Day 4 of play in Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test called off

Day 4 of play in Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test called off

14/12/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29669821

Overnight rain and poor light continued to mar Pakistan's first home Test in a decade on Saturday, with officials calling the fourth day off before play had begun.

Groundsmen wiped water from the pitch covers and rolled out a super sopper, but overcast conditions and poor light forced umpires Richard Kettleborough and Michael Gough to call off play at noon.

Both the Pakistan and Sri Lanka teams remained in their hotel in Islamabad.

Sri Lanka had won the toss and opted to bat on the first day, but play was called off after 68.1 overs due to bad light. Only 18.2 overs were possible on day two and 5.2 on the third.

Sri Lanka were 282-6 in their first innings with Dhananjaya de Silva unbeaten on 87 and Dilruwan Perera not out on six.

For the hosts, 16-year-old pacer Naseem Shah (2-83) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-58) were the stand-out bowlers.

There is a clear forecast for Sunday but with so many overs lost over the four days, there is little chance of a result in the match.

The second Test is in Karachi from December 19.

The Test is the first in Pakistan since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus killed eight people in March 2009, leading to the suspension of international cricket in the country as foreign teams refused to visit over security fears.
BCB chief positive about getting security clearance for Pakistan tour

BCB chief positive about getting security clearance for Pakistan tour

14/12/2019, Pakistan, Cricket, Pakistan Cricket Board, Article # 29670349
BCB will also seek the opinion of the players for the tour comprising three T20Is and two Tests in January-February
Smith ‘ideal candidate’ to lead SA into new dawn

Smith ‘ideal candidate’ to lead SA into new dawn

14/12/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29669626

CAPE TOWN: Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith is the ideal candidate for the role of director of cricket for the home series against England that starts later this month, according to acting Cricket South Africa (CAS) chief executive Jacques Faul.

CSA announced the interim appointment of Smith on Wednesday and he will stay in the role for a three-month period up until the Indian Premier League.

Faul said in an exclusive interview that he believes the most successful captain in Test history is the perfect man to move them forward on the pitch after a turbulent few months.

Smith, who publicly expressed reservations about taking the position amid governance concerns at CSA, will not commit on paper beyond the IPL, but Faul, who has been tasked with steadying the organisation, is confident he will stay on once the recent chaos that has engulfed CSA dissipates.

“You cant blame him for feeling this way,” Faul said.

“There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment, but the intention is definitely to go beyond the next few months. I think he wants to see the stability return (to CSA) first.

“He is someone who has a lot of credibility and an excellent reputation ... but if he is happy then I think he will definitely be willing to give it a go longer-term.”

CSA has been beset with accusations of poor governance that led to the suspension of chief executive Thabang Moroe, the resignation of four independent board members and criticism from sponsors.

Faul said Smith, who captained South Africa in 108 tests, will drive the teams on-field performance and ticks every box.

“What we need with Graeme is a hardened international cricketer to guide us. He is also a natural leader, people look up to him, he is decisive in decision-making, a credible person and is assertive. If you were to profile the ideal candidate to get the team back on the right road, it would be Graeme.”

Smith will seek in the new role to turn around the fortunes of an ailing side, who have lost their last five tests in a row to Sri Lanka and India, two of which were by an innings.

He will announce his coaching structure and support staff for the England tour on Saturday, ahead of the first of Four tests that starts on Dec. 26.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2019
Starc rocks New Zealand to put Aussies in driving seat

Starc rocks New Zealand to put Aussies in driving seat

14/12/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29669627

PERTH: Australia quick Mitchell Starc tore through New Zealand’s batting-order shortly before stumps on a dramatic day two, as the hosts gained a stranglehold of the first Test here at the Perth Stadium on Friday.

In reply to Australia’s first innings of 416, New Zealand teetered at 109 for five at the close with veteran Ross Taylor unbeaten on 66 and B.J. Watling yet to score.

A fired up Starc took four wickets, including the prized scalp of Kane Williamson (34) followed by Henry Nicholls (7) and nightwatchman Neil Wagner (0) in successive balls.

A flagging New Zealand had lost both their openers within the first 10 deliveries. Australia, however, will be sweating on the fitness of quick Josh Hazlewood who was forced off the field in the fourth over after pulling up short in his run-up with an apparent left hamstring injury.

Both teams could be without a paceman after debutant New Zealand quick Lockie Ferguson, himself a replacement for injured spearhead Trent Boult, damaged his calf on day one.

Starc lamented Hazlewood’s injury.

“It makes it tough with a bowler down and it certainly was for the Kiwis with Ferguson going down,” he told reporters. “The plus side is we have got them five down tonight.”

After a dour opening two sessions, the day-nighter came alive under lights as Australia’s menacing attack conjured sharp bounce and pace off the pitch.

