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Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler
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IPL 2020: Absence Of Fans Is A Blessing In Disguise – Jos Buttler

Jos Buttler, Rajasthan Royals wicket-keeper batsman feels that the absence of fans in this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic scare might turn out to be a blessing in disguise of sorts for youngsters.

Jos Buttler is of the opinion that youngsters who are bowlers facing the likes of Virat Kohli or MS Dhoni won’t get too intimidated or come under pressure by the occasion due to the lack of cheering from the stands inside the stadiums in the United Arab Emirates.

Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)

Jos Buttler: Youngsters Playing Against MS Dhoni Or Virat Kohli Might Lose Some Fear Factor As Crowd Is Not There

Virat Kohli of RCB is the leading run-scorer in IPL whereas MS Dhoni is the most capped player in IPL. Jos Buttler felt that bowlers of opponent franchises will be less feared when they bowl against the duo due to no noise and cheering from the crowd.

MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli
MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli Photo Credit: BCCI/IPL.

“I also wonder if over time, pressure will be a little bit different. I think Dhoni or a Kohli, when they stride to wicket, the crowd is usually going crazy. Obviously, that doesn’t happen behind closed doors.

“Maybe that might help some of the younger guys who are playing against them as they might lose some of the fear factor as the crowd aren’t on their back,” Jos Buttler told the podcast’‘The Analyst inside cricket.

The IPL governing council might just consider allowing limited-number of fans in the stadium to watch the matches in the second half of the tournament if the coronavirus situation improves, a decision which might bring back some emotion in the game which has reduced somewhat due to the lack of noise from the stands, according to Jos Buttler.

“There is probably less emotion in the game. It’s different. It’s not that you lose intensity with the cricket but with crowd, especially in IPL, creates a buzz and every ball is a massive moment. You lose that reaction, almost.

“Cricket is the same but you lose that reaction to an amazing shot or a wicket or when the ball goes into the outfield that creates a massive amount of volume in IPL. That’s a difference,” Buttler said.

Jos Buttler is of the opinion that youngsters facing the likes of RCB skipper Virat Kohli or CSK skipper MS Dhoni won’t get too intimidated this season due to the absence of fans in IPL 2020.

The 30-year-old also revealed that the buzz around the stadium in Sharjah is a lot more than Dubai.

“Sharjah seemed to have more noise around the ground than Dubai. Dubai was a lot quieter,” Buttler said before going on to explain how he utilizes his time on non-match days. “All training are late in evening.

“You just lie in bed till 10 as opposed to getting up early. I try do some physical training of some sorts, go to gym. My wife is here, so doing a lot of Pilates which is good for me.”

Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler. Photo Credit: IPL/BCCI.

“And then on match day, similar times you wake up, do some mobility exercise like pilates, have a team meal and head to ground in evening. You try to prepare your body to play in evening. It’s a long time doing nothing,” Buttler said.

IPL 2020 was supposed to be played from 29th of March but was shifted out of India due to rising cases of coronavirus pandemic.

MS Dhoni cricket academy

Watch: MS Dhoni Inaugurates His Global Cricket Academy In Dubai

Former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, on Saturday (November 11), inaugurated first his global cricket academy in Dubai, United Arabia Emirates. Dhoni opened the academy in the presence of trainees, parents and other key stakeholders of the facility.

The academy has been jointly launched by Dubai-based Pacific Sports Club and Aarka Sports Club and has been in operation for the last two months at the Springdales School in Al Quoz.

The academy named the MS Dhoni Cricket Academy (MSDCA) will provide the budding cricketers with the best of coaching facilities and will have coaches from India. The academy, which is located in one of the most sought-after cities in the world, consists of four turfs, three cement and three matted pitches, spin and swing bowling machine, safety nets, lights for night practice, in-house sports shop for quality cricket gear and video analysis.

