A return to the England Test team for the upcoming tour of South Africa would have felt too soon, all-rounder Moeen Ali has conceded.

Moeen opted to take a break from the longest format after a chastening experience in the first Ashes Test with Australia at Edgbaston.

He scored only four runs with the bat, suffering the ignominy of twice being undone by fellow off-spinner Nathan Lyon, while taking disappointing match figures of 3-172 with the ball.

England went on to draw the five-match series, failing to regain the urn in the process, before losing a two-match series in New Zealand 1-0.

That led to talk of Moeen returning for four Tests in South Africa, but Jack Leach and Matt Parkinson were selected as the slow-bowling options in the 17-man squad.

"It just felt too soon. The past few years have been so full-on and the plan behind my break from Test cricket was to freshen up, enjoy some new environments and get my game back in good order," Moeen wrote in his column for the Guardian.

"That is something that people perhaps don't realise is hard to do when you play all three international formats and particularly so when you are an all-rounder.

"The time away has felt quite liberating. Since my international debut in 2014, the miles on the clock have probably crept up and Test cricket is the level where the pressure and scrutiny are greatest.

"Combining it all had become a bit draining and rushing back now might have seen nothing change in this regard.

"Playing 60 Tests has meant so much to me, especially picking up 181 wickets and five five-wicket hauls, which for a guy who grew up thinking as a batter first is something I never thought possible.

"My batting is where I really want to find form again, though. Five Test centuries suggests I have it in me."

Moeen, who is set to play in the Pakistan Super League for Multan Sultans, did not rule out the possibility of featuring in the tour of Sri Lanka in March next year.

He claimed 18 wickets – the same tally as left-armer Leach - in a 3-0 whitewash in England's last Test series in the country, back in November 2018.

"The back end of the PSL coincides with the Sri Lanka Test tour in March and at this stage it is a tournament I intend to see out," he added. 

"But the franchise's head coach, Andy Flower, is someone I know I can talk to, if and when the England conversation arises again. So let's see what happens."

Despite losing their T20I series to India 2-1 thanks to a 67-run defeat in Mumbai, West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard is looking forward to the upcoming ODIs saying there are many positives for his young charges.

"Taking the positives, when you look at our performances with the bat through the series, consistent, we'll take that as a unit,” said Pollard.

“Yes, we lost 2-1, but we have three more games to look forward to in the ODIs."

The all-rounder, who slammed 68 from just 38 deliveries in a valiant but in vain effort to chase down the 240-3 made by Virat Kohli’s side, understands that the West Indies need to sort out how they go about bowling in T20Is.

Sent into bat, India’s Rohit Sharma smashed 71 from 34 deliveries, while his opening partner and eventual man of the match, KL Rahul scored a brisk 91, doing so off 56 deliveries. Kohli himself was savage, ending unbeaten on 70 from 29 balls.

In reply, the West Indies would end on a creditable 173-8 despite a top-order collapse.

“At the end of the day, we know we need to get better at executing with the ball,” said Pollard.

On the other hand, Pollard believes such is the power and class of the young side, which lost Evin Lewis to a knee injury while they were fielding, that any total is gettable.

“In our minds [240 was gettable]. 230 has been chased here when England played South Africa,” he said.

The youthfulness of the side is also something that gives Pollard reason to hope for a turnaround in results in the near future.

“There's a lot of emerging players coming through. Yes, the bowling is a concern, but we have a roster of guys coming through. Those are the areas, but we know success is a boring thing, you need to do the right things day in and day out,” he said.

KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli bludgeoned West Indies as India claimed victory in the Twenty20 series decider in Mumbai by 67 runs.

The tourists had kept their hopes alive with an eight-wicket victory in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.

However, the Windies' bowling attack had no answer at the Wankhede Stadium, India's big hitters delivering in emphatic fashion to seal the series.

Rohit (71) and Rahul (91) combined for a 135-run first-wicket partnership, the latter posting his third-highest score in T20 cricket, before Kohli carried India to 240-3 with an unbeaten 70.

West Indies wilted in reply, with Kieron Pollard's 68 in vain for a team that lost Evin Lewis to an injury suffered while fielding, the batsman taken off on a stretcher after hurting his knee.

