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The Ashes 2021-22 – Dan Lawrence You can’t keep using the excuse that you’re inexperienced

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Dan Lawrence heads off for the Ashes next month knowing that England’s next generation of batters cannot retain their Test places on potential alone. However, he believes that a combination of Australia’s run-laden wickets, and a year spent watching Joe Root’s masterclasses at close quarters, can only augur well for his and his team-mates’ chances of success.

In a stop-start first year in England’s Test side, Lawrence’s performances to date epitomise the issues in the team’s junior ranks, with his three well-compiled half-centuries offset by four ducks and a current average of 27.23 that he concedes is “very frustrating”. He has hardly been alone in underachieving, however. While Root has racked up six centuries in a formidable year, Rory Burns’ hundred against New Zealand in June remains England’s only other three-figure score in 12 Tests.

“It does get to a stage where we just need to score runs,” Lawrence said during a #Funds4Runs event in Leyton. “That is your currency, and it gets to a stage where being inexperienced might not be an excuse that you can keep on using. We need to score runs, and if we do that we’ll stay in the team and if we don’t, then we don’t unfortunately.”

Nevertheless, Lawrence’s initial displays – including a matchwinning half-century on debut in Galle and 96 runs on a spinners’ deck in Ahmedabad – have given him confidence that he is “more than good enough” to succeed in the long term. And, after starring on England Lions’ tour of Australia two winters ago, he believes he has plenty of good memories to fall back on when the Ashes action gets underway in just under two months’ time.

“It’s had a quite a big impact on my career,” Lawrence admitted, after finishing as the Lions’ stand-out performer in the first-class leg of their tour in February and March 2020. He scored 493 runs at 98.60 in six innings, with the second of his two hundreds coming at the MCG against Australia A, as England’s second XI won their first unofficial Test Down Under after seven blank campaigns.

“I was really desperate that winter to get my name out there and be relentless, and score runs every week, and thankfully I did.

“It was a great opportunity, to not only experience some of the best grounds in Australia, but to learn how to score runs there, and how to develop and adapt my game. I know it’s different to what the Ashes is going to be, but it is nice to have something in the bank, knowing that I have got the capability to score big runs consistently out there.”

And when it comes to being relentless, Lawrence knows that he and his team-mates have been granted a ringside seat this year for one of the most impressive feats of run-harvesting in England’s Test history. So far in 2021, Root has amassed 1455 runs at 66.13, with four scores in excess of 180, and almost 1000 runs more than the next most effective England batter (Burns, with 479).

“It was an absolute privilege to watch him from the dressing room all summer, and in the winter as well,” Lawrence said. “He’s obviously a bloke at the peak of his powers, batting as well as anyone has done for years and years.



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Recent Match Report – Dhaka vs Tigers 2nd Match 2021/22

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Tamim Iqbal’s 50, and Dhaka’s total of 183 for 6, proved insufficient

Khulna Tigers 186 for 5 (Talukdar 61, Ebadot 2-27) beat Minister Group Dhaka 183 for 6 (Tamim 50, Shahzad 42, Rabbi 3-45) by five wickets

How the match played out

Khulna Tigers romped to their 184-run target against Minister Group Dhaka, winning by five wickets to round off an action-packed opening day in BPL 2022. This was their third 180-plus successful chase in tournament history, having done it twice during the 2019-20 season.
Dhaka had posted 183 for 6 in 20 overs, a formidable total especially considering the capricious Dhaka pitch. Tamim Iqbal and Mohammad Shahzad gave them a fast start, adding 69 in 8.1 overs before Mahmudullah hit the big shots in the end.
Khulna, too, responded brilliantly. Rony Talukdar top-scored with 61, but it was his 72-run second-wicket stand with Andre Fletcher that fired up Khulna’s chase. Later, Thisara Perera and Mahedi Hasan took them home with an over to spare, adding 33 runs in 2.3 overs.

Big hit

Fletcher made 45 off 23 balls with seven fours and two sixes. He struck 22 runs off Rubel Hossain, hitting him for four fours and a six in the fourth over. Talukdar played the anchor role, making 61 off 42 with seven fours and a six.

For Dhaka, Tamim hit 50 off 42 balls, while Shahzad blasted 42 off 27 with eight fours. Their innings got a final flourish from Mahmudullah, who struck three sixes and two fours in his 20-ball 39.

Big miss

Dhaka’s bowling came unstuck, with Rubel, Isuru Udana and Russell going for 121 runs in their combined 11 overs. Earlier, with the bat, Russell had made only seven runs, which played a part in them not being able to reach 200.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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Under-19 World Cup – BCCI sends five reserve players to bolster Covid-hit Indian squad in the Caribbean

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Uday Saharan, Rishith Reddy, Ansh Gosai, Abishek Porel and Pushpendra Singh Rathore called up

The BCCI is sending five players to the Under-19 World Cup in the West indies as back-up following a Covid-19 outbreak in the Indian camp, with five players of the original squad in the Caribbean testing positive for the virus this week.

While Saharan, Reddy, Gosai and Rathore were all part of the travelling reserves announced by the BCCI before the World Cup, they did not travel to the Caribbean with the main squad. Porel, who was initially not part of the reserves, has made the cut in the place of Amrit Raj Upadhyay.

Left-arm spinner Upadhyay was originally picked among the reserves, but has been pipped by Porel, and the reason, ESPNcricinfo understands, is that he is a wicketkeeper. Aaradhya, the second keeper in the main squad, is currently in isolation, leaving the squad with only Dinesh Bana to wear the big gloves.

