India to play two T20Is in Ireland before tour of England in July

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India’s cricket board said Wednesday it would play two matches against Ireland ahead of the tour of England in July.

Ireland — who were awarded Test status alongside Afghanistan last year — will host India in Dublin on June 27 and June 29 for two Twenty20 games.

India last toured Ireland in 2007, playing a one-day international in Belfast which they won by nine wickets.

The two sides have met only once for a match in the shortest format, squaring off in Nottingham during the 2009 World T20.

India have tours of both England and Australia lined up for the 2018 season.

The world’s top Test side, led by skipper Virat Kohli, lost the first of three Tests to South Africa in Cape Town on Monday.

The games will be the first T20 internationals for Ireland head coach Graham Ford, and the South African is relishing the prospect of pitting his wits against such high profile opposition.

“It’s fantastic news for the lads and fans alike,” said Ford, who only took the reins of the Irish side last month.

“The matches will of course be a huge challenge for the team, but what an opportunity for everyone to showcase their talents in front of a huge audience, both at the games and live on television,” added the 57-year-old former South Africa head coach.

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Kagiso Rabada becomes the new No.1 Test bowler, Virat Kohli drops down to third

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Rabada has overtaken James Anderson to become the new No1.

South Africa pacer Kagiso Rabada has overtaken England spearhead James Anderson as the No.1 ranked ICC Test bowler after his tally of five wickets in the Newlands victory over India.

This is the first time that the 22-year-old has climbed to the top of the ICC charts since making his debut for South Africa and he was undoubtedly delighted with the fact.

“It’s special to be ranked as the No.1 Test bowler in the world. It is a surreal feeling. It’s what you dream of achieving when you start playing the game,” Rabada said.

“Cricket is ultimately a team sport and I’m thankful for the support from my team-mates. It’s a great start to the year personally and for us as a team, hopefully, we can continue putting in winning performances,” he added.

In the batting stakes, Australia skipper Steve Smith continues to lead with 947 points after his remarkable run in the Ashes although there has been a drop in rankings for his India captain Virat Kohli.

Kohli has dropped to the third spot after being overtaken by Root.

Kohli has dropped to the third spot after being overtaken by Root.

Kohli has slipped from the second position to third with England’s Joe Root overtaking him by one rating point. His India team-mate Cheteshwar Pujara dropped down to the fifth spot from number three behind New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson.

India’s spin-twins Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin are ranked third and fourth respectively in the latest bowler’s rankings behind the pace due of Rabada and Anderson.

Meanwhile, Vernon Philander’s six-wicket haul in the second innings at Newlands has seen him gain six spots in the rankings as he nestles in at the sixth spot behind Australia’s Josh Hazlewood.

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Pat Cummins banishing his injury demons is Australia's biggest win in Ashes triumph

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Cummins ended up as the leading wicket-taker in the Ashes.

Pat Cummins’ introduction to Test cricket was nothing short of special. It is easy to forget that the 24-year-old earned his first baggy green cap all the way back in November 2011 against South Africa at the Wanderers.

Then 18-years-old, Cummins had become the youngest Test debutant for Australia since Ian Craig in 1953. That the Sydney-born man would pick up a six-wicket haul and hit the winning runs in that Test in a man-of-the-match performance showed that the hype around him was real.

It is a shame then that in the six years since making his debut, Cummins had played only four Tests coming into the Ashes 2017-18 series. All four of those Tests had come in 2017 against India and Bangladesh.

A stress fracture to his back has been the pacer’s undoing over the past few years and his constant injury troubles had brought to a halt a fledgling international career. There has been many a time that Cummins seemed destined to mount a comeback, only for him to breakdown once again at the first hurdle.

Such were his injury troubles that while a future in the limited-over format remained bleak, his body’s ability to withstand the rigors of five-day cricket remained a distant dream. It would have been easy for Cummins to give up on a Test return and focus on the limited-overs as he sought to manage his workload but the pacer has remained focus on the former and is now reaping the rewards for his perseverance.

Cummins was the man-of-the-match on his debut in 2011.

Cummins was the man-of-the-match on his debut in 2011.

Credit must also been given to Cricket Australia for sticking with Cummins in his long years of injury woes but it’s a testament to the latter’s determination that he put his hand up when Mitchell Starc broke down in the tour of India earlier in 2017.

After missing much of 2016 with injury, Cummins had only just returned to the international fold in the limited-overs clashes against New Zealand and Pakistan. It would have been logical for him to build his fitness up some more before making the leap back to Test cricket but when the chance to replace Starc in India arose, Cummins wasted no time in taking up the call.

He was a revelation in the two Tests he played against India despite the 2-1 loss and he displayed the same once again in the tour of Bangladesh later. His ability to thrive on slow subcontinent decks was pleasing to see and his willingness to bend the back after years of rotten luck was refreshing.

Before the start of the Ashes, Cummins had aimed at playing all five Tests as he sought to prove to himself and everyone that his injury troubles were behind him for good.

Cummins overshadowed his famed counterparts in the Ashes.

Cummins overshadowed his famed counterparts in the Ashes.

And play in all five games he did to end up as the leading wicket-taker in the series with 23 scalps to his name. Australia’s three quicks topped the wicket-taking tree and that Cummins outshone Starc and Josh Hazlewood, even marginally, is a fitting finale to his long and treacherous comeback road.

That Cummins had the talent and possessed all the weapons that make a lethal fast bowler was already known in 2011, it is his rise like a phoenix from the ashes of his injury troubles to once again fulfil that potential which is the story of Australia’s big win.

Skipper Steve Smith might take all the plaudits for his insane run-scoring in the and rightly so, however, in Pat Cummins, Australia have rediscovered a gem they thought they had lost for good.

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