IPL

Buttler obliterates Warner-less Sunrisers

By Sports Desk May 02, 2021

Jos Buttler smashed a majestic century as Rajasthan Royals compounded Sunrisers Hyderabad's Indian Premier League misery with a dominant 55-run victory.

The Sunrisers, bottom of the standings with six defeats from seven, made the dramatic decision to strip David Warner of their captaincy on Saturday and there was no place in their XI for the deposed Australia opener.

Buttler proceeded to provide the sort of fireworks at the top of the order that are seemingly beyond Warner at present, plundering a maiden T20 ton in style as he smashed 124 from 64 deliveries, with 11 fours and eight sixes, to account for the bulk of an imposing 220-3.

Despite the promise of first-wicket stand of 57 between Manish Pandey (31) and Jonny Bairstow (30), Hyderabad's chase never really threatened and they limped to 165-8 – left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman (3-20) the pick of the Rajasthan attack.

Although he had twice come close with knocks of 49 and 41, Buttler entered the match without a half-century to his name in six previous attempts this season.

The England star was not initially at his fluent best, gutsing his way to a 39-ball fifty after surviving an lbw shout from Rashid Khan on seven, the leg-spinner dismissing Buttler's opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal for 12 in similar fashion.

Supported by skipper Sanju Samson (48) in a 150-run stand for the second wicket, Buttler cut loose. The 15th over, Mohammad Nabi's sole contribution with the ball, disappeared for 21, and by the time Sandeep Sharma (1-50) forced him to drag on, Buttler had already walloped three sixes and a four from the penultimate over.

Pandey and Bairstow made light of Warner's axing, although Mustafizur bowled the former off his pads with a slower ball and the procession that followed Buttler's England colleague perishing at long-on off Rahul Tewatia (1-45) showed Hyderabad's problems are myriad.

New skipper Kane Williamson scored 20 off 21 deliveries and any lingering hope was gone when he became Kartik Tyagi's first IPL wicket.

Kedar Jadhav's run-a-ball 19 was the best any one else could muster and he was bowled to be one of three victims for Chris Morris (3-29).

Patience pays off for Buttler

It seems unusual to flag up how a batsman who flayed the opposition to all parts actually played within himself initially, but Buttler shrewdly recognised his way out of a relative slump. "I think sometimes you have to swallow your ego when you're not in perfect touch," he said when receiving the man-of-the-match award.

"You have to give yourself time and find your way. I tried to stay in and keep the belief that something will click." As the final 25 deliveries Buttler faced disappeared for 74, it was fair to say something exploded.

A new role for Rashid

Khan was into the attack early for Hyderabad, Williamson breaking from Warner's habit of using the spinner in the middle overs. The skipper was partially vindicated by the early wicket and it would have been a very different contest had Buttler not survived.

However, Khan's allocation being used by the 11th over arguably left the Sunrisers exposed to one of the most destructive batsman on the planet and lacking the means to check his charge.

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  • Sharpened Knives Now Drawn And Pointed At West Indies’ Harper Led Selections Panel Sharpened Knives Now Drawn And Pointed At West Indies’ Harper Led Selections Panel

    (This column was originally published in the Stabroek News newspaper)

    “Knives for Roger Harper and his hallucinating band of selectors, aren't yet drawn. But surely, they are being sharpened!"

    Those were the words of the seasoned Jamaican cricket journalist Ray Ford, in reaction to the storm of controversy that has been created as a result of the choices made by Selections’ Chair Roger Harper and his Panel for the West Indies official squad of 15 plus four reserves to participate in the forthcoming ICC 2021 T20 World Cup. The 2021 ICC T20 World Cup will be held in the UAE from October 17 – November 13.

    Further revelations from the most recent episodes of the West Indies World Cup Squad “selections fiasco,” would now suggest that the sharpened knives have since not only been drawn but that it is now only a matter of time before they are used to pierce the tenure of Roger Harper, Miles Bascome and Head Coach Phil Simmons as members of the West Indies Selections Panel with terminal effect!