Both India openers reached 50 in rapid fashion, Rohit doing so in 23 balls and Rahul in 29. Their remarkable start was ended in the 12th over when Rohit picked out Hayden Walsh in the deep. 

Rishabh Pant went for a duck as he failed to make the most of his promotion to number three, but captain Kohli struck seven sixes to help extinguish any hope of a fightback from the Windies bowlers.

He accounted for 64 of the 95 runs compiled in a third-wicket stand with Rahul, who was denied a third T20 international century when he was caught behind attempting to hook a Sheldon Cottrell bouncer.

The Windies promptly fell to 17-3 inside the first four overs of their innings, but Shimron Hetmyer steadied the ship with a knock of 41 that saw him clear the rope five times.

Hetmyer succumbed to Kuldeep Yadav in unfortunate fashion, hitting a full loss straight to long on, and the spinner also accounted for Jason Holder 10 balls later.

Pollard raised the slight possibility of a tense finish by hitting 32 runs in 10 balls, but when he diverted a Bhuvneshwar Kumar short ball to deep midwicket, the writing was on the wall.

Attention now turns to a three-match ODI series, which starts on Sunday.

Teenager Naseem Shah struck twice as Pakistan fought back well on a bad-light curtailed first day of Test cricket on home soil for a decade after Sri Lanka made a promising start in Rawalpindi.

Sri Lanka were 202-5 when stumps were drawn with 22.5 overs still due to be bowled, 16-year-old pace prodigy Shah taking 2-51.

The tourists lost their way after an opening stand of 96 between Dimuth Karunaratne (59) and Oshada Fernando (40) in the first match in the longest format to be played in Pakistan since a terror attack on their team bus in 2009.

Sri Lanka lost four wickets for 31 runs in the afternoon session, but Dhananjaya de Silva will start day two unbeaten on 38 with rain forecast over the next few days.

Pakistan have an injury concern over Shaheen Afridi after he was injured fielding as they attempt to make up for lost time in a long-awaited home Test series - and their former coach Mickey Arthur's first in charge of Sri Lanka.

Karunaratne's decision to bat first looked wise when he and Oshada set about laying solid foundations, although the captain had a big stroke of luck when debutant Usman Shinwari struck his off stump early on but the bails stayed on. 

Oshada took 20 balls to get off the mark, with Karunaratne playing more fluently in a wicketless opening session that yielded 89 runs, with 57 coming off the skipper's bat.

Pakistan were more disciplined after lunch and got their rewards, Afridi trapping Karunaratne lbw and Oshada edging Afridi to Haris Sohail at first slip. 

Kusal Mendis became paceman Shinwari's first Test victim and recalled former captain Dinesh Chandimal was cleaned up by a peach of a delivery from Mohammad Abbas for only two, with Pakistan on a roll.

Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya showed resistance with a fifth-wicket stand of 62 before the former nicked Shah to Asad Shafiq at second slip attempting an extravagant drive.

Dhananjaya played responsibility and put away loose deliveries with Afridi off the field after doing damage attempting to stop a boundary and Niroshan Dickwella was 11 not out when play was called off for the day.

New Zealand are monitoring Trent Boult's fitness ahead of the first Test against an unchanged Australia side at Perth Stadium.

Boult has been troubled by a side strain and could miss the day-night contest, which starts on Thursday.

Batsman Ross Taylor (thumb) and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme (abdominal muscle) are set to feature in the first of three Tests between the trans-Tasman rivals.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson said of Boult's availability on the eve of the match: "We're going to have another look today before deciding anything for Thursday.

"I think you look at it as a long-term decision in terms of this whole series. He has tracked really nicely and felt really good on Tuesday."

Lockie Ferguson could make his debut in the longest format after the paceman missed out in a 1-0 win over England.

"It’s exciting we've got Lockie in our squad to consider him," said Williamson. "It's exciting to have a guy in our camp who can bowl at that speed."

Australia have gone with the same side that completed a whitewash of Pakistan.

"We've been playing some really good cricket, happy with the way it's going so we're trying to get a consistent team together and as I touched on after Adelaide, the great thing is we've got guys that are performing really well," Australia skipper Tim Paine said.

