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Ban vs Pak Test series

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Imam-ul-Haq and Bilal Asif recalled; Imran Butt, Shahnawaz Dahani and Haris Rauf left out; Yasir Shah out injured

Kamran Ghulam, who scored a record 1249 runs in the 2020-21 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, has been rewarded with a maiden call-up to Pakistan’s Test squad. The 26-year-old middle-order batter, who is currently on tour with the Pakistan Shaheens squad in Sri Lanka, could make his debut during Pakistan’s upcoming two-Test series in Bangladesh, which begins in Chittagong on November 26.
The selectors, meanwhile, have recalled the opener Imam-ul-Haq and the offspinner Bilal Asif, while leaving out Imran Butt, Haris Rauf and Shahnawaz Dahani, who were all part of the 21-member squad that toured the West Indies for Pakistan’s last Test assignment in August. The legspinner Yasir Shah has not been picked since he is recovering from a thumb injury sustained during the National T20 Cup in October.

Ghulam, who hails from Upper Dir in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, surpassed the record of Saadat Ali, who scored 1217 runs during the 1983-84 season of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. He was picked among the players who were part of a training camp ahead of the home Test series against South Africa earlier this year, but wasn’t considered for the final squad of 15, and also ignored for the tours of Zimbabwe and West Indies. But he was kept close to the senior set-up and selected in the Shaheens squad, and he impressed with scores of 58* and 45 in the unofficial Tests against Sri Lanka A.

Asif has been brought back to fill in for the injured Yasir. Imam, meanwhile, has been in rich form during the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, scoring 162.66 in five innings at an average of 162.66, with two hundreds including a double-ton. He was part of Pakistan’s Test squad until late last year, when he was ruled out of the tour of New Zealand with a thumb injury. Since then he had been overlooked for selection, with Imran Butt given opportunities to establish himself as opener.

Butt played six straight Test matches, but his poor returns put his place under pressure. He made 91 against Zimbabwe in Harare, but he has crossed 15 only once in his nine other Test innings, and he currently averages 17.80. Ex-head coach Misbah ul Haq persisted with him, making a case that players need a longer run to overcome insecurity about their place and begin to express themselves, but following the change in the coaching set-up, Butt has fallen out of favour, despite having scored two hundreds and a 95 in the ongoing first-class season. He holds an emerging-category contract with the PCB, however, and was the leading run-getter in the 2019-20 season.

With Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz now out of the picture in red-ball cricket, Pakistan have looked to build a young fast-bowling attack around Shaheen Shah Afridi, bringing Naseem Shah and Muhammad Musa into the squad and later adding Rauf and Dahani to the larger group. But with Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali and the allrounder Faheem Ashraf all returning after recovering from injury, the management has begun to streamline the pace unit. While Naseem remains in the squad, the selectors have let go of Rauf and Dahani, who will return to Pakistan after the T20I leg of the Bangladesh tour and play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

Pakistan have plenty of options in the spin department, with offspinner Sajid Khan, left-arm spinner Nauman Ali, legspinner Zahid Mahmood and bowling allrounder Mohammad Nawaz all in the 20-member squad alongside Asif.

“We have selected the squad following discussions with the team management and after taking into consideration the opposition’s potential make-up and the conditions in which the Tests will be played,” Mohammad Wasim, the chief selector, said in a statement. “As we already have four frontline fast bowlers, we have allowed Haris Rauf and Shahnawaz Dahani to return to Pakistan after the T20Is so that they can play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and prepare for Australia Tests.

“An in-form left-hander Imam-ul-Haq has replaced Imran Butt, who managed to score at 17.8 in 10 Test innings, but he has a chance to continue to play and perform in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy so that he can force his way back in the side. Bangladesh are strong side in their backyard but we have the resources, talent and experience to perform strongly and then carry that momentum into the Australia Tests, which will be part of the ICC World Test Championship.”

This will be Pakistan’s first tour to Bangladesh since 2015 and the two-match series will be the part of the ICC World Test Championship.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent



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South Africa vs Netherlands 2021

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Although Netherlands are unable to catch a flight out, it is understood the players have communicated they are not in the right mental state to play

The second and third ODIs between South Africa and Netherlands have been postponed after concerns around a new Coronavirus variant, Omicron. The first match in the series, which forms part of the World Cup Super League, was washed out on Friday, leaving the teams sharing five points each. That keeps Netherlands in last place on the points table, and South Africa in ninth, outside the automatic qualification zone.

