Both players will join Sri Lanka’s camp ahead of next week’s T20 World Cup qualifiers
Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga have been released from the IPL bio-bubble to join the Sri Lanka team ahead of next week’s T20 World Cup qualifiers, which starts on October 17. As a result, the duo will miss Royal Challengers’ eliminator against Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday night.
In an official announcement on Twitter, Royal Challengers said: “We wish both of them the best & thank them for their professionalism & hard work during #IPL2021.”
Both Hasaranga and Chameera were signed as replacements ahead of the UAE leg of this season. Hasaranga played just two matches and didn’t pick up a wicket while Chameera didn’t make the starting XI at all.
Sri Lanka are part of Group A, which also includes Netherlands, Namibia and Ireland, for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Their campaign begins against Namibia on October 18 in Abu Dhabi.
Men’s T20 World Cup 2021
The allrounder’s form over the last few months will make it hard to move him
Mitchell Marsh appears set to retain the No. 3 spot in Australia’s XI for the T20 World Cup after his success on the tours of West Indies and Bangladesh which will have a knock-on impact on where Steven Smith returns to the side.
Marsh was Australia’s standout batting star on the recent tours, scoring 375 runs across 10 matches, with the series in the Caribbean being the first time at batted at No. 3. They were missing a host of first-choice players for those trips with Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis now all available again.
Maxwell’s outstanding returns in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore make a strong case for him batting as high as possible to maximise the time he has at the crease with No. 4 seeming the logical place. However, that would mean Smith, who has missed Australia’s last three T20I series, moving down to the middle order and since 2011 he has only twice batted lower than No. 4 in T20Is.
“I dare say that if I play in this tournament, I’ll be listed at No. 3,” Marsh said. “But I think the beauty of our squad is that from three to six or even seven, all of us can float. It will just be a matter of game situation and who we think is best to go in next. So, I think I’ll be at the top, but it’s about being adaptable and being able to float with the guys that we’ve got coming after me.”
Marsh picked up the form he had shown overseas in his one domestic innings before leaving for the World Cup when he hit 111 off 124 for Western Australia in the Marsh Cup. As he enters his fourth global limited-overs event, on the back of a seven-week period at home where he also got engaged, he feels well placed.
“I probably feel more confident just in my preparation and that often allows me to go out there and just play the game and try and perform for the team,” he said. “I know that when I’ve prepared really well I go out there full of confidence and that’s certainly been the case for the last few months. I’ll continue to do that.”
On the evidence of some of the IPL, Marsh’s success on slow pitches in West Indies and Bangladesh could stand him in good stead. Playing spin was an area of his game he put particular focus in, picking the brains of Adam Zampa to find out how he would bowl to him and then working out ways to counter that.
“I just asked him where he where he would bowl to me, to try and stop me from scoring. I think if I can try and nullifying bowlers from and doing that, and get the game a bit more on my terms when playing against spin, it becomes a little bit easier and you can you get more boundary options.
“I’ve watched guys like Marcus Stoinis who use the crease unbelievably well. Getting back and hitting guys over deep midwicket off the back foot for six and I think when you start playing shots like that, then you get more balls in your area to look down the ground. In these conditions we know we’re going to get a lot of spin.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
Men’s Ashes, 2021-22 – Cricket Australia ‘desperately’ wants to host final Ashes Test in Perth
A game of golf, heading to the beach and dining outdoors will be on offer for the squads for most of the series
Cricket Australia is continuing to work towards hosting the final men’s Ashes Test as scheduled in Perth in January with negotiations ongoing with the Western Australia government about the requirements to get the tour into the state but it will remain tough to get over the line.
Over the weekend, the ECB board gave conditional approval to the tour going ahead if certain “critical conditions” are met over the coming weeks – related to visas, travel exemptions and details over biosecure plans – and on Sunday the squad was named.
England will arrive into Queensland in two groups during November – the Test-only and Lions players on November 5 followed by those at the T20 World Cup later in the month – where they will undertake 14 days quarantine with additional freedoms around their resort hotel. Families will be able to join the tour.
The first Test takes place at the Gabba on December 8 followed by the second in Adelaide with travel between Queensland and South Australia currently free of significant restrictions. The tour then swings to Melbourne and Sydney with the expectation they will be open to each other by then, but the sticking point remains travel to Perth with WA indicating it is unlikely to lift their hard border to New South Wales until next year.
There is hope that the situation could have eased by mid-January as vaccination rates increase. But the likelihood is that if the Test does get the green light for Optus Stadium that the squads would need to return to tighter restrictions for the final week of the tour which could prove a hard sell to England who are strongly against strict bubbles.
“We would desperately like to play the fifth Test in Perth, it’s absolutely our intention to do so,” Nick Hockley, the Cricket Australia CEO, said. “Those discussions are going on right as we speak. We are encouraged by the experience we had last summer when we were able to play five BBL matches in January.
