News Cricket

NZ play Australia at Lord's, Pakistan need win in Leeds

Staff Writer Updated: 29 June, 2019, 2:08 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

New Zealand need one more win to join defending champion Australia in the Cricket World Cup semifinals. They meet on Saturday at Lord's in a day-night match.

Pakistan needs to beat Afghanistan in Leeds to stay in semifinal contention. A win would lift Pakistan above England and into fourth in the standings.

New Zealand and Australia have lost only once each in this edition, but the Kiwis had a washout.

They have won their last two matchups against Australia, but they haven't won three in a row in more than 12 years.

Australia has a 7-3 win-loss record against the Kiwis in World Cups, the last of them in the 2015 final.

David Warner, with 500, and captain Aaron Finch, with 496, lead the run-scorers in this World Cup, and are close to catching Ricky Ponting (539 in 2007) for second most by an Australian in a single edition. Matthew Hayden leads with 659, also in 2007.

Despite also being neighbors, Pakistan and Afghanistan have met only three times in one-day internationals, neither in their own countries. Pakistan has won all three, the last two in the Asia Cups of 2014 and 2018.

This will be their first meeting in a World Cup.

Fast bowler Wahab Riaz has 32 wickets all-time in World Cups, and needs two more to equal Imran Khan for second place for Pakistan. Wasim Akram leads with 55.

Gulbadin Naib needs one more wicket to equal the record for most by an Afghani in a single edition, 10 by Shapoor Zadran in 2015.

Afghanistan has lost all seven of its matches, so far, its longest losing streak in ODIs.

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News Cricket

I saw Jofra Archer last year at the IPL and realized he is a very special talent - Steve Smith

Staff Writer Updated: 16 September, 2019, 12:21 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Jofra Archer has become a nightmare for the rivals since making his international debut. He was on song in the recently concluded Ashes where he regularly hit batsmen with nasty bouncers. Steve Smith was ruled out of one Test match after he was hit on his neck by a brutal delivery from the Englishman.

Smith was full of praise for Jofra Archer.

"I saw Jofra last year at the IPL and realized he is a very special talent. He has got a very bright future," Smith said after being awarded Australia's Player of the Series.

Jofra Archer picked up 22 wickets in the Ashes series and was elated with his performance.

"It has just been exciting cricket since I have worn the English jersey. Being able to draw the series is really special," Archer said after England beat Australia by 135 runs to level the Ashes 2-2.

"Test cricket can be perfect for you one day and it won't be the next day. There would be good days and bad days. I just need to keep going," Man of the Match Archer added.

Feature Cricket

A shared Ashes series after 47 years

Partab Ramchand Updated: 16 September, 2019, 11:41 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

A shared Ashes series is extremely rare. The fact that the current one is the first to end in a drawn series since 1972 emphasizes this point. Contests between England and Australia are generally close and well fought out but one side emerges the victor like the memorable series in 2005. They can also be woefully one sided like when England thrashed Australia 5-1 in 1978-79 and the Aussies completed a clean sweep of the five-match series both in 2006-07 and 2013-14.

In a way however the result of the 2019 series is not surprising. On the eve of the contest a keenly fought duel was predicted what with one team at No 4 and the other at No 5 in the ICC rankings. And even when pitted against each other the teams seemed to have the personnel to match each other in every department. So in the ultimate analysis 2-2 seems to be a fair result though it is another matter that Australia being the holders retained the Ashes.

Both sides had strengths and weaknesses the batting being the main casualty. On pitches that gave the bowlers some help batsmen quite often had to struggle and this is borne out by the stats. Of course it was neither the surfaces nor the bowling that saw David Warner plumb new depths. For an experienced player like him with a proven record 95 runs from ten innings is probably the worst tally for a specialist batsmen playing throughout an Ashes series. Most of the other batsmen too found the going tough and it was only Steve Smith’s unrivaled genius that covered up for the batting lapses though he did receive some help from Matthew Wade and Magnus Labuschage.

