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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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Recent Match Report – New Zealand vs West Indies 1st Test 2020



Lunch: New Zealand 346 for 4 (Williamson 168*, Blundell 8*, Roach 2-71, Gabriel 2-74 vs West Indies

Control your game, you control the game. That is Kane Williamson in a nutshell. Every defining trait of his batting -the obsession with playing late, the aversion to hitting in the air, the freakish ability to never ever follow a swinging ball – is an effort to put his team in the best possible position to win a Test match and he did just that, while also scoring the 22nd century of his career.

West Indies couldn’t hold a consistent line and length at the start of play on day one, but since the first break in play at Hamilton, they’ve been able to settle into better rhythm. They tested Williamson with a fuller length in line with the stumps. But most of all, they were getting better at hitting the same spot on the pitch over and over again. That is key on this pitch.

Williamson recognised the danger and adapted accordingly. He shelved the expansive shots. He steeled himself for periods when he wouldn’t score any runs. He was so precise especially with the deliveries that he was comfortable attacking. If they were full and wide, and he could reach the pitch of the ball, he went for the drive. And even then, he wouldn’t let the bat follow through away from his body. If it was short and wide, he stood tall and smashed ’em square on the off side.

One of those trademark back foot punches was how he got to his century in the third over of the day. Then he just kicked the heck on. His third fifty came off just 82 balls. His fourth already beckons.

While Williamson’s decision making enabled him to score, his unyielding technique protected him from being dismissed.

Kemar Roach was able to conjure several dangerous deliveries, routinely going wide of the crease in search of the outside edge. Thanks to his remarkable ability to straighten the ball away no matter how steep the angle is into the right-hander, he is a constant wicket-taking threat.

Williamson faced several jaffas like those and although he was beaten more than once, he never looked like nicking off. It isn’t the first time the New Zealand captain has exhibited such slipperiness. For some reason, he seems immune to the very human instinct to follow the ball, especially when it threatens to move late. If you’re even a half decent batsman, you want to feel bat on ball. If you’re a great one, you just know better.

Still, in a five-day game, mistakes are bound to happen. Unfortunately for West Indies, they would only come at the other end. Shannon Gabriel secured the outside edge of Ross Taylor’s bat in the second over of the day. Roach had Henry Nicholls flashing outside his off stump. Those two wickets in the first hour of play threatened the notion that West Indies would be able to limit the damage they let happen on the first day. Instead, they ended up feeling like the villains in a Scooby Doo cartoon. “I would’ve gotten away with it if not for that meddling Kane.”

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SA vs England – South Africa’s team balance in focus with Faf du Plessis rested for ODI series



Being without Faf du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada will give South Africa the opportunity for younger players to gain international experience even as it leaves questions over how they will balance their XI against England.

Du Plessis is being rested for the upcoming ODI series after a period in which he played at the IPL, PSL and in the three T20Is while Rabada has been ruled out with a groin strain. South Africa have also released Pite van Biljon, Bjorn Fortuin and Reeza Hendricks from their 23-man group, leaving them with a squad of 18 and similar questions about their combinations as they had in the T20Is.

At the top of South Africa’s priority list is getting a pace-bowling allrounder into the XI and for that, they need Andile Phehlukwayo to pass a fitness test. With Dwaine Pretorius ruled out of the entire tour with a hamstring concern, Phehlukwayo is the only option for this position but was unavailable for the T20s. He returned to training on Sunday and should slot straight into the one-day side if he gets the green light to play, chiefly because he provides South Africa with an additional bowler.

“If you’ve got six bowlers in the team it gives you another option and in 50-over cricket he has been great for us. His one-day record is special,” Charl Langeveldt, South Africa’s bowling coach said. “He gives you that option bowling at the back end as well. If he is fit, we are going to have a look today, and then we will make a judgement on if he will be able to play on Friday.”

Phehlukwayo’s inclusion will also help South Africa address their other selection conundrum – transformation targets. As of this season, the national team is required to field, on average, a team that is made up of 25% black African players, which equates to between two and three black African players in an XI, and three more often than two. In the three T20Is, South Africa met that target in each match (although they missed the overall player-of-colour target, which requires six non-white players) by fielding Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Temba Bavuma. With Rabada out of the series and Bavuma competing with Janneman Malan for the openers’ spot, Phehlukwayo will be a welcome addition.

However, the bigger question might be what South Africa will do if Phehlukwayo still needs some time to get match fit. They will likely have to lean on one of their left-arm-spinner allrounders – George Linde and Jon-Jon Smuts – and carry a longer tail which could start as high as No.7. Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Junior Dala and/or Lutho Sipamla and Tabraiz Shamsi are the likely frontline bowlers. Of those Dala and Sipamla are the least experienced international cricketers, on opposite sides of the domestic spectrum.

Dala is 30 years old and is into his 10th season of cricket. He has 158 domestic and international white-ball appearances to his name, was the leading wicket-taker in the 2018-19 one-day cup and the fifth-highest wicket-taker in last season’s MSL. South Africa see him as a new-ball bowler, perhaps to partner Nortje. “Junior bowls hard lengths, he is aggressive and when you’ve got two bouncers (per over) and two white balls, I see him very much as part of our 50-over plan,” Langeveldt said. “We worked on trying to up-skill him as well, get him to play slower balls and work on his yorkers.”

