Siraj stars as India rout Sri Lanka for eighth Asia Cup crown

Siraj stars as India rout Sri Lanka for eighth Asia Cup crown
India players celebrate with the trophy after their win in the Asia Cup cricket final against Sri Lanka, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, Sept.17, 2023. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 17 September 2023
Follow

Siraj stars as India rout Sri Lanka for eighth Asia Cup crown

Siraj stars as India rout Sri Lanka for eighth Asia Cup crown
  • Sri Lanka’s miserably low total in the 50-over contest left a nearly packed house disappointed after they witnessed just 116 minutes of play

COLOMBO: Pace bowler Mohammed Siraj returned figures of 6-21 to lead India’s rout of Sri Lanka by 10 wickets as they clinched their eighth Asia Cup title on Sunday.
Siraj got four wickets in one over to help skittle Sri Lanka out for 50, a total the Indian openers Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill surpassed in 6.1 overs for an impressive victory ahead of next month’s ODI World Cup at home.
Sri Lanka’s miserably low total in the 50-over contest left a nearly packed house disappointed after they witnessed just 116 minutes of play.
The hosts elected to bat first following a delayed start due to rain and pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah struck first with the wicket of Kusal Perera, caught behind for a duck in the first over.
Siraj soon took over as he made the ball swing and seam in overcast conditions to easily surpass his previous ODI best of 4-32.
He got Pathum Nissanka for two and then struck on successive balls to send back Sadeera Samarawickrama (0) and Charith Asalanka (0), but a hat-trick was averted.
Dhananjaya de Silva hit a boundary but Siraj had him caught behind with the next ball, much to the delight of the Indian fans.
Siraj got his fifth with the wicket of Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka, equalling an ODI record for the fastest five-wicket haul from his first 16 balls of the match.
Kusal Mendis hit three boundaries before becoming Siraj’s sixth wicket, although Sri Lanka avoided the lowest-ever ODI total of 35 by Zimbabwe.
After Virat Kohli’s overthrow went for a boundary, and six more runs to the total, Sri Lanka pushed past their lowest ODI total of 43 scored against South Africa in 2012.
Hardik Pandya took three wickets to wrap up the innings in just 90 minutes.
Mendis’ 17 and an unbeaten 13 by Dushan Hemantha were the only double-digit scores in an innings that featured five ducks.
Shubman Gill, a centurion in the previous match, began with a boundary in the opening over on his way to an unbeaten 27 and fellow opener Ishan Kishan (23) soon joined the party.
The left-handed Ishan smashed fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana for two successive boundaries, and three more in a row from Gill gave India victory in the tournament’s shortest final.
Rohit Sharma’s India dropped just one match in the tournament after they lost an inconsequential Super Four contest against Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka, who won the previous edition of the Asia Cup played in the T20 format, came in as underdogs and snuck into the Super Fours with a dramatic win over Afghanistan but went down without a fight in their 11th final.


Blitzers, Pearls, Thunderbolts and Marvels register wins in ILT20 Development Tournament’s opening weekend

Blitzers, Pearls, Thunderbolts and Marvels register wins in ILT20 Development Tournament’s opening weekend
Updated 14 min 58 sec ago
Follow

Blitzers, Pearls, Thunderbolts and Marvels register wins in ILT20 Development Tournament’s opening weekend

Blitzers, Pearls, Thunderbolts and Marvels register wins in ILT20 Development Tournament’s opening weekend
  • Six squads finalized through a Player Draft are competing in the 18-match contest in Dubai
  • Preparations for DP World ILT20 season 2 in full swing following the success of first edition

DUBAI: The Blitzers, Pearls, Thunderbolts and Marvels have recorded impressive wins in the opening weekend of the ILT20 Development Tournament.

The contest is aimed at providing an opportunity for UAE players to grab 13 spots still up for grabs in the DP World ILT20 season two.

In the tournament opener, player of the match Usman Khan’s unbeaten 68 off 52 balls (nine fours, one six) ensured a comfortable seven wicket win for the Blitzers. The 115-run chase was delivered without any major hiccups, with 20 balls to spare.

