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Match Preview – New Zealand vs Bangladesh, Bangladesh in NZ 2020/21, 1st T20I

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Big Picture

Bangladesh will hope a change of format can bring a change in their fortunes in New Zealand after they were swept 3-0 in the ODIs. The three-match T20I series begins in Hamilton on Sunday afternoon, with the home side likely to present a very new look.

New Zealand will be without their regular captain Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner and Tim Seifert, who have all been rested to prepare for a grueling IPL schedule. But they will have the experienced Tim Southee, who is leading the side in Williamson’s absence, as well as Martin Guptill and Ish Sodhi.

Bangladesh too are in a similar situation now that they are without Tamim Iqbal, who is not available due to personal reasons. Already without Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh’s squad has only Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah as experienced players. They will be hopeful that Mohammad Mithun can continue his good form from the ODI series, while Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar can recover from the lean patch. Bangladesh have the likes of Mohammad Naim, Mosaddek Hossain, Najmul Hossain Shanto and Afif Hossain among the young batsmen who didn’t play the ODIs.

Their bowling has also looked sharp at times, particularly pacer Taskin Ahmed and offspinners Mahedi Hasan and Mehidy Hasan Miraz. But Mustafizur Rahman wasn’t his old self during the ODIs, while Rubel Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin and Hasan Mahmud played only one game each.

Bangladesh, however, will be most worried about their fielding. They dropped five catches in the second and the third ODIs, while looking lackluster at the back-end of both matches.

New Zealand are a much better fielding side by comparison, and with the injection of newcomers, can expect the standard to rise a bit more. Finn Allen is the most exciting of all the youngsters after his productive Super Smash tournament earlier in the season. Fireworks will also be expected from Guptill, Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman, who will be batting in the top five.

Southee will have Hamish Bennett, Lockie Ferguson and Adam Milne in his pace attack. Legspinners Sodhi and Todd Astle will also be wicket-taking options for the home side.

Form guide

(Last five completed matches)

New Zealand WLLWW
Bangladesh WWLLL

In the spotlight

Daryl Mitchell has given a major glimpse into his capabilities with a breathtaking century in the third ODI against Bangladesh. He can be termed as a 360 degree batsman and a bowler who can be relied upon in critical situations.

Taskin Ahmed has been Bangladesh’s most impressive bowler on the tour. He is fitter and tougher, especially mentally, but will need wickets to spruce up his return to the national side.

Team news

Adam Milne and Todd Astle look likely to start the series for New Zealand. Daryl Mitchell could continue on his ODI role in the T20I side as well, particularly after his maiden ODI hundred in the previous innings.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Devon Conway (wk), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Finn Allen, 4 Glenn Phillips, 5 Mark Chapman, 6 Will Young, 7 Daryl Mitchell, 8 Todd Astle, 9 Tim Southee (capt), 10 Ish Sodhi, 11 Adam Milne

Bangladesh may field a similar XI to the ODIs with the addition of Mohammad Naim – who could replace Tamim Iqbal – and Mohammad Saifuddin being the only likely changes.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Liton Das, 2 Mohammad Naim, 3 Soumya Sarkar, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mahmudullah (capt), 6 Mohammad Mithun, 7 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 8 Mahedi Hasan, 9 Mohammad Saifuddin, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

Pitch and conditions

Seddon Park usually dishes out flat batting pitches, with the side batting first averaging 183 in T20I internationals. But during the 2020-21 Super Smash, that figure has come down to around 140. Despite that, mostly dry conditions on Sunday means it is expected to be a big-hitting affair in Hamilton.

Stats and trivia

  • Bangladesh’s lowest total in any format in New Zealand was 78 all out at Seddon Park in 2010.
  • New Zealand newcomer Finn Allen hit 25 sixes in this season’s Super Smash.

Quotes

“We have played a lot of T20 cricket this summer, so the guys know how to chop and change pretty quickly these days. It should be good fun.”
New Zealand allrounder Daryl Mitchell on the quick turnaround between ODIs and T20Is against Bangladesh

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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Covid-19 in Pakistan – PCB approaches Emirates Cricket Board to host remainder of PSL 2021 in the UAE

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The franchises had requested the PCB to shift the games out of Karachi because of the pandemic

The PCB has approached the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) to host the remaining games of the rescheduled 2021 edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in the UAE. The original plan had been to play the matches in Karachi, but the PCB has decided against it following a request from the six franchises as well as advice from the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC), which asked the board to avoid playing in Karachi because of the worsening Covid-19 situation in the country.

Upon the franchises’ request to move the matches out of Pakistan, the PCB met with all the teams via video conference to discuss the financial implications of postponing the tournament. The PCB has agreed to look beyond Karachi, with UAE as a preferred venue for the games. The UAE was where the PSL began, its inaugural edition in 2016 held there while international cricket was not taking place in Pakistan.

Karachi had originally been announced as the venue for the tournament and even till last week, the PCB was proceeding on the basis that tournament would be held there, with the board making arrangements for a hotel. But earlier this week, the PCB met with the NCOC, whose forecast of the Covid situation in Pakistan over the next 20 days wasn’t reassuring. The NCOC informed the PCB there might be a rise in cases post-Eid, and that the government might subsequently enforce a stricter lockdown in the country. Already a nationwide lockdown has begun from today, to be in place until May 15.

