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New Zealand’s Devon Conway to debut with ‘a point to prove’




Left-handed batsman Devon Conway, the latest New Zealand find, has a point to prove to cricket administrators back in South Africa when he takes the field for his adopted country against West Indies on November 27 in the T20 International series.

Conway is South African by birth and lived in Johannesburg before shifting to New Zealand in 2017. While he performed well at the provincial-level first-class cricket, his performance at the highest first-class level in South Africa, the franchise cricket, was below par, forcing him to switch to a different country for better international opportunities.

In South Africa’s domestic cricket, he did extremely well for Gauteng provincial side averaging over 53 in 52 first-class matches but his average slipped to 21.29 from 12 first-class games for Lions at the highest franchise level. In T20 cricket too, while he averaged a shade above 46 for Gauteng, his average got stuck at 21.5 for Lions.

Those who know him say that his lower averages were due to the fact that he wasn’t played regularly.

“He has gone to New Zealand with a point to prove,” Dom Hendricks, a friend and Lions and Gauteng teammate of Conway, told IANS over phone from Johannesburg. “He would get one or two games at the Lions and would be discontinued. He did not get consistent opportunities for long enough. He wants to prove a point that he belongs to the highest level. I am glad he has been picked for the New Zealand side and his game has improved leaps and bounds.”

Hendricks, 30, who has known the 29-year-old Conway since schooldays and also toured England with Conway for club cricket ‘a year before Conway moved to New Zealand’ adds that Conway’s decision to move to New Zealand came as a surprise to him.

“He never betrayed to me that he wanted to shift to New Zealand.”

Conway was a very good T20 batsman but he gradually grew into Test mould.

The then Lions coach Geoff Toyana says that Conway is more a longer format batsman.

“I have seen him since his U-19 days and always rated him very, very highly. He is a leftie, has all the shots in the book. He has a good head on his shoulders. He is a top-order batsman who makes big hundreds. He is not satisfied with scoring a hundred and getting out, he scores 180-200, i.e. big hundreds,” Toyana told IANS over phone from Johannesburg.

“I see him being more successful as a Test cricketer. The way he plays and the hunger he has. Am not saying his T20 cricket won’t be good. All I am saying is that he will be more successful as Test batsman.”

“His cover drive is very good, he is a left-hander, works on his game. But it is not the technical side where he lacks, it is the mental side, him believing that he can get to the next level,” added Toyana.

Toyana says although the population size in South Africa — higher than New Zealand’s — makes it harder for a player to make the international grade, he did agree that the left-handed batsman did not get enough opportunities for Lions which reflected on his averages.

“It is tough when you are not a regular in a team. If you are getting consistent chances, it relaxes you. But it is tough when you are getting chances only intermittently, and having to wait to play. His luck at Lions was not good,” said Toyana.

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Andre Russell hit on helmet in PSL, taken to hospital




West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell was on Friday taken to a hospital here in an ambulance after he was struck on the helmet by a bouncer in a Pakistan Super League (PSL) match.

Russell — who was replaced by fast bowler Naseem Shah under the concussion-sub rule — had smashed two sixes off Muhammad Musa in the 14th over while representing Quetta Gladiators against Islamabad United.

He went for a pull-shot but misjudged the bounce as the ball hit him on his helmet.

Though the West Indian decided to continue batting after being examined by a physio, he was out the very next ball, caught at third man.

Russell was seen being stretchered out of the dressing room to an ambulance during the first over of the second innings.

Chasing a target of 133 all out in 20 overs set by Quetta Gladiators, United’s openers Usman Khawaja and Colin Munro smashed unbeaten 40 and 90 runs, respectively. United won the match by 10 wickets in 10 overs.

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No excuse for the loss, made mistakes: Rafael Nadal




World No. 3 Rafael Nadal, whose unbeaten streak at French Open spread over last six years was broken in Friday’s semi-finals, said world No. 1 Novak Djokovic got used to cooler Paris conditions at night better even as he himself could not produce the top level tennis expected of him.

“That’s sport. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I tried to give my best,” Nadal said after the match before adding that he could not convert the chances he got.

“I had a big chance with set point, 6-5, second serve in the third set. That is it. Anything could happen in that moment. Then I made a double fault, missed an easy volley in the tie-break. But it’s true that there were crazy points out there. The fatigue is there, too. These kind of mistakes can happen,” he added.

As the match extended into late evening and night, Nadal’s topspin shots that were bouncing high off the clay court began bouncing lower as conditions got cooler making it easier for Djokovic.

Nadal though refused to term it as an excuse and instead felt that Djokovic had got used to the conditions better.

“It does not matter. That is tennis. The player who gets used to the conditions better is the player who deserves to win. So no doubt he deserved to win,” said the world No. 3.

The Spaniard admitted he was not at his best. He made eight double faults against Djokovic’s three.

“But if you want to win, you can not make these mistakes. So that is it. Well done for him. It was a good fight out there. I tried my best, and today was not my day.

“It probably was not my best day out there. Even if I fought, put a lot of effort, the position on the shots were not that effective tonight,” Nadal said.

“Against a player like him who takes the ball early, you are not able to take him out of his positions, then it is very difficult.”

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South Africa have Windies on the mat after Quinton de Kock ton




South Africa wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock hit an unbeaten 141 to hand his team a strong first-innings lead on the second day of the first Test against West Indies who, with just six second-innings wickets remaining, are still 143 runs adrift and look set for an innings defeat.

Pace bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje took two wickets each as they reduced West Indies to 82 for four at stumps on second day after de Kock’s 170-ball knock had taken Proteas to 322 in first innings. West Indies had been dismissed for 97 in first innings on the first day.

The left-handed wicket-keeper batsman hammered seven sixes and 12 fours in his knock after half of the Proteas side was back in the pavilion with just 162 on the scoreboard.

The 28-year-old from Johannesburg had walked in after the fall of third wicket. Although none of his fellow batsmen could script a partnership with him, he found company in all-rounder Wiaam Mulder as the two added 53 runs for the sixth wicket.

After Mulder, Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada were dismissed in quick succession, de Kock added 79 for the ninth wicket with Nortje (7 off 29). He farmed the strike and went for the big hits. Aiden Markram, who made 60 on the first day, and Rassie van der Dussen, with 46, were the next highest scorers.

The 79 runs for the ninth wicket came in just over 12 overs.

Jason Holder, with four for 75, was the most successful bowler for the Caribbean side.

Windies were then reduced to 51 for four before Roston Chase (21 off 71) and Jermaine Blackwood (10 off 27) stemmed the rot with an unbeaten 31-run partnership in 12.2 overs.

Brief scores: West Indies 97 all out and 82/4 vs South Africa 322 all out in 96.5 overs (Q de Kock 141 not out, A Markram 60, R van der Dussen 46, J Holder 4/75, J Seales 3/75)

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