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Hashim Amla’s wisdom gives David Miller the belief to change South Africa’s World Cup record

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“I still keep in touch with him and will continue to do that during this World Cup,” says Miller

Most professional sportspeople consider themselves only as good as their most recent game, but Hashim Amla has taught David Miller to look at that in a slightly different way.

“The famous old saying is that you are only as good as your last game, but Hashim always said to me [you’re only as good as] your next game,” Miller said.

Essentially, that wisdom gives Miller and South Africa the opportunity to believe there’s always another chance to change their major tournament record, which has seen them go without a trophy since 1998. “It’s about resetting the clock and the mind, and trying to control and really be in the present,” Miller said.

Close your eyes and imagine Amla saying those words. You can, right? That’s because if there was one South African who never seemed to carry any baggage, it was Amla.

Though he is not part of this squad, Amla has been involved in every South African World Cup squad for the last decade – the 2011, 2015 and 2019 fifty-over tournaments and 2012, 2014 and 2016 T20 World Cups – and his influence looms large over the current crop, especially Miller.

“I had the privilege to play with him for many, many years and I suppose what I have learnt from him is to not let failure get you down,” Miller said. “We are striving for consistency in performance and, off the field, trying to be a consistent person as well. That’s what I have really enjoyed about Hashim and his influence, being nice and calm, being a pillar of strength; the silent assassin. He was about getting the job done but more so, being nice and consistent as a person. It has been a good journey with him and I still keep in touch with him and will continue to do that during this World Cup for any advice.”

While Amla can’t tell South Africa how to win the tournament, he can offer plenty on the batting front, especially as he is still in good touch himself. He was the sixth-highest run scorer in the County Championship this year and has significant experience in the UAE. Amla played three Tests, eight ODIs and three T20Is here between 2010 and 2013. In those, he has averaged 78.40, 50.00 and 30.50 respectively.

Miller was also part of the 2013 ODI squad that played in the UAE, and hopes he can reflect on that and the knowledge he has gained during the last two seasons of the IPL. “In terms of leadership, it’s really nice to be a part of the group and share my experiences,” he said. “I feel like we [some of the senior members of the squad] have got a lot to add off the field – what we’ve learnt in the IPLs, in the previous IPLs and when we played here in Dubai for South Africa against Pakistan. Leadership is something we are taking on more and more, and hopefully, it all plays itself out in results.”

For all Miller’s behind-the-scenes work, he knows he also has to put in a big effort with the bat. He is South Africa’s most-capped men’s T20I player, with 90 matches to his name, and has been part of T20 World Cups since 2010. His role has always been that of a big-hitting finisher and he may find himself with an opportunity to contribute more than just the death-over runs in this competition. South Africa’s top-heavy squad is laden with four opening batters, three of whom are likely to play, and though Rassie van der Dussen is pencilled in at No.4, if the start is solid enough, Miller could find himself promoted to take care of the middle overs, which he has identified as crucial.

“There have been really good starts [in these conditions] and it’s really important that teams control the middle phase – the middle overs. It’s about extending that and controlling that.”

He also downplayed suggestions that South Africa’s batting line-up may be too short, with only six specialist batters in most of their XI and a tail that starts at No. 8. “We’ve got a strong enough batting unit. There might be a game or two where we need our bowlers to pull through with the bat but ultimately you want to be scoring the bulk of your runs from the top six. If we don’t do that, we don’t deserve to win games. There’s a sense of responsibility from the batting side of things.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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IPL 2022 – Lucknow Super Giants unveiled as new name for IPL franchise

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The RP Sanjiv Goenka group had earlier called the Pune franchise they acquired for two years Rising Pune Supergiants

Lucknow Super Giants. That is the team name unveiled on Monday by the new IPL franchise bought by the RP Sanjiv Goenka group, a diversified Indian business group, for a record sum of INR 7090 crore (USD 940 million approx.) in October last year.
Last week Sanjiv Goenka, the owner of Lucknow Super Giants, announced that KL Rahul would be the captain of the new franchise. The Lucknow Super Giants bought Rahul for INR 17 crore (USD 2.28 million approx.), the joint-highest fee paid to a player in IPL.

This is not the RP Sanjiv Goenka group’s first tryst with IPL team ownership, or indeed with the team name. They had acquired a franchise in Pune for IPL 2016 and 2017 – when two new franchises temporarily replaced the suspended Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals. They had then called their franchise the Rising Pune Super Giants, later changing the name in 2017 to Rising Pune Supergiant.

Goenka said the name for the Lucknow franchise had been finalised based on a crowd-sourced campaign.

