West Indies' T20I tour of Pakistan set to be postponed to 2018 after smog concerns

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West Indies were initially slated to tour Lahore in November.

In a setback to Pakistan cricket’s hope to normalise international cricket in the country, the much anticipated visit of the West Indies for a three-match T20I series could be set to be postponed.

According to a report by DawnNews, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials have said that the visit of the Caribbean side is likely to be postponed owing to heavy smog in Lahore where the matches are scheduled to take place.

Heavy smog has become a permanent fixture in regions of North West India and Pakistan during the winter season.

The phenomenon has already seen many Ranji Trophy games in India cancelled or postponed last year and it seems it is likely to wreck havoc to Pakistan’s plans for the T20I series against the West Indies.

“The PCB and the West Indies Cricket Board had agreed that West Indies will tour Pakistan in November, but now it is unlikely to happen because of the smog and some other reasons,” the PCB official told DawnNews.

The tour is now likely to be postponed to March after Pakistan’s limited-overs series against New Zealand.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the PCB had inked a MoU for the Caribbean side to tour Pakistan for the T20I series some time back. The proposed series was all but confirmed after the successful tour of Lahore for the ICC World XI in September.

The dates for the series were tentatively set for the month of November which is usually the time the smog sets in.

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Opposition leg-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Ish Sodhi unite over a game of chess

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Ish Sodhi and Yuzvendra Chahal indulged in a game of chess.

While they may have had contrasting fortunes in the second T20I between India and New Zealand held at Rajkot, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and Ish Sodhi enjoyed a game of chess on their flight to Thiruvananthpuram.

The Blackcaps had roared back in style at Rajkot to level the three-match series at 1-1 courtesy of a 40-run win over the hosts.

India’s Chahal had a disappointing game with the ball after he was taken for 36 runs in his four overs. On the other hand, Kiwi spinner Ish Sodhi had a brilliant game as he finished with 1-25 in his four overs.

The two wrist-spinners decided to kill time on the flight with a game of chess and by all accounts, it was the Indian leggie who finished on top.

Chahal used to be a budding chess player in his junior days and hold the unique distinction of being the only Indian to have represented the country in both cricket and chess.

The 27-year-old’s name is still listed on the FIDE website and when last checked, he held a rating of 1946 points.

Hence it was no surprise to see Chahal trump Sodhi in the classical game though the fact that the two opposition spinners chose to bond over chess was great to see.

The limited-overs series between the two sides have gone right down to the wire with Virat Kohli’s men edging the visitors by 2-1 in a hard-fought ODI series.

With the two teams locked at 1-1 in the T20I series, all eyes will be on Thiruvananthpuram on Tuesday when the sides take the field for the deciding and final match.

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Tom Latham in line to return and other talking points as India prepare for crunch New Zealand clash

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Williamson could choose to bring back Tom Latham.

With India and New Zealand locked at 1-1 in the three-match T20I series, all eyes will be on the deciding match at Thiruvananthpuram on Tuesday.

New Zealand’s limited-overs tour of India has seen some tense and hard-fought matches and the final T20I promises to be no different.

We look at the key talking points ahead of the Thiruvananthpuram game with both teams striving to capture the trophy.

Mohammad Siraj in the firing line

While it was a special moment for the 23-year-old pacer to make his maiden India bow in the second T20I at Rajkot, his introduction to international cricket did not go as he would have hoped for.

Picked in the side on the back of a strong Ranji Trophy showing and the IPL, Siraj was taken to the cleaners by the Blackcaps batsmen, especially Colin Munro.

Despite claiming his maiden international wicket in the form of Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson, Siraj’s figures of 1-53 off his four overs might lead to a rethink on the part of the Indian team management ON Tuesday’s selection.

Kuldeep Yadav or extra batsman conundrum for Virat Kohli

While Siraj’s debut might have shown Kohli that the youngster is still not fully ready for the rigors of international cricket, who replaces him in the playing XI remains a sticking point.

With India playing only five specialist batsmen along with wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni in the first two matches, the Indian think tank will definitely be debating the need for a Dinesh Karthik or Manish Pandey to shore up the batting.

On the other hand, the wrist-spin option of Kuldeep Yadav will also be an option for Kohli. The young left-arm spinner has not been picked in the side since the first ODI and he will be itching to get back into the groove of things.

With all-rounder Hardik Pandya providing the third seamer option, the decision to go with an extra batsman or Yadav might well boil down to the conditions on offer.

The Indian think tank could opt for Kuldeep in place of Siraj.

The Indian think tank could opt for Kuldeep in place of Siraj.

Tom Latham to make a return for decider?

Tom Latham has been the pick of New Zealand’s batsmen in the limited-overs tour so far with his sparkling century in the first ODI helping the Blackcaps pull off a stunning chase.

The 25-year-old has come on leaps and bounds on the tour so far with assured performances for the majority of the games. The left-hander has looked indomitable against both pace and spin in the tour so far, especially the latter.

His sweeps and reverse sweeps have turned out to be a potent weapon to negate India’s spinners and in light of that, the decision to drop him for the Rajkot T20I makes little sense.

He could very well be in line to make a return for the crunch clash on Tuesday with the series on the line.

Latham has looked indomitable in the series so far.

Latham has looked indomitable in the series so far.

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