Earlier, the Marvels lost opener Mayank Choudhry on the tournament’s very first ball, and struggled to get going in their innings after being asked to bat first. Young all-rounder Aayan Afzal Khan top-scored with 24 runs while captain Basil Hameed scored 20. Uzair Khan and Muhammad Zubair took three wickets each as the Marvels were bowled out for 114 in 18.1 overs.

The Pearls recorded a 19-run win against the Dynamos in the second match on Saturday — a competitive 151 for eight in their 20 overs. Asked to bat first, the Pearls were well served by their opener Aryansh Sharma who scored a blazing 63 off 41 balls with the help of six fours and two sixes. All-rounder Zawar Farid (player of the match) had a memorable game as he first contributed 26 useful runs with the bat in a 42-run fifth wicket partnership with Aryansh before taking four wickets with the ball.

The Dynamos got off to a flying start but failed to maintain the momentum as wickets fell at regular intervals. Opener Samal Udawaththa top scored with 28, and Muhammad Shahdad made a 23-run contribution. Zawar gave away a mere 20 runs in his 3.4 overs for his four wickets. Adhitya Shetty was also impressive with the ball, at three for 27.

In the opening match on Sunday and third of the tournament, Asif Khan’s 87 not out (59 balls, six fours, six sixes) for the Braves went in vain as the Thunderbolts powered through the 166-run chase for the loss of five wickets.

The Braves were asked to bat first and posted a competitive 165-run total on the back of Asif’s blazing innings, the opener hitting some lusty blows to propel his side past the 160-run mark. Junaid Shamzu smashed 31 off 10 balls (two fours, three sixes) in an unbroken 65-run alliance with Asif.

The Thunderbolts chased down the runs courtesy of an unbeaten 19-ball 45 by Ansh Tandon. The left-hander hit two fours and five sixes in his brilliant innings. Captain Rohan Mustafa scored 43 off 36 balls (six fours), and the Thunderbolts completed the chase with three balls left. Haider Ali took two wickets.

The Marvels registered their first win when they defeated the Pearls by seven wickets in the second match on Sunday. Batting first, the Marvels could only manage a paltry 121-run total. Player of the match Muhammad Zuhaib and Aayan Afzal Khan took four and three wickets respectively as the Marvels struggled to get going.

The 122-run chase was duly completed by the Marvels in 17.2 overs. Opener Mayank Choudhry top-scored with 47 off 49 balls (five fours, one six), and captain Rahul Chopra scored an unbeaten 31 off 23.


How cricket, football learned to co-exist in harmony

How cricket, football learned to co-exist in harmony
Updated 28 September 2023
Follow

How cricket, football learned to co-exist in harmony

How cricket, football learned to co-exist in harmony
  • Gap between end of soccer season, start of cricket season, vice versa, getting smaller
  • Spurred on by the perceived sleight that football was encroaching into the cricket season, Jack Frost XI was born

Autumn is fast approaching in the Western world, a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, according to the English poet John Keats. It also marks the end of the cricket season in England and Wales, as the final first-class matches ended on Sept. 29.

It is a month later than it used to be in my boyhood. Then, there was a fairly clear demarcation between summer and winter sports.

Sixty years ago, the 1964 first-class cricket season began on May 6 and ended on Sept. 1. The English football league matches kicked off on Aug. 22, the last match in the 1963 to 1964 season having been played on April 27. There was a gap of almost four months.

Times have changed. Setting aside long football World Cup tournaments, regional, international, and club competitions, and extended international pre-season events, domestic fixture schedules have been elongated.

The opening 2023 to 2024 English Premier League fixture was on Aug. 11. The last one is scheduled for May 19. In the previous season, the last fixtures were played on May 28. The gap has narrowed to less than three months.

This is anathema to diehard cricket lovers. Some of them have been known to take it to extremes.

One Saturday in early September 1961, when the cricket and football seasons marginally overlapped, a team of cricketers bought an evening paper, another relic of the past.

