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IPL 2021 – David Hussey: Brendon McCullum has ‘given everybody a fresh lease of life’




The team mentor praised the head coach’s impact in creating an environment where “everybody’s happy, everybody’s smiling”

Kolkata Knight Riders were languishing at seventh position, with just two wins from seven games, when a fierce outbreak of Covid-19 halted IPL 2021 in India. The UAE leg, though, saw a change of fortunes. Stitching one win after another, they not only qualified for the playoffs but are now in their first final since 2014.

After their win against Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 2, team mentor David Hussey was all praise for captain Eoin Morgan, opening batter Venkatesh Iyer and head coach Brendon McCullum for leading the revival.

“I think the break in the halfway stage of the IPL definitely helped,” Hussey said at the post-match press conference. “But I truly believe that Morgan is captaining really well, he’s marshalling the troops, he’s tactically very clever. The bowling changes have been spot on. I think that’s contributed to our success this time around.

“Venkatesh Iyer is just a class player at the top. He is tall, a Stephen Fleming clone I believe. He has got a big future in the game.

“It’s unheard of what he [McCullum] has actually done here. It’s remarkable. We were seventh in the table and not playing great cricket, and he’s just turned it around. He has given everybody a fresh lease of life. He’s freshened up the place. Everybody’s happy, everybody’s smiling, and he should take a lot of credit. I know he won’t because he’s a very humble man, but he should take a lot of credit for what he has been able to accomplish in this part of the IPL.”

Of the three, Iyer’s contribution has been the most quantifiable one. He is the team’s highest run-scorer in this phase, and on Wednesday, he once again dazzled with a 41-ball 55 on a difficult pitch, while Shubman Gill played second fiddle with a run-a-ball 46. But according to Hussey, it was Gill’s cover drive on the first ball of the chase that “soothed the nerves” in the dressing room.

“Everyone knows he [Gill] is going to be a ten-year veteran of Test match cricket, one-day cricket and T20 cricket for India,” Hussey said. “It’s just how he gets there and how quickly he gets there. What he does is he gives the whole batting group a lot of confidence the way he goes out there. Just seeing him strike the first ball to the cover boundary soothed the nerves among the boys in the dressing room and the dugout. And everyone knows he’s just such a classy player, intelligent player and I, for one, am just looking forward to seeing him grow as a cricketer and as a person.”

For the final against Chennai Super Kings, Knight Riders will head to Dubai, where dew has played a big role so far with teams winning the toss opting to bat second to take advantage against a wet ball. Hussey had an interesting solution to make it a level playing field.

“I’m hoping the groundsmen spray the ground beforehand so that both teams get a fair and equitable game whether you bat first or bowl first. It’s going to be a huge issue but we’re just gonna execute our skills under pressure and who knows. We are really well planned and really well measured so if we plan well and execute well, hopefully we come out on top.”

Another worry for Knight Riders could be the form of their middle-order batters. In 15 innings, Morgan has had ten single-digit dismissals, the most for any batter in a single IPL season. Dinesh Karthik, meanwhile, has scored only 91 runs in seven innings, at an average of 18.20 and a strike rate of 122.97, in the UAE leg. But Knight Riders are not losing their sleep over that.

“I’m not concerned because they’re all classy players,” Hussey said. “They know how to play. It’s just the difficult nature of the pitches that we’ve been playing on, it makes the middle-order players sort of stand out. They’re not getting their strike rates to 200, they have to knuckle down and maybe go at a strike rate of 110 to 120.

“But we’ve got full confidence in Morgan, Dinesh Karthik and Shakib going into the next game. They’ve done it countless times for their countries and in the IPL, so [we are] not concerned. We go to Dubai full of confidence and you just never know what’s gonna happen.”

In Dubai, Knight Riders could also consider replacing Shakib Al Hasan with Andre Russell, provided the latter recovers in time from his hamstring injury.

“Andre Russell’s tracking nicely, I think,” Hussey said. “He was bowling before the game today. So I think he might be in the mix [for the final]. I will have to discuss it with the medical staff first, but he has been doing all the practices, training lots before games.

“Fortunately, we have got an unbelievable medical team here. The physios work around the clock, so if anyone’s going to get him up, it’s going to be the medical staff. Knowing Dre, he will be desperate to play too. Hopefully, he does get up because he’s one excitement machine.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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T20 World Cup – Ban vs PNG – Mahmudullah




After sealing a berth in the Super 12s, Mahmudullah admitted the criticism following their loss to Scotland had brought the team down

Mahmudullah has said that it wasn’t right for Bangladesh’s “commitment” to be questioned, after their difficult week in Muscat ended with a ticket to the T20 World Cup Super 12s. Bangladesh were stunned by Scotland in the first match of the first round, following which they came back with a 26-run win against Oman in the second match before wrapping up a big win against PNG on Thursday.
It is understood that BCB president Nazmul Hassan criticised Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim for their performances in the match against Scotland. Even when Bangladesh beat Oman by 26 runs, it couldn’t win over many of their fans who felt that Bangladesh should have still played better. Mahmudullah admitted that the criticism from all sides brought the team down.

