What’s made the headlines?
Women’s Premier League less than a month away
The wheels continue to be in motion to stage the maiden season of the much-awaited Women’s Premier League. After the announcement of the team owners towards the end of January, the second week of February saw BCCI confirm the base itinerary for the tournament. We don’t have the fixtures out yet but we now know the tournament will begin on March 4, with the final scheduled on March 26. The tournament will be played entirely at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium and the DY Patil Stadium.
BCCI also confirmed the auction on February 13 in Mumbai. Read our piece on players who could potentially attract a bidding war in the auction. Considering that the T20 World Cup has just begun, right after the inaugural edition of the U19 Women’s World Cup, you can say that Women’s cricket has been under the limelight in the past few weeks.
Meanwhile, ICC have confirmed that the second edition of the ICC World Test Championship Final will be played between 7 and 11 June 2023, as two years of Test cricket reaches its conclusion at The Oval in England. Australia currently top the standings, with India in hot pursuit in second place.
Aaron Finch has called time on his 12-year long international career. The T20 World Cup winning skipper retired from ODIs late last year. Now, announcing his retirement from T20Is, Finch has brought an end to his Australia career.
He last played for Australia on October 31, when he led Australia in the 2022 T20 World Cup’s group game against Ireland. Considering that Australia were not scheduled any T20 cricket until August 2023, Finch decided to draw curtains on his career citing the gap.
"Realising that I won't be playing on until the next T20 World Cup in 2024, now is the right moment step down and give the team time to plan and build toward that event," Finch said while announcing his selfless decision.
Sandeep Lamichhane, former captain of the Nepal side, is included in the national side for the tri-series against Namibia and Scotland in Kirtipur.
The 22-year-old can make his first appearance after being arrested on 6th October 2022 on the charges of sexual harassment against a 17-year-old girl. Lamichhane spent the rest of the year behind the bars and was granted bail last week, following which he resumed his cricket training. The tri-series, a part of the ICC's Cricket World Cup League 2, will begin on February 14.
What’s going on in international cricket?
- Moving on to actual cricketing action, we had a couple of Test matches scheduled in the second week of February. Rain allowed only 89 overs of play on the first two days of the first Test between Zimbabwe and West Indies in Bulawayo. But we still had plenty to cherish - a grand 336-run stand between Tagenarine Chanderpaul and Kraigg Brathwaite with massive hundreds for both the openers, Alzarri Joseph’s fiery spell of reverse swing that almost had Zimbabwe on the mat before we saw an admirable fightback from the hosts to draw the game.
The fightback was engineered by Gary Ballance. He marked his return to Test cricket after six years with a timely hundred for his new team - Zimbabwe. He thus became only the second cricketer after Kepler Wessels to score a Test hundred for two different nations. In another second, Tagenarine and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have forged only the second father-son pair to score Test double hundreds, following the suit of Pakistan’s Hanif (father) and Shoaib Mohammad (son).
And last but not the least, there was also Brandon Mavuta, who pouched a 5/140 and then scored 56 with the bat, becoming only the fourth Zimbabwean to score a fifty and pick a five-for in the same Test innings.
- India have romped to a 1-0 lead in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, rolling over the touring Aussies in a three-day finish. Ravindra Jadeja (5/47, 70 and 2/34), Rohit Sharma (120), Axar Patel (0/28, 84 and 1/6) and Ravichandran Ashwin (2/42, 23 and 5/37) were the prominent stars. Australia were bowled out for scores of 177 and 91.
Within a space of eight days, the fortunes of South Africa’s women’s cricket team have fluctuated from north to south. On February 2, they clinched the home T20I tri-series, beating India in the final. But South Africa and home World Cups have not gone well together. They crashed out before the semifinals in both 2003 and 2007. And on February 10, they started their Women’s T20 World Cup campaign with a shocking 3-run defeat against Sri Lanka. Not a great start for a side that was already under controversy for dropping their regular skipper on grounds of fitness.
- Onto the omnipresent franchise cricket, BBL saw a cracking final last Saturday (February 4). No one expected Brisbane Heat to beat Perth Scorchers at their own den. But the Heat pushed Scorchers to the hilt until Cooper Connolly and Nick Hobson (16 T20 innings between them before the final) hammered 38 off the final three overs. The Scorchers won their fifth BBL title.
- Both ILT20 and SA20 are reaching the culmination point in the maiden season. Pretoria Capitals and Sunrisers Eastern Cape will lock horns for the maiden SA20 crown in Johannesburg on February 12. The final was initially scheduled for Saturday but had to postponed due to inclement weather and a waterlogged field. If you haven’t followed the league, we have got you covered with the road to the final for both sides. In ILT20, Desert Vipers and Gulf Giants will clash in the final on the same date - February 12.
- In BPL, Rangpur Riders and Fortune Barishal will kick off the play-offs stage with the Eliminator in Mirpur on February 12. Sylhet Strikers and Comilla Victorians will have a second bite at the final, courtesy of finishing in the top two with 18 points each.
- Mayank Agarwal’s double hundred deserves all the praise in the semi-final stage of the ongoing Ranji Trophy. But 160 from the veteran Sheldon Jackson and 202 from skipper Arpit Vasavada has put Saurashtra in with a great chance to advance to the final. They have taken a 120-runfirst innings lead.
- In the other semi-final, Bengal has a tight grip over Madhya Pradesh in Indore. Again, the stage was set in the first innings itself. MP were rolled over for 170 in response to Bengal’s 438. Akash Deep picked 5/42 after centuries from Sudeep Gharami (112) and Anustup Majumdar (120).
1525 players had registered for the auction and a total of 409 cricketers - 246 Indians and 163 overseas - are set to go under the hammer. The five franchises, based out of Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Delhi, and Bengaluru, will be contesting for 90 slots with 30 being slotted for overseas players. Here is Bastab Parida with all major and minor details regarding the first ever WPL Auction which could be the beginning of something special.
Let’s not forget the Women’s T20 World Cup amidst the razzmatazz of T20 cricket. Ten teams, one trophy and a chance for India to rewrite history. Shweta Haranhalli presents you India’s chances at the showpiece event in the Rainbow Nation.
Meanwhile, Pramod Ananth had a candid conversation with Adam Zampa. It is a must read. The leg-spinner talked about his special connection with Rajasthan Royals, his new IPL franchise and his emotions regarding Test cricket and not making it to Australia’s Test squad for the series in India.