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‘We may look pretty today, but it’s another day tomorrow’ – Rumesh Ratnayake

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Although Sri Lanka only have 135 runs to get, with all ten second-innings wickets still in hand, acting coach Rumesh Ratnayake is adamant the Test could still slip away from his team. History would suggest Ratnayake is right to be wary. Only on four previous occasions has a target greater than the 268 the hosts are chasing in Galle been successfully run down in Sri Lanka.

The venue they are playing at is known to be especially difficult in the final innings as well. The highest successful chase at Galle is 99. Wickets have been known to tumble in heaps.

“Even though we are 133 for no loss, it was hard work, and for the batsman who would go in next it’s going to be extremely hard,” Ratnayake said after stumps on day four. “As a batsman, anyone going in fresh would be vulnerable in the first ten minutes. But anybody who’s spent 20 to 30 balls is aware of the way the ball is bouncing and the spin of the wicket. Tomorrow is a fifth day, so it might be a different day entirely. And this 268 is huge. We may look pretty today, at 133 for no loss, but it’s another day tomorrow.

“But the boys are really determined. We are not going to be scared to fail. We are fearlessly going forward, trying to take smart options.”

If Sri Lanka win, it will be the third consecutive testing fourth-innings chase that they would have succeeded in. During Tests in South Africa, Sri Lanka were set targets of 304 and 197 and won both matches.

“We haven’t won this yet. Yes, in South Africa we did well in those two matches. But there’s belief as well, from having won those games. I think that will help us tomorrow as well. But it’s not an easy wicket.”

Ratnayake’s talk of the pitch being especially difficult for new batsmen is in line with what everyone – from both Sri Lanka and New Zealand camps – have been saying so far. In all three completed innings, wickets have been lost quickly, but even tailenders have found ways to survive once they’ve last the initial few overs. New Zealand, for example, went from 124 for 6 to a total of 285 in their second innings.

“As a coach of the bowling team, I would be disappointed in some of the ways in which we bowled – some of the lengths we bowled,” Ratnayake said. “Having said that, it was hard work. The reason being, when you’re set there, you score. Everybody, whether it was a tailender or whoever it may be, scored runs when set. That pattern continued today. New Zealand’s lower order did extremely well, with Tim Southee, Trent Boult, BJ Watling and Will Somerville.”



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Recent Match Report – Queensland vs New South Wales, Australian Domestic One-Day Competition, 2nd Match

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Queensland 6 for 307 (Heazlett 70, Labuschagne 67, Burns 54*, Wildermuth 51, Conway 3-72) defeated New South Wales 5 for 305 (Jack Edwards 84, Bertus 69*, Stanlake 2-49) by four wickets

Half-centuries from Jack Wildermuth and Joe Burns helped steer Queensland to a relatively comfortable four-wicket win over New South Wales in their opening match of the Marsh Cup.

Chasing 306 on a good surface at Allan Border Field, the Bulls had slipped from 2 for 179 in the 26th over to 5 for 199 in just 24 balls, and their eight-game losing streak against the Blues looked in danger of becoming nine.

But Wildermuth, with a previous highest score of just 13 in Australia’s one-day domestic competition, and Burns, batting at No.5 in a revamped Bulls line-up, compiled an 83-run stand to help steer the home side to victory.

Wildermuth, who does have two first-class hundreds, struck the ball with tremendous power to make 51 from 56 balls before Sean Abbott bowled him through the gate with 24 still required from 24 balls.

Burns remained composed reaching his half-century with a slog sweep for six off Arjun Nair, and Mark Steketee clubbed 15 not out from six balls to see the Bulls home with 12 balls to spare. Wildermuth was named Player of the Match.

The Bulls needed some help from New South Wales to get there. Kurtis Patterson dropped Burns with 28 runs to win, spilling a simple skied pull shot in the ring at midwicket.

Earlier, Jack Edwards missed a straightforward chance at second slip off Abbott in the opening over of the chase. Sam Heazlett‘s outside edge went straight through his hands at thigh height.

Heazlett made them pay with a blistering half-century. He smashed 70 from 57 balls with nine fours and two huge sixes. Heazlett was hitting the ball hard and he nearly hit Mickey Edwards square in the face in his fifth over. Edwards was fortunate to get his hand in front of his face and walk away with just a bruise.

Heazlett formed a 112-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne who also compiled an excellent half-century at better than a run-a-ball as the Bulls charged well ahead of the required rate. Heazlett fell lbw to debutant Nathan McAndrew before Harry Conway delivered an inspired spell to swing the momentum back the Blues’ way.

