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Delhi’s Dhruv Shorey impresses, but can’t stop Gujarat from making Vijay Hazare semis

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Dhruv Shorey‘s career has been full of paradoxes. When he plays first-class cricket, his attractive strokeplay makes you think he will be better suited for 50-over cricket. When he bats in one-dayers, you wonder he’s probably going a tad slower. A List-A strike rate of 73 backs that observation.

Shorey is supposed to be a mainstay of Delhi’s batting. He has a more than decent first-class record but averages in the low 30s in List A cricket with just one hundred from 42 games.

At 27, Shorey’s career is yet to fully take off. Still he finds himself leading Delhi in the 2019-20 Vijay Hazare Trophy, and on Sunday, in the middle with his side at 17 for 2 against a rampant Gujarat in the second quarterfinal. What does Shorey do? He dodges almost all the paradoxes to produce a near masterclass.

Chintan Gaja had just dismissed Delhi openers Shikhar Dhawan and Anuj Rawat, while Roosh Kalaria had kept things quiet from the other end. But Shorey not only stabilised the innings – along with Nitish Rana – but also accelerated towards the end to finish with a 109-ball 91.

But just like his career, this innings too proved to be a paradox. He played a captain’s knock but failed to take his side to a winning total. In the end, Delhi were all out for 223 in 49 overs, and Gujarat chased the VJD-adjusted target of 225 in 37.5 overs with six wickets in hand.

Earlier, Dhawan’s lean run with the bat continued. After failing to open his account in the first six balls, he skipped down the track to Gaja only to chip it towards short extra cover. But the fielder there spilled the straightforward chance, the sort of thing you hope for as an out-of-form batsman. But Dhawan failed to take any advantage of that. He sashayed down once again on the next ball, only to splice it towards mid-off this time. Piyush Chawla made no mistake. Four overs later, Rawat tried to do a similar thing and was taken at cover.

With the side in trouble, Shorey and Rana decided to bid their time on a two-paced wicket. The team fifty came in the 14th over, and it took Delhi another 14 overs to reach the hundred-run mark.

But Shorey batted with a calm demeanour, hitting mostly along the ground and reached his fifty in 67 balls. At the other end, Rana smashed two fours in one Arzan Nagwaswalla over but mostly found it difficult to get the ball off the square. Despite Rana’s struggles, the two had added 90 for the third wicket in 129 balls.

It was once again Gaja who provided his side with a wicket. In an attempt to provide momentum to the innings, Rana ended up flicking one straight to short fine leg and was dismissed for 33 off 61.

Shorey had moved to 77 off 98 without much fuss before he decided to take on Axar Patel. Using his feet, he lofted the left-arm spinner over wide long-off. Three balls later, when Axar pitched on short, Shorey got down on one knee to sweep-pull it for another six over fine leg. Suddenly, he was on 90 off 102 balls.

With Himmat Singh for company, Shorey took Delhi to 150 in the 37th over, with the last 50 runs coming at almost run a ball. The platform was set, the hundred was there for the taking but then the paradox struck again. Or maybe it was just the nervous nineties. After all, last season he was dismissed thrice in the 90s in first-class cricket.

Shorey had looked to play in the ‘V’ until then. But in the 38th over, while trying to steer Nagwaswalla towards third man, he ended up edging one to Parthiv Patel. Another unfulfilled promise as Shorey admitted after the match.

“I should have stayed there till the end,” Shorey said. “Initially the wicket was doing a bit but after I got settled, it appeared a very good wicket to bat on. But the way I got out, or Nitish got out, it was a little disappointing. Maybe on this wicket, we could have gone on till the 45th over to pace our innings as anything around 270-280 or 300 would have been a good total.”

A brief shower in the 40th over further disrupted Delhi’s momentum and when the teams returned – with the match reduced to 49 overs per side – the lower-order batsmen couldn’t do much against Chawla’s guile.

Parthiv and Priyank Panchal then got Gujarat off to a quick start, with the former happily feasting on the buffet of short balls served by the Delhi seamers. Delhi’s fielding didn’t help their cause either. Panchal was on 28 when Rana dropped a sitter at mid-on, while wicketkeeper Rawat failed to grab an inside edge off Parthiv with the batsman on 57.

The two added 150 in just 23.1 overs to make light work of the chase. Though Delhi struck back, by then there were not enough runs left to make a match out of it. Only if Shorey had stayed in there for a little longer, but that’s how his career has been so far.



