Playoff spot top priority for pace-heavy Daredevils

IPL 2017

Playoff spot top priority for pace-heavy Daredevils

Narbavie R • Last updated on Mon, 03 Apr, 2017, 08:29 AM

Zaheer will be leading Daredevils again this season. (Image credit – DD) © Media Release

Delhi Daredevils began their IPL journey in fine fashion by finishing in the top-four for the first two seasons. They went through a lull period in the next two before redeeming themselves in the fifth edition when they became the first team to finish the season top of the table twice. Post 2012, the slide began as they endured disappointing campaigns year after year for four successive seasons.

Chopping and changing are two words that are so synonymous with Daredevils as we have seen in recent times. With the team constantly failing to produce results, the owners have looked to shake things up in a massive way. After finishing at the bottom in 2013 and again in 2014, they managed to climb just one spot higher in 2015 despite recruiting Gary Kirsten as coach.

The rejig happened again and this time Daredevils chose a slightly different path and opted to bank on a lot of young Indian talent to do the job. And to bring the best out of them, the combo of Paddy Upton and Rahul Dravid were drafted into the coaching set up with Kirsten getting the axe. Those two were expected to do something similar to what they did with Rajasthan Royals. Captaincy switched hands from JP Duminy to Zaheer Khan as the think-tank opted for an experienced Indian skipper. They made some smart buys as well in the auction by recruiting Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant, Karun Nair alongside Carlos Brathwaite and Chris Morris.

Following so many changes in personnel, the unit finally clicked with the veteran pacer leading them with aplomb. Zaheer received plaudits for his excellent field placements and rotation of bowlers as the Daredevils won five out of their first seven games. They were primed to make it to the playoffs finally after four years but what followed suit was something they wouldn’t have anticipated.

Over the next four games, they kept tinkering with their combination and made at least three or four changes to their XI almost every game and that disrupted their momentum. Their policy to keep chopping in order to manage the workload of certain players failed to materialise. Brathwaite was left out of the XI for the very next game after his Man of the Match exploits against Kolkata Knight Riders (34 off 11; 3-47) stunned fans and experts alike. In the end, they put themselves in a spot of bother and failed to qualify for the knockouts, finishing sixth. It will be interesting to see if they employ a similar strategy this time around or bank on a settled lineup for the majority of the games. Daredevils will have to figure out a way to enter the playoffs again after four successive failed attempts. And once they reach that stage, anything can happen.

Strengths

They have plenty of variety and reliable personnel to call upon in the bowling department. Daredevils’ attack boasts of two young overseas bowlers who can bowl at extreme pace in the form of Kagiso Rabada and Pat Cummins, medium pacers Angelo Mathews, Corey Anderson and Carlos Brathwaite and then the two seamers who have the ability to deliver at any stage of the innings with their variations – Mohammad Shami and Chris Morris. Not to discount the evergreen Zaheer, even though it remains to be seen what shape he is in. In the spin department, Daredevils have the likes of Amit Mishra, Jayant Yadav, Shahbaz Nadeem and Murugan Ashwin in their ranks. For now, Mishra looks like a certain starter but the management will have a sweet headache to pick one more from the rest. But in order to include a second spinner, a bit of tinkering needs to be done with their formation.

Weakness

Quinton de Kock, with the kind of form that he had been in, will prove to be irreplaceable for Daredevils right at the top of the order. De Kock’s destructiveness to go with JP Duminy’s calm presence out in the middle will be missed and now suddenly Daredevils’ top-four looks short of experience with both pulling out of the tournament. In the absence of these two, it is likely that at least three among Shreyas Iyer, Pant, Samson and Nair will be batting in the top four. They possess great talent and are among the best young batsmen in this country but sadly they couldn’t click in unison last season and would certainly not want a repeat of it this time around. The think-tank might want to throw in Sam Billings somewhere in that top four as well.

Opportunities

Considering the number of seam options they have, Daredevils can make use of their stock by playing on a surface that offers plenty of bounce and zip. Previously, Rajasthan Royals prepared a lively strip in Jaipur that stood out from the rest of the pitches in the IPL and made it a fortress, dismantling almost every team. If Daredevils can come up with something similar and unleash the likes of Rabada, Cummins, Morris and Shami, then they will have a great chance of blowing their opponents away at the Kotla.

