Warner and Smith axed from IPL 2018

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Steven Smith and David Warner will not be allowed to play in IPL 2018 because of their roles in the pre-meditated plan to tamper with the ball on the third day of the Cape Town Test against South Africa.

The decision from the BCCI – announced by IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla – came as news broke that Cricket Australia was banning the players for 12 months, in the wake of tremendous outrage over the incident at Newlands from the Australian public, the Australian government, and sponsors.

Smith and Warner had already stood down as captains of their IPL franchises – Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad – on Monday and Wednesday morning, but their non-participation in this season was only confirmed after they were banned by CA.

The IPL will allow both franchises to pick a replacement player. Royals have already named Ajinkya Rahane as their captain for the season, but Sunrisers have not yet announced who will replace Warner.

“The CoA, in consultation with BCCI acting president Mr CK Khanna, IPL chairman Mr Rajeev Shukla and BCCI acting hon. secretary Mr Amitabh Choudhary, has decided to ban Mr Smith and Mr Warner with immediate effect from participation in IPL 2018,” the BCCI said in a statement. “The BCCI hopes that the cricketers participating in the IPL hold the highest regard for the Spirit of Cricket and Code of Conduct for Players and Match Officials.”

The ball-tampering incident took place during the afternoon session on day three at Newlands and was picked up on by TV cameras. A small, yellow object was seen in Australian fielder Cameron Bancroft‘s hands after he had worked on the ball, which he later revealed was an adhesive tape with soil particles on it. He was also captured taking the tape from his pocket and placing it down his trousers.

The footage showed Bancroft rubbing the rough side of the ball, the opposite side to which he would usually be trying to shine on his trousers. He put the object down his pants after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come on to the field after speaking to Australia coach Darren Lehmann over a walkie-talkie. Lehmann seemed to speak to Handscomb after footage of Bancroft working on the ball was shown on the TV screens at the ground.

The on-field umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth were then seen speaking with Bancroft, though they did not choose to change the ball or penalize the Australians five runs – the statutory on-field penalty for illegally changing the condition of the ball. When Bancroft spoke to the umpires, he was shown holding a bigger, black cloth rather than the small yellow object he had earlier seemed to place down his trousers.

Smith and Bancroft owned up to the offence at the press conference after play on the third day, and while Warner was not initially at the forefront of the scandal, a view is emerging that he had hatched the idea to tamper with the ball and delegated it to his opening partner Bancroft, with Smith’s approval. Smith and Warner were stood down as Australia’s captain and vice-captain during the Newlands Test, and both players took the field on the fourth day under wicketkeeper Tim Paine’s leadership.

Warner, Smith, and Bancroft were later sent home from South Africa by CA, with the board CEO James Sutherland saying the forthcoming sanctions against them were likely to be “significant”. The ICC had already suspended Smith – who was fined 100% of his match fee and given four demerit points – from the fourth Test against South Africa, while Bancroft was given three demerit points and fined 75% of his match fee. There was no ICC sanction against Warner.

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Smith, Warner banned for 12 months by Cricket Australia

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Steven Smith and David Warnerformerly captain and vice-captain of Australia, have been banned from playing international and domestic cricket for 12 months by Cricket Australia for their roles in the pre-meditated plan to tamper with the ball during the Cape Town Test. Warner is banned from captaincy for life, and Smith for 12 months after the completion of his ban. Cameron Bancroft, the player caught tampering with the ball, was banned from playing for nine months and from captaincy for 12 months after the completion of his ban.

CA has said that the plan was devised by Warner, the foreign object used was sandpaper and that Bancroft and Smith lied publicly in their post-match press conference in referring to it as adhesive tape. The full charge sheet confirms a raft of misdeeds by the trio, under which they have been charged with conduct contrary to the spirit of the game, conduct unbecoming, conduct harmful to the interests of cricket, and conduct bringing the game into disrepute. The basis for these charges includes the following:

Warner developed the plan to alter the condition of the ball, instructed Bancroft in how to do it including making a demonstration of technique with sandpaper, and the misled the umpires by helping to conceal the plan.

