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Usman Khawaja was not among the two sets of Australian players and staff that reached India by Tuesday night ahead of the Border-Gavaskar Test series. The left-handed opener's travel plans had to be rescheduled after a delay in obtaining the visa. Cricbuzz understands that while a visa has been issued to Khawaja, the delay was caused because a physical copy of the same was unavailable by the time a second set of squad members left Australia on Tuesday. The 36-year-old Islamabad-born Khawaja will now fly out to Bengaluru on Thursday. Ma74xj92ZwY Australia are scheduled to have a four-day camp in Bengaluru before they head out to Nagpur for the first Test that begins on February 9. The visitors also had a short two-day camp in Sydney ahead of departure, although Khawaja and other squad members participating in the Big Bash League weren't part of it.

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February 1 Just a little over two years ago, Hanuma Vihari put up a brave fight alongside R Ashwin at the SCG to salvage a vital draw for India in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy despite suffering from a hamstring injury. He pulled off something similar on Wednesday in Andhra's Ranji Trophy quarterfinal clash against Madhya Pradesh by walking out to bat with a fractured left wrist on the second day to help his side add some vital runs. Vihari was struck on his wrist by a bouncer from Avesh Khan and retired hurt on the opening day. However, his absence wasn't felt with Andhra making merry following centuries from Ricky Bhui and Karan Shinde. But from 323/2, they collapsed dramatically to 353/9 and that forced Vihari to walk out as the last man to try and add some vital runs. Quite interestingly, he batted left-handed in order to protect the injured wrist and used just one hand predominantly. He guided Andhra to 379/9 by lunch but was then trapped lbw first ball after the break for 27. 8EvZOqKnzjN

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Shaheen Afridi has been on more than one comeback trail in the last six months. And they've all been down to a bothersome knee that first flared up upon landing awkwardly while attempting to save a boundary in the Galle Test against Sri Lanka. A lengthy recovery and rehabilitation program in London followed as he sought to get fit for the T20 World Cup. His rhythm progressively got better Down Under but in the closing moments of a well-contested final at MCG, Shaheen injured his knee again while taking a catch to dismiss Harry Brook and was pushed back into rehab mode. Having checked all the prerequisites tests for returning to competitive action, the 22-year-old quick can turn his attention fully to the Pakistan Super League, where he'll captain the defending champions Lahore Qalandars. His much-publicised return, however, is as much about reflection as it is about looking to the future. "There were times when I wanted to give up," Shaheen told . "I was working on only one muscle and it was not improving. Often during the rehabilitation sessions, I used to say to myself 'this is enough, I cannot do this anymore'. "But then I used to watch my bowling on YouTube and see how well I had done and that motivated me and I told myself 'to push a little more' ... It is frustrating for a fast bowler to miss cricket because of an injury." The injury-hit period has seen the prodigious fast bowler miss a host of assignments for the national team. He was ruled out of the Asia Cup, the seven-match T20I slug-fest with England and then all of their assignments post the World Cup - which included three Tests against England, followed by two Tests and three ODIs against New Zealand. In all, Shaheen missed 15 games for Pakistan, significantly denting their prospects in those fixtures. "It is tough when you miss your home games because of the injury," he said. "Before our Test home season, I even missed the seven England T20Is. I was more distressed for missing the Tests, because I like Test cricket more. A bowler is measured on how he performs in Test cricket and I wanted to take wickets against England." Shaheen, though, remained in touch with the team's relatively inexperienced bowling group, which encountered a particularly tough initiation to Test cricket against a freewheeling England side under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum. "I was in touch with the boys over the phone. Naseem bowls really quick and mentally he is very sharp and understands what needs to be done. I used to speak with Haris Rauf daily. I remained in touch with our other bowlers as well, who played in the Tests. "It [Wanting to don the Pakistan colours] came when I was watching the [Multan Test] match and our tailenders were not able to finish the game. I wanted to hit a few sixes there and finish the match for Pakistan. Also, when they [England] were scoring a lot of runs, I wanted to give my input with the ball."