Threats

With two key absentees already, Daredevils wouldn’t want to lose another batsman. They were criticised a lot for making too many changes to their lineup last season but may have to do something similar at least with the batting to ensure they don’t lose any more key players to fatigue. They have a few more fitness concerns to deal with as it is not clear yet when Mathews can join the squad. Anderson hasn’t bowled in a while since he returned after a back injury and it remains to be seen if he can be as effective as he was before. Their skipper Zaheer hasn’t played competitive cricket for almost a year and it remains to be seen what sort of an impact can he create when he steps out on the field again. He has a history of breaking down easily and if he fails to deliver, the management will have a problem choosing the next captain.

What the schedule holds

Among all teams, perhaps Daredevils have the best run-in. One of their home matches, which coincided with the municipal elections in Delhi, got rescheduled to May instead, which has ensured that Daredevils will be playing five out of their last six matches at home. If they can find form at their home venue in front of their own supporters, Daredevils will find it slightly easier than the rest to qualify for the playoffs. But it will test their endurance as well at the same time since they will be playing those six matches in a span of just 13 days.

Ideal playing XI: Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Karun Nair, Sam Billings, Sanju Samson (WK), Carlos Brathwaite, Chris Morris, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Mohammad Shami, Zaheer Khan (C).

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IPL 2017: Variety in our bowling is a good headache to have, says Yusuf Pathan

Yusuf Pathan side will miss out on Andre Russell because of an anti-dope code violation. Yusuf Pathan side will miss out on Andre Russell because of an anti-dope code violation.

Senior Kolkata Knight Riders batsman Yusuf Pathan feels that the variety in their formidable bowling attack will make it very tough for the team management to choose their preferred men in the playing XI.

“It will be a tough selection. We have a lot of variety in our bowling. There’s depth in batting, we have a lot of all-rounders. We will see how we combine as a team,” the 34-year-old Pathan told reporters on the sidelines of their training session at the Eden Gardens.

The 2012 and 2014 champions have reinforced their pace attack with the trio, who are also handy with the bat down the order, while the sizzling form of Umesh Yadav is an added bonus to the side.

Yusuf was all praise for chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, who recently had an impressive Test debut against Australia.

“Kuldeep has a bright future. He made a great debut. Also Umesh has done well whole season. He’s doing well with the new ball… We have quality in (pace) bowling which we were lacking earlier,” the big-hitting batsman.

They purple-and-gold brigade will miss out on Windies bighitting all-rounder Andre Russell because of an anti-dope code violation.

“This (Russell’s absence) does not put us on backfoot. He has done well for the team. He brings an air of positivity to the changing room. We will definitely miss him. But there are other players, who will have to live up to the challenge. We are focussed on that.”

KKR begin their campaign with two away matches beginning with Gujarat Lions in Rajkot, and Pathan sees a positive side to it.

“I don’t think it’s a disadvantage. It’s good that we’re playing away. There won’t be much pressure of playing at home. Besides, we know the conditions well with 10 years into IPL. I don’t think it will make much of a difference.”

April marked the sixth anniversary of India’s World Cup triumph at the Wankhede, which came after a long gap of 28 years since 1983.

“It was a proud moment not only for me but for the whole country. We won it after a long gap of 28 years. It will always remain fresh in everyone’s memory,” he said.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/ipl-2017-10/ipl-2017-variety-in-our-bowling-is-a-good-headache-to-have-says-yusuf-pathan-4596976/

Zaheer happy playing sidekick to strong pace contingent

IPL 2017

Zaheer happy playing sidekick to strong pace contingent

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Fri, 31 Mar, 2017, 09:15 PM

The Delhi Daredevils squad is replete with pacers including Morris (l), Rabada, Cummins & Shami. © BCCI

Despite not having played competitive cricket for close to a year, since featuring in the previous edition of the Indian Premier League, Delhi Daredevils skipper Zaheer Khan is confident that he can ease into his bowling role, albeit a supportive one.

Speaking to the media ahead of the 10th edition of the tournament, the 38-year-old left-arm seamer said he was up for the challenge. “It’s very difficult to not play any match and then to turn up here and play the whole season. I look at it as a challenge. I stick to my routines along with discussion I have had with my trainers and physios,” Zaheer said.

“The process remains the same. I picked up the ball around December, got into it slowly and here I am now, ready to take on another IPL season. Every time I get on the field, the excitement comes back. It’s the right dose of cricket for me at this stage of my career.”

