After a long string of low scores, Andre Fletcher finally came good with a man-of-the-match performance that saw the Melbourne Stars score a massive 111-run victory over the Adelaide Strikers in Melbourne on Thursday.

With 13584 runs, 22 centuries and 85 50s under his belt Christopher Henry Gayle is arguably the greatest T20 batsman in history.

Chris Gayle, Chadwick Walton and Sherfane Rutherford and Carlos Brathwaite were the four West Indies players selected to play in the Pakistan Super League following the 2021 Draft held in Lahore on Sunday.

Nicholas Pooran believes the West Indies’ low ranking in T20 cricket is due mainly to the fact that it hasn’t been able to put its best players on the field of play often enough.

The West Indies are currently ranked 10th in the ICC T20 rankings despite having some of the best players in the world in their talent pool. However, Pooran anticipates that the team could show its full potential at the next world cup.

“I just believe that most of the series West Indies play, they don't play with their strongest team. And by strongest I mean Chris Gayle, Pollard, Russell, Narine, Bravo in the team together,” the talented Trinidadian said in a recent interview with ESPNCricinfo.

“In the last couple of years, we haven't witnessed these players together. Either most of them weren't selected, some were unavailable ... but definitely a case around that.

“We couldn't play as a team after the last T20 World Cup. This, I am saying from a player's and a fan's point of view. Not seeing some of my favourite players represent West Indies might be one of the reasons.”

Notwithstanding the disappointment that comes with that reality, Pooran said he is looking forward to the coming T20 World Cup where he expects to be a better player holding his own amongst the best players from the region.

“Personally, I am looking forward to the T20 World Cup. As a team, our strength is T20s. For the last couple of years, we've been doing good in World Cups, but as a team where we are ranked [10th], it doesn't show how good our team actually is,” he said, indicating that believes that situation could change in the near future.

“Most of the senior guys are coming back to the West Indies team ... like Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine are all coming back eventually.

“As a player, I am especially excited because I want to do good for the West Indies people and put a smile on their faces. My record for West Indies in T20s isn't that good and I want to improve that for the next couple of months.”

 

 

Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Carlos Brathwaite are among several West Indies players who have made themselves available for the Pakistan Super League draft set for January 10, 2021, in Lahore.

Evin Lewis and Lendl Simmons were also the players whose names were released on Tuesday by the PSL. They are among 25 international players who will be available for the six-team competition even though some of them will only be available for a part of the season due to a packed international calendar during the February to March window.

Gayle has played previously in the PSL for the Karachi Kings and the Lahore Qalanders.

Other notable players who are in the draft pool include Imran Tahir, Chris Jordan, Chris Lyn, Mohammed Nabi, Alex Hales and Morne Morkel.

The 25 foreign players have been placed in the 'Platinum' category, from which the six franchises will select.

 

 

Let’s face it. Melbourne Stars batsman Andre Fletcher has not set the Big Bash League alight with his batting. The Grenadian batsman, who has been opening for the Stars, has a top score of 18 in seven outings. And, after scores of 10, 10, 18, 4, 6, 12 and 12, few would argue with the growing consensus that he should be to be dropped.

However, he showed on Sunday - with two spectacular catches against the Hobart Hurricanes - that his value extends well beyond his batting skills, as he twice helped swing the match in favour of the Stars, who eked out a close 10-run victory.

Fletcher made 10 of the Melbourne Stars’ 183 for 6 from their 20 overs, thanks mainly to Marcus Stoinis’ unbeaten 55-ball 97 that included seven fours and seven sixes; 36 from Hilton Cartwright and 26 from the in-form Nicholas Pooran.

Riley Meredith, who had Fletcher caught behind after his four-ball stay at the crease ended with 2 for 25 but it was Nathan Ellis, who dismissed Cartwright and Pooran, who was the Hurricanes’ best bowler with 3 for 31.

Daunting as the target might have seemed, Ben McDermott seemed headed to make light work of it with a blazing knock of 91 off just 58 balls and included eight fours and five sixes. It was while going for his sixth six that Fletcher intervened, changing the direction of the match in the process.

