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WI vs SA | Dwaine Pretorius contracts Covid, Proteas call up Wiaan Mulder as Bavuma makes comeback

South Africa white-ball side will see the return of their skipper Temba Bavuma after he missed the Test series against West Indies due to hip and finger injury. Bavuma will lead the side over the five-match long T20 series against Windies in Grenada.

Meanwhile, South Africa all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius has tested positive for Covid-19 and has not travelled with the Proteas squad to Grenada. However, he is recovering from the diseases while being asymptomatic and the Proteas have added Wiaan Mulder to the T20 squad as his cover.

South Africa have also retained left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks as one of the pacers along with Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Sisanda Magala and Lizaad Williams with an eye on the rotation of the quicks.

The five-match long T20 series between South Africa and West Indies will commence on June 26.

South Africa T20I squad

Temba Bavuma (capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Sisanda Magala, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi , Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams

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Proteas skipper Dean Elgar takes leadership to his heart, relishes success of 'We' guys

South Africa started their new era with Dean Elgar as the leader on a high note against West Indies, and the skipper is not hiding his delight one bit. Reflecting on the start of his captaincy and his methods of leading the side, Elgar emphasized that for him the team matters over everything else including his own opinion. He said that a leader can lead a side by following two ways: either by taking things into their heads or into their hearts and that for him it’s heart over head in matter solely about the team. "You can take it to your head or you can take it to your heart." I like to think I have taken it to my heart," he said. "I am not a 'me' guy; I am a 'we' guy. For me, it's about the team." He said that leadership has been an important part of his life and he has never shied away from the responsibility of leading his sides from the front. He patted himself on the back saying that he has maintained a great stature as someone who has always stood up to be counted for his side. "It's something I've always thought I have been born with. I have always been a leader, at school, club cricket through franchise cricket. I always like to think I've led from the front," he said. "I am a small guy in stature but a big guy when it comes to standing up and being the representer. It's a massive honour. I don't shy away from that responsibility, and I don't shy away from saying that,” Elgar added. The wins over West Indies did not come easy for the Proteas as their batsmen struggled against an impressive pace battery comprising Shanon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Jason Holder. However, the Proteas pacers were more dangerous against a below-par West Indies batting lineup, and Elgar was full of praises for his pacers. "We've struggled and it's not fine for us that we've struggled. We've addressed that and we've been trying to work on it. The biggest thing is to attack your weaknesses to try to make them strengths,” Elgar said about South Africa’s batting problems. "KG, Anna (Anrich Nortje) and Lungi (Ngidi) are a formidable threesome. They put the fear of God in the batters' eyes. They are a machine," he said. "Their roles are so different and their roles are so big. Each guy is different in their own right. They complement each other so well." Elgar also demanded a lot of ‘respect’ for Keshav Maharaj, who took a hattrick in the second Test to decimate West Indies’ chances of chasing down the total. He pointed out that the left-arm spinner bagged a five-wicket haul on a surface not so much conducive to spin bowling and commended his attitude for not accepting being a ‘second best’ player. "Kesh is a massive player for the Proteas. What he does goes so unnoticed. He needs to get more respect. He got a Test five-for on a wicket that wasn't turning against West Indies, away from home. That's huge. He is a big player. He is going to become a better player going forward. He is not going to stop there. He doesn't sound like being second best,” Elgar added. South Africa will now play an ODI and T20 series against West Indies, but Elgar, who has not been part of white-ball squads for the Proteas will head back home relishing a series win in the first series as the leader of the pack.


