Sourav Ganguly fearful of the way cricket is being run in India

Sudhir Gupta 30/10/2018
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Ganguly is unhappy with the state of Indian cricket at the moment.

An alarmed Sourav Ganguly has shot a letter to the BCCI expressing his fears at the state of Indian cricket administration at the moment.

The former India skipper, who now leads the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), voiced his fears at the ‘appalling’ manner in which cricket was being administered in the country, according to his letter published in a report by ESPNcricinfo.

Ganguly is currently a member of BCCI’s technical committee and was previously a part of the Cricket Advisory Committee which also comprised of Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman.

“I write this mail to you all with the deep sense of fear as to where Indian cricket administration is going,” he wrote in his letter.

“Having played the game for a long period of time, where our lives were ruled by winning and losing, and the image of Indian cricket was of paramount importance to us. We wake up looking at how our cricket is faring even now.

“But with deep sense of worry, (I used the word worry) I beg to state that the way things have gone in the last couple of years, the authority of Indian cricket to the world and the love and belief of millions of fans is on the way down,” he continued.

Ganguly was also unhappy with Ravi Shastri's appointment.

Ganguly was also unhappy with Ravi Shastri’s appointment.

“Indian cricket with its massive following has been built over the years of hard work from superb administrators and greatest of cricketers who have managed to bring thousands of fans to the ground. I, at the present moment, think it’s in danger. Hope people are listening.”

The Indian cricket administration has been in a flux ever since the Supreme Court of the country asked the BCCI to implement changes recommended by the Lodha Panel. The top court in India had sacked then BCCI chief Anurag Thakur and other office bearers after the cricketing body failed to adopt the recommended changes in time.

The court has since appointed a Committee of Administrators (CoA) headed by Vinod Rai to overseas the day-to-day running of the BCCI.

One of the points raised by Ganguly in his scathing letter was his disappointment in the manner in which Ravi Shastri was appointed coach of the Indian team.

The CAC had been given the task to interview candidates for the job following skipper Virat Kohli’s falling out with then coach Anil Kumble. The deadline to apply for the job had been extended for Shastri to apply. Following the completion of the interview, Ganguly had asked Kohli to take some more time to think about his decision but the appointment of Shastri was confirmed on the very same evening by the BCCI.

“My experience in the matter of coach selection was appalling. The less said the better,” Ganguly wrote.

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England praying for more aid for spinners in Test series after warm-up struggles

Sport360 staff 30/10/2018
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Moeen was the lone bright spark for England.

England found themselves in the unusual position of crossing their fingers for more subcontinental spin after their bowling attack struggled to make inroads on the first day of Test preparations in Sri Lanka.

With a week to go before the first Test, the tourists began the first of two warm-up matches by watching a strong Board XI rack up almost 400 runs on a defiantly unresponsive pitch in Colombo.

As acclimatisation work it undoubtedly did the trick, with 89.5 overs in energy-sapping humidity, 14 of their 16 fit players taking the field and eight turning their arm over.

Whether or not any of them advanced their own cause considerably is harder to say. Four from the home side made half-centuries, three of whom retired out, leaving a stumps score of 392 for nine which could easily have looked more concerning.

The surface gave little encouragement to the pacemen, who took two wickets in a combined 39 overs, and offered much less for the slow bowlers than is anticipated in Galle.

England have traditionally fared poorly on spinning tracks, but would rather take their chances than toil in vain on slow, low surfaces like this.

“It was a good batting wicket, there wasn’t a lot of spin,” said Moeen Ali, whose two for 64 represented England’s best return.

“Hopefully the wickets are a bit different in the Test matches. I hope they spin a lot more for everybody. This was quite slow, a dead sort of pitch. If you look at the previous Test matches here they’ve all been spinning big and probably not as flat as this wicket.

England's pacers ha a fruitless time with the ball.

England’s pacers had a fruitless time with the ball.

“It’s not a concern, they scored a bit more than we would like but the guys needed to get overs in their legs.”

Predictions over England’s likely XI for the series opener seemed trickier to make by the end of play than they had been beforehand.

