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India win thriller, eliminate England in race to WTC final



After a day in which wickets fell in a flurry, India emerged victorious to boost their chances of cementing a place in the ICC World Test Championship final, even as they eliminated England from the race.

Axar Patel claimed 11 wickets in the match and R Ashwin became only the fourth Indian to reach 400 Test wickets as India bundled England out for 81 in their second innings, giving themselves a target of 49. Rohit Sharma brought up the winning runs with a six as the hosts wrapped up victory within two days.

India now need to avoid defeat in the final Test at the same venue in Ahmedabad to ensure they progress to the WTC final. Australia, meanwhile, will hope England can still get something out of the series and win the final Test, which would result in a Trans-Tasman event in the inaugural WTC final.

The day began with India resuming their first innings on 99/3, trailing England by 13 runs. However, the scale of the task awaiting both teams on a turning track became evident when, within six overs of the morning, Ajinkya Rahane was trapped in front by Leach, attempting a cut but misjudging the degree of the turn. 

The wicket opened the floodgates. Rohit Sharma, who had scored an authoritative 66 till that point, became Leach’s second wicket four overs later, attempting a sweep that didn’t account for the lack of turn. The dangerous Rishabh Pant, who could have taken the pitch out of the equation with his adventurous strokeplay, fell in the very next over, when England captain Joe Root brought himself on.

Root built on that wicket to return his best ever bowling figures. He ran through the tail, dismissing Washington Sundar (0), Axar Patel (0), Jasprit Bumrah (1) and eventually Ashwin (17) to claim a phenomenal 5/8. All the while, Ashwin and Ishant Sharma, who was unbeaten on 10*, had boosted India’s lead to 33.

England had fought their way back into contention in the match, but unfortunately, their batsmen couldn’t capitalise. India’s bowlers, primarily Axar and Ashwin, were superb with the ball, displaying immense control to run through the England line-up. 

Axar opened the bowling, and had England reduced to 0/2 in an eventful first three balls. He cleaned up Zak Crawley with the first ball, and dished out the same treatment to Jonny Bairstow with his third ball, after the batsman overturned his lbw dismissal on the second ball. 

Dom Sibley looked to grind his way through, but missed a sweep and was caught behind, his dismissal upheld despite a review. Root and Ben Stokes then briefly resisted India, putting on a 31-run stand for the fourth wicket, with Root having a dismissal overturned on review en route. 

Their partnership helped England take the lead, but Ashwin came in to break the stand with the one that straightened and rammed into Stokes’ pads. The visitors lost six wickets for 31 runs, with Root’s dismissal by Axar in the next over being a blow they never recovered from. Ashwin proved too good for England’s lower order as he brought up his 400th Test wicket in just his 77th Test – he became the quickest bowler after Muttiah Muralitharan to reach the mark.

England’s collapse left India a target of 49. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, the India openers, knocked off 11 runs in what remained in the second session, and it didn’t take them long to finish things off in the final session, batting freely and assuredly. 

The final Test will begin at the same venue on 4 March.



IPL 2023 rule change: teams will name their playing XI after the toss



IPL captains this year will walk out to the toss with two XIs handy

Captains in IPL 2023 will walk in with two different team sheets before handing in their final XI after the toss. That is one of the significant tweaks from the last season in the IPL’s playing conditions, which will soon be shared with the teams. The change, the IPL said in an internal note listing the various changes to playing conditions, would allow franchises to pick their best XIs based on whether they end up batting or bowling, the appropriate impact player included.

“Currently the captains have to exchange the teams before the toss,” the note, seen by ESPNcricinfo, said. “This has been changed to exchange of teams immediately post the toss, to enable teams to choose the best XI depending on whether they are batting or bowling first. It will also assist the teams to plan for the impact player.”

The IPL thus becomes the second T20 franchise tournament after the SA20 to allow teams to announce their XI post the toss. In the SA20, which recently staged its inaugural season, teams put 13 names on the team sheet initially before announcing their final XI after the toss. Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith, the SA20’s tournament director, had also said then that the move was designed to “lessen the impact of the toss” and allow a level-playing playing field based on the conditions.

The IPL has adopted a similar thought process now, with another key factor being neutralising the effect of dew, which has traditionally had a big impact at some venues in India, with teams bowling second adversely impacted.

While the toss will still matter, it should not be a case of “win toss, win match” in certain conditions with the new rule. For example, if a team that wanted to bat and then defend a total on a slow track in turning conditions is forced to bowl first, it can play an extra spinner in the starting XI, and then replace a specialist bowler with a batter in the second innings to help with the run-chase.

Other IPL playing conditions tweaks

Over rate penalty of only four fielders outside the 30-yard circle for every over not completed in the allocated time. Unfair movement of the wicketkeeper will result in a dead ball and 5 penalty runs. Unfair movement by a fielder will result in a dead ball and 5 penalty runs.