"That's what we wanted so we're going to go with the same team."

 

 

An unbeaten last wicket partnership between Sonal Dinusha and Amshi De Silva propelled Sri Lanka to a nail-biting, one-wicket victory over West Indies in day three action of Rising Stars U19 Tri-Series.

On another difficult batting wicket, Sri Lanka sent West Indies in to bat after winning the toss and immediately their bowlers made life difficult for the hosts.

West Indies plummeted to 67/7 in the 34th over, with new ball bowler Amshi De Silva (6-1-18-3) and leg-spinner Kavindu Nadeeshan (10-1-20-4) being the bowling architects of this batting demise.

Kelvon Anderson (43) alongside useful cameos from lower-order batsmen Ashmead Nedd (21) and Jayden Seales (23) resisted and enabled West Indies to stretch the inning to the final over to take the West Indies to 138.

For the third game in a row, West Indies bowlers stepped up to the plate.

Led by left-arm quick Ramon Simmonds (8-1-31-3) impressing with his pace and bounce, they fought back bravely as Sri Lanka collapsed to 101 for 9.

However, Ashmi De Silva (10) coming off his efforts with the ball joined Sonal Dinusha (46) and the pair’s unbeaten last-wicket stand denied the West Indies.

“We believe our bowling unit is one of the areas that is firing for us. We said to them (the bowlers) the wicket is not easy to score on, so once we hit good areas and put our shoulders to the throttle we could have brought this game home”, said West Indies U19 bowling coach Kenny Benjamin.

“When we look back at the game the extra-wide deliveries  that were given away and not being able to score another 20-25 runs are areas we all have to improve on.”

 

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani is confident Australia and England will tour the country in the coming years as they prepare for a first Test on home soil since 2009.

Pakistan face Sri Lanka - the last team to visit over a decade ago - on Wednesday in Rawalpindi, the opener in a two-game series that also includes a Test in Karachi.

Mani insists Pakistan are not planning to play future series on neutral grounds, with England "very supportive" ahead of a possible tour.

"We are due to play England in 2021-22 and we are in serious discussions with them about coming to Pakistan," Mani told ESPN Cricinfo.

"So far, they've been very supportive, so I fully expect they will come and play their cricket in Pakistan. 

"Similarly, Australia, their chief executive has been to Pakistan and he's gone back with a totally different perception from what he thought it was like."

Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali, meanwhile, has said the series opener against Sri Lanka is a huge moment for the country.

"It's a moment to rejoice, not only for the players but the whole Pakistan nation," he said, in quotes reported by Sky Sports.

"We had a tough series in Australia and the way we lost there was disappointing. Moving forward, we see this home series as an opportunity and advantage to turn things around.

"We will try our best to fix our mistakes and improve wherever we had been lacking.

"We have outstanding talent in our squad. They have potential and, if we implement it, results will be good."

Ben Stokes has revealed he should be fit to bowl during England's tour of South Africa after scans confirmed he had not sustained a knee injury.

Stokes complained of a knee problem during the first day of England's second and final Test against New Zealand in Hamilton,.

However, he did bowl 25 overs during the Test, which was drawn as England lost the series 1-0.

The all-rounder - a star of England's Cricket World Cup and Ashes campaigns - has now confirmed he will be fit to bowl against the Proteas, with England's four-Test tour to begin on Boxing Day.

"It's alright," Stokes told talkSPORT. "I got some scans when we got back [to] England and there's nothing really showing up on the MRI scans, which is good news.

"I just need to toughen up I guess but it's alright and it's just treatment now. I will be fine to bowl [in South Africa]."

After a difficult Ashes series and a poor performance with the bat in the first Test in New Zealand, Joe Root returned to form in style in Hamilton, scoring 226 in the first innings, and Stokes claimed he backed the England captain to hit a double century ahead of the tour.

"Rooty is one of the best players in the world. He obviously went through a little bit of a dip in performance but that is natural, he’s human. The old saying is form is temporary and class is permanent," Stokes added.

"It's obviously great for English cricket to see Joe go out in his last innings before a big tour and hopefully we can see Rooty scoring runs like he normally does.