On the last ball of the 19th over, Liam Hatcher (1 for 45) served up a thigh-high full toss wide outside off McDermott, who flayed it flat over extra cover. Fletcher, known as the Spiceman, raced close to 10m to his left before taking off like Superman to hold on to a spectacular catch to have the Hurricanes at 163 for 5.

Fletcher’s blinder was his second of the match.

At the fall of the Hurricanes’ second wicket, that of Dawid Malan for 26 with the score 89, Colin Ingram and McDermott flayed the Stars’ bowling to all parts putting together a 50-run stand in just 22 balls.

It was a partnership that was threatening to take the match away from the visitors when in the 17th over, Billy Stanlake (1 for 41) bowled one full and wide. Ingram sliced it in the air over extra cover. Fletcher charged in, misread the flight of the ball and then adjusted as the ball began to tail away towards the boundary rope.

At the last minute, Fletcher dove to his right and snatched the ball inches off the ground before breaking out into a celebratory dance.

It was then 139 for 3, with the Hurricanes still in the hunt until Fletcher struck out in the field once more.

West Indies talisman Chris Gayle has targeted matching the exploits of India great Yuvraj Singh who once cleared the boundary rope six times in one over.

Singh, who retired from cricket in June of last year, achieved the feat in 2007 in a league-stage match of the inaugural T20 World Cup when he clobbered Stuart Broad.

The India legend achieved the feat on the biggest stage, but six other cricketers have also managed the achievement.  West Indian legend Gary Sobers, Ravi Shastri of India, Herschelle Gibbs of South Africa, Ross Vitali of England, Hazratullah Zazai of Afghanistan, and Leo Carter of New Zealand.

Despite being 41, Gayle still fancies his chances of becoming the eighth player to do so.  Based on his recent performances at this season's IPL, one wouldn’t bet against it.  It was at the IPL this season that Gayle became the first player to get to 1000 sixes in T20 cricket.  The big left-hander went close to the feat in 2016 when he hit five sixes in an over off Sulieman Benn in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

"It’s very much possible to hit six sixes.  So, if six is possible and Yuvraj has done it before so why can’t I do it? Yes, you, I anybody can do that,” Gayle told the Hindustan Times.

Dale Steyn has announced he will not be playing in the Indian Premier League this year, though the fast bowler insists he is not retiring just yet. 

Steyn was part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad for the 2020 edition of the Twenty20 tournament, with the competition temporarily moved to the United Arab Emirates due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in India.

The 37-year-old played in three games, taking one wicket, but has made himself unavailable for the franchise in the 2021 campaign. 

However, revealing his decision on Twitter, South Africa's record wicket-taker in Test cricket confirmed he will still feature in other T20 leagues around the world in the coming months, as he has no immediate plans to hang up the bowling boots just yet.

"Just a short message to let everyone know that I've made myself unavailable for RCB at this year's IPL," Steyn wrote.

"I'm also not planning on playing for another team, just taking some time off during that period. Thank you to RCB for understanding. No I'm not retired."

He then posted a further tweet, adding: "I will be playing in other leagues, nicely spaced out to give myself a opportunity to do something's [sic] I've been excited about as well as continue to play the game I love so much. 

"NO, I'm NOT retired."

Steyn did retire from Test cricket in August 2019, finishing his career in the longest format with 439 wickets at an outstanding average of 22.95.

However, he has continued to play for the Proteas in the T20 format; his most recent international appearance came against Australia in February 2020.

Mohammad Rizwan smashed 89 as Pakistan avoided being swept in the Twenty20 series against New Zealand, despite a late wobble in their run chase in Napier.  

Opening the batting, Rizwan hit 10 fours and three sixes in his maiden international half-century in the format, helping the tourists surpass the home team's total of 173-7 with four wickets to spare in the third and final game.  

Mohammad Hafeez contributed 41 to a second-wicket stand worth 72 and Pakistan appeared to be cruising at one stage, only to lose wickets in the closing overs.  

Tim Southee dismissed Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan – continuing to stand in as captain in the absence of injured Babar Azam – in successive deliveries in the 19th over, while Rizwan departed to Kyle Jamieson to leave the score at 171-6.  

However, left needing three from the final three balls, Iftikhar Ahmed sealed victory in style with a huge six. New Zealand were hampered by the absence of Ish Sodhi, the leg-spinner only sending down one over before suffering an injury in the field.