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Litton, Tamim make light work of small chase after Mahmud’s maiden five-for



Tamim Iqbal and Litton Das never gave Ireland a chance

Openers Litton Das and Tamim Iqbal made light work of a 102-run target as Bangladesh beat Ireland by ten wickets in the third ODI in Sylhet and completed a 2-0 series win. The visitors were bowled out for 101 in 28.1 overs after the Bangladesh fast bowlers took all ten wickets in an innings for the first time in the format.

The short chase was enlivened by Tamim and Litton, who put on an exhibition of strokeplay, finishing the game in just 13.1 overs, Bangladesh’s second-shortest chase in ODIs. After Bangladesh beat Ireland by a record margin of runs in the first ODI, this was also their first ten-wicket win in ODIs.

A small crowd turned up at the picturesque Sylhet venue on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan starting, and went home shortly after sunset. Ireland’s 101 broke a sequence of five successive 300-plus totals by the side batting first on this ground.

Hasan Mahmud’s maiden five-wicket haul, Taskin Ahmed’s three-wicket burst and Ebadot Hossain’s two-for summed up the absolute dominance by the Bangladesh fast bowlers. The spinners were needed for only four overs in all with Shakib Al Hasan not getting a chance to bowl for only the third time in his ODI career. It was a day out for the quicks on the hard and bouncy Sylhet surface, a rarity among grounds in Bangladesh. The conditions prompted the team management to pick six bowlers including the three seamers.

Mahmud removed openers Stephen Doheny and Paul Stirling in a disciplined opening burst. Doheny was caught behind for 8 after scratching around for 20 balls before Stirling, dropped on 5, got to 7 before Mahmud trapped him lbw in the ninth over. The skiddy fast bowler soon picked up his third when he trapped Harry Tector lbw later in the same over. Taskin got captain Andy Balbirnie caught at first slip for just 6 as Ireland collapsed to 26 for 4 before the first powerplay was up.

Then came their only partnership of note. Lorcan Tucker and Curtis Campher added 42 runs for the fifth wicket, which effectively helped Ireland reach the three-figure mark. Campher top-scored with 36, while Tucker made 28, the only two double-figure scores in the innings.

But it was soon over. Ebadot’s in-dipper had Tucker lbw. Next ball, Ebadot clean-bowled George Dockrell for a golden duck as Ireland slipped to 68 for 6.Taskin then took a brace in his seventh over, first getting Andy McBrine to top-edge a quick bouncer before Adair inside-edged his second ball onto the stumps.

Campher was the ninth wicket that fell, top-edging Mahmud towards fine leg. Taskin took a comfortable catch, celebrating the younger team-mate’s first four-wicket haul. It soon became five when Mahmud trapped Graham Hume lbw for 3.

Tamim started the chase with a slashed four over point, before pasting the Ireland fast bowlers for boundaries through cover and square-leg. Most of Litton’s boundaries came through the covers, including a back-foot punch that looked scrumptious from every angle. Left-arm spinner Matthew Humphreys then went for two expensive overs, before the Bangladesh opening pair calmed down briefly.

Tamim lofted Humphreys for a straight six in his third over, before Litton drove Campher through the covers. Then he struck two fours off Humphreys to reach his ninth ODI fifty, before Tamim hit the winning runs.

Brief scores:

Bangladesh 102 for 0 (Litton Das 50*, Tamim Iqbal 41*) beat Ireland 101 (Curtis Campher 36, Lorcan Tucker 28, Hasan Mahmud 5-32, Taskin Ahmed 3-26, Ebadot Hossain 2-29) by ten wickets


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AA Sponsors 68th National Billiard Championship



President AAC Dhammika Attygalle hands over the sponsorship to the Secretary of the B & SASL Kumar Lanerolle in the presence of P.H. Liyanage – Billiard Chairman AAC, Lasitha Gunaratne – Exco Member - AAC and Member of the National Sports Council, Devapriya Hettiarachchi – Secretary AAC and Anton Kandiah – Treasurer of the B & SASL and Billiard Secretary of the AAC.

The Automobile Association of Ceylon (AAC) will sponsor the 68th National Billiard Championship, conducted by the Billiards and Snooker Association of Sri Lanka (B & SASL) this year.

The Automobile Association of Ceylon established in 1904 is the oldest Motoring Organization in Sri Lanka,and is afiliated to the Federation Internationale De L’ Automobile, world largest Mobility Organization in Geneva, which has 150 countries under its umbrella. AAC’s prime object is to make all Road users safe.

AAC conducts annual Billiard and Snooker Tournaments for its members and also takes part in the inter-club tournaments in order to promote the cue sports. In the past, AAC members have excelled in several National Billiard and Snooker Tournaments and brought glory to the association.

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