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T20 World Cup 2021, Pakistan batting coach Matthew Hayden

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Pakistan’s batting coach also says Babar Azam is the ‘premier’ batter everyone will ‘target’ at the World Cup

Matthew Hayden, Pakistan’s new batting consultant, sees Babar Azam as the premier batter everyone at the T20 World Cup will be targeting. Hayden also mentioned “leadership” as one key factor in the UAE conditions, saying matches will be a “real dogfight” and the Pakistan captain has the command and presence to impose himself.
“Babar obviously has his own role to play not only in terms of leadership but as a premier batter,” Hayden said. “Because as you’ve seen through the IPL, the two dominant captains here in the UAE, MS Dhoni, a World Cup winner and [Eoin] Morgan, a World Cup winner…even though their individual performances weren’t as good as what they have previously done within their own statistical record. But the way that they led their troops and conduct themselves is an important part of the UAE because as I mentioned, it’s not one side, it’s not necessarily going to run away with it here. It’s a real dogfight.

“The conditions and the margins for errors are very little and so good leadership is going to be key. I think Babar has that and commands that presence and that role and he needs to fulfil that role and in a batting sense as well. He, I think, is the premium player and he will be targeted. He will also be the person that everyone is wanting to put in his pocket. There’s going to be additional pressure on him, both as a captain and also as a batsman. I sense that the way that he goes about it is going to be spot on.”

Pakistan begin their campaign with a much hyped game against arch-rivals India on October 24 in Dubai. So far India have a 100% winning record against Pakistan in all ODI and T20 World Cups but there was one instance when the two teams tied the league game in the 2007 T20 World Cup before India won the bowl-out. When asked about being in one of the dressing rooms for such a rivalry, Hayden recalled his time playing for Australia in the Ashes against their biggest rival, England.

“For Australia, it’s England as the old guard, as they would say,” he said. “I mean, you could argue that England versus anyone considering that at various stages we’ve been ruled by the kingdom of the UK and cricket wouldn’t be on our shores if it hadn’t been for that. But nothing else that I’ve ever seen throughout various elements of the game that I’ve been a part of ever matches the rivalry between India and Pakistan.

“There is an obvious pressure, as there is an obvious pressure against England if you’re an Australian. The pressure, though, is only as much as what you allow it to be. All that can be done is done. Your preparation is there. Your experience is there. Your opportunity now becomes a very history-making opportunity.

“I sense that our players are ready for that opportunity, and I sense that there is a calmness around our group that wants us to be a successful competitor on the day. So all that is done is done and now it’s the opportunity of playing the game.”

Hayden retired in 2009 and has had only limited coaching experience so far. He has taken up occasional work in the media and as a commentator, and his assignment with Pakistan at the World Cup will be his first major coaching assignment.

“Calmness is maybe something that (I want to bring in),” Hayden said . “A sense of calmness and control of remaining very present in play because World Cups are such a challenging thing and playing multiple World Cups has been such an important part of my life. One of the things that I’ve learned is that for whatever reason, you’re always under pressure so you don’t need to create it. You know, pressure environments are additional to what the game demands, so to remain calm, that’ll be the one thing.”

Hayden watched a lot of the Indian players “closely” while commentating during the IPL in the UAE and said KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant are two batters Pakistan should watch out for.

“I’ve been watching Indian cricket closely for some time,” Hayden said. “As I’ve just mentioned, I more or less watch KL Rahul, for example, who’s a major threat to Pakistan. Seeing his struggles with Test matches versus his dominance in the shorter formats of the game. Seeing someone like Rishabh Pant with his cheeky smile and his brash nature and his beautiful vision for the game. Watching how he destroyed bowling attacks because he’s got that opportunity and sees it that way. Individually, I think it’s always fantastic to see how players perform in a pressure match.

“This (Pakistan) camp has got some wonderful assets that will perform on the day that are ready to perform. If you look at the way that even Fakhar [Zaman] is going about his preparations for this, not to single him out, but look at the way that he has extended himself in the two warm-up matches, it’s exciting to think what can happen, in a few days’ time versus India. Babar at No. 2 and Rizwan in the top three…you know, such a critical part of performances here in the UAE.

