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Kohli admits confusion over Pant and Iyer in batting order



India’s captain Virat Kohli revealed that Rishabh Pant was not supposed to bat at No. 4 in the third T20I against South Africa in Bengaluru. He admitted to a “miscommunication” between Pant and Shreyas Iyer, saying the latter was slated to bat at No. 4 if India were two down within the 10th over.

As it turned out, India were 63 for 2 in the eighth over when Shikhar Dhawan advanced down the pitch and carved left-arm wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi to extra-cover. However, Pant walked in ahead of Iyer, and Kohli put it down to a communication breakdown in the dugout.

“I think there was a miscommunication there,” Kohli said. “That’s what I understood afterwards. The batting coach [Vikram Rathour] had a word with both of them and there was a misunderstanding of who has to go [in] at what stage of the game. So, it was a bit funny afterwards because they both wanted to walk in. It would have been very funny if both had reached the pitch… three batsmen [would have been] in the field. Yeah, I think it was a miscommunication in the middle.

“We had it planned according to phases. So, after 10 overs we decided Rishabh would walk in. Before that Shreyas had to walk in. So, I think both of them got confused and didn’t realise who had to walk in at what stage of the game.”

There has been some debate over Pant’s batting position and shot selection in recent times. Coach Ravi Shastri was critical of Pant’s shot selection in the Caribbean and it came into the spotlight once again when he heaved a half-tracker straight into the lap of short fine leg against South Africa in Mohali.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar suggested that slotting Pant in at No. 5 would ease the pressure on him, helping him play his attacking, natural game.

“Giving him a bit of breathing space by slotting him at No. 5 could also help, for at that number he will invariably come in to bat where his aggressive batting is needed from the start rather than when he has to build his and the team’s innings,” Gavaskar wrote in Sunday Mid-Day. “Just like a little tweak in the grip can make a world of difference to a player as a bowler or as batsman, so also a little tweak in the batting order could change the fortunes of a player.”

After coming in at No. 4 on Sunday, Pant tiptoed to 12 off 17 balls before fiercely slog-sweeping seamer Dwaine Pretorius over the fine-leg boundary. He added just one to his tally before holing out to long-off against left-arm fingerspinner Bjorn Fortuin for 19 off 20 balls. Two balls later, Iyer was stumped off a leg-side wide for 5 off 8 balls. From 63 for 1 India lost 5 for 35 and eventually the game.

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Andy Flower leaves ECB after 12 years in England set-up



Andy Flower has left the ECB after 12 years at the organisation.

Flower, who led England to their first men’s ICC tournament win in 2010 and their first away Ashes win since 1986-87 later in that year, was first employed as Peter Moores’ assistant coach in 2007. He became head coach in 2009, and after stepping down following the disastrous 2013-14 Ashes campaign, took up a role as ‘technical director of elite cricket’, giving him responsibility for the England Lions team.

An ECB statement said that Flower had left “to pursue other opportunities”, and he said that he would still be based in England.

Flower described his time at the ECB as “a real privilege”, and picked out the World T20 win in 2010, the away Ashes win, and victory in the 2012-13 series in India as three highlights.

Flower also gave his backing to new England coach Chris Silverwood.

“I’m really happy for Chris that he’s getting the chance to lead England and I think he’s going to do a great job,” he said. “I also want to wish Mo Bobat, the new performance director, all the best in his new role.”

Flower hinted that he was more likely to return to the game with a coaching role at a T20 franchise than in the international game.

“I haven’t had a sustained break for quite a long time,” he said. “I will still be based in England and I will continue to watch English cricket very keenly – it has a very bright future.”

Flower’s departure completes a major overhaul in the ECB’s structure since the start of the year.

Andrew Strauss stepped down from the team director role due to family reasons, and has become head of the cricket committee, while Ashley Giles has moved into his old role. Trevor Bayliss vacated the head coach role, which was filled by Silverwood, while David Parsons left his performance director role to be replaced by Bobat.

Mark Ramprakash left his position as a batting coach, and reports have suggested that Kevin Shine (fast-bowling coach) and Peter Such (spin coach) are expected to leave their roles. Silverwood’s backroom staff has yet to be announced, though it is expected that continuity, rather than upheaval, will be the order of the day.

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Recent Match Report – Queensland vs New South Wales, Sheffield Shield, 2nd Match



Stumps Queensland 153 & 5 for 186 (Burns 52) lead New South Wales 9 for 288 dec (Warner 125, Bertus 53, Gannon 5-94, Neser 2-56) by 51 runs

A fighting half-century from Joe Burns has helped Queensland hold off New South Wales’ charge to victory momentarily on a rain-affected third day at the Gabba.

Only 63 overs were possible on the third day after the game was delayed due to the rain that had fallen overnight. The Blues declared their innings closed on their overnight score to lead by 135 runs.

The Bulls second innings started cautiously and they lost Matt Renshaw LBW to Trent Copeland with the total on 22. Copeland trapped the left-hander on the front foot from around the wicket despite Renshaw getting a good stride forward.

