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T20 World Cup – Virat Kohli

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Bhuvneshwar Kumar might have endured a rough time at IPL 2021 – his economy rate of 7.97 was his worst in a season – but India captain Virat Kohli has brushed off concerns around his form in the lead-up to the Men’s T20 World Cup.
In the UAE leg of the IPL, Bhuvneshwar managed just three wickets in six games at an average of 54 and economy rate of 7.04. In isolation, however, Bhuvneshwar had denied Royal Challengers Bangalore’s AB de Villiers at the death, defending 12 off the last over in Abu Dhabi on October 6. The seamer then missed Sunrisers Hyderabad’s final league fixture with a niggle. Kohli added that Bhuvneshwar was back to his “full fitness” and backed him to come good at the World Cup.



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SA vs Ind 2021-22, Cape Town Test – ‘I am lost for words’

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South Africa coach lauds his team for playing “the pressure moments pretty well”

For Mark Boucher, the toughest thing about watching South Africa’s chase against India was that there was nothing he could do about it.

“As a player, you feel like the buck can stop with you. As a coach, your hands are tied behind your back. You haven’t got the chance to go out there and change the state of the game,” he said afterwards. “From a nerves perspective, it was up there with one of my more nervous days.”

Though South Africa have previously chased 236 at this ground (and it remains their highest successful here), that was a decade ago and Boucher was in that XI. He spent that innings while Graeme Smith, currently director of cricket, and Hashim Amla, who is now doing commentary, batted South Africa to a memorable win. This time, South Africa needed 24 fewer runs but did not have players of the experience of Smith and Amla in their line-up, so Boucher was careful with how much he believed.

“When you’re in the batting change-room, the runs always seem a mile away. When you’re in the fielding change-room, you always feel like there is never quite enough. So it was trying to find a bit of a balance,” he said. “We knew the conditions were going to be really tough.”

South Africa’s inexperienced line-up were against the best Indian pace attack that has ever visited these shores on a surface with uneven bounce, but their hope was that the weather and the opposition bowlers’ workload in the series so far would help cause them to wilt. “It was really hot outside. We knew that the amount they bowled in the first innings (76.3 overs) would eventually play it’s part so getting through the first hour unscathed was very important. It just settles the change-room,” Boucher said.

Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen put on 47 runs in the first hour and though they looked like they might be dismissed at any moment, they weren’t. “I liked the intensity the guys batted with. We went out saying we’ve got to look to score,” Boucher said.

He was particularly impressed with Petersen’s performance, which ended with a career-best 82 and earned him the Player of the Match and Player of the Series awards. “Keegan probably didn’t start off as well as what he would have liked in West Indies. He didn’t start too well at SuperSport Park but he has always shown signs of the player we’re seeing right now,” Boucher said. “He just stuck to his guns.

“He is in a good position to have a guy like Dean [Elgar] next to him, who really does back him and he is a tough nut. Batting at No. 3, you’ve got to be tough, you’ve got to know your game, you’ve got to be technically sound. It’s a very tough position to play in, in South Africa, in our conditions, batting at No. 3. The way he has come through in this series, I am lost for words. In a big series like this, against big players, to be man of the series is fully deserved.”

Petersen did not bat South Africa over the line, though. That was left to van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma, who finished on 41 and 32 not out respectively. Bavuma was also at the crease when South Africa completed their chase at the Wanderers and even though he has still not added to his century-count, he has proved himself to have the temperament to take responsibility when its needed and is one-half of the leadership duo that is shaping the new-look South Africa.

“I believe we turned a corner quite a while ago. Our results have been pretty solid over the last six months to a year. We are in a good space at the moment. Our feet are firmly on the ground. We are by no means the finished product, but we’ll enjoy this win.”

Mark Boucher, after South Africa’s triumph in Cape Town

“We’ve got Dean who led from the front. We’ve got Temba as the vice-captain, who is the same sort of fighter with the same spirit. When you’ve got two leaders like that, the guys are going to follow,” Boucher said. “Both of them stood up with regards to their own games. If you’ve got the fighters as leaders and they are prepared to show it with bat or ball, it’s probably going to be the character of the team.”

Asked if this series win represents a turning in the very long corner of losses, Boucher left it for all of us to decide. “It’s up to you guys to make that call whether we’ve turned the corner. I believe we turned a corner quite a while ago. Our results have been pretty solid over the last six months to a year,” he said. “We are in a good space at the moment. Our feet are firmly on the ground.

“We are by no means the finished product, but we’ll enjoy this win. This team is on their own mission. If people want to jump on the back of that, that’s great and that will be much appreciated. We’ve been through some tough times of late. The team is driven in a way that is pretty special. It’s a special change-room to be in. I am incredibly proud of where they’ve come from over a short period of time and the results are starting to come through, which is fantastic for everyone.”

Specifically, the way South Africa are approaching big moments has Boucher feeling as though he may not get the urge to go out there and change the state of the game himself again. “We played the pressure moments pretty well. We are not winning all of them but when we were losing a session, we were not losing it badly and that keeps us in the game. When we lost that first session in the first Test, we lost it so badly, we couldn’t get back into the game. Although we did try very hard, we probably lost too much in one session. Now, our guys are playing good pressure cricket at the moment.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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SA vs India 3rd Test

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While ICC’s match officials had a word with the Indian team management, there was no official code of conduct breach charge levelled against India

Virat Kohli and his India team-mates have been spoken to about the DRS bust-up on the third day of the Newlands Test by the ICC match officials, although no formal charge has been filed against any player.