New Zealand started disastrously when opener Tom Latham fell for a duck on the fifth delivery of the innings after spooning a return catch to a fired up Starc.

It got worse for the tourists when Jeet Raval was bowled by a full Hazlewood delivery in the next over for one.

The match seemingly turned with Hazlewood’s injury and Australia captain Tim Paine had limited options with his team lacking an all-rounder. Part-timer Matthew Wade was handed the ball but had little success.

Williamson and Taylor took advantage during a determined 76-run partnership until New Zealands captain fell to a spectacular one-handed, diving catch by Steve Smith at second slip.

The dismissal re-established Australia’s control after they posted a impressive first-innings total stretching 146.2 overs.

The hosts batted sedately for much of the opening two sessions to deflate New Zealand and ensure they had use of prime bowling conditions under lights.

Marnus Labuschagne (143) and Travis Head (56) combined in a 76-run partnership to wrest control of the contest.

South Africa-born Labuschagne fell seven runs short of becoming the third Test batsman to notch three consecutive scores of over 150.

New Zealand’s tireless quicks Neil Wagner and Tim Southee claimed four wickets apiece.

“We knew it was going to be tough under lights with the new ball,” Southee said. “Being five down is probably a couple too many but there is a lot of belief in the side.”

Oppressive conditions continued on day two with the temperature reaching 40 degrees Celsius. Smoke from a bushfire raging at nearby Belmont Racecourse, about 1km behind Perth Stadium, wafted into the 60,000-seat arena in the first session but did not appear to affect players or spectators.

New Zealand have only won one Test in Australia since their sole series triumph across the Tasman Sea in 1985-86.


AUSTRALIA (1st Innings, overnight 248-4):

D. Warner c and b Wagner 43

J. Burns lbw b de Grandhomme 9

M. Labuschagne b Wagner 143

S. Smith c Southee b Wagner 43

M. Wade b Southee 12

T. Head c Santner b Southee 56

T. Paine c Watling b Southee 39

P. Cummins b Raval 20

M. Starc c Williamson b Southee 30

N. Lyon c de Grandhomme b Wagner 8

J. Hazlewood not out 0

EXTRAS (B-2, LB-1, NB-2, W-8) 13

TOTAL (all out, 146.2 overs) 416

FALL OF WKTS: 1-40, 2-75, 3-207, 4-225, 5-301, 6-325 , 7-363, 8-408, 9-416

BOWLING: Southee 30.2-7-93-4 (1w); Ferguson 11-1-47-0 (1w); Wagner 37-7-92-4 (1w); de Grandhomme 22-8-37-1 (2nb); Santner 33-5-111-0; Raval 13-1-33-1

NEW ZEALAND (1st Innings):

J. Raval b Hazlewood 1

T. Latham c and b Starc 0

K. Williamson c Smith b Starc 34

R. Taylor not out 66

H. Nicholls c Paine b Starc 7

N. Wagner b Starc 0

B.J. Watling not out 0

EXTRAS (B-1) 1

TOTAL (for five wkts, 32 overs) 109

FALL OF WKTS: 1-1, 2-1, 3-77, 4-97, 5-97

BOWLING (to-date): Starc 11-1-31-4; Hazlewood 1.2-1-0-1; Cummins 10.4-2-34-0; Wade 2-0-8-0; Lyon 7-0-35-0

STILL TO BAT: Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Neil Wagner

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2019
World’s biggest cricket venue taking shape in Ahmedabad

World’s biggest cricket venue taking shape in Ahmedabad

14/12/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29669628

AHMEDABAD: The world’s biggest cricket stadium, with space for 110,000 spectators, is taking shape in India and is likely to host its first international match early next year.

The new stadium in Ahmedabad, built at a cost of around $100 million, will seat more fans than Australia’s Melbourne Cricket Ground which can accommodate around 100,000 spectators.

According to reports, the Sardar Patel Stadium is expected to host its first match in March with an exhibition game between an Asia XI and a World XI as the inaugural game.

The stadium will have more than 70 corporate boxes, four dressing rooms, a clubhouse and an Olympic-size swimming pool. Its construction began in January 2017.

It will overtake Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, currently India’s biggest stadium with a capacity of 66,000 — down from 100,000 after a major rebuilding project.

India, the world’s top-ranked Test team, has more than a dozen stadiums capable of holding international cricket matches. Test matches, however, often attract sparse crowds.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2019
PCB defends staging first SL Test in Pindi

PCB defends staging first SL Test in Pindi

14/12/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29669629

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Cricket Board, in a press release issued here on Friday, tried to defend the scheduling of the historic first Test against Sri Lanka in Pindi after nearly two thirds of the Test match has got washed out or cancelled due to bad light so far, thus depriving thousands of fans who had thronged stadium on all three days to witness some exciting Test cricket.

