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‘I was determined to make this one count’ – Tiwary on historic triple

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On Monday, Manoj Tiwary became only the second Bengal batsman, after Devang Gandhi’s 323 in 1998-99, to make a first class triple-hundred, against Hyderabad. It allowed his side to charge to a bonus-point victory that puts them in a good position five games into the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season.

Three times previously this season, Tiwary failed to convert his starts into substantial scores. He started the season with 51 against Kerala on a rank turner in Thiruvananthapuram. Then, on a green-top at Eden Gardens against Andhra, he made 46 – a knock he felt needed him to work as hard as he would to make 150 elsewhere. Last week, in a game that barely lasted two days, Tiwary made 48 as Bengal were handed a thrashing by defending champions Vidarbha on a dusty track. Coming back to home comforts, in Kalyani, he knew while the form hadn’t deserted him, he had to make a big one for the team’s sake to put them back in a good position building towards the knockouts.

On the first morning, he walked in to bat at 32 for 2. It soon became 60 for 3 when he joined hands with Anustup Majumdar to rebuild the innings. “Initially I counterattacked to just throw them off their plans,” Tiwary told ESPNcricinfo after Bengal’s innings and 303-run victory. “After I raced past a half-century, I knew I had to slow down just a bit. But as the day progressed the pitch eased out, so run-scoring became easy.

“The team needed it badly. In the game against Kerala, I kind of felt some pain in my back while evading a short-ball, and lost my focus after getting to a half-century. I could have come off, but I didn’t want a new batsman to come in. So I carried on, but somehow couldn’t get a big one. So I was determined to make this one count once set. In the other two games, as a batsman, you were never in because the conditions were really challenging. So when I saw this wicket, I knew if you spend time, the first hour or so, it will get easier and I was able to make it count.”

Tiwary’s return to big run-making mode bodes well for the team heading into the second half of the tournament. They will soon be without Abhimanyu Easwaran, the designated captain, who is set to fly out to New Zealand for the India A tour early next month. There are murmurs that Tiwary could once again be handed the captaincy. For the moment, Tiwary has only a simple request: “Those judging us need to watch our matches before looking at stats, else numbers won’t give you a true picture.

“The way I’ve been batting, I would say the season has gone well. Some of the scores have come in challenging conditions, so I’m happy deep down. It’s not always about the big knocks, you have to appreciate and value scores on rank turners or green tops. Every team is looking to maximise their home advantage because the competition in Groups A and B combined is stifling, and I see nothing wrong with that.

“Playing on tough wickets adds to the charm of the Ranji Trophy and when you make tough runs, it’s pleasing. But my only request is for the selectors to actually start factoring in surfaces on which runs have come before forming their opinion, instead of just looking at score-books.”

On the team front, he is particularly pleased to see Bengal back to winning ways, reserving special praise for Akash Deep, the 23-year old fast bowler, who has so far picked up 16 wickets in four matches. With Ishan Porel away with India A in New Zealand, Akash Deep and left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed, who picked up a hat-trick in the first innings and ended with match figures of 6 for 77, have become key components of their bowling attack.

“Akash Deep is someone who should be looked after immediately. If India want another genuine quick who has promise, they should give him a try,” he said. “He bowls 140 and above, has an excellent bouncer, bowls consistently. He should be taken into the fast bowling talent pool at the NCA immediately and given chances. I think he’s India A material already. He deserves a proper road map, he could go great things going forward.”

Tiwary had told ESPNcricinfo prior to the season that his aim was to play as long as possible, even maybe for another 10 years. He has had time to reflect on those words, but the commitment still remains.

“Oh yes, without doubt. I’m ready to do what it takes,” he said. “I’m working hard on my fitness, I know I have to keep scoring runs consistently. I’ve always had to work hard, so that is nothing new. I want my son to see what his dad does on the cricket field, so that remains a motivating factor.

“He’s just two, I’ve just started under-arming rubber balls to him at the park. When he’s seven or eight, hopefully he can watch his dad still playing.”



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England Women v West Indies Women 2020

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West Indies allrounders Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews believe that having a “strong mindset” proved pivotal in keeping themselves motivated through the Covid-19 pandemic-induced off season. It helped them overcome fears that “we wouldn’t have any women’s cricket for the rest of the year” after the T20 World Cup in Australia ended in early March.

