The stand-in Test captain says they reviewed their 2018 defeat to find out where they could improve
Brathwaite’s own miserable form in that series – just 22 runs in the two Tests – was one of the reasons why the visitors capitulated so easily. With the home side having their full complement of spinners available this time too, and West Indies having an even more inexperienced side, there will be even more responsibility on Brathwaite. He hasn’t had the best of times recently too, having made just 55 runs in two Tests in New Zealand Tests last month.
Brathwaite wants to lead by example and set a foundation as a batsman, the key to which, he said, would be balance at the crease.
“I want to lead from the front,” Brathwaite said. “It is my job as an opening batsman to get runs and build a foundation for the team. I don’t see the guys here as second string. I think they can perform and do well at the international level. I know they are looking for the opportunity.
“For me, being balanced at the crease is the key whether I am playing spin and pace. It was decent in England, there was improvement in New Zealand as well. I want to just stick to my plans. Keep it simple. I don’t want to think about too many things. I know my plans. Put God first, and believe in yourself.”
Apart from being their most experienced Test cricketer on tour, Brathwaite also has the maximum sub-continent experience with 15 Tests. Among the already depleted batting unit, Jermaine Blackwood and John Campbell combine only six Tests in this region, while the rest of the batsmen are either uncapped or have never played Tests in the sub-continent.
“We reviewed after the last series and found out where we could have improved,” Brathwaite said. “We have specific plans that we will carry out. We look forward to the challenge. You have to find ways to overcome challenges in international cricket. Their spinners did well last time. We have to execute and believe in ourselves. Trust our preparations.”
Brathwaite believes that strike rotation and a solid defence will be key for their batsman. He said that he can rely on his opening partner Campbell to bat according to the conditions, while maintaining his own batting pace intact.
“I think the rotation of strike will be key. John [Campbell] is a very good player. When we went to India to play Afghanistan, he got a fifty in the first innings. He didn’t change his approach in the second innings as well. I will encourage him to be himself and to trust his gameplan. His defence is solid; down here you will have to defend more balls than you get the opportunity to attack.
“Once he trusts his defence, rotate when he could, he will do well. He got a score in his last Test innings in New Zealand, so he must have that belief. I know that he has the ability. Once he plays his natural game, I know John can be a fantastic opener for the West Indies.”
Brathwaite said that winning in Bangladesh is still possible for his side, but they have to be patient. “When you are leading a team, you want to win. My role here is to lead from the front, both as a captain and with the bat. It will be great to get the win. We have to start hour by hour, we can’t think too far ahead. Once we take it step by step, the end result will take care of itself.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
Recent Match Report – Ireland vs Afghanistan 2nd ODI 2020/21
Naveen-ul-Haq and Mujeeb Ur Rahman played key roles to restrict Ireland to 259
Afghanistan 260 for 3 (Rahmat 103*, Shahidi 82) beat Ireland 259 for 9 (Stirling 128, Campher 47, Naveen 4-42, Mujeeb 3-46) by seven wickets
Better support with bat and ball ensured Rahmat Shah‘s unbeaten 103 trumped Paul Stirling‘s 128 as Afghanistan took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match ODI series. A third-wicket partnership of 184 between Rahmat and Hashmatullah Shahidi carried Afghanistan to a seven-wicket win with 28 balls remaining, after Ireland had set them a target of 260.
The only comparable partnership for Ireland was a fourth-wicket stand of 106 between Stirling and Curtis Campher, which came up in just 100 balls and featured excellent use of the sweep from both batsmen, particularly off Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan. The partnership left Ireland in good shape to mount a slog-overs charge, but they lost steam following the dismissal of Campher, caught at short extra-cover off Rashid. They only made 49 off the last 51 balls of their innings, and lost five wickets while doing so.
Three of those wickets, including that of Stirling in the 45th over, went to the fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq, who finished with figures of 4 for 42 from his ten overs. Afghanistan’s other bowling star was Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who picked up three wickets including the key dismissals of Kevin O’Brien and Andy Balbirnie with the new ball, which left Ireland 20 for 2 at one stage. Stirling began rebuilding the innings in the company of Harry Tector, who made a watchful 24, before Campher joined him in the 25th over of the innings.
Stirling celebrated his hundred – his 11th in ODIs, equalling William Porterfield’s Ireland record – by paying tribute to Roy Torrens, the former Ireland player and team manager who died yesterday, pointing to the sky after removing his helmet. Stirling had tweeted that Torrens’ passing was “crushing news”, describing him as “Irish cricket to the very core but an even better man”
Afghanistan’s chase began brightly, with Rahmanullah Gurbaz following up his debut hundred in the first ODI by clattering 31 off 26 balls, including two sixes off Simi Singh’s offspin. Barry McCarthy and Campher struck in successive overs thereafter, though, to leave Afghanistan in a bit of bother at 48 for 2 in the ninth over.