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Sri Lanka have left out experienced campaigner Hasini Perera from their 15-member squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup after she suffered an injury. Perera, who was named in the original squad, was forced out after injuring her finger during a practice session. She has been replaced by Sathya Sandeepani, whose only appearance for the national side came in the 2020 T20 World Cup encounter against runners-up India. Apart from the forced change, the Asian side have also made a couple of changes to their squad from the one that reached the Asia Cup final last October. Rashmi Silva and Madushika Methtananda, two players who didn't get an opportunity in the Asia Cup, have been left out of the squad for the World Cup in favour of Vishmi Gunaratne and Ama Kanchana. 17-year-old Vishmi made her debut in both T20Is and ODIs last year for Sri Lanka and the experienced Ama Kanchana, who made her T20I debut almost 10 years ago, has been recalled for the first time since the Commonwealth Games. Chamari Athapaththu will lead the 15-member squad once again. Sri Lanka are in Group A alongside New Zealand, Bangladesh, hosts South Africa and defending champions Australia. They begin their campaign on the opening night (February 10) against South Africa at Newlands. Chamari Athapaththu (C), Oshadi Ranasinghe, Harshitha Samarawickrama, Nilakshi de Silva, Kavisha Dilhari, Anushka Sanjeewani, Kaushini Nuthyangana, Malsha Shehani, Inoka Ranaweera, Sugandika Kumari, Achini Kulasuriya, Tharika Sewwandi, Vishmi Gunaratne, Ama Kanchana, Sathya Sandeepani

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The Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) has said it will appoint two experts for Lucknow's Ekana Stadium so that the recent pitch disaster is not repeated during the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). "We are going to appoint two specialists who will take care of the stadium. One will be an expert on the pitch and another will be a professional on the outfield. We are taking required permissions from other state associations to hire their services," said Ankit Chatterjee, the CEO of the UPCA and confirmed the association's decision to part ways with the curator responsible for the preparation of the substandard pitch during the recent Twenty20 International. The stadium copped a lot of outrage for the nature of its wicket during the second Twenty20 International between India and New Zealand on January 29. Just about 200 runs were scored in close to 40 overs and India skipper Hardik Pandya termed it a shocker of a wicket. "To be honest, it was a shocker of a wicket. Both the games we have played so far. I don't mind difficult wickets. I am all up for that, but these two wickets are not made for T20. Somewhere down the line the curators or the grounds that we are going to play in should make sure they prepare the pitches earlier," Pandya had said after India struggled its way to a modest 100-run target in the match. Surendra Yadav was the curator of the pitch and he is being replaced by a specialist from Gwalior, Sanjeev Agarwal. The association is yet to confirm the outfield expert. "We want the playing conditions to be foolproof and we don't want to take any chances for the IPL," the UPCA official said. "The franchise also practises a lot at the ground and they need to have home advantage and we will make sure everything is in place for the IPL and we will ensure there are no such issues during the season." Although Lucknow has hosted the IPL in the past, for the first time this year, the city will have a home team, Lucknow Super Giants. The IPL is expected to kick off on April 1 and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to restore the regular home and away format, which was discontinued for Covid-related reasons in the last three years, from this season.

