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‘I would have preferred 16 players’ for World Cup – Ravi Shastri

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India coach Ravi Shastri said he would have preferred a 16-member World Cup squad instead of the mandated 15 and urged those who missed out to “not lose heart”.

India announced a 15-strong squad for the tournament starting May 30 in England, and the omissions of batsman Ambati Rayudu and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant had triggered widespread debate.

Shastri steered clear of it, though. “I don’t get involved in selection. If we have any opinion, we let the captain know,” he was quoted as saying by the Sport360 website in Dubai.

“When you only have 15 to pick, there is bound to be someone or the other who misses out, which is very unfortunate. I would have preferred 16 players. We had mentioned to the ICC that in a tournament that long, 16 players makes sense. But the diktat was 15.”

Shastri said those who missed the final 15 should continue to look ahead as opportunity could knock anytime. “They shouldn’t lose heart. It’s a funny game. There could be injuries,” he said. “So you never know when you could be called up.”

Rayudu and Pant, as well as paceman Navdeep Saini, have already been named on standby in case any of the original 15 get injured.

When pressed on Vijay Shankar’s selection for the No. 4 slot months after captain Virat Kohli had declared Rayudu as the front-runner for the position, Shastri said the spot remained a flexible one. “Total flexibility depending on conditions, opposition. I would say the top three but after that you can be very flexible,” he said.

Shastri also brushed aside criticism that India seemed to be too reliant on Kohli to carry them through. “If you look at the last five years, the way the Indian team has performed, they have always been in the top two or three. To be in top two or three for five years in a row, No1 in Tests, again top three in T20 cricket you can’t depend on one player.

“You have that kind of consistent record, you need a bunch of players performing all the time. Due credit to the team.”

Speaking in general about the World Cup, Shastri gave the favourites’ tag to England. “England have been the most consistent team over the last two years,” he said. “They have multi-dimensional players. They have depth in bowling and batting. And they are playing at home. So they would start as favourites.

“But there are so many teams that can beat any team on a given day. In a tournament like the World Cup, you have got to be on top of your game every game.”



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Recent Match Report – Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Kolkata Knight Riders, Indian Premier League, 38th Match

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Toss Sunrisers chose to bowl v Knight Riders

Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson decided to field first against Kolkata Knight Riders in the second day game of the season at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal. The home side are unchanged, while the Knight Riders have made three changes.

They have dropped Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Yadav and Prasidh Krishna, and replaced them with Rinku Singh, KC Cariappa and Prithvi Raj, the 21-year old left-arm pace bowler making his IPL debut.

It is a crucial game for the Knight Riders who have lost their last four games. Sunrisers, on the other hand, are coming off a win against the Super Kings that helped them break a three-match losing streak.

Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Kane Williamson (capt), Vijay Shankar, Deepak Hooda, Yusuf Pathan, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Khaleel Ahmed

Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (capt, wk), Rinku Singh, Piyush Chawla, KC Cariappa, Harry Gurney, Prithvi Raj



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Shadab Khan ruled out of England series with virus

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Legspinner Shadab Khan has been ruled out of the limited-overs series that Paksitan will play in England in the lead-up to the World Cup. Shadab is ill with a virus, though the exact nature of his illness is not known. A PCB release said “tests revealed a virus that will require treatment and rest for, at least, four weeks”.

Shadab is also part of Pakistan’s World Cup squad. Should he not be fit for the showpiece event, the PCB can make changes to the squad without seeking ICC permission till May 23.

The PCB said further investigations into Shadab’s illness will be done in England. “The Pakistan Cricket Board will now set up Shadab’s appointment with specialists in England to help him fully recover before Pakistan’s World Cup 2019 opener against the Windies on 31 May at Trent Bridge,” the PCB release said.

Shadab is the only specialist spinner in Pakistan’s 15 for the World Cup. The PCB is also waiting on the fitness of Mohammad Hafeez, who was included while still recovering from the finger injury he picked up during the Pakistan Super League. Hafeez is Pakistan’s other major spin option, alongside fellow allrounder Imad Wasim.

