An exciting few matches await us this week with Australia, England, India and South Africa all taking the field.
Brace yourself for an exciting blend of games in the upcoming week as Australia and England tussle it out one final time this year in the Ashes with the hosts looking to save face by levelling the series. Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, an action-packed Test match will pave way for a tri-series involving Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and the hosts. India as well return to the field after their mini break as South Africa arrive in the sub-continent with a fairly new-look squad.
Despite Australia retaining the Ashes for the first time since 2001 with their win at Old Trafford, the final Test is no dead rubber with the series on the line. Even otherwise, the World Test Championship adds context to these matches and England will look to Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer - none of the other seem capable of creating magic - to give them a final boost.
Expect no miracle, though, for the team has had incredible luck so far this summer through the World Cup and the win at Headingley.
WATCH OUT FOR:
- Warner and Roy
Brothers in strife, Jason Roy and David Warner have been treading dangerously close to the precipice this Ashes with their lacklustre performances. While Roy has done slightly better than Warner despite purists puking all over him, his numbers of 110 runs in 4 Tests at 13.75 ooze little confidence. If he does play - which would be a shocker - Roy will have Warner for company in redeeming reputation. The Australian opener has quickly turned into Stuart Broad's bunny and has been dismissed six times by the pacer. In eight innings, Warner has made just 79 runs at an appalling average of 9.88. All you fantasy connoisseurs, stay away from the flop twins.
Welcome back, Zimbabwe
The tri-series in Bangladesh not only gives the hosts a chance to redeem their damaged reputation from the Test match but also gives Zimbabwe another stint in International cricket after ICC's suspension from major events. Retirements are due in Zimbabwean cricket but away from all the political tussles, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will resume a rivalry that is fast becoming a toast among the lower rung teams. The spin attacks of all three teams will be in focus for this T20I tri-series. There are two matches from the series in this upcoming week with Zimbabwe facing Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
WATCH OUT FOR:
- Hamilton Mazakadza
He isn't the most attractive T20 batsman going around but following the political issues in Zimbabwe, Mazakadza has decided to call time on his career and in his final series, will look to leave an indelible mark. Expect the Zimbabwean skipper to lead his men with aplomb. His T20I numbers are pretty good in fact with a strike rate of 115.92 and a highest score of 93*. He has 10 half-centuries in the format and is a good player of spin meaning that the conditions too wouldn't be too alien for him.
India rest Jasprit Bumrah to make it fairer
India return to action with South Africa coming to the sub-continent to receive what they dished out last year to Virat Kohli and his troops. The week ends with this spectacle - the first game, a T20I, of the series to be played at Dharamsala. You may not be able to identify a lot of those South African newbies after some high profile retirements post the World Cup but India have done their best to make this an even contest by resting their pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami.
South Africa, meanwhile, have a new skipper in Quinton de Kock who will also be tasked with giving the Proteas good starts in Faf du Plessis' absence. There are a few new guns in the bowling department and put against India's experienced top-order, this would be a litmus test.
WATCH OUT FOR:
- Krunal Pandya
He has excelled in the format for India since making a seamless transition from Indian T20 League's Mumbai franchise and will be watched out for as he comes up against stronger opponents. Pandya has struck at a rate of 132.47 for India in T20Is and a rate of 146.07 in the Indian T20 League. Combine those with an economy under 8 and a wicket-taking ability - has 14 wickets in as many games for India - and he becomes an invaluable part of the middle-order. He has figured in all T20I games India have played since his debut, underlining how important he is to their plans as the T20 World Cup looms.
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Feature image courtesy: AFP / Randy Brooks