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Despite Kumar Suraj cracking a gritty unbeaten 89, Jharkhand were in their Ranji Trophy match against Bengal. Meanwhile, the pace bowling duo of Akash Deep and Mukesh Kumar combined to take seven wickets between them. On a day when only 66.2 overs were bowled due to bad light, Akash Deep and Mukesh made incisions at regular intervals to keep Jharkhand in check. Suraj and Pankaj Kumar (32 runs) shared the highest stand for Jharkhand. Barring Suraj, Pankaj was also the only batter to cross the 20-run mark for the team. Meanwhile, for Bengal, Akash Ghatak and Ishan Porel chipped in with a wicket each and provided Akash Deep and Mukesh with valuable support. : Jharkhand 173 in 66.2 overs (Kumar Suraj 89*; Akash Deep 4-46, Mukesh Kumar 3-61) v Bengal Muralidhara Venkatesh, who plays for Mangalore United in the Maharaja T20 Trophy, impressed on his first-class debut, picking up a five-wicket haul for Karnataka in their quarter-final game against Uttarakhand at the Chinnaswamy stadium. Karnataka finished the day in complete command , in front by seven runs. The platform for Karnataka's dominance was laid by the bowlers - Venkatesh, Vidhwath Kaverappa, Vijaykumar Vyshak and K Gowtham. On a track that has a decent covering of grass, the tall Kaverappa struck early by forcing Jiwanjot Singh to edge one to the slip cordon. Avneesh Sudha then upper-cut the debutant Venkatesh to the fielder stationed behind square on the off-side. Venkatesh continued to mix up his lengths - short and full - to run through the middle order. Vyshak and Kaverappa also made inroads to leave Uttarakhand at 99 for 6. Venkatesh and K Gowtham then ran through the lower order to ensure the visitors were bowled out for just 116. Karnataka were also assisted by some excellent catching in the slip cordon, with Samarth's catch to remove Swapnil Singh turning out to be the highlight of the innings. Kunal Chandela top-scored for Uttarakhand with a patient 103-ball 31. Samarth and Mayank Agarwal then cracked breezy unbeaten fifties to cement Karnataka's control. : Uttarakhand 116 (Kunal Chandela 31; M Venkatesh 5-36) trail Karnataka 123/0 (Mayank Agarwal 65*, R Samarth 54*) by seven runs. Wicketkeeper-batter Ricky Bhui (115*) and Kirdant Karan Shinde (83*) shared an undefeated 100 plus stand to against defending Ranji champions Madhya Pradesh in Indore. Andhra were 262 for 2 at close of play. When Andhra's skipper Hanuma Vihrai retired hurt after being hit on the wrist by a short ball from Avesh Khan, they were in a bit of a tricky position. However, Bhui and Shinde joined forces to not just frustrate the opponent but also put the pressure back on the bowlers. Shinde has scored 9 boundaries and a six so far in his innings while Bhui has stroked 12 fours and a six. Medium pacer, Gaurav Yadav has been the only MP bowler to pick up scalps so far, having taken the wickets of both the openers. : Andhra 262 for 2 (Ricky Bhui 115*, Kirdant Shinde 83*) v Madhya Pradesh At 147 for 8, when Snell Patel fell for a measured 70, Saurashtra were in all kinds of trouble against Punjab. However, Parth Bhut, batting at No.9, and also strung together alliances of 61 with Chetan Sakariya and 95 with the last man Yuvrajsinh Dodiya to power Saurashtra to a competitive score of 303. At stumps, Punjab were 3 for no loss. Earlier, the in-form Baltej Singh, S Kaul and Mayank Markande had ripped through the heart of Saurashtra's batting unit. Barring Patel, Vishvaraj Jadeja was the only other batter to cross the 20-run mark. Marakande was the chief wicket-taker for Punjab, finishing with four for 84 from 29.2 overs. : Saurashtra 303 (Parth Bhut 111*, Snell Patel 70; Mayank Markande 4-84) v Punjab