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Coronavirus newsfile: Cricket Ireland receives provisional approval to start limited club training

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June 6

Cricket Ireland has received provisional approval from sports and health authorities for club cricket to move a step closer to limited training in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

However, restarting activity at club level is dependent on when the Irish government and the Northern Ireland Executive plan their next phase of reopening, according to a release, and that the clubs undertake pre-opening protocol compliance measures. The board had made its submission to both the governments on May 22 seeking approval to restart activity.

“This means that Provincial Unions and clubs can actively progress their COVID-19 safety preparation work in anticipation of each Government’s progression to Phase 2 / Step 2 of respective roadmaps to reopening,” a board release said.

In the first stage, Cricket Ireland will make “information packs” and resources available to all clubs across the country starting next week which will include checklists and advice regarding training practices that comply with social distancing and health protocols. “Our priority from the outset was to take a safety-first approach – to ensure the health of players, coaches, volunteers and families,” Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland CEO, said.

“With this in mind, it’s important that we remind our club and grassroots family that the 20km radius rule still applies to club cricketers, and that the ability to restart training depends upon being able to comply with the protocols. We fully understand that it won’t feel like normal, and there will be more work than usual to implement and properly monitor hygiene protocols and social distancing, but we are sure everyone recognises their role in controlling the spread of the virus and protecting the vulnerable in our community.

“There will undoubtedly be some details still to resolve during implementation, but we will provide advice on issues as they arise. If we work together on meeting these protocols, then we can begin to look towards an eventual resumption of competitive matches later in the roadmap – a scenario that seemed very distant to many just a few weeks ago.”



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Anju Jain, Devika Palshikar to take charge of Baroda women

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Former India captain Anju Jain and allrounder Devika Palshikar have been appointed on the Baroda women’s coaching staff after their contracts as the head coach and the assistant coach of the Bangladesh women’s team expired in early March following the Women’s T20 World Cup. While Jain will be in charge of batting and wicketkeeping at Baroda, Palshikar will be looking after the bowling and fielding departments.

ESPNcricinfo understands the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) had formally approached Jain and Palshikar last month after non-communication on the part of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) left the Indian pair without any clarity on their future with Bangladesh. The BCA finalised both appointments at its apex council meeting on Tuesday, where the decision to remove Atul Bedade as the head coach was also taken, “considering the sensitivity” of the sexual-harassment allegations levelled at him by the players which had led to his suspension in March.

“It was a [conscious] decision by the Association and the management to bring in female coaches in Anju Jain and Devika Palshikar for the women’s team of Baroda,” Rajkuvardevi Gaekwad, the Baroda women’s selection committee chief, told ESPNcricinfo. “Besides, we had been trying to rope in Anju for the past three years and were on the verge of finalising our talks with Devika in 2018, when the evening before she was due to hear from us, the BCB confirmed her appointment, so our plans never worked out. This time they did, and we are happy that we could get such vastly experienced coaches as Anju and Devika on board for specific disciplines.”

Under Jain and Palshikar, Bangladesh lifted their maiden multi-team title, in June 2018, by defeating heavyweights India at the Women’s Asia Cup final in Kuala Lumpur. However, they failed to win any matches in the T20 World Cups in 2018 and 2020. The coaching staff were due to be part of a review meeting with the BCB officials after the last edition in Australia but, according to Jain, they have not yet heard from the board.

“Before we – Devika, Kavita Pandya [the trainer], and I – returned to India, we spoke to the BCB CEO [Nizamuddin Chowdhury], who had kindly agreed to hold a meeting with us and other board officials about our performance at the World Cup because we, as the coaching and support staff, needed to address to a few concerns from our side and they, too, needed to have their internal meeting, which sounded fair enough,” Jain said. “But, unfortunately, we never had that meeting nor did we get any clarity from the board [about our future with the Bangladesh team].

“It has, however, been a positive and learning experience working with the players because they have been pretty open to the changes we tried to bring about in training and practice; they have given their best.”

The BCB, meanwhile, is understood to not have been keen on renewing Jain and Pashikar’s contracts although there has been no official announcement from the board yet. The fate of Pandya, too, remains unclear.

“Their contract with the BCB ended in March and had no obligation or commitment with us,” Touhid Mahmood, the women’s wing manager of the board, said. “They didn’t contact us, and we learnt about it (their new job) through the media. Our process of looking for a new coach is in place, but we have been slowed down by the current [Covid-19] pandemic.”

Jain and Palshikar, whose previous coaching stints on the domestic circuit were with Vidarbha and Goa respectively, underlined that their job at Baroda has to start with creating an environment of trust in the wake of the allegations around Bedade.

