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Holder and Brathwaite leave Sri Lanka with mountain to climb



Brathwaite and Holder played contrasting innings in a stand of 87 for the fourth wicket


The second Test between the West Indies and Sri Lanka is set for a thrilling finish with the tourists heading into day five with all 10 wickets in hand and a huge target in front of them.

Half-centuries from Kraigg Brathwaite (85), Jason Holder (71*) and Kyle Mayers (55) powered the West Indies to 280/4 when the declaration was called, setting Sri Lanka a target of 377 to win.

By stumps, Sri Lanka were 29/0, with Lahiru Thirimanne (17*) and Dimuth Karunaratne (11*) at the crease.

Sri Lanka’s first innings was wrapped up quickly on day four as Kemar Roach struck twice in an over to bowl them out for 258.

With a healthy lead of 96, the West Indies got off to a steady start in their second innings. The visitors, meanwhile, received a blow when their specialist spinner Lasith Embuldeniya was stretchered off when he injured his leg while fielding. 

John Campbell, who had already survived a DRS review, was dismissed on 10 when he reviewed a caught behind decision unsuccessfully off Suranga Lakmal.

With Nkrumah Bonner battling a back injury, Jermaine Blackwood was promoted to first drop and scored an eventful 18.

On the first ball of his innings, he was struck on the pad by Lakmal with Sri Lanka calling for the review. He survived that review, but only just.

On five, he was involved in a major mix-up with Brathwaite that almost saw the skipper run out for seven after Blackwood turned down a second run. Only Karunaratne’s failure to gather the ball saved Brathwaite.

On seven, Blackwood was dropped by Thirimanne at first slip, with the Sri Lankan spilling a presentable chance off the bowling of Vishwa Fernando. 

Eventually, he perished to Dushmantha Chameera , edging a short ball behind and making way for Mayers.

With the West Indies looking to set Sri Lanka a big target to chase and as quickly as possible, Mayers played his shots. The left-hander raced to his half-century in just 63 deliveries, hitting eight fours in his 55 before perishing lbw to Lakmal.

By that stage the West Indies’ lead had swelled to 236 with six wickets remaining and the dismissal did little to slow them down.

Holder got off the mark with a drive through the covers for four off Dhananjaya de Silva and hit three boundaries inside the first 20 deliveries he faced.

Having raised his half-century off 137 deliveries, Brathwaite freed his arms after the tea break, picking up boundaries in back-to-back overs and looked on course to notch twin centuries. With the landmark in sight, he had his timber rattled on 85 by Chameera. That brought Brathwaite’s match with the bat to an end – a Test in which he scored 211 runs and saw out 507 deliveries.

By the time Brathwaite fell, Holder had raced to 43 and he wasted little time getting to his fifty, reaching the milestone off just 69 balls. 

With a declaration coming, he and Joshua Da Silva put the foot down, adding 53 runs in less than seven overs.

When Brathwaite called them in Holder (71*) had hit seven boundaries in his 88-ball stay, with Da Silva not out on 20 off 16.

Earlier, Sri Lanka came out to bat on Thursday at 250/8 with Pathum Nissanka and Embuldeniya at the crease.

Nissanka soon got to his half-century with a single off Shannon Gabriel, passing 50 for the second time in just his third Test innings. The duo, however, were not able to add too much more to Sri Lanka’s tail. Roach, bowling his second over of the day first removed Nissanka for 51, having him caught at deep square leg. In the same over, he dismissed No.11 Vishwa Fernando for a duck, ending Sri Lanka’s innings on 258. (ICC)

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Rajapaksa, Arshdeep deliver winning start for PBKS




Bhanuka Rajapaksa hit fifty off 32 balls. (pic BCCI)

A power-packed, collective performance with the bat set the platform for Punjab Kings’ winning start as they downed Kolkata Knight Riders by seven runs (DLS method) at the PCA stadium in Mohali on Saturday (April 1). Bhanuka Rajapaksa (50 off 32) registered his maiden IPL fifty while Shikhar Dhawan struck a 29-ball 40, and along with useful contributions from the rest of the batters, PBKS posted a formidable 191/5. Andre Russell top-scored for KKR but they lost wickets at regular intervals and eventually fell short of the DLS par score as they finished with 146/7 in 16 overs when rain forced the players off the field.

Brief scores:

Punjab Kings 191/5 in 20 overs (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 50, Shikhar Dhawan 40; Tim Southee 2-54) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 146/7 in 16 overs (Andre Russell 35; Venkatesh Iyer 34; Arshdeep Singh 3-19) by 7 runs (DLS method).

