Eight of England's 11 players involved in the Indian Premier League have returned home following the indefinite suspension of the tournament.

The decision to call a halt to this year's competition was taken on Tuesday amid the worsening COVID-19 pandemic in India.

After two cases were confirmed among the Kolkata Knight Riders, Monday's game against Royal Challengers Bangalore was postponed. A Sunrisers Hyderabad player then also tested positive ahead of their fixture with Mumbai Indians.

Focus is now on seeing participants leave the country safely, with fears players would need to self-isolate in India and also return a negative coronavirus test before attempting to get a flight.

However, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Sam Billings, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali and Jason Roy all boarded a flight that landed at Heathrow on Wednesday.

They will have to quarantine in government-approved hotels for the next 10 days.

The remaining three England players who were on duty - Eoin Morgan, Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan - are expected to leave India within the next 48 hours.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley has confirmed the contingent of Australian IPL players will be moved to the Maldives or Sri Lanka in the coming days.

The Australian government has blocked citizens returning home within 14 days of being in India, meaning they will first have to isolate elsewhere.

The Indian Premier League has been suspended indefinitely amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India and Indian Premier League Governing Council confirmed the news in a joint statement on Tuesday after reports of COVID cases in three teams.

Kolkata Knight Riders duo Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier tested positive, forcing Monday's game against Royal Challengers Bangalore to be rescheduled.

Reports also suggest Sunrisers Hyderabad wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha tested positive, leading to the whole team having to isolate, while there were two reported cases in the Chennai Super Kings team.

"The Indian Premier League Governing Council (IPL GC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone IPL 2021 season, with immediate effect," a statement read.

"The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and well-being of all the stakeholders in mind.

"These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times.

"The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021.

"The BCCI would like to thank all the healthcare workers, state associations, players, support staff, franchises, sponsors, partners and all the service providers who have tried their best to organise IPL 2021 even in these extremely difficult times."

India has seen a sharp rise in COVID numbers in the country in recent weeks, with the total number in excess of 20 million since the start of the global pandemic.

Cricket great Sunil Gavaskar believes having Sunil Narine batting in the Kolkata Knight Riders’ middle order is a complete waste of time as the team needs quality batsmen in their line-up to be able to reverse their fortunes in the IPL this season.

KKR are currently eighth in the IPL standings after just two wins from their seven matches to date, a position that Gavaskar believes comes down to one thing.

"To be honest, they don’t have too many classy batsmen. I don’t know how many in the dugout they can look to and say, ‘Look… why don’t you come in and bat up the order.’ Because if you have a look at their batting, apart from Shubman Gill and Morgan himself, there is no class," Gavaskar said on Cricket Connected.

"There is Andre Russell down at five or six and Dinesh Karthik,” Gavaskar continued.

“I would look at promoting Karthik up the order, because for simple reasons. There is Rahul Tripathi up. Sunil Narine at 4 or 5 whatever is a waste of space. It doesn’t make any sense having him there. If you want to have Sunil Narine, have him at the top of the order where he can throw his bat around, and maybe if he connects a few, that’s fine.

“KKR’s problem is that they haven’t got anybody at three, four, five who can play an impact innings."

 

The Indian Premier League has confirmed two positive coronavirus cases in the Kolkata Knight Riders squad, forcing Monday's game against Royal Challengers Bangalore to be rescheduled.

Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier both tested positive for COVID-19 and are now isolating away from the squad.

The rest of the Knight Riders' group returned negative results, though a daily testing schedule has now been put in place to quickly identify any further cases that occur.

No new date for the round-robin game against the Royal Challengers has been announced.

India has seen a sharp rise in COVID numbers in the country in recent weeks, with the total number in excess of 19million since the start of the global pandemic.

However, this is the first time there have been confirmed cases within the IPL bubble. The Twenty20 tournament returned to India this year after the 2020 edition was staged in the United Arab Emirates.

"Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier were found to be positive in the third round of testing in the last four days. All other team members have tested negative for COVID -19," a statement on the IPL website read.

