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Highlanders in a big win



by Rajitha Ratwatte

The Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin was hosts to the NSW Waratahs with a Otago Highlanders side minus their star halfback Aaron Smith taking them on. The second minute of the game saw the ‘Landers on the board with Michael Collins dotting down under posts off a turnover obtained basically from the kick-off.

The Referee Damon Murphy got the TMO involved to check for obstruction but finally awarded the try, 7 – 0 to the hosts. Sevevn minutes into the game the ‘Tahs got a penalty 25 meters out and mid-right and Will Harrison made short work of that 7 – 3.

Three minutes later Jack Maddox ran outside the Highlanders speedster Jonah Nareki (a rare occurrence) and scored a seven pointer to take the visitors into the lead 7 – 10.

Thirteen minutes into the game Nareki earned his side a penalty by what was deemed a high tackle on him and the subsequent line out from the touch gaining kick saw Sio Tomkinson who is usually a midfielder but was playing on the wing this game, cut inside pick up a loose pass and scored mid-right for the Highlanders.

Another seven pointer taking the ‘Landers back into the lead 14 – 10. The man with the impossible name, Mark Nawaquanitawase ran through a few gaps in the Highlanders defence and got the Waratahs back into the lead with another goal 14 – 17. Grant Nesbitt the premier rugby commentator in New Zealand predicted a try fest at this stage of the game and boy was he right!

The Highlanders game plan to keep playing in Waratahs territory was working with Sio Tomkinson able to charge down a clearing kick win his side a turnover penalty and we had the magnificent sight of tight head prop Ethan De Groot charging his way over the Waratahs line to score mid-right.

The kick was not converted but the lead changed once again 19 – 17 to the hosts. The first scrum of the game was in the 20th minute and the ‘Tahs won a penalty that was kicked from 46 meters out and straight in front of the posts.

Eight minutes from half-time the Highlanders rolling maul got going and Ash Dickson their skipper and hooker benefitted, as usual, going over the line and after the referee checked for a clear grounding the try was awarded mid right.

Seven points resulted and another lead change 26 – 20. Both sides were not done yet and the Aussies strung together nine phases and finally decided to kick at goal from 22 meters out, mid-right, and shorten the lead to 26 – 23.

Almost on the half-time hooter the Highlanders Japanese number eight Kazuki Himeno made a great break and passed to Jonah Nareki who showed a clean pair of heels to score far left. Another seven points to the Highlanders with Mitch Hunt adding the extra points from a difficult angle. Half-time score 33 – 23 with 56 points being scored in 40 minutes of pulsating rugby.

Four minutes into the second-half, the ‘Tahs lost a defensive line out and the ‘Landers tight head prop De Groot got himself another try, going over the line mid-right. Mitch Hunt was in great kicking form and seven points more took the score to 40 – 23. 12 minutes into the half the ‘Tahs were denied a try by being caught out by the TMO for tackling without the ball or an early tackle on Jonah Nareki who also seemed to injure his shoulder badly. Nareki chose to continue playing and tackled ferociously and won a turnover penalty for his side. The subsequent touch finder, saw the Highlanders rolling maul activated once again and Kazuki Himeno got himself over the line. The conversion struck the left upright and the resulting five points to the score to 45 – 23.

Ten minutes from full-time, Josh Ioane playing at full-back and having a subdued game, drew two defenders and passed beautifully to Johan Nareki on the wing who switched the afterburners on and streaked his way through 20 meters to score again. Probably restoring some pride in beating his opposite number Jack Maddox who had got the better of him early in the game. Hunt converted spectacularly from a difficult angle and the fifty was up for the Highlanders 52 – 23.

A vital bonus point earned as there is little doubt now that the finalists will be from among the Kiwi teams who win with bonus points. The final try of this “try fest” came from Highlanders substitute number eight Ben Nicholas who went off the back of the scrum and scored in the old-fashioned, traditional number eight fashion to take the final tally to 59 – 23 with the Highlanders winning and securing the vital bonus point. No scoring at all from the Waratahs in the second-half concluding seven losses in 12 games played.

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India crowned champions of inaugural U19 Women’s T20 World Cup




The Shafali Verma-led side beat England in the final by seven wickets

Titas Sadhu, Archana Devi and Parshavi Chopra took two scalps each while Gongadi Trisha and Soumya Tiwari made useful scores as India Under-19 scripted a memorable seven wicket win over England Under-19 to seal the inaugural Women’s Under-19 World Cup in Potchefstroom. India U19 chased down the paltry target of 69 in the 14th over.

