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DC vs MI, IPL 2021 – Mahela Jayawardene

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The Mumbai Indians’ head coach says his batters have adapted well to the challenge of playing on slow wickets in Chennai

The Mumbai Indians’ head coach Mahela Jayawardene feels that his batters have adapted well to the challenge of playing on slow wickets in Chennai, but there are areas where the team could “still improve”, referring to the middle-overs batting especially in their previous match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

After successfully defending 152 against the Kolkata Knight Riders, the Mumbai bowlers were once again adept in their defence of 150 against the Sunrisers. Legspinner Rahul Chahar starred again as he turned the game around with contributions from Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, as Sunrisers fell from 71 for 1 to 137 all out in the chase. But on both occasions, Mumbai’s batting never hit top gear, especially in the middle overs where they considerably slowed down after getting off to a decent start in the powerplay. Against the Sunrisers, Rohit Sharma‘s efforts took them to 53 for 0 in the powerplay but Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Vijay Shankar applied the squeeze thereafter, which meant their run rate never crossed 7.50 after the tenth over.

“Probably the last game was a bit of an off one for us but the previous two games I think our tempo was very good,” Jayawardene said. “Overall, we are very happy but knowing Rohit, he will keep pushing the guys. If we haven’t hit those marks, he will bring it up and want us to improve. I think last game we have to consider that we were up against two quality spinners in Rashid and Mujeeb, especially in the middle overs, and at the same time we lost a couple of wickets.

“You aren’t going to have the same breakfast every day, right? So if we keep having the same thing, it’s quite easy for the opposition to plan against us. So we would like to try and change depending on the opposition, on the conditions”

Mahela Jayawardene

“I think considering all that, we handled the situation better to set it up in the last two overs and get that par score. We always try and get to the par score on the day on that wicket would be a good score. There are areas we could improve but pretty happy how things are.”

The Sunrisers bowlers, on Saturday, exploited the slowness of the surface, conceding just a single boundary between overs ten to 16. The onus was once again on Mumbai’s lower middle order to drag them to a competitive total, just as they had done against the Knight Riders. After the match, Sharma had also said that they could do better in the middle overs, but was mindful of the fact that it hasn’t been easy to bat at the venue especially against spinners. “I thought we had a good score for this pitch,” Sharma had told Star Sports. “Having said that, we can do better in the middle overs. The pitch is getting slower and slower, bowlers are always in the game till 20 overs. Even the seamers, it’s not easy to get them away and the slowish nature makes it harder for the batter to slog straightaway”.

“Yes, the wickets are slightly on the slower side but still seeing scores of 150-160, the other day we saw 200,” Jayawardene said. “On a given day depending on the opposition how you approach can have that different variable. They are not unplayable wickets. They are good competitive wickets and adjusting to those challenges is always the key for any batsman. I think we’ve been consistent with that approach. It’s been challenging but we have adapted pretty well. Sometimes we’ll make mistakes and that’s part of the game.”

On the day, Mumbai also sent Kieron Pollard to bat at No. 5, ahead of Hardik Pandya – a move that paid off – as he blasted an unbeaten 22-ball 35. Jayawardene put the move down just to tactics, adding that they also wanted Pollard to get more time in the middle.

“You aren’t going to have the same breakfast every day, right? So if we keep having the same thing, it’s quite easy for the opposition to plan against us. So we would like to try and change depending on the opposition, on the conditions.

“Especially in this kind of competition, we need to keep everyone guessing on what we are going to do. That was the process. Obviously, Polly [Pollard] got a bit more time in the middle early season, which we could give him in the first few games. We have a very versatile line-up where guys can bat depending on situations. They understand we’re going to utilise that.”

Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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County Championship 2021 – Tom Westley seeks uplift after ‘strange’ start to Essex’s twin title defence

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Halfway through the group stage of the Championship, and Essex have got it all to do. The defending champions are currently fifth in Group One – albeit only 15 points off a top-two spot – and in need of a run of good form in order to make sure of qualifying for Division One when the competition splits. If Tom Westley, Essex’s captain, had been hoping a return to Chelmsford would spark an uplift after two defeats and a draw on the road, then a washed-out first day against Derbyshire only served to dampen the mood.

Westley admits it has been a “strange start” to the season. Having scored 490 for 9 declared in their opening game, only to be held to a draw by Worcestershire, Essex then recovered from being skittled for 96 by Durham to defend their manor in the manner to which most observers have become accustomed – scrapping hard in the second innings to post a target of 168, and then defending it ruthlessly on the back of another Simon Harmer ten-for.