Much to their chagrin, they had difficulty locating the cricket scores among the football coverage. Spurred on by this perceived sleight that soccer was encroaching into their season, they resolved to fight back.

The outcome was a match played on Dec. 26. Interestingly, they chose the 20-over format, long before it was introduced professionally in 2002. Soup and baked potatoes comprised lunch between innings. Spirits were provided at 10-over breaks. The event was repeated in 1962.

Given that wintry conditions were ever probable, an appropriate team name was adopted – Jack Frost XI.

The origins of Jack Frost are uncertain, but he is usually caricatured as a mischievous boy who personifies frost, formed when water vapor is deposited onto freezing surfaces. However, he failed to stop the Jack Frost XI from blossoming into a healthy club, which exists until this day.

In 1975, it played in every month of the year and has undertaken both domestic and overseas tours. Cricket has also been played on ice, as early as 1826. An international tournament, Cricket on Ice, has been played on Lake St. Moritz since 1989.

Another consequence of the closing of the gap between the end of the football season and the beginning of the cricket season – and vice versa – was to eliminate the dual professional. These were players who excelled at both a summer and winter sport to the extent that they performed at the highest levels in both. There are four categories of these talented individuals in England.

First, there are 13 who were double internationals, representing England at both cricket and football, 12 men and one woman. The last man to achieve this was Arthur Milton in 1959, but Clare Taylor made her mark in the 1990s.

Secondly, there are 22 individuals who have played cricket for England and professional football. This group includes Denis Compton, who did play football for England, but in unofficial wartime matches. Ian Botham is also in the group. The last player to achieve the feat did so in 1985.

Thirdly, there are 72 individuals who have played first-class cricket in England and have turned out for the England football team. The latest was Geoff Hurst, who played one first-class cricket match in 1962 and is most famously known for scoring a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final.

The fourth group of 64 individuals played both first-class cricket and professional football.

Since 1980, these dual arrangements have been scarce. Currently, in English first-class cricket, there is only one player who has played professional football and is performing at county level.

It should be no surprise that there are many individuals who are multi-talented in sport. Increasingly over the last 50 years, they have had to make a choice on which sport they should focus.

Gary Neville, best known as a football pundit following a trophy laden career at Manchester United, played cricket for Lancashire at under-14 level.

Jonty Rhodes, a South African cricketer and outstanding fielder, was part of his country’s hockey team in the 1992 Olympics.

A more recent South African player, AB de Villiers, who retired from cricket in 2021, is one of few players to average more than 50 in both Test and one-day international cricket. He was also a talented tennis player, but practice sessions clashed unforgivingly with cricket.

An all-time cricketing great, Vivian Richards, represented Antigua in a qualifying match for the 1974 football World Cup. Botham, his friend and foe, had to choose between football and cricket in his youth, having been offered an apprenticeship by a First Division club.

Although he did play 11 matches for a lower division club, Botham’s choice of cricket proved to be a wise one.

One of India’s most famous dual sporting personalities was Subimal “Chuni” Goswami. He captained India at football, most famously to gold in the 1962 Asian Games. In that year, he made his debut for the Bengal cricket team, playing with distinction until 1973.

Since 1980, the opportunities for multi-talented individuals to pursue a prolonged dual-sport professional career have become practically impossible.

A classic case is Ellyse Perry. At 16, in 2006, she made her debuts for both the Australian women’s cricket and football teams. Between 2012 and 2016, clashes between cricket and football demands resulted in a focus on cricket, in which she is regarded as one of the greatest ever female players.

The spread of multi-format cricket for both men and women, accompanied by increased remuneration, demands that players are full-time, single sport, professional athletes. Effectively, this renders futile any nostalgia for demarcation to exist between sporting seasons.


