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Recent Match Report – Super Kings vs KKR Final 2021

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Chennai Super Kings 192 for 3 (du Plessis 86, Moeen 37*, Narine 2-26) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 165 for 9 (Gill 51, Iyer 50, Thakur 3-38, Hazlewood 2-29) by 27 runs

Chennai Super Kings made good on their promise to erase last season’s aberration, as one comeback story trumped another in the IPL 2021 final: MS Dhoni and his team put an end to Kolkata Knight Riders’ rollicking second half of the season as they picked up their fourth IPL title.
No team, barring Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2016, has won the title after finishing outside the top two since the playoffs system was introduced in the IPL, and Knight Riders didn’t come close to turning that around. Having elected to bowl, they endured one of their worst evenings in the field since the tournament moved to the UAE, with Super Kings’ top order not letting their spinners settle down, while taking plenty off their fast bowlers. Faf du Plessis led the charge, making 86 as he anchored half-century stands for each of the three wickets that fell during the course of Super Kings’ 192. Robin Uthappa and Moeen Ali played their parts with the bat before Shardul Thakur ended Venkatesh Iyer’s innings – and a dangerous opening stand – to cut Knight Riders’ middle order open and consign them to their first defeat in an IPL final.

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WATCH - Jadeja picks two in one over to dash KKR's chances

WATCH – Jadeja picks up two in one over to dash KKR’s chances

du Plessis shows up again for Super Kings
The previous two times – that is, 2018 and 2019 – when Super Kings reached the IPL playoffs, du Plessis managed to get a half-century in one of those big games. He did it again in IPL 2021, this time with a free-flowing 86 in the biggest game of the lot.

His innings tonight ended off the last ball of the innings, and meant the tournament finished with the top two run-getters being from Super Kings, his opening partner Ruturaj Gaikwad being the other. Tonight, the pair put Super Kings into top gear as soon as the final began. Gaikwad’s method usually leans towards safety-first early in the innings, but he flipped the script when Knight Riders brought on a favourable match-up: Shakib Al Hasan bowled two overs in the powerplay and Gaikwad, who has never got out to a left-arm spinner in the IPL and has scored at over ten an over against these bowlers, decided he wouldn’t miss out. He got two boundaries and a six against him in those overs, even as it became apparent this pitch had nothing close to the traits of Sharjah’s.

But Knight Riders managed to keep him in check towards the end of the powerplay, and his 32 off 27 when he fell to Sunil Narine in the ninth over, would look unflattering by the end.

Then, du Plessis and Robin Uthappa – who got 63 in Super Kings’ last game – took the attack on through the middle overs. Once again, it was through Shakib that the shackles broke, his third over fetching a six each for du Plessis and Uthappa. That 63-run partnership off 5.2 overs involved a six in every over but one, not counting the over in which the pair was united. du Plessis also tucked into Lockie Ferguson’s back-of-a-length deliveries for picturesque boundaries, the highlight a back-foot punch over extra cover.

A tiring du Plessis managed only 34 off his last 24 balls, but the sixes never would stop for Super Kings. Moeen Ali, back at No. 4 after a short-lived Shardul Thakur experiment in their last match, hit three of them. By the end of the innings, it was ten sixes, three consecutive half-century stands and a score of 192 after being put in to bat in a final. The only thing Super Kings would have worried about at that stage was how good the pitch still was, and the prospect of dew.

Knight Riders’ off day in the field
Knight Riders’ path to the final after qualifying had one thing in common – they bowled first, strangled two teams, and chased when batting got easier. The first part of that went alright in the final, Morgan won the toss and elected to bowl. But the parallel ended there. Shakib was able to be economical bowling early in the innings in Sharjah but was taken down by Gaikwad in the powerplay. Dinesh Karthik missed a stumping of du Plessis early on and their go-to fast bowler, Ferguson, went for 56, his most expensive IPL spell. Morgan himself misfielded twice in what became Knight Riders’ worst bowling innings of the UAE leg.

