Misbah-ul-Haq doubles down on need to experiment as Pakistan search for consolation win against Sri Lanka

Waseem Ahmed 8/10/2019
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Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq.

Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has advocated patience despite the team’s experimentations in the ongoing T20I series against Sri Lanka failing to bear fruit.

Pakistan handed recalls to Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad for the clashes against the Lankans but both the batsmen have flopped in the two defeats in Lahore which have resulted in a third consecutive T20I series loss for the No1 ranked Men in Green.

Shehzad has been able to muster just 17 runs in his two innings so far, Akmal has been even worse with two consecutive golden ducks to his name. While the two have failed to deliver the required results on their comebacks, the Pakistan head coach has bemoaned the lack of other batsmen putting their hands up in the country’s domestic T20 circuit.

“Both these players have performed well wherever they’ve played in the last one year. Ahmed’s performance in Pakistan Super League was remarkable enough for a chance, while Umar, whichever format he played, was among the good ones,” Misbah was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo after his side’s 35-run loss on Monday.

“It’s unfortunate that in our circuit, there is no other batsman in T20s who had performed better than them. Players who have performed in domestic surely deserve a chance, and that’s why we offered them (a comeback).”

Many have questioned Misbah’s decision to ring in the changes for a squad which has already established itself as the top T20I outfit in the world, but the former skipper remains convinced that experimentation is the way forward in the run up to next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.

Second golden duck in a row for Umar Akmal.

A second golden duck in a row for Umar Akmal.

“There are a lot of reasons for this experimentation. Yes, we are the No1 team in the world but mostly our strength has been standing on Babar Azam scoring runs and with him not scoring in two games, we are exposed badly,” Misbah explained.

“We need to find out six or more match-winners, we need to have more dependable batsmen, we need powerhouses in the top and middle, and in bowling we need to take wickets upfront and in the death overs and we need to have good finishers.

“But we failed overall, we are struggling in every department, and it’s a big eye-opener for us. We didn’t play to our strengths and couldn’t deliver. We are looking for more batsmen rather than just relying on one or two.”

Pakistan entered 2019 on the back of 11 straight series wins in the 20-over format but Sarfraz Ahmed and his men have come unstuck with just one victory to show for in the current year, while the losses’ column has swelled to five.

The hosts have been comprehensively outplayed in both T20Is so far by a relatively inexperienced Sri Lanka squad missing key names such as skipper Lasith Malinga, Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis.

In their absence, unheralded names such as Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Shehan Jayasuriya and the recalled Danushka Gunathilaka have set the stage on fire with some explosive displays.

On Monday, it was Rajapaksa’s moment to turn hero with the left-hander smashing his way to 48-ball 77 that helped the visitors rack up a daunting 182-6 after batting first. That splendid effort was backed up by an electric display with the ball by leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga who claimed three top-order wickets in the space of four deliveries to derail Pakistan’s chase.

Hasaranga was Sri Lanka's star with the ball in the second T20I.

Hasaranga was Sri Lanka’s star with the ball in the second T20I.

Praising the youngsters for playing fearless cricket on the big stage, stand-in skipper Dasun Shanaka has called on the Sri Lankan selectors to give them more chances after the completion of the Pakistan tour.

“We played quality cricket and that’s why we won,” Shanaka stated after Monday’s win.

“Rajapaksa played a masterclass innings. These youngsters should get a good chance after the series and I am sure selectors will look at it.”

While the visitors are currently bouncing with confidence, the wounded hosts will hope to provide the home fans in Lahore with a consolation win when the two sides take the field for the final T02I on Wednesday.

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Test batting collapses and other issues new England coach Chris Silverwood must address

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Chris Silverwood has a big job on his hands.

Chris Silverwood was described as “the standout candidate” after succeeding Trevor Bayliss as England head coach.

While Bayliss fulfilled his remit by helping England lift the World Cup for the first time, there is no escaping the conclusion that the Test side stagnated on his watch.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the issues facing Silverwood over the next few months as he takes the reins of an international side for the first time.

Spotlight back on Tests

England skipper Joe Root.

England skipper Joe Root.

Following a four-year cycle in which the limited-overs formats were prioritised because of a World Cup on home soil, England’s failure to regain the Ashes has led to a promise of a policy shift back towards Test cricket. Australia leaving these shores with the urn in tow for the first time since 2001 highlighted some glaring issues facing the side and winning them back in 2021-22 is high on the agenda.

