World of cricket: Isuru Udana retires to Ben Stokes' sabbatical

After a COVID scare, rain played spoilsport in two T20Is between Pakistan and the West Indies, while the Rajasthan Royals owners have acquired a majority stake in the Barbados Tridents.

Mohammad Hafeez’s 1/6 in four overs helped restrict the West Indies to 150/4 in the Guyana T20I.   -  Reuters

COVID, cricket and rain

The West Indies’ momentum hit the wall as COVID-19 entered the team bio-bubble during the ODI leg against Australia in Barbados. The entire contingent, comprising 152 people, had to be tested before proceeding with the second and the third ODIs.

Matthew Wade’s unbeaten 51 took Australia home in the decider. The visitor avenged the T20I series loss with a 2-1 victory.

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After the COVID scare, rain played spoilsport in two out of the three T20Is between Pakistan and West Indies in the island. The touring party won the Guyana rubber by seven runs, thus providing a glimpse of a spicy series on offer. Babar Azam’s 40-ball 51 took Pakistan to 157/8.

Mohammad Hafeez’s 1/6 in four overs helped restrict the West Indies to 150/4. The seasoned all-rounder also picked up his maiden Player of the Match award for his bowling performance. “Being here many times for CPL, I knew if I do the basics well, hit the right lines, it will work,” he said.

Isuru Udana retires

Sri Lanka bowling all-rounder Isuru Udana took the cricket world by surprise with a bouncer of an announcement. The 33-year-old, a regular in white-ball formats, decided to retire from international cricket to spend more time with family.

“Cricket was, is and always will be my greatest love, and I have always given my 100% both on and off the field, respecting and upholding the spirit of cricket and national pride always,” Udana said in a statement.

Isuru Udana, who was part of Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League a couple of seasons ago, will be available for domestic and franchise cricket.   -  AFP

 

The left-arm pacer, known for deceptive slower balls, was part of the white-ball series against India that ended in July. Udana also played in the T20I series against England, where he dismissed top batsmen such as Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan.

Udana, who was part of Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League a couple of seasons ago, will be available for domestic and franchise cricket.

Stokes on a sabbatical

People from the sporting world have been slowly coming out of their block to discuss mental health issues. After tennis star Naomi Osaka and US gymnast Simone Biles, England cricketer Ben Stokes has raised concerns after a gruelling season.

The World Cup 2019 hero has decided to take an indefinite break from cricket to sort out mental health problems and fully recuperate from the index finger injury.

“Stokes has withdrawn from England’s squad ahead of the Test series against India starting next week to prioritise his mental wellbeing and to rest his left index finger, which has not fully healed since his return to competitive cricket earlier this month,” the ECB said in a statement.

Ben Stokes has decided to take an indefinite break from cricket to sort out mental health problems and fully recuperate from an index finger injury.   -  Reuters

 

Ashley Giles, Managing Director of England men’s cricket, has lauded Stokes for opening up. “Spending significant amounts of time away from family, with minimal freedom, is extremely challenging. The cumulative effect of operating almost continuously in these environments over the last 16 months has had a major impact on everyone’s well-being. Ben will be given as long as he needs.”

The Royal touch in CPL

The owners of IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals have acquired a majority stake in the Barbados Tridents — a Caribbean Premier League team.

The two-time CPL champion will be rebranded as Barbados Royals with Jason Holder as captain. The initiative is Royal Sports Group’s first step towards a global presence.

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Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara, Director of Cricket at Royals, feels the alliance will create a solid pool of talented players. “Barbados Royals will be an important part of the Royals’ cricket ecosystem. With a fantastic talent pool of local players, we have the opportunity to innovate and develop strategies that will benefit the Royals Group. We are also excited at the prospect of how we can promote growth in the game of cricket.”

The refurbished Barbados side will begin their journey against St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots on August 26.