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Hales, Asif see Islamabad through, Karachi Kings eliminated | Cricket

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Muhammad Musa celebrates a wicket © Pakistan Super League


Islamabad United 164 for 6 (Hales 41, Delport 38, Talat 32, Asif 24*, Umer 2-16) beat Karachi Kings 161 for 9 (Babar 42, Munro 32, Musa 3-42, Faheem 2-30) by 4 wickets

How the game played out

Karachi Kings may be one of the less prolific sides in this competition’s brief history, but they are the only side to have knocked Islamabad United out of any PSL tournament. That victory came in an Eliminator two years ago. But today, Islamabad United avenged that loss in a scrappy, entertaining game where both sides chugged along like an antique car on a dodgy engine, hurtling along seemingly without control before grinding to a halt at various stages of their innings. The upshot was a four-wicket win for Islamabad, who chased down Karachi’s 161 with three balls to spare.

Despite the loss, the most memorable part of the game was arguably the first six overs. Karachi had courageously won the toss and chosen to bat first in a tournament where that decision is close to sacrilege, and blistered to 50 in just 20 balls as Colin Munro finally began to make good on the talent based on which he was signed. When he feathered an edge to Mohammad Musa, he had smashed 32 runs in a mere 11 balls, and Karachi were motoring along at 17 an over. They would go on to add an eye-watering 78 in the first six, as the boundaries flew like confetti.

Islamabad came back to choke them after the Powerplay ended, and somehow maintained that stranglehold right throughout the innings, with Karachi only just managing to double their Powerplay total, in the end limping to 161 for nine. Most of Islamabad’s bowlers had recovered their figures, and the one who was most expensive – Muhammad Musa – was the highest wicket-taker, having removed Munro, Ingram and Iftikhar Ahmed.

Islamabad’s chase always looked tight, not helped by a slow start and Ronchi’s early departure. Alex Hales and Cameron Delport saw them through the Powerplay, but the nerves wouldn’t have been eased as the asking rate continued to rise in the face of a stellar bowling attack and a world-class spell from Umer Khan. Towards the end, it came down to Islamabad’s own local talent in Faheem Ashraf, Asif Ali and Hussain Talat to manage the asking rate. Mohammad Amir missed his lines once too often, Babar Azam dropped a catch once too frequently and Karachi were simply a few too short in the final overs. It all amounted to Islamabad getting to the finish line just in time, dashing Karachi’s hopes of a title on home soil.

Turning point

  • Karachi began to struggle as soon as that whirlwind of a Powerplay came to a close, but the final three overs were especially ruinous to their chances. Positioned at 150 for six with three overs to go, they still had the opportunity to pose a stiff challenge with a brisk finish. Instead, the last three overs saw a mere 11 runs scored.

Star of the day

Pakistan have swooned over the fast bowling gems they may have unearthed this tournament, and bemoaned the lack of exciting local batsmen. But the find of the competition may be 19-year old Umer Khan, perhaps the most promising spinner to come out of the PSL since Shadab Khan. Having impressed ever since he got AB de Villiers out weeks ago, Umer has found a way to get the biggest names of the planet out just when Karachi have required him to. His spell today was one of the spells of the tournament, with the teenager the only bowler to find genuine drift and turn on a flat wicket. He wasn’t afraid of flighting the ball, and found due rewards, finding the outside edges of Delport and Chadwick Walton within three deliveries of each other. He ended up with 4-0-16-2, and if ever a performance deserved not to end up in the losing side, it was his.

The big miss

Ronchi has the highest strike rate in the world off the first 10 balls, but the New Zealand opener was strangely subdued over that period today. Valued around the world because he doesn’t need so much as a warm-up ball to begin attacking the bowlers, Ronchi played out nine deliveries today, unable to get one to the boundary rope. Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir and Aamer Yamin all executed their plans perfectly, pitching the ball short of a length. It deprived Ronchi of the ability to strike the ball through the line. The change-up came off his ninth ball, with Yamin sending down a wide yorker that Ronchi could only mishit to mid-on. 5 off 9 is an unlikely innings breakdown for the Islamabad talisman, and in a game of exceptionally fine margins, they almost ended up paying for it.

Big picture

Karachi bow out with today’s defeat, with Islamabad through to the playoff with Peshawar tomorrow. The winner of that contest plays Quetta Gladiators in the final.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000


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BCCI invites fresh applications for India team’s support staff

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The BCCI has called for applications for the entire roster of support staff for the India senior men’s cricket team, which ended its World Cup 2019 campaign with a semi-final defeat to New Zealand.

The contracts of the coaching staff, led by head coach Ravi Shastri, run up to the end of the World Cup. The BCCI subsequently extended the contracts by 45 days to include India’s tour of the West Indies, which starts on August 3 with the first of three T20Is. Three ODIs will follow the T20Is, with two Tests – part of the World Test Championship cycle – to come after the limited-overs matches.

The applications have been called for the positions of head coach, batting coach, bowling coach, fielding coach, physiotherapist, strength and conditioning coach, and administrative manager, with the deadline being 5pm on July 30.

The BCCI said that the current coaching staff of the team would get “automatic entry in the recruitment process”, but it’s unclear as yet if Shastri, Sanjay Bangar (assistant and batting coach), Bharat Arun (bowling coach), R Sridhar (fielding coach), and Sunil Subramaniam (team manager) are going to re-apply for their positions or not.

Physiotherapist Patrick Farhart and strength and conditioning coach Shankar Basu have both opted not to renew their contracts, and ended their association with the Indian team after the World Cup.

