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Pallekele to host India-Sri Lanka men’s T20Is in July; Colombo named venue for ODI leg of tour

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New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) Pallekele and Colombo have been named as the venues to host the T20Is and ODIs during India’s upcoming tour, said Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) while announcing the itinerary of the white-ball series on Wednesday. As per the schedule, India will arrive in Sri Lanka on July 22. The tour begins with the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium hosting back-to-back T20Is on July 26 and 27, followed by the series-ending game on July 29.

The scene then shifts to Colombo with the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium hosting three ODIs on August 1, 4, and 7 respectively. India last toured Sri Lanka for a white-ball series in July 2021, where Rahul Dravid stepped in as the head coach, while Shikhar Dhawan was the captain.

Despite the absence of main players and support staff due to them being busy with preparation for the Test series in England, India won the ODI series 2-1 while Sri Lanka emerged victorious in T20Is by the same margin.

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This will be the first series for both India and Sri Lanka with new head coaches at the helm. SLC had named Sanath Jayasuriya as the side’s interim head coach, following the exit of Chris Silverwood post a group-stage elimination from the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup.

India, on the other hand, have appointed Gautam Gambhir as India’s new head coach, following Dravid’s tenure ending with the 2024 T20 World Cup triumph in the West Indies last month. While Sri Lanka’s players have been playing LPL 2024, a youthful Indian team are currently in Zimbabwe for a five-match T20I series ending on July 14.

–IANS

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5th T20I: Zimbabwe gotta rectify problems at the top; attitude is a grey area, says Sikandar Raza

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Harare, July 14 (IANS) After losing T20I series to India 4-1, Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza said the side have to rectify their problems at the top of the order with the bat, adding that attitude on the field is also a grey area for them to work on in future. Zimbabwe won the opening match by 13 runs, but let go of the early advantage to lose the series.

[8:52 PM, 7/14/2024] Niharika Ians: “I thought Blessing (Muzarabani) bowled well the whole series. Batting-wise, we are still below-par, but we are starting to rectify the problems at the top. You are going to have bad games here and there. The grey area for me will remain our attitude in the field, we are still making a lot of mistakes, that’s controllable, we are going to keep working hard and hopefully keep getting better,” said Raza after the match ended.

In Sunday’s game, Muzarabani and Ngarava were the bright spots with the ball, something which pleased Raza. “It was unfortunate that Richie (Ngarava) wasn’t fit at the start of the series. Had he been declared fit, he was gonna play all the games. To have him fit is certainly a blessing because we all know his quality. To have Richie and Blessing … every time I was in trouble I looked up to them and they did the job for the team, really happy for those two boys.”

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Zimbabwe are now slated to play one-off Test match against Ireland later this month, but Raza may not be a part of it, citing lack of his match practice in red-ball cricket. “My workload needs to be managed. I haven’t played any four-day cricket in the last two years post my surgeries. My shoulder isn’t 100%, I don’t want to be a guy who just gets a jersey.”

“I need to go back, respect my domestic cricket and also respect my domestic cricketers who have put a lot of runs. I will go back to play domestic cricket and test my own fitness. I am still available for Test match cricket but at this point of time, I am not because I haven’t played a lot of four-day cricket. I’ll leave for Manchester for The Hundred in a few days time, I am looking forward to that,” he concluded.

–IANS

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5th T20I: Always a special thing to contribute in both departments, says Shivam Dube

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Harare, July 14 (IANS) Though Sanju Samson and Mukesh Kumar were the chief contributors in India’s 42-run win over Zimbabwe in the fifth and final game to win series 4-1, Shivam Dube’s contribution in all departments of the game got him the Player of the Match award.

At the Harare Sports Club on Sunday, Dube played a handy cameo of 26 off 12 balls to take India’s total to an above-par 167/6. He then took two wickets with his tight medium-pace bowling, and even manufactured an important direct hit to get Sikandar Raza out, to shut the door on Zimbabwe’s chances of winning the game.

