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Series win against Bangladesh gives us ‘breathing space’ – Misbah-ul-Haq

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Pakistan’s 2-0 series victory over Bangladesh at home – their first series win in T20Is in more than a year – has given them some “breathing space,” according to head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq.

“Obviously you play for the win and for it, you keep on trying all the time,” Misbah said. “This victory was important for us to get breathing space and now you obviously have to see where you are lacking and which area you can strengthen yourself. Otherwise being under pressure, you are always running after many things and sometimes it’s really hard to catch up. So, it’s good for me, for the team, for all youngsters that we are relaxed and got a little confidence-booster. Now we can focus better going forward.”

Under Misbah, Pakistan had suffered a 3-0 whitewash against a second-string Sri Lanka side at home and then they lost 2-0 in Australia, the scene of the T20 World Cup later this year. However, upon returning home, Pakistan thumped Bangladesh 2-0 to retain their No.1 ranking in the shortest format, after the third T20I had been washed out.

Despite losing the toss in both completed games, Pakistan thrived and Misbah credited his bowlers for the success. In the first T20I, they restricted Bangladesh to 141 for 5 and then in the second, they kept them to an even lower total – 136 for 6.

“The most important thing for us was to win,” Misbah said. “Because when you lose back-to-back series and even before we had a poor run losing T20 games, so it was really important for our confidence to win. Obviously, credit should be given to our bowling – the way our young bowlers never gave Bangladesh a chance to sneak in to get into a position to pose any threat.

“So, overall it’s a good performance and for Pakistan cricket it’s good. For World Cup, we still have plenty of time – the PSL and then more international games, so we will have more challenges and difficult situations coming up to get ourselves prepared.”

Since Misbah has taken over as coach-cum-selector, Pakistan’s squad has seen plenty of chopping and changing. After he had included a number of fresh faces for the Australia tour, Misbah fell back on the experience of the 39-year old Mohammad Hafeez and 37-year old Shoaib Malik for the home series against Bangladesh. The two seniors vindicated their returns with match-winning half-centuries.

“Whenever both seniors weren’t there in the team… questions were asked of me,” Misbah said.”I never really talked about ending someone’s career or why we are not considering them. But, sometimes you do look around and check your resources and do experiment to see where you stand.

“So, after two series we have realised that we cannot go to all out with youngsters and we need experience. So, obviously Babar [Azam] did back them and, as expected, their experience did work for us. So, the doors are never shut. So, if any player who is fit, performing and required, he should definitely be considered. If their form is helping your team, then I don’t see any problem in picking them.”



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Hardik Pandya ‘very keen to bowl but we have to listen to his body’

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Mumbai Indians are keen to get some overs out of their key allrounder Hardik Pandya but are taking a cautious approach with him after his back surgery last year. Zaheer Khan, Mumbai’s director of cricket operations, said on Sunday that Pandya is “very keen and really wanting to bowl,” but they also have to “listen to his body”.

Pandya has not bowled so far in Mumbai’s two games – against the Chennai Super Kings and the Kolkata Knight Riders – and Khan didn’t specify when exactly the allrounder could be expected to bowl next.

“We’re all expecting him to bowl and he’s someone who really changes the balance of any side when he’s bowling and understands that but we have to listen to his body and that’s a conversation we’ve been having in consultation with the physios,” Khan said while answering questions from the press.

“We’re looking forward for him to bowl, he’s very keen and really wanting to bowl. We just have to wait and be patient and listen to his body. At the end of the day, any bowler’s injury plays a huge role. We’re happy he’s there as a batter and with full fitness contribution, so that’s the exciting part. Hopefully you’ll see him bowl soon.”

Pandya underwent a back surgery in October last year in the UK after his lower back had been troubling him since the Test series in England in 2018. The surgery kept Pandya out of action for almost a year, last playing a T20I against South Africa at home in September 2019. After that he missed the Tests against the same opposition, the home series against Bangladesh and West Indies, a T20I series against Sri Lanka and ODIs against Australia at home, and the entire tour of New Zealand earlier this year.

Pandya was a crucial player for Mumbai last IPL with both bat and ball: his strike rate of 191.42 for the 402 runs he scored in 15 innings and the 14 wickets he took in 42.3 overs helped his team lift a record fourth title. He plays the role of a key fifth or sixth bowler – interchangeably with his brother Krunal Pandya – which Mumbai used in the form of Kieron Pollard in their last game, against the Knight Riders earlier this week. It was a rare sight because Pollard last bowled in the IPL more than three years ago, in April 2017. Against the Super Kings in the first game, Mumbai used their regulation five bowlers while defending 162 and lost by five wickets.

Speaking of Pandya’s bowling, Mumbai coach Mahela Jayawardene told host broadcaster Star Sports during the game against the Knight Riders that they would “gradually build him up”.

“[It’s a] day-by-day progress, we don’t want to take a risk,” Jayawardene said on September 23. “He came back from operation. He looks healthy now so we’ll gradually build him up. We’ll see when he’s comfortable and then take a call.”



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RR vs KXIP, IPL 2020, 9th game

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Welcome to ESPNcricinfo’s Rolling Report of the ninth IPL 2020 match, between Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab. Which means we’ll be seeing the likes of Steven Smith, Jofra Archer, KL Rahul and Glenn Maxwell locking horns. Who will come out on top?

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Dettol become naming-rights sponsor of Australia men’s ODIs and T20Is

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In a sponsorship deal fitting for the times, Dettol has become the naming-rights partner for the Australia men’s ODI and T20I series as part of a four-year deal.

They replace Gillette, the previous title sponsors for men’s limited-overs matches, in a deal that also will see them be the naming partner of the men’s support staff – previously Bupa – and also have an association with the women’s team.

The brand contacted Cricket Australia after hearing of its plans to trial disinfectant on cricket balls following the onset of Covid-19 earlier this year. The use of saliva has been banned and while sweat is still permitted at international level the Australia team faced stricter protocols on the recent tour of England which limited where they could use it from.

In the current women’s series between Australia and New Zealand, which is being watched by a limited number of spectators, if the ball gets into the crowd it needs to be sanitised by the umpires before play resumes.

As part of the new deal the company will also supply its product to nearly 3,500 cricket clubs around Australia as the game resumes for the summer amid a range of new health and safety protocols.

“Dettol is such a well-known and trusted brand with a long heritage, both here in Australia and around the world, and their support will give confidence about protecting the return of community and elite cricket this summer,” the Cricket Australia CEO, Nick Hockley, said.

“Beyond this summer, we look forward to working with Dettol to help embed hygienic behavioural change into schools, clubs and communities through cricket.”

Dave Rankine, Regional director for RB Health ANZ, owner of the Dettol brand, said: “We’re excited to bring the expertise of Dettol to Cricket Australia, partnering together to protect the sport so many Australian’s love, from watching our national teams play, to participating in games ourselves through community clubs. Our partnership with Cricket Australia will help to embed important hygiene habits into the lives all Australians as we enter the new normal.”

Following the postponement of New Zealand’s short limited-overs tour to Australia that was scheduled for late January, due to the issues around mandatory quarantine, the only men’s limited-overs series this season will be three ODIs and three T20Is against India.

It remains to be confirmed how India’s tour is finally structured, but the trip is expected to begin with some white-ball cricket before the Test series begins in mid-December.

Earlier this month Vodafone signed on as the naming partner for men’s Test cricket.



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