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Kieron Pollard, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine lead all-star cast in West Indies’ Super50 Cup

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The pandemic has meant there’s no defending champion, with teams pruned from ten to six

After a four-month break since the end of the CPL, the first West Indies regional tournament of 2021 kicks off on Sunday when the Super50 Cup begins in Antigua. The lingering impact of Covid-19 means a stripped back version of the event. But in some ways, that means the competition may actually be more intense than in recent years. Here are five things to keep an eye on during the three-week tournament.

Ten teams have been reduced to six

Beginning with the 2013-14 tournament, it became customary for guest teams outside the Caribbean to be invited to participate. Over the next seven editions, numerous Associate sides were invited including Ireland, USA and Canada, as well as English County sides during the northern hemisphere winter such as Kent and Hampshire. The presence of developmental sides from around the Caribbean – Combined Colleges and Campuses, West Indies U-19 and West Indies Emerging – had also formed part of the draws in recent years.

But the difficulty of border crossing restrictions for overseas guests during the pandemic nixed any possibility of USA or Canada returning this year. Budgetary constraints also contributed to the disappearance of any CCC side for the first time since 2007. As a result, instead of the teams split into two groups playing a double round-robin format, this year’s event will be a single round-robin league stage before a pair of semi-finals and the final.

A different champion will be crowned

Last year’s winners were the West Indies Emerging Team, a group comprised mainly of current and recent West Indies U-19 players who hadn’t yet forced their way into their regional senior representative sides. The leading scorer in that champion unit was Joshua Da Silva, whose 310 runs helped spur them to an initial shock upset of Trinidad & Tobago in Group B before a further upset of Barbados in the semis, and set the stage for a 205-run demolition of Leeward Islands in the final. It also helped Da Silva build a case for inclusion into the West Indies side, making his first touring squad to England in the summer of 2020.

West Indies Emerging Team took over the mantle from the CCC squad, who claimed their first ever title in the 2018-19 tournament. The absence of both West Indies Emerging and CCC opens the door for one of the traditional representative squads to take back control of the regional limited overs cup.

Traditional sides closer to full strength

In recent years, many teams have been stripped of their best local talent due to conflicts with overseas West Indies tours or the T20 franchise carousel. The intensity of life in bio-bubbles and risks of travelling abroad in the Covid-19 era mean many players are preferring to stay close to home. A consequence is their availability for the Super50 Cup for the first time in years.

Among the biggest beneficiaries are Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. Jason Holder comes back to captain his home island, having not played in the Super50 Cup since February 2018, and is joined by Shamarh Brooks and Roston Chase. An uncharacteristically understrength Trinidad & Tobago team from last year was highlighted by the captain and vice-captain spin duo of Imran Khan and Yannick Ottley. This year’s version looks much closer to the juggernaut of yesteryear with the return of Kieron Pollard as captain as well as Nicholas Pooran, Denesh Ramdin, Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Sunil Narine, Khary Pierre and Ravi Rampaul. Even though many of these names have been playing in the UAE T10 League, T&T’s first match isn’t until February 11, giving them a few days to return in time.

Covid-19 positive tests impacting squad selection

A reminder of the threat of Covid-19 to the players involved came during the West Indies ODI tour in Bangladesh last month when legspinner Hayden Walsh Jr had to go into quarantine before the first match after returning a positive test. Though he has since recovered and has been named in the Leeward Islands squad, others have subsequently been ruled out.

The Hope brothers, Kyle and Shai, both produced positive tests prior to entering the tournament bio-bubble in Antigua, and were both ruled out of the Barbados squad as a result. They have been replaced by Tevyn Walcott and Zachary McCaskie. Guyana also had a player ruled out due to Covid in batsman Trevon Griffith, who has been swapped out for Kemol Savory.

No Associate teams doesn’t mean no Associate players

Nitish Kumar, the former Canada captain, raised the antennae of talent evaluators in the region courtesy of a match-winning century in a win over then defending champions CCC in last year’s event. Kumar previously appeared in the Super50 for a combined ICC Americas squad, where his performances got him drafted by St Lucia Zouks in the 2016 CPL.

Despite Canada’s absence in this year’s event, Kumar was invited to take part in squad trials for Leeward Islands. Not only did he make the cut for their 15-man squad, but it would not be surprising to see him play a prominent role in the middle order. Kumar is also a top-notch fielder and is classified by some coaches as a genuine allrounder thanks to his handy offspin that has claimed 29 List A wickets.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1250576.html?CMP=OTC-RSS

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EngVsPak- England defeated Pakistan by three wickets

Pakistan has struggled with their batting, putting up scores of 141 and 195 as they were outplayed in the first two ODIs.

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James Vince scored a hundred and Lewis Gregory contributed 77 as England defeated Pakistan by three wickets to complete a clean sweep of the three-match ODI series.

Vince raced to 102 off 95 deliveries and Gregory struck his 77 of 69 balls as hosts England, chasing Pakistan’s challenging score of 331 for seven wickets, reached 332 for seven with two overs to spare.

Opener Phil Salt scored 37 while skipper Ben Stokes added 32 as England held their nerves to register a comfortable win in third and final ODI.

Earlier, skipper Babar Azam struck a career-best 158 (139-ball) and helped Pakistan’s batting finally came good in this series.

Opener Imam-ul-Haq scored 56 and Mohammad Rizwan 74 as Pakistan posted 331 for nine wickets in their allotted 50 overs.

