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No answer to India-Pakistan bilateral ties resumption – Ganguly

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Sourav Ganguly, who will take charge as BCCI’s next president on October 23, has said that resumption of bilateral cricket with Pakistan is subject to the permission of the Indian government. Ganguly said that the decision could only be taken by the prime ministers of the two countries: Narendra Modi and Imran Khan, who also happens to be the patron of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

“You have to ask that question to Modi ji and the Pakistan Prime Minister,” Ganguly said at a media briefing in Kolkata on Tuesday. “Of course we have (to take permission), because international exposure (tours) is all through governments. So we don’t have an answer to that question.”

Ganguly had led India on the historic tour of Pakistan in 2004, the first bilateral series since the Kargil war in 1999 and India’s first visit to Pakistan since 1989.

The last time both neighbours featured in a bilateral series was in late 2012, when India hosted Pakistan for a limited-overs series comprising two T20Is and three ODIs.

In February, the BCCI asked the ICC in an e-mail letter “to sever ties with countries from which terrorism emanates”. That letter was sent at the behest of the three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), which was appointed as the supervisory authority of the board till fresh elections were held. The previous day the CoA had mulled over asking the ICC to boycott Pakistan from the World Cup.

At the time the BCCI and CoA were reacting to the terror strikes in Pulwama in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in which more than 40 paramilitary troops were killed.



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‘Bloody Warner’ inspired Ben Stokes to Headingley miracle

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Ben Stokes says that the extraordinary unbeaten hundred with which he carried England to a one-wicket win over Australia at Headingley this summer was inspired by David Warner’s incessant goading from the slip cordon.

In a new book, On Fire, which chronicles his remarkable performances throughout the 2019 season, Stokes recalls how Warner set out to distract him during his unbeaten 135 in the third Test, particularly in the early part of the innings on the third evening of the match, when his only objective was to reach stumps with his wicket intact.

With England 1-0 down in the series after their opening defeat at Edgbaston, their hopes of regaining the Ashes appeared to be over when they were bowled out for 67 in their first innings at Headingley, before eventually being set a target of 359 to square the series with two to play.

And after arriving at the crease in the final hour of the third day, Stokes ground his way to the close on 2 not out from 50 balls in partnership with Joe Root, as England sought to keep their hopes alive.

In a book extract published in the Daily Mirror, Stokes noted how Warner had given the impression of being a reformed character after completing his year-long ban for ball-tampering.

However, with Warner in the midst of a terrible run of form that would result in him making 95 runs in ten innings, the lowest return by any opener in a five-Test series, Stokes also suggested that he had reverted to type in a bid to bring out the best in himself.

“I had extra personal motivation due to some things that were said to me out on the field on the evening of day three when I was trying to get through to stumps,” Stokes wrote. “A few of the Aussies were being quite chirpy, but in particular David Warner seemed to have his heart set on disrupting me.

“He just wouldn’t shut up for most of my time out there. I could accept it from just about any other opponent. Truly. Not from him, though.

“The changed man he was adamant he’d become, the one that hardly said boo to a goose and even went as far as claiming he had been re-nicknamed ‘Humble’ by his Australia teammates, had disappeared. Maybe his lack of form in his new guise had persuaded him that he needed to get the bull back?”

Warner’s solitary Ashes half-century came in the first innings at Headingley, but second-time around, he was trapped lbw by Stuart Broad for a second-ball duck, one of a record-equalling seven dismissals by Broad in the course of the series.

“Although he’d enjoyed a prolific World Cup campaign, he had struggled with the bat at the start of the Ashes and was perhaps turning to his old ways to try to get the best out of himself,” Stokes wrote. “The nice-guy act had done nothing for his runs column.

“I muttered ‘Bloody Warner’ a few times as I was getting changed. The more time passed, the more it spurred me on. All kinds of ideas of what I might say to him at the end of the game went through my head. In the end, I vowed to do nothing other than shake his hand and say ‘Well done’ if I could manufacture the situation.

“You always shake the hands of every member of the opposing team at the end of a match. But this one would give me the greatest sense of satisfaction.”

Stokes went on to square the series in remarkable fashion, adding 76 runs for England’s tenth wicket with Jack Leach, who finished on 1 not out. Australia then won the subsequent Test at Old Trafford to retain the Ashes, but England’s win in the final Test at The Oval ensured the first drawn Ashes series since 1972.



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How the toss is swaying fortunes in T10 cricket (or not?)

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The toss is one of cricket’s many, many nuances. That one flip of the coin that, for club cricketers, goes a long way to determining the happiness of a weekend forfeited to chasing leather around a field. For the professionals, it has the potential to decide the outcome of a match, potentially a series.

As is the case with most of cricket’s quirks, there are layers to this act; the fall of a coin carrying so much weight in the outcome of a sport otherwise defined by fine margins, sure, but the majority of which are without such a reliance on good fortune.