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Bangladesh Cricket Board, on Tuesday (January 31), said that Chandika Hathurusingha has been named as the new head coach for a two-year period. He is expected to join the set-up in February. "We have appointed Hathurusingha for two years as across the format head coach," BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury told Cricbuzz. The former Sri Lanka all-rounder had earlier served as the head coach of Bangladesh from 2014 to 2017. He has also served in various coaching positions with Sri Lanka, Canada, NSW and Sydney Thunder. In his previous coaching tenure, Bangladesh had won ODI series against India, Pakistan and South Africa, alongside achieving Test victories versus Sri Lanka, England and Australia. During his stint, Bangladesh also reached the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy in 2017. "It's an honour to have been given this opportunity to coach the Bangladesh national team once again. I really loved the warmth of the people and the culture of Bangladesh whenever I have been there. I'm looking forward to working with the players once again and enjoy their successes," he said in a press release. Cricbuzz had earlier reported that and Hathurusingha is the front-runner to replace Russell Domingo, who resigned before completing his stint that ran until the end of the 50-over ICC World Cup. Meanwhile, Bangladesh's Test and T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan remained tightlipped on the return of Hathurusingha as the head coach. No comments," it's all right," he said, without elaborating further. On the other hand, BCB has not specified the role that Sridharan Sriram would have with the new set-up. The board's president Nazmul Hasan noted that they have shortlisted five candidates for the assistant coach's position, with Sriram expected to be one among them.

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While the pitch in Ranchi , the India captain by what was on offer in Lucknow. And when the talk is largely about the playing surface ahead of a series decider, especially with India's proud record of 12 undefeated home series on the line, something's got to give. Ahmedabad, the venue for the third and final T20I between India and New Zealand, has had its fair share of debate around pitches in the past. And the last thing both teams would want is another tricky T20 surface that sees Lockie Ferguson bowl as many overs as Mark Chapman; or Deepak Hooda twice as many as Yuzvendra Chahal. Pitch aside, India will know that there's work to be done, especially with a young side that's trying to ready itself for 2024. After a breezy ODI whitewash, the T20I rubber hasn't been as easy for the hosts. While the death bowling cost them in Ranchi, their batting was under the scanner two days later; India got past a target of 100 with only a ball to spare. But the challenging conditions stole the thunder away, hardly allowing the team to assess their progress. For example, Arshdeep Singh bowled the 20th over again after copping some heat in the first T20I, but that he was up against a team limping at 94/8 hardly lent credibility to his five-run last over. For New Zealand, this is a great opportunity. They are without a host of their frontline players like Trent Boult, Kane Williamson and Tim Southee, and are in with a shot to beat India in a T20I series at home - the bragging rights for which has belonged only to Australia and West Indies in the last eight years. For Mitchell Santner's team, that will be a great shot in the arm and expect the side to mount a good challenge for the hosts, pitch permitting of course. Wednesday, 1 February, 2023 from 7:00 PM local India vs NZ, 3nd T20I, Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad A nervous curator. And a fair few cheers for Hardik Pandya, the Gujarat Titans captain who is also leading the India T20I side now. Like most Indian grounds, teams have preferred to bat second here but in the last couple of games here against England, India showed that it is in fact possible to defend targets here. That said, those games were played in March; this one could see some fair amount of dew though. It will be interesting to see what pitch the match is played on (Ahmedabad has both red and black soil pitches) but expect the venue to be buzzing again with capacity crowds. The hosts left out Umran Malik for a second spinner in Yuzvendra Chahal and the pitch again will dictate that decision. Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan(w), Rahul Tripathi, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya(c), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Shivam Mavi, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal/Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh The visitors have played the same side on what were slightly different surfaces, and they are unlikely to make any change for the decider. Finn Allen, Devon Conway(w), Mark Chapman, Glenn Phillips, Daryl Mitchell, Michael Bracewell, Mitchell Santner(c), Ish Sodhi, Jacob Duffy, Lockie Ferguson, Blair Tickner

