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Objective is ‘to play like the world’s No. 1 Test team’ in New Zealand – Ravi Shastri

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The objective in the two-Test series in New Zealand is to “play like the world’s No. 1 Test team” and collect full points – 120 of them – “to be in contention to play at Lord’s” in the World Test Championship final in 2021, according to India head coach Ravi Shastri.

India are currently on top of the championship table with a full 360 points after beating West Indies 2-0 away and then South Africa and Bangladesh 3-0 and 2-0 at home respectively. Winning two Tests out of the ones in New Zealand, which starts February 21 in Wellington, or the four in Australia later in the year should put India in a good position to make that trip to Lord’s.

“We need 100 points to be in contention to play at Lord’s. Two overseas wins out of six Tests will keep us in good stead. We play six Tests overseas this year (two in NZ and four in Australia). So, that’s one objective,” Shastri was quoted as saying by the Times of India. “The other is to play like the world’s No. 1 Test team – because that’s what this team believes in more than anything else. On the Test front, that’s what we’re looking at.”

India swept the five-T20I series in New Zealand before being blanked 3-0 in the ODIs, and Shastri called the ODIs “relatively irrelevant” in what is a T20 World Cup year, and that the Tests “matter more right now”.

ALSO READ: Hanuma Vihari presents India with left-field choice for opener

As for the Tests, India are without Rohit Sharma with a calf injury, and have Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill as the opening options in New Zealand.

“Both [Shaw and Gill] are supremely exciting talents,” Shastri said. “Regardless of who gets into the XI in Wellington, the fact of the matter is they’re here, part of India’s national squad, and from here on they should know that the sky remains the limit.”

Speaking specifically about Gill, Shastri said, “He’s phenomenally talented. His approach to batting is very clear and he exhibits a very positive mindset. That’s very exciting for a boy who’s just 20 going on 21.”

In their first innings of the only three-day tour game before the first Test, Shaw and Agarwal opened and scored 0 and 1 respectively, while Gill, batting at No. 4, scored a duck too, all of them falling to Scott Kuggeleijn.

“They’re all from the same school, you know. They love facing the new ball, enjoy a challenge,” Shastri said. “Rohit is unfortunately out so that puts Shubman and Prithvi in contention to open with Mayank. That competition is necessary and that’s what makes a bunch of 15 look strong and stable.”

India are also without Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma, who will be undergoing a fitness test in Bengaluru on Saturday to see if he can join the touring party.



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Recent Match Report – England Women vs South Africa Women, ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, 4th Match, Group B

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South Africa 4 for 127 beat England 8 for 123 (Sciver 50, Khaka 3-25) by six wickets

In her 100th T20I, Mignon du Preez struck back-to-back boundaries in the final over as South Africa held their nerve to secure just a third victory over England in the format in what could be a very significant result early in the World Cup.

It was a thrilling end to a chase that South Africa won and lost on multiple occasions in the closing stages before it came down to needing nine off the last over bowled by Katherine Brunt. The first two balls went for singles before du Preez swung a six over fine leg then clubbed the boundary that set off wild South African celebrations.

The bulk of the chase was put together by a stand of 84 between captain Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp but both fell in the space if five balls as England threatened to turn it around.

However, it was with the bat where England really let themselves down as they labored to a total that, while not that far from being enough to win, was an unconvincing way to start their tournament except for Nat Sciver‘s half-century. South Africa, though, were outstanding with the ball and, in the end, it did not go waste.

A dramatic final five

South Africa needed 34 off 28 balls when England hauled themselves back into the match through their spin twins Sophie Ecclestone and Sarah Glenn. Glenn had Kapp caught and bowled and in the next over, without a run added, the pressure told on van Niekerk as she sliced Ecclestone to point. England squeezed to such an extent that the target blew out to 33 off 18 balls. The 18th over, from Sciver, went for 14 to reignite South Africa’s hopes and when Chloe Tryon, who had struggled to middle the ball, cleared the fence off Ecclestone it came down to nine off eight. Amy Jones then missed a stumping chance only for Ecclestone to spear one through Tryon (who would have been lbw without scoring had England reviewed in the 17th over) meaning Brunt had nine to defend in the last. The third ball of the over was dropped short enough for du Preez to get far enough underneath it to clear the rope. Finally, that was the game.

