England and Pakistan’s T20 World Cup preparations blighted by fresh wash-out

Spectators sit with umbrellas in the stand as rain delays the start of play Cricket — Third T20 International — England v Pakistan — Sophia Gardens Cricket Ground, Cardiff on May 28, 2024. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 May 2024

England and Pakistan’s T20 World Cup preparations blighted by fresh wash-out

  • The woeful scenes in the Welsh capital followed another complete washout in the first of this four-match T20 series at Headingley
  • England remain 1-0 up with one to play at The Oval on Thursday after a 23-run win in at Edgbaston

CARDIFF: England and Pakistan’s Twenty20 World Cup preparations were again dented by bad weather as the third international in Cardiff on Tuesday was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
The woeful scenes in the Welsh capital followed another complete washout in the first of this four-match T20 series at Headingley.
England remain 1-0 up with one to play at The Oval on Thursday after a 23-run win in at Edgbaston but this latest abandonment came just a week before they begin their T20 World Cup title defense against Scotland in Barbados on June 4.
Rain in Cardiff on Tuesday started to fall steadily an hour before the scheduled 1730 GMT start, with a capacity 15,600 crowd expected at Sophia Gardens.
But the bad weather delayed the toss, with the pitch and square at Sophia Gardens remaining fully covered.
And minutes after a 1910 GMT inspection, the umpires abandoned the match due to a saturated outfield and persistent rain.
The teams will now travel to London for Thursday’s finale at The Oval in the hope of one last chance for competitive action ahead of the T20 World Cup.
Pakistan, the 2009 T20 World Cup winners, start this year’s tournament against co-hosts the United States in Dallas on June 6.

Jordan, Buttler star as England thrash USA to reach T20 World Cup semifinals

Updated 23 June 2024

Jordan, Buttler star as England thrash USA to reach T20 World Cup semifinals

  • By winning so quickly, England secured a place in the last four, regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s final Group Two Super Eights match

BRIDGETOWN: Chris Jordan took four wickets in five balls, including the third hat-trick of the T20 World Cup, as defending champions England qualified for the semifinals with a 10-wicket thrashing of the United States in his native Barbados on Sunday.
The 35-year-old all-rounder, born and educated on the Caribbean island, justified his recall for this match in spectacular fashion with the remarkable figures of 4-10 in 2.5 overs as the United States were dismissed for 115.
England captain Jos Buttler then led from the front in a blistering chase with an unbeaten 83, featuring five sixes in an over from Harmeet Singh, as his side raced to their target in a mere 9.4 overs.
By winning so quickly, England secured a place in the last four, regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s final Group Two Super Eights match between co-hosts the West Indies and South Africa in Antigua and any associated net run-rate calculations.
Buttler faced just 38 balls, including six fours and seven sixes, but the day belonged to Jordan, whose hat-trick was the third of this tournament, with Australia’s Pat Cummins achieving the feat against both Bangladesh and Afghanistan, and the first by an England bowler in any men’s T20 international.
“Unbelievable feeling, more importantly to restrict USA and to do it in a special place like this is always nice,” said Jordan.
“Been on a hat-trick a few times, nice to get it on target this time.”
Buttler added: “I wanted to bring CJ back in to add a little bit of depth to the batting and we know what he is capable of with the ball. He executed it fantastically well, and a World Cup hat-trick is a great effort.”
As for his own form, Buttler said: “Personally it’s really important I continue this into the semifinals. I have been feeling good all year, I feel I am hitting the ball well and it is nice to get that confidence.”
The United States, one of the surprise packages of the event after defeating Pakistan on their way to the second round, were 115-6 when Jordan came onto bowl the 19th over.
His first ball of the over saw Corey Anderson hit a fast and low full toss to Harry Brook at long-on as the former New Zealand all-rounder fell for 29.
Two balls later, paceman Jordan clean bowled Ali Khan for a duck, the off-stump knocked out of the ground.
Next ball Nosthush Kenjige was plumb lbw and Jordan then completed his hat-trick — and ended the innings — by bowling Saurabh Netravalkar between bat and pad to remove the last man’s middle stump.
The United States were relatively well-placed at 48-2 at the end of the six-over powerplay.
But leg-spinner Adil Rashid then bowled two excellent googlies to dismiss Aaron Jones and Nitish Kumar, whose 30 was the highest score of the innings, in a miserly haul of 2-13.
England started their reply knowing victory in 17.4 overs would see them advance to the semifinals regardless of events elsewhere.
Buttler signalled his intentions early on with an extraordinary 104-meter six before Mumbai-born left-arm spinner Singh then felt the full force of his bat.
England must now wait another 24 hours to discover the identity of their semifinal opponents.

