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ICC announces nine-team Test championship & 13-Team ODI league

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The International Cricket Council (ICC)

Auckland, Oct 13: With an aim to bring context and meaning to bilateral cricket, a nine-team Test cricket league and a 13-team One-Day International league will start in 2019 and 2020, respectively, it was announced on Friday.

The Test series league will see nine teams play six series over two years — three home and three away, the International Cricket Council (ICC) declared after the ICC Board meeting here.

Each team will be having a minimum of two Tests and a maximum of five and all the five-day matches will culminate in a World Test League Championship Final, according to the statement.

“The ODI league will be a direct qualification pathway towards the ICC Cricket World Cup and will be contested by the 12 Full Members plus the winners of the current ICC World Cricket League Championship,” ICC said in a statement.

In the first edition of the league, each side will play four home and four away series each comprising of three ODIs moving to all teams playing each other from the second cycle onwards.

ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said that the leagues are a genuine solution to bring context to bilateral cricket.

“I would like to congratulate our Members on reaching this agreement and putting the interests of the development of the game first,” Maohar said.

“Bringing context to bilateral cricket is not a new challenge, but this is the first time a genuine solution has been agreed on,” the former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President added.

“This means fans around the world can enjoy international cricket knowing every game counts and in the case of the ODI league, it counts towards qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup.”

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: “This is a significant point in time for ICC Members and our collective desire to secure a vibrant future for international bilateral cricket.

“The approval of both leagues is the conclusion of two years of work from the Members who have explored a whole range of options to bring context to every game.

“The ICC Board decision today means we can now go and finalise a playing schedule for the first edition as well as the points system, hosting arrangements and competition terms.”

The ICC Board here also approved a trial of four-day Test matches to run through until the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Members will be able to schedule four-day games by bilateral agreement and a set of standardised playing conditions will now be finalised.

Richardson said: “Our priority was to develop an international cricket structure that gave context and meaning across international cricket and particularly in the Test arena. This has been delivered and every Test in the new League will be a five-day Test format.

“However, throughout the discussions about the future of Test cricket it became clear that whilst context is crucial we must also consider alternatives and trial initiatives that may support the future viability of Test cricket. The trial is exactly that, a trial, just in the same way day-night Tests and technology have been trialled by members.

“Four-day Tests will also provide the new Test playing countries with more opportunities to play the longer version of the game against more experienced opponents, which, in turn, will help them to hone their skills and close the gap with the top nine ranked teams.”

Meanwhile, the ICC announced that the World Cup Qualifier will be held in Zimbabwe in March 2018.

Namibia have been confirmed as the host of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in February 2018 whilst the Netherlands have been approved as the host of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier 2018.

IANS

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Coach Ravi Shastri reveals why Dhoni took the ball from umpire

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New Delhi, July 19: Team India coach Ravi Shastri on Thursday dismissed all speculation on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement.

Shastri’s comments came after social media on Wednesday was abuzz with speculation that the 2011 World Cup winning captain MS Dhoni will soon retire from all formats of the game.

Dhoni was seen taking the match ball from the umpires at the end of the third one-day international against England at the Headingley cricket ground in Leeds on Tuesday, and Twitter went on overdrive as fans began to wonder about the significance of the move.

“Is Dhoni retiring?” was the talking point as all and sundry began to wonder about the significance of the former India skipper walking away with the match ball despite India having lost the match. Dhoni asked for back towards the pavilion.

Thus coach put a full stop on all the speculation and said,” “That’s rubbish. MS is not going anywhere”.

Shastri said Dhoni took the ball from umpire to show it to bowling coach Bharat Arun.

Dismissing the speculation, Shastri said: “MS wanted to show the ball to Bharat Arun. He wanted to show him the wear and tear the ball had endured, to get a general idea of what the conditions were like.”

“But right now, all this clamour is nonsense. He just wanted to show the ball to Arun to just have a look at it after close to 45 overs had been bowled,” Shastri told Times of India.

Dhoni had come under fire following his 59-ball 37-run knock in the second ODI of the series at Lord’s. In fact, the crowd at the iconic venue booed Dhoni in the same game where he completed 10,000 ODI runs.

Following that game, Kohli had come out in Dhoni’s support, saying, “When he does well, people call him the best finisher ever and when they don’t go well, they all pounce on him. We all have bad days in cricket and today was a bad one for everyone, not just him.”

“Also, you want to take the innings deep; you don’t want to just lose by 160-170 runs, and he has the experience, but some days it just doesn’t come off. Other people jump to conclusions, but we don’t — we totally believe in him,” Kohli had said.

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Pant gets maiden call; Shami back for first 3 England Tests

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Rishabh Pant

New Delhi, July 18: Explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was on Wednesday picked as the second choice stumper as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recalled pacer Mohammed Shami in the 18-member squad for the first three Tests of the five-match rubber against England.

Pant was rewarded with the Test call-up following a successful run with the willow in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Shami, who was dropped from the lone Test match against Afghanistan for failing a fitness test, made his way back to the team after clearing the mandatory yo-yo test. Middle-order batsman Karun Nair has also been re-called to the squad while Rohit Sharma failed to make it.

Pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who is recuperating from a thumb injury, has been included in the squad, but will be available for selection from the second Test onwards based on his fitness, a BCCI statement confirmed.

Meanwhile, fellow paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar has his back injury after featuring in the third One-day International (ODI) against England on Tuesday and was left out of the first three Tests.

“Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated a lower back condition in the third ODI against England. His condition is being assessed by the BCCI medical team and a call on his inclusion in the Test squad will be made soon,” the board said.

India’s squad for first three Tests against England: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.

IANS

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Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra wins gold at Sotteville Athletics Meet

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New Delhi, July 18: India’s star javelin-thrower Neeraj Chopra clinched a gold medal at the Sotteville Athletics Meet in France on Tuesday.

Chopra, who had won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, threw 85.17 metres to bag the top prize.

Neeraj is India’s top javelin thrower and he proved his mettle once again on the international stage when he won the gold medal with a massive margin.

While Neeraj Chopra threw a distance of 85.17 m, the second best was Adrian Mardare of Moldova who threw a distance of 81.48 m.

The bronze medal went to Lithuania’s Edis Matusevicius, whose best throw of the night was 79.31m.

The winning distance from Chopra was, however, less than what he achieved to win a historic Commonwealth Games (CWG) gold in Australia earlier this year. He had improved on his season’s best with an effort of 86.47m in Gold Coast to become the country’s first javelin-thrower to win a CWG gold.

Last week, he finished fifth at the Rabat Diamond League with a best throw of 83.32m.

So, the victory at the Sotteville Athletics Meet augurs well for his Asian Games preparation which will be held next month in Indonesia.

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