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Pakistan’s Bismah Maroof takes indefinite maternity leave as PCB mulls pregnancy provisions in contracts




Pakistan allrounder is set to become first beneficiary of the board’s maternity leave plans

Pakistan batting allrounder Bismah Maroof is taking an indefinite break from cricket as she prepares to embrace motherhood. And the PCB is likely to use the opportunity to introduce pregnancy provisions in its central contracts system for the first time.

The PCB’s central contracts for its women cricketers doesn’t have any specific clauses covering maternity leaves, but the board is now likely to amend the contracts to offer relevant support to female cricketers in the country. Maroof would, therefore, continue to earn her monthly retainer as per the PCB’s ‘A’ category contracts system and, at the time of absence, be eligible for all medical perks, becoming the first player to benefit from the new pregnancy provision.

The designated Pakistan captain, Maroof, 29, last played an international match in February last year, during the T20 World Cup in Australia. She had pulled out of the tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe earlier this year owing to “family reasons”, with Javeria Khan stepping in as captain.

Maroof is Pakistan’s second-most-capped women’s player in ODIs, with 108 appearances against her name, with Sana Mir leading the list with 120. In the ODI run chart, too, Maroof is second with her tally of 2602 runs, after Khan’s 2693. In T20Is, Maroof 108 appearances is most by a Pakistani woman and she is the top run-scorer among them with a tally of 2225.

The tour of Africa remains Pakistan’s only assignment since the Covid-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic in early March last year. The PCB recently called up a group of 26 national women cricketers for a skills and fitness camp in Karachi as a part of their preparation for a proposed tour of Sri Lanka next month. The probables are due to assemble in the city on Saturday for a seven days of quarantine before the 15-day camp will formally begins on April 24.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent

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Recent Match Report – United vs Qalandars 20th Match 2020/21-2021




Qalandars surrendered from advantageous positions in both innings after dominating the first ten overs each time

Islamabad United 152 for 7 (Asif 75, Iftikhar 49, Faulkner 3-19) beat Lahore Qalandars 124 (Zaman 44, Musa 3-18, Shadab 2-14) by 28 runs

At first, the Islamabad United’s historic decision to bat first at the toss – for the first time in PSL history – seemed like a bad idea. Their top five were each out for single-digit scores against the Lahore Qalandars and the team was reeling at 20 for 5.
However, a 123-run partnership for the sixth wicket changed the game around. Asif Ali counter-attacked with six fours and five sixes in his 75, and Iftikhar Ahmed played Asif’s sidekick with 49. Together they neutralised Rashid Khan and posted a total big enough to give their bowlers something to defend.
That was successfully pulled off as Muhammad Musa, Shadab Khan and Fawad Ahmed produced a period of play where the Qalandars lost seven wickets for 14 runs. Musa collected three wickets, and both Shadab and Fawad took two each to seal a win that was eventually very comfortable.
The win took United to the top of the PSL points table, tied on points with their opponents of the night, and helped them achieve victory in a manner they had never done previously. And all that without Hasan Ali’s services.

Faulkner, other pacers breathe fire
It was meant to be a long, hot afternoon in the sun for the Qalandars unit after United chose to bat following the toss – more so as Colin Munro and Usman Khawaja came in on the back of a ten-over partnership of 137 runs against Quetta Gladiators. But that wasn’t to be, as Shaheen Afridi had Khawaja caught behind for a duck on the third ball of the first over after getting a full ball to move away and forcing the opener to flick down the wrong line. Next ball, Rohail Nazir was pinned lbw via a yorker, only to survive as Afridi had overstepped.

However, Nazir could not make the most of his reprieve. He was trapped lbw by a James Faulkner ball that moved into him in the second over. Two overs later, Faulkner earned another wicket through an lbw, when Munro did not pick a cutter and looked to defend down the wrong line, only for the ball to strike his pad in front of the stumps.

With Faulkner’s military medium still getting sideways movement, he was given a third over where Hussain Talat’s flick went straight to deep midwicket. Haris Rauf, Shaheen’s replacement at first change in the seventh over, then struck first ball when a quick delivery that was angling in had Shadab Khan edging behind to Ben Dunk. After 6.1 overs, Faulkner had three, Afridi and Rauf had one each, and the Qalandars were 20 for 5. In the last match, the Qalandars had posted their highest ever powerplay score; in this game, they posted their lowest ever.

The counterattack
The early blows aside, it remained a batting-friendly track, and that was proved by the next period of play. For United, Ifthikar and Asif had their backs against the wall after Shadab’s wicket, but they clawed their way back with every passing over.

Asif struck two fours off Faulkner to bring the Australian’s spell to a close and then used Rauf’s pace to hit back-to-back boundaries. Ahmed Daniyal then bore the brunt of Asif’s onslaught as he cleared long-on for six, after which he deposited a flighted Rashid Khan ball for another maximum. More boundaries off Daniyal took Asif to 49, and a single next ball gave him a 28-ball fifty in the 13th over.

All this while, Iftikhar was scoring at a strike-rate of less than a hundred but he changed gears in the 15th over. After striking Daniyal for a four, he brought up United’s hundred before depositing a full-toss and a slower ball off Rauf for consecutive fours. Together, Rashid and Daniyal conceded 82 runs in eight overs for no wickets, and with two overs to go, United had reached 135 for 5.

The 19th from Shaheen began with the bowler being hit for a six by Asif, but a few balls later he was hit-wicket after going too deep in his crease while expecting a yorker, thus ending their 76-ball stand of 123. But his 43-ball 75, together with Iftikhar’s 49, ensured United went into the break with the momentum as they finished on 152 for 7.

