By Nitesh Mathur, Broken Cricket Dreams, 4/07/2022
Today was such a pleasant day for cricket—The County Championship 2022 began, going back to the two-division structure from the ‘pre-pandemic’ era.
8 concurrent matches (I watched the Essex Vs Kent game), friendly exchanges on social media, centuries for Nick Browne & Sir Alastair Cook (yep still going strong!), Somerset bundled for 180 by Hampshire, and lots of young talent on show!
And when there is a new tournament, there is #BCDPredictions. The County Championship is long! It ends at the end of September. So, here are the predictions of our friends from Twitter and Facebook here so we can compare at the end of the journey, who got most Predictions right!
The categories for the County Championship 2022 Predictions are:
#MostRuns, #MostWickets, #WinnerDiv1, #WinnerDiv2, and #LookingForwardTo.
As a reminder, the two divisions are structured as follows:
*If you have not submitted your predictions, there is still time! You can send the predictions in the form below or tag us in Twitter.
My County Championship 2022 Predictions
Due to my personal affinity for Alastair Cook, I went with Essex for Division I, but will be following several domestic and international stars.
Specifically would love to see openers Rory Burns & Dom Sibley return to top form after an indifferent last year in Test cricket. Sam Curran is returning from injury, stalwarts Jimmy Anderson, Hashim Amla, & Darren Stevens are still around, while South Africans Simon Harmer, George Linde, and Kyle Abbott can wreck mayhem on their day.
For the overseas stars, I am looking forward to out-of-favor Cheteshwar Pujara and Pakistani internationals in Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Mohammad Rizwan. Tom Haines & Josh de Caires are some popular youngsters to watch.
Toss: Pakistan won the toss and chose to field first.
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah, UAE
Umpires: Michael Gough & Richard Kettleborough
What Actually Happened
Winner: Pakistan won by 5 wickets
Scores: New Zealand 134/8 – Pakistan 135/5
Player of the Match: Haris Rauf 4/22
Haris Rauf 4/22
Ish Sodhi 2/28
Daryl Mitchell 27 (20), Devon Conway 27 (24)
Mohammad Rizwan 33 (34), Asif Ali 27* (12), Shoaib Malik 26* (20)
Moments of The Day: Unlikely Heroes Initiate Another Pakistan Win
Haris Rauf had a dream day with his best figures in T20I cricket. 4-0-22-4 Wow! What makes him so dangerous? The change of pace. He can bowl 140+ or 115- in a space of 2 deliveries. From 3/90 in 13 overs, NZ could only muster 44 runs with 5 wickets in the last 42 balls.
Asif Ali & Shoaib Malik were NOT selected in the original squad. Asif Ali had not yet fulfilled his potential in international cricket as a big hitter. After Wasim departed, Pakistan were reeling at 87-5 in 14.5 overs. 48 runs needed in 31 balls. Then a calm Shoaib Malik, with 4 decades of experience, with a concussed Asif Ali, took Pakistan home in style.
27* (12) with 3 huge sixes from Asif Ali and 26* (20) with 2 fours and 1 iconic straight six by Shoaib Malik.
Match won with 8 balls to spare. Absolutely brilliant.
Toss: Pakistan won the toss and chose to field first.
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai, UAE
Umpires: Chris Gaffaney & Marais Erasmus
What Actually Happened
Winner: Pakistan won by 10 wickets
Scores: India 151/7 – Pakistan 152/0
Player of the Match: Shaheeen Shah Afridi 3/31
Shaheen Shah Afridi (4-0-31-3)
Virat Kohli 57 (49)
Mohammad Rizwan 79* (55), Babar Azam 68* (52)
Moments of The Day: A Day To Remember for Pakistan’s Stars
Shaheen Shah Afridi you beauty! What a memorable spell. LBW to Rohit Sharma, ball of the tournament through the gates of KL Rahul, and finally Virat Kohli.
Virat Kohli‘s strike rate might be low on paper, but he did what was necessary. Absorbed the pressure, stemmed the flow of wickets, and took India to a decent total. Just could not accelerate towards the end.