“We all felt bad by each and everything, from all sides,” Mahmudullah said. “We are human, we also have feelings. We have families. Our parents and children sit in front of the TV. They also get upset. Everyone has social media on their phone these days. We expect criticism when it is warranted but if that resorts to being belittled, we feel bad. There were many questions, including about the three senior players’ strike rate.

“Shakib is a champion player for Bangladesh. We are lucky to have a performer like him. But we are not worried about Mushfiq or Mustafiz. We are not losing faith in them, probably people from outside are.”


“We tried hard, but we didn’t get the result. Everyone makes sacrifices. We play with injuries. Some of us take painkillers every day. Many don’t know about these things, so it is not right to talk about our commitment. I hope we can be more settled now. Within the team, there is positive energy, and for that I thank the whole team. I hope things will get better.”

Mahmudullah praised Shakib for winning back-to-back Player-of-the-Match performances, which takes his tally to five consecutive awards during Bangladesh’s wins in World Cups.


WATCH - Shakib gets his 4th as Hiri Hiri departs for 8

WATCH – Shakib gets his 4th as Hiri Hiri departs for 8

“Shakib is a champion player for Bangladesh. He has been outstanding. We are lucky to have a performer like him. But we are not worried about Mushfiq or Mustafiz. We are not losing faith in them, probably people from outside are.”

Mahmudullah was also pleased with the performances of three youngsters in the side – Mohammad Saifuddin, Mahedi Hasan and Mohammad Naim.

“Their performance is a positive sign for us. Saifuddin has bowled well in all three matches, and batted well today. Mahedi has been outstanding with the ball. Naim made 64 in his first match.

“I hope they will continue in this vein. It looks good when they perform, and it inspires us too. I hope they do better in the Super 12s.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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T20 World Cup 2021 – New Zealand ‘tracking well’ despite Kane Williamson elbow niggle, says Gary Stead




Captain needs to find balance between rest and batting in nets as he manages long-standing problem

New Zealand head coach Gary Stead has cautioned captain Kane Williamson against “over-hitting” in the nets after his elbow complaint flared up during the warm-up fixtures in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup. Williamson captained the side and fielded during New Zealand’s most recent warm-up against England on Wednesday, but didn’t bat in their pursuit of 164.
Williamson missed New Zealand’s first warm-up, against Netherlands, with a niggly hamstring. He then came back in against Australia, top-scoring for New Zealand with 37 off 30 balls, but aggravated his elbow, a problem that he has been managing in the recent past.

“I think we’re still pretty hopeful and confident that if we get the rest right, initially here now, and get that balance right then he should be right to play,” Stead said. “I mean Kane is a prodigious hitter of balls, he loves to prepare that way as well, and in some ways that’s probably the worst thing he can do, is over-hit at times. So, it’s really [about] getting that balance right, between feeling ready and feeling prepared to go, and making sure we don’t aggravate anything any further.”

Mark Chapman also missed the game against Netherlands with a hamstring niggle but slotted into the middle order against England, although he was dismissed for 1 off 5 balls. Meanwhile, Tim Seifert, who had suffered an abdominal strain, returned to his dual role of opening the batting and wicketkeeping on Wednesday.

“Good to have Tim [Seifert] back, he just had a very minor abdominal strain and so he’s recovered well,” Stead said. “Played full part today and no issues at all. Mark [Chapman] had his first run back for a while as well and got through the games nicely, so again we will see how he scrubs up tomorrow morning when the physio looks at him; just to check over where he’s at. Kane’s elbow has just flared up a little bit after the last match and so it was more precautionary than anything. We just feel if we can get his preparation right in terms of not over-hitting and aggravating it through training, then it gives him the best chance to be right through the tournament. I think on the whole we’re tracking pretty well.”

Stead was particularly wary of the Sharjah pitches that were relaid ahead of the UAE leg of the IPL. He admitted that Sharjah tracks could pose a greater challenge to the batters than the ones in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. New Zealand will open their T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan in Sharjah and will play one more match, against a qualifier from the first round, at the venue.