“It’s always a special thing to contribute in both departments. Took some wickets, very happy. In T20s, you can struggle but one shot and you can get back. The ground is big, we enjoy playing here, the atmosphere and the people are amazing,” said Dube after the match ended.

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Off-spin all-rounder Washington Sundar played only two games in IPL 2024, but got to play all games in Zimbabwe. Some effective bowling from him got Washington the Player of the Series award.

“Good to have finished with a win. After the first game, the conditions were similar to South Africa getting that extra bounce and extra pace. We had enough time to get a lot of information. Lots of takeaways, lot of learnings, lot of confidence going into the Sri Lanka series. We had a lot of success as a team,” he said.

Shubman Gill, who got his first series win as India captain, was in praise of the fightback shown by his team after losing the opening game by 13 runs. “Excellent series. The hunger that we showed after the first loss was phenomenal to watch.”

“Lot of the players had long flights, they weren’t used to the conditions. The way we adapted was remarkable. I have been there (Sri Lanka) once for Asia Cup, looking forward to go there and performing (later this month).”

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–IANS

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5th T20I: Sanju Samson & Mukesh Kumar star as India beat Zimbabwe by 42 runs; win series 4-1 (Ld)

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Harare, July 14 (IANS) Vice-captain Sanju Samson smashed his second T20I fifty through a 45-ball 58, while fast-bowler Mukesh Kumar picked his career-best figures in the format through 4-22 as India beat Zimbabwe by 42 runs in the fifth and final game at the Harare Sports Club to win the series 4-1.

Samson was at his languid best, hitting a four and four sixes in his knock, while sharing a 65-run stand off 56 balls for the fourth wicket with Riyan Parag, to bail India out of trouble after losing their top three batters in power-play.

Dube’s quick cameo of 26, along with some lofty hits at the end from Rinku Singh took India to a competitive 167/6, as 30 runs came off the last two overs. In reply, Mukesh struck twice with the new ball to put Zimbabwe in early trouble.

Dion Myers and Tadiwanashe Marumani kept Zimbabwe in the hunt, but a collapse saw the hosts’ go from 85/3 to 94/7 and be eventually all out for 125 in 18.3 overs, as India got a strong series win after losing the opening match by 13 runs.

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Mukesh gave India a brilliant start in their defence of 168 when Wesley Madhevere chopped on to his stumps in the opening over. The pacer came back in the third over to have Brian Bennett flashing hard at outside the off-stump and was caught by third man. He could have got his third wicket if he hadn’t overstepped while castling Myers.

Myers and Marumani hit seven boundaries between themselves to lead Zimbabwe’s fight with a 44-run stand off 36 balls for the third wicket. But Washington Sundar broke the partnership by trapping a sweeping Marumani lbw with a slower delivery in the ninth over.

Myers hit Abhishek Sharma for a four and six to keep Zimbabwe on track, but Dube took him out in the 13th over with a short ball cramping the batter for room and was caught off a leading edge by backward point.

Sikandar Raza being run out in a mix-up with Johnathan Campbell by a direct hit from Dube, who took out the latter in the next over was a jolt Zimbabwe couldn’t recover from. From there, Abhishek and Tushar Deshpande got a wicket each, while Mukesh took remaining two scalps to finish with a four-fer in another convincing win for India.

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Earlier, Yashasvi Jaiswal gave India a blistering start by swatting Raza for consecutive sixes on the first two balls of the innings, including off a no-ball. But Raza struck back by getting the ball to come in late and go past Jaiswal’s attempted on-drive to send the leg-stump on a walk.

Abhishek was lucky to have been dropped by Bennett at cover-point off Blessing Muzarabani, but the pacer bounced back by having the left-handed batter nick behind an angled across delivery to Madande.

Shubman Gill didn’t look much fluent in his stay at the crease, and was dismissed by Richard Ngarava when he tried to top-edged a pull to mid-on. In rebuilding India’s innings, Samson dealt majorly in boundaries – striking three wonderful sixes with his beautiful bat-swing, including a monstrous 110m hit.