"Both the players have isolated themselves from the rest of the squad. The medical team is in continuous touch with the duo and are monitoring their health. Meanwhile, the Kolkata Knight Riders have now moved towards a daily testing routine to identify any other possible cases and treat them at the earliest.

"The medical team is also determining the close and casual contacts of the two positive cases during the 48 hours prior to collection of the sample that returned the positive test results.

"The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) and the Kolkata Knight Riders prioritise the health and safety of everyone involved and all measures are being taken in that endeavour."

Kolkata sit seventh in the IPL table after two wins in seven games. They lost by seven wickets to Delhi Capitals in their most recent outing, which took place last Thursday at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

West Indies Women’s head coach Courtney Walsh plans to focus on improving the mental and technical skills of the 30 players currently encamped in Antigua for the next month in preparation for international matches including the World Cup qualifiers later this year.

According to the former West Indies fast bowler turned coach, the upskilling of the women will be a continuation of what began when the women were called to camp in January this year.

Over the past few years, West Indies Women, world champions in 2016, has fallen down the pecking order in world cricket, struggling to make high scores when players like Deandra Dottin, Stafanie Taylor or Hayley Matthews fail to make big scores.

This was evident when the West Indies were swept 5-0 during a five T20 series against England in September 2020, when the side failed to achieve a score of 140 runs in any of the matches. England, meanwhile, scored over 140 runs in all but one of the matches.

Walsh believes that for that trend to end the team cannot rely on just two or three players.

 “Consistency can’t be just three players. If we are playing six or seven batters, not everybody is to come off all the time but we need to have four or five batters to be consistently producing. It can’t be the same three all the time,” said Walsh, who also indicated that there are other areas in which they have to improve as well.

“They also have to be aware of the game situation, so we are going to combine both as we are going to have the batters being a lot more consistent and not just depend on two or three players.”

Walsh revealed that there are signs that the camp in January had already begun to yield positive indicators of the change required.

“We started some drills in the last camp so it will be a continuation of that. We saw where we were getting a little more consistency. We saw where we able to bat 50 overs because in the first game that didn’t happen but in the last two games that happened,” Walsh said referring to three intra-squad practice matches played while in the camp that month.

“I also think it was the mindset as well so those areas we are going to be working on, with the mental skills we are going to stay there (at the crease) and we want them to be technically sound as well to be able to deliver.”

 

 

 

 

 

Delhi Capitals piled on the pain for Punjab Kings and KL Rahul by racing to a seven-wicket victory in the Indian Premier League and going top of the table.

It was revealed earlier on Sunday that Kings captain and star batsman Rahul faces surgery after being diagnosed with acute appendicitis, and he was in hospital while this match played out at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

In his absence, stand-in skipper Mayank Agarwal made a dominant 99 not out in a total of 166-6, helming the Kings innings and cutting loose when he saw fit in a terrific 58-ball knock that contained four sixes and eight fours.

Shikhar Dhawan produced the key innings for the Capitals in response, making an unbeaten 69 and finding the sort of support that Agarwal lacked, helping Delhi to 167-3, winning with 14 balls to spare.

Agarwal had required five from the final ball of the Kings innings to post what would have been just the second IPL century of his career, but he could only crunch a four down the ground rather than clear the ropes.

Kagiso Rabada had earlier taken two wickets in his first two overs, the second coming when he bowled Kings veteran Chris Gayle with a full toss immediately after being cracked for six by the West Indies batsman.

That was the first of three sixes off Rabada's bowling, but the South African paceman also removed Prabhsimran Singh and Chris Jordan while taking 3-36 in his four-over allocation.

Dawid Malan made 26 but it was ostensibly a one-man show as Agarwal contended with a revolving cast of batting partners.

Delhi had more about them, with Prithvi Shaw making 39 in a 63-run first-wicket stand alongside Dhawan, before Steve Smith added 25.

Shimron Hetmyer launched Riley Meredith for two consecutive sixes followed by a cover drive for four in the 18th over, leaving Delhi just two short of their victory target.