Allrounders stand tall

Although for a moment it appeared their fine work would come to nothing, Kapp and van Niekerk had outstanding days. Kapp got South Africa up and running by ending a lively start from Jones in an exceptional display which included 12 dot balls across her four overs. With the bat she produced the best shot of the match when she drove Brunt off the back through the off side on the final ball of the powerplay. van Niekerk had gone for just five an over in four overs, without conceding a boundary, and claimed the key wicket of the in-form Heather Knight. While her innings was never quite at the tempo to emphatically put the chase to bed, she twice sent Anya Shrubsole for six and at the end of the contest could reflect on one of the better wins of her captaincy career.

Pace and variety

Shabnim Ismail only managed one wicket, when Brunt carved to third man, but her performance was another reminder of the priceless commodity of pace she brings to the South Africa attack. She clocked in at 125kph and regularly pushed 120kph, forcing the England batters back in their crease. As a whole, South Africa’s attack was always offering something different to contend with. It was a surprise to see left-arm spinner Nonkulueko Mlaba bowl the first over – and it cost nine as Jones started positively – but although she was the most expensive there wasn’t a weak link, to the extent that Sune Luus wasn’t even required.

Sciver salvages England

For a significant part of her innings, Sciver found the going as tricky as the rest of the England batting but crucially fought through and was there to catch up towards the end. From having 24 off 29 balls, she then collected 26 off her next 12 balls which included the lone six of the innings when she deposited Mlaba over wide long-on. She also brought out the scoop – a shot favoured by a few of the England batters – and her half-century came up off 40 balls. However, she was defeated by an excellent slower ball from Khaka which prevented her taking advantage of the final two overs. In a match of such fine margins, that could well have proved crucial.



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Islamabad United bowl; Samit Patel, Faizan Khan in for Lahore Qalandars | Cricket

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Sohail Akhtar holds his shape after playing a shot © PSL


Islamabad United won the toss and chose to bowl v Lahore Qalandars

All but one of the games this season so far have been won by the chasing side, so it was little surprise to see Islamabad United put Lahore Qalandars in. Qalandars, who are the only side yet to win a game this season, made two changes to the side that succumbed to a meek defeat against Multan Sultans.

Samit Patel, who was left out in the first game, comes into the team to replace Ben Dunk. Dilbar Hussain also makes way, with Faizan Khan replacing him. There’s one change for Islamabad United, with young Ahmed Safi Abdullah in place of Akif Javed.

Islamabad United: Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi (wk), Colin Ingram, Dawid Malan, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan (capt), Ammad Butt, Ahmed Saifi Abdullah, Musa Khan

Lahore Qalandars: Lahore Qalandars: Chris Lynn, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Dane Vilas (wk), Sohail Akhtar (capt), David Weise, Samit Patel, Faizan Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Usman Shinwari

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000


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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.






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Recent Match Report – South Africa vs Australia 2nd T20I 2020

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South Africa won the toss and chose to bat first vs Australia

Reeza Hendricks was recalled to South Africa’s T20I squad on Sunday morning and named to open the batting against Australia on a surface unlike any other Quinton de Kock has seen in Port Elizabeth. Described as subcontinental in appearance, the surface appeared fairly bare.

Hendricks was initially not in the 15-man group but Temba Bavuma is still battling with a hamstring injury and has not recovered in time for a must-win match, forcing South Africa to pick another specialist opener.

That means Rassie van der Dussen moves down the order and will bat at No. 4, and displaces Jon-Jon Smuts from the playing XI at his home ground. Smuts was a last-minute replacement for Heinrich Klaasen in Johannesburg after the latter suffered a hip injury, which has sidelined him again. Pite van Biljon, who made his debut in that match, has been given another opportunity.

South Africa also made a third change to their team, with Dale Steyn making room for Anrich Nortje. While the swap is likely to have been technical, and part of a horses for courses approach with St George’s Park being Nortje home patch, Steyn was seen grimacing as he touched his shoulder after three overs on Friday night, but when on to complete his spell.

Australia won’t complain about not facing South Africa’s most experienced quick and looked to seal the series with an unchanged side.

South Africa: 1 Quinton de Kock (capt, wk), 2 Reeza Hendricks, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 Rassie van der Dussen, 5 Pite van Biljon, 6 David Miller, 7 Dwaine Pretorius, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Anrich Nortje 10 Lungi Ngidi 11 Tabraiz Shamsi

Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch (capt), 3 Steven Smith, 4 Matt Wade, 5 Mitchell Marsh, 6 Alex Carey (wk), 7 Ashton Agar, 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Kane Richardson



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