90 UAE cricketers to feature in ILT20 Development Tournament

90 UAE cricketers to feature in ILT20 Development Tournament
Updated 25 September 2023
Follow

90 UAE cricketers to feature in ILT20 Development Tournament

90 UAE cricketers to feature in ILT20 Development Tournament
  • ILT20 Blitzers, ILT20 Braves, ILT20 Dynamos, ILT20 Marvels, ILT20 Pearls and ILT20 Thunderbolts to compete in the 18-match competition

DUBAI: UAE captain Muhammad Waseem will lead the ILT20 Marvels in the inaugural ILT20 Development Tournament that begins at the ICC Academy Grounds, Dubai from Saturday, Sept. 30.

A total of 90 players (15 per side) made it to the six squads via a player draft held earlier this week.

The tournament will provide an opportunity to UAE’s domestic players as well as those who have played internationals (ODIs and T20Is) to showcase their talent and impress the DP World ILT20 franchises for selection in the squads for Season 2.

Ali Abid will captain the ILT20 Blitzers, Muhammad Usman will skipper the ILT20 Braves, Karthik Meiyappan will lead ILT20 Dynamos while seasoned UAE batter Rohan Mustafa will be in charge of the ILT20 Thunderbolts.

Each team will play five matches in the group stage, with the top-four sides at the end of the group stage progressing to the semifinals. The final will be played on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

The six squads were chosen by their respective head coaches and support staff.

The head coaches include Rizwan Arshad (Braves), Sandeep Dhuri (Blitzers), Jared Davids (Dynamos), Rejith Arjun (Marvels), Shahzada Saleem (Pearls) and Khurram Khan (Thunderbolts). Tournament Director of the ILT20 Development Tournament Andy Russell oversaw the selection process.

Six franchises of DP World ILT20 have retained 11 UAE players as part of their squads for Season 2. This means 13 spots are still up for grabs (franchises need to have at least four UAE players in their squads).

Out of the 11 retained players from Season 1, the following eight will participate in the ILT20 Development Tournament: Aayan Afzal Khan (Gulf Giants), Junaid Siddique (Sharjah Warriors), Matiullah (Abu Dhabi Knight Riders), Mohammad Waseem (MI Emirates), Muhammad Jawadullah (Sharjah Warriors), Rohan Mustafa (Desert Vipers), Sanchit Sharma (Gulf Giants) and Zahoor Khan (MI Emirates).

All participating players (other than the 11 retained) will be eligible for selection in DP World ILT20 Season 2. The 13 vacant spots for UAE players across the six franchises will be filled via a DP World ILT20 organized Player Draft that will take place after the ILT20 Development Tournament.

Chief Executive Officer DP World ILT20 David White: “We are delighted to launch the ILT20 Development Tournament. We have been very clear in our approach from the beginning and want to reiterate that the DP World ILT20 is all about developing the game in the UAE.

“The DP World ILT20 Season 1 provided a world-class platform to our players, besides our established stars, youngsters like Aayan Afzal Khan, Sanchit Sharma and Ali Naseer learned a great deal by rubbing shoulders with the best in the world and their progress since the last edition is a testament to the success of the league especially from a development point of view.

“I am sure that we will see some new stars emerge from the ILT20 Development Tournament this year and their performances will provide some fantastic selection options for our six DP World ILT20 franchises.”


Captains face range of challenges ahead of Cricket World Cup

Captains face range of challenges ahead of Cricket World Cup
Updated 21 September 2023
Follow

Captains face range of challenges ahead of Cricket World Cup

Captains face range of challenges ahead of Cricket World Cup
  • While tactics and strategy are vital ingredients for any skipper, so are leadership and a proper grasp of human relations

Sometimes a captain of a cricket team gets a decision wrong. It happened to Sri Lanka’s captain, Dasun Shanaka, in the Asia Cup Final last Sunday in Colombo. He won the toss and chose to bat under clear skies. Before play could start, rain arrived, causing a 40-minute delay.

By the time the innings opened, overcast skies created a different set of conditions to those envisaged at the toss. In 15.2 overs, India’s bowlers demolished the Sri Lankan team, which could only total 50 runs. India then raced to victory in only 6.1 overs without loss.

