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Shanaka backs young SL to ‘do something big’ at T20 World Cup




“I think they’ll show what they’ve got in the World Cup. I had a big belief that our team could go a long distance.”

If you count the practice matches Sri Lanka played before the tournament began (and perhaps you shouldn’t count them), they have won seven T20 matches in a row. They were also the most impressive side in the qualifying round. These sound like minor compliments to throw the way of a team that won this tournament in 2014, but for this Sri Lanka side, who have had a truly atrocious T20 record over the past three years, these were substantial achievements.

Ahead of their first Super 12s clash, captain Dasun Shanaka reflected on the progress he feels his team has made over the past few weeks.

“As a young team you have to expect the kinds of losses we’ve had in the past,” he said. “When new players come in, you lose some games and learn from those losses and that’s how you start to win. We practiced right through and developed our skills as well. You’ve probably seen the improvement from Lahiru Kumara, and Maheesh Theekshana, and Pathum Nissanka. They’ve all started producing results at the right time. Their effort has been fantastic, and the coaching staff gets credit for that as well.”

Shanaka has often spoken about creating a positive team environment – something that may have been a particular challenge for him, having been named captain only months before the World Cup, following a tumultuous contracts standoff. Right now, he said, the dressing room vibes are as good as ever.

“The whole dressing room is relaxed. Players can do their own thing, the way they like. There’s no one to force them. The same things they do in practice, they take to the field. I think they’ll show what they’ve got in the World Cup.

“I had a big belief that our team could go a long distance. I’ve been here as captain a little while now, and I think we are close to getting the best out of the players. The coaching set up and the advice we get is great as well.

“I think in terms of experience, you can look at us and say we don’t have as much as teams who have played for Sri Lanka before. But in terms of ability, we’re not far off. I think we can do something big in this World Cup, and finish it really strongly.”

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

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SA vs India 1st ODI




South Africa captain hints team might go with an extra allrounder in the XI for the first ODI

South Africa have welcomed Quinton de Kock back into the national squad with open arms and expect the wicketkeeper-batter to enter the India ODIs with a “point to prove,” according to captain Temba Bavuma. In December, de Kock had announced his retirement from Test cricket after the Boxing Day Test and has been on paternity leave over the last three weeks following the birth of his daughter, but remains available for the shorter formats. On Wednesday, he will take his spot at the top of the order against India.

“It’s good to see Quinny again. We obviously miss him in the Test team, but he has made his decision and that’s a decision we respect. Having Quinny again with the team has been good; and knowing Quinny, he will have a point to prove,” Bavuma said. “I don’t want to put words in his mouth but he will have a point to prove, and I am sure he is as excited as we are to see him in the team.”

Bavuma all but confirmed that de Kock and Janneman Malan will open the batting, with him slotting in at No.3 and feeling in good form.

“The Test series went quite well for the team but for me personally, my feet seemed to move well and I was hitting the ball quite well. I’d like to carry on with that feeling,” Bavuma said. “People have asked me if there’s anything I’ve changed or done differently and to be honest no, I’ve been doing things the same. Maybe it’s just a period of good form.”

The strength of the top three leaves South Africa with a conundrum of how to manage Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller, as Bavuma explained that there may only be room for two of them.

“Quinton and Janneman have done fairly well so I don’t see that changing. I come back into the picture at No.3,” he said. “Then, it’s probably more the middle order, whether we want to go with an extra batter or an allrounder at 6. That’s the real conversation that needs to happen.”

If it were up to Bavuma, the allrounder might be preferred to a specialist batter to ensure sufficient bowling stocks in the XI.

“As a captain, you always like to have as many resources as you can from a bowling front. You accept that one bowler isn’t going to hit his straps on the day, so to be able to have an adequate replacement for him is a luxury,” he said. “It’s something we still need to settle on but I would like to have as many options as I can.”

One of them could well be Marco Jansen, who could make his fifty-over debut this week after being picked in Anrich Nortje’s injury-enforced absence. “The world has seen what cricketing abilities he has and his x-factor ability. It was a no-brainer to get him into white ball squad,” Bavuma said.”He is a guy who will come strongly into contention when we speak about the team.”

Jansen’s ability to extract bounce from the slow Paarl wicket could see him edge ahead of some of the competition.

“Considering Paarl and the conditions there – it’s a lot different to our Highveld wickets – it’s on the lower side; a bit skiddier. We’ll consider pace bowlers who can exploit that, like Lungi (Ngidi), (Sisanda) Magala and Marco Jansen,” Bavuma said. “And then Paarl is quite friendly to slower bowlers and spinners so (Tabraiz) Shamsi, (Keshav) Maharaj and (George) Linde all come into the picture.”

