New Zealand paceman Trent Boult could miss both Tests against England after being cleared to visit his family following the postponement of the Indian Premier League.

Kane Williamson, Kyle Jamieson, Mitchell Santner and physio Tommy Simsek will stay in the IPL New Delhi mini-bubble before departing for England on May 11.

Boult, who had been playing for the Mumbai Indians before the IPL season was postponed due to rising coronavirus cases in India, has been allowed to return to his homeland before heading to England.

He will join up with the Test squad early next month, so will not feature in the first Test at Lord's - which starts on June 2.

Boult may be back in contention for the second Test at Edgbaston and will definitely be available for the ICC World Test Championship final against India, which gets under way at the Ageas Bowl on June 18.

Black Caps trainer Chris Donaldson, who has been working with the Kolkata Knight Riders, will also return home briefly to see his family before joining the Test squad.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said: "We're completely supportive of Chris and Trent taking the opportunity to see their families before heading to the UK.

"They've always been the consummate professionals and we're more than happy to accommodate these arrangements.

"We've worked closely with the BCCI and the IPL franchises on the various departure strategies and we're very appreciative of their support during what is, clearly, a very challenging time.

"Were also very grateful to the England and Wales Cricket Board for accommodating the early arrival of the four members of the Test squad currently in India."

Hasan Ali claimed personal Test-best figures as Pakistan ended their wait for an away victory with a hammering of Zimbabwe on day three.

The tourists had gone 11 matches without success as the touring side in the longest format, stretching back to a win at Lord's in 2018, but wrapped up a crushing victory by an innings and 116 runs at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

Hasan took 5-36 - including his 50th Test scalp - as Zimbabwe were bowled out for only 134 in the final session. Those were his best innings figures in a Test, and the paceman finished with a match haul of 9-89.

Nauman Ali also chipped in with 2-27 as the hosts folded from 92-2, Tarisai Musakanda top-scoring with 43 at the top of the order.

Pakistan were earlier bowled out for 426, Blessing Muzarabani claiming 4-73, as they secured a huge first-innings lead of 250 runs.

Babar Azam's side had resumed on 374-6 and Fawad Alam moved from 108 to 140 before he was superbly caught behind by Regis Chakabva slashing at a delivery from Muzarabani.

Hasan also fell to Muzarabani for 30, while Donald Tiripano (3-89) and Richard Ngarava (2-104) also struck before Zimbabwe folded with the bat for a second time in a short match.

 

Dream return for Hasan

Hasan had been absent from the Pakistan Test team for two years before making his return in January.

The 26-year-old was named man of the match after taking 10 wickets in the second Test against South Africa and carried on where he left off in Harare.

Hasan has taken 21 wickets in three Tests in a dream comeback, reaching the landmark of 50 wickets in the longest format in only his 12th game. He was unsurprisingly rewarded for a stunning performance with another man of the match award.

 

Zimbabwe batting frailties exploited

Zimbabwe were always going to be up against it after they were skittled out in two sessions on day one.

They showed some resistance second time around but then lost seven wickets for 42 runs. Prince Masvaure was unable to bat due to a hand injury,

Fawad Alam scored his fourth Test century to put Pakistan in complete command of the first Test against Zimbabwe on day two in Harare.

The tourists started the day in an extremely strong position, having skittled Zimbabwe for 176 and then reached stumps on 103 on day one.

Openers Imran Butt and Abid Ali (60) were well set and they each kicked on to post half-centuries, Butt coming nine runs short of a hundred.

But, after a show of resistance from the Zimbabwe attack, which included Pakistan captain Babar Azam going for a duck, it was Fawad who stole the show with an unbeaten 108.

He led Pakistan to 374-6 at the close, a lead of 198, and will Hasan Ali (21 off 18) for company at the crease as they look to further their control on day three.

