Kumar Sangakkara says no time to panic despite Sri Lanka's disastrous Asia Cup campaign

Alex Broun 29/09/2018
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Kumar Sangakkara in action in the 2017 Caribbean Premier League.

Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara believes it’s too early to hit the panic button after his nation’s dismal showing in the Asia Cup.

The Lions were eliminated in the group stages after humbling losses to Afghanistan by 91 runs and Bangladesh by 137 runs. Sri Lanka were without Dinhesh Chandimal and after their campaign imploded, saw Angelo Mathews removed as limited overs captain.

“I empathise with the team,” Sangakkara told Sport 360 on Friday in Dubai, where he was announced as an icon player for the upcoming T20X.

“I’ve been there. I’ve lost to sides that we shouldn’t have lost to. And I understand exactly how they feel. But I’m very pragmatic about it, I’m realistic. They played very bad cricket.”

The 40-year-old said Sri Lanka “looked confused during the tournament, with an unsettled air around the team and that hasn’t helped them. That’s been the case for awhile now.”

But the veteran left-handed batsman said now is the time for cool heads, not a knee jerk reaction.

“Leave aside the emotion. I’d be very rational and clinical in the decision making. You need to evaluate very quickly as to what’s going wrong.

“If it’s the strategy then you need to select players who can execute that strategy. Then you examine team culture, you examine consistency of selection and then you put those things right.”

Above all Sangakkara believes communication is key to turning around the team’s fortunes.

“Clear, honest face-to-face one-on-one communication is essential to build trust,” he said, “and having a settled squad that has clear roles identified for players, who are given a clear run.

“(That) will improve self-confidence of players and they will trust the system better, the performances will be more consistent and results will then come.

“The issue is we’re only six months to the next World Cup. So we need to do these things quickly and I hope they get that done.”

In stark contrast Bangladesh had a superb tournament, surprising Pakistan in the Super Four to reach the final where they were beaten on the last ball by heavyweights India.

But Sangakkara does not believe Sri Lanka have slipped too far behind The Tigers in the pecking order.

“I don’t think they’ve (Bangladesh) risen above Sri Lanka in terms of ability, talent and quality – they’ve outperformed us in this particular tournament,” he said.

“Go back a few months (January) we beat Bangladesh in the final of the tri-series one day tournament (in Bangladesh).

“I think the difference between the two sides, if you takes those two sides, is they (Bangladesh) are a settled side.

“The core group of Bangladesh hardly ever changes: Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman and Mashrafe Mortaza.

“They’ve been around for years, they never change their core, so it’s a consistent side knowing their roles performing day in day out, playing day in day out.

“So it becomes easier to have consistent performances and more good days than bad.”

Sri Lanka have an immediate chance to turn their form around, with a five match ODI series against England starting in Sri Lanka on October 10.

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Live Cricket Blog: Mitchell Starc ready to carry extra workload in UAE

Alex Broun 26/09/2018
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Hello, the Sport360 Team is in place bringing you the latest news from the world of cricket on Wednesday.

Stakes are high in the Asia Cup today as Pakistan take on Bangladesh in the final Super Four match in what will be make or break for both teams. Win and you take on India in Friday’s final, lose and you go home.

We will be bringing you all the coverage from that match including the live action with play starting at 15:30 UAE Time.

As ever, get in touch with us throughout the day on Twitter and Facebook.

2.22pm: Mitchell Starc ready to carry extra workload in UAE

Australia’s Mitchell Starc will have his work cut out bowling on spinning and slow tracks in the UAE when his side takes on Pakistan in a two-Test series starting on October 7 but the pacer is more than ready to take up the challenge.

Starc is the only member of the fearsome Australia pace trio to have made the journey after injuries ruled out Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

To read what the Aussie pacer had to say CLICK HERE.

Starc will lead Australia's pace challenge in the UAE.

Starc will lead Australia’s pace challenge in the UAE.

12.21pm: Angelo Mathews sacked from Sri Lanka squad for the England ODI series.

Just days after he was removed as Sri Lanka’s limited-overs skipper, Angelo Mathews has been dropped from the squad for the England ODI series.

According to a report by ESPNCricinfo, Mathews has not been picked in the yet to be released squad for the five ODI clashes against England, starting next month, with his name missing from the list sent to Sri Lanka’s sports ministry for approval.

To read more about the controversial sacking CLICK HERE

Mathews has already been made to step down from captaincy.

