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Men’s T20 World Cup 2021

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The allrounder’s form over the last few months will make it hard to move him

Mitchell Marsh appears set to retain the No. 3 spot in Australia’s XI for the T20 World Cup after his success on the tours of West Indies and Bangladesh which will have a knock-on impact on where Steven Smith returns to the side.

Marsh was Australia’s standout batting star on the recent tours, scoring 375 runs across 10 matches, with the series in the Caribbean being the first time at batted at No. 3. They were missing a host of first-choice players for those trips with Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis now all available again.

Maxwell’s outstanding returns in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore make a strong case for him batting as high as possible to maximise the time he has at the crease with No. 4 seeming the logical place. However, that would mean Smith, who has missed Australia’s last three T20I series, moving down to the middle order and since 2011 he has only twice batted lower than No. 4 in T20Is.



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Men’s Ashes, 2021-22 – Cricket Australia ‘desperately’ wants to host final Ashes Test in Perth

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A game of golf, heading to the beach and dining outdoors will be on offer for the squads for most of the series

Cricket Australia is continuing to work towards hosting the final men’s Ashes Test as scheduled in Perth in January with negotiations ongoing with the Western Australia government about the requirements to get the tour into the state but it will remain tough to get over the line.

Over the weekend, the ECB board gave conditional approval to the tour going ahead if certain “critical conditions” are met over the coming weeks – related to visas, travel exemptions and details over biosecure plans – and on Sunday the squad was named.

England will arrive into Queensland in two groups during November – the Test-only and Lions players on November 5 followed by those at the T20 World Cup later in the month – where they will undertake 14 days quarantine with additional freedoms around their resort hotel. Families will be able to join the tour.

The first Test takes place at the Gabba on December 8 followed by the second in Adelaide with travel between Queensland and South Australia currently free of significant restrictions. The tour then swings to Melbourne and Sydney with the expectation they will be open to each other by then, but the sticking point remains travel to Perth with WA indicating it is unlikely to lift their hard border to New South Wales until next year.

There is hope that the situation could have eased by mid-January as vaccination rates increase. But the likelihood is that if the Test does get the green light for Optus Stadium that the squads would need to return to tighter restrictions for the final week of the tour which could prove a hard sell to England who are strongly against strict bubbles.



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Recent Match Report – Central PNJB vs Khyber Final 2021/22

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Captain returns 3 for 5 and then smashes 19-ball 45* to shut out Central Punjab in title clash

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 152 for 3 (Iftikhar 45*, Ghulam 37) beat Central Punjab 148 (Shehzad 44, Akmal 42, Iftikhar 3-5, Imran 3-26) by seven wickets

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa defended their National T20 title, storming past Central Punjab to win by seven wickets on Wednesday evening in Lahore. A stunning all-round performance by Iftikhar Ahmed, who took three wickets for five runs and smashed an unbeaten 45 off 19 balls, was at the heart of the show from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who dominated the game from start to finish.

After putting Central Punjab in to bat, Imran Khan struck off the second ball, getting Muhammad Akhlaq to nick off to the keeper. It was followed by the best spell Central Punjab enjoyed in the game – Kamran Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad were together at the crease, leading the revival with an 85-run partnership off 61 balls. Both players, once they got going, began to look dangerous, particularly when Asif Afridi, so impressive otherwise, was smashed for 16 in his first over.

But once Khalid Usman had Akmal stumped and Iftikhar got rid of Shehzad within seven balls of each other, Central Punjab went to pieces. Iftikhar and Muhammad Imran struck three times each, while Qasim Akram and Faheem Ashraf were the only other batters who managed double figures. The last nine wickets fell for 63 runs as Central Punjab failed to bat out their 20 overs, setting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 149 for victory.

A total as low as that hadn’t been defended all tournament, and in truth, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were never in danger of letting that happen on the night.

They didn’t start especially explosively, but even while the asking rate climbed, they had wickets in hand, and appeared in control of the chase. Sahibzada Farhan and Kamran Ghulam were astute in their pacing of the innings, as they added 47 for the second wicket, aware only a flurry of wickets could imperil their charge to the title. Even when both did fall, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa needed a further 69 in just over seven overs; with a man in Iftikhar’s form coming in to bat next, it didn’t feel all that much.

Any doubts were put to rest in the 15th over, where a wayward Muhammad Faizan went for 20 runs, and from that point on, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa required less than a run a ball.

Iftikhar, though, wasn’t content to stroll through to victory, and blasted his team past the finishing line in just another couple of overs. Fittingly, it was a couple of boundaries from him that sealed the win. He would go on to be named the match and tournament awards, by far the best player in a team that was head and shoulders above the rest.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000



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T20 World Cup – West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran wants to just ‘refocus and go again’ after poor IPL 2021

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“We won two World Cups without getting singles” – West Indies vice-captain says power-hitting will still be big on the team’s agenda

Nicholas Pooran has admitted to feeling that he had let himself down during IPL 2021, but insisted that he was “not concerned at all” about his form ahead of the T20 World Cup.

“The IPL is gone. It’s done for me,” he said, speaking from West Indies’ training base in Dubai. “I just have to refocus and go again. I know personally [that] I’ve let myself down in terms of not sticking with my process long enough. I felt like I rushed the results a lot and I paid the price. You could see that in my scores. It’s just for me to refocus now, hit the nets, work hard and plan again – simple as that.”

Pooran, West Indies’ vice-captain for the World Cup, made 85 runs at an average of 7.72 playing for Punjab Kings in the IPL this season, a stark contrast to his record in 2020, in which he averaged 35.30 with a strike rate of 169.71 across 14 innings. He made 32 off 22 in his first innings of the IPL’s UAE leg, but managed 25 runs in his next four innings.



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