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SOME TEAMS ARE STRUGGLING TO FIND THE RIGHT BALANCE WITH 4 OVERSEAS PLAYERS

Raman Bhanot

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Some of the biggest names in international cricket ply their wares for the eight franchises in the richest cricket league in the world – the IPL. But sometimes having so much talent to choose from becomes a headache for team managements while trying to find the right balance in the playing XI.

It’s true that the team composition will vary from venue to venue, given the nature of the pitch and conditions. But I believe that when you pick players at the auction, especially the overseas cricketers, its imperative to keep in mind their role in the team and whether the player will be a certainty in the XI.

Picking players at auction is quite like effective recruiting done by an HR department of a corporate firm. In simple terms, after identifying the department you want to recruit for – be it batting or bowling or all-rounders, you define the role and KRA’s and accordingly pick the player who fits the bill in a pre-determined budget.

Some teams tend to splurge on top overseas players who are expected to adapt quickly to varying conditions, and pick themselves in the XI without the blink of an eye. Players like David Warner, Rashid Khan, Keiron Pollard, AB de Villiers, Glen Maxwell, Faf Du Plessis, Sam Curran, Steve Smith, Jos Butler, are a few names that come to mind, whom teams will pen down as a certainty unless they are injured or there is a conscious effort to manage their workload.

Then comes the part of recruiting players who give you variety to tinker the line-up in different conditions – like having a utility spinner, left-arm pace bowler, a genuine tear away right-handed fast bowler, an explosive power hitter for batting-friendly conditions.

Each team tries to cover these bases and then looks at also signing back-ups for these roles and one franchise in particular has done this to perfection–Mumbai Indians.

For the opener’s slot they have the option of Quinton De Cock & Chris Lynn, in the all-rounders slot there is Keiron Pollard and James Neesham, for the left arm quick’s there are Trent Boult and Marco Jansen and the right arm quick’s include Adam Milne and Nathan Coulter Nile. They may not have had all results go their way, but that’s not been due to team composition.

CSK seem to have the variety in the squad – from the express Lungi Ngidi, to the deceptively ageless Imran Tahir. The all-rounder or utility players department is well stocked with Moeen Ali, Dwayne Bravo, Sam Curran and Mitchell Santner. Dhoni with his tactical acumen, has picked the right men for the job in each match so far.

RCB relies on Maxwell, ABD and Jamieson as the 3 key players and then its Dan Christian who fills the fourth slot. But they have missed the services of Adam Zampa who has now pulled out due to personal reasons. But the spectacular performance of Indian players has ensured that Kohli hasn’t had much to worry about so far.

It’s a similar story for DC thanks to Shikhar, Shaw & Pant. They do have Steve Smith, Rabada as certainties and rotation continues between Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Tom Curran and Chris Woakes. Such is the batting prowess of Indian players that Sam Billings isn’t even getting a look-in.

SRH seem to have got three pegs in the hole with Warner, Bairstow and Rashid Khan. Now with the availability of Williamson, the fourth slot also seems a certainty. Otherwise, it was a musical chair between Nabi, Holder and Mujeeb.

Punjab Kings have the firepower with Gayle, Pooran, but need to use them in the right batting position. Dawid Malan isn’t even getting a look-in thanks to a packed top order, which makes you wonder why they signed him at all. The same is the case with Chris Jordan, who isn’t finding a place in the XI due to Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson. Fabien Allen and Moises Henriques are trading all-rounders slot.

Strapped for options now after the departure of Stokes, Archer, Andrew Tye, and Livingstone, RR only have four overseas players left – Butler, Morris, Miller and Mustafizur. So it’s about play who you have rather than choosing what you want.

A big problem that arises is when as captain, the overseas player does not pull his weight with bat or ball – as is the case with Eoin Morgan this season. Which is why I am always a supporter of having an in-form Indian player as the captain of the side, as it gives the team management the flexibility to ask the overseas player to sit out if he’s not in form. KKR seem to be struggling to get their choice of overseas players right in the XI. There still isn’t clarity over whether to play Sunil Narine or Shakib Al Hassan. Pat Cummins is leader in pace department, that looks overstocked with Lockie Ferguson, bowling all-rounder Ben Cutting and a plethora of young Indian speedsters. Most importantly for KKR, Andre Russell hasn’t done anything spectacular so far in this season to justify his reputation as top all-rounder.

 (The writer is a Cricket commentator & Sports Broadcaster who has worked on assignments for leading sports networks in India & Abroad.)

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Have always had emotional connection with Newcastle United, says Mourinho

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Jose Mourinho

AS Roma coach Jose Mourinho has admitted to having an emotional connection to English club Newcastle United.

Mourinho’s remarks come as he has been linked with the top job at St James Park. Newcastle United has managed to cause quite a buzz following the completion of their Saudi Arabia-backed takeover. “On Newcastle, I don’t have anything to say. Absolutely nothing to say,” Goal.com quoted Mourinho as saying.