Dhoni drops Iyer, Gill saved by wire
Venkatesh Iyer was reprieved off the second ball of his innings, MS Dhoni putting down a routine catch going reverse-cup to his left after Josh Hazlewood had induced an edge. Iyer went on to make his fourth fifty of the season, managing especially to pick the gaps in an off-side ring that at one point had six fielders. He also showed off what has become a trademark swing to the leg side the ball immediately after he was dropped. Dhoni was duly forced into bowling Dwayne Bravo over Ravindra Jadeja after a wicketless powerplay of 55 runs. When Dhoni had no choice but to bring on Jadeja, Iyer managed two sixes over the leg side to hit him back out of the attack.

The other fifty, Shubman Gill’s, might not have happened if Ambati Rayudu’s catch running in from deep midwicket had stood. It didn’t stand because the miscued slog touched the spidercam wire on its way down, rendering the ball dead immediately. Dhoni, at that point, was shaking his head in frustration. Knight Riders’ opening stand put up 91 in 10.4 overs.

Thakur brings Super Kings back, Knight Riders crumble
Super Kings needed wickets, and Shardul Thakur was the man who delivered. Iyer looked to launch him on the up over extra cover and ended up slicing it high for Jadeja, who held on with his fingertips before wrapping his palms around it at sweeper cover. The sense of relief for Super Kings was palpable at that point as they jogged towards Jadeja. A small opening had been made, but the required rate was hovering about ten and Knight Riders had nine wickets in hand.

But Thakur struck again in the same over. An injured Rahul Tripathi wasn’t available to come in, and Nitish Rana came in at No. 3. Thakur’s cross-seam delivery stuck in the pitch and Rana’s drive on the up only meant a catch at mid-off for a first-ball duck.

Narine came in at No. 4, Dhoni went to his fastest bowler immediately, and Hazlewood ended that gambit in two balls.

At that point, 91 for 0 had turned to 97 for 3 in six legal balls, and that would turn to 120 for 6 by the end of the 15th over. Here’s how: with the momentum swinging their way, Dhoni went back to Jadeja to try and tie Knight Riders down further, and he got Karthik and Shakib in one over, immediately after Deepak Chahar had ended Gill’s laboured 51 off 43. There would be no other double-digit score for Knight Riders outside of the openers’ until Ferguson and Shivam Mavi found some boundaries, but by then the match was well beyond Knight Riders’ reach.

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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ECB investigates after Joe Root and James Anderson are seen among ‘intoxicated people’ in Hobart team hotel

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“Time for bed, thank you” – police had to be called in to send the merrymakers, which included Australians Lyon, Head and Carey, to their hotel rooms as the noise continued till just after 6am

The ECB has launched an investigation after an early-morning drinking session at England’s team hotel in Hobart ended with the police being called in to send the players to bed.

The gathering was taking place in a public area in Hobart’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, and had extended to 6am when the police were brought in following a noise complaint from fellow guests. The players all left the area immediately.

“Tasmania Police attended the Crowne Plaza Hobart on Monday morning after reports were made of intoxicated people in a function area,” a police statement read. “The guests were spoken to by police, just after 6:00am, and left the area when asked. No further action will be taken by police.”

In the footage of the incident, which appears to have been filmed by England’s assistant coach, Graham Thorpe, a female police officer can be heard saying to the group: “Too loud. You have obviously been asked to pack up, so we’ve been asked to come. Time for bed, thank you. They just want to pack up.”

In his voiceover from behind the camera, Thorpe can be heard saying, “We’ve got Nathan Lyon, Root, there’s Carey and Anderson. I’ll just video this for the lawyers. See you in the morning, everyone.”

A spokesperson for the ECB said it would be investigating the incident, with the focus likely to be on how the footage made it into the public domain.

“During the early hours of Monday morning, members of the England and Australia men’s teams shared a drink in the team areas of the hotel in Hobart,” the ECB’s statement read. “The hotel management received a noise complaint by a hotel guest, and as is commonplace in Australia, the local police attended the scene. When asked to leave by hotel management and the Tasmanian police, the players and management in question left and returned to their respective hotel rooms. The England party have apologised for any inconvenience caused.

“The ECB will investigate further. Until such times, we will make no further comment.”

