It has been a summer to savour for England’s Jos Buttler. The 27-year-old batsman has hit a purple patch ever since he was promoted to open the innings for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Following that move, Buttler leveled Virender Sehwag’s IPL record of five consecutive half-centuries before earning a recall to the England Test setup. Two vital half-centuries in the Test series against Pakistan followed before Buttler carried over his stupendous form into the limited-overs clashes against Australia and India.
The Englishman has scored 13 half-centuries now in his last 20 innings across all formats and has admitted that he is the form of his life.
“It’s been a really enjoyable few months. Yeah, it’s the form of a lifetime, but what I’ve done well is having the hunger and desire to turn up the next day and do it again. I want to be able to continue that,” Buttler told the Daily Mail.
The right-hander has credited his participation in the IPL as one of the reasons for his recent resurgence.
“The IPL was a big eye-opener. I also watch guys like Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Joe Root, Kane Williamson – I’ve watched how consistent they are. Kumar Sangakkara’s another. He’d just want to turn up each day and win the game for his team,” Buttler stated.
The England wicketkeeper-batsman reserved special praise for his India counterpart MS Dhoni whom he counts among his biggest idols.
“He’s (Dhoni) always been a bit of an idol of mine, especially his demeanour. I enjoy the way he never looks flustered, and he’s one of these guys who seems to be not out at the end,” said Buttler.
Buttler and his England team-mates are currently involved in an exciting tussle with India in the three-match ODI series. The series is locked at 1-1 after the hosts came roaring back with an 86-run win in the second ODI at Lord’s on Saturday. The deciding ODI will be held at Headingley in Leeds on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe and Pakistan will lock horns once again in the second of the five ODIs at Bulawyo on Monday. The visitors secured a crushing win by 201 runs in the first ODI to take a 1-0 lead in the series and will be looking for more of the same against the depleted hosts in the second game.
As the two sides get ready to meet at the Queen’s Sports Club, we look at some key talking points.
BYOUYANT PAKISTAN LOOK TO FINE-TUNE WORLD CUP PREPARATIONS
The win in the first ODI was the first in the format in 2018 for Sarfraz Ahmed’s men who were whitewashed 5-0 in New Zealand earlier this year. With their ODI account now open, the remainder of the four matches in the series provides the men in green with ample opportunity to fine-tune their preparations for the 2019 World Cup. Coach Mickey Arthur had previously spoken about looking at the bigger picture and that is exactly what Pakistan will aim to do.
This could mean some new combinations in bowling and batting being tried out by the visitors on Monday. One possibility is Yasir Shah coming into the playing XI as he completes his return from a long-term injury layoff. After Shadab Khan’s four-wicket haul in the first ODI, Sarfraz might be tempted to line up with two spinners as he seeks to get Yasir back into match rhythm. The senior leg-spinner has not played an ODI for two years now but with the ever-growing effectiveness of wrist-spinners in white-ball cricket, Pakistan will want to test Yasir as an option for the 2019 World Cup.
DEPLETED HOSTS DEALT ANOTHER BLOW
Zimbabwe came into the series with a depleted unit with five of their senior players in Sikandar Raza, Brendon Taylor, Graeme Cramer and Sean Williams unavailable due to the ongoing pay dispute between the players and the cricketing board.
The Hamilton Masakadza-led squad was further depleted when the in-form Solomon Mire and all-rounder Kyle Jarvis were ruled out of the ODIs due to injuries. Mire’s absence in particular was a big blow after he played some stellar innings in the preceding T20 tri-series.
Now, the hosts have suffered another setback with batsman Malcolm Waller withdrawing from the squad after citing labour-practice laws. With the turmoil in Zimbabwe cricket showing no signs of ending, the hosts will have it all to do against a Pakistan outfit whose showings in white-ball cricket has been pretty impressive of late.
Zimbabwe: Brian Chari, Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza (c), Tarisai Musakanda, Peter Moor, Ryan Murray (wk), Donald Tiripano, Liam Roche, Wellington Masakadza, Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (c and wk), Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir.
Sri Lanka’s T20 league has been postponed indefinitely with the country’s cricket governing body remaining in turmoil.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) confirmed the indefinite postponements of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) which was slated to get underway next month while new dates for the competition will be announced only after a new governing body has been elected.
The SLC is 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.
“Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to inform that the LPL (T20) has been postponed indefinitely, until an elected body is constituted at the SLC,” a statement from the interim board read.
The drama at the board started after former SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga argued that outgoing president Thilanga Sumathipala was unsuitable for re-election due to his alleged links to gambling.
Sumathipala was pitted against Nishantha’s elder brother and former Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga before his validity was challenged. The Ranatunga brothers contend that ICC regulations forbid Sumathipala form holding office due to his alleged links to gambling, a claim the former SLC president has denied while acknowledging his family’s ties to the business.
The Lanka Premier League had kicked off in 2012 before coming to a stall due to organisational issues and lack of sponsors. It was supposed to be relaunched this year as a six-team affair.