David Warner’s side will be eager to string some wins together after their hat-trick of losses to begin the tournament
This will be Chepauk’s final game in IPL 2021, and setting a competitive target here remains a challenge. The average first-innings score is 154 in the nine games here this edition, and 163 overall in the tournament’s history; in the previous three matches here, none of the teams batting first have reached 140, the chasing sides acing the contests.
After rounding off their Mumbai leg with two wins in three outings on the relatively quicker surfaces of the Wankhede, the Delhi Capitals were tested by the pronounced grip and turn offered by the sluggish Chepauk turf. But they one-upped defending champions Mumbai Indians on Tuesday on the back of Amit Mishra’s match-winning four-for and a steady hand from batters Shikhar Dhawan and Shimron Hetymer, whose cautious approach to the small chase was a reflection of better reading of conditions on the night.
An improved understanding of pursuing a target at the venue was also at the heart of the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s first successful chase in four attempts. After a hat-trick of losses to kick-start their 2021 campaign, their first such winless run to begin an IPL season, a better-rounded XI, with Kane Williamson present, alongside an in-form Jonny Bairstow, handed them their first points. That their Indian pace- and spin-bowling personnel showed up with able support for premier bowler Rashid Khan in the win against the Punjab Kings on Wednesday should encourage the side.
Expect pacers to play a key role in the second game of Sunday’s double-header, though, despite the slowness of the surface. Sixty-five wickets have fallen to pace at this venue this season, spinners taking 46. The Capitals might consider slotting the more in-form Chris Woakes in for Kagiso Rabada.
Sunrirsers left-arm quick T Natarajan, who played only two matches this season, was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament owing to a knee injury he picked up during the Australia tour. The franchise is yet to name a replacement.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s thigh strain could be a cause for concern for the Sunrisers after he walked off the field having bowled only three overs in the previous match. Should he be unavailable, Sandeep Sharma would figure as a like-for-like replacement in the XI.
Capitals allrounder Axar Patel recovered from Covid-19 and returned to the franchise camp on Thursday, having spent almost three weeks in a medical care facility in Mumbai.
Delhi Capitals: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Steven Smith, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt & wk), 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 Lalit Yadav, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Kagiso Rabada/Chris Woakes, 10 Amit Mishra, 11 Avesh Khan
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 David Warner (capt), 2 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Kedar Jadhav, 5 Vijay Shankar, 6 Virat Singh, 7 Abhishek Sharma, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Sandeep Sharma, 10 Siddarth Kaul , 11 Khaleel Ahmed
- In the potential absence of Bhuvneshwar, Siddarth Kaul might again be called upon to share death-bowling duties with Khaleel Ahmed. Kaul, however, is among the most expensive bowlers in this phase: among 43 bowlers to have bowled in as many innings at the death as Kaul’s nine since IPL 2019, only Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat and Marcus Stoinis have conceded at a worse economy rate than Kaul’s 11.5. Sandeep Sharma fares slightly better, having gone at 9.1 in the end overs since IPL 2020. There may be a case, therefore, to not exhaust powerplay specialist Sharma’s quota up front if wickets are hard to come by in the face of a strong start from the Capitals.
- Could R Ashwin flick the switch with this game? He has a solitary wicket in four matches so far. In Chennai, he has traditionally been frugal, going for only 6.1 with a strike rate of 19. However, the major roadblock on his path to rediscovering his mojo could come in the form of Williamson, who is yet to fall to Ashwin and goes after him at a strike rate of 148.
Stats that matter
- David Warner is one hit shy of 200 sixes in the IPL. A fifty in the match will take him to 50 half-centuries in the tournament and 46 runs will lift his tally in T20s to 10,000.
- R Ashwin is four strikes short of 50 wickets at Chepauk in the league. If he gets at least one on the night, he will have reached 250 wickets in T20s.
- Thirty-six runs for Jonny Bairstow will make him the fourth England batter – after Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, and Jos Buttler – to reach the 1000-run milestone in the IPL.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha
Recent Match Report – Surrey vs Somerset Group 2 2021
Surrey 191 for 4 Burns 55) vs Somerset
On the sort of surface which might convince an opening batsman they should give it all up and become a plumber, Rory Burns made his fifth half-century in seven innings and fourth in succession. Nobody in the land has reached 50 more often this season.
But these are uncertain times for Burns. He lost his England place in India and is far from certain to win it back in the New Zealand series. With Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley seemingly assured of their places in the top three, Burns’ involvement may depend on where England decide to play James Bracey, who they appear to see as a utility player capable of fulfilling a role in the top and middle-order. In that light, Dan Lawrence’s eye-catching century for Essex might not be great news for Burns.
But, at his best, Burns’ batting has a phlegmatic quality that rises above such concerns. His maiden Test century, made against Australia in Birmingham, was in many ways a masterclass of mental strength overcoming every challenge. He was dropped often and beaten frequently but not for a moment did he lose his composure.
It was similar here. With damp conditions denying any chance of play before 2pm on the second day, this pitch had been under cover for a long time before Somerset’s bowlers took first use of it. Inevitably, the ball nipped around and edges were beaten.