“I’ve been a firm believer that appointment of coaches — for men’s or women’s teams — has to be based on merit and passion, not gender,” Jain said. “That said, there’s no denying that given it’s unfortunate what’s happened, our work with the Baroda girls would begin with rebuilding the trust there should be between a coach and his or her players because that’s key to any team’s performance.”

Palshikar echoed Jain, adding that their appointments could also offer an evolved perspective on prevailing gender-biases around coaching in India. “I think for a coach as respected as Anju di and my being approached as a unit and coming together [to train a domestic side] after our time with a national team should help administrators and players [in India] look past any debates [inclined towards favouring male coaches] because of the gender factor. Labelling all male coaches as [morally] bad for women’s teams because they are ‘male’ is as unreasonable as labelling women’s coaches as being incapable or inferior to men because of their gender. Prevalent as the latter outlook especially is, both need a re-look into.”

With additional reporting by Mohammad Isam



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Michael Holding: Absence of Bravo, Hetmyer and Paul ‘unfortunate’ for West Indies

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Michael Holding, the broadcaster and former West Indies fast bowler, has said the decisions of Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul to opt out of touring England were “unfortunate”, if understandable because of concerns over the Covid-19 situation in the UK.

Earlier this week, West Indies announced a 25-man party to travel for three rearranged Tests against England next month. CWI had previously given guarantees that players would not be forced to go on the tour if they were not comfortable with the safety provisions being put in place. Johnny Grave, CWI’s chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo that Bravo, Hetmyer and Paul all expressed fears about how going to the UK could adversely affect their families.

Speaking in an interview for his YouTube channel, Holding said that while he would not blame any of the players for making that choice, their talents would be missed as West Indies seek to defend the Wisden Trophy.

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“The West Indies board, before they were even confirming the tour, had told everyone and the entire public that they would not be forcing anyone to go on this tour,” Holding said. “If any player decided they weren’t absolutely sure about going on tour, they weren’t confident of proceedings they could opt out. And these three guys have opted out.

“I think it’s unfortunate as far as West Indies cricket is concerned. I’m not going to tell anyone that they should be going to England because Covid-19 is around, someone may get sick or even worse. But at the same time I think it’s unfortunate for the West Indies team because these guys have quite a bit of talent, and they’ll be missed.”

Holding made special mention of Bravo, who was dropped for West Indies’ one-off Test against Afghanistan in November, and Hetmyer. Both batsmen were members of the side that beat England 2-1 at home in 2018-19.

Bravo, 31, only returned to the international set-up for that series, after more than two years on the sidelines because of a dispute with the board, and Holding has previously described him as “too talented to be left out”.

“I’m sorry that Bravo in particular isn’t going because Bravo, I think, needs to resuscitate his career,” Holding said. “He started off so brilliantly, everybody thought he was going to be another great West Indian batsman. He hasn’t really fulfilled that. I think the more cricket he can play now, especially for West Indies, the better chance he has of getting back on track and showing everyone the great player that he could be.

“Hetmyer, again, I think he’s a very, very talented player. I think people have heard me talk about him in the past. Again, I’m sorry that he’s not going so that he can get more opportunity to express himself. But I ain’t blaming them for not going.”

Ian Bishop, another former West Indies quick turned commentator, echoed the view that declining to tour should not be held against the trio.

“You have to give players the option because it’s a world health crisis,” Bishop told the Trinidad Express. “If a player decides he does not want to take that health risk, you can’t hold it against him in this context. The players know they are taking a risk if someone who replaced them goes on to have great success. That’s a chance you take.”

West Indies are due to depart the Caribbean on Monday, boarding a specially chartered flight to the UK. On arrival, they will go into quarantine for 14 days before beginning their preparations in Manchester. The first Test is scheduled to begin on July 8 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, followed by two matches at Emirates Old Trafford, with the whole series taking just three weeks to complete.

The West Indies squad will remain within a “bio-secure bubble” for the duration of their visit, as part of ECB efforts to ensure international cricket during England’s home window, but Holding suggested the experience shouldn’t be viewed as “too much of a hardship” for the tourists.

“I think it’s good. Everyone has been hoping to get back to live sport, because they’ve been watching a lot of recordings – they want to get back to live sport, and cricket in particular,” he said. “Cricket is a game played over quite a few days, so you can get involved in the game, get distracted from other problems or issues that might be going on in life. So it’s good to see cricket is back.

“I’m not too sure about the confinement. They might be confined in one venue, yes, in a hotel, but I wouldn’t really call that confinement, if you think of what’s been happening around the world with the Covid pandemic, because people have been confined to their apartments, a very, very small area. So being confined to one venue, I don’t think that’s too much of a hardship.”



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