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India five wickets away from win after top order, Ashwin shine

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Ajaz Patel bagged 14 of the 17 Indian wickets to fall in the Mumbai Test, but the hosts continued to boss the game, setting New Zealand an improbable 540 after declaring on 276 for 7. R Ashwin then cracked open the visitors’ top order, leaving his side five wickets away from victory at stumps on the third day.

Ajaz had finished with 14 for 225 – the best match figures against India in Tests – and finally found a modicum of support from Rachin Ravindra, the other left-arm fingerspinner, who picked up three wickets.

However, there wasn’t as much support on the batting front for Daryl Mitchell, who led New Zealand’s resistance with an assured 60 off 92 balls. Mitchell, who batted at No.3 again in the injury-enforced absence of Kane Williamson, was either right forward or right back to India’s spin trio. He often jumped out of the crease and upset the lengths like how Mayank Agarwal had done earlier in the match.

Mitchell put together 73 for the fourth wicket with Henry Nicholls, who was contrastingly skittish at various points. He missed an inswinger from Umesh Yadav in the 26th over and survived an lbw because India decided against a review of the on-field not-out decision. Three overs later, Wriddhiman Saha missed a stumping chance, but the reprieve didn’t matter in the end as Jayant Yadav had overstepped. Soon after, Ashwin beat Nicholls’ outside edge three times in a row with a delightful cocktail of flight, dip, turn and angle.

Ashwin was in similar top form with the new ball. He pinned Tom Latham lbw and had Will Young caught at short leg either side of the tea break. Ross Taylor threw his bat at every ball before a hare-brained slog-sweep off an Ashwin offbreak saw him holing out for six off eight balls.

Axar Patel then tightened the screws when he had Mitchell slicing a catch to deep cover. Two overs later, an awful mix-up resulted in the run-out of Tom Blundell for a duck. Ashwin and Axar continued to threaten both the edges, but Nicholls and Ravindra somehow closed out the day without any further damage.

It was Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara who had set the tone for India’s third-day dominance by adding 30 runs in the first five overs. India’s batters would hit full tilt in the afternoon session, rattling off 126 runs in 21.1 overs before ultimately declaring the innings at the fall of Jayant’s wicket. Axar remained unbeaten on 41 off 26 balls, claiming four of the 11 sixes India struck in the innings. He had propelled the lead past 500 when he clobbered Ajaz over long-on for six.

Shreyas Iyer (14) and Gill (47) were as adventurous as Axar against spin, engaging in reverse-sweeps and down-the-track swipes. That they had to cushion to do so was largely down to a 107-run opening stand between Agarwal and Pujara.

Agarwal looked set for another hundred before Ajaz had him slicing a down-the-track loft to long-off. Pujara then fell three short of a half-century when Ajaz gleaned sharp turn and bounce to have him nicking off to slip where Taylor plucked a low catch.

Before Ajaz made the incisions, Tim Southee did his best impression of Neil Wagner by tirelessly peppering the openers with bouncers from around the wicket with a packed leg-side field. Southee also pinged Pujara on his elbow guard and then Agarwal on his unprotected wrist during a spell of 8-1-17-0.

Ravindra then showed off his bowling chops after tea, dismissing Gill, Virat Kohli and Saha.

After riding out fairly sharp spells from Ajaz and Kyle Jamieson, Kohli targetted offspinner Will Somerville by stepping out and pumping him over midwicket for six. He then pulled Ravindra over the same region for four, but the allrounder found slow turn and bounce to have Kohli playing on for 36 off 84 balls.

New Zealand will need a lot more from Ravindra, with the bat, if they are to salvage something from this Test. (ESPN)

Scores:

India 325 and 276 for 7 dec (Mayank Agarwal 62, Cheteshwar Pujara 47, Ajaz Patel 4-106)

New Zealand 62 and 140 for 5 (Daryl Mitchell 60, Henry Nicholls 36 n.o.; Ravichandran Ashwin 3-27)



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Sri Lanka clinch series after bowling out Zimbabwe for lowest total at Pallekele

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Sri Lanka wrapped up the three match ODI series against Zimbabwe with a huge 184 run win in the third ODI at Pallekele yesterday. Chasing a target of 255, Zimbabwe were bowled for 70 inside 25 overs. 

