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IND v SA, 1st T20I: Miller, Van der Dussen, Pretorius make it an evening to remember for South Africa

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On a belter of a pitch at Arun Jaitley Stadium, with some help for pacers and spinners, chasing 212 was going to be an enormous task for South Africa. But the impossible was made possible by the troika of Dwaine Pretorius, David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen unleashing knocks in contrasting ways to secure a seven-wicket win and take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

On the eve of the match, captain Temba Bavuma had said to reporters that the pitch had become better to bat as the game progressed, as seen from their intra-squad practice match. On match day, despite occasional fumbles and asking rate touching either 12 or 13, Pretorius, Miller and van der Dussen ensured that South Africa hunted down 212 with five balls to spare.

When Bavuma fell to a leg-cutter from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, South Africa sprung a surprise by sending Pretorius at three, whose career-best knock in the format, an unbeaten 77, laced with seven fours and three sixes, came at the same position against Sri Lanka in March 2019.

Though his stay was of just 14 balls against India, Pretorius justified his move by punching Bhuvneshwar crisply through cover on his second ball.

But it was a clean slog-sweep off Yuzvendra Chahal for a huge six over cow corner that signalled Pretorius’ intentions to go for the kill. He muscled Pandya for three sixes — one over fine leg, others over mid-wicket, as South Africa soared to 60/1 in five overs.

Though he was undone by a slower, dipping full toss from Harshal Patel, Pretorius’ clean strikes had done the job of giving the chase early impetus.

“Dwaine is probably one of the guys in world cricket who hits the ball hardest. If you look at his domestic as well as international statistics, number three has been the position where he’s been successful at. Tonight, there was a clear instruction to go in and put the bowlers under pressure.

“With a total of that nature, you gotta almost go hard for 20 overs,” said van der Dussen to reporters after the match.

“When Dwaine gets it right, it’s really, really tough to bowl to him as he’s a very powerful hitter of the ball. He played brilliantly and got out to a really good ball from Harshal, but he will take a lot of confidence from it going into the series and will definitely put the bowlers under pressure,” added the right-hander.

At the half-way mark, South Africa needed 126 runs off the last 10 overs. It was a gettable target, mainly due to Miller’s rich vein of form. Miller, coming after enjoying a prolific season in Gujarat Titans’ trophy run in IPL 2022, teed off with successive boundaries off Harshal before taking four and two sixes off Axar to pave the way for South Africa’s chase.

Bhuvneshwar tried to stop him with slower balls, but were duly dispatched by Miller for boundaries.

But the real game-changer for South Africa came when van der Dussen, who was struggling to time the ball, broke the toe-end of his bat and signalled for a new one. At that time, he was 22 off 25 balls and with the new bat, it seemed that the timing which deserted van der Dussen, had come back.

Luck also helped him as Shreyas Iyer spilled a catch at deep mid-wicket, giving van der Dussen life at 29 off 30 balls.

“I think I had put myself and the team under a bit of pressure by not being able to get boundaries early on in my innings. But it wasn’t through lack of intent, or lack of planning, or lack of clarity of mind. You know, sometimes it just doesn’t come off. When Shreyas dropped it, I knew I had to make them pay because I took the balls to get myself in,” revealed van der Dussen.

Miller and van der Dussen looted 22 runs from overs 17 and 18, slamming five gigantic sixes and three crisp boundaries off Harshal and Bhuvneshwar.

Fittingly, van der Dussen finished off the chase with a reverse sweep off Chahal on the first ball of the final over to secure the highest successful chase made by South Africa in the format, with the duo sharing an unbroken stand of 131 runs for the fourth wicket.

“When David came in, I said to him, ‘You can play it as you see it but I’m pretty happy to take between 12 and 13 an over in the last ten.’ Because if you were in on this wicket, you could really capitalise. So, we didn’t panic at all. We knew even if the asking rate got up to 14-15, we could use that one short boundary with the right-left combination. We knew we could target the bowlers,” signed off van der Dussen.

In an ideal world, Pretorius wouldn’t have been promoted to three if Aiden Markram wasn’t down with Covid-19 and van der Dussen could have batted at three. But on Thursday, the personnel on positions shuffled, with Pretorius, Miller and van der Dussen playing chief roles in making Thursday a memorable evening for the Proteas.

