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There are 30 matches scheduled to be played in these two series of the league

The remaining two series of the men’s World Cup Challenge League A, which forms the pathway to qualify for the World Cup 2023 scheduled in India, have been rescheduled owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are 30 List A matches scheduled to be played in these final two series of the Challenge League A. Canada, Denmark, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore and Vanuatu were due to play the second series in Canada between August 15 and 28 this year, whereas the third series was slated to be held in Malaysia in 2022. The series in Malaysia has been pushed back to November-December this year and the series in Canada has been deferred to July-August next year.

According to an ICC release, the decision to reschedule both series was taken due to ongoing restrictions and suspension of sporting activities as part of the ICC’s comprehensive contingency planning of Covid-19, following consultation with members, relevant government and public health authorities.

“We have been actively working on contingency planning with participating members across all ICC World Cup pathways and as a result have rescheduled two more events,” Chris Tetley, ICC head of events, said. “Our collective aim is to give all ICC pathway events the best possible chance of being played and for qualification to be determined on the field of play.

“We will continue to monitor and assess all events across our pathway structures with the ICC’s priority continuing to be to protect the well-being of players, coaches, officials and fans.”

Canada are leading Singapore in the standings on net run rate with both teams on eight points. The top team will secure one of the six places in the men’s World Cup Qualifier playoff to be held in 2023, alongside the table topper in Challenge League B and the bottom four teams in the Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2.



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Cricket

As it happened – Queensland vs New South Wales, Sheffield Shield final, 1st day

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Welcome to our live report for the opening day of the Sheffield Shield final between Queensland and defending champions New South Wales at Allan Border Field in Brisbane. Join us for updates throughout the day.

*Most recent entry will appear at the top, please refresh your page for the latest updates. All times are local.

4.30pm: Closing stages

New South Wales have made a breakthrough, Josh Hazlewood finding the edge of Joe Burns with a terrific delivery, but they are desperate to strike again in the final period of the day. Nathan Lyon has found some big spin early in his spell and Trent Copeland has challenged Marnus Labuschagne.





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How Heath Streak was trapped by a corruptor and nailed by the ICC anti-corruption team

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Heath Streak and Deepak Agarwal started chatting on the pretext of organising a T20 league in Zimbabwe, in September 2017. Streak, the iconic former Zimbabwe captain, was the head coach of the national team at the time, and Agarwal, simply a Delhi-based businessman. Agarwal wasn’t yet banned (for two years) by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit from participating in any cricket-related activities – that wouldn’t be till April 2020, after details of his key role in the Shakib Al Hasan corruption breaches emerged.

Agarwal initiated the chats, mainly over WhatsApp, contacting Streak on his personal phone number and email account. Agarwal told Streak that he could “earn some good money” for setting up the T20 league.

The ICC anti-corruption unit’s verdict on Streak, released by the governing body on Wednesday, reveals telling details of the investigation, including that of Agarwal telling Streak that he was “involved in betting on cricket”. Agarwal also asked Streak for details of his bank account “outside” Zimbabwe, which Streak provided readily. “Mr Streak also made it clear in these discussions that he wanted to establish a T20 League in Zimbabwe and was passionate about furthering cricket in Zimbabwe,” the ICC’s investigation said.

Streak’s past as Bangladesh coach exploited

Streak and Agarwal’s relationship began with those T20-league discussions, and would last 15 months until the ACU busted it in December 2018. During this period, Streak served as a coach in Zimbabwe, at the IPL, at the Afghanistan Premier League (APL). But Agarwal also made use of Streak’s contacts in Bangladesh, where he had served as the head coach between 2014-16. And it was the 2017 Bangladesh Premier League, where Agarwal used Streak as a conduit to get inside information on and from active players for the first time.

“In relation to the 2017 edition of the Bangladesh Premier League, Mr X [later confirmed to be Agarwal] asked Mr Streak to provide him with any links, namely team captains, or owners or players, in the BPL, saying they could earn good money as a result which they could invest in a T20 event in Zimbabwe,” the ICC’s investigation found. “It appeared that Mr X wanted Mr Streak to provide him with contacts of players, team owners etc. who Mr X could then approach for Inside Information, such as which team would win a match, in upcoming matches.”



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Had been waiting for such an innings ‘for a long time’

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Rizwan, meanwhile, said he felt “the same joy as if I’d done it myself” when Babar reached his hundred

Babar Azam celebrated reaching the top of the ODI rankings with a performance for the ages in the shortest format, scoring his maiden T20I hundred, and the highest score by a Pakistani in T20I cricket. His 122 not only helped his side cruise to victory, but demonstrated a side to his game many had accused him of lacking: that of an opener who could spearhead the chase; his runs came at a strike rate of over 206.

Alongside Mohammad Rizwan, he shared a 197- run opening stand to set up a victory with two overs to spare and nine wickets in hand. Rizwan remained unbeaten on 73 with a strike rate of 155.31, ensuring South Africa’s bowlers had no respite at either end.

“I was waiting for such an innings for a long time,” Babar said after the game. “I planned for it, and felt if I got a chance I would grab it. I am thankful that I was able to deliver. I stuck to my strengths and my game plan was developed around team requirements. If you need 10 an over, you definitely have to play with urgency and for that, you have to take risks.

“The partnership with Rizwan was outstanding. I give him credit for the way he played because it is really tough to play while fasting and despite that, he batted and kept wicket throughout. It takes a lot of courage and guts. The whole team takes inspiration watching him and it brings us confidence.”

Azam continues his T20I form to go along with the ODI touch that has seen him climb to the top of the rankings. He was the second-highest runscorer in the ODI leg of the series, and after becoming the number one ODI batsman, he admitted it had been a lifelong dream.

“It had always been my dream to be number one and that has been fulfilled,” said Azam. “There was lots of hard work, suffering, and sacrifice needed to get there. I have always been trying to improve my game with each passing day, learning new things and applying them. We all know cricket evolves and you have to keep up with it or risk getting left behind.”

Rizwan and Azam’s combination at the top may seem unshakable but is fairly recent. The pair only started opening earlier this year; this was the fifth T20I in which they had opened together. Rizwan said there wasn’t a secret to this success, but underscored the importance of a fast start.

“It’s a big win for us. Chasing 200-plus is always a difficult task but the way we got a start it made it easy for us,” Rizwan said. “We had a simple plan to win the powerplay and we did get more runs than they did in the first six. That momentum carried us deeper which brought us success.

“Since we started playing together, this and the one in Australia are the only two innings in which we have spent time at the crease together. Otherwise either me or him get out and we never got an opportunity to build a bigger stand. We even in between talked about making a world record and Babar was even more positive than me. When Babar scored his 100, I felt the same joy as if I’d done it myself.”

Just months ago, Pakistan’s top order was considered a significant Achilles heel leading up to the World T20. Now, it appears that gap has been conclusively plugged, without requiring either of Sharjeel Khan or Fakhar Zaman to open the batting.



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