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.
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.
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.
The last expectation then was that Middlesex’s young bowling attack would not claim another wicket in 86 overs until a weary Harris stabbed at one outside off stump and was caught behind off 22-year-old Thilan Walallawita, one of their two young spinners.
Shortly afterwards, Ackermann completed his first Championship century for three years when he swept the same bowler for his 16th four, having faced 229 balls. The Sri Lankan-born left-armer Walallawita set nerves jangling in the home crowd when he had new batter Lewis Hill leg-before on the sweep in the next over.
After the Ackermann escape, which conceivably could have turned the game with 37 still required, Leicestershire lost another wicket when Bamber uprooted Harry Swindells’ middle stump as the pressure began to tell.
But Ackermann relocated his calm and, after Ben Mike had eased his own nerves by finding the boundary for the first time with his 18th ball faced, swept legspinner Luke Hollman round the corner to run three, leaping with his bat in the air as he completed the third.
Harris, who has 10 Test caps to his name, hit 21 fours and a six, having faced 311 deliveries. His 185 was the third-highest score of his first-class career and his sixth of more than 150. Until he was out, the only semblance of a chance he offered was on 175, when he was a whisker away from being caught-and-bowled by 20-year-old Hollman, who was unlucky that an impressive performance gained no reward.
Earlier, Harris and Ackermann had entirely dominated proceedings, adding 84 runs in a chanceless morning and a further 115 in the afternoon to leave 96 from 32 overs in the last session, underlining the value of Chris Wright’s 6 for 48 in Middlesex’s second innings to keep Leicestershire in the game.
Harris, 93 at lunch, went to 100 slightly streakily, edging a ball from Andersson in the area second slip would have occupied had there been one. Instead, it continued to the rope for his 13th four from 193 balls. It brought him his 17th career first-class century and his second for Leicestershire.
His quicker bowlers having failed to make the desired early inroads, captain Peter Handscomb turned to his two young spinners to see what they could do, although on a pitch that had not broken up to anywhere near the degree Middlesex had hoped when they chose to go with only three seamers.
It was asking a lot of them to be match-winners against such experienced adversaries as Harris and Ackermann. The tall Hollman, a confident young man who already has a presence about him on the field, looks an outstanding prospect, but this was only his third first-class match.
Likewise Andersson and Ethan Bamber look like a couple of young quicks with good careers ahead of them, but as the third-wicket pair kept the scoreboard turning with a metronomic regularity under a cloudless afternoon sky Middlesex may have regretted leaving out Tim Murtagh, who doubtless needs to be rested now and again in his 40th year but took eight wickets in the match that they won here in 2018.
Recent Match Report – Zalmi vs Gladiators 19th Match 2020/21-2021
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
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
England vs NZ 2021 – England were ‘not good enough’ against New Zealand
Head coach keeping open mind on selection changes: ‘If people are getting runs, I’ll be taking notice’
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.”
“Getting the experience of Buttler and Stokes back will help the young players, as well. We’ve seen in the past that, if you put the inexperienced players in between the experienced ones, it helps them learn. That’s what I’m hoping will happen in the India series.
“We need to get that batting line-up more solid and start playing the game plan we’re aiming for. That’s big first-innings runs, big partnerships and big individual scores.”
He dismissed the suggestion that the furore over historic social media posts had in any way distracted his players and expressed a hope they could learn from the skill and commitment of the New Zealand side.
“I don’t think it has [been a disruption],” he said. “We’ve tried very hard to make sure that the noise on the outside has been quietened down to try and concentrate on cricket. Obviously, it’s not easy, but that’s what we’ve had to try and do because we had a Test match to try and compete in.
“There were plenty of lessons out there to learn from. It’s a case of watching and learning what we can from how the New Zealand players go about their business, the methods they use and the way they apply themselves.”
He conceded, however, that he would be keeping an open mind towards changes in selection, with Dawid Malan one name tipped for a recall.
“I’ll be keeping my mind wide open, that is for definite,” Silverwood said. “So, if people are getting runs, I’ll be taking notice.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
‘It’s like scoring a hundred’ after a lean patch
Says the win gives South Africa “massive confidence not only moving into the next Test but moving into the next few 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.”
“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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