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Recent Match Report – Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka 15th Match, Group 1 2021/22

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Mushfiqur Rahim’s unbeaten 37-ball 57 had spurred Bangladesh on to a daunting 171 in the first innings

Sri Lanka 172 for 5 (Asalanka 80*, Rajapaksa 53, Shakib 2-17) beat Bangladesh 171 for 4 (Naim 62, Mushfiqur 57*) by five wickets

For once, it was Sri Lanka’s batters who bailed their bowlers out. It wasn’t the experienced hands either. Here was Sri Lanka’s new generation standing up. Chasing 172, on an asymmetric ground (there was a 73-metre boundary on one side, and a 57-metre one on the other), Charith Asalanka produced the innings of the game, hitting 80 not out off 49 balls, from Sri Lanka’s troubled No. 3 position. Along the way, he had the company of Pathum Nissanka, with whom he put up a stand worth 69 off 45, before Bhanuka Rajapaksa came in at No. 6 and struck 53 off 31 himself, effectively helping secure the game.
This, to trump an outstanding 57 not out off 37 from Mushfiqur Rahim, and a solid 62 off 52 from Mohammad Naim. They played Sri Lanka’s top wicket-takers incredibly well. Neither Dushmantha Chameera nor Wanindu Hasaranga took a wicket, and both went at more than 9.5 an over.

0:37

WATCH - Rajapaksa completes a quick half-century

WATCH – Rajapaksa completes a quick half-century

Bangladesh, perhaps, were guilty of keeping too many overs from their two best bowlers – Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman – in reserve. By the time Shakib came in to bowl his third over in the 17th, Sri Lanka were fully in control of the chase.

Asalanka explodes in the powerplay
Before this match, Asalanka’s T20 strike rate was 120. He had not been especially impressive in the T20Is he had played either. The fact he was coming in at No. 3 was more to do with the fact that Sri Lanka had a hole to fill there, not because Asalanka was particularly suited to that position. All of which made this innings that much more remarkable.

Having come in during the first over following Kusal Perera’s dismissal, Asalanka swept his third ball – from Mahedi Hasan, who turns the ball away from him – for four. Next over, he walloped the left-arm spin of Nasum Ahmed – against the turn again – over long off (the shorter side of the ground), before slog sweeping him with the turn for another six. He hit another four off Mohammad Saifuddin, and by the end of the powerplay, Asalanka had 32 off 18 in Sri Lanka’ s 54 for 1.

Shakib makes a double-strike
Shakib was unable to make his presence felt with the bat, but his second over seemed to turn the game. Pathum Nissanka was batting nicely with Asalanka, the pair having put on a brisk 69 together, before Shakib dipped one underneath Nissanka’s sweep, and later in that same over, foxed Avishka Fernando with another flighted delivery for his second bowled dismissal of the over. When Wanindu Hasaranga – promoted to No. 5 again – holed out in the next over, Sri Lanka had slid from 79 for 1 to 79 for 4.

The stand with Rajapaksa
Bhanuka Rajapaksa, though, produced perhaps his best international innings to date, to help Asalanka all-but guide Sri Lanka home. He started slowly, making only six from his first nine, before making big moves against Afif Hossain, the offspinner who had been brought on to bowl at the two lefties at the crease. He hit him inside out over cover for six (with the spin), but then had a huge slice of fortune, when Liton Das misread a catch at deep square-leg and dropped Rajapaksa on 14, palming the ball on to the boundary.

0:46

WATCH - Mushfiqur's wristy whip for six

WATCH – Mushfiqur’s wristy whip for six

The pair edged Sri Lanka closer, largely playing risk-free shots, until Rajapaksa positively exploded in the 16th over – bowled by Saifuddin – smashing a six over deep square-leg, another over deep midwicket, and two fours to boot. When the 22 runs had been scored off that over, Sri Lanka only needed 24 at a run-a-ball.

Mushfiqur and Naim set Bangladesh up
Despite the short boundary on one side, Bangladesh’s 171 for 4 seemed a good – if not quite commanding – total. Both Naim and Mushfiqur targeted the square boundaries, but it was Mushfiqur who was especially effective at moving around the crease to get into positions that allowed him to target that short side of the field. The pair’s partnership was worth 71 off 51, and effectively formed the spine of Bangladesh’s innings. Mushfiqur’s half-century was his fourth overall in T20Is, and his third against Sri Lanka.