Neither Hetmyer nor Dhawan had the privilege of finishing the job, however, with a pair of wides from Meredith carrying the Capitals over the line.


Agarwal deserved better

Not only did he take over as captain, Agarwal also led by proud example, just as Rahul as so often done. His innings was the standout performance of this match, but where he rose to the occasion, others in the Kings ranks wilted. Gayle, with 13, was the team's third highest scorer, and it is almost impossible to win matches that way.

Getting all Het up

Hetmyer's late care-free cameo of 16 from four deliveries would likely not have happened without his team-mates laying solid foundations. They did so in the face of largely unthreatening bowling from Punjab, who sit sixth with three wins from eight games, amid doubts over whether their leader will be back in action this season.

Kemar Roach took career-best figures of 8-40 and 10 wickets in the match as Surrey defeated Hampshire by an innings and 289 runs in their English County Cricket match that ended on Friday.

Roach began the match taking 2-40 in Hampshire’s first innings of 92 all out. However, it was Jordan Clarke who did the bulk of the damage taking 6-21. Lewis McManus top-scored with 31 for Hampshire in their innings that lasted just 34.3 overs.

The situation would only become even direr for Hampshire as 215 from Hashim Amla, 131 from Ollie Pope 131 and knocks of 80 and 78 from Jamie Smith and Roy Burns, respectively, propelled Surrey to 560 for 7 declared.

Roach then moved in for the kill.

Getting prodigious swing both ways, the Barbadian took three in eight balls towards the end of his first spell, two in seven in his second, and three in 13 in his third as Hampshire folded for 179 in their second turn at-bat. 

“It was going conventionally, not reversing," Roach said.

"The way I gripped the ball was a little looser today. It was overcast conditions so the ball was going to do something once you put it in the right areas and stayed strong at the crease. The guys worked incredibly well on the ball and the information I got on the field about different batsmen and their weaknesses worked fantastically."

Once again, McManus was Hampshire’s top scorer with 51.

Roach’s 10-80 was also a career-best for the veteran West Indies pace bowler.

Jos Buttler smashed a majestic century as Rajasthan Royals compounded Sunrisers Hyderabad's Indian Premier League misery with a dominant 55-run victory.

The Sunrisers, bottom of the standings with six defeats from seven, made the dramatic decision to strip David Warner of their captaincy on Saturday and there was no place in their XI for the deposed Australia opener.

Buttler proceeded to provide the sort of fireworks at the top of the order that are seemingly beyond Warner at present, plundering a maiden T20 ton in style as he smashed 124 from 64 deliveries, with 11 fours and eight sixes, to account for the bulk of an imposing 220-3.

Despite the promise of first-wicket stand of 57 between Manish Pandey (31) and Jonny Bairstow (30), Hyderabad's chase never really threatened and they limped to 165-8 – left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman (3-20) the pick of the Rajasthan attack.

Although he had twice come close with knocks of 49 and 41, Buttler entered the match without a half-century to his name in six previous attempts this season.

The England star was not initially at his fluent best, gutsing his way to a 39-ball fifty after surviving an lbw shout from Rashid Khan on seven, the leg-spinner dismissing Buttler's opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal for 12 in similar fashion.

Supported by skipper Sanju Samson (48) in a 150-run stand for the second wicket, Buttler cut loose. The 15th over, Mohammad Nabi's sole contribution with the ball, disappeared for 21, and by the time Sandeep Sharma (1-50) forced him to drag on, Buttler had already walloped three sixes and a four from the penultimate over.

Pandey and Bairstow made light of Warner's axing, although Mustafizur bowled the former off his pads with a slower ball and the procession that followed Buttler's England colleague perishing at long-on off Rahul Tewatia (1-45) showed Hyderabad's problems are myriad.

New skipper Kane Williamson scored 20 off 21 deliveries and any lingering hope was gone when he became Kartik Tyagi's first IPL wicket.

Kedar Jadhav's run-a-ball 19 was the best any one else could muster and he was bowled to be one of three victims for Chris Morris (3-29).