“Generally speaking, when the powerplay has been such a significant part of T20 cricket in the UAE and there have been a few exceptions, but most sides that win the powerplay win the match and you don’t necessarily win the powerplay by being overly aggressive. So I think that we have a very strong batting combination, including Hafeez as well. That knowledge and that wisdom and that ability to be able to build and create opportunities at the top of the order is certainly among our batting strengths. Big totals here are never going to be achieved. You know, the two 200-plus totals I feel are going to be … it would take something extraordinary on the day for that to happen.”

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent



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Recent Match Report – Dhaka vs Tigers 2nd Match 2021/22

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Tamim Iqbal’s 50, and Dhaka’s total of 183 for 6, proved insufficient

Khulna Tigers 186 for 5 (Talukdar 61, Ebadot 2-27) beat Minister Group Dhaka 183 for 6 (Tamim 50, Shahzad 42, Rabbi 3-45) by five wickets

How the match played out

Khulna Tigers romped to their 184-run target against Minister Group Dhaka, winning by five wickets to round off an action-packed opening day in BPL 2022. This was their third 180-plus successful chase in tournament history, having done it twice during the 2019-20 season.
Dhaka had posted 183 for 6 in 20 overs, a formidable total especially considering the capricious Dhaka pitch. Tamim Iqbal and Mohammad Shahzad gave them a fast start, adding 69 in 8.1 overs before Mahmudullah hit the big shots in the end.
Khulna, too, responded brilliantly. Rony Talukdar top-scored with 61, but it was his 72-run second-wicket stand with Andre Fletcher that fired up Khulna’s chase. Later, Thisara Perera and Mahedi Hasan took them home with an over to spare, adding 33 runs in 2.3 overs.

Big hit

Fletcher made 45 off 23 balls with seven fours and two sixes. He struck 22 runs off Rubel Hossain, hitting him for four fours and a six in the fourth over. Talukdar played the anchor role, making 61 off 42 with seven fours and a six.

For Dhaka, Tamim hit 50 off 42 balls, while Shahzad blasted 42 off 27 with eight fours. Their innings got a final flourish from Mahmudullah, who struck three sixes and two fours in his 20-ball 39.

Big miss

Dhaka’s bowling came unstuck, with Rubel, Isuru Udana and Russell going for 121 runs in their combined 11 overs. Earlier, with the bat, Russell had made only seven runs, which played a part in them not being able to reach 200.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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Under-19 World Cup – BCCI sends five reserve players to bolster Covid-hit Indian squad in the Caribbean

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Uday Saharan, Rishith Reddy, Ansh Gosai, Abishek Porel and Pushpendra Singh Rathore called up

The BCCI is sending five players to the Under-19 World Cup in the West indies as back-up following a Covid-19 outbreak in the Indian camp, with five players of the original squad in the Caribbean testing positive for the virus this week.

While Saharan, Reddy, Gosai and Rathore were all part of the travelling reserves announced by the BCCI before the World Cup, they did not travel to the Caribbean with the main squad. Porel, who was initially not part of the reserves, has made the cut in the place of Amrit Raj Upadhyay.

Left-arm spinner Upadhyay was originally picked among the reserves, but has been pipped by Porel, and the reason, ESPNcricinfo understands, is that he is a wicketkeeper. Aaradhya, the second keeper in the main squad, is currently in isolation, leaving the squad with only Dinesh Bana to wear the big gloves.

Saharan is a batter from Rajasthan, who hit 102 in the tri-series competition played between two India Under-19 sides and Bangladesh Under-19 late last year. Reddy is a right-arm seamer from Hyderabad who picked up 5 for 53 against Bangladesh Under-19s in the same tournament. Saurashtra’s Gosai is a right-handed batter known for his innovative shot-making, and Rajasthan’s Rathore is a batting allrounder.

Once the five reserves reach the Caribbean, they will have to serve a mandatory quarantine period before joining the team. They are currently not part of the main squad; the tournament’s event technical committee will have to approve them before they can play in the competition.

It’s possible that the committee will allow them only as temporary Covid-19 replacements, which comes with the caveat that they must exit the squad once the affected players return after recovery. If the BCCI so wants, these players can apply to be permanent additions to the squad, but that is usually done to replace injured players.

Although the five Covid-infected players are currently in isolation, they are expected to be available for India’s quarter-final game, which likely be played on January 29. However, if their recovery takes longer or more players return positive tests or suffer injuries, the team management can dip into their reserves at short notice.