Butt and Abid put on 115 for the first wicket, however, after the latter edged to first slip to give the breakthrough to Zimbabwe, the hosts continued their inroads as Donald Tiripano removed Azhar Ali (36) and then dismissed Babar first ball when the skipper pushed a full delivery to straight mid-on.

Yet by that point, Pakistan already had a 50-run lead and Fawad ensured that advantage would be added to considerably.

He reaped the rewards for a measured innings and his century was brought up with a four following a misfield at mid-off.

Mohammad Rizwan's 45 also helped Pakistan's cause, while Hasan struck two sixes and a four to accelerate things further before stumps.

Fawad continues fine form

Three of Fawad's centuries have come since December 2020, with the left-hander making the most of the second act of his Test career having spent more than 10 years in the wilderness.

He scored 102 against New Zealand last Boxing Day and then 109 versus South Africa on home soil in January. His career-best remains his 168 against Sri Lanka back in 2009, but that total could be under threat if he maintains his composure here.

Babar tripped up by Donald

An ill-advised shot from Babar in which he was tempted in a risky drive off the bowling of Tiripano saw him go for a golden duck for the first time in his career. It is his first of any variety in Test cricket since October 2018 against Australia.

Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali tore through Zimbabwe as Pakistan dominated day one of the Test series at the Harare Sports Club.

Zimbabwe were bowled out for only 176 after Brendan Taylor, captain in the absence of the injured Sean Williams, won the toss and opted to bat first.

Afridi and Ali took four wickets apiece as tourists as Zimbabwe were skittled out before tea and Pakistan looked set for a substantial lead after closing on 103 without loss.

Roy Kaia, one of three Zimbabwe debutants, top scored with 48 but it was all about Pakistan's new-ball duo at the start of the two-match series.

Afridi (4-43) claimed his 50th Test scalp in only his 16th match, the same number as it took the great Wasim Akram to reach that landmark, and Ali (4-53) was also outstanding.

They bowled with great skill and discipline along with Nauman Ali (1-29), reducing the hosts to 30-4 before fellow debutant Milton Shumba provided some support for Kaia in a fifth-wicket stand of 59.

Donald Tiripano made an unbeaten 28 but Zimbabwe's shortcomings with the bat were exposed as Pakistan look to end a run of 11 games without a victory away from home in the longest format.

An unbroken opening stand from Abid Ali (56) and Imran Butt (43) put Pakistan in an ominous position at stumps.

 

Afridi emulates Akram

At just 21-year-old, Afridi has raced to half a century of Test wickets at the same age and in as many matches as Pakistan legend Akram.

Afridi and Ali played a big hand in a Test series win over South Africa and they did damage with the red ball once again as Zimbabwe bid to secure a first Test away win for almost three years - the previous success coming against England at Lord's.

Kevin Kasuza dragged on an Ali delivery before Zimbabwe had a run on the board and they were 30-4 when Taylor fell to the same bowler for only five.

They showed some fight after lunch, but lost their last five wickets for 52 runs, with Afridi cleaning up Tendai Chisoro for his 50th scalp before bowling Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava.

 

Kaia a plus, umpire Rusere makes history

One positive for Zimbabwe was an encouraging knock from Kaia, who showed some resistance after coming in at number six in the opening session.

He struck seven boundaries in almost two hours at the crease, just missing out on a half-century on debut when was snared leg before by the excellent Ali.

One Zimbabwean who will have fond memories of the day is umpire Langton Rusere, who became the first Black African to stand in a Test match.

Pakistan will start a two-match series against Zimbabwe on Thursday scenting a great opportunity to secure an elusive Test away win.

Mohammad Rizwan starred as Pakistan won a thrilling Twenty20 series at the start of the tour, the in-form opener moving into the top 10 in the batting rankings as a result of his heroics in a 2-1 triumph.

The tourists whitewashed South Africa 2-0 in their last Test series earlier this year too, yet they have gone 11 games without a victory away from home in the longest format.

