Pant hospitalised after car accident, MCG keen to host India vs Pakistan Test

BBL 2022-23, Cricket, featured, India v Pakistan, Rishabh Pant

Indian wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant has been hospitalised following a car crash.

According to reports, the 25-year old’s car collided with a road divider in Roorkee, India, after beginning to feel drowsy at the wheel while on his way to New Delhi.

He sustained minor burns to his body, as well as injuries to his forehead, back and foot, with some reports suggesting he needed to break a window to escape the vehicle.

Images have surfaced on social media appearing to show Pant with large lacerations on his back as a result of the crash.

He has been admitted to Max Hospital in Dehradun, where his condition is stable and he has been cleared of serious injury. However, it is unknown whether he will recover in time to face Australia in their upcoming four-Test series against India beginning in February.

Pant’s accident has seen a number of cricket greats, including Ricky Ponting and VVS Laxman, take to social media with well wishes.

Wily move sees Thunder trump Heat in BBL

A magnificent batting performance from Brisbane opener Colin Munro wasn’t quite enough to help the bottom-placed Heat avoid another BBL defeat to the Sydney Thunder.

Two days after beating Brisbane by 10 wickets, Sydney saluted again at Metricon Stadium on Thursday, winning by 11 runs, despite a sensational 98 from Munro.

A controversial ball change in the final over brought about an immediate result as Nathan McAndrew (4-32 from four) had Munro caught at deep mid-wicket – one of three wickets to fall in the space of five balls.

The ball change did not please Australian pace bowling legend Brett Lee, who coincidentally played his junior cricket at the same club as McAndrew at the Oak Flats Rats on the NSW South Coast.

Lee fumed: “I’m not convinced about the ball change – not in the last over. You can’t change a ball now, I’m sorry. I know it’s hard for the bowlers, but you’ve played 19.1 overs. Very good from McAndrew. Definitely helps though with a ball you can hold onto (but) I don’t think it’s right.”

The damp outfield had made holding onto the ball a tough task for the Thunder but McAndrew had no problems with the dry replacement ball.

The Thunder made the Heat regret their decision to bowl first as they brought up their biggest score of the season (6-182). In response, Brisbane fell short on 9-171.

Although Munro fell agonisingly short of a maiden BBL ton, he was more disappointed with the result. “Just gutted that we couldn’t get across the line,” he said.

But the result came at a cost for the Thunder after strike bowler Gurinder Sandhu sustained a left calf strain bowling the first ball of the Heat innings, putting his availability for the match with Hobart on Saturday in doubt.

Things looked dire for the Heat when they slumped to 2-14 in the second over but Munro was undeterred by his team’s predicament, ensuring the Heat kept going at a good rate with spectacular hitting as wickets tumbled around him.

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Munro played a lone hand for the Heat, smacking three sixes and nine fours, and going at a strike rate of 185 in his 53-ball dig.

I just kept telling myself to be brave, even if we lost a couple of wickets, be brave and keep playing the situation and stay positive in my frame of mind,” he said.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 29: Nathan McAndrew of the Thunder celebrates dismissing Colin Munro of the Heat during the Men's Big Bash League match between the Brisbane Heat and the Sydney Thunder at Metricon Stadium, on December 29, 2022, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Nathan McAndrew. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“My last couple of innings I’ve been a little bit subdued and playing a little bit too much the wickets and the scoreboard so today I just took the scoreboard out of it and tried to play each ball as well as I could.”
Unfortunately for the New Zealander, though, hardly any of his teammates stuck around to help in the run chase, with James Bazley (29 off 24 balls) the only one who provided meaningful support, combining for a 48-run sixth-wicket partnership with Munro.

After Sydney spinners Chris Green (1-20 from four overs) and Usman Qadir (1-30 from four) put the brakes on between the 13th and 16th overs, the Heat’s required run rate exceeded 12.5 as they went 26 balls without a boundary.

And when Qadir had Bazley plumb lbw with 16 balls to go, the Heat’s assignment became very difficult.

Late fireworks from Daniel Sams (36 off 15 balls), Alex Ross (25 off 12) and Oliver Davies (16 off 10) helped propel the Thunder to their imposing score.