Although Netherlands will be in South Africa for the duration of the series because they are unable to catch a flight out, ESPNcricinfo understands that the players have communicated they are not in the right mental state to play. On Friday, their coach Ryan Campbell tweeted that the team played with “unbelievable pressure hanging over their heads,” after travel restrictions began to affect the southern African region.

“We are disappointed by the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in, but the comfort of all visiting teams must always be paramount,” Pholetsi Moseki, CSA’s acting CEO, said. “The mental well-being of players is one of CSA’s top priorities, and we respect our visitors’ position and point of view.

“CSA and KNCB will get into discussions around possibly rescheduling the tour within this cycle of the ICC Future Tours Programme ending in 2023.”

“We are saddened by these circumstances, but are grateful to Cricket South Africa for their assistance and understanding of our team’s position,” Jurgen Delfos, chairman of Netherlands cricket board, said. “

It must be made clear that the concerns are strictly over travel issues and how soon the team can get home and have nothing to do with the integrity of the Bio-Secure Environment (BSE) that CSA has successfully hosted. Our team has been pleased with every aspect of the organisation of the tour and have been well treated by our hosts.”

The United Kingdom, United States, much of Europe, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand have all banned travel to and from countries in southern Africa, and imposed a quarantine on their own citizens returning from the region in response to Omicron.

News of a new variant was first made public on Tuesday, November 23 and cases in the Gauteng province of South Africa, where the Netherlands series is taking place, have increased severalfold since. Although South Africa is only reporting around 2,000 new cases a day, there are concerns this will rise exponentially and stricter restrictions are due to be introduced soon. South Africa is currently on Level 1 of 5 of its restrictions, the most lenient since the pandemic began, and the first ODI was the first time since March 2020 that cricket was played in front of a limited crowd, but the government is meeting on Saturday to discuss further measures.

As yet there is no indication of how this will affect the rest of the cricket calendar. India A are also in South Africa, playing first-class matches against South Africa A in Bloemfontein. So far, that series is continuing. India’s senior side is due to travel to South Africa for three Tests, three ODIs and four ODIs on December 8. India has not imposed any restrictions on southern African travelers to date, but has stricter testing measures for people from the region in place.

Last summer, South Africa’s season was severely impacted after England left the country early without playing the ODI leg of their white-ball tour and Australia pulled out of a four-Test series which was pencilled in as the marquee event of the summer. Sri Lanka and Pakistan both toured the country without incident in strict bio-bubble conditions, which Cricket South Africa will replicate for the India series.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent





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Recent Match Report – Scorchers Wm vs StrikersWmn Final 2021/22

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The home side finished strongly with the bat and started superbly with the ball in the powerplay

Perth Scorchers 5 for 146 beat Adelaide Strikers 6 for 134 by 12 runs

Marizanne Kapp, who had been ill all week in the lead-up to the WBBL final and barely left her hotel room, produced a critical all-round display to help Perth Scorchers claim their maiden title as Adelaide Strikers’ powerful late-tournament surge came to a halt at Optus Stadium.
In front of a crowd of 15,511, the highest for a standalone WBBL match, the defining passages of the match were how Scorchers finished their batting innings and then started with the ball: their final five overs brought 47 runs, with vital hands from Player of the Match Kapp and Alana King, then they restricted Strikers to 2 for 16 in their powerplay with Kapp’s first two overs costing just two runs and Sophie Devine producing a wicket maiden.

The middle order did their best to keep Strikers in the match with useful hands but it proved out of reach despite Madeline Penna’s best efforts with 30 not out off 21 balls.

Kapp produced some superb deliveries to build the pressure on Strikers’ openers and it was Devine who earned the reward when Katie Mack’s extraordinary run of scoring was halted as he she drove to cover. Before this match Mack had made 332 runs in her last six innings for just one out.

Without a run added van Niekerk also departed, edging Taneale Peschel down the leg side, and by the end of the powerplay the asking rate was above nine an over.

Laura Wolvaardt and captain Tahlia McGrath rebuilt with a stand of 65 in eight overs which was forming a base from where Strikers could have run down the target. However, both fell within the space of six balls carving catches to the off-side ring which meant new batters had little time to get set.

The prolific Scorchers opening pair of Devine and Beth Mooney made a solid if unspectacular start after being put into bat, reaching 0 for 37 after the powerplay. They were immediately aggressive against Amanda-Jade Wellington who conceded more in her first four balls than she did the entire record-breaking Eliminator spell, although she would fight back well.