    The Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) was among the first to publicly question the Panel’s competence. Angered by the Selections Panel’s omission of Sherfayne Rutherford on the grounds of his not having met the established fitness criteria, the GCB suggested that Cricket West Indies (CWI) should advise the Caribbean cricket public regarding the standard and schedule for fitness tests for regional cricketers.

    Stating that the Selections Panel has disappointed both Guyana and the Caribbean at large, while referring to its decisions as a “selection fiasco,” the GCB called for the Panel to be made accountable to all cricket institutions and stakeholders in the region and to justify its choices.
    “Failure to do so, the GCB calls on CWI to dismiss the Selections Panel and to replace it with a more competent one which will represent the best interests of West Indies cricket!”
    In addition to the GCB’s issued statement, several Caribbean Heads of States have also weighed in with their own criticisms of the selected squad. The respective Prime Ministers of Barbados and St Vincent, the Honorable Mia Mottley and Dr Ralph Gonsalves, as well as Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali, have all expressed their profound disappointment and disagreement with some of the Harper-led Selections Panel’s choices.

    Further, the former West Indies fast bowling legendary great, Sir Andy Roberts, referred to the Selections Panel’s non-inclusion of Barbadian Jason Holder, within the final squad of fifteen and his relegation to the status of a mere reserve as “embarrassing!”

    Holder holds the current ICC ranking as international cricket’s best all-rounder. He is also the Cricket West Indies’ only all formats, Tests, ODIs and T20s, contracted player.

    Holder’s relegations as a reserve, the medical exemptions provided to Chris Gayle and Ravi Rampaul, as well as the reported non-consideration of Odean Smith and Sherfayne Rutherford as a result of their respective failures to meet the established fitness criteria for West Indies selection. These are uppermost among the far too many highly questionable World Cup Squad decisions made by Harper and his Panel.

    It can now arguably be said that never before in Caribbean cricket’s illustrious history has a selected West Indies squad caused such controversy. The very centre of which appears to be the glaringly apparent inconsistencies surrounding the fitness standards that were applied to determine selection, or conversely non-selection, of certain players to the squad.

    Where is the consistency between the medical exemptions granted to Chris Gayle and Ravi Rampaul and the non-consideration of Smith and Rutherford for not having met the established fitness criteria? That is the very simple question now being asked of Harper and his Panel. Shouldn’t “what’s good for the goose, also be granted to the gander?”

    Furthermore, as Sir Andy Roberts has also correctly reasoned as important a tournament as the T20 World Cup is, coupled with the fact that we are the reigning Champions seeking to defend our title, why are we even considering, let alone actually including players who are in need of medical exemptions?

    The former West Indies opening batsman, Bryan Davis’ reaction to the fitness-related decisions of Harper and his Panel was even more damning.

    “This is dangerous territory we’re entering and the precedent being set for future selectors by the disqualification of young promising players while giving past successful players a medical exemption is a sign of dishonesty in selection policy. One is either fit enough to take his place in the team or he’s not. Every international cricketer walking out on that field to represent WI must deserve his place on the team by his performances and by extension his fitness. Equal status for all.”

    Harper himself has also attracted the ire of former West Indies opening batsman Philo Wallace. The outspoken Wallace has highly criticized Harper’s self-admitted decision as Selection Chairman to leave the determination of Obed McCoy’s fitness readiness for the World Cup in the hands of Cricket West Indies’ Medical Committee.

    As one of the designated death bowlers and hence a vital member of the West Indies’ World Cup bowling attack, McCoy has reportedly been suffering from recurring shin splints for some time now. His appearances in actual matches of late, including both those in the recent West Indies T2o Series against Australia and Pakistan as well as this year’s recently concluded CPL, can only be best described as having been sporadic.

    Harper having left the determination of McCoy’s fitness to the Medical Committee would, therefore, appear to be an abdication of his responsibilities as Selections Chair. Moreover, it also now means that in addition to already being the most aged of the 2021 T20 World Cup’s 16 participating teams, as well as arguably the most unfit, the West Indies could also well be the only squad containing an injury affected player even before the tournament’s commencement!

