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Want India to have legacy like great West Indies’ and Australia sides – Shastri

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India head coach Ravi Shastri wants to turn his team’s consistency into the kind of celebrated golden legacy of the great West Indies and Australia sides of the past.

Shastri has just overseen a clean sweep in the Caribbean, where a ruthless India blanked West Indies in all three formats. “This kind of consistency I have not seen any time,” Shastri, who was recently given an extension in the job until the 2021 T20 World Cup, told Gulf News. “This team has an opportunity to do great things. We have a legacy like the West Indies did in the eighties and Australia did at the turn of the century. This team, too, has an opportunity to leave that kind of legacy, and they are already doing it.”

India’s overseas performances have improved significantly in recent years and under Shastri they have won series in West Indies, Sri Lanka and Australia, the latter a historic 2-1 triumph earlier this year. India have been No. 1 in the ICC’s Test rankings since October 2016, and were favourites at the recent ODI World Cup, alongside hosts England. Their campaign, however, was ended by a semi-final loss to New Zealand, following a top-order collapse. That was a second successive semi-final exit for India, currently the world’s second-ranked ODI side.

In T20Is, India are fourth in the ICC rankings. They won seven straight T20I series, including the four-team Nidahas Trophy, between November 2017 to November 2018, a streak that included away wins in South Africa (2-1), Ireland (2-0) and England (2-1), but they lost series in New Zealand and at home against Australia. “Look at how we have performed in T20, one-dayers and Tests and even in the big ICC tournaments, it is unbelievable,” Shastri said. “People used to say earlier that we only perform at home and we don’t do anything abroad. Now they are saying the opposite as wherever they are going they are performing.”

Shastri also rubbished recent reports of differences between Kohli and Rohit, Shastri said India India would not have performed the way they have if there was a rift between the two, neither would the pair have scored as freely as they have in recent series.

“Listen, I have been around the dressing room for the last five years. I have seen how the boys have played and how they have complemented the team and know their work ethics. I feel it is absolute nonsense (reports of a rift). I have been there with them and I know the way they play. If that was the case why would Rohit get five hundreds in the World Cup? Why would Virat do what he is doing? How would they have partnerships together?

“In a side when you have 15 players there will always be times when there will be opinions that will be different. That is what is needed. I don’t want everyone toeing the same line. You have got to have discussions and someone might then think of a fresh strategy, which has to be encouraged. So you have to give the guys the opportunity to express themselves and then decide what is best. Sometimes it might be the junior-most player in the team who may come up with a strategy which we hadn’t even thought of and we need to bring that to the table. So these should not be seen as a conflict.”



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Zimbabwe series will be Mashrafe Mortaza’s last as captain – BCB president

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BCB president Nazmul Hassan has said the upcoming three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe will be Mashrafe Mortaza‘s last assignment as Bangladesh captain. He said that a new captain will be named “within a month” as Bangladesh plan the road ahead for the 2023 World Cup.

Hassan also said that the board will be “lenient” on the 36-year old Mortaza’s fitness levels in the lead-up to the ODI series against Zimbabwe, which begins with the first match in Sylhet on March 1. However, after the home series against Zimbabwe, Mortaza’s place in the squad will depend upon his form and fitness, according to Hassan.

“We have started to stress on beep tests so Mashrafe may not pass the beep tests, so we can drop him if he doesn’t pass it,” he said. “We also have to keep it in mind that Mashrafe’s leadership was vital in the turnaround in Bangladesh cricket. But, the time has come for him to decide how long he wants to play. I think Mashrafe will play the ODI series against Zimbabwe, pending fitness. We will be lenient about his fitness. But very soon, we have to decide on the team and captain for the next World Cup. We don’t have much time. We will take our decision after this ODI series.”

Hassan said that Mortaza had agreed on a retirement match at home during the 2019 World Cup, but the captain later changed his mind. Earlier in January this year, Mortaza had said that he will keep playing as long as he is enjoying the game, and not retiring just because the BCB president has said that they would throw a big party.

Before Bangladesh travel to Pakistan for a solitary ODI on April 3, the BCB is likely to name the new captain.

“Retirement depends on individual players,” Hassan said. “We know that top players retire on their own will. We also wanted to give him a good send-off. He can play if he wants to, but I am more concerned about the captaincy. Once we declare on the captaincy, he can enter the team on his performance.

“When I spoke to him during the World Cup, we discussed that if we can arrange a home ODI, he will retire. After returning, he changed his mind. And then he also said that he doesn’t want a send-off. He never told me. I saw it in the media. We have taken a month or a month and a half to decide our next ODI captain.”

Hassan was also critical of the Test side, saying he wasn’t hopeful of Bangladesh beating Zimbabwe in the one-off Test. After holding a meeting with the Test side on Wednesday, Hassan addressed the media.

