Mendis and Babar; careers that have taken different routes
by Rex Clementine
During the 2018 Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi, a group of us Sri Lankan journalists were discussing how good Babar Azam was. Former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis, who was one of the commentators was behind us. He heard the conversation and interrupted us. ‘You guys have no idea what talent is. If you want to look at real talent and pure class just take a look at that guy,’ he said so pointing his finger at the Sri Lankan team. They were warming up and Kusal Mendis was getting some throw downs.
Both Kusal and Babar are 26. But the Pakistani has gone places. He is Pakistan’s captain in all three formats. In official ICC Rankings, he is world’s number one ranked batsman in ODI cricket. In Tests, he is in exalted company alongside the likes of Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Marnus Labuschagne at number six while in T-20 cricket he is ranked third.
Just two days ago Babar produced a stunning batting display at Centurion, one of the quickest wickets in the world, as Pakistan chased down a stiff target of 204 with two overs to spare. Babar’s 122 came off just 59 balls at a stunning Strike Rate of 206.
Where is Mendis while all these happened? Axed from the side after his four ducks in a row in January, he has been overlooked for the home series against Bangladesh as he has not done anything significant to merit a place.
From humble beginnings, Mendis became a celebrated sportsman overnight after his stunning 176 against a quality Australian attack spearheaded by Mitchell Starc. But soon anger and frustration replaced that admiration following his hit and run at Moratuwa that killed an innocent man on his way to work.
Mendis’ family and his agent did all within their means to bury the truth. That Mendis was driving on the wrong direction, did not care to take the injured to the hospital and surrendered to Police several hours after the incident were all hushed up. Police ensured that Mendis got bail in less hours than the time it takes Bandula Gunawardene to reverse a gazette.
The media kept the pressure up asking Mendis to behave. At this point, Mendis’ family reached out to the press telling us that young Kusal regretted his actions and has promised to build the family of the deceased a home and look after his child’s education. Later, it emerged that Mendis had not only taken the Police and the law for a ride but even the gullible press. He broke a gentleman’s agreement.
Sri Lanka Cricket handled the issue poorly. Well, what can you expect of them. Rienzie Wijetilleke a former Board Chairman put his foot down when a similar thing happened in 2001 and sacked the leg-spinner who was involved in a hit and run.
In Mendis’ case, SLC CEO said that this was a personal matter and closed the case. Well, a contracted player and the captain in waiting killing someone on the road and fleeing the incident did not deserve such leniency. Mendis’ CCC connections prompted SLC to turn a blind eye, perhaps. No wonder the CEO was exposed well and truly at the COPE hearing. Ashley de Silva has committed too many blunders and the handling of Kusal Mendis is one such.
Everybody gets dropped from the side. Even the great Aravinda de Silva got the axed, rather unkindly. But not Kusal Mendis. Clearly, he was struggling in South Africa having picked up three ducks in a row. He didn’t want the burdens of Test cricket and probably was better off sorting out his game at RPS with the Batting Coaches and not against James Anderson. But pointing out some bizarre reasons SLC retained him, waited till he completed a fourth duck in a row before axing him.
Young players need good mentors. They get so much of good counseling when they are young by coaches and well wishers. But suddenly when they graduate into the senior side, they fall prey to ruthless player agents who themselves have little values. As some of our finest captains are getting together to restructure the game, they need to look at the role of player agents seriously. Sadly, some of them are under the thumb of crooked player agents themselves having shown more loyalty to Perera Gardens than Maitland Place and there will be not much done to address this issue.
IPL 2023 rule change: teams will name their playing XI after the toss
Captains in IPL 2023 will walk in with two different team sheets before handing in their final XI after the toss. That is one of the significant tweaks from the last season in the IPL’s playing conditions, which will soon be shared with the teams. The change, the IPL said in an internal note listing the various changes to playing conditions, would allow franchises to pick their best XIs based on whether they end up batting or bowling, the appropriate impact player included.
“Currently the captains have to exchange the teams before the toss,” the note, seen by ESPNcricinfo, said. “This has been changed to exchange of teams immediately post the toss, to enable teams to choose the best XI depending on whether they are batting or bowling first. It will also assist the teams to plan for the impact player.”
The IPL thus becomes the second T20 franchise tournament after the SA20 to allow teams to announce their XI post the toss. In the SA20, which recently staged its inaugural season, teams put 13 names on the team sheet initially before announcing their final XI after the toss. Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith, the SA20’s tournament director, had also said then that the move was designed to “lessen the impact of the toss” and allow a level-playing playing field based on the conditions.
The IPL has adopted a similar thought process now, with another key factor being neutralising the effect of dew, which has traditionally had a big impact at some venues in India, with teams bowling second adversely impacted.
