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Recent Match Report – Bangladesh Cricket Board XI vs Zimbabweans Tour Match 2019



Zimbabweans 144 for 3 (Taylor 57*, Maruma 46*) beat Bangladesh Cricket Board XI 142 for 7 (Sabbir Rahman 30, Williams 3-18) by seven wickets

Zimbabwe’s tour of Bangladesh – their first international assignment following the suspension from the ICC in July – got off to a promising side with the tourists registering a seven-wicket win in a T20 tour game against Bangladesh Cricket Board XI.

Brendan Taylor steered the 143-run chase with his unbeaten 57, and shared an unbeaten 78-run, fourth-wicket partnership with Timycen Maruma. Zimbabweans had got off to a good start: Taylor and captain Hamilton Masakadza added 42 for the first wicket in nearly five overs, with Masakadza hitting six fours in his 32-ball 31. Offspinner Afif Hossain, however, pulled things back for the BCB XI, striking in three consecutive overs to remove Masakadza, Craig Ervine and Sean Williams to leave Zimbabwe at 66 for 3 in eight overs. Taylor and Maruma, however, controlled the chase thereafter, sealing a victory in the 18th over. Taylor’s 44-ball knock included two fours and three sixes, while Maruma struck five fours and a six in his 28-ball 46.

BCB XI’s innings had faltered after their top four were dismissed, having made promising starts. Sabbir Rahman (30) and Mushfiqur Rahim (26) were the top-scorers in the side but once they fell in the 15th over, the BCB XI managed only 35 in the last five overs. Sabbir and Mushfiqur had added 53 for the third wicket, building on the side’s quick start, but they fell within three balls to the left-arm spin of Sean Williams, who also claimed the wicket of opener Mohammad Naim in his haul of 3 for 18.

Zimbabwe and Bangladesh will play the first match of the T20I tri-series on September 13 in Dhaka, followed by a game between Zimbabwe and Afghanistan the next day.

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Essex threaten to get busy at the business end of the season



It is the business end of the season, and Essex are threatening to get busy. The next week or so holds out the promise of being a momentous one for the club. Modestly resourced but tightly run from their endearingly ramshackle Chelmsford HQ, the culmination of the summer brings opportunity on two fronts – a rare chance in the modern county game to enjoy simultaneous first-class and limited-overs success.

It is more than a decade since Sussex last managed to combine winning the Championship with taking home one-day silverware as well, beating Lancashire in the 2006 FP Trophy final. Currently top of Division One, Essex know they are in a scrap to hold off Somerset and claim a second title in three years; but before that denouement in Taunton, Vitality Blast Finals Day and the chance of a maiden T20 trophy.

Such an outcome looked more than a long shot back in August, when they had won just two of their first ten games. Essex were “dead and buried”, says Ryan ten Doeschate, captain of the Championship side and a vastly experienced old lag in T20. Then came three wins and a tie from the last four and something in the universe aligned – not since the Blast had switched to a 14-game season, had a team sneaked through to Finals Day on such meagre rations.

Also read: ‘Young players win you games, but experience wins you titles’ – Gurney

Success had not been signposted by Essex’s recent T20 form, either. Last season brought just two victories and a seventh-place finish in the South Group, while the most recent of four previous Finals Day appearances came in 2013.

Ten Doeschate has been involved in them all, though none was particularly memorable from an Essex perspective. “Is it four?” he asks, furrowing his brow. On each occasion – against Leicestershire in 2006, Kent in 2008, Hampshire in 2010 and Northants six years ago – Essex were beaten in the first semi-final. The joke going around this time is that, with their game against Derbyshire scheduled for 2.30pm on Saturday, this is already the furthest they have been in the competition.

Ten Doeschate handed over the white-ball reins for this season to Simon Harmer, the former South Africa Test offspinner who has played such a vital role in Essex’s Championship push. Harmer has overseen the return to Finals Day contention, with a largely similar squad to previous seasons – aggressive opener Cameron Delport the one significant addition.

