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Eight PSL games in Pakistan next year across three venues



Eight Pakistan Super League matches are set to be played in Pakistan next year, according to the PCB chairman Najam Sethi. It was also confirmed that UAE will continue to be the main venue for the league, where the rest of it be scheduled. The idea of having the entire tournament in Pakistan, ESPNcricinfo understands, is deemed logistically “not feasible” at this stage.

Pakistan had concerns as their home season in the UAE runs alongside various other leagues slotted in the UAE, which hurts the PCB’s commercial rights. As a result, a clash has been brewing between the PCB and Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), forcing the former to explore other venues. However, the PCB has reached a deal with the ECB and retained the UAE as the venue for their home season. The ECB will avoid overlapping other tournaments with Pakistan’s home series, and agreed to keep the PSL free of other cricket in the country. In addition, no cricket will be played in the country for at least six weeks before the PSL starts.

Pakistan are also due to host New Zealand and Australia later this year. The schedule for the series has been organised in a way it avoids clashing with the Afghanistan T20 league and Emirates T20 league in the season, both of which are scheduled to be held in the UAE. Both the PCB, as well as the six PSL franchise owners, met in Lahore on Tuesday to evaluate the potential threats to their league in UAE, with the Afghan T20, the T10 and Emirates T20 league the major reasons for concern. ESPNcricinfo understands that there is a reluctance to host the PSL in the UAE, but with alternatives in short supply, the PCB has come to a decision. The board has also decided to host eight games in Pakistan across three venues; Lahore and Karachi are confirmed as two of them, with a third yet to be decided on.

Pakistan doesn’t yet have the ability to host the entire PSL in Pakistan, what with the resources that extensive security arrangements will likely demand. It will also require enlisting the help of local governments, and all these factors, according to the PCB chairman, rule this out as an option.

“Eventually the whole PSL will come back to Pakistan one day, but at this stage it’s not feasible,” Sethi told ESPNcricinfo. “With every passing year, things are improving and, from the first to the third edition, we have continued to have more games in Pakistan. Next year eight or more games will come to Pakistan.”

Not all stadiums are fully ready to host PSL matches at present, with several needing extensive renovations. Size of the seating area is also an issue in certain stadiums, particularly Faisalabad and Rawalpindi. Multan is a potentially viable venue, but arrangements to stay overnight in the city aren’t quite up to the mark just yet. In a surprise move, the Muzaffarabad Stadium in Kashmir is being explored as a venue, in which case teams would likely have to be flown in and out via helicopter.

In separate proceedings, the PCB is at loggerheads with the franchises over the broadcast bid committee, with Multan Sultans understood to have been demanded representation for the franchises on the broadcast bid committee, which Sethi refused. The PCB is set to sell its broadcasting rights now that the original three-year cycle has come to an end, with the entire commercial and title sponsorship deal to be revised ahead of the fourth edition for a further period of three years.

According to the PCB, the franchises, being stakeholders, can only have a “consultative role” in commercial deals such as broadcasting and title sponsorship deals.

“The consensus in the PCB is that there could be conflict of interest if franchises were given representation on the broadcast bid committee in view of the other business interests franchises have. There are also issues of disclosure of information since most franchisees have media partnerships,” Sethi said. “It’s our prerogative to safeguard the interest of the PSL to get maximum revenues. Broadcasting deals and bidding processes are extremely confidential and sensitive matters.”

One out of six franchises is reportedly in dispute over payments with the PCB. It is understood the PCB was considering terminating the franchise over non-payment, but the Multan Sultans owner came to the rescue, convincing the PCB to allow them another 48 hours to make payment arrangements. The franchise owner, when approached, confirmed that USD 600,000 was owed, but claimed the PCB hadn’t shared revenue fairly, and he believed it was the PCB who owed the franchise money instead.

ESPNcricinfo’s investigations suggest all other franchises have cleared any outstanding financial obligations they had to the PCB.

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Brett Hutton helps put Northants in charge



Northamptonshire 4 for 1 trail Gloucestershire 125 (Hutton 4-65) by 121 runs

Brett Hutton played a starring role as Northamptonshire dominated Gloucestershire on the opening day at Bristol.

He claimed 4 for 65 as the hosts were shot out for 125 inside 55 overs on a day in which 35 overs were lost to bad light or rain.

Fellow new ball bowler Ben Sanderson weighed in with 2 for 16, while Nathan Buck took 3 for 32 to fully justify Alex Wakely’s decision to field on a green-tinged pitch beneath heavy cloud cover.

Eight of those dismissed were caught behind the wicket on a wretched day for batting as tail-enders David Payne and Craig Miles emerged as Gloucestershire’s highest scorers.

Pressed into service as a nightwatchman, Hutton fell lbw to Payne as Northants, required to negotiate two overs at the end of the day, reached the close on 4 for 1.

A model of consistency since joining Northants from Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire-born Hutton made the most of bowler-friendly conditions, extracting movement off the pitch to rip the heart out of Gloucestershire’s top and middle-order batting.

His initial intervention came in the second over of the day, left-handed opener Miles Hammond pushing tentatively at a ball outside off stump and edging behind to Adam Rossington without scoring to set the tone for what was to follow.

Hutton returned to the attack from the Ashley Down Road End after lunch, taking three wickets in 22 balls in a devastating burst which further reduced the hosts to 68 for 8. Having negotiated best part of two hours and 78 balls, obdurate Chris Dent finally surrendered his wicket for 15, edging a length ball from Hutton to third slip.