Smith had prior knowledge of the plan and did not stop it, directed the plan’s concealment on the field once it became apparent that the team had been caught out on the big screen, and then made “misleading” public comments about the “nature, extent and participants” in the plan.

Bancroft had knowledge of the plan, took instruction as to its carrying out and then did so, before seeking to conceal the evidence and then to mislead the umpires as to what had taken place, and then joined Smith in making misleading public comments about what he had done.

All three players were told of their bans in person by the CA chief executive James Sutherland at the team hotel in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning. Smith left the team hotel to fly home soon afterward. All players will have the right to challenge the verdicts and also the duration of their penalties via a CA code of behavior hearing with an independent commissioner, who can also choose whether the hearing is public or private. Players at the hearing are permitted to call as many witnesses as they like and also to have legal representation.

Warner, who has been singled out as the architect of the plan and given the harshest penalty of the three, is expected to challenge the verdict and take the matter to a code of conduct hearing. It is not known what Smith and Bancroft intend to do – all three players have seven days to consider the charges and their intent to accept or challenge. All three players have been replaced in the squad ahead of the fourth Test against South Africa in Johannesburg.

“The sanctions we have announced are significant for the individuals involved. That is why the process has had to be thorough to ensure that all relevant issues have been examined,” Sutherland said. “I am satisfied that the sanctions in this case properly reflect a balance between the need to protect the integrity and reputation of the game, and the need to maintain the possibility of redemption for the individuals involved, all of whom have learned difficult lessons through these events.”

The CA chairman David Peever said that the Board had chosen to take a path that still allowed the players to eventually rebuild their careers. “The CA Board understands and shares the anger of fans and the broader Australian community about these events,” he said. “They go to the integrity and reputation of Australian cricket and Australian sport and the penalties must reflect that. These are significant penalties for professional players and the Board does not impose them lightly. It is hoped that following a period of suspension, the players will be able to return to playing the game they love and eventually rebuild their careers.”

While banned from international and first-class cricket, Smith, Warner, and Bancroft are all permitted to play club cricket for the period of their bans “to maintain links with the cricket community”, and at the same time will be required to commit to 100 hours of voluntary service in community cricket.

The ball-tampering incident took place during the afternoon session on day three at Newlands and was picked up on by TV cameras. A small, yellow object was seen in Bancroft’s hands after he had worked on the ball, which he later claimed to be an adhesive tape with soil particles on it. He was also captured taking the object from his pocket and placing it down his trousers.

The footage showed Bancroft rubbing the rough side of the ball, the opposite side to which he would usually be trying to shine on his trousers. He put the object down his pants after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come on to the field after speaking to Australia coach Darren Lehmann over a walkie-talkie. Lehmann seemed to speak to Handscomb after footage of Bancroft working on the ball was shown on the TV screens at the ground.

The on-field umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth were then seen speaking with Bancroft, though they did not choose to change the ball or penalize the Australians five runs – the statutory on-field penalty for illegally changing the condition of the ball. When Bancroft spoke to the umpires, he was shown holding a bigger, black cloth rather than the small yellow object he had earlier seemed to place down his trousers.

Smith and Bancroft owned up to the offense at the press conference after play on the third day, and while Warner was not initially at the forefront of the scandal, a view is emerging that he had hatched the idea to tamper the ball and delegated it to his opening partner Bancroft, with Smith’s approval. A preliminary Cricket Australia investigation said that no other players or staff had knowledge of the plan. Smith and Warner were stood down as Australia’s captain and vice-captain during the Newlands Test, and both players took the field on the fourth day under wicketkeeper Tim Paine’s leadership.

The ICC had already suspended Smith – who was fined 100% of his match fee and given four demerit points – from the fourth Test against South Africa, while Bancroft was given three demerit points and fined 75% of his match fee. There was no ICC sanction against Warner.

Smith and Warner had already stepped down from their positions as captains of the IPL franchises Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, and have subsequently been banned from playing in the tournament.

