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ZIM vs PAK | 1st Test: Hasan Ali, strong batting performance blow Zimbabwe away

Pakistan have handed a real thrashing to the host Zimbabwe by winning the first Test of the series in Harare by an innings and 116 runs.

Having conceded a big lead of 250 runs due to dismal batting performance in the first innings, Zimbabwe always had their task cut out and they fell short of a brilliant bowling attack led by Hasan Ali.

Kevin Kasuza and Tarisai Musakanda provided Zimbabwe with a decent start and thwarted the new ball pair of Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi. However, they were rocked by two quick strikes in the form of  Kasuza and Milton Shumba.

Then, Musakanda and skipper Brendan Taylor tried to resurrect the hosts but when the former was eliminated in the form of a run-out, the tourists came for the kill and Zimbabwe were blown away.

It was a dominating performance for the pace duo from Pakistan as both Ali and Afridi accounted for four wickets each in the first innings of Zimbabwe. 

Zimbabwe had managed to post a mere 176 runs in the first innings and in reply, Pakistan piled on the mammoth 426 runs to keep the hosts at an arm’s length. Opener Imran Butt missed out on a deserving test ton but Fawad Alam did not let the opportunity go and put on another century to remind his fans about the years he lost due to ignorance of the PCB and the selection committee.

Zimbabwe will come against Pakistan for the second and final Test of the series starting May 7 at the same venue in Harare.

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IPL 2021 Preview | DC vs PBKS: Two writers with two scripts seek akin box office success

