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Match Preview – Oman vs P.N.G., ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 1st Match, First Round Group B

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While PNG lost both their tournament warm-ups, the hosts had a decent build-up to their first game

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October 17, 2021 promises to be the start of new things in Oman cricket. Until three months ago, the stadium in Al Amerat resembled a village ground with park benches to accommodate a few hundred people. On Sunday, the venue that was used as a recreational facility by morning and evening walkers from the neighbouring residential suburb, will witness history when Oman take on Papua New Guinea in the opening game of the T20 World Cup 2021, with 3000 fans expected to be in attendance apart from many others who will watch on TV.

Oman’s players, most of whom play on the weekends away from their full-time jobs, spent their first four weeks in August “knocking off extra kilos” before trying to pack in as much cricket as they could to be match-ready for their second-ever big-tournament appearance. PNG, meanwhile, have endured a tough second wave of the pandemic. Having qualified for their first-ever World Cup, they want to use the tournament as a platform to bring smiles back on their people’s faces. After all, they will be playing in front of a televised audience back home for the first time. Ever.



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SA vs Ind, 3rd Test, 4th day, Dean Elgar

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“Ultimately, if you want to operate at a high performance level, you need to have tough chats,” Elgar said of pumping up his players

South Africa Test captain Dean Elgar is “extremely proud” of his team for “responding brilliantly” after being down 1-0 in the series to fight back and claim the trophy against the No. 1 Test side in the world. After clinching the series 2-1 with a seven-wicket win in Cape Town, Elgar said his team was “thrown under the sword” a few times in the series, and he had a few “tough chats” with his players, which they responded to “and grew massively in the last two Tests.”

“Pretty elated, I think it will obviously sink in in a day or two, maybe this evening,” Elgar told the host broadcaster at the presentation. “Couldn’t be prouder of the group, of players I have underneath me. We were thrown under the sword quite a few times in the series and the guys responded brilliantly. After the first loss, the boys had a lot of hope going into the second and third [Tests] knowing we can still win this. We obviously had to follow our ways and processes going into those games. [I] asked the players to respond in a better nature, better way and they responded brilliantly. Extremely happy.

When asked how the hosts turned things around despite not being as experienced as India, Elgar said: “Challenging your players within the group, characters as well. You need immense characters to stand up in these kinds of tough situations. The way our bowling unit came in and operated throughout the last two Tests has been brilliant; throughout the series they’ve been brilliant. Sixty wickets in a Test series is quite a tough challenge for them but I threw down the challenge after the first game and the guys responded brilliantly. We’ve got a young, talented group but the experience they’ve been gaining…in this environment every day we’re gaining this experience, which is brilliant for us. It was unreal to see how a group that doesn’t have the repertoire or names, how they could gel together and play as one. This is a proper unit that we’ve operated in and it’s a proper team, by no means I can single-handedly pick out players because everyone has played a big part in vital situations throughout the series. Extremely, extremely proud of this group.”

Like Elgar said, South Africa’s bowling outshone their Indian counterparts throughout the series. Three of South Africa’s four fast bowlers – Kagiso Rabada (20), Marco Jansen (19) and Lungi Ngidi (15) topped the wicket charts while no India bowler could get to 15 wickets in the series.
India captain Virat Kohli also admitted at the presentation that South Africa’s bowlers “were better at applying pressure in long periods of time.” Elgar further said once he had laid down the challenge for his players, it was down to the XI to perform.

“Ultimately, if you want to operate at a high performance level, you need to have tough chats,” Elgar said. “If guys don’t like it, that’s up for them to deal with. I’ve got an old-school mentality with bit of a new-school twist. I laid down some proper challenges to the senior players as well, to obviously stand up and respond and it was brilliant to see the guys take the message and follow it. It’s one of the bigger challenges to get everyone on your side and buy in from a captain’s point of view. The guys responded brilliantly. I’ve got absolutely no regrets going into the three-match series that we’ve played. I’d like to think I gave us the best message going forward in order to pull off a series win.”

More to follow…

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Recent Match Report – Australia vs England 5th Test 2021/22

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Hosts recover from 3 for 12 as Head and Cameron Green continue impressive series

Australia 6 for 241 (Head 101, Green 74) vs England

An accomplished century from Travis Head wrested back control for Australia on an entertaining first day of the fifth and final Ashes Test, which was ultimately curtailed by rain.
It must have felt like three steps forward, 224 back for England as Australia slumped to 3 for 12 inside the first 10 overs then recovered to 6 for 236 by the time Cameron Green fell shortly before steady drizzle halted play in the third session of the day-night fixture in Hobart.

After a particularly fruitless day for Mark Wood, he employed short-ball tactics to finally prise out a dangerous-looking Green and offer some hope for the tourists. Green had played an excellent innings, unfurling some breath-taking cover drives en route to his 74, but it was Head – with whom he shared a 121-stand for the fifth wicket – who stole the show.