International

Bangladesh might have succumbed to pressure v India; not taking fake fielding issue any further: Sriram

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Bangladesh coach Sridharan Sriram has conceded his team might have succumbed to pressure in the thrilling five-run loss to India in their Super 12 Group 2 match of the ICC T20 World Cup, and has also said he has no intention of taking the potential fake fielding incident involving Virat Kohli during the match any further.

Bangladesh were cruising along at 66 without loss in seven overs, with Litton Das coming out all guns blazing and snatching the advantage of making 184/6 from India through a breath-taking 59 not out off 26 balls — laced with seven fours and three sixes at a strike rate of 226.9 — when rain put a halt to his pyrotechnics.

Bangladesh’s target was revised from 185 in 20 overs to 151 in 16 overs. They needed 85 more runs in nine overs to win the match, with all wickets in hand. India’s bowling attack, which took a beating in the power-play, got the much-needed respite thanks to the rain break and they went on to win the match by five runs (D/L method).

Sriram agreed the rain delay and the revised target brought the pressure on his side and it crumbled.

“Well, it was quite frantic for that brief (last) 10-12 minutes (of the match), which is understandable. I think the boys, nine runs an over or 9.75 runs an over, definitely I think the pressure got to them a little bit. Yeah, it was a little bit of a frantic 15-20 minutes if I can put it, yes,” said Sriram, the former Australia spin-bowling coach.

Bangladesh are scheduled to play their last Super 12 game against Pakistan on Sunday with a win not guaranteeing them a place in the last four, but the results of the remaining two Group 2 games — South Africa vs Netherlands and India vs Zimbabwe — could facilitate their semifinal entry.

Much heat has been generated over on-field umpires missing a potential fake fielding incident involving Kohli, which could have earned Bangladesh five runs in penalties and a victory against India, but Sriram said he is not here “to offer any excuses” for the defeat.

Wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan accused Kohli of fake fielding during the match, claiming that the umpires missed the incident and could have resulted in the opposition getting crucial five runs as penalty. The incident that Hasan talked about going unnoticed took place in the seventh over of Bangladesh’s chase when Kohli feigned a throw while standing at point, as if he was relaying a throw coming from Arshdeep Singh from the deep off the bowling of Axar Patel.

Neither the on-field umpires, Marais Erasmus and Chris Brown, spotted it, nor did the two Bangladeshi batters, openers Litton Das and Najmul Hossain Shanto, out in the middle, pointed it out.

Law 41.5, pertaining to unfair play, prohibits the “deliberate distraction, deception or obstruction of (the) batter”, and if an incident is deemed to be a breach, the umpire can declare that particular delivery as dead ball, and award the batting side five runs. But Hasan didn’t mention if either of Das or Shanto spoke to him or to the team about distraction or deception from Kohli pretending to throw the ball to the keeper.

Shedding light on the controversy, Sriram said, “No, we are not here to offer any excuses. I did speak to the fourth umpire as soon as it happened, but I think it was the on-field umpire’s call, and that’s what we were told, but we’re not here to offer any excuses.”

Sriram said the focus now is to beat Pakistan and wait for the results of other matches to go in his team’s favour.

“I’ve been very clear in all my press conferences. We’re just taking it one game at a time, plan for one opposition at a time. Every game we want to go, we obviously want to win it, but we’re aware of what challenges Pakistan present. We played them in New Zealand just recently (in the Tri-series), and we have high respect for that team, so we’re going to turn up and be at our best on that day.”

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Adit, Nihaal lead a strong showing in third leg of US Kids Golf India; Five boys, two girls complete hat-trick of wins

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Adit Veeramachaneni of Bengaluru landed three eagles in a superb winning effort of 7-under 65 in the third leg of the US Kids Golf India at the links-style Golden Greens.

Adit, winner of the first two legs of the India series, completed a treble in the U-9 category.

Veeramachaneni was one of the five players in the Boys section to complete a hat-trick of wins. Two other players in the Girls section also completed a similar feat of three wins in three starts.

Among the outstanding performances in the third leg was Nihaal Cheema in the Boys Under-6. He carded an incredible six birdies in his nine-hole competition for a 6-under 30 score.

Divjot Singh playing in Boys U-7 Category gave the US Kids Golf India Series a milestone moment by holing his second shot at the 275-yard Par-5 fifth hole for the Tour’s first-ever albatross in India. Divjot’s second shot from just over 100 yards disappeared into the hole sparking off a big celebration.

Divjot also avenged the defeat he had suffered earlier at the hands of Kabir Goyal, who finished second this time.

