Sharjah Cricket Stadium set to host Afghanistan's first ever Test in February

Denzil Pinto 22/10/2017
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Afghanistan is set to play their first-ever Test match in February at Sharjah Cricket Stadium – a venue which will also host the team’s ODI series against Ireland later this year.

Afghanistan, along with Ireland, were confirmed as the 11th and 12th Full Members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in June and the Asian side have identified Zimbabwe as their first possible opponents in the five-day match.

Talks between the two governing bodies are already underway for a series in Sharjah, which would also include the first Test.

The fixture had been scheduled to take place in December according to reports. However, according to Sharjah Cricket Stadium general manager Mazhar Khan, he revealed that it is likely to be held in early February, having held discussions with Afghanistan Cricket Board officials.

“They are working on getting a date in February with Zimbabwe,” Khan told Sport360. “This is what they are telling us and hopefully we will be hosting a Test match between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe. They are planning to hold it in early February.

“We are waiting for the finalisation to come through and they are also trying to finalise it as well with Zimbabwe Cricket Board. Once that is done, they will let us know.”

If the series is expected to be confirmed, it will be the second series Sharjah will host in quick succession.

On Sunday, it was confirmed that the other new Full Member, Ireland will meet Afghanistan in three ODIs in December. The matches will take place on December 5, 7 and 10.

Having played their home games in Greater Noida in India, it will be a return to Sharjah for Afghanistan – a venue they called home between 2010-16.

“We are happy that another Test playing nation is going to play at our venue,” said Khan. “Not only that, it’s Afghanistan’s home venue as well and they have been playing here for a long time and I’m sure there will be a lot of crowd during the games.”

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India vs New Zealand player ratings as Tom Latham and Ross Taylor inflict six-wicket defeat on the hosts in first ODI

Ashish Peter 22/10/2017
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Ross Taylore shines in our player ratings for the first ODI at Mumbai.

Century-maker Tom Latham and Ross Taylor inspired New Zealand to a thrilling six-wicket win over India in the first one-day international at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

The batsmen put on a 200-run partnership as the Kiwis successfully chased down 281 to stun the hosts after Indian captain Virat Kohli had hit a century of his own.

Left-hander Latham smashed 103 off 102 balls, including eight fours and two sixes, while Taylor made 95 off 99 as New Zealand won with six balls to spare, finishing on 284-4.

Here, we rate the players from both sides.

INDIA

Shikhar Dhawan – 5

The left-hander was returning to the ODI side after missing the recent series against Australia but his innings was short lived after he was dismissed early by Trent Boult.

Rohit Sharma – 4

The Indian vice-captain had one of those days where nothing he attempted seemed to come off. In the end, while trying to do much too soon, Sharma was castled by Boult after attempting an ugly heave.

Virat Kohli – 10

Kohli continues to defy belief and his 125-ball 121 was a sublime innings in testing conditions. The Indian skipper’s superb fitness was on display as he racked up his 31st ODI ton, moving ahead of Ricky Ponting and now only behind Sachin Tendulkar who has 49 centuries to his name.

Kedar Jadhav – 4

A day to forget for the right-handed batsman after he threw away yet another start to fall for just 12 runs to Kiwi spinner Mitchell Santner. Wasn’t brilliant in the field either after dropping Colin Munro in the deep.

Dinesh Karthik – 6

Returning to the ODI fold after missing out on the Australia series, Karthik looked assured in his comeback innings as he formed a decent partnership with Kohli. Fell to a miscued hook in the end after making a 47-ball 37.

MS Dhoni – 5

Not the best of days for India’s stalwart either after a slow 42-ball 25. The middle-order maestro failed to fire in his innings as he struggled to rotate the strike. Fell to a soft dismissal in the end after trying to cut Boult.

Hardik Pandya – 6

It was not Pandya’s day either at the Wankhede after the all-rounder failed to deliver with the bat in the death overs. The platform was set for Pandya but he perished for a run-a-ball 16. He did alright with the ball though removing the dangerous Martin Guptill.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar – 6

His all-round credentials seem to be rising with every match as Kumar’s late 15-ball 26 runs cameo helped push India’s score to an imposing 280. However, it wasn’t the best of days with the ball for Kumar as he was dominated by Latham and Taylor. He did pick up the wicket of Taylor but it was too little too late.

Kuldeep Yadav – 5

The youngster has had a fine start to his international career but he had no answers to Latham’s sweeps and reverse sweeps. The dew in the outfield made his task a little more difficult, but despite picking the crucial wicket of Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson, Yadav failed to make any sort of impact with his wrist-spin.

It was an off-day for India's Kuldeep Yadav.

It was an off-day for India’s Kuldeep Yadav.

Yuzvendra Chahal – 6

Like Yadav, Chahal too was rendered ineffective on the night by the sweeping power of Latham as the wrist-spinners struggled for any sort of impact. The leg-spinner was economical without causing any damage as Latham and Taylor took control.

Jasprit Bumrah – 6

One of the best death bowlers around at the moment, Bumrah was lacklustre againt the Kiwis as he failed to replicate his impressive performances. Though he did pick up the wicket of Colin Munro early on, he was ineffective in the death after a well set Latham and Taylor took the visitors towards victory.

NEW ZEALAND

Colin Munro – 6

He got the visitors off to a flyer along with Martin Guptill as the two put on a 48-run opening stand. He failed to kick on from his start though falling for a 35-ball 28.

