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Pak vs Zim, 2021 – Misbah-ul-Haq open to trying out new faces but winning the series remains priority

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Head coach says he doesn’t want to give “gutsy” Zimbabwe a weak link to exploit

After winning both ODI and T20I series against South Africa, Pakistan may find Zimbabwe a relatively weaker opponent, but head coach Misbah-ul-Haq stands guarded against complacency. On the eve of the first T20I in Harare, Misbah said he doesn’t want to give “gutsy” Zimbabwe a weak link to exploit by trying out too many new faces at once.

Pakistan have two uncapped fast bowlers, Mohammad Wasim junior and Arshad Iqbal, in the squad to go along with the experienced Shaheen Shah Afridi, Harris Rauf, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Nawaz. In the batting department, Sharjeel Khan and Danish Aziz are the standbys.

“When you carry a bench alongside, you obviously want to give them chances,” Misbah said. “But it’s more important to understand that you don’t want to make needless changes just for the sake of change. Whoever is giving advice [from the outside] is not going to take the responsibility.

“They urge us to play the entire bench [at once] and replace the already settled players but if things go wrong, they won’t be held accountable for it. It will all come down to the captain and team management. But we will definitely do the rotation and play one or two younger players but we will play them in combination, blending them with the settled line-up because you also want to win the series. You make a combination ensuring you are not losing your strength and not comprising the chance of winning.”

Given they have won each of their 14 T20Is against Zimbabwe, Pakistan start as clear favourites. But Misbah is wary of the opponents playing with a mindset of nothing to lose and hurting Pakistan in the process.

“If you compare, there is an obvious difference between the two teams,” Misbah said. “But more importantly whenever Zimbabwe play, they have nothing to lose and got no pressure on them. Zimbabwe is a gutsy team. They play everything in Harare mostly and have a clear idea of their home conditions. They are always hunting for one weak link in the opponents and use it to create a chance for themselves and take the game away.

“I am aware of it as everything is at stake for us. Pressure normally is on the teams who are playing against them, so we will have to play our best cricket. In South Africa, the conditions and level of the opponents were totally different, so there was a different intensity and both sides had a lot at stake.”

The three-match series against Zimbabwe is another step for Pakistan towards finalising their combination for the T20 World Cup in India later this year, especially their middle-order batters. Misbah has a squad of 17 at his disposal to do that but he said he would be keeping an eye on the PSL as well.

“This series will be giving us a good understanding about where we are standing and how we are to go about ahead of the T20 World Cup. I can’t say much about the future but to strengthen our middle order, we are still open to trying out more players.

“We are expecting the younger players to step up in the role but if it doesn’t go according to the plan, then expect a few changes and I don’t think there should be a problem with it. We have the PSL coming up and if we see anyone doing good in it and who has done well in past, then we can pick him. The combination we will carry for England series will be the closest and most likely the one we will be taking for the World Cup in India.”

Talking about Afridi’s workload, Misbah dispelled the idea to rest him: “The whole world is more worried about his workload than us. Obviously, we have all the data recorded from his practice and matches and how much he needs to bowl, and how to manage him. We are monitoring everything and if he requires, he will definitely be rested.”

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent



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Recent Match Report – Kent vs Sussex Group 3 2021

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A whole lot of not a lot at Hove, but it’s an improvement on this time last year

Sussex 256 (van Zyl 52; Quinn 4-54, Gilchrist 3-51, Stevens 3-64) drew with Kent 145 (Leaning 63, Robinson 3-29, Garton 3-65) and 387 for 4 dec (Leaning 127*, Robinson 85, Crawley 85)

A match that had once seemed likely to end in a Sussex victory with Jofra Archer displaying his fitness for Test cricket ended in the most sclerotic of draws with Archer not even on the field. The first of these outcomes had always seemed likely once Kent had survived a short session on Saturday, and the second was probable once the England bowler’s sore elbow had prevented him bowling that same evening.

Despite their lowly positions in Group C these sides never appeared to contemplate the possibility of setting up a game and the 43 overs we saw this afternoon might not be numbered among the most gripping of the season. Other correspondents could even judge them balls-achingly tedious.

But Jack Leaning will take a different view. The former Yorkshire batsman notched only his second first-class century since 2017 and will approach Thursday’s game against Glamorgan in a more confident mood. Likewise, from their different perspectives, Tom Clark, who took his maiden first-class wicket, and Tawanda Muyeye, who batted half an hour for 12 not out on his debut. A drop of red ink is as comforting as a duvet to a young professional making his way. Every solid defensive shot is a moment.

And if these slightly aimless sessions were still a disappointment we could scourge no one but ourselves. On Friday, when a 104-over day had heaved itself beyond seven o’clock, we little thought how fortunate we were to see any cricket at all, let alone to be doing so when millions could not.

