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Ajinkya Rahane moves from Rajasthan Royals to Delhi Capitals

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Ajinkya Rahane has been traded from Rajasthan Royals and will play for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2020. The move was confirmed by the IPL and both franchises on Thursday, the final day of the trading window. Rahane has become the second high-profile player to be acquired by the Capitals in the trading window after R Ashwin, and he’ll join a line-up that is already top-heavy, with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer in the top order, with Rishabh Pant to follow.

Rahane is the Royals’ most capped player and has played 106 matches for the franchise, with 100 matches coming in the IPL and six in the Champions League T20. He has represented them since 2011, with the exception of the 2016 and 2017 seasons when the team was suspended. He is also the Royals’ leading run-getter, having scored 3098 runs for them overall, at an average of 35.60 and a strike rate of 122.30. In the IPL, he has scored 2810 runs for the Royals at an average of 34.26 and a strike rate of 122.65.

He has captained the Royals in 24 matches, winning nine and losing 15. Rahane had faced some criticism for his strike-rate at the top of the order for the Royals in IPL 2018, when he tallied 370 runs at 28.46 but at a rate of only 118.21. He improved those numbers significantly in IPL 2019, with 393 runs at 32.75 and a strike rate of 137.89.

As part of the trade, the legspinning duo of Mayank Markande and Rahul Tewatia will move from the Capitals to the Royals. That also makes Markande the first player to be traded twice between seasons – having gone to the Capitals from Mumbai Indians earlier.

Markande played only three matches in IPL 2019, losing out on the legspinner’s spot to Rahul Chahar in the Mumbai side, taking one wicket and conceding runs at 9.83 per over. He had made his IPL debut with Mumbai in 2018, bursting onto the scene as an unknown and taking 15 wickets.

Tewatia played five matches in IPL 2019, but bowled only 6.2 overs overall, picking up two wickets. This move will mark a return for Tewatia to the franchise he started his IPL career with, having been part of the Royals in 2014 and 2015. He was also part of Kings XI Punjab in 2017, before the Capitals secured his services in 2018.

Their addition gives the Royals a surfeit of leggies, with Shreyas Gopal already in the team and expected to be the frontline spinner.

“Rahul and Mayank are both extremely talented cricketers with a bright future ahead of them. I am confident they will excel at Rajasthan Royals,” Delhi Capitals co-owner Parth Jindal said on the occasion. “I am also extremely honoured to welcome one of India’s most stellar and consistent batsmen, Ajinkya Rahane, to the DC family. When the franchise underwent a revamp last year, a decision was made to keep Indian players at its core. The result was there for everyone to see, with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Ishant Sharma performing brilliantly for us, and complimenting the youth that DC has in Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Prithvi Shaw, among others.

“That thought process has continued for us this time around as well, as is evident in the signing of Ravichandran Ashwin, followed by that of Ajinkya Rahane. I am sure Rahane’s wealth of experience, and familiarity with the conditions will help Delhi Capitals go a long way in IPL 2020.”

The Royals had used one of their Right to Match cards to buy Rahane for INR 4 crore in the IPL 2018 auctions, following bidding between Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians which Kings XI won. Tewatia had been bought by the Capitals for INR 3 crore, from a base price of INR 20 lakh. Mumbai had bought Markande for his base price of INR 20 lakh.



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Why the PCB had to pick Rawalpindi to host Sri Lanka

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Day 1: 68 overs of play
Day 2: 17.5 overs
Day 3: 5.2 overs
Day 4: Called off without a ball (teams remained at hotel)
Day 5: Predictable draw

Nine sessions of the Rawalpindi Test were effectively washed out but a full house still turned up for the final day’s play and they were treated to a remarkable innings from Abid Ali. The 32-year old became the first male cricketer to score a century on both his Test and ODI debuts but even his performance couldn’t distract from the fact that the return of Test cricket to Pakistan – the end of 10 years of exile – literally turned into a washout.

No ground outside of Rawalpindi and Karachi was considered to host the Sri Lanka Tests, although originally the series itself was expected to take place in October, the best time for cricket in Pakistan.

So, over the last four days as rain doused the prospect of an outright result, the PCB has been under the spotlight for their choice of venue. The last 10 Test matches played in northern Punjab in the month of December have all failed to produce a result with an exception of one game against Zimbabwe in 1993. There was one Test in Faisalabad which was abandoned without a ball bowled. Another, in Gujranwala, had weather that was good enough for only 36 overs of cricket.

Even so, Rawalpindi was the best option available to them. Multan, Faisalabad and Peshawar have not been upgraded well enough to host international cricket again. Lahore and Karachi do but one city is experiencing heavy smog and the other will host the second Test on Thursday.

In the aftermath of the 2009 attacks, logistics – direct flights in and out – and security clearances play a huge part in any match that is played in Pakistan. PCB had prioritised getting Lahore and Karachi ready first and had only recently invited ICC security consultant Reg Dickason to assess the state of affairs in Rawalpindi. Multan is next on the list; it is currently being considered to host four games in PSL 2020. Peshawar is already under renovation. Faisalabad, however, is yet to receive much attention.



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Lungi Ngidi injury deals a blow to South Africa ahead of Tests against England

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South Africa have suffered a blow ahead of their Test series against England after fast bowler Lungi Ngidi was all but ruled out of the opening match starting on Boxing Day with a hamstring injury that has also sidelined him for the Mzansi Super League final.

