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Sheffield Shield 2020-21 – Kurtis Patterson urges youngsters to embrace chance to revive New South Wales

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The team had an ‘honest’ debrief after being skittled for 32 but a spot in the Shield final remains in their hands

New South Wales are determined to have left their 32 all out in Tasmania. The defending Sheffield Shield champions were bundled out for their lowest first-class score in the previous round to leave them in a three-way race to reach the final later this month.

However, at the start of the final round which begins on Saturday things are still in their own hands when they face Queensland in Wollongong. The visitors were denied the chance to put some daylight between them when their previous game against South Australia in Brisbane was abandoned without a ball bowled.

“We were certainly quite honest with each other after the match which I thought was fantastic,” Kurtis Patterson, who will captain New South Wales in place of Peter Nevill, said. “I’ve been in some dressing rooms before where you probably don’t quite address those sorts of innings and you try and move on a little too quickly.

“I thought the way Phil Jaques and Pete Nevill handled it post-game was really professional and really honest from the playing group. Once we got on that flight back from Hobart we know there was a big job to do so there hasn’t been any more reflection on it.



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India set to name squads for England Tests, WTC final over the weekend

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The selectors are expected to pick an enlarged squad with enough reserves to cater for any contingency

The Indian squads for both the World Test Championship final and the five-Test England series are set to be picked over the weekend. It is understood that the Virat Kohli-lead Indian squad is likely to depart for England on June 2.

Keeping in mind the extensive length of the tour, spanning between June and mid-September, the selectors are expected to pick an enlarged squad with enough reserves to cater for any contingency. Even the ICC recently approved increasing the squad strength from 23 to 30 (including support staff) for global events during the Covid-19 pandemic.



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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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