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Imran Khan rejects PCB delegation plea to reinstate department cricket in Pakistan



Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister and patron of the Pakistan Cricket Board, has rejected ccalls for reviving departmental cricket in the country. In a brief meeting at Khan’s residence, a delegation that included Misbah-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali and Mohammad Hafeez, made a bid to change the premier’s mind about the new structure, which has already cost over 400 cricketers their jobs, but could make no headway with Khan insisting that the new regional model was “the right way”.

The cricketers who met Khan cited the reduced earnings for players under the new model, as well as the reduced opportunities for younger cricketers to pick up the game.

“The new structure didn’t make any difference from its first year (2019) to the second (2020), which has been affected by Covid-19 too,” one member of the delegation said. “The pipeline of cricketers coming into the system has been drying up. We understand that Imran Khan has a point about having competitive cricket in Pakistan, but you cannot implement this in one go, without giving an alternative to cricketers.”

Alongside the three cricketers, the delegation included PCB chairman Ehsan Mani, chief executive Wasim Khan, the COO Salman Naseer and Wasim Akram, in his capacity as a PCB cricket committee member.

ALSO READ: “We need departmental cricket back in Pakistan” – Umar Gul

Khan had been a strong advocate for a domestic structure with only regional sides instead of departmental sides for much of his playing career too, wanting Pakistan to adopt a structure similar to Australia’s Shield cricket. Since becoming Prime Minister, a position that automatically makes him the patron of the PCB, Khan set about putting his ideas in place. He instructed Mani to restructure the domestic model with six regional teams in the system, which would be the only feeder for the national team. The decision effectively ended the role that departmental cricket had since the 1970s, but it also saw 400 cricketers lose their livelihoods because they had held jobs with departments only by virtue of playing for those teams. The PCB offered contracts to only 192 cricketers, apart from match officials. For many those contracts are much lower value than what departments were paying cricketers, where they often benefited from other perks.

ESPNcricinfo understands the meeting was also marred by PCB officials contradicting players and not letting discussions flow smoothly. One of the players told ESPNcricinfo that Khan asked for patience with the new model, saying that Khan argued that such “transition” was always going to be difficult, but that for the national side to benefit, there needed to be competitive domestic cricket. No successful model in other cricket playing countries, Khan said, has departments (or corporate teams) playing at the highest level in domestic cricket. Khan also argued that players’ development stopped once they got jobs with departments, because the security bred complacency.

The new structure is meant to empower the six province associations to operate from the grassroots level to the domestic level, and they will be responsible for regulating club, city and regional cricket. But while sound on paper, it’s not been easy to implement the new model in practice. Clubs that were supposed to be registered under the new model haven’t been, while players have played for the clubs for the past 18 months in a kind of vacuum – with the old structure gone and without the new structure in place.

Domestic cricket in Pakistan has been played among departments and regions for nearly 50 years, starting in the early 1970s, when Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Pakistan’s first Test captain and then PCB chairman, encouraged organisations like Habib Bank Limited, Sui Southern Gas Corporation, Water and Power Development Authority and others to provide employment opportunities for players. With the new model, most departments have already suspended contracts they had with cricketers. Those who were permanent employees were asked to pick desk jobs, effectively ending their cricketing aspirations. These were players hired mainly for their cricketing skills, and given their lack of qualifications for other jobs, they have had to pick non-executive jobs with lesser pay.

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Recent Match Report – Kings XI Punjab vs Rajasthan Royals 9th Match 2020



Rajasthan Royals 226 for 6 (Samson 85, Tewatia 53, Smith 50, Shami 3-53) beat Kings XI Punjab 223 for 2 (Agarwal 106, Rahul 69) by four wickets

As it unfolded, it felt like a match that defied logic in every way possible. But by the time the Rajasthan Royals were done mowing down a target of 224 – an IPL record – the scorecard reflected one bit of cold, hard T20 logic: the team that hits more sixes wins. Kings XI Punjab hit 11 sixes – seven coming off the bat of Mayank Agarwal, who made a scintillating 106 off 50 balls – and the Royals hit 18.

Sanju Samson hit seven of those sixes while scoring a second successive half-century for the first time in his IPL career. His 42-ball 85 was more reward for the intense training he did during cricket’s Covid-19 hiatus, which enabled him to take his natural ball-striking ability and turn it into an instrument of almost scientific precision.

Samson put on 81 for the second wicket with Steven Smith in just 40 balls, putting the Royals well in touch with their asking rate. They then promoted Rahul Tewatia – their only left-hander – to No. 4, and the move was beginning to look like one of the most ill-judged tactical interventions in IPL history when he struggled to hit the ball off the square and crawled to 8 off 19 balls. But the six-hitting ability that he possesses came into view just when the Royals seemed out of it. Tewatia smacked Sheldon Cottrell for five sixes in a match-turning, match-defining 18th over, and an improbable 51 off 18 balls turned into a far more straightforward 21 off 12.

A partnership of two tempos

Sent in to bat – Smith, the Royals captain, expected dew to play an influential role through the second innings, and it did – Kings XI got off to a flier, their openers rushing to 60 in the powerplay. From there, Agarwal and KL Rahul extended their partnership to 183 – the third highest for the first wicket and the eighth highest overall in the IPL.

The two batsmen approached their innings differently. At one end, Agarwal went for his shots at every opportunity, and also looked to create opportunities to play his shots. He moved around his crease – to manufacture room to hit Ankit Rajpoot over mid-off, for instance, or to manufacture length to shovel the quickish legspin of Tewatia over midwicket – and in general went through with his shots with a degree of abandon; some of the sixes he hit weren’t off the cleanest connections, but a batsman can gamble on a small ground like Sharjah.