Luck is, of course, something that touches all sport but it is rarely as tangible as it is in cricket.

It can be a look up at the clouds in Headingley, a pre-empted prayer to the cricketing gods that you bat first in Adelaide or send shivers down a side asked to bat last in a Test match in Galle. And T10 is no different to its cricketing forefathers. There is a clear formula: win the toss, put the opposition in. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Across 47 completed matches of T10 cricket in a nudge over two years of its existence, only five captains have won the toss and elected to bat. There were four such instances in 2017, just one in 2018 and none so far from six matches across the first two days in Abu Dhabi.

Shane Watson, the captain of Deccan Gladiators who has played in the past two editions as well, explained it as such after losing their opener on Friday having been asked to bat first: “In T10 you don’t really know how many is enough…but there’s no question that when you’re chasing, knowing you’ve got 10 overs and 10 wickets in hand, I don’t know the statistics exactly but I remember last year that most teams that batted second found it easier chasing.”

Indeed they did. In fact, only 13 teams have gone on to win after being told to strap on their pads by their opponents, a figure that equates to a win percentage of 27.6% of all T10 matches. Without knowing that figure, Delhi Bulls captain Eoin Morgan suggested on the first day that there is “probably a small percentage advantage” in chasing but should you “hold your nerve and execute well, it shouldn’t really matter.”

As Morgan’s side became just the 12th team to lose batting second, the 33-year-old’s words from the previous day certainly rang true. Even more so by the time Darren Sammy‘s Northern Warriors made it 13 sides with defeats chasing, the reigning champions feebly falling to Qalandars with the lowest total in T10 history and only the second team to be bowled out in 10 overs with their 46 all-out in a 66-run defeat.

As for Watson, less than 24 hours after defeat to Morgan’s Bulls, he was calling correctly earlier in the day and had no hesitation in putting the Bangla Tigers into bat. The result? A six-wicket win.

“If you lose the toss, you don’t want to feel like you’re out of the game,” Watson said after his side got their first points of the season. “There’s no doubt from a mentality point of view, to know how many you’ve got to get and there’s only 10 overs, it’s definitely an advantage but that’s not to say you can’t set a really good total and then it’s just too many for the opposition to chase.”

The Australian’s counterpart in the Tigers dugout, Thisara Perera, agreed that “every team likes to chase” but insisted that the toss is not at the forefront of his side’s mind despite its continued influence in T10.

Even accounting for the Warriors making it two defeats from three for sides batting second on day two, the win percentage remains at 70.2% in favour of teams chasing. And with seemingly no captain in a hurry to set a target after winning the toss, they clearly see the value in coming out on the right side of things at the start of play.

The wins for Qalandars and Deccan Gladiators prove that it is far too simplistic to suggest that a won toss is a won match, but the formulaic actions of the captains in the middle, plus the numbers that indicate an advantage for sides chasing, should be enough for the league to ponder its trend.

Is T10 too predictable? Should the toss be optional like it is in the County Championship? Perhaps who bats first and second should be pre-determined in the scheduling?

The longer T10 remains repetitive, the more pressing the answers to these questions will become.



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Recent Match Report – Cricket Australia XI vs Pakistanis Tour Match 2019

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Pakistanis 7 for 386 dec (Shafiq 101*, Masood 76, Azam 63, Pope 5-100) drew with Cricket Australia XI 7 for 246 (Merlo 78, Spoors 58, Hope 50*, Abbas 2-22)

Pakistan head into the first Test in Brisbane having only claimed seven wickets against an inexperienced Cricket Australia XI in their final two-day tour match in Perth which ended in a draw.

Just four days after bowling out some of Australia’s leading first-class players for just 122 at Perth Stadium, the bowlers struggled to make significant inroads against a very young CA XI batting line-up in 40 plus degree heat on a flat WACA surface. CA XI did slump to 2 for 6 early but half-centuries to Victorian Jonathan Merlo and West Australians Matthew Spoors and Bradley Hope ensured the youngsters survived 79.5 overs before the players shook hands. Merlo and Spoors put on 122 in nearly a session and a half of batting while Hope finished unbeaten on 50.

Back after missing the Australia A game, Mohammad Abbas bowled with typical frugalness taking 2 for 22 from 14 overs, including CA XI’s most credentialed player Jake Doran. Muhammad Musa also bowled tidily claiming 2 for 32 from 14 overs.

But after Naseem Shah created a flurry of excitement with his burst against Australia A, he found the going much tougher at the WACA. He went wicketless in 12 overs and conceded 58 runs to be Pakistan’s most expensive bowler in terms of economy rate. Spinners Kashif Bhatti, Yasir Shah and Iftikhar Ahmed each claimed a wicket but unsurprisingly did not find much purchase on the day two WACA strip.

Imran Khan and Shaheen Shah Afridi did not bowl after their strong performances against Australia A.



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