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Baroda hold off Delhi by one run, while TN beat Mumbai

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Baroda and Karnataka surged to the top of the Super League groups A and B, winning their Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy matches on Friday. While Baroda held off Delhi by a solitary run, Karnataka beat Jharkhand by 13 runs in a game they looked like they would win at a canter at one stage. The victories gave them both eight points each from two matches.

Rajasthan and Jharkhand, who have both had a close defeat each in high-scoring games, now find themselves with two defeats in as many Super League games, making a spot in the semi-finals difficult.

Like on Thursday, there were IPL scouts from at least four franchises in attendance for the matches, making performances in the Super League particularly crucial given the IPL auction that is scheduled for December 19.

Baroda v Delhi

A combined effort by the Delhi bowlers kept Baroda to 151 for 6. However, Delhi’s chase stuttered and finished on 150 for 9. Babashafi Pathan, the right-arm medium-pacer, took 3 for 24 for Baroda, while Kunwar Bidhuri fought a lone battle for Delhi.

Bhiduri, handed a game due to Shikhar Dhawan’s injury, had a sparkling T20 debut, hitting 68 off 51 balls at the top of the order. However, he lacked support from the rest of the Delhi batsmen. He was ninth out at the start of the 20th over. Delhi needed 19 to win from the remaining five balls and though Suboth Bhati swung his bat during an unbeaten 20 off 8 balls, Delhi could make only 17 runs.

Baroda didn’t have any batsman making a standout innings, though Aditya Waghmode continued his good form, top-scoring with 36 off 31 while opening. Only Deepak Hooda (26 off 19) among the other batsmen crossed 20, though useful contributions right through meant Baroda got to a competitive – and eventually winning – total.

Tamil Nadu v Mumbai

Tamil Nadu put behind a comprehensive defeat to Karnataka to hand the other tournament favourites – Mumbai – a resounding loss, by seven wickets with 6.1 overs to spare. Left-arm spinner Shams Mulani had a remarkable day, but the rest of the Mumbai team crumbled.

Tamil Nadu’s bowlers ensured Mumbai could get only 121 for 9, despite Mulani hitting 73 off 52 after being promoted to No. 4. R Sai Kishore continued his good run with figures of 3 for 18 in four overs, while M Siddharth took 4 for 16. Prithvi Shaw made 30 off 19 at the top of the order, but no other Mumbai player got into double-figures.

Tamil Nadu sent in Shahrukh Khan to partner Hari Nishanth at the top of the order, and the duo gave the team a rapid start. Shahrukh fell in the fourth over, bowled by Mulani, with B Aparajith following him back two balls later. However, Nishanth, who didn’t have a good outing against Karnataka, came to the fore in style, smashing 73* off 44 balls.

Mulani took all three wickets to fall – Dinesh Karthik being the third – to complete a fabulous all-round day with figures of 3 for 26 in four overs, but Vijay Shankar ensured he stayed alongside Nishanth as victory was raised in just 13.5 overs.

Karnataka v Jharkhand

Put in to bat, Karnataka rocketed off the blocks, before losing their way in the second half of their innings. Their fantastic start nonetheless ensured a sizeable 189 for 6 on the board, and though Jharkhand fought gamely, the required rate was always a touch above what they looked like achieving, eventually finishing on 176 for 5.

Karnataka’s start was driven by Devdutt Padikkal – in many ways the batsman of the tournament so far – who raced to 63 off 30 balls in an opening stand that brought 114 in 9.3 overs. His opening partner KL Rahul was more sedate in comparison, while Manish Pandey came in and picked up where Padikkal had left off. However, both men fell shortly thereafter, though at 130 for 3 in 11 overs, Karnataka were still looking at a total well in excess of 200. However, with their three main batsmen gone, the rest of the line-up struggled and could only score at around a run a ball thereon. Left-arm spinner Sonu Singh did most of the damage, with 3 for 28 in four overs. He took out both Rahul and Pandey, and added the wicket of Karun Nair too.

Jharkhand’s reply was driven by Virat Singh‘s 76* off 44 from No.3, but the batsmen around him couldn’t keep up with the required rate. They needed 87 runs in the last six overs, which is when Virat and Sumit Kumar (23 off 16) cut loose, but though they scored at more than two runs per ball, the eventual target proved too steep.

Haryana v Rajasthan

Tight bowling by Haryana gave them a four-wicket victory over Rajasthan with 4.4 overs remaining, with Harshal Patel putting in an all-round show once again.

Harshal, who has been opening the batting in this tournament, first took 1 for 19 in his four overs as Rajasthan were restricted to 123 for 8. Ankit Lamba top-scored with 38, but took 41 balls, and only Chandrapal Singh (25* off 14) crossed 20 among other batsmen. Rahul Tewatia, recently traded from Delhi Capitals to Rajasthan Royals, was the most successful bowler, with 3 for 18 in four overs.

Interestingly, Haryana opened with two leggies in Yuzvendra Chahal and Amit Mishra, while Tewatia – another leggie – was the first change bowler.

Harshal led Haryana’s reply, smacking 41 off 25 at the top of the order to be the highest score of the match. Haryana didn’t have too many others contributing, but given the small target, they didn’t need to.



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IPL franchises begin quarantining and testing for Covid-19

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A day after a few of the IPL owners had a meeting internally to discuss the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) draft sent by the tournament’s governing council, it appears that the teams have begun activating their own protocols prior to departure to the UAE for IPL 2020.

