After their first T20I win against Pakistan, the hosts now chase their first-ever bilateral series win in the format
It was about time the chickens would come home to roost on Pakistan’s middle order, but the manner of that reckoning was so grave even those predicting it were taken aback. A first-ever T20I loss to Zimbabwe, and the fourth-lowest total defended against a Full Member saw Pakistan bowled out for 99 in a chase of 119, losing their last seven wickets for just 21 runs. The confidence shot it gives Zimbabwe cannot be overstated as, against all odds, they go into the third and final T20I with a real chance of springing upon Pakistan a chastening series defeat.
There is, of course, room for improvement for both sides, especially with the bat. Zimbabwe restricted Pakistan thanks to a combination of a near-flawless performance with the ball, in the field and the total capitulation of the visitors. While stand-in captain Brendan Taylor will want a repeat performance in that respect from his side, Pakistan are unlikely to be that listless two games in a row. To counter that, Zimbabwe could work on the way they paced their own innings with the bat, putting little pressure on Pakistan, almost content to canter along to a sub-120 total.
With Craig Ervine ruled out of the series and Sean Williams nursing a hand issue in for the last game, Zimbabwe lost plenty of experience, so the return of the latter might not be a surprise. Taylor did mention after the match that his side might have to approach the powerplay with a touch more positivity, setting the tempo for the remainder of the innings. The pitches here in Harare appear to have plenty in them for bowlers, with both captains agreeing totals around 140-150 were challenging. With Zimbabwe having felt they left runs out there, they go into the decider on equal terms.
Pakistan, meanwhile, appear to be on that precipice from which they could lurch either to brilliance or chaos, with no way of predicting which it will be. They were given a nudge towards the latter after the second T20I with Shoaib Malik taking to Twitter to lambast “unacquainted decision makers“. What should have been a series to try out new players and fine-tune certain aspects of their game for the T20 World Cup has instead thrown up a decider of extreme pressure, giving this series a higher profile than most would have accorded it a few days ago.
Zimbabwe WLLLL(last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Wesley Madhevere was by far the brightest spark of Zimbabwe’s tour of Pakistan a few months ago, but he hasn’t quite lit up this series just yet, particularly with the bat. There have been glimpses of his ability in these two games, but justice to his talent is yet to be done. His dismissal in the previous game was especially disappointing when he attempted a low-percentage reverse sweep and gave away his wicket while Zimbabwe desperately needed him to bat deep. His contribution with the ball, though, has been surprisingly impactful, conceding just 27 runs in five overs and taking two wickets across the two games.
Mohammad Hafeez was believed to be a panacea of sorts for the middle order; unlike the rest, he was in excellent form in the lead up to Pakistan’s tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe. He missed South Africa’s T20I series in Pakistan because he was playing the T10 League in the UAE, where he excelled, and went on to distinguish himself with his performances in the PSL. However, that form has not turned into output at the international level in a beleaguered middle order, further amplifying Pakistan’s woes. He had a phenomenally successful 2020, barging his way back into Pakistan’s T20 World Cup plans, but if this barren run continues, he could find himself frozen out in double-quick time.
If Williams returns, he will add experience to the batting line-up, but it’s unlikely Zimbabwe will wish to make too many changes to the side that helped them win the second T20I.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, 2 Brendan Taylor (capt & wk), 3 Tadiwanashe Marumani, 4 Wesley Madhevere, 5 Regis Chakabva, 6 Ryan Burl, 7 Tarisai Musakanda, 8 Luke Jongwe, 9 Wellington Masakadza, 10 Blessing Muzarabani, 11 Richard Ngarava
Pakistan rested Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali for the last two games, but with the series on the line, it would not be a surprise to see them make an appearance.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Babar Azam (capt), 2 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 3 Fakhar Zaman 4 Sharjeel Khan/Asif Ali 5 Danish Aziz 6 Mohammad Hafeez 7 Faheem Ashraf 8 Hasan Ali 9 Mohammad Hasnain/Haris Rauf 10 Shaheen Shah Afridi 11 Usman Qadir
Pitch and conditions
The weather is clear again, and with the boundaries as big as they are, a target around 150 should put the side batting first in a decent position. Both sides have fielded first upon winning the toss, but have ended up failing to chase down targets.
Stats and trivia
- Zimbabwe have never won a bilateral T20I series (they did win a one-off T20I against West Indies in 2010).
- Williams is 64 away from 1000 runs in T20Is. Taylor is 86 short of the same milestone. For Zimbabwe, only Hamilton Masakadza (1662) has more T20I runs.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
Glenn Phillips and Daryl Mitchell offered their first New Zealand central contracts
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.
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.
“I’d like to congratulate all the players offered agreements for the coming season and in particular newcomers Daryl and Glenn,” New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen said in a media release. “Receiving your first national contract is a great moment in any player’s career and both thoroughly deserve their elevation.
“There’s no question Daryl and Glenn took their games to another level over the summer and have added to the growing depth of talent we now enjoy.”
Patel, the left-arm fingerspinner, had missed the start of the last season with a calf injury and although he subsequently made a comeback in domestic cricket, New Zealand opted against rushing him back into Test action on pitches that largely favoured seamers.
Patel, though, is back in the Test squad for the upcoming tour of England, and Larsen indicated that he was “very much” part of the side’s plans in overseas conditions. He is part of a strong spin attack that will also include two other left-arm fingerspinners – Mitchell Santner and the uncapped Rachin Ravindra.
“After such a successful summer in which we used a variety of players across the three formats, there was always going to be a squeeze on for positions and, unfortunately, Ajaz has been a victim of that success,” Larsen said.
“He missed the start of the Test season with his calf injury and was unable to make it back into the side during a summer in which seam and swing dominated. However, we are well aware of Ajaz’s value as a frontline spinner, particularly in overseas conditions and he’s therefore still very much in our thinking going forward.”
Under the terms of NZC’s agreement with the NZCPA (the players’ union), the 20 men offered deals have until May 22 to accept or decline the contracts.
NZ contracts list for 2021-22: Tom Blundell, TrentBoult, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor,Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young
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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.
BAN vs SL 2021 – New ODI captain Kusal Perera wants young Sri Lanka to play ‘fearlessly’ against Bangladesh | Cricket
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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