England skipper Eoin Morgan believes an ODI series win over India will be highly 'significant'

Sudhir Gupta 16/07/2018
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Morgan has welcome the pressure of a decider against India.

England skipper Eoin Morgan believes an ODI series win against India could be hugely significant for his side as they gear up to play the World Cup in front of their home fans in 2019.

The two teams are currently locked at 1-1 in the three-match series with the deciding ODI set to take place at Headingley on Tuesday.

“They (India) are a really strong side, as we saw in periods (at Lord’s), and particularly at Trent Bridge, so to beat them in the series would be quite significant – very significant,” Morgan told the media on the eve of the deciding ODI.

The 31-year-old feels the ‘pressure’ of playing in a decider against a quality opposition like India will hold his side in great stead for the future.

“I am not a huge fan of bilateral series – having a game like this is crucial for us. I prefer a tri-series and the context. Every game brings something different with significance on it,” the England skipper stated.

Morgan is happy with England's showing against Kuldeep at Lord's.

Morgan is happy with England’s showing against Kuldeep at Lord’s.

All eyes will be on how the English batsmen negotiate Kuldeep Yadav in the final ODI after the left-arm wrist-spinner picked up a career-best 6-25 in the opener at Trent Bridge. England gave a much better account of themselves against Kuldeep at Lord’s but he still walked away with three wickets.

“We started better against him (Kuldeep),” Morgan said. “And the more we face him, the easier he got to pick. But you still have to play him well. I thought Joe (Root) was quite significant in that – his rotation of strike, his calm head.

“We emphasised the need to be clear on your plan and then sticking to it, and that’s what we did. Our plans are always about positive thinking, and we didn’t veer away from that.”

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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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