Brandon Mavuta gave Zimbabwe the breakthrough when Parag miscued his loft to long-off. But Samson marched forward by smashing boundaries to get his fifty, before pulling straight to deep mid-wicket and fall for 45-ball 58 off Muzarabani.

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Dube hit four cracking boundaries in his 12-ball 26 before a miscommunication with Rinku led to his run-out in the final over. Rinku lofted Faraz Akram down the ground for six, as 14 runs came off the final over.

For Zimbabwe, Blessing Muzarabani was the pick of bowlers with 2/19 in his four overs, while their fielding, despite good catches being taken, had some lapses – three dropped chances, along with some fumbles, an aspect which hurt them throughout the series apart from their feeble batting returns.

Brief Scores: India 167/6 (Sanju Samson 58, Shivam Dube 26; Blessing Muzarabani 2-19, Richard Ngarava 1-29) beat Zimbabwe 125 in 18.3 overs (Dion Myers, Faraz Akram 27; Mukesh Kumar 4-22, Shivam Dube 2-25) by 42 runs

–IANS

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Woakes optimistic on leading England's pace squad in Ashes 2026

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London, July 14 (IANS) England seamer Chris Woakes believes he can still lead England’s pace squad against Australia in the Ashes 2026 after the departure of stalwarts James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

At 35, Chris Woakes finds himself stepping into the role of the senior statesman in England’s cricket team, a mantle he assumes as he prepares for the second Test against the West Indies at Trent Bridge. In a span of just one year, he has seen the departures of stalwart bowlers Stuart Broad and James Anderson, marking the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter for the England seam attack.

“It makes me feel incredibly old,” said Chris Woakes as quoted by ESPNcricinfo. “But it’s a lovely occasion. This week, it’s just been really nice to be a part of Jimmy’s last game. I’ve been very lucky to have played for a long period of time with him, and the lessons and little nuggets that I’ve learned from him across the years have certainly made me a better player. I feel very fortunate to have bowled with England’s best ever.”

Woakes’ admiration for Anderson is evident, as he recalls the invaluable insights he has gained from the veteran bowler. “He’s always been there at mid-off, giving little words of advice,” Woakes added. “He assesses conditions and pitches better than anyone I’ve seen. The way he talks about what deliveries are working on the surface so early on is just incredible, really. It’s very easy to think that that’s just a given and you just pick it up, but actually he is the best at doing that. I didn’t bowl a wobble-ball until Jimmy started talking to me about it. So that’s been huge.”

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With Anderson’s retirement, Woakes now becomes the wise old head for a new generation of England seamers. The prospect of leading the attack at Trent Bridge, where he will mark his 50th Test appearance, is both daunting and exhilarating. “I’ve not even thought about that!” he joked when asked about the possibility of having first-choice of ends. “Maybe … that’d be nice. But it worked out all right this game because Jimmy prefers this [Pavilion] end and I actually do prefer the other end [Nursery]!”

Woakes is determined to stay true to his game while embracing his new responsibilities. “Naturally, you’re going to see a lot more new players being given opportunities to move [England] forward,” he said. “But I’ll try and give 100%, and try and do my role as well as I can for the team.”

His role might see subtle shifts, particularly if he is handed the new ball more frequently. “The majority of my career I’ve come on first-change so that’s something that I’ll maybe need to get my head around moving forward. Other than that, you try and deliver your skills and, whenever there is a new guy coming into the team, you still try and pass on a little bit of knowledge.”

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Off the field, Anderson will remain a presence, having agreed to stay on in a bowling mentor role for the rest of the West Indies series, potentially extending his influence into a more permanent position. “I’m looking forward to not getting a spray when I dive over one,” Woakes joked. “Obviously, it’ll be different, but I think it will also be very, very good. He obviously won’t have that emotion that he has when he’s out there playing and being a primary bowler for the team. So I think he’ll be very good in that role as well, for not just the summer but hopefully moving forwards.”

