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Shakib, Mustafizur star on comeback as Bangladesh go 4-0 up against Zimbabwe



Mustafizur Rahman and Shakib Al Hasan shared seven wickets (Cricinfo)

Zimbabwe again got close to Bangladesh’s total but couldn’t quite get the job done. This time in Dhaka, Bangladesh beat them by five runs to extend their lead in the T20I series to 4-0. With big hits towards the end, tailenders Wellington Masakadza and Blessing Muzarabani got everyone excited and nervous – depending on which side you were supporting.

Then Shakib Al Hassan took the two remaining wickets in the last over, but not before Muzarabani struck him for a straight six when 13 runs were needed. Shakib finished with 4 for 35 in his first T20I in ten months. Mustafizur Rahman also returning to the side, took three wickets, while Taskin Ahmed took two and Rishad Hossain one.

Bangladesh had given Zimbabwe a massive lifeline when they collapsed from 101 for no loss to be bowled out for 143. The last ten wickets fell in 8.4 overs as the hosts failed to last all 20 overs. Luke Jongwe led the visitors’ fightback with the ball, taking 3 for 20. His third wicket got him to 64 wickets in the format, as he beat Tendai Chatara to become Zimbabwe’s highest wicket taker in T20Is.

But before all that, Tanzid Hasan and Soumya Sarkar kept the home side on top.

Tanzid went after the bowling almost on his own in the powerplay. He reached 40 off 27 balls with seven fours, leaving Soumya with little to do at the other end. Soumya faced just nine balls during the powerplay, before he opened up in the next two overs. He reverse swept Brian Bennett in the seventh over before lofting Jongwe over the covers.

At the end of the ninth over, Tanzid reached his second fifty in the series with a single off Faraz Akram, as he continued to impress in his debut series. Soon after, Tanzid and Soumya reached their hundred stand, the third by a Bangladsh opening pair in T20Is. That partnership from the openers suggested Bangladesh would get a big score. But it all went downhill pretty soon.

Both openers fell in the 12th over when Johnathan Campbell took a good catch to remove Tanzid, before Soumya missed Jongwe’s slower yorker and was trapped lbw for 41. Despite the solid platform, the rest of the batters simply didn’t give the big crowd a chance to cheer for the rest of the innings.

Towhid Hridoy, the Player of the Match in the last two matches, slogged Sikandar Raza towards deep square leg where, Bennett took a fine catch. Bennett then got into the act with his offspin in the following over. He got the ball to sneak through Shakib’s bat and pad with his first ball, before Najmul Hossain Shanto played all around a tossed-up delivery off the last ball.

Richard Ngarava removed Jaker Ali in the 17th over, before a mix-up between Rishad and Taskin. Taskin hared out of the crease but Rishad sent him back, pointing towards the midwicket fielder; but by then it was too late, and Taskin couldn’t return to his crease in time.

Jongwe, Ngarava and Muzarabani took the last three wickets to fall. In the last over, though, Zimbabwe missed a run-out chance. As Bangladesh’s last pair Tanvir Islam and Mustafizur tried to take an extra run from an overthrow, Mustafizur was well short at the non-striker’s end. Campbell, however, couldn’t parry the ball on to the stumps, much to the packed house’s amusement.

In the chase, Zimbabwe once again failed to get off to a good start. Bennett couldn’t replicate his bowling effectiveness with the bat when he fell in the first over. Taskin hurried him into a pull shot, resulting in Shakib taking the catch at mid-on. Sikandar Raza, promoting himself to No. 3, struck four boundaries in the first two overs but lasted only till the fourth over. With Raza on 17, Taskin removed him with a good-length ball that uprooted his middle stump.

Tadiwanashe Marumani, who struck Shakib for two fours in the third over, followed Raza back to the dugout in the fifth over. Shakib trapped him lbw when Marumani missed an attempted slog sweep. When Madande fell in the tenth over, missing his reverse sweep, Rishad got him lbw for 12.

Bangladesh dropped two chances after they had Zimbabwe on the ropes in the tenth over. But Hridoy dropped Campbell on 12, before Jaker spilled Ryan Burl’s skier when he was on 1. The pair combined to take 20 runs off Tanzim Hasan in the 13th over. Campbell struck a six and a four, before Burl’s clip sent the ball high into the stands above square leg.

But their brief resistance ended with Mustafizur bowling the 15th over, where he struck twice. Soumya took a fine running catch from long-on to end Burl’s stay on 19. Jongwe guided his second ball to Rishad at point to make it 94 for 6. Shakib removed Campbell in the 17th over, with Shanto taking the skier at mid-off.

In the same over that Campbell fell, Masakadza struck Shakib for a four and six. But Tanzim brought things back with six runs in the 18th over, before Mustafizur conceded just seven runs in the penultimate over, where he also removed Akram.

Tanzid, who took a good catch to remove Akram, then dropped an easier chance of Masakadza off first ball of the last over. Muzarabani struck the big six next ball, but Shakib cleverly bowled a wide one to him as Muzarabani advanced, and Jaker completed the stumping. Ngarava then got bowled next ball to relieve the home crowd.

Brief scores:
Bangladesh 143 in 19.5 overs (Tanzid Hasan 52, Soumya Sarkar 41; Sikandar Raza 1-24, Blessing Muzarabani 1-30, Richard Ngrava 2-27, Brian Benett 2-20, Luke Jongwe 3-20) beat Zimbabwe 138 in 19.4 overs (Johnathan Campbell 31; Taskin Ahmed 2-20,  Shakib Al Hasan 4-35, Mustafizur Rahman 3-19, Rishad Hossain 1-06) by five runs


Dominant Zverev wins second Italian Open title




Alexander Zverev won his last Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati in 2021 (BBC)

Alexander Zverev produced a dominant serving display to clinch a straight sets victory over Nicolas Jarry and claim his second Italian Open title.