“I have been seeing in the media in the last few days that things will be great after beating Zimbabwe. I don’t see it happening,” he said. “I have no hope. I told them, if you take them lightly, it will be a big disaster. Zimbabwe is where Zimbabwe was. We are not where we were. They have recently performed better than us.

“If someone asks me what was Bangladesh’s worst performance at home, I’d say losing to Afghanistan. It was unacceptable. If we lose to Afghanistan, we can lose to Zimbabwe. We need to have a new mindset. Our seniors must take the major responsibilities, and it has to be a team game.”

Hassan slammed the T20I side for losing 2-0 in Pakistan. He also called the Test captain Mominul Haque as “soft” and “shy”, and someone who would need help from senior pros like Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim.

“I told them that it was unacceptable to lose to Pakistan in the T20Is,” he said. “Nobody would say that we played poorly in India, but I told them that I didn’t like their approach and mindset in the Pakistan T20I series. I spoke to them about these things, ones that I had mentioned in the media but I wasn’t finding time to speak to the players. I reinforced that we are almost unbeatable at home, and we must beat at least four or five teams in their home conditions.

“I told them, ‘don’t take Zimbabwe lightly’. We must work in a planned way. Mominul is new, plus he is quite shy. Soft. I told Tamim and Mushfiq must be involved fully to charge up the team.”

In a bizarre twist, Hassan also informed the media that he had ordered the Bangladesh players and management that they would have to inform him of the playing XI, down to the batting line-up, before the game.

“I want to know the game plan on the day before the game, and the playing XI,” he said. “Why? It started from the World Cup and then the Afghanistan series, there is a total change; nothing has happened the way I expected. Those who had never played in the top order were given those roles. It was experimentation. In Pakistan too, what was told to me didn’t happen.

“I have told them that they have to give me the batting sequence and cannot drop a player in one game and then pick him again. I understand that they want to try a few boys. Our coach, who is relatively new, wants to see the fast bowlers. But whatever happens, they have to let me know in advance.”



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USA allrounder Nisarg Patel banned from bowling due to suspect action

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Nisarg Patel, the USA allrounder, has been suspended from bowling in international cricket with immediate effect after an independent assessment found his action to be illegal.

Patel, a left-arm spinner, was reported after his side’s ODI against Oman on February 11 in Kathmandu. He bowled seven overs in the game, returning figures of 0 for 37.

An assessment was then carried out by an expert panel, as per clause 4.7 of the ICC’s illegal bowling regulations, which concluded that Patel’s bowling action was above the permitted 15-degree level. His suspension will remain in place until he undertakes a review of his action by the ICC’s expert panel, or is cleared by an ICC testing centre.

It is possible that Patel will continue to be picked as a batsman alone. While he averages just 20.28 in ODIs, he made a maiden half-century in the game against Oman earlier in the month from only 32 balls, USA’s fastest ODI fifty.



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Dimuth Karunaratne back as captain, Niroshan Dickwella recalled for West Indies ODIs

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As many as ten players opted out of Sri Lanka’s tour of Pakistan last year, the last time they played ODI cricket, and Sri Lanka have included many of them in a strong squad led by Dimuth Karunaratne, who was one of the players to withdraw, for the three-ODI series against West Indies starting Saturday.

The 15-man squad also sees the return of Niroshan Dickwella, who last played an ODI in March 2019 before being dropped for the home games against Bangladesh in July. He also chose not to travel to Pakistan, as did Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews, all now back in the squad.

The seam bowling attack for the series comprises of Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara and Isuru Udana, but is without senior bowler Suranga Lakmal, who played in the World Cup last year, but has been omitted from ODIs since. There were no surprises on the spin front: Wanindu Hasaranga, who impressed in Pakistan, and Lakshan Sandakan, are the frontline options. The offspin of De Silva is also there as support. Dasun Shanaka and Mathews are the secondary seam bowling options.

Opener Danushka Gunathilaka, meanwhile, missed out on selection due to injury, with the selectors instead going with Shehan Jayasuriya.

Lahiru Thirimanne had led Sri Lanka in the ODIs in Pakistan, but he was dropped for the upcoming games after scoring 36 and 0 in the two completed games in Karachi, both of which Sri Lanka lost.

Minod Bhanuka, Oshada Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Sadeera Samarawickrama and Angelo Perera were some of the younger players who made the trip to Pakistan but missed out this time, with the return of the high-profile players.

The three ODIs will be played on February 22 and 26 and March 1 in Colombo, Hambantota and Pallekele respectively, before the teams contest two T20Is.

Squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Avishka Fernando, Kusal Perera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara



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