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South Africa v England, 3rd T20I, Newlands



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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Brisbane weather prediction – India vs Australia Day 5 4th Test Brisbane 5.00 AM IST on January 19




There’s a 60% chance of thunderstorms in Brisbane on Tuesday

The weather in Brisbane on Tuesday could be the deciding factor in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. There’s a 60% chance of thunderstorms – probably in the afternoon for an hour – and a 51% chance of precipitation, according to the Accuweather website. The BBC predicts heavy rain overnight too, which could lead to a delayed start. The Gabba does, however, have good drainage so that needs to be factored in too.

To recap: India need 324 runs to win the match or bat out the day to save it, Australia need ten wickets to win the match and the trophy. There will be a maximum of 98 overs bowled from the planned early start. But the weather will hold the key.

Monday’s play saw approximately 40 minutes lost in two stoppages because of the rain; the last shower started at 5.07pm local time and play eventually had to be called off 23 minutes early.

In that time, Mohammed Siraj led the way in dismissing Australia for 294 in the second innings, as his 5 for 73 ensured India had to chase not more than 328. Shardul Thakur snared 4 for 61 himself, as the hosts counterattacked through Steven Smith’s 55. Cameron Green, Tim Paine and Pat Cummins also made crucial contributions for Australia, before rain ended the day with India on 4 without loss in the chase.

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Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma likely to return for England series




New panel will meet on Tuesday to pick a squad for the first two Tests of the home series

Even before the ink on India’s glorious and eventful tour of Australia dries, the selection committee is set to pick a squad for the first two Tests of home series against England. Comprising four matches, this series will be played in February, in a bio-secure environment, without spectators, with back-to-back Tests scheduled in Chennai and Ahmedabad.

This selection meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, will be the first of a brand new panel led by Chetan Sharma (chairman) and made up of Sunil Joshi, Abey Kuruvilla, Debashish Mohanty and Harvinder Singh.

The England series will mark the return of Virat Kohli back in the fold after he left the Australia tour to attend the birth of his first child. With all the games being played in a bubble it is likely that an enlarged squad will be picked – at least 25 players including net bowlers. The success of several young players over the past several weeks will embolden Kohli and the selectors, but they will will need to figure some key questions.

Will it be a five-pronged fast bowling attack?

A strong series result for India is a must for them to keep their chances of making the World Test Championship final alive. Consequently, India are likely to favour spin-friendly pitches to assist R Ashwin and co. Still the selectors are likely to pick five frontline fast bowlers in the primary squad. It is understood that Jasprit Bumrah, who was forced to sit out of the Gabba Test, will be fit to play his first home Test series.

It is understood Ishant Sharma, who missed out on travelling to Australia since he was completing his rehab from an injury picked during the IPL, will bolster the pace attack. Ishant is currently three matches short of becoming only the second Indian fast bowler to play 100 Test matches after Kapil Dev. As on Monday, he had featured in four T20s for Delhi in which he picked up five wickets at an economy of 7.76.

Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan are likely to be the remaining three fast bowlers.

As for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is also playing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s for Uttar Pradesh, it is learned that the selectors want him to get used to bowling a lot of overs before opening him up to the rigours of Test cricket. Bhuvnewshar was injured during the early part of the IPL and has not played any fist-class cricket for a while. The pair of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav are likely to be considered for the final two Tests, provided they recover completely from the injuries picked during the Australia tour.

Three spinners or more?

It is likely to be three spinners in the first squad with Ashwin leading the spin attack. In the absence of Ravindra Jadeja, who could return for the final two Tests, the selectors are likely to pick the left-arm pair of Kuldeep Yadav and Shahbaz Nadeem. Yadav last played for India in January 2019, in the final Test of the last Australian tour, taking a five-for. Despite Ashwin being unavailable for the Brisbane Test, the Indian team management picked a rookie in Washington Sundar over Yadav, who missed out on playing in any of the four Tests on this Australian tour. Sundar, who travelled to Australia originally as part of the white-ball squads, went on to make a fine Test debut but is only likely to be part of the net bowlers for the England series.