England too had batting problems and they did not have a towering figure like Smith to paper over these failures. But the line-up was a bit more consistent with six batsmen topping the 200-run mark for the series compared to three for the Aussies. Three hundreds and 13 half centuries for England as against five hundreds and eight half centuries for the Aussies also tells a tale.

In the ultimate analysis even though Smith’s batting was the biggest influence it was the bowling of both sides that came off with flying colours. Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon for Australia and Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Jack Leach proved once again that it was bowlers who win matches. There were certain spells of bowling during the series by both pacemen and spinners that will stay in memory for long.

Opinion Cricket

How can David Warner emerge from his failures in Test cricket?

CT Contributor Updated: 16 September, 2019, 11:34 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

When Australian star batsman David Warner returned from his 12-month ban for a ball-tampering scandal, the runs followed him everywhere. The senior Australian batsman won the prestigious Orange Cap in the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). He transferred that form in the ICC World Cup 2019. Warner finished the 2019 World Cup with the second-most runs behind Rohit Sharma. Australia bowed out of the semi-finals, but the southpaw truly won everyone’s hearts.

Since then a lot of quality was expected from the veteran opener in the Ashes 2019 series. He was the man in form, he was scoring runs at will, and there was absolute consistency in his play. But we often see a great difference between white-ball and red-ball cricket.

The transition is somehow difficult given the longevity and the hostility surrounding the Tests. In ten Test innings in Ashes 2019, Warner scored just 95 runs at an average of 9.50. Warner has managed just one fifty, besides scoring three ducks and a plethora of other single digit scores. Warner’s collective issues are numerous.

From being rooted to the crease, playing shots away from the body and chasing wide balls have undone him. The spark of the white ball turned into a nightmarish scene in red. For Warner, veteran England fast bowler Stuart Broad had different ideas. Broad came into the Ashes in a fresh state – both mentally and physically.

The Test great who is England’s second most successful bowler in the format was waiting to unleash his magic on to the southpaw. Five Tests and 10 innings later, Stuart Broad dismissed Warner seven times. In the fifth Test, he was once again dismissed early for five. His scores in the Ashes series read as 2, 8, 3, 5, 61, 0, 0, 0, 5 and 11.

Warner will need to move on from this new low run in his Ashes career. He needs to get back to the drawing room as quickly as possible and get started. Australia has never got those starts with Warner and his opening partner faltering.

The highest partnership atop for Australia has been 13 across five Tests. So there is a lot to do for Warner, the team and the openers in general. His struggles in Tests on English soil is also an issue. Warner has never made a century on an Ashes tour. That sums it all.

News Cricket

We were not always at our best, but we've fought really hard - Joe Root

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:34 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

England resumed its second innings on 313-8 and was all out for 329 with Lyon taking 4-69. After being put into bat, England scored 294 in its first innings and Australia replied with 225.

Australia won the first test at Edgbaston by 251 runs, the next test at Lord's was drawn before England drew level with a one-wicket win in a thrilling third test at Headingley, which Smith missed. Australia won the fourth test at Old Trafford by 185 runs.

"We were excellent this week. Having lost the toss, to play as we did was fantastic. We drove the game all the time and got there in the end," Root said. "Collectively we've shown a lot of character throughout the whole series. We were not always at our best, but we've fought really hard."

Wade and Jofra Archer had repeated stand-offs and staring contests on Sunday as England attempted to wrap up victory before stumps with a day to spare. Archer, who took 6-62 in the first innings and was player of the match, also struck Wade high up on the arm during a relentless spell of pace bowling.

Paine made his first successful review of the series when the wicketkeeper-captain caught England tailender Archer off Pat Cummins and, after the umpire initially gave not out, Paine's decision to challenge was vindicated when replays showed the ball brushed Archer's glove.

Smith was Australia's player of the series, Stokes took the honors for England.

News Cricket

Runs are bigger than Sandpaper: Steve Smith gets standing ovation from English fans

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:31 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Steve Smith proved a formidable presence at No. 4 for Australia throughout the series but was caught by Ben Stokes at leg gully off pacer Stuart Broad for 23, by far his lowest score of the series.

