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Recent Match Report – Middlesex vs Leics Group 2 2021

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Pair’s 243-run stand proves crucial as Middlesex sink to sixth defeat in eight

Leicestershire 136 (Parkinson 41, Andersson 4-27) and 378 for 5 (Harris 185, Ackermann 126*) beat Middlesex 295 (Simpson 95*) and 218 (Eskinazi 46, Wright 6-48)

Although they suffered an attack of the jitters late in the piece, Leicestershire broke their duck for the season in the County Championship with a remarkable victory over Middlesex, chasing down an unlikely target of 378 to achieve the third-highest successful fourth-innings run chase in their history.

They did so on the back of a magnificent 185 from Australian Test opener Marcus Harris, having been 159 behind on first innings after being bowled out for 136.
Harris shared a stand of 243 for the third wicket with Colin Ackermann, Leicestershire’s captain and most experienced player, who ultimately had the know-how to finish the job after seeing two new partners buckle under the pressure, although even he had his own heart-in-the-mouth moment.

Reprieved on 103 when he sliced a drive off Ethan Bamber but was dropped when the unfortunate Martin Andersson misjudged the chance and spilled it at third man, the South African-born allrounder saw his side home by five wickets with just 3.5 overs to spare.

The match had sharp echoes of the 2018 meeting between these sides on this ground, when Middlesex, having been 194 behind on first innings, chased down 381 in the last innings to pull off a remarkable win, albeit by only one wicket. This time, Middlesex went home licking their wounds as they have so often this season, suffering a sixth defeat in eight matches to swap places with Leicestershire at the bottom of Group Two.

Among successful fourth-innings run chases in Leicestershire’s history, this has been bettered only twice, when they reached a target of 391 to beat Derbyshire in 1947 and 381 to beat Northamptonshire in 1980, each time at Grace Road.

Yet the omens had not looked good for Leicestershire when Sam Evans fell to the seventh ball of the day, caught behind down the leg side for the second time in the match with only eight runs added to their overnight score and still 295 needed.



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Recent Match Report – Zalmi vs Gladiators 19th Match 2020/21-2021

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The 61-run defeat means the Gladiators now have just one win in seven matches

Peshawar Zalmi 197 for 5 (Miller 73, Akmal 59, Powell 43*, Nawaz 2-33) beat Quetta Gladiators 136 for 9 (Sarfaraz 36*, Ayub 35, Irfan 3-27, Umaid 2-17) by 61 runs

Peshawar Zalmi picked up their first win in the UAE leg of the PSL, as scintillating knocks from David Miller, Kamran Akmal and Rovman Powell led them to an imposing total of 197, which proved well beyond the reach of an underpowered Quetta Gladiators line-up.
The Gladiators, already weakened by the absence of Andre Russell, lost the services of Faf du Plessis mid-match, with the South Africa batter picking up a concussion during an on-field collision with his team-mate Mohammad Hasnain.
The Gladiators were never really in contention during their chase, and Mohammad Irfan made sure they wouldn’t even get close, the giant left-armer picking up three wickets in the tenth over to consign them to certain defeat. The Gladiators, with only one win in seven matches, seem all but certain to miss the playoffs.

A misleading start
Having chosen to bowl, the Gladiators would have been thrilled with how they began. Mohammad Nawaz picked up two wickets in his first two overs, and Akmal and Miller, the third-wicket pair, seemed to struggle for timing on a pitch that appeared two-paced. At the end of their powerplay, Zalmi were 22 for 2, with Akmal batting on 5 off 16 balls, and Miller on 12 off 13.

Zalmi blast off
The turnaround began with the introduction of the legspinner Zahid Mahmood, who kept floating balls into Miller’s hitting arc in the eighth and the tenth overs. Miller hit him for two sixes and a four, all in the arc between the sightscreen and deep midwicket, all to the audible disgust of the Gladiators’ wicketkeeper-captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.

The Gladiators’ spin-heavy attack suddenly seemed vulnerable, with Akmal and, in particular, Miller now looking well-set. Left-arm wristspinner Zahir Khan, having conceded just eight off his first two overs, went for three fours in his third. Nawaz, who had figures of 2 for 13 after three overs, was taken apart in his fourth, with Miller hitting him for a six and a four over midwicket and extra-cover respectively, and Akmal capitalising on width to pick up two fours.

The carnage didn’t stop there, as the part-timer Cameron Delport entered the attack and promptly went for 25 in what turned out to be his only over. This meant Zalmi had scored 104 runs in their last seven overs, and began the 15th over at 134 for 2.

Hasnain trapped Akmal lbw with an inducker – which was deemed to be hitting the top of leg stump after the Gladiators reviewed the on-field not-out decision – at the start of the 15th over, but Zalmi’s scoring didn’t let up. Miller fell two overs later for a 46-ball 73, but Rovman Powell kept the hitting going, smashing five sixes in an unbeaten 19-ball 43, including an eye-catching whip over square leg off Khurram Shahzad, and three in the final over, which was bowled by the legspinner Zahid.

Gladiators fall off the pace
Saim Ayub, the 19-year-old left-hand batter, came on as du Plessis’ concussion substitute, and opened alongside Usman Khan. They put on 62 for the first wicket, but only briefly threatened to match the pace of Zalmi’s scoring. This brief flash of promise came when Usman, stepping away to the leg side to manufacture room, chipped and carved Irfan for 4, 4, 6 off the first three balls of the fourth over.