The PCB explained that according to the original FTP schedule, Sri Lanka should have been here for the white-ball cricket, while they would have completed their red-ball assignment in September/October. However, the matches were swapped to give the SLC a little taste and flavor that Pakistan was safe to play cricket.

The PCB’s strategy worked as Sri Lanka are now here for the WTC Tests. The release further said that this time of the year, only Karachi and Rawalpindi could stage Tests as Lahore is not available due to smog and rains and Multan and Peshawar are in the upgradation process.

“If Karachi had staged the first Test, it would have been impossible to allow any cricket in Rawalpindi due to extreme weather conditions from mid-December onwards. The first Test against Sri Lanka couldn’t start before Dec 11 as the Pakistan cricket team only returned from Australia on Dec 6.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2019
Overnight rain washes out play on day four

Overnight rain washes out play on day four

14/12/2019, Pakistan, Cricket, Pakistan Cricket Board, Article # 29669762
A scintillating onslaught from the weather overnight proved yet again to be the definitive performance in the Rawalpindi Test
Smith blinder puts Australia on top

Smith blinder puts Australia on top

14/12/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29669481
PERTH: A stunning catch by Steve Smith snared the prized wicket of Kane Williamson as Mitchell Starc tore through the New Zealand top order on the second day of the first Test in Perth on Friday.Smith dived horizontally to his right at second slip to take the catch to remove Williamson for 34 from the bowling of Starc, just when it appeared New Zealand were fighting back well after losing their two openers with only one run on the board.After Australia posted 416 in extreme heat on the back of a third successive Test century for Marnus Labuschagne the Kiwis were struggling at 109 for five in reply at stumps, still 307 runs in arrears.Ross Taylor, who put on 76 for the third wicket with Williamson and made 290 in his previous Test in Perth, was on 66 and BJ Watling was yet to score.Smith’s freak catch was a key moment, as the Kiwis slumped to 97 for five by losing three wickets for just 20 runs and Tim Southee conceded the last hour cost the Kiwis dearly.Starc said the Smith catch to remove Williamson was a pivotal moment in the day’s play. Starc (4-31) did the damage with four wickets, including those of Henry Nicholls (7) and night watchman Neil Wagner (0) in successive balls.However, Australia had also lost opening bowler Josh Hazlewood (1-0) with a left hamstring injury. Hazlewood bowled opener Jeet Raval for a duck in his first over, but managed just two balls in his second before pulling up short during his run up.He left the field immediately with a devastated demeanour, becoming the second fast bowler to succumb to injury in two days of scorching Perth heat.Kiwi debutant Lockie Ferguson was forced out the game on the first day by a calf injury. The wicket of Raval followed the dismissal of Tom Latham in the very first over, easily caught and bowled by Starc in his follow through.Having claimed the two openers in quick time in favourable bowling conditions Australia looked in total control, but Williamson and Taylor rode their luck early and then settled in as the home side was forced to turn to former wicketkeeper Matthew Wade to send down a couple of overs of erratic medium pace.
England shuffle their aces for South Africa series

England shuffle their aces for South Africa series

14/12/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29669482
LONDON: England opted to limit the workload of some of their World Cup winners when they announced the squads on Friday for one-day and T20 series in South Africa in February.Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood will all be rested when England play their first ODIs since beating New Zealand at Lord’s on July 14.Test captain Joe Root is in the ODI squad, led by Eoin Morgan which plays a three-match series from February 4 to February 9 but not in the 16 for the three T20s.Worcestershire seamer Pat Brown, Somerset batsman Tom Banton and the Lancashire duo of Matthew Parkinson and Saqib Mahmood are included in the ODI squad for the first time.Banton and Mahmood are among five players who were in the T20 squad for England’s 3-2 victory over New Zealand in November but are dropped for the three T20s in South Africa from February 12-16. Sam Billings, Lewis Gregory and James Vince also miss out as World Cup winners Archer, Buttler, Stokes and Wood return to England action.“These two squads were selected with an eye on the T20 World Cup in Australia in 2020,” national selector Ed Smith said in a press release. “We want to expand the pool of players who can perform successfully for England, while also helping the team to peak for major tournaments.”The T20 World Cup is in Australia in October and November.England’s 16-strong squad for the three-match ODI series in South Africa, starting February 4 in Cape Town:Eoin Morgan (Middlesex/capt), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Tom Banton (Somerset), Pat Brown (Worcestershire), Sam Curran (Surrey), Tom Curran (Surrey), Joe Denly (Kent), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Matthew Parkinson (Lancashire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)England’s 16-man squad for the three-match T20 series against the Proteas, starting February 12 in East London:Eoin Morgan (Middlesex/capt), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Jonathan Bairstow (Yorkshire), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Pat Brown (Worcestershire), Sam Curran (Surrey), Tom Curran (Surrey), Joe Denly (Kent), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Matthew Parkinson (Lancashire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Ben Stokes (Durham), Mark Wood (Durham).