Takeaways from India’s WTC loss as Virat Kohli’s side get humbled once again

India were humbled in the World Test Championship final by New Zealand as the Kane Williamson-led side bested Virat Kohli’s men by eight wickets. Although the loss in the big final could be counted as a ‘one-off’ given India’s run of form in the last two years, there have been patterns in their downfall on big occasions which certainly can’t be overlooked anymore. India have had a dream run for form in the World Test Championship cycle that began on the tour of West Indies soon after their horrendous semi-final exit in the ODI World Cup, once again, against New Zealand. There have been patterns in his sides’ failure in big finals for some time and here are some of the key takeaways from the WTC final loss against New Zealand. You can't 'take the pitch, conditions out of the equation' India announced their playing XI 48 hours in advance of the game albeit there were uncertainties around the nature of the pitch and overhead conditions in Southampton. The washout on the first day prompted fans to search for rules if they could change their playing XI before the toss on the second day. However, before the toss, Ravi Shastri brazenly rejected the talks around them changing their playing XI, saying that their bowlers possess the quality to take the pitch and conditions out of the equation. “Bhaad me gaya pitch (To hell with pitches). We want 20 wickets regardless of the pitch. Be it Johannesburg or Mumbai or Delhi or Auckland or Melbourne, our work is to pick up 20 wickets,” is what Shashtri had told Star Sports. Virat Kohli, too, was asked the same question albeit with the benefit of hindsight that if playing a second spinner was luxury and that an extra pacer would have made the bowling attack more dominating. Characteristically, Kohli too downplayed the decision and said they took a ‘unanimous’ decision of playing both the spinners believing them as their best weapon of choice. Kohli argued for India to play an extra seamer, they needed a fast-bowling all-rounder—a luxury they have not had for a sling time since Hardik Pandya was out of the Test side. However, there was an option of playing Shardul Thakur over one of Ravindra Jadeja or Ravichandran Ashwin, but Thakur did not make it even to the final squad. However, the move to playing Shardul could also have been a polarising one given manifold improvements in Jadeja’s batting and Ashwin’s bowling in overseas conditions. Jadeja bowled half the overs Ashwin bowled in the first innings and could not extract a lot out of the Ageas Bowl surface and Kohli did not trust him with a lot of overs early on in the second innings. So, could India have played Shardul Thakur ahead of Jadeja? It was a tough call either way for the team management and it can’t be proven that choosing one over other would have made a tactical difference but certainly, the bullish assertions of taking the pitch out of the equation fell flat on the surface and took India’s chance of winning the WTC with it. India's failures in knockout games need proper addressing The team management, Virat Kohli, along with the specialist Test players raised a lot of stake for the WTC final calling it a monumental occasion as an ODI World Cup. It could well have been seen as a move that could prove counterproductive on the big day and it has turned out to be exactly like that in the end. The side got bogged down under the enormous pressure imparted by the New Zealand side who were disciplined enough to get through the tough phases and decisive enough to seize their moments. The WTC final was the third major ICC knockout game Virat Kohli lost as the leader of the Indian side. One doesn’t need to read beyond his words from the post-match ceremony to understand how much the success in the WTC final would have been dear to his heart. Virat Kohli has been an ardent ambassador of Test cricket and promotes it at every possible opportunity. In the post-match presentation, the India captain said that ‘Test cricket is the heartbeat of the game’. The Test championship would have been Kohli’s first ICC trophy as a captain, a feather fit for his stature as the resurrector of Test cricket in the world. Should the team management and senior players not have hyped the World Test Championship in their discussion as well? Well, India under Kohli and Shastri have been adopting the approach of taking the bull by its horns; but is it fair to say the other team members are not up to the challenge with the same mental intensity and discipline that they flounder so badly in high-pressure games? The defeat against New Zealand in the WTC final in itself is not a debacle and can be attributed to the outstanding and relentless bowling attack of the Kiwis, but the team management can certainly no longer downplay an issue of the team not being at their best in the big knockout games and blame it on ‘45 minutes of bad cricket’ or one-off day. Swing—India’s final frontier India have not been a nervous traveller since late 2018 after strengthening the team with a superb pace attack. The batsmen have not dominated batting in alien conditions but they have found a way to counter the threat of pace and bounce, which used to be the chief nemesis for India in the pre-Kohli era. However, they are yet to come to terms with the swinging ball. Kohli lost his first Test series in England in 2018 and it was down to the superb swing bowling by James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes as India suffered a 2-3 series loss although giving England a real run for their money. India plummeted to the ground on their last tour of New Zealand and what worked in favour of the New Zealand side was the movement in the air and off the pitch that found Kohli and his teammates searching for answers. However, India have won two consecutive series on the tours of Australia against the bowling line up of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Josh Hazlewood where their approach of softening the Kookaburra ball from one end and scoring from the other worked perfectly. There were different modes of dismissals in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand but at the core of it all lay relentless pressure building by the Kiwis, who were better in extracting swing in the air compared to their Indian counterparts. They have another five-match series scheduled against England from August and Virat Kohli would be eager to see his side taking a cue from his performance on the last tour and turn things around the final frontier of swing as well. Cheteshwar Pujara walking on thin ice Cheteshwar Pujara has been the lynchpin of the Indian batting order over their last two series wins in Australia. He was at the forefront of India’s resilience in the last series Down Under, as his strength and defiance at one end allowed players such as Rishabh Pant and Shubman Gill to take the game to the Australian side. He has not batted badly after that game at the Gabba but his returns have started dwindling at the number three position. He could not get at the top of Jack Leach on the turning pitches in India—where he has been as prolific as Virat Kohli. And the lack of runs kept the debate burning about his scoring rate and inability to accelerate throughout the buildup to this game. In the WTC final, former England captain Nasser Hussain, who was calling the game for Star Sports, highlighted the need for Pujara to revisit his ‘only crease occupying’ approach. The suggestion came on the basis that the Duke balls in England would never stop assisting the bowlers, unlike its Kookaburra counterpart. He took as many as 36 balls to get off the mark in the first innings and what would be worrisome for him in the narrative was the lack of attempt to rotate the strike as New Zealanders were not offering loose balls. Virat Kohli ratified the call by Hussain in the post-match press conference and said that he asked his batsmen to play their shots and take chances in order to not allow bowlers not settling in a rhythm. He said that the team would assess how they want to improve in their game and would bring individuals who could bring about those changes in the side. Those words by Kohli should ring some alarm bells for Pujara once again as he has already been dropped once for not showing ‘intent’ in batting and the upcoming series against England would be his litmus test where he has to establish his upgradation as a Test batsman. Ashwin certainly is an 'all-time great' A few days before the World Test Championship, Sanjay Manjrekar had raked up a storm questioning Ravi Ashwin’s place among all-time greats. He faced a lot of flack for what should have been a personal opinion but he argued his point on the basis of lack of match-winning spells in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia) countries and said that he does not quite rate the off-spinner as an all-time great. The WTC final could well have been a perfect place for Ashwin to shut down those noises doubting his credentials as an off-spinner who can do the job perfectly irrespective of the conditions. India played two spinners in rainy Southampton and while the pacers failed to extract help in an amount comparable to what New Zealand pacer achieved, it was Ashwin’s guile that earned India their first wicket. He did not have the assistance of a pitch that was offering a lot of turns but he deceived Latham, who is believed to be one of the best players of spin in the New Zealand side not once but twice in two innings. He was the lone man standing for India in the final innings with big wickets of Devon Conway and Latham. Latham was done in by the change of pace and a bit of turn while Conway was coaxed with the one that did not turn one bit and would have taken away his off-stump if not for his pads were in the way. Ashwin re-established his credentials as a bowler who could extract false shots from batsmen relying on subtle variations in pace and natural angles even without having a proper spin-assisting surface. With the number of wickets he has been churning every game, there should be no doubt about his standings among the all-time great spinners. India were served some harsh lessons by a highly skilful and disciplined New Zealand side and their redemption from this defeat will be a series win against England, which they came close to achieving on their last tour. Kohli, an established great in the international arena, on the sheer volume of runs his bat has produced had another shot at the opportunity to establish a legacy of the leader of global champions. However, a brittle batting lineup that has refused to stand up tall in tough situations in knockout games ditched him and his long-lasting ambitions once again.


