CSK might want to replace Gaikwad with Uthappa, while Narine could get a look-in for KKR
The Chennai Super Kings’ opening-game defeat and the Kolkata Knight Riders’ first-match win both seem so long back already – since then, their fortunes have headed in opposite directions.
A long batting line-up together with a combination of swing bowlers and spinners have made the Super Kings early contenders for a playoff spot even though they are only three matches old at the moment. MS Dhoni‘s own batting form has been far from great, but the other batters seem to have more clarity in how to maximise their scoring, with everyone is chipping in across various periods in different games.
Deepak Chahar made the ball talk one night, Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali did the same another night, and Sam Curran has been consistently tight with the new ball. It’s still early days, but the Super Kings are looking like the classic yellow team that always found a way to cross the line. They have two wins in three now and are favourites to make it three wins in four. The only major worry is the form of Ruturaj Gaikwad, who has struggled in all three matches. Maybe it’s time for Robin Uthappa to have a go against his former IPL side.
The Knight Riders, meanwhile, are just not getting enough from their batters. Shubman Gill has been breezy but hasn’t batted long enough. Barring the first game, it’s the same with Nitish Rana and Rahul Tripathi. Eoin Morgan is not pulling his weight as the experienced pro, Shakib Al Hasan is not scoring quickly enough, and Dinesh Karthik has struggled against spin. That has left too much for Andre Russell to do, and he has an average of 15.00 and a strike rate of 112.50 this season so far.
Their bowling has been doing better than in the last season, taking more powerplay wickets and ending innings well (barring that one brilliant afternoon of batting from AB de Villiers). The jury is out: they need more from their batters if they are to avoid a hat-trick of defeats.
It’s also going to be their first game in Mumbai in IPL 2021, so is there a case for Shakib to be dropped? Sunil Narine and Lockie Ferguson are frontrunners to grab that spot, depending on conditions. Harbhajan Singh, too, could be rested as the team moves away from Chennai. Either way, the Knight Riders will hope a new city brings in a change in fortunes.
In the news
Jason Behrendorff is not yet available for the Super Kings, as he continues to serve his quarantine. He was drafted into their squad after Josh Hazlewood had pulled out.
Brendon McCullum revealed after the Knight Riders’ third game that Narine was supposed to start in their first game, but a niggle was the reason for Shakib getting the nod. There’s no formal update on the Narine situation.
Kolkata Knight Riders 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Nitish Rana, 3 Rahul Tripathi, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Andre Russell, 7 Shakib Al Hasan/Sunil Narine/Lockie Ferguson, 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Harbhajan Singh/Shivam Mavi, 10 Varun Chakravarthy, 11 Prasidh Krishna
Chennai Super Kings 1 Robin Uthappa/Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2 Faf du Plessis, 3 Moeen Ali, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Ambati Rayudu, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Sam Curran, 8 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 9 Dwayne Bravo, 10 Shardul Thakur, 11 Deepak Chahar
- There’s a case for the Super Kings to open the bowling with Shardul Thakur – instead of the Chahar-Curran combination. Thakur has bowled to Gill in three T20 innings: in 16 balls, the bowler has dismissed the batter three times.
- Narine in the XI can work well for the Knight Riders. His weakness as a batter is facing short balls from express quick bowlers, and the Super Kings pacers are not the fastest. With the ball, Narine is very successful against the Super Kings batters too. In T20s, du Plessis’ strike rate against Narine is 62, Gaikwad’s is 80, Rayudu’s is 83, Dhoni’s is 45, and Jadeja’s is 102.
Stats that matter
- Russell has never hit an IPL six at the Wankhede Stadium and averages 8.20 there. That, however, is mainly because he has struggled against the usual home team at the venue, the Mumbai Indians.
- Since IPL 2020, Gaikwad has the lowest powerplay strike rate (84) of all batters (minimum fifty runs). Uthappa has the third-highest strike rate in the first six (142.5) in the same period, behind only Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes.
- Since IPL 2019, the Super Kings have won 70% of their games when they have taken two powerplay wickets. The win-rate boosts up to 80% when they take three or more. Also, they have never lost a game when Curran has taken a powerplay wicket.