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Leicestershire have signed India batter Ajinkya Rahane for the 2023 season, the county confirmed on Tuesday (January 31). This will be Rahane's second stint in County cricket after he represented Hampshire in 2019. Rahane will be available for eight matches in the County Championship as he is set to join the county after the conclusion of his stint with Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. The 34-year-old will also be available to play the entire One-Day Cup competition given he is currently out of favour with the national side. "I'm really happy to be joining Leicestershire for the upcoming season," Rahane said. "I can't wait to play alongside my new teammates and explore the vibrant city of Leicester." Rahane has so far played 82 Tests for India, scoring almost 5000 runs at an average of 38.52. His most recent appearance for the national side came in January 2022 against South Africa, following which he has not been considered. However, he was in good form in the Ranji Trophy recently, scoring 634 games for Mumbai in seven games. "I'm extremely excited to welcome Ajinkya to Leicestershire," Director of Cricket, Claude Henderson said. "He comes with a lot of experience and a tremendous work ethic. It's a great opportunity for us to tap into that. I had conversations with (Assistant Coach) Alfonso Thomas and (Head Coach) Paul Nixon, who had eyed Ajinkya in the past, so he was always on our radar. It was a case of seeing what the team needed, which was definitely a senior overseas batsman, so we are delighted to have secured someone of Ajinkya's calibre."

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Dane van Niekerk's omission on fitness grounds from South Africa's T20 World Cup squad amounts to self-inflicted sabotage of the home side's chances of winning their first senior global trophy. You didn't need to go far to find that view after the selectors announced and defended their on Tuesday. "Absolutely broken," Van Niekerk posted on social media after she was left out because she had failed to complete a run of two kilometres in nine-and-a-half minutes or less. "One of the best captains in world cricket," Marizanne Kapp, Van Niekerk's wife and South Africa's star allrounder, replied. "You will be missed! The Lord has bigger plans!" Dale Steyn wrote: "Oh f**k, I missed my 2km time by seconds, must mean I'm s**t." Also on social media, Herschelle Gibbs took the opposite view: "You miss it by two or 10 seconds, it's a fail irrespective of who you are ... it's 2023 not 1990." The real-world repercussions have started. Cricbuzz understands Kapp has withdrawn from the T20I series final between South Africa and India in East London on Thursday, and the sudden international retirements of Van Niekerk or Kapp, or indeed both, cannot be ruled out. Had Van Niekerk made the grade she would have captained South Africa in the T20 World Cup, which will start at Newlands on February 10 with a game between the hosts and Sri Lanka. Instead Sune Luus will lead the side. It isn't the first time South Africa's teams have been affected by CSA's insistence on the enforcement of fitness and conditioning standards that are less stringently observed by cricket authorities in other countries. Lizelle Lee retired from the international arena in July over a failed skin folds test. Sisanda Magala has fallen foul of the rules several times and been punished by omission from the side. He is currently in the ODI squad and showed his value by taking a matchwinning 3/46 against England in Bloemfontein on Friday. Van Niekerk hasn't played since September 2021. She fractured an ankle in a fall at her home in January last year, which put her out of the ODI World Cup in New Zealand in March and April. Now mended and prepared, she is fitter than she has been in the past - or before July 2022, when CSA, to keep up with a steadily quickening, more physical global game, raised the height of the fitness hoops players had to jump through to be eligible for selection. South Africa have won 15 of their 28 completed T20Is with Van Niekerk as captain. Since she has been injured, they have won just five of 12. From Van Niekerk's T20I debut in June 2009, only Shabnim Ismail and Kapp have taken more wickets in either format for South Africa. Only Lee has scored more runs in T20Is for South Africa than Van Niekerk. Had the fitness criteria been hiked to where they are now when Van Niekerk's career was starting, she might never have played for the national teams. Did CSA understand the effect their decision on Van Niekerk might have on the mental well-being of a squad going into a major tournament? "We considered everything," Clinton du Preez, CSA's women's selection convenor, told a press conference on Tuesday. "We had the discussion around what happens if Dane doesn't make it; how does that impact. But from a player point of view we've created succession in the leadership within the team. The morale of the team is fine. I believe the team have pulled together and that they accept the decision we have made, and that it is required for the good of our players." Du Preez made plain that the failed fitness test was all that had deprived South Africa of Van Niekerk's talent, skill, experience and leadership: "Dane was given an extensive opportunity to meet the minimum criteria, or the fitness benchmark for eligibility into the World Cup. She recently did another fitness test and unfortunately did not meet the minimum criteria, and therefore she's missed out. It's purely based on not meeting the fitness criteria that she's missed out." He said a different method to test Van Niekerk's fitness, believed to involve a treadmill, had been used in addition to normal running: "We've tried extensively to assist Dane to get over the line. As a selection panel and a management team we made the commitment that we want to give her the best opportunity to try and get into the squad. Therefore we considered all the other options." Van Niekerk's worth as a player and captain was not in doubt, Du Preez said: "Dane has been an integral part of the team. Her skill-set will always be missed on the field. We've had this discussion with her. We've extensively reminded her of that, and appreciated the hard work that she's put in to try to get to the fitness levels." If CSA understood that, why were they rigid about a decreed standard of fitness? "It's about remaining consistent with our decisions," Du Preez said. "It's not something that has been brought about recently. Many other players have gone down this route. We've had open discussions about it with everyone. Everyone was quite familiar with the situation and what was required. "In December we had the discussion with Dane, where we set out clearly what she needs to do and where we expect her to be while acknowledging the improvement she has shown. "For us as a team, and with the management team to support them, they really want to set the fitness benchmark and ensure all the players meet that. It isn't anything untoward towards Dane as a cricketer. We treat everyone fairly and we want to remain consistent in our decisions." That is the other side of the argument. If all the players who are not Van Niekerk are able to satisfy the stopwatch, why not Van Niekerk? What would it say if allowances were made for favourites? Why should players bother busting a gut when the same degree of measurable gut-busting is not required of everybody? Some of those players might pose a different question, which could cut both ways: why put in the hard work if some suit can, at the stroke of a pen, undermine an entire squad days before a World Cup?