Expectant home supporters were left surprised and disappointed at an embarrassing performance, which was Sri Lanka’s lowest total in a home match in the ODI format. This came after the delirious scenes that greeted Sri Lanka’s victory over Pakistan the previous Thursday, one which secured a place in Sunday’s final.

Inevitably, criticism has been levelled at Shanaka. In hindsight, he should have chosen to bowl. India’s captain said that he would have chosen to bat, had he won the toss.

Irrespective of the Shanaka’s decision, it is his ODI form that has drawn the most attention. After scoring a century against India in January 2023, his subsequent 17 innings have generated only 150 runs at an average of 9.4. This fell to 5 in the Asia Cup. During his pre-final press conference, he said that his captaincy was more important than his batting. He may have a point.

Since July 2021, he has led the team in 39 ODIs, achieving a 61percent-win ratio. As captain in 48 T20Is since October 2019, his win ratio is 49 percent. While these ratios are some way short of the highest ones achieved of 70-80 percent, there has been an improvement in Sri Lanka’s results under Shanaka’s leadership. This has stabilized Sri Lanka’s fragile relationships between board, players and political forces. It even embraced victory in the 2022 Asia Cup, played in T20I format.

Another captain under pressure prior to the 2023 ICC men’s ODI World Cup is Pakistan’s Babar Azam. His place in the team is assured, given that he is regularly ranked in the top-three batters across all formats. However, by all accounts, he struggled to keep his feelings in check after his team’s defeat by Sri Lanka last week.

The match went down to the final over, from which eight runs were required. The over was entrusted to a debutant bowler, in the team because of injuries to two regular quick bowlers. It seemed as if he might be the hero, narrowing the target to six from the final two deliveries and two from the final one, Sri Lanka having only one wicket to fall, a player having been injured during the match. Amid the drama, Sri Lanka’s striker squeezed out two runs to secure a place in the final.

In the post-match press conference, Azam was gracious, remarking that Sri Lanka played better cricket and that Pakistan was not “up to the mark with its bowling and fielding.” Later, rumors emerged that he was less than gracious in the dressing room, voicing disappointment with the performance of certain senior players, one of whom took objection. Another intervened to calm the situation down. Given that the result denied Pakistan a tilt at India in the final, backlash against the result from supporters and observers would be anticipated, most of all by Azam.

Losing dressing rooms are not usually a happy place to be, particularly after semifinals. This defeat will have been especially difficult to digest and Azam’s reaction will have reflected disappointment at his own form, the loss of key players and a feeling that several players could have done more to help. In any case, such internal discussions should not be leaked and there have been subsequent denials of disharmony. In my experience, harmony within teams is difficult to achieve and, unsurprisingly, is most likely to occur when the team is winning. Even then, there are certain personalities that do not gel.

In this respect, it was revealing to listen to one of England’s most successful captains, Mike Brearley, speak this week at a talk to promote his latest book, “Turning Over the Pebbles.”

Brearley made 39 appearances for England between 1976 and 1981. He was captain for 31 matches, of which 18 were won and only four lost. Most famously, he was recalled as captain in 1981 midway through a series against Australia, after Ian Botham resigned the post.

In the third Test at Headingley, Leeds, England stared defeat in the face, five wickets down and 122 runs behind in its second innings. Encouraged by Brearley, Botham launched a ferocious counterattack culminating in Australia needing 129 runs to win. They were bowled out for 111.

This and other results have led Brearley to be labelled a “lucky” captain, something that he does not deny. However, there are many nuances and subtleties to him, someone whom an Australian player referred to as having a “degree in people.” It is an appropriate epithet.

He studied Classics at Cambridge, afterwards lecturing in philosophy. Along the way, he developed an interest in psychoanalysis, which he has practiced for 40 years. The book seeks to bring together these strands of his life, turning them over, like pebbles, to see what lies behind.

