Gayle, Shakib and Faf du Plessis join the CPL 2021 bandwagon

Three of the leading T20 players and also a few of the most demanded around the t20 league circuit in the world, West Indies’ Chris Gayle, Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan and South Africa’s Faf du Plessis have signed up for the upcoming Caribbean Premier League. 

The league which starts on August 28 would see Gayle return to his previous team St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots while Shakib will also be back with his former club Jamaica Tallawahs. Du Plessis though will join a new club St. Lucia Zouks, having previously turned out for Patriots in 2016. 

Gayle, 41 would reunite with the team with which he had a fallout in the 2019 season, having led them to a final just a season ago. The talismanic batsman had some misunderstandings with former West Indies international Ramnaresh Sarwan, who was also the manager of the Patriots in 2019.  

Shakib, who opted out of the PSL to plate the Dhaka Premier Division would look to get some form before the net season of IPL begins in Abu Dhabi as he looked out of sorts during the India leg of the tournament for Kolkata Knight Riders. The 34-year-old has been with the Tallawahs in 2016 and 2017. 

Former South Africa captain du Plessis would be coming in the back of a great IPL where he was in top form having scored 320 runs in seven innings for the Chennai Super Kings. The CPL Player’s draft to select the remaining players for the six franchises would take place on May 28. 

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India's road to WTC Final

India will be locking horns with New Zealand in the final of the inaugural World Test Championship in Southampton slated to begin on June 18. The Indian team has had a brilliant run in the past few Test fixtures as they have defeated sides like Australia away from home and England on the home soil. But the Virat Kohl-led side did suffer a 2-0 against New Zealand in an away series. Interestingly, they will be facing the Blackcaps in the title clash in WTC. Here we take a look at India's road to WTC final. India in West Indies (2019) India started off the WTC campaign with a 2-0 clean sweep win against West Indies in Calypso islands. They won the first match at North Sounds by 318 runs while clinched victory in the second which was held in Kingston by 257 runs. Hanuma Vihari notched up the highest number of runs, 289 in 4 innings at an average of over 96 while Jasprit Bumrah scalped a total of 15 wickets in two matches. Freedom Trophy 2019/20 India hosted South Africa in a three-match Test series and thumped the African side 3-0. The home side thoroughly rattled South Africa in all the three matches. They won the first encounter by 203 runs in Visakhapatnam while thumped them by an innings and 137 runs in the second in Pune. The hosts continued their form in the final Test as well defeating South Africa by an innings and 202 runs in Ranchi. India opener Rohit Sharma finished as the highest run-getter in the series notching up 529 runs in three matches at an average of 132.25 while captain Virat Kohli struck his highest individual score in the longer format. Kohli scored 254* and finished the series with 317 runs to his name. The Indian bowlers too dominated the Proteas and spinner R Ashwin was the highest wicket-taker with 15 scalps to his name. India vs Bangladesh India then hosted Bangladesh for a two-match Test series which also included a Day-Night fixture scheduled to take place in Kolkata. The hosts produced an all-round performance during the course of the series winning both the matches by an innings. They first defeated the Bangla tigers by an innings and 130 runs in Indore and then followed it by a win in the pink-ball Test. India defeated Bangladesh by an innings and 46 runs in this match. India opener Mayank Agarwal scored 257 runs in the series, most by any batsman while captain Virat Kohli became the first Indian player to notch up a ton in the day-night Test. New Zealand vs India India toured New Zealand in the starting of the year 2020 and suffered a 0-2 defeat in the two-match Test series against the Kiwis. New Zealand won the first match in Wellington by 10 wickets while the second that was held in Christchurch by 7 wickets. The Indian batsmen had a struggling time against the New Zealand bowlers. They were bundled out for less than 200 thrice in four innings with Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara being the only two Indian players to cross the 100-run mark in the series. Indian captain Virat Kohli probably had the worst tour after the 2014 England series as he just managed 38 runs in 4 innings that he played. Border-Gavaskar Trophy After a halt that was forced by the Covid-19 outburst, India’s Test fixtures resumed as they travelled to Australia for the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The Indian team was slated to lock horns with the Australian side to defend the trophy that they had won in 2018 but had a totally dismal start to their defence. India were bowled out for 36 in the first match of the series which was also the only Pink-Ball Test setting the hosts an easy target of 90 runs that they chased down by 8 wickets to go 1-0 up in the series in Adelaide. But this wasn’t the only issue that the Indian team was facing in Australia. Regular captain Virat Kohli had to return back home for the birth of his first child while a number of Indian players began to get injured during the series. The likes of Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, KL Rahul, Umesh Yadav, Hanuma Vihari were ruled out due to respective injuries. To add to this, the visitors were racially abused as well. But the youngsters took up the onus on themselves and fought back in the best possible manner they could have. India levelled the series in the second clash in Melbourne while ended the third game in Sydney in a draw to eventually breach the fortress at the Gabba and clinch the series 2-1. Wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant played a couple of crucial knocks during the course of the series and emerged as the highest run-getter for India. The left-handed batsman scored 274 runs in five innings. India vs England After a successful run in Australia, India were up against England at home. The visitors were slated to play four Test matches including a Day/night Test in Ahmedabad. The hosts didn’t have a good start to the series after they lost the first match in Chennai by 227 runs but had a perfect comeback to win the second encounter by a mammoth margin of 337 runs to level the series. The two sides then travelled to Ahmedabad for the remaining two Tests. India won the pink-ball Test by 10 wickets while the fourth match by and innings and 25 runs to wrap up the series 3-1. All-rounder Axar Patel who made his debut in the series had a superb start to his Test career as he bagged a total of 27 wickets in three matches while R Ashwin emerged as the highest wicket-taker with 32 wickets to his name. With a number of series getting postponed, altered or cancelled due to the pandemic, India eventually ended as the table-toppers with 520 points and PCT % of 72.2 in the table. New Zealand who were placed at number two had 420 points and a PCT % of 70. While India have majorly dominated the Test series that they have played on the last few occasions, they have struggled against New Zealand whom they will be taking on in the WTC final. The Indian team hasn’t had a good time against the Kane Williamson-led side in the past few encounters. They lost the World Cup 2019 semi-final to New Zealand to bow out of the tournament while lost the Test and ODI series against the Kiwi team away from home. It would be interesting to see how things pan out when the two sides take on each other in the summit clash in Southampton next month.


