Naveed cherishes claiming Ian Bell's wicket

Denzil Pinto 15/03/2017
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Thumbs up: Naveed (l) with Sammy

UAE’s Mohammed Naveed has described the dismissal of Ian Bell as among his best wickets so far and says he will cherish the memories of the Hong Kong T20 Blitz.

The 29-year-old represented the Hung Hom JD Jaguars in the annual competition last weekend and although his team failed to reach the final, the pacer made a big impact with the ball with five scalps.

On his list of victims was former England international Bell with Naveed needing just the second over to trap the batsman for just five runs against Hong Kong Island United in the first game.

The umpire’s decision to raise his finger left Naveed in delight and the UAE international insists he will not forget the moment.

“I just played the ball with pace and luckily for me, Bell did not read the delivery well and was out for LBW,” said the UBL player.

“It was a real joy for me to take his wicket because you just have to look how many matches he’s played for England and what he’s achieved.

“He’s won the Ashes and was one of England’s best batsmen. It’s right up there among the best wickets of my career,” he added, who has dismissed Shikhar Dhawan  and Hashim Amla during his career.

This year’s tournament saw a stellar field with Pakistan Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, World Cup T20 winner Marlon Samuels and Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara all featuring.

For Naveed, he shared the same dressing room with West Indies Darren Sammy, former South African international Johan Botha and New Zealand’s James Franklin.

And the opportunity to test himself against the world’s best was one he cherished.

“It was great to be around these big players, not just team-mates but against opposition. It was a great learning experience as I got tips on how to bowl and field from them.”

His biggest fan was Sammy, who took to social media to hail the UAE player. “He is a very good cricketer from UAE and I urge everyone to look out for this cricketer,” he said.

“Somebody needs to help him get into leagues so you can see his talent. He is extremely talented.” Responding to his comments, Naveed said: “He’s a great man and I hope to play in more global T20 tournaments because the Blitz was all of the highest quality.”

He added: “I want to thank UBL and Emirates Cricket Board for their support in making this happen for me.”

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Australia will find it tough in absence of Starc's pace and impact

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Mitchell Starc.

Mitchell Starc picked up only five wickets in the first two Tests against India. In fact, his 118 runs from four innings – the fifth best aggregate for either side – grabbed more headlines as he played India’s spinners with remarkable ease on some treacherous pitches.

But he is a left-arm quick first and Australia value the impact he has with the ball way more than the runs he scores. Starc falls in that category of bowlers who turn up at critical junctures and throw the game wide open. Sometimes it’s just a wicket or two but that gets the job done.

In the first Test in Pune, it was his double strike of Cheteshwar Pujara (caught behind from one that lifted awkwardly) and Virat Kohli (caught going for a drive) that broke India’s back and hopes. And in the second Test, with the Indians looking to run away with the match on the fourth day with six wickets in hand, Starc produced a spell of extreme pace that saw Ajinkya Rahane lbw and Karun Nair, a triple centurion against England, castled with deliveries close to and more than 150kmph respectively.

What Starc has is a gift and it can’t be taught. Pacers like him make things happen, like a Shoaib Akhtar or a Brett Lee and it is that x-factor which the Aussies will miss in the Ranchi Test. Australia needed Starc now more than ever. The DRS drama has taken a life of its own, with Kohli stopping short of accusing the Australians of cheating and the Aussies establishment rallying around their skipper.

When tensions are so high, you need a bowler who can produce that one spell out of nowhere to change the course of the game. While the DRS saga is nowhere close to the acrimonious Monkeygate of 2008, there are a few similarities. Both teams feel aggrieved and the spirit of the game has been put in the spotlight. Also, there is a long gap between the Bangalore and Ranchi Test, as was the case in 2008 between the Sydney and Perth matches, and that allows tensions to simmer.

That Perth Test became a matter of honour and it was a once-in-a-lifetime spell by teenage quick Ishant Sharma to Ricky Ponting in the second innings that set the stage for a historic win for the Indians. Irfan Pathan was the man of the match in that Test but it was Ishant’s spell to Ponting that tilted the scales in India’s favour.

Australia need that ‘something extra’ and Starc was the man for them. But he is now out of the picture due to a stress fracture in his right foot. In his absence, the load on Josh Hazlewood will increase greatly.

Australia have brought in Pat Cummins to add some firepower but I am not sure if the Indians will be too worried. Cummins has only played one Test in his career, so chequered is his fitness record. Even this season, Cummins played just one first-class match and is now expected to play Tests in India in the most intense conditions imaginable. No matter how talented a bowler is, you need to have miles in your legs to make an impact. He will have to bowl out of his skin just to meet expectations.

But that doesn’t mean all is lost for Australia. India’s batting is still short on confidence and the uncertainty over the nature of wickets will keep bowlers interested. But as we saw on the fourth day of the Bangalore Test, when India were on the verge of taking complete control, it was Starc who burst through the line-up and kept his team in the hunt. Without him, Australia will lose the sting in their tail.

Shiv still going strong
If you were wondering where West Indies great Shivnarine Chanderpaul is nowadays, he announced his whereabouts by cracking a first-class half century for Guyana against Jamaica. What was special about that innings is that the 42-year-old scored the runs alongside his 20-year-old son Tagenarine, who also scored a fifty.

Talking about longevity, it was thought (actually, joked) that Sachin Tendulkar would play long enough to see his son Arjun make his debut. But Chanderpaul has gone one better and scored a fifty with his son.

More than anything, it shows how good Shiv still is and that he was pushed out of the West Indies set-up rather abruptly. Agreed teams want to look beyond 40-plus batsmen but Chanderpaul didn’t even receive a farewell; the West Indies selectors simply stopped selecting him. Chanderpaul gave in and announced his retirement last year, with more than 10,000 Test runs to his name.

He insists he was good enough to play for the West Indies. And looking at his recent form – he scored three successive centuries across formats at the beginning of the year – he can give a few current Caribbean batsmen a run for their money. For now, let’s just celebrate the phenomenon that is Chanderpaul.

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WATCH: Darren Sammy shaves head after PSL win

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Once Darren Sammy helped deliver the Pakistan Super League trophy for his Peshawar Zalmi side, it was also time for him to deliver on a promise he’d made to his team.

The Zalmi captain duly followed through by shaving his head after arriving in Hong Kong.

Sammy had told Pakistan legend Younus Khan before Sunday’s final that the entire team would shave their heads if they won the trophy, including team owner Javed Afridi. Now, it’s time to see if the rest of the players follow their skipper’s lead!

The West Indian is in Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Twenty20 Blitz, which began on Wednesday.

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