Ngidi is in doubt for the four-Test series against England after he suffered a “significant Grade 1 hamstring muscle tear” while warming up for Tshwane Spartans before the MSL play-off against Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in Port Elizabeth on Friday, in which Spartans won a place in Monday’s decider against Paarl Rocks.

South Africa now face the prospect of beginning their four-Test series against England a bowler short, starting with the opening match at Centurion on December 26 with Cricket South Africa Chief Medical Officer Dr Shuaib Manjra saying Ngidi’s rehabilitation program would be geared towards a return to action in January.

“Lungi Ngidi sustained an acute hamstring muscle injury during the warm-up prior to the MSL T20 play-off on Friday,” Dr Manjra said. “Scans done on Saturday showed a significant Grade 1 tear of his hamstring muscle and therefore he has been ruled out of the MSL T20 final.

“He will commence his rehab and return-to-play program with the aim of getting him fit to play for the Momentum Multiply Titans in January 2020 and based on his progress, a decision will be made regarding his availability for selection for the Proteas team.”

Ngidi had begun the MSL season with the aim of remaining fit throughout his home summer after a run of injuries over the past two years.

He suffered a hamstring strain during South Africa’s defeat to Bangladesh at the World Cup and missed the next three games, although he recovered in time to play two more matches at the tournament. Ngidi’s most recent Test appearance was during South Africa’s tour of India in October, where he played only the last of the three matches.

The Spartans are surprise MSL finalists after half of their pool matches were washed out. They edged into the final three and then denied the favourites, the Giants, the chance to challenge for the trophy with a 22-run victory in the play-off. Initially, Ngidi missing last Friday’s match was seen as a precautionary measure ahead of a busy international summer before scans revealed the extent of the damage.



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Langer backs Siddle as Hazlewood’s likely replacement

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Peter Siddle‘s Test ambitions live on after he was picked out by Australia coach Justin Langer as a potential replacement in the squad for the injured Josh Hazlewood.

Hazlewood will miss the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand after suffering a hamstring strain in his second over in Perth and appears unlikely to be fit for the final Test in Sydney.

James Pattinson, who was ruled out of contention for the opening Test of the season against Pakistan after his code-of-conduct suspension, is the favourite to come into the XI on his home ground at the MCG, and the uncapped Michael Neser is also part of the squad. However, there is likely to be reinforcements added to the squad with an eye on the workloads of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.

“We’ve started to think about it, the obvious one would be Peter Siddle,” Langer said when asked who could come into the squad. “He did a really good job in the Ashes, he’s bowling very well for Victoria and it’s at the MCG where he’s played a lot of cricket. We’ll see what happens the rest of this game and then make a decision.”

Later, speaking to Channel Seven during the tea break, Langer suggested Australia could consider a five-man attack in Melbourne. “If the wicket’s been like it has the last few years we might even be able to play four quicks and a spinner,” he said. “There’s lots of combinations. Nice to see Marnus and Travis head bowling a few overs as well so that gives us a nice combination.”

Siddle played in three of the Ashes series taking nine wickets but picked up an injury in the early stages of the final match at The Oval which hindered his performance. He is Victoria’s leading wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield this season with 18 wickets at 19.77.

Having enforced the follow-on in the second Test against Pakistan in Adelaide and now been reduced to two frontline quicks in Perth, Langer was conscious of the strain the bowling attack is under although there will be nine day gap before the Boxing Day Test.

“It always makes you nervous when a bowler goes down,” Langer said. “You always think about the implications for this game but also the cumulative effect of a lot of overs. We also think back to the winter and what’s already been this summer, so they are things you keep in mind. We’ll go through the process and come up with the best solution.

“It’s a shame for Josh; he’s built up so well during the Ashes. I feel for him. Hopefully it’s not too bad. He’s certainly out of Boxing Day and but we’ll have a look for Sydney. We’ll have a look at the end of this Test at how many overs the boys bowled, how long we were in there for the second innings and we’ll make a decision on who the next bowler is.”

With the overs clocking up for the fast bowlers – and the potential for a second spinner to be needed in Sydney – the question of an allrounder has been raised again. However, options are limited with Mitchell Marsh only just beginning his comeback from the broken wrist he suffered when punching the dressing room wall and the highly-rated Cameron Green is unable to bowl due to a stress fracture of his back. Another Western Australia allrounder, Marcus Stoinis, has had promising returns in the Shield with 322 runs at 35.77 and 12 wickets at 27.25 but would appear a long shot.

“There are a few injuries and there’s a great opportunity in Australian cricket for someone to put their hand up and knock really hard on the door to fill that gap,” Langer said. “There’s a lot of talk about allrounders but the truth is, whether it’s a club side, T20 side, Shield side, they all want an allrounder but there aren’t many of them around. And that’s okay, we just find different ways of winning.”

Marsh, who will play the Perth Scorchers’ opening match of the BBL against the Sydney Sixers on Wednesday as a specialist batsman, and is at least a week away from bowling competitively, admitted his wrist may never be 100% again following a nine-week recovery. He also conceded he had tried to rush back too soon.

“It’s been a long nine weeks, so looking forward to it,” Marsh said. “I’ve only had a couple of bowls, so it will take me a while to get going. It’s been slow but it’s feels good now. Injuries in sport you learn to deal with, but when you do it to yourself, it’s a bit different. We knew it was a ten-week injury but I wanted to get back in four. It’s natural as an athlete and I pushed really hard.”



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