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Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh, 1st Test

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The aggregate batting average on this Pallekele pitch can only be compared to the 1997 Test at the R Premadasa Stadium, in which Sri Lanka posted a world-record 952 for 6. After seeing his bowlers suffer for three days, Sachin Tendulkar called it unfit for Test cricket. Depending on how much more is scored in this contest, similar criticism awaits.

The Bangladesh pace bowlers, an already endangered breed, have collective figures of 1 for 231, going for 4.20 per over for 55 overs. After making a promising start on the third afternoon, they couldn’t cope with the old ball, and neither did they create any more chances with the second new ball. Their performance is inferior to that of the Sri Lankan pace bowlers’ 6 for 279 at 2.63 per over. But comparing the two pace attacks is also like saying apples are like oranges.

Sri Lanka actually has a fast bowling culture. When they figured out their spin stocks wouldn’t be able to withstand an out-of-form Test team, they tried out a grassy pitch. Although it has now morphed into a sluggish, almost dead surface, at least they tried to rely on their fast bowlers. Bangladesh would never do such a thing in a home game. Even pretending to trusting fast bowlers is a big no-no.

The general lack of commitment towards pace bowling in Bangladesh’s philosophy is the danger ahead of the next Test. They will certainly think about dropping one of their three, bringing in a spinner or a batter; and reverting to type.

But the team management can do better than get disheartened so easily. There is ample evidence that encouraging a particular pace bowling unit can only help Bangladesh in the medium- to long-run.The Pallekele pitch provided very few tools such as pace, bounce, swing, seam or reverse swing to the pace bowlers. Yet there were encouraging glimpses.

Taskin Ahmed created the most chances among the three pace bowlers. He was willing to bend his back even in long spells. Ebadat Hossain too was expensive but for an out-and-out fast bowler who is used in short bursts, it would take a breakthrough Test performance to turn a corner. Despite his hugely underwhelming record, Ebadat seems to have the coaching staff’s confidence. Otherwise he wouldn’t have lasted this long in Bangladesh’s set-up.

Abu Jayed relies heavily on seam and swing, so he won’t always be penetrative on these pitches. He bowled well in Bangladesh’s last Test, in Dhaka where the pitch also lacked everything a fast bowler needs, and he has a few four-wicket hauls in overseas conditions so there’s no point in thinking he can’t do a better job in the next game. Sure, he could have been a lot more accurate, but it is also his eleventh Test.

Bangladesh probably picked a five-man bowling attack exactly for this reason. They may not have expected to make 541 given their indifferent batting form, but they certainly believed that if there was indeed life on this pitch, this pace attack might extract something out of it. Since there’s nothing, it is better not to read too much into their bowling figures just yet.

Taskin, who is playing his first Test in almost four years, admitted that the pitch was difficult for the bowlers, where even good balls are getting punished.

“Bowlers will have a difficult time on such wickets in Test cricket,” Taskin said. “There are few options to create chances. A good ball at times becomes easy to play. A boundary is coming with a slight erring of line or length. We declared on 541. Someone like Lakmal even bowled 36 overs. It would have been better had there been some help for bowlers.



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Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell offered their first New Zealand central contracts

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Left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, though, was omitted from the 20-man list

Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell have been offered their first New Zealand central contracts, for the 2021-22 season. However, Ajaz Patel, who won his first deal last year, has been omitted from the 20-member list.

BJ Watling, who had announced his decision to retire from all forms of cricket after the World Test Championship (WTC) final in June, dropped out of the list.

Phillips had dislodged Ross Taylor to become a permanent member of the T20I side, slotting into the middle order and also pitching in with his quickish offbreaks. He even reeled off New Zealand’s fastest T20I century, off 46 balls, against West Indies, at the Bay Oval in November last year. In all, Phillips played 14 T20Is last summer, hitting 366 runs at an average of 40.66 and strike rate of just under 185.

As for Mitchell, he stepped in for Colin de Grandhomme, who had been sidelined from the entire home summer with injury, and played key roles across formats. He struck his maiden Test and ODI centuries in addition to contributing with the ball.



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Recent Match Report – Durham vs Worcs Group 1 2021

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Hosts recover to post competitive 246 on opening day at Chester-le-Street

Worcestershire 6 for 0 trail Durham 246 (Lees 99, Tongue 5-39) by 240 runs

Worcestershire’s Josh Tongue claimed a five-wicket haul to bowl Durham out for 246 on the opening day of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash at Emirates Riverside.