For the position of the head coach, who should be below 60 years of age, the BCCI wants the candidates who apply to have a BCCI Level 3 qualification. Failing that, the person should have played at least 30 Tests or 50 ODIs.

The support staff – with the exception of the team manager – have all had long stints with the team. While Shastri, Bangar, Arun and Sridhar all joined the team in mid-2014 for the limited-overs leg of the tour of England after a heavy loss in the Test series, Farhart and Basu had been part of the set-up since July 2015. Shastri, originally brought in as team director, was not part of the support staff for a year between mid-2016 to 2017, when Anil Kumble was in charge – and neither was Arun – but returned as head coach after that.

The BCCI’s elections are scheduled for October 22, which will also mean the exit of the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators, and CoA chairman Vinod Rai had clarified earlier that until the elections were held, the body would continue to monitor and authorise cricketing operations, including matters related to the appointment or renewal of coaching staff.



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Recent Match Report – Derbyshire vs Northamptonshire, County Championship Division Two, 2nd Innings

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Derbyshire 146 (Hudson-Prentice 55, Sanderson 5-46) and 155 for 5 need a further 164 runs to beat Northamptonshire 342 and 122 (Palladino 4-33) by 308 runs

An astonishing day on which 24 wickets fell ended with Northamptonshire closing in on victory against Derbyshire at Chesterfield.

After Ben Sanderson took 5 for 46 to bowl Derbyshire out for 146 with Fynn Hudson-Prentice unbeaten on 55, Tony Palladino claimed 4 for 33 as Northants were shot out for 122. That left Derbyshire chasing 319 for victory but by the close, they were 155 for 5, still 164 runs short of the target.

A pitch offering spin and variable bounce was certainly demanding to bat on but lack of foot movement and poor shot selection accounted for the majority of the wickets.

The carnage began when Wayne Madsen played across the line to give Sanderson his first victim and the rest of the day became a procession as wickets tumbled to a rash of poor strokes. Tom Lace and Leus du Plooy paid the price for failing to get forward as Derbyshire slipped to 60 for 6 before Hudson-Prentice took 22 from a Rob Keogh over.

Matt Coles struck with his third delivery by trapping Matt Critchley on the crease but Hudson-Prentice reached 50 before Keogh wrapped up the innings giving Northants a lead of 196.

They chose not to enforce the follow-on but instead of an afternoon of accumulation, Northants moved into T20 mode and were bowled out in a chaotic session on a pitch which had clearly put doubts in the minds of the batsmen.

Ricardo Vasconcelos was run out attempting a second to deep square leg and after Luke Proctor offered no shot to Hudson-Prentice, Palladino profited from inadequate technique and ill-judged shots.

Keogh played across the line, Adam Rossington drove wildly at his first ball and although Temba Bavuma and Josh Cobb briefly threatened to restore order, more frantic shot selection sent the innings into terminal decline.

Cobb drove Critchley to long off and Bavuma fell victim to the mood of recklessness when he skied Palladino to point. Hamidullah Qadri beat Coles’s charge and less than 31 overs had been bowled when Saif Zaib holed out to leave Derbyshire facing the highest successful run chase at Queen’s Park.

They clearly decided to approach it in a positive way as Billy Godleman and Luis Reece came out swinging in the late afternoon sunshine. Godleman repeatedly charged the opening bowlers before he was stumped for 25 off Sanderson in the fifth over and Madsen lost his middle stump trying to work Coles through midwicket.

Reece was lbw playing back to Keogh and Luke Proctor struck twice in his first over to leave Northants favourites to wrap up victory on Tuesday.



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World Cup final viewing figures compete with 2005 Ashes after free-to-air return

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Sunday’s World Cup final, the first England international on free-to-air UK television since the 2005 Ashes, attracted a peak viewership of 8.3 million.

The game was simulcast on several channels: Sky showed it on Sky One, Main Event, and their Cricket channel, while Channel 4 split their coverage between their main channel and More 4 during the British Grand Prix.

The peak audience was only marginally below that recorded during the 2005 Ashes, when 8.4 million people watched the culmination of England’s win at Trent Bridge on Channel 4. By contrast, the first Test of the 2015 Ashes, shown only on Sky, attracted a peak viewership of 467,000.

The World Cup final had to compete for attention with the men’s singles final at Wimbledon between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, as well as the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Cricket will return to free-to-air TV in the UK from next summer, after the BBC agreed a deal in 2017 to show ten men’s and eight women’s matches from The Hundred per year, as well as two men’s T20Is and one women’s T20I.

Liam Plunkett, the fast bowler who took three wickets in England’s win, had previously voiced support for the final to be broadcast free-to-air.

“Playing for England, you’re the pride of the country and you want people to be able to access that and watch that,” he said after the group stage win against New Zealand. “I’m not sure it’s going to happen but for the guys, you want as many people to watch it as possible.”

Sunday’s final was a sell-out, with unofficial resale platforms offering tickets priced at several thousand pounds. As well as the millions watching on TV, thousands of fans gathered in the fanzone in Trafalgar Square, first to watch and then to celebrate England’s win.

There was widespread support for Sky’s decision to allow the game to be shown on free-to-air TV, a move that the ECB encouraged but did not demand. But Ashley Giles, the director of cricket for England’s men’s teams, suggested that England might not have been able to win the World Cup without Sky’s investment.

When asked by BBC Radio 4 if it would have been impossible, Giles said: “Quite possibly, yes. The investment in the game from grassroots to professional has allowed us to do what we’ve done.

“Sky took the game on and have been fantastic supporters since. Thank you to them for allowing it on Channel 4.”

Channel 4’s chief executive Alex Mahon said it was “wonderful that the whole nation can come together to share these momentous British sporting events”.



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