It took a while to find the right balance for the team, with Varun Chopra eventually omitted and Tom Westley moving up to open alongside Delport. There have also been new roles for ten Doeschate and his old mucker, fellow Finals Day veteran Ravi Bopara, further down the order. But they seem to have found a formula at the right time.

“What’s most exciting is we’ve turned things around with pretty much the same personnel,” ten Doeschate tells ESPNcricinfo. “The last few years has been a bit of a struggle, Harmy coming in has shaken things up. The fact we haven’t had two overseas for a lot of the games – the way the young guys have stepped into their roles.

“He’s created a belief. He’s gone with the approach, ‘This is what we’ve got, we’ve got to make it work’. I think he’s instilled a lot of confidence, particularly in the young guys. He wants the batters all to be positive, the change we’ve made a) in the batting order and b) personnel, I think that’s made a big difference.”

Essex will have to cope without their overseas players at Edgbaston on Saturday, with Adam Zampa and Mohammad Amir both unavailable (Amir missed almost half of the group stage with visa issues anyway). Netherlands seamer Shane Snater and young left-arm spinner Aron Nijjar have been added to the squad, and aside from ten Doeschate, Bopara and Adam Wheater, who went to Finals Day on more than one occasion with Hampshire, most of those on the bus up to Birmingham will be experiencing the occasion for the first time.

“The fact that most of the guys haven’t been to it is probably a good thing, we’ll go there tomorrow and it won’t play on too many peoples’ minds,” ten Doeschate said. “The experience some of us do have, particularly myself and Rav, we’ve played a lot of games and hopefully we can spread that through the squad and prepare the guys for tomorrow. The fact it’s been a season for turning things around, and we’ve done it against the odds. The position we were in with four games to go, we were dead and buried, virtually no way we could make it. That’s a nice way to go into a final.”

It was ten Doeschate and Bopara who were in the middle together as Essex sealed a quarter-final win over North Group winners Lancashire a fortnight ago. With 344 and 329 T20 appearances respectively, as well as experience in the IPL and beyond, they will hope to provide the big-match savvy as Essex seek that first semi-final success.

“There are very few games at Essex I’ve played without Ravi in the team. So it’s always special to go out to bat with him. We are getting on, so we keep saying ‘One more time, one more time’. But the form he’s been in, and his approach to the game in the last six weeks – we don’t like to single people out, but he’s played a massive part in getting us to this stage of the competition.”

As to whether Essex are overdue a limited-overs title, having last won the FP Trophy in 2008, ten Doeschate points out how difficult it is to combine success across the formats. Essex, of course, won the Championship in 2017, having been promoted the year before, and have set their store by red ball in recent years. Of the three other teams at Finals Day, Nottinghamshire have already been relegated in the Championship, while Worcestershire and Derbyshire are in the bottom four of the second tier.

“There’s not many teams who do well in both formats,” he said. “This year’s a prime example. There’s a lot of merit in saying it’s hard to win both. But it’s great that we have an opportunity to go there and win a cup that’s long overdue.”

With a rare double in prospect, can Essex be the exception that proves the rule? Ten Doeschate smiles and shakes his head. He will be 40 next year and hopes to still be playing for the club he joined in 2003 – whatever happens over the next week won’t change his view.

“To dwell on results isn’t healthy. I think the club can be immensely proud of what the team’s done this year. The change in fortunes in white ball is something to be very proud of – and again the way we’ve competed in red ball. I’m not too focused on where we end up. It’s five days – I’m not going to let five days define whether I think it’s been a good season or not a good season. I think it’s been a great season, and the chance to win two cups is fantastic. Of course we want to give it a crack.”

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Moeen Ali ‘takes break’ from Test cricket as he misses out on full ECB contract



Moeen Ali will miss England’s two Tests in New Zealand in November, and may also be omitted from the red-ball leg of the South Africa tour in December and January, after requesting a break from Test cricket in the wake of a gruelling English season.

