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Recent Match Report – Somerset vs Gloucs Group 2 2021

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Ryan Higgins leads way with four wickets as only James Hildreth offers resistance among Somerset batters

Gloucestershire 309 (Bracey 118, Taylor 56, Dent 50) and 28 for 1 (Bracey 10*, Overton 1-20) need another 125 runs to beat Somerset 312 and 149 (Hildreth 64, Higgins 4-29)

Gloucestershire’s seam attack put them in sight of a first County Championship win at Taunton since 1993 on the third day of the match with Somerset at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

With a first-innings lead of just three runs, the home side crashed to 149 all out in their second innings in bright sunshine on a decent pitch.

Ryan Higgins led the way with 4 for 29, well supported by Matt Taylor (2 for 27) and debutant Dom Goodman (2 for 19), as only James Hildreth of the Somerset batsmen showed some form with 64.

Faced with a victory target of 153 and ten overs left in the day, Gloucestershire progressed to 28 for 1, losing Chris Dent, who played on to Craig Overton attempting to withdraw his bat.

At the start of the day, the visitors could add only eight runs to their overnight total of 301 for 8, David Payne offering a return catch to Marchant de Lange, who then ended Matt Taylor’s career-best contribution of 56 by pinning him lbw with a full delivery.

Somerset were soon in trouble as Tom Lammonby registered a third successive duck, edging Higgins through to wicketkeeper James Bracey.

It was 18 for 2 when Tom Abell fell leg-before pushing forward to Higgins and 36 for 3 when Tom Banton guided the last ball of Taylor’s first over to Dent at third slip.

George Bartlett departed first ball, caught behind off a full swinging delivery from Goodman and at lunch Somerset were in a deep hole at 47 for 4.

By the time play was paused at 2.50pm to mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, Gloucestershire had struck three more blows.

Steve Davies edged a back-foot defensive shot off Payne to George Hankins at second slip and Higgins produced a good delivery that nipped back to bowl Overton between bat and pad.

When Lewis Gregory miscued off the back foot and lofted a simple catch to mid-wicket off Taylor, Somerset were in disarray at 88 for 7.

Hildreth was unbeaten on 36 when play halted and the experienced batsman shouldered major responsibility for his side’s fading hopes.

At 3pm both teams, coaching staffs and umpires lined up on the outfield for a minute’s silence in memory of Prince Philip.

When play resumed at 4.10pm, Hildreth and Josh Davey offered the stiffest resistance of Somerset’s poor batting display.

Hildreth went to a patient half-century off 124 balls, with seven fours, and the pair had added 54 in 25 overs when he fell lbw, looking to cut a delivery from Goodman that was too close to him for the shot.

Graeme van Buuren’s left-arm spin quickly sent back de Lange, leg-before for a duck and Davey was taken at first slip off Higgins for 22 to end a sorry batting effort.



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SL vs Ban 2nd Test – Najmul Hossain Shanto backs approach

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“He bowls and puts pressure from one end, and I was doing the same,” Ramesh Mendis says of his partnership with Praveen Jayawickrama

There was nothing wrong with Bangladesh’s approach in their second innings of the second Test in Pallekele on a pitch that has changed significantly, according to Najmul Hossain Shanto, but they are up against it at 177 for 5 with Liton Das and Mehidy Hasan at the crease, and the target still 260 away.

In the 48 overs they have faced so far, the Bangladesh batters haven’t really taken to stonewalling. All the top-five batters played briskly – Shanto’s strike rate of 59.09 was the slowest of the lot – but none of them managed to cross Mushfiqur Rahim’s score of 40. Shanto, who made 26 off 44 balls before Praveen Jayawickrama got one to hit his stumps, said that Bangladesh would have been happier had they lose two wickets fewer.

“I think being negative makes life more difficult for the batsmen on this wicket,” he said. “[Being] positive doesn’t necessarily mean hitting every ball; it wasn’t the plan. But we played with intent. It is normal for spinners to get help from the pitch on the fourth and fifth day of a Test match. We all made good starts, but we couldn’t go on. It would have been a better day had we lost three wickets.”



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Recent Match Report – Middlesex vs Somerset Group 2 2021

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Youngster backs up first-innings 39 with 41* in match-winning stand with Steve Davies

Somerset 268 (Bartlett 55, Finn 5-77) and 209 for 6 (Abell 49, Davies 44*, Hildreth 43, Goldsworthy 41*) beat Middlesex 357 (White 92, Gubbins 75) and 117 (Overton 5-34) by four wickets

Lewis Goldsworthy completed a memorable first-class debut as Somerset clinched a four-wicket LV=County Championship victory over Middlesex at Taunton.

Having contributed an invaluable 39 to his side’s first innings, the 20-year-old Cornishman shared an unbroken match-winning stand of 86 with Steve Davies to take the Cidermen to their target of 207 soon after lunch.

Goldsworthy finished 41 not out and Davies unbeaten on 44, while Tim Murtagh had figures of 4 for 53 at the end of an absorbing contest, sadly played out in front of empty stands at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Somerset took 21 points from their third group win in four games, while Middlesex, who had bossed much of the game, had to be content with seven.

The home side began the final morning on 104 for 4, needing a further 103 to win. Tom Abell, unbeaten on 43 overnight, got the run-chase underway with a two through mid-wicket off Murtagh.

