Kiwis ready for WTC clash with India

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India's Virat Kohli with New Zealand's Ross Taylor after the match during the 3rd day of the second test match between India and New Zealand, at Hagley Oval ground, in Christchurch in March 2020. (REUTERS Photo)

Asian championship is postponed because of Covid-19 crisis in the region  

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New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor feels an early conclusion to the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 has helped Team India to be better prepared for the upcoming World Test Championship (WTC) final slated to begin on June 18.

The safety of every individual involved in the IPL was one of the major reasons for the BCCI and the IPL Governing Council to unanimously decide on the suspension of the league on May 4. Taylor said the Virat Kohli-led side will be more conditioned ahead of the WTC final than they would have been if IPL wasn’t suspended.

“I couldn’t think of better preparation than playing two Test matches in England. At the end of the day, it is a neutral venue. In terms of India, IPL finishing early has probably played into the hands a little bit,” said Taylor in a virtual press conference.

“If IPL had come, they would have had a smalled preparations. Now they will be a lot more conditioned, their bowlers will get their loads up,” he added.

New Zealand will play two Tests against England before they take on India in the WTC final on June 18.

Taylor feels the two Tests against England will give the Kiwis a slight advantage going into the WTC final.

“Playing these two Test matches gives us a slight advantage but this Indian team have been number one in the world for a long time and had a lot of success over here [in England],” said Taylor.

“I guess we can’t ask for a better schedule leading into the WTC final. At this time of the year bowlers will be relishing the conditions,” he added.

England and New Zealand will lock horns in two Tests, beginning June 2.

New Zealand’s Tim Southee in action during the 3rd day of the second test match between India and New Zealand, at Hagley Oval ground, in Christchurch in March 2020. (ANI Photo)

Tests ‘great preparation’ against India: Tim Southee

New Zealand pacer Tim Southee won’t be treating the two Tests against England as warm-ups for the World Test Championship (WTC) final but he admitted that the upcoming games will help the Kiwis in preparing for the summit clash against India.

New Zealand will play two Tests against England before they take on India in the WTC final on June 18. “Nah, I think anytime you get a chance to play a Test match for New Zealand, it’s an amazing opportunity and it’s something that you treasure, so I don’t think you would treat them as warm-ups,” said Southee in a virtual press conference.

“It’s a two-match Test series against England and so our focus is first and foremost on those two matches against England,” he further said.

“For us, it is great to have those matches in the lead-in to the final that follows on afterward. It’s great preparation for the final but in saying that, for us it’s a two-match Test series that we’re really looking forward to, and the quality English opposition in these conditions,” Southee opined.

England and New Zealand are set to lock horns in two Tests, beginning June 2. Southee is “excited” to play three Tests in such a short space of time.

“It’s exciting to play three Test matches in a short space of time. It is something that the team doesn’t get to do that often,” said Southee.

“We’ve come off a bit of a break, which has been nice, and (we have) been able to get some conditioning into our bodies, the guys that have come from the IPL and are going to be playing some cricket,” he added.

Talking about the preparation of his side before the UK tour, Southee said: “The guys are refreshed in some sort of way, using the next couple of weeks to get ourselves prepared and ready to play three Test matches.”

“They are in quick succession but we have had a chance to prepare physically leading into this with some strength and conditioning stuff. Now, it’s just getting our loads to a point over the coming weeks so that we can rock on to those three Test matches,” he added.

The New Zealand players will lock horns in an intrasquad three-day practice match in Southampton, where the WTC final will be played between the Kiwis and India later in June.

New Zealand’s Tim Southee celebrates the wicket of India’s Hanuma Vihari with teammates during the fourth day of the first test match between India and New Zealand at Basin Reserve, in Wellington (ANI Photo)

India has good quick bowlers: Ian Chappell

Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell believes that the life of a modern cricketer is becoming harder and harder with the creation of bio-bubbles due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He also cited the India-Australia Test series on how the hosts’ got wore out in the bowling department while India somehow managed to stay fresh even when they were being hampered by injuries. “The modern cricketer is substantially better rewarded than players of the previous century. However, like with all such things in life, there is a downside involved. This comes in the form of the numerous adjustments to be made because of the extra formats that are now played and the resultant crowding of the schedule,” Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.

“This was highlighted in the last Australia-India series, where the home side used the same fast-bowling trio in all four Tests. As the Australian pace bowlers wore down in the final stages of the series, their Indian counterparts may have caught a break as injuries meant they had to constantly change personnel. India is one of the few teams who have enough skilled quick bowlers in reserve to meet the challenges of the schedule and still remain competitive,” he added.

Talking about the effect Covid-19 has had on players and international cricket, Chappell said: “The Covid-ravaged world has meant cricketers spend extended periods in bubbles, which challenges their skills and their mental health. It has also resulted in scheduling that has Test matches crammed together, which is physically and mentally demanding, especially for the fast bowlers.”

“Modern fast bowlers do a lot of varied training in order to prepare for the demands of constant cricket, but still the injuries continue to pile up. Fast bowlers in the past concentrated more on running and bowling a lot in the nets to gain their match fitness,” he added.

The former Australia skipper also wondered whether retired players would want to earn same rewards as the current crop of cricketers does or whether it is now the current players missing being part of a different era.

“It would be interesting to discover if retired cricketers envied the rewards paid their modern counterparts or whether current players would swap today’s whirling merry-go-round for the casual approach of the past. I suspect most international cricketers are just happy to have played,” said Chappell.

Asia Cup 2021 is put off till 2023

The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) on Sunday confirmed that the Asia Cup 2021 has been postponed as “no practical window” was available to stage the tournament this year in face of the risks posed by COVID-19.

“The ACC Executive Board, in face of the risks and restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, had made the difficult decision to postpone the Asia Cup 2020 to 2021,” the ACC said in a statement. “Since then, the ACC has been working with its participants and stakeholders to try and ensure that the event is held in the year.”

“However, on account of a packed FTP, it has been concluded that there is no practical window in the year when all the teams would be available to participate. The Board has accordingly considered the matter very carefully and determined that the only way ahead would be to postpone the event,” the statement further read.

ACC said it would only be feasible for this edition of the tournament to be held in 2023 as there is already an Asia Cup in 2022 and dates for the same will be confirmed in due course.

Pakistan is likely to host the 2022 edition of the tournament, with Sri Lanka hosting in 2023, ESPNcricinfo reported.

Earlier, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani had confirmed that the Asia Cup slated to be held in June this year was likely to be postponed if India managed to qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship.

“Asia Cup was set to go last year but it got postponed to this year. Right now, it looks like the Asia Cup won’t be going ahead this year as the WTC finals are set to go ahead in June. Sri Lanka had said that they would try to host the tournament in June,” Mani had told reporters in Karachi during a press conference. There has not been an Asia Cup after 2018. India had won the last two editions of the tournament.

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