The series against England includes one T20I and five ODIs, between May 5 and 19. In addition to the World Cup 15, two more players will travel to England for this series: pacer Mohammad Amir and big-hitter Asif Ali. The PCB said it will name a replacement for Shadab for this series in “due course”.

Squad for the World Cup: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez (subject to fitness), Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hasnain, Haris Sohail

Additions for England series: Mohammad Amir, Asif Ali



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Oman ride on Mohammad Nadeem’s sizzling form to overcome USA

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Oman 152 for 4 (Nadeem 55*, Suraj 50*, Ali Khan 4-27) beat USA 148 (Silva 33, Fayyaz 3-23) by six wickets

Allrounder Mohammad Nadeem‘s sizzling 2019 form helped Oman to a six-wicket win over USA at United CC. Coming into the tournament on the back of half-centuries in wins over Scotland and UAE, Nadeem made another unbeaten half-century in a 97-run unbroken stand with Suraj Kumar to repel USA after Ali Khan‘s four-wicket burst.

On a very sluggish outfield and up-and-down pitch in the first innings, USA were bowled out for 148 in just 38.5 overs as a sensational fast bowling effort from Bilal Khan, Kaleemullah and Fayyaz Butt set up what should have been a straightforward chase of a below-par target. The surface had begun to flatten out in the afternoon sun, but Ali took three wickets with the new ball to leave Oman reeling at 17 for 3.

Ali then returned in the 22nd over and struck with his very first ball of a new spell to get captain Zeeshan Maqsood fiddling an edge behind to make it 55 for 4. Curiously though, Ali only bowled two more overs, meaning he bowled two short of his available quota in one of several eyebrow-raising strategic moves on the day for USA, who also left out Nosthush Kenjige from the XI just a few matches after he had claimed 5 for 27 against Lancashire.

With Ali hidden from the attack, Nadeem and Kumar rebuilt the chase and soon became impossible to dislodge. Nadeem ended on 55 not out off 120 balls while Kumar brought up his half-century on the last ball of the match, sweeping Timil Patel for four through midwicket when scores were level.

Hong Kong 223 for 3 (Rath 114*, Atkinson 35, Dutta 2-30) beat Canada 222 for 8 (Jacobs 52*, Kinchit 4-34) by seven wickets

Hong Kong captain Anshy Rath helped construct a trio of half-century stands, including 90 for the first wicket with former captain Jamie Atkinson to chase down Canada’s 222 with 16 balls to spare at Affies Park.

It was Rath’s second ton for Hong Kong in the last eight months after compiling 102 in a win over UAE at the Asia Cup Qualifier in Malaysia. In addition to the stand with Atkinson, Rath added 50 with Kinchit Shah and another 63 with Ahsan Abbasi for the third wicket.

It was a superb all-round day for Kinchit, who bowled spin with the new ball and claimed the prized scalp of Ruvindu Gunasekera with his fourth ball of the day before coming back to take a hat-trick in the final over. With captain Davy Jacobs red-hot on 52 off 53 balls, he went ice cold at the non-striker’s end watching helplessly as Kinchit nabbed Saad bin Zafar, Dilon Heyliger and Nikhil Dutta with the last three balls of the innings to ensure Canada were defending a below part total.

Namibia 120 for 7 (Frylinck 23*, Amini 3-46) beat PNG 118 (Soper 36, Frylinck 3-16, Williams 3-25, Smit 3-34) by three wickets

Jan Frylinck played a vital role in a low-scoring thriller to help the tournament hosts off to a winning start against Papua New Guinea. Frylinck snared the prized pair of Tony Ura and captain Assad Vala inside the Powerplay and from there, PNG’s innings never gained any momentum. Chad Soper stretched the innings out with 36 from No. 6 before he was last person out in the 43rd for Frylinck’s third victim.

The early part of Namibia’s chase wasn’t much better than what PNG had produced. After legspinner Charles Amini ripped though the middle-order, Christi Viljoe was runout for 8 to leave Namibia 67 for 6 chasing a target of 119.

But Frylinck followed up his wickets with an instrumental 23 not out off of 20 balls to get Namibia over the line with a whopping 19.3 overs to spare. It means they hold a sizeable early advantage with the tournament tiebreaker of net run rate.





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