Pakistan's Azhar Ali bags county deal with Somerset as replacement for Matt Renshaw

Waseem Ahmed 16/07/2018
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Azhar Ali has signed a seven-match deal with Somerset.

Pakistan Test opener Azhar Ali has been roped in by English outfit Somerset in a seven-match County Championship deal.

The package, which will last until the end of England’s first-class cricket season, was materialized after an injury to Australia opener Matt Renshaw.

In what will be his maiden stint in county cricket, the Pakistan man has been signed as an overseas replacement for Renshaw after the Australian broke his finger.

The 33-year-old had been eyeing a deal in county cricket ever since Pakistan toured England for a two-match Test series in the summer. The right-hander endured a frustrating time in England after scoring a half-century in the first innings of the opening Test at Lord’s. He was dismissed for scores of 4, 2 and 11 in the remaining three innings during the series.

Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur had then talked up the possibility of Azhar and Asad Shafiq securing deals with county outfits for the rest of the summer. Seamer Mohammad Abbas is currently undergoing a stint with Leicestershire.

Azhar was not picked in Pakistan’s limited-overs squad which is currently undergoing a tour of Zimbabwe.

Pakistan will not be playing any Test cricket for a few months with their next assignment being a home series in the UAE against Australia in October.

Azhar has so far played 65 Tests for Pakistan where he has scored 5, 202 runs at an average greater than 44, including 14 centuries and 28 fifties.

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Wriddhiman Saha reportedly a doubt for India's Test series against England

Sudhir Gupta 16/07/2018
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Saha (C) is struggling to recover from a broken thumb.

India wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha is reportedly a doubt for the upcoming Test series in England.

According to reports by ESPNCricinfo and the Times of India, the 33-year-old has failed to recover fully from the thumb injury he sustained while playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL this year.

That injury had forced Saha to miss the one-off Test against Afghanistan in Bengaluru but there was optimism in the Indian camp that the wicketkeeper would be fit in time for the first Test against England.

That optimism seems to be dwindling now with Saha facing a race against time to get back to full fitness for the first Test which gets underway at Edgbaston on August 1.

The original prognosis of Saha’s injury estimated the 33-year-old to recover by the end of July but that is looking unlikely at the moment.

Should Saha fail to get himself fit in time for the first Test, Dinesh Karthik will get set to don the wicketkeeping gloves at Edgbaston.

Dinesh Karthik could take the gloves for the first Test in Saha's absence.

Dinesh Karthik could take the gloves for the first Test in Saha’s absence.

Karthik was called up as a standby to Parthiv Patel in the Test series in South Africa earlier this year after Saha had suffered an injury. He has been a part of India’s limited-overs setup in recent times and has moved ahead of Parthiv in the pecking order for Tests as well.

The Test squad for the five-match series against England is expected to be announced soon. An India ‘A’ side comprising the likes of Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane will take on the England Lions, which includes Alastair Cook and Chris Woakes, in an unofficial Test that gets underway on Monday. The selectors are expected to announce the Test squad after taking this game into account.

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Chris Gayle-led Vancouver Knights clinch inaugural Global T20 Canada title

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The champions. Image: Twitter @GT20Canada

The Chris Gayle-led Vancouver Knights clinched the inaugural Global T20 Canada title after beating West Indies B by seven wickets in the final on Sunday.

Saad Bin Zafar starred for Vancouver in their chase of 146 with an unbeaten knock of 79 which included eight boundaries and three sixes.

It was West Indies B who batted first at Toronto but they were only able to muster 145 runs before being bowled out in the 18th over of the innings.

Pacer Sheldon Cottrell was the pick of the bowlers for Vancouver with the West Indies man picking up four wickets, while Australia’s Fawad Ahmed chipped in with three scalps.

Fabian Allen top-scored for West Indies B with a 23-ball 41 batting at number eight.

In reply, although Vancouver openers Gayle and Chadwick Walton fell cheaply, Rassie van der Dussen and Zafar ensured that the side got over the finish line with 15 balls to spare in the end.

“This was surreal. It was a bit intimidating to play under Gayle because I’m a big fan and 10 years ago I took a picture with him. But he’s been a supportive captain. He trusted me and gave me responsibility and I’m glad I could live up to it,” man-of-the-match Zafar was quoted as saying by The Globe and Mail.

“Saad’s job was to consolidate the innings for us, but he actually brought it home. Everyone played a role for us in this tournament and I’m very happy with Saad’s performance in the final,” winning skipper Gayle said on his part.

“Happy to be on the winning side, but I can’t take away anything from West Indies B. They’ve beaten everyone in the tournament and they made it to the final. I do want to commend my players for pulling this off. Our batting and bowling has been excellent throughout,” Gayle added.

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