Zak Crawley was batting on that second evening, so such ingratitude required public abasement. But our penance, such as it might have been, was useless. The following evening, when only 24 overs were possible, Crawley was dismissed by the excellent Jack Carson and even that moment was given the elbow by Archer’s inaction, forced or otherwise.

Thus to Sunday with the Channel turquoise in its shallows but gravely blue farther out to sea. A pleasant dawn was replaced by an unlucky bag of showers, some of them slight, others heavy with Anabaptist doom. While David Millns and Graham Lloyd made one of their inspections the clouds to the west were grey as an undertaker’s work-suit; to the east they were blue as one of Bryan Ferry’s more exotic two-piece numbers. Birds gathered ravenously on the white pyramidal roofs of the hospitality suites. By the way, the gulls in Hove have clearly been watching Alfred Hitchcock movies; I’ve seen smaller turkeys. The white thugs waited for scraps; we waited for cricket.



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Recent Match Report – Glamorgan vs Yorkshire Group 3 2021

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Only 13 overs possible on final day but Glamorgan batter impresses

Glamorgan 149 (Brook 3-13, Patterson 3-27) and 164 for 4 (Carlson 88*, Lloyd 40) drew with Yorkshire 230 (Root 99, Patterson 47*, Neser 5-39)

Persistent rain prevented a positive result in the LV=Insurance County Championship match between Glamorgan and Yorkshire in Cardiff with only 13 overs possible on the final day, but there was enough time for Kiran Carlson to continue his impressive season with his sixth fifty-plus score of this campaign.

The match was set up for an exciting finish at the close of day three with Glamorgan 27 runs in front with seven first innings wickets in hand. The weather meant that the players only made it into the middle at 4:15pm and Glamorgan successfully saw out a tricky session to secure the draw.

It was a frustrating experience in the hours before they started with the sun shining just long enough for some hope to emerge only for the rain to reappear to send the groundsmen back to their hut.

A brilliant 99 from England captain Joe Root on day three had given Yorkshire hope of pushing for a win but first rain and then Carlson prevented that from happening. Carlson finished the day on 88 not out with Glamorgan 164 for 4.

When play did get started Yorkshire were convinced they had David Lloyd caught in the slips in the first over but it was off his thigh pad rather than his bat. As it was, they had Lloyd without adding to his overnight score when he was trapped lbw by Ben Coad. That was the only wicket to fall before the players shook hands.

Carlson has been Glamorgan’s most consistent batsman in this Championship campaign, and his runs meant that any chances of a Yorkshire win evaporated. Such was Carlson’s brilliance, had Glamorgan had more time, they might even have set up a victory chance of their own. Carlson now has four fifties and two hundreds this season as his potential has begun to be realised.

The draw gives Yorkshire 12 points, sending them to the top of Group 3 of the Championship, five points ahead of Lancashire who did not play in this round of matches.



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Recent Match Report – Essex vs Derbyshire Group 1 2021

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Champions recover from first-day washout to complete second win of campaign

Essex 412 for 3 dec beat Derbyshire 146 (Guest 49, Harmer 9-80) and 251 (Guest 65, Godleman 45, Porter 3-41, Cook 3-45, Harmer 3-122) by an innings and 15 runs

Simon Harmer claimed his seventh LV= Insurance County Championship 10-wicket haul as Essex returned to winning ways by cruising to an innings-and-15-run victory over Derbyshire.

Harmer, who bowled unchanged from the River End on day four, took 3 for 122 in the second innings after a career-best 9 for 80 in the first, for a match analysis of 12 for 202. Jamie Porter and Sam Cook also took three scalps in the second innings.

Ryan ten Doeschate claimed six catches in the match, all at short-leg – the 14th occasion an Essex player has managed the feat and first since Alastair Cook versus Durham in 2004.

The win handed Essex the maximum 24 points to recharge their Division One ambition after three games without a success, while Derbyshire only secured a solitary point.

Brooke Guest, who completed his maiden first-class half-century the previous evening, and Billy Godleman continued to frustrate Essex as their partnership hit 212 balls, and 97 runs.

But a change of ball, after Guest had swept into the brick wall in front of the pavilion, brought about an immediate change. Porter angled in to Godleman to rap the former Essex man on the pads.

Four overs later Guest made a rare misstep on 65, as he offered no shot to Sam Cook and was also given lbw.

Leus du Plooy and Wayne Madsen were both dropped either side of lunch – the former dropped by Alastair Cook at first slip and the latter survived sweeping at leg slip Dan Lawrence.

Essex’s close-in fielders continued to chunter noisily about “going bang-bang”, and finally got their wish as Madsen and du Plooy’s stand ended in quick succession, having been together for 19 overs.

Madsen tickled onto his thigh pad before ten Doeschate swooped at short-leg to give Harmer his first of the innings, having been wicketless for 29.5 overs.



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