Three openers or four?

It is understood that the selectors are likely to include at least three openers, while also looking at options who can double up as a middle-order batsman. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill will be persisted as the opening pair along with Mayank Agarwal as the back-up. The selectors could also include one of the uncapped Priyank Panchal or Abhimanyu Easwaran as fourth opener with the aim of getting them to spend time with the first team. Both Panchal and Easwaran have been leading run-makers in first-class cricket as well as for India A and the selectors want them to get a higher level of exposure.

Prithvi Shaw, who made a century on Test debut in 2018, is is likely to dropped from the squad to allow him the time to strengthen his technique. Shaw was dropped after an uneventful outing in the day-night Test in Adelaide where his technical frailties were highlighted by experts including Sunil Gavaskar and Ricky Ponting. KL Rahul, who sprained his wrist in Melbourne, will be assessed in February before the selectors consider whether to include him for the final two Tests against England.

Additional reporting by Shashank Kishore

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Perth Scorchers vs Brisbane Heat, BBL 2020-21, Fantasy Pick, team predictions



Jan 19: Perth Scorchers vs Brisbane Heat, Melbourne

Pro Tip: Docklands Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for bowlers, especially for pacers in BBL 2019-20 where they averaged 42.65. So, make sure you have a lot of batsmen.

Our XI: Jason Roy, Liam Livingstone, Colin Munro, Josh Inglis, Jhye Richardson, Fawad Ahmed, Max Bryant, Chris Lynn, Lewis Gregory, Mark Steketee, Matthew Kuhneman

Substitutes: Ashton Turner, Jason Behrendorff, Joe Denly, Jack Wildermuth

Player Availability: Xavier Bartlett was subbed out for Morne Morkel after picking up Shaun Marsh’s wicket in the first over of the last game. He might be a doubtful starter for this game.

We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss

Captain: Chris Lynn
Even though he has missed a part of this season because of injury, Lynn has scored 20 or more in all six games he played and has accumulated 273 runs at a strike rate of 145.98. He has scored 484 runs against Scorchers at a phenomenal average of 53.77 and a strike rate of 141.10.

Vice-captain: Liam Livingstone

After a sedate start to the season, Liam Livingstone cut loose in the last couple of innings where he made scores of 67(38) and 54(39). He has accumulated 190 runs in seven games this season with a staggering 13 sixes.

Hot Picks
Colin Munro: The New Zealand batsman is the leading run-scorer for Scorchers this season with 271 runs in nine games. He has been in phenomenal hitting form of late registering scores of 52, 50, 50, 34 in his last four outings. His T20I strike rate of 156.44 in 65 games talks volumes about his hitting capabilities.

Mark Steketee: One of the leading wicket takers in the ongoing tournament with 18 strikes in just nine games at an average of 15.94, he is a key player for Heat in this game especially with Mujeeb Ur Rahman not available. He has been brilliant in death overs picking up seven wickets at an average of 10.14 this season.

Jason Roy: The England opener has started every single game well by not getting dismissed for single-digit score. He has struck 233 runs in seven games at an average of 38.83 so far this season. With the Docklands pitch likely to assist batsmen, expect him to go big.

Differential Picks
Max Bryant: Even though he doesn’t have a 50-plus score this season, Bryant has 243 runs in ten games at a strike rate of 130.64. He is the second-highest run-scorer for Heat behind Lynn.

Fawad Ahmed: The Scorchers’ premier spinner is in the middle of one of his leanest seasons, having picked up only eight wickets in ten games at an average of 27.75. However, he is expected to make an impact on a pitch that could also aid spinners. He has taken nine wickets in eight games against Heat at an economy rate of 6.50.

Alternate Scenarios

  • Joe Denly can replace Lewis Gregory.
  • Matthew Kuhnemann can be replaced by Jack Wildermuth.

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