“We had an interactive and productive meeting in which we considered a number of factors,” Wasim Khan, the PCB chief executive, said. “While the UAE has emerged as a preferred venue, a number of challenges remain, which will be worked through over the coming days. We remain committed to doing everything possible to complete the HBL PSL 6.”

The tournament was initially slated to start from June, but with the change of venue, the PCB will work on a revised schedule. The window to host the tournament is unlikely to alter too much though, as Pakistan are scheduled to begin a tour of England from June 23. Though the PCB and PSL have both agreed to playing in UAE, a final confirmation will be made only when the franchises give their approval upon seeing the revised opportunity costs of playing abroad.

“The PCB will carry out a detailed financial and risk assessment as well as cost analysis before reporting back to the franchises, who will then review before a decision on the event venue is confirmed,” the PCB said.

As reported by ESPNcricinfo, the franchises had written a letter to the board last week, asking for the tournament to be played in the Emirates.

The 2021 edition of the PSL was suspended after 14 games – played between February 20 and March 3, all in Karachi – following an outbreak of cases among players and support staff. After a date for resumption was finalised – June 2 to June 20 – the franchises took part in a replacement draft to plug holes in their line-ups because a number of overseas players would not be able to take part in the games on the new dates.

The changed situation with the pandemic, however, made franchises nervous about the situation, which led to them approaching the PCB.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has announced a decision to curtail inbound flights to the country from May 5 to May 20.

A move to the UAE would not be without its own logistical and operational issues, though. Flights to the country from Pakistan are currently operating at a severely reduced frequency. And June is not a month in which top-level cricket is often played in the UAE, because of the oppressive heat at that time of the year.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent



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No Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav in India’s squad of 20 for WTC final and England Tests

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There is no room for Hardik Pandya or Kuldeep Yadav in India’s squad of 20 players, including two players – KL Rahul and Wriddhiman Saha – subject to “fitness clearance”, for the final of the World Test Championship against New Zealand and the subsequent five-Test series against England. Pandya and Kuldeep aren’t among the four standby players either.

India will play the WTC final from June 18 to 22 in Southampton and the Test series against England from August 4, starting in Nottingham, to September 14, with the last Test scheduled for Manchester.

Virat Kohli’s side is expected to leave for England on June 2, and keeping in mind the length of the tour as well as possible contingencies because of the Covid-19 pandemic, India are carrying a total of 24 players, their reserves’ list containing Abhimanyu Easwaran, the opening batter, and three fast bowlers: Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan and Arzan Nagwaswalla.

Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja and Hanuma Vihari returned to the squad after missing the recent home Tests against England because of their respective injuries.

Rahul underwent surgery for appendicitis in early May after he complained of “severe abdomen pain” during the IPL. At the time, the doctors were understood to have told the Punjab Kings that Rahul would be able to resume all activity in a week’s time.

Saha, the other player who has to prove his fitness in time for the tour, tested positive for Covid-19 on May 4, the same day the IPL was postponed indefinitely. Saha, who was a part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad, is still in Delhi, where he returned the positive test. It is understood that he will have to undergo 14 days in isolation and be able to move out only after a negative test.

Of the players dropped from the squad that played against England at home earlier this year, Pandya did have a question mark over him since he has not bowled regularly for some time now, with Kohli saying he wanted to preserve Pandya the bowler for the Tests in England. He had a shoulder niggle during the IPL, and didn’t bowl at all in the seven matches he played for the Mumbai Indians. He did, however, bowl a nine-over burst in the third and final ODI against England.

As for Kuldeep, while he has been a part of the India squad recently, he has not had many games. Of his seven Tests, he has played only one in the last two years – the second Test against England in February this year – in which he got to bowl just 12.2 overs overall, returning 0 for 16 and 2 for 25 as India won by 317 runs. He could have also been left out because the two spinners picked ahead of him – Axar Patel and Washington Sundar – provide better batting options and shorten India’s tail.

With Patel making a big splash on Test debut in the England series with a haul of 27 wickets from three games and India mostly preferring one or both of R Ashwin and Jadeja, depending on conditions, Kuldeep’s chances of making the cut took a hit.

Among the opening batters, India have the options of Mayank Agarwal and Rahul, who can also double up as middle-order batters should the need arise, apart from the first-choice pair of Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill. Vihari returned after the hamstring injury he sustained in Sydney and is currently representing Warwickshire in the County Championship in England.

For fast-bowling options, the selectors included Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been facing injury issues recently, apart from the more obvious names of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shami and Mohammed Siraj.

Before the latest Covid-19 surge in India which led to the UK government putting India on the red list in April, the BCCI was looking at picking two separate squads with the first batch meant for the WTC final and the second leaving closer to the England tour. That had to change once the circumstances changed.