Linde is a late inclusion to the ODI group and has been retained from the Test squad bubble in anticipation of the surfaces that will be used for this series.

Though there are no World Cup Super League points at stake in this series, South Africa are still determined to use the matches to build on their progress over the last six months.

“We’re not expecting this one-day series to be easy. We know it’s going to be tough, especially considering the Test series. We will prepare as well as we can to make sure we are ready for when the challenge comes our way.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent

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Recent Match Report – Hurricanes vs Renegades 53rd Match 2021/22




Melbourne Renegades crash out of the race, must now win their final match to stand a chance of avoiding the wooden spoon

Hobart Hurricanes 5 for 182 (Wade 48, David 46*, Lalor 2-37, Boyce 2-37) beat Melbourne Renegades 6 for 176 ( Finch 75, Marsh 51, Rogers 3-35, Lamichhane 2-27) by six runs

Smart bowling from Hobart Hurricanes helped them clinch the final BBL playoff spot after a thrilling six-run victory over Melbourne Renegades. The result knocked Stars from the playoff race ahead of their clash with Sydney Thunder on Wednesday.

Hurricanes had looked in grave danger of failing to defend their 182 at Marvel Stadium with an Aaron Finch-led Renegades cruising at 2 for 161 in the 18th over. But Hurricanes found inspiration with seamer Tom Rogers claiming two wickets in the penultimate over, including Finch for 75, as they hung on to secure victory.

The bottom-placed Renegades now need to win their last match, against Thunder, to stand a chance of avoiding a third straight wooden-spoon finish.

Hurricanes find a way at the death
Hurricanes looked lifeless against Finch and Shaun Marsh, who combined for a second-wicket century partnership. A vintage Finch appeared to be leading Renegades to victory until Hurricanes clawed back into the contest with their season in the balance.
Sandeep Lamichhane, who had earlier taken the wicket of Marsh, was superb in the 18th over with a game-turning dismissal of debutant Unmukt Chand, who had become the first Indian cricketer to play in the BBL.

Then Rogers claimed the big wicket of Finch to decisively turn the game the Hurricanes’ way. That eased the pressure on them ahead of their final league-stage game against Melbourne Stars, even though their playoff position is still undecided.

In further good news for Hurricanes, they are set to welcome back Ashes cult hero Scott Boland, whose sole BBL game this season was against Perth Scorchers on December 14.

Finch stands tall but Renegades collapse
Renegades could well be wondering how their season might have gone with a fit and firing Finch and Marsh, who both missed large chunks of the tournament with injuries.

Marsh turned the clock back with a 38-ball 51 complete with gorgeous strokes around the wicket, but it was Finch who looked best-placed to get Renegades over the line until his dismissal triggered a collapse.

Finch appeared to have timed his run to perfection, but Renegades lost 4 for 15 at the end to suffocate under the pressure in a disappointing performance that encapsulated another poor season for them.

Hurricanes’ batting packs a punch
After an erratic season, Hurricanes have settled on their batting order and No. 3 Matthew Wade has taken to his new role after a sluggish run mid-season in a major boost for their title hopes. The Hurricanes captain helped his side overcome the early loss of Ben McDermott and showed his intent by smashing a six off spinner Cameron Boyce‘s first delivery in the eighth over.
Wade fell just short of his second straight half-century – having made just eight runs in four prior innings – but Hurricanes received a late flurry from D’Arcy Short and Tim David with the pair pummelling 51 off just 22 balls.

In another welcome boost for Hurricanes, an aggressive Short showed great form with 37 off 22 in his most fluent knock of a difficult season, where he had been demoted from opener to No. 4 and entered the match with a low strike rate of 103.

But even he was overshadowed by the big-hitting David, who smashed 46 from 20 balls with four sixes. Hurricanes have had a dilemma all season whether to utilise their designated finisher up the order, and David showed his prowess with his highest score of the season.

Evans pulls off a stunner
Without spearhead Kane Richardson, who has had an excellent season, Renegades’ weakened attack needed someone to step up, and youngster Zak Evans did exactly that in his third BBL match of the season.

First, he took one of the best catches of the tournament to dismiss McDermott – a one-handed blinder after he ran back 30 metres from the edge of the ring and dived backward.

Then the 21-year-old was entrusted to bowl in the power surge and his plan to pitch up worked when he claimed the key wicket of Wade. He couldn’t quite finish the job against a red-hot Short at the death, but it was an encouraging performance from him overall.

