Bairstow and Roy England’s pyrotechnic innovators

There was an intellect of predictability as Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow recurrently rattled Afghanistan’s bowlers to the boundary in England’s final warm-up match before the ICC Cricket World Cup. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling acts of their favorite players in this year’s contest. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Bairstow and Roy England’s pyrotechnic innovators
Bairstow and Roy England’s pyrotechnic innovators

This has become the norm for England’s pacesetters, whose no-holds-barred approach has been contributory to their team’s recent success.

Each of Afghanistan’s first three bowlers had their first delivery hit for four as Roy and Bairstow raced to their fifty partnerships in 32 balls, setting the platform for a crushing nine-wicket win secured with 32.3 overs to spare.

Bairstow’s dismissal in the eighth over, when the score was on 77, did nothing to stem the flow, Roy finishing unbeaten on 89 in a 46-ball innings which included 11 fours and four sixes.

“It was like T10 cricket,” said Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib with a wry smile in the post-match press conference. He is not the first skipper to be left scratching his head at how to stop England’s explosive duo.

The brutality and crispness of their stroke play immediately stand out, but it’s the consistency of the Roy-Bairstow combination that is truly exceptional. In 26 ODI innings opening together, their average partnership is 64.72 – the highest of any openers in the history of ODI cricket (minimum 20 innings). They have seven century and seven half-century partnerships at that time.

Eoin Morgan, who has recovered from a dislocated finger and was ready to bat if required against Afghanistan, knows how vital his opening partnership is to England’s chances at the World Cup, not only in terms of the runs they score but the marker they lay down for the rest of the team.

“When Jason is hitting it as well as that, not only does it impose our game on the opposition, it feeds right through the changing room,” said Morgan after the victory over Afghanistan. “The authoritative nature in which he plays builds confidence. And Jonny is the same. The two of them at the top of the order impose themselves on the game when they get an opportunity.”

It’s a formula that is reaping rewards for England, who approach their showpiece opener against South Africa at The Oval on 30 May sitting top of the ODI rankings, making them many people’s favorites to lift the trophy. It’s an unfamiliar position for a team that has only qualified for the knockout rounds once since reaching the final in 1992 and crashed out in the group stage four years ago – but one that Morgan is more than comfortable with.

“It’s a huge compliment to go into the tournament as favorites. The pressure is quite a huge opportunity. I’d much rather be going in as favorites than not even be considered contenders. [Before the last World Cup] we were constantly trying to find a formula that might work in the group stages. We had a lot of meetings and chats about how we could get better. Then practice on Wednesday before the match on Thursday.”

Whatever happens at the main event, it’s been a remarkable four-year journey for Morgan and his side, who in 2015 were criticized for a conservative approach to batting which was out of step with the modern game. Now they’re pushing the boundaries of what is possible, with Roy and Bairstow leading the charge.

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Aussies training on exact skills to counter England’s flat pitches

Aussies’ fast bowlers have been gearing up for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 with a particular training drill. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling performances of their favorite players in this year’s tournament. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Aussies training on exact skills to counter England’s flat pitches
Aussies training on exact skills to counter England’s flat pitches

The recent ODI series between ENG and PAK designated yet again that pitches in England and Wales, the venue for the World Cup, could offer plenty of runs. There were five scores of over 350 in eight completed innings, with 297 being the lowest.

With that in mind, defending champions Australia, under the supervision of bowling coach Adam Griffith, have been practicing hard at their training camp in Southampton to master their death-bowling skills.

Bowlers are largely focused on being spot-on with their Yorkers and on countering the batsmen’s trigger movement. Mitchell Starc, the left-arm pacer, revealed there was a bit of competition, with bowlers awarded points for hitting different areas.

“It was a bit of target bowling for the group. We’ve got certain cones put up for wide Yorkers either side of the stumps or trying to hit that zone,” Starc told cricket.com.au. “It’s something we’re working hard on because death bowling is something where you can win or lose a game or defend a total.”

