India has a very good stable CWC team – Rahul Dravid

Rahul Dravid, the former India skipper, thought India’s recent 2-3 loss to Australia in an ODI series will have little manner on their ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 campaign.

India has a very good stable CWC team – Rahul Dravid
India has a very good stable CWC team – Rahul Dravid

After securing a 2-0 lead in the five-match series last month, India failed to cover a growing Aussies outfit and lost three matches on the trot. Though, that was a deviation – their fantastic form over the last few years has propelled them to No. 2 and they’re considered one of the favorites for the CWC.

“In the last 30 months, India has been playing really well, and the loss, much to the credit of the way Australia played, came at the back end of a very busy series,” he told the Times of India.

“We have the right combination for the CWC. If India wins the CWC, we will not be worrying about who won 2-3 or 3-2. There will be an odd series that India will lose. But the rankings prove that India is there and should win the CWC to become No.1.”

Inevitably, Dravid was asked of India’s 15-man CWC team, and the decision to drop Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant, but he believed India’s team is so well-balanced that it won’t matter in the end. “India has a very good, balanced team for this CWC,” he said.

“They have a lot of combinations, a lot of options. It is a question of them performing in the tournament. You can always argue one or two cases, one or two names. The team has been picked back and hope. They do really well.”

England last hosted a CWC in 1999, and Dravid, who was the highest run-scorer in that edition, with 461 runs at 65.85 and two centuries, said the conditions would be vastly different now. “I expect the games to be totally different than in 1999 when England last hosted the CWC, which was a slightly low-scoring affair,” he recalled.

“This CWC will probably be a much high scoring one, and India is well equipped for that. English conditions have actually changed, especially for ODIs. We were there last year for an ‘A’ series, and the scores were really high – 300 was par score, and was being chased consistently.

“ODIs have changed in England and [you] can’t go with the typical mindset that it will be the old English conditions of swing and seam. Wickets have become flatter, encouraging higher scores.”

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Aussies has clicked at right time for CWC – Marcus Stoinis

Marcus Stoinis, the Aussies all-rounder, said the squad’s turnaround in form has occurred at the right time, just before the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

Aussies has clicked at right time for CWC – Marcus Stoinis
Aussies have clicked at right time for CWC – Marcus Stoinis

Australia had a tough 2018, but their fortunes have improved massively since the turn of the year. They beat India in India, after coming back from 2-0 down in a five-match ODI series, and followed it up with a 5-0 sweep of Pakistan in the UAE.

The eight back-to-back victories, along with the return of Steve Smith and David Warner, have meant Australia is now being considered among the favorites for the CWC.

“I think everyone is really confident. To win eight games in a row away from home was very important for us,” Stoinis told reporters on the sidelines of a Royal Challengers Bangalore training session. “We needed it. We had lost a lot of matches over the last year or so. Everybody started to believe in each other and we started to play well as a squad.”

The improvement of fortunes may seem sudden, but Stoinis said it was a gradual process. “From the external, it might look like it occurred all of a sudden, but it also shows that the game of cricket is only about minor details,” he said. “Even in the time we were losing, we learned a lot, started getting closer in a lot of matches.”

Stoinis was also delighted with the returns of Smith and Warner from their respective 12-month bans over the ball-tampering scandal last year. Both batsmen have lit up the IPL this year, with Warner leading the charts with 574 runs in 10 outings, with a century and seven half-centuries.

“It returns are a massive boost,” said Stoinis. “People have walked up in the last few months and we have started winning games consistently. It all adds to the mixture and definitely adds to CWC winning combination.”

Australia will face Afghanistan in its CWC opener on 1 June in Bristol.

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Malinga key to Sri Lanka’s CWC chances – Chaminda Vaas

Chaminda Vaas, Sri Lanka paceman trusts Lasith Malinga’s form and his leadership qualities will play the key role for Sri Lanka at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

Malinga key to Sri Lanka’s CWC chances – Chaminda Vaas
Malinga key to Sri Lanka’s CWC chances – Chaminda Vaas

Sri Lanka announced their 15-man CWC squad for the tournament last week, which included plenty of surprise omissions and comebacks. However, Vaas, who was in Mumbai to inaugurate a local T20 tournament on Tuesday, 23 April, thought the selectors had done a good job.

“For the last few months, SL has not done so well. But if you evaluated the combination of the squad which we picked for the CWC, I’m pretty sure that the selectors have done the right thing,” he said. “We have to take it from there, and it’s up to the players to get themselves in and play well for the country.”