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If you didn't know better you'd have thought the home side were in dead-rubber mode at their training session in Kimberley on Tuesday (January 31). The only South Africa batters who took to the nets were Janneman Malan and Reeza Hendricks. Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi bowled not a ball between them. Except that the South Africans need all the World Cup Super League points they can lay their hands on to uncomplicate their passage to the tournament in India in October and November. Another win over England, who have gone down in the first two matches of the series, will push them into the top eight who will qualify directly. Two more victories over the Netherlands in the coming weeks would guarantee Temba Bavuma's team that status. Anything less and a qualifier could loom in Zimbabwe in June and July. South Africa's attack have been pulling off rescue acts since WG Grace was a boy. So there was little surprise when the bowlers won the first match, a day/nighter in Bloemfontein on Friday, after their batters lost their way and fell short of 300 on a decent pitch. But it was the batters who got the job done in a day game at the same ground on Sunday, when Bavuma led the way with a feisty 109 - his finest innings in a South Africa shirt - as the home side successfully chased 343, a record for Bloem. If this team get it together well enough and consistently enough to bat as competitively as they bowl and field, look out. England, the World Cup holders, seem to be travelling in the opposite direction. They last won an ODI in July and have lost eight of their last 10 completed matches in the format. Friday's game seemed easier for the visitors to win than lose, but they found a way - having reached 146 for no wicket inside 20 overs, they lost all 10 for 125 in the next 25. On Sunday, they appeared to have batted South Africa out of the game. Only for Bavuma to exercise not the nuclear but the Shakespearean option: once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. This time with unstoppable desire and determination. England's batting has been in better shape than their bowling in the first two games, what with Jason Roy scoring a century, Jos Buttler making 94 not out, Harry Brook stroking 80 and Dawid Malan and Moeen Ali adding half-centuries. They could do with Jofra Archer turning in a better display, if he plays on Wednesday, than he did on Friday in his first England outing since March 2021, when he broke down injured. His 1/81 in Bloemfontein was his most expensive return in his 18 ODIs. The international cricket circus doesn't often come to Kimberley, which last hosted the men's national team in an ODI in September 2018. Zimbabwe were bowled out for 117 in 34.1 overs and the South Africans won by five wickets in 34.1. None of the home side's supporters would expect the English to go that quietly, but they wouldn't complain if they did. Beating England is always satisfying, even in a dead rubber, and especially in a World Cup year. February 1, 2023; 1pm Local Time (3pm BST, 4.30pm IST) Kimberley A smaller, flatter, hotter version of Bloemfontein. Having hurt his thumb on Sunday, Quinton de Kock is likely to need replacing. That should mean gametime for Janneman Malan or Reeza Hendricks. Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma (capt), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Marco Jansen, Wayne Parnell, Keshav Maharaj, Sisanda Magala, Tabraiz Shamsi Phil Salt is over the illness that kept him out on Sunday, and Jofra Archer - who also sat out that match - seems set for another crack. Jason Roy, Phil Salt, Dawid Malan, Harry Brook, Jos Buttler (capt), Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer "We're more experienced, used to different conditions and going to India, where we've played a lot of IPL. I feel we'll be ready to go. Results don't show it yet but I think we will be better than we were," - Moeen Ali says England are, despite their string of losses, in better shape for the coming World Cup in India than they were before the 2019 edition.

