Pakistan hope to click as a team at Southampton - The Daily Guardian
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Pakistan hope to click as a team at Southampton

Raman Bhanot



Stuart Broad may have taken more than 500 Test wickets, yet he could not escape his father’s official reprimand. Chris Broad, the ICC Match Referee for ongoing England versus Pakistan Test series, docked his son 15% of his match fee in the first Test for using “inappropriate language” after dismissing Yasir Shah. England would not mind that too much though as the hosts went on to win the match by 3 wickets, after conceding a 107 run lead in the first innings.

Though they emerged victorious at Manchester, England cannot afford to gloss over their problems. The openers have looked brittle in the two recent home series, and more is expected from Burns and Sibley. In the middle order, Jos Buttler did come up with an attacking 75 with the bat in the second innings, but his glove-work hasn’t been the best behind the stumps and that needs to improve.

James Anderson has been blowing hot and cold, with just 1 wicket in the first Test. He may be just 10 wickets away from reaching 600- Test wickets, England may well replace him with Mark Wood or pacer Ollie Robinson from Sussex, who has been added to the squad.

 But the biggest blow to the hosts has come in the form of all-rounder Ben Stokes, who will miss the remaining two tests of the series to return to New Zealand to be with his ailing father Gerard Stokes. “Ged” is a former New Zealand rugby player who is now in Christchurch.

 The problem for England is that Stokes’ current form with the bat, ball, or in the field, makes him simply irreplaceable! He can hold his own in any team purely as a batsman or a bowler, and that allows England the luxury of having 6 frontline bowling options.

But his absence will force the hosts to possibly bring in a specialist batsman like Zac Crawley to strengthen the batting, with Archer, Broad, Woakes, Bess and Wood/Robinson to manage duties in the bowling department.

For Pakistan, it’s the all too familiar story of not knowing which team will turn up to the ground on a given day — world beaters or the lackadaisical.

 A positive decision to bat first on a dry wicket and playing two spinners who could be the most effective bowling in the last innings of the Test, Pakistan did their job in the 1st innings by posting 326 and then bundling out England for just 219. With a 107 run lead, what followed was a batting debacle and then indecisive captaincy from the visitors, as England wrested a win from the jaws of defeat.

Taking stock of the situation in the Pakistan camp, Shan Masood looks very promising and the young opener has now notched up hundreds in the last 3 tests versus Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and now England. Babar Azam is a class act and these two will continue to be the fulcrum around which the Pakistan batting will revolve. There may be a case to include Fawad Alam in the XI as well.

In Mohammad Rizwan, the visitors have found a very capable wicketkeeper who can chip in with valuable runs. The young Shaheen Afridi and the accurate Mohammad Abbas have the pace and movement to trouble England. Yasir Shah will remain the spin king in the pack, but the visitors may think about playing an extra pacer at Southampton, instead of 2 spinners.

Unlike most countries from the subcontinent, Pakistan has shown the ability to start a Test series well when they tour England. They had won the opening test when they toured England in 2016 and again in 2018. Despite being ahead, they drew both series- 2-2 in 2016, and 1-1 two years ago.

 They had their chance to get off to a winning start their time around as well, but now have to play catch up at Southampton to keep the series alive.

The writer is a sports broadcaster and cricket commentator who has worked on assignments for leading sports networks in India and abroad.

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ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi on Thursday issued a statement regarding the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai situation and urged for a line of open direct communication between the player and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

“The situation involving Peng Shuai continues to raise serious concerns within and beyond our sport. The response to those concerns has so far fallen short. We again urge for a line of open direct communication between the player and the WTA in order to establish a clearer picture of her situation,” stated Andrea Gaudenzi as per an official release. “We know that sport can have a positive influence on society and generally believe that having a global presence gives us the best chance of creating opportunity and making an impact. We will continue to consult with our members and monitor any developments as this issue evolves,” he stated further. Earlier, WTA had announced that it would suspend all tournaments in China as the body is concerned about the safety of Peng Shuai.

Over the course of the last few weeks, WTA has been involved in a tussle with Beijing regarding Shuai’s well-being.