Watch: MS Dhoni Inaugurates His Global Cricket Academy In Dubai 1
Credits: Twitter

According to Press Trust of India, the academy will conduct regular matches and will also field squads in tournaments to help the trainees get the much-needed match experience.

Expressing his delight over opening the academy, Dhoni said:

“I am delighted to be a part of this venture and will contribute in every way possible to make it a success. It has been my dream to contribute to the game in every way possible. This is the first step in that direction. The enthusiasm of the trainees is what will drive this venture.”

Dhoni finds much-needed support from the team:

Meanwhile, the under-pressure World Cup-winning skipper has been backed by his teammates and coach Ravi Shastri. Dhoni is facing the heat for his knock in the second T20I against New Zealand, but the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and skipper Virat Kohli have made it clear that the 36-year old has the backing of the team.

Watch: MS Dhoni Inaugurates His Global Cricket Academy In Dubai 2
Kohli has come out in Dhoni’s support (Credits: BCCI)

Recently, Shastri had also slammed Dhoni’s critics, telling Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika: 

“Looks like there are a lot of jealous people around, who just want Dhoni to have a couple of bad days. There are a few people who are waiting to see the end of MS Dhoni. But great players like him decide their own future.

“It [criticism] doesn’t make a difference to me. In our mind we know where Dhoni stands within the team. He is an ultimate team man. He was a great leader and now an ultimate team man,” he added.

Video of the day:

PAK vs SL 2017, 1st ODI: Batsmen Should have Converted their Starts – Upul Tharanga

Things seem to have returned to square one for Sri Lanka after their historic whitewash over Pakistan in the Test series.

Having been drubbed by India 0-5 at home recently, Sri Lanka’s woes in ODI’s continued, as the side got crushed in the opening game of the series in Dubai. Chasing a challenging 293 to win the game, Sri Lanka gave up once their top order was sent back and apart from Niroshan Dickwella and Lahiru Thirimanne, none of the batsmen seemed to be up for the task. For skipper Upul Tharanga, it was a matter of grave concern, as he didn’t just fail to motivate his side, but personally too endured another disastrous outing.

 

PAK vs SL 2017, 1st ODI: Batsmen Should have Converted their Starts - Upul Tharanga 3
during the first One Day International match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Dubai International Stadium on October 13, 2017, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Sri Lanka began the game quite well, however, as Lahiru Gamage sent back Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad for a duck to have the hosts in a spot of bother.

However, once the dynamic Fakhar Zaman got in, it was difficult to see his back, but that too happened soon. As Zaman got dismissed for 43, Sri Lanka should have capitalised on that, but it turned out to be another opportunity gone begging. Mohammad Hafeez and Babar Azam got together, and later it was the destruction of Shoaib Malik which decimated Sri Lanka.

PAK vs SL 2017, 1st ODI: Batsmen Should have Converted their Starts - Upul Tharanga 4
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 13: Shoaib Malik of Pakistan bats during the first One Day International match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Dubai International Stadium on October 13, 2017, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

For the visitors, Niroshan Dickwella began positively, hitting three boundaries before being dismissed for 19. The famed likes of Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis went early, and the middle-order failure pretty much ended all hopes for the chase. Southpaw Lahiru Thirimanne though resisted for a major portion with a fighting half-century.

PAK vs SL 2017, 1st ODI: Batsmen Should have Converted their Starts - Upul Tharanga 5
during the first One Day International match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Dubai International Stadium on October 13, 2017, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

However, against a superb bowling lineup like Pakistan, the target was far from an easy one, as Rumman Raees and Hasan Ali, sharing six wickets between them, derailed the chase. Post the loss, Sri Lankan skipper Upul Tharanga admitted his team should have performed far better, and the batsmen should have converted their starts.

“I think we lost wickets cheaply, Pakistan batted really well. We tried to restrict them under 240, but we gave away too many in the last few overs. In the last few series, we haven’t batted to our potential. We need to convert our starts,” said Tharanga.

