Rohit Sharma, the Mumbai Indians skipper, confirmed that he’ll open the batting during IPL 2020. In an online press conference, which both the captain and coach Mahela Jayawardene attended, Rohit said although the team is keeping “all options open” when it comes to their batting, he will start the 13th edition of the tournament as an opener.
“I opened for the entire tournament last year and will continue to do that. As a team, we keep all options open. I’m happy to do what the team wants. I enjoy batting at the top of the order and I’ve been doing it for a while. But even when I play for India, the message to the management is to not close any door and keep all the options open, so I’ll do the same here,” Rohit said on Thursday (September 17), two days before the IPL opening game against Chennai Super Kings.
With Quinton de Kock set to partner Rohit at the top of the order, Chris Lynn will have to wait on the sidelines. Lynn, who was roped in for his base price of INR. two crore, didn’t really get going on the slow pitches during the recently concluded Caribbean Premier League. He aggregated 138 runs playing for St Kitts & Nevis Patriots, scoring his runs at an average of 17.25 with a highest of 34.
“Lynn is a great addition to the squad, but the combination of Rohit and Quinton did a phenomenal job for us last season. They complement each other well, they’re consistent and both of them are experienced. They’re good leaders as well, so why would you want to fix something that isn’t broken? We will continue to go with that,” said Jayawardene.
“Lynn as an option gives us flexibility in the squad and that’s what we’ve always done. We try and add more value to the team, give more options so that we can be unpredictable when it comes to tournaments and big matches. Quinton and Rohit as a combination have been brilliant.”
Mumbai Indians, meanwhile, will miss the services of Lasith Malinga who pulled out of the tournament due to personal reasons. While mentioning that Malinga’s shoes are big to fill, Rohit said MI will try to make up for his absence with the likes of Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson.
“For anyone, it’s hard to fill his boots. What he has done for MI and Sri Lanka is remarkable. He has been a match-winner for MI, whenever we were in trouble, Malinga bailed us out. His experience will be missed and what he did for MI is unbelievable. Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Pattinson and Dhawal Kulkarni are some of the names who can be his replacement. What he did for MI cannot be compared and he cannot be replaced,” Rohit said.
Rohit also spoke about the challenges of playing the tournament in a bio-bubble and praised the team management for keeping the team mentally fresh. “It’s going to be a different IPL. We were mentally prepared for it. Even before we came here, we discussed with boys about the bio-bubble guidelines. We are following all the protocols set by BCCI. Mentally it’s tough. Credit to Mumbai Indians management to have worked it well for us. Mentally we are fresh and not drained in our hotels with the facilities. Hats off to the team management for doing a fantastic job.”
About playing in the UAE, Rohit said: “The challenge for us would be to adapt to these conditions. Not a lot of cricketers from our group have played here. People who have been here need to share their experience with the players who have not played so far. Mentally, it’s about going there and understanding the pitch is doing. We have played some practice matches here and we know what to expect there. Reading the pitches will be very important.”
Sri Lanka to play at Bull Ring and Centurion
The Wanderers also known as the Bull Ring for its intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams will host the New Year Test. Sri Lanka have played two Tests there and lost both – by innings margin.
by Rex Clementine
Cricket South Africa (CSA) seem to have learned from their embarrassment last year, when Sri Lanka became the first Asian nation to win a Test series in South Africa and have left no room for complacency when they host Dimuth Karunaratne’s side in December this year. Accordingly, CSA has chosen Wanderers in Johannesburg (also known as the Bull Ring for its intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams) and Centurion for the two Tests.
While officially CSA would say that logistically the two venues, half-hour drive from each other, were ideal to host the two Test series, they are also the quickest tracks in South Africa and Asian teams usually don’t last three days in those venues.
Sri Lanka for example have played two Tests at Wanderers and have lost both games by innings margin with the two games ending inside three days. At Centurion, meanwhile, Sri Lanka have played four Tests and lost all four (two games by an innings).
The blunder that CSA committed last time Sri Lanka toured South Africa was to schedule the games in the slowest tracks in the country – Durban and Port Elizabeth. That backfired as Sri Lanka clinched the series 2-0. Test match cricket is such a tough game in South Africa, that apart from England and Australia no other team had won a series in that country and Sri Lanka’s achievement surprised many.