The writers face criticism for their writing style, ideas, distinguished approach and which throughly affects them forcing to question their own abilities on a number of occasions. But one single token of appreciation helps them get the confidence back and influences them to persist with the proposals that they have in my mind. Well, something of similar sorts happened with KL Rahul when his Punjab Kings side locked horns with Virat Kohli’s pretty successful RCB team in this IPL 2021 in Ahmedabad on Friday. Having lost four out of the six games that Punjab had played prior to this clash, the KL-led side were on the backfoot interrogating themselves as to where they missed the plot that had led to such an awful screenplay. They were criticised and were being certainly written off. But, while the queries were mounting, KL was writing a new script keeping in mind the star he was up against and he did this with perfection. The right-hander penned a totally different narrative. The Punjab skipper brought in Prabhsimran who was certainly a forced change in the top order as Mayank Agarwal wasn’t fit to play while included Harpreet Brar and Riley Meredith in the XI. There is a trend in Bollywood these days where directors tend to get inclined towards having a song that would attract the audience and if it’s a party track then that adds to the demand. KL certainly didn’t have a dance number but he had a quota of four overs from Brar that was enough for the Punjab fans to get their party shoes on. Brar first chipped in with a brisk 25* off 17 to help the side post 179/5 in 20 overs and then rattled RCB batting line up to put them in all sorts of trouble. The left-handed spinner just didn’t pick up the wickets but he dismissed the three batsmen who are the pillars of RCB batting unit. Brar’s scalps included Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers, a perfect diegesis for a blockbuster that was being released on your TV sets from Gujarat. RCB were eventually restricted to 145/8 in 20 overs as Punjab Kings won by 34 runs. Delhi Capitals captain Rishabh Pant doesn’t really need to tinker with his star cast. He has the services of experienced lads and some talented youngsters who have created a perfect balance and the Delhi team is sitting comfortable at the second spot in the points table for now. While Prithvi Shaw has shown why he is said to be the next superstar in the cricketing vicinity, known faces like Ishant Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan bring a lot of stability to the DC crew. The Delhi franchise showed the glimpse of the same when they defeated KKR comprehensively by 7 wickets in Ahmedabad. Now when Punjab meet Delhi on Sunday at the Narendra Modi Stadium, it would be a clash that will see a captain who is trying to write a totally distinguished script and the other who is banking upon the talent and fan following his stars have. The last time the two teams met each other in Mumbai, DC won by 6 wickets chasing down a target of 196 runs sparing 10 balls. But past is past and the situations have changed now, both the sides are coming into this match with a win in their previous game. While DC would be looking to keep an upper hand, Punjab would be seeking to make it 1-1. Don’t weaken the storyline at interval, Punjab Punjab Kings probably have some of the finest hitters of the ball in their line up. From KL Rahul to Chris Gayle and from Deepak Hooda to the latest recruit Shahrukh Khan, the batsmen have the ability to fetch quick runs and can also stitch partnerships as and when required. Though Hooda has been off-colour in the last few matches, he can still be lethal on his day as he unleashed in the initial stage of the tournament. Shahrukh has been scoring runs consistently barring one or two innings while Gayle showed up the character with the bat for which he is famous for against RCB. He scored 46 off 24 but the way he executed his strokes was simply tremendous and horrifying for the bowler in front of him. Captain KL is also among runs while his opening partner Mayank is able to enough get himself back on track. The missing piece in the XI or let’s say in the batting ranks is the presence of Nicholas Pooran. The left-hander has barely scored any runs and is surely occupying a space where another regular batsman can fit in. Mandeep Singh or Dawid Malan can be the perfect replacement for Pooran. But Mandeep might hold an edge as he has played with Rahul, Gayle and Mayank while they were in the RCB in the earlier editions and have a better understanding of each other's game. Rest of the batting is pretty sorted for Punjab now and the inclusion of Brar in the lower middle-order is an added advantage as he too can contribute with the bat at a healthy strike-rate. As far as Punjab’s bowling is concerned. Bishnoi has been a consistent performer while left-arm spinner Brar too showed what he is capable of. The Ahmedabad tracks have been helpful for left-arm spinners in the past and this can help Brar replicate the performance he unfolded against Bangalore on Friday. The fast bowling department is bit of a problem as their front-line pacer Mohammed Shami hasn't produced a spell of his calibre in this season. The Punjab seamers have been giving some runs and this is where the bowlers need to resist. Nevertheless, KL can still proceed with this XI for the match against DC making a small change in the middle-order. The Prithvi ‘Show’ It’s pretty easy to write off a young talent after he has had some disappointing time in the office. This is what exactly happened in Prithvi Shaw’s case. He had a struggling time in Australia and was omitted from the series against England at home. But with setbacks come opportunities. A young Shaw gathered himself and was asked to lead Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare trophy. The right-hander didn’t just lead his side to win but scored heaps of runs etching his name in the record books. He then continued the form in the IPL 2021 as well while playing for DC. The Delhi opener has already struck three fifties in the seven matches that he has played which have come at a very aggressive strike-rate. With Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan who is another batsman in some form in the top order for DC and has dominated Punjab Kings in their last meeting, they are ought to get a steady and quick start to the proceedings. Delhi’s new recruit Steve Smith hasn’t produced a “Smith” kind of a knock yet but the former Australian captain has all the talent to take on any bowling attack on his day. DC’s only problem for now is the performance of their captain Rishabh Pant with the bat. Pant hasn’t been scoring runs consistently and on the couple of occasions he has, they have come on a strike-rate which is totally contrasting with his natural game. The captain needs to take up the responsibility and should go all guns blazing. Talking about the bowling line up is concerned, DC have the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Axar Patel and Avesh Khan in the line up. Axar had a dream run in Ahmedabad in Tests against England and he would be looking to produce something similar when DC take on PBKS. As mentioned above, it seems to be a paradise for left-arm spinners. Match details Match: PBKS vs DC, 29th Match, Indian Premier League 2021 Date; Sunday, May 02, 2021 Time; 7:30 PM Venue: Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad Pitch and Toss The pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium has been helpful for the spinners but the dew factor can also come into play at the later stage of the match. So, if you win the toss, bowl first. But if you are put into bat, then a score of 170-180 is still a defendable one if the strip has something on offer for the spinners. Team News Punjab Kings Punjab Kings seem to be back in form with few changes in their playing XI. Harpreet Brar has turned out to be a handy customer for them in the encounter against RCB. PBKS for now are pretty sorted with their line up and need to make just one small tweak which is getting either Mandeep or Malan in and bench Pooran who has had a dismal run so far. Riley Meredith got hit by a ball during the last over of the previous match and was taken off-field immediately. An update on whether he would be available for selection or not is still awaited. Arshdeep Singh might return if Meredith isn’t fit. Delhi Capitals Delhi Capitals are in some good space with all the players making relevant contributions. They just need to stick to the basics and it’s only the captain Rishbah Pant who needs to realise that he is the same player rather the same batsman who won matches for India in the toughest of conditions few months back. Probable XI PBKS KL Rahul (c), Prabhsimran Singh (wk), Chris Gayle, Deepak Hooda, Mandeep Singh/Dawid Malan, Shahrukh Khan, Harpreet Brar, Chris Jordan, Arshdeep, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami DC Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Steven Smith, Rishabh Pant (c & wk), Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Axar Patel, Lalit Yadav, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Avesh Khan Fantasy XI Chris Gayle (VC), Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan (C), Shahrukh Khan, Deepak Hooda, Marcus Stoinis, Harpreet Brar, Arshdeep, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Kagiso Rabada