Vaas, who had a stint as Sri Lanka’s bowling coach in 2017, said a lot depended on Malinga and hailed him as one of the world’s best players. “There is no doubt that Malinga is one of the best in the world, and the best in SL,” he said. “We depend on him as a bowler, and he showed his leadership qualities.

“He has given 100% for the team. We have seen him playing in Mumbai in IPL on one day and playing in Sri Lanka in a domestic tournament the next day. It shows the commitment he has and the commitment he has to the team and the country. He will be the key for Sri Lanka cricket in the upcoming CWC.”

Dimuth Karunaratne, who last played an ODI in 2015, will lead SL at the CWC he will be one of many captains that SL has tried in the last couple of years.

Vaas, who took 355 Test wickets and 400 in ODIs, admitted captaincy had been a problem for SL but hoped for the best from Karunaratne. “The selectors and SL Cricket have put their trust in Dimuth, and given him an opportunity to captain the side,” said Vaas. “I’m pretty sure the team will unite and will do well in the upcoming CWC.”

SL begins its CWC campaign on 1 June in Cardiff against New Zealand.

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Pant tries to change past CWC snub in-game – Winning innings

Pant, the India wicket-keeper batsman, said that being ignored for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 was playing on his mind during his knock against Rajasthan Royals in the 2019 IPL on Monday, 22 April.

Pant, who hit an unbeaten 78 in just 36 balls, was instrumental in Delhi Capitals chasing down a competitive 191 with four balls to spare. Last week, Pant was left out of India’s World Cup squad in favor of the more experienced Dinesh Karthik as the back-up wicket-keeper.

“I am feeling lovely. To make your team win in an important match is a good feeling,” he said at the post-match presentation, before adding, “I won’t lie, the selection thought was running in my mind.”

Pant tries to change past CWC snub in game – Winning innings
Pant tries to change past CWC snub in-game – Winning innings

However, the 21-year-old said that he tried to focus on the task at hand. Delhi had lost two wickets in back-to-back overs before Pant decisively turned the game in their favor. He now has 336 runs in 11 matches with a strike-rate of 163.10.

“I focused on my process, I trusted my process and it worked for me. I knew how the wicket was behaving and I took advantage of that. The most important thing for our team is that everyone knows their role and we try to keep it simple.”

Pant’s team-mate Prithvi Shaw, with whom he shared an innings-stabilizing 84-run stand for the third wicket, also praised the wicket-keeper, calling him the “biggest finisher of the game in T20 right now”.

Pant’s exclusion for the World Cup took many by surprise, including the Delhi coach Ricky Ponting, who said he expects the talented youngster to play at least three or four World Cups in his career.

“I was surprised when he was left out of the squad. I thought he’ll be in and I thought he’ll actually play in the starting XI,” Ponting had said. “I thought that someone like him batting at No. 4 or 5 in their side would have just been that sort of player who could have had that X factor about him that could have been the difference between India and some other teams in the World Cup.”

Like Ponting, Delhi advisor Sourav Ganguly was also all praise for the youngster. After the left-hander hit the winning runs, the former India captain rushed to the ground and lifted him up. Ganguly later called Pant a “wow” player in a tweet.

“After I finished off the match and was coming out, everyone was showering so much love,” Pant said. “It felt special when Sourav sir lifted me, it was a different experience.”

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MS Dhoni Will be an Energetic Cog for IND at CWC19 – Kiran More

Former Indian wicket-keeper Kiran More has said that MS Dhoni will be a vital cog for the team at the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

MS Dhoni Will be an Energetic Cog for IND at CWC19 – Kiran More
MS Dhoni Will be an Energetic Cog for IND at CWC19 – Kiran More

Dhoni played one of the most remarkable innings of the 2019 IPL, nearly chasing down 26 runs off the last over against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday, 21 April.

Chennai eventually fell short by a run, but Dhoni’s 48-ball 84* showed More that he continued to be a lynchpin in every team he played for, despite his age.

“He was brilliant. It was a settled inning and only goes to show age is never a standard,” More said. “Dhoni is in the highest form and age is just a number. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid all played till late in their career and with a difference.”

Dhoni is Chennai’s top-scorer this season, with 314 runs at 104.66, striking them at a little over 137. He has also been in terrific form for India in ODIs this year, where he has averaged 81.75 in eight innings.

It’s far from how the last year had panned out, where Dhoni struggled for runs, averaging 25 and striking at 71.42 after 13 outings. However, he has put that behind in 2019, when he has turned back the clock by finishing innings and winning games, both for India and for Chennai in the IPL.

