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Clash of the titans: England and Australia gear up for T20 challenge

The eyes will be set on the pace bowling of the two teams. Both England and Australia rely on their fast bowlers to give them early wickets, though Morgan’s team will have home advantage.

Atul Wassan

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Aussie skipper Aaron Finch, England captain Eoin Morgan

The much-awaited T-20 series between Australia and England is going to start at Southampton on Friday. This will be followed by the ODI series of three matches. The excitement will be at its peak as two heavyweights will be taking on each other in these series. England will be playing with two advantages in their favour in these series. First, England will have an advantage of playing in home conditions like in the past two series. The England team has played series against West Indies and Pakistan recently in the same conditions. English players have proved their fitness and all of them continue to be match-fit.

 The eyes will be set on the pace bowlings of both the teams. The two teams have relied on those fast bowlers who play all the three formats of cricket. England have included Mark Wood and Jofra Archer in the squad. When it comes to Test matches, only one of them is given a chance to be in the team. But both of them could prove to be big assets for the team in a T20 match. Wood has great speed, while Jofra Archer gets bounce as well as speed. If both the pacers take early wickets by virtue of their fast and furious bowling, then it will make the job for England quite easier. At the same time, Curran brothers will be in a supporting role. England also possess a specialist bowler for the T-20 format in the form of Chris Jordan who has bowled a good spell against Pakistan recently.

Australia too have avoided doing experiments. It inducted Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood in the squad. They are all Test specialists. Now it will be good to see Test bowlers playing in T-20. But the possibility is that Hazlewood is not included in the playing eleven. Possibly, England conditions are understood to be favourable for his bowling. He can do both swing and seam. But if batsmen crack his bowling too much then it will impact his game also.

 Pat Cummins is world number 1 bowler in the ICC ranking. He normally does not, however, swing the bowl. He focuses more on the cutter. He hits the ball on the wicket. His speciality is that he has good control over the ball despite speed. Mitchell Starc is the main fast bowler of Australia. His swing bowling could prove to be quite useful in England conditions. Mitchell has raw pace. And he has bowled at a speed of 160 km per hour. He has claimed again that he is going to bowl at the same speed. His yorkers are also quite dangerous. He can make a lot of difference in this series due to these specialities. Indian bowler Jaspreet Bumrah used to bowl in limited overs matches only and then he grew into a complete bowler, proving himself to be an asset for India. The same is with Cummins and Mitchell.

 It is good that both the teams have avoided doing experiments. And both have relied on their established players who have good track-record to prove. With this in view, the England-Australia series is going to be quite interesting and exciting.

 The writer is a former fast bowler of Indian cricket team. He is also a cricket analyst.

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JOHNSON OPENS UP ON HIS BATTLE WITH DEPRESSION

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Former Australia pacer Mitchell Johnson has opened up on his battle with depression after retiring from professional cricket.

Johnson revealed that he has had mental health issues while playing as well, but his battle got tougher once he retired from international cricket. “I’ve found it tougher since retiring from cricket. All of a sudden, you’re not doing as much. You sort of lose your purpose a little bit. I struggle with, probably, confidence at times. I’m in that transition now where I’ve been out of playing cricket for about two years,” Johnson told Channel 7’s SAS Australia.

The former Australian pacer had retired from professional cricket in 2018. The pacer finished his international career with 313 wickets in 73 Test matches.

He was also a part of the World Cup-winning squad in 2015.

“I found out I’ve got depression … but I think the depression was something I’ve had even from a younger age. It [cricket] sort of blocked things out in a way. It sort of hid the depression, but there were a lot of times where you would go back to your room, you’re away from family and you start to dwell on things,” said Johnson.

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FIFA PRESIDENT INFANTINO TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

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FIFA President Gianni Infantino has tested positive for coronavirus, the apex body of soccer said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to the statement, Infantino, who is 50 years old, reported mild symptoms and has self-isolated himself. He will remain in quarantine for at least ten days. “FIFA President Gianni Infantino has received confirmation today that he has tested positive for coronavirus. The FIFA President, who has reported mild symptoms, has immediately placed himself in self-isolation and will remain in quarantine at least for ten days,” the apex body said in an official statement.

