Sarfraz Ahmed says Pakistan will hold psychological edge over India in Asia Cup

Waseem Ahmed 16/08/2018
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The Pakistan skipper is confident about his side's chances against India.

Pakistan skipper Safraz Ahmed believes his side will hold the psychological edge over India when the two sides clash in the upcoming Asia Cup in the UAE.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a club match for Lahore Club Cricket Association (LCCA) on Wednesday, Sarfaz said that familiarity of playing in home conditions should favour Pakistan in the tournament in the UAE.

“We will have a psychological edge over India because UAE is our home ground and we are in a better position to gauge the conditions and utilise it to our advantage,” the wicketkeeper batsman was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.

“On the other hand, Virat Kohli-XI is a stronger outfit as far as overall experience is concerned,” he added.

The two arch-rivals and neighbours last met in the ICC Champions Trophy final in London last year where Pakistan triumphed by 180 runs to capture the crown.

“I am hopeful that it will be a good match because this is the first time both sides are facing each other after the Champions Trophy final,” said Sarfraz.

Pakistan had triumphed over India in the ICC Champions Trophy final.

Pakistan had triumphed over India in the ICC Champions Trophy final.

India are currently locked in a five-match Test series in England and trail the hosts 0-2 after defeats at Edgbaston and Lord’s. Virat Kohli’s men have been derided from all quarters for their lackadaisical preparations in which they played only one warm-up game against Essex.

Pakistan had toured England as well earlier this summer and had held the hosts to a 1-1 draw in the two-match series. The Pakistan skipper believes his side were helped by much stronger preparations in which they played three warm-up games in total before the start of the series.

“I have toured England twice and both times Pakistan team performed well. According to me, whichever Asian team travels to England tend to struggle. India is no different as the conditions there are really tough,” he was quoted as saying by Times Now.

“I guess Pakistan’s preparations were good. If we are talking about my first tour there (in 2016), we had reached England 25 days before the start of the series. We had a 10-day camp and then played two practice games – which helped us immensely,” he added.

India and Pakistan are slated to clash on September 19 in the Asia Cup in Dubai.

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Virat Kohli and Indian team conduct first net session since Lord's Test defeat

Sudhir Gupta 16/08/2018
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Kohli and Co took to the nets at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

For the first time since their innings defeat to England at Lord’s, team India finally hit the nets as they began their preparations for the third Test at Trent Bridge which gets underway on Saturday.

The Indian team had surprised many after opting not to take part in any net sessions following their defeat by an innings and 159 runs in the Lord’s Test which culminated last Sunday.

Virat Kohli and his men had stayed back in London as they celebrated the nation’s Independence Day on Wednesday before travelling to Nottingham later in the day.

Kohli looked to be in good spirits and showed no signs of discomfort.

Kohli looked to be in good spirits and showed no signs of discomfort.

On Thursday morning, Kohli and his men wasted no time in hitting the nets as preparations for the third Test started in earnest.

The India skipper is recovering from a back injury which emerged during the Lord’s Test but he seemed to be in good spirits during Thursday’s training session as he led the session.

The team and staff held a minute's silence before the session.

The team and staff held a minute’s silence before training.

The team and support staff also observed a minute’s silence during the practice session following the passing away of legendary India skipper and batsman Ajit Wadekar late on Wednesday after a prolonged battle with cancer.

Rishabh Pant could be seen practicing his wicketkeeping.

Rishabh Pant (centre) alongside skipper Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Youngster Rishabh Pant could also be seen practicing his wicket-keeping during the session leading to suggestions that he could make his Test debut on Thursday with Dinesh Karthik likely to sit out.

India currently trail the hosts 2-0 in the five-match series.

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Akila Dananjaya leading Sri Lanka's wrist spin revolution

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It’s all about wrist spin at the moment in limited overs cricket. Finger spinners have been all but booted out of white-ball cricket with only those who bat well remaining in the picture.

Having said that, just because you bowl wrist spin doesn’t mean you will succeed. Like any other trade, you need to be good at what you do and wrist spin is one of the harder arts to master.

Which is why getting two young and quality wrist spinners is like striking gold. India have two established and vastly different wrist spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Both have become integral members of India’s white-ball teams and will continue to make an impact for a long time to come.

Sri Lanka are not far behind. The country that produced the original mystery spinner – Ajantha Mendis – now has two wrist spinners who can lead the new age in the country’s spin department.

Right arm spinner Akila Dananjaya is a phenomenon. “He is made of steel,” Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said after the right arm spinner picked up 6-29 in the fifth ODI against South Africa that secured a 178-run win in Colombo.

Dananjaya had been smashed for 81 runs as the Proteas took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five match series. After the Test series win, it was a setback for the hosts.

Dananjaya didn’t get flustered even when he went for 10 an over in three overs in the next ODI, which Sri Lanka won. The Proteas are always susceptible to quality wrist spin and the 24-year-old proved that in the final match of the series.

Sandakan (l) and Dananjaya.

Sandakan (l) and Dananjaya.

“Akila knows what he’s doing with the ball. It’s hard to take on someone like this when he has so many variations up his sleeve,” South Africa captain Quiton de Kock said of his six-for. “We have batted well against him in this series, but today he bowled really well.”

And that is what quality wrist spin is all about. You think you have it figured out but someone like Dananjaya bowls classic off-spin, leg spin and googlies with almost the same action. You are going to struggle against him.

Last year, bowling in just his third ODI, Dananjaya picked up 6-54 against India and even though he still ended up on the losing side, the spinner had embarrassed top class batsmen like Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma.

His action is deceptive, plus he bowls with a full sleeve, meaning batsmen have very little chance of picking him with certainty if he gets the line and dip going. In 24 ODIs, he already has two six-wicket hauls.

The other spinner who has emerged for Sri Lanka is Lakshan Sandakan. A more classic left-arm wrist spinners, Sandakan picked up three wickets in one over in the one-off T20 against the Proteas which the hosts won.

Left arm wrist spinners are the ‘It’ boys and Sri Lanka can afford to invest as much time as they want to polish Sandakan.

However, it is Dananjaya who offers the most, not only with his variations but with the bat as well. As you can guess, he is an obdurate batsman as well with one ODI fifty. He promises to be the complete package that can carry the country’s spin burden.

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