Chance for Rishabh Pant to answer his critics as India look to seal T20 series against South Africa

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The spotlight is firmly on Rishabh Pant.

India will hope to wrap up their second successive T20 series clean sweep on the bounce when they face South Africa in the third and final T20I between the two sides at Bengaluru on Sunday.

The hosts hold a 1-0 lead in the three-match series following their thumping seven-wicket win in the second T20 at Mohali while the first clash at Dharamsala was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to rain.

For the Proteas, it will be a chance to bounce back and level the series before the two teams turn their attentions to the upcoming Test clashes.

Focus still on inconsistent Pant for India

Pant's erratic shot selection has been under the scanner.

Pant’s erratic shot selection has been under the scanner.

While India will be happy with the form they have shown since their World Cup semi-final exit, the pressure continues to grow on young Rishabh Pant after a spate of inconsistent displays. With veteran MS Dhoni out of the equation for now, Pant has been donning the gloves for India in all three formats. However, his returns with the bat, especially in white-ball cricket, have been disappointing to say the least.

Skipper Virat Kohli, coach Ravi Shastri and batting coach Vikram Rathour have all urged Pant to buck up his game in recent days and the youngster will have to heed that warning quickly with other wicketkeeepers also waiting in the fray.

“I have already said that post World Cup we have been concentrating on the progress of Rishabh. We need to be patient with him, considering the immense talent that he possesses,” chief selector MSK Prasad told the Indian Express on his part.

“We are monitoring the workload of Rishabh. Of course, we have been grooming backups across all formats. We have the young K.S. Bharath doing well in the longer format for India ‘A’. We also have Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson doing well in the shorter formats for India ‘A’ and domestic cricket.”

Pant’s talent has never been in question but the 21-year-old will need to walk a fine line between fearless and careless cricket if he is to keep his place behind the stumps.

New look Proteas look for inspiration

Familiar surroundings at Bengaluru for Shamsi.

Familiar surroundings at Bengaluru for Shamsi.

It is very much a new look South Africa T20 squad in India after a disappointing World Cup campaign which also proved to be the international swansong for several stalwarts. The likes of Hashim Amla, Imran Tahir and JP Duminy have brought the curtains down on their Proteas career and the onus is now very much on the next generation to step up.

Stand-in skipper Quinton de Kock will want to extract the maximum out of the current options at his disposal which includes leg-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. The 29-year-old has been handed the spin responsibilities in the wake of Tahir’s retirement and he is taking confidence from his IPL stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore ahead of the clash at the Chinnasway stadium.

“Definitely, it helps when you are around speaking to world-class players like Virat, Gayle and Shane Watson,” Shamsi told the Indian Express ahead of the game.

“The world of cricket is shrinking in the sense that everyone is ready to share knowledge.

“You will find senior South African fast bowlers imparting knowledge to Indian fast bowlers and vice-versa. Being familiar with surroundings while playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore will certainly help.”

Shamsi’s confidence was echoed by batsman Temba Bavuma who feels India are very much a beatable side.

“They (India) are a formidable team but I don’t think they are an unbeatable side,” said Bavuma.

LIKELY XIs

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini.

South Africa: Reeza Hendricks, Quinton de Kock (c and wk), Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Bjorn Fortuin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi.

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Ashley Giles leaves door open for Moeen Ali to make his England Test return

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Moeen Ali (l) was dropped after the first Ashes Test.

Ashley Giles has left the door open for Moeen Ali to return to the England Test team despite the all-rounder asking for a break from red-ball cricket.

The 32-year-old was dropped after the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston following a poor display and has only been handed a central contract in white-ball cricket.

Giles, managing director of the England men’s team, believes some time away could be exactly what Moeen needs to rediscover his best form in the longer format of the game.

“Moeen has actually asked me if he could just take a step back from red-ball cricket, which is fine. He’s not retiring, but he just wants a little bit of a break from Test cricket,” Giles said.

“I think for all the guys, not just Moeen, it’s been a really challenging summer. A World Cup, and Ashes back-to-back has had a massive effect on many of these guys psychologically as much as physically.

“Some of those guys are still carrying that and part of that will be Moeen. His experience in the first Test wasn’t a great one, but that’s cricket.

“He has been a great servant to this team and that’s why I encouraged him to leave that option open to come back. He might just need to go away and freshen up.”