Sipamla is 22, a former national Under-19 player and by all accounts a prospect to be nurtured for the future. He finished third on the wicket charts in the inaugural edition of the MSL, which earned him an international call up in the 2018-19 season. His most recent appearance was in the final T20I against England, where he went for 45 runs in 2.4 overs.

That Sipamla is talented is undisputed, but the way he is managed needs to be more closely considered. Sipamla had not played any cricket, in any format, between an ODI in March and the T20I against England, having sat out the first two rounds of domestic cricket. At Newlands on Tuesday night, he looked a lonely young man, as none of his team-mates offered advice or empathy while Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan tucked in. Langeveldt conceded that South Africa needed to offer Sipamla more support but not that Sipamla should be held back until a less aggressive opposition comes to town.

“It’s been hard on Lutho. You know with a top team like that they are always going to target him. You need to speak to him, analyse his own game, try and calm him down in the situation. We tried to prepare him as much as we could, but we all saw in the game it’s hard when you are put under pressure, especially against a top-quality team,” Langveldt said. “We try to get the team to rally around him, to support him. That’s the big thing, to get one of your senior bowlers, even one of your senior players just to back him and say, ‘forget about that ball, it’s all about the next execution and just be clear in your game plans.’ That’s a thing we speak about a lot.”

But no one came to Sipamla’s side at the end of what was a demoralising defeat for South Africa. And this is where they need to be careful. Throw Sipamla into the deep end too many times and he could easily become a casualty of a transformation policy intended to do exactly the opposite. And if they are going to use the sink-or-swim policy for Sipamla, the least that needs to happen is that he has a few lifesavers around. Quinton de Kock wasn’t one on Tuesday and usually that’s where Faf du Plessis, or Rabada, would come in. Neither of them will be able to in the ODIs, which seems set up to be another test of South Africa’s ability to juggle their combinations before they even begin to work out how to take on the team they are playing against.

Langeveldt tried to see the positives in the situation. “For a young bowler, it’s a great opportunity to test the mental aspect of the game. England are going to come hard at you. That’s the nature of the way they play T20 cricket and fifty-over cricket. So mentally you need to be strong,” he said. “When you are under pressure, you need to be able to execute and they will learn from this. We’ve got work to do with our bowlers.”

Ultimately, South Africa have work to do all round because “we have a lack of international experience,” as Langeveldt put it. Maybe then it’s not such a bad thing to be without du Plessis and Rabada, for if nothing else, it gives younger players the chance to wrestle with the challenges they come up against, at the highest level.

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Colombo Kings vs Jaffna Stallions, LPL 2020, Fantasy Pick, team predictions



Dec 4: Colombo Kings vs Jaffna Stallions, Hambantota

Pro Tip: The strength of these two sides is their allrounders. So, go for a lot of allrounders in your XI, backed by some proven overseas players like Laurie Evans and Usman Shinwari.

Our XI: Dinesh Chandimal, Laurie Evans, Avishka Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Andre Russell, Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana, Usman Shinwari, Dushmantha Chameera

Substitutes: Shoaib Malik, Duanne Olivier, Thikshila de Silva, Qais Ahmed

Player availability: All the players are available for this clash as of now.

We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Captain: Thisara Perera

Easily the best batter of the tournament so far, Thisara Perera has scored 165 runs in just two innings. His team was struggling at 64 for 5 and 49 for 4 respectively when he came out to bat and scored of 97* off 44 and 68 off 28. He has also taken five wickets, which makes him a strong choice for captain.

Vice-captain: Andre Russell

One of the best T20 players of this generation, Russell has found form with both bat and ball in the tournament. He made 65* off 19 balls in a five-over game and then picked up three wickets in two overs in the last match. We are backing him to have an impact once again.

Hot Picks

Laurie Evans: Evans scored a 33-ball 59 which included five fours and four sixes in the last match and is already the top run-scorer for his team (102 runs). He was also the top run-scorer for his side Surrey in NatWest T20 Blast this year where he scored 363 runs in 11 games at a strike rate of 153.16.

Wanindu Hasaranga: The 23-year-old youngster is the most prolific spinner in the tournament so far with five wickets in three games. He is also the most economical bowler in the tournament, going at a rate of just 4.41. He can also score some points with the bat which was evident from his 10-ball 24 against Viiking.

Usman Shinwari: The left-arm pacer from Pakistan has been the most impressive bowler in LPL 2020 so far. In two games, he picked up six wickets at an astonishing average (5.50), economy (4.71) and strike rate (7.00). In the last 12 months, he has picked up 17 wickets in 14 games.

Differential Picks

Dhananjaya de Silva: With some of the Stallions’ top-order batsmen struggling, de Silva is expected to bat up the order. He didn’t get many chances earlier, but he scored a 38-ball 61 against Kandy Tuskers and got his confidence back.

Dinesh Chandimal: After a Man-of-the-Match performance in the first game (80 off 46 balls), not getting to bat in the second game and getting out for a golden duck in the third game, Chandimal has seen all the extremes in this tournament. But he is a proven performer and is likely to get you some points behind the stumps too.

Alternate Scenarios

  • Shoaib Malik, who looked good until getting run out in the last game, can replace Dushmantha Chameera.

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