The Delhi franchise has a host of options when it comes to the pace department, with the likes of Mohammed Shami, Pat Cummins and Kagiso Rabada part of the setup, along with allrounders like Chris Morris, Angelo Mathews and Carlos Brathwaite. Zaheer, who is pleased with his team’s quick-bowling arsenal, is happy to play second fiddle to them.

“I have supreme fast bowlers who will take the pressure off me. I’m not playing the lead role, but just the support role. I’m playing the role I enjoy the most. This is my way of giving back to the game,” he said.

A canny bowler during his India playing days, Zaheer is considered a master when it comes to bowling despite fitness limitations. The experienced pacer, who retired from international cricket in 2015, said that managing the workload was closely related to the bowling rhythm, and that the work hours don’t matter as long as the bowler in question understands those nuances.

“When I was playing, I preferred to play more and more. When you’re in rhythm, you can maintain that. You can maintain workloads at practice. Someone like Umesh, who has played all season, he isn’t going to realise when 20 overs are done. That’s the beauty of bowling fitness.

“With all the bowlers who’ve been playing Tests and some level of cricket, it will be easier in terms of bowling fitness. The more you bowl, the better you will get. I’ve always endorsed match practice is the best practice,” he said.

Delhi’s batting order though does not threaten to take the tournament by storm unlike their bowling, with key players like Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy missing from action due to varied reasons. Zaheer, however, is confident that the young Indian batsmen can deliver effectively.

“We’ve always believed in youngsters and the potential they have. If you look at last season’s squad, you’ve got someone like Karun Nair, who has a triple century at the Test level. Shreyas Iyer has made his mark, he’s part of the Test team. These youngsters are no longer youngsters, they’re seasoned campaigners now. That is the strength of DD this year.

“You’ve got an Indian batting line-up which is more experienced and know more about of their roles. The squad is settled. We’re sitting pretty despite JP and Quinton’s unavailability. If you look at all the squads, you will find players who are missing out because of international duties and injuries. We’re prepared for the uncertainties,” he added.

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10 Fun Facts About ‘Major League’

Paramount via Everett Collection

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since Charlie Sheen’s Ricky Vaughn emerged from the bullpen to the strains of “Wild Thing” to help the Cleveland Indians win a division title. Coming out during an era of more high minded baseball movies like Bull Durham and Field of Dreams, Major League was pure goofy fun… more interested in laughs than in the game’s potential life lessons.

For many baseball fans, an annual viewing of Major League is as much a part of spring as Opening Day. As with Caddyshack, there are fans that can quote the movie’s best lines from memory. Even if you have your own home shrine to voodoo god Jobu, here are some fun facts about the movie that you might not know:

1. Although the movie is set in Cleveland, the scenes inside the ballpark were shot at Milwaukee’s old County Stadium. Bob Uecker, who played announcer Harry Doyle, has really worked in Milwaukee since 1971 as the play-by-play man for the hometown Brewers… a fact that writer-director David S. Ward didn’t know when he cast him. He had based the casting strictly on Uecker’s work on the sitcom Mr. Belvedere and in a series of Miller Lite commercials (if you look closely, that’s the beer that Doyle is drinking in the movie).

2. Sheen really was a pitcher in high school for Santa Monica High. He now claims that he took steroids prior to doing the movie so that his fastball would be more realistic. Dennis Haysbert, who later became famous as President David Palmer on 24 and played Cuban slugger Pedro Cerrano, was a football and basketball player in high school before switching to fencing at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

3. Haysbert’s hitting as Cerrano looked real because it was. Even though he didn’t play baseball past Little League, Haysbert actually cleared the fences multiple times during filming.

4. Despite playing a speedy outfielder in the movie, Wesley Snipes was so slow that they ended up showing him running in slow motion in the film to provide the illusion of speed.

5. The original ending featured the scheming owner played by Margaret Whitton — the widow of the beloved former owner — as secretly being behind the team’s winning, with her devious threats meant to bring the boys together. When test audiences hated it, they reshot it to keep her as the bad guy.

6. Entourage‘s Jeremy Piven shot multiple scenes for the movie, playing a bench player who likes to heckle the opposing team. When they started editing, they realized that the scenes didn’t work, so they completely cut his character from the film.