Smith, Warner could face life ban from CA

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An ICC suspension from the final Test against South Africa may be just the start of sanctions for Australia’s captain Steven Smith, who alongside his deputy David Warner faces anything up to a life ban for cheating under Cricket Australia’s code of behavior.

While Australia slid towards their heaviest defeat to South Africa since readmission, the problems raised by another batting surrender were nothing next to the potential ramifications from the ball tampering attempted on the third day of the Test.

Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft all fell amid the rush often Australian wickets for 50 runs to end a match that had long since ceased to be a contest of any recognizable form, so hijacked had the visitors been by the ball-tampering fiasco. Each was roundly booed upon their arrivals at the batting crease, then given still louder rebukes upon their departures, with fans rushing to vantage points either side of the players’ race to deliver invective at close range.

As CA’s head of integrity Iain Roy and team performance manager Pat Howard travelled to Cape Town to commence an investigation, the CA Board bowed to pressure from the Australian Sports Commission to strip Smith and Warner of their leadership roles for the remainder of the Newlands Test, following their roles in orchestrating the ball tampering attempt that also involved Bancroft.

The focus has sharpened on Smith and Warner after it was clarified that the lunchtime discussion did not involve the full “leadership group,” which has also featured Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon, but was instead undertaken by “senior players”.

The CA chief executive James Sutherland also issued a public apology to Australian followers of the game, with the Board at a delicate point in the multimillion-dollar television rights negotiations for the next five years with the Nine, Ten and Seven networks and the pay television network Fox Sports.

“To our Australian Cricket Fans, we are sorry,” Sutherland said. “We are sorry that you had to wake up this morning to news from South Africa that our Australian Men’s Cricket team and our Captain admitted conducting that is outside both the Laws of our game and the Spirit of Cricket. This behavior calls into question the integrity of the team and Cricket Australia.”

The outraged response of the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who spoke to the CA chairman David Peever the moment he touched down on his return from South Africa, was given further heft by the joint call from the ASC chair John Wylie and chief executive Kate Palmer for Smith and Warner to be stood down immediately from leadership until Roy’s investigation is complete.

The leadership group knew about the tampering – Smith

Australia captain Steven Smith owns up to ball-tampering on the third day of the Cape Town Test against South Africa

“The ASC condemns cheating of any form in sport. The ASC expects and requires that Australian teams and athletes demonstrate unimpeachable integrity in representing our country,” the ASC said in a statement. “The Australian cricket team are iconic representatives of our country. The example they set matters a great deal to Australia and to the thousands of young Australians playing or enjoying the sport of cricket and who look up to the national team as role models.

“Given the admission by Australian captain Steve Smith, the ASC calls for him to be stood down immediately by Cricket Australia, along with any other members of the team leadership group or coaching staff who had prior awareness of, or involvement in, the plan to tamper with the ball. This can occur while Cricket Australia completes a full investigation.”

That investigation will likely feature interviews with Smith, Warner, Bancroft, and the Australian coach Darren Lehmann, and will determine how many players and staff will be charged under the code of behavior. Once Roy has recommended charges, a code of behavior hearing would be held with an independent commissioner, who would then decide on the guilt or otherwise of the players and staff concerned and the penalties to be imposed.

A charge of conduct contrary to the spirit of the game includes the clause “any conduct that is considered ‘unfair play’ under Rule 42 of the Laws of Cricket or against the spirit in which the game of cricket should be played”. The maximum penalty available to the code of conduct commissioner is a life ban from the sport, with factors to be taken into account including “the seriousness of the breach” and “the harm caused by the breach to the interests of cricket”.

CA’s decision to stand down Smith and Warner was announced minutes before the start of play on day four. “Following discussions with Steve Smith and David Warner they have agreed to stand down as Captain and Vice-Captain respectively for the remainder of this Test match,” Sutherland said. “This Test match needs to proceed, and in the interim, we will continue to investigate this matter with the urgency that it demands.

“As I said earlier today, Cricket Australia and Australian cricket fans expect certain standards of conduct from cricketers representing our country, and on this occasion, these standards have not been met. All Australians, like us, want answers and we will keep you updated on our findings, as a matter of priority.”