Smith finished with 774 runs in the series in only seven innings at an average of 110. The star batter received a standing ovation from England and Australia fans as he left the field on Sunday, a strong sign Smith has been forgiven after a ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal. The 30-year-old Smith posted the highest number of runs in a five-match series since Brian Lara managed 798 against England in 1993-94. In contrast, Australian opener David Warner finished with just 95 runs from 10 innings

Matthew Wade was Australia's top scorer with 117 after beginning to worry England as the visitors chased an unlikely winning target of 399. Wade was stumped off a delivery from England captain Joe Root (2-26).

Broad took 4-62 and spinner Jack Leach 4-49 for England. Broad became the first England bowler to take 20-plus wickets in four Ashes series — 2013, 2013-14, 2015 and 2019. Leach ended the game at 6:10 p.m. local time with two wickets — Nathan Lyon (1) and Josh Hazlewood (0) — in two balls.

News Cricket

Retaining Ashes is a great deal – Tim Paine

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:29 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

England beat Australia by 135 runs in the fifth and final Ashes test at the Oval on Sunday to draw the series 2-2.

It's the first time an Ashes series has ended in a draw since 1972.

Both teams had something to celebrate as Australia was later presented with the Ashes urn. Australia had already retained the urn as holder but was thwarted in its goal of a first outright series win in England in 18 years after being dismissed for 263 in its second innings deep into the evening session on Day 4.

"We've got to bat, bowl better than we did in this test match," Australia captain Tim Paine said. "No doubt today puts a dampener on it, but from where this group's come from, to retain the Ashes is still a big deal."

News Cricket

Skipper Rashid Khan praises players after Afghanistan beat Bangladesh

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:21 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Mohammad Nabi's 54-ball 84 not out was complemented by off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman's career-best 4-15 as Afghanistan beat Bangladesh by 25 runs to go top in the Twenty20 tri-series on Sunday.

Nabi's fireworks saw Afghanistan recover from 40-4 to compile a respectable 164-6 after which Rahman's bowling helped to dismiss Bangladesh for 139 in 19.5 overs.

Nabi struck three fours and seven sixes, and he shared a fifth-wicket stand of 79 runs in around 10 overs with Asghar Afghan to rescue the innings.

"It's always tough to get out of such tough situations and post such a good score," Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan said. "I think the senior players took the responsibility. That's how we recovered from four down to 160-plus."

Afghan, who survived on 31 after a no ball from spinner Taijul Islam, scored 40 off 37.

"I think that no ball cost us big time, that over went for 17 runs and that changed the momentum," Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan said.

Pace bowler Mohammad Saifuddin produced his career-best 4-33 for Bangladesh.

Gulbadin Naib took 2-27 and Rashid Khan 2-23 for Afghanistan.

It was Afghanistan's second straight victory after beating Zimbabwe by 28 runs on Saturday.

News Cricket

‘Rohit Sharma can help chase down unachievable targets’: Sanjay Bangar

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:57 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian batting coach, Sanjay Bangar has made a big prediction about Rohit Sharma in Test cricket. He is of the opinion that Rohit Sharma will help India chase difficult targets in Test cricket if he bats as an opener in his own trademark style.

“At the moment, there is no place in the settled middle order in the Test team. Opening will be a new challenge for him, since he has rarely done it in the longer formats. But the advantage is that he will get to bat against a hard-ball with plenty of gaps in the field. He will also not have to wait for his turn to bat, which will save his mental energy,” Bangar told ESPNcricinfo in an interview.

“If he succeeds, his style of play will be extremely helpful to the team. It might result in being able to successfully chase down targets that we haven’t achieved in the past, like in Cape Town and Edgbaston,” he added.

Rohit Sharma has featured in 27 Tests so far, scoring 1,585 runs at an average of 39.6. The swashbuckling opener has been an underperformer outside home. But, he has been picked as India's no.1 choice opener for the home Test series against South Africa. The first Test against South Africa will take place in Visakhapatnam from October 2

“The key to his success will be if he maintains his individual style of play. He has to maintain his individuality,” Bangar added.