7. Prior to making her film debut as Lynn Wells, the ex-girlfriend of Tom Berenger’s character, Rene Russo was known primarily as one of the top models of the ’70s. A Los Angeles native, one of Russo’s classmates growing up was sitcom-star-turned-director Ron Howard.

6. Pete Vuckovich, who plays evil Yankees first baseman Clu Haywood, was actually a star Major League pitcher who won the American League Cy Young Award in 1982. Playing largely in games with a designated hitter, Vuckovich only rarely batted during his career.

7. According to Ward, during the celebration scene at the end where Corbin Bernsen’s third baseman Roger Dorn punches Sheen for sleeping with his wife, Bernsen actually connected with the shot, leaving a welt on Sheen’s face.

8. Neil Flynn, who went on to bigger roles on television as the Janitor in Scrubs and a suburban father in The Middle, plays one of the long-suffering Cleveland fans complaining about the state of the team.

9. Flynn and Stacy Carroll, who plays Dorn’s wife who has revenge sex with Ricky, both also appeared in a short-lived TV show called Sable, which starred Russo as the girlfriend of a children’s book writer who transforms into a superhero at night.

10. The song that plays at the beginning of the movie is “Burn On” by Randy Newman. Written in 1972, it is an ode to an incident in 1969 when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught on fire due to an oil slick and other debris floating in the polluted water.

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek open to positional change at Chelsea

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has made just eight appearances for Chelsea this season. (Source: Reuters) Ruben Loftus-Cheek has made just eight appearances for Chelsea this season. (Source: Reuters)

Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek is open to playing in different positions in order to force his way into contention for a starting spot with the Premier League leaders.

The England under-21 international has made just eight appearances for Chelsea this season, compared to 17 last year, as manager Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 system and the club’s lack of European fixtures have reduced his playing opportunities.

“I’m always learning and I’m open to playing different positions,” the 21-year-old told The Times. “That can only be good for my development.”

Loftus-Cheek played two games for the under-21 side last week, scoring a brace in a 4-0 win over Denmark on Monday.

“I think I have to be on it, when you don’t play much and you get a chance to play,” he said. “I train hard and I train to the best of my abilities so when these opportunities do come, you’re hungry from the first whistle.”

Chelsea, who hold a comfortable 10-point cushion over the chasing pack, host 16th-placed Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/ruben-loftus-cheek-open-to-positional-change-at-chelsea-4592766/

India not scared of playing Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi

Shahid Afridi insists there is always the first time (Source: AP) Shahid Afridi insists there is always the first time (Source: AP)

Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq and senior player Shahid Afridi today contradicted limited-overs skipper Sarfaraz Ahmad’s claims that the Indian team was scared of playing against Pakistan and that was why the Indo-Pak bilateral series was not happening. The two stalwarts said they don’t believe that the Indian team was not prepared or was afraid of playing against Pakistan. “Sarfaraz has his own views but I don’t think he said they were scared directly. To me it is simple, everyone knows the reasons for India not playing against Pakistan. It is all political and has nothing to do with cricket,” Misbah told the media at the ICC Champions Trophy unveiling at the national stadium. “I think the Indian team players also would like to play against us but it is politics which is not allowing a bilateral series. It is the Indian government which is not allowing it,” he said.

Misbah said it was a pity that India and Pakistan were not playing bilateral series as he knew people from both countries wanted to see the two teams play against each other regularly. “It is a great loss to cricket that we are not playing against each other like we should. We are achieving nothing by not playing against each other.” He noted that even the Champions Trophy June 4 clash in England between the two teams was already sold out.

Afridi also minced no words in stating that the Indian government would have to change its stance if bilateral cricket has to resume between Pakistan and India. “If there is no bilateral cricket being played it is because of the Indian government. I don’t think the Indian players do not want to play against us,” said Arfidi who announced retirement from international cricket last month. Afridi, who led Pakistan in the last World T20 in India last year, said he felt sad that people of both the countries were being deprived of a high-profile series. “When we went there last year the Indian people were happy to see us play there,” he said.