But apart from one occasion, when Burns followed one he could have left, he refused to be drawn into pushing at the ball and was able to put any play-and-miss behind him. Eventually, as the ball softened and the bowlers tired, more poor balls were his reward. He failed to fully capitalise on his start but in terms of the basics of opening the batting, he looked in fine order.
He would have been relieved to hear that Somerset had rested Craig Overton. Overton bowled 40 overs in the second innings of Somerset’s win over Hampshire last week and has already clocked over 200 this season already; heaven knows he has earned his break. But, with three five-wicket hauls in his last three Championship matches, his absence leaves quite a hole in this attack. Jason Kerr, the Somerset head coach, later confirmed the decision had been taken in collaboration with the England management. If Overton does win an England chance in the coming weeks, Somerset want him in the best possible shape to seize it.
Perhaps more of a surprise was the absence of Jack Leach. He, too, was rested, though having bowled only 129.5 overs this season, this was more with a view to the challenges ahead; Leach has spent a long time in bubbles and there is more of the same to come. Perhaps the lush green surface persuaded Somerset that he would be surplus to requirements anyway. There wasn’t an over of spin in the day.
Somerset were also without Steve Davies, who was absent to undergo a minor medical procedure. That left Tom Banton as designated keeper for the first time in first-class cricket.
As it was, having beaten the bat regularly but without fortune in the first hour, Somerset’s control slipped. Burns, having weathered the storm, was able to accumulate neatly off his legs and drove a couple sweetly through the off-side when the bowlers over-pitched. Kerr later conceded that he found the performance “a bit frustrating”.
“We haven’t quite capitalised on a surface which had been under cover for two days,” he said. “We didn’t ask the batsmen questions often enough.”
Indeed, Somerset might consider themselves a bit fortunate with a couple of the wickets. Hashim Amla, who was starting to look ominously sound, pulled a long-hop to the long-leg fence – it provided Lewis Gregory with his 300th first-class wicket – and, after a couple of typically elegant cover drives, Ollie Pope top-edged an attempted pull shot from a ball that was too full for the stroke.
Burns was, perhaps, a little unlucky. In attempting to defend a good-length delivery, he saw the ball bounce off the face of the bat and roll back onto the stumps. His consistency is impressive, certainly, but he will know that it is centuries, not half-centuries, that force selectors to take notice.
“In those conditions, we have a decent score,” Surrey head coach, Vikram Solanki, said. “We needed a bit of luck early on, with playing and missing, but that is always going to be the case on that sort of pitch. I thought both Rory Burns and Mark Stoneman played well to overcome the new ball.”
With the forecast grim, there is every chance that none of this will count for much. But if progress in the weeks ahead is decided by a point here or there, perhaps Somerset will reflect on this match and rue a squandered bowling point which they probably should have been able to claim.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – Essex vs Derbyshire Group 1 2021
Derbyshire 35 for 3 (Harmer 2-12) trail Essex 412 for 3 dec (Lawrence 152*, Westley 106, Browne 59, Cook 58) by 377 runs
A day of sepulchral gloom in Chelmsford, pierced throughout by the ECG floodlights, was lit up by a blazing innings from Dan Lawrence, as Essex attempted to make up for lost time in their match against Derbyshire … and pretty much succeeded. Lawrence’s unbeaten 152 from 133 balls was the batting equivalent of a souped-up Vauxhall Nova revving its way up the main drag, and leaving tyre-marks over a series of beleaguered Derbyshire bowlers.
It was bad light that came to the rescue for the visitors, at the end of an over from legspinner Matt Critchley in which Lawrence slammed the first three balls for six and ended up lying on his front after an unsuccessful attempt to club a fourth down the ground. The ball still went for four and Lawrence acknowledged the applause from his team-mates for reaching 150 from his position in the dirt, even if six sixes was now out of the question. “I thought it was on,” Lawrence said with a grin afterwards.
Derbyshire’s respite was brief, however, as an Essex declaration followed by an improvement in the light allowed the home side the press their advantage – even while restricted to bowling spin from both ends. Simon Harmer removed Luis Reece lbw, not offering a shot, in his fourth over and Lawrence then bagged himself a wicket, too, as Billy Godleman turned the ball to short leg. Derbyshire’s captain briefly stood his ground, which was about as much resistance as his team put up all day.
Essex claimed a third before the close, Harmer having Leus de Plooy taken by Lawrence at gully, as the defending champions began to circle their prey. The threat of more bad weather, following a first-day washout, may still encourage Derbyshire hopes of an escape; those of a more darkly comic persuasion warned that it could all be done and dusted on Saturday.
That Essex were in such a commanding position come the close was largely down to a freewheeling third-wicket partnership of 221 in 36.4 overs between Lawrence and his captain, Tom Westley. Essex have not hit their straps yet in this campaign, as Westley acknowledged, but they have given themselves a chance of dodging the elements to record what would be only a second win in six games.
“It was disappointing not being able to get out there yesterday in a bit of a must-win game for us,” Lawrence said. “So it was very good from our openers to put me and Tommy in a situation to go and express ourselves. We knew we had to get ahead of the game as quickly as possible.”