How Pakistan’s new cricket coaches can approach tough tasks ahead

Updated 23 June 2024

How Pakistan’s new cricket coaches can approach tough tasks ahead

  • Despite the team’s failure to progress to the Super 8s of the 2024 T20 World Cup, there could be reasons to be optimistic

NEW YORK: How many times have we heard the words inconsistent, unpredictable and chaotic used to describe the Pakistan men’s cricket team’s performances over the years?

The answer is numerous, although usually the description is followed by the qualification that the team are at their most dangerous when in that state.

In the wake of the team’s failure to progress to the Super 8s stage of the 2024 T20 World Cup, the mood is different and much darker.

Inconsistency, unpredictability and chaos did not translate into becoming a dangerous opponent. Nor should it, because it is much more likely that a team characterized as consistent, hardworking and united will perform best.

In my view, it is time for those involved in Pakistan’s cricket world to step away from the myth surrounding what it takes to galvanize the team. In its place ought to be a realization that the raw talent that once helped them produce magical moments is not being harnessed properly and that teams in other countries have adopted a more adventurous style of playing cricket.

The big question is how can Pakistan achieve such a transformation? There is nothing new about the current environment. Issues with chairmen and selection have abounded over the years, leading to accusations of nepotism and favoritism. However, I believe that there is reason to be hopeful.

The two new coaches, Gary Kirsten for white ball cricket and Jason Gillespie for red ball, are in positions which allow them to make decisions which are likely to be backed unconditionally by the hierarchy, even if it is just to save face for themselves.

Hopefully, the coaches will take full advantage of this opportunity to set their paths immediately. It is not an understatement to suggest that they are set for the hardest task of their careers. I was coached by Gillespie at Yorkshire and know his style is to be calm, which will be of help in this task. He prefers to let players lead while occupying a supporting act. From a distance, Kirsten seems to have a similar style, evidenced by his time with India in winning the 2011 World Cup under MS Dhoni’s captaincy.

Anyone who has followed the men in green will be very aware of all the issues with the team environment, so those must be addressed first. It is a very insecure one with a lot of noise.

Personally, I would not have chosen the two-coach policy. These players need simple and consistent messaging to be able to go out and express themselves. However, given that two coaches are in place, it will be especially important for them to work together and build a trusted backroom staff body which is the same across the formats. Time is of the essence to put this in place as pressure to improve both team and individual performances will build quickly. In my view, the environment needs freshening and unnecessary baggage which has built up over the last couple of years needs removing.

One of the most difficult and contentious issues is that of the captaincy. In the current situation, I would play down the power and importance of the captain. This goes against my natural grain but, for the immediate future, the coach needs to be the figurehead and lead. Obviously, there still needs to be a captain, ideally across formats, so as to reduce noise and deliver one simple message. Pakistan’s next white ball match is not until early November in Australia, so there is no need for immediate action. However, there are two Tests with Bangladesh to be hosted in August. Shan Masood is the current captain.

Another contentious issue is the selection process and, within it, the role of Wahab Riaz. It was only on Mar. 24 that the current seven-member selection committee was established. This included Riaz, who had previously acted as chair, but that title was removed, Riaz remaining as a committee member. Somewhat impracticably, each member carried an equal vote from which a majority decision would be formed. How this works in practice is unclear.

