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Wednesday,26-January-2022

International

IND v NZ, First Test: Patel picks five wickets to give India slight edge against NZ

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Axar Patel’s incredible run in Test cricket at home continued with him picking his fifth five-wicket haul in just seven innings as India bowled out New Zealand for 296 in the first innings. Patel’s efforts of breaking the back of New Zealand’s innings meant that India took a 49-run lead, which eventually became 63 at stumps on day three at the Green Park Stadium on Saturday despite losing Shubman Gill cheaply.

Patel was a central figure in India bouncing back from an underwhelming day two to take the upper hand on day three. The spin troika of Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Ravindra Jadeja spun a web around the New Zealand batters, taking nine wickets overall.

Patel’s show began in the post-lunch session, starting with taking out Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls in quick succession. The left-arm spinner got a length delivery to turn and take the outer edge off Taylor’s bat on forward defence to substitute keeper KS Bharat (as Wriddhiman Saha had neck stiffness). He then returned in his next over to take out Nicholls, who missed the sweep and was rapped on the back pad. Nicholls reviewed the decision but couldn’t reverse it.

Latham, who was as solid as a rock, fell five short of his 12th Test hundred in a sudden rush of blood moment in the 103rd over. The left-hander came out to defend, but the inner edge rolled to Bharat, who kept his balance to complete the stumping, giving Patel his third wicket. In the final session of the day, Patel sneaked one past Tom Blundell’s defence to hit the stumps with low bounce. He then completed his fifth five-wicket haul in Test cricket by surprising Tim Southee with an angled-in delivery, which spun past the bat to leave the stumps shattered.

It was clear that handing Patel the second new ball from the other end worked wonders for India. He used the crease well, managed his pace, and used his round-arm deliveries to good effect in extracting some purchase from a slow pitch. He also got good help from Bharat, who took two catches and effected a stumping off his bowling.

Earlier, Ashwin was the first bowler to give India the breakthrough as Will Young (89) edged an outside off delivery, which kept low, with the outer edge snapped by Bharat taking a superb low catch in the 67th over. Ashwin almost had his second wicket in the 73rd over had India taken the review. The ace off-spinner got one to turn from leg-stump and rapped Latham’s pad in front of off-stump. Later, replays showed three reds, which meant a costly miss for India.

Kane Williamson was nervy against Ashwin but came out in full flow against Jadeja, smashing him for boundaries through cover and point. After taking the new ball, India were instantly rewarded with Williamson’s wicket at the stroke of lunch, as Yadav got a length ball to nip back in and rapped the right-hander on his back pad. Williamson reviewed but replays showed the ball hitting the top of the middle stump.

Debutant Rachin Ravindra looked good while striking Ashwin for boundaries but his promising stay at the crease ended with Ravindra Jadeja bowling him through the gate as New Zealand wobbled from 214/2 to 241/6. After Patel left the visitors reeling, Kyle Jamieson showed some resistance before miscuing a slog to Patel at deep mid-wicket off Ashwin in the 139th over. Four overs later, the off-spinner had William Somerville clean bowled to wrap up New Zealand’s innings.

Starting off the second innings with a 49-run lead, India lost their first wicket as Gill was clean bowled by an incoming delivery from Kyle Jamieson hitting the top of off-stump. The dismissal also made Jamieson the fastest New Zealand pacer to reach 50 Test wickets in nine innings, breaking former spee’ster Shane Bond’s record which, he had achieved in 12 innings.

Cheteshwar Pujara got some boundaries while Mayank Agarwal was cautious in taking India to safety till stumps were called, completing a day in which India have their noses ahead of New Zealand with two days left in the match.

Brief scores: India 345 (Shreyas Iyer 105, Tim Southee 5/69) and 14/1 in five overs (Cheteshwar Pujara 9 not out, Kyle Jamieson 1/8) against New Zealand 296 in 142.3 overs (Tom Latham 95, Will Young 89, Axar Patel 5/62, Ravichandran Ashwin 3/82), leading by 63 runs.

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Malinga set to take over as Sri Lanka’s fast bowling consultant: Report

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Lasith-Malinga

Former Sri Lankan pace bowler Lasith Malinga is set to become the fast bowling consultant coach of the national cricket team after the high-profile Cricket Advisory Committee recommended his name to Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) Executive Committee.

