CAPE TOWN: Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower says that the players are currently feeling their first Test defeat to South Africa, but has called for unity amongst the squad.
Pakistan succumbed to a six-wicket defeat in the first Test against the Proteas in Centurion, and the dampened vibe amongst the players is something that Flower expects.
“The atmosphere isn’t the best at the moment,” Flower told the ESPN Cricinfo website. “Not many losing teams’ atmosphere will be the best. No one likes to lose. You don’t want to become happy losers.
“I’m not involved in selection, but there are quite a few guys with their places under threat. It’s not just one or two batsmen, you could point fingers at a few players.
“Mickey [Arthur] had some strong words with the players; there was quite a bit of honesty from him. I think the guys were a bit shell-shocked, but they’ve heard Mickey, everyone knows he can come down harshly on the boys at times,” Flower added.
“But sometimes that’s needed and the guys needed to be told a few home truths. Mickey won’t be the first or last coach to do that. If the guys do have strong character, they’ll bounce back from it and take that as a challenge.”
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed’s form has also been put in the spotlight of late, and having recorded a pair in the Test just gone, questions regarding his workload as captain were answered partially by Flower.
“Anyone would agree that being a captain, batsman and wicket-keeper is probably the hardest job in cricket,” Flower said. “And probably too hard. I’m sure it would help his batting if he didn’t have the captaincy pressure, but that’s how it is at the moment.
“If that’s going to continue, then he has to find a way of coping with those pressures technically and mentally.”
Sarfraz was not the only player to struggle in the first match, as a tricky pitch was the comeuppance of numerous players, notably opposition captain Faf du Plessis who also failed to score a run over both innings. Flower acknowledged how vital it is for his players to get accustomed to the hard batting conditions for the second Test.
“Quite a few of the guys struggled on these wickets. Even the South Africa players who know these conditions said this track was bloody hard,” the batting coach said.
“People can say whatever they want, but they’ve got to bear in mind these are tough conditions. But good players adapt, and our players have to adapt quickly before the Newlands Test.
“The track isn’t quite as bouncy there, and we have got a good team. They’re used to fighting hard and coming out of the corner so we’ll see what happens at Newlands.”
Shakib tops ICC ODI all-rounders list
Dubai: Senior Bangladesh cricketer Shakib Al Hasan Wednesday jumped to the top of the latest MRF Tyres ICC ODI rankings for all-rounders, which doesn’t feature a single Indian in the top-10 chart.
Shakib, 32, grabbed the top spot just ahead of the ODI World Cup after showcasing fine form during the tri-nation series in Ireland, which Bangladesh famously won to claim their first title in a multi-nation tournament.
In the three matches of the series, Shakib totalled 140 runs, including two unbeaten half-centuries and also picked up two wickets.
Shakib now has 359 points, 20 clear of Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, the previous holder of the top ranking, who has now slipped to No. 2.
Rashid’s Afghanistan team-mate Mohammad Nabi completes the top three, with 319 points.
Pakistan are the only other team to have two players in the top 10, with Imad Wasim at No. 4 and Mohammad Hafeez claiming the seventh spot.
They are separated by New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner (No.5) and England’s Chris Woakes, who leapfrogged four places to No. 6.
West Indies captain Jason Holder is their top-ranked all-rounder at number eight spot followed by Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza and Angelo Mathews of Sri Lanka.England’s Ben Stokes missed out on the top 10 by one spot, finishing eight points behind Mathews.
Kedar Jadhav, who is part of India’s World Cup team and is recovering from a shoulder injury, is the best-placed Indian at joint 12th spot alongside South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo and Moeen Ali of England.
Hardik Pandya completes the top 20 list.
‘Kohli cannot single-handedly win World Cup 2019’: Sachin
New Delhi: Stacking up staggering numbers with monotonic regularity may have become a day job for Virat Kohli, but he alone can in “no way” win a World Cup without support from his teammates, feels Sachin Tendulkar.
In an exclusive interview with the PTI, Tendulkar spoke about a range of topics including Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal’s role, the contentious No. 4 slot and how flat pitches in England is taking bowlers out of the equation.
“I think you will always have a couple of individuals stepping up every game but without team support, you can’t do much. Just because of one individual, you can’t win a tournament. No way. Unless others chip in at every crucial stage. If that doesn’t happen, there will be a disappointment,” Tendulkar said when asked if Kohli will carry the same burden like he did, specifically during 1996, 1999 and 2003 editions.