Brief scores:

England U19 68 in 17.1 overs (Ryana Macdonald Gay 19; Titas Sadhu 2-6) lost to India U19 69/3 in 14 overs (Soumya Tiwari 24*; Alexa Stonehouse 1-8) by seven wickets


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ICC names all-woman panel of match officials for 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup



The upcoming women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa will have an all-woman line-up of match officials, in what will be a landmark first in the game.On Friday, the ICC announced the panel of three match referees and ten umpires, featuring officials from seven countries. The match referees are GS Lakshmi (India), Shandre Fritz (South Africa) and Michell Pereira (Sri Lanka). The on-field and TV umpires will be Sue Redfern (England), Eloise Sheridan (Australia), Claire Polosak (Australia), Jacqueline Williams (West Indies), Kim Cotton (new Zealand), Lauren Agenbag (South Africa), Anna Harris (England), Vrinda Rathi (India), N Janani (India) and Nimali Perera (Sri Lanka).

Selecting this panel was part of the governing body’s “strategic ambition of advancing the involvement and visibility of women in cricket,” an ICC statement said.

The panel will also have the most number of women umpires and match referees in a global ICC tournament, four more than the nine who are at the ongoing women’s Under-19 T20 World Cup.

“Women’s cricket has been growing rapidly in recent years and as part of that, we have been building the pathways to ensure more women have the opportunity to officiate at the highest level,” Wasim Khan, ICC’s general manager of cricket, said. “This announcement is a reflection of our intent in this space and just the start of our journey where men and women enjoy the same opportunities across our sport.

“We are committed to continuing to support our female match officials and provide opportunities to showcase their talents on the global stage. I wish them all the best for the tournament.”

The eighth edition of the women’s T20 World Cup begins with hosts South Africa facing Sri Lanka on February 10. Defending champions Australia are in Group A with Bangladesh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Arica. Group B has England, India, Ireland, Pakistan and West Indies. The top two teams from each group will move into the semi-finals.The matches will be played in Cape Town, Gqeberha and Paarl with the final scheduled for February 26 at Newlands.


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ACC to meet in Bahrain on Feb 4, call on Asia Cup expected



The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) will meet in Bahrain on February 4. A decision on the Asia Cup is expected at the much-awaited meeting where the representatives of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will be present. It could be a stormy affair in the Persian Gulf city of Bahrain, with the two boards having been at loggerheads.

The hosting right of the upcoming Asia Cup, which will be an ODI championship among the continental sides, has been a bone of contention, with the BCCI and the PCB being at odds over the venue. The August-September championship was allotted to the PCB but in view of political tension between India and Pakistan, the BCCI had declared that the Indian team will not be in a position to travel to Pakistan.

The BCCI’s refusal was initially escalated by former PCB chairman Ramiz Raja who threatened to boycott the World Cup in India later in the year. A similar stand seems to have also been taken by Najam Sethi, who succeeded Raja, but there seems little support from other ACC members to the PCB position.

The BCCI and the PCB sparred recently after Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary and ACC president, announced the schedule of the council. It was responded with sarcasm by Sethi who said in a social media post, “Thank you @JayShah for unilaterally presenting @ACCMedia1 structure & calendars 2023-24 especially relating to Asia Cup 2023 for which Pakistan is the event host. While you are at it, you might as well present structure & calendar of our PSL 2023! A swift response will be appreciated (sic).”

The PCB chairman’s comments were rejected by ACC which declared that Shah’s post was not unilateral. “It has come to our knowledge that PCB Chairman Mr Najam Sethi has made a comment on the ACC President unilaterally taking the decision on finalising the calendar and announcing the same. The ACC wants to clarify that it has followed well established and due process. The calendar was approved by its Development Committee and Finance & Marketing Committee in a meeting held on December 13th, 2022.

“The calendar was then communicated to all the participating members individually, including Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), via an email dated December 22nd, 2022. While responses were received from certain Member Boards, no comments or suggested modifications were received from PCB. In view of the above, Mr Sethi’s comments on a social media platform are baseless and are vehemently denied by the ACC,” the ACC said backing Shah’s position.

With the meeting in Bahrain happening in such a backdrop, it could be a stormy affair. A BCCI official, who was in Mumbai for the unveiling of Women’s Premier League teams, confirmed a final decision on the Asia Cup will be taken in Bahrain on February 4.


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