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Recent Match Report – Kent vs Northants Group 3 2021




Opener’s innings forms bedrock of Northamptonshire reply as draw becomes favourite

Northamptonshire 301 for 5 (Vasconcelos 154, Keogh 66*) trail Kent 455 by 154 runs

Ricardo Vasconcelos‘ sparkling 154 under pressure turned around Northamptonshire’s fortunes on a weather-affected third day of their LV= County Championship clash against Kent.

The highly-promising youngster raced to his sixth first-class hundred, sharing a 142-run partnership with Rob Keogh to lead Northamptonshire’s fightback after the loss of three early wickets. By the end of a day finished early due to bad light and sleet, Northamptonshire had reached 301 for 5 and a draw looks likely.

Vasconcelos peppered the boundary ropes with an array of stylish drives and cut shots and took on a series of short balls from fast bowler Miguel Cummins, which he hooked to the square leg boundary with some ease.

Northamptonshire will be encouraged to see their young opener continue the rich vein of Championship form which saw him play a key role in their 2019 promotion push and earned him a five-year deal at Wantage Road.

Northamptonshire had resumed on 91 for 1 in reply to Kent’s daunting first innings 455. The visitors made two early inroads with the evergreen Darren Stevens bowling his trademark nagging off-stump line. He enticed Emilio Gay to edge a ball which nibbled away but when he made a rare error in line and strayed on to leg stump, Alex Wakely failed to cash in and instead clipped a half-volley directly to short midwicket.

Stevens should have picked up a third, but Charlie Thurston was put down by Denly at backward point. The mistake did not prove too costly as Thurston was bowled shouldering arms to a Harry Podmore delivery which seamed back sharply.

With Northamptonshire still 220 runs behind at 135 for 4, Vasconcelos looked to put the pressure back on the opposition, running quick singles and building a partnership with Keogh who was largely content to play the support role and dispatch the occasional bad ball for four.

Vasconcelos soon accelerated and was particularly harsh on Cummins as he moved quickly through the nineties. He drove him to the midwicket boundary and then hooked his next two deliveries for two further fours, bringing up his century in the process from just 120 balls.

After tea, Kent turned to spin and having passed 150 with a series of sweeps, Vasconcelos fell to a catch off Jack Leaning, having faced 209 deliveries and hit 20 boundaries. It was an exceptional innings from the 23-year-old who joined Northamptonshire in 2018 having grown up playing in Boland.

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New Zealand pick Ajaz Patel ahead of Mitchell Santner in final 15 for WTC final




Daryl Mitchell, Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy and Rachin Ravindra also left out

Ajaz Patel‘s impressive performance against England at Edgbaston has earned him the spin-bowling position ahead of Mitchell Santner in New Zealand’s final 15-player squad for the World Test Championship final.
Daryl Mitchell, who also played in the second Test, is another to miss the cut along with the trio of Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy and Rachin Ravindra who did not feature against England. Tom Blundell has been included to provide cover for BJ Watling, who missed Edgbaston due to a back injury, although New Zealand coach Gary Stead said that both he and captain Kane Williamson were on track to be available to face India having trained on Monday.

“It was all pretty tough,” Stead said on trimming the final squad. “When you go through them you are looking at all the different positions and it was really about having cover for all the scenarios we think we might face.

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Recent Match Report – Glamorgan vs Surrey South Group 2021



Surrey 167 for 5 (Roy 64) beat Glamorgan 166 for 8 (Labuschagne 74, Moriarty 3-26) by five wickets

Bowlers, beware: Jason Roy has got his mojo back. Surrey’s margin of victory at the Kia Oval should have been much bigger than five wickets as they won their third game out of three in the Vitality Blast, but a middle-order wobble obscured the fact Roy had killed the game as a contest inside four overs of the chase; Glamorgan, who once boasted a proud record of six T20 wins in a row at this ground, had Marnus Labuschagne‘s third consecutive fifty to thank for sparing their blushes.

Roy’s personality does not lend itself to bio-bubbles and “secure team environments” and his form has suffered at times over the last 12 months, with a rare lean patch in ODIs and scratchy form in both the Big Bash and England’s T20I series in India and South Africa. Last week, he started the Blast with an ugly innings of 45 off 42 at Lord’s, swinging rustily and being outscored by a ratio of five-to-two by Will Jacks, then thrashed a cameo of 30 off 14 at Taunton.