Several members of the current squad have unhappy memories of Wanderers and Centurion and they will not be pleased that the games had been slotted there.
The team will stay in one hotel during their month long stay in South Africa and will shuttle between the grounds which are in close proximity to each other. Centurion will host the Boxing Day Test while the Wanderers will host the New Year Test.
Wickramasinghe comes up with guidelines to train during the pandemic
Training programmes of a number of top track and field athletes were interrupted at various training venues due to Covid 19 concerns last week. Some of the interruptions were reported in areas where no new Covid 19 positive cases were reported. With the second wave of pandemic starting to disrupt daily life, sports training too is set to suffer badly. But senior track and field coach Upali Wickramasinghe believes that training can proceed without an interruption even during the pandemic by changing the coaching or training style.
Wickramasinghe in his instructions for coaching during the Covid 19 pandemic lists out important guidelines to follow during training, pre training and post training.
Being equipped with a clearance certificate issued by health authorities and submitting parental consent with regard to training juniors will help avoid disappointments at venue entrances according to Wickramasinghe. Sanitizing participants and checking their temperature are the other prerequisites before starting training.
Maintaining social distancing, limiting the training to small groups or individuals, avoiding physical contact (no high-fives, no handshakes) and prohibiting of spitting and clearing of nasal respiratory secretion are the instructions for sportsmen engaged in non contact sports.
Training can be continued even for minimal contact games by classifying training areas into three or four and sticking to training partners and avoiding body blocking.
Training for full body contact games can be done by focusing more on promoting individual skills and technique, utilizing alternative practice equipment, prohibiting sharing of personal equipment and making sanitization mandatory even during training.
Disinfection of training equipment like javelin, shot put, relay batons, shuttlecocks and balls is a major requirement immediately after training. Wickramasinghe also advices participants to exit venues immediately after their training schedules are completed. He also advices not to share personal equipment like rackets, helmets shin – guards, water bottles and T – Shirts.
A former national athlete, Upali Wickramasinghe has been in the field of coaching after his retirement as a Major in the Sri Lanka Army. He has produced a number of top national athletes and was the first coach of Olympian Anuradha Indrajith Cooray, who holds the Sri Lanka National record in the men’s marathon. (RF)
Sri Lanka to take 20 players to South Africa
Left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando outperformed South African quicks Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn during Sri Lanka’s tour to South Africa in 2019 as they won the series 2-0. Here he traps Francois Du Plessis leg before wicket.
by Rex Clementine
Cricket South Africa has come up with one of the simplest health guidelines in these testing times and it could turn out to be the blueprint other sporting bodies will follow in conducting international sporting events. The Sri Lankan team will be in South Africa in December for the Boxing Day Test and New Year Test and they will not be required to go through lengthy quarantine periods. All what the players need is a negative PCR report before boarding the flight to Johannesburg and another negative report upon landing in Oliver Tambo International Airport.
Two negative reports are good enough for players to resume training immediately within the team bubble. The method is quite a contrast to what other countries follow. Sri Lanka’s mandatory 14 day quarantine period resulted in the Test series against Bangladesh being postponed.
The Sri Lankan team will not be given any warm-up games although they are expected to be in South Africa for two weeks prior to the Boxing Day Test match. With the team in a bubble, net bowlers also will not be provided and hence Sri Lanka will be carrying 20 players in the squad. This avoids the risk of last minute replacements being called up due to injuries as well.
CSA is yet to announce the venues for the tour. England who will be in South Africa prior to Sri Lanka will be secluded in Cape Town and nearby Paarl. England will play three ODIs and three T-20 Internationals in South Africa.
This series will mark Sri Lanka’s return to international cricket after the outbreak of the pandemic in March this year. This year was supposed to be full of international cricket for SLC with several bilateral series at home including tours by India and England that bring much needed television revenue. SLC was also set to host this year’s Asia Cup but all that now has been pushed back due to the pandemic. SLC officials are confident that they will be able to reschedule all postponed series within the next 18 months.
SLC is expected to host England in January next year for two Tests. The national cricket team will then undertake a tour of West Indies.
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