Rahmat and Shahidi counterattacked, hitting four fours and a six between them in their first four full overs together. Shahidi then slipped into a lower gear even as Rahmat kept finding the boundary with pristine drives to keep the required rate well under control. He brought up his half-century off 49 balls, at the start of the 23rd over.
It took Shahidi another ten overs to get to that milestone, off 68 balls, but having done so he opened out significantly, hitting Craig Young for back-to-back fours in the 38th over to bring up Afghanistan’s 200, and repeating the dose off Simi in the 42nd over before holing out to long-off to fall 18 short of a century.
There was no such trouble for Rahmat, who brought up the landmark for the fifth time in his ODI career, before giving a chance, put down at point by a diving Tector off McCarthy. By then Afghanistan only needed 21, and their captain Asghar Afghan ensured they’d finish in a hurry, hitting McCarthy for 6, 6, 4 in the 45th over and ending up unbeaten on 21 off 13 balls.
While Afghanistan have now wrapped up the series with a game to spare, the final fixture on Tuesday will not be treated as a dead-rubber, with 10 World Cup Super League points still on offer.
India tour of Australia Aus vs Ind 2020-21 – T Natarajan
The India left-armer looked back at his fairytale Australia tour, where he made his debut in all three formats
“I’m so happy right now. There’s no limit to it and I just can’t explain that feeling.”
This was India left-arm seamer T Natarajan‘s reaction to his rousing reception at his hometown Chinnappampatti, near Salem in Tamil Nadu, after returning from Australia, where he made his debut in all three formats and played his part in the historic Gabba Test win.
Natarajan, who had seemingly driven down from Bengaluru to Chinnappampatti on Thursday, was greeted by hoardings, drumrolls and firecrackers on Thursday. After being welcomed back by his mother Shantha, his father Thangarasu and other family members, Natarajan was carried home on a horse-drawn chariot, with everyone in Chinnappampatti wanting a piece of him.
Several people thronged Natarajan’s home for selfies and some even presented him portraits of himself.
On Friday, Natarajan recalled his grand homecoming at a press conference in Salem. “I never expected to get this kind of a reception. I have to thank the people in my village,” Natarajan said. “It was an unforgettable experience in my life and I dreamt of making it big, hoping to bring recognition to Salem. It’s all god’s grace, and I’m so happy right now. There’s no limit to it and I just can’t describe that feeling. I just feel like being selected for the Australia tour was a gift for me.”
Natarajan was initially picked as a net bowler for the Australian tour, but, as it turned out, he became the first India player to make his international debut across all three formats during the same tour. After an injury to mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy he was added to the T20I squad and then hours before the ODI series opener he was included in that squad as well, as injury cover. He made his international debut in the third ODI in Canberra and took 2 for 70 in an India win.
“He [David Warner] has tweeted about me and I think he feels proud about me. He has captained me at Sunrisers and during a match he told me that I’m very lucky and told me everything has happened after my daughter was born.”
Natarajan said he felt pressure after he heard the news of his sudden call-up, but at the same time he was keen to prove his talent at the top level.
“I just wanted to do my job,” Natarajan said. “I was suddenly given an opportunity – I didn’t expect to make my one-day debut there [Canberra]. Suddenly they told me that I would be playing and that was pressure for me. But I wanted to make the best use of this opportunity, so I shifted my focus to that. That [first] wicket and everything that followed seems like a dream to me.”
The dismissal of Marnus Labuschagne was only the beginning of the dream. Natarajan then made his T20I debut, also in Canberra, returning 3 for 30. In all, he picked up a chart-topping six wickets in three games at an economy rate of 6.91.
The T20I series ended with regular captain Virat Kohli handing the trophy to Natarajan and the Test series would end with stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane passing the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to him as well.
“I never expected it,” Natarajan said. “I didn’t expect Virat Kohli to come over and hand the trophy to me; I was just standing on the side. Kann Kalangitten [I teared up]. When a legend like Kohli came in and gave the trophy over to me it was a great feeling – I can’t describe it.”
Natarajan reckoned that being part of the IPL for four years and exchanging notes with seniors and overseas players smoothed his path to international cricket. He was first snapped up by Kings XI Punjab for INR 3 crore in 2017 and, after spending two seasons on the bench at Sunrisers Hyderabad, he became their gun death bowler in IPL 2020 in the UAE.
“I’ve been part of the IPL for four years,” he said. “At the IPL, I’ve mingled with many foreign players and many Indian players, and communicated with the coaches. Plus, taking tips from the foreign players and the bowlers was useful. Initially, it was difficult for me, but things became better thereafter.”
During the Australia tour, Natarajan got to lock horns with his Sunrisers captain David Warner.
