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Shahid Afridi to return to Pakistan from Lanka Premier League for ‘personal emergency’

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A little over a week after he arrived in Sri Lanka to play in the Lanka Premier League, Shahid Afridi will leave to attend to a “personal emergency” in Pakistan. Afridi did not give details on how long he would be away for, but he did say he would return to his Galle Gladiators franchise “after the situation is handled”.

Elsewhere at the LPL, fast bowler Aftab Alam has also returned to Afghanistan for personal reasons.

If Afridi does come back, he may have to undergo a brief quarantine upon his return, but the tournament’s medical staff are unlikely to impose the seven-day quarantine they had on other players, as Afridi has proven he has already had Covid-19, and as such, is unlikely to contract or transmit the disease. He had initially arrived in Sri Lanka on November 24, but was allowed to take the field and play on November 27, after a test showed he had antibodies for Covid-19.

His exit, though, leaves his team without its captain, after a poor start to the LPL. Gladiators are the only side in the tournament yet to record a victory. Vice-captain Bhanuka Rajapaksa is most likely to take the reins from Afridi.

Alam’s exit will hurt his franchise – Dambulla Viiking – as well, with Alam having performed creditably on his only outing for Viiking, on Monday. The Viiking team has won two of their three matches so far, however.

The LPL runs until December 16.



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BBL 2020-21 – How a call from Brian Lara helped spark Andre Fletcher to life in the BBL

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Fletcher is weighing up whether to stay with the Melbourne Stars or head to the Abu Dhabi T10 League

A phone call from Brian Lara was the catalyst for Andre Fletcher to burst out of his BBL form slump, but he revealed he may not be available for the finals if the Melbourne Stars progress that far as they also prepare for life without Haris Rauf.

Rauf was named in the Pakistan Test squad for a two-Test of South Africa starting on January 26 and left Melbourne today after bowling just one over in the Stars’ thumping win over the Adelaide Strikers at the MCG.

Fletcher also said he may not see the tournament out. He has signed to play in the Abu Dhabi T10 League for the Bangla Tigers, with the 10-day tournament starting on January 28, two days after the Stars’ last home and away game and a day prior to the BBL eliminator. The BBL finals run from January 28 to February 6. The Stars have already released Ben Dunk from his contract and he is listed to play for the Qalandars in the T10 competition, which is also his PSL franchise.



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Ban vs WI – Shakib Al Hasan named in Bangladesh squad for West Indies ODIs

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2020 Under-19 World Cup star Shoriful Islam has been included in the 18-man party

Shakib Al Hasan is back in the Bangladesh squad, which includes newcomers Shoriful Islam and Hasan Mahmud, as well as Mahedi Hasan, for the three-ODI series at home against West Indies starting next week in Dhaka.

Also in the 18-man party are Soumya Sarkar, Taskin Ahmed and Rubel Hossain. Former captain Mashrafe Mortaza, who was left out of the 24-man training group earlier this month, as well as Al-Amin Hossain, Shafiul Islam and Mohammad Naim are among the prominent names missing.

When Shakib was named in the 24-man preliminary squad for the series, it marked his comeback to the national frame after serving a one-year ban for not reporting a corrupt approach. Shakib was Bangladesh’s Test and T20I captain before his ban, but has returned as an ordinary member of the side.

Islam is a left-arm quick who was one of the star performers in Bangladesh’s Under-19 World Cup triumph last year. Mahmud is a fast bowler who broke into Bangladesh’s T20I side last year, while offspin-bowling allrounder Hasan has played T20Is before. All three also did well in the Bangabandhu T20 Cup recently.

“Whether they play or not, we want them to adjust in the dressing room quickly. Hasan Mahmud and Mahedi Hasan have played for Bangladesh, but Shoriful is the total newcomer. We want to give them the experience, since we believe they are our future”

Habibul Bashar, Bangladesh selector

Selector Habibul Bashar hoped Shakib’s return would add the balance to the XI that had been missing for a while. “Shakib makes it easier to make an XI,” Bashar said. “Shakib and Mushfiqur [Rahim] are our genuine allrounders, which many teams don’t have. We can always play with an extra bowler or batsman when we have these two players in the side. Shakib’s inclusion is going to help the team’s balance. He wasn’t around for a long time but I am hope he can return to his old form through this series.”

Bashar wanted the three new players to get comfortable with the dressing-room atmosphere, given that they are being considered as future prospects. “They have been performing well, and they are definitely our future prospects,” he said. “Whether they play or not, we want them to adjust in the dressing room quickly. Hasan Mahmud and Mahedi Hasan have played for Bangladesh, but Shoriful is the total newcomer. We want to give them the experience, since we believe they are our future.”

Taskin and Rubel, who had been regulars even two years ago, found themselves out of favour in the last 12 months, but during the pandemic, they have worked hard on their fitness, and according to Bashar, it has been showing in their pace and swing. “They have been bowling quicker recently. Rubel is looking very good, and he has been swinging the ball too.”

