Draw imminent as West Indies need eight wickets in final session
Tea Sri Lanka 146 for 2 (Fernando 29*, Chandimal 0*) and 258 (Thirimanne 55, Nissanka 51, Roach 3-58) need another 231 runs to beat West Indies 354 and 280 for 4 dec (Brathwaite 85, Holder 71*, Mayers 55, Lakmal 2-62)
Sri Lanka lost their openers after lunch, but a draw continued to be the most likely result thanks to the platform Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne had set with their 101-run first-wicket partnership.
Karunaratne went on to 75 – his first significant score of the tour, before being dismissed shortly before tea by Kyle Mayers, who seamed a ball into his back pad and claimed an lbw decision. For much of the session, Karunaratne had Oshada Fernando for company – Fernando himself having been given lbw against Mayers only for the decision to be overturned on review.
By tea, Fernando was on 29 off 58, and had Dinesh Chandimal for company. Sri Lanka appear to have given up hopes of chasing 377 down (it had been a remote possibility anyway), but seemed on track to finish the series 0-0.
West Indies, meanwhile, were hampered by the absence of Shannon Gabriel, who left the field two balls into his sixth over with what seemed to be a hamstring complaint, and appears unlikely to bowl again in the game. Thanks partly to his absence, captain Kraigg Brathwaite has tried eight bowlers in the innings. Only Alzarri Joseph, who took Thirimanne’s wicket, and Mayers have been successful.
Thirimanne had fallen the fifth over after lunch. He’d been dropped on 17 early in the morning session, but had been cautious since then, venturing only two boundaries all the way through till lunch. Perhaps distracted by a bail behind him that kept falling off due to the wind, Thirimanne played a loose drive to a full delivery outside off stump from Joseph, and nicked off to second slip for 39 off 114 deliveries – Rahkeem Cornwall taking a sharp, low catch.
Karunaratne, who had completed his half-century just before lunch, slowed down significantly after Thirimanne’s wicket, signalling that Sri Lanka were going to hunker down and secure the draw. Right through the innings, he was adept at shuffling to off and closing the face of the bat, to pick gaps through the legside, where he scored 55 of his runs. All but one of his nine boundaries came on that side of the field.
West Indies’s bowlers were disciplined right through the day, but neither in the morning session, nor after lunch did the pitch offer them much to work with. Cornwall occasionally threatened with the substantial drift he was getting, but apart from the occasional ball that misbehaved off the rough, there was still no sharp turn on this surface. The seamers, meanwhile, could get little bounce or pace out of the pitch – the odd ball that did take the edge dropping well short of the catchers.
The only real mistake the hosts made in the day was wicketkeeper Joshua de Silva shelling that fairly straightforward chance off Thirimanne, who had gloved Alzarri Joseph down the legside. It would take something heroic for them to force a result from here.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
Sophia Dunkley replaces Kirstie Gordon in England Women’s central contracts list
Solitary change to 17-person group ahead of home series against India
Dunkley has played in each of England’s last five T20Is after impressing in the bio-secure bubble in Derby last summer, and has started the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy with scores of 104 not out, 0 and 92 this season. She was previously on an England rookie contract.
Gordon moves to a regional domestic contract, though the shift has not been straightforward since the dates of central contracts do not currently align with regional system. As a result, the new tranche of central contracts run from May 1, 2021 to October 31, 2022, longer than the usual year.
England are due to name their squad for the one-off Test against India on Wednesday, with Dunkley among those expected to be included after her strong start to the summer, albeit in a different format.
Jonathan Finch, the director of England Women’s cricket, said: “We’re pleased to confirm a strong group of centrally-contracted England Women’s cricketers ahead of a really exciting two years for Lisa, Heather and the team.
“The central contracts, along with the roll-out of professional women’s domestic contracts, provide a fantastic opportunity to develop a larger pool of players pushing for selection and help strive for success on the field for England Women.
“We’ve continued to work closely with the England Women’s Player Partnership (EWPP) and the PCA to establish a comprehensive and objective process that underpins the awarding of central contracts. We will keep working in collaboration for the benefit of the players as we continue to grow and develop the professional women’s game.”
