Prospect of time in the middle convinces Smith to make late call on CPL

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Steve Smith is set to undergo his maiden stint in the CPL.

Steve Smith was all set to give the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) a pass before a late change of mind convinced him to sign up for a maiden stint in West Indies’ T20 league.

The banned Australia batsman made his return to competitive cricket recently in the inaugural Global T20 Canada. That was Smith’s first participation in any competition since he was handed a 12-month suspension from international and domestic cricket by Cricket Australia for his role in the ball-tampering scandal that occurred in Newlands.

Following his stint in Canada, Smith was all set to take a break from cricket once again as he finalized his wedding plans with partner Dani Willis. However, the prospect of time in the middle was enough to persuade the former Australia skipper to change his mind and sign up with the Barbados Tridents.

Smith recently took part in the inaugural Global T20 Canada.

Smith recently took part in the inaugural Global T20 Canada.

“It was a relatively late change of heart but there weren’t any financial incentives,” CPL chief executive Pete Russell stated.

“In consultation with his manager and wife-to-be, I think they decided he just needed playing time. He wanted to play hard cricket, get back into the swing of it and also fly under the radar.

“You don’t get hassled by anybody in the Caribbean, that was a large part of it. If this were an opportunity in England for example, there’d be more of that.”

Smith will be joined by fellow banned Australia batsman David Warner in the CPL with the left-handed opener set to turn out for the St. Lucia Stars.

The CPL gets underway on August 8 at the Queen’s Park Oval with Warner’s St. Lucia Stars taking on the Trinbago Knight Riders.

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Sri Lanka Cricket scrap plans to hold T20 league similar to the IPL

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The new T20 tournament will feature local players instead.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have shelved plans to hold an Indian Premier League style T20 league in the country.

Sri Lanka had launched the Lanka Premier League (LPL) in 2012 but the tournament immediately ran into financial woes before being abandoned. Plans were on to revive that league this year with Sri Lanka eyeing an IPL-style league filled with overseas stars.

However, on Thursday, a SLC official confirmed that the plans to hold such a league had been scrapped for now with a tournament featuring local players from Sri Lanka now planned instead.

“There will be no foreign players, but our own international cricketers will play in the four teams that will take part,” the SLC official was quoted as saying by AFP.

“The new league will nurture emerging local talent by giving young players the opportunity to play alongside the island’s best,” the official added.

Elections for SLC had been suspended by Sri Lanka's Court of Appeal.

Elections for SLC had been suspended by Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal.

The Lanka Premier League 2018 was supposed to get underway in August this year but a decision to postpone it indefinitely was taken last month.  The governing body had announced that they would wait to take a call on the league until a new board was elected in SLC.

The SLC is currently being managed by an interim management body appointed by Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapha ever since Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal suspended elections for the board in May this year.

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Pantomime villain Virat Kohli turns hero once again at Edgbaston with one of his greatest Test innings

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Kohli might just have played his most important Test innings.

Love him or hate him, but you can’t but help admire Virat Kohli. The India skipper played the pantomime villain to perfection in the opening day of the Edgbaston Test against England on Wednesday when he ran out his opposite number Joe Root with a brilliant piece of athleticism.

His own take on Root’s ‘mic drop’ celebration from the ODI series decider turned the English public against him in an instant. So much so, that when Kohli came out to bat with India at 54-2 in their first innings on Thursday, he was greeted with the loudest of boos from the partisan Edgbaston crowd.

By the time he walked out of the field after being the last Indian batsman to be dismissed, those loud boos had made way to a standing ovation. The India skipper had after all single-handedly dragged the team to just 13 runs short of England’s first-innings total despite, at one point, a lead of over a 100 runs looking like a safe option for the hosts.

It had not been the most aesthetically pleasing innings from the 29-year-old, but it sure could go down as his most important Test knock depending on how the game pans out in the last three days.

Kohli walked into bat when young Sam Curran was swinging the ball a million miles. He would then watch from the non-striker’s end as Shikhar Dhawan abandoned all semblance of any footwork to gift Curran his third wicket in two overs. India were crumbling, and crumbling fast.

His nemesis from the 2014 series James Anderson was immediately unleashed as soon as Kohli came out to bat. A tricky and testy period before lunch ensued with Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane somehow managing to keep their wicket intact. After lunch, Ben Stokes would wreak havoc similar to the one Curran had unleashed in the first session.

Kohli shone while others around him collapsed.

Kohli shone while others around him collapsed.

Rahane departed soon after while Dinesh Karthik saw his middle stump go on a cartwheel. England were sniffing blood and when Anderson finally had Kohli knicking one towards Dawid Malan at slip, the writing seemed to be on the wall for India. As fate would have it, Malan spilled the chance as India were prevented from being reduced to 100-6.

He would spill one more, albeit a much tougher chance, when Kohli was batting on 51. Meanwhile, Anderson continued his relentless assault outside Kohli’s off-stump. Once bitten, twice shy was the supremely gifted batsman though.

After seeing how close he had come to throwing it away, no longer was he going to take his chances against Anderson. Instead, he wore on a cloak of impregnability and with a steely determination to survive at any cost, he negotiated one of the most hostile spells of bowling he might have ever come across in the most adverse of conditions.

In total, Anderson bowled 43 deliveries to the India skipper. 41 of them turned out to be dots and six runs were scored in the two scoring shots. It had been the duel most had been looking forward to ever the series was announced. And it more than lived up to its expectations.

In the end, both Anderson and Kohli would have come away from that battle with a smile on their faces. Anderson would have realised that the demons of 2014 still very much exist in Kohli’s mind while the India man will believe he has the tools to survive, if not flourish, against all that the English pacer throws at him.

Kohli's battle with Anderson lived up to expectations.

Kohli’s battle with Anderson lived up to expectations.

Ultimately, Kohli did flourish, and how! Batting with the tail for company, he registered his maiden ton on English soil before going on to add 49 quick-fire runs more. India might still have fallen short of England’s first innings total but the psychological advantage they had gained through Kohli’s battling knock cannot be understated.

That pressure showed when Alastair Cook fell early once again in the 16 balls England were made to navigate before the close of play in a carbon copy dismissal from his first innings.

The job had been done for Kohli. Through sheer determination, a single-minded will to succeed and tenacity, he had ensured that the first Test remains within the grasp of India. If they go on to win it from this point on, that innings will definitely go down as the greatest he has every played in the format.

It has shades of his Centurion ton against South Africa this year but that came after India had already lost the first Test. Here, he has prevented that script from repeating itself and made sure that India will not be playing catch up from the very start.

In a single swoop, he surpassed his run total from 10 innings in the 2014 tour. With four more Tests to come after this, Kohli’s work is just getting started. But with his Thursday heroics, the series and the Test has been set up beautifully by cricket’s greatest entertainer currently.

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