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Rashid Khan eyes South African success – WSAIGO Sports
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Rashid Khan eyes South African success

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Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan has become one of T20 cricket’s hottest commodities, playing in franchise leagues in India, England, Australia, Bangladesh, the UAE and the Caribbean. Having been snapped up by Durban Heat as their international marquee signing for the inaugural Mzansi Super League, Rashid will now be playing in South Africa for the first time.

“I am so excited to be playing in the first edition of the Mzansi Super League,” Rashid said. “I have never played cricket in South Africa before and I have only heard great things. South Africans are passionate about cricket and I am looking forward to experiencing a new country and culture.”

While Rashid has never played in South Africa, his Big Bash League stats in similar conditions and excellence in a variety of conditions elsewhere suggest he will adapt very quickly. Rashid was Adelaide Strikers’ leading wicket-taker in the last BBL, with 18 wickets and an economy rate of under a run a ball. “It is going to be a new environment for me but I think that my experience of playing in different conditions will enable me to adapt to the situation and conditions,” he said.

Rashid’s formidable performances in international cricket have seen him rise to the very top of the ICC’s T20I bowling rankings. He has also enjoyed plenty of success in one-day international cricket, and is currently ranked second in that format.

“I’ve got to No. 1 by sticking to my game plan and that is what I will always do,” Rashid said. “T20 is a game that can change very quickly and not every game is going to go your way, and I will just do my best to try and win matches for my team.”

Rashid’s experience in T20 leagues around the world has allowed him to play alongside – and against – some of the best players in the world, and he said he was also looking forward to adding the likes of Hashim Amla and David Miller to the list of quality players he has shared a change room with.

“The beauty of T20 franchise cricket is the world-class players that you play with and against. To be playing with the likes of Hashim and David is great and I look forward to joining up with them and the rest of the team.”



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Thisara Perera’s all-round heroics down Dhaka Dynamites

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Comilla Victorians 153 for 8 (Shamsur 48, Tamim 34, Shakib 3-24) beat Dhaka Dynamites 146 for 9 (Russell 46, Thisara 3-14, Afridi 2-18) by seven runs

How the game played out

Comilla Victorians pulled out a sloppy, see-saw affair by seven runs thanks to the all-round heroics of Thisara Perera. Though the final margin might indicate that the game went down to the wire, Victorians actually sealed it quite comfortably in the final three overs when the Dhaka Dynamites tail was left stranded following the dismissal of captain Shakib Al Hasan.

The match was far from a crisp contest, with a series of missed chances on both sides that served to keep it interesting. Deep square leg and deep midwicket were high-traffic areas throughout the day and the Victorians’ ability to seize more chances on the boundary paid off in the end.

Turning points

  • With Liam Dawson struggling to get bat on ball at one end, the red-hot Thisara Perera clattered three sixes in his 26 off 12 balls before he was run out in the final over in a mix-up trying to steal a bye.

  • Thisara removed a rampaging Andre Russell for 46 in the 15th over to defuse the Dynamites’ chase with a slower ball pulled to deep midwicket.

  • With 36 needed off 25 balls and with five wickets in hand, Shakib pulled a full toss from Shahid Afridi straight to deep midwicket.

  • Thisara followed up Shakib’s dismissal with two more via the short ball in the 17th, effectively snuffing out the Dynamites chances

Star of the day

Thisara Perera not only continued to be the Victorians’ sensational spark plug at the end of the innings with the bat, but silenced the Dynamites at the death. Not only did he take three crucial wickets, but he conceded just a single in the 19th over, leaving 19 runs to get off the last six balls, which wound up being too tough for the tail.

The big miss

Shakib got an absolute meatball from Afridi that should have been hit out of the ground. He stood motionless at the wicket once he realised he didn’t get the elevation to clear the man on the boundary and even though the required run rate was just nine per over for the last four, Dynamites’ last recognised batsman was gone to turn Dynamites from favorites to underdogs.

Where the teams stand

Victorians joined Dynamites on 10 points at the top of the table in a three-way tie for first place with Chittagong Vikings, but the Vikings have two games in hand.