Devon Conway had earlier helped the Black Caps post what looked to be a competitive total at the halfway stage, hitting seven fours and a solitary six as he made 63 from 45 deliveries.  

Tim Seifert made 35 at the top of the New Zealand order, while Glenn Phillips (31) shared a 51-run partnership with Conway for the fourth wicket.  

Faheem Ashraf claimed 3-20 during his four overs, including dismissing home skipper Kane Williamson for one, bowled off an inside edge to a short delivery.   

There were two wickets apiece for Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf, though both went at an economy rate above 10 an over in an innings that included 16 fours and six sixes.  

The two nations now switch their focus quickly to Test cricket, with the series opener getting under way at Mount Maunganui on Boxing Day. 

Pakistan confirmed on Monday that Babar will not recover from a broken thumb in time to play, though the batsman may yet feature in the second and final Test, which takes place in Christchurch.

Johnson Charles and the Jaffna Stallions are the 2020 champions of the Lankan Premier League following their emphatic 53-run victory over the Galle Gladiators at Hambantota today.

Johnson Charles produced a Man-of-the-Match performance on Monday that provided the Jaffna Stallions with a platform to victory over the Dambulla Viikings and into the final of the Lankan Premier League where they will meet the Galle Gladiators on Wednesday.

West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell said he had changed his mind about travelling with the West Indies to New Zealand for their three-match T20 series but by the time he did, the team had already been selected and he was unable to join.

Australia paceman Mitchell Starc has withdrawn from the remainder of the Twenty20 series against touring India due to family reasons.

Cricket Australia (CA) announced Starc's withdrawal on Sunday – the day of the second T20 in Sydney – after the star bowler was informed about a family illness.

It remains to be seen when Starc will re-join the Australia squad ahead of their opening Test against India in Adelaide on December 17.

"There is nothing in the world more important than family and in this case Mitch is no exception," said Australia head coach Justin Langer.

"We will give Mitch all the time he needs and welcome him back into the squad with open arms whenever he feels the time is right for him and his family."

Starc, who missed the third and final ODI in Canberra due to injury niggles, returned for Friday's 11-run loss to India in the first T20.

The 30-year-old finished with 2-34, having produced combined figures of 1-149 in the 50-over series.

 

Nathan Lyon could be set for his first international Twenty20 appearance in more than two years after being added to Australia's squad for the remainder of the series against India.

The off-spinner comes into the squad for the final two matches of the series, which India lead after Friday's 11-run victory.

With Ashton Agar injured and Cameron Green released to play for Australia A against India A starting on Sunday, Lyon was added to the squad.

The 33-year-old last played a T20 for Australia in October 2018, and he has played just twice in the shortest format, taking one wicket at 48.

However, Lyon has taken 54 wickets at 20.51 in domestic T20s.

Mitchell Swepson (1-21) and Adam Zampa (1-20) were both part of Australia's attack in the opening T20.

Australia are still waiting for the results of scans for captain Aaron Finch, who hurt his hip or glute in the series opener.

India will be without Ravindra Jadeja (concussion) for the rest of the series after his heroics with the bat in the opening game, with Shardul Thakur added to their squad.

The second game of the series is in Sydney on Sunday.

West Indies T20 opening batsman Andre Fletcher said he is excited about playing for Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash League once his West Indies are completed.

Fletcher was a member of the West Indies T20 squad that lost three three-match series against New Zealand 2-0. He will replace England’s Jonny Bairstow, who is unavailable due to international duty.

"I'm really looking forward to coming over to the Melbourne Stars and being part of what should be an exciting season ahead," Fletcher said.

“Hopefully, I can bring my brand of batting and recent form to the Stars during the BBL."

Stars head coach David Hussey believes Fletcher’s talents will be an asset to the club.

"We're glad Andre was in a position to join us and he'll bring plenty of power and entertainment at the top of the batting order. Andre is a former T20 World Cup winner with the West Indies so he knows what it takes to succeed in major tournaments and I'm confident he'll be a great asset around our group," Hussey said.

Fletcher brings extensive experience to the Melbourne Stars having played in the Caribbean Premier League, the Bangladesh Premier League, and the Pakistan Super League.

He will join Nicholas Pooran who has also been signed with the club for the coming season.

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