The German third seed dropped just five points on serve in a 6-4 7-5 win to seal a sixth Masters 1000 crown.

Zverev will now move up a place to fourth in the world rankings and served a warning to his rivals ahead of the French Open, which begins on 26 May.

But he said: “The focus is on Paris for sure, but let me enjoy this one for a few days first.  “Rome is a very special place for me. Obviously it’s a very, very special week.”

Chilean Jarry was competing in his first final at this level.

The world number 24 had knocked out sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals, but while he battled hard to stay in the match he had no answer to his opponent’s arrow-like serve, as Zverev landed 80% of his first serves in.

“He’s playing huge,” said Zverev of his opponent, who also beat America’s Tommy Paul en route to the final.  “I can see by the opponents he has beaten this week, that he is playing incredible tennis.  “I told him that if he carries on playing like that then he is going to have many more titles at this level.”


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Rajasthan Royals consigned to Eliminator after washout in Guwahati leaves them third




There was a toss late in the evening, but there was no play (BCCI)

Rain in Guwahati denied hosts Rajasthan Royals a shot at a top-two finish in the final league fixture of IPL 2024. The game was abandoned, without a ball being bowled, at around 10.50pm local time, meaning RR ended the league phase with four losses in a row, followed by this washout, to finish third with 17 points.

Sunrisers Hyderabad also had 17 points, having successfully chased down 215 against a severely depleted Punjab Kings side earlier in the day, but they stayed second, thanks to a superior net run-rate. Pat Cummins’ SRH will now face table-toppers Kolkata Knight Riders in the first qualifier in Ahmedabad on May 21. As for Royals, they will run into a red-hot Royal Challengers Bangalore side, which is on a six-match winning streak, in the Eliminator the next day at the same venue.

KKR’s players might have to rock up cold in the playoffs, with their last two league games having been abandoned without a ball being bowled. Especially Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Phil Salt’s potential replacement, who is yet to play his first game this IPL. His last outing with the bat was for Afghanistan in mid March.

Royals have similar concerns around their overseas players. Their finisher Shimron Hetmyer was originally deemed fit for Monday’s fixture, but eventually didn’t make it to the XI or the Impact subs bench, with RR captain Sanju Samson suggesting that they had to make some last-minute changes to their team.

Hetmyer hasn’t played since failing to finish a tense chase against SRH along with Rovman Powell on May 2. Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who is somewhat of a like-for-like replacement for Jos Buttler, had a fairly rough initiation into the IPL, managing 18 off 23 balls against Punjab Kings in much drier conditions in Guwahati on May 15.

The Guwahati surface was under covers for the most of Monday evening before the rain briefly relented to allow the toss for a seven-over shootout, which was scheduled to restart at 10.45pm local time. However, soon after KKR won the toss and chose to bowl, the rain returned to force a damp end to the league phase.


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Silverwood’s final hurrah



Looking back at his tenure as Sri Lanka’s Head Coach, you would notice that the team won the Asia Cup under his watch. There were other highlights like squaring a Test series against Australia and beating the same opponents in an ODI series.

by Rex Clementine

The team that has won most County Championships in England is Yorkshire. Generally, Yorkshire’s players are snobbish often blowing their own trumpets and looking down upon others. But Chris Silverwood, Sri Lanka’s Head Coach, has been the complete contrast. A friendly, unassuming man, Silverwood hardly gives you the impression that he was a former fast bowler; that too from Yorkshire. He has been very passionate about his coaching and has embraced the Sri Lankan culture. More than anything, he is a good man.

While the coaching staff of the national cricket team was completely overhauled after last year’s World Cup debacle, Silverwood survived.

Having got an extension till the World Cup in the United States and Caribbean, the upcoming tournament will be his swansong. Will there be a final hurrah for Silverwood?

With Mickey Arthur done with Sri Lanka two years ago, when one of our former captains was entrusted the job of head hunting a successor for Arthur, he opted for Englishman Paul Farbrace. There was bad history between Farbrace and SLC as he had abandoned the team after just a few months into his stint in 2014. That he walked straight into the England dressing room as Assistant Coach from the Sri Lankan dressing room as Head Coach with a tour of England on the cards was a bitter pill to swallow. Farbrace abandoned Sri Lanka a second time too and then it was decided to settle for Silverwood.

Silverwood had been England’s Head Coach but was sacked after the disastrous Ashes tour. When a coach is sacked, the last thing he would want to do is to take up another struggling team. If things went south with the new team, that would be very bad to the reputation of the coach. Silverwood, however, took up the challenge.

Looking back at his tenure as Sri Lanka’s Head Coach, you would notice that the team won the Asia Cup under his watch. There were other highlights like squaring a Test series against Australia and beating the same opponents in an ODI series. But on paper, by and large, you would declare that his tenure wasn’t an overwhelmingly successful one. However, you need to look beyond results.

Despite the drawbacks, one thing that has stood out well for Sri Lanka in the last two years is fast bowling. That’s credit to Silverwood for bringing the best out of some young quicks that Sri Lanka have introduced in recent years.

The team also has had several discipline issues over the years and fitness has been a major concern. There is so much a coach can do at the highest level and the initiative has to come from the players themselves. You can only take a horse to the water. You can’t make it drink.

There’s another school of thought that a team that had so many discipline issues needed someone in the mold of Tom Moody, a taskmaster as Head Coach and not the nice guy in Silverwood. But in his own imitable style, Silverwood has groomed the team well giving young players confidence and backing the ones that had impressed him to the hilt. He deserves to go out on a high note.

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