PAK vs SL 2017: Sarfraz Ahmed Hopeful of Continuing Champions Trophy Momentum in ODI’s

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed is hopeful that a change in format will turn the fortunes of his team in the upcoming five-match One-Day International series against Sri Lanka.

Pakistan’s unbeaten run at the UAE since they shifted base there in 2009 following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, came to an end earlier this week when they lost the two-Test series against the Islanders 2-0.

Batting failures were the prime reasons for the whitewash, as the hosts failed to chase down 135 in the first Test in Abu Dhabi before losing the second game in Dubai by 68 runs while chasing 317.

PAK vs SL 2017: Sarfraz Ahmed Hopeful of Continuing Champions Trophy Momentum in ODI's 6
Pakistan lost the Test series 2-0 (Credits: Getty)

But Sarfraz is hopeful that his team will continue the momentum that helped it win the Champions Trophy against all the odds in England. Pakistan was the lowest ranked team in the eight-team tournament, but had gone on to defeat the likes of South Africa, England before thrashing India in the final to lift their maiden Champions Trophy.

“This is our first match after the Champions Trophy. Hopefully, we will keep the same momentum and play like what we played in England,” Sarfraz told journalists ahead of the first ODI.

PAK vs SL 2017: Sarfraz Ahmed Hopeful of Continuing Champions Trophy Momentum in ODI's 7
Sarfraz led Pakistan to the Champions Trophy title against all odds

The Pakistan skipper further said his team has left behind the setback in the Test series and is looking to start afresh with some new players joining the team.

“We hope to do well. We have moved forward after forgetting what happened in Tests. We have some new players in the squad and hope they will give good performances,” he said.

He also rued the absence of pace spearhead of Mohammad Amir. The left-arm pacer, who had rocked India’s top-order in the Champions Trophy final, was a part of the Test series but was ruled out midway through the second game due to a shin injury. Sarfraz, however, is convinced that the other pacers will do the job for the team.

PAK vs SL 2017: Sarfraz Ahmed Hopeful of Continuing Champions Trophy Momentum in ODI's 8
Amir has been ruled out with shin injury (Credits: AFP)

“Unfortunately we don’t have Amir, and it’s a big loss. But we have a good bowling attack with Usman Khan, Rumman Raees along with Junaid Khan,” he said.

PAK vs SL 2017: Series Win Against Pakistan Will Help Us to Bring The Fans Back – Dimuth Karunaratne

Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne’s performance this year has been very much different to that of his team.

While Sri Lanka, barring the recent series win over Pakistan, has struggled to put up a good performance in Tests, Karunaratne has gone from strength to strength as the year passes, and is now the third-highest run-scorer in Tests this year.

With 940 runs in ten games in 2017, the left-handed batsman trails South Africa’s Hashim Amla by just a couple of runs and will have a chance to leave him behind when his team travels to India for a three-Test series later this year. He starred with the bat in the recently-concluded series against Pakistan, finishing the series as its top run-scorer with 306 runs in two games.

Now that he is looking at ease in international cricket, the southpaw has credited batting coach Hashan Tillakaratne and former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara who helped him to sort some issues with his technique.

“I had a few issues with the new ball. My head was falling over. I had that issue from the time I was playing for the school. I have worked on that area and rectified the errors. But in the last Indian series, I got out to Umesh Yadav in that fashion again. Had a chat with our Batting Coach Hashan Tillakaratne he sorted a few things out,” he told Cricbuzz.

“I also had a chat with Sanga (Kumar Sangakkara). Asked him how he played the in-swinger so well, an area where I had issues with. What he identified was that, as I was tapping the bat, the head went down and the eyes weren’t positioned properly. You may have noticed that now, at the start of my innings, I try to stay upright rather than tapping the bat. I watched some of Sanga’s videos too in county cricket. He plays so well to the ball that comes in,” he added.