News Cricket

Pakistan has always supported other countries by touring: Sarfaraz Ahmed

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:36 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Pakistan Cricket Board and its fans were left disappointed after 10 Sri Lankan cricketers opted out of the tour of Pakistan citing security reasons. The likes of Dimuth Karunaratne (Test and ODI captain), Lasith Malinga (T20I captain) and Angelo Mathews were few of the biggest names to have backed out from the tour.

Lahiru Thirimanne will lead the ODI side while Dasun Shanaka has been named skipper for the T20I side in absence of the regular stalwarts.

Sri Lanka are scheduled to lock horns with Pakistan in ODI and T20I series at the National Stadium in Karachi and Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. The tour will commence from September 27.

Pakistan captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed, who was retained as Pakistan's skipper for the home series after speculations that he will be removed from captaincy, has said that Pakistan has always been supportive of other teams.

“Pakistan has always supported other countries by touring. Recently, Pakistan sent its junior team to Sri Lanka a couple of weeks after bombings took place,” the 32-year-old Sarfaraz was quoted as saying in Pak Passion.

News Cricket

Gautam Gambhir warns Rishabh Pant, says beware of my favorite Sanju Samson

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:22 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

India and South Africa will take on each other in a three-match T20I series starting from September 15 at Dharamshala. A lot of eyes will be fixated on Rishabh Pant, who had a largely unimpressive tour of West Indies as India's first-choice wicket-keeper batsman across formats. But, T20 format is something that Pant has impressed us the most, especially in IPL.

Former Indian cricketer, Gautam Gambhir has a warning for Rishabh Pant. Gambhir wrote in his column for Times of India that Pant needs to perform better so that he can counter challenges thrown at him by Kerala wicket-keeper batsman, Sanju Samson, who recently awed one and all with a brilliant fifty against South Africa A.

“It is another opportunity for young Indian batsmen to cement their place in the side. Manish Pandey looks much younger than his age of 29. Shreyas Iyer explained enough in the West Indies that he is a great deal more than the ‘South Bombay’ swag. KL Rahul is a force in white-ball format. Rishabh Pant is always exciting but he has to watch his back as my favourite Sanju Samson is throwing some serious challenges at him. It is an exciting series as there are a lot of individual battles going on considering the T20 World Cup next year,” wrote Gambhir.

Gambhir also compared Quinton de Kock with Kumara Sangakkara and Brian Lara.

“In the context of South Africa’s tour of India, the visitors may relate to this as this is their first international engagement after a forgetful World Cup campaign. I like Quinton de Kock. He is one of those gorgeous left-handers which I always aspired to be but could never be. In full flow, he reminds me of Kumara Sangakkara and Brian Lara. Hopefully, he delivers as a captain but not at the cost of curtailing fluidity of his batting,” Gambhir said.

News Cricket

Jasprit Bumrah reveals the "reason" for lethality in swing

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:17 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

There has been never any doubt regarding Jasprit Bumrah's ability in limited-overs cricket. In fact, he made a name for himself with his yorkers and great death bowling in T20 cricket. But, he made a great transition to ODIs and now Tests as well.

More than skills, it has always been Bumrah's sharp cricketing brain and strong temperament that has helped him do well in cricket. Using these virtues, he impressed one and all with his displays even in the longer version of the game, a format, where people had question marks about him.

The Indian pacer recently had a brilliant tour of West Indies, where he ended up with 13 wickets in two Tests which included two five-wicket-hauls and a maiden hat-trick. The right-armer also rose to no.3 spot in ICC Test rankings, which is simply amazing given he has hardly played 12 Tests. His ability to move the ball was one of the best sights in West Indies.

Bumrah revealed that it was the England tour, which helped him gain lethality in swing bowling. “I always used to have out-swingers. I have not used it a lot but playing in England did give me a lot of confidence. The Duke ball does swing for a longer period of time. So, because I got more and more confident as I played the Test matches, I could execute it well,” he said at a promotional event here.

