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Lanka Premier League 2020 – Andre Russell, Faf du Plessis among five overseas players to pull out

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Five foreign players, including Andre Russell, Faf du Plessis and David Miller have withdrawn from the Lanka Premier League (LPL) less than a week after they were drafted into franchise teams.

Miller, du Plessis and Dawid Malan have become unavailable because of the limited-overs series between South Africa and England, set to begin on November 27. Russell, meanwhile, has pulled out due to injury, according to Sri Lanka Cricket. Manvinder Bisla, the fifth player to exit the tournament, is not believed to have provided a reason though. The LPL is scheduled to start on November 21 and run until December 13.

“The franchises that had these players will have to negotiate with other players to take their place,” LPL director Ravin Wickramaratne told ESPNcricinfo. Russell, Miller, du Plessis and Malan had all been selected as marquee players, which means the franchises are not bound by the constraints of the draft payment structure when they seek new players.

Although it was suspected that the players from South Africa and England would withdraw once England’s tour of South Africa was confirmed, Russell’s exit is more of a surprise. He has not played for the Kolkata Knight Riders since the game against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on October 18 owing to a knee injury but hasn’t yet pulled out of the IPL entirely either. No update has been given on his further involvement in the ongoing tournament, although Wickramaratne cited injury as the cause of his withdrawal from the LPL.

While these withdrawals are a significant blow to the tournament, they are not a death knell just yet. The hardest hit franchise is the Colombo Kings, who had all three of Russell, du Plessis and Bisla on their roster. The Jaffna Stallions had Malan.

With less than four weeks to go until the scheduled start of the LPL, there are still substantial logistical hurdles to surmount before the tournament can get off the ground. A major sticking point remains the quarantine – Sri Lanka’s health ministry has insisted it must be 14 days of confinement in a hotel room, which some players have expressed dissatisfaction with.

However, SLC remains optimistic that the tournament will go ahead.



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BBL 2020-21 – Jason Holder signs with Sydney Sixers for a three-game stint in the BBL

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West Indies Test captain Jason Holder has signed with BBL champions the Sydney Sixers for a three-game stint following the Test series against New Zealand.

The travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand allows Holder to enter Australia without having to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Following the two-Test series in New Zealand, he will head straight to Hobart to play in the December 20 clash with the Adelaide Strikers. He will also be available for the December 26 fixture against the Melbourne Stars and the December 29 match with the Melbourne Renegades.

Holder, 29, comes in as cover for England bowler Tom Curran who needs to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving from England’s limited-overs tour of South Africa. He joins fellow West Indian Carlos Brathwaite and England batsman James Vince as part of the Sixers’ overseas contingent.

“I’m really excited to be coming to the BBL and the Sydney Sixers,” Holder said. “I’ve wanted to for a few years now and this year I have the opportunity to come in and make some appearances and hopefully do a bit for the Sixers.”

Holder said he was looking forward to reuniting with Sixers skipper Moises Henriques, having played alongside him in the IPL.

“BBL cricket is an interest for me and the Sixers have been successful over the past few years. Moises and I played together at Sunrisers and I really enjoyed that. It will be good to do it again.”



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Colombo Kings vs Dambulla Viiking, LPL 2020, Fantasy Pick, team predictions

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December 1: Colombo Kings vs Dambulla Viiking, Hambantota

Pro Tip: The Colombo Kings have been the most impressive side so far, winning both their games, especially with Andre Russell finding form in the last game. Pick more players from the Kings’ side.

Our XI: Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Paul Stirling, Laurie Evans, Andre Russell, Isuru Udana, Samit Patel, Dasun Shanaka, Ashan Priyanjan, Qais Ahmed, Lahiru Kumara

Substitutes: Upul Tharanga, Malinda Pushpakumara, Thikshila de Silva, Angelo Mathews

Player availability: The Kings’ Ravinderpal Singh was tested positive for Covid-19 and is still not available for selection. Dambulla Viiking’s Oshada Fernando is out for a week after suffering a foot injury. So, finalise your team after the toss.

Captain: Andre Russell

A rain-curtailed game helped Russell play his natural game and get his form back. His 19-ball 65 not out helped the Kings reach 96 in five overs. Russell has hit 455 sixes in 289 T20 innings, more than any other player in LPL 2020.

Vice-captain: Dinesh Chandimal

Chandimal last represented Sri Lanka in the shortest format in 2018. But he has 392 runs in the last two seasons of the domestic T20 competition at an average of 39.20 and a strike rate of 133.33. He started the tournament with a bang too, scoring a match-winning 46-ball 80.

Hot Picks

Dasun Shanaka: The Viiking skipper showed his capabilities in the first game with a match-winning 37-ball 73 which included eight fours and four sixes. His six-hitting ability – 129 sixes in 87 T20 innings – stands out among his peers. He showcased that in BPL 2019 too with a 31-ball 75, which included three fours and nine sixes. He is also handy with the ball and has 23 wickets in 43 T20 innings.

