Rex Clementine in Sydney
It’s a funny game this cricket is. Last week, South Africa were expected to top their group and go on to play the Adelaide semi-final of the ICC T-20 World Cup here in Australia. But then Pakistan inspired by lower-order batsman Shadab Khan’s 20-ball half-century took momentum off their campaign. They could have still qualified for the second semi-final in Sydney and in their last Super 12 game against the Netherlands, they choked. Pakistan seized the opportunity with both hands and a win over Bangladesh, later that night, was sufficient for them to knock South Africa out and progress to the last four.
Pakistan have peaked at the right time and heading into the semi-final they will be favourites over New Zealand. Here’s why.
Rain in Sydney during the Super 12 stage meant there was moisture on the pitch and New Zealand seamers Trent Boult and Tim Southee loved the conditions. The two Kiwis form a formidable combination but when there’s no seam movement, they aren’t as threatening as when the ball moves around. Sydney has been quite dry this week and Pakistan should negate the new ball threat.
Sydney also has produced some high-scoring games. There were two occasions where scores of 200 were made. Towards the later part of the Super 12s the pitch had become slower, like during the England – Sri Lanka clash. This was as a result of Australia wanting a used wicket in a bid to knock England out and boost their chances of going through. That didn’t happen as England beat Sri Lanka in the last over to edge defending champions Aussies out.
Pakistan’s middle order has been vulnerable and too much depend on their openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. Their lower order has bailed them out on a couple of occasions, but to expect that to happen all the time is wishful thinking.
South Africa has been a generous giver of cricketing talents to other parts of the world. New Zealand have been one of the beneficiaries. Both their key batsmen in this World Cup – Glenn Philips and Devon Conway were born in South Africa. Both batters have been in good nick and together with captain Kane Williamson hold the New Zealand batting together.
New Zealand’s only blemish in this competition came against England in Brisbane when they lost by 20 runs. They are a hard team to beat and it remains to be seen whether Pakistan will be able to knock them out of the competition.
Shorna Akter stars with ball and bat to give Bangladesh Asian Games bronze
It was a low-scoring bronze-medal playoff, with a total of 129 runs scored for the fall of 14 wickets across 38.2 overs. That might not have done much to get those unfamiliar with the game in the Chinese city excited, but Bangladesh will take it, not necessarily because of the colour of the medal, but the result itself: when the same two teams contested the final of the 2014 edition in Incheon (the last time cricket was a part of the Asian Games), Pakistan had won by four runs (DLS method).
Here, Bangladesh opted to field after winning the toss, and it was 6 for 2 inside two overs and 18 for 4 in the ninth, the wickets shared between Marufa Akter, Nahida Akter, Sanjida Akter and Rabeya Khan. Sadaf Shamas was the only one getting into double-digits in that phase.
There was a bit of a fightback after that courtesy Natalia Pervaiz (11), captain Nida Dar (14) and Aliva Riaz (17), but Shorna struck twice in the 15th over, sending back Dar and Umm-e-Hani, and then took out Riaz in the final over on her way to returns of 3 for 16. All Pakistan had on the board was 64.
That shouldn’t have been too many for Bangladesh, and they started well with Shamima Sultana and Shathi Rani putting up 27 for the first wicket. But they were dismissed in quick succession to leave the scoreboard reading 30 for 2, and with Nashra Sandhu striking regularly, Bangladesh were 43 for 4 by the 11th over.
A few more runs, and the story could have been different for Pakistan, but Bangladesh just needed to do it in singles from there on, which Shorna did well, her 14 not out coming off 33 balls without a four or a six, the win coming with ten balls left.
Bangladesh 65 for 5 in 18.2 overs (Shorna Akter 14*, Nashra Sandhu 3-10) beat Pakistan 64 for 9 in 20 overs (Aliya Riaz 17, Shorna Akter 3-16, Sajinda Akter Meghla 2-11) by five wickets
Iyer, Gill, Suryakumar and Ashwin stud India’s series-clinching win
India’s box-ticking ahead of the World Cup continued, with Shreyas Iyer and R Ashwin coming up with impressive performances, as the hosts secured a 99-run victory (DLS) in the second ODI in Indore on Sunday (September 24) to seal the three-match series. Iyer’s third ODI ton and Shubman Gill’s sixth hundred, along with half-centuries from Suryakumar Yadav and KL Rahul, powered India to a commanding 399/5. After a rain break in the second innings, Australia’s target was revised to 317 in 33 overs but they ended up well short as Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja bagged three apiece to bowl the visitors out for 217.
Matthew Short started positively in the chase as he managed two fours off Mohammed Shami in the opening over. But Prasidh Krishna, who replaced Jasprit Bumrah for this game, had Short caught at third man and also got Steve Smith, the stand-in captain, to edge to slip. The bowler, though, was taken for a few boundaries by David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne as they took Australia past 50 before it started to rain again in Indore, forcing the players off the field. Upon resumption, Australia faced a steep challenge as they needed 261 in 24 overs at close to 11 an over as per the DLS revised target.
Warner and Labuschagne, who extended their stand past 50, had to play their shots from the get-go and they were up for it as they targeted Shardul Thakur. Ashwin, on the other hand, wasn’t as easy to score off and Warner even batted right-handed against him, executing a sweep shot for a four. Labuschagne, though, fell to the offspinner as he was bowled off a back flipper. Warner, who registered his second fifty-plus score of the series, persisted with his right-hand tactics against Ashwin, and ended up being out lbw attempting a reverse sweep, although replays revealed he had edged the ball onto his pad.