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



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Recent Match Report – AUS Women vs ENG Women Only Test 2021/22

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Megan Schutt is not part of the Australia line-up in Canberra

England won the toss and decided to bowl against Australia

Heather Knight gave her bowlers the chance to find some early help from the Canberra surface after putting Australia into bat in the one-off Ashes Test with both sides fielding a debutant.

Legspinner Alana King came into the Australia side and is part of an attack that does not feature the experienced Megan Schutt who is being carefully managed ahead of the ODI World Cup. Darcie Brown, Annabel Sutherland, Tahlia McGrath and Ellyse Perry are the pace-bowling options.

Schutt contracted Covid-19 late last year which has affected her conditioning and the selectors have an eye on the World Cup next month, but a CA spokesperson said she was medically fit for selection.

In an interesting batting-order tweak, captain Meg Lanning was listed at No. 5 with Beth Mooney, playing just 10 days after fracturing her jaw, due to come in at No. 3.

England have handed a first cap to offspinner Charlie Dean in a side with five specialist bowlers which was flagged yesterday by Knight. She will support left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone while the experienced trio of Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole and Kate Cross make up the pace attack alongside allrounder Nat Sciver.

The opening day is set fair although there is the forecast of some storms over the weekend. The Test carries four points in the multi-format series – if Australia win they will retain the Ashes.

Australia 1 Rachael Haynes, 2 Alyssa Healy (wk), 3 Beth Mooney, 4 Ellyse Perry, 5 Meg Lanning (capt), 6 Tahlia McGrath, 7 Ashleigh Gardner, 8 Annabel Sutherland, 9 Jess Jonassen, 10 Alana King, 11 Darcie Brown

England 1 Tammy Beaumont, 2 Lauren Winfield-Hill, 3 Heather Knight (capt), 4 Nat Sciver, 5 Sophia Dunkley, 6 Amy Jones (wk), 7 Katherine Brunt, 8 Charlie Dean, 9 Anya Shrubsole, 10 Sophie Ecclestone, 11 Kate Cross

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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West Indies tour of India

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Bonner, Bravo and King strengthen batting for India tour after shock Ireland defeat

Desmond Haynes has marked his first squad since replacing Roger Harper as West Indies’ lead selector by handing Kemar Roach an ODI recall after two-and-a-half years out of the side for February’s series in India.

Roach is one of six additions to the squad that lost 2-1 at home to Ireland this month, with Roston Chase and Justin Greaves among the players dropping out of the squad after lean series with the bat.

Fabian Allen has recovered from Covid-19 and replaces Gudakesh Motie in the 15-man squad, while Nkrumah Bonner, Darren Bravo and Brandon King strengthen the batting group and Hayden Walsh Jr offers an extra spin option. Jayden Seales and Devon Thomas, neither of whom featured against Ireland, also lose their places.
Roach has not played any white-ball cricket – either List A or T20 – since his most recent ODI, against India in 2019 but Haynes said that he had been recalled with an eye on early wickets.

“Kemar Roach is one of our leading fast bowlers,” Haynes said, “and we believe we need bowlers up front to get early wickets. Kemar, with an economy rate of five, is certainly good enough to play.”

The three-match ODI series, which will be played in Ahmedabad on February 6, 9 and 11, is part of the ODI Super League which forms the pathway for the 2023 World Cup, which is scheduled in India in October-November next year.

After the shock series defeat against Ireland, which preceded the ongoing T20I series against England, West Indies captain Kieron Pollard had underlined that his team had a “batting problem”. Having successfully defended 269 in the first ODI against Ireland, West Indies struggled in the final two matches, scoring 229 and 212.

Greaves struggled in all three matches and has now been replaced by Bonner, who made his ODI debut in Bangladesh series last year. Haynes said that Bonner had come on “leaps and bounds” in recent years and that he deserves “an opportunity to play in the 50-over format” and stressed his desire for competition for places ahead of the 2023 World Cup in India.

“We want to have competition for places,” he said. “We want to reach a stage where we have a lot of players fighting for positions. We want to broaden the pool of players we have to choose from. The team we have selected is a very good side and we are looking at this tour as part of the preparations for the World Cup in India in 2023.”

While the India tour also comprises three T20s, which will be played in Kolkata on February 16, 18 and 20, Haynes’ panel has opted to wait for the England series to finish before picking the squad.