Saharan is a batter from Rajasthan, who hit 102 in the tri-series competition played between two India Under-19 sides and Bangladesh Under-19 late last year. Reddy is a right-arm seamer from Hyderabad who picked up 5 for 53 against Bangladesh Under-19s in the same tournament. Saurashtra’s Gosai is a right-handed batter known for his innovative shot-making, and Rajasthan’s Rathore is a batting allrounder.

Once the five reserves reach the Caribbean, they will have to serve a mandatory quarantine period before joining the team. They are currently not part of the main squad; the tournament’s event technical committee will have to approve them before they can play in the competition.

It’s possible that the committee will allow them only as temporary Covid-19 replacements, which comes with the caveat that they must exit the squad once the affected players return after recovery. If the BCCI so wants, these players can apply to be permanent additions to the squad, but that is usually done to replace injured players.

Although the five Covid-infected players are currently in isolation, they are expected to be available for India’s quarter-final game, which likely be played on January 29. However, if their recovery takes longer or more players return positive tests or suffer injuries, the team management can dip into their reserves at short notice.

India, who became the first team in the competition to qualify for the quarter-finals, have their knockout fixture scheduled in another country, Antigua and Barbuda. This means the players who are currently in Trinidad and Tobago will have to return negative tests before they can fly out.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx



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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe 3rd ODI 2021/22

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Vandersay picks up 4 for 10 in 7.4 overs as hosts bowlers run rampant

Sri Lanka 254 for 9 (Nissanka 55, Asalanka 52, Ngarava 2-46) beat Zimbabwe 70 (Kaitano 19, Vandersay 4-10) by 184 runs

Sri Lanka’s bowlers ran rampant in the early overs of Zimbabwe’s chase reducing the opposition to 20 for 3, then 31 for 5, and eventually 70 all out, decimating their hopes of chasing down 255 and claiming a series victory.

Dushmantha Chameera blasted out the first two wickets, before the spinners claimed the limelight – Maheesh Theekshana squeezing one between Sean Williams’ bat and pad, Jeffrey Vandersay taking four of his own, before Ramesh Mendis also took two. Somewhere in that cascade of wickets, seamer Chamika Karunaratne struck too, to remove the dangerous Sikandar Raza.

After 15 overs, Zimbabwe were 37 for 5, the required rate had crept above six, and the chase was essentially buried. Ryan Burl and Tendai Chatara fought briefly to put up 18 for the ninth wicket – the best stand of the innings. But it was all over by the 25th over, with Vandersay scything through the lower order.

The collapse was particularly disappointing for Zimbabwe, because their attack had operated with such discipline to keep Sri Lanka to a manageable total. Where Zimbabwe’s own batters had put up totals in the 300 range batting first in the two previous matches, Sri Lanka lurched only to 254 for 9, with each of their top eight getting to double-figures, but only Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka managing half-centuries.
Zimbabwe’s had been a collective bowling effort. Richard Ngarava claimed 2 for 46 from his nine overs while Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani, Wellington Masakadza, Ryan Burl, and Sean Williams all claimed one wicket apiece. Aside from an 80-run opening stand between Nissanka and Kusal Mendis, Zimbabwe never let another pair prosper for long, the next-best partnership coming much later in the innings, when Karunaratne and Ramesh Mendis put on 48 together.

It was Chameera who precipitated Zimbabwe’s rapid downfall, in the third over. He bowled a shortish ball outside off stump to right-hander Regis Chakabva, who edged it to slip. Then, next ball, he angled one across captain Ervine, who nicked it to the keeper. When Theekshana sent a straighter one through Williams’ defences in the eighth over, Zimbabwe had lost their three best top-order batters in the series.

After the first powerplay, Kaitano was given out stumped off the bowling of Vandersay, although the evidence that his back foot was in the air when keeper Kusal Mendis took the bails off did not seem totally conclusive. Next over, Raza spooned a catch to cover, and all of Zimbabwe’s serious batting hopes had departed.

Vandersay then took three of the five remaining wickets, and Ramesh Mendis claimed the other two. There was no substantial turn in the pitch – Sri Lanka were menacing, but not unplayable. Zimbabwe will feel they let themselves down.

In the first innings, Sri Lanka had begun steadily with the bat – Nissanka and Kusal Mendis hitting only five boundaries in the powerplay, as they strode to 43 for 0 in ten overs. As has been the case right through the series, Zimbabwe’s quicks were disciplined and sharp, though they didn’t find the early wickets they had managed in the first two games.

Perhaps sensing that he needed to raise the tempo if Sri Lanka were to near the 300 mark, Kusal Mendis was the first to depart, lofting the left-arm spin of Masakadza to long off. He was out for 36 off 51 balls. Nissanka brought up his second successive half-century of the series with a four through backward point, but was run out not long after that, thanks to an excellent direct hit from Zimbabwe’s substitute fielder.

Asalanka struck a four through third man first ball, and provided Sri Lanka’s main thrust of the middle overs even as wickets fell around him. He was strong square of the wicket as usual, and hit five fours in his 56-ball 52. It was his second fifty of the series.

Sri Lanka’s 2-1 victory pushes them up to fourth in the ODI Super League table, though they have played 18 out of their 24 games, and all other sides aside from Ireland (also 18) have played fewer. Zimbabwe are down at No. 11, on 35 points after 12 games. Only teams finishing in the top eight, effectively, gain direct qualification to next year’s ODI World Cup.

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



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