Patience pays off for Buttler

It seems unusual to flag up how a batsman who flayed the opposition to all parts actually played within himself initially, but Buttler shrewdly recognised his way out of a relative slump. "I think sometimes you have to swallow your ego when you're not in perfect touch," he said when receiving the man-of-the-match award.

"You have to give yourself time and find your way. I tried to stay in and keep the belief that something will click." As the final 25 deliveries Buttler faced disappeared for 74, it was fair to say something exploded.

A new role for Rashid

Khan was into the attack early for Hyderabad, Williamson breaking from Warner's habit of using the spinner in the middle overs. The skipper was partially vindicated by the early wicket and it would have been a very different contest had Buttler not survived.

However, Khan's allocation being used by the 11th over arguably left the Sunrisers exposed to one of the most destructive batsman on the planet and lacking the means to check his charge.

India and Punjab Kings batsman KL Rahul has been diagnosed with acute appendicitis which requires him to undergo surgery.

The 29-year-old opener was admitted to hospital on Saturday after suffering from discomfort in his abdomen.

No timeframe has been placed on his recovery but he will be absent from Punjab Kings' Indian Premier League fixture against Delhi Capitals in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

A statement from Punjab Kings said: "KL Rahul complained of severe abdomen pain and, after not responding to medication, he was taken for further tests which revealed that he was diagnosed with acute appendicitis.

"It will be resolved surgically and for safety measures he has been transferred to the hospital."

Rahul is the top runscorer in the 2021 IPL with 331 runs in seven matches at an average of 66.20 and a strike rate of 136.21.

He has the best all-time batting average in IPL history with 2,978 runs in 88 matches at 46.53 and a strike rate of 135.85.

The right-hand batsman has played 36 Tests, 38 ODIs and 49 T20 internationals for India.

 

West Indies Women’s team coach, Courtney Walsh, admits the team could be pressed for time to be fully ready to compete at the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, particularly with a lack of international and regional fixtures.

The qualifiers are expected to take place in Sri Lanka, in December of this year, giving the team just around 7 months to prepare.  The presence of the coronavirus and protocols put in place to stop its transmission, however, has meant that regional competition for female cricketers has been put on hold.

It is a similar case for international fixtures, with the team having not played a series since November of last year when the Windies faced off against England.

“Not being able to play enough cricket, you would not say it is enough time but we have to try to understand the situation and work with it as best as we can,” Walsh told members from media from Antigua, where the team was gathered for a training camp.

“In an ideal world we would be able to tour and play as much cricket as we could then yes,” he added.

“It is a tickling situation, but it is something that is understandable, so we have to do what we can and get in as much as we can.  The back of the year might be a little busier coming closer to that time.  I am still hoping that we can have a couple of tours and play and have the regionals and stuff.  Once the girls are playing, I much prefer that because it gives me a better chance of seeing who is in form, seeing who is improving, who is not improving.  With them not being able to play that’s my biggest challenge.”

Kieron Pollard was the hero as Mumbai Indians achieved the second-highest run chase in Indian Premier League history to beat Chennai Super Kings in a final-ball thriller.

All-rounder Pollard claimed 2-12 but Chennai posted 218-4 in their innings, with Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali and Ambati Rayudu all hitting half-centuries.

Rayudu top scored with a brutal 72 from just 27 deliveries after Moeen (58) and Du Plessis (50) had put on 108 for the second wicket.

However, the defending champions handed the Super Kings just a second loss of the 2021 season, reaching their target from the final delivery with four wickets to spare as Pollard accepted the responsibility of seeing his team over the line in astonishing fashion.

The West Indies international smashed eight sixes as he finished up unbeaten on 87 from just 34 balls. He hit the penultimate delivery of the contest for six off Lungi Ngidi, then managed to sneak through for the two runs required from the last.

Pollard was dropped by Du Plessis in the 18th over and that proved to be costly for leaders CSK in a dramatic contest at Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi.