India, who became the first team in the competition to qualify for the quarter-finals, have their knockout fixture scheduled in another country, Antigua and Barbuda. This means the players who are currently in Trinidad and Tobago will have to return negative tests before they can fly out.

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



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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe 3rd ODI 2021/22

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Vandersay picks up 4 for 10 in 7.4 overs as hosts bowlers run rampant

Sri Lanka 254 for 9 (Nissanka 55, Asalanka 52, Ngarava 2-46) beat Zimbabwe 70 (Kaitano 19, Vandersay 4-10) by 184 runs

Sri Lanka’s bowlers ran rampant in the early overs of Zimbabwe’s chase reducing the opposition to 20 for 3, then 31 for 5, and eventually 70 all out, decimating their hopes of chasing down 255 and claiming a series victory.

Dushmantha Chameera blasted out the first two wickets, before the spinners claimed the limelight – Maheesh Theekshana squeezing one between Sean Williams’ bat and pad, Jeffrey Vandersay taking four of his own, before Ramesh Mendis also took two. Somewhere in that cascade of wickets, seamer Chamika Karunaratne struck too, to remove the dangerous Sikandar Raza.

After 15 overs, Zimbabwe were 37 for 5, the required rate had crept above six, and the chase was essentially buried. Ryan Burl and Tendai Chatara fought briefly to put up 18 for the ninth wicket – the best stand of the innings. But it was all over by the 25th over, with Vandersay scything through the lower order.

The collapse was particularly disappointing for Zimbabwe, because their attack had operated with such discipline to keep Sri Lanka to a manageable total. Where Zimbabwe’s own batters had put up totals in the 300 range batting first in the two previous matches, Sri Lanka lurched only to 254 for 9, with each of their top eight getting to double-figures, but only Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka managing half-centuries.
Zimbabwe’s had been a collective bowling effort. Richard Ngarava claimed 2 for 46 from his nine overs while Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani, Wellington Masakadza, Ryan Burl, and Sean Williams all claimed one wicket apiece. Aside from an 80-run opening stand between Nissanka and Kusal Mendis, Zimbabwe never let another pair prosper for long, the next-best partnership coming much later in the innings, when Karunaratne and Ramesh Mendis put on 48 together.

It was Chameera who precipitated Zimbabwe’s rapid downfall, in the third over. He bowled a shortish ball outside off stump to right-hander Regis Chakabva, who edged it to slip. Then, next ball, he angled one across captain Ervine, who nicked it to the keeper. When Theekshana sent a straighter one through Williams’ defences in the eighth over, Zimbabwe had lost their three best top-order batters in the series.

After the first powerplay, Kaitano was given out stumped off the bowling of Vandersay, although the evidence that his back foot was in the air when keeper Kusal Mendis took the bails off did not seem totally conclusive. Next over, Raza spooned a catch to cover, and all of Zimbabwe’s serious batting hopes had departed.

Vandersay then took three of the five remaining wickets, and Ramesh Mendis claimed the other two. There was no substantial turn in the pitch – Sri Lanka were menacing, but not unplayable. Zimbabwe will feel they let themselves down.

In the first innings, Sri Lanka had begun steadily with the bat – Nissanka and Kusal Mendis hitting only five boundaries in the powerplay, as they strode to 43 for 0 in ten overs. As has been the case right through the series, Zimbabwe’s quicks were disciplined and sharp, though they didn’t find the early wickets they had managed in the first two games.

Perhaps sensing that he needed to raise the tempo if Sri Lanka were to near the 300 mark, Kusal Mendis was the first to depart, lofting the left-arm spin of Masakadza to long off. He was out for 36 off 51 balls. Nissanka brought up his second successive half-century of the series with a four through backward point, but was run out not long after that, thanks to an excellent direct hit from Zimbabwe’s substitute fielder.

Asalanka struck a four through third man first ball, and provided Sri Lanka’s main thrust of the middle overs even as wickets fell around him. He was strong square of the wicket as usual, and hit five fours in his 56-ball 52. It was his second fifty of the series.

Sri Lanka’s 2-1 victory pushes them up to fourth in the ODI Super League table, though they have played 18 out of their 24 games, and all other sides aside from Ireland (also 18) have played fewer. Zimbabwe are down at No. 11, on 35 points after 12 games. Only teams finishing in the top eight, effectively, gain direct qualification to next year’s ODI World Cup.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf



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