- du Plessis is one run away from becoming the sixth South Africa international to reach 6000 T20 runs. AB de Villiers, David Miller, Colin Ingram, JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock are ahead of him.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx
County Championship 2021 – Keith Barker, Kyle Abbott too good for flatlining Middlesex as Hampshire surge to victory | Cricket
Hampshire 208 (Barker 84, Vince 62) and 66 for 3 (Holland 22, Northeast 18*) beat Middlesex 172 (Gubbins 51, Abbott 6-44) and 101 (Abbott 5-41) by seven wickets
Abbott followed his 6 for 44 in Middlesex’s first innings with 5 for 41 to restrict the hosts to 101 in their second, setting Hampshire a target of 66.
In keeping with the theme of the match where batting was tough going, the run-chase was far from straight-forward amid wickets, rain and fading light, with the forecast for heavy showers throughout much of Sunday’s final day meaning time was of the essence.
Earlier, Barker defied the narrative, playing with freedom and smashing four sixes and nine fours on his way to 84, which gave Hampshire a narrow first-innings lead after they had resumed on 131 for 7, still trailing Middlesex’s paltry 172.
A first-innings lead of any sort looked unlikely for Hampshire when they slumped to 9 for 3 and Barker’s 54-run partnership with James Vince on Friday was crucial in giving them a fighting chance.
In the end, he only managed to get the advantage up to 29 runs as his remaining batting partners all fell cheaply but managed to hang around long enough for him to raise his score significantly from 23 not out overnight.
Shortly after Abbott was bowled by teenager Blake Cullen for 6, Barker pulled Ethan Bamber sweetly for four through midwicket. Barker helped himself to 11 in the next over, including a straight drive for four to bring up Hampshire’s 150 and a six over deep midwicket off a Cullen short ball.
Barker struck back-to-back fours off Tim Murtagh, both powerful strikes over the head of deep mid-on, the first bringing up his 50 and taking Hampshire into the lead.
Murtagh responded with the wicket of Brad Wheal, edging behind to John Simpson, but he came in for more Barker punishment in his next over, 18 runs worth, as he was pummelled for sixes over deep square leg and deep midwicket and crashed straight down the ground for four.
Barker hit his fourth six off James Harris way over Peter Handscomb’s head at long on. It was the same bowling and fielding combination, however, that brought about his downfall, Barker swinging his bat one too many times, on this occasion at a short ball from Harris and picking out Handscomb at mid-on to end the innings.
Vince’s tenacious 62 the previous day was Hampshire’s only other score of note as they found the going almost as difficult as their opponents had.
With pace duo Abbott and Mohammad Abbas back in action – they took nine wickets between them in Middlesex’s first innings – it was far too soon from the hosts’ perspective that they were three wickets down and still 10 runs in arrears.
The pair accounted for the first five Middlesex batters in their second innings, including a magnificent return catch to Abbas diving forward in his follow-through to dismiss Robbie White, before Abbott’s lbw dismissal of Handscomb, whose 24 was his highest score in seven innings so far for this Championship campaign.
By that stage, Middlesex were in awful trouble at 49 for 5 and that was before Barker chimed in with the wicket of Martin Andersson, lbw for 9. Wheal’s pin-point delivery then bowled Simpson, also for 9, and at 67 for 7 with the sky as bright as it had been all match, they were once again braced for the inevitable.
At 93 for 7 the rain did arrive, bizarrely a heavy sun-shower after the players had shivered through two days of bitter cold and gloom. Tea was taken a few minutes early as a result and when play resumed, it looked as though spring had finally – finally – arrived, the sky above Lord’s actually, positively, yes, most definitely, sunny.
So too was Hampshire’s outlook when, on the eighth ball after the break, Abbott had Harris out lbw to claim his 10th wicket for the match. Abbas then trapped Cullen lbw and Abbott wrapped up the innings with the scalp of Bamber, also lbw.
