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Match Preview – South Africa vs Pakistan, Pakistan tour of South Africa 2021, 2nd ODI

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The hosts will have to iron out their inconsistencies at the top if they are to level the series

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The first ODI painted a broad enough picture of both sides’ strengths and weaknesses in a way whole series often fail to do. Across exactly 100 overs of two mid-table sides jostling for position in the World Cup Super League, South Africa’s inconsistency at the top was laid bare, as were Pakistan’s struggles with their death bowling and a relatively lightweight middle order.

Equally, the home side’s resilience lower down, as well as the purple patches Anrich Nortje and Rassie van der Dussen currently enjoy, took them within inches of an unlikely win, while the brilliance of Babar Azam and the assuredness of Imam-ul-Haq came in handy in a below-par chase of 274. Nothing that happened at SuperSport Park will convince anyone these teams will compete for the biggest prizes just yet, but the first ODI showed they’re still capable of offering up absorbing contests.

Pakistan have a chance of wrapping up the series at the earliest opportunity in Johannesburg, which, regardless of the state of South African cricket, would be a major feather in the touring party’s cap. Series in South Africa have historically been a struggle for Pakistan, and the inflation of ODI scores notwithstanding, Pakistan’s chase on Friday was the joint third-highest outside of Asia in their history. They took wickets up top, and just about killed the game off with one partnership. In many ways, it was a dominant performance, large parts of which they merely need to replicate to put themselves 2-0 up.

South Africa will draw positives not just from intangibles like the spirited fightback and a never-say-die attitude, but the knowledge of significant room for improvement. The game might have gone down to the last ball, but they might believe they lost it in the first 15 overs; the loss of four early wickets meant they were always swimming against the current. That they almost got to the shoreline suggests a less disastrous start up top would place much greater pressure on Pakistan, and as we all saw on Friday, Pakistan under pressure always look like they might have a collapse in them.

The hosts will play in a different kit to mark the annual pink ODI, which raises money for breast cancer awareness and treatment.



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Recent Match Report – Gladiators vs United 18th Match 2020/21-2021

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United bowlers played their part too; Javed and Wasim combined their eight overs for 30 runs while Hasan took two wickets

Islamabad United 137 for no loss (Munro 90*, Khawaja 40*) beat Quetta Gladiators 133 all out (Weatherald 43, Wasim 2-12) by ten wickets

A spellbinding, soul-destroying, record-breaking opening partnership between Usman Khawaja and Colin Munro saw Islamabad United thrash Quetta Gladiators by 10 wickets, polishing off the target of 134 with an eye-watering 10 overs to spare. It included the highest Powerplay total in PSL history as Islamabad ran up 97 in the first six, with Munro bringing up his half-century in 20 balls; He would go on to finish unbeaten on 90 having faced just 36 deliveries.

Indeed, only three times in top-flight franchise T20 cricket has a higher powerplay total been achieved as the Gladiators were left helpless in the face of a genuinely stunning onslaught. It leaves the Gladiators on the brink of crashing out of the tournament.

Aside from the first over of the game, where Hasan Ali sloppily conceded 15, United were on top from start to finish. Akif Javed and Mohammad Wasim kept things tight and made regular inroads, while Mohammad Musa weathered a couple of huge sixes from Andre Russell to come back and dismiss the Gladiators’ star man the same over. More worryingly, though, he struck Russell on the head a couple of balls earlier, leading to a lengthy concussion test. Russell would not return to the field all match, and footage later showed him being stretchered to hospital.
On the field, though, the Gladiators continued to lose regular wickets, never quite threatening to pull away from United’s bowlers. Jake Weatherald provided the most substantial contribution with a steady 43, but when his side needed someone else to kick on, there was no one to be found. Azam Khan struggled for fluency in a stuttering innings, while captain Sarfaraz Ahmed fell early. With the side being bowled out for 133, they needed a big contribution with the ball, but Khawaja and Munro soon put any such notions to beat.

