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‘Those last two overs were like hell’ – Shreyas Iyer



Delhi Capitals captain Shreyas Iyer has said the last two overs of their chase in the IPL eliminator against Sunrisers Hyderabad were “like hell”. In that time, Capitals saw a straightforward equation of 12 runs from 12 balls come down to two needed off the last two with three wickets also falling in between.

Capitals were 151 for 5, chasing a target of 163, but lost Sherfane Rutherford, Rishabh Pant and Amit Mishra in the next ten balls, before Keemo Paul pulled Khaleel Ahmed for the winning boundary off the penultimate delivery. Capitals will now meet Chennai Super Kings in the second qualifier to decide who goes through to the final against Mumbai Indians.

“I can’t express my emotions,” Iyer said at the presentation ceremony, after Capitals had won their first ever IPL playoff or knockout match. “It was such a pressure situation. I was just sitting with my teammates and it felt as if I’ve been sitting with them for years! Those last two overs it was like hell, to be honest.

“I could see the happiness in everyone’s faces, and it was an amazing feeling to see them coming out and expressing themselves. Obviously the joy we’re going to share after victory is going to be really good. And yes, hoping for another one against Chennai. We’re definitely not going to be intimidated by any team. Looking forward to the next game.”

The chase for Capitals was set up by Prithvi Shaw‘s 56 off 38 at the top of the order, before Rishabh Pant blasted 49 off 21 to take them to the brink of victory. Iyer said he didn’t interfere with the instincts of both young batsmen, preferring to let them express themselves.

“I personally feel they are the sort of batsmen you can’t [try to] control,” Iyer said. “You just have to leave them on their own and not say anything to them. Because if you say anything, it will play in their minds. When you stop a batsman like Rishabh or Prithvi, if you stop their flow, definitely they are not going to perform up to your expectation. Such situations if they go with their flow, they can win you matches, and it was really amazing to see both of them chipping in today and taking our team through.”

Pant had blasted Basil Thampi for 22 runs in the 18th over, changing the complexion of the match and ensuring Capitals could get over the line despite their late collapse from 151 for 5 to 161 for 8. Pant himself was out in the 19th over, leaving Capitals five to get from seven balls.

“If you are set inside on a wicket like this you need to finish the match for the team. I took it very close, but in the end I couldn’t finish the match. Next time I’ll try to finish it for my team,” Pant, the Player of the Match, said. “I just try to be positive every time I go in. If your mindset is negative, it’s difficult to play your shots. Especially in T20 when you’re set, and you need some 40 runs in four overs, you have to have a big over. That’s what I did today. I didn’t try to hit the ball too hard, I just took my time and in the end, I was just trying to time the ball and it went all my way today.”

The pitch at the ACA stadium in Visakhapatnam was sticky, with the ball not coming on to the bat and scoring becoming more difficult after the Powerplay. Sunrisers got off to a good start after being put in, with Martin Guptill hitting a 19-ball 36, but Capitals pulled things back.

“The start they got was really good on this track. It was really tough to control Martin Guptill,” Iyer said. “The way he carried on with this flow in the Powerplay, I think they got an above-par score. We controlled in between, especially Mishy bhai (Amit Mishra) with that amazing spell, coming up and giving 15-odd runs I guess (1 for 16 in four overs). He was exceptionally good. The other bowlers came and chipped in with good economic bowling. Overall, really happy with the efforts of our bowlers. It was a good wicket to bat against the seamers, but 160 was a good total to defend on this wicket.”

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Team-mates past and present lead Vernon Philander retirement tributes



Vernon Philander will retire at the end of this series against England, having claimed more than 200 Test wickets in an eight-year career. Here’s what his contemporaries had to say about him on the eve of his swan song at the Wanderers:

Faf du Plessis: “A banker”

“With Vern, it’s great to know as a captain you can give the ball to someone with control. Test cricket is all about control, run-rate, putting guys under pressure through either spells where you feel you can get a lot of wickets – with Vern sometimes that is the case, when the ball is moving around, it feels like he can get a guy out at any stage or with the control factor. If the wicket is a bit slower, I know I am going to get control out of him.

“In Test cricket you don’t want to be throwing the ball to someone and hope that he keeps the run-rate under 4.5, it releases a lot of pressure. I know that Vern gives me that control. He is a banker, most certainly always. Later in his career, it has been about managing his workload. This is a four-Test series. He didn’t bowl as much in the previous game as a bowler like him can bowl but had the foresight and understanding that we will need him here at Wanderers and if necessary push himself a little bit more, which he will be because it’s last.”

Graeme Smith: “The last cog in the wheel”

“Under my captaincy Vern was like the last cog in the wheel. He was an incredible guy who came in and added to our bowling attack. His skill against left-handed batsmen was a huge thing. Being able to be effective and get us into games, allowing other people to be more aggressive and attack more because we always knew Vern was going to be reliable and give us what we needed.

“I think the one thing that always gets missed about him is that he’s a fantastic competitor. He’s got the bit between his teeth and he gets into contests. And his ability to front up. We are all put under pressure in the international game. It’s how you regroup and front up again. Vern was fantastic from that perspective. An element of that needs to come back into our national side – how guys front up under pressure and perform when needed; when the moments are right.

“He was outstanding. I would have loved to see him progress more in the short formats. My argument with Vern has always been has he always got to that level of talent that he’s had? Has he worked hard enough, at times, to get there. Certainly what he’s produced in the Test format for us, his record speaks for itself. He can be proud.

