West Indies batting legend Brian Lara believes the current form of senior players in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign is a real fillip for the region.

With the 2019 World Cup just a little over a month away Windies stars Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell have put on some impressive displays with the bat in the IPL to date.  After starting slowly for Mumbai Indians Pollard has picked up steam in recent week, hitting a crucial 46 against Sunrisers Hyderabad before an outrageous 83 against Kings XI Punjab.

Russell has been one of the players of the tournament to date, after scoring 377 runs and claiming seven wickets in 9 matches.

It remains to be seen whether any of the players, who have been outside of the One Day International set-up for several months, will be selected to the final Windies squad.  Lara, however, believes the form of the players makes them nice options to have.

“Cricketers from the West Indies have been doing well in this edition of the Indian Premier League. A few players from other nations are also making good contributions. Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell have been pretty consistent and that augurs well for West Indies cricket. Even Chris Gayle has fired on a couple of occasions, but you need to look out for guys who are making contribution regularly,” Lara said.

“The West Indies players bring their whole-hearted effort in every performance. They are not playing for the West Indies national team, so the IPL is their opportunity to shine.”

 

Virat Kohli's fifth Indian Premier League century helped Royal Challengers Bangalore record a much-needed 10-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders, despite the best efforts of the in-form Andre Russell.

Captain Kohli led from the front, making an even 100, while Moeen Ali contributed 66 in a hurry as the Royal Challengers posted a formidable score of 213-4 at Eden Gardens.

Kolkata appeared set to fall well short in reply, labouring to 60-3 at the halfway stage following two early wickets for returning paceman Dale Steyn.

However, not for the first time this season, Russell produced an onslaught at the back-end of an innings to suddenly put the game back in the balance.

The West Indian all-rounder hammered nine sixes as he and Nitish Rana (85 not out) put Bangalore on the back foot, getting what seemed a nigh-on impossible equation down to 24 required from the final over.

Russell kept his side's hopes alive by hitting Moeen for six down the ground, leaving the equation at 17 off three, but a dot ball by the England spinner curtailed the Knight Riders' late charge.

The following delivery saw Russell run out for 65 and while Rana finished the game with another six, Bangalore had just about held their nerve under pressure. The victory is just their second of the campaign, though they remain bottom of the table.

 

KOHLI TIMES IT JUST RIGHT

With AB de Villiers not in the starting XI, the pressure on Kohli was even greater to perform for his struggling franchise.

The right-hander needed 40 balls to reach 50 but exploded into life after such a patient start, needing just a further 18 deliveries to make it through to three figures. He reached the milestone in glorious fashion, sending a cover drive to the fence for his ninth four.

Kohli had also smashed four sixes before he was caught off the final ball of the innings having put on 64 with Marcus Stoinis, who ended up unbeaten on 17.

Moeen had earlier dominated a 90-run stand for the third wicket, the England international belting six sixes. 

 

STEYN RUINS KOLKATA CHASE

In need of a boost to their bowling attack, Bangalore turned to Steyn. The South African bowler had last played for the team in the IPL nine years ago, yet he showed what they had been missing with an early burst to put the home team on the back foot.

He dismissed Chris Lynn and Shubman Gill in the powerplay, while the Knight Riders were further hampered by Robin Uthappa eating up 20 deliveries to make just nine runs.

Too many early dot balls came back to haunt them at the death as well, with Russell and Rana running out of time.

Still, Russell has now amassed 377 runs in the tournament this year, despite facing just 171 balls. His tally of 39 sixes tops the charts, as he sits 13 clear of fellow West Indian Chris Gayle.

A lawyer for the recently dismissed Courtney Browne-led Cricket West Indies (CWI) selection panel has insisted his clients are strongly considering the initiation of legal proceedings and taken exception to recent statements made by Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Ricky Skerritt.

In dismissing the three-man panel, which also consisted of Lockhart Sebastien and Eldine Baptiste, last week, Skerritt said “we have terminated the old embedded selection policy which secretly, but actively, victimised some players and banished them from selection consideration”.

Tony Astaphan, the lawyer for the dismissed selectors, insisted they had taken issue with both the terminations and their public characterization as a group.  He claimed the selectors were simply following instructions and had always received positive affirmation for the body.

“My clients are very troubled by their dismissal and the manner of their dismissal, particularly the statements made about the 'old embedded selection policy which secretly but actively victimised players and banished them from selection consideration.  That's a serious [charge] and it affects the manner of dismissal of Mr Browne, Mr Baptiste and Mr Sebastien,” Astaphan said in a recent radio interview.