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Dhoni, Dhawan should have played domestic cricket before Australia ODIs – Gambhir

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Gautam Gambhir believes that the likes of MS Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan should have been asked to play first-class cricket before joining the Indian team for the ODI series in Australia, so that they could have hit the ground running. He was also sceptical about Rishabh Pant’s chances of making it to the World Cup squad, and said playing in the IPL before the World Cup could be a blessing in disguise for India’s players. Gambhir was speaking at an event in Bangalore. Excerpts:

On playing domestic cricket before the Australia ODIs:

I was a little disappointed because some of the guys should have played first-class cricket. The selectors should have pushed them to play first-class cricket. Because it’s a World Cup year, you’ve got to be in prime form. Whether it was MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu (Rayudu retired from first-class cricket earlier this season)… all those guys who went to Australia.

Why do you skip it? Because ultimately you will get confidence by scoring runs, not by hitting the nets. You can’t be thinking, ‘I’m going to come back into form just by playing international cricket.’ The only way everyone has done it is by playing domestic cricket and scoring runs. It’s a World Cup year, so I think the selectors should have made everyone play domestic cricket.

Does Rishabh Pant have a place in the ODI squad?

I don’t think so. They’ve got MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik. He can wait for his opportunity. Obviously he has done well in Test cricket. He’s doing all the right things. But if you’ve got Dhoni, who got [the] Man-of-the-Series award, he deserves to be there now. And it’s so close to the World Cup, you need someone like Dhoni. Karthik has been in decent form as well over the last four-five months. The good thing is, Rishabh is keeping them on their toes as well, which is always a good sign for Indian cricket, that youngsters are pushing the seniors.

On players potentially skipping the IPL to rest before the World Cup:

I think playing the IPL is a fabulous opportunity for most of those guys to be in peak form. Because you’re only bowling four overs. It’s not like there is a lot of physical burden on you. Plus you’re going to be bowling in difficult conditions as well, whether in the first six overs or the last four. So that will keep you in good shape. You don’t suddenly miss the IPL and say ‘I’ll go to the World Cup fresh and raring to go.’ That is only from the physical point of view, but from the skill point of view, to be at the top of your game, you’ve got to be playing a tournament like the IPL. And if you do well at the IPL, it’s going to keep you in very good stead in the World Cup. Imagine Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowling well in the death overs, how confident they would be going into the World Cup. Or some of the middle-order batters finishing the game for their franchise, they’ll go to the World Cup thinking, ‘We can finish from any situation’. So I think the IPL can be a blessing in disguise. I think MS Dhoni made a very good point when he said that it’s going to be a great opportunity for most of the players to be in prime form from the skill point of view.

On how Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul’s potential absence could affect the team:

One person does not change anything. The core still remains the same. KL Rahul wasn’t even there in the playing XI because we had Rayudu who did fabulously well against West Indies, so he deserved a chance before Rahul in the one-day format. Yes Hardik Pandya [might have made a difference], but you’ve replaced him with Ravindra Jadeja, who again is an allrounder. We only have, what, ten ODIs left before the World Cup? So we should maintain consistency and give people who are going to play the first game of the World Cup these ten games and see how they deliver.

On the journey from sharing his Player-of-the-Match Award with Virat Kohli when the latter made his first ODI hundred, to Kohli sweeping all the ICC awards:

It’s his hard work. I shared it because it was his first international hundred. I wanted to make him feel special because it was his first international hundred. Irrespective of how many you get, I remember my first international hundred till now, even when I’m retired. That always stays close to your heart, it’s a feeling that can never be replaced, even if you get 100 international hundreds, or how many ever. The first is always special, your debut is always special. Whenever he sees that trophy he should remember that. And whatever he’s achieved is all because of his hard work. I hope he continues this form because it’s going to be an important year for Indian cricket.

On what makes Jasprit Bumrah difficult to pick:

People ask me this about Sunil Narine as well, what made him so difficult to pick – and I just said, ‘quality’. Mystery can be solved over a period of time, but he had the quality. People can keep talking about Bumrah’s action, but he’s just a quality bowler. The action can only help you in one format, probably T20 where you have to go after the bowling. But he’s been so successful in Test cricket. He’s probably the best bowler in the world right now in all three formats.

