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National T20 Cup 2021-22 – Ali Imran, Zeeshan Malik half-centuries steer Northern into National T20 Cup semi-final

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Imam, Shafique fifties not enough for Balochistan; Sahibzada, Iftikhar century stand took Khyber Pakhtunkhwa past Sindh

Northern 186 for 5 (Imran 64, Malik 53, Asif 2-31, Butt 2-35) beat Balochistan 185 for 7 (Shafique 73, Imam 50, Zaman 3-31) by five wickets

Fifties from Ali Imran and Zeeshan Malik helped Northern pull off a nervy chase of 186 against Balochistan in Lahore and qualify for the semi-final of the National T20 Cup. The momentum swung between both teams in the last five overs as Northern slumped to 171 for 5 from 148 for 1 in the space of three overs. However, with 15 runs needed off the final over, Rohail Nazir smothered Junaid Khan for a four first ball and then Sohail Tanvir hit a four and the winning six to seal the chase with one ball to spare.
Northern rose to the top of the table with 12 points from nine matches, while Balochistan are placed fifth with six points from eight matches.

In response to Balochistan’s 185 for 7, Northern got off to a brisk start, courtesy Nasir Nawaz’s 21-ball 30 and Imran’s 64 off 45 balls. The openers put on 60 in 6.4 overs before Kashif Bhatti removed Nawaz. Coming in at No. 3, Malik built on the impetus the opening stand provided, hitting a 35-ball 53. He also shared an 88-run stand with Imran for the second wicket. Umaid Asif and Amad Butt pulled the game back for Balochistan to some degree, picking up two wickets apiece. However, Tanvir (10* off 4) and wicketkeeper-batter Nazir (10* off 5) made sure Northern emerged victorious.

For Northern, Zaman Khan was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3 for 31 while Tanvir, Muhammad Musa, Aamer Jamal, and Nauman Ali picked a wicket each.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 154 for 3 (Farhan 54*, Iftikhar 49*) beat Sindh 152 for 6 (Masood 54, Iftikhar 2-25) by seven wickets

Iftikhar Ahmed hit a 37-ball 49 and Sahibzada Farhan scored a 33-ball 54 to power Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with an unbeaten century stand to thump Sindh by seven wickets in Lahore. Both teams, on ten points, have confirmed their semifinal spots.
Batting first, Sharjeel Khan was a shadow of his batting form compared to his overnight century against South Punjab. His 26 runs came at a strike-rate of 96.29. Shan Masood, who had been struggling to find runs, made a crucial 54 off 37 balls. Saud Shakeel, Ahsan Ali and Danish Aziz together added 18 in 18 balls.
Sindh entered the game having without regular captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, who linked up with the national T20 squad after being picked for the World Cup. Anwar Ali led instead. He smacked three sixes in his 27-ball 34 runs cameo to propel the total to 152. Iftikhar also took two wickets.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa made a brisk start, but lost three batters for 54 in 6.4 overs, as Aamer Azmat (18 off 17) and Musadiq Ahmed (23 off 12) went back in quick succession. But both Farhan and Iftikhar stood tall to finish off the game without any further damage.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent



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Vikram Solanki leaves Surrey job after being appointed Ahmedabad IPL team’s director of cricket

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Joins Gary Kirsten and Ashish Nehra in the backroom of the new IPL franchise

Vikram Solanki has resigned from his position as head coach at Surrey CCC with immediate effect, ending a nine-year association with the club, after being recruited to join the new IPL franchise – based in Ahmedabad – as its director of cricket.

“Surrey has been an extremely valuable part of my life for the last nine years, both as a player and as a coach, making the decision to leave a difficult one,” Solanki said in a statement issued by Surrey. “I am forever grateful for the level of support that has always been afforded to me and my family during my time here. A special thank you too to Alec Stewart who has been a mentor and a guide.

“I will always remain inspired by all the interactions and learnings with players and staff I have had the good fortune of working so closely with. There are many respected friendships I will cherish for a lifetime.

“Finally, it has been a privilege to serve this great club in the small way I have, and it has been an honour to have been the head coach of Surrey for the last two years. To all the players, staff and Members, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!”

Solanki, who played 51 ODIs and three T20Is for England between 2000 and 2007 with moderate returns, had joined Surrey as a player ahead of the 2013 season. In 2016, he took on a player-cum-coach role with the Surrey Second XI. He stayed with the Second XI for the 2017 season entirely in a coaching capacity.

He became assistant head coach, to Michael di Venuto, in the winter of 2017, and following di Venuto’s departure at the end of the 2020 season, Solanki was appointed head coach – making him the first British Asian to hold such a position at any of the first-class counties.

“Taking over during a period of great uncertainty at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, Solanki guided Surrey to the final of the 2020 Vitality Blast with a squad including 16 academy graduates,” a Surrey statement said. “During his time at the helm, seven Surrey players have featured in England men’s sides.”

Solanki was also named president of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations in March 2016, a position he holds to this day.

An announcement on Solanki’s successor as Surrey head coach will be made in due course.



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Recent Match Report – Strikers vs Hurricanes Eliminator 2021/22

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Solid fifties from both openers, and Siddle’s four-for, paved the way for Hurricanes’ exit as they fell well short of a 189 chase

Adelaide Strikers 6 for 188 (Short 89, Carey 67, Meredith 2-37, Rogers 2-37) beat Hobart Hurricanes 166 (Short 56, Siddle 4-32, Thornton 2-25, Conway 2-32) by 22 runs

Alex Carey starred with a half-century in his BBL return as in-form Adelaide Strikers ended Hobart Hurricanes’ season to start the finals with a 22-run victory at a barren MCG.
In the Eliminator, a must-win match between the fourth- and fifth-ranked teams, Carey smashed 67 off 45 balls in his comeback from Ashes duties and combined brilliantly with opening partner Matthew Short, who made 89 of Strikers’ 6 for 188.