Rex Clementine at Pallekele

The deciding third ODI between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe turned out to be an anti-climax after the hosts shot out the tourists for 70 runs in just 24.4 overs to complete a massive 184 run win and wrap up the three match series 2-1 at Pallekele International Stadium yesterday. It’s the lowest total at Pallekele with the previous lowest being Sri Lanka’s 167 all out against South Africa in 2013.

It was an outstanding show by the bowlers after a below par effort by the batsmen as Sri Lanka were able to drive away the ghosts of 2017 where Zimbabwe came from behind to hand Angelo Mathews side a shock series defeat. It was their first and only series win over Sri Lanka in three decades.

There was a scare once again with Zimbabwe squaring the series on Tuesday with a 22 run win and in the final ODI Sri Lanka’s batsmen did not cover themselves in glory. The bowling, however, was terrific, putting early pressure and picking up wickets at regular intervals and it was a one-sided contest at the end.

If a current bowler resembles Michael Holding, ‘Rolls Royce of fast bowlers’, Dushmantha Chameera has got to be that. The world’s highest wicket taker in 2021, skipped the first ODI as he had not been medically cleared to play after testing positive for COVID. He was not all that effective on his comeback on Tuesday but yesterday he was on the money bowling with fire and Zimbabwe were not well equipped to take him on.

In his second over, he had Regis Chakabva caught at first slip and in the very next ball captain Craig Ervine edged one to the keeper as Zimbabwe were reduced to three for two wickets. They never recovered.

The spinners came on and tightened the grip with Jeffrey Vandersay being the pick of the bowlers claiming four wickets. Ramesh Mendis chipped in with two wickets. Only two batsmen crossed double figures and none managed a score of 20.

Pathum Nissanka batted superbly for his half-century and added 80 runs for the first wicket with Kusal Mendis. It was his second half-century in the series and he was named Player of the Series.

After a good start, Sri Lanka lost a few quick wickets and were 149 for four in the 31st over. Charith Asalanka then held the innings together stitching a few valuable partnerships with the lower middle order. He made 52. A 48 run stand for the seventh wicket between Ramesh Mendis (26) and Chamika Karunaratne (30) helped Sri Lanka to their eventual total of 254.

Apart from the series win, Sri Lanka will gladly pick up 20 points in the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League. Sri Lanka moved up to the fourth position in the table and need to remain in top seven to automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup.

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Athapaththu, Sri Lanka too strong for Kenya 

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ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022

Sri Lanka’s spinners restricted Kenya to 87 for six before captain Chamari Athapaththu struck 57 off 29 balls to power Sri Lanka to a nine-wicket win on the third day of the ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022 at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur.

Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bowl in a match they dominated virtually throughout even though their bowlers got off to a shaky start, conceding seven wides in the first three overs.

Sri Lanka’s infielders were just as sharp as in the first game against Scotland that they won by 109 runs. Kavisha Dilhari’s direct hit sent opener Mary Mwangi back to the dugout before Kenya captain Margaret Ngoche was trapped in front by Inoka Ranaweera.

Kavisha Dilhari was introduced into the attack in the eighth over, bowling a maiden, which included the run out of Sharon Juma. This brought Sarah Bhakita to the crease. The powerful right-hander wasted no time, pulling a delivery into deep mid-wicket for four before she launched Ranaweera over her head for six.

Not to be left behind, opener Queentor Abel drove Dilhari against the spin and through the covers for two boundaries in the 14th over. Athapaththu broke the 45-run partnership between Abel and Bhakita, trapping the former in front with the score on 71 after 16 overs. Bhakita departed soon after, miscuing a Dilhari delivery into the hands of Ama Kanchana at mid-wicket.

Sri Lanka only conceded nine runs in the final three overs to restrict the East Africans to 87 for six.

In reply, Sri Lanka were in an aggressive mood right from the first over. Vishmi Gunaratne lofted Lavendah Idambo over mid-on for her first boundary of a run-a-ball knock of 26. Mercyline Ochieng came in for some treatment in the second over as Athapaththu cleared the off side circle twice for a pair of boundaries to get her innings going.