The Lucknow Super Giants also acquired Australian allrounder Marcus Stoinis and Ravi Bishnoi, the uncapped Indian legspinner. While Stonis will be paid INR 9.2 crore (USD 1.24 million approx.), a sum of 10 crore will be deducted from the franchise’s overall auction purse as per the IPL rules. Bishnoi meanwhile will be paid INR 4 crore (USD 0.54 million approx.), which was the baseline price set by the IPL for uncapped Indian players. The franchise will consequently have a purse of INR 59 crore at the two-day auction, which is scheduled in Bengaluru between February 12 and 13.
Alongside Lucknow, the other new IPL franchise was bought by global private equity giants CVC Capital, and will be based in Ahmedabad. The three players they bought ahead of the mega auction were Hardik Pandya and Rashid Khan for INR 15 crore (USD 2.02 million approx.), and Shubman Gill for INR 8 crore (USD 1.07 million approx.). As per the auction rules, the Ahmedabad franchise’s purse will be lighter by INR 38 crore – with the actual amount paid to Rashid and Gill subtracted since it stands higher than the slabs set by the IPL of INR 11 crore and INR 7 crore when three capped players are retained by a franchise. Ahmedabad will thus go in with INR 52 crore to spend in the auction.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo



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County news – James Neesham signs for Northamptonshire for Blast campaign

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New Zealand allrounder expected to feature in full campaign in 2022 season

James Neesham, the New Zealand allrounder, has agreed to join Northamptonshire for their T20 Blast campaign.

Neesham, whose heroics in the 2019 World Cup final at Lord’s were instrumental in that contest’s thrilling finish, gained a measure of revenge over England in the T20 World Cup in the UAE in November, where his 27 from 11 balls helped to eliminate Eoin Morgan’s men in the semi-final. However, New Zealand went on to lose the final against Australia.

In 181 T20 fixtures – 38 of which have come for his country – Neesham has made 2,360 runs at a strike-rate of 136.81, and taken 158 wickets. He has previously featured for Derbyshire, Essex and Kent in county cricket, and last season turned out for Welsh Fire in the inaugural season of the Hundred.

“I’m excited to get going with Northamptonshire in 2022,” Neesham said. “The club has a fantastic history in the Blast and I hope that we can recreate those successes from 2013 and 2016.”

Josh Cobb, Northamptonshire’s captain, played alongside Neesham last season, and is excited about the prospect of linking up with him again.

“Having spent time with him at the Welsh Fire in The Hundred last year I know what he can bring to us.” Cobb said.

“He’s a three-dimensional cricketer with genuine power and a high strike rate in the middle order, but it was his character that stood out to me. He’s someone who wants to win and is very selfless, he’s a real team-first kind of player.

“I’m looking forward to having him here as a leader, to pass on his experience and help drive us to be better.”

Assuming New Zealand’s international schedule remains clear, Neesham should be available for the duration of the Blast campaign in May, June and July – with the final at Edgbaston this year following closely on from the group stages to ensure that overseas players can take part. He will also be on hand for County Championship action in June.

“The opportunity to possibly play some first-class cricket for the county in Division One is also an exciting challenge.” Neesham said. “I look forward to linking up with everyone at Wantage Road soon.”



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Recent Match Report – Barishal vs Dhaka 5th Match 2021/22

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Shakib Al Hasan becomes the fifth bowler to take 400 wickets in T20 cricket

Minister Group Dhaka 130 for 6 (Mahmudullah 47, Russell 31*, Shafiul 2-20) beat Fortune Barishal 129 for 8 (Gayle 36, Russell 2-27, Udana 2-29) by four wickets

How the match played out
Andre Russell was in his element, following up figures of 2 for 27 with an unbeaten 31 off 15 balls, as Minister Group Dhaka beat Fortune Barishal by four wickets in Mirpur. This was Dhaka’s first win in three matches in BPL 2022 and Russell’s first major contribution this season.
Chasing 130, Dhaka were in early trouble at 10 for 4 in the third over. Left-arm quick Shafiqul Islam bowled Tamim Iqbal in the first over of their chase before Alzarri Joseph dismissed both Mohammad Naim and Jahurul Islam in the second over. When Shafiqul bowled Mohammad Shahzad in the next over, Dhaka were tottering.
Mahmudullah and Shuvagata Hom then steadied things with a 69-run fifth-wicket stand before Russell did what he does best: close out games with his big hits. Shakib Al Hasan, however, gave Barishal a reason to celebrate: he became only the fifth bowler to take 400 T20 wickets.

Earlier, Barishal had slipped to 23 for 3 in the powerplay, when they lost Najmul Hossain Shanto, Shykat Ali and Towhid Hridoy. The experienced pair of Shakib (23) and Chris Gayle (36) then added a semblance of respectability to their innings. But neither could convert it into a bigger knock, which left Barishal at 94 for 6 in the 16th over. Dwayne Bravo’s unbeaten 26-ball 33 then dragged the side to 129 for 8.

All six of Dhaka’s bowlers were among the wickets, with Isuru Udana and Russell taking two each. Meanwhile, Rubel Hossain, Hom and Hasan Murad all bowled economical spells.

Big hit
Russell’s big blows – a four and a six clobbered through square-leg off Joseph – gave Dhaka a huge sigh of relief. It ensured Dhaka were in touch with the asking rate before Russell rushed them to victory with a six and a brace of fours off Taijul Islam in the 17th over.

Dhaka captain Mahmudullah provided Russell great support at the other end, scoring a run-a-ball 47. He struck three fours and a six before he became Shakib’s 400th victim in T20 cricket.

Barishal made a decent fist of their defence, thanks to Shafiqul who bowled with good pace and a bit of movement with the new ball. He was well-supported by Joseph before Russell lined up his West Indies team-mate.

Big miss
Tamim missed out for the first time in three matches, getting out for a second-ball duck in this game. Dhaka’s top four managed only single-digit scores of 0,5,4,0. It could be an alarming sign for Naim and Jahurul who are yet to make a sizeable contribution this season.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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