His innings on Sunday took more back to 2006 when a brash and young Dhoni took international cricket by storm with his savage hitting. More had been responsible for Dhoni’s arrival at the international scene when as a national selector in 2004; he pushed for Dhoni’s inclusion in the national squad for the 2004 tour of Bangladesh.

Dhoni immediately validated that faith, with a century in his fifth game – 148 against Pakistan in Visakhapatnam in April 2005. A few months later, he struck a devastating 183* against Sri Lanka in Jaipur, which remains the highest score by a wicket-keeper in ODIs.

“The match took me back to 2006, and maybe about that time when a young Dhoni took the scene by squall,” More said. “He will absolutely be an energetic cog for the Indian team at the CWC.”

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Expectations are high from Babar in CWC19 – Mickey Arthur

Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur has heaped praise on batsman Babar Azam ahead of the side’s upcoming ODI series against England and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019. Speaking to media at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Arthur described the 24-year-old Azam as Pakistan’s ‘best batsman’.

Expectations are high from Babar in CWC19 – Mickey Arthur
Expectations are high from Babar in CWC19 – Mickey Arthur

The right-hander is ranked No.7 in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Batting Rankings, and averages 51.29 in the format, with eight hundred and ten half-centuries. “Our hopes are high from Babar Azam as he’s our best batsman,” said Arthur. “He is so talented; he is a batsman who gets the required scores.”

 

Arthur was also complimentary in his assessment of leg-spinning all-rounder Shadab Khan, who recently withdrew from the squad for the England series due to a viral infection, describing him as a ‘three-dimensional cricketer’. He also outlined the expectations from Yasir Shah, who has come in as Shadab’s replacement. “Shadab Khan is a wonderful cricketer,” he said.

“As the buzz word nowadays goes, he’s ‘three-dimensional’. He plays a key role for us just outside the Power play. However, we have tried to cover with another wrist-spinner in Yasir Shah.

“Yasir is below no trickery that he has to challenge both the outside and inside edge of the bat. Our plan will be to attack; we’re going to eye wickets. We have got all the bases covered.”

 

Expectations are high from Babar in CWC19 – Mickey Arthur
Expectations are high from Babar in CWC19 – Mickey Arthur

Arthur was confident that his team is well-equipped for this year’s tournament, citing the versatility of players such as Mohammad Hafeez, who is also an option in the spin department, as he outlined the “faith” that he has in his players. “We have worked really hard over the past two years. We are as ready as we can be,” he said.

“Mohammad Hafeez will be accessible for us during the CWC as an off-spinner too. We have faith in our team. All 15 of those players have the capacity to win matches. We have to bring all our capabilities to produce results in our favor.”

Arthur also said that pacer Mohammad Amir will still have an opportunity to press his case for World Cup selection. The left-arm fast bowler’s form has been on the wane over the last couple of years. Since the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final, Amir has returned five wickets in 101 overs, averaging 92.60 per scalp. However, Amir could still be handy.

“He is running well and his attitude has been outstanding,” he said. “He’s been vivid in the last couple of weeks and he will have chances in England to show us he still justifies a spot in the CWC team.”

 

Sarfaraz echoed Arthur’s views. “Amir has a chance in the Eng. series to make the final cut,” he said. “He has been working hard here and has exposed that in his bowling in the training camp. In the practice match yesterday, he looked good while bowling. We will try to provide him an opportunity in England so he can perform. It will be a good rivalry amongst our pacers. We have occupied six fast bowlers, so we can alternate and not put any of them under pressure.”

Expectations are high from Babar in CWC19 – Mickey Arthur
Expectations are high from Babar in CWC19 – Mickey Arthur

Pakistan faces England in a T20I in Cardiff on 5 May, before their five-match ODI series commences on Wednesday, 8 May at The Oval in London.

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Five takeaways from Afghan’s CWC team

Afghanistan has named their 15-member squad for the Cricket World Cup 2019 on Monday, 22 April. There’s the surprise inclusion of pacer Hamid Hassan, who last played an international game in 2016. While the leadership change, from Asghar Afghan to Gulbadin Naib, is no surprise, having been announced before the preparatory camp, it is notable that Afghan has also been named in the squad.

Here we list the five main takeaways from Afghanistan’s CWC team list.

A brand new captain 

The Afghanistan Cricket Board’s announcement earlier this month, naming Naib as the new one-day international captain, took not only the followers of Afghanistan cricket by surprise but also their own players. Under Afghan, the team had risen through the ranks, becoming a Full Member of the ICC, winning last CWC Qualifier and also completing their first-ever Test win over Ireland last month.