Usman Khawaja made an elegant 24 with four boundaries before being undone by Sean Abbott. The right-arm quick angled in from around the wicket and nipped one away to scratch the outside edge as Khawaja was half-forward.

Burns and Marnus Labuschagne steadied with a 56-run stand and all but erased the lead. But after reaching a patient half-century, with just four boundaries, he was tempted into driving Copeland only to edge it to second slip where Steve Smith held a comfortable catch. That sparked a mini-collapse as the Bulls lost 3 for 32. Harry Conway continued his form from the first innings to take his tally to seven wickets for the match.

The first was fortunate with Charlie Hemphrey strangled down the leg-side. The second was a superb piece of bowling, finding the edge of Sam Heazlett with one that angled in and nipped away late.

Labuschagne held firm making a composed unbeaten 48 to steer the Bulls to stumps alongside Jimmy Peirson who remained on 21. But they will need to bat well on the final day to put the game beyond the Blues reach.

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Recent Match Report – Victoria vs South Australia, Sheffield Shield, 1st Match



South Australia 5 for 527 (Cooper 188*, Carey 117, Tremain 2-42) trail Victoria 6 for 616 dec (Maddinson 224, Pucovski 123, Harris 116) by 89 runs

South Australia duo Tom Cooper and Alex Carey made barnstorming centuries against some very generous Victorian bowling as the game descended into a farcical stalemate on a concrete-like pitch at the Junction Oval.

The match almost seemed like it had turned into a village game following Carey’s dismissal early in the last session when it became clear South Australia would not declare to try and set up a result. Victoria skipper Peter Handscomb brought both himself and Marcus Harris into the attack to bowl a mix of dubious offspin and medium pace unchanged for most of last session until James Pattinson came on to bowl offspin. Handscomb exchanged words regularly with Cooper as the game ground to a halt late in the day. The Redbacks reverted to conventional batting against the declaration-style bowling as both sides became frustrated at the inability to create a result on a surface that has yielded 1143 runs for just 11 wickets.

“We were trying to get a game going,” Handscomb said after play. “We thought 350 off 80 overs was going to be a fair target to chase and they weren’t having it. That was it we couldn’t come to an agreement on a pretty flat wicket.”

“I’m just annoyed the game is dead.

“I’ve got to put my bowlers back out there for time on feet for a pointless game. We as we could have been competing for something tomorrow.”

It appears the two teams were about 50 runs apart on what was a reasonable target. Cooper was unsure what took place behind the scenes and was spent most of the last session as a conduit between Handscomb and the Redbacks hierarchy.

“I guess I was caught in the middle of it as the messenger,” Cooper said. “They obviously couldn’t come to a compromise. Unfortunately that’s how it panned out. Going into the day we were under a lot of pressure to keep ourselves in it and not fold under the pressure of a massive first innings total.’

The Redbacks were under pressure just after lunch on day three having crawled to 4 for 185 in the 76th over after Travis Head fell to Glenn Maxwell for 51 off 184 balls, his slowest half-century in first-class cricket.

Carey immediately showed his intent trying to reverse-sweep Maxwell. Victoria took the second new ball but both Carey and Cooper started finding the boundary with increasing regularity. Handscomb turned back to spin from both ends but kept the field up.

Carey and Cooper made 172 runs in 28.5 overs before tea. Cooper hit Jon Holland twice into the windows of the second storey of the pavilion. Carey slog-swept and reverse-swept with impunity as there were no men out deep on either side of the field. Holland switched ends to bowl down breeze and Cooper hit him for three more sixes, including one to bring up his 13th first-class century.

Having been 439 runs behind at lunch, South Australia went to tea only 259 runs behind. It had been a deliberate ploy from Victoria to try and accelerate the game to possibly set up a fourth-innings chase on a surface that simply won’t break up in the cool conditions. But the partnership moved much quicker than Victoria expected and they reset at tea.

Carey reached his third Shield century just after tea off 99 balls. He has two hundred and two fifties in his last five first-class innings but they have come in a span of 11 months, as he had spent majority of that time playing limited-overs cricket.

He finally fell driving in the air straight to cover off Chris Tremain. The partnership yielded 207 runs in just 35.5 overs. Tom Andrews made his third first-class half-century, and undoubtedly his easiest given he faced Handscomb and Harris throughout. Cooper cruised to 188 not out and Andrews reached his highest Shield score of 75 not out. South Australia finished the day only 89 runs behind.

Victoria also had two sub fielders throughout the day. Nic Maddinson was hit on the middle finger on his left hand while fielding at short leg when Cooper whipped a low full toss straight from Pattinson at him as he ducked for safety. He left the field in the middle session and didn’t return. Aaron Finch did not field at all after hurting his back while batting on day two. Victoria medical staff are confident it is nothing more than spasms and he did not field as a precaution.

Earlier in the first session, Henry Hunt fell for 75 on debut. He advanced at Holland but was beaten in flight by a beautiful piece of bowling and was stumped by a mile.

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