Misbah also felt that Pakistan had a very good chance of beating India in the Champions Trophy under the captaincy of Sarfaraz as he had been taking the right decisions and utilising the players well. “He (Sarfaraz) has done a good job and I think our team is a blend of experience and youth. We are now best placed to win the June 4 encounter against India and also do well in the Champions Trophy,” Misbah said.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/india-not-scared-of-playing-pakistan-misbah-ul-h-afridi-4593046/

Kohli wouldn’t want to risk injury by playing IPL: Whatmore

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Kohli wouldn’t want to risk injury by playing IPL: Whatmore

• Last updated on Wed, 29 Mar, 2017, 06:53 AM Shilarze Saharoy in Chennai

With the Champions Trophy coming up, Whatmore said he doubts if the RCB captain would want to risk his shoulder injury by playing a few extra matches in IPL. © BCCI

Battling against the odds, Australia surprised everyone with their grit and tenacity. Eventually, India prevailed 2-1 but former Australian batsman Dav Whatmore feels the visitors will leave with their heads held high.

Whatmore, 63, who has coached teams like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, on Tuesday (March 28) launched Trucoach CSS Whatmore Centre For Cricket and spoke on the effect IPL had on `cheatgate’ controversy, why Virat Kohli will not risk his injured shoulder in IPL and his own retirement from international coaching. Excerpts:

Australia put up a brave fight but lost eventually…

Tours of India have always been a challenge. But they played hard and won the first Test to everyone’s surprise. India prevailed in the end due to their mental toughness. You need mental strength to save a game or win a game in the second innings.The Aussies were up to it in Pune and Ranchi but they crumbled in the other two. India, on the other hand, fought a little bit longer. India have lost the toss thrice in the series and on most occasions, Australia put up a good total. So it has never been easy for India. But either [Cheteshwar] Pujara or [KL] Rahul or [Murali] Vijay showed patience to grind it out.

Do you think the Australians have mellowed down as they settled `cheatgate’ amicably?

Both the BCCI and CA showed good maturity by settling the issue amicably. I believe it was a complete brainfade and [Steve] Smith admitted his mistake. I don’t think it will ever happen again. A lot of Aussies also play in IPL. They know that they have to play in IPL and share the dressing room with some of the Indian players. That might also have mellowed down the players’ attitude.

With Champions Trophy coming up, is it advisable for Kohli to play in IPL?

No one really knows how bad Kohli’s shoulder is. As far as I know him, he doesn’t want to miss any game. So his shoulder must be really hurting that he didn’t play such an important Test. He must have also thought that since the Test was a decider, India needed someone who is 100 per cent fit and [hence] sat out. With India playing several important tournaments, one of them being Champions Trophy, I don’t think he would want to risk his injury by playing a few extra matches for RCB in the IPL.

Who has been the standout India performer in the series?

It has been Ravindra Jadeja. He was living in the shadow of R Ashwin all these days. But he has slowly emerged. He has learnt to be more patient. He has got a couple of subtle variations but then his strength has been line and length. A lot of left-arm spinners try out too many things. But Jadeja has been consistent and got the results for the team.

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Love to play Pokemon GO? It helps you bond with kids better

Pokemon GO is a location-based augmented reality game. (Source: File Photo) Pokemon GO is a location-based augmented reality game. (Source: File Photo)

Parents who regularly play “Pokemon GO” with their children report a number of side benefits including increased exercise, more time spent outdoors and opportunities for family bonding, says a study.

ALSO READ | Watching TV for 3 hours daily may up diabetes risk in kids

Pokemon GO is a location-based augmented reality game in which players capture fictional creatures from the Japanese Pokemon franchise on smartphones and other mobile devices by “finding” them in real-world locations.

“Location-based augmented reality games are pretty different than sitting in front of a TV or playing a typical video game, so we were interested in the way kids and their parents were sharing those experiences together,” said lead author Kiley Sobel from University of Washington.

“People still don’t really know how to build tech that works well for families, so when this game came out of the blue and really caught on, we wanted to look at what its ingredients for success were,” Sobel said.

The results, taken from a qualitative survey of 67 parents and interviews with 20 additional parents playing “Pokémon GO” with their families in the US, are detailed in a paper to be presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI 2017 conference to be held at Denver, Colorado in May.

Some parents said the interactive and mobile nature of the game made them feel better about engaging in that type of gameplay, as opposed to more sedentary forms of “screen time”, according to the study.

The study did not include perspectives of parents who do not allow their children to play Pokemon GO.

Many parents — particularly moms of boys, fathers of girls and parents of teenaged children — reported spending more quality time with their children as a result of playing “Pokémon GO” together and talking more than usual, both about the game itself and about other things in their lives, the researchers said.