“He has tweeted about me and I think he feels proud about me. He has captained me at Sunrisers and during a match he told me that I’m very lucky and told me everything has happened after my daughter was born. He has had these friendly and emotional chats with me.”
When Natarajan was enjoying a breakout IPL in the UAE, he was probably hoping to return home for the impending birth of his child. However, after being picked in the India white-ball squads, he chose to hang around in Australia for the Test leg as well and improbably made his Test debut in Brisbane.
“It was quite difficult [missing the birth of my child], yes,” he said. “But, for my wife and my family, me representing the country gave them a lot of happiness.”
Having been rested for the upcoming Test series at home against England, Natarajan can now look forward to spending more time with his daughter and rest of the family before the white-ball leg begins on March 12.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan vs South Africa – Abdullah Shafique among 3 dropped as Pakistan cut squad to 17
Agha Salman and Kamran Ghulam are the other two players dropped from the original list
Agha Salman, Abdullah Shafique and this year’s leading first-class run-scorer in Pakistan, Kamran Ghulam, have been dropped from the original 20-man for the first Test against South Africa. The PCB insist they are very much part of the larger squad but won’t be considered for selection for the opening Test starting January 26 in Karachi.
The 20-man squad, named on January 15, was always meant to be whittled down to 16 two days before the Test but the PCB ended up naming 17 instead. ESPNcricinfo understands that the board wrestled with the choice between Haris Rauf and Tabish Khan but ended up retaining both, even though neither is expected to make their Test debuts in Karachi. The squad now has four spin options and five fast bowlers including Mohammad Nawaz and Faheem Ashraf as allrounders.
With Shafique now out of contention, the team has only two potential openers – Abid Ali and Imran Butt – who is set to be handed a debut. The spot was left vacant after Shan Masood was dropped from the larger squad following a dismal run. Saud Shakeel – who holds the second best first-class average (48.81) in Pakistan over the last five years – has been retained. He was also the second leading first-class run-getter this season with 970 runs at 57.05. Agha, who accumulated 924 runs at 48.63 missed out.
Head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said his side is “fully ready”. “Understanding how poor we were in the field on our previous New Zealand tour, we have given fielding much importance while preparing,” said Misbah. “We are having extraordinary training sessions, with dedicated sessions to bring improvements. We are overall ready and looking forward to taking on South Africa.”
The PCB, for once, have relayed a sense of empowerment for the captain Babar Azam, giving him a much stronger say in choosing the starting line-up. Misbah downplayed concerns his role with the side had been reduced, but said the captain needed to independently develop his strategies and ideas.
“Even when I began, like everyone else, I started from zero,” said Misbah. “You have to start somewhere and the important thing is that when we did some scenario practice, there were discussions with me, the coaches, the bowlers, about what plan we take forward and how we execute it. Babar is an intelligent cricketer and if anyone who scores runs like he does at this level, they should understand cricket mechanics and how to deal with the opposition . Babar should be given a free hand to plan, so he learns how to handle things on the field and hopefully he will learn and improve his captaincy along the way.”
The series holds a major significance as this is South Africa first tour to Pakistan since 2007 and the result from it can directly reflect on Misbah’s future as head coach. The PCB had already intended to bring about changes in team management after the New Zealand tour but the cricket committee recommended a stay of execution, opting against making a knee-jerk reaction and resolving instead to meet again after the home series against South Africa. The committee believed a series in home conditions can have “no points for second place”.
Misbah knows the pressure is on him but he cut a relaxed figure at the press conference. “Nothing really matters right now, I played cricket under pressure, my whole life” he said. “Here [in Pakistan] it’s not like you have the certainty and security so the most important thing I have learnt is that you have to do well with the job in hand in the moment. I am not thinking about what is going to happen ahead and the only focus right now is to perform and learn from our mistakes.”
Pakistan: Abid Ali , Imran Butt, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (capt), Fawad Alam, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Yasir Shah, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Tabish Khan
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent
NFL7 days ago
Defense stars as Tampa Bay Buccaneers reach conference championship in Tom Brady’s first season in NFC
Boxing5 days ago
Boxing news: Billy Joe Saunders 'close' to Canelo Alvarez agreement
NFL7 days ago
Rob Gronkowski says he wants to play for Tampa Bay Buccaneers again in 2021
NFL7 days ago
Pondering retirement again, Drew Brees has ‘no regrets’ about coming back this season
Soccer7 days ago
Man Utd boss Solskjaer clashes with Roy Keane over Paul Pogba Liverpool performance
NFL7 days ago
Los Angeles Chargers’ new coach Brandon Staley is the latest coaching wunderkind
Cricket7 days ago
UAE vs Ireland ODI series
Soccer7 days ago
Tottenham boss Mourinho details Daniel Levy role in helping Tanguy Ndombele hit top form