Karunaratne further spoke on his goals before expressing his delight over the series win over Pakistan. Before the recently-concluded series, Sri Lanka had endured a terrible time in Tests, being whitewashed by India and South Africa in addition to losing a Test against Bangladesh for the first time.

However, the Islanders did remarkably well in the UAE and went on to win both the games.

“If I can finish between 20 to 25 Test hundreds at the end of my career, I will be pleased. This series win is very pleasing. It’s my second Player of the Series award. This has been a tough few months for the team, and we felt that the fans were moving away from us. The series win will help us to bring them back,” he said.

He further admitted he was disappointed after missing his maiden double hundred in Tests by just four runs. He was out for 196 in the second Test in Dubai.

“Very disappointed missing the double,” he said. “The last Sri Lankan to score a double was Sanga in Wellington in 2015. I knew it was Wahab’s last over of the spell. I wanted the strike back to face the leg-spinner so that I could protect Dilruwan Perera. I knew I could score off Yasir Shah. Didn’t think that he was going to cut the ball in.

“Nevertheless I am glad to score a hundred in the first pink ball Test. In a way, it’s good that I missed the double. That will make me lot more hungrier,” Karunaratne added.

Photo Credit: AFP.

PAK vs SL 2017: No Margin of Error for Pakistan Pace Battery – Abdul Razzaq

Pakistan former all-rounder Abdul Razzaq believes Pakistan has to bear the brunt of overusing injured Mohammad Amir, who got eventually ruled out of the upcoming five-match One-Day International series against Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The 25-year-old Amir limped off the ground during the second day of the ongoing second and final Test in Dubai, before the MRI scan revealed the stress-related issue in his right shin, according to the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) press release.

“Amir has been bowling in all three formats since he came back. His injury surely has something to do with him being overused,” Razzaq was quoted as saying by Express Tribune.

The injury-hit Pakistan further left skipper Sarfraz Ahmed in a dilemma with a pace spearhead down while nursing the injury which he picked while bowling on the very first day of the Dubai Test. Before limping of Amir sent down just three overs, as he held his leg while writhing in pain.

With Amir being advised to rest for at least three weeks, Razzaq believes it might take a toll on other fast bowlers during the ongoing Test in which Pakistan is struggling.

“This really puts added pressure on the other three pacers since now there is almost no margin of error,” Razzaq maintained.

The Punjab-born bowler since making the return to top-flight cricket in national fold against New Zealand in January 2016 featured in domestic fixtures which included an English County season in the United Kingdom.

However, Amir, who picked a solitary wicket in three innings, seemed to have lost the fizz in him which further saw him struggling in the ongoing series even after giving his cent percent with the red-ball in recently concluded Abu Dhabi Test.

PAK vs SL 2017: No Margin of Error for Pakistan Pace Battery - Abdul Razzaq 9
Mohammad Amir was featuring in the day-night Test in Dubai. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

(Read Also: Pakistan are Unpredictable, and You Expect the Unexpected From Them, Says Rumesh Ratnayake)

The prominent figure with the ball, Amir, will be replaced by left-arm 23-year-old Usman Shinwari in the 50-over format, who has had donned Pakistan colours while featuring in four Twenty20 internationals with just a wicket to his name.

“He has a lot of potential and he is passionate about the game. [After injury] he has worked hard on his bowling and is once again a very good bowler,” Razzaq added.

Razzaq, who himself represented Pakistan in 265 ODIs, 46 Tests and 32 T20Is urged the Champion Trophy hero Hasan Ali to shoulder the responsibility after Amir’s untimely exit left a void in the set-up as of now.

“Hasan [Ali] will have the most expectations on him to fill the gap left behind by Amir, but Rumman [Raees and Junaid also have impressive ODI stats,” Razzaq concluded.

Amir has so far represented in 36 ODIs, 31 T20Is and 30 Tests for Pakistan. He has bagged 184 wickets across formats.

