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Shastri? Hesson? Moody? India set to announce their head coach today



India are gearing up to announce their next head coach. The BCCI is conducting meetings with six candidates, including the incumbent Ravi Shastri, and is expecting to make a final call on Friday evening.

Three of the candidates were scheduled to make their presentations to the Cricket Advisory Committee led by Kapil Dev in person: Mike Hesson, the former New Zealand coach who took the team to the 2015 final, Robin Singh, part of four-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians and Lalchand Rajput, manager when India won the inaugural World T20 in 2007.

Shastri, who has been coaching India since the end of the 2017 Champions Trophy, Tom Moody, formerly with Sri Lanka and Sunrisers Hyderabad and Phil Simmons, who helped West Indies win the World T20 in 2016, would be joining in via teleconference.

The contracts of Shastri and his support staff were meant to expire at the end of the 2019 World Cup but they were given a 45-day extension keeping in mind the West Indies tour. Ahead of his departure, India captain Virat Kohli made a clear and public announcement that he would prefer if Shastri was to continue as head coach.

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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs New Zealand, ICC World Test Championship, 1st Test



Innings Sri Lanka 267 (Dickwella 61, Lakmal 40, Patel 5-89) lead New Zealand 249 by 18 runs

After being ignored for the 2019 World Cup and then missing the cut for the ODI series at home against Bangladesh, Niroshan Dickwella proved his worth to the Test side with a calculated 61, ushering Sri Lanka to an 18-run first-innings lead in Galle. Resuming on an overnight 227 for 7, Sri Lanka added 40 to their tally before Trent Boult and Will Somerville took the remaining three wickets about an hour before lunch on the third day.

New Zealand took the new ball immediately and Boult pushed the batsmen back with a barrage of short balls. While Suranga Lakmal was struck flush on his right elbow, Lasith Embuldeniya copped a glancing blow on the helmet. Two balls after being hit, Lakmal stood deep in the crease to a ball that wasn’t short enough and wound up dragging it back onto the stumps for 40, snapping an 81-run eighth-wicket stand.

At the other end, Dickwella was more competent against the short ball, often rolling his wrists to keep the ball down. He reached his half-century in the 88th over when he dinked Ajaz Patel to the leg side for a single. Four overs later, Somerville dangled one up outside off – wider than a set of stumps outside off – and had Dickwella slapping a catch to Kane Williamson at short cover for 61 off 109 balls. Somerville then pinned Embuldeniya in front to end the innings and leave the game fascinatingly poised with the Galle track yet to deteriorate.

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Misbah-ul-Haq to lead training camp in coaching-staff vacuum



Misbah-ul-Haq is set to lead a 17-day training camp for 20 Pakistan cricketers starting next week. The pre-season camp, according to a PCB media release, has been organised with a view to an upcoming year in which most of Pakistan’s international commitments will be in the five-day format, with one eye on the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, which begins on September 12. Fourteen of the 20 Pakistan cricketers called up are centrally contracted players. Two days of fitness testing will be followed by by the conditioning camp, which runs from August 22 to September 7.

Misbah, whom the PCB release has termed the “camp commandant”, will “craft the training programme and overlook of the camp until the recruitment process has concluded. During the pre-season camp, the players will undergo fielding drills and net sessions, along with fitness and other cricketing activities.

“The camp has been set up to prepare the players for a competitive and challenging domestic and international cricket season, which is expected to begin with the prestigious Quaid-e-Azam Trophy from 12 September.”

It is not clear whether much can be read into the PCB giving Misbah the responsibility in the absence of a coaching set-up. When the PCB decided not to renew the contracts of head coach Mickey Arthur and his entire coaching staff, there was some media speculation that Misbah could be given the top job, though it is worth noting he has yet to complete the coaching badges or acquire the necessary experience the PCB is looking for in the next head coach.

It is more likely, perhaps, that Misbah’s reputation for high levels of fitness well into his 40s as a Test cricketer have resulted in the PCB hand-picking him as an ideal candidate for the job. In 2016, when Misbah was the Pakistan captain, the side underwent a rigorous training regime with the Pakistan military at an academy in Abbottabad before a tour of England. When Misbah scored a century in the first Test following that course, he famously dropped to his hands and knees and reeled off ten push-ups on the Lord’s turf, in tribute to the people who had put Pakistan through such a gruelling schedule, and as proof of his physical prowess.