Five takeaways from Afghan’s CWC team
Five takeaways from Afghan’s CWC team

Naib’s nomination as the new skipper was taken keeping the long-term goals in mind. He has never captained in an international match, so handing him the responsibility in an event as big as the World Cup is a gamble, but he could well inject fresh energy into the squad.

The return of Hamid Hassan

Hassan, arguably one of the best pacers from Afghanistan, last played a game at a senior level in 2017; his last international appearance was in 2016. He has been out of the picture due to prolonged injuries. His fitness is still going to be a topic of discussion – the selectors said as much at the announcement – but his experience on the grand stage could be a vital addition to the squad.  Hassan was an effective – and entertaining! – presence in the CWC 2015, picking up eight wickets in five matches, including 3/45 against SL. If he can rediscover that pace and precision, he will be a vital part of the team.

Five takeaways from Afghan’s CWC team
Five takeaways from Afghan’s CWC team

World-class spinners but how to fit them all in 

Afghanistan stuck to having just three front-line spinners in Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, which meant there was no place for Zahir Khan. In their main spin trio, they have world-class skills. Rashid and Nabi, who are No.1 and No.3, are likely to feature in most, if not all playing XIs. Rashid, who is also the No.3-ranked bowler, has distorted into a reliable finisher with the bat and Nabi’s middle-order experience is valuable.

Five takeaways from Afghan’s CWC team
Five takeaways from Afghan’s CWC team

Rahman, on his day, can win games for his team too. He is the kind of mystery spinner that every team wants in their side. But can the selectors fit all of them in? It might give them a happy headache while picking the playing XI.

The year of Hazratullah Zazai

Zazai successfully announced his arrival as a hard-hitting batsman this year. Before 2019, he featured in only two ODIs for Afghanistan and had scored only 15 runs at 7.50. This year, he has played four ODIs, all of them against Ireland, and scored 140 runs at an average of 35 and a strike-rate over 100. In the shortest format, against the same opponent, he scored 204 runs from three matches at 102, including a personal best 162*.

The matter of experience

“We selected the best squad considering factors such as experience, fitness, team balance, current form, and conditions,” selector Ahmadzai said at the announcement.

And the experience is something Afghanistan has in spades. They have valued the experience that Afghan brings to the squad, with his 99 ODIs. Nabi is 111 ODIs old, while Shinwari, Shahzad, Najibullah Zadran, Naib and Rashid have all played 50-plus ODIs for their side, and were in good touch in the series against Ireland. They do have a good mix of experience and youth; however, the onus will be on the veterans to help win matches for their side.

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Asghar Afghan to join Gulbadin naib-led CWC team

The inclusion of Asghar Afghan, the former captain, and the return of Hamid Hassan, the fast bowler, was the big news as Afghanistan announced their 15-man squad for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 on Monday, 22 April.

Asghar Afghan to join Gulbadin naib-led CWC team
Asghar Afghan to join Gulbadin naib-led CWC team

Hassan, 31-year-old fast bowler, last played the sport at a senior level in 2017, with fitness issues hampering his involvement since. He has, however, made a dramatic comeback to the squad, although his fitness remains under scrutiny.

Hassan’s inclusion came at the expense of Shapoor Zadran, whose ODI numbers have been on the wane. The other frontline quicks in the side are Dawlat Zadran and Aftab Alam. Naib slots in as a seaming all-rounder.

 

“Luckily for us, the comeback of senior fast bowler Hamid Hassan is good news,” Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai, the chief selector, said. “However, we will take into account his form and fitness during upcoming practice matches.”

Afghan, who was axed as captain earlier this month, was included as well. He will be one of Afghanistan’s key middle-order batsmen, along with Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Naib, and Najibullah Zadran. The presence of Nabi, Rashid, and Samiullah Shinwari means that Afghanistan will bat fairly deep.

As for the openers, Afghanistan has two options in Noor Ali Zadran and Hazratullah Zazai to partner with Mohammad Shahzad, who is a guaranteed starter for his batting and wicket-keeping. Javed Ahmadi, who was also in the race, was left out.

In the spin department, Afghanistan decided to stick to just Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi as their primary options with Shinwari and Rahmat Shah serving as part-time options. Left-arm wrist-spinner Zahir Khan, who played his only ODI against Ireland in March, was left out.

“It has been a six-month preparation process for the ICC Cricket World Cup. The mission is to play inspirational cricket in the tournament; I know there are strong teams but we will do our level best to achieve our goals,” said Ahmadzai. “There were some challenges that we needed to handle. We selected the best squad considering factors such as experience, fitness, team balance, current form, and conditions.”

