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No bias or favouritism in Ambati Rayudu’s WC exclusion – MSK Prasad | Cricket

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The 3D sequels aren’t over yet. Among the clarifications India’s chief selector MSK Prasad made on Sunday were a couple related to World Cup selections. Prasad stressed the decision to leave out Ambati Rayudu did not have any bias. He also explained why Rishabh Pant and Mayank Agarwal had been picked as replacements for the injured Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay Shankar respectively, and admitted the choices may have seemed “confusing” to people.

The Rayudu riddle
The World Cup final hangover may be wearing off but Indian cricket’s obsession with a discarded No. 4 is not. When India’s World Cup squad was announced in April, Rayudu had been left out in favour of Vijay Shankar, with Prasad saying the latter brought “three dimensions” to the side. A day after the announcement, Rayudu in a not-so-cryptic tweet said: “Just ordered a new set of 3d glasses to watch the World Cup.” It was followed by a winking and a smiling emoji. On Sunday, while announcing India’s squads for the West Indies tour, Prasad said he had “really enjoyed” that tweet. “Frankly speaking, it was a lovely tweet, I really enjoyed it. Seriously. It was a very timely one, very sarcastic. it was fantastic one. I don’t know how it struck him.”

He also addressed the “emotional” side of Rayudu’s decision to retire from all forms of cricket earlier this month.
Although he had been marked as India’s No. 4 by Virat Kohli last year, the selectors didn’t pick him to go to England even after Vijay Shankar was injured and the team needed replacements. Prasad insisted there was no bias in that decision, and added that his committee had backed Rayudu previously.

“First of all, how much emotions have gone through anybody, the same emotions also have gone through the selection committee,” Prasad said on Sunday. “When we pick any player and he does well, we feel so happy for him. Similarly, when someone, out of emotions, goes out in this way, selection committee members also feel for it.

“But, having said that, with regard to the decision that was taken, it was devoid of any bias or any favouritism. From the beginning, I have been telling why we have picked Vijay Shankar, why we have picked Rishabh Pant or Mayank Agarwal. Somewhere, it is definitely related to Rayudu’s case also. There’s no second thought, there’s nothing against that.

“I will give you a small example on Rayudu. When Rayudu was picked on the basis of the 2017-18 T20 performance, we picked him in the one-day side, there was a lot of criticism but we had some thoughts about him. Subsequently, when he failed a fitness test, this selection committee backed him and we put him through a fitness programme for a month, and we ensured that he comes back fit and comes into the side. Once he came into the side we backed him, but due to certain permutations and combinations of the side, we couldn’t pick him. That doesn’t make this selection committee or me, in person, biased.

“I hope you will understand that there was a certain programme that was set to see that Rayudu should come into the side. There’s nothing that we did against any particular person. So how much Rayudu is emotional, we are also emotional. We as ex-cricketers also feel for him. That’s it, that’s what I can say.”




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Picking Pant for Dhawan, Agarwal for Vijay Shankar

When an inexperienced middle-order batsman replaced an injured opener, and then an uncapped opener took an injured allrounder’s place in India’s World Cup squad, it “baffled” several fans and experts, including Sunil Gavaskar. After the side’s semi-final loss to New Zealand, Gavaskar said a batsman like Rayudu should have been in the squad, since he was among the standbys, and could have handled the crisis of being 24 for 4 in a semi-final better.

“It is not the selection committee’s decision. It is the team management which has been asking these things,” Gavaskar had said. “We are not saying you are wrong but at the moment what we are seeing didn’t work out, so we need to know.”

Prasad addressed these issues on Sunday, clarifying that Pant and Agarwal had been picked on requests made by the team management.

“When Shikhar Dhawan got injured, we had a third opener in KL Rahul. At that juncture, after those two-three matches, we didn’t have a left-hander at the top,” Prasad explained. “Since KL Rahul was going to open, the team management requested for a left-hander and we had no choice other than Pant. We were very clear about that. We know what he is capable of. That’s the reason why we had to bring in a left-hander, which actually confused many people thinking why a middle-order batsman has been picked for an opener.

“When Vijay Shankar was injured, again a middle-order player was injured, and an opener was brought in. In a game against England, when KL Rahul was trying for a catch, he had a big fall on the boundary line and he didn’t field for the rest of the innings. There was a medical emergency at that stage whether he will be continuing or not. There was so much of a worry factor. At that juncture, a written communication was given to us that we need a back-up opener.

“We looked at some of the openers. Some were not in form, the others were injured. That is why we went for Mayank Agarwal. So that is very clear, no confusion on this. I’m sure by the end of the day all these speculations will be clear.”

Vishal Dikshit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.






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Ravi Bopara named in MCC squad for Pakistan tour

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Former England allrounder Ravi Bopara has been named as part of a 12-man MCC squad to tour Pakistan in February. The team will be captained by Sri Lanka great, and current MCC president, Kumar Sangakkara, and coached by former England quick Ajmal Shahzad.