Having served as bowling coach for the last two years, Silverwood should have a few ideas on how to improve matters. Top of his to do list should be identifying a clear strategy alongside Root to take the side forward.

Blood new faces in New Zealand

Banton is primed to make the jump to international cricket.

Banton is primed to make the jump to international cricket.

Silverwood’s first assignment takes him to New Zealand for five Twenty20 internationals and two Tests, where there are a host of new faces in both squads. With the T20 World Cup a year away, it seems an ideal opportunity to test the likes of Pat Brown and Tom Banton, both of whom have impressed in the Vitality Blast this year.

The Test series, meanwhile, does not count towards the World Test Championship so there is no need to take a risk with senior players who may still be feeling the effects of a punishing summer, which could present opportunities for Dom Sibley, Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Parkinson.

Batting concerns

West Indies v England - 3rd Test: Day One

Since Silverwood joined Bayliss’ backroom team, England have been bowled out for less than 100 four times while under the Australian’s four-year tenure, they lost all 10 wickets in a session on four occasions, having never done so between 1938 and 2016.

There were signs towards the end of the summer that England are ready to adopt a more sensible approach to their batting but a settled top three – in which ballast is preferred ahead of all-out aggression – would likely expedite proceedings.

Don’t forget about the white ball

morgan

Eoin Morgan’s unprecedented success as limited-overs captain means there should be no need for a dramatic upheaval while he remains at the helm. However, with T20 World Cups in 2020 and 2021, Silverwood cannot be entirely focused on England’s red-ball fortunes.

It was therefore heartening to hear Ashley Giles, England and Wales Cricket Board managing director, speak of Silverwood’s “detailed thoughts on what it will take to win the Ashes in Australia and win major ICC white-ball tournaments”.

Balancing workloads

Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes

Following their visit to New Zealand, England head straight to South Africa for four Tests, three one-day internationals and three T20s, followed by a two-Test stop-off in Sri Lanka. It is an arduous winter schedule after an unrelenting summer – in which the likes of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Root and many others barely had time to bask in their World Cup triumph before the Ashes – and leaves a number of core players at risk of burnout.

If Silverwood is to get the best out of his troops, their workloads must be closely monitored.

Provided by Press Association Sports 

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Steve Smith back in the T20I fold as Australia name squad for Sri Lanka, Pakistan clashes

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Steve Smith returns to Australia's T20I squad.

Australia have dropped all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and opener D’Arcy Short in the 14-man T20I squad announced on Tuesday for the upcoming home clashes against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The Australian selectors rang in the changes in the squad led by skipper Aaron Finch with wicketkeeper batsman Ben McDermott and pacer Billy Stanlake making their international comebacks.

Australia’s Ashes hero Steve Smith could play his first T20I in more than three years after being named in the squad while there was no place for hard-hitting batsman Chris Lynn. The two three-match series against the subcontinent teams will kick-start Australia’s preparation for the 2020 T20 World Cup to be held on home soil in just over a year.

“It is almost a year to the day until Australia hosts the men’s Twenty20 World Cup and we have selected this squad with that in mind,” Australia national selector Trevor Hohns was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

“We have looked to put a squad together that we think can take us through to that tournament.

“The squad we have selected is quite role specific and we believe it gives us the flexibility to thrive in all match conditions.”

Ashes 2019 leading wicket-taker Pat Cummins has been named as the vice-captain of the squad alongside wicketkeeper Alex Carey and he will be joined by Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Stanlake and Andrew Tye in the fast-bowling department.

“Mitchell Starc gives us a left-arm option and has earned a reputation as one of the world’s leading quicks at the top of the innings and at the death,” said Hohns.

“Pat Cummins is a world-class right-arm option and has been in superb form of late. Andrew Tye is a wicket-taking proposition, Billy Stanlake has the X-factor and Kane Richardson has been an excellent short-form player for some time now.”

Justin Langer’s men will first welcome Sri Lanka for a three-match series beginning at Adelaide on October 27 before they take on Pakistan in as many clashes from November 3.

Australia 14-man T20I squad

Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott (wk), Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

Australia v Sri Lanka Fixtures

First T20I: Adelaide, October 27

Second T20I: Brisbane, October 30

Third T20I: Melbourne, November 1

Australia v Pakistan Fixtures

First T20I: Sydney, November 3

Second T20I: Canberra, November 5

Third T20I: Perth, November 8

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