Spinner Jack Leach was a surprising absentee but he, along with seamer Olly Stone, may have benefited from sitting out in unfriendly conditions. Stuart Broad, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes had the opposite fate.

They may find themselves vying for one shirt in the Test side but none stood out from the pack, Woakes the only wicket-taker of the three but also the most expensive. Moeen’s fellow spinner Adil Rashid, meanwhile, again looked less confident with red ball in hand after a highly-impressive limited-overs campaign.

The wicketkeeping issue, muddied somewhat by Jonny Bairstow’s ankle injury, also took a curious development as Jos Buttler, Ben Foakes and Ollie Pope each took a turn with the gloves.

“I think there are (places to play for) definitely,” said Moeen. “It’s the balance of the team – are we going to play three spinners? Two spinners? What seamers are going to play? Do you need pace or control?

“That’s for the coach and captain to decide.”

England will bat for a full day on Wednesday, regardless of wickets lost, with a chance to see a new-look top three of Rory Burns, Keaton Jennings and Joe Denly.

“We’re going to have to play well and I think we’ve got the players to do that,” added Moeen.

“I do think it’s a very good wicket but it’s more about guys spending time in the middle. You saw they had a couple of guys retire and maybe we’ll do the same.”

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Sahibzada Farhan gets another chance as Pakistan take on New Zealand in first T20

Waseem Ahmed 30/10/2018
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In the spotlight: Sahibzada Farhan.

Non-stop cricketing action continues for Pakistan as they prepare to take on New Zealand in the first of the three T20s scheduled between the two sides at Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s men come into the series on the back of a 3-0 clean sweep of Australia in the same format while the Black Caps are returning to action after a long hiatus.

As the two T20 heavyweights get ready to lock horns at Sheikh Zayed stadium, we look at the key talking points.

MEN IN GREEN ON A ROLL

Pakistan affirmed their T20 credentials in the one-sided series win over Aaron Finch’s Australia. The No1 ranked side in the format, Pakistan have won 10 consecutive T20 series in a row under Sarfraz’s captaincy.

The side is a delectable mix of the young and the old with a healthy representation of youngsters mixed with experienced performers in the form of Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz.

With confidence brimming in the side after their excellent run in the format, the ‘hosts’ will want to carry that momentum against the Black Caps who could be a little rusty after their unusual break from international cricket.

Pakistan are in unstoppable form at the moment.

Pakistan are in unstoppable form at the moment.

BLACK CAPS BACK IN ACTION AFTER SEVEN-MONTH WAIT

It has been some time now since New Zealand featured in an international match. The last time the Black Caps played an international match was in the final Test against England which culminated on April 2.

Since then, Pakistan pacer Mohammad Abbas has picked up 36 Tests wickets in clashes against Ireland, England and Australia while India skipper Virat Kohli has recorded six international tons (three in Tests and three in ODIs).

As such, some rustiness should be expected from Kane Williamson’s men but they will be eager to get back into things after warming their heels on the sidelines for more than half the year.

It has been a long wait for Williamson's men.

It has been a long wait for Williamson’s men.

ANOTHER CHANCE FOR YOUNG SAHIBZADA FARHAN

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed stated in his pre-match address to the media that he will field the same playing XI which featured in the final T20 against Australia on Wednesday at Abu Dhabi.

Explosive opener Fakhar Zaman remains sidelined with a knee injury and will miss out on Wednesday’s clash but his absence means that young Sahibzada Farhan gets another outing in Pakistan colours.

The 22-year-old batsman gave a good account of himself in the final T20 against Australia with a 38-ball 39 in what was just his second appearance in international cricket. With Fakhar expected to return for the remaining clashes, the right-hander will be eager to stamp his mark in Wednesday’s clash.

Another chance to impress for the youngster.

Another chance to impress for the youngster.

WHEN: Wednesday, October 31

WHERE: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

TIME: 20:00 GS

LIKELY XIs

PAKISTAN: Sahibzada Farhan, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan.

NEW ZEALAND: Kane Williamson (capt), Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Glenn Phillips (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Mark Seifert, Corey Anderson, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Lockie Ferguson.

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