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‘Best-of-three series will be ideal’ to decide WTC

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Shastri and Kohli believe the upcoming one-off final final won’t change what India have done over the last few years

India believe the World Test Championship should be decided in a best-of-three series, a fitting finale after two years of hard work around the world. The inaugural WTC final is a one-off Test between India and New Zealand, for which India left for England on June 2. Coach Ravi Shastri said he could understand the constraints of a busy calendar, but hoped the final going forward will be a three-Test series.

“Ideally, in the long run, if they want to persist with the Test Championship, a best-of-three final will be ideal. As a culmination of two-and-a-half years of cricket around the globe. Going forward, best of three will be ideal, but we have got to finish it as quickly as possible because the FTP will start all over again.”

Shastri, however, said this match was the “biggest”. “It’s the first time you have a Test Championship final,” Shastri said. “When you look at that and the magnitude of the game that is going to be played, I think this is the biggest. If not the biggest ever. Because it is the toughest format of the game. It is a format that tests you. It has not happened over three days, or three months. It has happened over two years. Where teams have played each other around the world and earned their stripes to play the final. So it is one heck of an event.”

Captain Virat Kohli agreed with his coach. “This holds a lot of value,” he said. “Especially this being the first of its kind. And in the toughest format. All of us take a lot of pride in playing Test cricket and the way we have progressed as a side is an example of what Test cricket means to us. For all of us as a unit, those who have been part of the Test side for many years, this is like the accumulation of all the hard work time of not just the duration of the championship but the last five-six years. Since the time we started coming up the ranks and building up a side. We are very very happy to play the final.”

4:53

Kohli: Mental health a huge factor that shouldn't be neglected

Kohli: Mental health a huge factor that shouldn’t be neglected

It can then seem unfair on either side to have the championship decided over one Test, but Shastri and Kohli said the final wouldn’t change what their side has done over the last few years.

“One off is a one off, and the guys have earned their stripes,” Shastri said. “This is not a team that has blossomed overnight. Five years No. 1. When you start being on top or playing cricket at the highest level or competing against the best, you have the ability to pull yourselves out of tough situations. As you have seen time and time again, there have been many times when this side has pulled itself out of big problems and gone on to win series. So I think the final is a great victory for the boys really.”

Kohli said he didn’t look at the final or the England Test series that follows as a destination or a final frontier. “I don’t think that there is any frontier for us,” Kohli said. “If you look at our transition, the transition was smooth for us. Because we are really committed to keeping Indian cricket on top. Being the best team in the world. We have continued to do that. In Test cricket we have finished No. 1 for a few years in a row.

“Now you see youngsters coming in so there is another transition going on within the team so I don’t think this is the final frontier and after this we have no idea where to go. This is an ongoing process to keep the standard of Indian cricket high and we have done our duty for the last five-six years with absolute commitment. Now in the transition phase, our responsibility is to instil the same passion and commitment in the next lot of players so we remain on top for more years to come. And that’s how the progress of cricket really happens.

“We have worked hard for the finals. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that we were probably going to be the first team to be featuring in that final because of the way we have played last few years. For us it is just about keeping those standards high. It’s like football. If you win one championship, you don’t stop working hard. You wanna win two and three and four. This is exactly our mindset. If you have made the final once, we absolutely want to win it. Then restructure, plan, move ahead for the next three-four years and again plan to be the top side in the world.”

India have been among the best sides in all formats for a while now, but haven’t won an ICC title since 2013. Two of their recent heartbreaks have come in England when they lost the Champions Trophy final in 2017 and the World Cup semi-final in 2019 after looking like the best side in those tournaments. Kohli said his side will not take any pressure from that but look to enjoy the final.

“There is no challenge for me,” Kohli said. “From the team’s point of view, we have been through a challenging period. Now is the time to enjoy. We have worked hard for the last five-six years. We don’t think like people on the outside. If we start thinking like that, we will not be able to perform.”

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



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PSL 2021- Faheem Ashraf to miss at least three games for Islamabad United with hand injury

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He split the webbing between his index finger and thumb on his left hand while fielding on Wednesday night

Faheem Ashraf is likely to miss at least the next three games for Islamabad United in the PSL after splitting the webbing between his index finger and thumb on his left hand during their five-wicket loss to the Lahore Qalandars on Wednesday night.

“Faheem suffered a laceration to the base of the left thumb. Suturing was completed in the ER, he was given antibiotics and paracetamol and discharged into our care,” United physio Jason Pilgrim said in a statement.

Ashraf injured his hand while fielding at short fine leg during the fifth over of the chase, bowled by Hasan Ali. Ashraf had, by then, bowled his first two overs and bowled Fakhar Zaman before he walked off to get five stitches on his hand. He missed a major chunk of the game while getting medical attention and wasn’t allowed to bowl again but seeing the nature of his injury as an extraordinary circumstance, the umpires and match referee allowed Ashraf to bowl his remaining two overs – the 14th and 17th of the innings – while going off the field in between and after because he couldn’t field at all.

Ashraf conceded a combined 21 runs in those two overs and finished with 4-0-31-1. United now have to fill his position in the lower middle order with either Muhammad Musa or Akif Javed.

Ashraf has been one of the main players for United since 2018, having played 36 games until Wednesday with an impressive bowling average of 18.88 – the second-best in the league – and he is the fourth-highest wicket-taker in the league with a tally of 51 wickets and holds the tournament’s second-best bowling figures, of 6 for 19. Over the last two seasons, his batting played a role in increasing the depth in their line-up.

United are among the few teams disturbed by the postponement and shift of the PSL from Karachi to Abu Dhabi. Their roster of local players remains intact but most of their first-choice overseas players, who were around before the postponement, are not available for different reasons. They bought Usman Khawaja to replace Alex Hales, but they are also missing out on Lewis Gregory and Phil Salt, and even South Africa’s Janneman Malan, who couldn’t get an NOC from his home board.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent



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India Women in England 2021

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‘Hopefully if my selection demonstrates anything it’s that everyone in the regions now has a chance’

Emily Arlott was shocked into silence when she learned of her call-up to the England squad ahead of Wednesday’s Test against India.

Arlott, the 23-year-old Worcestershire seamer, had only the day before completed a quadruple-wicket maiden in a five-wicket haul for Central Sparks in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Hove, where they beat defending champions Southern Vipers.

After long drive home and unpacking her kit after at the end of “an emotional weekend” then eating dinner, she discovered she’d missed a phone call from Jonathan Finch, ECB Director of Women’s Cricket.

“I thought it was a bit weird on a random Sunday evening so I called him back straight away, and he told me the news,” Arlott said. “I don’t think I responded for a good two minutes.

“He was sat on the other end of the line: ‘I hope the silence is a good thing’. I’m probably as shocked as anyone that I got the call. I didn’t even think my name was in contention to be considered so to get the call just rounded off that weekend really.”



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Recent Match Report – England vs New Zealand 2nd Test 2021

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All the updates, news and stats from day one of the second Test at Edgbaston

Welcome to day one of our live report of the second Test between England and New Zealand from Edgbaston. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here.

* Most recent entry will appear at the top, please refresh your page for the latest updates. All times are local

10.15am: Good morning – for some

Hello, and welcome to our coverage from the opening day at Edgbaston. We have some news for you first up, with New Zealand revealing that wicket-keeper BJ Watling is a late withdrawal after failing to overcome a sore back. The injury has troubled Watling in the past and although it has improved over the past 24 hours, it hasn’t improved enough for him to be confident of making it through a full Test behind the stumps. As a result, Tom Blundell will take the gloves and bat at No. 6 in his 11th Test.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo



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