Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez reportedly considering international retirement after list demotion

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Hafeez could be about to call time on his international career.

Veteran Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez is contemplating retirement from international cricket if the latest reports are to be believed.

According to a report by Pakistan’s DawnNewsTV, the 37-year-old is miffed with the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) decision to demote him from Category A to B in the latest central-contracts list released this week.

The all-rounder has been a regular in the top category of PCB’s central contracts for some time now but he has found himself demoted to the second-tier with Babar Azam taking his place in Category A.

According to sources close to the player, Hafeez is disillusioned due to the ‘discriminatory treatment’ meted out to him.

“Mohammad Hafeez will not sign the central contract,” the source was quoted as saying by DawnNewsTV.

The source also revealed that the reason Hafeez did not play in the fifth and final ODI between Zimbabwe and Pakistan was in protest to not being picked in the preceding four matches.

Hafeez did not play in any of the five ODIs against Zimbabwe.

Hafeez did not play in any of the five ODIs against Zimbabwe.

Hafeez has played 50 Tests, 200 ODIs and 83 T20s for Pakistan so far in his long career after making his international debut in 2003.

He had only recently returned to the limited-overs side after being reported for a suspect bowling action for the third time in his career during an ODI against Sri Lanka last year.

After remodeling his action once again, the all-rounder was picked in the Pakistan ODI squad which recently blanked Zimbabwe by 5-0 but failed to get a single appearance.

In the latest central contracts announced by the PCB, skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Amir and Yasir Shah are the players included in the top-tier Category A.

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Live cricket blog: Virat Kohli defends his batting unit ahead of Lord's Test

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Catch the latest happenings in the world of cricket.

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10:00pm – Mohammad Hafeez reportedly considering international retirement

The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) newly released central contracts for the calendar year have not gone down too well with veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez. The Pakistan man was demoted to Category B from A in the new list with Babar Azam moving up to the top tier. Now, reports in Pakistan suggest that Hafeez will not sign the new contract and instead take up international retirement.

Read more on this developing story here.

Hafeez could be about to call time on his international career.

Hafeez could be about to call time on his international career.

9:30pm – Virat Kohli defends his batting unit ahead of Lord’s Test

India’s batting lineup has come under fire after their shambolic performance in the first Test against England. Skipper Virat Kohli raged a lone battle with the bat for the visitors as they ended up losing the Test by 31 runs. Ahead of the second Test at Lord’s, Kohli has come out defending his batsmen.

Read what the India skipper had to say here.

Virat Kohli has urged fans not to judge his batting unit just yet.

Virat Kohli has urged fans not to judge his batting unit just yet.

9:00pm – Fine margins will decide second Test between England and India

With all the attention on the upcoming second Test between England and India at Lord’s, Sport360 takes a look at the key areas where the game could be decided.

India’s advantage in the spin department is one of the key areas they can flourish. Read more on where the battle could be ultimately decided here. Sport360’s Ajit Vijaykumar has also taken a look at the various spin combinations India could look to deploy. You can read that in-depth piece here.

Ashwin and Kuldeep are two of the spin options for India.

Ashwin and Kuldeep are two of the spin options for India.

7:00pm – England v India second Test tactical focus

As England and India get ready to lock horns in the second Test at Lord’s, Sport360’s Stuart Appleby has been looking at the tactical battle between skippers Joe Root and Virat Kohli. Read more on how the two premier batsmen will look to lead their respective sides at Lord’s here.

There are also many interesting statistics which Sport360 has compiled ahead of the Test. Among them is James Anderson being six wickets short of a century of wickets at Lord’s. To find out the other stats which will be in play, click here.

The two captains.

The two captains.

5:00pm – India bowling coach wants Hardik Pandya to bowl less overs

Ahead of the second Test between the two sides at Lord’s, India bowling coach Bharat Arun has said that all-rounder Hardik Pandya bowling less overs is a good thing for the side. The all-rounder bowled only 10 overs in the 31-run loss to England at Edgbaston and Arun feels that is a good sign for India.

Read the bowling coach’s quotes in full here.

Hardik Pandya had bowled only 10 overs in the Edgbaston Test.

Hardik Pandya had bowled only 10 overs in the Edgbaston Test.

4:30 pm – Ollie Pope to bat at number four

Batsman Ollie Pope will make his England debut batting in the number four position for the second Test against India at Lord’s.

The 20-year-old Surrey batsman replaces out of form Middlesex left-hander Dawid Malan.

Read what Joe Root had to say about Ollie Pope here.

Ollie Pope will bat at No4 on his England debut.

Ollie Pope will bat at No4 on his England debut.

4:15 pm – A look at the last five batsmen to debut for England

Haseeb Hameed (l) and Dawid Malan.

Haseeb Hameed (l) and Dawid Malan.

Batsman Ollie Pope will make his debut against India on Thursday. He is the latest in a fairly long list of youngsters tried out by England in the Test format.

But what about the other batsmen who have been given a go recently by the England management?

We take a closer look here.

3:30 pm – Clash of openers at Lord’s

Alastair Cook and Murali Vijay have not been at the fluent best of late and will need to lead the way when England and India face off at Lord’s.

With the batting line-up of both teams not exactly in the pink of health, the form of these two experienced openers will be critical to the fortunes of their teams.

That, and other key battles in our build-up to the second Test here.