Afghanistan also has picked three reserve options in Ikram Ali Khil, Karim Janet, and Sayed Shirzad. Ikram Ali Khil is a top-order batsman and offers an emergency wicket-keeping option. The other two are seam-bowling options.

Squad: Gulbadin Naib (c), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

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Pakistan focused on acclimatizing before CWC

Haris Sohail, the Pakistan middle-order batsman, said it was important for his team to focus on getting used to conditions during the five one-day internationals in England before the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 gets underway.

Of the overseas teams, Pakistan is at the greatest advantage in terms of adapting to conditions for the World Cup as they will be facing hosts England, the No.1 team on the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings, in an ODI series days before the World Cup begins on 30 May.

Counting the sole Twenty20 International and the World Cup warm-up matches to follow, Pakistan will end up playing close to 10 matches before the World Cup starts, and want to make it count.

Pakistan focused on acclimatizing before CWC
Pakistan focused on acclimatizing before CWC

“The CWC is still a little while away,” said Sohail. “Earlier, we have a very important series against England. England is a quality side, the No.1 team. If we win that series, we’ll get a great deal of help in getting used to those conditions. We still have about ten matches to go before the CWC if you count all the practice matches. So we’re hopeful of getting acclimatized well and producing good results at the World Cup.”

On a personal note, Sohail is enjoying the great form and will hope to take that into the showpiece event. He goes into the England series on the back of two centuries against Australia in UAE.

“Since the Aussies series, my confidence and form are in a good place,” Haris said. “Over the past few days, I wasn’t feeling too great, but a match situation is different, and the practice match we played today, the ball felt great on the bat.”

Despite Haris Sohail scoring 291 runs at 72.75 in that series against Australia, Pakistan conceded each of the five ODIs. Some felt that part of the reason for the repeated failures was the inability of batsmen to score quickly enough. There have been concerns that the team is falling behind in that area, but Sohail downplayed those doubts.

“Cricket is a different game nowadays,” Haris said. “Now, when you’re No.3 or 4 plays big innings or get a hundred, batsmen play around him. In one day international cricket, a total above 300 is now par. Not in the UAE, where pitches are slower and you need to take more time. But definitely, that applies in countries like England. So over there, you’ll see us play more aggressively.”

Babar Azam, Pakistan’s middle-order star, is known for his more classically styled shots along the ground, but he too feels he is equipped to go big when the situation demands that of him.

Pakistan focused on acclimatizing before CWC
Pakistan focused on acclimatizing before CWC

“If I can be No.1 in the world without power hitting, then I don’t need power hitting,” he said. “But when I need to, I utilize it well. I don’t just play along the ground. I practice striking the ball big and when desired, I use it. My role is to play out the complete overs. My separate role is to take the innings as deep as I can and perform in a way that benefits the team most of all.”

Pakistan’s series against England will start with a one-off T2OI in Cardiff on 5 May and the all-important ODI series will begin on 8 May.

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Pakistan declare Squad for ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

15 man squad for Pakistan is announced to take part in the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Wicket-keeper batsman Sarfarz Ahmed will lead Team Green in the CWC 2019. Experienced batter Mohammad Hafeez has been named, but his inclusion is subject to fitness. Pakistan have retained 11 players from the 2017 Champions Trophy winning side. Mohammad Amir has been left out from the world cup touring party, making the major significant exclusion. Mohammad Rizwan has also missed selection as back-up glove-man.

Pakistan have selected balanced squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales. Three openers in hard-hitting Fakhar Zaman, well-composed Imam-ul-Haq and newbie back-up Abid Ali have made the cut. Five middle-order batsmen have been drafted including Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and skipper Sarfarz Ahmed. Two spinners in Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan are part of the CWC lineup. Five fast bowlers in Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain are chosen to demolish the opposite batting heavy sides in the premier ICC men’s cricket tournament.

Pakistan announce Squad for 2019 Cricket World Cup
Pakistan announce Squad for 2019 Cricket World Cup

Selection committee headed by Inzamam-ul-Haq has picked best available playing unit for CWC 2019. It is a combination of experience and youthful aggression. Pakistan are not over-right favourites though for the mega competition. But green shirts being the unpredictable team has the tendency to produce miraculous results. Nobody had imagined it, but they had ended up 1992 world champions. Their inner belief had helped them to win the last edition of ICC Champions Trophy in 2017, in England against all odds. Pakistan will look to channel their strengths and surprise abilities to win the Cricket World Cup title for the second time.

Pakistan Squad for CWC 2019: Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain