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Been such a surreal couple of months; an experience I'll cherish for a long time, says Shoaib Bashir

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New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) Young England off-spinner Bashir said he has experienced a surreal couple of months after making his Test debut on the tour of India earlier this year, which is something he will cherish for a long time.

Bashir will make his debut in the ongoing County Championship season for Somerset in their second match against Surrey, after taking 17 wickets in his first three Test matches for England, where he made his debut in the second game at Visakhapatnam.

“The winter’s been quite the experience starting with the Lions out in Abu Dhabi on that two-week camp and then from there getting called up to play for your country. It’s been such a surreal couple of months and one that I’ll cherish for a long time.”

“I got picked up from pretty much nowhere — Somerset came to me out of the blue and so has England as well. I’m just so grateful for the opportunity and so thankful to God because without him none of this would have happened,” said Bashir to BBC Points West.

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His entry into India was delayed initially due to visa issues, but eventually joined the team in the middle of the first Test at Hyderabad, before his debut in Visakhapatnam.

“It was quite special. I remember walking out there and I was shaking — I was like, ‘I’m walking out with Ben Stokes, Joe Root here, this is the experience’.”

“I was nervous until I had the ball in my hand and then I felt at home. I’ve been bowling a cricket ball for years and I sort of knew that in the back of my head and after I bowled that first bowl, I was on it,” he recalled.

Bashir had been the 12th man for Somerset in their drawn County Championship match against Kent last week but is keen to ace the challenge of bowling in England after doing well in India.

“I’m still young, I’m still learning the game. I’m quite excited for what’s to come. I know bowling in County Championship conditions in this rain is part of the experience as well. I’m still trying to develop my skills.”

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“Bowling with different paces, different trajectories I need to work on, but also pace changes because the ball doesn’t spin as much as it did in India so you’ve got to beat the batsman in different ways.”

Bashir had been taken in by Somerset after being released by Surrey as a teenager and though the side has an experienced left-arm spinner in Jack Leach, the young off-spinner is fine with moving to another side on loan to get game time for his development as a young spin bowler.

“It’s not easy being a young kid and then getting told you’re not quite good enough to make it. Getting up from that and knowing if you want something that bad you want to put in work for it, that’s sort of what I did. I really made an effort to improve myself as a cricketer and tried to prove a point.”

“It’s still a conversation that we’re trying to deal with. We know that Leachy is the main spinner here and I understand that it’s just trying to find a way to play some first-team cricket if that’s here or maybe elsewhere. Have to have a few discussions but if that’s the best way moving forward then I’m sure Somerset will be able to cater for that.”

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–IANS

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Looking forward to competing in the WR Chess Masters Cup: Viswanathan Anand

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Former five-time World champion Viswanathan Anand is all set to compete in the WR Chess Masters Cup, scheduled to take place in London from October 14 to 18.

The tournament features the best 16 players across four intense rounds.

“I am looking forward to competing in the WR Chess Masters Cup, taking place from October 14th to 18th. Looking forward to see some great games,” Vishy Anand wrote on X.

The WR Chess Masters Cup have recently been officially included in the FIDE Circuit.

It will be an intense elimination tournament with a K.O. System of best-of-two games with the time control of 60 minutes for the first 30 moves, 30 minutes for the next 20 moves and 30 minutes for the rest of the game.

In case of tiebreaks, there will be a bidding rapid armageddon game.

–IANS

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Babar Azam slams batters for not ‘finishing well’ in second T20I against England

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Birmingham (UK), May 26 (IANS) Pakistan captain Babar Azam said his team didn’t finish well and faltered in the batting department after a 23-run loss against England in the second T20I here on Saturday.

England took a 1-0 lead in the four-match series after the first fixture was washed out due to rain in Leeds.

Chasing 184, Fakhar Zaman looked in great touch as he slammed 45 off 21 runs including five fours and three sixes but failed to take the side over the line. Babar, who scored 32 runs, said they lacked in building partnerships in the middle overs and ended on a losing side.

“It was a par score, our bowlers bowled very well. In the batting, there were moments, but we didn’t finish well. Small partnership between me and Fakhar and later on, there was no big partnership. If someone got 40s and 50s, it could have been different. We are flexible, everyone knows their role. We have decided each player’s role. If you are not in good form, we are flexible,” Babar said in the post-match presentation.

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He heaped praise on Fakhar for his blistering knock despite the fall of wickets at regular intervals on the other end.

“The way Fakhar dominated after wickets fell … if me and Fakhar had batted for three more overs, it would have been a different ball game,” Babar added.

Earlier, Jos Buttler’s 84 off 51 balls decorated with eight fours and three sixes guided England to 183/7 in 20 overs after being asked to bat first.

For Pakistan, Shaheen Shah Afridi bagged three wickets while Iman Wasim and Haris Rauf added two scalps each to their tally.

Imad remained economical in his four-over spell and just leaked 19 runs including wickets of Phil Salt (13) and Harry Brook (1). With the bat, he contributed 22 in 13 balls to keep Pakistan’s hopes alive in the match.