Having scored three fifties in the opening five rounds of the Championship, with a high score of 90 on a deathly flat surface at Worcester, Lawrence had hinted at good form without making the sort of imposing scores that would guarantee his involvement in the upcoming Test series against New Zealand (selection is due to be announced next week). This was a bristling reminder of his kaleidoscopic talents – albeit against a Derbyshire attack featuring three players making their first appearances of the season – as Lawrence raced to his fastest first-class hundred before coming off in sight of a career best.
“It was quite a big thing for me to get to that landmark, because I’ve scored a few runs already without getting hundreds,” he said. “I’ve scored a few fifties – so it was nice to get there and then just play with some freedom. Every batter would know it’s the best feeling in the world batting after a hundred so it was brilliant to have licence.”
The first of Lawrence’s 16 fours was driven with a high front elbow through mid-off and he was soon signalling his intent to crack on, windmilling a cut against Fynn Hudson-Prentice over cover point and then taking the same bowler for three boundaries in five balls a few overs later. His half-century came from 66 balls, and he immediately went up a gear, nonchalantly mowing Dustin Melton over midwicket for his first six.
Billy Stanlake, who made an eventful Derbyshire debut, was casually flipped into the seats in front of the makeshift press box at deep backward square leg to take Lawrence into the 90s, and he brought up three figures for the first time this summer via a nudge off Critchley, the landmark acknowledged with a curled fist pump before turning to take the applause from his team-mates. Critchley was dealt with more severely as Essex rattled on towards five batting points, one slog-sweep over midwicket reminiscent of Lawrence’s hold-the-pose six on Test debut in Galle earlier this year.
Westley also scored a bristling hundred, his third of the season – in reaching three figures from 109 balls, he did so three deliveries quicker than Lawrence – as the pair built on a century opening stand during the morning session. Derbyshire hit back after lunch through Stanlake, playing his first first-class match since the 2019-20 Sheffield Shield season, but were largely left to wonder at the wisdom of their decision to bowl first, taken 24 hours earlier.
Essex had reached 132 for 0 at lunch, going at more than four runs an over despite a green tinge to the surface and a damp air to proceedings after persistent rain ruined any chance of play on Thursday. The scoring rate was aided by Stanlake’s trouble with front-foot no-balls during his opening spell, as Alastair Cook and Nick Browne took advantage of some insipid bowling to set a belligerent tempo in Essex’s attempts to overcome not only an opponent low on confidence but a poor forecast for the weekend.
The sight of Stanlake taking the new ball promised intrigue. The 6ft 7in Australian, capped in both limited-overs formats, had only played eight first-class fixtures across five years but came to Derbyshire professing an eagerness to work on his red-ball game. An initial four overs brought six no-balls and almost as many aborted attempts at running in, prompting the fear that Stanlake’s enthusiasm might be short-lived.
However, he discovered a much better rhythm from the River End when returning shortly before lunch, beating Cook with successive deliveries – one of which was too hot for Harvey Hosein to hold on to behind the stumps. He was rewarded for his perseverance after the interval, when Browne drove footlessly to be caught at slip (thus reducing his first-class average against Derbyshire to a mere 213.25). Cook then spooned a drive into the covers: Big Billy had landed Essex’s big fish, but there was the small matter of Lawrence and Westley to come.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
ENG Women vs IND Women 2021 Rajeshwari Gayakwad recovering from Covid-19 left out of India squads for England tour
ESPNcricinfo understands Gayakwad tested positive last month and is currently recovering in Bengaluru
Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad has been left out the India Women’s squads for the tour of England because of an injury she is understood to have been carrying during the home series against South Africa earlier this year and also because she is currently recovering from Covid-19.
ESPNcricinfo understands Gayakwad, who played just two matches for the Railways in the Women’s Senior One Day Trophy 2020-21 after the South Africa series, tested positive for Covid-19 last month and is currently recovering in Bengaluru. In the domestic tournament, she had walked off the field in the semi-final against Bengal without finishing her quota of overs. She did not play the final against Jharkhand on April 4.
No official announcement was made during or after the South Africa series about Gayakwad carrying the injury. The squad announcement for the England tour did not contain any information concerning Gayakwad’s exclusion either.
But she would likely have been picked if not for injury and illness. Gayakwad was among the best performers from the India side during the South Africa series. She was the joint-highest wicket-taker in the five-match ODI series with eight wickets at an average of 20.25, and picked up a Player-of-the-Match-winning 3 for 9 in the third and final T20I.
India is currently grappling with a devastating second wave of Covid-19, and has recorded upwards of 300,000 new cases every day for the last three weeks. Sachin Tendulkar, S Badrinath, Yusuf Pathan, Vanitha VR, and Harmanpreet Kaur are among the former and current cricketers to have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past two months and recovered since.
Former India Women players Devika Palshikar – who was among the shortlisted candidates for the head coach role that eventually went to Ramesh Powar – Amita Sharma and Sunetra Paranjpe have also recovered from Covid-19. Families of several other cricketers, including those of MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Chetan Sakariya, Veda Krishnamurthy, and Piyush Chawla have also been affected.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha
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