In my view, the experiment should be ditched, with the coaches having the final say in a reduced committee. Riaz, who is believed to be close to the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) chair, was senior team manager during the World Cup, despite there being a team manager and a coach! There is a public perception that Riaz appears to wield too much influence. It remains to be seen if the review of Pakistan’s World Cup performance will recommend that it is reduced. The results are expected shortly.

The first requirement for team selection will come with the Bangladesh Tests. Gillespie will oversee a training camp ahead of these matches to prepare both the national and A teams. He has already said that “we can’t rely on the same 11 players to play day in and day out. We need to make sure that we’ve got a squad mentality.”

Surprisingly, the talent pool appears to be small with a lack of ready-made replacements in some positions, so there is a need to identify and back those with the necessary character and skill. One of the options is Mohammad Haris. He has the modern-day approach which surely needs to be injected into the team’s approach and pursued all the way to the next T20 World Cup. Irfan Khan Niazi is another young dynamo who could grow into a good finisher, whilst investment in batter Omair Yousuf could prove beneficial.

In the fast-bowling department, Shaheen Shah Afridi needs the necessary support to return to basics and improve his performance. In my view, he would be advised to forget about the captaincy to concentrate on taking wickets and being a match winner. Naseem Shah needs protection and support as he appears to be on the right path to being world class. I expect Gillespie to provide those levels of support for both players.

Leg-spinner Usama Mir would have been in my World Cup squad, whilst Mehran Mumtaz has the ability to be the all-format No. 1 spinner. Shadab Khan needs time to rediscover his bowling skills. He has been brilliant as a batter for Islamabad but that seems to have skewed his thought processes in international cricket. He has succeeded before and I have no doubt he will again, but he is another who needs to go back to basics.

My suggested change in approach for both coaches may not be very natural for either man. Both prefer to have a strong captain who takes the lead while they create an environment which encourages the players to make their own decisions.

In the short term, my view is that the coaches need to lead from the front, dealing with the noise and protecting their players from the inevitable attacks by ex-players, pundits and fans. Internally, they are advised to set out clear expectations. The team must become the priority in what is an insecure culture which makes the players think more about personal performances.

The two men need to settle the players in their minds through a combination of hand holding and tough love. Hopefully, a period of calm and support will create a better environment for success.

India makes 196 and beats Bangladesh by 50 at Twenty20 World Cup

Updated 23 June 2024

India makes 196 and beats Bangladesh by 50 at Twenty20 World Cup

  • Put into bat, India started quick as captain Rohit Sharma scored 23 off 11 balls
  • Virat Kohli added 37 off 28, hitting three sixes

NORTH SOUND, Antigua: Hardik Pandya blasted Bangladesh with a 27-ball half-century and Kuldeep Yadav’s three wickets finished off India’s win at the Twenty20 World Cup on Saturday.
Pandya struck four boundaries and three sixes in an unbeaten 50 to lead India to 196-5.
Yadav then took 3-19 in four overs to limit Bangladesh to 146-8.
India moved to the top of Group 1 in the Super Eight with two wins from two matches. Bangladesh was winless.
Put into bat, India started quick as captain Rohit Sharma scored 23 off 11 balls. Virat Kohli added 37 off 28, hitting three sixes. The duo put on 39 off 22 balls for India’s best opening stand in the tournament.
Sharma was caught in the fourth over off Shakib al Hasan, while Kohli put on another 32 off 27 balls with Rishabh Pant for the second wicket.
Tanzim Hasan Sakib struck twice in the ninth over, getting Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav for 6 as India slumped to 77-3.
But Rishabh Pant anchored one end with 36 off 24, including four fours and two sixes, putting on 31 off 19 balls with Shivam Dube.
Despite Pant’s dismissal in the 12th over, Dube’s prowess against spin came in handy — he hit three sixes, scoring 34 off 24 balls.
But it was Pandya who took charge in the death overs. India scored 62 runs in the last five overs.
Pandya was named player of the match.
“We have played some really good cricket (to win five straight games),” he said. “We have executed our plans well, but as a group we can still improve. We sometimes lose wickets in a bunch, but apart from that things are looking good.”
Bangladesh’s reply made a steady start. Openers Litton Das (13) and Tanzid Hasan (29) added 35 off 27 until Pandya got the breakthrough in the fifth over.
The Tigers were at 66-2 in the 10th over and scoring slower. The chase unraveled when Yadav came on to bowl. He trapped Hasan lbw, and dismissed Towhid Hridoy for 4 and claimed the big wicket of Shakib for 11.
Bangladesh lost three wickets for 32 runs across 24 balls and didn’t recover.
Pace bowlers Jasprit Bumrah (2-13) and Arshdeep Singh (2-30) helped to seal India’s fifth win over Bangladesh in the T20 World Cup.