Neither opener could really cut loose and Strikers started to chip away at the top order. Mooney picked out mid-off, Devine was run out by a direct hit by Dane van Niekerk from short third and Chloe Piparo edged Darcie Brown who was rewarded for some rapid outswing bowling.

At 3 for 75 in the 12th the innings was at a tipping point and there was caution from Kapp and Heather Graham which threatened to leave Scorchers short. However, Kapp started to find the boundary and King made a dynamic late entrance with three boundaries in a five-ball stay.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2021-22 in Zimbabwe called off following concerns over new Covid-19 variant

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The tournament cannot be rescheduled, as the ODI World Cup is scheduled for March-April 2022

The women’s ODI World Cup qualifying event in Zimbabwe has been called off after travel restrictions were imposed on large parts of southern Africa following the detection of a new Covid-19 variant, called Omicron, in the region. With the marquee event scheduled to take place next year in March and April, the qualifier cannot be held at a later date, and the three remaining spots will be decided according to the ICC rankings.

Hosts New Zealand, Australia, England, South Africa and India have already qualified for the tournament. They will now be joined by Bangladesh, West Indies and Pakistan.

The news will be a disappointment to Thailand, who do not have a ranking at the moment, but beat Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in the tournament. Bangladesh were on top of Group B with wins over Pakistan and USA, while West Indies topped Group A after beating Ireland.

ESPNcricinfo has learned that the cutoff date for the women’s ODI rankings taken into consideration for deciding on the final three teams for 2022 ODI World Cup was September 30. Between the start of the pandemic and August 31, 2021, Pakistan played eight ODIs, winning two, West Indies played 10, winning three and having one tied, while Ireland, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh played none. Bangladesh, however, are understood to have been well ahead of Ireland and Sri Lanka on the rankings for more than a year.

Concerns over the future of the qualifier were raised on Saturday morning when the match between Sri Lanka and West Indies was called off without a ball bowled. ESPNcricinfo understands that the fixture could not be played because a member of the Sri Lankan support staff had tested positive for Covid-19.

“We are incredibly disappointed to have to cancel the remainder of this event but with travel restrictions from a number of African countries being imposed at such short notice, there was a serious risk that teams would be unable to return home,” Chris Tetley, the ICC head of events, said.

“We have explored a number of options to allow us to complete the event but it isn’t feasible and we will fly the teams out of Zimbabwe as soon as possible. Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies will now qualify for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2022 by virtue of their rankings, whilst Sri Lanka and Ireland will also join them in the next cycle of the ICC Women’s Championship.”

There had already been a few positive Covid-19 tests in the Sri Lanka camp after reaching Zimbabwe, the last of which was detected prior to their match against Netherlands on Tuesday. That match did go ahead with Sri Lanka winning a rain-affected fixture by 34 runs.

On the whole, Zimbabwe’s caseload remains relatively low at under 135,000, with fewer than 5000 deaths. However, with travel in and out of the country becoming increasingly difficult, the qualifier had to be scrapped for logistical reasons. Emirates Airline, which flew the teams into Harare, is understood to be suspending the route in the coming days.

The variant was first discovered in Botswana and has infected several hundred people in neighbouring South Africa, which is on the brink of a fourth wave of infection. The UK, USA, much of Europe, Australia, Sri Lanka and Thailand have all suspended travel to and from countries in southern Africa, putting several international events in doubt.

The women’s World Cup qualifiers got underway on Sunday, November 21, amid low case numbers in southern Africa, but Papua New Guinea had been “forced to withdraw” from the tournament at the start of the month due to a slew of infections in the camp. News of a new variant was first made public on Tuesday, November 23, and cases in the Gauteng province of South Africa have increased several fold since. Although South Africa is reporting around 2000 new cases a day, there are concerns this will rise exponentially and stricter restrictions are due to be introduced soon. South Africa is currently on Level 1 of 5 of its restrictions, the most lenient since the pandemic began.
The Netherlands men’s team is currently in South Africa playing a World Cup Super League ODI series and have two matches left to play. A decision on whether those are going to go ahead will be taken today.

India A are also in South Africa, playing first-class matches in Bloemfontein. So far, that series is known to be on schedule, since the region is regarded as safe. India’s senior side is due to travel to South Africa for three Tests, three ODIs and four ODIs on December 8. India has not imposed any restrictions on southern African travellers yet, but has installed stricter testing measures for people from the region.



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