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Had been waiting for such an innings ‘for a long time’

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Rizwan, meanwhile, said he felt “the same joy as if I’d done it myself” when Babar reached his hundred

Babar Azam celebrated reaching the top of the ODI rankings with a performance for the ages in the shortest format, scoring his maiden T20I hundred, and the highest score by a Pakistani in T20I cricket. His 122 not only helped his side cruise to victory, but demonstrated a side to his game many had accused him of lacking: that of an opener who could spearhead the chase; his runs came at a strike rate of over 206.

Alongside Mohammad Rizwan, he shared a 197- run opening stand to set up a victory with two overs to spare and nine wickets in hand. Rizwan remained unbeaten on 73 with a strike rate of 155.31, ensuring South Africa’s bowlers had no respite at either end.

“I was waiting for such an innings for a long time,” Babar said after the game. “I planned for it, and felt if I got a chance I would grab it. I am thankful that I was able to deliver. I stuck to my strengths and my game plan was developed around team requirements. If you need 10 an over, you definitely have to play with urgency and for that, you have to take risks.

“The partnership with Rizwan was outstanding. I give him credit for the way he played because it is really tough to play while fasting and despite that, he batted and kept wicket throughout. It takes a lot of courage and guts. The whole team takes inspiration watching him and it brings us confidence.”

Azam continues his T20I form to go along with the ODI touch that has seen him climb to the top of the rankings. He was the second-highest runscorer in the ODI leg of the series, and after becoming the number one ODI batsman, he admitted it had been a lifelong dream.

“It had always been my dream to be number one and that has been fulfilled,” said Azam. “There was lots of hard work, suffering, and sacrifice needed to get there. I have always been trying to improve my game with each passing day, learning new things and applying them. We all know cricket evolves and you have to keep up with it or risk getting left behind.”

Rizwan and Azam’s combination at the top may seem unshakable but is fairly recent. The pair only started opening earlier this year; this was the fifth T20I in which they had opened together. Rizwan said there wasn’t a secret to this success, but underscored the importance of a fast start.

“It’s a big win for us. Chasing 200-plus is always a difficult task but the way we got a start it made it easy for us,” Rizwan said. “We had a simple plan to win the powerplay and we did get more runs than they did in the first six. That momentum carried us deeper which brought us success.

“Since we started playing together, this and the one in Australia are the only two innings in which we have spent time at the crease together. Otherwise either me or him get out and we never got an opportunity to build a bigger stand. We even in between talked about making a world record and Babar was even more positive than me. When Babar scored his 100, I felt the same joy as if I’d done it myself.”

Just months ago, Pakistan’s top order was considered a significant Achilles heel leading up to the World T20. Now, it appears that gap has been conclusively plugged, without requiring either of Sharjeel Khan or Fakhar Zaman to open the batting.



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Eng vs NZ 2021 – Ollie Robinson suspended from all international cricket

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Seamer unavailable for second Test pending disciplinary investigation into historic tweets

Ollie Robinson has been suspended from all international cricket pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation following historic tweets he posted in 2012 and 2013.

As a result, Robinson is unavailable for selection for the second Test against New Zealand starting at Edgbaston on Thursday.

Announcing his suspension on Sunday, the ECB confirmed that Robinson will leave the England camp immediately and return to his county, Sussex.

Robinson issued an apology on Wednesday after admitting to posting “racist and sexist” comments on Twitter as a teenager. News of the tweets emerged shortly after Robinson walked onto the field at Lord’s in his Test debut earlier that day. It was also just after England and New Zealand players had stood on the side of the field shortly before the start of the first Test in a ‘moment of unity’ with the home players wearing T-shirts which denounced various forms of discrimination.

Speaking after the drawn first Test, in which Robinson took a total of seven wickets – with 4 for 75 and 3 for 26 – and scored 42 in England’s first innings, Joe Root, the England captain, said that while Robinson’s debut had been “exceptional” from an on-field performance point of view, his historical actions off-field were unacceptable.