Commenting on his performance, Babaar said, “He is experienced, he knows how to bowl at different situations and how read the batsman. He’s a very clever bowler. In the batting, he has improved a lot, so good for us.

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“Shadab is one of the best players, batting, bowling and especially fielding. He’ll come back. We announced the team (for WC), we are giving confidence,” he added.

The third T20I between England and Pakistan will be played in Cardiff on Tuesday, May 28.

–IANS

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ECB missed trick, playing in IPL better preparation than facing Pak: Vaughan

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Former England captain Michael Vaughan opined that playing in IPL would have served English players “better preparations for the T20 World Cup than playing against Pakistan” after the hoast of players returned home from the cash-rich league.

Will Jacks, Phil Salt, and Jos Butler were among the players who ended their IPL campaign before the playoffs and returned home to participate in the four-match home series against Pakistan.

“I think you’re going to miss the trick by sending all their players home. You know, I think Will Jacks, Phil Salt, Jos Butler, in particular, playing in the IPL in the eliminators, pressure, crowd, expectation. I would argue that playing here is better preparation than playing a T20 game against Pakistan,” said Vaughan on the Club Praire Fire Podcast.

After the culmination of the series against Pakistan, England will head for the T20 pinnacle in the West Indies and the USA, starting on June 1 (local time). The defending champions will not play any warm-up match and will take on Scotland in their opening match on June 4.

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The first game of the series was called off due to rain while in the second match, England sealed a 23-run win in Edgbaston on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead.

Pakistan won the toss and invited the hosts to bat first. England skipper Jos Buttler gave his side a great start to the game scoring 84 runs while Will Jacks hit 37 as the two batters propelled their side’s total to 183 in 20 overs.

Reece Topley grabbed three wickets in the second innings with Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer chipped in with two scalps each to restrict Pakistan to 160/9.

England will now square up against Pakistan in the third game, scheduled to be played at the Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Tuesday, May 28.

–IANS

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IPL is better preparation for England than T20 games against Pakistan: Vaughan ahead of T20 WC

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Former England captain Michael Vaughan opined that playing in IPL would have served English players “better preparations for the T20 World Cup than playing against Pakistan” after the hoast of players returned home from the cash-rich league.

Will Jacks, Phil Salt, and Jos Butler were among the players who ended their IPL campaign before the playoffs and returned home to participate in the four-match home series against Pakistan.

“I think you’re going to miss the trick by sending all their players home. You know, I think Will Jacks, Phil Salt, Jos Butler, in particular, playing in the IPL in the eliminators, pressure, crowd, expectation. I would argue that playing here is better preparation than playing a T20 game against Pakistan,” said Vaughan on the Club Praire Fire Podcast.

After the culmination of the series against Pakistan, England will head for the T20 pinnacle in the West Indies and the USA, starting on June 1 (local time). The defending champions will not play any warm-up match and will take on Scotland in their opening match on June 4.

ALSO READ:  Indian women beat underdog Ghana in hockey at the CWG 2022

The first game of the series was called off due to rain while in the second match, England sealed a 23-run win in Edgbaston on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead.

Pakistan won the toss and invited the hosts to bat first. England skipper Jos Buttler gave his side a great start to the game scoring 84 runs while Will Jacks hit 37 as the two batters propelled their side’s total to 183 in 20 overs.

Reece Topley grabbed three wickets in the second innings with Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer chipped in with two scalps each to restrict Pakistan to 160/9.

England will now square up against Pakistan in the third game, scheduled to be played at the Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Tuesday, May 28.

–IANS

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Malaysia Masters: Sindhu falters in thrilling final against China's Wang Zhi Yi (Ld)

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Kuala Lumpur, May 26 (IANS) Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu came close to winning the Malaysia Masters women’s singles title but fell short to China’s Wang Zhi Yi in a thrilling three-game final 21-16, 5-21, 16-21, here on Sunday.

It was Sindhu’s first BWF World Tour Final since Spain Masters in April 2023. Overall, it was her seventh tournament of the year. She has returned from injury at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in February.

The 28-year-old Indian had been on a roll throughout the tournament. She displayed her aggressive style and exceptional movement in the semifinal, where she pulled off a dramatic comeback against Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan after losing the opening game. She had earlier defeated top seed Chinese shuttler Han Yue in the quarterfinals.

However, against the world no. 7 Wang, things were different. The first game started brightly for Sindhu. Intercepting shuttles with impressive anticipation, she dominated the net and secured a comfortable 21-16 win.

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The second game, however, turned into a nightmare. Sindhu struggled with the drift on the court, committing uncharacteristic errors and losing 5-21.

Determined to bounce back, Sindhu began the third game with a fiery display. Her aggressive net play pushed Wang on the back foot, building a commanding 11-3 lead. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be sustained. The Chinese shuttler, showing resilience, capitalised on Sindhu’s fatigue and clawed her way back into the game.

A series of long rallies and Sindhu’s mounting frustration ultimately allowed Wang to complete a stunning turnaround, winning the final game 21-16 and claiming the title.

The loss in the final means Sindhu’s two-year title drought continues after she last won a major title at the Singapore Open in 2022.

–IANS

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