Also included in the touring party are Scotland’s Safyaan Sharif and Michael Leask, Netherlands duo Roelof van der Merwe and Fred Klaassen, along with county players from Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Kent and Worcestershire. England internationals Samit Patel and Liam Dawson, as well as Sussex’s Phil Salt, will each feature in one match, as part of a link up with the Pakistan Super League.

MCC are set to play games against two PSL teams, Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans, as well as Pakistan’s domestic T20 champions, Northerns. The tour is aimed at encouraging support for international teams returning to play in Pakistan, more than a decade after the 2009 terrorist attacks.

The MCC’s chief executive, Guy Lavender, will take on the role of team manager, supported by MCC assistant secretary (cricket) and former England, Essex and Hampshire allrounder John Stephenson.

“We are thrilled to be able to name a strong squad for this tour, which blends youth and experience for a strong side of high quality,” Stephenson said. “We have really appreciated the collaborative approach from the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan Super League, which has enabled us to arrange fixtures against sides preparing for this year’s PSL tournament as well as to secure the services of some of those participating.

“As a club, we share the PCB’s wish in wanting to see international teams returning to play in Pakistan on a regular basis and we hope that this tour contributes to those objectives.”

MCC squad:Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Ravi Bopara, Michael Burgess, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Fred Klaassen, Michael Leask, Arron Lilley, Imran Qayyum, Will Rhodes, Safyaan Sharif, Roelof van der Merwe, Ross Whiteley



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Kevin Kasuza stretchered off after copping another blow on the helmet

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Zimbabwe opener Kevin Kasuza was taken off the field on a stretcher after being struck flush on the helmet for the second time in two Tests.

Kasuza sustained the blow on the third morning of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Harare when Kusal Mendis nailed a powerful back-foot pull, which hit the side of the helmet of forward short-leg fielder Kasuza, who immediately hit the ground even as the ball ricocheted to square leg, where Carl Mumba took the catch to send back Mendis for 22 off 73 balls.

Kasuza was in visible pain and was consequently stretchered off the field by the Zimbabwe medical staff. According to the broadcasters, Kasuza was then sent to hospital for scans.

Incidentally, it was a repeat of what happened in the first Test. Then, too, it was Mendis, who had struck Kasuza on the helmet when he was fielding at the same position on the third day of the match. In that game, Kasuza had not immediately felt the effects of the blow, but suffered a delayed concussion and was eventually substituted out of the match, which was his international debut. As a result, Zimbabwe named a like-for-like replacement in opener Brian Mudzinganyama.

While Kasuza has endured a tough time on the field in his first two Tests, he has shown promise with the bat, following up his 63 in the first Test with an equally solid 38 in the second. Kasuza helped see off the new ball in the second Test and set the base for Zimbabwe’s first-innings total of 406.



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Sornnarin Tippoch to lead Thailand at their first World Cup

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Sornnarin Tippoch will lead Thailand’s first-ever team at a global tournament, after being named captain of the 15-member squad for the women’s T20 World Cup, which starts on February 21 in Australia.

While the core of the squad is largely the same as the one that won the qualification event in Scotland last year, Thipatcha Putthawong and Suwanan Khiaoto, who were part of the 14-member squad for the recent T20 quadrangular series in Patna, India, have been brought in. Khiaoto has yet to make her international debut.

Arriya Yenyuak, the right-arm seamer who was left out of the quadrangular squad, didn’t find a place in the squad either, but Phannita Maya has come back after missing the quadrandular.

Under 33-year-old Tippoch, who has led Thailand in all of their 35 T20Is so far, the team produced a record-breaking 17 consecutive wins in the format last year. In 2018, she led the side that notched up a historic four-wicket win over Full Member nation Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup, in Kuala Lumpur.

Other experienced names in Thailand’s T20 World Cup squad include Naruemol Chaiwai, Nattaya Boochatham, Suleeporn Laomi, and the 2019 ICC Women’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year Chanida Sutthiruang, who have all played every single one of Thailand’s T20Is down the years.

Sutthiruang, the 26-year-old right-arm seamer, took 12 wickets at the T20 World Cup qualifier, while Boochatham was the leading wicket-taker in T20Is last year, and Chaiwai was the leading run-scorer in T20Is last year. Wristspinner Laomi, meanwhile, was a key performer in their qualifier campaign, her guile often outsmarting batters.

Thailand’s preparation in the lead-up to the world event hasn’t been ideal as they finished last in the quadrangular series, which also featured Bangladesh and the India A and B sides. They have ODI-playing nations as contenders in Group B, such as England, Pakistan, South Africa, and West Indies, and will play their tournament-opener against West Indies in Perth on February 22.



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