You have to go back to the first Test against England at Lord's three years ago for their previous Test win on tour, but Babar Azam's side will be expected to put that right at the Harare Sports Club - where both matches will be played.

Pakistan will have to do without star spinner Yasir Shah, who is absent due to a knee injury, at a venue where they have won four out of six Tests.

Zimbabwe have included the uncapped Luke Jongwe, Richard Ngarava, Roy Kaia, Milton Shumba, and Tanaka Chivanga in a youthful squad.

Sikandar Raza misses out against his country of birth as he receives treatment for a bone marrow infection, while Craig Ervine and Wesley Madhevere are ruled out due to injury.

The outcome was a 1-1 draw the last time Pakistan played a Test series in Zimbabwe eight years ago.

Zimbabwe's only Test series success against Pakistan came back in 1998 and it would be a big surprise if they can repeat that feat against a side needing a whitewash to retain fifth place in the rankings.

Rizwan the man

Rizwan starred in the T20 fixtures between the nations, smashing an unbeaten 91 in the decider after cracking a rapid 82 not out in the opening game.

He was also player of the Test series in the triumph over South Africa, the highlight for the wicketkeeper-batsman being a maiden hundred in the longest format in Rawalpindi to help raise his average to 44.35.

Where there's a Will, there's a way

Zimbabwe will be counting on captain Sean Williams to lead by example with the bat once again. He has averaged 96.2 in seven Test innings since the start of 2020, scoring three centuries in his past five knocks.

Williams was named player of the series against Afghanistan this month, but an unbeaten 151 in the second Test was not enough to prevent his side from having to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Key match facts

- Zimbabwe have only managed to record one multi-game bilateral Test series victory over Pakistan (D1 L5); this will be the first such series between the two nations since 2013, however.

- Zimbabwe ended an eight-match winless streak on home soil against Pakistan when they last faced each other in Tests, doing so by a margin of 24 runs.

- Pakistan come into this match having logged back-to-back Test victories - they have not managed to register three wins on the spin since 2016.

- No side has a lower catching success rate than Pakistan in Tests since 2020 (70 per cent - level with West Indies); only Afghanistan (83 per cent ) and Bangladesh (81 per cent) have held on to a better share of their catching opportunities than Zimbabwe in that time (80 per cent).

- Shaheen Afridi requires two wickets to bring up 50 in Test cricket; he returned figures of 4-51 in his most recent innings (v South Africa, February 2021).

Former Sri Lanka paceman Nuwan Zoysa has been hit with a six-year ban from all cricket after being found guilty of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.

The 42-year-old's suspension has been backdated to October 31, 2018 – the date when he was provisionally banned during his employment as Sri Lanka's bowling coach

An ICC Anti-Corruption Tribunal found Zoysa guilty of "being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of an international match".

He was also found guilty of "directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach Code Article 2.1". 

Zoya's third guilty charge was for "failing to disclose to the ACU [ICC Anti-Corruption Unit] full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the code".

"Mr Zoysa has also been charged by the ICC on behalf of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) with breaching four counts of the ECB Anti-Corruption Code for participants for the T10 League and those proceedings are ongoing," an ICC statement added.

The quick played 95 ODIs and 30 Tests for Sri Lanka, with his last international appearance coming in 2007.

Alex Marshall, ICC general manager – Integrity Unit, said: "Nuwan played 125 matches for Sri Lanka, attending a number of anti-corruption sessions during a decade-long international career.

"In his role as a national coach, he should have acted as a role model. Instead, he became involved with a corrupter and attempted to corrupt others.

"Contriving to fix a game betrays the basis of sporting principles. It will not be tolerated in our sport."

 

Jofra Archer is closing in on a return to action but will not play at all in the Indian Premier League this year, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced.

The pace bowler underwent surgery on his right hand towards the end of March having suffered damage to a finger while cleaning a fish tank.