The news came as Moeen was omitted from England’s list of centrally contracted Test players for the 12 months to September 2020, which was announced on Friday at Lord’s by England’s director of cricket, Ashley Giles.

Although he retains his white-ball contract, and will be a central part of England’s plans for the World T20 in Australia next year, this was the first time since 2014-15, the year of his England debut, that Moeen had been overlooked for the top tier of ECB contracts – a run that reflects the amount of international cricket, 186 matches in all formats, that he had been playing in the preceding five years.

“It’s just to get away from it a little bit. I feel like I want to enjoy my batting and this will give me a bit of a break,” Moeen told ESPNcricinfo on the eve of T20 Finals Day at Edgbaston, where he is hoping to captain Worcestershire to back-to-back titles in the Vitality Blast.

“I want to spend some time with the family. I’ve been playing for England for five years and it’s been quite tough. The intensity is obviously higher in Test cricket so this is just to give me a break and then we will see what happens after that.

“I’m not ruling out playing Test cricket in the future. I’ve had long chats and thought about it quite a lot. I just want to give myself a bit of time to refresh my batteries and see where it goes after that.”

Speaking at Lord’s, Giles was equally keen to stress that Moeen’s decision did not spell the end of his 60-Test career – a period in which he has claimed 181 wickets, second only to Graeme Swann among English spinners this century.

However, Giles did indicate that Test retirement had been discussed during their conversations, as Moeen came to terms with a disappointing summer in which he was dropped after England’s defeat in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston, having already lost his starting berth in the World Cup-winning team.

“For all the guys, not just Moeen, it’s been a really challenging summer,” Giles said. “A World Cup and an Ashes back-to-back has had a massive effect on many of these guys psychologically, as much as physically. And some of those guys are still carrying [those issues], one of them being Moeen.

“His experience in the first [Ashes] Test wasn’t a great one, but that’s cricket. He’s has been a great servant for his team. And that’s why I encouraged him to leave that option open to come back. He might just need to go away and freshen up. But he’s been a really good servant for this team. And he’s still relatively young.”

England are due to tour Sri Lanka for two Tests in March and April, a country where Moeen last year claimed 18 wickets at 24.50 as part of a successful three-spinner attack, and that could, in theory, be an obvious time for him to return to the fray.

However, with Jack Leach established as England’s first-choice spinner and with a new coach likely to be in place by that date, Moeen’s decision to step back from Test cricket comes with obvious risk – especially at a time when England have signalled their intention to redouble their focus on the format after a four-year cycle in which it played second fiddle to the needs of the white-ball squad.

“The two Tests in New Zealand are not part of the World Test Championship, but actually they form a really important part of the build-up process to South Africa, which is a series that we’ve got to go and win,” said Giles. “And New Zealand are a strong team. We are not going there lightly, so we’ve got to be ready.”

A further consideration for Moeen is that the Sri Lanka tour falls close to the start of the 2020 IPL, a tournament for which he has a lucrative contract with Royal Challengers Bangalore. While Giles insisted that Moeen’s decision would not be solely driven by any desire to play a full part in RCB’s campaign, he was adamant that the rewards of the tournament were not merely financial – as shown by the big-game experience that many of England’s 50-over stars were able to lean upon in key moments of the World Cup.

“It is going to be very difficult for us to stop players going [to the IPL] without risking losing them,” Giles said. “We’ve got to accept that and manage our players outside that. They have to be reasonable in accepting we are making space for them, because their main duty is to represent England. But that window [in the schedule] is left open for them for a reason.”

Giles acknowledged, too, that the incredible demands placed on England’s cricketers in the summer to end all summers were unsustainable, and that the board had a duty of care towards Moeen, and others who have struggled with the team’s multiple ambitions.

“These are extraordinary circumstances, and some players deal with it better than others,” he said. “Some players are in different cycles of their own game, and where they are in terms of confidence – look at where [Ben] Stokes has been all summer compared to Moeen – but we’re going to support these guys to come back into the side. Our whole system has got to be better at picking them up and making sure that they’re better prepared for the rigours.”