Afghanistan stun Australia with 21-run T20 World Cup win

Updated 23 June 2024

Afghanistan stun Australia with 21-run T20 World Cup win

  • Afghanistan made 148-6 and then bowled out their opponents for 127 in 19.2 overs for their first ever victory over the Australians

ARNOS VALE, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Gulbadin Naib was Afghanistan’s man with the golden arm, bowling his team to a surprise 21-run victory over previously unbeaten Australia in their Group One Super Eight encounter in the T20 World Cup at the Arnos Vale Stadium on Saturday.

Set a target of 149, Glenn Maxwell (59 off 41 balls, six fours, three sixes) had the Test and One-Day champions on course until he became Gulbadin’s third wicket in the 15th over, opening the door to a result which keeps the duel for semifinal spots alive going into the final two fixtures in the group on Monday.

Gulbadin finished with four for 20 from his four overs of medium pace to turn the match as Australia suffered their first-ever defeat to the Afghans in a senior international encounter, being dismissed for 127 with four balls left in the match.

“It is a great moment for me, my nation, my people,” said an exultant Gulbadin on receiving the Man of the Match award. “I learned a lot about the pitch from when we batted and I am glad that (captain) Rashid (Khan) had faith in me.”

Earlier, Pat Cummins claimed his second hat-trick in as many matches as Afghanistan lost momentum after another century opening stand from Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, settling for a total of 148 for six having been put in.

A top score of 60 off 49 balls (four fours, four sixes) by Gurbaz and 51 off 48 balls (six fours) from Zadran gave the Afghans an excellent platform of 118 — their third century partnership of the tournament — by the 16th over.

But having ridden their luck via half-chances and misfields in gaining the ascendancy, four wickets for eight runs put the innings back in the balance. Marcus Stoinis made the breakthrough and leg-spinner Adam Zampa applied the brakes with two wickets.

Yet it was Cummins, who claimed a hat-trick against Bangladesh against in Antigua on Thursday, who essentially switched off the Afghanistan innings with the wicket of Rashid Khan at the end of the 18th over before adding Karim Janat and eventual hero Gulbadin at the start of the 20th over.

“It was an off night for us in the field and we own that,” conceded Australian captain Mitchell Marsh. “We knew it was a difficult wicket but both teams bowled on it, both teams batted on it and we were simply outplayed by a better team on the night.”

In reflecting on a historic night for his team, Rashid acknowledged the reward of returning to the opening pair of Gurbaz and Zadran.

“It was important to return to the previous playing eleven after we tried a few different things in the last match against India,” he explained. “We had in our minds that 140 was a good total on this wicket. The belief was there and as a captain, having so many bowling options like Gulbadin makes the job easier.”

With two teams from the group advancing to the semifinals, Australia will now have to win their final match against unbeaten leaders India in St. Lucia on Monday to be assured of a place in the last four.

Afghanistan, also on two points like Australia, will stay in St. Vincent where they face Bangladesh later on Monday by which time they will know what is required to qualify for the semifinals for the first time.

