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Sunday,26-September-2021

International

Ben Stokes back in action for Durham, targets Pakistan limited-overs series

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Top England all-rounder Ben Stokes marked his return to cricket after a long injury layoff, striking an 18-ball 29 and taking one wicket, as his county side Durham defeated Birmingham Bears by 22 runs in the Vitality Blast T20 tournament here.

The 30-year-old Stokes had to pull out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) before its suspension after a fracture to his left index finger. He underwent a surgery for it.

This was Stokes’s first T20 Blast game in three years and sets him on the return path for a one-day international series against Pakistan which begins in Cardiff on July 8.

Pakistan will tour England for a three match ODI series beginning July 8, which will be followed by a three-match T20I series commencing on July 16.

Batting first, Durham scored 185/4 in the allotted 20 overs, with Stokes smashing four boundaries and a six in his 17-minute stay at the crease. He returned to bowl four overs where he took the wicket of well-set middle-order Birmingham Bears batsman Sam Hain (35).

Durham restricted Birmingham Bears to 163/8, winning by 22 runs.

“It was awesome to have Ben Stokes out there. He brings great energy to the team. He loves putting on the Durham shirt. Clearly no matter what team he is playing for, he is passionate and committed to playing each game. Today was no different. Hopefully he can stick around for a little bit longer,” said Stokes’s Durham teammate Cameron Bancroft of Australia.

International

Chance for Delhi Capitals to go top of the table

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Following their big win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening match of the IPL Dubai leg, Delhi Capitals would look to take one more step closer to qualification when they take on Rajasthan Royals later on Saturday.

The Rishabh Pant-led side gave a befitting response to their sceptics, registering a thumping eight-wicket win against SRH an all-round performance and now face a side who they have beaten four times in the last five encounters.

However, Anrich Nortje, the ‘man of the match’ in the last game and currently the holder of IPL 2021s top-eight fastest deliveries after playing just a single game, is aware that the clash will be anything but easy.

“We’ll have to quickly assess the conditions in Abu Dhabi and see what we need to do. It’s not going to be an easy game and the heat will be a major factor as well. Hopefully, we can just control our skills and focus on what we need to do. It’s going to be a very good challenge for us and I am really looking forward to it,” he said.

A win against RR will take Delhi Capitals to 16 points on the IPL table and though it might not guarantee qualification, it has historically been a number that ensures an IPL team makes it to the play-offs more often than not.

But DC couldn’t be better placed going into the clash against RR as during the season-opener against SRH, the team ticked all the right boxes. Kagiso Rabada and Nortje resumed their hugely successful partnership from 2020 to pick five wickets on the night.

DC’s star batsmen then made light work of the chase, with Shikhar Dhawan crossing 400 runs in an IPL season for the sixth straight year on his way to a well-made 42. Shreyas Iyer announced his return in style, top-scoring with an unbeaten 47. Captain Pant supported Iyer beautifully with his unbeaten 35 off 21.

On the other hand Rajasthan Royals resumed their IPL 2021 campaign here with a thrilling, last-gasp win against Punjab Kings. The Royals, who are currently fifth in the table, will get an opportunity to move up into the top-four.

The last time they played DC, in April during the first half of IPL 2021, it turned out to be yet another last-over affair. RR produced a brilliant show while the ball, with Jaydev Unadkat claiming 3/15. Chasing a modest target of 148, RR lost the top-order early and looked to be heading towards a disappointing defeat, but David Miller (62 off 43) and Chris Morris (36* off 18) took them home at the end.

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Didn’t show much courage, says a dejected Kohli after second loss

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 Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli was left dejected after a second loss in as many matches here and said that another 15-20 runs on the board would have given the side a winning total.

RCB came up with a much improved performance the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings on Friday, notching up 156/6 thanks to half centuries from Devdutt Padikkal (70) and Kohli (53), but still lost by six wickets after some incisive bowling by Dwayne Bravo and Shardul Thakur.

RCB, who have never won an IPL title, had earlier lost to Kolkata Knight Riders by nine wickets in the opening match of the second leg of the tournament here where they could only score a dismal 92 runs.