Shuai had sent shockwaves when she accused Zhang Gaoli, a senior Chinese government official, of sexual abuse. The highest-profile case in China’s #MeToo movement was kept under tight wraps with the reputation of the officials involved safeguarded at all costs.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) last week said in a statement that its president, Thomas Bach, had a 30-minute video call with three-time Olympian Peng Shuai, joined by a Chinese sports official and an IOC official. The statement said that, during the call, Peng appeared to be “doing fine” and “relaxed,” and said she “would like to have her privacy respected”. The IOC did not explain how the video call with Peng had been organized, given the difficulties other concerned parties have had reaching her.

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Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) franchise UP Yoddha have roped in their first-ever player of African origin, picking up Kenyan raider James Namaba Kamweti, ahead of season eight.

Kamweti had been adjudged the best raider at the Bangabandhu Cup 2021 international tournament in March earlier this year and is sure to bolster the attack of the Yoddhas. “It is such a huge step for me to be a part of the U.P.Yoddha team in the PKL. There are very few such top-quality leagues in Kabbadi and to be a part of this great league will surely help me improve further as well as showcase my talent to a newer audience. I look forward to an exciting and entertaining PKL season with U.P.Yoddha,” said Kamweti in a statement.

Jasveer Singh, the head coach of U.P Yoddha, was extremely welcoming and appreciative of his new ward and said of the inclusion.

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India A bowling once again put on an impressive show with the ball before bad light cut short the play on Day 3 of the second four-day game in Bloemfontein on Thursday.

While Ishan Porel scalped two wickets, Saurabh Kumar and Baba Aparajith picked a wicket each as India A reduced South Africa A to 116/5, extending the lead to 137. After securing a 21-run lead in the first innings, South Africa A were off to a solid start as Sarel Erwee and captain Pieter Malan put on a 69-run stand before Saurabh Kumar dismissed the former for 41.

Although Malan and Raynard van Tonder added 29 runs together, India A derailed the South Africa A innings, scalping four wickets in space of 17 runs. While Malan was run-out, Zubayr Hamza was dismissed by Baba Aparajith.

Porel then struck twice in quick succession, getting van Tonder and Sinethemba Qeshile out before bad light stopped play.

Earlier, India A, who resumed the proceedings on Day 3 at 198/5, added 78 runs to their overnight score before being all-out for 276.

Hanuma Vihari, who was unbeaten on 45 on Day 2, brought up a fine half-century. But the right-hander departed soon after as Marco Jansen struck.

Sarfaraz Khan, meanwhile, put on a fine show with the bat and went on to add a brisk 41-run stand with Saurabh Kumar to push India A past 250.

While Saurabh got out for 23, Sarfaraz, who scored an unbeaten 71 with the help of 8 fours and 2 sixes to be a top scorer for the team, took India A to 276.

Brief Scores: South Africa A 297 all out and 116/5 (Sarel Erwee 41, Raynard van Tonder 33; Ishan Porel 2/17); India A 276.

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Michael Carrick on Friday brought down the curtain on a decade-and-a-half career at Manchester United, finishing on a high with a victory over Arsenal.

The former Red Devils midfielder decided to step down as first-team coach and leave the club following the conclusion of his spell as caretaker Manager. Thursday’s thrilling 3-2 victory over Arsenal at Old Trafford was the last act of Michael Carrick’s Manchester United career.

Michael Carrick in a statement said: “My time at this great club will always rank as the best years of my career. When I first signed over 15 years ago, I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined winning so many trophies and I will certainly never forget the fantastic memories both as a player and as a member of the coaching team.

“However, after a lot of thought and deliberation, I have decided that now is the right time for me to leave the club. I want to place on record my thanks to all of the players and a special mention goes to the backroom staff, working long hours with such a great group of people has been a real pleasure and I have made some long-lasting friendships.

“I am, and will always be, a Manchester United fan and will come to as many matches as possible. I would like to wish Ralf, the staff, the players and the fans all the best for the future and I look forward to being in the stands and supporting the boys as a fan.”

Michael played 464 games for Manchester United between 2006 and 2018, winning five Premier League titles, the FA Cup, two League Cups, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, and the FIFA Club World Cup.