“What we are looking at now within the context of the labour code of Antigua and Barbuda is whether having regard to all the facts and circumstances, including the terms of the agreements signed by these good gentlemen, who as you know have dedicated their lives to West Indies cricket, constitute independent contractors or employees under the Antigua and Barbuda labour code.”

Astaphan pointed out that Browne had also been considered an exceptional employee by the CWI, which led to his contract being renewed on several occasions.

“He has been there since 2010 and you having before every renewal of his contract, gone through what is called an employee job assessment and getting extraordinary marks on matters of ethics and selections, to be thrown out like that with the commentary of a discriminatory selection policy which he did not set,” the Dominican explained.

“I think it is a well-known fact there was a selection criteria either approved by the board or requested by the board, and there was a technical team set up with the specific jurisdictional authority to decide who was eligible or not. They were the ones that made the decision as to who was eligible or not.”

Browne was replaced by Jamaican Robert Haynes, with Jimmy Adams and interim head coach Floyd Reifer also appointed to the panel.

 

 

Windies top order batsman Darren Bravo insists self-belief will be key to the team’s chances of success if they are to mount a strong challenge at next month’s ICC World Cup. 

The 30-year-old Bravo was part of a Windies squad that recently went toe to toe with a top-ranked England team, earning a highly credible 2-2 draw.  The batsman, who only recently returned to the team, has admitted the experience has been a major confidence booster for the unit.

“We are capable of winning the World Cup, but the team must concentrate on the plans we have made as a unit which will be the most important thing,” Bravo told Barbados Today. “We are not going to focus very much on the opposition. We have certain plans and roles we have to execute. Once we get them right I believe the results will take care of themselves. No one gave us a chance against England and we went out there and proved that we can beat the best team in the world. We just got to continue to believe in ourselves and anything is possible,” he added.

The talented batsman only recently returned to the squad after an extended absence, following a feud with former CWI boss Dave Cameron.  The player insists his loyalties have always been to represent the West Indies and is happy to be back in the fold.

“As a kid growing up my dream was always to play 100 Test matches for the West Indies and that is still my ultimate goal. I guess I have some work to put in to achieve my dream. I will be doing whatever I have to do whenever I am given the opportunity to play for the West Indies. I have to try to be as consistent as possible. I want to cement my role in the team and try to win matches for the West Indies.”

Barbados allrounder Hayley Matthews and Stacy Ann King have been included in a 14-member Windies Women squad to tour Ireland and England from May 21-June 26.

Cricket West Indies has been appointed Jamaican businessman and government senator Don Wehby chairman of a Task Force on Corporate Governance Reform.

Hardik and Krunal Pandya's fine stand preceded a superb showing with the ball from Rahul Chahar and Jasprit Bumrah as Mumbai Indians cemented their top-four spot with a comprehensive 40-run win over Delhi Capitals.

Only net run-rate separated these two sides in the Indian Premier League standings before Thursday's meeting in Delhi.

But it was the visitors who leapfrogged their opponents into second in the table with Hardik's 32 off 15 balls and Krunal's unbeaten 37 boosting Mumbai to a competitive 168-5 on a slow track.

The Capitals made a decent start in reply with Shikhar Dhawan (35 off 22) and Prithvi Shaw (20) putting on 49 for the first wicket.

Chahar (3-19) accounted for both men, though, and the wickets fell at regular intervals with Bumrah (2-18) playing his part in shutting out the hosts as the Capitals limped to 128-9.

 

SPINNERS GIVE CAPITALS A CHANCE

On a pitch that played slow and low, the spin of Axar Patel (1-17) and Amit Mishra (1-18) ensured the Capitals kept Mumbai's run-rate down.

Mishra took the crucial wicket of Rohit Sharma, who played around a delivery having struck three fours and a six in his 22-ball 30, which helped him past 8,000 T20 runs.

 

PANDYA BROS TAKE A STAND

Quinton de Kock's 35 off 27 and Suryakumar Yadav's 26 built on Rohit's early knock, before the Pandya brothers took Mumbai to a competitive score with a late flurry.

Hardik smacked three sixes in an electric cameo before edging Kagiso Rabada behind, while Krunal found the boundary on five occasions.

Together the duo put on 54, and 50 runs in the last three overs crucially boosted the tally.

 

CHAHAR, BUMRAH DO THE DAMAGE

The turning point of the Capitals' chase came when a Chahar delivery ricocheted off Dhawan's pads and onto the stumps.

Shaw then sent a catch off the same man to Hardik at long-on and Chahar also claimed Shreyas Iyer with a beauty that hit the top of off.

Bumrah snared the big wicket of Rishabh Pant with one that nipped back and he later took out Axar (26) as the Capitals were not given a sniff.

Mohammad Amir has missed out on a spot in Pakistan's 15-man squad for the Cricket World Cup.

