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Match Preview – England vs New Zealand, New Zealand in England Tests 2021, 1st Test

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Twenty-three months on from a day of agony and ecstasy, New Zealand are back at Lord’s. Nine of their 19-man squad, seven of whom played in that final, are returning to the scene of their World Cup near-miss, and just in case they needed reminding of the granular detail, they arrived at the Ageas Bowl’s hotel for their training camp last month and found Sky Sports’ cricket channel showing a rerun of the final.

The circumstances this week are very different: New Zealand are only building up to the main event, the inaugural World Test Championship final against India, which starts on June 18, while Joe Root is likely to be England’s lone representative of the 50-over squad from 2019, in the absence of their IPL returnees and the injured Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer. Even still, with fans returning to an England home international for the first time since the end of that summer, that Super Over is unlikely to go unmentioned.



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Warwickshire close to signing Che Simmons, 17-year-old dubbed ‘new Jofra Archer’

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Barbadian fast bowler has UK passport and impressed on trial with 2nd XI

Warwickshire look set to pull off something of a coup in signing Che Simmons, a young fast bowler who has been dubbed the “new Jofra Archer”.
Simmons, a 17-year-old seamer, was born and raised in Barbados. But he also holds a UK passport through his father and, having been recommended to Warwickshire’s director of sport, Paul Farbrace, by fellow Barbadian Ottis Gibson, was invited to play a few games for Warwickshire’s 2nd XI as a trialist.

Having made an excellent impression, Simmons is expected to be offered a deal which might well include some type of scholarship in order that he can complete his education in the UK. He currently attends Combermere School, which has a rich history of producing top players. As well has current West Indies Test captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, Wes Hall, Clyde Walcott, Frank Worrall and Chris Jordan also attended the school. So did the singer, Rihanna.

A fast bowler with a beautiful smooth run-up and action, Simmons has represented Barbados Under-15s and came to prominence by claiming all 10 wickets in an innings while playing for the Franklyn Stephenson Academy. He finished with the remarkable figures of 10 for 16 from 5.3 overs. Only two of the runs he conceded came off the bat.

While good news for Warwickshire and, potentially, England, it might be seen as another setback for cricket in the Caribbean. While Archer and Jordan are the most high-profile cricketers to have opted for England ahead of Barbados in recent years, Warwickshire have another young Barbadian in Jacob Bethell on their staff. Some at Warwickshire believe Bethell, a left-arm spinner and batter, is the best young player the club has had since the emergence of Ian Bell.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo



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Recent Match Report – Gladiators vs Qalandars 23rd Match 2020/21-2021

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Their 18-run win consigned the Lahore Qalandars to their second straight defeat

Quetta Gladiators 158 for 5 (Weatherald 48, Sarfaraz 34*, Faulkner 3-25) beat Lahore Qalandars 140 (David 46, Shahzad 3-14, Shinwari 3-32) by 18 runs

The Quetta Gladiators bagged the much-needed two points to remain afloat this season, as their bowlers combined to fashion an 18-run win over the Lahore Qalandars after being boosted by Jake Weatherald, Azam Khan and Sarfaraz Ahmed with the bat.
Left-arm pacer Usman Shinwari‘s strike in the first over of the Qalandars’ chase meant the Gladiators began their defence just how they would have liked. Shinwari had the opposition captain Sohail Akhtar caught behind for a first-ball duck before getting Mohammad Hafeez in the fifth over. In between, against Mohammad Hasnain’s scrambled seam, Fakhar Zaman’s attempted slog dislodged his middle stump. It felt like the Gladiators had more or less sealed the match by the seventh over when Ben Dunk, too, departed to leave the Qalandars five down for just 47 runs.

Weatherald comes to the rescue
After James Faulkner had Usman Khan loft one right down the throat of deep point in the second over, it was Usman’s opening partner Weatherald who initiated the repair job for the Gladiators. Weatherald was on 7 off 16 deliveries at one stage after the early nerves encountered by the movement of Shaheen Shah Afridi and the accuracy of Faulkner, whose slower deliveries and variations continued to keep a check on the opposition batters. But Weatherald got into Ahmed Daniyal in the fifth over after the first four had produced only 16 runs. He first pulled Daniyal to deep square before driving his slower ball to the right of mid-off for two fours in the over.