Sams was especially destructive, hammering four sixes, including back-to-back sixes off Mitchell Swepson, one of which sailed into the second tier.

Earlier in the innings, Rilee Rossouw (39 off 35) and Matthew Gilkes (37 off 35) combined for a 57-run second-wicket partnership to lay down a solid foundation for the Thunder.

James Bazley, who was the only inclusion to the Heat line-up for this match, was the pick of the bowlers, taking 4-22 from his four overs and finding himself on a hat-trick in the final over.

Wicketkeeper Gilkes also took one of the catches of the season when he dove to his left at full stretch and snaffled a spectacular one-handed grab to dismiss Heat captain Jimmy Peirson attempting to hook McAndrew down the leg side.

Jhye blasts Scorchers to win over Stars

Perth Scorchers pace ace Jhye Richardson says his hot form has even surprised himself after producing yet another match-winning BBL display. 

Richardson snared 4-25 to spearhead the Scorchers’ six-wicket win over the Melbourne Stars at Optus Stadium on Thursday night. 

The Stars’ total of 135 was well below par, with Scorchers captain Ashton Turner (53 off 26 balls) and opener Adam Lyth (35 off 30 balls) helping get the home side over the line with 15 balls to spare.

The result, in front of 27,752 fans, lifted the Perth Scorchers (4-1) to the top of the table, while the Stars (1-4) have now lost three in a row.

Richardson struck in consecutive balls in the fourth over to dismiss Tom Rogers (20) and Beau Webster, and he repeated the dose in the 14th over.

The 26-year-old snared 4-9 in the season opener, and he now has 12 wickets this campaign to sit behind only Adelaide Strikers paceman Henry Thornton (14 wickets).

His form is all the more amazing considering he entered the tournament under an injury cloud after being sidelined by a heel complaint for six weeks.

“Best when fresh I like to say,” Richardson said with a laugh. “Definitely (surprised at my form). I didn’t have a great run-in to the tournament. 

“But once you get the first one out of the way and you have a good performance, you just thrive off that confidence and ride the wave.”

Richardson hopes his heel pain will be completely gone by the end of the tournament, and he has his fingers crossed he will be in the conversation for a Test recall in time for next year’s tour of India.

The Stars were in all sorts of trouble at 8-86 when Richardson bowled Luke Wood around his legs after having Nathan Coulter-Nile caught on the boundary.

But some handy late blows from Hilton Cartwright (36 off 32 balls) and tail-ender Trent Boult (23no off 16 balls) lifted the Stars to a defendable total.

Marcus Stoinis was out for 10 when he skied Tye to mid-off in the 10th over, continuing a worrying form slump for the powerful batter. Stoinis has now posted scores of 0, 0, 4 and 10 this BBL season.  Cartwright is confident Stoinis will hit a big score soon. “He’s an unbelievable player,” Cartwright said.

“I don’t reckon he’s far away from a big score, it’s just a matter of picking his match-ups and picking the time when he goes. I”ve got no doubt he’s going to fire for us very soon.”

Paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile will be assessed after feeling tightness in his hamstring. 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 23: Virat Kohli of India bats during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan at Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 23, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

(Photo by Daniel Pockett-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

MCG keen on India-Pakistan Test

Cricket Australia has supported the Melbourne Cricket Club’s call for a historic Test match between India and Pakistan to be played at the MCG.

The MCC have formally lobbied CA about hosting the famous rivals in what would be their first red-ball match in 15 years, but admit the situation is “complicated”.

India and Pakistan’s pulsating Twenty20 World Cup clash at the ground in October, played in front of 90,293 fans, fuelled hunger for more games between the countries.

Their rivalry has been restricted to major tournaments in modern times, having not played each other in a bilateral series since 2012 due to ongoing political tension between the countries.

The last Test match between India and Pakistan was way back in December 2007.

MCC boss Stuart Fox said he would “absolutely” love to welcome back India and Pakistan after the extraordinary success of their recent meeting at the MCG.