Mumbai Indians have started quarantining their Indian players in a hotel, with regular Covid-19 tests scheduled. Players who complete their quarantine will then be allowed to train at their facility in Navi Mumbai.

Rajasthan Royals too plan to conduct Covid-19 tests for their players and support staff over the next two weeks, prior to their departure to Dubai. Another franchise has asked their Indian players to home quarantine – as a precaution – while simultaneously initiating Covid-19 tests.

“Outdoor training is out of question still, we’re being cautious and since everything is still very uncertain with regards to SOPs, we’re awaiting a final confirmation,” a franchise source said. “We have put forward our concerns with the IPL governing council, hopefully everything will be clear this weekend so that we can start planning.”

Currently the IPL has laid out a stringent week-long quarantine process, along with four Covid-19 tests for players and support staff, before they can start training in the UAE. ESPNcricinfo understands that a number of franchises have sought a reduction in this quarantine period upon entering the biosecure bubble in the UAE.

While the IPL schedule hasn’t been announced yet, Sunrisers Hyderabad, for example, could potentially lose David Warner and Jonny Bairstow for the first two matches if they are to undergo the mandatory seven-day quarantine.

Both players would likely be arriving in the UAE from the United Kingdom following the conclusion of the T20I series between England and Australia on September 15, four days prior to the start of the IPL season.

Meanwhile, the IPL has also put in place stringent measures for ad shoots and promotional activities involving players. Players are required to have a 10-day gap between their shoots and their departure to the UAE.

The shoots can only be scheduled at ballrooms of a five-star hotel, in order to maintain social distancing norms, with a strict cap of five crew members allowed at the location of the shoot with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to prevent any physical contact.

The franchises are expected to meet the IPL governing council on Friday through video conference, while awaiting the finalised SOPs, which has delayed the departure of a number of teams.

Chennai Super Kings, for example, were looking at arriving in the UAE in the second week of August. That move stands cancelled because of the absence of a formal SOP. However, they have sent out a note to their Indian players to start arriving in Chennai once the IPL circulates the SOP.

Meanwhile, Kolkata Knight Riders are looking at having Abu Dhabi as their base from August 21 or 22, with the overseas contingent of Brendon McCullum, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell joining the team from the Caribbean after their CPL commitments end by September 10.

Kings XI Punjab too are looking at assembling their Indian squad together, before flying out to the UAE.



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Covid-19: PCB offers financial support to 25 unemployed Pakistan women cricketers

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To fight with the economic challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic, the PCB has announced a three-month financial support package for 25 unemployed national women cricketers. Under this scheme, the players who meet the eligibility criteria such as featuring in the 2019-20 domestic season, and are presently without a contract for the 2020-21 season as well as a day job or business, will receive a monthly stipend of PKR 25,000 (approx US$150) each from August to October.

In June, the PCB had announced a list of women’s contracted players, which included nine centrally contracted cricketers and as many emerging contracted players. These are 12-month contracts, which commenced on July 1. The latest PCB decision takes the count of women cricketers receiving PCB support to 43.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a halt to all women cricketing activities worldwide. This has adversely affected our women cricketers, some of whom are the sole breadwinners of their families,” Urooj Mumtaz Khan, the head of the PCB women’s wing, said in a statement issued by the board.

“As the women’s game is making steady progress, it was imperative that the PCB came up with this scheme to not only protect and support our players but to also make them understand and realise that the PCB values them and will look after them in difficult times.

“Forty-eight players featured in the 2019-20 national domestic season out of which 25 became eligible to benefit from the scheme. The remaining players are either contracted by the PCB or employed elsewhere.”

In May, the PCB had offered one-time support to 161 stakeholders through an identical scheme, including former men’s first-class cricketers, match officials, scorers and curators.



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Anjum Chopra wants BCCI to be ‘more specific in communication about women’s cricket’

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Anjum Chopra, the former India women’s captain and current television commentator, believes that the BCCI has a plan for women’s cricket but wants the board to communicate its ideas more clearly.

Speaking to PTI, Chopra said: “It’s not that the BCCI is not thinking about women’s cricket. I only think they need to be more specific in communication about women’s cricket.

“I firmly believe that they must be thinking about women’s cricket but the communication all this while has been very specific to men’s cricket.”

The BCCI has received criticism of withdrawing the women from a tour of England in September, owing to logistical issues arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic. Then there is the question of the Women’s T20 Challenge clashing with the WBBL.

Chopra said missing out on the England tour is “not nice” but Indian players’ participation in the T20 Challenge will still be useful preparation for next year’s ODI World Cup.

“It is heartening to see women’s cricket making headlines,” Chopra said. “They should have been a part of that England tour and it did not feel nice initially but the women’s IPL [T20 Challenge], irrespective of the format, will be helpful for World Cup preparations. Any form of cricket is good preparation.

“Missing out on a tournament is not nice, but logistically there may have been issues. And you can’t send an under-prepared team.

“If you see it in isolation, we may have missed out on an opportunity to play in England. The more the girls play the better it is, before playing a tournament of the stature of World Cup. [But] the assurance from the president [Sourav Ganguly] is a very good thing.”

ALSO READ: The issues facing India women’s cricket in the face of Covid-19

Chopra welcomed the decision to hold the women’s event in the UAE alongside the IPL, which will run from September 19 to November 10. The women’s T20 Challenge will coincide with the knockouts of the men’s league.

“I am definitely happy, it’s always nice to be part of any cricket anywhere across the world,” Chopra said. “They should have been nearing the final stages of the preparation for the World Cup by now, but because of the pandemic things did not go as planned.”



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