What is clear is that he relished being captain. Tactics and strategy are vital ingredients but without a proper grasp of human relations they are not enough. Empathy, truthfulness and courage are required in dealing with team members. Brearley was well versed in these attributes and was able to persuade seasoned professionals to change well-trodden paths. There are few admissions of mistakes, yet he questions if he was good enough as a player to justify his place in the team. Shanaka’s place is being questioned but he backs his leadership qualities. Azam’s playing abilities are not in question, but his leadership qualities are. One can only speculate what advice Brearley might offer the pair.


Saudi Arabia loses to Kuwait in Gulf Cricket T20I Championship opener

Saudi Arabia loses to Kuwait in Gulf Cricket T20I Championship opener
Updated 15 September 2023
Follow

Saudi Arabia loses to Kuwait in Gulf Cricket T20I Championship opener

Saudi Arabia loses to Kuwait in Gulf Cricket T20I Championship opener
  • Opting to bat first after winning the toss in the opening match, Saudi Arabia put in a total of 142 runs in 20 overs with the loss of 9 wickets
  • Faisal Khan was the highest scorer from the Saudi side, with 62 runs in 42 balls, hitting 9 fours and a six

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia lost to Kuwait by five wickets in the tournament opener of the Gulf Cricket T20I Championship 2023 at the West End International Cricket Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Friday.
Opting to bat first after winning the toss in the opening match, Saudi Arabia put in a total of 142 runs in 20 overs with the loss of 9 wickets.
Faisal Khan was the highest scorer from the Saudi side, with 62 runs in 42 balls, hitting 9 fours and a six. His opening partner, Abdul Waheed, scored just 3 runs in as many balls.
The other top scorers were Saad Khan (23), Zainul Abiding (19), and Sarfraz Butt (13). Captain Hisham Sheikh scored 9 runs in 17 balls.
Kuwaiti bowlers Mohammed Aslam and Adnan Idrees took 2 wickets each, helping their side to restrict Saudi Arabia to 142.
Chasing a modest total, the Kuwaiti team started cautiously with an opening partnership of 51 runs when Adnan Idrees was caught on 31.
His opening partner, Ravija Sandaruwan, played a brilliant inning of 58 runs on 41 balls, hitting 3 fours and as many sixes.
Meet Bhavsar made a good contribution of 31 runs on 28 balls, bringing the team closer to victory with Sandaruwan.
Though some wickets fell in quick succession by disciplined bowling in the middle by the Saudi side, Kuwait scored the winning run on the third ball of the 19th over, with 5 wickets and 9 balls remaining.
Ishtiaq Ahmad, Zainul Abidin and Hisham Sheikh took a wicket each, while two Kuwaiti players were run out.
Six Gulf countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar — feature in the maiden Gulf Cricket T20I Championship.
“The wait is over. The Saudi national team is all set for the big day, beginning their run in the Gulf Cricket Tournament against the Kuwait national team this evening,” the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation said before the match on Friday.
“We wish all the best to our national team,” the federation told Arab News.
“Our second match in the Gulf Cricket T20I Championship 2023 will be on Sept. 17 against the UAE, (the) third match is scheduled to be held on Sept. 18 against Bahrain, (the) fourth match on Sept. 20 against Oman, and the fifth and last match (is) on Sept. 21 against Qatar, which is hosting the first T20I Gulf Cricket Championship in Doha from Sept. 15-23.”
The Saudi lineup includes Usman Najeeb, Zainul Abidin, Atifur Rehman, Mohammed Hisham Sheikh, Ishtiaq Ahmad, Abdul Waheed, Zeeshan Sarfraz Butt, Faisal Khan, Saad Khan, Kashif Abbas, Ahmed Abdul Waheed, Mohammed Khalander Mustafa, Mohsin Shabbir and Abdul Manan Ali.
Speaking to the media following a preparatory meeting late last month, Qatar Cricket Association CEO Khaled Al-Suwaidi has said that arrangements have been completed to host the tournament.
“This cricket tournament will be a milestone in the Gulf region and is expected to achieve great development of this sport in the region,” he said.
The hosting of the Gulf Cricket T20I Championship will rotate annually between the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, under the auspices of the International Cricket Council and in accordance with rules set by the ICC for the game.