“He’s contributed well with the bat, his performance with the ball was excellent,” Root said. “He’s showed high levels of skill and he’s definitely got the game that can be successful in Test cricket.

“But in regards to the stuff that’s happened off the field, it’s not acceptable within our game. We all know that. He addressed the dressing room straight away. He obviously spoke to you guys and other media outlets straight away, fronted up to it. He showed a lot of remorse from that point onwards. You can see it’s very genuine from how he’s been around the group and the team.



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Recent Match Report – Sussex vs Yorkshire Group 3 2021

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Frantic, unscripted, triumphant, despondent day as hosts seal innings win at Headingley

Yorkshire 558 (Malan 199, Ballance 77, Duke 54, Atkins 5-98) beat Sussex 313 (Brown 127, Ibrahim 55) and 215 (Orr 67, Thomason 52, Bess 4-51, Willey 3-26) by an innings and 30 runs

Another Sunday evening and another group of players lounge on the outfield of a Test Match ground drinking beer and chatting. But this time the players are wearing the white rose on their caps and their mood is utterly transformed from the gloom that cloaked them just a week ago.

Among them is Dom Bess, who was last man out in the Roses Match, but this glorious Sunday at Headingley was the architect of a victory whose effects on Yorkshire’s season will not yet be fully understood until perhaps the end of September when we assess pivotal points in what is already a summer of wonders. For the moment, the glory and the drama of this day at Leeds must suffice. It will be enough.

When Yorkshire won the County Championship in 2014 and 2015 they did so because they possessed a quite outstanding team. But they also found ways to win games, to prise victories from unpromising situations even when they were not playing particularly well. On May 2 there was one such triumph here when Northamptonshire were beaten by one run; now Steve Patterson and his players have another to go with that; and their supporters, who were watching their first cricket for nearly 21 months, will begin to wonder if this could also be a summer in which they will hear songs of triumph.

Some flesh on these bones, I think, and some acknowledgement of Sussex’s part in what was a wonderful game. Let us rewind just a couple of hours or so: Ben Brown‘s side are 180 for 4 and on course to achieve the draw some would argue their resilience merits. There are 22 overs left in the match. Bess is bowling from the Emerald Stand End but the ball is not deviating much and the memory of Tom Haines’ dismissal, caught off one that turned and bounced early in the morning is no more than a shadow on the day’s tapestry.



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Recent Match Report – New Zealand vs England 1st Test 2021

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“It was about using it as an opportunity to be a bit more disciplined as a batting group”

Joe Root has defended England’s approach on the final day of the first LV= Insurance Test against New Zealand. England were set 273 off 75 overs on the final day but, by the time hands were shaken on a draw with five scheduled overs remaining, they were still more than 100 runs from their target.
Dom Sibley, who finished unbeaten on 60 from 207 balls, reached his half-century in 161 balls. That is the equal-seventh slowest half-century by an England opener this century. But while there was some frustration from those watching in the ground or on TV, Root, the England captain, suggested there wasn’t a “realistic opportunity” of victory on a demanding surface providing uneven bounce and against an excellent seam bowling attack.

Instead, he was content to his see his young side – the top seven in this match, without the likes of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, was the youngest England has ever fielded in a home Test – spend some time at the crease after a modest first-innings effort.

“Having played on that wicket for a few days, we knew it wasn’t going to be as straightforward as it looked,” Root said. “If you look at the run rate throughout the game, it was hard to score above three an over even when the pitch was at its absolute best.

“We wanted to lay ourselves a foundation but, once we got through the initial phase, it just didn’t feel like there was a realistic opportunity for us to win the game. So it was about using it as an opportunity to be a bit more disciplined as a batting group. At times in the first innings we showed a little bit of ill discipline. This was a chance to put that right and take a bit of confidence going into the rest of the series.

“The last two times we’ve played in New Zealand we’ve been hammered in the first game and pretty much out the series. But going to Edgbaston, this series is very much alive. We’ve got a chance to win it and we can take confidence from some very good individual performances in this game.”



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