The record-breaking stand

Keen viewers of the PSL may be aware United like to take full advantage of the powerplay with quality overseas batters, but this might be the finest exponent of the art in the history of this league. Munro got things going off Naseem Shah’s first over using a combination of pure timing and artistic placement, fulfilling the role his former Kiwi teammate Luke Ronchi used to execute with such perfection for this side. After Naseem – Russell’s concussion substitute – was plundered for 19 in the first over, the floodgates were opened, and Khawaja got into the act soon enough.

Mystifyingly, the Gladiators continued to go with pace on the ball, and that played right into the hands of a sweet timer like Khawaja. Fellow Australian Jack Wildermuth went for three caressed fours off the inning’s third over, before Mohammad Hasnain was picked up and put away over fine leg, all using the tearaway fast bowler’s own pace. The 50 was up, and the game was quickly over as a contest, with the records beginning to tumble.

No 100-plus partnership in all of PSL history has ever seen a higher run rate than Khawaja and Munro’s 13.70, and it wasn’t even mindless slogging. Repeatedly, the two used field placement, perfect timing, and sharp footwork to remain one step ahead of the hapless Gladiators, and when Munro reverse-swept Mohammad Nawaz for six over third man in the tenth over, putting Sarfaraz’s side out of their misery seemed like an act of mercy.

The perfect replacement

Faheem Ashraf’s absence for three games seemed like a pivotal blow for United, but Javed and Wasim filled those boots masterfully at the top of the innings. After a loose opening over from Hasan threatened to allow the Gladiators to get off to a flyer, Javed consolidated with a tidy six balls from his end. He tagged Wasim in then, who left veteran South African Faf du Plessis at first flustered, and then embarrassed, working him over with a nastily rearing bouncer before cleaning up the middle stump with one that kept low.

It put the Gladiators on the back foot completely, and in the five powerplay overs the pair bowled, the batters managed a mere 21 runs. They weren’t done, though, Akif returning to prise out Weatherald, outthinking the Australian with a leg-stump full toss after all three stumps were exposed for a ramp shot. Wasim, meanwhile, had Nawaz walking back thanks to a near-perfect middle and leg stump yorker that knocked back his stump. Their combined figures of 8-0-30-3 went a long way towards illustrating the story of Islamabad’s dominance in that first innings.

Where they stand

United move into second place with eight points, while the Gladiators are cut further adrift at the bottom, with just one win in six.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000



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Live Report – England vs New Zealand, 2nd Test, Edgbaston, 4th day

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All the updates, news and stats from day four of the second Test at Edgbaston



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T20 World Cup 2021 – Hardik Pandya preparing himself to ‘bowl in all games at World Cup’

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“I have to make sure I am fit to be able to bowl and if I bowl, that brings balance to the Indian side”

Hardik Pandya is upbeat about returning to full swing with the ball for the T20 World Cup in October and wants to make sure “I bowl in all the games.” Battling with a lower-back issue since the 2019 Asia Cup, Pandya has not been bowling regularly for a while now.

“I started bowling in the IPL and my focus is on the World Cup,” Pandya told TOI Sportscast. “I want to make sure that I will be able to bowl in all the games at the [T20] World Cup. I am just trying to be smart and make sure that I don’t miss that. On the bowling front, what matters is how fit I am. Even after my surgery, I didn’t drop my pace. I was not able to drop my control. My bowling is related to my fitness. The fitter I get, the better it comes out. As a fast-bowling allrounder, I tend to get injuries. It is bound to happen and I am okay with it.”

With a shoulder niggle as well during this year’s IPL, Pandya didn’t bowl at all in the seven matches he played for the Mumbai Indians. However, he bowled a nine-over burst in the third and final ODI against England in March. In the five T20Is, he bowled a total of 17 overs with an economy rate of under seven runs per over. Even during the last IPL, he played solely as a specialist batter.



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