Archer had also been bothered by a persistent elbow issue during the tour of India earlier in 2021, forcing him to miss the three-match one-day series against Virat Kohli's side.

The 26-year-old is set to resume full training with English county Sussex with the intention of making a playing comeback within the next two weeks.

"Archer returned to bowling this week with higher intensity, and the ECB and Sussex medical teams will continue to monitor his progress,” a statement from the ECB read.

"Archer will now step up his training regime starting next week and will be in full training with Sussex. It is expected that he will return to cricket in the next fortnight if he can continue to bowl and prepare pain-free.

"The ECB will confirm which matches he is expected to play in due course."

The absence of Archer is a huge blow for Rajasthan Royals, particularly as the IPL franchise have already lost England all-rounder Ben Stokes for the entire tournament due to a broken finger.

Archer claimed 20 wickets at an average of 18.25 in the Twenty20 competition for the Royals last year, posting an impressive economy rate of 6.55 runs per over.

Rajasthan have won just once in their opening four outings in the current campaign as they bid to qualify for the play-offs for the first time since 2018.

Ed Smith will no longer be England's national selector as part of a restructure of the men's team selection process.

England head coach Chris Silverwood will take responsibility for selection with Smith's role as national selector to be abolished.

England men's cricket managing director Ashley Giles said: "The restructure is in the best interests of helping England men's teams be successful.

"The current process of selecting England teams has been in place for over 120 years.

"The new structure also makes lines of accountability much clearer, with Chris Silverwood, as head coach, taking ultimate responsibility for picking England senior men's squads."

Giles devised the new structure which will see Silverwood work closely with red and white ball captains Joe Root and Eoin Morgan on selection.

Silverwood will also consult with England performance director Mo Bobat and James Taylor, who changed from selector to the new role of head scout.

Smith, who played three Tests for England, will finish at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) at the end of the month.

The 43-year-old was appointed in 2018 and was part of a period where England won the ICC World Cup.

They are currently ranked first in T20 Internationals, first in One-Day Internationals and fourth in Test cricket.

"At such a high point for England cricket, I wish Ashley Giles, the coaches and all support staff good fortune over the coming months," Smith said.

Ben Stokes is set to be sidelined for up to 12 weeks, the ECB has confirmed, with the England all-rounder facing surgery on a broken finger.

Stokes was ruled out of the remainder of the Indian Premier League season after suffering the injury when he ran in from the boundary to claim a low catch and dismiss Punjab Kings batsman Chris Gayle in the Rajasthan Royals' first game of the tournament, which they lost by four runs on Monday.

An ECB statement read: "England all-rounder Ben Stokes will be out for up to 12 weeks after a repeat X-ray and CT scan on Thursday revealed that he has a fracture of his left index finger. 

"Stokes, who is currently in India with Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, will fly home tomorrow [Saturday]. He will have surgery in Leeds on Monday."

That timeline means Stokes will miss England's two-Test series with New Zealand in June as well as Sri Lanka's limited-overs tour of the country.

However, he could play some part in the ODI and T20I series with Pakistan, while he is scheduled to recover in time to face India in a five-match Test series starting August 4.

England get their summer schedule under way against New Zealand at Lord's on June 2.

Rajasthan Royals and England all-rounder Ben Stokes will miss the remainder of the Indian Premier League after breaking his finger.

Stokes did the damage when he ran in from the boundary to claim a low catch and dismiss Punjab Kings batsman Chris Gayle in the Royals' first game of the tournament, which they lost by four runs on Monday.

The Royals on Tuesday revealed that Stokes will play no further part in the competition.

A statement from the franchise said: "Rajasthan Royals all-rounder Ben Stokes injured a finger on his left hand while fielding during the team's match against Punjab Kings on 12 April 2021 in Mumbai.

"Subsequent investigations revealed that he sustained a broken finger, which will unfortunately rule him out of the remainder of the Indian Premier League 2021 season.

