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Sourav Ganguly to Virat Kohli – ‘I expect you to win in Australia’

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BCCI president Sourav Ganguly expects Virat Kohli‘s side to register their second successive Test series win in Australia when they tour down under later this year. Ganguly stated the upcoming tour would be tougher than the previous outing of 2018-19 but said India also had the batting and bowling to do well there.

“I have said that to Virat also,” Ganguly told India Today in an interview. “I said, ‘because you’re Virat Kohli, your standards are high. When you walk to play, when you walk with your team, I, watching on TV, don’t expect you to just play well against Australia. I expect you to win. So for me, that is what it is. Because you have set the standards. It’s not anybody else. So you have to live up to the standards.'”

On their 2018-19 tour, India had recorded their first Test series win in Australia, winning the four-match series 2-1. Australia were then without two of their batting mainstays Steven Smith and David Warner, who were serving a one-year ban each due to their role in the ball-tampering incident in the Cape Town Test against South Africa in 2018. Ganguly acknowledged this “milestone series” would not be as easy this time.

“It’s going to be a tough series,” he said. “It’s not going to be what it was in 2018 when they went. It’s going to be a strong Australia but our team is as good. We have the batting, we have the bowling.

“Absolutely [hopeful of the team]. We just got to bat better. You know the best teams overseas, they bat well. When we were so successful away from home, in England, in Australia and in Pakistan, we were getting 400, 500 and 600 in Test matches.

India’s last international assignment was in March – a three-match ODI series against South Africa, which was called off in the wake of Covid-19 after a washout in the first game. While some of the players, including Cheteshwar Pujara and Mohammed Shami, have resumed training, one of India’s major concerns will be to ensure an injury-free return of their players, especially the fast bowlers.

“I have been in touch with him (Kohli), telling him, ‘you have got to stay fit.’ You haven’t played cricket for six months, you don’t want your fast bowlers to come back and get injured. They have been training, [but] training and playing cricket is different. You have got to make sure your best bowlers are ready for the tour and fit. Whether it’s Shami, whether it’s [Jasprit] Bumrah, whether it’s Ishant [Sharma], whether it’s [Hardik] Pandya, they have to be at the top of their match fitness when they land in Australia.”

Ganguly further said the BCCI had thought about a roadmap to start training camps in India, but with the rising Covid-19 cases, especially in the big cities, it was “too risky” to do anything soon.

“We have thought about the roadmap. We have the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) in place. The BCCI and the NCA have worked extensively in getting the proper SOPs. That have been circulated to state associations. At the moment, there is no chance of camp because of what is happening, what the situation is in the country. It’s too risky. In Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, it’s just risky. So we will have to wait.

“If at all the IPL happens in October – the Asia Cup has been cancelled – so maybe August-September would be the time where we can pull the players out and get them together for 15 days. We have got things in place but at the same time, the safety of the players is very important because they are long-term assets for India. One series, one IPL is not more important than player safety. But we want it to happen provided everything is in order.”

India’s tour to Australia is scheduled to kick-off in October with three T20Is, followed by four Tests and three ODIs.

“We just hope the number of quarantine days get reduced a bit because you don’t want the players to go all the way that far and sit in hotel rooms for two weeks,” Ganguly said. “It’s very depressing and disappointing. So we are looking at that and December is still a long way.”



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Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs England 1st Test 2020

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Pakistan 139 for 2 (Azam 69*, Masood 46*) v England

Babar Azam and Shan Masood lifted Pakistan on a day punctuated by shifting fortunes on the field and above it as the first match in the three-Test series against England began.

A moment of silence to remember those who have lost their lives in the Covid-19 pandemic before play began under heavy skies put the match in perspective and emphasised the efforts of both countries to stage this contest behind closed doors at Emirates Old Trafford.

Having been in England for a month, preparing in the relative anonymity provided by England’s series against West Indies, Pakistan arrived to their first Test since February as questions swirled over their readiness to face an opposition which has three matches’ worth of competition fitness in them.

By the time rain brought about an early tea and delayed the evening session by nearly three hours, it was batsmen Azam and Masood who looked to be in a groove against a bowling attack that seemed to have turned rusty at lunch.

After his captain, Azhar Ali, won the toss and elected to bat first – opposite number Joe Root said he would have done the same – Pakistan opener Masood withstood a tricky period against Stuart Broad and James Anderson first up, accompanied by Abid Ali in a partnership that was approaching fifty when Jofra Archer entered the attack.

Having rounded off his first over with a couple of steepling bouncers which were evaded well by Abid, Archer struck with the first ball of his second over when he bowled Abid with a beauty through the gate and into off stump, thus ending a patient start by Abid and the partnership on 46.

After a brief rain interruption, Masood settled, guiding Archer through the bare gully region with smart, soft hands for four.

But then Chris Woakes, who had relieved Anderson after five overs, struck with a full delivery that thwacked Azhar Ali on the pad in line and sent him on his way for a six-ball duck, despite his swift call for a review, which only confirmed the lbw decision.

That brought Azam to the crease and he showed his class, somehow escaping a testing first delivery from Woakes that narrowly missed the outside edge and off stump and negotiating the ever-challenging Archer.

