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T20 World Cup – Ban vs SL




Bangladesh head coach expects Mahedi Hasan, Afif Hossain and Nurul Hasan to become key players for the team

Russell Domingo, the Bangladesh head coach, expects his side to bank on their familiarity of the opponents as well as the conditions when they take on Sri Lanka in their first T20 World Cup Super 12s match in Sharjah.

The two sides have already played a Test and an ODI series this year, and Bangladesh are aware of Sri Lanka’s white-ball capabilities despite having won the ODI series 2-1 at home. The game is in Sharjah, where the pitches might be similar to the ones Bangladesh played on in Dhaka in August and September.

“I think we have played against Sri Lanka a bit over the last couple of months,” Domingo pointed out. “We have had some good contests against them in ODIs and Tests. We have a well-balanced side with skilful bowlers and some dangerous batters. We have a world-class allrounder in Shakib [Al Hasan].

“These type of conditions can suit us. Sharjah is similar to the wickets in Dhaka. Hopefully that can assist us in tomorrow’s game. We are happy with the 2pm starts – it suits us big time. It takes dew out of the equation. I think our spinners will come very much into the competition. We know a lot of the other teams are focused on the dew.”

Both teams have very little experience of playing in Sharjah, with Sri Lanka having played their first T20I at this venue against Netherlands on Friday. Shakib, though, did play three games in Sharjah for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL recently. Domingo agreed that “scores have come down considerably since the new wickets have been laid” in Sharjah, and expected a certain kind of bowler to make a mark.

“Tall bowlers who hit the wicket have always been in the game,” he said. “I came here with South Africa [eight] years ago. I remember Morne Morkel was very effective [with] the sort of hard length that he bowled. The ball skids through. If you bowl wicket to wicket, spin has opportunity here. LBWs and bowleds come into the game. We are not known as a power-hitting side, so the [shorter boundary] could favour us.”

“A big part of coaching is for the team to focus on what they can control. There’s nothing we can do about what people are writing and saying. We can focus on our performances – we can evaluate our performances”

Russell Domingo

Bangladesh have been reaping rewards of contributions from the relatively unknown trio of Mahedi Hasan, Afif Hossain and Nurul Hasan, who have recently produced crucial, if not massive, performances.

Although Mahedi has bowled well with his variations in flight and speeds, he still hasn’t found enough room to have an impactful innings with the bat, failing at his only opportunity at No. 3. But, according to Domingo, he can expect another bump up the batting order at some stage.

“I am a big fan of Mahedi. I think the most important thing is his character,” he said. “He is always up to fulfill any role in the team. It is not easy batting up the order, [and then] down the order. He never complains. He is focused on what the team needs. He is versatile with the ball – he can bowl in the middle, at the death and up front.

“He is definitely a three-in-one cricketer for us. The big thing about his preparation is that he is happy to be doing any role. He sees them as a big challenge, and takes them on 100%. I am happy with how his campaign has gone so far.”

Afif, meanwhile, has been coming into his own in an attacking role in the middle order, even though he hasn’t had a lot of time in the middle, while Nurul has been sharp behind the wickets, although he is yet to answer the call with the bat.

“I think Afif and Sohan [Nurul] will be seriously good players for Bangladesh in this format,” Domingo said. “Sohan is our one big-hitter at the back-end of the innings. Afif got 20 off 13 balls the other day [21 off 14 against PNG]. He is playing well. I hope he can kick on in this phase. They are big players for us.

“Sohan’s keeping [has] been magnificent. He probably saved us 10-12 runs behind the stumps. It is often the difference in these matches. I have been pleased with both their performances. Runs may not be massive at the moment, but what they provide to the team is of immense value.”

But it all might come down to how well Bangladesh manage to control their emotions in the Super 12s phase. There has already been considerable backlash from many quarters, including BCB president Nazmul Hassan, who criticised the senior players and the side’s overall attitude following their defeat to Scotland early in the first round.

“When you are playing for Bangladesh, there’s always going to be criticism when things don’t go well – it is part of international sport,” he said. “A big part of coaching is for the team to focus on what they can control. There’s nothing we can do about what people are writing and saying. We can focus on our performances – we can evaluate our performances.

“As soon as we worry about those types of things, it takes your focus away from what we need to focus on. We have talked long and hard on what we need to focus on. And it’s cricket.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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SA vs Ind 2021-22 – Ravi Shastri not reading much into India’s twin losses: ‘How can the standard go down suddenly?’




Former India head coach suggests not announcing a vice-captain beforehand, but picking someone who can ‘fit into the XI’ on the day

Former India head coach Ravi Shastri does not see any reason to panic after the team’s twin losses in South Africa. Speaking to PTI on the sidelines of the ongoing Legends Cricket League in Oman, Shastri said given India’s strong performances over the past few years, “how can the standard go down suddenly?”

Shastri took over as commissioner of the Legends League Cricket, a T20 league that features former players, following his stint as India head coach. He said he did not follow the series in South Africa, but he was confident the team would bounce back. “If you lose one series, you people start criticising… You can’t win every game, there will be wins and losses,” he said. “How can the standard go down suddenly? For five years, you have been number one side in the world.”

