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Jailbreak for Kings XI Punjab, choke for Sunrisers Hyderabad

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The Kolkata Knight Riders thumped the Delhi Capitals earlier on Saturday to consolidate their fourth spot and establish a four-point lead over the Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Kings XI Punjab. In the Sunrisers’ previous game against the Rajasthan Royals, the middle order bailed them out after both David Warner and Jonny Bairstow fell cheaply. However, they unravelled spectacularly on Saturday as the Kings XI pulled off an unlikely heist. Here’s how it unfolded

 

56 for 1

In pursuit of a modest target of 127, the “old-school” Warner turns up and takes on the Kings XI’s gun bowler Mohammed Shami. The Sunrisers’ captain lofts Shami over cover for six, then flat-bats him over his head and pulls him past mid-on for fours. All up, Warner scores 22 runs off 13 balls from Shami. The Sunrisers are 52 for 0 in six overs.

Enter Ravi Bishnoi. Exit Warner. Having reverse-swept a googly for four first ball, Warner aims another reverse-sweep off the second, but Bishnoi finds more turn and bounce. The ball flicks Warner’s glove and Rahul hangs on to a catch. Paul Reiffel, the on-field umpire, though shoots down the appeal, which Rahul reviews successfully to overturn the on-field not-out decision. Warner gone for a rapid 35.

 

58 for 2

M Ashwin had harried Bairstow with googlies in his first two overs. Ashwin, like fellow legspinner Bishnoi, relishes bowling the googly more than the legbreak. It was the same variation that impressed Stephen Fleming and MS Dhoni so much that they shelled out INR 4.5 crore in the 2016 auction to get him on board at the Rising Pune Supergiant.

In the past couple of seasons, Ashwin has got the googly to skid off the pitch. Bairstow is ready for the googly in Ashwin’s third over. He shapes to sweep with the break through square leg. However, Ashwin gets a legbreak to drift into Bairstow and bowls him around his legs.

 

67 for 3

Manish Pandey is taking his time to settle as the Dubai pitch is slowing down. Abdul Samad is promoted to No.4 to perhaps target the bowlers and shorter boundaries. Or perhaps the Sunrisers just don’t want to risk Vijay Shankar, who had hurt his thumb in the field, in a small chase. Shankar had suffered back spasms earlier in the tournament as well.

Rahul searches for another breakthrough and brings back Shami. The Kings XI’s main bowler will finish his quota by the ninth over. Another batsman may have opted to see Shami off, but Samad is a six-hitter, and that’s why he has been picked ahead of Abhishek Sharma.

Shami pitches it right in the slot, but Samad doesn’t quite get underneath the length and feebly chips it to mid-off, where Chris Jordan pouches the overhead catch. The Kings XI start to believe.

 

100 for 4

Pandey and Shankar threaten to close out a second successive chase. They work past the early blows by dropping the ball into the gaps. Pandey, in particular, struggles to read Bishnoi’s googly and so once Jordan comes back, he looks to chance his arm. He swishes at a leg-side full-toss and misses.

Jordan then shifts his line outside off, but overpitches it. Pandey, like Samad, doesn’t quite get under it, and chips it in the air. J Suchith, the sub fielder, tears across to his right, and plucks a catch out of thin air in front of the Kings XI dugout.

In the 2017 IPL final, Suchith had ran out Washington Sundar off the last ball as a sub fielder to seal a one-run win for the Mumbai Indians. Pandey’s grab will turn out to be a match-winning fielding effort as well.

Ravi Bishnoi, Chris Jordan and Mohammed Shami – the heart of KXIP’s bowling BCCI

The Sunrisers need 27 off 23 balls.

 

110 for 5

All of the Sunrisers’ hopes are on Shankar. He had lined up his Tamil Nadu team-mate Ashwin and driven him straight for a brace of fours. Then, there was a languid lofted drive over mid-off for four off Jordan. After that boundary, the Sunrisers need only 20 off 18 balls. At that stage, ESPNcricinfo’s forecaster pegged Kings XI’s chances at a mere 5.47%.