While the toss will still matter, it should not be a case of “win toss, win match” in certain conditions with the new rule. For example, if a team that wanted to bat and then defend a total on a slow track in turning conditions is forced to bowl first, it can play an extra spinner in the starting XI, and then replace a specialist bowler with a batter in the second innings to help with the run-chase.
Other IPL playing conditions tweaks
Over rate penalty of only four fielders outside the 30-yard circle for every over not completed in the allocated time. Unfair movement of the wicketkeeper will result in a dead ball and 5 penalty runs. Unfair movement by a fielder will result in a dead ball and 5 penalty runs.
Litton, Tamim make light work of small chase after Mahmud’s maiden five-for
Openers Litton Das and Tamim Iqbal made light work of a 102-run target as Bangladesh beat Ireland by ten wickets in the third ODI in Sylhet and completed a 2-0 series win. The visitors were bowled out for 101 in 28.1 overs after the Bangladesh fast bowlers took all ten wickets in an innings for the first time in the format.
The short chase was enlivened by Tamim and Litton, who put on an exhibition of strokeplay, finishing the game in just 13.1 overs, Bangladesh’s second-shortest chase in ODIs. After Bangladesh beat Ireland by a record margin of runs in the first ODI, this was also their first ten-wicket win in ODIs.
A small crowd turned up at the picturesque Sylhet venue on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan starting, and went home shortly after sunset. Ireland’s 101 broke a sequence of five successive 300-plus totals by the side batting first on this ground.
Hasan Mahmud’s maiden five-wicket haul, Taskin Ahmed’s three-wicket burst and Ebadot Hossain’s two-for summed up the absolute dominance by the Bangladesh fast bowlers. The spinners were needed for only four overs in all with Shakib Al Hasan not getting a chance to bowl for only the third time in his ODI career. It was a day out for the quicks on the hard and bouncy Sylhet surface, a rarity among grounds in Bangladesh. The conditions prompted the team management to pick six bowlers including the three seamers.
Mahmud removed openers Stephen Doheny and Paul Stirling in a disciplined opening burst. Doheny was caught behind for 8 after scratching around for 20 balls before Stirling, dropped on 5, got to 7 before Mahmud trapped him lbw in the ninth over. The skiddy fast bowler soon picked up his third when he trapped Harry Tector lbw later in the same over. Taskin got captain Andy Balbirnie caught at first slip for just 6 as Ireland collapsed to 26 for 4 before the first powerplay was up.
Then came their only partnership of note. Lorcan Tucker and Curtis Campher added 42 runs for the fifth wicket, which effectively helped Ireland reach the three-figure mark. Campher top-scored with 36, while Tucker made 28, the only two double-figure scores in the innings.
But it was soon over. Ebadot’s in-dipper had Tucker lbw. Next ball, Ebadot clean-bowled George Dockrell for a golden duck as Ireland slipped to 68 for 6.Taskin then took a brace in his seventh over, first getting Andy McBrine to top-edge a quick bouncer before Adair inside-edged his second ball onto the stumps.
Campher was the ninth wicket that fell, top-edging Mahmud towards fine leg. Taskin took a comfortable catch, celebrating the younger team-mate’s first four-wicket haul. It soon became five when Mahmud trapped Graham Hume lbw for 3.
Tamim started the chase with a slashed four over point, before pasting the Ireland fast bowlers for boundaries through cover and square-leg. Most of Litton’s boundaries came through the covers, including a back-foot punch that looked scrumptious from every angle. Left-arm spinner Matthew Humphreys then went for two expensive overs, before the Bangladesh opening pair calmed down briefly.
Tamim lofted Humphreys for a straight six in his third over, before Litton drove Campher through the covers. Then he struck two fours off Humphreys to reach his ninth ODI fifty, before Tamim hit the winning runs.
Bangladesh 102 for 0 (Litton Das 50*, Tamim Iqbal 41*) beat Ireland 101 (Curtis Campher 36, Lorcan Tucker 28, Hasan Mahmud 5-32, Taskin Ahmed 3-26, Ebadot Hossain 2-29) by ten wickets
AA Sponsors 68th National Billiard Championship
The Automobile Association of Ceylon (AAC) will sponsor the 68th National Billiard Championship, conducted by the Billiards and Snooker Association of Sri Lanka (B & SASL) this year.
The Automobile Association of Ceylon established in 1904 is the oldest Motoring Organization in Sri Lanka,and is afiliated to the Federation Internationale De L’ Automobile, world largest Mobility Organization in Geneva, which has 150 countries under its umbrella. AAC’s prime object is to make all Road users safe.
AAC conducts annual Billiard and Snooker Tournaments for its members and also takes part in the inter-club tournaments in order to promote the cue sports. In the past, AAC members have excelled in several National Billiard and Snooker Tournaments and brought glory to the association.
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