Sri Lanka secured a much-needed victory against Afghanistan to keep their slender hopes of qualification for the semifinals alive. Naveed Nawaz, Sri Lanka’s assistant coach, said it was an important victory for the team who also tried to reach the target of 145 as soon as possible for a lift in their net run rate but were able to finish it only in the penultimate over.
“Yeah, the net run rate was important. On the other hand, the win was important as well,” said Nawaz when asked if Sri Lanka could have got to the target sooner. “So we were keeping an eye on the net run rate as well while trying to secure a win. That was the most important thing for us. At the rate things were going, we were chasing 144, which we needed to get in at least 18-plus overs, which would jack up our net run rate into a decent position.”
Sri Lanka, with two wins from four games, will play against England in their final group encounter. Nawaz said they will go out with a positive mindset, attempting to win the game and boost their net run rate while hoping for other results to go their way.
“There’s one more game to go, and I think in our minds we’ve got to go hard and we’ve got to win that game and see where the tournament ends up. I think we’ll have to depend on how Australia goes in their next game to see if we have got any outside chance of making it to the semis,” he said.
Dhananjaya de Silva was the star batter for Sri Lanka in this game, with his unbeaten 66 off 42 helping the team over the line with six wickets in hand. He was involved in useful partnerships with Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa as Sri Lanka came up with a much-improved effort with the bat compared to their previous game where they had slipped to 24 for 5 against New Zealand.
“It’s always the case that we’ve been talking to lose less wickets during the powerplay as well as the first ten overs, where if you look at the pattern that’s building in most teams, the number of runs that you get in the first ten overs has been far less than the subcontinent. And the number of runs you get at the bottom end has been quite a bit. So that’s always been our plan during this World Cup, and whenever we had a good opening stand or someone taking responsibility from the top to move on, we’ve done well,” said Nawaz.
“I think it’s a relief that Dhananjaya is coming into runs. He’s always shown potential — 30s, 40s, 20s all the time. But I think it’s good to see him finishing a game and coming through that game over 60 not out, which is a good sign for us,” he added.
Nawaz also heaped praise on Wanindu Hasaranga, who finished with 3 for 13, which included two wickets and only three runs in the 20th over. “He’s always been one of our main bowlers and one of the top bowlers in the world. So that’s why we back him to bowl in the last over of the game as well, and he handled it brilliantly, bowled really well. I think that was one of the reasons that we could keep the Afghans below 150.”
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s hopes of progressing further came to an end with this loss. Head coach Jonathan Trott said it was a mixed-bag campaign for the team where there didn’t capitalise on chances. He provided examples of the matches against England and also this game, where Afghanistan weren’t able to finish well with the bat.
“I’d say there’s been some good parts and there’s been some really average parts. We haven’t got things right. We seem to be able to get ourselves into positions but then not utilise them and actually then kick on with the batting,” Trott said. “So twice now, against England and this game. I’m not saying against England we would have had a massive score, but we would have certainly been able to put a lot more pressure on England if we’d been a little bit smarter in the last couple overs, and the same here.
“I think we lost four overs and we only got 31 runs, so 24 balls. Only being four wickets down, that’s not good enough. Those sort of areas are what can sort of take the game away from the opposition, or if you don’t get it right, bring them back into it,” he said. “We were definitely a few runs short. When your last over goes to three runs, you certainly left a few out there. We could have done a lot better with the bat. We got into position to kick on and didn’t utilise the short boundary anywhere near enough.”
ICC names all-woman panel of match officials for 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup
The upcoming women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa will have an all-woman line-up of match officials, in what will be a landmark first in the game.On Friday, the ICC announced the panel of three match referees and ten umpires, featuring officials from seven countries. The match referees are GS Lakshmi (India), Shandre Fritz (South Africa) and Michell Pereira (Sri Lanka). The on-field and TV umpires will be Sue Redfern (England), Eloise Sheridan (Australia), Claire Polosak (Australia), Jacqueline Williams (West Indies), Kim Cotton (new Zealand), Lauren Agenbag (South Africa), Anna Harris (England), Vrinda Rathi (India), N Janani (India) and Nimali Perera (Sri Lanka).
Selecting this panel was part of the governing body’s “strategic ambition of advancing the involvement and visibility of women in cricket,” an ICC statement said.
The panel will also have the most number of women umpires and match referees in a global ICC tournament, four more than the nine who are at the ongoing women’s Under-19 T20 World Cup.