Jason Holder jabs Arshdeep Singh to point and Shankar responds for the single, taking on Nicholas Pooran’s arm. Pooran misses the stumps, but Shankar cops a nasty blow on the grille of his helmet as the ball skids off the turf and bounces extra. After the Sunrisers’ medical staff tend to Shankar, he composes himself and signals that he’s ready to bat on.

Shankar wants to finish back-to-back games for the Sunrisers. He expects a short delivery and ventures leg side, hoping to manipulate the gap between backward point and short third man. Singh keeps it short, but it’s an off-pace cutter that grips and has Shankar edging behind to Rahul.

It comes down to the Sunrisers

needing 17 off 12 balls.

 

112 for 6

Jordan v Holder. The Kings XI’s seniors Rahul, Chris Gayle, Glenn Maxwell, and Pooran are all part of an intense discussion with Jordan. He will be bowling into Big Jase from over the wicket, with the leg-side boundary being the shorter one. Arshdeep will have the cushion of bowling of the last over, with the leg-side boundary being the bigger one.

Jordan brings him with him the reputation of being a bonafide death bowler for England, but he hasn’t quite had his IPL moment. That Super Over against the Mumbai Indians could’ve gone awry for him if not for Mayank Agarwal’s stunning save at the boundary.

 

Arshdeep Singh celebrates after a key strike BCCI

Agarwal is out injured now, but Jordan has a chance to stamp his authority on the IPL. His first ball is a middle-stump yorker and Holder stabs it down to long-on for one. Priyam Garg squeezes a single off the second to bring Holder back on strike. Jordan’s plan is simple: hide the ball away from Holder’s reach and deny him access to the shorter leg-side fence. Jordan executes his plan and has Holder carving a catch to Mandeep Singh at extra-cover.

Mandeep had lost his father on Friday evening, but here he is stepping up under pressure for the Kings XI.

 

112 for 7

The Sunrisers need 15 off nine balls. They need more magic from Rashid Khan after he had ripped out Rahul with a perfect wrong’un earlier in the evening. Jordan goes wide of off once again, and Khan only scythes it straight to Pooran at sweeper cover for a golden duck. Double-wicket penultimate over. Four years after having been yanked out of Sky Sports’ panel of IPL analysts as a late replacement for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Jordan has his IPL moment. It’s panic stations for the Sunrisers.

 

114 for 8

Arshdeep has 13 to defend to pull off a coup. He has only played three first-class and 18 white-ball games for Punjab in domestic cricket. He is up against Sandeep Sharma, his senior state mate, who is Sunrisers’ swing bowler in the IPL. Sunrisers need him to swing with the bat now. Arshdeep, however, digs in an offcutter and has Sharma splicing a pull to midwicket.

114 for 9

 

Garg has crossed over and the Sunrisers need 13 off four balls. He’s probably wondering how it came down to this? Arshdeep digs in another cutter at off stump and dares Garg to manufacture pace for himself. However, the batsman is cramped for room and only drags it to long-on, where Jordan runs in, dives forward, and snaps up another smart catch.

 

114 all out

With the game up, Arshdeep gets another cutter to stick in the pitch, drawing a weak push from No.11 Khaleel Ahmed to point. Ahmed simply dawdles for the single and is emphatically beaten by a direct hit from Bishnoi. It raises his coach Anil Kumble off his seat and even has him applauding animatedly.

From having lost games from seemingly winning positions, the Kings XI pulled off a great escape to secure their fourth victory in a row, boosting their playoffs chances. As for the Sunrisers, they’re still not out yet, but how will they recover from such a cataclysmic collapse? (ESPN)



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Sri Lanka men’s and women’s teams ready to contest FIBA Asia Tournament

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by a Special Sports Correspondent

The Sri Lanka Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took flight to Singapore on Tuesday for the FIBA Asia 3×3 Basketball tournament.

The two teams have been in preparation since April and are being coached by Ajith Kuruppu.

The men’s team has to first prove its worth against China and Tonga and one more team before qualifying for the main tournament. “It’s going to be a tough tournament, but the men’s and women’s teams have been practicing well. Our preparations were good and we want to make an impact at the tournament,” said Kuruppu. According to the Sri Lanka teams’ coach China will be a tough challenge in the men’s segment of the tournament.