Shastri’s time with the Indian team has spanned from 2014 to 2021, with a break of a year in between from mid-2016 to mid-2017, when Anil Kumble was the coach. Under Shastri, India became the first Asian team to win a Test series against Australia in Australia, doing it in 2018-19 and then repeating the feat in 2020-21. They also made the final of the inaugural World Test Championship, and were leading in a series in England in 2021 before it was stalled by fears of Covid-19. After taking over from Kumble in 2017, Shastri’s term was extended in 2019 till the end of the T20 World Cup 2021. Shastri, 59, would have not been eligible to serve another term as coach though due to age restrictions on the role.
Rahul Dravid has since taken over from Shastri, but there has also been churn on the captaincy front with Virat Kohli giving up the T20 and Test captaincy a couple of months apart, and being stripped of job in ODIs in between. Shastri, who worked closely with Kohli all through his tenure, said his decision to quit as Test captain should not be questioned.

“It’s his choice. You have to respect his decision. There is a time for everything. A lot of big players in the past have left captaincy when they felt they wanted to focus on their batting or on their cricket.

“Whether it’s (Sachin) Tendulkar, (Sunil) Gavaskar or (MS) Dhoni. And, it’s Virat Kohli now.”

If you announce beforehand, then what happens if the player can’t fit into the team? Then there will be a problem, because ‘How can we drop the vice-captain?’

Ravi Shastri

Shastri said Kohli’s highly successful stint should not be judged on him not having led India to a global title in any format. “Many big players have not won a World Cup. That’s alright. (Sourav) Ganguly, (Rahul) Dravid, (Anil) Kumble also have not won. So can we label them as bad players?

“You can’t generalise. You go and play. How many World Cup winning captains do we have. Sachin Tendulkar had to play six World Cups before winning it.

“At the end of the day, you are judged by how you play, are you an ambassador of the game? Do you play the game with integrity, and do you play for a long period of time? That’s how you judge players at the end of it all.”

Speaking to Sports Tak, Shastri also suggested that India would do better not to name an official vice-captain, but pick one of the playing XI to do the job ahead of each game. Rohit Sharma, who is widely believed to be next is line to take up the captaincy in Test cricket, is currently India’s vice-captain, following a long stint in the role by the out-of-form Ajinkya Rahane.

Asked who should be the next vice-captain if Rohit is promoted to the captaincy, Shastri said: “That will have to be seen. Rahul Dravid will have to see who’s the right candidate. Because that player needs to be a certainty in the team, that’s very important.

“I often think the vice-captaincy is made into too big an issue by people. Sometimes I think, ‘Why do you even need to announce one (a vice-captain)?’ Go to the ground and see, among those who fit into the XI, who is the most experienced and who can captain, make him the vice-captain.

“If you announce beforehand, then what happens if the player can’t fit into the team? Then there will be a problem, because ‘How can we drop the vice-captain?’ Is there a rule in any coaching manual that you can’t drop a vice-captain? Of course you can drop them. So if you have some doubts like that, don’t announce the vice-captain at all. Say we’ll go there and decide.”

While Shastri didn’t get drawn into who should, or shouldn’t be the vice-captain, he did say that Rishabh Pant‘s reading of the game made him a potential future leader.

“Rishabh is a tremendous young player. I say it openly, when I was a coach I was very fond of him,” Shastri said. “And he listens too. Many people say that he plays how he wants, but that’s not true. He always has the team’s interest in mind. And I’ve always seen that he reads the game well. You should always keep in mind his leadership qualities for the future.”

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Match Preview – West Indies vs England, England tour of West Indies 2021/22, 3rd T20I




Series level as West Indies keep the pressure on after near-miss in second game

Big Picture

Too close for comfort for England. Captain Eoin Morgan can view it how he likes – wanting to be pushed in matches, exposing a developing squad to pressure and a simple failure to execute, particularly at the death, if you’ll pardon the pun. Sunday night’s one-run thriller was all of those things. But the over-riding fact is that West Indies had no business even getting close after they needed 61 runs off the last three overs with just two wickets in hand. Had it not been for a ninth-wicket stand of 72 between Romario Shepherd and Akeal Hosein, who both finished unbeaten on 44, they wouldn’t have. And so, like England, West Indies have had plenty to chew over going into Wednesday’s third of five games with the series level at 1-1.
While England’s batting line-up showed vast improvement on their woeful 103 all out from the first match, no one breached fifty during their 171 for 8 in the second with Jason Roy’s 45 the top score. The fact West Indies could rely on a valiantly wagging tail was a plus for them, that they had to was not.
A fresh pitch offered less of the bounce that West Indies had exploited so well in the first match, where Jason Holder returned the remarkable figures of 4 for 7 from 3.4 overs. England, meanwhile, turned to a mix of experience and youth in Chris Jordan and Saqib Mahmood to bowl two of the last three overs on Sunday, and they conceded 23 and 28 runs respectively as both struggled to calibrate their yorkers.
The fielding could do with some work on both sides, with Liam Dawson and Morgan (twice) missing chances with varying degrees of difficulty in the covers, while Shepherd identified poor catching attempts as costly to their cause in his post-match dissection after Moeen Ali was twice reprieved in the deep during his 31 off 24 balls which, combined with his three wickets, led to Player of the Match honours.

