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Babar Azam will ‘talk to Amir’ about Pakistan retirement

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The fast bowler had cited issues with team management while abruptly retiring last year

Pakistan captain Babar Azam offered a glimmer of hope for Mohammad Amir’s potential return to the national team, saying he will “talk to him about his issues”. In an interview with Cricket Pakistan, Azam said he hadn’t yet spoken to his Karachi Kings teammate on the matter, but acknowledged he was “one of Pakistan’s best bowlers”.
This is the first time the Pakistan captain has publicly addressed Amir’s departure from international cricket last year citing “mental torture he could not bear”. At the time, he had accused the coaching staff of “saying things against me”. The bitter nature of the departure, and subsequent statements by Amir of a similar non-conciliatory nature, meant the prospect of the two sides coming to a resolution have looked more remote than ever.

“When we talk, we’ll discuss what his issues [with the national side] are,” Azam said. “He’s one of the best left-arm bowlers and I really admire him. The way he’s performed in the PSL so far, I just hope he performs the same way again, and that’s what we are focused on so far.”

Amir had focused his criticisms on the current coaching staff when he retired, singling out Waqar Younis, the bowling coach. Head coach Misbah-ul-Haq hit back a few days later, accusing Amir of “making up” the circumstances that prompted his retirement.
That, coupled with Amir’s repeated praise of former Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur and previous PCB chairman Najam Sethi might make a return to the fold under present circumstances unlikely; Amir has gone as far as saying he would “only return once this management leaves”. That means in the event of a change at the top of the PCB, either cricketing or administrative, the chances of Amir being welcomed back are less distant.

Amir’s decision to retire was immediately accepted by CEO Wasim Khan, and further remarks by Amir have yielded no comment from the PCB.

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



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Debut double helps Devon Conway enter Test batters' rankings at No. 77

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Ollie Robinson made a big entry too, his seven wickets at Lord’s taking him to 69th among bowlers



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Eng vs NZ 2021 – Kane Williamson ruled out of second Test and Tom Latham to captain New Zealand

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Will Young to bat at No. 3 after showing strong County Championship form for Durham

Kane Williamson, the New Zealand captain, has been ruled out of the second Test against England at Edgbaston because of a persistent elbow injury.
Williamson had to miss an ODI series against Bangladesh earlier this year because of the same problem, which also caused him to miss the start of the 2021 IPL for the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Tom Latham, the regular vice-captain, will lead the team in Williamson’s absence, as he did against Australia at the SCG in January 2020 and West Indies in Wellington in December.



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Recent Match Report – United vs Qalandars 15th Match 2020/21-2021

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Faulkner took three wickets for Qalandars in the powerplay while their captain Sohail top scored with 40

Lahore Qalandars 144 for 5 (Sohail 40, Hasan 2-27) beat Islamabad United 143 for 9 (Faheem 27, Faulkner 3-32) by five wickets

Few games are worth waiting three months for, but on the resumption, the PSL served up a UAE-style thriller. In a game that Lahore Qalandars dominated but somehow found a way to lose control of in the final few overs, Rashid Khan smashed three fours off the final over, when they needed 16, to rescue a game that had slipped away for his side, condemning Islamabad United to a stunning last-ball defeat. With one needed off the final delivery, Tim David’s top edge cleared the keeper, and Islamabad’s fate was sealed.
Lahore had got off to a brilliant start thanks to three wickets up top from James Faulkner in the first innings. Islamabad struggled for fluency throughout the innings as wickets fell regularly, with only a cameo from Faheem Ashraf, who top scored with a 24-ball 27, taking them past 120. That late surge dragged Shadab Khan’s team back into the game, with the 143 they posted looking like the sort of total that was just about defensible in the UAE; the very notion would have been unthinkable in Karachi.
Fakhar Zaman and Sohail Akhtar got Lahore off to a fluent start, but accurate, disciplined bowling from Islamabad derailed the chase fairly soon. Fakhar lost fluency and was cleaned up by Faheem , and as the asking rate began to climb, captain Sohail became increasingly key for his side. When he smashed Shadab Khan for 15 in the 12th over, Lahore were back in the game, but the true consequences of that over were yet to emerge.

With wickets falling regularly and Ben Dunk nowhere near his best, the game looked dead and buried for Lahore when Hasan Ali removed the Australian in a superb penultimate over. Singaporean international David’s six off the final ball meant Islamabad needed to defend 15, and Shadab threw Hussain Talat the ball instead of taking it himself. Rashid smashed him for three successive boundaries, and a rollercoaster of a contest was suddenly done and dusted.

The decision

Shadab’s confidence with the ball isn’t what it might have been, but even so, backing Talat, who didn’t otherwise bowl all day, to line up for that final over seemed an unnecessary risk. Shadab would later say he didn’t fancy bowling at the left-handers, and with Dunk there till the 19th over, he kept himself away from the bowling crease. But Dunk was gone, and with Rashid and David batting, there were two right-handers out in the middle for the Qalandars. Shadab, nevertheless, didn’t quite trust himself at the moment. Talat’s over was fairly ordinary, in truth, but given it was his first, laying the blame at his feet would be excessively harsh.

Faulkner’s military medium

Faulkner was a surprising pick in the replacement draft for Lahore anyway, but when he was thrown the ball to open alongside Shaheen Afridi, the faith Qalandars had placed in him seemed excessive. Even more so when he shuffled to deliver what could most generously be termed medium-fast deliveries and Colin Munro took him apart with a four and a six off successive deliveries.

But it was that lack of pace that would prove especially destructive on a slow wicket, particularly when the Australian mixed it up by deliberately taking the pace off some. Munro was undone when he played down the wrong line, but Faulkner was only getting started. While Shaheen was unfortunate not to pick up wickets, his less celebrated new-ball partner was more than making up for it. Rohail Nazir was undone by an off-cutter that slowed off the surface, while Shadab found no timing on another slower delivery as Islamabad reeled. Akhtar was so impressed that Faulkner went on to bowl his full allotment of four on the trot, and by the time he was done taking three wickets, his side was in charge.

Rashid Khan masterclass

It’s difficult to overstate the enormity of the impact Rashid’s availability had on Lahore’s chances. While it seemed initially he would be lost to Sussex for the T20 Blast at this time of year, he chose to stick with the PSL, and with the opportunity to bowl in these conditions, why wouldn’t he? Rashid in the PSL is just about as close to a cheat code as T20 cricket has these days, and with Islamabad already under pressure when he was introduced, the Afghan asphyxiated them through the middle overs.

His four overs conceded just nine runs, along with the wicket of Talat, as the wheels came off entirely for the batting side. The combination of the quicker, flatter delivery, the conventional legspinner, and a devilish googly ran Islamabad ragged, and by the time he was done, Islamabad had only managed to hobble on to 101 for 7 in 16 overs. And all that without mentioning his later exploits with the bat.

Where they stand

Islamabad slip to fourth, with three wins in five, while Lahore go top with eight points and four wins in five matches.

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



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