“We’ve been gelling together as a team during training and the players have a good understanding when playing as a unit,” said Sri Lanka’s Mens’ Team skipper Shehan Fernando.

Sri Lanka’s women’s team has made a direct entry into the tournament. Sri Lanka Women’s team skipper Anjali Ekanayake said that the ranking of the players in the national 3×3 team is good. “These players have got much exposure playing in this format of the game. We’ve been focusing on nutrition and shooting over the past few months. Training went well for the tournament,” said Ekanayake.

Coach Kuruppu took this opportunity to thank Vaaj Fitness for sponsoring the two national teams to Singapore and for making their gym available for the players to do strength and conditioning training.

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Chathurya, Dinara, Saajida, Vishmi advance to second round

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ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament

Chathurya Nilaweera ousted India’s Dhanush Varma to reach the second round of the ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament continued at the SSC Tennis Courts on Tuesday.

Nilaweera was the only player in the boys’ category from Sri Lanka to advance from the first round as he beat Varma 6-2, 6-0.

In the girls’ category Dinara de Silva, Saajida Razick and Vishmi Serasinghe reached the second round when they won their respective first round matches on Monday.

Dinara beat Yu Ching Wang of Taipei 6-3, 7-6(4) and Razick beat Indian Anushka Bhola 6-1, 6-1, while Serasinghe ousted Wei Chiao-Chen also from Taipei 6-1, 6-1.

In the other matches Dinethya Dharmarathe, Dahamna Methnadi, Nesangi Hemakumara, Vinethya Dharmarathne and Gehansa Metnadi conceded first round defeats.

In the boys’ category Vichinthya Nilaweera, Methwan Wijemanne, Abdul Bashit Cader, Thilina Dissanayake and Zahid Zihar were eliminated in the first round.

The boys’ and girls’ second round matches will be played today.

The tournament which commenced on July 4 will culminate on Friday.

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Sri Lanka add more spin options after first Test disaster

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Maheesh Theekshana and Dunith Wellalage are likely to make their Test debuts in the series-deciding second Test in Galle.

by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka have taken some desperate measures leading up to the second Test against Australia in Galle by adding more spin options indicating that the team management and the selectors are willing to make wholesale changes after the pathetic performance in the first Test which they lost before lunch on day three.

Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya has been sent home after he failed to make an impact following the ten-wicket loss last week. In an inexperienced attack, the 25-year-old with 17 Test caps is the senior most bowler but he had got his lengths wrong in a game dominated by Australian spinners. Embuldeniya had struggled in Bangladesh as well and was dropped. Instead of letting him fight his way back, he was drafted into the first Test against Australia and it wasn’t surprising to see him failing to make an impact. Now with the series at stake, Sri Lanka have pressed the panic button.

Even if Dimuth Karunaratne’s side win the second Test, Australia will retain Warne-Murali Trophy since they are the holders having blanked Sri Lanka 2-0 in 2019.

Sri Lanka’s desperation is evident by the fact that they have recalled Maheesh Theekshana, who hasn’t played a First-Class game in four years. In fact, Army had been told not to consider Theekshana for the ongoing one-day competition to help him recover from niggles but suddenly he finds himself in the hot seat with a Test series at stake.

Uncapped Dunith Wellalage also has been added to the squad giving the left-arm spin option that has been taken away following the axing of Embuldeniya. Support left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama had tested positive for COVID.

Former captain Angelo Mathews who was in isolation after testing positive for COVID has returned a negative test and has rejoined the team.

Off-spinner Lakshitha Manasinghe is the third player to be added to the group. He had an impressive series against Australia ‘A’ too. It is expected that Wellalage will make his Test debut while the slot for the third spinner is a toss-up between Jeffrey Vandersay and Maheesh Theekshana. The leg-spinner was untidy in the opening Test and the more realistic option seems to be that Theekshana debuting alongside Wellalage.

Although three replacement spinners have been added, some wonder why Sri Lanka have not thought of some batting replacements. It was a pathetic display by the team in the second innings where they were shot out inside a session and faced only 22.3 overs.

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