He clean bowled Matt Renshaw with a well disguised slower ball yorker before Labuschagne picked out McAndrew at backward point. Jimmy Peirson then ran himself out next ball after a loud lbw shout caused some confusion. He charged off for a non-existent run as Burns watched on in bewilderment at the non-striker’s end. Abbott swooped in from cover to complete the run-out by running the ball to the stumps.

Burns kept his cool with Wildermuth. They took advantage of the fact McAndrew was forced off the field with a back spasm, which caused Blues captain Peter Nevill to turn to some part-timers while the partnership built and the game slipped away from there.

Earlier, half-centuries to 19-year-old Jack Edwards, 26-year-old debutant Nicholas Bertus and veteran Moises Henriques helped the Blues to a competitive total of 305 after being sent in to bat on a tacky surface that flattened out as the day progressed.

The Blues looked on for a monstrous total when they cruised to 1 for 172 in the 33rd over. Queensland failed to make the most of the early morning moisture missing their lengths as Daniel Hughes and Edwards rolled to a 51-run opening stand.

But then Billy Stanlake, who was held back early, removed Hughes in his first over forcing a mistimed a drive on the up to cover. Stanlake delivered four overs in his first spell, taking 1 for 7, but then did not bowl again until the 33rd over.

It allowed Edwards and Henriques to compile a 122-run stand. Edwards overcame a sluggish start to pass fifty for the third time in his short career. He drove powerfully down the ground and was savage on anything under-pitched. Henriques picked apart the spin of Matthew Kuhnemann and Labuschagne to build a superb platform for the visitors.

But when Peirson turned back to Stanlake, the game changed again. Edwards was bounced out, top edging a hook to fine leg failing to control the extra pace and bounce. Stanlake finished with 2 for 49 from 10 overs while the rest of his team-mates conceded more than five-an-over.

Henriques top-edged a sweep off Kuhnemann in the next over to put the brakes on the Blues’ charge.

But Bertus, a left-hander who was on List A debut after playing just one Sheffield Shield game last season, played a brilliant hand late in the innings to tip the Blues total over 300. He struck seven fours and two sixes, targeting the short boundaries at midwicket and extra cover, to smack an unbeaten 69 from just 60 balls. But 305 always seemed just under par and the Bulls made the most of the better batting conditions in the afternoon.



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Zouks, Knight Riders share points after washout | Cricket

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Colin Ingram punches through the off side © Getty Images


No result St Lucia Zouks 99 for 4 (Ingram 52*, Pierre 1-18) v Trinbago Knight Riders

St Lucia Zouks picked up their first points in three games after persistent rain washed out their match against Trinbago Knight Riders. The venue had copped heavy rain before the match, and, although the game started on time and in good conditions, one spell of rain 12.2 overs into the Zouks innings put a stop to proceedings. Zouks now have three points in six games, and continue to be fifth on the table with four games to go. Immediately above them are Barbados Tridents with four points in four matches.

Knight Riders had put Zouks in and dismissed both their openers inside the Powerplay. Andre Fletcher had a leg-side delivery stop on him as he flicked aerially to deep square leg. John Campbell, who came into the XI and replaced Rahkeem Cornwall in the opening slot, looked patchy until he drove uppishly against Jimmy Neesham, who plucked a one-handed reaction catch to his right in his follow-through.

The experience of Colin Ingram and Colin de Grandhomme brought stability – and flair – to the innings, with both batsmen getting themselves in during a 51-run stand. Ingram, in particular, was impressive, gauging the pace of the pitch early in his innings and barely offering a chance as he got to 52 off 34. He was unbeaten when Cornwall top-edged to short third man a minute before the covers came on.

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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Recent Match Report – Worcestershire vs Essex, Twenty20 Cup (England), Final

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Essex 148 for 6 (Westley 36, Bopara 36*) beat Worcestershire 145 for 9 (Harmer 3-16) by four wickets

Eight hours earlier, Wayne Parnell had successfully defended Notts’ requirement of a single off the final ball to take Worcestershire into the final of the Vitality Blast. Now, at the end of English cricket’s longest day, with Edgbaston once again a sea of delirium, he had to do it again. This time Simon Harmer beat the off-side field and Essex had seen off the defending champions to win the tournament for the first time.

