After becoming the face of the first series loss to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka head coach Mickey Arthur has defended the move of prioritising young players for the ODI tour of Bangladesh.
He said that the door of the selection process is not closed for anyone and they can come back on the back of strong performances but meanwhile Sri Lanka have adopted an approach that will serve the team well over the next couple of years leading up to the World Cup in 2021.
''Dropping is a harsh word. We have looked at a way we can go forward without them (the seniors). There's no dropping. The guys can come back at any given time,'' Arthur told reporters.
He said that although the tourists dropped the likes of Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal, the team still has Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera with a lot of international experience along with the players like Niroshan Dickwella and Dhananjaya de Silva who have had a fair bit of exposure at international level as well.
''We have lacked a little bit through the middle, but we have some senior players. Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis have played a lot. Dickwella and Dhananjaya de Silva have played a fair amount. Those are the guys we are banking on to become those players. The doors are not closed on anybody. Certainly some senior players can come back at any given time depending on performances.
''We are trying to create depth within our side. Everybody puts pressure on each other, so that they can become the best that they can possibly be. This is a young team which we are building up to 2023. We can back them, but we need something back to show that we are on the right track to take them forward.”
Notably, batting coach Grant Flower pointed out the difference between the two sides in terms of experience in the batting lineup and called it one of the factors behind Sri Lanka’s series loss.
Discussing the series loss against Bangladesh, Arthur expressed astonishment over Sri Lankan batsmen’s inability to counter the Bangladesh spinners as he has seen them handling spinners very well while practising. He pointed out that maybe the ‘fear of failure’ or pressure situations got better of them in the first two ODI of the series.
''We battled to come to terms with the spinners, which is very surprising for me. The batsmen I see out in the nets are totally different to the batsmen who have gone out in the middle. Whether it is performing under pressure or fear of failure - those are the things you have to take out of your mind. They are all very skilled batsmen, particularly against spin. They haven't shown that yet, but I am looking for a really good performance tomorrow.
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.
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.
Addressing the questions around his skills and journey in international cricket, India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has said that the idea of adding few yards of pace in his bowling did not come to his mind early in his career. In a video posted by his franchise the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Bhuvneswar Kumar said that he realised that batsmen started adjusting to his ability to swing the ball as he was down on pace. However, even after the idea struck his mind, he failed to find ways to actually ramp up his pace. "To be honest, first couple of years I didn't realise pace is something that needs to be added. As I kept playing, I realised with swing I need to improve my pace because bowling in late 120kph or just 130kph, batsmen were adjusting to the swing. So, I wanted to increase the pace, but I didn't know how to do it,” Bhuveshwar Kumar said. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has also suffered from frequent injuries that have kept him out of the field for a long time. He was injured in the early part of the IPL last year and made a comeback only this year in the T20 series against England. He bowled well but selectors did not show faith in him with a place in the Test squad for the tour of England where he has bowled well in the past.
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.