    As a member of Cricket West Indies’ recently structured Committee to develop a new policy for the governance of the selection of West Indies teams, Wallace has also indicated that fitness was identified as the most basic fundamental requirement of its submitted recommendations. The Committee’s recommendations were subsequently wholly endorsed by Cricket West Indies’ Board of Directors. As such, in the light of the Word Cup selections decisions that have been made by Harper and Company, Wallace has suggested that the Committee’s recommendations are now seemingly being ignored.

    “When does this current Panel’s tenure end?”

    That was the question posed by Philo Wallace as one of the panellists on the recent September 14, 2021 broadcast of the highly popular Barbados-based Mason & Guest Programme. Mason & Guests is hosted weekly by the noted West Indies cricket Radio Commentator, Andrew Mason.

    If Wallace’s question is not now surely a sign of knives not only having actually been drawn but also being pointed squarely in the direction of Roger Harper and his Cricket West Indies Selections Panel, then “the Pope isn’t Catholic!”

     

  • Andre Russell's 3-9 helps Kolkata Knight Riders crush Virat Kohli's RCB by nine wickets Andre Russell's 3-9 helps Kolkata Knight Riders crush Virat Kohli's RCB by nine wickets

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    Russell, who bowled 18 balls, took the remarkable figures of 3-9 that included the wicket of the dangerous AB de Villiers for a first-ball duck as RCB plunged to 92 all out in 19 overs in Abu Dhabi. Chakravarthy was equally destructive with figures of 3-13 during his four-over spell in which he got the prized wicket Virat Kohli for five.

    Of the RCB batsmen, only Devdutt Padikkal, who top-scored with 22, Srikar Bharat, 16, Glen Maxwell, 10 and Harshel Patel, 12, managed to get into double figures against the stifling and penetrative KKR bowling attack. Lockie Ferguson also got his piece of the action with 2-24.

    In reply, Shubman Gill and Ventakesh Iyer scored at better than eight runs an over putting on 82 for the first wicket. The partnership was broken when Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed Gill for 48 first ball of the tenth over.

    Andre Russell, who replaced Gill, did not face a single delivery as Iyer hit fours from Chahal’s third, fifth and sixth deliveries to complete the commanding win.

     

  • England withdraw from Pakistan tours England withdraw from Pakistan tours

    The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed the men's and women's teams will not travel to Pakistan for scheduled tours in October. 

    England had been due to play two warm-up matches ahead of the men's T20 World Cup, with the women's team also set to play a double-header in the shortest format, followed by three one-day fixtures. 

    However, following New Zealand's decision to withdraw from a white-ball series in Pakistan due to security concerns, the ECB has announced the upcoming tours will not now take place as planned. 

    A statement released on Monday explained that "the mental and physical well-being of our players and support staff" remained the governing body's highest priority. 

    The statement read: "The ECB has a longstanding commitment to tour Pakistan as part of the Men's Future Tours Programme in 2022. 

    "Earlier this year, we agreed to play two additional T20 World Cup warm-up games in Pakistan in October, adding a short women's tour with double headers alongside the men's games. 

    "The ECB board convened this weekend to discuss these extra England women's and men's games in Pakistan and we can confirm that the board has reluctantly decided to withdraw both teams from the October trip. 

    "There is the added complexity for our men's T20 squad. We believe that touring under these conditions will not be ideal preparation for the ICC men's T20 World Cup, where performing well remains a top priority for 2021. 

    "We understand that this decision will be a significant disappointment to the PCB, who have worked tirelessly to host the return of international cricket in their country. Their support of English and Welsh cricket over the last two summers has been a huge demonstration of friendship. 

    "We are sincerely sorry for the impact this will have on cricket in Pakistan and emphasise an ongoing commitment to our main touring plans there for 2022." 

    Pakistan did not host international cricket for six years following the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009. 

    Friday's decision by New Zealand Cricket to pull out of the ODI and T20I series just hours before the start of the opening match was met with disappointment from the Pakistan Cricket Board. 

    PCB chairman Ramiz Raja used social media to convey his sorrow at England "failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most" following the latest development in the situation.

    "Disappointed with England, pulling out of their commitment and failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most," he posted on Twitter.  

    "Survive we will inshallah. A wake-up call for Pakistan team to become the best team in the world for teams to line up to play them without making excuses."

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