Umaid Asif issues apology note after suspension from PSL final

After getting suspended for the final of the HBL PSL 6, Peshawar Zalmi pacer Umaid Asif has expressed his disappointment and apologised to his teammates and the captain and coaching staff for letting them down ahead of such a big game. The duo of Haider Ali and Umaid Asif was suspended from the final as they admitted to breaching the Health and Safety Protocols that were in place for the tournament. They admitted to meeting people from outside their designated bio-secure bubble and not maintaining prescribed social distancing. “I regret and have immense remorse for my actions. Although it is no excuse, I had a momentary lapse in concentration and breached bio-bubble protocol…,” said Asif in a statement shared on his personal Twitter handle. “I’m bitterly disappointed at not only missing out on playing in the PSL final but more importantly for letting down my Peshawar Zalmi team mates, fans and all those following the PSL,” he further added. He also apologised to his team management hoping that despite the absence of two of their premier players they will manage to win the tournament. “I’m extremely sorry to every individual member of my Peshawar Zalmi management, Akram bhai, Inzamam bhai, Darren Sammy and especially my captain Wahab Riaz bhai who have supported me throughout PSL…again apologise for any negative publicity this has created,” he said “I can’t express how devastated and dejected I’m at this moment, personally for missing out on a PSL final, but I will be supporting my team mates from my room and pray that they lift the PSL trophy again,” he concluded.


Where do you accommodate multi-game WTC finals? Michael Vaughan questions Virat Kohli

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan who doesn’t mince his words has come hard at Indian skipper Virat Kohli who had called out for multi-game finals as far as the future ICC World Test Championships are concerned. Following India’s defeat against New Zealand on the reserve day of the WTC final, Kohli said that it would have been more appropriate if the final was a three-match affair. “If you saw the way the game went with whatever time we got on the field, why wouldn’t you want to see two more Tests of the same team battling it out and eventually being the winners of the World Test Championship,” Kohli said after the Black Caps were crowned the inaugural World Test Champions. Replying to Kohli’s suggestion, Vaughan said that with such a tight schedule all across the world it is highly impossible to conduct a three-match affair. He also took an indirect dig at BCCI and Kohli by enquiring whether they can reduce the length of the IPL to accommodate the extra matches of the WTC final. “Where in the schedule would it fit in ?? Are the IPL going to reduce the year of the final tournament by 2 weeks so it could fit in? Doubt it…. Finals are one-off games where teams/individuals know they have to deliver…. That’s what makes them so great,” Vaughan said. Coming back to the WTC final, New Zealand completed a 8 wicket victory on the reserve day of the match. After taking a 32 runs lead in the first innings, the New Zealand bowlers found their mark early on Day 6 and skittled out the Indians for just 170. After a couple of hiccups, New Zealand managed to chase the target of 139 down with 8 wickets left and fittingly Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor were there to see off the chase. Unlike the rest of the ICC tournaments, the ICC Test Championship was held over a course of two years and many bilateral series had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence New Zealand ended up playing just 12 matches while India had played a total of 18 matches.