Ashwin also removed Josh Inglis soon after and Jadeja, after an expensive start, accounted for Alex Carey. A direct hit from Ishan Kishan, who was ‘keeping in this game, caught Cameron Green short of the crease. Jadeja picked up his second by having Adam Zampa bowled, as Australia slipped to 140/8. Josh Hazlewood and Sean Abbott struck a few big hits while a couple of dropped catches came as blemishes in an otherwise dominating show by India. Australia got some ticking done too as Abbott showcased his hitting skills to bring up a 29-ball fifty, his first in ODIs. A 77-run ninth wicket stand came to an end when Hazlewood, who had hit two fours off Shami, was eventually bowled by the experienced pacer for 23. Abbott was the last to fall, bowled by Jadeja, as Australia’s innings ended in the 29th over. It meant they had now lost five ODIs on the bounce.
Earlier, having been asked to bat, India got off to a good start as Ruturaj Gaikwad struck two fours off debutant Spencer Johnson. Hazlewood, back in the side, bowled in the right channels, and reaped the reward as he got Gaikwad to edge to Carey. Iyer hit the straps straightaway as he dealt in regular boundaries. Be it driving through covers or going over it, he exuded confidence as he helped India pick up pace. Gill was a bit subdued until he went straight over Abbott’s head for his first boundary-shot, which was a maximum, and then came down the track to hit one past cover for a four. Gill also took on Green in his first over, striking a four and a six. After a brief rain interruption, Gill and Iyer continued to tee off, with the former bringing up a 37-ball fifty and the latter getting to a 41-ball half-century with a six off Johnson.
Australia weren’t able to keep a lid on India’s scoring rate, with Iyer targeting the spinners for a couple of sixes and Gill finding the boundaries regularly. India’s 200 came up in just the 29th over and an 86-ball ton for Iyer came next, and the joy and relief of getting to hundred was palpable in his celebrations. Iyer was reprieved when the third umpire ruled that Abbott didn’t take a return catch cleanly. But the batter fell in the same over, soon after hitting a boundary to raise the 200 partnership, when he failed in his attempt to clear the fence. Rahul started with a six off Zampa, after which Gill reached three figures, becoming only the fifth player to get five ODI hundreds in a calendar year before turning 25. Rahul also hit a Green delivery out of the ground before Gill’s innings came to an end in the same over when he was undone by a slower ball.
Rahul and Kishan kept the big hits coming as they raised a 59-run stand to help India past 300 in the 41st over. But Kishan fell soon after, getting out to Zampa for an 18-ball 31 looking to go for another big one. After two quiet overs, Suryakumar unleashed his array of strokes in the 44th over off Green, hitting four successive sixes. Rahul got to a 35-ball fifty but it was Suryakumar who scored the bulk of the runs in a half-century stand before Green ended the Indian skipper’s stay. But there was no stopping Suryakumar, who smashed a six and two fours in a 17-run over from Abbott as he got to a 24-ball fifty. Jadeja and Suryakumar scored a four apiece off Hazlewood in the 48th. It was a forgettable outing with the ball for Green, who conceded 103 runs despite giving away only five runs in the 49th over. Abbott was hit for a six by Suryakumar in the final over but he kept it tight otherwise, preventing India from reaching 400.
India 399/5 in 50 overs (Shreyas Iyer 105, Shubman Gill 104, Suryakumar Yadav 72*, KL Rahul 52; Cameron Green 2-103) beat Australia 217 (Sean Abbott 54, David Warner 53; R Ashwin 3-41, Ravindra Jadeja 3-42) by 99 runs (DLS method).
Hasaranga ruled out of World Cup
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka suffered a major blow before leaving for the ICC Cricket World Cup in India later this week when star leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga was ruled out of the tournament with a hamstring injury. The 26-year-old was sidelined from the Asia Cup after suffering a hamstring injury during the Lanka Premier League but was expected to be fit for the World Cup.
However, he aggravated the injury during rehabilitation and now medical experts will determine whether the former Richmond College cricketer needs surgery. Hasaranga has a grade III hamstring tear.Hasaranga had been named in the World Cup squad but now he’s most likely to be replaced by Dushan Hemantha, the leg-spinning all-rounder.
There was no place for fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera either in the World Cup squad, however, sources said that he will be back up if any injury happens to a fast bowler during the World Cup.Dilshan Madushanka and Lahiru Kumara, who did not feature in the Asia Cup due to injuries have recovered and have been drafted into the World Cup squad.
Maheesh Theekshana, who suffered a hamstring injury during the Super Four game against Pakistan in the Asia Cup has recovered and has also been named in the World Cup squad.
Sri Lanka did well to reach the Asia Cup finals despite the bowling attack being depleted with injuries. All bowlers who broke down lead up to the Asia Cup were expected to be available for selection and Hasaranga had in fact resumed bowling and had been picked in the World Cup squad before the same injury again flared up.
Later this week, Sri Lanka will fly off to the eastern Indian city of Guwahati on the Nepalese boarder for World Cup warm-up games against Asian rivals Afghanistan and Bangladesh before flying to Indian capital of New Delhi to prepare for their first game of the tournament against South Africa.The finalists of the epic 2019 World Cup – England and New Zealand will face off in the curtain-raiser of the tournament on the 5th October at Ahmedabad. Sri Lanka’s first game is two days later.Sri Lanka have two games each in Delhi, Bangalore and Lucknow while they play one game each at Pune and Hyderabad. The epic clash against hosts India is in Bombay on the 2nd of November, a replay of the 2011 World Cup final.
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