Form guide

West Indies LWLLL (most recent first)
England WLLLW

In the spotlight

Moeen backed Saqib Mahmood to learn from a chastening night in which he went wicketless and conceded 45 off his four overs. It will be interesting to see how Mahmood responds and, indeed, how England respond at the selection table. There is a case to be made for sticking with him while those lessons are fresh and in light of Morgan’s desire to increase experience with a view to improving execution. With Tymal Mills fresh from a rest during the second match, Mahmood could be rotated out of the side but the effect of being rested, rotated or dropped on Mahmood’s confidence could well be the same and is worth considering.
Allrounder Odean Smith has played a minimal role in the series thus far amid a wealth of options in West Indies’ middle order and the success of others with the ball, including captain Kieron Pollard. Smith has bowled just one over, which went for four runs, and hit 7 off 3 balls from No. 8 on Sunday. But, speaking after their narrow defeat, Nicholas Pooran backed Smith as “power-hitter”. With their batting line-up largely untested in the first match, as the top three overhauled a paltry target for a nine-wicket victory, single-figure scores for four of the top six in the second match mean the spotlight could be thrown a little wider should it fall to Smith or his lower-order counterparts to lift them again.

Team news

West Indies’ ability to get so close with an unchanged side would indicate few, if any changes, all being well recovery-wise after two outings on the trot. With Shepherd and Hosein performing so admirably in the last game, it’s hard to see them being squeezed out.

West Indies (possible): 1 Shai Hope (wk), 2 Brandon King, 3 Nicholas Pooran, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Kieron Pollard (capt), 6 Jason Holder, 7 Fabian Allen, 8 Odean Smith, 9 Romario Shepherd, 10 Akeal Hosein, 11 Sheldon Cottrell

Illness forced Liam Livingstone to miss England’s first two matches, although he sat in the dugout for the Sunday’s fixture, suggesting that he’s up and about at least and perhaps in contention for the third game, where his big hitting can bolster a line-up bereft of multi-format players Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler. His versatility with the ball would also be welcome for England and Livingstone’s inclusion could see Liam Dawson make way. Reece Topley did more than enough playing his first T20I since 2016 to hold his place with an excellent new-ball spell and tight bowling in the penultimate over of West Indies’ chase if rotation plans allow, so it may come down to a choice between Mahmood and Mills among the seamers.

England (possible): 1 Jason Roy, 2 Tom Banton, 3 James Vince, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Sam Billings (wk), 7 Chris Jordan, 8 Liam Livingstone / Liam Dawson, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Saqib Mahmood, 11 Reece Topley

Pitch and conditions

Kensington Oval remains limited to 50% capacity, due to Covid restrictions, but that has done little to dampen the party atmosphere in the stands. Mild temperatures in the mid-20s Celsius are forecast for the start of the match, as is a 40% chance of rain with cloud cover increasing through the evening.

Stats and trivia

  • The 59 runs West Indies scored from the final three overs on Sunday were the joint-most conceded by England in that phase and the second-most by any team in T20Is
  • West Indies have only once chased down a target of 170-plus in T20Is since 2018.
  • Quotes

    “We are, we’re just getting it wrong.”
    England captain, Eoin Morgan, when asked why his side aren’t trying to bowl yorkers.

    “It must be frightening for other teams to know that our No. 10 batter can do that.”
    Romario Sheperd on Akeal Hosein’s heroics.

    Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo

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    Women’s Ashes – Meg Lanning, Tahlia McGrath advance in ICC women’s T20I rankings




    Chamari Athapaththu breaks into top ten after showing strong form in the Commonwealth Games Qualifiers

    Meg Lanning and Tahlia McGrath have moved up in the ICC Women’s T20I rankings among batters after guiding Australia to a 1-0 series victory in the T20I leg of the ongoing Ashes series. Lanning, the Australia captain, displaced Smriti Mandhana from third place, while McGrath vaulted up 29 places to 28th.
    In the first T20I in Adelaide, McGrath followed up figures of 3 for 26 with an unbeaten 91 off 49 balls, including 13 fours and a six. Lanning also fired with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 64 off 44 balls as Australia hunted down 170 with nine wickets and three overs to spare. The second and third T20Is ended in no-results following lashing rain in Adelaide.
    Shafali Verma regained the top spot on the table, leapfrogging Beth Mooney, who was sidelined from the Ashes games after undergoing surgery for a fractured jaw. Verma (726) now has a two-point lead over Mooney.

    Among allrounders, Ellyse Perry dropped out of the top ten in the list that continues to be led by New Zealand’s Sophie Devine.

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