Quinton de Kock (38) and Rohit Sharma (35) had put on 71 for the first wicket in 7.4 overs, but the openers were dismissed by Moeen and Shardul Thakur respectively before the halfway point of the run chase.

Pollard stepped forward to pull off Mumbai's highest chase, though, with the Indians taking 48 runs off the last three overs to move just two points behind CSK in fourth place.

 

Bumrah toils as Super Kings prosper

Chennai endured a mid-innings wobble – slipping from 112-1 to 116-4 after losing two wickets in as many balls in a Pollard over - but Rayudu's onslaught carried them well beyond the 200 barrier.

Jasprit Bumrah was one of the bowlers who suffered the most. The India international finished with figures of 1-56 from his four overs, the highest number of runs he has conceded in the format. 

Powerhouse Pollard completes record chase

Mumbai were 81-3 in the 10th over when Pollard arrived at the crease to produce an incredible display of clean striking, racing to a 17-ball half-century.

Sam Curran removed Hardik Pandya and Jimmy Neesham in the penultimate over after the England all-rounder had trapped Krunal Pandya leg before. However, it was not enough for Chennai.

Former West Indies batsman Suruj Ragoonath insists that he would leave both veteran players Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine out of a squad for the T20 World Cup, but very for different reasons.

With the World Cup just a few months away, the debate has raged on regarding the most effective composition of the squad.  Experienced players like Gayle, Narine, and Dwayne Bravo, who all have world titles under their belts, remain eligible for selection.  Some have called for the selection panel to look past the players.

Recently, the selection of veteran players Fidel Edwards and Gayle, for the West Indies series against Sri Lanka, set off vigorous debate around the region.  While some endorsed the decision the Cricket West Indies (CWI) selection panel’s decision to add experience to the World Cup squad.  Some argued that Gayle being 41 and Edwards 39, the CWI should be invested in selecting promising youth players.

 In the meantime, top spinner Narine is only 32 but has not appeared for the West Indies since 2019 and prior to that had not played consistently.

“I don’t think that Sunil Narine is interested in going to World Cup, to be honest, given the challenges he had,” Ragoonath told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Dwayne Bravo is showing that he is still capable and Chris Gayle for me is a big question mark.  For the first time, I’ve seen Chris Gayle actually dive around in a match.  The last game they played (Punjab King’s XI).  He looks a little fitter, but at the same time, I am not inclined to taking Chris Gayle to a World Cup at this stage,” he added.

Gayle struggled to make an impact against Sri Lanka in March, scoring just 29 runs in three matches.  Since the start of this season’s IPL, the batsman has been solid, if not spectacular for Punjab Kings XI after scoring 165 runs from seven matches.

“Of the three, I would love to have Sunil Narine on my side, but psychologically Sunil is not half the player he used to be and so Bravo is the only one I would give serious consideration to.”

Hasan Ali claimed personal Test-best figures as Pakistan ended their wait for an away victory with a hammering of Zimbabwe on day three.

The tourists had gone 11 matches without success as the touring side in the longest format, stretching back to a win at Lord's in 2018, but wrapped up a crushing victory by an innings and 116 runs at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

Hasan took 5-36 - including his 50th Test scalp - as Zimbabwe were bowled out for only 134 in the final session. Those were his best innings figures in a Test, and the paceman finished with a match haul of 9-89.

Nauman Ali also chipped in with 2-27 as the hosts folded from 92-2, Tarisai Musakanda top-scoring with 43 at the top of the order.

Pakistan were earlier bowled out for 426, Blessing Muzarabani claiming 4-73, as they secured a huge first-innings lead of 250 runs.

Babar Azam's side had resumed on 374-6 and Fawad Alam moved from 108 to 140 before he was superbly caught behind by Regis Chakabva slashing at a delivery from Muzarabani.

Hasan also fell to Muzarabani for 30, while Donald Tiripano (3-89) and Richard Ngarava (2-104) also struck before Zimbabwe folded with the bat for a second time in a short match.

 

Dream return for Hasan

Hasan had been absent from the Pakistan Test team for two years before making his return in January.