Even so, Agarwal’s sparkling form allowed him to achieve a control percentage of 80 – which is pretty high for an innings achieving a strike rate of 212.00. At the other end, Rahul faced 54 balls – four more than Agarwal – and pulled off a control percentage of 85, but only struck at 127.77. Aside from a hat-trick of fours against Jofra Archer in the fourth over, he seemed to almost consciously play second fiddle to Agarwal, giving him the strike whenever possible.

It’s a common tactic in partnerships like this, and Rahul has the game to up his tempo dramatically later on – his unbeaten 132 against Royal Challengers Bangalore followed the same template.

Maxwell, Pooran apply the finish

On this day, however, both Rahul and Agarwal seemed to tire as their partnership progressed, and from 172 for no loss at the 15-over mark, Kings XI scored 22 off the next 18 balls – a period in which they lost both openers.

Only 21 balls remained in the innings when Glenn Maxwell walked in, and only 12 when Nicholas Pooran came to the crease. It can be difficult to come in at that sort of time and find the boundary immediately, but both managed it to varying degrees of success. Rajpoot and Tom Curran managed to tie Maxwell down to an extent, but he created a couple of boundaries with his movement around the crease. Pooran, however, got a few balls in his slot and dispatched all of them ruthlessly – he hit three sixes and a four in just eight balls, three of those boundaries coming in an 18-run final over from Jofra Archer.

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RR vs KXIP, IPL 2020



Rajasthan Royals’ Rahul Tewatia turned the chase and how against Kings XI Punjab. From 8 off 19 balls in the 15th over, he eventually finished on a 53 off 31, with as many as seven sixes, to turn the tables for a stunning four-wicket win for the Royals. Here’s what he said after the match to the host broadcaster Star Sports:

How were you feeling at the halfway point in your innings when you couldn’t really get it out of the middle?
I think that was the worst 20 balls that I have ever played. After that – I was hitting the ball very well in the nets so I had belief in myself and kept going.

What about mental strength? You were 8 off 19 and turned it around. How did you stay positive and strong?
I was not hitting the ball well initially. Then I saw in the dugout, everybody was curious because they know that I can hit the ball long. At once, I thought “I have to believe in myself”. It was a matter of just one six, and after that I thought now it’s time to get going. Five [sixes] in the [18th] over felt amazing.

Cottrell was the over for you…
Well, the coach told me to hit sixes off the legspinner (Ravi Bishnoi) but unfortunately I didn’t hit him. So I had to hit the other bowler so that we could win or get closer to the target.

More to follow…

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Recent Match Report – Southern Vipers vs Northern Diamonds Final 2020



Southern Vipers 231 (Adams 80, Windsor 37) beat Northern Diamonds 193 (Kalis 55, Taylor 6-34) by 38 runs

Charlotte Taylor‘s game-changing six-wicket haul ensured the Southern Vipers defended 232 to beat Northern Diamonds by 38 runs and claim the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy title at Edgbaston.

An enthralling game which swung back and forth throughout saw the Diamonds well placed at 74 for 1 in the 15th over of their chase, only to slip to 96 for 6 in the 23rd as brilliant off-spinner Taylor struck the decisive blows.

She had opener Hollie Armitage caught at backward point for 26, Alex MacDonald out hit wicket, Jenny Gunn trapped lbw and Bess Heath caught at deep mid-wicket.

The Diamonds were later bowled out for 193 inside 43 overs, with 26-year-old Taylor also trapping Beth Langston lbw and having Netherlands international Sterre Kalis caught at mid-on for 55 on the way to a fabulous 6 for 34 from her 10 overs – the best return from any bowler in the competition.

Vipers’ captain Georgia Adams continued her stunning form with 80 off 102 balls, including eleven fours, at the top of the order as she underpinned 231 all out and moved to 500 competition runs in the process.

She shared a century opening partnership with Ella McCaughan, who posted 35, having been inserted, only for the Diamonds to drag things back impressively as leg-spinners Katie Levick and Armitage shared five wickets.

After Adams and McCaughan shared 100 inside 24 overs, their side’s fourth century opening stand in seven games, the South Coast side were in a dominant position at 150 for 1 in the 32nd over. Adams was particularly strong square of the wicket, reaching 50 for the fourth time in this competition off 68 balls.

Maia Bouchier, however, looked more fluent at the crease and was punishing through the covers and over the top on the way to 28. Together with Adams – they shared 50 inside eight overs after McCaughan had feathered left-arm spinner Linsey Smith behind – a total nearing 300 was not unrealistic on a pacy and true surface with a fast outfield.

But things changed in a flash. Diamonds captain Lauren Winfield-Hill, back from England’s T20 bubble, brought Armitage into the attack, and she struck first ball with a long hop which Bouchier pulled head high to mid-on, leaving the score at 150 for 2 in the 32nd.

Almost 12 overs later, the Vipers were 191 for 8, with Armitage striking again plus three wickets for Levick, who trapped Charlie Dean and Carla Rudd lbw and removed Adams, caught at deep mid-wicket. Levick’s first two overs had cost her 19 and she finished with 3 for 49 from eight.

Miserly former England seamers Langston and Gunn both contributed significantly in dragging things back and finished with a wicket apiece.

However, there was to be a late twist as the Vipers were boosted by an industrious 37 off 48 balls from Emily Windsor to ensure they went beyond 230.

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