Babar Azam-Mohammad Rizwan What do I even say? They have a 50+ T20I batting partnership average and for good reason. They bat and bat and bat and bat….152* (107) absolutely brilliant partnership that. If you want to understand the mental strength of Rizwan, just look at the video below.
Tweet of the Day
This is a brilliant piece of work. If you had to look at one piece of cricket content this week, look at the video below. Rizwan is the greatest.
Broken Cricket Dream of the Day: World Cup Record 12-1
After numerous ODI World Cups and T20I, Pakistan have finally won the battle. 12 attempts, 1 win, Broken Dream for India’s enviable record against Pakistan in World Cups.
Also a good time to state that the IPL (with 10 teams) cannot be considered the world’s if it does not have players like Shaheen, Babar, and Rizwan.
While the IPL is in full swing in India, the Pakistan-South Africa series is catching the attention of many.
In the 3rd T20I, Pakistan chased down 204 runs with 9 wickets & 2 overs to spare, courtesy a 197-run partnership from Mohammad Rizwan & Babar Azam, who scored 122 (59). Earlier in the day, news broke that Azam also dethroned Virat Kohli as the #1 ICC ODI batsman after a mammoth 1258 days.
Add Fakhar Zaman’s brilliant 193 in the ODI series, Hafeez’s second coming, & the fast bowling line up, the question should be asked—Is the IPL really the best T20 tournament without Pakistani players?
The Fall of Pakistan Cricket
Pakistan dominated the Indo-Pak cricket rivalry in the 1990s, while India has crushed it in the 2010s. Only in the 2000s, did we have battle of equals.
For India’s tenacious Rahul Dravid, Pakistan had Younis Khan. Similarly, the elegance of Yousuf & Tendulkar, stability of Inzamam & Laxman/Ganguly, & exuberance of Afridi & Sehwag were on par with each other. The destructiveness of Shoaib Akhtar-Asif-Sami on one side matched the abilities of Irfan Pathan-Zaheer Khan-Kumble-Harbhajan on the other.
India narrowly won the 2004 Test series 2-1 & ODI series 3-2 held in Pakistan. Pakistan returned the favor next year with a 1-1 drawn Test series & 4-2 ODI victory held in India. Both memorable events.
Hence, the struggle of Pakistan cricket team over the last decade & lack of competitiveness in recent ICC tournaments has been disheartening. The new generation of Pakistan cricket is slowly making this a battle of equals again.
The New Generation of Pakistan Cricket Rises
Mohammad Rizwan is currently the best T20I batsman in the world (sorry Dawid Malan). Shaheen Shah Afridi can compete with the Rabadas & Bumrahs of the world. The leg spin of Shadab Khan & Usman Qadir with a line up of Afridi-Naseem Shah-Hasan Ali-Haris Rauf can send shivers down the opposition camp.
Babar Azam is the best player in the world. Period.
Each IPL team can benefit from Haider Ali & Faheem Ashraf’s power, experience of Mohammad Hafeez & Shoaib Malik, and the pace of discarded Mohammad Amir & Mohammad Hasnain.
“Imagine Babar-Kohli opening for RCB, Fakhar-Rohit hitting double centuries, & Bumrah-Shaheen bowling together at the death.”
With South African, Sri Lankan, & West Indian foreign contingent in the prime of their careers from 2007-2017, absence of Pakistani players in the IPL made sense.
It no longer does.
South Africa & Sri Lanka’s Eternal Transition Period
Kumar Sangakkara & Mahela Jayawardene once used to captain IPL teams. They are now the only Sri Lankan representation in IPL 2021 (as coaches) as no SL players were picked in the auction. Gone is the era of Malinga-Murali-Dilshan.
With an eternal transition process in South Africa, only Rabada-Nortje (and Ngidi to a certain extent) have risen to the occasion. Otherwise, AB De Villiers & Faf Du Plessis from an earlier generation are still carrying the South Africa baton. Similarly, lots of West Indians in the IPL are from the World Cup winning generation (Gayle, Narine, Pollard, Russell).