The 26-year-old was named man of the match after taking 10 wickets in the second Test against South Africa and carried on where he left off in Harare.

Hasan has taken 21 wickets in three Tests in a dream comeback, reaching the landmark of 50 wickets in the longest format in only his 12th game. He was unsurprisingly rewarded for a stunning performance with another man of the match award.

 

Zimbabwe batting frailties exploited

Zimbabwe were always going to be up against it after they were skittled out in two sessions on day one.

They showed some resistance second time around but then lost seven wickets for 42 runs. Prince Masvaure was unable to bat due to a hand injury,

Kane Williamson has been appointed as Sunrisers Hyderabad captain for the remainder of the Indian Premier League after David Warner was axed.

It appears Warner will also be dropped by the struggling Sunrisers for Sunday's game against the Rajasthan Royals after the franchise revealed a change to the overseas combination will be made.

Warner scored a half-century in a midweek defeat to the Chennai Super Kings, but took "full responsibility" for the loss as he "batted too slowly."

The Australia batsman had previously questioned the decision to omit Manish Pandey from the team and Warner could now find himself out of the side, with Jason Roy awaiting his chance.

Sunrisers are rooted to the bottom of the table with five defeats from six matches and New Zealand skipper Williamson will lead them for the rest of the tournament.

A statement released by the franchise on Saturday said: "Sunrisers Hyderabad would like to announce that Kane Williamson will be taking over the captaincy for tomorrow's match and for the remainder of the IPL 2021.

"The team management has also made the decision that they will be changing the overseas combination for tomorrow's match against Rajasthan Royals.

"This decision has not come lightly as the management respects the enormous impact David Warner has had for the franchise over a number of years.

"As we face the remainder of the season, we are sure David will help us thrive for success both on and off the field."

KL Rahul scored another magnificent half-century and Harpreet Brar tormented Royal Challengers Bangalore in a 34-run Indian Premier League win for Punjab Kings.

Captain Rahul replaced Shikhar Dhawan as the leading run-scorer in the tournament with a scintillating 91 off 57 balls, getting Kings up to 179-5 after Virat Kohli put them in.

Chris Gayle also smashed a rapid 46 from 24 balls before Rahul and Harpreet provided a late flurry at Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday.

RCB fell well short in reply with the Kings attack giving nothing away, Kohli top scoring with 35 as they could only muster 145-8 in Ahmedabad.

They never got going in the run chase and lost six wickets for 34 runs, with spinner Harpreet sparking the collapse by bowling Kohli before cleaning up Glenn Maxwell for a golden duck off the next ball in a double-wicket maiden.

Harpreet claimed outstanding figures of 3-19, while fellow tweaker Ravi Bishnoi finished with a brilliant 2-17 in a resounding victory.

Harshal Patel (31) and Kyle Jamieson (16 not out) combined for an eighth-wicket stand of 48, but the damage had been done as Kings moved up to fifth, consigning third-placed RCB to only a second defeat.

 

RCB have no answer to Rahul

Punjab skipper Rahul must wish he could play against RCB more often, as they have not managed to get him out since 2019.

The India batsman was imperious once again, bringing up his fourth half-century of the tournament off 35 balls after Gayle had taken 20 off a Jamieson over and struck Yuzvendra Chahal for two sixes in the next before gloving a Daniel Sams delivery behind.

Harshal, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, went for 53 runs off his four wicket-less overs - the last of the innings costing 22 as Rahul and Harpreet (25 not out from 17) cut loose.

 

Harp calls the tune

Riley Meredith struck an early blow by removing Devdutt Padikkal's off stump before the Kings spinners came to the fore.

RCB were struggling on 36-1 at the end of the powerplay and were well behind the run rate when Kohli came down the track to Harpreet but lost his off stump.

Harpreet was on a hat-trick after bamboozling Maxwell with a peach of a delivery that clicked his off stump. It was pretty much game over when the same bowler had AB de Villiers caught at extra cover by Rahul, with Rajat Patidar soon following for 31.

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