Qalandars crumble after Akhtar departs
Sohail Akhtar took the early charge in the powerplay during the Qalandars’ chase of 153 as he helped take 11 runs off Mohammad Wasim’s first over. He then walked across his crease multiple times to explore the fine-leg region with boundaries off Ali Khan and Wasim. However, Shadab introduced Fawad for the final over of the powerplay, and he struck off the last ball of the over when Akhtar failed to pick a googly. His 19-ball 34 had helped the Qalandars raze down 55 runs already, but his dismissal started a massive collapse that the Qalandars simply could not arrest.

A run out of the No. 3 Zeeshan Ashraf in the seventh over didn’t help when they just needed to settle into another partnership after Akhtar’s wicket. But a brilliant piece of fielding near cover from Shadab sent Ashraf back.

Musa, usually expensive but with the habit of taking crucial wickets, then took two – of Mohammad Hafeez pulling to deep midwicket and Dunk caught behind – to tilt the balance United’s way. Musa then added a third as Fakhar Zaman fell for a laboured 37-ball 44, top-edging one to third man.

Then came the spin onslaught. Tim David was out trying to clear long-on off Shadab, while Rashid failed to pick Shadab’s googly. From the other end, Fawad’s quick thinking had Shaheen run-out before he bowled Faulkner through his defenses. At 100 for 9, the Qalandars had truly lost the plot, and despite an entertaining tenth-wicket stand, they fell 28 runs short. Apart from the openers and the No. 11 Rauf, no other Qalandars batter reached double digits.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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Vitality Blast 2021 – Ned Eckersley, Liam Trevaskis rescue Durham as Naveen-ul-Haq falls apart at the death | Cricket



Ned Eckersley gets down to sweep © Getty Images

Durham 170 for 8 (Eckersley 50*, Lilley 3-26) Leicestershire 168 for 9 (Steel 53, Potts 3-27) by two wickets

Durham pulled off what will go down as one of the more extraordinary wins in their T20 history as Leicestershire Foxes threw away what looked like a nailed-on victory in the Vitality Blast at the Uptonsteel County Ground.

Chasing 169 to win this North Group match after Scott Steel hit 53 against his former team-mates, Durham were 108 for 8 in the 14th over and still needed 49 with only four overs left. That came down to 23 off two after Gavin Griffiths conceded 15 in the 18th but winning still looked a tall order.

Yet former Leicestershire man Ned Eckersley and Liam Trevaskis saw their side home with an over to spare as the Foxes conceded 24 in a calamitous 19th over that was started by their overseas player Naveen-ul-Haq and ended by Ben Mike after the Afghan fast bowler was ordered out of the attack for bowling two head-high no-balls.

Naveen’s first and sixth balls were called for height, the second of which Eckersley ramped for four, adding nine to the total just from no-balls. In between came a two, two singles and a leg-bye and a four for Trevaskis when he should have been caught at deep midwicket, Arron Lilley losing the ball in the sun.

Naveen’s second no-ball meant he could not bowl the extra delivery. Mike took over and Eckersley clubbed the free hit for six over long-off to complete a 36-ball half-century and win the game to a stunned silence from the home crowd.

Earlier, Durham had restricted the Foxes to what looked like a below-par 168 for 9, with Lilley hitting 31 but Matty Potts and ex-Leicestershire seamer Ben Raine taking three wickets each. Having been 117 for 3 in the 14th over, the Foxes stumbled from 155 for 4 to 166 for 9, losing five wickets for 11 runs in 15 balls.

Steel’s 53 included five fours and two sixes, Lilley’s 31 off 21 balls with sixes off Paul Coughlin over midwicket and two down the ground in consecutive balls off Scott Borthwick’s legbreaks.

Durham’s reply was off to a blistering start as David Bedingham blasted 38 off 19 balls with three sixes off left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson’s opening over. At 58 for two after 6, they looked well placed but after a bad call by Raine saw Cameron Bancroft run out they lost five wickets for 20 runs in 22 balls.

Lilley, who had Jack Burnham caught at short third man in an attempted reverse sweep and Coughlin leg before, took his third wicket as Borthwick missed the ball trying to work to leg but a career-best 3 for 26 was small consolation for what happened at the end as Trevaskis took four and a six over deep midwicket off Griffiths and Naveen’s afternoon turned into a nightmare.

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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England vs NZ 2021 – Joe Root admits England were ‘outplayed in all three departments’ by New Zealand




But England skipper says now is not the time to “rip up all the hard work we’ve done”

Joe Root has admitted England were “outplayed in all three departments” after slipping to defeat in the LV=Insurance Test series against New Zealand.

The series defeat was England’s first at home since 2014 and Root’s first at home as captain. It was also New Zealand’s first Test series victory in England since 1999.

But while Root accepted it had been a “disappointing performance” from his side, he insisted it would “be the wrong time to start panicking and trying to rip up all the hard work we’ve done for such a long period of time.”

“It’s been a frustrating and disappointing performance this week,” Root said. “I don’t think we’ve given a fair account of ourselves. We’ve been outplayed in all three departments, particularly the batting.

“We didn’t get the runs [we should have done] in the first innings. We missed chances in the field and didn’t help our bowlers in that respect. And with the bat [in the second innings] we were poor.

“Sometimes in Test cricket you can have a poor session with the ball and you’re still very much in the game. But a session that like can cost you a Test. That’s where we find ourselves. It’s cost us the series and we have some hard lessons to learn.

“We have to look at where we can get better individually and collectively. We need to be honest about that. We have to have some hard conversations and move forward.”

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