DP World ILT20 franchises retain leading cricket stars for Season 3

Updated 22 June 2024

DP World ILT20 franchises retain leading cricket stars for Season 3

  • Franchises had option of retaining maximum of two UAE players, with no limit on retention of international players.
  • DP World ILT20 Season 3 to begin from Saturday, Jan. 11, 2025, with final to be played on Sunday, Feb. 9

DUBAI: The six DP World International League T20 franchises have retained a total of 69 players for the tournament’s third season, which will be played from Jan. 11 to Feb. 9, 2025 in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

The window for retaining players was opened on June 1 with the teams given two weeks to submit the list of the retained players.

Among the 69 players, 26 players were parts of various ICC men’s T20 World Cup 2024 squads.

The retained players include T20 heavyweights such as Andre Russell, David Willey, Sunil Narine (Abu Dhabi Knight Riders), Alex Hales, Azam Khan, Muhammad Amir, Sherfane Rutherford, Wanindu Hasaranga (Desert Vipers), Dasun Shanaka, David Warner, Rovman Powell, Sam Billings, Sikandar Raza (Dubai Capitals), Chris Jordan, James Vince, Shimron Hetmyer (Gulf Giants), Akeal Hosein, Dwayne Bravo, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, (MI Emirates), Johnson Charles and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Sharjah Warriors).

Each of the six franchises have retained two UAE players each.

The UAE players retained for Season 3 include Aditya Shetty and Alishan Sharafu (Abu Dhabi Knight Riders), Ali Naseer and Tanish Suri (Desert Vipers), Haider Ali and Raja Akif (Dubai Capitals), Aayan Afzal Khan and Mohammad Zohaib Zubair (Gulf Giants), Muhammad Rohid Khan and Muhammad Waseem (MI Emirates), Junaid Siddique and Muhammad Jawadullah (Sharjah Warriors).

Following the completion of the players' retention window, the teams can now sign new players in the player acquisition window, which will stay open till Sept. 15.

Each franchise can sign a minimum two additional UAE players to complete their quota of four UAE signings after the completion of the ILT20 development tournament, which will be held in October.

Retained players for DP World ILT20 Season 3:

Abu Dhabi Knight Riders: Aditya Shetty, Ali Khan, Alishan Sharafu, Andre Russell, Andries Ghous, Charith Asalanka, David Willey, Joe Clarke, Laurie Evans, Michael Pepper and Sunil Narine.

Desert Vipers: Adam Hose, Alex Hales, Ali Naseer, Azam Khan, Bas de Leede, Luke Wood, Michael Jones, Muhammad Amir, Nathan Sowter, Sherfane Rutherford, Tanish Suri and Wanindu Hasaranga.

Dubai Capitals: Dasun Shanaka, David Warner, Dushmantha Chameera, Haider Ali, Raja Akif, Rovman Powell, Sam Billings, Sikandar Raza, Zahir Khan, Jake Fraser McGurk and Oliver Stone.

Gulf Giants: Aayan Afzal Khan, Blessing Muzarabani, Chris Jordan, Dipendra Singh Airee, Gerhard Erasmus, Jamie Overton, James Vince, Jamie Smith, Jordan Cox, Mohammad Zohaib Zubair, Rehan Ahmed, Richard Gleeson and Shimron Hetmyer.

MI Emirates: Akeal Hosein, Andre Fletcher, Daniel Mousley, Dwayne Bravo, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Jordan Thompson, Kieron Pollard, Kusal Perera, Muhammad Rohid Khan, Muhammad Waseem, Nicholas Pooran, Nosthush Kenjige, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth and Waqar Salamkheil.

Sharjah Warriors: Dilshan Madushanka, Johnson Charles, Junaid Siddique, Muhamad Jawadullah, Kusal Mendis, Luke Wells, Peter Hatzoglou and Tom Kohler-Cadmore.