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Bangladesh domestic – NCL 2021 matches postponed amid surge in Covid-19 cases

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On Thursday, the country recorded the highest single-day Covid-19 numbers

The third round matches of the National Cricket League (NCL) have been postponed, as Bangladesh deals with a surge in Covid-19 cases, the numbers going up over the last two weeks.

On Thursday, the country’s health authority confirmed that a record 6469 had tested positive for the virus – the highest single-day figure yet in the country – while 59 people have died, which is the most in the last nine months.

Two of the NCL’s four matches from the previous round, completed on Thursday, were held in Cox’s Bazar, the seaside town, which is now regarded as a Covid-19 hotspot. The government has ordered closure of all tourist spots in Cox’s Bazar, something that will affect movement in the region.

The BCB had earlier announced that it would hold the NCL’s third round matches in Cox’s Bazar and Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Prothisthan, the sports institute 40 kilometres north of Dhaka, although matches were also held in Khulna, Barisal and Rangpur in the first two rounds.

There has also been a rise in Covid-19 cases among players taking part in the NCL. In their previous round match against Dhaka Division, Sylhet Division struggled to put an XI in the field after six of their players – including captain Alok Kapali and Khaled Ahmed – tested positive. There have also been reports of cases in the Rangpur Division team.

The delay in the NCL may affect the schedule of the Dhaka Premier League, which is scheduled to start on May 6.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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Shiv Sunder Das named India Women batting coach for England tour

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The former Test opener will be part of a nine-member support staff under head coach Ramesh Powar



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Eng vs NZ 2021 – James Bracey, Ollie Robinson, Craig Overton

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Strong competition among seamers for first Test but balancing XI could be an issue

England’s international summer of cricket is almost upon us and ECB selectors – that’s basically Chris Silverwood with some help from James Taylor and Mo Bobat – are poised to announce the men’s squad to face New Zealand in their two-Test series starting on June 2 at Lord’s. Here, George Dobell takes a look at those in the running.

Top order

England are likely to pick four men who are seen as contenders for the top three: Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Rory Burns and James Bracey. While Sibley is just coming back from a broken finger – he is playing a 2nd XI match at present – the England management are confident he will be fine and he has enough credit in the bank to retain his place.

Of the four, Burns is perhaps the least certain of a spot. Having been dropped in India, he is not “in possession” and with England wanting to take a look at Bracey, he could be squeezed. But he has been in consistent form in the Championship (only Kiran Carlson has reached 50 more often than his five occasions this season) and is seen as being relatively well equipped for the Ashes.

The form of Haseeb Hameed (and, to a lesser extent, Adam Lyth) has been noted by the England management, but he will need to sustain it a while longer to win a Test recall. If a Lions squad was required tomorrow, however, he would have an excellent chance of involvement.

Middle order

With Joe Root and Ollie Pope assured of their places, England have to decide whether to play Bracey in the middle-order or stick with Dan Lawrence. Both will be in the squad.

Wicketkeeping

With Jos Buttler resting, Ben Foakes looks likely to keep the gloves and play his first home Tests. Bracey is also a more than competent keeper and provides back-up if required. Pope’s brief career as a Test keeper – remember the Hamilton Test of 2019? – would appear to be over.



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India women’s cricket – Shafali Verma’s target on Test debut: ‘Learn about choosing the right balls to play’

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The 17-year-old wants to use her maiden Test and ODI call-ups to improve her decision-making skills

India batter Shafali Verma wants to use her maiden Test and ODI call-ups for the upcoming tour of England to improve her decision-making skills around playing and leaving deliveries as well maximising the length of her innings.

“[India] Women are getting to play their first Test in seven years. I have been given the chance [to be part of the Test squad], so my aim would be to learn from that Test match as much as I can about choosing the right balls to play, staying on in the middle as long as possible,” Verma told ESPNcricinfo. “All formats – ODIs, T20Is, and Tests – have different experiences and lessons to offer, so I would be looking forward to learning from both the ODI and Test formats.”



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