The CA chairman David Peever said the appointment of Paine followed an emergency Board meeting. “The Board of Cricket Australia has endorsed Tim Paine to step in as Acting Captain for the remainder of this Test,” he said. “Both Steve and David will take to the field today under Tim’s captaincy. The Board fully supports the process for an immediate investigation into what occurred in Cape Town. We regard this as a matter of the utmost seriousness and urgency. We will ensure we have all information available to make the right decisions for Australian cricket.”

A very sad day for Australian cricket – Sutherland

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland is adamant that every Australian fan should be extremely disappointed in their national team.

The ICC confirmed that the umpires had first been made aware of the possibility of ball tampering by television replays on the big screen at Newlands. The on-field umpires Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong then spoke to Bancroft and Smith before they, the third umpire Ian Gould, and fourth umpire Allahudien Palekar laid the ball-tampering charges. They did not replace the ball nor award South Africa five penalty runs because they did not believe the ball’s condition had been changed.

“The decision made by the leadership group of the Australian team to act in this way is clearly contrary to the spirit of the game, risks causing significant damage to the integrity of the match, the players and the sport itself, and is, therefore ‘serious’ in nature,” the ICC chief executive David Richardson said. “As captain, Steve Smith must take full responsibility for the actions of his players and it is appropriate that he be suspended. The game needs to have a hard look at itself. In recent weeks we have seen incidents of ugly sledding, send-offs, dissent against umpires’ decisions, a walk-off, ball tampering, and some ordinary off-field behavior.

“The ICC needs to do more to prevent poor behavior and better police the spirit of the game, defining more clearly what is expected of players and enforcing the regulations in a consistent fashion. In addition, and most importantly, Member countries need to show more accountability for their teams’ conduct. Winning is important but not at the expense of the spirit of the game which is intrinsic and precious to the sport of cricket. We have to raise the bar across all areas.”

The match referee Andy Pycroft said he hoped Bancroft would learn from the episode. “To carry a foreign object on to the field of play with the intention of changing the condition of the ball to gain an unfair advantage over your opponent is against not only the Laws but the Spirit of the game as well,” he said. “That said, I acknowledge that Cameron has accepted responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty to the charge and apologizing publicly. As a young player starting out in international cricket, I hope the lessons learned from this episode will strongly influence the way he plays the game during the rest of his career.”

There was no indication, meanwhile, that Smith or Warner was under threat to retain their roles as captains of Rajasthan Royals or Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL. The Twenty20 tournament is due to commence shortly after the conclusion of the tour of South Africa.

China fund takes control of Spanish football TV rights giant

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A Chinese investment fund has taken control of Spanish media giant Mediapro, best known for owning television rights to the Spanish and Italian football leagues, as Chinese investors widen their global media and sports interests.

Orient Hontai Capital bought a 53.5 percent stake in Imagina, a holding company that includes Mediapro, which also produces films and series, and Globomedia, another media producer, for one billion euros ($1.2 billion).

The agreement gives Orient Hontai control over lucrative international television distribution rights for Spain’s La Liga, as well as the Italian league’s domestic TV rights.

In Spain, Mediapro has the rights to the Champions League and eight out of every 10 La Liga matches.

The group also has television distribution rights for the International Basketball Federation in Spain.

Apart from sports, it has produced films such as Midnight in Paris and other Woody Allen movies and television series including The Young Pope starring Jude Law.

– China invests in media –

“The agreement will give the group access to the emerging market in China,” Mediapro said in a statement.

Tatxo Benet, co-founder of the group, told AFP the aim “isn’t so much to bring our products to China, but to make content there.”

Stefan Szymanski, professor of sports management at the University of Michigan and co-author of the book “Soccernomics,” said this was “part of a continuing trend toward Chinese involvement in media”.

“As Chinese incomes grow there will be increased demand for entertainment content and Chinese companies will be well placed to present that content in such a way that it maximizes the appeal of the content to Chinese viewers.”

