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Zimbabwe seal stunning come-from-behind win

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Led by Sikandar Raza’s triple strike, Zimbabwe scripted a come-from-behind win to down Pakistan by 1-run and make a seriously strong case for qualification to the semifinals of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022. For the second game in a row, Pakistan let a winning position slip away from their hands in the last over of the game, as they failed to score 4 runs off the last 4 balls in Perth, on Thursday.

Chasing 131 for a win, Pakistan were comfortably placed mid-way through the 14th over at 88 for 3, with Shadab Khan and Shan Masood having stitched a half-century stand. With victory in sight and the possibility of improving on the Net Run Rate, Shadab had even launched an attack on Raza, tonking the spinner for a six over the long on fielder. However, an attempt to repeat that in the next ball resulted in him mistiming it to the fielder at long off.

With only 43 runs needed off 38 balls, there still wasn’t enough reason for Pakistan to panic. However, Raza trapped Haider Ali legbefore off the first ball to trigger a collapse. In his next over, he even scalped the wicket of Shan Masood with a fast and flat delivery down the legside. Masood fell over while trying to balance himself and the wicketkeeper swiftly whipped the bails off to reduce Pakistan to 94 for 6 in 15.1 overs.

The Zimbabwe bowlers used the dimensions of the field well with their lengths of operation on a fast and bouncy track. The hard lengths proved difficult for the lower order batters to put away and Richard Ngarava especially troubled Mohammad Wasim with it. However, with the required rate mounting up, a bluff yorker went wrong and Nawaz duly put away the full toss for a six and brought the equation down to 11 off the last over.

In the last over bowled by Brad Evans, Wasim cracked a full delivery down the ground for a boundary soon after Nawaz had picked three runs off the first balls to bring the equation down to 4 runs in 4 balls, and then reduced to 3 from 3.

The onus was once again on Nawaz in the last over, with the fate of the team in his hands, this time with the bat. And he failed to take the team over the line yet again. First, he was beaten by length delivery that zoomed past his chest and then top edged a swipe to mid off, leaving Shaheen Afridi to get the remaining three runs off the last ball.

He, along with Wasim at the other end, scampered through for a non-existent two and was eventually run out.

How did Pakistan’s top order fare?

For as rare as it has been, for a second game in a row, Pakistan’s much-famed openers – Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan – struggled against the new ball early on. Babar was squared up by Evans and got a leading edge to the point fielder while Rizwan chopped on a rising delivery from Blessing Muzarabani on to his stumps. Soon enough, even Iftikhar Ahmed was dismissed, getting caught down the leg to leave Pakistan reeling 36 for 3 in 7.4 overs.

When Zimbabwe decided to bat first, Babar wasn’t too fussed. However, with no movement on offer for the Pakistani pacers early, Wesley Madevere and Craig Ervine were quick to put away their full length deliveries. In fact, Shaheen Afridi conceded 14 runs from his opening over – his most expensive first over in T20Is. Naseem Shah, who was greeted with a couple of boundaries to begin his day, didn’t have it much easier either. The opening duo combined to add 42 runs in 5 overs before Ervine was hurried into a pull by Haris Rauf and caught at fine leg. Even though both the openers fell in quick succession, followed by the dismissal of Milton Shumba, who offered an easy return catch to Shadab, their innings was controlled by Williams and Raza, who continued to keep the attack going. The veteran duo stitched 31 runs in 4.1 overs and had left a solid platform for a late assault.

Because in a matter of six balls, Shadab and Wasim snared four wickets, reducing Zimbabwe from 95 for 3 to 95 for 7. Evans and Luke Jongwe hit some useful runs towards the end, but a miserly spell by Haris Rauf ensured that they could only muster 130 for 8, even though 160 looked a likely total around the 14th over mark.

Having shared points with South Africa and beaten Pakistan, Zimbabwe are well placed to make a strong case for a semifinal berth. They will now be heading eastward to Brisbane to face Bangladesh on October 30 with a ‘nothing to lose’ possibility no more applicable. Pakistan, on the other hand, find themselves in a pretty tight situation and would need several results to go their way, starting with the one against Netherlands in Perth on Sunday.

Brief Scores:

Zimbabwe

130/8 in 20 overs (Sean Williams 31, Brad Evans 19; Mohammad Wasim Jr 4-24, Shadab Khan 3-23) beat Pakistan 129/8 in 20 overs (Shan Masood 44, Mohammad Nawaz 22; Sikandar Raza 3-25, Brad Evans 2-25) by 1 run (Cricbuzz)



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Methwan wins marathon encounter

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ITF Junior Circuit Tennis

Methwan Wijemanne overcame Josh Hinton of Great Britain in a marathon three and half hour battle to win the first-round encounter of the ITF Junior Circuit Week 1 Tennis Event at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Tuesday.

Wijemanne scored 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 against Hinton.

ITF Junior Circuit Tennis Tournament which is currently underway in Colombo will conclude on February 5.

Meanwhile, in another first-round encounter, Nithila Goonathilake beat Aryan Mehata of India 6-3, 6-0.

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England Lions strongly placed

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Sadeera Samarawickrama with 43 runs was the top scorer for Sri Lanka.

Top-order batsmen Alex Lees, Haseeb Hameed and Tom Haines scored half-centuries for visiting England Lions to reach 249 for three wickets at stumps after they dismissed the hosts for 136 on day one of the unofficial Test at Galle on Tuesday.

Sadeera Samarawickrama with 43 runs was the top scorer for Sri Lanka.

Scores:

Sri Lanka ‘A’

136 all out in 35.4 overs (Oshada Fernando 21, Sadeera Samarawickrama 43, Lakshaitha Manasinghe 26; Matthew Fisher 5/34, Liam Patterson-White 3/51)

England Lions

249 for 3 in 48 overs (Alex Lees 56, Haseeb Hameed 81, Tom Haines 62, Josh Bohannon 26n.o.; Lasith Embuldeniya 2/89)

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Hathurusingha named Bangladesh head coach

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Bangladesh Cricket Board, on Tuesday (31), said that Chandika Hathurusingha has been named as the new head coach for a two-year period. He is expected to join the set-up in February.

“We have appointed Hathurusingha for two years as across the format head coach,” BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury was quoted by Cricbuzz as having said.

The former Sri Lanka all-rounder had earlier served as the head coach of Bangladesh from 2014 to 2017. He has also served in various coaching positions with Sri Lanka, Canada, NSW and Sydney Thunder.

In his previous coaching tenure, Bangladesh had won ODI series against India, Pakistan and South Africa, alongside achieving Test victories versus Sri Lanka, England and Australia. During his stint, Bangladesh also reached the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy in 2017.

“It’s an honour to have been given this opportunity to coach the Bangladesh national team once again. I really loved the warmth of the people and the culture of Bangladesh whenever I have been there. I’m looking forward to working with the players once again and enjoy their successes,” he said in a press release.

Cricbuzz had earlier reported that BCB is unlikely to continue with split coaching and Hathurusingha is the front-runner to replace Russell Domingo, who resigned before completing his stint that ran until the end of the 50-over ICC World Cup.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s Test and T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan remained tightlipped on the return of Hathurusingha as the head coach. No comments,” it’s all right,” he said, without elaborating further.

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