Sarfraz Ahmed will take charge of his first series as the captain of the Pakistan Test squad in the upcoming bilateral series against Sri Lanka.
Pakistan are scheduled to play two Tests against the Sri Lankans, starting on September 28 in their second home, the UAE.
This in fact will be the first such series where Pakistan will be without the services of the iconic Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, both of whom called time on their distinguished careers after the tour of West Indies earlier this year.
Sarfraz created history earlier this summer when he led Pakistan to a surprise maiden ICC Champions Trophy triumph in England.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had announced the 16-man squad for the Sri Lanka series on Friday with a maiden call-up for left-arm pacer Mir Hamza and off-spinning all-rounder Bilal Asif.
There was disappointment for teenage leg-spinning sensation Shadab Khan though. The 18-year-old, who has created ripples ever since bursting onto the international scene earlier this year against West Indies, has not been selected.
The series in the UAE will mark the start of a new era in Pakistan cricket which has shown plenty of upswings lately.
After winning the Champions Trophy against all the odds, the Mickey Arthur coached side recently completed a 2-1 win in the Independence Cup over the visiting ICC World XI at Lahore as international cricket made a long-awaited comeback to the country.
— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) September 20, 2017
The upcoming series against Sri Lanka will also feature a day-night Test in Dubai, which will be a first for the islanders. Apart from the Tests, the two sides will play five ODIs and three T20Is.
Sri Lanka are coming into the series on the back of a thumping at the hands of the Indians in the Tests and the limited-overs series. The team was whitewashed in all the three-formats in their own backyard, a first for them in their long cricketing history.
Sri Lanka had named a 15-man squad led by Dinesh Chandimal for the series but the islanders have suffered a huge setback after stalwart Angelo Mathews was ruled out of the opening Test.
The all-rounder suffered a grade one tear to his calf-muscle during a training session on Wednesday.
— Daniel Alexander (@daniel86cricket) September 20, 2017
The third and final T20I which was originally supposed to take place at the UAE has now been shifted to Lahore with Sri Lanka agreeing to play in Pakistan for the first time since the terrorist attacks on its team bus in 2009.
Sarfraz Ahmed (C), Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Abbas, Bilal Asif, Mir Hamza, Wahab Riaz.
Dinesh Chandimal (C), Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Rangana Herath, Lakshan Sandakan, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishva Fernando, Lahiru Gamage.
Standby: Dhananjaya De Silva, Jeffrey Vandersay, Akila Dananjaya, Lahiru Kumara, Dasun Shanaka.
The dates for India’s eagerly-anticipated tour of South Africa have now been confirmed in a joint statement by Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) late on Wednesday.
There has been a reduction in the length of the Test series with the matches being cut short to three from the originally scheduled four.
Instead, there will now be six ODIs instead of the five initially planned between the two sides earlier. Three T20Is will accompany the Tests and 50-over contests.
India are scheduled to arrive in the African country on December 28 and will kick-start the tour with a two-day warm-up match at Boland Park on December 30 and 31.
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) September 21, 2017
The first Test between the two sides will begin on January 5 at Newlands in Cape Town. The rest of the itinerary is still to be worked out between the two Boards and remains unannounced at the moment.
India’s arrival in South Africa has been delayed due to the BCCI adding a series with Sri Lanka which is to take place after the completion of New Zealand’s tour of India.
CSA have also announced a four-day Test with Zimbabwe starting on Boxing Day, a Test it had earlier scheduled with India.
With India’s arrival delayed, CSA have invited Zimbabwe to participate in its traditional Boxing Day Test with the match proposed to be a day-night affair and be played out at St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
The South African board is hoping that the ICC will grant the four-day game a full Test status.
“We have now finalised the fixtures for a very busy home summer of international cricket.The Mahatma Gandhi-Nelson Mandela Test series starts at Newlands on Friday, January 5 and will be a series to be watched as the number 1 and 2 best ranked teams in the world challenge for the Freedom Trophy,” CSA chief Haroon Lorgat said in a news release.
“The time constraints faced by India have forced us to reduce the Test matches to three while increasing white ball cricket to six ODIs and three T20I matches,” he added.
“The Proteas are currently ranked No. 1 and India No. 3 in ODI cricket, so fans will have the chance to see great cricket in the limited overs format too.
“To ensure we do not disappoint our loyal fans over the traditional Boxing Day period and to take advantage of our brand-new lights at St George’s Park, we will host Zimbabwe in the first ever four-day day-night Test match to be played. The Test status of the match is subject to ICC approval,” Lorgat said about the Zimbabwe game.