“The atmosphere for that game, I’ve never felt anything like it,” Fox told SEN. “The noise after every ball was just phenomenal. Three (games) in a row would be lovely at the MCG, you’d fill it every time.

“Wouldn’t it be great if it wasn’t just Australia-centric and Victoria-centric, and that we’re catering for all countries and filling the stadium. (However) it’s complicated. 

“Hopefully Cricket Australia keep taking it up with the ICC (International Cricket Council) and keep pushing for it.”

CA would be up for bringing India and Pakistan to Australia for a bilateral series as long as the countries agreed to it.

“It would be up to the two countries to agree, but if there was to be a Test between India and Pakistan on neutral territory, we would of course be interested in the opportunity to host it in Australia,” a CA spokesperson told AAP.

“The supporters of the two teams here for the World Cup were amazing and the vast majority of those fans live in Australia.”

Pakistan are scheduled to play at the MCG in next year’s Boxing Day Test, with Fox saying Australia needed to engage better with multicultural fans.

“I’d love to shoot for 91,000 (spectators next December),” Fox said. 

“We want them (Pakistan fans) here and it would be fantastic to have a full house day one.”

Ahead of the World Cup match, India legend Ravi Shastri told AAP that 150,000 people would attend a game between the famous rivals if capacity allowed.

Williamson double ton has Kiwis close in Pakistan

New Zealand pushed Pakistan onto the backfoot in the first Test after Kane Williamson hit a marathon unbeaten double century on Thursday.

Williamson’s 200 not out in 10 hours earned New Zealand a meaningful 174-run lead as the visitors declared at 9-612 at tea, with tailender Ish Sodhi scoring a career-best 65.

New Zealand spinners Michael Bracewell and Ish Sodhi made early inroads in the final session to reduce Pakistan to 2-77 at stumps. Pakistan still trails by 97 runs on a wicket which has some encouragement for spinners from the bowlers’ footmarks.

Imam-ul-Haq saw off the session with an unbeaten 45 while nightwatchman Nauman Ali survived an umbrella of fielders around him in the last over to go not out on 4.

Abdullah Shafique once again threw away his wicket as he was caught low down at short mid-on for 17 after attempting a needless drive against offspinner Michael Bracewell.

Shafique had fallen cheaply in Pakistan’s first innings score of 438 when he came down the wicket off Ajaz Patel in only the fourth over of the game and got stumped. Lefthander Masood was out lbw for 10 after he went onto the backfoot against Sodhi’s sharp delivery.

Captain Tim Southee ended Pakistan’s long frustrating time in the field when he declared just after Williamson lifted mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed over extra cover for his 21st boundary and then raised his fifth double-hundred with a single.

Abrar, who took 17 wickets in two Test matches against England earlier this month, finished with 5-205 but not before Williamson and Sodhi had extended the lead with a 159-run seventh-wicket stand on a slow turning wicket.

Sodhi finally holed out soon after crossing his previous test best of 63 – also against Pakistan in 2014 – while Southee and Neil Wagner followed without scoring.

Williamson was on 186 when last man Ajaz Patel walked in but went into the 190s with a straight six over the head of Abrar before eventually reaching his second double hundred against Pakistan in a 395-ball knock.

It was Williamson’s first international score of over 100 in almost two years since he made 238 against Pakistan at Christchurch in January 2021.

Rashid Khan of the Strikers celebrates

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Rashid given captaincy honour

Rashid Khan will have a second stint as Afghanistan’s T20 captain after being named as the replacement for Mohammad Nabi.

Nabi stepped down as skipper in November, after Afghanistan were eliminated from the T20 World Cup in Australia without winning a match.

This will be Rashid’s second stint as captain. The spinner resigned immediately after Afghanistan’s squad was announced for the 2021 World Cup last year, saying the selection committee had not obtained his consent for the team.

“I have the experience of leading my country before, there is a great bunch of guys with whom I have a good understanding and feel pretty comfortable,” said Rashid, who has been a long-time star for the Adelaide Strikers in the BBL.

“We will try to stick together, will work hard to put things on the right track and bring pride and joy to our country and nation.”

Rashid’s first assignment as captain will be a three-match T20 series against the United Arab Emirates in February.

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