“The only thing I can say is that for many, many years, I worked with one of the most important figures in the history of Newcastle, Sir Bobby Robson, and so because of that I have always had a bit of an emotional connection with that city and that fanbase. But it’s nothing more than that,” he added.

However, Mourinho was quick to say that he is fully dedicated to his job with AS Roma.

“I am here, I am really happy to be here. I am 100 per cent focused on the Roma project, the Friedkin project,” said Mourinho.

AS Roma is currently at the fourth position in Serie A standings with 15 points from seven games.

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BCCI INVITES APPLICATION FOR COACHING STAFF OF INDIAN MEN’S TEAM

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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Sunday invited applications for the positions of head coach, batting coach, bowling coach, fielding coach with senior Indian men’s cricket team.

The apex body of cricket in India has also invited applications for the post of Head Sports Science/Medicine with the National Cricket Academy (NCA). “The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) invites applications for the positions of Head Coach, Batting Coach, Bowling Coach, Fielding Coach with Team India (Senior Men) and Head Sports Science/Medicine with National Cricket Academy (NCA),” the BCCI said in a statement.

According to the statement, applications for the position of head coach (Team India -Senior Men) should be submitted by 5 pm on October 26, 2021, at headcoach@bcci.tv.

While the applications for the position of batting coach, bowling coach and fielding coach should be submitted by 5 pm on November 03, 2021, at battingcoach@bcci.tv, bowlingcoach@bcci.tv and at fieldingcoach@bcci.tv respectively.

Also, applications for the position of Head Sports Science and Medicine with NCA should be submitted by 5 pm on November 03, 2021, at sportsscienceandmedicine@bcci.tv

BCCI said the successful candidate will need to demonstrate that they can create a winning culture and world-leading teams in all forms of the game.

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CHINESE WOMEN’S BADMINTON TEAM ON SUNDAY DEFEATED JAPAN IN THE FINAL MATCH OF UBER CUP 2020

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With this win, China have claimed its 15th Uber Cup title after playing 19 finals. The pivot of their victory was Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan’s astounding two-hour ultramarathon against Yuki Fukushima/Mayu Matsumoto, during which the Chinese weathered stormy waters to sail the ship to safety. In the first match on Sunday, China went down as Chen Yu Fei lost the match 21-18, 21-10 against world number five Akane Yamaguchi.

China turned the tables in the women’s doubles match as the Chinese pair of Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan beat Yuki Fukushima and Mayu Matsumoto by 29-27, 15-21, 21-18.

In the third match, shuttler He Bing Jiao put up another impressive performance to grab a 21-9, 21-18 win over Sayaka Takahashi.

China sealed the title 3-1 when Huang Dong Ping and Li Wen Mei defeated Misaki Matsutomo and Nami Matsuyama 24-22, 23-21 in another closely-contested doubles match.

China turned the tables in the women’s doubles match as the Chinese pair of Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan beat Yuki Fukushima and Mayu Matsumoto, 29-27, 15-21, 21-18.

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TEAM INDIA NEEDS TO WIN WORLD CUP FOR KOHLI, SAYS RAINA

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Former Indian cricketer Suresh Raina said that it is really ‘important’ for the Indian team to win the T20 World Cup 2021, as it will be probably the last tournament of Virat Kohli as the skipper.

Earlier, Kohli announced that he will step down as Team India’s T20I captain after the T20 World Cup 2021.

“It will probably be his (Virat Kohli) last time at this tournament as captain, so it’s very important for him to make everyone believe we can do it and for us to get behind him,” said the former Indian allrounder in an International Cricket Council (ICC) column.

“All of our players have just played the Indian Premier League in the UAE and they have played themselves into top form with eight or nine games in this environment,” he added.

Raina said that team India is one of the ‘favourites’ to win the tournament, as they have an edge over all the teams because of the IPL.

“The conditions in UAE are very similar to what we play India and also in Pakistan. It’s a good opportunity for the Asian teams to come and play their natural game,” he said.

“We need to remember there are lots of other good teams in the tournament. Pakistan, Australia and England also look very good, and anything can happen in T20 cricket,” he added.

Raina further said that the top batting order of India is a key reason for the ‘success’ of the team.

“The key to success for India’s batting lies in the top three. Rohit Sharma is a gun player – he has a brilliant record at ICC events in the past and had a great IPL. We need Rohit, KL Rahul and Virat to bat through to 15 overs and lay the platform. They can set the momentum for the India team by doing this,” said Raina.

Raina also called the Indian spinner Varun Chakravarthy the ‘main guy’ for the bowling attack.

“Varun Chakravarthy the main guy in the India bowling attack. He has shown he can exploit the pace of the pitches. Varun has only played three T20Is but I’m not concerned by any lack of experience. There is plenty of experience in this team, particularly in the seam attack,” he said.

