West Indies choose to bowl v India
Kieron Pollard called correctly at the toss in Thiruvananthapuram to give his side a shot at chasing down a total with possible dew to contend with when India bowl in the night. The visitors made one change to the XI that lost the first game, bringing in Nicholas Pooran to replace Denesh Ramdin.
Expecting some turn from a surface “drier” than the usual Trivandrum one, India stuck with their spinners, making no change to their XI. It meant disappointment for the capacity crowd who were hoping their local player Sanju Samson might make his international comeback.
India 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli (capt.), 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Shivam Dube, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Washington Sundar, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
West Indies 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Evin Lewis, 3 Brandon King, 4 Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 6 Kieron Pollard (capt.), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Khary Pierre, 9 Kesrick Williams, 10 Sheldon Cottrell, 11 Hayden Walsh
Bypassed for meeting with Imran Khan, Ehsan Mani summons Misbah-ul-Haq and Azhar Ali
Unhappy at Misbah-ul-Haq and Azhar Ali‘s attempts to bypass the PCB hierarchy in meeting with Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan – also patron of the PCB – to discuss their reservations about the current domestic structure, board chairman Ehsan Mani has summoned the two for a meeting next week.
The new domestic structure, in which there are six regional teams and no departmental sides, was implemented last season, effectively under direct orders from Imran. Ultimately, Misbah and Ali – alongside Mohammad Hafeez – were joined by Mani and PCB CEO Wasim Khan in the meeting with Imran on Thursday. There, Imran insisted on pushing ahead with the structure as it stands, one that he has long been an advocate of.
But the meeting was an awkward one, not least because two of the highest-profile figures PCB employs – the head coach and selector and Test captain – were seemingly at odds with the two highest up the chain: Mani and Wasim. And the chairman and CEO were not happy with how they had been bypassed and Imran approached directly by Misbah and the players.
“The players know the structure has changed, as per the PM’s wishes,” a participant in the meeting told ESPNcricinfo. “The PCB implements that but then its employees decide it’s a good idea to go to the PM to challenge his decision and a structure their employers have implemented.”
“Every system needs to be given at least two to three years. The results will start coming in a year or so from now. If the prime minister thinks that this system will develop world-class players then we must back it for a year or the next 18 months at least. We shouldn’t rush for results, Pakistan is seven decades old, everything needs time and this system also needs time and our backing”
Misbah, Ali and Hafeez are not alone in their concerns, which, broadly, centre around the financial hit a lot of players have taken, as well as a drastic shrinking of the overall pool of domestic first-class players. Departments historically provided financial security to players not only during their playing days, but beyond, though it is also true that the number of active departments on the circuit has shrunk over the years.
The new structure, of six regional teams, has seen the number of active first-class players reduce from over 300 to 192. At the higher levels, players have seen their earnings drop too (as well as miss out on other employee perks departments offered) – although this season the PCB has enhanced pay scales across the board. The new structure has also added a weighty new cost burden on the PCB, which now pays the monthly salaries of all first-class cricketers. In the past, by dint of paying players’ salaries, departments picked up a considerable portion of that bill.
The new structure did have one high-profile endorsement, however. On the same day as the meeting, Shahid Afridi called for more patience with the set-up. “I don’t think there is unemployment at large with the end of departmental cricket, most of the sidelined players didn’t have a future in the game or were past their prime as players and nearing retirement,” Afridi said.
“Every system needs to be given at least two to three years. The results will start coming in a year or so from now. If the prime minister thinks that this system will develop world-class players then we must back it for a year or the next 18 months at least. We shouldn’t rush for results, Pakistan is seven decades old, everything needs time and this system also needs time and our backing.”
It is unlikely that any formal action will be taken against Misbah and Ali (Hafeez is not a centrally contracted player) beyond the meeting, but they are expected to be told in no uncertain terms that there cannot be such a situation again in the future.
IPL 2020 – Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming says it’s like every game is like an away game
Adaptability, picking the right personnel and reading pitches correctly in the absence of home ground advantage will be key to success at IPL 2020, according to the Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming.
“This season is going to be very different tactically,” Fleming told the Super Kings website. “With no real home ground advantage here, we’ve got to be very good at adapting to the conditions in each ground. We’ve got three different grounds (Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi) to assess and each ground has its own character and nuances, and we’ve just got to be good enough to pick the right team and get the right game plan to match that. It’s like every game is an away game.”
Apart from not having been able to train in Abu Dhabi – the venue of their tournament opener against the Mumbai Indians on Saturday – a lot of the Super Kings’ first-choice players – including Shane Watson, MS Dhoni , Ambati Rayudu and Deepak Chahar- have been away from the game longer than some others. Add to it the challenges of playing in Abu Dhabi without having seen the wicket or assessed the conditions – something Mumbai have had the chance to do because they’re based there.
“It’s one of the challenges of having to travel to Abu Dhabi – we’ve got to have to be very good on the day to have to assess the wicket and pick the right combination,” Fleming said. “One of the big challenges for IPL teams is to get the combinations right.
“There are a lot of skillful players that make the side, but there are also a lot of skillful players that don’t. Picking the right side for the right conditions is one of the great challenges and we’ve got a good record at that. But I must admit, going to Abu Dhabi without seeing the wicket or assessing the conditions is going to be one of the big challenges to start with.”
That said, Fleming also believes the Super Kings will be able to cover up for the lack of match time by their combined wealth of experience. For the record, Mumbai have come up trumps in the last two meetings between the sides. “We’ve got experienced players, and experienced players identify key times and that’s why they’ve done so well in their careers – that they can turn games, absorb pressure or just sum out the situation. That’s what experience is about and that’s why we value it so highly.
“And that’s why we’ve been able to get over the line in so many close games because the key player has been one with a lot of experience. And you also mix that with skill. You are conscious of having a skillful side and adding youth when we can and with that get the balance pretty right.”
The lead-up to the Super Kings’ campaign has been chaotic. Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh opted out of the season for different reasons while two players – Ruturaj Gaikwad and Deepak Chahar – along with a number of support staff members tested positive. Among all teams, the Super Kings have trained the least in the UAE, having only been able to begin on September 6 after extended quarantine periods. But Fleming doesn’t think this will be a disadvantage.
“It has been different, and that’s been part of the challenge – understanding the unknown,” Fleming said of their build-up. “We didn’t get off to a great start, with some positive Covid-19 cases, but I think we dealt with it very well.
“We were calm around our approach, looked after the players and staff very well, and the rest of the players were calm in the hotel room. There was a bit of anxiety wanting to get out and train. It is what it is, and the players dealt with it very well. On hindsight, the amount of pre-season training that we’ve done up to now, and the extra few days in the room, was probably a blessing.”
Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma, the Mumbai captain, doesn’t believe the past will have any bearing on how his team will perform in this year’s IPL though they had lost each of their five games in the UAE in 2014, the last time the tournament was played in the country.
“We didn’t have a great experience last time yes, but it’s a different team now,” Rohit said at the pre-tournament press conference on Thursday. “The thought process is different. Six years is a lot of time. Like I said, it’s about understanding pitches and conditions, that is crucial so we are putting a lot of emphasis on that.
“Eventually the pitches will play a big part, so understanding and adapting quickly is important. But yes, the past won’t play any part – it was just myself, Kieron Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah from that team. I think Bumrah played just one game. So the team is different, the staff is different [and] thought process is different. Looking forward to a great IPL.”
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