Martin Guptill – 6

Like Munro, Guptill got off to a solid start and was looking solid with his timing. He looked set for a big one before miscuing a pull off a Pandya short-delivery to fall for 32 runs.

Kane Williamson – 5

The New Zealand skipper rotated his bowlers well during India’s innings but came undone with the bat after a soft dismissal. He fell for just 6 to Yadav while trying to lazily drive the spinner on the up.

Ross Taylor – 9

The Kiwis batsman overcame severe cramps amidst the high humidity as he battled on to put a 200-run match-winning partnership with Latham. Fell towards the end for 95 but not before taking the visitors on the brink of victory.

Tom Latham -10

Simply superb and sublime. Not once did the left-hander look in trouble during his unbeaten fourth ODI century. He demonstrated why he is one of the players to watch during this series after his marathon partnership with Taylor for the fourth wicket.

Henry Nichollas – 5

Came on to hit the winning runs after Taylor’s late dismissal. He did not have much to do otherwise.

Colin de Grandhomme – 5

Like Nichollas, his services with the bat were not required after Latham’s superb knock. Bowled four overs of his medium pacers but failed to do any damage.

Mitchell Santner – 7

New Zealand’s sole spinner in the match showed his Indian counterparts how to bowl on the surface after an economical spell in which he conceded only 41 runs off his 10 overs. He also picked up the wicket of Kedar Jadhav after cleverly slowing down his pace.

Adam Milne – 5

The express pacer failed to back-up Trent Boult’s fiery start as he was picked at ease by India’s batsmen. Went for over 60 runs in the nine overs he bowled without picking up any wickets.

Tim Southee – 6

A bit of a mixed-bag from the Southee on the day as he was carted for runs galore but managed to pick up three wickets. Two of those came in the final over of the innings giving his wayward bowling a polished finish.

Trent Boult – 10

The 28-year old left armer was sensational with his precise lines and prodigious movement. He removed both of India’s openers early on and then returned to dent their middle order later on with the scalps of MS Dhoni and Pandya. In the end he finished with the best ODI figures by a Kiwi bowler in India with 4-35 off 10 overs.

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Two good, two bad as Tom Latham century helps Kiwis outclass India in first ODI

Ashish Peter 22/10/2017
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Latham's unbeaten ton guided New Zealand to a six-wicket victory.

Century-maker Tom Latham and Ross Taylor inspired New Zealand to a thrilling six-wicket win over India in the first one-day international at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

The batsmen put on a 200-run partnership as the Kiwis successfully chased down 281 to stun the hosts after Indian captain Virat Kohli had hit a century of his own.

Left-hander Latham smashed 103 off 102 balls, including eight fours and two sixes, while Taylor made 95 off 99 as New Zealand won with six balls to spare, finishing on 284-4.

On a day filled with many brilliant individual performances, we look at the two good and two bad from the Wankhede Stadium.

THE GOOD

Virat Kohli’s magnificent 31st ODI ton

Playing in his 200th ODI, the Indian skipper marked the occasion in style by becoming the second highest century-maker in the one-day game, behind only Sachin Tendulkar.

After the early dismissals of openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, the onus of carrying India’s innings once again fell on Kohli’s shoulders and the batting genius delivered as expected scoring a fine 125-ball 121.

His 31st one-day ton moved the right-hander ahead of Australia great Ricky Ponting with only Tendulkar’s 49 centuries now standing in his way to become the greatest limited-overs batsman of all time.

Super Tom Latham century takes the game way from India

The left-handed batsman was a menacing presence for the Kiwis in India last year and continued where he left off, racking up his ninth ODI half-century to seal victory for the visitors.

He was particularly handy with his sweeps which cut down the impact of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

The 25-year-old notched up his fourth ODI century towards the end of the chase as he put on an almost 200-run unbeaten partnership with Taylor, the highest for any wicket at the Wakhede stadium.

THE BAD

Kedar Jhadav fails to convert start once again

With Manish Pandey dropped in favour of Dinesh Karthik in the playing XI, Jadhav was promoted to the number four slot in the batting line-up.

The right-handed batsman has developed a notorious habit of not kicking on after solid starts, managing just one score of 50 plus in the five innings against Australia after getting some reasonable starts.

On Sunday, Jadhav was caught and bowled by New Zealand’s sole spinner Mitchell Santner for a score of 12 leaving India under pressure at 3-76.

His poor showing continued in the field when he dropped Black Caps’ opener Colin Munro in the deep off the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

He made amends later by latching on to a catch from Williamson, but overall it was a poor day at the office for Jadhav.

A bad day at the office for India's Kedar Jadhav.

A bad day at the office for India’s Kedar Jadhav.

Rohit Sharma gifts his wicket away

Rohit Sharma is an enigma in the sense that you never quite know what you are going to get from him on a particular day.

When in form, the Indian vice-captain can take the game away from the opposition in a split second.

However, when things don’t work out for him like on Sunday, Sharma can end up looking like quite a lazy batsman.

Against Boult, Sharma looked out of sorts from the start as he constantly picked the wrong shot to play.

He did hit two sixes early into his innings but his dismissal left a lot to be desired after the opener tried one slog too many, missing a fuller length delivery which sneaked between his bat and pads to take his off-stump.

His dismissal after Dhawan had already fallen early set India back big time before Kohli took control of the innings.

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