Azhar Ali will join the camp after concluding his stint with Somerset, while Mohammad Amir, Imad Wasim, Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman have been exempted to allow them to complete their time with their respective counties in England.

Zakir Khan, Director of International Cricket at the PCB, said: “This conditioning camp is of great significance. The players will undergo strenuous training sessions to prepare for a demanding season, which will see Pakistan spend 30 of their 42 cricket-playing days in Test cricket.

“Misbah-ul-Haq, who has been Pakistan’s most successful captain, understands the arduous demands of the format in this day and age. With the advent of the World Test Championship, the PCB wants Pakistan to turn up with their best red-ball game when they face Sri Lanka in the two-match Test series at home.”

Players called up

Centrally contracted: Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah.

Non-centrally contracted: Asif Ali, Bilal Asif, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mir Hamza, Rahat Ali and Zafar Gohar.

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Recent Match Report – Yorkshire Diamonds vs Western Storm, Women’s Cricket Super League, 14th Match



Western Storm 152 for 1 (Mandhana 70, Priest 72*) beat Yorkshire Diamonds 151 for 9 (Armitage 59) by nine wickets

Western Storm’s relentless march towards next month’s Kia Super League Finals Day continued with a fifth straight win as openers Smriti Mandhana and Rachel Priest demolished a 152 target to beat Yorkshire Diamonds by nine wickets at York’s Clifton Park.

The table-topping Storm initially stymied the Diamonds progress having elected to bowl, with five run-outs coming in the last 16 balls in a total of 151 for 9.

Hollie Armitage top-scored with a career best 59 off 56 balls from number three before Sophie Luff threw in from the legside boundary to bring out a quartet of run-outs.

Armitage’s innings was then dwarfed in comparison by Indian left-hander Mandhana and New Zealand’s Priest, who shared 133 inside 14 overs.

Mandhana hit 70 off 47 balls and wicketkeeper Priest, who also had a hand in all five run-outs, made 72 not out off 43.

It means at the halfway stage in their campaign, the Storm already seem destined for a place at Finals Day at Hove on September 1 having secured a bonus-point victory with 5.1 overs remaining.

Armitage, strong on the sweep, shared a third-wicket stand of 60 inside eight overs with Indian Jemimah Rodrigues, advancing the Diamonds from 47 for 2 in the seventh over.

The diminutive Rodrigues (28) played one particularly memorable lofted cover drive for four off the offspin of compatriot Deepti Sharma.

Storm new-ball duo Claire Nicholas and Freya Davies struck, with Alyssa Healy caught at square leg on the pull off Nicholas’ offspin for 12.

Lauren Winfield was stumped by Priest for 18 off seamer Sonia Odedra, with the ball trickling back towards the wicketkeeper off pad.

Davies later bowled Armitage in the 20th over amidst the run out carnage, but England’s Anya Shrubsole was clearly the pick of the bowlers with 1 for 16 from four overs: she had Rodrigues caught at mid-off by Mandhana.

Three of the five run-outs came in the 19th over – bowled by Shrubsole – as Yorkshire crucially stumbled. All five runs outs occurred in search of a second run going to wicketkeeper Priest.

Last year, Mandhana was the KSL’s leading run-scorer with 421 from nine innings, including two fifties and a hundred. Here, she displayed similar dominance on the way to a 29-ball fifty, achieved in the eighth over when the Storm were 86 without loss.

74 runs came off the powerplay, while opening partner Priest scored only eight of the first 58.

Mandhana was particularly strong over cover and to long-off and, in the fifth over, hoisted legspinner Katie Levick for her only six.

Priest played her part as the partnership approached 100, hitting seamer Alice Davidson-Richards for three successive boundaries to end the sixth.

In 2017, the Kiwi had hit an unbeaten century in a 10-wicket win at this venue. Happy to camp on the back foot and hit powerfully to leg, she reached her fifty off 33 balls in the 10th over with the score at 102 without loss. She finished the game with two sixes in three balls off Linsey Smith’s left-arm spin.

The Diamonds, for whom Davidson-Richards had Mandhana caught at long-on, have now lost three from four games.

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