Pakistan pacer Mohammad Irfan responds to Virat Kohli's praise

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Mohammad Irfan said that he would love to play more often against Kohli.

After India skipper praised Pakistan pacer Mohammad Irfan in a recent television show, the latter has responded with compliments of his own for the batting maestro.

In a show, Breakfast with Champions, Kohli had described Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Irfan as the bowlers he most feared facing in the early stages of his career.

The seven feet plus tall fast bowler said that he hoped to play more cricket in the future against the Indian skipper and called him a player with a great heart.

In a tweet posted on his official account, the left-arm bowler said: “What a gentleman @imVkohli is! Great player with a great heart. Prayers for you my friend. Hope that we play more often in grounds.”

Cricketing ties between the two countries remains on a hiatus owing to geo-political tensions with matches limited to multi-team ICC tournaments only.

The last meeting between the two sides came in the ICC Champions Trophy in England earlier this year when Sarfraz Ahmed’s upset the highly fancied Indians in the finals at Lord’s.

Earlier, former pacer Shoaib Akhtar had himself responded to Kohli’s high praise through a tweet of his own.

“I was better off not bowling at all when Kohli was batting. Jokes apart, he’s a great batsman & bowling against him would have been a great contest,” the man known as the ‘Rawalpindi Express’ had said.

Kohli had said that Akhtar was the bowler who he feared the most even though he never got the chance to play against him.

“I have never faced Shoaib Akhtar. But I have seen him in a game in Dambulla against Pakistan. I got out. I couldn’t face him. He looked lethal. When I saw that, I realised what it would feel like after his ball hit the batsmen on the body,” the 29-year-old had said on the TV show.

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Two good, two bad as Bumrah helps India clinch T20I series against New Zealand

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Bumrah's spell of 2-9 won it for India on the night.

The third and final T20I between India and New Zealand ended up being a curtailed affair after inclement weather throughout the day reduced the match to eight-overs a side. In the end, the hosts edged the T20I series 2-1 after a tense 6-run win on Tuesday.

The two sides had come into the deciding tie of the three-match series at Thiruvananthpuram locked at 1-1 after the Blackcaps had roared back with a 40-run over in the second game at Rajkot.

Kane Williamson won the toss and elected to bat first with the weather conditions in mind.

Tim Southee came in for Adam Milne as the only change for the Kiwis while Kuldeep Yadav and Manish Pandey replaced Axar Patel and Mohammed Siraj for Virat Kohli’s men.

After a short but highly entertaining encounter, we look at the two good and bad performances of the night.

The Good

Tim Southee’s slower balls bamboozles India’s openers

The Kiwi pacer was a replacement for Adam Milne and he repaid the faith shown by Williamson after putting in an impressive bowling display.

Southee has an array of slower balls at his disposal and he made full use of them on Tuesday by claiming both of India’s openers in the space of two balls.

The 28-year-old came on to bowl the third over and astonishingly bowled six off-cutters with two of them accounting for Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, both being caught by Mitchell Santner.

The pacer would repeat the trick in his second over as he ended up bowling 12 off-cutters in his 12 deliveries, going for only 13 runs in his quota of overs.

Jasprit Bumrah wins it for India at the death

If Southee only went for 13 runs off his two overs, Jasprit Bumrah went one step further to upstage the Kiwi pacer.

The right-arm quick proved why is considered one of the elite death-bowling specialists in international cricket with a superb spell to turn the game on its head.

Bumrah’s opening over went for only two runs, accounting for the wicket of the dangerous Colin Munro with a slower delivery.

He was equally impressive in his second, deceiving Henry Nicholls with another slower delivery which the batsman could only miscue up in the air.

He ended up with match-winning figures of 2-9 off his two overs to seal the tie in India’s favour.

The bad

Kiwi top-order fails in acid test

With a very attainable target of 68 to chase in eight overs, the odds were heavily stacked in New Zealand’s favour when the visitors came out to bat.

However, none of their top-order stood up to the task as the loss of early wickets set the Kiwis a long way back in the match.

Openers Colin Munro and Martin Guptill failed to repeat their heroics in the second T20I and both fell cheaply within the first two overs.

The fact that only two of New Zealand’s batsmen crossed double figures made for a poor report for Williamson’s men in a crunch encounter. The skipper himself was run-out for just eight runs after a brilliant direct hit by Pandya while the likes of Glenn Phillips, Nicholls and Tom Bruce failed to make themselves count on the night.

Ultimately the Kiwis’ batting performance let them down in the decider to hand India another hard-fought 2-1 series win.

The Blackcaps' top-order batsmen failed to shine when it mattered most.

The Blackcaps’ top-order batsmen failed to shine when it mattered most.

India team management blunders

With only 48 deliveries on offer to the batting side, it was imperative that India’s best hitter of the ball Hardik Pandya get enough time in the middle.

In a baffling decision, the all-rounder was only sent in to bat at the end of the sixth over after the fall of India’s fourth wicket.

That Pandya faced only 10 deliveries ultimately in an unbeaten innings was a shocking strategy by Kohli and the coaching staff and it nearly cost them dearly in the end.

Surely it would have made more sense to send Pandya in ahead of Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey if not the skipper himself.

Kohli's decision to hold Pandya back for long could have cost India.

Kohli’s decision to hold Pandya back for long could have cost India.

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Steve Finn's Ashes tour over after suffering freak knee injury

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Finn sustained a torn cartilage in his left-knee.

England pacer Steve Finn’s Ashes tour has come to an early end after confirmation that he had torn his left-knee cartilage.

This is the second time that the 28-year-old has had to pack his bags early in an Ashes tour Down Under after he had been sent back during the 2013-14 tour.

The Middlesex bowler had suffered the injury while batting in the nets last week but had been given a week by the England team management to prove his fitness.

After initial scans had remained inconclusive, further scans have revealed a major problem and the bowler is expected to see a specialist in England upon his arrival to assess if he requires a knee surgery.

England meanwhile released a statement which said: “Steven Finn will miss the remainder of England’s tour of Australia after scans revealed he has a torn left knee cartilage.”

“The Middlesex seamer will now return to the UK in the next 48 hours where he will meet a knee specialist to ascertain whether he will have an operation. England will announce his replacement for the rest of the tour in due course,” it added.

Finn was himself a replacement for England’s suspended vice-captain Ben Stokes on the Ashes tour and it is believed that Liam Plunkett, Tom Curran and Tom Helm remain in contention to replace the Middlesex bowler.

England are set to take on a Cricket Australia XI at the Adelaide Oval in a warm-up game starting on Wednesday. The Ashes begins in earnest on November 23 with the first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane.

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