The paceman was Player of the Match when Pakistan claimed ICC Champions Trophy glory against India in England two years ago.

But he has failed to take a wicket in nine of the 14 ODIs he has played since that triumph and has been omitted from Pakistan's team for cricket's showpiece in England and Wales.

Amir will travel as part of the ODI squad to face England in ODI and T20 series before the World Cup and teams can make changes without ICC consent until May 23.

The big-hitting Asif Ali is another notable exception, but the vastly experienced duo of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik are included, the former on the proviso he is fit to feature after injuring his hand in the Pakistan Super League.

"Shoaib Malik and Hafeez have played in World Cups before, which makes them experienced and qualified to provide the required stability to the middle-order," said chairman of Pakistan's men's selection committee Inzamam-ul-Haq.

"Hafeez has not played any cricket for the past 10-odd weeks, but he has always featured in our plans. 

"Although his inclusion in the World Cup squad is subject to fitness, yesterday we got a boost when he started playing with a tennis ball with his doctor confirming he will be available for selection for the series against England.

"Our World Cup opener is on 31 May against the Windies, which is still six weeks away, and we are confident he will be fully fit and ready to display his vast international experience."

Abid Ali gets the nod as back-up opener over Shan Masood, while teenage pacemen Mohammad Hasnain and Shaheen Shah Afridi are included.

"Hasnain has been selected due to his sheer pace and speed," Inzamam added.

"He may not have played many ODIs but he has already made an impact by making the top batsmen hop and run in his brief career while also picking up wickets."

Eleven members of the squad that won the Champions Trophy are named in the World Cup squad.

 

Pakistan squad in full: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shoaib Malik

South Africa have opted for Hashim Amla over Reeza Hendricks in their 15-man Cricket World Cup squad.

Veteran Amla represents the more experienced option and, in the only real call for the selectors to make, he has been preferred to Hendricks.

The rest of the squad was as expected, with Faf du Plessis set to lead the Proteas in England and Wales.

"We are very happy with the squad we have been able to put together and have every confidence in their ability to do our country proud at the World Cup," said selector Linda Zondi.

"The fact that we have managed to win our last five series in a row in this format against Zimbabwe, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka twice underlines the quality of the team that Faf will lead into the contest.

"The final selection is also the result of a very rigorous search we have conducted, leaving no stone unturned, to make sure that we have made the best use of the options available to us."

Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje missed the Indian Premier League with injuries, but both have recovered in time to be included in the final group.

Meanwhile, JP Duminy has suitably recovered from shoulder surgery to take his place in the squad.

 

South Africa squad in full: Faf du Plessis, Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi.

Sri Lanka have continued to rejig their one-day international set-up, leaving former captain Dinesh Chandimal out of their 15-man Cricket World Cup squad.

The day after skipper Lasith Malinga was surprisingly replaced by Dimuth Karunaratne, Chandimal - ODI captain as recently as October - has not made the cut for the upcoming tournament in England and Wales.

Chandimal had been dropped from the Test team in February in order to play domestic cricket in a bid to rediscover his best form.

He is one of a number of notable names to miss out as the selectors make significant changes to a side that lost their last nine ODIs under Malinga's stewardship.

Malinga keeps his place, but Niroshan Dickwella, Akila Dananjaya and openers Danushka Gunathilaka and Upul Tharanga are all out.

That means recalls for four players who have not played for the 50-over side since 2017 in Lahiru Thirimanne, Milinda Siriwardana, Jeevan Mendis and Jeffrey Vandersay.

Youngster Avishka Fernando is involved again, despite failing to impress against South Africa last month, while Nuwan Pradeep is also included.

Sri Lanka begin their World Cup campaign against New Zealand in Cardiff on June 1.

 

Sri Lanka squad in full: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Isuru Udana, Milinda Siriwardana, Avishka Fernando, Jeevan Mendis, Lahiru Thirimanne, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal.

"I often have to explain to people he didn't score all of the 375 off me," Chris Lewis quips as he reflects with mixed emotions on Brian Lara's astonishing record knock in Antigua.

It is 25 years to the day since Lara whipped an expectant Antigua crowd into a frenzy by hooking Lewis to the boundary to eclipse fellow West Indies legend Garry Sobers' long-standing highest Test score of 365 not out.

A quarter of a century on, that historic moment is still fresh in the memory of former England all-rounder Lewis.

"Oh no," Lewis replies when asked if he would mind sharing his recollection of an incredible tour de force from one of the greatest batsmen of all time.

That must have been what the England bowlers were thinking when captain Michael Atherton asked them to warm up as Lara majestically piled on the runs.