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Ruturaj 92 in vain as Titans win opening game




Shubman Gill set the platform for a terrific run-chase in the season opener

A brilliant 92 from Ruturaj Gaikwad went in vain as defending champions Gujarat Titans beat Chennai Super Kings in Ahmedabad on Friday (March 31) in the tournament opener. Gaikwad’s innings was nullified to an extent initially by Shubman Gill before a few vital blows towards the end of the game from the Titans middle order got the job done for them with four balls to spare.

Brief scores:

Chennai Super Kings 178/7 in 20 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 92; Rashid Khan 2/26, Mohammed Shami 2/29) lost to Gujarat Titans182/5 in 19.2 overs (Shubman Gill 63; Rajvardhan Hangargekar 3/36) by 5 wickets

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Bowlers, Stirling lead Ireland to their first win in Bangladesh in any format



Paul Stirling was as free-flowing as ever as he guided Ireland’s chase

Ireland finally notched a win on their tour of Bangladesh by scoring a seven-wicket win in the final T20I in Chattogram on Friday. Mark Adair led the bowling charge with three wickets as Bangladesh were bowled out for 124, and Paul Stirling, later named Player of the Match, was at his inventive best as he struck a 41-ball 77 to headline the chase. It was Ireland’s first T20I win over Bangladesh since 2009 and their first win in any format in the country.

Bangladesh had already taken the series after winning the first two games earlier in the week, and made two changes, perhaps to try out alternatives. Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Mustafizur Rahman went out; Rishad Hossain was handed a debut and Shoriful Islam made a comeback. It was the batting that came unstuck, though.

After opting to bat, Bangladesh were 61 for 7 in nine-and-a-half overs. Shamim Hossain, however, scored his first international half-century, making 51 off 42 balls with five fours and two sixes to give them a competitive 124. One of those sixes was a particularly eye-catching shot, when he reverse-whipped Curtis Campher hit over backward point for six.

But with Stirling in blistering form, and playing a few inventive shots of his own, the chase was done and dusted in 14 overs.Bangladesh’s slide started in the second over. Litton Das’ slash towards deep point against a wide Adair delivery landed in George Dockrell’s lap. It was the first time Bangladesh had lost a wicket in the powerplay after three matches.

Najmul Hossain Shanto was next to go, hitting a slog-sweep off Harry Tector straight to deep midwicket. Campher juggled the catch but clung on. In the next over, Campher himself got a wicket, when Rony Talukdar holed out at deep midwicket.

Towhid Hridoy and Shakib Al Hasan, however, went for their shots in keeping with Bangladesh’s new approach, and hit a couple of big ones, but both were gone in the space of three balls. Shakib was caught at short midwicket mistiming a pull off Adair, while Hridoy holed out off Ben White in the seventh over

Matthew Humphreys had two wicketless ODIs in Sylhet, but the left-arm spinner had a better start to his T20I career. He took a wicket off his first ball when he yorked Rishad for 8.

That made him the first Ireland bowler to take a wicket with his first ball in T20Is. This was, however, not the first time a debutant had done this against Bangladesh. Previously, Rory Kleinveldt, Pragyan Ojha, Lockie Ferguson and Cole McConchie have all achieved the feat.

Humphreys added his second off his third ball, when Taskin Ahmed was caught at deep midwicket for a duck.Shamim and Nasum Ahmed added 33 runs for the eighth wicket before Nasum was caught in the covers off Gareth Delany’s legspin. Adair took his third when he removed Shoriful, before Fionn Hand took Shamim’s wicket in the final over.

Stirling didn’t get going at the start, as there were two early wickets, of Ross Adair and Lorcan Tucker, but once he was set, there was no stopping him. He cut and swept Shakib for fours to kickstart the chase, and then deposited Hasan Mahmud’s half-tracker for his first six next over. No bowler escaped his wrath, or his inventiveness, as he hit ten fours and four sixes in his 41-ball innings.

Many of those came in one Shoriful over, the 11th of the innings, when he pulled a six and hit three fours to take 20 runs. Rishad put an end to the mayhem when he had Stirling caught at long-on in the 13th over – it was Stirling’s 22nd half-century in T20Is and Rishad’s first international wicket – but Campher closed out the chase with a four and a six off Taskin.

Brief scores:

Ireland 126 for 3 (Stirling 77, Campher 16*, Tector 14*, Rishad 1-19) beat Bangladesh 124 (Shamim 51, Adair 3-25, Humphreys 2-10) by seven wickets

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