Mickey Arthur makes case for return of cricket to Pakistan

Nine years after the armed attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has said he hopes Pakistan can return home. (AFP)
Updated 26 April 2018
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Mickey Arthur makes case for return of cricket to Pakistan

LAHORE: Nine years after the armed attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has said he hopes Pakistan are “really close” to hosting the world’s leading teams there again.
International cricket in Pakistan was effectively suspended for several years after the 2009 attack, with only Zimbabwe playing several limited-overs fixtures in Pakistan three years ago.
The side have subsequently welcomed a World XI and last year played a Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in Lahore, while earlier this month they completed a 3-0 at home to the West Indies, the World Twenty20 champions.
Test cricket has yet to resume in Pakistan, with the UAE remaining their “home away from home.”
But that is something the Pakistan coach hopes is coming to an end, with the South African certain that top-class teams will soon be touring the country.
“I hope we’re really close,” Arthur said. “The color, the passion, the excitement for our local people to see cricket there was amazing, and for our players to play in front of their fans and families and just play at home was amazing.
“We’ve had a couple of those now — the World XI, Sri Lanka and now the West Indies,” he said. “They were great occasions, so let’s hope that opens the door once again.”
Arthur, a former head coach of South Africa and Australia, was speaking ahead of the side’s two-Test series against England. Arthur’s first Test series in charge of Pakistan ended in an impressive 2-2 draw there in 2016.
England will come into the contest following Test series defeats in both Australia and New Zealand, but Arthur expects them to prove far more threatening on home soil.
“It’s a little bit early to get too controversial,” said a smiling Arthur when asked if Pakistan could exploit the “weakness” of an England top-order featuring captain Joe Root.
“I saw Dawid Malan play exceptionally well in Perth ... we know Root is world class, (Jonny) Bairstow is world class; they are a really good side.”
Pakistan, described by Arthur as a “young team trying to resurrect our Test side” following the retirements of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, will look to left-arm paceman Mohammed Amir to lead their attack.
Amir, whose career was almost ended by a jail term and suspension for spot-fixing during the 2010 Lord’s Test, has been a key man for Pakistan since making his international return in 2016.
The 26-year-old is a proven swing bowler in English conditions. “He is our number one bowler, we back him in tough situations,” Arthur said.
“We need him to get the ball swinging, we need him to get his length slightly fuller, and if he gets that he’s going to ask a lot of questions.”


Hardik Pandya sparks England collapse as India take control of third Test

Updated 49 min 41 sec ago
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Hardik Pandya sparks England collapse as India take control of third Test

NOTTINGHAM: Hardik Pandya took five wickets and debutant wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant claimed five catches before India’s batsmen piled on the agony for England in the third Test at Trent Bridge.
India were 124 for two in their second innings at stumps on Sunday’s second day, an already commanding lead of 292 runs in a game where victory would see them keep the series alive at 2-1 down in a five-match contest.
Cheteshwar Pujara was 33 not out and India captain Virat Kohli, whose 97 was key to his side’s first-innings 329, eight not out with three days left in the game.
Earlier, England collapsed to 161 all out in a first innings that lasted a mere 38.2 overs.
All-rounder Pandya took five wickets for 28 runs in six overs, including four for eight in 11 balls, as he revelled in the swing-friendly conditions.
This was the second time this year that England had lost all 10 wickets inside a session of Test cricket following an embarrassing 58 all out against New Zealand in Auckland in March.
The irony was that England enjoyed a solid opening partnership to be 54 without loss.
But the exit of left-handers Alastair Cook (29) and Keaton Jennings (20) on that total sparked a collapse that saw eight wickets lost for 74 runs.
Only Jos Buttler’s 39 kept India at bay and denied Kohli the chance of enforcing the follow-on.
Admittedly, the overcast conditions made batting difficult, but England’s top-order problems run deeper than bad luck with the weather.
When Cook edged Ishant Sharma to give Pant an easy first Test catch it meant England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer had made 252 runs in the format at a meagre average of 19.38 this year.
Next ball, Jennings, one of 12 batsmen to have opened in Tests with Cook since Andrew Strauss retired six years ago, was squared up by the recalled Jasprit Bumrah and nicked to Pant.
New batsman Ollie Pope fell for 10 when a genuine glance off Sharma was well caught down the legside by the 20-year-old keeper.
England captain Joe Root only managed 16 before he edged all-rounder Pandya’s first ball low to KL Rahul at second slip.
The umpires called for a review but made a ‘soft signal’ of out and the on-field call was upheld.
Ben Stokes, recalled just days after being acquitted of an affray charge on Tuesday following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September last year, walked out to a few boos from the crowd.
He could only manage 10 before an edge off paceman Mohammed Shami flew waist-high to Rahul.
Chris Woakes had bailed out the top-order with a maiden Test century in England’s innings and 159-run win at Lord’s last week.
But trying to hook Pandya on eight, he got a top edge and Pant, going down the legside, changed direction and lept back to his right before holding a brilliant one-handed catch.
England were now 118 for seven.
The first ball of Pandya’s next over saw Adil Rashid well caught by Pant, two-handed this time.
Stuart Broad survived the hat-trick ball but was still out for a duck, the left-hander plumb lbw to a Pandya inswinger.
At 128 for nine, England still needed two more runs to avoid the follow-on.
They got them when Buttler’s leading edge off Shami just cleared Ajinkya Rahane at cover-point.
Buttler, with just last man James Anderson for company, hooked and drove sixes off Shami and Sharma respectively before he holed out off Bumrah.
India’s openers put on a brisk 60 before Rahul (36) deflected a drive off Stokes onto his stumps and Shikhar Dhawan (44) was stumped by Bairstow off leg-spinner Rashid.
But when play ended in bright sunshine, England needed to surpass the record fourth innings score to win a Test at Trent Bridge, their own 284 for six against New Zealand in 2004, to achieve an improbable success.