It was fitting that Harmer had the last word. In Essex’s semi-final stroll against Derbyshire and this narrowest of victories, he returned the combined figures of 7 for 35, the best ever recorded on T20 Finals Day. He was perfectly served by a surface that turned throughout the day and perhaps, just perhaps, gave Essex a little added zip with a hint of dew in the closing overs.

“It’s a lottery,” decry the critics of Twenty20. Don’t tell that to Worcestershire. In successive seasons, their nerveless, intelligent cricket under the brilliant stewardship of Moeen Ali (is there a better captain in the country?) had made them the most resilient side in the land. They had defended 147 against Notts; now it was 145. But this time they had to reckon with Ravi Bopara.

For much of the climax to this riveting final, fought out on a difficult turning surface, it had felt like Bopara versus Worcestershire, and for his most zealous admirers (and there are many) Bopara versus The World. County cricket’s most reluctant finisher, who has gently carped all summer long about batting at No 6, fashioned a super-cool 36 from 22 balls to hold together an Essex chase that, when they lost their fifth wicket at 82, needing 64 from 41, was so patently down to him.

This was Essex’s fifth Finals Day appearance and the first time they had won a semi-final. “It’s the one trophy I don’t have in my cabinet and we finally have it,” Bopara said. He has been trying since a T20 debut, batting at No 9, against Surrey at East Molesey in 2003. His international career ended in 2015 just as England adopted a new approach to limited-overs cricket and that his reputation was tarnished by association with their previous failings is unfortunate.

Bopara’s six over long off from Moeen’s penultimate ball was a key moment, leaving Essex 39 short with four overs left. He then clattered Pat Brown’s slower ball over midwicket as that rate fell to 23 from two.

When Brown bowled Paul Walter, Essex were still 17 short with eight balls left. Harmer drove Brown down the ground to cut the last-over requirement to 12 – but 11 for the tie, and victory by virtue of losing fewer wickets, was likely to be enough. Harmer drilled Parnell down the ground to reduce the trophy-winning requirement to one off the final ball. Parnell looked distraught and close to exhaustion. Moeen offered calming words. Harmer whistled the final shot to the cover boundary.

Essex’s Powerplay had yielded only 36 for the loss of Cameron Delport, who was strangely subdued in making a single off seven balls in an innings that came to grief when he clipped Parnell to backward square. Adam Wheater, a No 5 all season, came in at three, and no doubt to orders provided a decorous run-a-ball 15 until he was bowled attempting a reverse lap at Daryl Mitchell. Essex appeared composed enough at 63 for 2 at midway, with 83 needed from the second half of the innings, but Moeen had retained nine overs from himself, Parnell and Brown for the second half of the innings.

The strength of Worcestershire’s batting line-up, one that seems full of bit parts from as high as No 4, is that it finds a way. And, in making 145 for 8, it appeared to have found a way again. But Worcestershire could not subdue Harmer. He followed his 4 for 19 against Derbyshire in the semi-final with 3 for 16, a comparable return despite the sense that Worcestershire were playing him with rather more nous.

Moeen and Riki Wessels provided the substance with a second-wicket stand of 56 in 48 balls. Moeen’s presence was enough to persuade Harmer not to bowl in the Powerplay, as he had in the semi-final, Sam Cook’s pace was as unthreatening as that of Jamie Porter, who had been preferred to him in the semi.

Harmer intervened with wickets in successive balls at the start of his second over. Moeen’s first boundary had been an uppish slice against Lawrence through backward point, but he smoothed his way to 32 in 26 balls with another exercise in cricketing meditation.

But Harmer’s turn defeated his work to leg whereupon the bowler, one of the best slippers in the country, plunged forward to hold an excellent low catch. Ben Cox, who had guided Worcestershire to the trophy a year ago, was lbw next ball as he tried to sweep, but even the president of the Respect for Umpires Association would have deemed this a terrible decision, because Cox was well outside the line and got a big inside-edge on the ball too.

Parnell fell to Harmer’s penultimate ball, bowled by a faster arm-ball, and at 90 for 4 with the 14th over about to begin, Worcestershire promoted Mitchell above Whiteley. In Western terms, the peace-loving sheriff had been preferred to the local gunslinger, and Mitchell duly provided a cautious 19 from 15 balls to edge Worcestershire to a realistic total.

Wessels was a figure of realism, too, with 31 from 34 balls;. Once a square-of-the-wicket adventurer, he still has those qualities but increasingly in this Worcestershire side, a successful side at that, he finds himself pushing singles to hold the innings together. It might have been enough. Instead, he became a support act in a wonderfully entertaining day.



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