He added, “In white-ball cricket, the ball doesn’t swing for a long period so you have to assess what kind of delivery works every time. I was working on it (the out-swinger) for a long period. I used it in England as well when we were playing against county teams. You can’t use everything in one match. You just try to assess the conditions on the given day and see what could work.”

Feature Cricket

What’s next for Faf du Plessis and South Africa?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 14 September, 2019, 2:11 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Even as South Africa undertake the important tour of India beginning with a three match Twenty20 internationals, questions remain about the future of the most prominent member of the squad missing from the lineup.

Quinton de Kock might be reasonably excited about the possibility of captaining South Africa in India, albeit for only the Twenty20 internationals part of the tour. Under normal circumstances, it would have been reasonable enough to raise expectations under a new leadership. Yet given the kind of change that Cricket South Africa (CSA) have embarked upon since the debacle that was their campaign in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England, there is some skepticism as well as a great deal of uncertainty about how South Africa move forward.

The end of South Africa’s ICC Cricket World Cup did not anticipate the idea of the cricket board doing away with the coaching position and instead bringing on a team manager a la football. Furthermore, while it was expected that questions would be raised about the practicality of continuing the journey with Faf du Plessis at the helm given his age and also, the fact that the next major fifty overs World Cup is four years away, there was little doubt with so many retirements and changes on the anvil, Faf could be the perfect foil as a catalyst to lead a new team and leadership in the transition.

Yet, it would appear South Africa have arrived in India without having taken people into confidence and with another round of shooting-in-the-dark strategies that could make or break them. If that became apparent as Cricket South Africa made the announcements, those doubts would have been exacerbated after the comments that have come forth from the team management after the team landed in India.

CSA acting director of cricket, Corrie van Zyl insisted Faf du Plessis was very much in the mix even as the team for the tour of India was announced with Faf named only as South Africa’s Test captain and not even included in South Africa’s Twenty20 squad. On his part, Faf, who led the latter half of South Africa’s campaign with a century and near century, albeit after the ship had sailed, insisted that he would still be South Africa’s Twenty20 captain for the 2020 ICC World Twenty20 event in Australia next year and that South Africa were merely using the time as opportunity to experiment in order to find a worthy successor.

But while Faf flits from one Twenty20 tournament that got scuttled to another before coming to India to take charge of the Test team, the words of the team management would not have given him any comfort either with regard to his future as South Africa’s limited overs captain or his place purely as a batsman.

Enoch Nkwe, the team director, upon landing in India, almost put the nail in the coffin, particularly as far as Faf’s career as South Africa’s limited overs captaincy is concerned by stating that the team was intent on looking forward while acknowledging his past contributions, the emphasis being on past.

With the likes of AB de Villiers having retired of their own volition, with South Africa losing players to Kolpak deals and the such, can South Africa afford to lose not only an experienced captain but also, a valuable mentor and member of the dressing room this close to another World Cup challenge, albeit in a different format?

While Faf du Plessis may have little choice but to build up a string of performances in the opportunities outside South Africa’s cricket and prepare to take on South Africa’s Test challenge that kicks off their ICC World Test Championship, it will be interesting how this experiment with a new management and a new captaincy trial works out and whether Faf du Plessis then becomes the one holding the key should South Africa’s experiments fail to yield the desired results close to the ICC World Twenty20 2020. Anxious times for Faf du Plessis and South Africa.

News Cricket

Ashes god Steve Smith defends team-mates for lack of scores

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 2:00 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Steve Smith is having a record-breaking 2019 Ashes series. Due to his exceptional batting and Australia's excellent bowling, the Kangaroos have already retained the Ashes. If Australia manage to win this Test or draw the game, they will win the Ashes series in England for the first time since 2001.

