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Sensational Pant gives India control in Mohali  



Virat Kohli playing his 100th Test match is removed by a Lasith Embuldeniya beauty in Mohali on day one of the first Test between Sri Lanka and India. Image courtesy: SLC.

Rex Clementine in Mohali

A key figure in India’s series win in Australia last year was Rishab Pant whose stunning counterattack against Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins saw the Aussies lose a Test at the Gabba for the first time in more than 30 years. Sri Lankan players got a taste of Pant’s explosive batting yesterday as he posted 96 off 97 balls on day one of the first Test in Mohali.

Having reduced India to 228 for five and with big names like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli back in the pavilion, Sri Lanka were looking to dismiss India perhaps below 300. But that proved to be wishful thinking as Pant threw caution to the wind and helped India to an impregnable position.

Pant was watchful earlier on taking 73 balls for his half-century, but from thereon he was putting the bowling to the sword as his next 46 runs came off 24 balls. Sri Lanka were running out of ideas fast.

Skipper Dimuth Karunarante placed six fielders on the boundary rope hoping that there will be a mishit but that proved to be wishful thinking as Pant cleared the boundary and the ball landed in the stands.

Pant smashed 22 runs off a Lasith Embudeniya over that contained two fours and two sixes. In the next over bowled by Dhananjaya de Silva, the left-hander hammered two one handed sixes.

Soon, Dimuth Karunaratne switched to pace and the new ball was taken when it was due. Lakmal found the breakthrough when he breached Pant’s defences. His 96 came off 97 deliveries with nine fours and four sixes.

India were going at a hectic rate after electing to bat first as 50 runs came inside ten overs. But Rohit Sharma was playing one too many attacking strokes and perished when he tried to deposit a Lahiru Kumara delivery over fine-leg but failed to clear the fielder.

Kumara returned to the dressing room holding his hamstring after bowling ten overs and did not return to the field. The fast bowler has a history of breaking down middle of a Test match. Strangely, he has not played in a First Class game since breaking down halfway through the Bangladesh Test at Pallekele in May last year.

The game was all about Virat Kohli, who was featuring in his 100th Test match. The former captain has gone through a lean patch and many were expecting Sri Lanka’s harmless bowling attack would help him to his first international hundred in more than two years. But when on 45 Embuldeniya cleaned him up with a beauty.

Sri Lanka’s 300th Test match also marked the return of Niroshan Dickwella to international cricket. The early indications are that he has learned little from his time out from the game as he prompted the captain for two silly reviews. Dickwella remains immature, impulsive and perhaps incorrigible.


Niroshan Dickwella stars in Greens 8-run win over Reds



Opening batsman Niroshan Dickwella hammered an unbeaten 76 off 56 balls packed with 8 boundaries as Team Greens defeated Team Reds by 8 runs to register back to back wins in the SLC Skyexchange Invitational T20 League 2022 at the R. Premadasa International Stadium yesterday. Batting first the Greens ran up 161 for 6 off 20 overs with Dickwella dominating the innings. Skipper Dasun Shanaka struck 21 off 12 hitting 3 boundaries before getting run out followed by Dhananjaya de Silva 19 off 12 with 3 boundaries and Ramesh Mendis 11 off 8 (1×4).

The Reds did make a match out of it making 153 for 5 but lacked the final charge to make it despite having enough wickets in hand. Bhanuka Rajapaksa top scored with 34 off 28 with 2 boundaries while skipper Kusal Mendis made 30 off 28 with 3 boundaries and Kamindu Mendis 24 off 22 hitting a six.Upfront opening batsman Lasith Croospulle struck 31 off 24 inclusive of 3 boundaries for the Reds. Dickwella was adjudged Player of the Match.


Team Greens 161/6 (20 Overs) (Niroshan Dickwella n.o. 76, Dasun Shanaka 21, Dhananjaya de Silva 19,.Dinesh Chandimal 15, Ramesh Mendis 11, Asitha Fernando 2/32, Sahan Arachchige 1/13, Matheesha Pathirana 1/25, Wanindu Hasaranga 1/30).

Team Reds

153/5 (20 Overs) (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 34, Lasith Croospulle 31, Kusal Mendis 30, Kamindu Mendis 24, Sahan Arachchige n.o. 19, Ramesh Mendis 1/22, Nimesh Vimukthi 1/23, Nuwan Thushara 1/32, Dhananjaya Lakshan 1/39).


