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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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Recent Match Report – Leicestershire vs Derbyshire, Twenty20 Cup (England), North Group

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Derbyshire Falcons 128 for 1 (Godleman 52*) beat Leicestershire Foxes 124 for 9 (Cosgrove 45, Reece 2-9, Critchley 2-18) by nine wickets

Derbyshire Falcons all but sealed qualification for the quarter-finals of the Vitality Blast after comprehensively beating East Midlands neighbours Leicestershire Foxes by nine wickets in the crucial North Group clash at the Fischer County Ground.

Captain Billy Godleman led the way with an unbeaten half-century, his third of the competition, after seeing his side dismiss the Foxes for just 124.

Leicestershire captain Colin Ackermann opted to bat first after winning the toss, and it was quickly apparent that the pitch, which had been used for the match against the Nottinghamshire Outlaws two days earlier, appeared to have quickened under glorious sunshine. It certainly suited Mark Cosgrove, who looked in sublime form, stroking seven fours through the off-side and clubbing a huge straight six during a Powerplay that yielded 59 runs.

He did lose two partners, Harry Swindells caught behind and Arron Lilley caught at mid-off, but the game turned when Ackermann, having clipped a Matt Critchley delivery straight to Logan Van Beek at backward point, looked up to see Cosgrove half-way down the wicket.

Quite what the Australian was thinking was hard to fathom, as Van Beek threw the ball back to Critchley and Cosgrove was left standing in mid-pitch, his 45 having come from just 27 balls.

The shift in momentum from that point was dramatic. With Alex Hughes and Critchley taking the pace off the ball, just 17 runs came off the next five overs, and wickets continued to fall to ill-chosen shots. Ackermann holed out to long-on, Lewis Hill was bowled making room to cut and Aadil Ali was caught at long-on, leaving the tail to gather what runs it could.

When Derbyshire batted, Godleman and Luis Reece took 24 off the third over of the reply, bowled by left-arm paceman Dieter Klein, and from that point there was never any concern for the visitors, though they did lose Reece, caught at long-on.

Leicestershire’s travails continued in the field, Hill dropping the most straightforward of chances to dismiss Wayne Madsen behind the wicket before the South African helped Godleman see the Falcons over the line in the penultimate over.



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Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Essex, Twenty20 Cup (England), South Group

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Essex Eagles 139 for 7 (Lawrence 73) tied with Hampshire 139 for 6 (Northeast 69)

Hampshire and Essex Eagles tied for a second year in a row as Adam Zampa ran half-century maker Sam Northeast out off the last ball of a thrilling match.

Hampshire, chasing 140 to win, needed 11 off the final over, having previously required 42 from three overs, before pulling it down to two runs from the last ball.

With Northeast, who was on 72, on strike the batsman struck down the ground but could only find Zampa – who easily had Northeast out his ground attempting a second.

Northeast had turned the match around with 73 from 56 balls, with the match seemingly Essex’s to win before the nervy finale.

The shared points helps neither side in their hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals – they both sit on 11 points, two points adrift of Somerset and Middlesex.

Having won the toss and chosen the bowl Hampshire struck early. Chris Wood continued his incredible first-over wicket-taking record when he had Tom Westley lbw to the first delivery of the match – it was the fifth time in this season’s Blast the left-armer had stuck in his first over.

Kyle Abbott copied Wood in the next over as Essex were left 3 for 2 when Cameron Delport was brilliantly caught behind by Lewis McManus.

Dan Lawrence and Adam Wheater then ambled along at around six an over in an 83-run stand for the third wicket to revive the innings – before Wheater was caught on the square boundary.

Lawrence continued, though, with a series of delightful shots through and over the covers, to go with a towering six over midwicket. He passed 1,000 T20 runs and a 13th fifty of the season across all formats, off 37 balls.

But as with his first 12 half-centuries, Lawrence couldn’t convert to three figures as he picked out Ian Holland at backward point while attempting a reverse scoop.

