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Recent Match Report – West Indies vs Sri Lanka 2nd Test 2020/21

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Suranga Lakmal took 4/94 but the captain’s century and the allrounder’s 73 kept the home team strong

Lunch: West Indies 354 (Brathwaite 126, Mayers 49, Cornwall 73, Lakmal 4-94, Chameera 3-69) v Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka removed the three remaining West Indies wickets, but it took them all of the morning session, and cost them 67 further runs, as Kraigg Brathwaite moved to 126, and Rahkeem Cornwall also strode to his second half-century of the series, making 73 off 92.

Although Sri Lanka had a ball that was only six overs old when they began the day, West Indies still saw out the first hour unscathed, and it was Cornwall that did most of the damage during this period, flicking, punching, driving and sometimes edging fortuitously – Sri Lanka now visibly frustrated that the eighth wicket had taken them so long.

Shortly before Cornwall got out, soon after drinks, he and Brathwaite celebrated their century partnership – the first of the innings. The stand had lifted West Indies from what seemed like it could be a modest score, to a very good one, even on a track as flat as this.

Brathwaite’s contribution, typically, was 26 off 96 (while Cornwall made 73). He had kept himself on the backburner of every partnership he was part of in this innings, and in doing so, preserved himself to make the most substantial contribution to the innings. Here was a batsman who batted to a plan, and stuck unshakably through it, even when West Indies appeared to be in crisis.

Eventually Cornwall tried one shot too many and holed out to mid-on to give Suranga Lakmal his fourth wicket, before Brathwaite was joined at the crease by Kemar Roach, who gamely played out 35 deliveries safely before he edged Dushmantha Chameera to the wicketkeeper. In Chameera’s next over, Brathwaite himself was dismissed finally – after 514 minutes of resistance – when he dragged a seaming Chameera delivery into his pads, with the ball then ricocheting into the stumps. This was off the 310th ball that Brathwaite had faced. He had only been dropped once, on 37, but that had been an exceedingly difficult chance.

Lakmal’s 4 for 94 stood out as the best performance for Sri Lanka’s bowlers, but Chameera’s two late wickets also brought his figures to a respectable 3 for 69. Vishwa Fernando picked up only the wicket of Kyle Mayers soon after lunch on day one, but he was Sri Lanka’s most economical bowler, conceding runs at 2.62 over his 27 overs.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf



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Steven Smith was given captaincy too young but I’d support him getting the job again

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“Obviously I don’t make that decision but the time I played with Steve as captain he was excellent,” Paine said of Smith

Australia captain Tim Paine has argued that Steven Smith was too immature for the demands of captaincy when the national role was first handed to him in 2014 and 2015. But Paine has fewer qualms about Smith returning to the job whenever the incumbent chooses to retire.

Paine, who initially had been unsure of whether he would continue as captain beyond the end of the 2019 Ashes, has hung on for another two years since, and the national team coach Justin Langer has attempted to end any speculation on the future by claiming that the selectors aren’t even discussing the issue.

But this summer’s Ashes series looms as the most logical conclusion to Paine’s unexpected run in the job, which came about directly through the Newlands scandal that saw Smith banned from playing for a year and banned from leadership for two years.

“At least another six Tests,” Paine told the Chappell Foundation dinner when asked how long he had left. “If I feel like the time is right and we’ve beaten the Poms 5-0, what a way to go out. But it might be a tight series and we might be chasing 300 on the last day and I’m 100 not out and hit the winning runs — and then I might go again.”

Smith’s entourage, including his leadership mentor Maurice Duffy, are adamant that he should get the chance for a second go at a role that was snatched away from him after events in South Africa.

“It would be a tragedy right now if he didn’t get the opportunity to be captain again,” Duffy told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2019. “He owns himself much more now. He has an inner calmness. He owns his own feelings a lot better now, he’s much more in control of himself. I think he’s got a better outlook on life right now and I think he appreciates hugely what has been given to him.”

Other senior figures in Australian cricket are not so sure, and New South Wales broadened the race to replace Paine by handing domestic limited-overs captaincy duties to Pat Cummins instead of Smith earlier this year. Paine, who has never argued against Smith getting the job again, maintained his stance on Wednesday night.