Their strong attack then nullified Hurricanes, whose inconsistent season finished on a sour note.

Strikers have stormed into unlikely title contention after their fifth straight win to book a clash with third-placed Sydney Thunder in the Knockout on Sunday.

Carey and Short destroy Hurricanes

Ashes heroes Carey and Travis Head returned for their first BBL matches of the season to significantly bolster Strikers’ batting order. Carey stole the show early with a calculated assault on the smaller boundaries down the ground.

He showed his intent with a powerful straight blow off Test teammate Scott Boland and stormed to 20 runs off his first 10 balls in an impressive switching of gears after playing in the long format.

Carey’s fast start eased the pressure on Short, who for most of a breakout season had provided the fireworks during the four-over powerplay. He had a back seat to Carey before notching his half-century with a huge six off speedster Riley Meredith in the 12th over during the power surge.

He then put his foot down just as a bogged down Carey holed out in the 15th over to end the 145-run partnership. Short smashed spinner Wil Parker for consecutive sixes in the next over but his dismissal snuffed Strikers’ momentum at the death.

Boland returns but Hurricanes struggle

Boland was back in the BBL after playing his sole game this season in mid-December just before he became an Ashes cult hero. But this MCG deck was nothing like the green top he decimated England on during the Boxing Day Test with Boland suffering against a red-hot Carey.

Hurricanes mostly struggled and badly missed frontline spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, who has left the BBL due to national commitments with Nepal. Parker, his replacement, was on a hiding to nothing and promptly smashed for 42 runs off 4 overs although picked up Short with his final ball.

Hurricanes weren’t helped by ragged fielding marked by several dropped catches with Tom Rogers’ sitter to reprieve Short on 15 particularly costly. Their sloppiness seemed to suggest the wheels were falling off but Hurricanes fought back late to give them some hope.

Strikers impress with ball and in the field

Short’s terrific game continued with the key wicket of Ben McDermott as he bowled four overs of his handy offspin on the trot. Peter Siddle, who took the most wickets in the BBL’s regular season, then claimed opposite number Matthew Wade to tighten Strikers’ stranglehold and he finished with four wickets to lead from the front.

Strikers have not missed a beat since losing talisman Rashid Khan late in the season with veteran spinner Fawad Ahmed proving a more than useful replacement.

They’ve also been rejuvenated by the inclusion of quicks Harry Conway and Henry Thornton, whose fast and straight bowling has been a revelation after playing just one BBL game before this season for Sydney Sixers five years ago.

The duo claimed four wickets between them with Thornton holding his nerve against a rampaging D’Arcy Short, who briefly rattled Strikers.

In a major contrast to Hurricanes, Strikers were sharp in the field to underline their remarkable resurrection having spent most of the season in the bottom two.

Short fires in vain

Hurricanes’ batting oozes with firepower on paper but hasn’t quite clicked all season. They’ve been reliant on McDermott, whose terrific tournament ended when he fell in the first over. A failure from Wade made their chase particularly grim and they needed Short to recapture his belligerent best from his heyday.

He responded with his best knock of a sluggish season to give Hurricanes a flicker of hope. He smashed 22 runs in the power surge but his wicket in the 15th over triggered a collapse.

Big-hitter Tim David, who has been their designated finisher all season, showed off his prowess but it was too late. Perhaps Hurricanes’ brains trust will rue once again not allowing the Singapore national player more time at the crease.

There was much hype over Hurricanes heading into the season but their early finals demise should be considered a disappointment.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth



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Recent Match Report – Challengers vs Barishal 1st Match 2021/22

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Benny Howell made a breezy 41 for Chattogram Challengers, who set a paltry 126 target

Fortune Barishal 126 for 6 (Shykat 39, Miraz 4-16) beat Chattogram Challengers 125 for 8 (Howell 41, Joseph 3-32) by four wickets

How the match played out

Ziaur Rahman fixed Fortune Barishal’s ways with a big finish against Chattogram Challengers. His unbeaten 19 off 12 balls helped Barishal win by four wickets with eight balls to spare, despite slipping to 92 for 6 in the 15th over, chasing 126.

Ziaur smashed Mukidul Islam for 18 runs in the 17th over, striking fours through square-leg and extra cover, and a carved six over cover. Dwayne Bravo finished unbeaten on 12 off 10 balls with one boundary, as they took Barishal home.

Ziaur’s big hitting helped Barishal recover from the loss of three wickets in the 15th over. Player of the Match Mehidy Hasan Miraz had Shykat Ali caught at deep midwicket, Irfan Sukkur lbw, and then Salman Hossain run out, with Afif Hossain affecting a direct hit from the covers.
Earlier, Chattogram reached a mediocre 125 for 8, thanks mainly to No. 9 Benny Howell’s 41. Alzarri Joseph took three wickets while Nayeem Hasan took two wickets.

Big hit

Howell struck three fours and three sixes in his 20-ball knock. It was a relief for Chattogram after they were stunted by Shakib Al Hasan‘s four tight overs that went for just nine runs. Joseph took 3-32 on his BPL debut.

Chattogram captain Miraz then stepped up with his maiden four-wicket haul in T20s, finishing with 4 for 16 after taking two of the three wickets to fall in his last over.

Big miss

Barishal, however, could have finished the game much earlier had Shakib batted for longer. Instead, the captain fell for 13 after hitting twoboundaries. Shykat’s dismissal for 39 started the mini collapse in the 15th over.

For Chattogram, Shamim Hossain was the big disappointment. He made 14 off 23 balls, falling to a Joseph short ball, trying to swat the ball.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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