Starc, who lit up the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 with his fast, swinging yorkers, has not been a regular in Australia’s limited-overs sides in recent times as the selectors have looked to manage his workload. Having played only four limited-overs internationals since February 2018, he rediscovered his pace and accuracy during Australia’s warm-up matches against New Zealand in Brisbane earlier this month.

The 29-year-old came in for criticism for his Test bowling in the Australian home summer, but he is confident that a changed mental approach will help him regain his swing and best form during the mega-event.

 “Having three months to chat about things and have a little bit of a different approach to how I think about it, and perhaps the change of wording and what my cues are, have really helped me in coming to back to this stage,” he said.

The defending champions will play warm-up matches against England and Sri Lanka before their campaign gets underway against Afghanistan in Bristol on 1 June.

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Alex Carey Said Australia’s high pressure experience will come in handy

The Australia wicket-keeper batsman Alex Carey trusts the vast skill of the side will be vital in “high pressure” situations at the CWC19. Cricket followers are waiting for thrilling performances of their favorite players in this year’s tournament. You can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Alex Carey Said Australia’s high pressure experience will come in handy
Alex Carey Said Australia’s high pressure experience will come in handy

Several of the Australian Cricket players and support staff have important CWC knowledge. Ricky Ponting, their associate coach, won the tournament thrice (in 1999, 2003 and 2007), fielding coach Brad Haddin was part of the 2015 title-winning side, and the likes of Aaron Finch, the skipper, David Warner, Steve Smith,  Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Glenn Maxwell have all played in the previous editions.

“We have got a lot of knowledge,” Carey told reporters in London. “Brad Haddin played in the last CWC, we have got Ricky Ponting coming in, and we have got a number of players who played in that last CWC.”

“We have got lots of knowledge around the group of guys to access. When we get into it, that’s when the high-pressure skill comes into it.”

The 27-year-old also said Aussies would be focused on their own match plans rather than form them rendering to the opposition. Aussies have won eight straight away ODI, and Carey credited that form to this method.

“We have got a certain game style which has been successful in the last eight games, against quality opposition,” he said.

For us, it is playing to our strengths. Every team in the CWC has got its strengths. We are not too much about hostility’s game style. That’s where we get unfocused from what we are really good at.

“Thus for us, it’s building on our success in the last few months. David Warner and Steve Smith come back in. Aaron Finch is in really good form. Our quick’s are in good form as well. We got a lot of exciting players.”

Aussies will play warm-up games against Sri Lanka and England before their initial match against Afghanistan on 1 June, and Carey is self-assured they will begin the tournament on a positive note.

“We will start planning. We have warm-up games as well, which will be part of our build-up,” said Carey. “A lot of us have played against a number of their Afghanistan’s players. The first game is where we want to hit our straps. They will be keen to start the tournament well, and so are we.”

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Afghan regroups under new leadership with eye on CWC19

Afghanistan will be strong to find their feet under Gulbadin Naib, and use the ODI against Scotland to get used to conditions they can expect in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales. Cricket fans are waiting for thrilling performances of their favorite players in this year’s tournament. Now you can book Cricket World Cup Final tickets Online.

Afghan regroups under new leadership with eye on CWC19
Afghan regroups under new leadership with eye on CWC19

Afghanistan’s World Cup preparation got a bit of a shake-up when the selectors decided to go with a leadership change ahead of the marquee tournament. The team, under Gulbadin Naib, had some time to come together in training camps in South Africa, and now their work will be put to the test against Scotland in a two-match ODI series.

Their next challenge will be to quickly get used to the conditions. Their spinners won’t find much assistance from them, and with games against Ireland to follow before the World Cup, it will be a test for them to find a workaround.

Scotland is playing their first ODI since June 2018. Afghanistan’s higher ranking – No.7 on the ICC ODI Team Rankings as against their own No.12 – will only drive them, as it did when they took on, and defeated, No.1-ranked England last summer.

The uncapped medium-pacer Gavin Main has received a call-up, while off-spinner Tom Sole and pacer Brad Wheal have come in to strengthen the bowling. They too have a new man in charge: this will be the first international assignment for new head coach Shane Burger.