“All people who came into contact with the FIFA President during the last few days have been informed accordingly and they are being requested to take the necessary steps,” it added.

Recently, Infantino had said he’s not interested in European Super League, a breakaway competition being planned by top European clubs. All those who have come into close contact with Infantino have also been requested to self-isolate.

“FIFA sincerely wishes President Infantino a speedy recovery.” the statement further read.

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SPEEDSTER MOHAMMED SIRAJ BARGES INTO TEST SIDE, FINALLY

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Mohammed Siraj, who took a three-wicket haul with the new ball in an economical spell against Kolkata Knight Riders last week, has finally been rewarded for his performances in domestic first-class cricket and for India A with the national selectors naming him in the Test squad for the upcoming Australia tour.

Although the 26-year-old has played in ODIs (1) and T20Is (3), this is his maiden entry into Test squad.

Even as his IPL career went up and down since he joined Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2018 after a decent year with SunRisers Hyderabad in 2017, Siraj continued to pick wickets in first-class cricket at home, leading his team’s pace attack in Ranji Trophy and also featuring with wickets for India A.

He took an eight-wicket haul against Australia A in Bengaluru in 2018 to come into national contention. The haul, a record for India A, followed a few fifers and four-wicket hauls against South Africa A and West Indies A that year. He also performed against England Lions.

2018 was a breakthrough one as earlier he had clicked, taking wickets by the bucketful in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Although a favourite to make the Test squad, he was rewarded with an ODI cap in January 2019. However, he failed to perform and was sent back to the domestic grind.

He struggled to put up performances in Indian Premier League (IPL) not just because he had little opportunity to bowl with the new ball but also because the shortest format doesn’t suit him as well as the days’ format does.

Siraj’s RCB skipper Virat Kohli had said that the bowler had to face a lot of criticism last year and he has worked hard to make a comeback.

“Last year he had a tough year and a lot of people went quite hard at him. This time around he worked hard, he was really determined, and in practice as well, he was hitting the right areas, talking to the bowling coach,” said Kohli after the match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).

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Challengers eying to vanquish Mumbai in Abu Dhabi

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Both Mumbai Indians (MI) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will look to stamp their authority going into the playoffs when they square off in the 48th match of the ongoing season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Wednesday.

Both sides have 14 points each but MI are top of the table due to their superior net run rate.

MI’s captain Rohit Sharma, who had missed the previous two games due to a hamstring injury, is unlikely to feature in the contest and once again Kieron Pollard will be leading the charge.

The MI top-order comprising Quinton de Kock, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav and Saurabh Tiwary are in great form. de Kock (374 runs from 11 games) had failed to click against Rajasthan Royals but the wicketkeeper has been excellent throughout the season.

Their middle-order features Hardik Pandya, Pollard and Krunal Pandya, all of whom have at some point taken the opposition bowlers to the cleaners in the death overs. It was Hardik who starred in their previous match against Rajasthan Royals, smashing an unbeaten 21-ball 60.

Their pacers – Jasprit Bumrah (17 wickets), Trent Boult (16 wickets) have been at their lethal best barring the last game when their side was handed a reality check by Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson.

Apart from them, either James Pattinson or Nathan Coulter-Nile could be their third pacer while the spin workload will be shared by Rahul Chahar and Krunal.

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TIMES ARE TOUGH BUT YOU HAVE TO ADJUST AS PROFESSIONAL: BUMRAH

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After battling Covid-19 lockdown and rains in Ahmedabad as he hoped to return to peak fitness that had sidelined him for the latter part of 2019 and hurt his form early this year, pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah seems to have finally regained top form.

Bumrah is joint third in the list of wicket-takers with 17 wickets in 11 matches so far this IPL season.

The right-arm Mumbai Indians bowler had to endure a complete lockdown in Ahmedabad during late March, April and May, as the graph of Covid-19 cases shot up in the city. Everything, including the grounds, was shut down, confirmed those from the city.

Slowly, as places began to open, Bumrah started to turn up at Gujarat College ground to bowl at single stump and sometimes to Parthiv Patel, although it was hard to do it every day as rains from June began playing spoilsport.

