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

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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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St Lucia Zouks to replace St Lucia Stars in CPL 2019

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St Lucia Zouks will make a return to the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), replacing St Lucia Stars for the upcoming season.

Zouks was the name of the original franchise from St Lucia when the league was launched in 2013. In 2016, Stars replaced Zouks, but last week the CPL terminated its participation agreement with Royal Sports Club, LLC, the entity that operates the St Lucia franchise.

CPL didn’t elaborate on the reasons behind Stars’ termination, but said it was “in the process of establishing and operating a new franchise to be based in St Lucia” for the upcoming season, which begins on September 4.

Jay Pandya, the chief executive and owner of Royal Sports Club, LLC, termed the CPL decision “an attempt to bully us”, one which, he said, the franchise would fight legally. “CPL Limited has absolutely no basis, legal or otherwise, to terminate our contractual rights to operate St Lucia Stars,” Pandya told ESPNcricinfo. “We vehemently dispute CPL’s decision and will use all means necessary to vindicate our rights. This is an attempt to bully us, plain and simple. We are confident in our position and look forward to securing justice against CPL’s blatantly illegal act in the appropriate court of law.”

More to follow…



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Brendon McCullum named KKR head coach

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Brendon McCullum is set to take over as head coach at Kolkata Knight Riders for the upcoming season, to go with his appointment as the head coach of Trinbago Knight Riders, the other team owned by the same group.

Less than a week ago, it had been learnt that McCullum would take over as head coach at Trinbago but only as assistant coach with the IPL franchise, following his retirement from all forms of the game earlier in the month. That’s changed since, with the top job at the Kolkata franchise going to the former New Zealand captain, too.

ESPNcricinfo understands that McCullum, whose appearance for Toronto Nationals against Brampton Wolves in the Global T20 Canada league was his last representative match, has been signed up by the Knight Riders franchise – which owns both teams – for at least the upcoming seasons of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and the IPL.

McCullum, 37, was expected to play in the Euro T20 Slam from August 30 as an icon player for Glasgow Giants but instead announced his retirement as a freelance cricketer. It’s understood that the decision to skip the new tournament was because Trinbago wanted him to helm the team at the CPL this year itself, and the dates of the two competitions clashed; the CPL starts from September 5.

Indeed, in his message on Instagram at the time of announcing his retirement, McCullum had mentioned that “the next chapter, in both media and coaching, will challenge me further”.

Kolkata recently announced that they were parting ways with Jacques Kallis, their head coach, and Simon Katich, the assistant coach who was also the head coach at Trinbago.

McCullum had retired from international cricket in 2016, after the Christchurch Test against Australia, but continued to turn out in franchise-cricket leagues around the world, with stints in the IPL with Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore, as well as Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash, Lahore Qalandars in the PSL and Trinbago in the CPL.

His association with the Knight Riders goes way back. An early pathbreaker of sorts in T20 cricket, McCullum’s best was the unbeaten 158 he made for the Kolkata team against Royal Challengers in the inaugural IPL game, in 2008.

In December 2018, McCullum went unsold at the IPL auction. In February, he called time on his BBL career with Heat after a relatively strong season in which he made 302 runs in 13 innings. At the time, he expressed his desire to continue playing T20 cricket worldwide.

Only two weeks ago in London, McCullum was signed by Glasgow for the inaugural edition of the Euro T20 Slam, where he was to team up with Dale Steyn, among others. However, the desire to “plough on regardless” didn’t appeal to him.

“I owe it to myself and the teams I represent to close that chapter rather than just plough on regardless of what I know to be true,” he wrote. “In T20 cricket, I’ve enjoyed so many varied challenges, I can leave the game knowing I left no stone unturned.”



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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs New Zealand, ICC World Test Championship, 1st Test

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New Zealand 249 (Taylor 86, Dananjaya 5-80, Lakmal 4-29) v Sri Lanka

The lower half of New Zealand’s batting order unravelled dramatically on the morning of day two, with the wicket of Ross Taylor setting in motion a collapse that cost them five wickets for 44 runs. Seam bowler Suranga Lakmal claimed all but one of those wickets, dismissing Taylor with his first ball of the morning, before going on to deliver a 5.2-over spell that yielded 4 for 15.

The visitors had been well-placed to push for a total in the range of 300 – Taylor resuming his innings at 86, with Mitchell Santner for company, and an industrious tail to come. But they could muster only 249 in the end, which could yet turn out to be a competitive total, given the treacherous nature of the Galle surface. But it is not the commanding total they would have hoped for.

Taylor had batted chancelessly through much of day one’s play, and it was on him that New Zealand’s hopes of a big total rested. But he could not negotiate the first ball he faced on Thursday. Attempting a cut shot to a short-of-a-length ball close to his body, he supplied a straightforward edge to the wicketkeeper. Santner didn’t last the first half hour either, shouldering arms to an indipper that would have gone on to clip the stumps.

Only Trent Boult, from among the tailenders, provided any sort of resistance. He hit a six and a four on his way to 18 off 22 balls. He eventually holed out trying to hit Lakmal for another six down the ground, before No. 11 Ajaz Patel was out lbw first ball, attempting a legside flick. New Zealand’s innings was wrapped up soon after drinks.

In some ways, day two’s unravelling was the continuation of a collapse that had begun just before tea on day one. New Zealand had been 171 for 3 at one stage, before they lost their last seven wickets for 78 runs. There were only two partnerships worth more than 50 in the innings – the openers making 64 together, before Taylor and Henry Nicholls put on 100 for the fourth wicket.



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