Moeen will not feature for England in the two-Test series in New Zealand later this year and it is a similar story for Adil Rashid – another to lose his central Test contract.

Giles added: “I think Rash has got some stuff to think about as well and with him, some of that is physical. He’s had this ongoing shoulder issue.

“Test cricket is much more demanding and I think that will be on his mind, but for now, he’s available across all formats until he tells me otherwise.”

The former England spinner continued: “If we started the summer and you’d offered us a World Cup win and a drawn Ashes series, we probably would have taken it.

“We’re greedy. We always want to win the Ashes, but the short gap between World Cup and Ashes was also a bit of a strange one for some of them coming out of such an emotional high and something that mentally drained them so much.”

Given the amount of cricket played this summer, England are set to rest a number of key players for the five Twenty20s in New Zealand.

Test captain Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler could all miss out, although Giles refused to confirm which players would get some time off.

Giles added: “I’m not going to name names, but we need to look after these guys. We are in a Twenty20 World Cup cycle.

“Most of these guys going to play in the Indian Premier League and (New Zealand) is a chance for us to look at some of the young guns who have had success in the T20 Blast and some of the franchise tournaments.”

Quizzed on the workload of England’s players and whether they should play in the IPL, Giles pointed out the competition played a part in the World Cup win, but insisted the main focus will be on representing their country.

“The IPL’s here to stay and it’s going to be very difficult for us to stop players going there without risking losing them, so we’ve got to accept that,” he said.

“But then we have to manage our players outside that. I know they are England players and essentially contracted, but that window is left open for them for a reason.

“I think they also have to be reasonable in accepting we’re making space for them and their main duty is to represent England.”

Surrey seamer Liam Plunkett, who has enjoyed a long international career, missed out on a while-ball contract, with England looking to the future.

“Disappointed is an understatement,” Plunkett said on Twitter.

“In terms of numbers, I guess his paces have been down a little bit for some time,” Giles admitted. “But it’s also looking at those younger guys like (Sam) Curran, who is someone who is probably chasing a few of these guys.

“It’s just unlucky. I think it’s time and it’s difficult to be the person who puts that pen through the name.”

Provided by Press Association Sports

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Recalls for Abid Ali and Usman Shinwari as Pakistan name ODI squad for Sri Lanka clashes

Waseem Ahmed 21/09/2019
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An ODI recall for pacer Usman Shinwari.

Pakistan chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq has named a 16-man squad led by skipper Sarfraz Ahmed for the upcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka.

Abid Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Usman Shinwari, Mohammad Nawaz and Mohammad Rizwan were handed recalls to the side even as pacers Hasan Ali and Shaheen Afridi missed out due to injury troubles.

Hasan Ali is reportedly suffering from a back spasm and the right-armed pacer will undergo rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore.

“After thorough discussions with the members of the selection committee and meticulous planning, I feel we have put together the best possible squad,” Misbah said in a statement.

“These are the only 50-over matches we play this season and we want to make their optimum use. Over the course of my cricketing career, I have realised there are no easy games and there are no easy opponents in cricket.

“But, a season-opening series is crucial for setting the tone. It is extremely important that we produce solid performances and have favourable results as it will build the confidence of our players and help in carrying the momentum Down Under.”

It will be the first assignment for Misbah since taking over as the coach and selector of the Pakistan in the aftermath of the 2019 World Cup in England. The former Pakistan skipper has justified the ODI recalls handed out to five players including Iftikhar Ahmed.

“The five boys, who have been recalled, were straightforward selections. Iftikhar Ahmed is a batsman who can also bowl off-spin and provides the captain with necessary bowling depth as Sri Lanka boasts a few left-handers in their ranks,” he said.

“Mohammad Nawaz has been performing well in domestic matches. Despite their strong performances, Moahmmad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari and Abid Ali were unlucky to miss out the World Cup squad.

“This is, however, a perfect opportunity for these players to prove their mettle in international cricket and cement their place in the one-day side.”

Pakistan are slated to play three ODIs and as many T20Is against Sri Lanka with the squad for the latter set to be announced in due time. The ODI-leg will be held in Karachi with the first of the three clashes set to take place on September 27.

PAKISTAN 16-MAN ODI SQUAD

Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Babar Azam (vice-captain), Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz.

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