For Tony Ma, head of Orient Hontai, the deal “will not only allow us to introduce advanced audiovisual production technology in China but also open up new perspectives for exchange and cooperation between China, Spain and Latin America in the fields of content, culture, sports.”

The president and co-founder of Mediapro Jaume Roures is an influential media man in Spain.

He owns 12 percent of Mediapro, as does Benet.

British advertising giant WPP owns the remaining 22.5 percent.

Both Roures and Benet will remain at the head of the group.

– China foray into football –

Orient Hentai’s purchase comes as Chinese groups invest heavily in the football world.

European football, in particular, has a huge following in China, said Szymanski.

Under football fan president Xi Jinping, China has ambitions of hosting the World Cup and the country’s top companies and richest entrepreneurs have rushed to pick up stakes in foreign clubs and hire foreign players for huge wages.

In Spain, China’s Wanda bought a stake in Spain’s Atletico Madrid football club and had its new stadium named after the conglomerate. Heavily indebted, it has since had to sell it.

Another Chinese group, Rastar, has built up a 90 percent plus stake in Barcelona’s second side, Espanyol, since November 2015.

Chinese businessman Jiang Lizhang, meanwhile, is chairman of the board of directors for the club Granada CF and owns 98 percent of its shares.

Inter Milan and AC Milan are also under Chinese control

Final-over heroics take Nepal through to World Cup qualifers

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Nepal chased down 195, off the game’s final ball against Canada, to secure their spot in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe. Tottering at 144 for 9, Nepal’s last-wicket pair of Karan KC (42*) and Sandeep Lamichhane (5*) added 51 off the final 47 balls to down their opponents by one wicket in Windhoek.

Canada needed to defend seven runs off the final over and started remarkably well when medium-pacer Cecil Parvez delivered four dot balls to start the 50th. With Nepal’s equation reading eight off two balls, Karan smacked a six over cover to bring the scenario to two off the last ball. Parvez then delivered one down the leg side, which the umpire called wide, thereby tying the game. With one needed off the final ball, Karan tapped a full toss towards midwicket and sealed Nepal’s remarkable win.

Earlier in the day, Srimantha Wijeratne’s unbeaten – and maiden – List A hundred helped Canada to 194 for 8 as the Nepal spinners Basant Regmi (3-34) and Lamichhane (2-40) strangled their opposition in the first innings.

The win was Nepal’s second last-wicket heist of the tournament and took them to four wins in five matches on the points table.

Why Ronaldo, Ramos & Real don’t like Dani Alves

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As they prepare to meet in the Champions League on Wednesday, a look at why there’s no love lost between the Real Madrid pair and the PSG defender.

Dani Alves says what he thinks. It is that refreshing attitude that has won the Paris Saint-Germain right-back plenty of admirers in the game over the past decade. However, he has also earned himself a few enemies along the way – many of them at Real Madrid.

Had things been different, Alves could actually have ended up at the Santiago Bernabeu. “It would be a huge reward,” he said after winning the Copa del Rey with Sevilla at Madrid’s stadium in 2007. And asked about the dressing room where he changed, he said: “It’s the greatest one in the world.”

However, Madrid dallied and the following summer, Alves moved to Barcelona instead. It was to be the beginning of a rivalry that is still alive today, even though the Brazilian no longer plays in Spain.

In his first season at Camp Nou, Alves was part of Pep Guardiola’s great treble-winning team and by the time he had left the Catalan club in the summer of 2016, he had beaten Los Blancos (with Sevilla and Barcelona) more than any other player in history.

Dani Alves Dani Alves And it was during Jose Mourinho’s time at the Bernabeu where Alves really got under the noses of Barca’s biggest rivals. The Clasico clashes in those three years were particularly ill-tempered affairs and the Brazilian later described Real as “dirty” and “bad losers” under the Portuguese coach.

However, one incident stands out above all. That was when Alves was fouled by Pepe in the Champions League semi-final first leg at the Bernabeu in 2011 and rolled around in agony, leaving the pitch on a stretcher. Pepe was sent off, Madrid were reduced to 10 men and Lionel Messi scored twice to settle the tie.