"Being Test captain is one of the toughest jobs and one of the most criticised and how people speak about you is dependent on how well the performances on the pitch individually and as a team.

"It's unfair most of the time that when things don’t go well the captain gets it all. I actually called Joe to get a double hundred on day one of our first warm-up game to Rory Burns. I think I was stood at slip and I said, 'Joe is going to get a double hundred this tour'."

Shan Masood is relishing playing on home turf as Pakistan prepare to host their first Test match in over a decade.

Pakistan welcome Sri Lanka to Rawalpindi on Thursday for the first of two Tests to round off 2019.

It is the first time a Test will be played in Pakistan since the Sri Lanka team bus was attacked in Lahore in early 2009, with six policemen and two civilians killed.

Pakistan head into the series on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Australia, but Masood believes a return home has buoyed the entire squad, with every player eager to perform at their best in what he says is a momentous moment for the country.

"If you look at the best players in Test cricket, their home records are superior to away records," batsman Masood said.

"You are more familiar with the atmosphere, the pitches, and enjoy crowd support, and that was one thing that was missing from Pakistan cricket.

"Bringing Test cricket here is our biggest accomplishment. Test cricket as a whole suffered around the world, and in Pakistan, we've dedicated more to white-ball cricket. This is an opportunity for children in Pakistan to have a proper look at Test cricket.

"They'll look at people like Azhar Ali, who scored a 300 and a double-century in Australia. They'll look at Asad Shafiq, who has scored hundreds all around the world.

"We've got exciting pacers like Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi. We've got Mohammad Abbas, who has been ranked number one in the world, and Yasir Shah, who has been the number one spinner in the world. Babar Azam is climbing up the Test rankings as well.

"This is a chance for our young generation to finally watch their heroes and it was unfortunate that legends like Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan couldn't play in their home grounds in the peak of their careers.

"So I'm really excited, because I feel this will propel Pakistan as a generation and the future generations of this country to take up cricket. It's almost going to be like everyone is making their debuts, because we're all playing in Pakistan for the first time."

The omens are good for Pakistan, with Sri Lanka having won just one of their last five Test series against them, though they did win 2-0 in their last encounter in 2017.

 

West Indies white-ball cricket captain, Kieron Pollard is not paying attention to the difference in ranking between his side and India who are currently locked at a win apiece in their three-match T20i series.

West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran, by all accounts, is a very talented player, who could do great things on the international scene, and his 38 not out to help his side to an 8-wicket win over India in the second T20 between the two in Thiruvanthapuram on Sunday is evidence of that fact.

According to Pooran though, his talent isn’t enough to help him do well for the West Indies or even keep his place, and that he has to work hard.

“I work very hard and happy it's finally paid off. I believe in my processes and glad it's coming off,” said Pooran, who came to the crease with the West Indies on 112-2 in chase of India’s 170 in the 14th over.

Six overs later it was all over, as Pooran took over from Lendl Simmons, who scored a classy 67 from 45 deliveries, slamming four boundaries and two sixes in 18 balls to take the West Indies to 173-2

That type of innings, Pooran said, was not difficult, because the hard work has already been done.

“Cricket's all about having fun. I've put in a lot of hard work, so now is time for having fun,” he said.

Pooran explained after the game that places in the middle order of the West Indies side comes at a premium with the type of talent that lies in it but that was good for the team.

“There's a bit of competition in the middle order, but we all want to do good, that's all,” he said.

Earlier Evin Lewis had scored 40 and Shimron Hetmyer, 23, in a bid to chase down India’s 170, which they were restricted to thanks to Hayden Walsh Jr’s 2-28 and Kesrick Williams’ 2-30.

Those bowling figures, along with the start from Lewis and Simmons, meant there was no pressure for Pooran.

“To be honest, we had no pressure. Tried not to panic, tried to build partnerships.”

Steve Smith is backing Melbourne Cricket Ground curator Matt Page to deliver an acceptable wicket for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand.

The final match at the MCG before that contest - the Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia - had to be cancelled on Saturday due to an unsafe pitch.

Umpires called off day one after Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were struck multiple times amid unpredictable bounce.

Cricket Australia promised to ensure there is a wicket of "international standard" for December 26, though, and Smith has no doubt Page will do the necessary hard work.