ESPNcricinfo understands that the ICC’s match officials had a word with the Indian team management cautioning them about their conduct after DRS had reprieved Dean Elgar from being given out lbw, but there was no official code of conduct breach charge levelled against India.

Kohli himself in his post-match press conference after the third Test, said that while he wouldn’t comment about the stump mic picking up what he and his players said – sometimes directly speaking into it and addressing the host broadcaster SuperSport – he didn’t think his team got carried away and ceded any advantage to the South Africans.

“We understood what happened on the field, and people on the outside don’t know exact details of what goes on in the field, so for me to try and justify what we did on the field and say we got carried away is wrong,” Kohli said.

“If we had gotten charged up and picked up three wickets there, that would have probably been the moment that changed the game. The reality of the situation is that we did not apply enough pressure on them for longer periods of time throughout the course of the Test match and hence we lost the game. That one moment seems very nice and very exciting to make a controversy out of, which honestly I’m not interested in making a controversy of it at all. It was just a moment that passed and we moved on from it, and just kept focusing on the game and trying to pick up wickets.”

In the final session of the third day’s play, Elgar was adjudged lbw on the field to R Ashwin. Elgar reviewed it however, and the projection from HawkEye – an independent body – showed Ashwin’s delivery going over the stumps. That led to an outburst by several players, with a visibly annoyed Kohli going up to the stump mic and seemingly addressing SuperSport, saying, “Focus on your team while they shine the ball. Not just the opposition. Trying to catch people all the time.”

Vice-captain KL Rahul added, “It’s the whole country against 11 guys.” And Ashwin seemed to be addressing the broadcasters directly when he said, “You should find better ways to win, SuperSport.”

Elgar’s reprieve came in the 21st over of the innings, with the South Africa captain batting on 22 and the team 60 for 1, chasing a fourth-innings target of 212. The Indian players were not the only ones who didn’t agree with the decision. Marais Erasmus, who gave Elgar out on the field, could be seen shaking his head as the pictures played out on the screen at the venue, and was heard saying, “That’s impossible”.

Not everyone agreed with the Indian players’ discontent and them pulling up the host broadcaster though. Among them was the pair of Sanjay Manjrekar and Daryll Cullinan, ESPNcricinfo’s expert panel for the series. Manjrekar said he did not agree with the Indian camp’s “insinuation” against the host broadcaster while Cullinan was more blunt, stating Kohli’s behaviour was “unacceptable” and he had got away for “too long”.

South Africa would end the over in which Elgar was reprieved on 60 for 1, but the next six overs brought 35 runs with a flurry of boundaries.

Elgar eventually fell to what turned out to be the last ball of the day, glancing Jasprit Bumrah behind. However, Keegan Peterson’s 82 led South Africa to a seven-wicket victory to seal the Test, and the series by a 2-1 margin, on the fourth day



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SA fixtures – Graeme Smith

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August window confirmed for rescheduled Test series against Australia

Graeme Smith, CSA’s director of cricket, has confirmed that South Africa are planning to host rescheduled tours by Australia and England in 2023.
Nick Hockley, the chief executive of Cricket Australia, had previously indicated that a window for 2023 had been agreed on by the two boards. South Africa do not often host international tours in August, but did play Tests against New Zealand in Centurion and Durban then in 2016.
“England, I think, is around Feb-March next year and then Australia is in August 2023 to replace the [Test series postponed in 2021]. That will be announced sometime soon,” Smith said when interviewed by host broadcaster, SuperSport, during the Cape Town Test against India.

“With series lost in Covid and the challenge is you have eight white-ball events in eight years now, you have got IPL extending – trying to fit your calendar cycle in is a great challenge for everybody. So you need to review, you need to stay with the times. And you need to make sure we keep putting South African cricket on the map.

“Our team – both men and women – needs to be performing well and be recognised and people want to play us. But we need to make sure when things are happening in world cricket South Africa is at the forefront.”

As well as causing a fixture pile-up, not playing during the pandemic has hit CSA’s bottom line – the Australia cancellation resulted in losses to the tune of Rand 30 million (US$ 2 million) to Rand 40 million (US$ 2.6 million), while England’s withdrawal halfway through a limited-overs tour meant a US$ 1.5 million hit on TV rights.

There were also concerns around India’s ongoing visit due to the rise of the Omicron variant – the T20I leg has been rescheduled for a later date – with Smith having previously suggested that his personal relationship with Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president, helped ensure the tour went ahead.

“Cricket is a challenging landscape at the moment,” Smith said. “If I just think about our national team now: 52 days in the bubble against India, 10 days coming up in New Zealand for quarantines then the Test match there, home for Bangladesh, two months in IPL, full England tour, India again, [T20] World Cup.

“So how you manage players, management in terms of the stresses that they are facing in these biosecure environments, the amount of cricket we got to play to catch up [with] losses and various other things, so it’s a planning nightmare. And hopefully we will get that concoction right and we will see success.”



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