Bumrah could never get regular practice, just like many other cricketers, and it was only in the Mumbai Indians camp that he got to practice properly.

With his form clicking, Bumrah reflected on the time during lockdown saying as professional cricketers they have to adjust to it and be ready to live and play in a bio-bubble.

“It is very important to be mentally fresh. I know it is difficult to always stay in the bubble and a controlled atmosphere, not being able to go out. When things are normal, you go out for a coffee or roam around, get a breath of fresh air,” said Bumrah while answering questions the media on Tuesday.

“It is difficult but you have to stay in the present, try to control the things you can, and try to create a healthy atmosphere in the bubble, try to be with people, try to talk to each other, try to speak with each other, try to have good conversation with people back home. All these things help you. Times are tough, but you have to adjust as professional cricketers. Everybody’s safety is top priority. This is what you look to do, and this is what I’ll do,” he added.

Bumrah’s class has shown through the Super Overs. Prior to this season, he has produced overs that have helped his team win the matches.

Although this time he couldn’t deliver wins, his Super Overs were pretty good. He couldn’t defend eight against RCB but took the game to the last ball of the over, even forcing AB de Villiers to play a top-edged shot that went to the fence.

Bumrah then restricted Kings XI Punjab to just six, but that was equalled by Mohammed Shami for the opposition taking the game into another Super Over where Boult conceded and lost the game.

“It is always difficult to bowl in pressure situations. Bowlers can come under pressure, can complicate things, think about a lot of things they shouldn’t be thinking. I try to do things that are in my control and I try to stay in the present. I try to take it one ball at a time. I assess what the team wants me to do at the moment and then segregate the whole situation into ball-by-ball situation,” said Bumrah. IANS

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Saha, Warner help sun rise in Hyderabad team

Chasing a mammoth 220 runs, Delhi Capitals got off to a bad start with in-form Shikhar Dhawan back in the pavilion in the very first over; Rashid Khan shines with ball.

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Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) showed no mercy as they thrashed Delhi Capitals by 88 runs here at Dubai International Stadium on Tuesday.

In the match, the Delhi Capitals chase spluttered and faltered without ever kicking into top gear. With this win, SRH has moved to the sixth spot in the points table with 10 points while Delhi Capitals has slipped to the third spot with 14 points.

No Delhi Capitals batsmen got going as SRH restricted the Shreyas Iyer-led side to 131 runs in their allotted 20 overs on the back of some all-round bowling performance.

Rashid Khan picked three wickets and gave away just seven runs from his four overs. T Natarajan and Sandeep Sharma bowled brilliantly and picked two wickets each

Chasing a mammoth 220 runs, Delhi Capitals got off to the worst possible with in-form Shikhar Dhawan back in the hut in the very first over.

Marcus Stoinis, who was promoted up the order failed to leave a mark as Shahbaz Nadeem dismissed him the second over.

Shimron Hetmyer and Ajinkya Rahane stitched a 40-run stand to revive some hopes but Rashid Khan’s double-wicket seventh over put Delhi Capitals at the backfoot as they got reduced to 55/4.

Skipper Shreyas Iyer finally came into bat number six but struggled as Rashid spun a web. Rishabh Pant was the lone man standing as all Delhi Capitals batsmen struggled with timing.

Wickets kept falling at regular intervals and the Delhi Capitals chase spluttered and faltered without ever kicking into top gear. The side got reduced 83/6 in the 13th over as the win looked a distant dream.

In the end, the Capitals were folded for 131 runs.

Earlier after being put in to bat, Wriddhiman Saha and David Warner played knocks of 87 and 66 respectively as SRH smashed 219/2 in the allotted twenty overs.

This score by SRH is the highest-ever for a T20 match played at the Dubai International Stadium.

The Warner-led side had got off to a quickfire start as openers put on 77 runs inside the first six overs. The powerplay overs saw Warner bringing up his half-century as well.

Brief Scores: SRH 219/2 (Wriddhiman Saha 87, David Warner 66, Anrich Nortje 1-37) beat Delhi Capitals 131/10 [Rishabh Pant xx(), Ajinkya Rahane 26(19), Rashid Khan 3-7, T Natarajan 2-26].

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