England central contracts, 2021-22: Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Sarah Glenn, Katie George, Heather Knight, Amy Jones, Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Mady Villiers, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Danni Wyatt
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
Vitality T20 Blast 2021 – Notts Outlaws suffer T20 Blast blow as Dan Christian departs for Australia
Captain of defending champions handed possible T20 World Cup chance
Overseas withdrawals from England’s flagship T20 tournament are a fact of life, such is the crowded nature of the calendar, but this one counts as the most unexpected.
For Notts, this is more than just another overseas drop-out. Arguably no overseas player has been embedded into a county T20 side to such good effect.
Christian has featured in their last seven campaigns and took over as captain as 2016, supervising their development into the most powerful T20 side in England. He has since led the Outlaws to four Finals Day appearances in five years, winning the trophy in 2017 and 2020.
Nottinghamshire’s head coach Peter Moores said: “It changes things for us late in the day ahead of the tournament, but first and foremost you can only be really pleased for Dan.
“To be called up again by a nation as strong as Australia, and for that to come on the back of playing some of the best cricket of his career and at the age of 38, it’s a great achievement for him. We’re proud, as a club, of the role we have played in that.
“It’s going to be strange not having Dan around. He’s been here for every Blast campaign since 2015 and he’s led the side brilliantly as well, but what it will do is create opportunities for other players to step up.”
Steven Mullaney will step up to captain the side, whose tournament begins on Wednesday evening against Worcestershire Rapids at New Road. They are regarded as favourites for the tournament, with considerable batting depth, but they are an ageing side and Christian’s departure will be a considerable blow.
Christian said: “Getting picked by Australia again is a significant ambition fulfilled for sure, and particularly exciting in such an important year of T20 cricket heading into the World Cup.
“It’s disappointing that I won’t get to don the Notts jersey this year. It’s become a big part of my life in recent times and I’ll miss it. But there is depth in our squad and a huge amount of experience in there as well.”
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
Dan Christian called up to Australia’s preliminary white-ball squad for tours of West Indies and Bangladesh
Cameron Green, Ben McDermott, Nathan Ellis, Wes Agar and Ashton Turner have been added to the line-up as well
This week, Christian (Nottinghamshire) and McDermott (Derbyshire) will leave their respective counties, where they had been due to play the T20 Blast, and return to Australia to complete two weeks quarantine ahead of possible selection for West Indies.
Marnus Labuschagne has again been overlooked after the selectors took the decision when the squad was first named for him to remain with Glamorgan.
“The six additions to the Australian men’s squad follow discussions with players selected in the initial preliminary list for the tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh,” Hohns said. “During the course of those discussions, it has become clear that recent experiences abroad, including but not limited to extended periods in bio-secure hubs and hard quarantine, have had an impact on the health and wellbeing of some players and their families.
“CA has maintained that the wellbeing of players, staff and officials is a top priority, and never moreso than during the Covid-19 pandemic given the extraordinary challenges it has placed upon international athletes and sporting teams.”
The recall for Christian gives him the chance to make a late push for the T20 World Cup squad after a BBL season where he was an integral part of the Sydney Sixers side that claimed the title.
Although regularly overlooked despite his consistent returns at domestic level, speaking before the IPL where he had a deal with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Christian had said he had not given up.
“I’d love another opportunity – obviously Australia have never won a T20 World Cup, and being part of a World Cup-winning squad is one thing I’d love to do,” he said. “I’ve kept in touch [with the selectors]. I played a lot with George Bailey, so we speak a bit, and I’ve talked to Justin Langer a little bit as well.
“I think it is realistic – I’m not completely on the outer, put it that way. If I’m putting performances on the board, staying fit, and the teams I’m playing in are winning, then I’d like to think that I’m certainly a chance.”
Hohns said, “Dan is in arguably career-best form and was a crucial member of the Sydney Sixers’ BBL-winning squad this summer. His selection is testament to the hard work he has put in over many years.”
Of the other players added to the squad, Agar, the South Australia and Adelaide Strikers quick, and Ellis of Tasmania and the Hobart Hurricanes, have earned their first national call-ups.
Turner was part of the T20I squad that toured New Zealand earlier this year, while Green made his ODI debut against India late last year.
The West Indies tour includes five T20Is and three ODIs with the squad then expected to travel straight to Bangladesh if that gets the final sign-off where there would be five more T20Is in the space of about nine days in early August.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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