Tendulkar is hardly worried that India doesn’t have a settled No. 4, saying the slot can be kept flexible as per requirement and match situation.
“I think we have batsmen, who can do the job. Number four is just a number and it can be adjusted. I particularly don’t see No 4 as a problem. Our boys have played enough cricket to know their roles whether it is No 4, 6 or 8. Situational awareness is the key,” the world’s highest run-getter in Tests and ODIs said.
However, Tendulkar is not entirely happy with how the balance of ODIs is skewed towards batsmen, taking bowlers out of the equation in white ball cricket with every passing day.
“It’s become one-sided with the introduction of two new balls and flat pitches have made lives of bowlers much more difficult. One team is scoring 350 and the other is chasing down inside 45 overs,” Tendulkar said in reference to recent England versus Pakistan series where bowlers had a nightmarish time.
What Tendulkar finds even more disappointing is that reverse swing had been taken out of the equation with two new balls.
“The ball is staying hard. I mean when was the last time you saw a reverse swing in ODIs?” questioned the iconic batsman.
“When we played and there was one new ball, it would start reversing from 28th or 30th over. Some teams could get it to reverse even earlier. At the death, the ball would go soft, even get discoloured. These were challenges that batsmen faced. But now the ball remains hard and the bats are getting better,” lamented Tendulkar, who played six World Cups.
Quality of the balls (white kookaburra in question) has also become a factor, felt Tendulkar, who sees no lateral movement on flat tracks to challenge the batsmen.
What’s the solution then? He responded: “I think some thought needs to go into this. Either prepare helpful tracks if you have two new balls so that there is some help up front. Or else go back to the old one new ball system which aids reverse swing. Whatever but do something for the bowlers.”
According to him, wrist spinners are the one breed of bowlers who will do well, and India have two in Kuldeep and Chahal.
The Australians read the duo quite well during the home series in India but the maestro said that it won’t matter much in England.
“Let’s understand this. There are a number of bowlers who have been read well by batters but yet they end up getting a lot of wickets. So Kuldeep and Chahal shouldn’t be too worried about Australia series,” he said, adding both will play a massive role during the middle overs.
“Agreed the Aussies read them well but does that mean they wouldn’t be committing mistakes or can’t be forced to commit mistakes.”
Messi, Sergio Aguero in Argentina preliminary Copa America Squad
Lionel Messi and the returning Sergio Aguero headed a 33-man list as Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni named an enlarged preliminary Copa America squad on Wednesday.
Paris Saint Germain winger Angel Di Maria was also included but there was no place for striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is on loan at Chelsea from Juventus. “These are the ones we consider to be the best,” said Scaloni, who will have to reduce his list to 23 players next week ahead of the tournament hosted by Brazil, which begins on June 14.
Argentina will play in Group B alongside Colombia, Paraguay and guests Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts and current Asian champions.
Messi, who only returned to the Argentina squad in March after an eight-month absence following the World Cup in Russia, will turn 32 during the competition.
Di Maria, like Messi, made his post-World Cup return in March ahead of friendlies against Venezuela and Morocco, but Aguero had not been called up since Argentina’s 4-3 last 16 defeat to eventual champions France in Russia.
Argentina have not won the Copa America, or any major international tournament, since 1993, losing in the final in four of the last five editions of the continental showpiece.
Goalkeepers: Agustin Marchesin, Juan Musso, Franco Armani, Esteban Andrada, Geronimo Rulli
Defenders: German Pezzel, Gabriel Mercado, Juan Foyth, Nicolas Otamendi, Walter Kannemann, Nicolas Tagliafico, Marcos Acuna, Gonzalo Montiel, Renzo Saravia, Lisandro Martinez, Ramiro Funes Mori
Midfielders: Leandro Paredes, Angel Di Maria, Guido Rodriguez, Giovani Lo Celso, Manuel Lanzini, Roberto Pereyra, Matias Zaracho, Ivan Marcone, Domingo Blanco, Rodrigo De Paul, Exequiel Palacios, Maximiliano Meza
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Martinez, Paulo Dybala, Angel Correa, Lautaro Martinez, Dario Benedetto, Matias Suarez, Mauro Icardi.