That aside, the Zalmi bowlers ensured both batters kept hitting well-protected areas of the field, and the pressure eventually led to Usman holing out in the eighth over, off Fabian Allen’s left-arm spin. Ayub, who put away any width he was offered, struggled against other lines, and moved to 35 off 30 before falling to Irfan, sending a leading edge ballooning into backward point’s hands.

Irfan followed that up with two more wickets in the same over; Azam Khan caught at long leg, and Delport bowled first ball, playing down the wrong line. At 70 for 4, needing 128 from the last ten overs, the Gladiators were all but out of the contest.

They all but disappeared in the 12th over, when Umaid Asif came on and dismissed Jake Weatherald and Nawaz with his first two balls. All that remained was for Sarfaraz to score an unbeaten 36 and ensure his side weren’t bowled out.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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England vs NZ 2021 – England were ‘not good enough’ against New Zealand

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Head coach keeping open mind on selection changes: ‘If people are getting runs, I’ll be taking notice’

Chris Silverwood has admitted England were “obviously not good enough” as they stumbled to the brink of defeat in the LV=Insurance Test series against New Zealand.

On a blameless batting track, England were 122 for 9 at stumps on day three of the Test. That gave them a lead of just 37 runs with one wicket in hand. New Zealand, who have not won a Test series in England since 1999, therefore look certain to inflict upon England their first home Test series defeat since 2014.

It left Silverwood, the England head coach, acknowledging the batters would be “disappointed” in the performance and that his side would “need to improve” if they were to challenge the top sides in world cricket.

“It’s obviously not good enough,” Silverwood said. “We need to improve, there’s no doubt about that. There are things to work on without a shadow of a doubt. No-one is going to hide from that or deny it.

“I’m not going to lie: I thought it was a great opportunity for some of the younger lads to come in and stamp their mark on the game. I’m sure one or two will be disappointed they haven’t been able to do that.

“When do we stop talking and start delivering? I think we need to start seeing starts turned into big scores now. That’s one thing we’re looking for: people pushing on and being greedy when they get in.”



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‘It’s like scoring a hundred’ after a lean patch

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Says the win gives South Africa “massive confidence not only moving into the next Test but moving into the next few years”

Kagiso Rabada likened his emotions after his first five-for in Test cricket since March 2018 to the feeling a batsman has when he scores a hundred after a lean patch. However, he maintained that not much had changed about his bowling in the last three years.

“You measure the highest accolades in cricket by scoring hundreds and taking five-fors and ten-fors,” Rabada said after the first Test in St Lucia. “It’s something you always strive to do. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened for me in recent years but I’m glad that’s happened today. The only thing you can judge yourself on is being consistent in your preparation. It’s like scoring a hundred. Who wouldn’t be happy with scoring a hundred? I am really glad with the performance I put in.”

Rabada’s 5 for 34 saw South Africa wrap up an innings win over West Indies in less than two-and-a-half days; a victory built on a strong first-innings showing with the ball when they dismissed West Indies for 97. The architect of that performance was Rabada’s new-ball partner Lungi Ngidi, who took 5 for 19 to record his second five-for in Test cricket and first since debut in January 2018, and Rabada indicated he saw Ngidi’s success coming in the nets.

“Lungi bowled extremely well, right from the training camp that we held in Centurion [before travelling to the West Indies],” Rabada said. “He had the ball on a string. He was bowling really good lines and lengths. His wrist was in a good position and he just seemed extremely determined. We are looking for that same intensity as a team through the coming years.”

Though it would seem premature for South Africa to look at this as a stepping stone to the future after just one Test win – only their fourth under Mark Boucher and first away from home since 2017 – after their slide to No. 7 in the Test rankings, they have to start somewhere. Rabada sees this result as a possible turning point for the team under new captain Dean Elgar, who turned 34 during this Test.

“We’re a young team and we are rebuilding,” he said. “Even our most experienced players are young, like myself and Quinny [de Kock]. Dean is our most experienced but for me, at 26, to be one of the most experienced paints a picture of how young we are as a team. It’s going to give us massive confidence not only moving into the next Test match but moving into the next few years. We can’t take anything for granted but just take all the positives that we’ve done in this Test match and keep building on those. This win has given us a lot of confidence.”

Bowling brilliantly after losing the toss, West Indies’ abject batting and Quinton de Kock’s hundred were the main reasons for South Africa’s win but Rabada also put it down to being able to identify and act in key moments better than they have done before.

“In the previous games we played, myself included, we were lacking at important times of the game and somehow just let the game slip away. We were good in batches, but at times we could get quite sloppy. In this Test match, we just kept our foot on the throttle and we identified those moments where we felt in the past we slacked off. We know it’s not going to get any easier, it’s about consistency.”

Having been part of some of South Africa’s highest highs such as beating Australia home and away and their lowest lows, like losing to Sri Lanka home and away, Rabada hopes things will stabilise and results will keep improving. “We’ve got so much potential in our team. In this Test match it came out. We’re hoping for more of the same. It has happened in the past and we are hoping for more of the same in the future.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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