The incident is a further embarrassment for the England team in the wake of their 4-0 Ashes loss, amid reports that a drinking culture within the squad was a significant factor in the players’ disappointing performances across the five Tests.

Ashley Giles, the ECB director of men’s cricket, is due to compile a report into the circumstances of the tour, including recommendations for the future direction of the Test team. Root has already stated he wants to stay on as England captain, despite overseeing his second Ashes tour defeat in four years.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket



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WI vs Eng T20Is 2022 – West Indies ‘batting quality not there’

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Head coach worried about ability of players coming into side from domestic ranks

Phil Simmons has echoed his limited-overs captain Kieron Pollard‘s analysis that West Indies “have a batting problem” but insists he is not worrying about his job as head coach after a shock 2-1 ODI series defeat at home to Ireland.

Speaking from Barbados ahead of West Indies’ five-match T20I series against England, which starts on Saturday, Simmons said that his batters were failing to translate their progress in training into results on the pitch, but stressed that scapegoating players already in the squad would only serve to mask the systemic failings to develop them at a domestic level.

“It’s there to see: our batting quality is not there,” Simmons said. “Everything comes from lower down: if you’re coming into our squad and you’re averaging 30s when you come to the top level, you’re not going to average 40 or 50.

“The holistic approach means that all through the ranks, all the way from the Under-19s, we have to be looking at preparing people to play at the international level. Averaging 20s and 30s at the domestic level doesn’t prepare you for the international level.

“How much the players are assessing the situation and playing the situation… it’s not really happening. Yes, [Sabina Park] was a difficult pitch to bat on for all three days at the start [of the innings], but we got through most of the difficult period and then things went astray. It’s about bad shot selection … that’s a huge part of the batting failure.”

Simmons, who was re-appointed as head coach in October 2019 and oversaw West Indies’ failed defence of the T20 World Cup he won with them in 2016, insisted that he was only focused on improving the players at his disposal, not his future in the role.

“If I start worrying about my job then I have problems,” he said. “I am worrying about the success of the team and I am worrying about how we get players to be playing their roles. That’s all I’m concerned about. You’re always under pressure as coaches when the team’s not doing well, in any sport you play, and when the team is doing well, the coaches are forgotten. That’s the nature of the job.

“I enjoy it everyday. My role is seeing the players and working with them, trying to bring out different things in them. To be honest, when we practise, there’s a lot coming out, there’s a lot being shown. It’s just how they adjust and assess the situation when they cross the rope … because that’s where it’s falling down.

“Every ball is a situation in the game and we’ve got to be able to assess that situation and know how to play. If you’re 20 for 3, you play differently to if you’re 40 for 0. These are the situations that we need to highlight and need to assess properly.”

West Indies’ squad for the England T20Is contains only six players who made appearances during their Super 12s exit at the T20 World Cup, with a handful of young players including Dominic Drakes, Romario Shepherd and Odean Smith included. The trio all featured in December’s 3-0 series defeat in Pakistan – where the squad was depleted due to a Covid-19 outbreak – and Simmons said that he hoped they would continue to bring “energy” to the group.

“There’s a lot of difference from the World Cup, as you saw in Pakistan,” he said. “Yes, we lost the three games, but there was a lot more energy, a lot more enthusiasm and that’s the same with this group for this series against England. There’s an influx of maybe six or seven guys who were not there against Ireland and there’s a lot of energy coming in.

“It [would be] a difficult situation if we had the same team from the World Cup but we have a lot of new faces and a lot of guys who want to make an impression and be a part of the team going forward. From that point of view, it’s not as difficult as it might seem.

“We as a cricketing nation always have players who have the ability to hit the ball over the fence and it’s something I don’t want to take away from my players, but I also want my players to be clinical. In situations where you don’t need to do that, well, we must be able to get ones, to get twos.

“[I want them] to bowl yorkers at the end instead of missing them, and hitting them more consistently than we are right now. There’s a few things that we haven’t been doing properly and we’re working very hard on them. The important thing now is for the youngsters to come in and hone their skills and be able to execute them in the middle, not just in practice.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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Women’s Ashes – Tightrope walk for Australia and England with ‘scattered’ preparations leaving them undercooked

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Getting the show on the road itself will count as an achievement considering the Covid-affected build-up to the marquee series

Covid. Schedule changes. Dodgy nets. Postponed matches. Injuries. Fear of missing the World Cup. To say the preparations for Australia and England ahead of the women’s Ashes have had their challenges would be an understatement.