"Everyone at Rajasthan Royals absolutely admires Ben for being such a huge asset and a valuable member of the Royals family, both on and off the field, and wishes him a speedy recovery.

"We are delighted that Ben would like to stay with the group to provide his valued support and inputs off the field. In the meantime, we will be reviewing potential replacement options for the remainder of the season."

The England and Wales Cricket Board said it will confirm the next steps for Stokes after he is assessed over the coming days.

There was positive news on Stokes' England and Royals team-mate Jofra Archer earlier in the day, with the paceman given the all-clear by his hand consultant to resume training.

Archer, who underwent surgery last month, was given the go-ahead to return to light training this week, working closely with the Sussex and England men's medical teams.

An update on his elbow injury will be provided once he has resumed bowling and it is not yet clear when he will be available to play again.

Sachin Tendulkar has returned home after the India cricket great spent close to a week in hospital following his coronavirus positive test.

The 47-year-old former captain revealed on March 27 he had been experiencing "mild symptoms", prompting him to undergo a check for COVID-19.

On April 2, he announced he had been admitted to hospital "as a matter of abundant precaution under medical advice".

Tendulkar, the highest-scoring batsman in Test cricket history with 15,921 runs, declared on Twitter on Thursday that he had left his hospital bed.

He wrote: "I have just come home from the hospital and will remain isolated while continuing to rest and recuperate.

"I would like to thank everyone for all the good wishes and prayers. Really appreciate it. I remain ever grateful to all the medical staff who took such good care of me and have been working tirelessly for over a year in such difficult circumstances."

England paceman Jofra Archer will require a fortnight of rehabilitation after undergoing surgery on his right hand.

Archer was ruled out of the recent ODI series defeat to India with an elbow injury and underwent an operation on his hand on Monday, repairing damage done when he was cleaning a fish tank in January.

The quick will miss the start of the Rajasthan Royals' Indian Premier League campaign as he recovers from the procedure.

"England pace bowler Jofra Archer underwent successful surgery to his right hand on Monday. A fragment of glass was removed during the operation to his middle finger on his right hand." an ECB statement said.
 
"He will now commence two weeks of rehabilitation. The consultant will review him before returning to training.

"Further update on his elbow injury will be provided once he has returned to bowling to assess the effectiveness of his recent injection.
 
"Archer suffered a cut to his hand while cleaning at his home in January shortly before flying to India to prepare for the Test series.

"The ECB's medical team managed the injury throughout the tour, and it did not impact on his availability."

The Royals start their IPL campaign against Punjab Kings on Monday April 12.

Justin Langer says there is "no captaincy position available" for Steve Smith after the former skipper expressed his desire to lead Australia again.

Smith's reign as Australia captain ended when he was banned from international cricket for a year and prevented from taking a leadership role for his country for two years due to the 2018 Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

Tim Paine took over as Test skipper and Aaron Finch white-ball captain, but Smith stated that he wants another chance to take charge again.

"I've certainly had a lot of time to think about it and I guess now I've got to a point where if the opportunity did come up again, I would be keen," the 31-year-old told News Corp.

"If it was what Cricket Australia wanted and it was what was best for the team at the time, it's certainly something I would be interested in now, that's for sure,"

He added: "Time keeps moving forward, and I've learnt so much the last few years about myself and grown as a human being.

"I feel as though I'd be in a better place if the opportunity did come up. If it doesn't, that's fine as well and I'd support whoever is in charge the same way I've supported Tim and Finchy. I haven't always felt like I wanted to do it again. That's only come in the last little bit."

Yet Australia head coach Langer says both Paine and Finch are secure in their positions.

"We have two very good captains and two important competitions coming up – an Ashes and a T20 World Cup. Our future looks good," he told the ABC.

"Despite the media chatter there is no captaincy position available."

Jason Holder had excellent figures of 5-27 as the West Indies took full control over Sri Lanka on the opening day of the first Sandals Test match on Sunday.

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