Asghar Afghan (Afghanistan): The former captain is set to play his 100th ODI, and will become only the second man from his country, after Mohammad Nabi, to reach the landmark. The selectors have clarified that despite being stripped of the captaincy, Afghan is still a vital part of the side. With half-centuries in his three previous ODI innings, against Ireland, he will create an Afghanistan record if he can add one more to that tally.

Kyle Coetzer (Scotland): The Scotland captain has defined the positive, aggressive style of cricket that his team is keen to play. Having upset England last year and won the T20 quadrangular in Oman, he’ll want the team to take another step forward. This will also be an opportunity to rectify his own numbers, which have been up and down in recent times.

Conditions

it’s set to be cold and rainy in Edinburgh. Mid-day temperatures are forecast at 7°C, with rain expected through the day.

Teams

Scotland: Kyle Coetzer (c), Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross (wk), Alasdair Evans, Michael Jones, Michael Leask, Calum MacLeod, Gavin Main, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Tom Sole, Craig Wallace, Mark Watt, Brad Wheel

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

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ENG Trying to clear up muddle before CWC 2019

Starting from the only ODI against Ireland on Friday, 3 May, ENG will have the opportunity to test their ICC Cricket World Cup 2019  squad probable and confirm their team for the pavilion event.

ENG Try to find to clear up muddle before CWC 2019
ENG Try to find to clear up muddle before CWC 2019

Less than a month removed from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, England is under pressure. Alex Hales’ removal from the preliminary squad has created a muddle, one they will need to clear up over the next couple of weeks, starting with the one-off ODI against Ireland in Malahide.

England will have the chance to try its reserves ahead of the tournament. Those include Jofra Archer, who recently became eligible to play, Chris Jordan and James Vince.

With Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow rested for the ODI, Ben Foakes will come in as the wicket-keeper batsman. Dawid Malan and Ben Duckett, who was added to the squad in place of Hales and the injured Sam Billings, will also be vying for CWC spots.

Standing opposite they are Ireland, who in their last ODI assignment tied a competitive five-match series against Afghanistan 2-2 in Dehradun.

The hosts will rely on the experienced trio of Paul Stirling, Kevin O’ Brien, and skipper William Porterfield. Andrew Balbirnie, their best batsman in the Afghanistan series, will be the lynchpin of their batting order.

The veteran duo of Tim Murtagh and Boyd Rankin will spearhead the pace attack, while George Dockrell and Andy McBrine complete the spin department.

Key players

Jofra Archer (England): The all-rounder will make his much-anticipated England debut, after a long wait of more than three years. Archer is a proven commodity in franchise T20 cricket, but can he replicate it at the international level?

Andrew Balbirnie (Ireland): Balbirnie had a highly successful series against Afghanistan, scoring 145* and 68. He also made 125 for Leinster Lighting in a List A fixture last week and will hope he can sustain that form.

Conditions

Passing showers have been forecast midway through the game, which might bring the DLS method into play. Three 330-plus totals have been notched up at this venue in the last three years, a state that might pique the interest of batsmen from both sides.

Squads

Ireland: William Porterfield (c), Andrew Balbirnie, George Dockrell, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Lorcan Tucker, Gary Wilson

England: Eoin Morgan (c), Jofra Archer, Dawid Malan, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood

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How the teams stack up in ICC CWC 2019

With the top tournament on the near horizon, it’s time to look at the squads that will be competing for cricket’s top prize this English summer.  Cricket World Cup Final Tickets can be garbed from our global event ticket sales market.

Oldest Squad

How the teams stack up in ICC CWC 2019
How the teams stack up in ICC CWC 2019

While there isn’t much clarity on how the side will line up, Sri Lanka’s contingent of experienced older figures could be vital in ushering them past the group stages. With an average age of 29.9, they are the oldest squad competing for the trophy in this edition.

