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IPL 2021 – Harbhajan Singh ‘will do what is required to succeed’ for Kolkata Knight Riders

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Offspinner is set to play competitive cricket for the first time since May 2019

Harbhajan Singh has not played competitive cricket in nearly two years and is entering his first bio-bubble environment since the Covid-19 pandemic began, but feels sure of “what needs to be done” as he prepares to represent his third IPL franchise – the Kolkata Knight Riders – in what will be his 13th IPL season.

“These questions [about playing after a gap] are asked because I haven’t played a lot of cricket of late so teams are a bit defensive at auction and they don’t want to bid for me,” Singh, who was bought by the Knight Riders for INR 2 crore (US$ 273,000 approx.) in the 2021 auction, told PTI. “But let me remind all that when I did well for CSK in 2019 IPL, I hadn’t played any domestic cricket. I came to the camp, prepared and went into the match. At my level and experience, I know what needs to be done.

“I don’t need to play domestic cricket for Punjab and stop a young talent from flourishing. That boy needs that chance more than me.”

Singh, 40, had pulled out of last year’s IPL, when he was part of the Chennai Super Kings, because of “personal reasons” and had said “family takes precedence over sport”. He said he felt more confident now about being in a bubble because the IPL as back in India and people “have now got used to new normal”.

“Last year, when IPL happened, Covid-19 in India was at its peak,” he said. “I was concerned about my family and also about hard quarantine in India after coming back. But this year, it’s happening in India and also we have now got used to new normal. Vaccines have come. Also it’s my family which pushed. My wife told me that I should go and play.”

Singh had played 11 matches in the 2019 IPL for the Super Kings and picked up 16 wickets while conceding only 7.09 runs per over. Singh played eight of those 11 matches in Chennai and Delhi, where pitches are known to favour spinners more than fast bowlers. This time, he joins the Knight Riders’ spin attack of Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy and Kuldeep Yadav, and the franchise has its 14 league games spread across four cities: Chennai (three), Mumbai (two), Ahmedabad (four) and Bengaluru (five).

“We have a good team,” Singh said. “T20 is all about three players in a team, could be any three, clicking on that particular day. You see Mumbai Indians are a side which has all its bases covered but they are still beatable. It could be a Rahul Tripathi or a Nitish Rana can win it for us.”

Singh has primarily been a T20 player for over three years now, having last played first-class cricket in November 2017, for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy. Since then, he has featured in domestic T20s [Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy] twice and has mainly been playing the IPL since 2018, barring three games in the domestic circuit.

“I have got nothing to prove to anyone. My intention is to play well, enjoy my stint out there in the middle and playing cricket still gives me that satisfaction. I have set a standard for myself and if I don’t meet that, I don’t need anyone else but I will blame myself. I need to ask myself, ‘did I put in the optimum effort that was required’,” he said. “Yes, I am not a 20-year-old anymore and won’t be training like I did then. But yes, as a 40-year-old, I know I am fit and will certainly do what is required to succeed at this level. The expectation is still going to be there and responsibilities that were there when I was playing for India remains.

“Every season, I introspect if I have it in me to play or not. If I feel I am done, I will say, ‘thank you, very much’. If I feel I am doing alright, you will see me next year.”



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Recent Match Report – Durham vs Worcs Group 1 2021

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Seamer overtakes Onions as Worcestershire are overwhelmed on final day

Durham 246 (Lees 99, Tongue 5-39) and 389 for 5 dec (Young 103, Burnham 102*) beat Worcestershire 213 (Fell 44, Leach 42*, Rushworth 5-56) and 164 (Mitchell 62, Rushworth 4-52) by 258 runs

Chris Rushworth orchestrated a brilliant 258-run win for Durham in their LV= Insurance County Championship clash against Worcestershire, on the day he became the county’s all-time leading first-class wicket taker.

Rushworth claimed his 528th first-class wicket for the club by removing Jack Haynes, breaking his tie with Graham Onions that he matched in the first innings. The 34-year-old notched figures of 4 for 52, while Mark Wood and Brydon Carse were equally impressive with three and two wickets apiece, to dismiss the visitors for 164.

The emphatic victory moves Durham into second place in Group One in the County Championship, three points behind Essex. Worcestershire lost their first game of the season, but they remain in fourth place despite their crushing defeat.

Rain prevented play in the first hour of the day, but Daryl Mitchell quickly found his rhythm to pass fifty for the third time this season. Rushworth almost secured his record-breaking scalp when Jake Libby clipped a stroke towards mid-wicket. Jack Burnham attempted to corral the ball, but he could not hang on with a diving effort.



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England vs New Zealand 2021

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England fast bowler may face surgery as ECB plan next steps of recovery

Jofra Archer has been ruled out of England’s two-Test series against New Zealand, starting at Lord’s on June 2, and may face surgery on his troublesome right elbow after failing to come through this week’s return to first-class action.

Archer, who was withdrawn from this year’s IPL prior to its postponement earlier this month, had undergone a series of cortisone injections to enable him to get through the T20I leg of England’s white-ball tour of India in March.



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Recent Match Report – Kent vs Sussex Group 3 2021

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A whole lot of not a lot at Hove, but it’s an improvement on this time last year

Sussex 256 (van Zyl 52; Quinn 4-54, Gilchrist 3-51, Stevens 3-64) drew with Kent 145 (Leaning 63, Robinson 3-29, Garton 3-65) and 387 for 4 dec (Leaning 127*, Robinson 85, Crawley 85)

A match that had once seemed likely to end in a Sussex victory with Jofra Archer displaying his fitness for Test cricket ended in the most sclerotic of draws with Archer not even on the field. The first of these outcomes had always seemed likely once Kent had survived a short session on Saturday, and the second was probable once the England bowler’s sore elbow had prevented him bowling that same evening.

Despite their lowly positions in Group C these sides never appeared to contemplate the possibility of setting up a game and the 43 overs we saw this afternoon might not be numbered among the most gripping of the season. Other correspondents could even judge them balls-achingly tedious.

But Jack Leaning will take a different view. The former Yorkshire batsman notched only his second first-class century since 2017 and will approach Thursday’s game against Glamorgan in a more confident mood. Likewise, from their different perspectives, Tom Clark, who took his maiden first-class wicket, and Tawanda Muyeye, who batted half an hour for 12 not out on his debut. A drop of red ink is as comforting as a duvet to a young professional making his way. Every solid defensive shot is a moment.

And if these slightly aimless sessions were still a disappointment we could scourge no one but ourselves. On Friday, when a 104-over day had heaved itself beyond seven o’clock, we little thought how fortunate we were to see any cricket at all, let alone to be doing so when millions could not.

Zak Crawley was batting on that second evening, so such ingratitude required public abasement. But our penance, such as it might have been, was useless. The following evening, when only 24 overs were possible, Crawley was dismissed by the excellent Jack Carson and even that moment was given the elbow by Archer’s inaction, forced or otherwise.

Thus to Sunday with the Channel turquoise in its shallows but gravely blue farther out to sea. A pleasant dawn was replaced by an unlucky bag of showers, some of them slight, others heavy with Anabaptist doom. While David Millns and Graham Lloyd made one of their inspections the clouds to the west were grey as an undertaker’s work-suit; to the east they were blue as one of Bryan Ferry’s more exotic two-piece numbers. Birds gathered ravenously on the white pyramidal roofs of the hospitality suites. By the way, the gulls in Hove have clearly been watching Alfred Hitchcock movies; I’ve seen smaller turkeys. The white thugs waited for scraps; we waited for cricket.



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