Paul Stirling: Stirling is one of the in-form players for the Viiking. He has played 17 T20s in 2020 and has scored 468 runs at an average of 31.20 and a strike rate of 156. He even scored a 47-ball 95 against a strong West Indies bowling line-up at the start of this year.

Qais Ahmed: Ahmed is one of the likeliest bowlers to get you a wicket. His stats in other leagues are: 19 wickets in 18 BBL games, six wickets in six BPL games and 14 wickets in 11 CPL games. He has picked up two wickets in two games in this tournament so far.

Differential Picks

Ashan Priyanjan: The Kings’ allrounder Priyanjan surprised everyone with a spell of 1-0-1-1 in a five-over game a couple of nights back. In the 2020 SL domestic T20 tournament, he scored a 48-ball 90 and picked up 4 for 11 in the same game.

Lahiru Kumara: Kumara is more of a long-format specialist, but with 18 wickets at a strike rate of 16.8 and an economy rate of 7.56 from 15 T20s, it looks like he has what it takes to be successful in the shortest format as well.

Alternate Scenarios

  • de Silva’s T20 career strike rate is 156.19 and he has hit 43 sixes in 43 innings. Since he bats up the order, he can be a replacement for Priyanjan.

  • If Stirling doesn’t play, Tharanga can come in his place.



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South Africa v England, 3rd T20I, Newlands

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Chris Jordan says that a mixture of intra-squad rivalry and on-field collaboration has been the key to England’s T20I success in South Africa, after the team came through two stiff tests in Cape Town and Paarl to secure an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

In the course of Sunday’s four-wicket win in Paarl, Jordan also drew level with Stuart Broad as England’s leading T20I wicket-taker with 65 scalps in 54 games. But, he said, such accolades were just a by-product of the team’s success, and that he took more satisfaction from the improvements he and his fellow bowlers had made from the first match to the second.

“Winning the series, that’s what we set out to do first and foremost,” Jordan told Sky Sports after Sunday’s victory. “It’s obviously a nice milestone to have but, as long as I’m doing the job for the team, and the team are winning series and winning games, I’m more than happy. If the accolades come with that, then so be it.

“It was a solid team performance in the first game, but we put a lot of things right this game, especially in the bowling department and to restrict them to 146, on what we thought was a pretty decent wicket, and to get over the line, was very pleasing.

“Once we’d got a couple of wickets, we were able to build a bit a little bit of pressure, build a few dots,” he added. “But with our batting line-up, most par scores feel as if the teams are 15-20 short most of the time, and [Dawid Malan’s] innings shows why he’s at No.1 right now.”

England’s captain, Eoin Morgan, had been underwhelmed with England’s efforts in the field in Friday’s opening fixture, describing the performance as “average” after South Africa racked up a challenging 179 for 6 in their 20 overs – a total that was only overcome thanks to Jonny Bairstow’s brilliant 86 not out from 48 balls.

And Jordan admitted he had taken that criticism on the chin and gone away to work on his game to visible effect, as did his fellow death bowler, Tom Curran, who followed up figures of 1 for 55 at Newlands – the most expensive T20I figures of his career – with a much improved haul of 1 for 37, which included an excellent 20th over in which he conceded just seven runs.

ALSO READ: Jason Roy’s spin struggles could provide test of Eoin Morgan’s loyalty

“We didn’t really speak as an entire group,” Jordan said. “You just drag the coaches to one side, and make your own personal assessments on the game. For the first game, I gave away a couple of soft wides which then cost me at the back end of the over with a couple of boundaries, so I just tried to tidy that up.

“And TC [Curran], he tried to stick to his strengths as much as possible, and go to his slowies a little bit earlier. He was a bit more clever with the way he bowled, and was able to look after his figures as well. So it’s about making those personal assessments and trying to put those wrongs right.”

As Morgan admitted ahead of the opening fixture, victory in South Africa hasn’t been England’s sole objective for the series. The process of defining roles for each player in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup has been every bit as important, and thanks to two highly competitive intra-squad warm-up games as well as the on-field collaboration that he and his fellow bowlers have been working on this week, Jordan believes they’ve already made good strides.

“In the first couple of overs, we try to get a read [of the pitch] from Sam and Jof,” Jordan said. “I stand at mid-off quite a lot, so I’m just trying to get feedback from the bowlers, until I get into the game myself. Obviously Jof’s a taller bowler, Sam’s a skiddier bowler, me and TC are probably a little bit similar in height, so we try to get a read, almost every single ball, and then feed back to Morgs and try and come up with the best possible plans.

“The competition for places is brilliant,” he added. “[The warm-up games] were really good fun because everyone wanted to get each other out, or match each other for sixes. It just raised the level of everyone’s game.

“The way Sam [Curran] is striking the ball at the minute is pretty unbelievable, he’s come back with a lot of confidence from the IPL. Stokesy and Rooty, there’s a little bit of rivalry there as well, but it’s all in good spirits because we’re trying to pull in the same direction as a team. We’re trying to make the entire team and squad better, and those type of things just get you ready for series like this.”



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