Ryan ten Doeschate plumb lbw to Chris Morris and Abbott yorking Ravi Bopara and Simon Harmer in the same over to take figures of three for 15, also departed – leaving the Eagles on 139 for 7.

Like Essex earlier, Hampshire lost both openers early on as James Vince and Rilee Rossouw both picked out Ravi Bopara on the point rope.

Northeast and Liam Dawson attempted to rebuild for the hosts but despite running hard between the wickets they struggled to hit boundaries in their 68-run alliance.

With seven overs to go, and only four fours between them, the required rate was up and 10 an over – with Dawson departing for 31 off 34 balls during that 14th over after slogging a sweep straight to cow corner.

But thanks to some clever striking from Northeast, whose half century came in 46 balls with five fours, Hampshire ground themselves back into contention.

Chris Morris and James Fuller, 17 off 12, both departed but Northeast and Lewis McManus collected 11 off the 18th over, 19 from the 19th over and managed to slice past the 11 needed off the final Mohammad Amir over before the last ball hijinx.



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Recent Match Report – Birmingham Bears vs Northamptonshire, Twenty20 Cup (England), North Group

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Northamptonshire 153 for 6 beat Birmingham Bears 150 for 6 by four wickets

Faheem Ashraf saw Northamptonshire home with two balls to spare as his side beat Birmingham Bears by four wickets on a golden afternoon at Edgbaston to keep the visitors hopes alive of qualifying for the Vitality Blast quarter-finals.

Northants began the day having to win their last three matches to reach the top four of the North Group and were cruising in a chase of 151 at 128 for 2 in the 15th over. But wickets began to tumble and five were left from five balls. Ashraf then guided Henry Brookes wide of third man for two before striking the winning boundary over extra cover.

Defeat for the Bears ended their chances or reaching the top four as they slipped bottom of the table with two matches to play.

The home side chose to bat on a used wicket but slumped to 109 for 5 in the 17th over only for Will Rhodes, with 45 in 31 balls, and Chris Green, 23 from 13 to boost them to 150 for 6, taking 20 runs from the final seven balls of the innings.

Before then, the Northants’ spinners had a grip on the innings with turn available. Rob Keogh spun one sharply past Matt Lamb’s inside edge to bowl him for just one and deceived Adam Hose to have him stumped for 24. Left-arm spinner Graeme White also earned a stumping when Dom Sibley advanced and missed an off drive to fall for 24 in 20 balls.

Rhodes kept the Bears together – twice slog-sweeping to the short leg-side fence – and the blast from Green in the final over, hitting three fours off Ben Sanderson, gave the home side something to defend.

The Northants chase was given a bright start by Richard Levi, who made a timely return to form in making 44 from 27 balls – his highest score in the competition this season. He took three fours from Oliver Hannon-Dalby’s opening over before dealing with Jeetan Patel’s offspin by twice sweeping him for four. Levi eventually fell trying to hit Rhodes over mid-off but he laid the platform for the pursuit at 73 for 2 in the eighth over.

Captain Josh Cobb then shared a stand of 55 in seven overs that appeared to have put the game to bed, Cobb striking two sixes into the Raglan Stand. But trying to repeat the shot he holed out to deep midwicket for 42 from 36 balls and when Dwaine Pretorius’ measured 26 from 24 balls was ended by a superb low return catch by Patel, work was left for the Northants middle order.

The task appeared straightforward with 16 needed from 18 balls but Alex Wakely and Keogh couldn’t find the boundaries that would have killed the game. One reserve-sweep from Wakely earned four past backward point but Keogh was bowled swinging at Green’s final delivery and Wakely then fell to a Brookes nip-backer first ball of the final over.

Suddenly the Bears sensed a chance and Tom Sole would have run himself out taking a run straight to mid-on had Lamb’s throw struck. Ashraf, with four needed from four, then took over to win the game.



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