Ian Holland and Joe Weatherley set about the run-chase with care, Holland’s cracking drive for four through extra cover off Cullen bringing a roar from the Hampshire balcony as a bank of dark cloud hung over the Pavilion.
The visitors were 23 for 0 when another downpour arrived but, with a result in sight and the sun reappearing once more, play resumed at 6.45pm with eight overs remaining.
Bamber struck with the third ball back when he had Weatherley out lbw and there was nearly a run-out chance when Holland and Liam Dawson got involved a mix-up moments later while Bamber was appealing unsuccessfully for lbw against Holland.
Dawson, promoted to No. 3, then fell lbw to Murtagh, who claimed another when he had Holland out plumb with 26 runs still needed.
The Middlesex fielders were keen to remind the batters of the next day’s forecast in the fading light, but Hampshire had the final say, Sam Northeast’s consecutive fours off Murtagh leaving them in need of 16 off the final two overs of the day and Tom Alsop made it eight required off the last with two fours off Bamber.
There was more drama when Northeast got a leading edge on a Murtagh delivery, which sailed straight to mid-on where Cullen spilled the chance and Northeast made the most of his reprieve with fours off the next two balls to finally seal victory.
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Recent Match Report – Durham vs Worcs Group 1 2021
First hundred in five years for Burnham on day of dominance at Chester-le-Street
Worcestershire 213 (Fell 44, Leach 42*, Rushworth 5-56) and 60 for 0 need another 363 runs to beat Durham 246 (Lees 99, Tongue 5-39) and 389 for 5 dec (Young 103, Burnham 102*)
Durham require 10 wickets on the final day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match against Worcestershire after centuries from Will Young and Jack Burnham handed the visitors a daunting fourth-innings chase.
Young provided the foundation with his second century of the season in his final game for the home side. Burnham upped the ante late in the afternoon and notched his first hundred since May 2016. Ned Eckersley also provided a brisk knock of 86 from 57 balls, including six sixes.
Worcestershire’s openers faced a tough final hour, but Daryl Mitchell and Jake Libby remained unbeaten at the close after putting on a stand of 60, although their side require another 363 runs to pull off an unlikely victory at Emirates Riverside.
Durham added only three runs to their overnight total before Joe Leach found Scott Borthwick’s outside edge. Young held firm and worked his way his past fifty, reaching the milestone from 128 balls. He and David Bedingham put on a stand of 69 for the third wicket, but the latter played a loose drive before lunch to a Josh Tongue delivery and was caught behind.
Young picked his moments to grind down the Worcestershire attack, while Burnham provided ample support, allowing Durham to post their third fifty partnership in succession. The New Zealander attempted to bring up his century by pulling Ed Barnard over the rope, only to be put down by Charlie Morris on the square leg boundary.
Young made the most of his opportunity and reached his second century of the season with a crisp on-drive down the ground that travelled to the fence. He failed to add to his score after passing three figures, leaving an inswinger from Tongue that struck his back pad. Durham pressed on through Burnham, who produced a great array of strokes around the wicket. The right-hander put the Worcestershire bowlers to the sword after easing past fifty.
Eckersley proved more than a useful foil at the other end, allowing the home side to accelerate courtesy of a century stand. He smashed a six to reach his half-century before a glut of further sixes followed, sending four over the rope in one Brett D’Oliveira over.
Eckersley was caught on the fence after his onslaught before Burnham, who endured a struggle in the nineties, finally reached his ton, ending a five-year drought. The milestone prompted Borthwick to declare with a lead of 422. However, Durham were denied a breakthrough in the final hour as Mitchell and Libby were solid, leaving the visitors unscathed at the close.
England’s challenge in 2021 is to peak for Australia ‘pinnacle’, says Joe Root
Joe Root says that the challenge of taking on New Zealand, the world’s No.1-ranked Test team, followed by five home Tests against India and an away Ashes campaign, makes 2021 the sort of year that “you play the game for”.
However, Root also admitted that England’s new-look selection panel – now led by the head coach Chris Silverwood – faces a tricky balancing act to ensure the entire squad is fit and firing ahead of the Australia tour, which he conceded was the year’s “pinnacle”.