“I think so. Obviously I don’t make that decision but the time I played with Steve as captain he was excellent. Certainly tactically he is as good as you get,” Paine said. “He’s probably a bit like me when I was at the start of my captaincy journey in Tasmania — he was thrown into a very big role at a very, very young age and he probably wasn’t quite ready for it.

“But by the time I came in he was growing into that role and getting better and better. Then obviously South Africa events happened and he’s not doing it anymore. But yeah I would support him getting that job again.”

On captaincy in general, Paine said that in his experience that ambition for leadership was often a dangerous thing. “In my experience the guy who wants it too much is probably not the best option,” Paine said. “So if [his son] Charlie does come up and says he wants to be captain of Australia, I’d say just lower your expectations and worry about being a good player and a good team man and whatever happens from that would happen.”

Reflecting on the series defeat to India, Paine said that the hosts had been distracted by the tourists’ psychological tactics. “Part of the challenge of playing against India is they’re very good at niggling you and trying to distract you with stuff that doesn’t really matter,” Paine said, “and there were times in that series where we fell for that.

“The classic example was when they said they weren’t going to the Gabba so we didn’t know where we were going. They’re very good at creating these sideshows and we took our eye off the ball.”

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig



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WBBL 2021 – Shafali Verma, Radha Yadav set for maiden WBBL deals

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Verma has already signed a contract with two-time champions Sydney Sixers

India batter Shafali Verma and left-arm spinner Radha Yadav are set to make their Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) debuts later this year in Australia.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Verma, 17, has already signed a contract with two-time champions Sydney Sixers while Yadav, 21, is on the verge of finalising her deal with one of the two Sydney-based clubs. Aside from Verma and Yadav, at least one more India player is likely to make her maiden appearance in the competition this season.

“Yes, Shafali has signed the contract with Sydney Sixers, and given she is a minor, I have had to give my consent, too,” Verma’s father, Sanjeev, told ESPNcricinfo. “I would like to thank the BCCI and Haryana Cricket Association [HCA] for giving my daughter the permission and support to play in the WBBL. Without the guidance of the HCA, whatever Shafali is doing in her career wouldn’t have been possible.”

A senior BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo that the WBBL could see the largest ever Indian contingent this season. “All players who have been or will be approached by Big Bash teams will be given all necessary permissions to participate in the WBBL this season,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

Verma, as reported by ESPNcricinfo last week, is also set to make her debut in the inaugural edition of the Hundred, the 100-ball domestic competition of the ECB. She will be joined by her India team-mates Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma and Jemimah Rodrigues.

Only three India players have played in the WBBL previously. India T20I captain Kaur and vice-captain Mandhana debuted in the 2016-17 edition for the Sydney Thunder and the Brisbane Heat respectively. While Kaur played three straight seasons for the Thunder, Mandhana’s second bow in the competition was for the Hobart Hurricanes, in 2018-19. Veda Krishnamurthy played a solitary season, in 2017-18, also for the Hurricanes.

The WBBL didn’t have any Indian representation in 2019-20 as they focussed on preparing for the 2020 T20 World Cup instead, with assignments against South Africa and West Indies during the same time as the WBBL. A clash in scheduling with the 2020 Women’s T20 Challenge, the domestic three-team, four-match competition run by the BCCI, ruled at least three top-drawer India players out of the WBBL.

The seventh season of the WBBL is likely to run in its usual October-November window, and overseas players will be expected to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival in Australia.

Additional reporting by Daniel Brettig

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha



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Charter flight may return Maldives-bound Australia players this week

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The group of 38 would be able to take a charter flight out of the Maldives via Malaysia to Sydney on May 16

Australian cricketers, coaches and media currently stranded in the Maldives may be able to return to home shores as soon as Sunday.

Cricket Australia, the Australian Cricketers Association and the BCCI are still awaiting confirmation from the Australian government that citizens who have recently been to India will be allowed to return to home shores after May 15 as previously flagged.

However, under plans currently being thrashed out on that condition, the group of 38 would be able to take a charter flight out of the Maldives via Malaysia to Sydney on May 16, where they would then serve their mandatory 14-day quarantine period.



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