Naseem Shah to rejoin bio-bubble for PSL 2021

Pakistan fast bowler Naseem Shah has been allowed to rejoin the biosecure bubble for the PSL 2021. The pacer was earlier expelled from the tournament for breaching the Covid-19 protocols. 

Naseem had presented an outdated negative test for COVID-19 after arriving in Lahore. The PSL will resume in Abu Dhabi next month and the players and support staff travelling to the country are required to produce a negative report for the disease not more than 48 hours before arriving at the team hotel. 

"The PCB doesn't take any pride in releasing a young fast bowler from its marquee event but if we will ignore this breach, then we will potentially put at risk the entire event," Babar Hamid, commercial director and head of PSL had said earlier. "We appreciate Quetta Gladiators for accepting this decision as it confirms we are all aligned to strictly following and implementing the protocols."

The PSL was postponed for an indefinite time earlier after there was a rise in Covid-19 cases within the teams. 

Earlier, the Pakistan Cricket Board had decided to host the tournament between June 1 to one 20 in Karachi. But it was later shifted to the UAE after the franchise had made the request to the CPB citing the increase in number of cases in the country. 


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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.