Tongue was on the mark for the visitors to tear through the Durham middle and lower order with figures of 5 for 39 in his second appearance of the campaign. Alex Lees continued his fine form for the hosts with the bat, falling just short of a deserved century with an innings of 99.

Through Lees’ exploits and an unbeaten 38 from Brydon Carse, the home side worked their way to a competitive total. The Worcestershire openers were faced with a tough three-over spell before bad light brought a premature end to the day with the visitors six without loss.

Worcestershire’s bowlers found their rhythm after inserting the home side. The Durham openers found life tricky against the new ball and Joe Leach, who was rewarded for a fine opening spell when he pinned Will Young lbw with an inswinger. Charlie Morris maintained the pressure for the visitors and removed Scott Borthwick, who edged to Tom Fell at third slip.

Lees and David Bedingham stemmed the tide and saw the home side through to the lunch interval without further damage at 80 for 2. The two players put on fifty for the third wicket, but a loose Bedingham drive allowed Morris to break the stand. Lees was the only batsman that seemed comfortable, and he manoeuvred his way to his third fifty of the season from 145 balls.

Tongue turned the day in favour of the visitors as he ended a promising partnership between Lees and Jack Burnham, removing the latter lbw for 23 before using a well-aimed bouncer to force Ned Eckersley to play on to his stumps.

Lees accelerated the rate of his innings amid the clatter of wickets at the opposite end. He surged his way into the nineties with a fine array of strokes, but was agonisingly caught behind from a wide ball from Leach on 99 on the stroke of tea.

Carse and Mark Wood added valuable runs for the ninth wicket to take Durham past the 200-run mark and their first batting point. However, Tongue wrapped up the innings with two excellent deliveries to skittle Wood and Chris Rushworth to claim his first five-wicket haul of the term.



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BAN vs SL 2021 – New ODI captain Kusal Perera wants young Sri Lanka to play ‘fearlessly’ against Bangladesh | Cricket

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Perera will lead SL against Bangladesh © AFP


Fearlessness. If there’s one change Sri Lanka’s new ODI captain Kusal Perera would like to usher in, it is for his team to play as he says he does: completely unafraid.

Perera has been appointed leader of a young squad, which is without several big names, including Angelo Mathews, and now has the opportunity to turn around Sri Lanka’s poor form in the format – the side having slipped to ninth on the ICC rankings. Perera has long been one of the most aggressive batsmen in Sri Lanka’s ranks, and early indications are that he would like the team to embrace that ethos.

“We have to fearless cricket to win matches,” he said, a day after his appointment as captain was made official. “You can’t be fearful about losing. If you’re worried about your place, you aren’t going to give 100%. What I’m going to tell the players is to go and give it everything. If we play fearlessly even when we are practicing, then you will be able to play the same way in a match. That’s what I’ve told the team. If we are fearful, we will fall even further. I’m trying to build a culture where the players have a lot of confidence.”

Perera’s own most notable innings have been aggressive ones. In Tests, his 153 not out off 200 in Durban is now counted among the format’s greatest knocks. In ODIs, he has hit the second-equal fastest half-century – off 17 balls, against Pakistan, in 2015.

“I really like to play fearless cricket personally, and that’s where my success has been. Whenever I’ve played with fear, it hasn’t worked for me. I want everyone else to play like that. You can’t guarantee that you will go right playing this way, but the chances of things going well are greater.”

“But you have to practice well to instill that fearlessness. Because if you are 100% certain about the shot you’re playing, you can play without fear. You need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Where does the ball need to be for me to hit it? Will I get myself in trouble by hitting there? You need to have that understanding. If you’re a bowler, you need to know which ball can get you a wicket, and which will help you bowl a dot. These things help you play fearlessly. As a fielding unit, you have to carry that same ethos as well, and I have big hopes for the upcoming Bangladesh series about our fielding.”

Although Perera has sparkled briefly, however, his overall record as a batsman is modest. After 96 ODI innings, he averages 31.04, with a strike rate of 92.04. The responsibility of leadership, he hoped, would bring bigger personal scores as well.

“What the selectors told me when they appointed me was that I often get a 50 or a 60 and get out without getting to a 100. I accept that. If I score a hundred, the chances of winning the match go up. You can’t get a 100 every game, but when you get a start, you need to make sure you convert. They expect me to take that responsibility.”

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf


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