He joined the First Team coaching staff when he retired in 2018 and served under Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

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Indian opener Mayank Agarwal on Friday explained how he acted on the advice of former skipper Sunil Gavaskar to improve his side-on stance during the second Test against New Zealand.

Mayank scored his fourth Test ton as India ended day one of the second and final Test at 221/4 on Friday. The opening batter scored an unbeaten 120 while Wriddhiman Saha hit 25 before the close of play. “Sunny sir (Gavaskar ) told me that I should keep my bat a bit low initially in my innings. I couldn’t make that adjustment in this short period of time but definitely, when he was saying that, I looked at his shoulder position and basically picked up that I need to be more side-on,” said Mayank during the press conference after the end of the day’s play.

Mayank also revealed that head coach Rahul Dravid had asked the batter to give his best on the field.

“When I was picked here, Rahul bhai came and spoke to me. He asked me to control what is in my hands and said, ‘go out there and give it your best and that’s all we ask from you’. ‘When you get set, make it big’. I am happy to have capitalised on the start but that was very clear from Rahul bhai,” said Mayank.

Resuming from 111/3 after tea, Mayank and Shreyas Iyer steadily carried on from where they had left after the fall of three quick wickets. Ajaz Patel once again put break as he dismissed the middle order batter in the 48th over.

Despite losing partners at the other end Mayank looked solid and kept the scoreboard moving and capitalized on the poor deliveries that came his way as India scored 221/4 on day one of the second Test

Mayank said India’s focus will be on batting well in the first session on Saturday to pile further misery on New Zealand in the second Test.

“It’s gonna be very important how we start tomorrow morning, the first session will be crucial. And the focus is on batting well in the first session and then we can pile as many runs as we want. The wicket is going to get harder and harder to bat on,” said Mayank while replying to a query from ANI.

The opening batter said he work hard when he was ruled out of the Test series against England.

“It was unfortunate for me to not have played in England, I got hit and there’s nothing much I could do about that. I accepted it and continued to work hard and work on my process and my game,” Mayank signed off.

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Mayank Agarwal scored his 4th Test ton as India ended day-1 of the 2nd and final Test at 221/4. Agarwal scored an unbeaten 120 while Wriddhiman Saha was not out on 25.

Resuming at 111/3 after tea opener Mayank Agarwal and Shreyas Iyer steadily carried on from where they had left after the fall of three quick wickets. Ajaz Patel once again jolted India dismissing Kanpur Test centurion Shreyas for just 18 breaking the 80-run partnership between him and Agarwal.

Despite losing partners at the other end Mayank Agarwal looked solid and kept the scoreboard moving and capitalized on the poor deliveries that came his way. Making a comeback in Kanpur Mayank Agarwal failed to deliver with the bat but in the second Test he ensured that one more opportunity does not go begging. Wicket-keeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha joined him at the other end and the duo struck a fifty partnership to take India’s total beyond the 200-run mark.

Earlier in the day, Ajaz Patel wreaked havoc with the ball as Virat Kohli opted to bat first after the delayed start due to wet outfield, the openers justified the captain’s decision as Shubman Gill continued with his decent run of form with the bat scoring 44 of 71 balls. . Gill once again failed to capitalize after getting a good start as Ajaz Patel got him caught in the first slip to Ross Taylor. The opening pair put on 80-runs and in the same score 3 wickets fell in quick succession, leaving India reeling at 80/3.

Cheteshwar Pujara’s poor run of form continued as the Saurashtra lad struggled with the bat falling victim to Patel who cleaned him up for a 5-ball duck. Virat Kohli too was dismissed by Ajaz Patel without troubling the scorers. Kohli was out leg before, a decision which could have gone the other way. The Skipper survived just 4 balls and even took DRS but the third umpire Virender Sharma still ruled him out. Undoubtedly Ajaz Patel was New Zealand’s star performer with the ball picking up all the wickets that fell on the day. Brief Scores: India 221/4 (Mayank Agarwal 120* Shubman Gill 44; Ajaz Patel 4-73) vs New Zealand.

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