“Women’s cricket has been growing rapidly in recent years and as part of that, we have been building the pathways to ensure more women have the opportunity to officiate at the highest level,” Wasim Khan, ICC’s general manager of cricket, said. “This announcement is a reflection of our intent in this space and just the start of our journey where men and women enjoy the same opportunities across our sport.
“We are committed to continuing to support our female match officials and provide opportunities to showcase their talents on the global stage. I wish them all the best for the tournament.”
The eighth edition of the women’s T20 World Cup begins with hosts South Africa facing Sri Lanka on February 10. Defending champions Australia are in Group A with Bangladesh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Arica. Group B has England, India, Ireland, Pakistan and West Indies. The top two teams from each group will move into the semi-finals.The matches will be played in Cape Town, Gqeberha and Paarl with the final scheduled for February 26 at Newlands.
ACC to meet in Bahrain on Feb 4, call on Asia Cup expected
The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) will meet in Bahrain on February 4. A decision on the Asia Cup is expected at the much-awaited meeting where the representatives of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will be present. It could be a stormy affair in the Persian Gulf city of Bahrain, with the two boards having been at loggerheads.
The hosting right of the upcoming Asia Cup, which will be an ODI championship among the continental sides, has been a bone of contention, with the BCCI and the PCB being at odds over the venue. The August-September championship was allotted to the PCB but in view of political tension between India and Pakistan, the BCCI had declared that the Indian team will not be in a position to travel to Pakistan.
The BCCI’s refusal was initially escalated by former PCB chairman Ramiz Raja who threatened to boycott the World Cup in India later in the year. A similar stand seems to have also been taken by Najam Sethi, who succeeded Raja, but there seems little support from other ACC members to the PCB position.
The BCCI and the PCB sparred recently after Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary and ACC president, announced the schedule of the council. It was responded with sarcasm by Sethi who said in a social media post, “Thank you @JayShah for unilaterally presenting @ACCMedia1 structure & calendars 2023-24 especially relating to Asia Cup 2023 for which Pakistan is the event host. While you are at it, you might as well present structure & calendar of our PSL 2023! A swift response will be appreciated (sic).”
The PCB chairman’s comments were rejected by ACC which declared that Shah’s post was not unilateral. “It has come to our knowledge that PCB Chairman Mr Najam Sethi has made a comment on the ACC President unilaterally taking the decision on finalising the calendar and announcing the same. The ACC wants to clarify that it has followed well established and due process. The calendar was approved by its Development Committee and Finance & Marketing Committee in a meeting held on December 13th, 2022.
“The calendar was then communicated to all the participating members individually, including Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), via an email dated December 22nd, 2022. While responses were received from certain Member Boards, no comments or suggested modifications were received from PCB. In view of the above, Mr Sethi’s comments on a social media platform are baseless and are vehemently denied by the ACC,” the ACC said backing Shah’s position.
With the meeting in Bahrain happening in such a backdrop, it could be a stormy affair. A BCCI official, who was in Mumbai for the unveiling of Women’s Premier League teams, confirmed a final decision on the Asia Cup will be taken in Bahrain on February 4.
Brian Lara joins West Indies management as ‘performance mentor’
Cricket West Indies have roped in legendary batter Brian Lara as a ‘performance mentor’, who will work across formats with the international teams as well as with the academy. Lara will assist the various coaches with regard to “providing players with tactical advice and improving their game sense”. He will also work with Jimmy Adams, the Director of Cricket, on ICC World Cup tournament strategic planning.
“Having spent time with the players and coaches in Australia and in discussions with CWI, I really believe that I can help the players with their mental approach to the game and with their tactics to be more successful,” Lara said.
The 53-year-old Lara’s first assignment in the new role will be with the Test side on the tour of Zimbwbwe, where he has already joined the squad ahead of the first Test in Bulawayo on February 4. Lara will take a short break in the middle to discharge his duties as the head coach of the Sunrisers Hyderabad during IPL 2023.
Lara was recently appointed on a CWI review panel following their early exit at the 2022 T20 World Cup. They were subsequently swept 2-0 by Australia in a Test series and now seek a course-correction as they build towards this year’s 50-over World Cup in India.
“I am really looking forward to Brian making a significant contribution to our cricket system by providing invaluable guidance and advice to our players and coaches,” Adams said. “We are confident that Brian will help to improve our high-performance mindset and strategic culture that will bring us more success on the field across all formats. Everyone is excited to have Brian involved in supporting our players.”
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