Woakes’ future with the England team is not set in stone, especially given his contrasting performances in home and away conditions. His prowess on home soil is undisputed, highlighted by his remarkable contribution to last summer’s Ashes series, where he claimed 19 wickets in the final three Tests and was awarded the Compton-Miller Medal. However, his overseas record remains a point of contention, and he acknowledges the challenges ahead as England look towards future campaigns, including the 2025-26 Ashes in Australia.

“I just don’t rule anything out,” he said. “Throughout my England career, I’ve just looked at the very next game, the very next series, and tried to be in the best shape possible. As soon as you start looking too far ahead, you get caught off-guard, and all of a sudden, that’s a million miles away and you forget what you need to do in that present moment in time.”

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Woakes remains hopeful about his evolution as a bowler. “I’ve looked at Stu and Jimmy evolve as they’ve got older, and I still hope that I can potentially do the same. But for now, I’m looking at Trent Bridge, and it’s as far as I can look really.”

Woakes’ return to the England setup follows a challenging period in his personal life. After the death of his father in May, he took a break from cricket and was left out of England’s T20 World Cup squad. “It was one of those things in life that you probably never really think’s going to happen until it does,” he reflected. “Trying to get back into cricket, it has been quite hard to focus on the day job but once you get back out there and particularly putting on the England whites, it reminds you how lucky we are to do what we do.”

His recent experiences have given him a renewed perspective on his career. “Seeing Jimmy this week, you know it doesn’t last forever and you have to try and enjoy every moment that you’re a part of this team. My approach at the minute is to put things in perspective, and just be happy to be here and try and give 110%.”

–IANS

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5th T20I: Mukesh Kumar takes 4-22 as India beat Zimbabwe by 42 runs; win series 4-1

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Harare, July 14 (IANS) Fast-bowler Mukesh Kumar picked his career-best figures in T20Is through a spell of 4-22 as India beat Zimbabwe by 42 runs in the fifth and final game at the Harare Sports Club to win the series 4-1.

Vice-captain Sanju Samson smashed his second T20I fifty through a 45-ball 58, while Shivam Dube hit a quick cameo of 26 at the end to power India to a competitive 167/6. In reply, Mukesh struck twice with the new ball to put Zimbabwe in early trouble.

Dion Myers and Tadiwanashe Marumani kept Zimbabwe in the hunt, but a collapse saw the hosts’ go from 85/3 to 94/7 and be eventually run-out for 125 in 18.3 overs, as India got a series win after losing the opening match by 13 runs.

Mukesh gave India a brilliant start in their defence of 163 when Wesley Madhevere chopped on to his stumps in the opening over. The pacer came back in the third over to have Brian Bennett flashing hard at outside the off-stump and was caught by third man. He could have got his third wicket if he hadn’t overstepped while castling Myers.

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Myers and Marumani hit seven boundaries between themselves to lead Zimbabwe’s fight with a 44-run stand off 36 balls for the third wicket. But Washington Sundar broke the partnership by trapping a sweeping Marumani lbw with a slower delivery in the ninth over.

Myers hit Abhishek Sharma for a four and six to keep Zimbabwe on track, but Shivam Dube took him out in the 13th over with a short ball cramping the batter for room and was caught off a leading edge by backward point.

Sikandar Raza being run out in a mix-up with Johnathan Campbell by a direct hit from Dube, who took out the latter in the next over was a jolt Zimbabwe couldn’t recover from. From there, Abhishek and Tushar Deshpande got a wicket each, while Mukesh took two scalps to finish with a four-fer in another convincing win for India.

Brief Scores: India 167/6 (Sanju Samson 58, Shivam Dube 26; Blessing Muzarabani 2-19, Richard Ngarava 1-29) beat Zimbabwe 125 in 18.3 overs (Dion Myers, Faraz Akram 27; Mukesh Kumar 4-22, Shivam Dube 2-25) by 42 runs

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–IANS

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