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Nicole Bolton shows early-season form on return to action

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Nicole Bolton made an impressive return to action for Western Australia with back-to-back half-centuries on the opening weekend of the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL).

Bolton, who was part of the Australia squad that retained the Ashes in England in July, opted out of the tour of West Indies to focus on her mental health following a previous break from the game last season.

In the first two matches for Western Australia she struck 77 off 106 balls against Queensland and 63 off 80 balls against Tasmania to help her side begin with a brace of victories. In the Tasmania game she also picked up 2 for 26 from her 10 overs.

Speaking at the end of the West Indies tour, Australia coach Matthew Mott said he had been in contact with Bolton over recent weeks.

“Bolts and I have been in touch via WhatsApp and she’s in a really good frame of mind and looking forward to the first round of the WNCL,” Mott said. “For her it’s just about reentering and getting back into the swing of things and hopefully scoring some runs, but she seems really happy which is great.”

Australia will name their T20I and ODI squads on Wednesday for the series against Sri Lanka that starts at the end of month. After a cleansweep in the Caribbean, Mott said that he did not foresee many changes.

Bolton, who isn’t considered as a T20I player, featured in the three ODIs on the Ashes tour with scores of 2, 1 and 4 while also playing in the Test.



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“My best not good enough right now” – Bavuma | Cricket

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Play

01:28



Thirty-four for 3, 20 for 3, and 53 for 5.

This hasn’t been a uniformly terrible tour for South Africa’s batsmen. Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock have both scored hundreds, and Faf du Plessis has made a couple of fifties. The lower order has stuck around to the extent that South Africa, on this tour, have achieved two of the five longest ninth-wicket partnerships ever seen in India.

But it has been a nightmare tour for South Africa against the new ball, and Temba Bavuma, their No. 4, isn’t shying away from that.

“Look, from the guys at the top, the top-order batters, the guys who are entrusted with scoring the bulk of the runs, it does kind of hurt,” Bavuma said at the end of the third day’s play in Pune. “It does dent your ego when you’re seeing the lower order go out and fight it out to do what you’re really playing to do.

“The boys are trying with the bat and I think, looking forward, looking at the second innings, there’s a lot of confidence we can take in the fact that it’s not all demons out there. We can actually bat. We’ve just got to find a way to dominate with the bat, as much as India have done so.

“I don’t have the answers as to where it’s going wrong. The obvious one is that we’re not able to put up partnerships. We haven’t been able to absorb and sustain the pressure that the Indian bowlers have put on us for a consistent period of time.

“And that’s obviously something that we’ll be trying to rectify. We’re going to have an opportunity now in the second innings, whether India decide to bat again, whether they decide to [enforce the] follow-on, we’re going to have an opportunity as batters to really stake our claim.”

In three innings on this tour, Bavuma has made 18, 0 and 8. He knows a lot more is expected of him.

“I can understand all the criticism and all the flak that is coming my way,” Bavuma said. “Like I’ve always said, as a batter your currency is runs and that’s what you’re judged according to. And when your performances are not at the level that we’re so accustomed to as South African batters, people are going to come hard.

“The South African public, the fans, are very proud and they’re used to a higher standard of cricket. Us as sportsmen represent the South African country – that’s the pressure we deal with. From my side as a player, it’s not as if I am going out there and trying to nick balls and trying to miss straight ones.




Temba Bavuma is bowled © BCCI


“I can honestly probably say, being critical of myself, that I’m giving my best but probably my best at this point in time is not good enough. In saying that, it is not something that I’ll shy away from. Criticism is a good thing. I’ve always felt that it’s just a matter of me, as a professional cricketer, stepping up to the pressure that is before me and trying to win back the support of the fans back home.”

At the end of the second day’s play, when South Africa were 36 for 3 in response to India’s 601 for 5 declared, their team director Enoch Nkwe had stern words for the players.

“We had an honest and truthful chat from the coach,” Bavuma said. “He gave us his true feelings, his true thoughts on how we had gone about our last two days. He was really critical of our effort. Basically he said with everything that’s happened, we’ve got to find a way.

“We haven’t come to India to lose, we haven’t necessarily come to India to just learn; we’ve actually come to compete and to win. That’s what our goal is. Yes, we haven’t done it in the first Test. We haven’t been able to do that in the first two-and-a-half days [here], but there’s an opportunity going forward to do it. Like I said, there is a responsibility from us to stake our claim and do everyone justice.”

The top-order batsmen, Bavuma said, could look to the lower-order pair of Keshav Maharaj and Vernon Philander, who put on 109 in 259 balls, if they need any inspiration for the second innings.




Keshav Maharaj and Vernon Philander forged a century stand © BCCI


“It was a spectacular effort from Vernon and Keshav to fight it out there out in the middle, and face as many balls as they did, and in saying that still accumulate runs. I mean, us in the change room and even on the sides, we were enjoying every moment of it.

“But as I said, we were feeding from the confidence they were giving us. You saw the balance between their defence as well as their attacking shots. That’s something we’ve been speaking about as batters. That’s been our aim in what we’re trying to do. The mood is definitely positive, the mood has been positive, to be honest. It was enjoyable, the 260-ball partnership between those two.”