On which spinners India should look at for the World Cup:

I think both wristspinners have done a fabulous job for Indian cricket over the last one year. But I still feel that R Ashwin is someone we should look at. A quality spinner is a quality spinner, irrespective of whether you’re a wristspinner or a fingerspinner. Look at what Nathan Lyon has done in the Test series. He’s probably the best offspinner in the world and he’s a fingerspinner. So I feel we should not differentiate that there’s a wristspinner so there’s no space for a finger spinner. Someone like Ashwin, we should always consider. Looking at the conditions in England during that time of the year, the wickets could be dry and a fingerspinner could have an important role.



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Hasan Ali’s counterattacking fifty hauls Pakistan to 203

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Pakistan 203 (Hasan 59, Sarfraz 41, Phehlukwayo 4-22, Shamsi 3-56) v South Africa

Only a check of the schedule would tell you it’s an ODI, much less that it’s being played at Kingsmead. The first innings today took Pakistan back to the Test series, where the short ball was an unconquerable demon, and Duanne Olivier and Kagiso Rabada invincible tormentors. A series of dismissals when the ball was pitched short saw Pakistan hampered in their innings early on, before an inspired performance from Tabraiz Shamsi, deputising for Imran Tahir, helped reduce Pakistan to 112 for 8. The left-arm wristspinner, fighting for a World Cup spot, ended up among the better bowlers, taking three wickets, and at one point appeared to have set up his side for a seemingly straightforward chase.

It required the most delightful joie de vivre sort of innings from Hasan Ali – a character who matches that description to the fullest – to keep Pakistan in the contest. They were 59 of the most uncomplicated runs that saw Pakistan recover to 203. Hasan was responsible for 59 of the 90 runs which came in a ninth-wicket partnership with Sarfraz Ahmed, and was last man dismissed after Andile Phehlukwayo returned to remove both Sarfraz and Hasan in the 46th over.

Hasan’s innings remained in spirit the typical knock of a have-a-go hero, but the sweet timing of the strikes against legitimately world-class bowling gave it the air of conventional classiness you might not expect from Hasan. At any rate, it gave Pakistan more than a fighting chance. It was only thanks to career-best figures from Phehlukwayo that it wasn’t even more, his 4 for 22 including those vital last two wickets that finally put paid to Pakistan’s innings.

Faf du Plessis had won the toss again, this time deciding to let Pakistan bat first after much criticism around his side’s failure to pace their innings well. Pace was never a problem for his fast bowlers, though, who accounted for Pakistan’s top four in the first hour with deliveries that grew big on the batsmen. Imam-ul-Haq mistiming a pull shot off a Rabada ball was a harbinger for what was to come, and Babar Azam was dismissed cheaply much the same way. Then came the now-customary Fakhar Zaman dismissal off a short ball, when Olivier got one to rise towards his grille, the batsman fending it off to gully.

The middle overs might have been an opportunity for rebuilding, but Shamsi had other ideas. Brought in to replace Tahir, he had big boots to fill, and he acted like it. The first ball of his spell drew an edge from Malik that first slip would have pouched had one been placed, and off his fourth delivery, he snared fellow spinner Shadab Khan. It wasn’t long before debutant Hussain Talat, curiously promoted ahead of Sarfraz, fell to perhaps the ball of the innings. An exquisite stock ball beat Talat’s outside edge, drawing him out of his crease while Heinrich Klaasen deftly removed the bails.

Sarfraz, who has been shy of batting too high up the order since becoming captain, finally came in at No. 8. While Pakistan fans might have hoped for a valuable partnership with Shoaib Malik to rescue the side, injudicious shot selection from Malik soon left Pakistan eight down. It was after that that Pakistan’s finest moments in the innings were to arrive, thanks to a refreshingly straightforward innings from Hasan. He threw off the shackles, attacked every bowler he faced, seamer or spinner, his 59 coming off just 45 balls. It included five fours and three sixes, taking Pakistan past 200 where once they looked like they might struggle to reach 125.

South Africa still may be expected to chase this; 203 is, after all, well below par. But where once this looked like it might be headed for an early finish, there may now be a contest to be enjoyed after all.



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