not in question, but his leadership qualities are. One can only speculate what advice Brearley might offer the pair.

Siraj stars as India rout Sri Lanka for eighth Asia Cup crown

Updated 17 September 2023

Siraj stars as India rout Sri Lanka for eighth Asia Cup crown

  • Sri Lanka’s miserably low total in the 50-over contest left a nearly packed house disappointed after they witnessed just 116 minutes of play

COLOMBO: Pace bowler Mohammed Siraj returned figures of 6-21 to lead India’s rout of Sri Lanka by 10 wickets as they clinched their eighth Asia Cup title on Sunday.
Siraj got four wickets in one over to help skittle Sri Lanka out for 50, a total the Indian openers Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill surpassed in 6.1 overs for an impressive victory ahead of next month’s ODI World Cup at home.
Sri Lanka’s miserably low total in the 50-over contest left a nearly packed house disappointed after they witnessed just 116 minutes of play.
The hosts elected to bat first following a delayed start due to rain and pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah struck first with the wicket of Kusal Perera, caught behind for a duck in the first over.
Siraj soon took over as he made the ball swing and seam in overcast conditions to easily surpass his previous ODI best of 4-32.
He got Pathum Nissanka for two and then struck on successive balls to send back Sadeera Samarawickrama (0) and Charith Asalanka (0), but a hat-trick was averted.
Dhananjaya de Silva hit a boundary but Siraj had him caught behind with the next ball, much to the delight of the Indian fans.
Siraj got his fifth with the wicket of Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka, equalling an ODI record for the fastest five-wicket haul from his first 16 balls of the match.
Kusal Mendis hit three boundaries before becoming Siraj’s sixth wicket, although Sri Lanka avoided the lowest-ever ODI total of 35 by Zimbabwe.
After Virat Kohli’s overthrow went for a boundary, and six more runs to the total, Sri Lanka pushed past their lowest ODI total of 43 scored against South Africa in 2012.
Hardik Pandya took three wickets to wrap up the innings in just 90 minutes.
Mendis’ 17 and an unbeaten 13 by Dushan Hemantha were the only double-digit scores in an innings that featured five ducks.
Shubman Gill, a centurion in the previous match, began with a boundary in the opening over on his way to an unbeaten 27 and fellow opener Ishan Kishan (23) soon joined the party.
The left-handed Ishan smashed fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana for two successive boundaries, and three more in a row from Gill gave India victory in the tournament’s shortest final.
Rohit Sharma’s India dropped just one match in the tournament after they lost an inconsequential Super Four contest against Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka, who won the previous edition of the Asia Cup played in the T20 format, came in as underdogs and snuck into the Super Fours with a dramatic win over Afghanistan but went down without a fight in their 11th final.

Saudi Arabia loses to Kuwait in Gulf Cricket T20I Championship opener

Updated 15 September 2023

Saudi Arabia loses to Kuwait in Gulf Cricket T20I Championship opener

  • Opting to bat first after winning the toss in the opening match, Saudi Arabia put in a total of 142 runs in 20 overs with the loss of 9 wickets
  • Faisal Khan was the highest scorer from the Saudi side, with 62 runs in 42 balls, hitting 9 fours and a six