It was needed for Renegades with frontline spinner Zahir Khan, who started the season superbly, once again wicketless, having taken just five wickets in his last ten matches.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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Recent Match Report – Zimbabwe vs Sri Lanka 2nd ODI 2021/22



Zimbabwe 302 for 8 (Ervine 91, Raza 56, Vandersay 3-51) beat Sri Lanka 280 for 9 (Shanaka 102, Kamindu 57, Chatara 3-52, Muzarabani 3-56) by 22 runs

Regis Chakabva provided the innings’ early impetus, Craig Ervine hit 91 and put on 106 with Sean Williams, and Sikandar Raza struck a half-century late in the piece to get Zimbabwe to 302 for 7. But the visiting bowlers had to hold their nerve too. In the face of a Dasun Shanaka hundred, which threatened to turn the game after Sri Lanka’s terrible start, Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava bowled exceptional final spells to suck the oxygen out of Sri Lanka’s desperate chase, eventually sealing a 22-run win that leveled the series.

Earlier in Sri Lanka’s innings, Zimbabwe’s seamers had struck perhaps the most decisive blows of the match. Tendai Chatara bowled Kusal Mendis in the fifth over, Muzarabani then had Pathum Nissanka caught behind for 16, before having Dinesh Chandimal out at slip in his next over. Sri Lanka were 31 for 3, then when Charith Asalanka got out, 63 for 4 in the 15th over.

That the hosts recovered was down to Shanaka, and the 118-run fourth-wicket stand he put on with Kamindu Mendis. But the required rate continued to climb right through that partnership, and although Shanaka progressed to his first international century in the company of Chamika Karunaratne, he could never quite push his team into the ascendancy. He got to triple figures with a six over deep square leg, but when he holed out to long off the next ball, with 56 still to get off 32 deliveries, Sri Lanka’s chase essentially lost its last serious hope.

Sri Lanka went down by 22 runs in the end, their last wicket pair in the middle at the close. Chatara and Muzarabani shared three wickets apiece, while Ngarava and Wessley Madhevere took one each. Left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza contributed to Zimbabwe’s defence too, conceding just 34 from his eight overs.

Zimbabwe had only hit seven less in the previous ODI, on a very similar surface, and at the same ground. But this time, they took Sri Lanka by the collar by claiming early wickets.

Kusal Mendis had been dropped at third man off Muzarabani in the second over, but Chatara ensured the mistake would barely cost Zimbabwe, nipping one back off the pitch to breach his defences, for 7. Nissanka, arguably Sri Lanka’s best batter in the previous ODI, was out next over, edging a teasing Muzarabani delivery behind.

When Chandimal edged Muzarabani to the slips in the eighth over, it left Sri Lanka at 31 for 3. Already the hosts’ chances were dwindling. When Asalanka departed for 23, the hosts’ plight appeared pretty much shot.

Kamindu Mendis and Shanaka kept the hosts alive with the biggest stand of the game. Where Kamindu was watchful, Shanaka was aggressive from very early in his innings, smoking Madhevere over midwicket for six off the sixth ball he faced, before crashing him for four through cover later in that over. Shanaka continued to find regular boundaries, particularly square of the wicket. But as briskly as he scored, it never seemed quick enough to put Sri Lanka in control, particularly as Kamindu scored at a measured pace through the course of his knock.

By the end of the 30th over, the required rate had crept up to 7.65. After the 35th, it was up to 8.06, and Kamindu had just got out. Shanaka and Karunaratne then put on 66 together, but the runs didn’t come fast enough, and the partnership was not sufficiently substantial.

Zimbabwe’s own innings had been, like it was on Sunday, a group project in which a middle-order left-hander took the lead. This time, it was captain Ervine that played the defining knock. He put the bad legside balls away to begin his innings, and then settled into a diet of frequent singles and twos into the outfield, rarely missing the opportunity for a risk-free run. He and Williams ensured Zimbabwe’s run rate skipped along at more than 5.5 an over through the course of their big partnership, with Ervine reaching his fifty off the 56th ball he faced.

Later, Raza played a vital innings too. He hit a six off the sixth ball he faced, in the 37th over, and did not let his strike rate dip below fifty for the majority of his innings, getting to his half-century off the 41st ball he faced.

Zimbabwe had rolled up to the 40th over on 232 for 4, and Sri Lanka would perhaps reflect that from that position, they had done well to keep the opposition to 70 runs in the last 10 overs. But when Zimbabwe’s quicks made those early strikes, the outlook of the the match changed dramatically.

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

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