There was more inspiration to take from the fact that Maharaj, who scored his first Test fifty, was batting with an injured right shoulder.

“There’s definitely a lot of positives to take,” Bavuma said. “This is a confidence-booster. Keshav is a big player in the team, obviously Vernon as well. For big players, for senior players in the team to step up when the occasion arises is definitely is something that you can stick out your chest on.

“Like I said, over the next two days we’re going to need a lot more of that, with the ball, with the bat, in every department, we are going to need guys to put up their hand and no matter which way the result goes, let’s just make sure that our pride is intact.”

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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Recent Match Report – Western Australia vs Tasmania, Sheffield Shield, 3rd Match

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Stumps Western Australia 337 and 2 for 148 (Shaun Marsh 74*, Mitchell Marsh 51*) lead Tasmania 397 (Paine 121, Jewell 52, Richardson 3-58) by 88 runs

Tim Paine‘s century, only his second in his 125th first-class appearance, helped Tasmania edge ahead of Western Australia in the first-innings exchanges across at WACA, as they finished on 397 in response to the home side’s 337. By close of play on the third day, though, the Marsh brothers Shaun and Mitchell had both hit half-centuries to put their team 88 runs in front.

The day began with Paine and Caleb Jewell in the middle and Tasmania 5 for 217, still 120 runs adrift. The two of them stretched their partnership to 80 runs, Jewell hitting his maiden fifty at this level along the way, to keep them in the race but when Joel Paris sent back Jewell for 52, they were still well in arrears at 6 for 256.

Paine was in his stride by then, but lost Sam Rainbird and Jackson Bird cheaply, and it took debutant Lawrence Neil-Smith‘s solid, and obdurate, support for Paine to not only get to his own landmark but also haul Tasmania in front. The two of them held firm for almost 37 overs, adding 111 runs together, before Paine fell miscuing a pull off Jhye Richardson. Paine made 121, scored off 208 balls with 13 fours and a six.

Australia’s Test captain had last made it to three-digits in a first-class match back in October 2006, when he was just 21, and it was an innings that promised big things as he went on to hit 215 in what was his fifth first-class outing, also at the WACA. It has taken him almost 13 years and 120 matches to get there again. Interestingly, Justin Langer, coach and confidante to Paine in the senior Australia men’s team now, was opening the batting for Western Australia in that match.

No.11 Riley Meredith hung around for 23 balls but scored not a run before Ashton Agar accounted for him, leaving Neil-Smith unbeaten on 39, scored over 150 balls. That made it an excellent debut for the 20-year-old, who had returns of 3 for 81 in the first Western Australia innings.

He was back trapping Sam Whiteman lbw for 16, after Bird had jolted Western Australia with a first-ball strike to dismiss Cameron Bancroft, caught by George Bailey, to leave the scoreboard at 2 for 36 after 15 overs.

But Shaun Marsh and captain Mitchell Marsh, Nos. 3 and 4 respectively, then proceeded to add 112 runs in 28 overs in their unbroken third-wicket association to open up the game again. Both of them scored at a healthy clip. Shaun got to his half-century first, and ended the day on 74 from 146 balls, with nine fours and a six, while Mitchell scored relatively quicker, his 51 coming from 79 balls with nine fours.



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Recent Match Report – Goa vs Kerala, Vijay Hazare Trophy, Elite, Group A

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Sanju Samson‘s career-best 212 not out, the highest individual score in Vijay Hazare Trophy history, was the headline as Kerala took on Goa in an Elite Group A game in Alur on Saturday.

It was Samson’s maiden List A century – he has two T20 hundreds and nine in first-class cricket – and when he doubled it, it became only the eighth instance of an Indian scoring a List A double, five of which have come in ODIs: three by Rohit Sharma, and one each by Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag. Those aside, there is Shikhar Dhawan’s 248 for India A against South Africa A in Pretoria in 2013 and Karn Veer Kaushal’s 202 for Uttarakhand against Sikkim in last season’s Vijay Hazare Trophy, the first time a double was scored in the tournament.

Samson also put up 338 runs – the highest third-wicket partnership in List A history – with his captain Sachin Baby, who hit 127 in 135 balls, to take the team total to 377 for 3 in 50 overs. Theirs was also the highest partnership by an Indian pair in List A games, topping Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid’s previous record of 331.

Coming in to bat after opener Robin Uthappa was given out obstructing the field in the fourth over, Samson accelerated steadily in his innings, racing to 52 off 30 balls. Baby joined him at the crease in the eighth over, and the duo upped the scoring rate from the 13th over onwards. Samson went from 50 to 100 in 36 balls and in just 33 more balls, he had brought up his 150.

Baby, the more subdued of the two, brought up his century off 122 balls, and together they pushed the team total beyond 350 in 48 overs. Samson moved to 199 with a six and then brought up his 200 off just 125 balls, taking 26 balls to score the last 50. Baby was dismissed with five balls left in Kerala’s innings, while Samson remained unbeaten, his innings studded with 21 fours and ten sixes.

Legspinner Amit Verma was the only Goa bowler to finish with an economy rate below six, while the rest of them went at over seven, seamer Heramb Parab going for 76 runs in the nine overs he bowled.



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