Cricket News Today: Virat Kohli drops down in Test rankings, India to play Pakistan at Sharjah Stadium and more - 26th February 2020

Aakash Arya

Virat Kohli

Hello and welcome to the daily round-up of all the major stories happening in the cricketing world today.

First up is Virat Kohli slipping in the Test batting rankings after poor show against New Zealand, followed by India playing Pakistan at Sharjah. Pragyan Ojha praised MS Dhoni while Smriti Mandhana backed Shafali Verma's aggressive playing style. And lastly, Australia announced squads for ODIs against South Africa and New Zealand.

Here is a look at all those stories in detail.

#1 Virat Kohli slips in Test batting rankings

Virat Kohli

Indian skipper Virat Kohli slipped to second in the latest released ICC Test batsmen's rankings. He was replaced by Australia's Steve Smith at the number one spot. Kohli slipped to 906 points, five behind top-ranked Smith after conjuring only 21 runs in two innings combined in the first Test against New Zealand.

Kohli, who hasn't scored a ton in his last 20 innings, has been in the spotlight after getting out cheaply in Tests. New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson reached the third spot (853 points) while Marnus Labuschagne dropped to the fourth spot (827 points).

Full article: ICC Test Rankings: Steve Smith becomes the No. 1 batsman; Virat Kohli slips to second spot

#2 India and Pakistan to clash yet again at Sharjah Stadium

India XI and Pakistan XI will clash against each other

India will face Pakistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on the sidelines of the third edition of the 10PL-World Cup of Tennis Ball Cricket tournament on 11 March. Both countries' best tennis ball players will face each other in what is expected to be an intensely fought contest.

West Indies player Dwayne Bravo, who is the face of the tournament, is expected to be present to watch the final of the tournament to be played at the Sharjah Stadium on March 13. On the marquee clash, Bravo offered support to the tennis ball players and stated:

“It is an exciting new initiative by Petromann. The India-Pakistan matches at Sharjah have always been a humdinger. I am expecting no less this time even in the 10PL. I am excitedly looking forward to the clash and to the tournament. I have always believed this tournament promises to be the perfect platform for raw talents to showcase what they are capable.”

Full article: Arch rivals India and Pakistan to clash yet again at Sharjah Stadium

#3 Pragyan Ojha praises MS Dhoni

MS Dhoni

Former India player Pragyan Ojha praised MS Dhoni, stating him as the bowler's captain. Ojha, who retired recently from all forms of cricket, played the majority of his cricket at the international level under MS Dhoni.

He explained that Dhoni gave him the freedom to a bowl and set fields according to the situation and assisted the bowlers through crucial insights.

“He (Dhoni) was a bowler’s captain. I strongly believe that a bowler should have a captain who understands him.:

"A lot of bowlers praise Dhoni because of the dimensions he gives you, things that he helps you with like placing the field, keeping your mind clear which are important when you play high-intensity games."

"Definitely. Any cricketer would like to go out of the country and challenge himself. Like batsmen, when they go to countries like Australia, England and South Africa. They want to get the runs for the team."

"I have spoken to many cricketers like (VVS) Laxman bhai and Gauti bhai (Gautam Gambhir). They want to go outside and perform because those conditions are not favourable to us. So as a cricketer I would have loved to go to foreign shores and give my best."

Full article: Pragyan Ojha praises MS Dhoni for being 'a bowler's captain'

#4 Smriti Mandhana backs Shafali Verma

Shafali Verma

Indian women's opening batter, Smriti Mandhana backed teenager and fellow opener Shafali Verma for playing the Sehwag-brand of game and hitting the ball from the word go. She spoke how Shafali's confident hitting took all the pressure away from her and gave India the perfect start they were looking for.

Mandhana, who was out of the second match due to fever, spoke about backing youngsters like Verma as they had the potential to change the game single-handedly. She revealed that the entire team management backed Verma despite occasional failures.

“Shafali has been a huge positive coming into the T20 side... The way she’s going about her batting, it’s so easy to bat alongside her... I used to score a lot of our runs in the last two of three years, especially in the Powerplay, but now with Shafali coming in, she’s getting the runs in the way I do. It makes the team more balanced."

“She’s got a routine she likes to follow, and that’s the best thing about her. No-one has gone in and told her she has to change that."

“I used to have a major role in Powerplays, but Shafali is getting the quick runs in those first overs now too. She’s made a huge impact and the team has become more balanced thanks to her."

“I don’t think we’ll be going into the game thinking about a total, but we will continue playing the way that is working for all of our batters.”

Full article: Women's T20 World Cup 2020: Smriti Mandhana backs Shafali Verma's aggressive playing style

#5 Australia announce squad for ODIs against SA and NZ

Australia Tour Of South Africa 2020

Australia announced their squad for the ODIs against South Africa and New Zealand. Jhye Richardson, who returned to the national squad after 11 months, was named in the ODI squad to face the Proteas but failed to make it to the squad to face New Zealand.

Chief selector Trevor Hohns spoke highly of Richardson and the hard work the bowler has put in after suffering career-threatening injuries. He stated that Richardson had clawed his way back into reckoning through some sublime performances in the recently concluded BBL09.

"Jhye is performing exceptionally well, as we saw throughout the Big Bash... He has slotted back into the T20 squad in South Africa and is pushing for a place in that side. We are very fortunate to have such a deep pool of fast bowlers," said Hohns.

"Jhye has earnt his place after the hard work he has done to get back into his best form after serious injury. Keeping him in South Africa with the one-day squad gives us another exceptional fast bowler who is ready to go."

"There were a few moments where … you don't know what's next. You hit this level where you haven't gone up, you haven't gone down, and it's really frustrating because you're doing all the work but nothing's happening."

Australia squad for South Africa ODIs

Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (VC), Pat Cummins (VC), Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Australia squad for New Zealand ODIs

Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (VC), Pat Cummins (VC), Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

Fixtures against South Africa

February 26 at Cape Town

First ODI

February 29 at Paarl (D/N)

Second ODI

March 4 at Bloemfontein (D/N)

Third ODI

March 7 at Potchefstroom

Full article: Australia announce squad for ODIs against South Africa and New Zealand; Jhye Richardson excluded from NZ ODIs