R Ashwin opens up on 'sleepless nights' before taking break from IPL 2021

Giving a detailed account of Covid-19 reaching his immediate family that led to his departure from the halfway stage of the IPL 2021, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said that a majority of his family members had contracted Covid-19 and some of them also got seriously ill and recovered only ‘somehow.’ "Almost everyone from my place had got affected due to Covid. In fact, a few of my cousins also got admitted and were serious and they somehow recovered,” Ashwin said on his YouTube channel. Ashwin recalled the sleepless nights he suffered while his family members were battling Covid-19. He said that not sleeping for as long as eight to nine days while also playing games became an unbearable amount of stress for him and hence, he took the decision to take a break from the IPL and spend some time with his family. "I couldn't sleep for almost eight-nine days. Since I couldn't sleep, it was really stressful for me. I was playing matches without getting any sleep. And since I found it really taxing, I had to quit IPL and go home midway. In fact, when I left around that time, I had thoughts on whether I will be able to play cricket thereafter. But still, I did what was required at that point of time. Anyway, after that, I thought there won't be any cricket for some time,” Ashwin added. However, Ashwin also considered returning to the bio bubble and IPL once the situation started improving in his family but by that time the BCCI had postponed the tournament due to rising cases in multiple teams. "In between, when people in my house started recovering, I thought of coming back into the IPL and that's when IPL was called off," he said. At first, Ashwin’s wife Prithi Narayanan had revealed the state of Ashwin’s family members and said that their own children were the source of infection in many cases that prompted Ashwin to come back home.


Netherlands ready for historic CWC Super League debut against Ireland; announce squad

The Cricket Netherlands welcomed back their county superstars in Timm van der Gugten, Fred Klaassen and Brandon Glover to the national side for the first time post the pandemic ridden year as they get ready to play their first-ever Cricket World Cup Super League series against arch-rivals Ireland. Announcing a 15 man squad, head coach Ryan Campbell said that he believes his team would do great in this historic series. “Our first appearance in the much talked about Super League is no doubt the most important page in the Dutch Cricket History book,” said Campbell. “We hope to open this chapter with a really competitive series against our great friends and adversaries Ireland,” added the former Hongkong international. While Gugten is coming off a successful season with Glamorgan having picked 13 wickets and scored 131 runs with a batting average of 26.2 in six county games, Klassen too featured in two games for Kent’s first XI. Brandon Glover also toiled hard in Northamptonshire’s 2nd XI this county season and Cambell believes that the experiences of these players will come in handy for the Dutch side. “We welcome back Timm van der Gugten, Fred Klaassen and Brandon Glover from county duties and I expect them to form a potent fast bowling combination with Logan van Beek and Vivian Kingma, whose form has been outstanding so far this season,” said the 49-year-old. Musa Nadeem Ahmed, who has been one of the top performers in the Dutch domestic circuit with six wickets and 232 runs in the Topklasse’ seven games so far, has also found a place in the 15. “I’m extremely pleased to add Musa Nadeem to our long list of recent debutants. His form in the Topklasse has been outstanding as well as his hard work throughout our long hiatus from International Cricket due to Covid,” Campbell said about the 23-year-old Pakistan born leggie. For the first time ever the matches of the Dutch cricket team would be broadcast live and in Dutch commentary on a commercial television channel. The three ODI’s will be broadcasted live by Ziggo Sport. The tour begins first of the three ODIs on June 2 at Sportpark Maarschalkerweerd in Utrecht. Squad: Pieter Seelaar (captain), Scott Edward, Max O’Dowd, Stephan Myburgh, Ben Cooper, Bas de Leede, Timm van der Gugten, Logan van Beek, Fred Klaassen, Philippe Boissevain, Vivian Kingma, Brandon Glover, Tobias Visée, Musa Nadeem Ahmad, Saqib Zulfiqar Staff: Ryan Campbell (head coach), James Hilditch (Assistant coach & analyst), Gary Kirsten (Assistant coach), George Dunlop (Physio).