The lack of variety in foreign talent is hitting the brand of the IPL. It seems that only India & England are producing new talent year in & year out, with Australia & New Zealand close behind.
It is time for some more talent to flow in—Pakistani talent that is. On the flip side, BCCI’s reluctance to let Indians play abroad should also be reconsidered, but that is a story for another day.
Looking Back to IPL 2008
The inception of the tournament in 2008 is the perfect template to follow.
Rajasthan Royals benefitted from having Pakistan talent in their squad with Kamral Akmal, Younis Khan, & most importantly Sohail Tanvir, the maiden purple cap winner. The Knight Riders enjoyed the pace duo of Shoaib Akhtar & Umar Gul, who took a match-winning 4-fer. KKR also had Salman Butt & the ageless Mohammad Hafeez in their ranks.
Few others participated in the IPL as well—Shahid Afridi (Deccan Chargers), Shoaib Malik & Mohammad Asif (Delhi Daredevils), & Misbah-ul-Haq (Royal Challengers Bangalore).
IPL 2020 Was Ideal But There Is Still Time
IPL 2020 was the best opportunity for adding Pakistani players to the IPL auctions. The world was struggling from a pandemic, and the tournament was taking place at Pakistan’s adopted home ground, the UAE.
What better time to get Pakistan players in? Unfortunately, that did not happen.
There is still time.
Babar is 26, Rizwan 28, & Amir 29. It would be great to watch Mohammad Amir versus Virat Kohli once again, and there is enough love across the border to make it happen.
India Vs South Africa Women 2021 Series Preview—finally some progress in women’s cricket in India.
Earlier, we explored why Nobody Cares About Women’s Cricket. The Indian men have played a 60 day IPL, had a complete tour of Australia, and is now hosting England for a full series. On the other hand, Indian women have played half-a-week long T20 Challenge. That is it. No training either until recently. This will be India’s first assignment since the World T20 Final on March 8th, 2020.
Meanwhile South Africa women are coming on back of a 3-0 ODI & 2-1 T20I victory against Pakistan at home. Here is a preview of the 5 ODI & 3 T20I match tour between India and South Africa. Here is what you should expect, the big surprises in team selection, the squads, and our series prediction.
When and Where?
Here are the dates and the venue for the India Vs South Africa Women series.
Mithali Raj, the highest run scorer in Women’s ODI cricket, is just 85 runs shy of 10,000 international runs across formats (6888 ODI, 2364 T20I, 663 Tests). After 487 days away from national duty, she will back trying to take India to the ODI World Cup next year. At 38, this might be Raj’s final hurrah.
On the other end of the spectrum, watch out for the explosive 17-year-old Shafali Verma in the T20Is. She already has 19 international caps and strikes it at 146.24.
A lot will depend on the India’s experienced middle order. Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma, and Sushma Verma (comeback) will need to make sure India bats 50 overs in case of a collapse.
South Africa: Enviable Top-Order With Lee, Wolfvaardt, and Luus
If the top order of Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolfvaardt, and Sune Luus play to their potential, this South African team will be very hard to beat. Luus also has the extra responsibility of the stand-in captain in the absence of injured Dan van Niekerk.
Lookout for Trisha Chetty. A veteran of 114 ODIs, the wicketkeeper-batsman is integral to the core of this South African side.
Tazmin Brits is the in-form T20I batsman for South Africa. With scores of 52* & 66, she was the Player of the T20I series against Pakistan.
India: Shikha Pandey’s Omission The Talking Point
In the build up to this series, the omission of India’s pace spearhead, Shikha Pandey, has taken the public by surprise. India’s most successful pace bowler of recent times and 2nd highest wicket taker in India’s last assignment (T20 World Cup) this is a huge call.
In Shikha’s absence, the pace responsibility will lie with the veteran Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, and Arundhati Reddy (T20I only)
I am most excited to watch India’s spin trio—Poonam Yadav, the T20 World Cup star,, Radha Yadav, and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. The youngster, Harleen Deol, impressed in the T20 Challenge with the Trailblazers and might get more opportunities to showcase her talent on the international stage.