I very strongly believe that IPL must go on: Sanju Samson

Rajasthan Royals skipper Sanju Samson has made it clear that even though he respects the opinion of those wanting the Indian Premier League to shut shop in this pandemic, he believes that the tournament must go on. The reason behind Samson’s strong belief is the feeling of positivity that the tournament is bringing on the face of the lakhs of people watching it every night. “We, as IPL players, are not so cut off inside our respective bio-bubbles that we are unaware of what is going on in the wider world outside,” he wrote in his column for Hindustan Times. “I have been following the debate about playing cricket during the pandemic, and I feel that opinions on both sides of the argument must be respected,” he added. “I very strongly believe the tournament must go on because I sincerely feel that it is bringing joy to many millions of Indians during the bleakest of times. If our purpose this season is to be a positive diversion to those watching, then so be it,” Samson, 26, reasoned. Saying that as a team the Rajasthan Royals have acknowledged the situation o the country by getting into the huddle, Samson also lauded the management’s efforts of donating Rs 7.75 crore in the country’s fight against Covid. “Before every match this season we have gotten into a huddle as a team and spoken about the situation outside and what our purpose is as cricketers. That has helped make our cause, if you want to call it that, much clearer: entertain those sitting at home in India and put a smile on their faces before they go to sleep. It really is as simple as that,” wrote Kerala born. “I am also very proud that my franchise donated towards Covid relief in the country (Rajasthan Royals became the first franchise to do so, donating a sum of ₹7.5cr); it was the least we at Rajasthan Royals could do,” he said. Respecting teammate Andrew Tye’s decision of returning to Australia, the wicket-keeper batsman said that no two people could have the same school of thoughts and respecting diversity is important. Advising people to take the basic precautions of wearing masks, sanitising often and getting vaccinated when the turn comes, Samson said that he too is getting for things to become normal, adding that he misses not playing full stadiums. “I am a cricketer, normal for me is a stadium packed with loud fans. Man, do I really miss playing in front of thousands of cheering spectators or what,” he said. The Rajasthan Royals, having lost to Mumbai Indians would be up against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their next clash at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on May 2.


IPL 2021: Andre Russell misses playing in front of huge crowds at Eden Gardens

Kolkata Knight Riders all-rounder Andre Russell is missing the feel of thousands of people in the stadium rallying behind him and his team at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. He said that scores of fans give ‘unreal’ vibes by giving him loud cheer even before he starts his innings or gets ready to bowl his overs. “I miss playing in front of crowds and especially Eden, where I know thousands of people got your back. That keeps me going. And it brings out the fire inside. The loud cheer, even before I face the first ball when I start running onto the crease, those vibes are unreal,” KKR’s latest release called Russell: The Knight of Eden. Russell had joined the Knight Riders in the 2014 edition of the league when they were crowned the championship in the captaincy of Gautam Gambhir and the big man from Jamaica said that he wishes to get back to the podium once again to celebrate the glory of wining the IPL title. “I have won the IPL in 2014, and the feeling that I got to see the guys with tears in their eyes, that's the type of feeling I want to experience again. I want to be on the podium. It should be pure purple and gold. We have a very strong team on paper. But the gameplay wasn’t,” Russell added. The Knight Riders are not having the best of times in the ongoing edition of the IPL as they have won only two games out of the seven played so far. Russell himself has not had consistently good performances with the bat and ball and muddle batting order by the team management has not helped his cause either.