“There’s been a whole winter of experience of playing elite sport at Perth Stadium in biosecure conditions. We have strong relationships and are working through the detail as to what that might look like. It’s really important we are giving both squads, match officials and broadcasters a great experience and their wellbeing is front of mind.”
Comments from WA premier, Mark McGowan, reinforced the view that there remain plenty of hurdles. “They’ll have to comply with the rules that are put in place,” he said. “I’ll continue to talk to the chief health officer about that but the rules are there for a reason, they keep us safe. NSW is riddled with Covid…we have to have pretty strong rules in place to protect our state and that will continue.”
Hockley said it was “premature” to talk about contingencies should a Perth Test not get across the line – CA has previously insisted the order of the Tests would not change – but the options would range from hosting a second match in either Sydney or Melbourne, taking the series to Canberra or potentially Hobart which will lose out on hosting Afghanistan.
In terms of the conditions the two squads will face once quarantine is complete for those who have to go through it – which will include Australia players from New South Wales and Victoria – they will vary from state-to-state but will allow various recreation and outdoor dining.
“The environment has changed with people becoming vaccinated. We’ve really tried to prioritise the wellbeing of all concerned,” Hockley said. “A lot of it is about common sense, socially distancing and keeping safe, but through the course of the summer we would like the ability for our players to enjoy a round of golf, go to the beach, enjoy a meal outside.”
Although Covid case numbers remain significantly lower in Australia than the UK, the risk of looser restrictions was shown during the English season when the home side had to name an entirely new squad for the ODI series against Pakistan then the final Test against India was called off.
“Last season we played every match without a single case,” Hockley said. “If there was a case, there are clearly detailed protocols but it’s analysing the situation on a case-by-case basis, involves isolating the person who has tested positive then working quickly and forensically to work out whether there has been any close contact. That’s why we have a fantastic medical team. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.”
Meanwhile, the Afghanistan Test, which was due to start in Hobart on November 27 and provide a lead-in to the Ashes for the Australia players, has been all-but certain to be called off since CA took their stance on the potential exclusion of women from the sport with confirmation expected this week. However, Hockley said there remained a commitment to try and play the game in the future.
“The work we’ve been doing is to understand the situation on the ground,” he said. “We made our position very, very clear off the back of some earlier comments around cricket potentially not being supported for women and girls. It’s most likely that we will postpone the Test until a time when there is more clarity following consultation with the Australia government.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – Central PNJB vs Khyber Final 2021/22
Captain returns 3 for 5 and then smashes 19-ball 45* to shut out Central Punjab in title clash
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 152 for 3 (Iftikhar 45*, Ghulam 37) beat Central Punjab 148 (Shehzad 44, Akmal 42, Iftikhar 3-5, Imran 3-26) by seven wickets
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa defended their National T20 title, storming past Central Punjab to win by seven wickets on Wednesday evening in Lahore. A stunning all-round performance by Iftikhar Ahmed, who took three wickets for five runs and smashed an unbeaten 45 off 19 balls, was at the heart of the show from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who dominated the game from start to finish.
After putting Central Punjab in to bat, Imran Khan struck off the second ball, getting Muhammad Akhlaq to nick off to the keeper. It was followed by the best spell Central Punjab enjoyed in the game – Kamran Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad were together at the crease, leading the revival with an 85-run partnership off 61 balls. Both players, once they got going, began to look dangerous, particularly when Asif Afridi, so impressive otherwise, was smashed for 16 in his first over.
But once Khalid Usman had Akmal stumped and Iftikhar got rid of Shehzad within seven balls of each other, Central Punjab went to pieces. Iftikhar and Muhammad Imran struck three times each, while Qasim Akram and Faheem Ashraf were the only other batters who managed double figures. The last nine wickets fell for 63 runs as Central Punjab failed to bat out their 20 overs, setting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 149 for victory.
A total as low as that hadn’t been defended all tournament, and in truth, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were never in danger of letting that happen on the night.
They didn’t start especially explosively, but even while the asking rate climbed, they had wickets in hand, and appeared in control of the chase. Sahibzada Farhan and Kamran Ghulam were astute in their pacing of the innings, as they added 47 for the second wicket, aware only a flurry of wickets could imperil their charge to the title. Even when both did fall, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa needed a further 69 in just over seven overs; with a man in Iftikhar’s form coming in to bat next, it didn’t feel all that much.
Any doubts were put to rest in the 15th over, where a wayward Muhammad Faizan went for 20 runs, and from that point on, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa required less than a run a ball.
Iftikhar, though, wasn’t content to stroll through to victory, and blasted his team past the finishing line in just another couple of overs. Fittingly, it was a couple of boundaries from him that sealed the win. He would go on to be named the match and tournament awards, by far the best player in a team that was head and shoulders above the rest.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
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