South Africa: Ample Fast Bowling Resources, but Spin the Concern
The allrounder, Marizanne Kapp, is the glue that holds South Africa’s together. In the Player of the Match performance in the 2nd ODI against Pakistan, she scored an unbeaten 68 along with 3-44 as the opening pace bowler. Brilliant.
Shabnam Ismail is one of the best fast bowlers on women’s cricket circuit at the moment. South Africa’s highest wicket taker in both ODIs and T20Is, she will be key to South Africa’s success.
Without regular captain and off-spinner van Niekerk, South Africa’s spin bowling department is the concern.
Along with Mandhana, Raj, & Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy caught the public’s eye in the 2017 ODI World Cup as India’s finisher. Yet, an ODI average of 25.9 & T20I average of 18.61 was not justifiable. Hopefully this is just a short term loss of form, and she we come roaring back soon.
Harmanpreet Kaur insisted that Pandey was ‘rested, not dropped‘ in order to experiment with the rest of the squad for upcoming tournaments. I do not buy this statement given a 18-member squad was picked regardless and that India has not played any international cricket for over a year.
South Africa: Masabata Klaas
South Africa are carrying a settled squad, with the exception of Klass. She suffered a last-minute injury in the Pakistan series and has not been picked for this series.
Verdict: 3-2 South Africa (ODIs) & 2-1 India (T20Is)
South Africa’s top order and fast bowlers should give them the edge in the ODIs. Expect competitive games with scores around 225-250.
I am going with India 2-1 for the T20I series. The swashbuckling top order of Jemimah, Shafali, and Mandhana may be too much to handle for South Africa. India should look to bat first, put up a decent score, and let the spin trio handle the rest.
Let us know your thoughts on India Vs South Africa Women, and the eventual scorelines.
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My Starting XIs
These are my starting XIs (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).
Yes everybody, just 4 months after Karachi Kings lifted the PSL trophy (due to COVID interruption), we are back at it. Pakistan Super League 2021 is already making some noise—with “Groove Mera” anthem, entire tournament held in Pakistan, and the allowance of 20% crowd capacity.
With a Pakistan limited overs side on the rise and the upcoming T20I World Cup later this year, PSL 6 has additional context, both for Pakistani players and international recruits wanting to prove a point.
Babar Azam Vs Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan Vs Faheem Ashram, Hasan Ali Vs Haider Ali
These are just some of the in-form star players that will be on show. Talent galore and good cricketing all around.
Here is a quick summary of everything you need to know about the PSL 6: Teams, Dates, Fixtures, Coaching Staff, Commentators, predictions, and more!
Matches: 34 (6 teams, 10 matches each, double round robin, top 4 qualify for playoffs)
Venues: Gaddafi Stadium (Lahore), National Stadium (Karachi)
Commentators/Presenters: Pommie Mbangwa (Zimbabwe), Alan Wilkins (Wales), Simon Doull, Danny Morrison (New Zealand), David Gower, Dominic Cork (England), Rameez Raza, Zainab Abbas, Urooz Mumtaz, Sana Mir, Bazid Khan, Sikander Bakht, Tariq Saqeed (Pakistan)
Multan Sultans: 2020 (3rd), 2018, 2019 (5th) (*Franchise did not exist before 2018 season).
PSL 6: Teams & Expected Playing XI
With Australia’s T20I tour of New Zealand, Sri Lanka’s tour of West Indies, Bangladesh’s tour of New Zealand, and the limited overs leg of India vs England, there are several players who withdrew or will be only staying for a short time.
*Teams highlighted in their respective jersey colors
Pakistan Internationals: Shadab Khan (C), Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Ifthikhar Ahmed, Muhammad Musa, Zafar Gohar
Pakistan Domestic: Ahmed Safi Abdullah, Mohammad Wasim, Rohail Nazir, Zeeshan Zameer
Foreign Recruits: Ali Khan (USA), Fawad Ahmed (Australia), Alex Hales, Lewis Gregory, Phil Salt (England), Paul Stirling (Ireland)
*Withdrawn: Reece Topley (England), Chris Jordan (England), Colin Munro (New Zealand), Akif Javed
I am looking forward to the international contingent—Ben Dunk, Samit Patel, David Wiese, and Rashid Khan. David Wiese was instrumental to Qalandars’ runners up campaign last time around, and the same is expected this season.