“Yes, it looks that way from what we’ve seen,” Stead said. “Look, they [teams] haven’t played there since the semi-finals of the IPL, so there’s probably about a ten-day period there where, who knows, it could be better and even through the IPL we saw, I think, where KKR scored 170 there in one game as well. So sometimes you don’t want to overthink what it might be, but you do want an idea at the back of your mind how you believe it will play. And we have that in our mind now, we just have to make sure we’re really clear on our strategy around how we get there and adapt if we need to.”

Stead wasn’t too perturbed by New Zealand’s back-to-back defeats in the official warm-ups against Australia and England, reckoning his side got the game-time they needed.

“Certainly not the result of them – hasn’t [affected us] at all,” he said. “We had the game against Australia that went down to the last couple of balls. I think from our perspective we didn’t bowl out all of our bowlers we thought would bowl at the time and I know Australia sent in an opening batsman to come in at No.9 as well, which you normally wouldn’t see in that situation.

“Versus England, I think it was little bit more of bowling… we wanted to make sure [Daryl] Mitchell and [Glenn] Phillips had an over, for example, and just making sure they were ready if they do get the opportunity further down the track. So, there’s a lot of things: we retired Daryl Mitchell in one of them as well, so it’s really about us trying to get the best out of the warm-up games – what we felt that we needed. And overall, we got that, which was really good.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Match Preview – Netherlands vs Sri Lanka, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 12th Match, First Round Group A




Dinesh Chandimal’s poor form might prompt Sri Lanka to bring in Charith Asalanka

Big picture

Of all the matches in this qualifying round, this one seems to most have the feel of a dead rubber. Not only do Netherlands have no chance of making the Super 12s, but Sri Lanka are also highly likely to finish top of Group A thanks to their superior net run rate.

For Netherlands, this is a chance to make a mark in a tournament in which they will feel they have underperformed. In the first match, their batting was blown away by Ireland’s seam bowlers, while in the second, their bowlers could not withstand David Wiese’s assault for Namibia.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have earned themselves an opportunity to find a solution to their top-order issues. Dinesh Chandimal had another failure against Ireland on Wednesday, thus finding his position at No. 3 in serious peril. The likeliest replacement may be Charith Asalanka, but Dhananjaya de Silva is also in the squad.
Their fast bowlers, meanwhile, might get a rest. Lahiru Kumara has had a particularly taxing workload over the past few weeks, although it may be Dushmantha Chameera that Sri Lanka would prefer had a night off to recharge for the Super 12s.

Form guide

(Last five completed matches, most recent first)

Netherlands LLLTW
Sri Lanka WWLLL

In the spotlight

One of the few bright spots for Netherlands has been the batting of opener Max O’Dowd. He hit 51 off 47 balls against Ireland while the rest of the top order blew up around him, before making a 56-ball 70 that was the backbone of Netherlands’ innings against Namibia. He has got arguably the best attack of the qualifying stage to contend with in this match, though. Can he maintain his output?
Pathum Nissanka has promised a lot more in Tests than he has in the shortest format, but in hitting his first half-century against Ireland, he suggested he could find success in this World Cup yet. He was unambitious in the early overs while wickets fell around him, but never seemed bogged down either, finding a way to keep his score moving until the boundaries eventually came. After all, Sri Lanka desperately need a reliable run-scorer in their top three.

Pitch and conditions

This will be both teams’ first match in Sharjah. During the IPL, the Sharjah tracks were slow, turned a bit and had variable bounce. Temperatures are expected to hover around the low 30s Celsius range again. If the conditions in Abu Dhabi are anything to go by, dew could be an issue too.

Team news

Although No. 5 is a more familiar position for Asalanka, he may slot in at No.3, leaving Bhanuka Rajapaksa at No. 5.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Perera (wk), 3 Charith Asalanka, 4 Avishka Fernando, 5 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt.), 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Binura Fernando, 10 Maheesh Theekshana, 11 Lahiru Kumara

Netherlands may bring in Brandon Glover in place of Timm van der Gugten.

Netherlands (possible): 1 Max O’Dowd, 2 Stephan Myburgh, 3 Roelof van der Merwe, 4 Colin Ackerman, 5 Ryan ten Doeschate, 6 Scott Edwards (wk), 7 Bas de Leede, 8 Pieter Seelar, 9 Logan van Beek, 10 Fred Klaassen, 11 Timm van der Gugten/Brandon Glover

Stats and trivia

  • In the only previous T20I between these teams, Netherlands were bowled out for 39, a game which Sri Lanka won with 15 overs to spare. That was, however, during the World T20 in 2014, when Sri Lanka had arguably their greatest T20I side – a team which went on to lift the trophy.
  • This year, O’Dowd has hit 293 runs in just six innings, and at a strike rate of 137.
  • In 14 innings in 2021, Wanindu Hasaranga has 23 wickets and an economy rate of just 5.43.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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