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia lost to Kuwait by five wickets in the tournament opener of the Gulf Cricket T20I Championship 2023 at the West End International Cricket Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Friday.
Opting to bat first after winning the toss in the opening match, Saudi Arabia put in a total of 142 runs in 20 overs with the loss of 9 wickets.
Faisal Khan was the highest scorer from the Saudi side, with 62 runs in 42 balls, hitting 9 fours and a six. His opening partner, Abdul Waheed, scored just 3 runs in as many balls.
The other top scorers were Saad Khan (23), Zainul Abiding (19), and Sarfraz Butt (13). Captain Hisham Sheikh scored 9 runs in 17 balls.
Kuwaiti bowlers Mohammed Aslam and Adnan Idrees took 2 wickets each, helping their side to restrict Saudi Arabia to 142.
Chasing a modest total, the Kuwaiti team started cautiously with an opening partnership of 51 runs when Adnan Idrees was caught on 31.
His opening partner, Ravija Sandaruwan, played a brilliant inning of 58 runs on 41 balls, hitting 3 fours and as many sixes.
Meet Bhavsar made a good contribution of 31 runs on 28 balls, bringing the team closer to victory with Sandaruwan.
Though some wickets fell in quick succession by disciplined bowling in the middle by the Saudi side, Kuwait scored the winning run on the third ball of the 19th over, with 5 wickets and 9 balls remaining.
Ishtiaq Ahmad, Zainul Abidin and Hisham Sheikh took a wicket each, while two Kuwaiti players were run out.
Six Gulf countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar — feature in the maiden Gulf Cricket T20I Championship.
“The wait is over. The Saudi national team is all set for the big day, beginning their run in the Gulf Cricket Tournament against the Kuwait national team this evening,” the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation said before the match on Friday.
“We wish all the best to our national team,” the federation told Arab News.
“Our second match in the Gulf Cricket T20I Championship 2023 will be on Sept. 17 against the UAE, (the) third match is scheduled to be held on Sept. 18 against Bahrain, (the) fourth match on Sept. 20 against Oman, and the fifth and last match (is) on Sept. 21 against Qatar, which is hosting the first T20I Gulf Cricket Championship in Doha from Sept. 15-23.”
The Saudi lineup includes Usman Najeeb, Zainul Abidin, Atifur Rehman, Mohammed Hisham Sheikh, Ishtiaq Ahmad, Abdul Waheed, Zeeshan Sarfraz Butt, Faisal Khan, Saad Khan, Kashif Abbas, Ahmed Abdul Waheed, Mohammed Khalander Mustafa, Mohsin Shabbir and Abdul Manan Ali.
Speaking to the media following a preparatory meeting late last month, Qatar Cricket Association CEO Khaled Al-Suwaidi has said that arrangements have been completed to host the tournament.
“This cricket tournament will be a milestone in the Gulf region and is expected to achieve great development of this sport in the region,” he said.
The hosting of the Gulf Cricket T20I Championship will rotate annually between the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, under the auspices of the International Cricket Council and in accordance with rules set by the ICC for the game.

How Saudi national cricket team can benefit from India and Pakistan expertise

Updated 15 September 2023

How Saudi national cricket team can benefit from India and Pakistan expertise

  • Saudi Arabia’s participation in the Gulf Cricket Championship can provide a platform to showcase the team’s progress and potential

Cricket, often hailed as a unifying force on the Indian subcontinent, has now transcended borders and found a new home in Saudi Arabia.

With a growing expatriate population from both India and Pakistan, the Saudi Arabian cricket team stands at a unique crossroads of opportunity.

By leveraging the diverse cricketing expertise of Indian and Pakistani expatriates, Saudi Arabia has the potential to forge a formidable team that can compete on the international stage.

Pakistan’s rich cricketing heritage is marked by exceptional bowling talent. The nation has produced world-class fast bowlers known for their raw pace, swing, and unrelenting aggression.

From Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis to Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Amir, Pakistan’s bowlers have left an indelible mark on the sport. By incorporating Pakistani expatriates into the Saudi Arabian cricket team, the bowling department can benefit immensely.

India, on the other hand, has a rich tradition of producing world-class batsmen, from the legendary Sachin Tendulkar to the modern-day maestro Virat Kohli. The artistry, technique and ability to construct innings have been ingrained in the Indian cricketing DNA. By tapping into the expertise of Indian expatriates, Saudi Arabia can infuse its batting lineup with finesse and resilience.

Prince Saud Mishal Al-Saud, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation, has a keen understanding of the value that Pakistani and Indian cricket brings to the table. Prince Saud has engaged with renowned ex-cricketers, team owners, and diplomats from both Pakistan and India, to foster an environment of collaboration and knowledge-sharing for the growth of Saudi cricket

Prince Saud’s efforts have included meetings with esteemed ex-cricketers including Irfan Pathan and Akram, and team owners Nadeem Omar of the Quetta Gladiators and Manoj Badale of the Rajasthan Royals.

In March 2023, Akram told Arab News he was “optimistic about cricket growth in Saudi Arabia” and “eager to see the sport’s talent from the Kingdom.” Akram was in the Saudi capital for the first time in February where he met Prince Saud to discuss the future of the sport in the Kingdom.

The ongoing Asia Cup further underscores the significance of embracing the collective strength of Indian and Pakistani expatriates in the Saudi Arabian cricket team. The tournament, which brings together cricketing powerhouses from the Asian continent, serves as a catalyst for growth, exposure and recognition.

Saudi Arabia’s participation in the Gulf Cricket Championship starting on Sept. 15 can provide a platform to showcase the team’s progress and potential. By amalgamating the expertise of Indian and Pakistani expatriates, Saudi Arabia can create a balanced team capable of competing against formidable opponents.

Nations step up preparations for ODI Cricket World Cup in India

Updated 21 September 2023

Nations step up preparations for ODI Cricket World Cup in India

  • 9 of the 10 teams have been in action in recent weeks, with 5 contestants taking part in the Asia Cup

There are three weeks until the opening match of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 on Oct. 5 in Ahmedabad.