“Now the conversation is how do we keep him in the system, because his knowledge on bowling and his skill is something we cannot afford to lose. As CSA we lose too much intellectual property all the time. Even post my 11 years of captaincy no-one sat down and said, ‘Look here, what did you learn? What are the systems?’ It’s an area we’re not very good at. So we’ve got to try and keep all this knowledge of international cricket and quality players in the system to hopefully develop the next heroes.”

Quinton de Kock: “His own person”

“Vern’s his own person. He brings a lot, not just with his skills with the ball and the bat, but with his attitude towards the game. We’re going to miss that. I hope he can have a good goodbye.”

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Mackenzie Harvey’s 63 helps Australia prevail over England



Australia continued to enjoy the edge over England at the Under-19 World Cup. Two years after Lloyd Pope’s astonishing 8 for 35 in Queenstown bowled Australia into the semi-final, Mackenzie Harvey struck a vital half-century in a chase of 253 to win a thriller by two wickets. This meant Australia and West Indies, the table toppers, are through to the quarter-finals from Group B.

Ben Charlesworth top scored with 82 for England, but found little support from the other batsmen. England were handily placed at 141 for 2 going into the last 20 overs, but managed to add just 112 more. That they eventually scraped past the 250-mark was due to Dan Mousely’s unbeaten 51.

In reply, Australia stuttered too after Harvey’s dismissal for 65. From 153 for 2, as they were reduced to 163 for 5 in 33 overs. The asking rate had touched six an over, with left-arm spinner Lewis Goldsworthy picking up vital wickets in the middle. Tanvir Sangha, the legspinner, chipped in with 21 to eat into the target, before Connor Sully and Todd Murphy‘s unbeaten 47-run stand for the ninth wicket carried Australia home.

Elsewhere, first-timers Nigeria were no match to 2016 champions West Indies. They were first run ragged on the field as West Indies scored 303 for 8, fuelled by half-centuries from Kimani Melius, the captain, (65) and Matthew Patrick (68). But it still needed a lower-order revival for West Indies to push forward from 199 for 6. Joshua James’ cameo of 43 off 30 provided the final kick.

Nigeria’s batsmen stuttered against the pace of Jayden Searles, who picked up four wickets to set them back. It was a blow they couldn’t recover from. Having struck a half- century, Patrick picked up two wickets to walk away with the top honours as Nigeria were bowled out for 57, losing by 246 runs.

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Stuart Broad “still living for” The Ashes, even if he misses Sri Lanka tour



Stuart Broad insists he is “perfectly fine” with missing out on selection for the Test squad to tour Sri Lanka but “is still living” for the chance to play one more Ashes series.

While England’s spinners claimed 49 wickets in the three-match series that took place in Sri Lanka at the end of 2018, England’s seamers claimed just seven wickets between them.

So Broad is realistic about the anticipated role for seamers in the two-Test series which begins in mid-March and says he would be “very happy” not to be involved if that gave England “the best chance of winning”.

“The pitches last time made it a waste of time bowling seam,” Broad said. “I think 85 percent of wickets fell to spin. You’re definitely going to take three or four spinners in that tour party, so I don’t know if I’m going to be in it.

“I do understand that varying the selection will help us in the long term. Winning in Sri Lanka last time we changed the mindset and it worked beautifully. The tough thing going this time is it could be different: you could pick four spinners, turn up and it nips all over the place.

“If my next Test match is in June I’m perfectly fine with that because we’re about getting to the Test Championship final and you play your teams to suit the conditions. If the conditions in Sri Lanka don’t suit seam bowling I’m very happy not to be in the squad because you want to give England the best chance of winning the game. Not happy. But I’d accept it.

“Jack Leach missed out in Hamilton because spin’s record there is appalling. Seam’s record can’t be that pretty in Colombo, so if I miss out I miss out.”

ALSO READ: England’s quicks primed to hijack Philander’s farewell

But after an excellent year which has seen Broad claim 50 wickets at an average of 23.98 since the start of 2019, he is adamant there is a lot of international cricket left in him. And that, he hopes, includes the Ashes series that starts in November 2021.

“Would I like to be part of another Ashes series in Australia? Absolutely,” he says. “I’m not someone who looks that far ahead. But I feel confident at the minute. I feel great. I feel physically good. All my fitness tests have gone in the right way which at 33 can be something that can fall away. I feel in a really good place.

“I know I can still deliver when the heat is on and the pressure is burning. That excitement of bowling the first ball in Ashes series, I’m still living for that. I’ve still got a lot of fire in the belly and as soon as that fire goes I know my bowling boots will go. It’s still there.”

Broad’s confidence can only have been boosted by a return to Johannesburg. He claimed 6-17 the last time England played here, four years ago, which included a spell of 5-1 in 36 balls. It was a spell which sealed the series for England and took Broad to the No. 1 spot in the Test bowling rankings.

“It’s a brilliant place to play and a brilliant place to bowl as a tall bowler,” Broad says. “You get natural bounce. So I’m looking forward to this week.

“I’ve just watched the 2016 spell back on social media this morning. It was probably less impressive than it felt. It wasn’t as if I was swinging it round corners and bowling jaffas. I suppose I made the batsmen play, but looking back this morning it wasn’t a particularly impressive spell of bowling.

“It was the bounce that made it effective. In the bowlers’ meeting today I’m going to talk about width being your enemy here. It’s about making the batsmen play with a straight bat. You don’t want to be getting cut too often because it means you’re bowling too short.

“It’s a bit like Perth: bowlers can bowl back of a length, the keeper takes it head height and it looks great but it’s actually not very effective. You want to bring batsmen forward here. Not necessarily bring the stumps into play, because of the bounce, but bring batsmen forward and get them edging off the front foot and not getting cut. It’s a good place to bowl but if you get it wrong you can disappear.”

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