He then accounted for Ben Charlesworth and Ryan Higgins in rapid succession, having both caught behind, the latter via a top edge, to confirm East Midlands supremacy.

Fellow Yorkshireman Sanderson was also rewarded for bowling a consistent line and length, the 29-year-old taking two wickets to further erode the top order. James Bracey was squared up in offering a catch behind, while Benny Howell could only edge a late in-swinger to Richard Levi at third slip.

Ian Cockbain’s first Championship innings of the summer lasted just five balls, pinned lbw in the crease for a duck by Buck, while Levi again demonstrated safe hands when Ben Cotton located Jack Taylor’s outside edge as Gloucestershire limped to 57 for 5 at lunch.

Ball continued to beat bat with alarming regularity and Miles decided attack was the best form of defence, the Warwickshire-bound bowler helping himself to five boundaries in staging a valuable stand of 33 for the ninth wicket with Payne.

Buck wrapped up the innings, bowling Miles for 23 and then having last man Matt Taylor caught in the slips for nine, leaving Payne unbeaten on 23.

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Afghanistan, Bangladesh look to avoid Dubai detour



Big Picture

Having already qualified for the Super Four stage, after knocking out Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will play the last league fixture in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. The incentive is that the winner will stay in Abu Dhabi while the losing team will have to move to Dubai in less than 12 hours to face the table-toppers from Group A the next day. Both teams will be wary of the oppressive heat in the UAE and will be hoping to avoid the Dubai detour.

Bangladesh have some injury issues, so resting Shakib Al Hasan (finger injury) and Mushfiqur Rahim (rib injury) would make sense. Similarly, it would make sense for captain Mashrafe Mortaza to rest on Thursday, instead of taking on the strain of potential back-to-back games for what is essentially a dead rubber. In that case, the likes of Abu Hider, Nazmul Islam and Ariful Haque will look to gain more exposure ahead of bigger challenges.

Afghanistan will focus on a familiar template: bat steadily for much of their 50 overs and look up to their seamers to provide support to their in-form spinners.

Rahmat Shah’s 72 off 90 balls against Sri Lanka in the previous match backed up a solid start from the openers and allowed the big-hitters to go after the bowlers in the end overs. Captain Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran, meanwhile, will look to make more substantial contributions with the bat, while Hashmatullah Shahidi, who made 37 against Sri Lanka, will hope to capitalise on such starts.

But the key will be the three spinners – Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Nabi. Bangladesh had a hard time against Rashid in the three T20Is in June this year. Can they find a way past him in the UAE?

It might be a dead rubber, but both teams will be keen to build momentum and confidence going in to the business end of the tournament.

Form guide

Afghanistan: WWLWW (last five completed games, most recent first)
Bangladesh: WWLWL

In the spotlight

Mohammad Mithun made a confident 63 against Sri Lanka and helped Mushfiqur push the total beyond 250. Mithun has plenty of domestic and A team experience, but can he be consistent in international cricket and secure his middle-order position?

Rahmat Shah, who top scored with 72 against Sri Lanka, has played the Dhaka Premier League, and will be a familiar opponent for most of the Bangladesh players.

Team news

If Afghanistan look to rotate their squad, wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad and seamers Aftab Alam and Guladin Naib might get a break. Munir Ahmed Kakar, Samiullah Shenwari, Sayed Shirzad and Wafadar are options to replace them.

Afghanistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Ihsanullah, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Asghar Afghan (capt), 5 Hashmatullah Shahidi, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Gulbadin Naib, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Aftab Alam, 11 Mujeeb Ur Rahman

Nazmul Hossain Shanto could open for Bangladesh in place of the injured Tamim Iqbal while Mominul Haque, Abu Hider, Nazmul Islam and Ariful Haque could get some game-time in place of the seniors.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Liton Das 2 Nazmul Hossain Shanto, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Mosaddek Hossain, 7 Mohammad Mithun, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

Pitch and conditions

Dew was either not present in Abu Dhabi, or had no effect judging from the evidence of Afghanistan spinners’ total dominance over Sri Lanka.

Stats and Trivia

  • Mashrafe Mortaza is four wickets away from becoming the first Bangladeshi bowler to 250 ODI wickets. Overall, he will be the 17th fast bowler to the milestone.

  • Bangladesh have won three out of the five ODIs against Afghanistan.

  • Rahmat Shah is one match away from 50 ODIs. He will become the sixth Afghanistan player to the landmark after Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Samiullah Shenwari, Dawlat Zadran and Asghar Afghan.


    “It is great to get off to a good start but what’s more important is that middle period; if you lose wickets in that period, then it really does hurt.”
    Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes

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Troublesome ankle could sideline Vernon Philander until November



Vernon Philander has begun bowling rehabilitation this week as he recovers from an ankle injury that could sideline him until at least November.

Philander has struggled with his ankle since twisting it against India in late 2015 and while the latest recurrence of the niggle will not affect his Test-playing ability, it may impact his chances of making a case for World Cup selection.

If fit, Philander would have been picked alongside Dale Steyn for the upcoming ODIs against Zimbabwe but he will miss out. Philander also cannot be considered for the white-ball trip to Australia in October-November but may have an opportunity to return during the T20 tournament that is due to be played from early November to mid-December. However, it’s likely Philander will only make a comeback on Boxing Day, when South Africa host Pakistan.

Philander last played for South Africa in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle in mid-July, where the injury flared up. He did not play the second Test in Colombo and has not played any county cricket or in any T20 leagues since as he concentrates on recovery. Surgery is an option, but that would require a longer recovery time and CSA’s medical team are opting for a more conservative approach.

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