Teams are preparing with matches in four countries, involving nine of the 10 participants.

The Asia Cup involves five of the World Cup contestants. Two series involve four countries, England having hosted New Zealand and Australia visited South Africa. The Netherlands, the only associate member playing in the World Cup, last played a competitive ODI match on July 9. Its next one will be a formal World Cup warm-up match on Sept. 30 against Australia in India. Hardly ideal preparation.

Prior to the formal ICC warm-ups, between Sept. 29 and Oct. 3, each country must submit a final 15-man squad by Sept. 28. In the preparation phase it is usual for team managers to trial different formations and players.

England and New Zealand are doing this in their four-match bilateral series. In the first match, England were thrashed by eight wickets, a result greeted with doom and gloom by media and supporters alike.

They had more ammunition after 12.1 overs in the second match when England were 55 for five, having been eight for three after 4.2 overs. Then, Liam Livingstone, a player whose potential has been hampered by injuries in the last 18 months, was the chief architect of a recovery to 226 for seven, scoring an unbeaten 95. An improved bowling display by England saw New Zealand bowled out for 147.

It is unwise to read too much into performances in preparation matches but England will have been pleased to display the depth of both its batting and bowling units. Australia also displayed similar depths in the first two matches of a five-match series in South Africa.

A near hopeless position in the first match was rescued by an eighth wicket partnership of 112 to reach the 223 required for victory. This was even more remarkable given that Marnus Labuschagne, who scored 80, joined play as a concussion substitute. In the second match, Australia amassed 392 for eight, Labuschagne scoring 124. He was not included in Australia’s preliminary World Cup squad. The selectors may need to rethink. South Africa was bowled out for 269. However, they recovered in the third match to win by 111 runs, Labuschagne scoring only 15.

Matches in the Asia Cup carry rather more edge than players simply reacquainting themselves with the ODI format. It is being played mainly in Sri Lanka because of India’s refusal to play in Pakistan, the event’s official host nation. Two weeks ago, the monsoon arrived earlier than expected, causing regular but unpredictable rain. In the round-robin group stage only one match was affected, that between India and Pakistan, leading to shared points. The Super 4 stage commenced on Wednesday Sept. 6, when Pakistan beat Bangladesh. Three days later Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh, to diminish the latter’s chances of further progress.

Another India versus Pakistan clash was scheduled for the following day. Anyone who had not followed the tournament closely, but who was checking the score on the day of play, would have been surprised to note an entry of India 147 for two after 24.1 overs — stumps. This means close of play. A natural reaction would be, this is a one-day match, so why was it not shown as rained off, with points shared?

Fearful of a second India versus Pakistan match being rained off, given adverse forecasts, the Asian Cricket Council announced on Sept. 8 that a reserve day would be added for that match only — the final already has one allocated. It is understood that there had been discussions about relocating to Hambantota in the south of Sri Lanka.

The proposal was rejected in favor of a reserve day in Colombo. No doubt a guiding factor was that of financial implications for broadcasters, advertisers and sponsors. If any further proof of the entanglement between them and those who administrator cricket was required, the decision lays it bare.

Reaction to the decision was mixed. One former Indian fast bowler branded it as “absolutely shameless,” “a mockery” and “unethical.”

The coaches of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka expressed their surprise but were diplomatic, saying that they would have loved to have an extra day. As it is, India gained a point and Pakistan lost one. The decision can be viewed as pragmatic and opportunistic, perhaps a little cynical. Changing a tournament’s rules part way through is both extraordinary and exceptional. It is difficult to see that a similar decision would be taken at an ICC World Cup

There is also, or should be, an issue of equity. Why was provision for a reserve day not afforded to the other Super 4 matches? One explanation may be that the schedule could not be altered to accommodate them. Sri Lanka’s match against Bangladesh on Sept. 9 was followed by India versus Pakistan on Sept. 10, so an overlap would have occurred.

As it was, utilization of the Sept. 11 reserve day meant that India had to play its scheduled match against Sri Lanka on Sept. 12.

Normally, teams are keen to have rest days between matches but, presumably, India was prepared to sacrifice this in the pursuit of beating Pakistan and moving closer to qualifying for the final. There would have been space for a reserve day for the Sri Lanka versus India match.

It would not have been needed as India won by 41 runs in a low scoring and tense encounter, rain interrupting play only briefly.

India was bowled out for 213, with 20-year-old Dunith Wellalage claiming five wickets and scoring an unbeaten 42 in Sri Lanka’s reply of 172.

The result meant that India, with four points, progressed to the final.

The match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, both on two points, will determine who will play India. Once the final is over, they and the other eight teams will travel to India to refamiliarize themselves with local conditions in the warm-up matches.