12:30 pm – Lord’s can inspire India

A view of the Lord's Cricket Ground.

A view of the Lord’s Cricket Ground.

India are 1-0 down after the defeat in Birmingham and need some inspiration to level the five-Test series against England.

And our man Stuart Appleby believes the iconic venue of Lord’s might just be the place where Virat Kohli’s men find their rhythm.

Read the full piece here.

12:15 pm – Fawad Alam falls out of favour again

Pakistan batsman Fawad Alam.

Pakistan batsman Fawad Alam.

Pakistan batsman Fawad Alam has been unable to make it to the national team despite being one of the most prolific batsmen in the domestic circuit for nearly a decade.

And now the left-handed batsman has failed to land a central contract, meaning he is not among the best 33 players in the country.

More on that incredible bit of development here.

11:30 pm – A look at all England-India Tests at Lord’s

England have hosted India 17 times at the Lord’s ground over the years. And in those Tests, the hosts have prevailed 11 times with India winning just two.

There have been some memorable efforts from both England and India players at the London venue.

Denzil Pinto takes a look at all 17 matches. Read the exhaustive piece here.

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Tale of two tails and other areas where Lord's Test will be won or lost for England and India

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England have quality in their tail in the form of Sam Curran.

After a momentous battle at Edgbaston, England and India are ready to lock horns once again in what promises to be another enthralling tussle at Lord’s.

The hosts have their noses in front in the five-match series after their 31-run win at Birmingham and the stakes will be as high as they can be when the action turns to the ‘home of cricket’.

There was little to separate the two sides in the first Test and the margins at Lord’s will be fine once again. Here, we look at the key areas where the Lord’s Test could be won or lost.

UP THE ANTE WITH MORE SPIN

Both teams went in with a lone spinner in the first Test. While England used Adil Rashid more as a relief option as they banked on their strengths in the pace department, India used Ravichandran Ashwin as an attacking option from the get-go.

Ashwin’s excellent showing in both innings will tempt the Indian team management to go with an extra spinner. The unprecedented heatwave continues to rage on in the UK and with the possibility of the pitch being drier than usual, a two-man spin attack seems almost a no-brainer for the visitors.

They have the tried and tested option of Ravindra Jadeja to fall upon along with Kuldeep Yadav who still retains a hint of mystery. England’s familiar failings against spin were visible against Ashwin’s artistry at Edgbaston and should Virat Kohli choose to double down on spinners, India could have a massive edge over the hosts.

Kuldeep Yadav could give India the edge in the spin department.

Kuldeep Yadav could give India the edge in the spin department.

DIFFERENCE IN THE TAILS

The outcome of the first Test could have been much different had Sam Curran not made a blinder of a knock for England in the second innings. England’s mantra in the Test arena has been to ‘bat deep’ since Trevor Bayliss took charge and they will have this going in their favour when the two teams arrive at Lord’s.

Rashid, Curran and Chris Woakes are all handy with the bat and will ensure that England  have quality batsmen until as low as the number nine spot. India, on the other hand, do not have that luxury. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s injury has been a big loss in this regard with India’s tail starting from number eight. That might change should Kohli include Jadeja as the second spinner on Thursday but should Kuldeep play, the tail will remain a long one.

With batsmen from both sides struggling against the moving ball so far, runs from the two respective tails could be game-changing once again and it is England who have the advantage here.

England have more batting quality in their tail.

England have more batting quality in their tail.

DEPENDABLE BATSMEN

Batsmen from both teams failed to cover themselves in glory at Edgbaston and they will be under the spotlight in London. For India, it was a one-man show from skipper Kohli who accounted for 200 of his side’s 414 runs in total. For England, it was Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow who shone before Curran’s heroics in the second innings.

While Kohli looks poised for a monster series and Root remains as dependable as ever despite his conversion woes, the onus is on rest of the batsmen from both sides to step up. India will be hoping that senior batsmen like Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane can give them that lift. The hosts, meanwhile, will want Alastair Cook and Jos Buttler to come to the party given that 20-year-old Ollie Pope will be playing in his first Test.

There is not much to choose between the batting departments of both sides at the moment and this battle will be decided by who turns up on the day.

Rahane and Vijay will be key for India in the batting department.

Rahane and Vijay will be key for India in the batting department.

PACE

England’s pacers clearly outshone India at Edgbaston despite Ishant Sharma’s superb spell in the second innings. The hosts’ trio of  Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes had India’s batsmen under the pump throughout the Test with no breathing room being afforded to the visitors.

In contrast, India’s pacers were guilty of spraying the ball around too often and in turn, wasting the excellent conditions on offer. When they did get it right, like Ishant in the second innings, they had the English batsmen hopping and jumping. However, it was little compared to what England’s pacers showed.

With Jasprit Bumrah ruled out of the second Test too, India will probably field Ishant and Mohammed Shami as their designated pacers with Hardik Pandya continuing as the seaming all-rounder.

For England, Stokes’s absence due to his trial is a bitter blow and a fit-again Woakes has quite the responsibility on his shoulders to ensure the side do not miss the star’s services with the ball.

Still, Anderson and Broad seems a more formidable pairing than Ishant and Shami at the moment and it’s the hosts who will have the slight advantage in this department.

Anderson and Broad give England the edge in the pace department.

Anderson and Broad give England the edge in the pace department.

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