But here, in front of 4000 or so supporters, he scoffed at Glamorgan’s plan to start with spin against him in the Powerplay, racing to 41 off 18 balls. “I always look for small progressions,” he said afterwards. “Lord’s was very scratchy and I didn’t have that rhythm, hitting a lot of fielders and just getting a bit frustrated. At Taunton I had a bit of fun after a four-and-a-half-hour journey – I thought ‘why not?’ But tonight, it was a lot better.”

Roy had dumped the first ball he faced straight back over Prem Sisodiya’s head for four and the second over of the chase demonstrated his dominance over bowlers at this level. Andrew Salter, the offspinner, went full and straight to start with, so Roy cleared his front leg and smeared him over mid-off. Roy realised the second would be shorter, so rocked back and slapped a cut through point with a powerful snap of the wrists. Salter had nowhere to go, and went full again; Roy lined him up, and hammered him straight back over his head.

He was quieter against Glamorgan’s seamers, but still brought up a 28-ball half-century off the final ball of the Powerplay. When Labuschagne was introduced, Roy swept his first ball hard for four, and belted his third over midwicket; the only surprise came in Labuschagne’s second over, when he miscued a skier to backward point via a thick top-edge.

“Someone has to get you out at some stage, don’t they?” Roy said of Glamorgan’s ploy to bowl spin at him up front, which has become a consistent plan against England in T20Is. “Sometimes it happens to be a left-arm spinner. A leggie got me out tonight eventually, didn’t they? So I’m sure someone will have something to write about. As a player, it gives you something to work on, which is always nice.”

Roy’s innings took the equation from 167 off 120 balls to 79 off 71 by the time he was dismissed, effectively sealing the game despite their minor stumble. Sam Curran and Jamie Overton fell in successive overs after Roy’s dismissal before Laurie Evans drilled Sisodiya straight to long-off, but Jamie Smith’s cool-headed 35 not out saw them across the line with 10 balls to spare.

Roy will play two more games for Surrey, at home against Sussex and Hampshire on Thursday and Friday, before he links up with England on Saturday ahead of their white-ball summer, which comprises six ODIs and six T20Is, three each against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

“You always go back to square one, no matter how many runs you’ve scored,” he said. “Before every series you go back to the drawing board and get yourself back to basics and go from there – you certainly don’t want to think that you’re going to score runs every game, because unfortunately that’s not the way the game works. But it’s obviously very nice to have these runs behind me – it makes it a lot easier.

“[Last year] was a huge experience and a massive learning curve. I’ve come through the other side a lot better for it. It was a very tough year on and off the field so it was about keeping my head down and making sure I stay consistent with my training and back myself, knowing that eventually it would come right. Am I in a good headspace now? Absolutely.”

For Glamorgan, Labuschagne had been the glue holding the innings together for the third game in a row after Nick Selman’s leg-side pick-ups had got them to 55 for 1 inside six overs. Surrey exploited match-ups to their advantage, with Gareth Batty and Dan Moriarty encouraging batters to hit towards the long boundary and Glamorgan duly obliging.

Labuschagne had stated his desire to use the Blast as a chance to pitch his case for inclusion in Australia’s T20 World Cup squad at the start of the season and his early efforts have been persuasive: 93 not out, 59 and 74 tonight, giving him 226 runs for twice out at a strike rate of 146.75 and four cheap wickets to boot.

One of his biggest assets in T20 is his willingness to use his position on the crease to throw bowlers off their line, and his ability to adjust. There was no better demonstration than the fifth ball of the 17th over, when he jumped outside leg stump to encourage Tom Curran to bowl wide outside off, despite having point and third man up inside the ring. Curran landed a perfect wide yorker, but Labuschagne stretched out and deflected it away through the gap, like a centre-forward in hockey deflecting the ball in at the back post.