The squad for England’s first Test of the summer, against New Zealand at Lord’s, is expected to be announced on Tuesday, and may provide an opportunity for some of England’s uncapped squad members – notably Gloucestershire’s James Bracey and Sussex’s Ollie Robinson – to test their mettle on the big stage after long periods on the sidelines during the team’s recent bio-secure campaigns.
However, Root admitted the importance of striking the right balance between opportunities for fringe candidates and sufficient game-time for the first-choice players, especially given the continued uncertainty about how long the Covid-safe environments will have to be kept in place.
“It’s very difficult at the minute, the circumstances make it very tricky,” Root told Sky Sports during Yorkshire’s ongoing County Championship clash with Glamorgan in Cardiff. “You’ve got to factor in so many different things and the welfare of the players is obviously paramount.
“But this is what you play for, years like this one. You want to pit yourself against the best, you want to be successful against the best, and this is the opportunity to do it.”
The New Zealand series will be an early test of the ECB’s new selection arrangements. Ed Smith’s removal as national selector last month means that Silverwood holds an unprecedented influence within the England camp, but Root believes his new role will add clarity to the process, given the bond that already exists between captain and coach.
“More than anything, it just means that that relationship between the two of us has to be as strong as ever,” he said. “We get on very well and we’ve got a good understanding of each other. We know what we want, and so hopefully, that process becomes a little bit easier.
“It’s always a tricky balance,” he said of the prospect of blooding some new faces against New Zealand. “What you’re trying to do is create that environment where you’ve got a strong squad of players that have been together for a good period of time, but no-one going in cold.
“You can’t plan everything perfectly, especially at the minute with Covid. There might be natural opportunities where things arise, there might not be, but the most important thing is that we remain very open-minded about how we want to move going forward.
“We’ve got some really important cricket coming up. And we’ve got to prioritise that. So when we sit down, we’ll factor in everything as best we can, and make sure that we’ve got a real clear idea of how we want to go, how we want the year to look, and how we’re going to peak for that tour of Australia.”
England overtook Australia as the No.3-ranked Test team this week, behind New Zealand and India, who face off in next month’s World Test Championship final at the Ageas Bowl, and after impressing for the first half of their recent tour of Sri Lanka and India, Root is confident their Test plans are on track.
“We’ve made good strides over the last couple of years as a Test team,” he said. “It’s not been plain sailing, we’ve not had it all our own way, but we still improved.
“I truly believe we are making good strides in the right direction, and now we’ve got an opportunity to keep improving, keep getting better and peak for Australia, which is the pinnacle for us.”
SInce returning from India, Root has been a fixture in Yorkshire’s County Championship line-up. Although he’s made just the one hundred in four completed fixtures, against Kent at Canterbury last month, he is comfortable with where his game is at, not least after surviving a torrid examination from Glamorgan’s seamers in Cardiff, to reach 34 not out overnight in the ongoing fixture.
“I felt pretty good yesterday,” he said. “I was moving quite nicely. I’ve been working on trying to play the ball a little bit later and felt I was lining it up quite straight.
“Rhythm has been a big part of my batting for a few years now,” he added. “More than anything that’s what you’re trying to find when you practice, to make sure that I feel in control of all the shots I want to play, and playing the ball nice and close to me. It’s a nice place to be, but it doesn’t guarantee you anything when you start again this morning.”
On a personal note, Root was privy to a moment of family pride on Friday, when his brother Billy was presented with his county cap by Glamorgan before the start of play.
“It was a brilliant moment,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to walk past that special moment for him and for the club. I’m really proud of what he’s achieved here at Glamorgan and hopefully he can continue moving forward.”
Billy Root enjoyed a moment of one-upmanship at Headingley in their last encounter, when he brought up his hundred off his brother’s bowling. But asked if there was any sledging between the brothers, Root senior replied: “He tries, but he’s not brave enough to properly go hard at me. Let’s see what today brings.”
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket
County Championship 2021 – Keith Barker, Kyle Abbott too good for flatlining Middlesex as Hampshire surge to victory | Cricket
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