PAK vs SL 2017, 2nd Test: Chasing 300 is Possible on this Track – Azhar Ali

With the ongoing second Test left evenly poised after Sri Lanka’s spectacular collapse in the second innings, Pakistan opener Azhar Ali has insisted his team can chase down 300 on the Dubai pitch.

Down 1-0 in the two-Test series, Pakistan was staring down the barrel after conceding 220 runs lead in the first innings. However, a fiery spell from left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz has left the game wide open. Wahab took 3 for ten while Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah took a wicket each, as Sri Lanka finished the third day on 34 for five with their overall lead extended to 254.

“We were left with 15 overs to have a crack at them, and we thought it was a good opportunity. They had got a big lead, but then third innings is important. It has given us a bit of hope. We thought that we would be left with a big target to chase, but this session has given us a little bit of hope. Hopefully, we will have a good session tomorrow and bowl them out cheaply. Chasing 300 is possible on this track,” Azhar told journalists after the day’s play.

“These kind of wickets that you get here, you need to make it big. It’s a slow wicket and hard to get a start, but once you get settled, it becomes easy. It’s disappointing that even in the first game, a lot of us – including me – had got starts and couldn’t kick on. But we are still positive. The guys are playing well. Everyone wants to make it big. It has not happened yet, but we have one inning left, and hopefully, someone will make it big. You never know in this game,” he added.

Azhar recalled the Pallekele Test of 2015 when Pakistan chased down an improbable target of 377 and said the win would give his team the confidence. Pakistan had chased down the total by losing just three wickets and had clinched the series 2-1.

“We have chased 370 plus runs to beat Sri Lanka in a Test match, and that should give us confidence,” Azhar added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan needs to win this Test to maintain the spotless record at their adopted home. Since Pakistan shifted base to the UAE in 2009, they have not lost a Test series there.

R. Ashwin to Set up His Cricket Academy in Dubai

Cricket as a sport has a tremendous untapped market in the Middle East, and in the coming years, we could witness several teams from this region, bursting on to the international scene. The fact that Pakistan plays its “home” games in UAE, has contributed immensely to the game spreading in the Gulf regions.

In a bid to further dwell on the monetary aspects of cricket developing in the Middle East, India’s champion off-spinner, R. Ashwin is all set to launch his own cricket academy in Dubai. The towering offie already has an academy back home in Chennai, named as GenNext Cricket Academy, and is now looking to further expand the reach of his academy.

The all-rounder has zeroed down on Dubai as the next destination and in the near future, his institute will be fully functional in the most diverse town in the Middle East. Speaking about his Academy to be launched in Dubai, Ashwin said,

“This partnership is definitely going to contribute to continuous improvement in coaching techniques with a flavour of innovation and drive to excel. This would open the door for the budding youngsters to be inspired by the current playing cricketers apart from learning the tricks of the trade and lessons the hard way.”

Ashwin in other news will be touring England, as an overseas player for Worcestershire while India plays the limited overs series against Sri Lanka. This is seen as a fine move by Ashwin, in a bid to add to his versatility.

I’m Super Excited To Be Part Of T20 Global League, Says Optimistic Kevin Pietersen

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen has expressed a delight to be a part of the South African Twenty20 Global League, as he is one of the eight marquee players, who will be availed by the eight different franchises on August 19.

“I’m super excited. South Africa means a hell of a lot to me,” Pietersen was quoted as saying by Sports24.co.za while speaking at the grand event in London.

The launch of the Twenty20 League was held in the United Kingdom by Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Monday which further revealed the names of the owners and cities respectively.

“It will be emotional to go back and play in South Africa because I always love playing there. It’ll be a fun six weeks,” Pietersen asserted.

Back in South Africa, the cricket board was aiming to launch the T20 competition since past many years, in a bid to fill the stadiums and make it a huge success.

“If we can fill the stadiums I think that’s something that everyone wants to see. I’m sure that this tournament will fill the stadiums,” Pietersen revealed.