However, the squads have (mostly) made it to Adelaide to begin the multi-format series, which in itself is no mean feat. The men’s Ashes had to navigate Covid from the second Test onwards – while England’s support staff was severely depleted, Travis Head finished as the only player impacted – but the women’s series feels as though it will be even more of a tightrope walk because of the need to travel to New Zealand as soon as it finishes.

“We’ll endure what we have to,” Australia coach Matthew Mott said. “We know we are in for a tough three months but players and staff are really dedicated and see this as really important opportunity for women’s cricket worldwide to get this series up and through the World Cup.”

“It’s not ideal. But every sporting team in the world would say that at the moment and it’s certainly no excuse. This is the moment where we click into cricket mode”

Matthew Mott on the team’s preparations

There have already been cases in both camps. One member of England support staff tested positive in Canberra, while Katie Mack and Molly Strano from the Australia A squad will miss the T20s against England A. Ellyse Perry‘s arrival was delayed but she will be available for the T20Is – whether she is selected is one of the fascinating early storylines.

Pre-series plans have largely been thrown away after the rejigging of the schedule, to start with the T20Is instead of the one-off Test. Mindsets have had to switch from the longest to the shortest format, although it’s a game the players are very familiar with. England were twice beaten by Australia’s A side as batters tried to hit their way into form and rhythm.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve started that well, to be totally honest,” England coach Lisa Keightley said. “We’re trying to get up to speed as best we can. I’m confident when we get to that first T20 they’ll be in a better place than what they are now.”
Australia, at least, are in their cricket season. But there has been precious little match time for most since the end of the WBBL, with the WNCL one-day competition barely getting started amid Covid, although Perry, Rachael Haynes and Nicola Carey all made hundreds in the matches that were possible. It is most problematic for the quicks who need to build up their workloads.

“Scattered,” Mott said when asked about preparations. “The English would probably say the same. It’s not ideal. But every sporting team in the world would say that at the moment and it’s certainly no excuse. This is the moment where we click into cricket mode. We’ve done a lot of workshopping, what can and can’t happen… I’m confident the group is resilient and adaptable enough to deal with whatever comes.”

England have not held the Ashes since their away victory in 2013-14. Given their depth and home advantage, Australia will start favourites. They were challenged by India earlier in the season and the eventual 11-5 margin was a little flattering, but it gave a chance to bring in a number of newer players with Jess Jonassen and Megan Schutt missing from the bowling attack.
Tahlia McGrath, Player of the Series against India, has added to Australia’s strength after returning to international cricket looking a complete allrounder. From a fringe player, she now demands inclusion and, though Beth Mooney’s broken jaw may have changed things in the short term, it will provide some interesting selection debates.
Australia’s growing list of quick bowlers is one thing that sets them apart. Darcie Brown and Tayla Vlaeminck are two of the fastest, while Stella Campbell, who took 7 for 25 in the WNCL recently, has only been able to make the Australia A squad. In that regard, it was a little surprising that Issy Wong did not make England’s main Ashes group. Although she only managed nine wickets in 13 WBBL matches for Sydney Thunder, her fast outswing often did not get the reward it deserved.
England do, however, have a strong squad of their own, led by Heather Knight, who will carry a lot of the batting expectations alongside Nat Sciver and Tammy Beaumont. With the ball left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone, who took a remarkable 7 for 14 in a warm-up match, will be crucial across all formats while Katherine Brunt, a warrior of an allrounder who may be playing her final Ashes, continues to lead the pace attack.
There is a new generation starting to make their mark as well. Sophia Dunkley had a breakout series against India, and offspinner Charlie Dean claimed ten wickets in five matches against New Zealand. In the England A squad, 17-year-old Alice Capsey may soon be pushing for higher honours.

But regardless of how the two sides match up, what happens in the middle will likely be only one part of the story of this Ashes.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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