The 2021 Women’s World Cup has been postponed by a year. That along with the cancellation of several bilateral women’s series, even after international men’s cricket resumed in July, threatened to leave the women’s calendar vacant for the rest of 2020, outside of Australia’s home series against New Zealand which begins September 26.

However, the ECB successfully drew up contingency plans to make up for India and South Africa’s withdrawal for tours in July-August by inviting West Indies. Their first T20I against England in Derby on Monday is set to mark the return of top-level women’s international cricket 196 days on from the T20 World Cup final at the MCG.

“The whole time in the pandemic I just thought that that was it for the year for women’s cricket,” Dottin, the West Indies vice-captain, told ESPNcricinfo. “I think this pandemic [has taught] that mentally you’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to have a strong mindset. It [is] something that you can’t easily give up.

“I actually thought we wouldn’t have any women’s cricket for the rest of the year. I just kept training and doing things here and there and kept motivating myself in all ways. I started playing cricket with my cousins, the boys, just to keep active and keep that work up: of playing cricket.”

Matthews echoed her team-mate’s apprehensions. She was, like Dottin, part of West Indies’ 2016 T20 World Cup-winning side. She has also been a sought-after name in domestic T20 competitions, plying her trade in the WBBL, the now-defunct KSL and the Women’s T20 Challenge.

ALSO READ: West Indies women in England: ‘Women’s cricket needs this’ – Stafanie Taylor

“It’s obviously something very challenging,” said Matthews, who will play for the Hobart Hurricanes in the WBBL later this year. “You have to have a strong mentality to go out there, still be training, and putting in all the hard work, not knowing if you’re going to be able to be playing again this year. I’m just really glad we are able to get back over again and that Cricket West Indies and ECB have [made that possible] for us to play.

“We also see the Women’s Big Bash League; it seems it’s going to come off as well. It’s really good to see these boards are stepping up at this point and get cricket played – not only for the men’s sides but the women’s sides as well.”

West Indies have lost (19) more times than they’ve won (17) in their 37 T20Is since their 2016 T20 World Cup victory. Like the side, Matthews, the Player of the final in that tournament, too, has struggled to replicate the abandon that became a hallmark of the side’s maiden world title triumph four years ago. In her last 15 T20I innings, she has reached 30 only thrice, her maiden T20I hundred in May last year included.

In the T20 World Cup earlier this year, Matthews, who opens for the side, made only 26 runs in three innings as eventual semi-finalists England knocked West Indies out in the league stage with a game to go. Their poor performance prompted then head coach Gus Logie to describe their performance in the world tournament as “timid” and possessing a “fear factor”.

Matthews, however, was hopeful the upcoming five-T20I series against England could be a starting point for West Indies to make up lost ground.

“Probably of late, the pressure [on us] has eased off a bit,” Matthews said. “If you look at our performances [from the recent past], because they probably weren’t the best, the expectations from us for a lot of people aren’t as high.

“I don’t necessarily say that as a bad thing, though. Coming back after the pandemic and being given the opportunity to start afresh, especially against a team like England, we’re going out there knowing we’re the underdogs. I think it kind of gives us that freedom to really be able to go out there and play our natural game and play freely and express ourselves as players and as a team as well.”

With Logie’s tenure having ended with the T20 World Cup, Andre Coley, who was West Indies women’s head coach in 2012, has stepped in an interim capacity. He’s overseeing the tourists’ 18-member squad, which will be based in a biosecure environment in Derby throughout the tour and is without Anisa Mohammed, the veteran offspinner who declined the invitation to tour, with uncapped Guyanese left-arm spinner Kaysia Schultz included.

Matthews, 22, underlined that the opposition’s lack of familiarity with the West Indian rookies could hold them in good stead as would the experience of the seasoned campaigners in the likes of captain Stafanie Taylor, legspinner Afy Fletcher, Dottin and herself.

“We have a lot of versatility,” Matthews said. “We have a lot of different players that have stepped in, including the new players. Obviously, there wouldn’t have been much footage on them out there and stuff, so it definitely brings something new to the table when we face up against England.

“We also have a lot of experience within the team: people have been playing for the last five, ten years now, so that makes our combination pretty good, and hopefully it will win us some games as well.”



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Former NZ batsman Craig McMillan not to join Bangladesh for Sri Lanka tour due to family tragedy

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Craig McMillan will be unable to take up his role as batting consultant for Bangladesh’s Test series against Sri Lanka due to a loss in the family. McMillan was supposed to join the team later this month to prepare for the three-match series which would have been Bangladesh’s first assignment since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out worldwide in March.