But it was against Anderson after lunch that Azam settled into his stride, finding the boundary three times in as many overs to bring his spell to a swift end.

Anderson even became the first bowler to be called for a front-foot no-ball – a rarity for him – by the third umpire in Tests under the new system being trialled during this series when he over-stepped bowling to Azam in the 31st over.

Meanwhile, Masood was enjoying almost as good a time against Broad and, by the time Root turned to Archer and the offspin of Dom Bess, the batsmen were in a decent flow. They put on 78 runs together and, as Azam brought up his half-century off just 70 balls with a punch into the covers off Bess and then passed it with two runs behind square off Archer, the rain hit.

By that stage, Masood had moved to 45 not out, Pakistan had recovered from 43 for 2 to 121 for 2 and the players faced a long stay in the dressing rooms.

Manchester was eventually bathed in bright sunshine but, by the end of mopping-up operations, play resumed under lights with the dim skies back overhead.

Archer, who had bowled one ball before the lengthy stoppage, finished his over with plenty of short stuff, which meant Root was forced to turn back to spin, bringing himself on with Bess.

Masood added just one run, having faced 152 balls – more than any other visiting opener in England since 2016 – for his 46 not out before bad light forced play to be abandoned for the day.

In the course of his innings, Masood had two lives, both from Jos Buttler off the bowling of Bess. On 45, he survived an edge through to the keeper, and he hadn’t added to his score when, after the rain break, he charged at Bess, attempted to hit the ball to the leg side but missed, only to be saved when the ball bounced out of Jos Buttler’s gloves. At the other end, Azam had moved to an unbeaten 69 off 100 balls in a third-wicket stand of 96.



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Vivo pulls out as IPL 2020 title sponsors

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IPL title rights holders Vivo have pulled out of this year’s tournament, ESPNcricinfo understands. The development follows a public outcry over the tournament’s association with Vivo, a Chinese company, following clashes at the India-China border in June.

Neither the BCCI nor Vivo were available for comment on the issue.

In June, the BCCI had said it would “review” the sponsorship deals concerning the IPL, but did not name any brand. “Taking note of the border skirmish that resulted in the martyrdom of our brave jawans, the IPL Governing Council has convened a meeting next week to review IPL’s various sponsorship deals,” BCCI said in a tweet posted on June 19.

According to India Today Vivo would return as IPL’s title sponsor for the 2022 and 2023 editions. It also has reported that the BCCI will issue a tender in the coming days to find a title sponsor for the 2020 IPL season.

Two days ago, the BCCI’s formal announcement – signed by secretary Jay Shah – of the IPL being played in the UAE between September 15 and November 10 mentioned Vivo as the title sponsor.

The decision is not likely to significantly affect the franchises financially. ESPNcricinfo spoke with several franchises, each of whom said that while the IPL was yet to inform them of the development, they were not fussed at the news. It is understood each franchise gets approximately Rs 20 crore per year from the Vivo contract. As far they are concerned, as long as the BCCI can rope in a replacement for Vivo, this development will not have any impact on them.

Vivo had bagged the title sponsorship for two years initially in 2015, and retained the rights signing a five-year contract (2017-22), paying about USD 341 million.



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Wasim Khan calls on England to tour Pakistan before 2022

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Wasim Khan is hoping England will send a T20 team to Pakistan ahead of their next scheduled visit in 2022.

England have not toured Pakistan since 2005-06 due to security concerns. But, before the Covid-19 pandemic, hopes had risen that they would return to the country in two years’ time.

Now, however, with Pakistan having helped England fulfil their international fixtures at significant inconvenience to their own players – they have already been in the country for a month and remain in lockdown – Wasim, the PCB chief executive, is hoping England can return the favour.

“England are due to tour in 2022 and we’d love to have them coming over well before then for a shorter tour,” Wasim told Sky Sports. “It’s something that we’ll speak to the ECB about. But it’s baby steps. There’s a lot of cricket still left to play. But we’re hoping in the near future England will definitely come.”

Wasim subsequently confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that he hoped England could send a T20 side to Pakistan. He accepted that “finding time in the FTP (future tours programme) could be the challenge at this stage” but suggested that a Lions tour, something he was calling for ahead of the dawn of Covid-19, would be “excellent as an alternative”.

ALSO READ: Jason Holder calls for reciprocal tour of Caribbean as West Indies fly home

While the ECB clarified there was no specific on-going discussion on the subject at present, it is not inconceivable the present global situation and the backlog in international fixtures could accelerate the usage of separate squads in red and white ball cricket.

England used something close to an A team for their recently concluded ODI series against Ireland – the final game featured four of the England XI that won the World Cup final – and they could potentially satisfy more requests for tours if they were to do so more often. West Indies have also expressed hopes England will tour in the coming months as they grapple with the financial ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whether such tours take place or not, England’s schedule is likely to prove hectic in the coming months. A limited-overs tour of South Africa is currently pencilled in for December, while they hope to return to Sri Lanka in January to fulfil the Test tour that was called off in March. They are then expected to play a five-Test series against India which may well take place in the UAE. The IPL runs from September 19 to November 8.



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