West Indies ODI squad: Kieron Pollard (captain), Fabian Allen, Nkrumah Bonner, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Hayden Walsh Jr



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England players deserve medals, not criticism after getting through Ashes series

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Paul Collingwood believes that the Ashes were “one step too far” and that he is genuinely concerned about the long-term implications on the mental health of players that Covid bubbles are causing.

Speaking in Barbados, where he is standing in for Chris Silverwood as head coach during England’s T20I series against West Indies, and on the island where he became England’s first ever World Cup-winning captain, Collingwood spoke explicitly on the realities of life in the bubble, and fears that the long-term impact of the pandemic on cricketers may be severely damaging.

“I don’t think people have understood the impact and the effects that these bubbles have had,” Collingwood said. “Going to the Ashes off the back of a tough bubble in Dubai, I think was literally one step too far.

“You can’t even explain what it’s like until you experience it. The simple fact is you cannot walk out of your front door and as soon as you’re told that you cannot do something as simple as going for a coffee, and you are penned in with the same guys. A lot of people will say ‘that must be fun’ and ‘you’ve got a lovely hotel’ [but] it hits you.

“Take someone like Chris Woakes, the most loveable and down-to-earth guy. I have seen him in some serious mental states. We have seen Ben Stokes, someone we consider to be the most mentally tough cricketer in the world, being hit by this. I just hope there are no ramifications moving forward because when they come, they won’t be obvious next week or the week after. These are things that might come out down the line. That’s what scares me.”

The England players underwent strict quarantine on the Gold Coast, and managed only two full days of match practice going into the first Test in Brisbane. Rory Burns’ golden duck set the tone for a dismal series as England were bowled out for 147 on the first day and went on to lose 4-0, hanging on for a draw in Sydney while nine wickets down.

Despite England’s hammering, Collingwood stressed that England were facing an impossible task. “I reckon if you had given us the best England cricketers in the Ashes from the last 100 years and put them in the same environment that those boys have lived in over the past two years with the preparation that we had going into this Ashes even they wouldn’t have had a chance,” he said.

Collingwood was part of the England squad that won the 2010-11 Ashes down under and understands precisely the physical and mental levels required to compete in Australia. He retired from international cricket after that winter and since then, England have failed to win a Test match in Australia, across 15 attempts.

Collingwood was part of a group alongside Silverwood, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Woakes and Mark Wood that spent six weeks in a bubble in the UAE, before flying to Australia for their quarantine period on the Gold Coast and insisted that the lack of meaningful preparation only compounded the situation.

And while he admitted that England made mistakes at the toss and in selection, he said that players should be praised for the efforts they had made in getting through the series in a strict environment, suggesting that Cricket Australia should have agreed to a compromise rather than packing five Tests into a short window during the pandemic.

“You are burnt out from the start after your team has been in the intense environment of a World Cup,” he said. “It wasn’t club cricket that these players were coming from. Then there’s just two days of preparation before going into the Ashes. Australia is the hardest place to go to when you’ve got your best team in form and everyone’s playing consistently. We’ve seen that from the past.

“Yes, we made mistakes, 100%. We made selection mistakes, we made toss mistakes, but the fact we actually turned up and agreed to a five-match Ashes series, the guys should be given medals for that. It would’ve been much better if we’d done two matches and then three next year. That would’ve been a great compromise.

“But no, Australia were not bothered that they were going to receive an England team who were mentally fatigued, they just wanted to get the product out there. They just wanted the Ashes. These guys deserve medals, not criticism. They should be told ‘well done’ for even going. It’s the equivalent of the England football team being asked to go to a World Cup, then from that bubble into the Euros. Would you expect a performance from that scenario? It’s ludicrous.”

Ahead of another hectic schedule for England in 2022, which includes tours to West Indies, Netherlands, Pakistan and Australia, as well as a jam-packed home summer and another T20 World Cup in October, Collingwood hopes that at least in England, they can operate without bubbles, but fears that the damage may already have been done – not just for England players but also for cricketers around the world.

“I almost think it is too late to get these messages across,” he said. “These sorts of things should have been brought out in the middle of last summer. We saw the signs then when boys were fading, and it is not healthy for the game. This isn’t just us. We have obviously played the most amount of cricket, but it will catch up with other teams as well.”

Aadam Patel is a freelance sports reporter who has written for BBC Sport, the Daily Mail, ESPNcricinfo, the Cricketer and other publications @aadamp9



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