And with one over of the powerplay to go, Weatherald took the aggressive route against Faulkner as well. He cracked two fours and a six off him – a guide down to third man, a flick to deep square leg and a pull over the square leg boundary, respectively – to inject some momentum into the Gladiators’ innings. When the Qalandars introduced Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hafeez, even they were not spared by Weatherald, who fell for 48 off 41 deliveries when he was bowled by Hafeez.

Azam counterattacks, Faulkner applies the brakes, Sarfaraz hits back
Hafeez and Rashid Khan removed Cameron Delport and Weatherald in quick succession, but Azam Khan from No. 5 didn’t shy away from counterattacking. After getting a boundary off Rashid by skipping down to a googly, he bashed Rauf for four fours in the 12th over – after a gentle dab, a pull and a whip down the leg side, he rounded off the over with a subtle glide to deep point for four. But after Azam struck a six off Rashid in the next over, Faulkner hit back with his wicket off the first ball of the 15th.

Applying a change of pace yet again with a well disguised ball, Faulkner nabbed Azam for 33 off 18 balls when the batter’s attempted slog on the leg side only found deep midwicket, where Zaman ran in to complete the take. Five balls later, Faulkner’s sharp reflex catch off his own bowling sent back Mohammad Nawaz for six. That started a quiet period with the bat for the Gladiators, who could muster only 18 off the next 17 deliveries before Sarfaraz hit back with two fours and a six to provide the finishing touches with an unbeaten 34 off 27 balls, having been on 18 from 19 deliveries until the 18th over.

The famous Qalandars collapse
They had folded up for 124 in their previous match after being 86 for 2 in the 11th over while chasing 153 against the Islamabad United, and the Qalandars repeated the script against the Gladiators on Tuesday evening. A score of 23 for 1 became 66 for 7 in the blink of an eye, as the highest score by a top five batter was Zeeshan Ashraf’s 16, with all three of Akhtar, Hafeez and Dunk falling for single-figure scores.

Nawaz produced a beauty in the seventh over when he gave the ball some air just outside off, as it turned into Dunk, who went for the drive only for the ball to find the gap between his bat and pad. He next bowled Rashid in the ninth over off a short of a length ball that didn’t get up a great deal, as Rashid played the pull only to be bowled by one that didn’t turn.

David fights as Qalandars take it deep
The Qalandars needed a 84 from 45 balls with three wickets in hand before Tim David decided to throw everything at the Gladiators’ bowlers. In Zahoor Khan’s first over – which had started with seven runs off the first three deliveries – David hammered 4, 6, 6 off the last three balls to drag the required rate down from 11.33 to 9.71. And after Nawaz finished off his quota in the next over – he ended with 2 for 16 – David resumed with consecutive fours off Shinwari just after the time-out.

But Shinwari had him caught by Sarfaraz off the last ball of the over, after David had cracked 46 off 27 balls, including four fours and three sixes. But Sarfaraz’s worries wouldn’t end with that as first Afridi’s 12 runs from six deliveries and then No. 11 Rauf’s 19 off seven brought it down to 19 needed from 13 balls. But Hasnain, who had got the battering from them both, wrapped it up with a yorker to dismiss Rauf and seal an 18-run win.

Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Match Preview – ENG Women vs IND Women, India Women tour of England 2021, Only Test

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First Test encounter for seven years sets the scene for multi-format series

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They call it the seven-year itch and after so long in the Test match wilderness, India are ready for a change of scene which they and their opponents, England, hope will be anything but dull or scratchy. So rare are women’s Tests that there is a sense of pressure to provide excitement, not least to a live TV audience, as well as to fans who are just beginning to whet their appetites for witnessing the action in person as pandemic-enforced restrictions slowly ease.

But more pressing for two professional sports teams is the will to win. England haven’t done so at home to India in eight completed Test matches while India are playing just their second Test since their last meeting in the format in 2014, having also played and beaten South Africa later the same year. In fact, India are on a three-match winning streak in Tests – if you can call it a streak given that that streak begins in 2006 – and victory in Bristol would pull them clear of Australia to a women’s record number of Test victories on the trot.



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