The 38-year-old Malinga, who played for more than a decade for Indian Premier League (IPL) side Mumbai Indians, will oversee the Sri Lankan team’s preparations for the upcoming T20I tour of Australia, where the side will play five matches, a report in the The Island said on Wednesday.

While Malinga is one of the most successful T20 bowlers in the world due to his sling-shot action and is a Sri Lankan icon, his appointment has reportedly not gone down well with several stakeholders of the game in the country.

The report said that while he was adored by millions of fans, “he wasn’t the most likeable person in the dressing room with a host of Sri Lankan captains having concerns about his conduct”.

“It is alleged that Malinga deliberately slowed down the over rate with the intention of suspending the captain, an allegation that SLC has not investigated. Cricket’s playing conditions at one point dictated that slow over rates would result in fines for players and suspension for the captain. Since then, the International Cricket Council has amended the playing conditions and the captain is no longer suspended,” the report added.

Sri Lanka lifted the ICC T20 World Cup in 2014 under Malinga’s captaincy, as he was filling in for the suspended Dinesh Chandimal, but his overall record as skipper is abysmal. He led the country in nine One-day Internationals and all nine ended in losses. Under his leadership, Sri Lanka lost 15 of the 24 T20Is it played.

The report said that the Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising of stalwarts such as Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva and Muttiah Muralitharan among others, had their reservations on endorsing Malinga as fast bowling consultant coach. However, since the recommendation reportedly came from former skipper and consultant coach Mahela Jayawardene, it could not be denied, the report said.

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Afghanistan complete whitewash to grab crucial Cricket World Cup Super League points

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Afghanistan completed a 3-0 series victory over the Netherlands to grab 30 crucial World Cup Super League points, here on Tuesday.

Half-centuries from Najibullah Zadran and debutant Riaz Hassan and a three-wicket haul from another debutant Qais Ahmad helped Afghanistan to a 75-run win, setting up a 3-0 series victory in the ODI series.

After deciding to bat first, Afghanistan were driven by 19-year old opener Riaz on debut. The Netherlands managed to send back the centurion from the last game, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, for 12, but Riaz and Rahmat Shah put on an 86-run partnership to revive the innings.

Once Saqib Zulfiqar broke the partnership by sending back Riaz, the Netherlands managed another wicket soon with Rahmat dismissed in the 33rd over. Najibullah Zadran compiled a fine half-century with aid from the lower middle-order. Najibullah finished on 71 off 59 balls as Afghanistan made 254/5 in their 50 overs.

In reply, the Netherlands made a strong start with Scott Edwards once again leading the charge. Colin Ackermann gave him solid company and the duo thwarted Afghanistan’s new ball plans. Their 50 came up in 10 overs with the openers laying a solid platform.

They carried on in the same vein, putting on 103 for the opening wicket before Afghanistan’s debutant Qais broke the stand with his maiden ODI wicket, that of Edwards, trapped in front by the leg-spinner. Fareed Ahmad sent back skipper Pieter Seelaar for a duck and Afghanistan had the opportunity to put a leash on the chase.

The spinners worked in tandem and soon the Netherlands went from 103/0 to 153/5 with Boris Gorlee, Bas de Leede and the well-set Colin Ackermann, who made 81 off 96 balls, also back in the hut. The tables had turned around at this stage and Afghanistan were right on top in the game. They went on to bowl out the Netherlands for 179 to seal a 75-run victory and secure a series whitewash.

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Australia to tour Pakistan with a full-strength squad, says George Bailey

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Chief selector George Bailey on Tuesday confirmed that no Australian player has asked to be left out of the squad that is set to embark on their first tour of Pakistan since 1999.

Bailey added that the selection will be solely based on managing their workload.

“I believe the boards are still working through some of the minor details around that tour, so once that gets the formal tick of approval then we’ll announce the squad post that, but we’re reasonably well down the track,” Bailey was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia’s website.

“The two (security) briefings that I’ve sat in on, the security sounds very, very robust.”

The tour is set to start on March 3. It will consist of three Test matches to be played in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore and will be followed by a three-match ODI series from March 29 to April 2. A lone T20I will be played on April 5.

The last time Pakistan had an ICC event on its soil was when it co-hosted the 1996 World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka. The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 ensured Test cricket remained out of bounds until 2019.

In 2020, before the T20 World Cup, New Zealand and England had pulled out of the tour of Pakistan citing security concerns.

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