"I'm sure they'll produce something good for us on Boxing Day," the Australia superstar said ahead of the first Test in Perth this week.

"It's a really fine line with that wicket. Pagey is a very good curator - he'll be working as hard as he can to try to get a wicket that is suitable for bat and ball.

"These guys have a really tough job. They've tried a lot down in Melbourne but not been able to get something that is a bit more bowler friendly.

"They're going to work hard over the next couple of weeks to get us a good wicket for Boxing Day."

Lendl Simmons revealed his "old-school" approach had been pivotal to his match-winning knock in West Indies' Twenty20 victory over India in Thiruvananthapuram.

Simmons' unbeaten 67 from 45 balls helped the Windies to an eight-wicket triumph, ensuring the series will go to a decider as he capitalised on being dropped with just six runs to his name in one of several fielding errors to irk India captain Virat Kohli.

Despite a slow start, Simmons soon accelerated through the gears and his eye-catching outing included four fours and the same number of sixes.

As he was presented with the player of the match award, Simmons said the pacing of his innings was all part of the plan.

"I like playing against India, it's a good challenge," he said, having been ably assisted by Evin Lewis (40), Nicholas Pooran (38 not out) and Shimron Hetmyer (23).

"I haven't played international cricket for a while, so I'm enjoying it. I didn't start how I wanted to. My partners can go from ball one, but I am a bit old school.

"With experience, you know your game, and I understand my role. It was easier to bat after the powerplay, getting the odd boundary.

"Pooran and Hetmyer were getting boundaries easily so I played the different role."

A frustrated Kohli conceded his side had come up short with their total of 170-7 but felt their complacency in the field had been telling.

"I think we were good for 16 overs while batting, but then in the last four overs we got only 30. We need to focus on that," he said.

"But if we field so poorly, no amount of runs will be enough. We were poor in the field in the last two games.

"We dropped two catches in one over. Imagine if they lost two wickets in the same over.

"Everyone saw we need to be braver with our fielding. Do or die game coming up in Mumbai [on Wednesday]."

Lendl Simmons guided West Indies to an eight-wicket thumping of India in the second Twenty20 international in Thiruvananthapuram, setting up a series decider in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Simmons finished unbeaten on 67 from 45 balls, having received able support from Evin Lewis (40), Shimron Hetmyer (23) and the returning Nicholas Pooran (38 not out) as the Windies reached a target of 171 with nine deliveries unused.

Shivam Dube had earlier compiled a maiden half-century for the hosts, impressing with 54 from 30 balls after being surprisingly promoted to number three, yet Virat Kohli's men were ultimately overpowered as West Indies hit 12 sixes to India's five.

The tourists were 26 without loss after five overs, but they accelerated in devastating fashion thereafter to win with ease.

Simmons was the star turn, hitting four fours and as many sixes as he took full advantage of being dropped by Washington Sundar on six, while Pooran scored at a strike-rate of 211 on his comeback from a four-match ban for ball-tampering.

Lewis and Hetmyer also provided the necessary impetus to get the Windies ahead of the required rate, the latter thumping three maximums before falling victim to a stunning Virat Kohli catch at long-on, which saw India's captain take the ball on the run before contorting his body superbly to avoid touching the boundary rope.

India were left to rue Sundar putting down a routine chance off Bhuvneshwar Kumar to give Simmons an early life, though, and Lewis was also dropped on 17 by wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.

Dube, who cleared the ropes four times, and Pant (33 not out) were the only home batsmen to make significant contributions to a score of 170-7, as the Windies' attack kept things relatively tight despite conceding a glut of extras.

Suranga Lakmal has withdrawn from Sri Lanka's squad to face Pakistan after contracting dengue fever.

The fast bowler will not travel with his team-mates on Sunday and has been replaced by Asitha Fernando.

Sri Lanka confirmed the news in a tweet as the squad was preparing to depart for two Tests in Rawalpindi and Karachi.

Lakmal's absence aside, the tourists boast a full-strength squad, in stark contrast to the one that headed to Pakistan in September and October, when 10 high-profile players withdrew amid security concerns. 

The opening Test begins on December 11 and will be the first in Pakistan in a decade.

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