The Windies had been reduced to 12-2 on day one of the final match of the series, but Lara spent 12 hours and 46 minutes at the crease to surpass a record set by Sobers back in 1958.

Lewis had tried everything to remove the elegant left hander, whose foot dislodged a bail - which fell back into the groove - as he swung around after hitting one of 45 fours to make history.

He told Omnisport: "People identify me with running in to bowl that ball to Brian, so I often have to explain to people he didn't score all of the 375 off me!

"But I remember running in to bowl the ball and really just thinking, 'I've tried everything else, so I'll have a go at getting [the ball] as high as I can', and there were two men back, so see what happens.

"I bowled the ball, he whacked it for four and it was chaotic, with the game stopped halfway through, people came onto the field - including Garry Sobers - and we're just spectators taking it in, not quite believing what's going on.

"While that was happening, Jack [Russell, England wicketkeeper] came up to me and said, 'Do you know he stepped on his stumps when he hooked it?' I had no idea.

"Here we are 25 years later and certainly I didn't want Brian to break the record, certainly not off my bowling and certainly not against our team. I wouldn't say I was happy to be a part of it but I'm happy for Brian. He was the best batter I ever played against, one of the most exciting cricketers I've ever seen and he deserves it."

Lewis added: "It was really surreal. I remember Brian getting his hundred and I remember thinking, he's got his hundred so sooner or later - hopefully sooner - he'll probably chip one to cover or point or something like that, because it often happens - batsmen give it away after getting to the century.

"But he kept going and after day one nobody was thinking of the world record, then during the second day there almost seemed to be a build-up and an inevitably about it."

While Lewis is now happy to doff his cap to Lara - who went on to make an unbeaten 400 on the same ground against the same opponents to reclaim the Test record 10 years later - for his herculean knock, it was too painful to appreciate at the time.

"I must admit it took me a while to be admiring it, because it's a bit like being in the midst of a boxing fight and someone has given you a great right hook and you stand back and admire," the 51-year-old said. 

"It's very much later when there is not so much aggression going on or in some cases even after your career when you can look back. I didn't want to admire batters too much, it was a competition, but 25 years later Brian Lara coming into bat... if I wasn't bowling it would be a very enjoyable day!"

 

- Lewis is currently on tour for The Long Walk Back, a theatre production based on his fall from grace. 

Brian Lara made 375 to break the record for most runs in a Test innings 25 years ago - and his unbeaten 400 a decade on remains the highest score today. 

Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) president Wilford ‘Billy’ Heaven and Jamaican business executive Don Wehby have been drafted into the newly selected Cricket West Indies (CWI), as the body looks to improve its financial standing.

In keeping with a part of his mandate to establish good governance principles and greater transparency, newly appointed CWI president Ricky Skerritt has made several new appointments since taking office.

Heaven, who recently secured a third term as president of the JCA, will serve in the capacity as chairman of the CWI’s finance committee.  Wehby, a former Jamaica finance minister and Grace Kennedy CEO, will head a task force on corporate governance.

Other changes from Skerritt, who defeated Dave Cameron in the CWI elections last month, included the appointment of Robert Haynes as interim head of the chairman of selectors last month.

The CWI also removed interim head coach Richard Pybus and his support staff of Vasbert Drakes, Toby Radford and Esuan Crandon. Former West Indies batsman Floyd Reifer was named to replace Pybus, while Roddy Estwick, Corey Collymore and Rayon Griffith will serve as assistant coaches.

 

Former Windies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan said he is excited about working with the Windies senior team ahead of next month’s Tri-Nations One-day International Series in Ireland and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 England & Wales.

Ian Botham does not envisage any surprise new faces being called into England's Cricket World Cup squad despite mounting speculation regarding Jofra Archer.

Hosts England are set to name their provisional 15-man group for the tournament on Wednesday, with the final squads to be finalised by the ICC on May 23.

While Eoin Morgan has a settled side, Barbados-born all-rounder Archer is now eligible to play for England and has spoken in recent months of his desire to be called up.

But England great Botham does not foresee drastic changes to Morgan's top-ranked one-day international team.

"No, you don't give people a chance when you're actually at the World Cup," Botham told Omnisport.

"No, this team's been working together, it's been bonding, you understand what the guy on the left is doing and the guy on the right and that's very important. I don't think there will be many changes, if any.

"I think Eoin Morgan has pretty much made his mind up on the situation and if you did anything to disrupt it, I don't think it would help the team."

Sussex man Archer has consistently impressed in limited-overs cricket, playing a key role for Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League, as well as starring for Indian Premier League outfit Rajasthan Royals.

Archer took 3-15 against Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday, while England seamers Mark Wood and Chris Woakes each argued bringing a fresh face in could have a destabilising impact upon Morgan's in-form squad.

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