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The Women's Premier League (WPL) auction which was scheduled to be held in the first week of February is likely to be postponed to February 11 or 13, due to the ongoing International League T20, Cricbuzz understands. With four of the five WPL teams having a presence in the ILT20 -, Reliance's MI Emirates, Capri Global's Sharjah Warriors, Adani Group's Gulf Giants and Delhi Capitals' Dubai Capitals (the fifth WPL team being Diageo's Royal Challengers Bangalore) the representatives of some of the teams prefer the WPL auction after the business end of the ILT20. Some of the teams, if not all of them, have communicated to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to consider scheduling the auction after the knockouts of the ILT20 so that their focus isn't divided. The ILT20 playoffs are scheduled to be played from February 8, with the final on February 12. The BCCI has not yet formally informed the new franchises about the auction date but informally it is learnt that the board is seriously willing to consider the franchises' request, and February 13 is a likely date. The venue has not yet been finalised but Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad were in the shortlist when the BCCI planned to hold the auction initially on February 6. "The BCCI is discussing the dates but February 11 (Saturday) and 13 (Monday) have been shortlisted. February 13 will be a convenient date for most franchises," said a representative of a WPL team. A BCCI/WPL official confirmed the same. "We need to give the teams time to plan for the auction," the official said, confirming the request regarding ILT0 matches. Cricbuzz understands that the BCCI is looking for a convenient hotel to conduct the auction and it has not been easy to find one, given the ongoing marriage season in India. The BCCI managers have zeroed in on a hotel in Delhi for February 11 and in Mumbai for February 13. The final decision is expected to be made in a day or two.

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Craig Ervine will lead a depleted Zimbabwe squad against West Indies at home in the upcoming two-match Test series. Ervine has been asked to take over the captaincy duties with regular skipper Sean Williams sidelined with a fractured finger. Apart from Williams, Zimbabwe will also be without several first-choice players for the two games in Bulawayo. Allrounders Sikandar Raza and Ryan Burl will miss the series in order to fulfill their franchise commitments whereas pacers Tendai Chatara and Blessing Muzarabani are recovering from injuries. The absence of these players have opened the door for the inclusion of uncapped players Tafadzwa Tsiga, Joylord Gumbie, Kudzai Maunze and Tanunurwa Makoni. Innocent Kaia, who recently broke into the limited-overs set up, is expected to make his Test bow during the series. Donald Tiripano and Chamunorwa Chibhabha have been recalled to the side and Gary Ballance's presence will bolster that middle order. Ballance, who recently returned to play international cricket for Zimbabwe, featured in the 50-over format and in a T20I against Ireland. The 33-year-old has already played 23 Tests for England, averaging 37.45. The first Test begins on February 4 at the Queens Sports Club and the second Test is scheduled to get underway on February 12 at the same venue. : Gary Ballance, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Tanaka Chivanga, Craig Ervine (captain), Bradley Evans, Joylord Gumbie, Innocent Kaia, Tanunurwa Makoni, Wellington Masakadza, Kudzai Maunze, Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Milton Shumba, Donald Tiripano, Tafadzwa Tsiga