He had started slowly, eking out 17 off the first 22 balls he faced, but once he had adjusted to the slowness of the pitch he was away, hitting 57 off the next 29. His slow start was put into perspective by Roy’s fireworks, but with Surrey applying the squeeze, there had been no other option.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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Recent Match Report – Kings vs United 22nd Match 2020/21-2021




Islamabad United two points clear of Lahore Qalandars at the top of the PSL standings

Islamabad United 191 for 2 (Munro 88*, Iftikhar 71*) beat Karachi Kings 190 for 4 (Babar 81, Zadran 71*) by eight wickets

Colin Munro and Iftikhar Ahmed pulled off a stunning turnaround in the second half of the innings as Islamabad United sealed a comprehensive victory over Karachi Kings. Overcoming a sluggish start, the pair finished unbeaten on 150 off 79 balls as they won with eight balls to spare. Munro finished with a 56-ball 88, while Iftikhar delivered the knockout punches at the end with a 39-ball 71 as the Kings came apart in defence.
Dropped catches, extras, and visibly flustered bowlers were the picture for the Kings who had earlier put up 190 on a true surface. Babar Azam‘s 81 and Najibullah Zadran‘s unbeaten 71 had ensured that; it didn’t prove to be enough.

Karachi do it smart

Kings were put into bat and went off to a decent start. While Azam took some time to suss the pitch out, they had the insurance of Sharjeel Khan, who managed to hit two sixes in the powerplay in an opening stand of 37. Once he fell, Babar opened up to find some boundaries. It was a role reversal, with No. 3 Martin Guptill struggling for timing during his brief stay before eventually chopping on.

However, the steady start to the innings meant they were still going at nine an over. From there, Babar and Zadran kept the rate up, finding the pitch to be conducive to driving on the up. Babar used the bounce and lift in the surface to bring out some delightful flicks, and drives through extra cover, with the occasional indulgence of hitting fast bowlers straight over their heads. He took a liking to Hasan Ali, but did end up falling to him on 81 in the 19th over.

Zadran outlasted Babar, with whom he had put up 117 in just over 12 overs, and came into his own with confident aerial shots towards the end. He was lethal with the cut shot early on, and particularly took a liking to Shadab Khan off whom he hit sixes off consecutive deliveries in the 14th over – one over midwicket, one over extra cover. That 14th over was the start of a phase in which they score more than 15 an over on four occasions. It hauled them to 190, which didn’t prove enough.

A slow start to the chase

United had a streaky, ungainly start to their chase. Amir had Usman Khawaja in knots in the first over with outswing, and Waqas Maqsood kept Munro reasonably quiet at the other end too. In their first three overs, United had only three boundaries. At Khawaja’s dismissal in the fifth over, they had only 28 on the board, and a brand new No. 3 in Muhammad Akhlaq lasted only two balls, losing his off stump comprehensively to Maqsood.

The pattern would hold – much like the pitch seemed to be. Munro and Iftikhar had scarcely any scoring opportunities on a pitch that suddenly seemed to have slowed. On the occasions Munro seemed to have bludgeoned the ball, he unfailingly found the fielders as well. At 72 for 2 in 10 overs, they didn’t look healthy in the chase – like a wicket would open up the gates for the Kings.

Maqsood and Perera live the horror

That wicket never came. But it could have. At the start of the 12th over, Munro toe-ended a pull shot in the direction of mid-off, having charged down the track at Abbas Afridi. A simple catch was presented to Maqsood, who didn’t have to move too much, but ended up dropping that.

In the span of one over from there, Munro managed to hit four boundaries, including the one that took him to fifty. Iftikhar heaved one into the grass banks over square leg too. It was the start of the end for the Kings. United needed 80 off seven at that point, and Thisara Perera was handed the ball after the strategic break. Imad Wasim had suffered a finger injury trying to take a return catch, and couldn’t finish his overs.

Munro sent the first ball for six, the second for four, and then dispatched a waist-high full toss – Perera’s second of the evening – over cover. His next ball, also a high full toss, was clubbed straight to long-off by Munro. But the third umpire intervened to rule it above waist height, and the resulting free hit was launched into the leg side by Iftikhar.

Seventeen had come off the previous over, 23 came off Perera’s 14th. That was the pivot – Munro and Iftikhar unleashed a force that proved too much for the Kings; Munro ended having hit ten boundaries and two sixes, and Iftikhar five fours and five sixes. It was an indication of just how much Kings’ bowling fell apart in the final quarter of the game.

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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