MELBOURNE: In these days of enhanced backroom strategizing in T20 club cricket, has the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) missed a trick or two by not allowing its players to play in leagues other than the IPL? Pakistan’s cricketers, unencumbered by such ‘exclusivity clauses’, seem to be thriving in such environments and bringing some secret sauces home.
Quick bowler Haris Rauf, for example, plays for Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash League and knows a thing or two about playing at the MCG, vital information which captain Babar Azam will be banking on when Pakistan play India on Sunday.
“Haris Rauf knows these conditions well as the MCG is his home ground in the Big Bash League,” Babar said. “Unko kaafi information hai aur unhoney hamey kaafi information diya hai (he has a lot of information which he has given us). Yes, it will help us in preparing for the match. We will get a lot of help from it.”
Babar also praised Haris for “having improved a lot”, saying his presence had made up for the injury-enforced absence of Shaheen Shah Afridi. “Hamara pace attack jo hai. . . Naseem, Shaheen, Haris. . . yeh hamari strength hai.”
In contrast, India captain Rohit Sharma said the fact that so many of the team’s cricketers had not played in Australia before had necessitated the team’s early departure for Perth for some handy preparation time.
The pitch for the contest, as it is, has been under wraps for two days, as Babar said, making for some intrigue around how it will play. In such a situation, Rauf’s tips are vital preparatory inputs for Pakistan.
Incidentally, batter Shan Masood, who was hit on the head during practice and taken for scans, is fit and available to play while Fakhar Zaman hasn’t fully recovered yet from knee injury.


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By Dipak

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