The tournament will kick start in November later this year, as Pietersen is expected to be part of the Dubai-based franchise which has been owned by Fawad Rana, who is also the owner of Pakistan Super League franchise Lahore Qalandars.

The 36-year-old Natal-born Pietersen revealed his birth country has been an exciting place to be at while adding he would enjoy the deal which is subjected to bidding procedure.

“It’s exciting that I’ve still got another couple of years now to hopefully help with this franchise. It’s going to be fun. It’s an amazing country,” Pietersen remarked.

The city-based franchise Dubai has the home marquee player in the form of experienced Hashim Amla, who was present at the launch of the new Proteas league, which is scheduled to continue till December 16.

“I lived there for 20 years and we go back there regularly. I was there last week and I’m going back in a couple weeks time,” stated jubilant Pietersen.

Interestingly, the other seven international marquee players list is dominated by the Windies; Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, as the list is followed by Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy from England which includes Brendon McCullum from New Zealand and Lasith Malinga from Sri Lanka.

Moreover, Pietersen has been part of the Global T20 Leagues which included Indian Premier League, Big Bash League, Pakistan Super League followed by Caribbean Premier League.

PCB Takes A Tough Stand On Khalid Latif Over PSL Spot-Fixing Scandal

The Pakistan Cricket Board has tightened its grip by seizing the bat grips allegedly given to the international cricketer Khalid Latif, who has been part of Islamabad United during the recently concluded second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) in February, in the United Arab Emirates.

“One [piece] of … evidence is that we seized the bat grips that [a] bookie had given and they were seized from Khalid’s kit bag,” PCB’s legal representative Taffazul Rizvi was quoted by Express Tribune.

Rizvi went on to say that Khalid failed to report the board after meeting the bookie twice while saying they are looking at every aspect.

The board further revealed the ‘bat grips’ has been the indication to see opener participating in the spot-fixing which would’ve had further made it easy for the international business syndicate, who are trying to corrupt the games.

The Karachi-born right-handed batsman Latif has been accused of breaching the Code of Conduct of PCB’s constitution which includes a charge of luring different players into the fixing menace, according to the latest development from the investigators.

Interestingly, Khalid missed the inaugural match of the PSL for its franchise Islamabad United on February 9 in Dubai against defending champions Peshawar Zalmi, but the startling reports suggested the batsman has given the bat grips to his partner Sharjeel Khan.

Moreover, the left-handed batsman Sharjeel Khan is also facing the charges over playing two-dot balls for what he didn’t score deliberately according to the investigators.

The 31-year-old batsman Latif was provisionally suspended by PCB’s Anti-Corruption Unit soon after the spot-fixing scandal surfaced in February, this year.

Interestingly, both the players, who were banned after confessing that they failed to inform its national board while stating the bookmakers have had approached to them.

The investigation further saw lanky fast bowler Mohammad Irfan and allrounder Mohammad Nawaz facing the short-term bans followed by the fine which was imposed on them for not informing the board about the approaches from bookies.

The left-arm spinner Nawaz is facing one month ban with one month suspended whereas, Irfan has been banned for six months while six other months come under suspension which is subjected to improvement and if no other breach of the rules will emerge out during the tribunal hearing and extensive investigation.

As his case is being taken up by a three-member tribunal committee, Latif’s lawyer Badar Alam, who wasn’t happy with the outcome following the summons from board’s Security and Vigilance department itself.

However, Alam challenged the neutrality of the tribunal while stating the three-member committee is comprised of one of the ex-PCB chairmen.

The other players are facing the suspension include Sharjeel Khan (Islamabad United), Shahzaib Hasan (Karachi Kings) left-handed discarded opener Nasir Jamshed, who has further threatened PCB for a legal suit.

The suspended players are facing a wide range of charges and if found guilty, the players would face the ban which further ranges from five years to life ban as per board’s articles.