“Bhuvneshwar Kumar in particular leads the way when it comes to experience and knowledge of how to deal with the big games. The inclusion of Shardul Thakur can also give extra strength to the fast bowlers that Virat has at his disposal,” he added.

India will be facing their arch-rivals Pakistan for their first clash in the T20 World Cup 2021 on 24 October. The men in blue would be playing two warm-up matches against England and Australia on 18 October and 20 October respectively.

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ZEESHAN MAQSOOD, JITENDER SINGH STAR AS OMAN DEFEAT PNG IN GROUP B

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Zeeshan Maqsood’s four-wicket haul was backed up by unbeaten knocks of 73 and 50 by opening batters Jatinder Singh and Aqib Ilyas to help Oman defeat Papua New Guinea by ten wickets in Group B encounter of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground (Ministry Turf 1) on Sunday.

Chasing 130, Oman got off to a good start as opening batters Jatinder Singh and Aqib Ilyas put on 46 runs inside the first six overs. Both batters continued with their momentum and at the halfway mark, Oman’s score read 88/0, with the side needing just 42 more runs for the win.

Both batters brought up their 100-run opening stand in the 12th over of the innings. In the end, PNG was not able to take any wickets and Oman cruised to a ten-wicket win with 38 balls to spare.

Earlier, Assad Vala played a knock of 56 but Zeeshan Maqsood’s four-wicket haul helped Oman restrict PNG to 129/9. Sent into bat first, Papua New Guinea got off to the worst start possible as Bilal Khan dismissed opening batter Tony Ura (0) in the very first over. The other opener Lega Siaka (0) also failed to trouble the scores and PNG was reduced to 0/2 in the second over of the innings.

Charles Amini and skipper Assad Vala then retrieved the innings for PNG as the duo put on 81 runs for the third wicket. This partnership helped PNG come back into the contest, however, a confusion in the middle, helped Oman as the side was able to dismiss Amini (37) via a run-out in the 12th over, reducing PNG to 81/3.

Soon after, Vala (56) also departed as he was sent back to the pavilion by Kaleemullah in the 14th over, and the lower-order was required to take PNG to a respectable score. However, PNG lost its way in the final overs, and the side had to settle for a score of just over the 125-run mark.

Brief Scores: Papua New Guinea 129/9 (Assad Vala 56, Charles Amini 37; Zeeshan Maqsood 4-20); Oman 131/0 (Aqib Ilyas 50*, Jatinder Singh 73*; Simon Atai 0-9).

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Chris Greaves’ all-round performance helps Scotland stun Bangladesh

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Bangladesh by six runs in Group B encounter of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground (Ministry Turf 1) on Sunday.

Chasing 141, Bangladesh did not get off to an ideal start as Josh Davey dismissed Soumya Sarkar (5) in the second over of the innings. Two overs later, Bradley Wheal removed Liton Das (5) and Bangladesh was reduced to 18/2 in the fourth over. Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim then got together at the crease and the duo put on 47 runs for the third wicket, but Scotland got the crucial breakthrough of Shakib (20) with Bangladesh still needing 76 more runs for the win. Chris Greaves then dismissed Mushfiqur (38) and Scotland gained complete control over the match.

Afif Hossain and skipper Mahmudullah then came together at the crease and put on 32 runs for the fifth wicket, but Scotland managed to maintain their cool to register a thrilling six-run victory.

Earlier, Mahedi Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan took five wickets among themselves as Bangladesh restricted Scotland to 140/9. Sent into bat, Scotland got off to a bad start as the side lost its skipper Kyle Coetzer (0) in just the third over of the innings. However, George Munsey and Matthew Cross managed to steady the innings and at the end of the powerplay overs, the score read 39/1.

Munsey and Cross put on 40 runs for the second wicket, however, Bangladesh stormed right back into the contest as Mahedi Hasan dismissed both Cross (11) and Munsey (29), reducing Scotland to 46/3 in the 8th over. Shakib Al Hasan then got into the act to dismiss Richie Berrington (2) and Michael Leask (0), reducing Scotland to 52/5 in the 11th over. In the final few overs, Mark Watt and Chris Greaves played knocks of 22 and 45 respectively as Scotland posted a total of more than the run mark.

Earlier in the day, Zeeshan Maqsood’s four-wicket haul was backed up by unbeaten knocks of 73 and 50 by opening batters Jatinder Singh and Aqib Ilyas to help Oman defeat Papua New Guinea by ten wickets.

Brief Scores: Scotland 140/9 (Chris Greaves 45, George Munsey 29, Mahedi Hasan 3-19); Bangladesh 134/7 (Mushfiqur Rahim 38, Mahmudullah 23, Bradley Wheal 3-24).

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