He conceded, too, that England’s achievement in drawing the Ashes with a memorable victory in the fifth Test at The Oval was a credit to the character of a team that “really ran through the line” for themselves and for their captain, Joe Root.

“The players all suffered in different ways really,” said Giles. “But I have to say great credit to every one of them. It would have been easy to roll over and just give in. But they saw it right through, and if you started the summer and offered us a World Cup win and a drawn Ashes series, we probably would have taken it.

“‘Neglected’ might be a strong word, but for the last four years, we know we focused primarily on white-ball cricket, and Joe has done a great job in challenging circumstances. And when a team runs through the line like they did for him this year, I think that’s great credit to him.

“I said to Joe before Headingley, and this wasn’t a case of taking any eyes off the ball, that if we won this series, it would have been a fantastic effort. But it would have been more on pure performance than anything else.”

Additional reporting by Paul Edwards.

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Recent Match Report – India A vs South Africa A 2nd unofficial Test 2019



India A 417 (Gill 92, Nair 78, Dube 68, Mulder 3-47, Piedt 3-78) and 202 for 3 dec (Panchal 109, Nair 51*, Piedt 2-88) drew with South Africa A 400 (Markram 161, Mulder 131*, de Bruyn 41, Kuldeep 4-121, Nadeem 3-76)

Priyank Panchal scored a century and Karun Nair hit his second half-century of the match on the final day of the second unofficial Test between India A and South Africa A in Mysuru, before the two teams agreed to call off the game after just 64 overs of action on Friday. The result meant India A won the two-match series 1-0.

Opener Panchal’s 109 and Nair’s 51 not out from No. 4 took the home side to 202 for 3 in their second innings, with the declaration coming once Nair had reached his milestone. But with not much time left on the day, South Africa opted not to chase their 220-run target.

Panchal – who had batted at No. 3 with Shubman Gill opening in the first innings – was on 9 with his opening partner Abhimanyu Easwaran on 5 overnight. The two built on the Indians’ 17-run first-innings lead with a 94-run stand before Abhimanyu fell, bowled by offspinner Dane Piedt, for 37 off 93 balls with three hits to the boundary.

That was in the 34th over, and Piedt struck again in his next over when he had Gill, batting at No. 3 this time after top-scoring with 92 in the first dig, caught by Senuran Muthusamy for a duck.

Panchal chugged along though, and proceeded to add 92 more with Nair, bringing up his 22nd first-class century in the process. His innings included nine fours and four sixes. It continued Panchal’s rich vein of form, which had hit a temporary snag in the Duleep Trophy with a top score of 33 across four innings.

Muthuswamy, the left-arm spinner, did succeed in sending back Panchal, caught and bowled, but Nair, who had settled down by then, continued his own strong form in recent times with a half-century. His scores in first-class cricket this season read: 99, 166*, 90, 20, 78 and 51*. When the teams shook hands, Nair had captain Wriddhiman Saha, unbeaten on 1 off 33 balls, for company.

Earlier, after Aiden Markram asked the Indians to bat, they rode on the half-centuries from Gill and Nair as well as Saha’s 60, Shivam Dube’s 68 and Jalaj Saxena’s unbeaten 48 to put up 417.

Kuldeep Yadav and Shahbaz Nadeem combined to then reduce South Africa to 142 for 5, before hundreds by Markram and Wiaan Mulder rescued the visiting side. Markram (161) and Mulder (131*) added 155 runs for the sixth wicket, and though Markram was eventually bowled by Mohammed Siraj, Mulder carried South Africa close to India’s total.

Kuldeep and Nadeem picked up seven wickets between them, and Markram was named the player of the match.

This match marked the end of South Africa A’s tour of India, which started with a five-match one-day series – India took that 4-1 – and concluded with the two four-dayers, the first of which the Indians won by seven wickets.

The senior sides from the two countries are currently engaged in a T20I series and will then play three Test matches.

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