Mathews has already been made to step down from captaincy.

10.45am: Pakistan batsman Shoaib Malik responds to Wasim Akram’s praise after knock against Afghanistan

Shoaib Malik says “it’s a very big thing” to be lauded by Pakistan legend Wasim Akram after his match-winning knock against Afghanistan.

The batsman rescued the Men in Green with an unbeaten 51, hitting four and six in the last over to seal a tense three-wicket victory in the Super Four clash on Friday.

To read what Malik had to say CLICK HERE.

Shoaib Malik was praised by Wasim Akram

Shoaib Malik was praised by Wasim Akram

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Dean Jones hoping to use Pakhtoons "home ground" advantage in T10 League

Alex Broun 25/09/2018
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Former Aussie batsman Dean Jones was known for his strong character in his playing days – one legendary run-in with West Indian paceman Curtley Ambrose in 1993 is still talked about today.

But these days Jones is making a new name for himself as a shrewd tactician and successful coach, namely with Islamabad United whom he led to titles in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in 2016 and again this season.

Now the snowy-haired 57-year-old has taken on a new role as coach of Pakhtoon in the second edition of the UAE’s own T10 League.

Jones’ first official task was to select the remaining eight players of his squad for the league, which starts in Sharjah on November 23, at the T10 player draft in Dubai on Monday night.

“You don’t get everyone that you want but geez there’s some strong teams,” said Jones when asked if he was happy with his pick-ups from the draft.

“It’s trying to find out the right formula. You’re trying to find the formula to the solution to the Rubik’s cube really – how to play T10.

“We’ve only had one season and we’re trying to get a sample size, albeit smallish, to find out what’s the right pattern to play, what’s the style of play to actually do well in this form of the game.

“I went for left-hand quicks because their economy rate is nine in the T10 League, leg-spinners are a little bit better at 8.9, so we’ve all gone for left-hand quicks and try to mix it up with right hand-left hand batters.

“Particularly a lot more left-handers at the top end to stop the good teams, the Rashid Khans being able to bowl to you, as I think they struggle trying to bowl to left-handers.

“So we’ve got some very good power-hitters who are left-handers. Who knows? We don’t know the story of it yet.”

The proud Victorian said the team was also hoping to draw on “home ground” advantage.

Pakhtoon take their name from the Pashtun region in Afghanistan and Sharjah is fact becoming a centre for Afghan cricket and fans. The ground will host the inaugural T20 Afghanistan Premier League in October.

“We’ve picked up a lot of Afghanistan boys so obviously there’s an attraction to them,” he explained, “and they’re obviously playing fantastic cricket so they’re getting rewarded.

“We know how big the Afghanistan community is here (in Sharjah) – particularly in this part of the world.

“When you go to Man United and they are playing with 15 men because of their crowd. And the same thing goes when you play at Sharjah – hopefully we’ll have a 95 per cent Pakhtoon fans there and they’ll get behind us.

“It’s very very important the home ground advantage. They (Pakhtoon) made the final (last year) but the bowling – as normal in all forms of cricket – it’s the bowling that lets you down more than the batting.”

Shahid Afridi (c) will again captain Pakhtoon in the T10 League

Shahid Afridi (c) will again captain Pakhtoon in the T10 League

Asked about the extraordinary success of the T10 League in just its second year, Jones said: “It’s a nice little window, I think the experience is good, I think they (the players) enjoy it.

“It’s not too hard on their bodies, not a bad part of the world to come to be honest and it’s something new I think.

“The guys that play a lot of first class cricket, Test cricket, ODI cricket, T20 – this is a little bit new for them, it’s short and sweet and they get paid pretty good for it as well. What else would you rather do?”

Jones has greatly enjoyed his spells in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in recent years, which is also played in the UAE, and he’s looking to carry that into the T10.

“Up to now it (T10) has been sensational,” he said, “look I haven’t been part of the T10 before but I’ve been part of the Pakistan Super League and it’s been nothing short of outstanding experience.

“How good has it been in Islamabad, playing in front of 50,000 people at Karachi? Nothing short of outstanding and we’ve had some wonderful games played here (in the UAE).

Jones finished by pointing out a key aspect of this year’s tournament preparations.

“Newly laid pitches I believe at Sharjah,” he said, “so that will be interesting to see how they come up.

“It’s a matter of who hits the ground running trying to qualify for the finals and as you know it’s a different game again (then).”

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