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Three wickets apiece by Wanindu Hasaranga and Luke Wood powered Desert Vipers to a 22-run win against Sharjah Warriors on Tuesday, and propelled them as well as to the top of the points table. Put in to bat, Vipers had a fairly slow start, losing Alex Hales early and Rohan Mustafa struggling to get going. Some tidy bowling in the middle overs, followed by regular strikes, ensured Vipers couldn't score much faster than run-a-ball. By the time Sherfane Rutherford was run out, the team was reduced to 80 for 5 in 13.1 overs. Benny Howell, in the company of Sam Billings, provided the spark in the late overs, smashing four boundaries en route his unbeaten 23-ball 34. Billings, who was kept in check early on, too hit some lusty blows to propel the team to a competitive 148 for 6. Tom Kohler-Cadmore provided a brisk start, and even as the openers fell early, a steady partnership between Marcus Stoinis and Adam Hose for the third wicket had ensured Warriors were heading well in the run chase, bringing up their 50 in eight overs. However, Hasaranga's triple strike through the middle overs, followed by Joe Denly getting run out, derailed the chase. Hose and Mohammad Nabi were cleaned up while Stoinis was trapped legbefore as Warriors slipped to from 50 for 2 to 65 for 6 in a space of 25 balls. Paul Walter and Noor Ahmed attempted to revive the innings but couldn't keep up with the required rate. By the time both departed, Warriors were left needing 37 runs in 14 balls, something that proved too tall for Naveen ul haq and Junaid Siddiqui. : Desert Vipers 148/6 in 20 overs (Benny Howell 34*, Rohan Mustafa 31; Noor Ahmed 2-27, Muhammad Jawadullah 2-36) beat Sharjah Warriors 126/8 in 20 overs (Paul Walter 27, Noor Ahmed 23; Wanindu Hasaranga 3-13, Luke Wood 3-20) by 22 runs

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Veteran batter Murali Vijay has announced his retirement from international cricket on Monday (January 30). Vijay has stated that he will continue to look for opportunities to play around the world and explore the business side of the sport as well. The opener played 61 Tests, 17 ODIs and 9 T20Is for India since making his debut in 2008 in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia. His most recent appearance for the national side came in December 2018 against the same opposition in Perth, post which he was never picked again. "Today, with immense gratitude & humility, I announce my retirement from all forms of International cricket," he said in a statement. "My journey from 2002-2018 has been the most wonderful years of my life for it was an honour representing India at the highest level of sport. "I am grateful for the opportunities given to me by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), Chennai Super Kings and Chemplast Sanmar. "I am excited to announce that I will be exploring new opportunities in the world of cricket & the business side of it, where I will also continue to participate in the sport that I love and challenge myself in new and different environments. I believe that this is the next step in my journey as a cricketer and I look forward to this new chapter in my life." Vijay looked impressive in his debut Test and then went on to score 87 in his second game against Sri Lanka. He managed to nail down a spot in the XI and scored his maiden Test ton in October 2010 before losing his spot the following year. He was brought back again in 2013 for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at home and repaid the faith by scoring two massive centuries in India's 4-0 win. The opener slowly gained a reputation for scoring runs overseas and ended up scoring centuries in England and Australia. Runs did dry up in 2018 though where he scored just one century in eight Tests before getting dropped. While his white-ball career never took off for India, Vijay went through a purple patch in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings where he scored two centuries and made 95 in the final in 2011. After a brief spell with Delhi Daredevils and later Kings XI Punjab where he even captained the franchise, Vijay returned to CSK for a second stint in 2018 that didn't prove to be successful. His last appearance in the IPL came in September 2020.

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