But defeats at Edgbaston, by seven wickets, and Trent Bridge, by an innings, either side of another stalemate away to Worcestershire have left Westley puzzling over how to get what he views as “the best team in the country” playing like they can.

“Things definitely could be going a bit better,” he tells ESPNcricinfo. “It’s been quite challenging, a bit disappointing for the standards that we set at Essex. We’re used to winning lots of games of cricket, which hasn’t been the case this year. Halfway through, still a lot of games to be played and the group is tight – if you win a couple of games all of a sudden you’re right back up there.

“It’s been quite strange, in that we’ve been bowled out for less than 100 twice, and we’ve also got 500 twice. We haven’t been able to piece the whole game together with bat and ball. Certain games we’ve batted really well and bowled not as well, and in other games we’ve bowled well and not batted well. Which is the crux of cricket, I suppose.

“It’s immensely frustrating not being able to piece it together. It’s been a reminder of how hard four-day cricket is, especially when the some of the surfaces have been either way – very flat or [doing a bit]. It’s a strange start for us.”



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Recent Match Report – Kent vs Sussex Group 3 2021

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Fast bowler confirms bid for full fitness is back on track after fiery opening gambit at Hove

Sussex 51 for 2 trail Kent 145 (Leaning 63; Robinson 3-29, Garton 3-65, Archer 2-29) by 94 runs

When Jofra Archer last played a first-class match at Hove he was not a World Cup winner nor had he played in an Ashes series. The game took place in September 2018 and was memorable for the final first-class centuries of both Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell. Trott’s hundred satisfied the technicians; Bell’s pleased the aesthetes and brings them comfort still. Archer had played 10 IPL games for Rajasthan Royals and was plainly England’s next big thing. But his four late wickets against Warwickshire hardly disturbed the universe and certainly nobody gave a monkey’s what he did with his fish tank apart, one assumes, from the fish. The age of aquaria had not yet dawned.

That era is upon us now, though, and so Archer is perhaps fortunate that he is based in Brighton, where other-worldliness is an asset and where shredding your finger cleaning up after your piscine pets is something that could happen to anyone. Even more than Britain’s metropolises this city is a shrine to the outré and the baroque. Archer is thus an extraordinary cricketer in a city filled with extraordinary people and maybe he enjoys the camouflage, even if such concealment is not always available. The news that he had recovered sufficiently from a right-elbow injury to be named in Sussex’s squad for this game against Kent brought extra photographers and journalists to the County Ground and in the first half an hour of the day we could all see why.

In Archer’s third over Daniel Bell-Drummond was beaten for pace and bounce; the catch went very fast to second slip where George Garton made it look laughably easy. Next over, though, Archer over-pitched and Zak Crawley helped himself to four runs past wide mid-on. We settled down for a duel between a couple of England’s Test cricketers, only for it to end two balls later when Crawley could do nothing with sharp lift and movement off a length except nick the ball to Ben Brown.

“Usually I bowl to Zak n the [England] nets and I have done that quite a bit,” observed Archer when our day’s cricket was done. “Obviously, you’re never out in the nets so it was good to get him out here, with umpires.”



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ICC consider expanding T20 World Cup to 20 teams

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Change of attitude from governing body with shorter form seen as vehicle for growth

The T20 World Cup could be increased to include 20 teams as part of the ICC’s attempts to develop the game globally.

While the 2021 tournament, currently scheduled to be played in India, will still feature 16 teams, ESPNcricinfo understands there are plans to increase that number from the 2024 edition. Current thinking suggests that version of the event will feature four groups of five teams in its opening phase.

The ICC has long seen the T20 format as a vehicle for the game’s expansion and there has been previous talk of such an expansion. The ICC have already confirmed their plans to increase the number of teams in their women’s competitions.

But the move sustains a notably more inclusive recent approach from the ICC across formats. This is also likely to involve an increased number of teams (from 10 to 14) in the 50-over World Cup, a more positive attitude towards participation in the Olympics and talk of a return of the Intercontinental Cup (albeit with a different name).

It is, perhaps, the move to increasing the number of teams in the 50-over World Cup which provides the most revealing insight into the changing mood of the ICC. In recent years, the ICC cut the number of teams in the 50-over World Cup (from 16 in 2007, to 14 in 2011 and 2015 and 10 in 2019) arguing that broadcasters preferred the streamlined format with the probability of fewer one-sided games.

There is, however, understood to be a growing appreciation of the need to balance long-term global development with the monetary value of short-term broadcast deals. It may be relevant, too, that since the powers of the ‘Big Three’ were rolled back in 2017, the influence of other nations has grown.



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