Parents also appreciated how the game motivated both them and their children to go outside and exercise in ways that were convenient and fit into their lives, as their children displayed newfound enthusiasm for walking the dog or walking rather than driving to dinner or playgrounds.

For some participants, these “Poké-walks” led to walking thousands more steps per day, the study said.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/life-style/pokemon-bond-with-kids-better-4590899/

Everton suffer Ramiro Funes Mori blow ahead of Liverpool game

Everton have not commented on the severity of Funes Mori’s injury but it seems unlikely he will be fit. (Source: Reuters) Everton have not commented on the severity of Funes Mori’s injury but it seems unlikely he will be fit. (Source: Reuters)

Everton have been dealt another injury blow ahead of Saturday’s Premier League derby against Liverpool after defender Ramiro Funes Mori was injured while playing for Argentina.

Funes Mori left the field on a stretcher clutching his left knee after 36 minutes as Argentina lost 2-0 to Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier in La Paz on Tuesday.

He has made 26 appearances for Everton this season and would have been in Everton manager Ronald Koeman’s plans for the lunchtime kickoff at Anfield.

The international break has not been kind to Everton’s defence with Seamus Coleman breaking his leg while playing for Ireland against Wales last Friday.

Everton have not commented on the severity of Funes Mori’s injury but it seems unlikely he will be fit

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India-Pakistan series not in current scenario: Home Ministry

BCCI had approached the Home Ministry, seeking government permission. (Source: File) BCCI had approached the Home Ministry, seeking government permission. (Source: File)

In response to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) asking the home ministry if they India could play cricket with Pakistan later in the year, the minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir has made it clear that cricket ties with the neighbouring country are not likely to resume any time soon. Ahir told reporters outside the Parliament on Wednesday that, “in the current circumstances cricket between India and Pakistan is not possible”. The Indian board has to complete their obligations under the Future Tours & Programme (FTP) agreement which was inked in 2014. As per FTP agreements, November was reserved for an India-Pakistan series.

“It’s procedure which the board has to follow. If we want to play Pakistan we can’t get up one day and say, we will be playing them. We need the government’s clearance way in advance so that we can plan it out,” informed a BCCI official. The FTP agreements clearly state that all fixtures between the two countries are subject to clearances from the respective governments. The BCCI official added that if the government doesn’t give permissions then at least they could convey to the Pakistan Cricket Board that they had tried fulfilling the FTP agreement but the board’s hands were tied until the government gave the go-ahead.

When asked about the BCCI considering Dubai as a venue, a BCCI official said. “If the government gives the green signal then the BCCI will decide where to play. If there is no approval from the government then we can invite other countries to play in that particular window. That is why the board had sent a letter to the ministry to clear their stand with regards to playing Pakistan.” Earlier, former board president Shashank Manohar wanted to host Pakistan for a short series in 2016 but did not get government clearance owing to tensions between the two countries and the subsequent terror attacks on Indian soil. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s cricketers, past and present, have told the PCB not to expect the BCCI to schedule any bilateral series with the country in the near future.

Told about reports from across the border that the BCCI had written to India’s external affairs ministry for clearance to play against Pakistan this November, former captain Javed Miandad was reported to have burst out laughing. “They just want to play around with us as always. They are least interested in playing us in a bilateral series,” Miandad said. He noted that in the last few years, Pakistan had made all efforts to get India to resume playing bilateral series, but with no success. “They make one excuse or the other. This latest sweet trap is perhaps to convince Pakistani officials to not bring up the issue of bilateral series with India at the ICC meeting next month,” he said.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has said it would discuss the issue with the ICC. Pakistan’s Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq said it was good news if India were seriously pursuing the option of playing with Pakistan. “I don’t know what is happening, apart from what comes in the media, but if they want to resume bilateral series this year it would be a big boost for both Pakistan and Indian cricket and fans,” Misbah said. PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan, reacting to media reports, said that so far the BCCI had not spoken to him about playing in a possible series in November. “They (the BCCI) have not said anything officially to us so far, so we are just going by the media reports. But if it is correct then we will also have to get clearance from our government,” Khan said.

Pakistan’s former captain Rashid Latif said the PCB should take the Indian board seriously only when it confirms in writing that it has received clearance from its government. “Until then the PCB should pursue its case in the ICC and use all legal means to get compensation from India for the number of times they have refused to play us at neutral venues,” Latif said.

(With PTI inputs)

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