In April, the ECB had announced that the Indians would be arriving with an inflated squad and would play two intra-squad practice matches in July. Those two matches replaced the original warm-up schedule of four-day fixtures between the Indians and India A in July. The ECB, in agreement with BCCI, had postponed the India A tour because of the pandemic.

Squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-capt), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul (subject to fitness clearance), Wriddhiman Saha (wk; subject to fitness clearance). Standby players: Abhimanyu Easwaran, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Arzan Nagwaswalla

Shamya Dasgupta is senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs Zimbabwe 2nd Test 2021

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Stumps Pakistan 268 for 4 (Azhar 126, Abid 118*, Muzarabani 3-41) vs Zimbabwe

Centuries from Abid Ali and Azhar Ali put Pakistan in firm command of the second Test at stumps in Harare. The pair combined for a 236-run second wicket partnership – a record at this venue – which spanned nearly the entirety of the day.

Zimbabwe found themselves toiling on a slow pitch, with the ball offering little encouragement for most of the day as the two batters played out near chanceless innings. The arrival of the new ball ensured the hosts would have something to take back with them overnight, with three quickfire strikes from Blessing Muzarabani sending Azhar, Babar Azam and Fawad Alam back before stumps were called. Even so, Pakistan had moved on to 268 for 4 by that time, finishing the day well in control.

The visitors opted to bat after winning the toss, with the most striking bit of news the decision to hand a debut to 36-year old Tabish Khan. The reasons for excluding Faheem Ashraf, entering perhaps the most promising phase of a young Test career, weren’t quite satisfactorily explained, and the omission meant Pakistan’s tail was somewhat extended.

Pakistan might have been keen to ensure they don’t need extra runs from the lower order, and while Azhar and Abid have effectively guaranteed them that, it was Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava who enjoyed the better of the first hour. As they did in the first Test, the pair gave little away by way of scoring opportunities, bogging the two openers down. Imran Butt looked a little indecisive against deliveries around his off stump, with both bowlers working him over as the dot balls began to mount. It was the change of pace that worked though, with Ngarava banging one in short that hustled Butt as he tried to pull over midwicket. No timing on that shot meant he would never clear the man, and Zimbabwe had an early breakthrough.

It wasn’t until the over before drinks in a first hour that Zimbabwe dominated that the shackles began to be broken. Azhar got Donald Tiripano off for a boundary on either side of the wicket to tick the scoreboard over, and from thereon, a touch of sloppiness seeped its way into Zimbabwe’s game. Abid was significantly more circumspect as the former Pakistan captain Azhar taking charge of the scoring, but a loose over from Tendai Chisoro allowed the opener to get a couple of fours away too, and get himself settled.

Pakistan resumed after lunch at a much higher tempo than was the case in the morning, with the hour following the break especially productive. Tiripano, among the brighter lights for Zimbabwe in the first Test, was especially lackadaisical, his lines and lengths wavering constantly as the batters picked up a boundary just about every over. Azhar was especially proficient at creating gaps backward of square and through the midwicket area, while Abid expertly leant on and timed through the covers the full deliveries.

With the ball doing little – and little on offer from the surface – Zimbabwe will be disappointed at not having maintained their disciplines and waited for the batters to make mistakes. The frustration began to show as the session wore on, and that bred even more waywardness on the part of the bowlers.

Zimbabwe managed to convince the umpires to get the ball changed after 53 overs, but that did not herald a change of fortune. If anything, things went from bad to worse as a long-hop from Chisoro was walloped by Abid into short leg, where Roy Kaia was stationed. It caught the side of the left knee, and Kaia was in agony for several minutes before being stretchered off, adding another potential injury to Zimbabwe’s long casualty list.

But none of that fazed the two batters, who continued hour upon hour and session upon session, wholly focused on spending time at the crease and accumulating runs wherever possible. The run rate played cat and mouse with the three runs per over mark for much of the last two sessions, and while that made for slightly tedious viewing at times, the levels of concentration it might have taken to look as assured as the pair did should not go unremarked. Abid needed runs desperately this series to save his spot in the side, while Azhar, whom Pakistan had sacked as captain, continued to remind the selectors his place in the side remains set in stone.

But with both having cruised to their centuries and looking to set themselves up for the following day, Zimbabwe struck back with some class of their own. A triple-strike from Muzarabani restored some respectability to the scorecard from the bowlers’ point of view, beginning when Azhar looked to drive him on the up, only finding a thick edge that flew to gully.

It was followed up by the big price of Azam’s wicket, in similar fashion to the way Azhar fell. Muzarabani’s knack of troubling the Pakistan captain continues to pay dividends; this is the sixth time since his return to the national side last year that the Zimbabwean has got rid of Azam. There was also time to see the back of Alam, whom Muzarabani worked over thoroughly in a brief innings. He was peppered with the short ball before finally dragging one on to the stumps, with Pakistan scurrying to send in nightwatchman Sajid Khan to see the day out.

Zimbabwe finished the day as they began it – on top – but being as exceptionally ineffective as they were in the middle came with its costs. They will need to pick up where they left off tomorrow morning, and stick at it until the final wicket is taken if the damage wrought by the Azhar and Abid Ali is to be reversed.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000



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