Things would go from bad to worse for Kenya who were helpless in the face of the assault from Athapaththu, who had struck 86 off 45 in Sri Lanka’s earlier win over Scotland. The left-hander flicked Mwangi off her pads for her first of three maximums, taking 16 off the final over of a Powerplay, which yielded 57 runs.

Two overs later, Sarah Bhakita was carted over her head for six by the Sri Lankan skipper before she was swept over the deep mid-wicket boundary off the very next delivery.

With five runs required for victory, Athapaththu was stumped off the bowling of a jubilant Esther Wachira. Sri Lanka, however, had no issues hunting down what remained of the target, winning with 63 balls to spare.

Kenya skipper Margaret Ngoche remained optimistic in spite of the loss.

“We bowled too many extras, but the girls did well. We put up a fight,” she said.

Athapaththu was asked about Dilhari’s development, and she responded by heaping praise on the off spinner.

“Kavisha is one of our main bowlers who we rely on to keep the opposition in check. Today, she flighted the ball and drew the batters to make mistakes. We hope she keeps doing this in the remaining games,” she said.

Athapaththu also took home the Player of the Match award, yet she expects even more from herself going forward in the tournament.

“This is how I always play. By my standards, I’m still not fully satisfied, and I feel I can still tighten up my game. I look forward to the next few games,” she said.

Brief Scores:

Kenya

87/6 in 20 Overs 

Mary Mwangi 33, Sarah Wetoto 29 ; Chamari Athapaththu 1/10

Sri Lanka

89/1 in 9.3 Overs.

Vishmi Gunaratne 26 not out, Chamari Athapaththu 57; Esther Wachira 1/04

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Sri Lanka Under 19s looking to keep unbeaten status intact against hosts

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by Reemus Fernando  

Sri Lanka Under 19s will enter today’s final group ‘D’ encounter almost assured of their quarter-final place and fates of Australia and hosts West Indies in the ICC Under 19 World Cup in their hands. Despite leading the points table in their group the team will look forward to registering a win against the hosts.

“The team will try to enter the quarter-finals unbeaten and will field a team that can counter West Indies’ strengths,” a team official told The Island from St. Kitts yesterday.

Mahinda Halangoda, the manager of Sri Lanka Under 19 team was speaking to The Island after fellow Group ‘D’ team, Australia beat Scotland to remain in contention for a place in the quarter-finals.

“You need to win to avoid looking at net run rates to earn your quarter-final place. The team will not take chances,” Halangoda said.

Sri Lanka will meet hosts as the only unbeaten team in Group ‘D’. While Scotland are out of contention, West Indies will be looking to register a victory to secure a place in the quarter-final in the tournament proper.

Despite Australia’s big win against Scotland on Wednesday giving them a net run-rate boost, they are not assured of qualification. If West Indies beat Sri Lanka in a very close finish, then Australia could be eliminated to the Plate round. If Sri Lanka beat West Indies, Australia will qualify.

Sri Lanka registered a four-wicket win against Australia in their second tournament match on Monday to lead the points table. “No one expected us to beat Australia as they were a strong team, one of the favourites. Dunith Wellalage did really well to guide the team. A victory on Friday will be the ideal way to conclude the group stage,” said Halangoda.

Wellalage picked up his second five-wicket haul of the tournament on Monday before scoring a crucial half-century to lead the side to victory.

The tournament’s decisive phase has seen one of the team’s leading batsmen failing to deliver while a batsman replaced him producing results. Pawan Pathiraja who was the team’s most consistent batsman until the team reached West Indies was dropped after he failed to impress. It would be interesting to see if the team would recall him for the final group match.

Sakuna Liyanage who replaced wicketkeeper-batsman Anjala Bandara did a rescue job in the first match he played scoring a match-defining half-century. Liyanage also kept wickets for Sri Lanka as both wicketkeepers were not fit to play during the initial stages. Liyanage’s form has seen him retain his place despite Bandara returning to the match against Australia.

Sri Lanka banked on spinners to earn results in this World Cup and it would be interesting to note how the team from the land of legendary fast bowlers would take the final group encounter.

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