Ricky Ponting adamant that Australia can be major contenders for 2019 World Cup

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Ponting is bullish about Australia's chances in the World Cup.

Having been appointed as the assistant coach to Justin Langer in the lead up to the 2019 ICC World Cup in England, Ricky Ponting believes Australia will be serious contenders for the global showpiece.

Australia’s failing fortunes in the ODI format have been all too evident with the side struggling in the absence of the banned Steve Smith and David Warner. Since Langer took over the coaching mantle from Darren Lehmann, the Aussies have tasted ODI series defeats against England, South Africa and India with the latter two coming on home soil.

Despite their freefall of late in the format, Ponting is confident that Australia have the tools to lift the World Cup a record sixth time.

“Absolutely (think Australia can win the World Cup). India and England are probably the two standout teams right now, but if you add David Warner and Steve Smith back into that line-up then I think that team looks as strong as any,” Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

Ponting is banking on the return of Warner and Smith to bolster Australia.

Ponting is banking on the return of Warner and Smith to bolster Australia.

“I am not just saying that because I am one of the coaches, I actually said it when I wasn’t around the group.

“Conditions in England will suit our style of play … I think Australia will be the one of the main contenders for sure.”

The Aussies have managed only four victories in their last 26 ODI appearances but Ponting remains confident that the team can turn it around by the time the World Cup gets underway at the end of March.

“I actually think Australian cricket’s quite strong. Once we get Warner, Smith and Bancroft and those guys back into the fray, even looking ahead to the World Cup, I don’t think there’ll be too many better teams on paper going into the World Cup, and I’ve said that for a long time,” the Aussie icon explained.

The one-year bans handed to Smith and Warner come to an end on March 29. Australia are slated to take on Pakistan in a five-match ODI series in the UAE beginning on March 22 and it remains to be seen if the banned duo is included in the squad for those clashes.

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Five-match ODI series between Pakistan and Australia to be held in the UAE

Waseem Ahmed 10/02/2019
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The two teams will clash towards the end of March in the UAE.

Australia will play Pakistan in the UAE after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced the schedule of the five-match ODI series on Sunday.

The PCB had held on to a brief glimmer of hope of Australia touring Pakistan for the first time in 20 years after positive initial discussions between the two cricketing boards.

However, that much anticipated tour will now have to wait longer with all the five clashes scheduled to take place in the UAE. The five-match ODI series will get underway at Sharjah on March 22 before drawing to a close at Dubai on March 31.

The timing of the series also throws up the interesting possibility of a potential Australia return for the banned duo of Steve Smith and David Warner.

The one-year bans handed out to the two players for their roles in the ball-tampering saga comes to an end on March 29. It is also the date of the fourth ODI between the two sides and it now remains to be seen if the pair is called up to the Australia squad for the final two ODIs.

“The PCB was optimistic that it will be able to convince Cricket Australia to send its side for some matches after successfully staging high-profile bilateral international series and the HBL Pakistan Super League matches in the past 18 months,” PCB international cricket director Zakir Khan said in a statement.

“But, we are disappointed for the enthusiastic and passionate cricket fans in Pakistan who will now have to wait for some more time before they can see the Australia cricket team live in action for the first time since 1998.

“However, the CA has confirmed that they will send their security expert to oversee the execution of security plans for the HBL PSL 2019 matches and bilateral series against other international sides in Pakistan, and will also speak with the ICC-recommended PCB security consultant. In the meantime, the CA have confirmed they will maintain regular contact with the ICC.”

All five ODI encounters between Pakistan and Australia will be day/night clashes.

PAKISTAN V AUSTRALIA ODI FIXTURES

March 22 – First ODI, Sharjah

March 24 – Second ODI, Sharjah

March 27 – Third ODI, Abu Dhabi

March 29 – Fourth ODI, Dubai

March 31 – Fifth ODI, Dubai

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India T20 player ratings against New Zealand as Khaleel Ahmed is big disappointment

Ashish Peter 10/02/2019
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A series to forget for young Khaleel Ahmed.

It was turning out to be the perfect tour of the southern hemisphere for India but Sunday brought their first series defeat as New Zealand won the T20 decider by four runs.

The narrow win at Hamilton helped the hosts clinch the three-match T20 series by 2-1 with India tasting only their first series defeat in the combined tours of Australia and New Zealand.

At the end of a hard-fought T20 series, we rate how India’s players fared across the three clashes.

Rohit Sharma – 6

Not the best of series for the stand-in India skipper, who has been in some terrific form of late. His 50 in the second T20 helped India level matters but the two other knocks were below-par.

Shikhar Dhawan – 5

Like Rohit, Dhawan has been exceptional for India in limited-overs cricket but he failed to bring his best in the series before falling cheaply in the decider.

Vijay Shankar – 7

Questions were raised over Shankar’s spot in the team but he answered them with a couple of exciting knocks with the bat to show that he has a future.

Rishabh Pant – 7

The youngster was dismissed cheaply in the series opener but he showed his class with an unbeaten 40 to help India cross the finish line in the second T20. Played an excellent cameo in the decider.

Pant played a couple of blinders with the bat.

Pant played a couple of blinders with the bat.

MS Dhoni – 6

The veteran did his best as others around him struggled in the opening T20 but he failed to stand up when it really mattered in the decider. His glovework behind the stumps remains top-notch as ever though.

Dinesh Karthik – 6

Karthik was one of the many Indian batsmen to fail in the series opener but he almost dug out an improbable victory for India with a 16-ball 33 in the decider.

Hardik Pandya – 6

The all-rounder’s return to international cricket was a welcome one for India and he brings terrific balance to the side. Didn’t get many opportunities with the bat but was very expensive with the ball at times despite chipping in with wickets.

Krunal Pandya – 7

One of the biggest positives for India’s series loss was the emergence of Krunal Pandya who showed he can be an excellent all-round option in the limited-overs formats. Was very expensive with the ball in the decider but played a blinder with the bat.

Krunal has given India another all-round option.

Krunal has given India another all-round option.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar – 6

The senior India pacer started the series off on a poor note by conceding 47 runs in the opener but grew better as the matches progressed although he failed to hit his usual heights.

Yuzvendra Chahal – 6

The leg-spinner was decent without being outstanding in his two appearances before he was replaced by Kuldeep Yadav in the deciding T20.

Khaleel Ahmed – 4

The young left-arm pacer was a huge disappointment in the series despite his composed performance in the second T20. Was taken for plenty of runs in the first and third T20s and his place in the limited-overs setup could be under threat after those performances.

Kuldeep Yadav – 8

The prolific wrist-spinner was bafflingly kept away from the playing XI at Wellington and Auckland. He was brought in for the decider and immediately showed his class with figures of 2-26 while the rest of India’s bowlers were carted all around the park.

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