It provoked an infamous rant from Mourinho after the match. The Portuguese spoke of “shame” and “scandal” as he reeled off a list of conspiracy theories about Barca’s relationship with Unicef, UEFA and more. “I haven’t said anything to the referee,” he said. “I just laughed and applauded with two fingers. If I said what I really thought, my career would end today.”

Looking back now, the challenge by Pepe was dangerous and Alves could not really do anything else. Did he exaggerate the contact? Perhaps. But many of Madrid’s players – including Pepe – would have done exactly the same.

Nevertheless, the incident created bad blood and also initiated a war of words between Alves and Mourinho. The Brazilian later commented that the Portuguese was “a great coach”, but added; “People talk about him as if he invented football. He didn’t.”

Mourinho hit back. “What Dani Alves said? Einstein couldn’t have put it better,” he quipped. “He is right: I didn’t invent football. But I would like to remind him that it was a Portuguese who discovered his country.”

With Ronaldo, the bad feeling came mostly because of the Ballon d’Or and the Brazilian’s support of his team-mate, Messi, when asked about the prestigious individual award.

“The Ballon d’Or thing is a little tiresome because it has been moved to a different playing field,” the defender told Goal in 2014. “It has moved to the field of opinions and off the field of play. But if we look at the field of play, I think Leo, for as long as he is around, will push the rest into second place.

“Moving away from that, perhaps he has less chance. The winner will be the one who has had the best campaign or the best publicity campaign. We are talking about the Ballon d’Or as if we were talking about politics. The one with the best campaign wins, not the one who plays the best football.”

And in 2015, after Barca had won the treble and Luis Suarez was left off the final shortlist for the award, he said: “Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t deserve to be among the Ballon d’Or finalists. It’s not only about scoring goals.”

But Alves, who famously nutmegged Ronaldo in a Clasico at Camp Nou in 2013, later played down his feud with the Madrid forward. “All my fights with Cristiano were because of the press,” he said. “If people only knew how much I respect Cristiano Ronaldo. I will repeat it to make myself clear: I respect Cristiano Ronaldo.”

With Ramos, however, the rivalry remains intense. Asked about the Madrid skipper being booed by fans at former club Sevilla, Alves said last year: “The problem is that, days before moving to Madrid, Ramos swore eternal love to Sevilla.”

And he added: “He didn’t make history there, certainly not enough to not celebrate goals or to ask for respect. I was there for six years and I won many titles there.”

Ramos responded with his own prickly retort. “These comments are coming from Alves, who one year loves Brazil, the next one he decides to love Spain and the next one, Italy,” he said, in reference to the Brazilian’s career choices.

Off the pitch, Alves is a joker and a popular player with his team-mates, while even Madrid president Florentino Perez admitted last year that the pair always has a laugh when they bump into each other. For Real’s players, however, the Brazilian is an acquired taste that they are never likely to acquire.

And now, in the latest installment, Wednesday will see those rivalries renewed as Los Blancos host PSG in the Champions League. It is bound to be entertaining.

West Indies, Rest of the World XI to play fundraising T20I

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World T20 champions West Indies will face an ICC Rest of the World XI in a one-off T20I at Lord’s on May 31 later this year, to raise money towards restoration efforts in parts of the Caribbean hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September last year. In particular, the proceeds of the match will go towards the restoration of the cricket grounds in Dominica and Anguilla. The match, which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, has been granted international status.

“To have two category 5 hurricanes in the space of two weeks was unprecedented and everyone around the world was shocked by the destruction which was caused,” Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, said. “The ECB and CWI have always enjoyed a fantastic relationship and we are keen to support them and the people of the Caribbean in this fundraising initiative.”

“Hurricanes Irma and Maria have devastated parts of the Eastern Caribbean and we have been considering how CWI can best show support for our region in the most impactful way,” CWI president Dave Cameron said.

England’s international summer is set to get underway on May 24, with a Test against Pakistan at Lord’s, while the IPL final is scheduled on May 27, four days ahead of the fundraising T20I.