Seasoned pacers Lasith Malinga, 35, and Suranga Lakmal, 32, look likely to spearhead the bowling attack. Former captain Angelo Mathews, 31, was destined for a return after the side’s poor 50-over form in the absence of the talismanic all-rounder, and there’s a call-up for Jeevan Mendis too. The 36-year-old has not played ODI cricket since 2015, but an extra wise head in the dressing room might be key to revitalizing fortunes for the 1996 winners.

Youngest squad

How the teams stack up in ICC CWC 2019
How the teams stack up in ICC CWC 2019

The youngest squad at this summer’s CWC is that of Pakistan, where the average age is 27.3, followed closely by Afghanistan (27.4). Pakistan look set to unleash promising 19-year-old quicks Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain on the world’s biggest stage, while Afghanistan will look to exploit their youthful options with the two-pronged spin attack of 20-year-old Rashid Khan, the No.3-ranked bowler on the ICC ODI Bowling Rankings, and fellow tweaker Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who at 18, is the youngest player at the tournament.

Most capped

How the teams stack up in ICC CWC 2019
How the teams stack up in ICC CWC 2019

Although age might signal ample cricketing experience, it needn’t necessarily have come at the international level. India has the fourth youngest side in the tournament, but also the most capped squad, with a combined total of 1573 appearances, eclipsing the second-most capped team, Bangladesh, by a margin of 274.

Among India’s seniors is MS Dhoni, who has played 341 ODIs, and has still remarkably managed to maintain a batting average of 50.72. Virat Kohli, the captain, and No.1-ranked batsman on the ICC ODI Batting Rankings have 227 appearances to his name, and Rohit Sharma, ranked No.2, has 206 caps, forming a frightening combination.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, will look to draw on their experience as they push for their first CWC title. Mashrafe Mortaza (205 caps), Shakib Al Hasan (195 caps), Mushfiqur Rahim (201 caps), and Tamim Iqbal (189 caps), will know that this is probably their final shot at achieving greatness together.

Mushfiqur recently said that “having most experienced players in the team, this is the strongest World Cup team that Bangladesh has ever had,” and he might just be right.

Most hundreds

India has little to no competition here. With a team tally of 90 and a whopping 41 of those belonging to Kohli, India’s capacity for mammoth innings will certainly be of concern to their opposition. Rohit (22), Shikhar Dhawan (16), and Dhoni (10), also have multiple tons under their belts, but over-reliance on these veterans could be a pitfall.

Although New Zealand, South Africa, and India top England with their tally of centuries, it is the host nation that boasts the most centurions. Seven England players have reached three figures in ODIs, compared to five each for India, South Africa, and New Zealand, which is an indication of their strong batting depth.
Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are both lacking in the century department, with 12 apiece; West Indies’ Chris Gayle alone has more three-figure scorers (25) in ODIs than the two nations combined. That being said, Afghanistan only played their first ODI in 2009.

Most wickets

How the teams stack up in ICC CWC 2019
How the teams stack up in ICC CWC 2019

Taking wickets on hard, high-scoring tracks can be difficult, but English conditions might just give hope to those who are more skilled at getting the ball to nip around, and we have seen many a swing bowler achieve great successes on English shores.

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka’s squads sit atop the leaderboards for ODI wickets, with 829 and 815 respectively, and the onus will fall on the side’s veteran seamers. Mortaza, with 259 scalps in the format, will lead the line for Bangladesh, whilst Malinga, who has the most ODI wickets among all players in the tournament, with 322 scalps, still carries much of Sri Lanka’s bowling weight on his 35-year-old shoulders.
Aaron Finch’s Australia has the least ODI wickets, with 495. Left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc has 145 of those, while fellow fast bowlers Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff are all relatively inexperienced at the top level. Nathan Lyon is no stranger to the international arena, but exciting young leg-spinner Adam Zampa might be primed to undertake the Aussies’ main spinning role.

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CWC 2019 Five Surprises Picks

All the 10 squads participating in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, which begins on 30 May, have announced their 15-member squads. While most selections were expected, there were a few surprises picks that raised eyebrows. Here’s a look at them.