BCB’s chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury said on Saturday that McMillan had informed them of the tragedy, and that they recognise his predicament.

“Craig has communicated to us that his father has passed away recently and therefore it would not be possible for him to take up the batting consultant’s position of the national team for the upcoming tour at this moment of grief. We fully understand his situation. Our sympathies are with Craig and his family during this difficult time,” Chowdhury said.

ALSO READ: Sri Lanka Cricket proposes split quarantine to Bangladesh Cricket Board

McMillan had agreed to take up the role last month after spending five years as New Zealand’s all-format batting coach. He was to replace Neil McKenzie, who had worked with Bangladesh for two years in the same capacity before deciding against travelling during the pandemic.

If the Sri Lanka tour does go ahead, it would leave the BCB with very little time to replace McMillan ahead of their preparatory camp for the tour, which is likely to be split between Dhaka and Colombo in the coming weeks.

However, the series remains an uncertainty as the Sri Lankan health authorities haven’t agreed with the BCB’s offer to scale down the quarantine period for their players upon arrival in Sri Lanka.



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Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Surrey South Group 2020

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Surrey 143 for 1 (Evans 81*, Jacks 56*) beat Hampshire 138 for 8 (Holland 65, Topley 4-20) by nine wickets

Reece Topley returned to the Ageas Bowl to haunt depleted Hampshire as Surrey remained top of the Vitality Blast South Group with a nine-wicket win.

England white-ball international Topley returned career-best figures of 4 for 20 to restrict his former county to 138 for 8. Then, Will Jacks (56) cracked his third consecutive fifty and Laurie Evans clubbed 81 not out in a 118-run partnership for the second wicket, as already qualified Surrey all but booked a home quarter-final by easing to victory with 28 balls to spare.

Hampshire were forced to leave out four players who were self-isolating due to coming into contact with an individual with Covid symptoms.

The players, along with members of the coaching staff, are awaiting test results and should they come back negative, will be in contention to face Middlesex on Sunday.

A Hampshire statement said: “On the advice of our medical team a number of players have been withdrawn from today’s squad.

“This is as a precautionary measure and they are self-isolating while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test after coming into contact with an individual who has reported symptoms.”

As a result, they named an unexperienced XI which included Felix Organ, Tom Scriven, Calvin Harrison and Scott Currie – who had previously made six T20 appearances between them.

Hampshire, who had lost their last five matches in the Blast, then lost the toss and lost a wicket first ball, having been stuck in.

Topley spent three injury-plagued seasons at the Ageas Bowl, but returned with a bang as he splattered George Munsey’s stumps with his first delivery.

Organ drove and pulled a pair of boundaries before he was stumped off Jacks to leave the hosts on 11 for 2.

Surrey’s leading Blast wicket-taker Dan Moriarty then left Hampshire reeling at 50 for 4 with two quick wickets.

The left-arm spinner had James Vince, who had threatened to break free with 27, stumped before Tom Scriven was lbw, Moriarty returning figures of 2 for 19.

Just as Hampshire looked set to repeat their showing against Essex, Ian Holland and James Fuller combined to take their side towards respectability with a stand of 75.

USA international Holland’s previous format best was an unbeaten 36 against Sussex earlier in the campaign, but led the recovery with an impressive 65.

His innings was shaped by clever running but it was his clean three sixes – two straight and other picked up over mid-wicket – which caught the eye as he reached his half-century off 38 balls with a swept four.

After Fuller had stepped on his own wicket for 19, Topley returned to make sure Surrey regained control in the death overs.

The left armer had Holland caught at short third man and Harrison lbw in successive balls, before Currie drilled to Rory Burns at extra cover.

Needing 139 to win, Surrey lost Jason Roy in the fourth over, caught at mid-off to hand Organ his maiden T20 wicket.

But Jacks, on the back of scores of 55 and 65 against Middlesex and Sussex, barely flinched as he scored freely, crashing six fours and a six over midwicket in his 29-ball fifty.

With Lewis McManus undergoing surgery for appendicitis, Vince took the gloves but was not overly used as the ball rarely beat the bat.

While Jacks seemingly slowed down, Evans moved through his innings with a crescendo, with a six whipped off his legs and a driven slash taking him to his half-century in 34 deliveries.

The Jacks and Evans partnership moved past 100 in 66 balls, before they knocked off the remaining runs in rapid style – with back-to-back sixes off Harrison completing a sixth straight Surrey victory.



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