Playing against a makeshift England squad, after the originally selected player went into isolation after three players tested positive for COVID-19, Pakistan has struggled with their batting, putting up scores of 141 and 195 as they were outplayed in the first two ODIs.

Babar came in after Fakhar Zaman was out early for 6, caught by Zak Crawley off Saqib Mahmood. He raised 92 runs for the third wicket with opener Imam-ul-Haq and then put together a partnership of 179 with Rizwan.
However, they suffered a collapse soon after Rizwan was out, caught by wicketkeeper Simpson off seamer Brydon Carse, with the score 292/3. Only one of the remaining seven batsman managed to reach double digits.

But Babar kept blasting runs from the other end and was the eighth batsman out with the score 328 in the 50th over.

He struck 14 boundaries and four sixes during his innings.
Carse was the best England bowler on display as he claimed five wickets for 61 in his 10 overs.

Brief scores: Pakistan 331/9 in 50 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 56, Babar Azam 158, M Rizwan 74; Brydon Carse 5/61).

England 332/7 in 48 overs (Phil Salt 37, James Vince 102, Ben Stokes 32, Lewis Gregory 77; Haris Rauf 4/65).

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Corona hit – India-Lanka ODI matches were postponed for four days

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Corona hit - India-Lanka ODI matches were postponed for four days

India’s tour of Sri Lanka has hit a roadblock after two Covid-19 positive cases in the home team’s camp delayed the start of the ODI series by at least four days, and canceled due to more cases. The possibility has been left open. Sri Lankan batting coach Grant Flower and the team’s performance analyst Shirantha Niroshna have both tested positive and the entire team that arrived from England this week has been put in isolation.

Though both the boards have not made any official statement yet, it seems that all the six matches will be played within a period of 10-11 days if there is no scope for any more positive cases. There are also concerns that the series could be called off if more positive cases emerge in the Sri Lankan camp. This means that the Indian team, which has already spent 12 days in Sri Lanka, will have to return home without playing a single match.

The tentative dates for the ODIs have been set as July 17, 19 and 21. The report states that the T20 Internationals will be played on July 24, 25 and 27. However, neither Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) nor the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has given any confirmation regarding the dates.

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Indonesia lacks oxygen, seeks help as virus cases rise

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Indonesia lacks oxygen, seeks help as virus cases rise

Just two months ago, Indonesia came forward to India’s aid with thousands of tanks of oxygen. Today, the Southeast Asian country is running out of oxygen as it grapples with a devastating wave of coronavirus cases and the government is seeking emergency supplies from other countries, including Singapore and China.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister in charge of Indonesia’s pandemic response, said a shipment of more than 1,000 oxygen cylinders, concentrators, ventilators and other health equipment arrived from Singapore on Friday, followed by another 1,000 ventilators from Australia.

In addition, Pandjaitan said, Indonesia plans to purchase 36,000 tons of oxygen and 10,000 concentrators — equipment that generates oxygen — from neighboring Singapore. He said he was in contact with China and other possible oxygen sources. The US and the United Arab Emirates have also offered help.

Overall, Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has reported more than 2.4 million infections and 63,760 deaths from COVID-19. Those figures are widely believed to be a huge undercount due to low testing and poor tracing measures. On Thursday, Indonesia reported nearly 39,000 confirmed cases, its biggest single-day jump.

Indonesia’s hospitals have been flooded, with increasing numbers of sick people in isolation at home or waiting to receive emergency care. In Indonesia’s most populous island, Java, hospitals began setting up temporary intensive care units in mid-June. Many patients are waiting for several days to get admitted. Oxygen tanks rolled on the sidewalks for the lucky few, while others were told they’d have to find their own.

The city’s deputy mayor Yaya Mulyana said emergency rooms at a public hospital in Bandung city were closed earlier this week amid panic buying over rising infections in the West Java provincial capital.

“The panicked people bought oxygen tanks, though they didn’t need them yet,” said Muliana. “This has exhausted the supply of oxygen.”

At a hospital in Yogyakarta in central Java, 63 COVID-19 patients died in one day – 33 of them during its central liquid oxygen supply, although the hospital switched to using oxygen cylinders was, spokesman Banu Harmawan said.

When a brutal outbreak ravaged the country, Indonesia donated 3,400 oxygen cylinders and concentrators to India. As its own cases rose, Jakarta scrapped plans to send another 2,000 oxygen concentrators to India in late June. The daily requirement of oxygen has reached 1,928 tonnes per day. According to government data, the total available production capacity of the country is 2,262 tonnes per day.

“I asked for 100% oxygen first for medical purposes, which means all industrial allocation should be shifted to medical,” said Panjaitan, a minister in the government. “We are racing against time, we have to act fast.”

Noting the rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant, he warned that Indonesia could face a worst-case scenario with 50,000 cases a day. The next two weeks will be crucial, he said.

The industry ministry responded by issuing a decree that all oxygen supplies be sent to hospitals packed with coronavirus patients and asked industry players to cooperate.

Oxygen is used to make many products including textiles, plastics and vehicles. Oil refineries, chemical makers and steel makers also use it. But industry leaders are clamoring to support government efforts to maximize supplies for hospitals.

The government has redirected oxygen supplies from industrial plants at Morowali in Central Sulawesi, Balikpapan on the island of Borneo, and Belawan and Batam on the island of Sumatra, Pandjaitan said. Small oxygen industries have also been directed to produce pharmaceutical oxygen.

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