Lahore Qalandars Expected XI:
Fakhar Zaman, 2. Sohail Akhtar (C), 3. Mohammad Hafeez, 4. Ben Dunk, 5. Samit Patel, 6. David Wiese, 7. Rashid Khan, 8. Haris Rauf, 9. Shaheen Shah Afridi, 10. Dilbar Hussain, 11. Muhammad Faizan
I am looking forward to the finishing power. If the top order can set the platform, Shoaib Malik, David Miller, and Ravi Bopara can be a handful.
Peshawar Zalmi Expected XI:
Imam-ul-Haq, 2. Haider Ali, 3. Kamran Akmal (WK), 4. Shoaib Malik, 5. David Miller, 6. Ravi Bopara, 7. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 8. Saqib Mahmood, 9. Wahab Riaz, 20. Mohammad Irfan, 11. Umaid Asif
Pakistan Internationals: Sarfaraz Ahmed (C/WK), Anwar Ali, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Usman Shinwari, Zahid Mahmood (1 T20I)
Pakistan Domestic: Azam Khan, Arish Ali Khan, Abdul Nasir, Hassan Khan, Saim Ayub, Usman Khan
Foreign Recruits: Chris Gayle (West Indies), Faf du Plessis, Dale Steyn, Cameron Delport (South Africa), Tom Banton (WK) (England), Ben Cutting (Australia), Qais Ahmed (Afghanistan)
Coaching Staff: Moin Khan (Head Coach), Viv Richards (Batting Coach), Umar Gul (Bowling Coach), Julian Fountain (Fielding Coach)
I am looking forward to see how the Umar Gul mentored team with international stars like Dale Steyn and Ben Cutting is going to impact the likes of Naseem Shah & Mohammad Hasnain.
Quetta Gladiators Expected XI:
Chris Gayle, 2. Faf du Plessis, 3. Tom Banton/Cameron Delport, 4. Azam Khan, 5. Sarfaraz Ahmed (C/WK), 6. Ben Cutting/Dale Steyn, 7. Anwar Ali, 8. Naseem Shah, 9. Mohammad Hasnain, 10. Mohammad Nawaz, 11. Usman Shinwari
Key Match Ups To Watch Out For
40 is the new 30 feat Shahid Afridi & Chris Gayle: These two have been playing cricket for over two decades. Whenever you think they are done, they will come back with a man-of-the-match performance. Also add the newly retired from Test cricket, Faf du Plessis to the list of prominent veterans.
Prove a point with a bang feat Alex Hales & Paul Stirling:Alex Hales, once again ignored from the England national set up (despite most runs in the Big Bash) and Paul Stirling, ignored from the IPL auctions (despite being the best ODI batsman over the last year), find themselves together as opening pair for the Islamabad United. No better time to prove your critics wrong.
Mohammad Amir Vs The Rest of The World: Amir controversially announced in a statement that he is still available to play for Pakistan, although it is unlikely to happen under the current management. Will he walk the talk?
Pakistan Super League 2021 Predictions
Finally here are my predictions.
My prediction for the team to lift the PSL 6 trophy is….Islamabad United with the Top 4 of Lahore Qalandars, Multan Sultans, and Peshawar Zalmi.
Green Cap (Most Runs): Mohammad Rizwan
Maroon Cap (Most Wickets): Hasan Ali
Emerging Player: Rohail Nazir
Surprise Package: Paul Stirling
Broken Cricket Dream: Shahid Afridi finally retires? Like really.
Here were my Pakistan Super League 2021 Predictions. What did you think? What are YOUR predictions? Comment Below!
Pakistan cricket has rejuvenated in the last couple of years.
Post 2015, Pakistan has invested in youngsters and focused on bringing cricket back home. With the likes of Babar Azam and Shaheen Shah Afridi, this Pakistan T20I team is a force to reckon with in the near future.