Returning to the side after his Covid-enforced absence in Sydney, Head scored his second century of the series – this one off just 112 balls – before falling to the very next delivery, chipping Chris Woakes to Ollie Robinson at mid-on to fall for 101.

Head screamed “No!” as the ball looped up off the bat for a soft dismissal to give England a much-needed breakthrough shortly before the tea break and, had he managed to stick around, Australia’s claims to have won the day would have been reinforced. As it happened, the hosts finished the day in a far better position than had seemed likely in the first 90 minutes or so.

With England having won the toss on a green pitch providing movement off the seam early, Robinson returned after missing the drawn fourth Test at the SCG and cashed in. He had David Warner out for a 22-ball duck with a delivery that was just back of a length and just outside off to find a decent edge, taken by Zak Crawley at second slip.

He could have had Marnus Labuschagne out a short time later, but Crawley spilled the chance diving across Joe Root from second slip. But Robinson struck again to dismiss Steven Smith for a rare Ashes duck, taken this time by Crawley to bookend the dismissal of Usman Khawaja, caught in the slips by Root off Stuart Broad for 6.

But then Head and Labuschagne restored order for Australia as Wood came on for a brief but expensive spell, conceding 11 runs off one of this three overs and 15 off another. Head was particularly aggressive, moving from 4 off five deliveries at the drinks break to 26 off 20. Labuschagne chimed in with a belligerent clip off Woakes over midwicket for a one-bounce four to move into the 40s.

The pair put on 71 runs together before Labuschagne fell in comical fashion, tangled up by a full, straight Broad delivery round his legs and toppling face-first to the ground as the ball clattered into his stumps to be out for 44. That made it 4 for 83 for Australia and provided endless amusing memes, even for the hosts, who also saw the funny side if the smiles and giggles from the dressing room was anything to go by.

Labuschagne’s dismissal spurred Head to press on with their counterattack. He was already travelling at a good clip and brought up his fifty from 53 balls, punishing a Woakes short ball outside leg stump with a deft flick to the fine leg boundary. Two balls later, Head pummelled Woakes wide of mid-off for another four.

With the Bellerive Oval pitch known to flatten out quite quickly, England’s bowlers were always going to have to nail their lines and lengths after a relatively brief period of assistance. Instead, they struggled.

Wood and Woakes conceded 112 runs in 20 overs between them up to the tea break for just one wicket – that of Head, who had looked slightly nervous on 99 when he lofted the ball over a leaping Woakes’ outstretched hand to safe ground just in front of Robinson two balls before bringing up his century on the next ball, working into the off side for two.

Compounding the tourists’ decision to rest swing-bowling maestro James Anderson, Root was forced to bowl 10 overs in the first two sessions on a green top when Robinson had to leave the field with stiffness in his lower back. Robinson bowled just one over in the middle session in which Australia scored 130 runs for the loss of one wicket from 28 overs and he remained out of the attack.

Green was fantastic, making it back-to-back fifties after matching his score in the second innings in Sydney. But when he fell, it came down to Alex Carey and Mitchell Starc to dig in before what started as faint drizzle set in.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo



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IPL 2022 – Former India bowling coach Bharat Arun appointed Kolkata Knight Riders bowling coach

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Former India bowling coach has previously had an IPL stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore

Former India bowling coach Bharat Arun has been appointed in the same position by Kolkata Knight Riders ahead of the upcoming 15th edition of the IPL.

“We are very excited to have someone of the calibre of Bharat Arun joining us as our bowling coach,” Venky Mysore, Knight Riders’ CEO & MD, said in a statement. “He will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to KKR’s strong support staff. We are delighted to welcome him to the Knight Riders family.”

Arun, a medium-pacer who played two Tests and four ODIs between 1986 and 1987, brings with himself considerable coaching experience, having had two stints with India’s national side – first from 2014 to 2015, and then from 2017 till the end of the T20 World Cup in 2021.
Before that, he was part of the India team which won the Under-19 World Cup in 2012, and has also been a part of the coaching staff at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, other than being with India’s domestic teams Tamil Nadu and Bengal.

“I’m very excited and looking forward to becoming part of a highly successful franchise, such as the Knight Riders,” Arun said. “I have admired the Knight Riders franchise for not only being very successful in the IPL and around the world in T20 leagues but also for the way it is very professionally run.”

His time with Knight Riders will not be the first time in the IPL. He spent three seasons – 2015 to 2017 – with Royal Challengers Bangalore as their bowling coach before he became part of the India set-up.
“With a strong and successful pedigree in the international game, I’m sure Arun will complement the current staff we have and I look forward to working with him,” Brendon McCullum, the Knight Riders head coach, said. “His experience at international level and the ability to give confidence and clarity to our bowling group will be important, as we attempt to quickly align a new group of players to the values and style of play for KKR.”



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