As for Naim’s axing, Bashar explained that it was the return of Tamim Iqbal, the captain, that had worked against the younger player. “Tamim has returned so we already have a number of openers. But Naim is always going to be in our plans, and not far from the main squad.”

Bangladesh ODI squad: Tamim Iqbal (capt), Shakib Al Hasan, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Afif Hossain, Soumya Sarkar, Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hossain, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Mehidy Hassan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mahedi Hasan, Hasan Mahmud, Shoriful Islam

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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Recent Match Report – Scorchers vs Sixers 41st Match 2020

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Livingstone heroics went in vain as Sixers cement hold on top spot

Sydney Sixers 3 for 164 (Philippe 84, Behrendorff 1-19) beat Perth Scorchers 7 for 163 (Livingstone 67, Christian 2-22, Brathwaite 2-12) by seven wickets

Josh Philippe may well have secured a trip to New Zealand with Australia’s T20 side after producing yet another dazzling display with the bat to entrench Sydney Sixers in top spot on the BBL table with a comfortable win over Perth Scorchers.

Philippe, the tournament’s leading runscorer, made light work of what could have been a tricky chase of 164 showcasing his full array of skills in an innings of 84 from 52 balls. He shared a 106-run stand with James Vince who scored an equally classy 52 from just 35 as the Sixers cruised to victory by seven wickets with seven balls to spare.

The Scorchers only have themselves to blame after inviting the Sixers back into the game. At the 10-over mark of the first innings, they were for 1 for 103 having won the toss and batted first. Liam Livingstone lit up Manuka Oval with some phenomenal striking, launching six balls into the stands in a blistering 38-ball 67. But they boldly took the Power Surge in the 11th over and Livingstone holed out first ball to spark a stunning collapse. They lost 6 for 60 in the last 10 overs with Dan Christian, Carlos Brathwaite, and Jake Ball strangling the Scorchers middle order taking two wickets each.

The Sixers moved nine points clear on top of the BBL table, while the Scorchers remain in third thanks to the Bash Boost point.

Living dangerously

Livingstone was dropped first ball in the last game against the Hobart Hurricanes and made them pay with a half-century. He was dropped fifth ball off Steve O’Keefe and made the Sixers pay a heavy price. It was a straightforward chance at mid-off which Daniel Hughes made a mess of.

The Scorchers scored just nine runs off the first two overs before Livingstone teed off. Jackson Bird’s line and length was treated with disdain as he clubbed two fours a six in one over. O’Keefe then suffered the ignominy of conceding the most runs in an over in this BBL season. Livingstone plundered 26 off the bat, including three sixes, two of which were struck one-handed down the ground, while O’Keefe delivered a wide as well. The Scorchers took 53 off the powerplay and kept rolling.

Livingstone brought up his half-century in the seventh over off just 29 balls with his fifth six. Even the loss of Jason Roy didn’t slow him down as he cleared the rope for a sixth time. The Scorchers were 1 for 103 after 10 overs but incredibly, Dan Christian bowled the eighth and 10th over and conceded just 10 runs while picking up Roy.

Power Failure

The Scorchers took the Power Surge immediately and it triggered a collapse as they lost 4 for 18 in four overs. Livingstone later blamed himself after chipping the first ball from Jake Ball to mid-off, and Ashton Turner holed out later in the over. They managed to score just 9 runs from the Surge with Ball and Christian tying them down with some excellent yorkers and slower balls. Colin Munro watched his teammates come and go and struggled for fluency against some clever bowling and fell to Carlos Brathwaite for 34 off 32. The Scorchers scored just 60 off the last 10 overs and lost six wickets.

Philippe fires

Philippe continued his outstanding form on a day when Australian T20 captain Aaron Finch suggested he was being looked at closely for national duties. He got off the mark with a streaky outside edge past slip but was flawless thereafter, feasting on Andrew Tye in the third over taxing three overpitched deliveries in a row. The chase stalled a touch when Philippe and Vince didn’t score a boundary for four overs after Justin Avendano fell to Jason Behrendorff in the midst of a tidy spell from the left-armer. But Tye returned and Philippe pumped him through midwicket to bring up a very comfortable half-century off 31 balls.

He then stepped on the accelerator and Vince went with him. The pair struck six fours and two sixes in 30 balls without taking the Power Surge. They called for the Surge in the 16th over and brought up a century stand and Vince’s half-century in the same over. They couldn’t finish the game off themselves. Philippe was hit in the helmet trying to pull a slower ball bouncer off Jhye Richardson and lost his middle stump next ball trying to paddle scoop fine. Vince played all around a leg break from Fawad Ahmed in the next over but Hughes and Christian scored the last 16 runs without error.

Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne



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