“The wicket did slow down a bit. But I feel we left out 15-20 runs out there. 175 would’ve been a winning total. Didn’t bowl consistently. Didn’t show that much courage I guess with the ball. They (CSK) bowled well in the back end of the innings, executed the slower balls and yorkers nicely,” Kohli said after the match.

The 32-year-old stated that they “have to show more courage in crunch moments” and also, asserts that they have to get back on that winning form again.

The two losses have seen RCB’s fortunes dip sharply and they are currently third on the table with 10 points from nine games behind CSK and Delhi Capitals who hold the first and second place respectively with 14 points apiece. Rajasthan Royal, who have played a game less, could push RCB further down if they win the next game.

“We spoke of areas we didn’t want them to hit and we didn’t do that. That little bit of X factor was missing in the first 5-6 overs. Got to get on that winning run again. This one is a bit more disappointing. The first one we just weren’t in the game. Have to show more courage in crunch moments. This tournament goes by quickly,” he added.

Up next, RCB take on the defending champions Mumbai Indians on September 26 at the Dubai International Stadium.

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IPL 2021: Chennai register an assertive six-wicket win over Bangalore

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On the back of brilliant bowling performance by Dwayne Bravo and Shardul Thakur, Chennai Super Kings registered an assertive six-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Sharjah on Friday. With this win, Chennai have now moved back to the top of the points table with 14 points from seven wins out of nine matches. Though they are tied with Delhi Capitals for points, Chennai is on top due to superior net run rate.

Chasing 157, Chennai got off to a good start and cruised to victory with 157/4 in 18.1 overs. Ruturaj Gaikwad (38) and Faf du Plessis (31) put up on 71 for the first wicket, hitting some superb shots around the wicket. However, both Gaikwad and du Plessis got out on the same score in successive overs.

It looked like Chennai would lose their way just like Bangalore did earlier in the evening but Ambati Rayudu (32) and Moeen Ali (23) steadied the ship, peppering their knocks with three big hits, two of them by Ali, and by the time both of them were out, Chennai was 133/4 and cruising towards victory. Suresh Raina (17) and MS Dhoni (11) helped them across the line without much trouble.

Earlier, Kohli slammed Deepak Chahar for back-to-back boundaries on the first two balls of the innings before Padikkal ended the opening over with a gorgeous cover drive. With the ball not doing much, Kohli and Padikkal were able to give Bangalore a blistering start, racing to 55 for no loss at the end of power-play with Chahar conceding 23 runs in two overs.

Padikkal was the first to reach his half-century, reaching in 35 balls with a boundary off Chahar in the 12th over. The boundary also brought a century for the opening partnership. It was also the second century stand between Kohli and Padikkal in the tournament after an unbeaten 181 against Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai.

In the next over, Kohli reached his half-century, flicking Ravindra Jadeja through fine leg for a boundary. Kohli, who was at 33 off 21 balls at the end of the power-play, managed to get 20 runs off 20 balls before hitting straight to deep mid-wicket off Bravo in the 14th over, ending the opening stand at 111.

After Kohli’s dismissal, Chennai slowed down the runs. Shardul Thakur made a big strike in the 17th over with de Villiers miscuing a slice and top-edge flying to Raina at extra cover. One brought two for Thakur as Padikkal’s pre-mediated ramp went to hands of Bravo at short third man.

Debutant Tim David miscued a loft off Chahar to Raina at extra cover. Glenn Maxwell tried to give his team a big flourish, but miscued slog to long-on in the final over off Bravo. Bravo dismissed Harshal Patel on the final ball of the innings to complete a last ten overs (66 runs for six wickets) fightback from Chennai, which was eventually enough to win the match.

Brief Scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 156/6 in 20 overs (Devdutt Padikkal 70, Virat Kohli 53, Dwayne Bravo 3/24, Shardul Thakur 2/29) lost to Chennai Super Kings 157/4 in 18.1 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 38, Ambati Rayudu 32, Harshal Patel 2/25, Glenn Maxwell 1/17) by six wickets.

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