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New Zealand juggernaut rolls on with another all-round win



Odean Smith’s all-round show went in vain as West Indies’ batting once again did not manage to come to the party. Chasing 186, West Indies fell 13 runs short in the opening T20I in Jamaica as New Zealand’s juggernaut rolled on.

New Zealand had their returning skipper Kane Williamson put up a solid 47 off 33, and with Devon Conway’s 29-ball 43, the pair gave New Zealand a solid foundation to pile on the runs. There was a rain interruption in the 12th over for almost two hours, and although New Zealand lost momentum, briefly then, they recovered pretty quickly. Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell got starts but couldn’t convert them. It was, however, Jimmy Neesham’s 15-ball 33 in the end that propelled New Zealand towards the finish they wanted. Odean Smith finished with a career-best 3-32, striking at vital junctures to dismiss New Zealand’s top three; else the West Indies could’ve been chasing a lot more.

Tim Southee struck in the second over to dismiss Kyle Mayers, but West Indies would take heart from Shamarh Brooks’s fighting 42 off 43 while wickets fell at the other end as all of New Zealand’s bowlers cashed in. West Indies were reduced to 114/7 with the inevitable end drawing closer, but resistance came, albeit late, of 50 off 23 balls from the eighth-wicket stand Smith and Romario Shepherd.

Smith smashed four boundaries and a six in his unbeaten 27 off 12, while Shepherd struck three sixes and a four in his 31 not out off 16 balls. New Zealand’s spinners shone through once again on a wicket that assisted them, returning four wickets. Santner was the pick with 3-19 in his four leading New Zealand’s defence, making the most of the knowledge gained from his CPL experience.

Brief scores:New Zealand 185/5 in 20 overs (Kane Williamson 47, Devon Conway 43; Odean Smith 3-32) beat West Indies 172/7 in 20 overs (Shamarh Brooks 42; Mitchell Santner 3-19) by 13 runs.


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CSA T20 league: Livingstone and Buttler in top salary bracket as England, SA players hit paydirt



Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy are among 11 England players to have signed on for CSA’s new T20 league, joining Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali. English representation is the largest among the direct overseas signings the league has made so far. With 10 players, including Niroshan Dickwella, Sri Lanka is next. English players will also be the best paid. The likes of Buttler and Livingstone can expect to earn US$ 500,000 each to play in the league in January and February next year, while Moeen will be paid $400,000.

On Wednesday, CSA announced that it had signed over 30 marquee names for the league, without identifying them. But ESPNcricinfo has a list of the players signed up.As expected, there are no Pakistan players on the list. There have been suggestions that they would not be picked because franchises are owned by IPL owners – where Pakistani players have, in effect, been barred. But a league official, while clarifying that the league doesn’t get involved in selections, said Pakistan’s schedule constraints, where they have home series and then the PSL this year, have played a part in their non-availability.

The list also shows the salaries these players will receive, ranging from $30,000 all the way up to $500,000. That ceiling means that this league is now jostling with the UAE-based ILT20 for the title of cricket’s second-most lucrative league behind the IPL. The two leagues are competing for the world’s best players and a window in the calendar; the ILT20 has been offering up to $450,000 to top players.

Though it is not yet public, the overall purse for each of the six franchises is expected to be $2 million. But $250,000 will be considered the maximum salary in that purse: any player above that will be paid the full amount but over $250,000 will be considered a marketing cost. In Buttler’s case, for example, $250,000 will be his salary as far as the purse is concerned but he will be paid $500,000 – the remaining $250,000 will be part of the league’s marketing cost.

Each of the six franchises will have 17-man squads, in which up to five players – three overseas but no two from the same country, one South Africa international player and one uncapped South African player – will be pre-signed. An auction for the remaining spots will be held in the next few weeks. The league is likely to allow four international players in XI, with no other requirements such as transformation targets.

As all franchises in the league are owned by IPL owners, it is likely that there will be an alignment between players who play in the IPL for a franchise, and the corresponding franchise in CSA’s league. It is believed, for instance, that Buttler has signed with the Paarl franchise owned by Rajasthan Royals, Holder has signed with the Durban franchise owned by Lucknow Super Giants and Theekshana has signed with the Super Kings-owned Johannesburg franchise.


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