Can they triumph against New Zealand in their own backyard?
Read till the end to check out our predictions. Let us know who you think will win in the COMMENTS below!
When and Where?
Here are the dates and the venue for the Pakistan Vs New Zealand T20I series.
Azam’s injury paves the way for youngsters like the next-big-thing Haider Ali, Abdullah Shafique, and Khusdil Shah to showcase their talent.
New Zealand: Explosive But Inexperienced
Williamson is on paternity leave but is expected to come back by the 2nd T20I. Another key selection is that Ross Taylor has been dropped. You heard it right—dropped, not rested.
Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway cemented their places with marvelous performances against the West Indies. Another young talent from Hong Kong, Mark Chapman, has got a few chances but now needs to follow suit and deliver.
Expect Guptill-Seifert to provide New Zealand with explosive starts and Neesham to finish it off in style.
Pakistan: Pakistan Cricket and the Flurry of Bowling Options
Shaheen Shah Afridi is the complete package – can bowl up front and at the death. Need 4 wickets in 4 balls? Can do that as well. One of the bests in this format right now.
Wahab Riaz is the experienced man in this line up. Has been in and out of the side in the last few years. With Haris Rauf’s rapid rise and Naseem/Musa waiting, Riaz would want to nail his T20I World Cup spot.
Stand-in captain Shadab Khan & Imad Wasim will occupy key spinning-allrounder roles. Much rest on their shoulders for the balance of the XI.
New Zealand: Rotation Policy Central to New Zealand’s Depth
Southee-Boult-Jamieson should return for the last 2 T20Is as the first choice bowling line-up.
The first T20I gives the likes of Doug Bracewell, Kuggeleijn, Tickner, and possible debutant Duffy a chance to seal the reserve seamer spot.
Santner will captain in the absence of Williamson. In short New Zealand grounds and flat pitches, Santner needs to keep economy rate low otherwise another Pollard-like carnage is on the cards.
Key Matchups To Watch Out For
Haris Rauf Vs NZ’s middle order:As Rauf has shown in the Big Bash, he is a quite a skiddy customer and a smart, thinking cricketer. The Kiwis ought to be wary.
Battle of the Keepers: Both Seifert and Rizwan are safe behind the wickets and have had a decent past year. The winner of this mini-battle will have an impact on the series.
The Broken Dream
Pakistan: Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Amir
Shoaib Malik, the first Asian to 10000 T20 runs, has already won the National T20 Cup and the Lanka Premier League finals. Yet, with veterans Hafeez and Iftikhar Ahmed, is it curtains on a two-decade long career?
Mohammad Amir’s recent international retirement/break statement has shaken the social media world. The journey of a promising young kid whose rise took the world by surprise, followed by a spot-fixing exile, a remarkable comeback, and finally dropped from the side—end of the dream for Amir?
What are your thoughts on his sudden retirement? COMMENT BELOW!
New Zealand: Ross Taylor
Devon Conway’s consistent performances has cast Ross Taylor aside, the only person to play 100+ games across formats. Always a decent performer, Taylor never lived up to his RCB 2009 heights in T20Is. Can he make it to the next World Cup?
Verdict: 2-1 Pakistan
This young Pakistan cricket team is definitely favorites to reach the top 4 at the 2021 T20I World Cup in India. Without Babar Azam, the team will not be at its maximum potential, but neither is New Zealand without Williamson and with its fast bowling-rotation policy.
Both teams have fluid, explosive line ups with multiple bowling options. In this series, I am most excited for the youngsters on show!
Expect Haider Aliand Glenn Phillips to provide some entertainment.
Let us know your thoughts on Pakistan cricket, New Zealand cricket, and the eventual scoreline. COMMENT BELOW AND LET US KNOW!
My Starting XI:
These are my starting XI for the first Test (assuming everyone is available in terms of COVID and injuries).
Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Khusdil Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan*, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Wahab Riaz
New Zealand (1st):
Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (WK), Glenn Phillips, Devon Conway, Mark Chapman, Mitchell Santner*, James Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Jacob Duffy, Blair Tickner, Doug Bracewell