By Peter Della Penna in DubaiTODAY, USA will become the 28th country to play a men’s T20I when they take on UAE at the ICC Academy in Dubai.Coming from a place where T20 has been touted as the only possible gateway to crack the broader domestic sports market, the build-up has been low-key for what on paper is a historic occasion.But that hasn’t kept USA coach Pubudu Dassanayake and his players from appreciating the significance of the new frontier ahead of them.Speaking to ESPNcricinfo on the eve of USA’s first T20I outing, Dassanayake is hoping the two-match series will provide the opportunity to lay solid groundwork for a successful T20 World Cup Qualifying campaign later in the year as well as a lead-in to their attempt at securing ODI status at WCL Division Two in Namibia next month.“Of course, it’s the first T20 International USA is playing, so we want to win, so winning is important,” Dassanayake said. “But having said that, at the end of this year there’s a big tournament coming up – the T20 global qualifier – and regional qualifiers.“So we want to see what is our best combination and best players for that version. We’re going to try a few combinations tomorrow and the day after and see what’s best for us.“When we are talking about T20 into the 50-overs, we want to improve our death bowling; we want to improve our power-hitting ability. So all of these training tours, today, tomorrow and even the T20 games going into 50-overs, we’ve got to cover a few things for us to shape up in the 50 overs as well.”USA’s biggest obstacle might have less to do with the opponents on the field and more to do with the effects of jet-lag. The squad had staggered arrivals over the course of the previous day, while Roy Silva missed the team’s lone training session altogether after his flight didn’t come in late yesterday morning.However, captain Saurabh Netravalkar was upbeat about how the team has acclimatised to the 32-degree desert heat after coming out of the winter. Former New South Wales fast bowler Burt Cockley, who now lives in Kansas, has been working with the USA squad to lay out a strength-and-conditioning programme to improve their fitness through the winter leading up to this tour – something Netravalkar says will be a key factor in their ability to hit the ground running.The biggest addition to the USA squad is the recall of former West Indies Test batsman Xavier Marshall, who debuted for his adopted home in January 2018 but was left out of USA’s last three tournament squads to round out 2018. But he has been given a lifeline to re-enter the squad and is expected to come charging hard at the top of the order after top-scoring in an intra-squad trial match last month during a warm-up tour in Antigua.“The calibre of the player, you have no second thoughts,” Netravalkar said of Marshall. “He has played Test cricket, and his quality is right up there. But the passion that we saw in him in Antigua, the intensity that he put in his training sessions every day, it’s not just in Antigua.
Syracuse punter Riley Dixon has been named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team, SU announced Monday afternoon. He is the first player in the program’s three-year tenure in the conference to receive first-team honors.Dixon received 77 votes compared to 75 garnered by Wake Forest punter Alex Kinal, who was placed on the second team. Dixon averaged 43.7 yards per punt this season, with more than 43 percent of them downed inside the 20-yard line. He only tallied five touchbacks and logged a long of 64 yards and 18 punts that went at least 50. Dixon was one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award given to the nation’s top punter but didn’t make the list of three finalists.Wide receiver and return specialist Brisly Estime and defensive end Ron Thompson were named to the third team. Estime received the honors as a return specialist, ranking second in the country and first in the ACC with 18.1 yards per punt return. He was the first SU player since 1997 to return two punts for touchdowns in a season and ranked seventh nationally in combined kick return yards. Those two scores came in the season-opener against Rhode Island and on Oct. 31 against Florida State.Thomspon led the conference with four forced fumbles and recorded seven sacks. He led all Syracuse defensive linemen with 35 tackles and had six tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups against No. 1 Clemson on Nov. 14.Syracuse’s season ended Saturday with a 20-17 win against Boston College. The Orange finished at 4-8 and 2-6 in the ACC. Scott Shafer was fired as head coach last Monday along with his assistants and the Orange is still looking for replacements.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Comments Published on November 30, 2015 at 3:17 pm Contact Matt: email@example.com | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+