The excellent scores were indicative of the talent on view, as six winners and one second placed player shot under par scores and another two winners had even par rounds. It meant that the players with under par scores will have a chance to qualify for the US Kids Golf’s World Championships in the US and the European events.

The six winners shooting under par at the Golden Greens included Nihaal Cheema (Boys U-6), Divjot Gupta (Boys U-7), Adit Veeramachaneni (Boys U-9) and Armin Paul Singh (Boys U-12) among boys and Amaira Gulati (Girls U-8) and Shambhavi Chaturvedi (Girls 11-12). Arnav Kumar (Boys U-9), runner-up in U-9, also shot 1-under.

The players completing a treble were: Nihaal Cheema (Boys U-6), Jot Sarup Singh (Boys U-8), Adit Veeramachaneni (Boys U-9), Chaitanya Pandey (Boys U-11) and Manyaveer Bhadoo (Boys 15-18).

Among the girls, Lucknow’s Amaira Gulati (U-8) and Gurgaon’s Mahreen Bhatia (Girls 13-14) made it three in a row.

Rajesh Srivastava, President of the US Kids Golf India, said, “It was a sensational day. Adit (Veeramachaneni) from Bengaluru and Nihaal Cheema carded brilliant scores of 7-under and 6-under. There was also the first-ever albatross in US Kids Golf India when Divjot Singh holed his second shot on the Par-5 in the U-7 category. The birdies and eagles also signalled the rising standards as the youngsters aim for berths at the World and European Championships, ahead of the Indian Championship later this month.”

Amit Dube, the Tournament Director, a former pro and now a coach, added, “The standard shows that these youngsters are ready for big events and American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) events. We look forward to a high level of play and more youngsters coming out in future.”

Fifty players teed up across the various age categories as they got ready for the Indian Championship, a three-day international event to be held from November 23-25, 2022. The Indian Championship, scheduled at the Classic Golf and Country Club, will have World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) points.

Players shooting 72 and below in at least two Local Tour events will earn Level 11 status and will earn AJGA Performance Star.

The US Kids local Tour is the only tournament giving opportunity to Players to earn AJGA Stars. The youngsters are looking to accumulate Priority Level status for the US Kids Europe and World Championships and the AJGA stars, which helps them get into numerous international events.

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West Indies U19 women’s team to tour India ahead of U19 T20 World Cup 2023

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Ashmini Munisar has been named skipper, while Trishan Holder will be her deputy in the 15-member West Indies women’s U-19 squad for the T20 tour of India beginning in Visakhapatnam on November 13.

The tour will feature matches against India-A Women U19, India-B Women U19 and Sri Lanka Women U19 at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy International Stadium in Visakhapatnam. West Indies will then travel to Mumbai where they will play against New Zealand Women U19 at the DY Patil Stadium.

The team will be under the guidance of head coach Steve Liburd. Munisar is an allrounder who led the team when West Indies U19 played against USA Women’s U19 in Fort Lauderdale in August. Vice-captain Holder is a top-order batter who was a member of the Barbados team at the Commonwealth Games playing matches against Pakistan, Australia and India.

The players for the T20 matches were selected after trial matches in Trinidad.

“As part of the preparation for the tour the squad was involved in some practice matches during a seven-day training camp in Trinidad. The final team selected contained some of the players who participated in the series in the USA and there are some new players who the panel would like to have a look at before a final team is selected for the World Cup,” said lead selector, Ann Browne-John.

“The composition of the team is quite balanced with some strong batters and a good mix of spin and medium pacers. It will be their first experience against top international teams and these tour matches will give a better indication of where the team is at the moment,” she added.

This series in the sub-continent will form a crucial part of the team’s preparations for the inaugural ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup 2023. The global event will feature 41 matches be played from January 14-29 in South Africa.

The official warm-up matches will be from January 9-11. The 16 participating teams will play in four groups in the preliminary round. West Indies have been drawn in Group C alongside New Zealand, Ireland and Indonesia.

Full squad: Ashmini Munisar (captain), Trishan Holder, Asabi Callendar, Kenika Cassar, Jahzara Claxton, Naijanni Cumberbatch, Jannillea Glasgow, Realeanna Grimmond, Zaida James, Djenaba Joseph, KDJazz Mitchell, Shalini Samaroo, Shunelle Sawh, Lena Scott, Kate Wilmott.

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