India got the better of Australia by 50 runs after a hard-fought win played under extremely humid conditions in the second ODI of the five-match series at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
After winning the toss and batting first, the hosts were bowled out in the final delivery of the 50 overs for 252 runs. In reply the visitors were bowled out themselves for 202 after a fine effort from India’s bowlers.
On a day when there were talking points galore, we look at the two good and two bad performances.
The young wrist-spinner has been turning eyeballs ever since bursting onto the scene with his unique action. He did not get the best of starts on Thursday as the Australian batsmen looked to attack him early on.
Glenn Maxwell tore into the youngster in one particular over when he hit two consecutive sixes with his trademark slog-sweep.
At the end of his first seven overs, Kuldeep remained wicketless and had to be taken out of of the attack due to Maxwell’s assault. He was then brought back on after the Australian’s departure and boy did he turn it on.
In his eighth over, the 22-year-old became only the third Indian to take an ODI hat-trick. Matthew Wade chopped a traditional leg-spinner outside off-stump to provide Kuldeep with his first scalp of the day.
In the very next delivery, the youngster had Ashton Agar trapped plumb after the Aussie all-rounder failed to connect to a full and straight leg-spinner.
With the Eden Garden crowd on its feet in anticipation of a famous hat-trick, Kuldeep duly delivered with a perfect googly to the new man Pat Cummins.
Cummins got forward to defend the delivery but the googly meant that the ball took the outside edge of his bat to settle straight into the gloves of MS Dhoni, sending supporters and players alike into delirium.
— BCCI (@BCCI) September 21, 2017
On a day when humidity took its toll on many of the players on the field, India skipper Kohli displayed a sense of calm as he went about doing what he does best, scoring runs.
Kolhi walked out to bat after Rohit Sharma’s early dismissal and looked at ease on the Eden Garden surface which was a bit two-paced early on.
He formed a crucial second-wicket partnership of over a hundred with Ajinkya Rahane. Run-scoring wasn’t easy in the first-half of the match but Kohli huffed and puffed in the Kolkata heat as he went about converting the ones into twos.
The batting maestro was going along nicely at 92 with eight boundaries to his kitty before playing-on to a Nathan Coulter-Nile delivery while trying to dab the ball towards third-man. It is testament to Kohli’s talent that none of the other Indian batsman apart from Rahane found the going easy on the Eden Gardens pitch.
Ultimately he fell short of his 31st ODI ton as he suffered a rare failure in the nineties.
— ICC (@ICC) September 21, 2017
Eden Gardens is the venue where Sharma scored his world-record 173-ball 264 against the Sri Lankans in 2014. In his previous nine innings at the iconic ground, the Indian vice-captain has scored 794 runs in all formats at an average of 113 and a strike-rate of 99.87.
It is fair to say that Sharma has a love affair with the venue. On Thursday though, it was probably his worst game ever at the ground. Opening the batting for India after Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first, Sharma never got going in his short innings.
His timing was off and runs seemed hard to come by. In the end, his misery was ended by Coulter-Nile when he attempted to drive a fuller delivery on off-stump and on the up, straight back at the bowler.
Coulter-Nile failed to grasp the ball at the first attempt but after some neat juggling skills completed the catch ultimately.
— CricTracker (@Cricketracker) September 20, 2017
The bad times for Sharma did not just end there. There was more misery to come when he took the field for Australia’s chase. Normally a reliable slip-fielder, Sharma dropped a sitter at second-slip after Travis Head had edged a Bhuvneshwar Kumar delivery.
Head had not even crossed 10 when he was dropped and then went on to score at a quick pace as a threatening partnership developed between him and Smith. At one point it looked that the drop would prove too costly for India but thankfully for Sharma, the bowlers saved his blushes in the end.
The 25-year-old opener was given his Australia debut in Chennai but it wasn’t the most memorable of bows by any standard. The right-handed batsman was clean bowled by a Jasprit Bumrah delivery which found the gap between his bat and pad to hit the top of off-stump.
If Cartwright was hoping for a change in fortunes in Kolkata, he would have ended up bitterly disappointed. With the ball being swung around in both directions by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the Zimbabwe-born man was all-at-sea at the start of Australia’s chase.
After being beaten multiple times, Cartwright’s luck ran out in the third over when a Kumar delivery swung back in sharply to take the top of the right-hander’s off-stump.
An eerily similar dismissal to his Chennai failure, the warning bells are out for Cartwright already. Having got the chance to open due to the injury to Aaron Finch, time is running out for the youngster to make an impact.
Two runs in as many innings could see the batsman dropped in the next match with Peter Handscomb waiting in the wings.