George Bartlett launched his innings with a sweetly-struck off-side boundary in Tom Helm’s opening over. On 47, Abell survived a confident shout from Murtagh for lbw, umpire Ian Gould remaining unmoved. Bartlett’s second boundary was another well-timed stroke, this time pulling Helm through mid-wicket.

Abell edged Murtagh just short of second slip before Gould upheld a second lbw appeal from the same bowler, with the Somerset skipper one short of a half-century and 89 runs still needed.

Murtagh’s next over saw Bartlett depart in the same fashion for 12, playing across the line, and at 123 for 6 Somerset looked in serious trouble.

It was another major test for the temperament of diminutive debutant Goldsworthy as he was joined by the experienced Davies. As in the first innings when coming in at 98 for 4, the youngster passed with flying colours, getting into line with solid defensive technique against some probing seam bowling.

Murtagh completed a fine eight-over spell from the River End before Davies lifted some of the pressure with two cover-driven fours in the same Martin Andersson over.

Goldsworthy produced the shot of the day, savagely pulling Steve Finn to the mid-wicket boundary for four, with the sound of a pistol crack as bat met ball.

Both batsmen demonstrated the patience to await a loose delivery and, while each played and missed occasionally, they gradually sucked the life out of the Middlesex seam attack.

Goldsworthy brought up the fifty stand with a boundary to third-man off the returning Murtagh.

By lunch the partnership was worth 65 and Somerset were within 19 runs of what for more than two days had seemed a highly unlikely victory.

After the break, Middlesex turned to leg-spinner Luke Hollman in a last throw of the dice.

But Davies and Goldsworthy remained unperturbed and the latter sparked loud celebrations on the home dressing room balcony when striking the winning boundary off a Hollman full-toss.



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Zimbabwe vs Pakistan – Hasan Ali

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Bruised by injuries and form issues, the fast bowler has taken the tough route back to the top

Recalling his “difficult journey” back to the Pakistan side, having fought through injuries and form issues, Hasan Ali has underlined the importance of the first-class grind for youngsters in their quest to play top-flight cricket.

Ali missed a major chunk of international cricket between 2019 and 2020 due to multiple injuries ranging from back strain to broken ribs. But he played a key role in Central Punjab’s run to the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final. In all, he played nine games, with the best performance reserved for the final, where he made a century and picked up a five-for.

He was named Player of the Series for his 43 wickets at an average of 20.06. That performance put him back on the national radar and he is back leading Pakistan to victories, most recently in the first Test against Zimbabwe in Harare.

“It’s very simple: if anyone intends to play long for Pakistan and is free, he should play first-class cricket,” Hasan said after the innings and 116-run victory on Saturday. “I made my international debut in 2016 and since then until last year I didn’t get a chance to play the entire first-class season.

“I had one aim and that was to make a comeback so that the world will remember [me].”

Hasan Ali on what kept him going

“If you play the full long season, it will certainly help you a lot in many ways. You get to bowl longer spells with the new and old ball. It lifts your skillsets. The long spells may tire you, but eventually it prepares you for international cricket by enhancing your temperament and making you tough.

“I know everyone has their own thoughts about cricket. Some like to play the shorter formats but for me, I love to play Test cricket. It’s an interesting format and it actually tests your temperament and patience in every possible way. I always wanted to wear a Test cap and it is like a dream that comes true for me that I am representing Pakistan in this format and staying relevant with my performances.”

Since his return after over two years, he’s been in roaring form. He picked a match-winning ten-for against South Africa in Rawalpindi; it helped Pakistan clinch their first Test series win over South Africa since 2003. He picked up 4 for 18 to help Pakistan beat Zimbabwe in the T20I decider last month. In his most recent Test outing in Harare, he finished with a nine-for.

This upswing was far from his mind when he went into oblivion two years ago, after his body nearly ditched him. He fought through injuries in his groin, back and ribs. He lost his PCB central contract, even though the PCB continue to pay him a monthly retainer from the cricketers’ welfare fund, apart from also footing his medical bills. There were talks of surgery in Australia, but Ali eventually settled for several video sessions that helped him through his rehabilitation during the pandemic last year.

“There was a phase when I lost nearly everything,” Ali said looking back on the tough phase. “It was a difficult journey. I was out of cricket for nearly two years, fighting with multiple injuries but came back after getting fitter. It was a frustrating time and I used to cry. But one thing I never forgot was to try and work hard. Because that was the only thing I had in my hands.

“I had one aim and that was to make a comeback so that the world will remember [me]. I had a lot to prove on my fitness and performances for my comeback. I did well and carried on the same performance in international cricket. It was the hard work that paid off.”

Waqar Younis, who took over the charge as bowling coach in 2019, was one of the mentors who stood by him during the tough times. “He has this never-give-up attitude that drives him,” Waqar said of Ali.”He is mentally a strong character, otherwise what he had been through anyone could have collapsed.

“With such injuries, only a strong-minded cricketer can make a comeback. In my years I too had back injuries and people thought I was done. The same thing happened with Hassan. These negative things disheartened [me] at times but when you have the attitude you can always come back. His commitment and attitude made a massive difference.”

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent



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