CWC 2019 Five Surprises Picks
CWC 2019 Five Surprises Picks

Tom Blundell (New Zealand)

New Zealand became the first team to announce their squad, on 2 April, and it featured the unexpected inclusion of 28-year-old Tom Blundell, who is uncapped in ODIs, as the back-up wicket-keeper. Blundell has very limited international experience, having played two Tests and three Twenty20 internationals, the last of which came in February 2018. An injury to the regular second-choice gloveman Tim Siefert paved the way for Blundell. In 51 first-class games, Blundell has scored 2793 runs at an average of 37.74, while in 40 List A games; he has 762 runs at 23.81. In his last first-class game, he scored a half-century and a hundred for Wellington, albeit in a losing cause.

Vijay Shankar (India)

Vijay Shankar’s inclusion was a part of India’s ongoing search for a solution to the No.4 conundrum that has been troubling them for over a year. However, his addition meant that Ambati Rayudu had to miss out. During the West Indies ODI series in October last year, India captain Virat Kohli had backed Rayudu for the No.4 position after he had made a brilliant comeback. Shankar, however, pipped Rayudu to the spot despite having played only nine ODIs so far, since making his debut just earlier this year, and accumulated 165 runs. The selectors believe Shankar is a ‘three-dimensional’ player, who can contribute in all three departments of the game and, according to Kohli, can provide a “balance which other teams have had all these years”.

Mosaddek Hossain (Bangladesh)

The 23-year-old, who last played international cricket in the 2018 Asia Cup, returned to the side on the back of a noteworthy domestic season. Hossain was dropped from the international side after a string of sub-par performances. The middle-order batsman averages 31 after 24 ODIs, with 341 runs. He has scored only one fifty in the format. The selectors, however, felt that the youngster offers an all-around option and can bowl off-breaks in addition to his batting to cover for Mahmudullah, who has a right shoulder injury. Hossain’s brilliant run in the Dhaka Premier League, where he scored 488 runs at an average of 48.80, presumably played a part as well.

Hamid Hassan (Afghanistan)

Prolonged fitness issues have kept Hamid Hassan out of Afghanistan’s side since 2016. While the 31-year-old’s talent and experience have never been in question, it remains to be seen whether the lack of recent international exposure affects him. The selectors have also indicated that his inclusion is subject to full fitness, which remains under scrutiny. The athletic pacer boasts 56 wickets in 32 ODIs at an economy of 4.55. He did well in the previous edition, where he was Afghanistan’s second-highest wicket-taker. He was picked in the T20I squad for the series against Zimbabwe and UAE earlier this year but did not get a game.

Milinda Siriwardana (Sri Lanka)

Sri Lanka’s World Cup squad threw up plenty of surprises when it was announced on 18 April. The inclusion of several players, who have been out of ODIs for the last two to four years, was unexpected. Among them was middle-order batsman Milinda Siriwardana, who has not played a one-day cricket since 2017. In 26 matches, Siriwardana has scored 513 runs at a modest average of 23.31. While his numbers in domestic cricket recently haven’t been exceptional, they have been consistent. The selectors also said he has been specifically drafted in the side as “a No.6 batsman who can bowl as well.”

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 full teams and squads

Full list of squads announced for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, which gets underway on 30 May in England and Wales.

ICC CWC19 Full teams and Squads
ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 full teams and squads

All teams have announced 15-member provisional squads for the World Cup. Teams can still make changes until one week before the start of the tournament.

Afghan:

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

Australia:

Aaron Finch (capt), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Alex Carey, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon

Bangladesh:

Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan (VC), Mohammad Mithun, Sabbir Rahaman, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Jayed

England:

Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

India:

Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami

New Zealand:

Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Tom Blundell (wk), Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Ish Sodhi, Henry Nicholls, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Jimmy Neesham

Pakistan:

Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk, c), Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shoaib Malik

South Africa:

Faf du Plessis (c), Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi

Sri Lanka:

Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Avishka Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Jeffery Vandersay, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Jeevan Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana

West Indies:

Jason Holder (c), Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Ashley Nurse, Fabian Allen, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope (wk), Oshane Thomas, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Evin Lewis.

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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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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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