But Australia got bundled-out on 225 runs after England made 294 runs in the first innings. Barring Smith, who made 80, no other batsman could even touch the fifty-run mark. Smith has a total of 751 runs in the series. Apart from Smith and Labuschagne, who has 339 runs at an average of 56.5, no other Australian batsmen has averaged even 30. On the second day as well, it was only Smith (80) and Labuschagne (48), doing well for the visitors.

Steve Smith, however, has defended his teammates despite their poor show. The former Aussie skipper said, “We haven’t seen any huge totals really throughout the whole series so it’s not been easy. There’s always been something there, I felt. If you bowl in good areas for long enough then I think we’ve seen you’ll get rewards. Playing in England is completely different from playing back home and you’ve got to find ways to play away from home.

“Sometimes you need to change certain little things that can help you play in certain conditions and adapt accordingly but I think it will be a good learning curve for all of our batters,” added Smith.

News Cricket

Ashes GOD Steve Smith leaves Don Bradman behind

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 1:51 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Steve Smith is batting like a dream for Australia in the ongoing Ashes series. He was out of action for more than a year. But right in the first Test series since his comeback to the format, he snatched back his no.1 position in ICC Test rankings. But his exploits against England knows no bounds. Smith is turning out to be an Ashes god. Don't believe me? Read this stat.

Smith has 1,251 runs in last ten Ashes innings. In last ten innings, his scores read 239, 76, 102*, 83, 144, 142, 92, 211, 82, 80. His lowest score has been 80, which he made in the first innings of the Oval Test. The right-hander has five centuries and fifties each with two double-centuries. Now, he has even bettered Sir Don Bradman's record of most runs in 10 successive Ashes innings.

Between 1937 and 1946, Bradman had made 1,236 runs in ten successive Ashes innings with scores of 212, 169, 51, 144*, 18, 102*, 103, 16, 187, 234.

Smith is batting like a beast in the ongoing Ashes series. He now has 751 runs in the series at an average of 125.17. And this is Smith's comeback to Test cricket after a long lay-off that too in high-pressure situations but he doesn't feel pressure, he is an Ashes god, after all. Smith now has 2,777 runs in Ashes cricket after 47 innings that with 11 centuries.

Feature Cricket

T-20 Series: South Africa’s best chance to win in India

Partab Ramchand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 12:08 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The South Africans start their short tour of India with the first of three T-20 internationals at Dharamsala on Sunday and this format gives them their best opportunity to win in India. There is very little chance of the visitors winning the three-match Test series that follows going by their past record in this country. In the first place it is the one format in which they are above India in the ICC rankings being third to India’s fourth. Secondly it does appear that they have the team personnel to challenge India.

In skipper Quinton de Kock they have one of the leading players in the world in the shortest formats of the game. He loves to strike the ball hard and high and is equally proficient in ODIs. He has a particularly good record against India and who can forget his three hundreds in successive ODI’s six years ago. He followed this up with two more hundreds in India a couple of years later.

David Miller is another player the Indian bowlers will be wary of. The 30-year -old has class, skill and experience and his career strike rate of 140 in T20 internationals is among the best in the format. Both de Kock and Miller have been regulars in the IPL for years. Miller has been one of the stalwarts for King’s XI Punjab while the skipper has turned out for Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils. Little wonder then there have been reports that other team members have been picking the brains of the duo to find out more about Indian players and conditions.

Pace bowling has a major role to play in T-20 cricket and here the visitors are well served. Kagiso Rabada heads the department and he has the likes of Andile Phehlukwayo, Beuran Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorious and Anrich Nortje for company and South Africa will be hoping that the bowling can cover up for any weaknesses in the batting which to be candid lacks depth.

In fact with India either resting their main pace bowlers or not considering them for the shortest format South Africa are better served in the department. In the absence of the regulars it will be up to the likes of Deepak Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini and all-rounder Hardik Pandya to come up with something special. Of course India has the better spin attack with Ravindra Jadeja and Krunal Pandya so things sort of level out in the bowling department. But where India should have the decisive edge is in the batting. In Virat Kohli they have the best batsman in limited overs cricket and the support cast too is of the top drawer – Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey and KL Rahul.