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T20 World Cup – Ind vs NZ

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New Zealander hadn’t opened in T20Is before this week, now he’s put India on the brink

Twenty of the 22 players involved in India vs New Zealand in Dubai have played in the world’s premier franchise league but the highest-scoring batter’s overseas T20 experience extends to half a season in the Vitality Blast for Middlesex.

Until a week ago, Daryl Mitchell had never opened the batting in T20 cricket, but he was the only man to overcome a slow Dubai surface, making 49 off 35 balls to set up New Zealand’s cruise to victory and ensuring that their destiny in the T20 World Cup remains in their own hands.
Nobody had expected Mitchell to open in this tournament, not least the man himself after a career spent scrapping in the middle order in this format. “I pride my ability to be able to adapt to whatever position that I have to bat at – No. 3-4 or in the middle or late overs,” he told ESPNcricinfo in the build-up to the World Cup. “Especially in international cricket, you need to be able to adjust to different situations and different scenarios at any batting position from No. 1 to 7. It’s never the same every innings.”
New Zealand had not planned for this either. They spent the vast majority of the five-and-a-half years between World Cups using Colin Munro as Martin Guptill’s partner, with Tim Seifert replacing him a year ago after his contract stand-off with NZC, and Rachin Ravindra, Tom Blundell and Finn Allen all trialled in the role in the last eight months.

But their management saw something in Mitchell’s straightforward technique and ability to hit sixes – no-one has hit more in their domestic tournament, the Super Smash, since the start of 2016 – and recognised that exploiting the fielding restrictions would be crucial on slow pitches. After a brief trial in the warm-up games, he was backed to open against Pakistan in Sharjah and showed enough signs in an innings of 27 off 20 balls – featuring sixes off Hasan Ali and Imad Wasim – to keep his place ahead of Seifert when New Zealand opted to bring in an extra batter.

His innings was one of calculated aggression. At first, he let Guptill take the majority of the strike and attack India’s new-ball bowlers, Varun Chakravarthy and Jasprit Bumrah, pushing his way to 5 off nine balls. But when Ravindra Jadeja came on to bowl the final powerplay over, he lofted his second ball over mid-on for six, then latched onto him when he dragged his length back, carving him through midwicket then cutting him through the gap at cover-point.

Within the space of three shots, any pretence of scoring pressure had been removed. The rest of the innings was a cruise, and he seized upon Mohammed Shami and Shardul Thakur when they erred in length, both too short and too full. He fell one short of a first T20I half-century, foxed by Bumrah’s cutter, but had effectively sealed the win long before; that he hit more sixes in 35 balls than India did in 120 told the story of the game.

“I think it’s phenomenal,” Ish Sodhi, adjudged player of the match after removing Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, said afterwards. “Just speaking to him then, it was his second game opening the batting in Twenty20 professional cricket, facing one of the best bowling attacks in the world.

“It’s a huge testament to his character, and the backing he’s receiving from our camp, who believe in his ability immensely. It was never going to be an easy chase – they were always going to come out, be aggressive with the ball. The conditions, we didn’t quite know how they were going to play, [but] the way that he played that game was definitely the icing on the cake.”

Few players epitomise New Zealand cricket better than Mitchell, a 30-year-old allrounder who adds all-round value to his teams but who must rarely be stopped on the street for photos or autographs. His main claim to fame before tonight was that his father John played rugby for the All Blacks, and until recently, searching his name on ESPNcricinfo returned the profile of Worcestershire’s former opening batter.

Mitchell’s promotion to open the batting in this tournament was a calculated gamble, but appears to be paying off: if he can lead New Zealand into the semi-finals at India’s expense, it will begin to look like a masterstroke.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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Ajaz Patel after 10-for: 'One of the greatest cricketing days in my life'

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As a result of the 10-for, he has something to do as he quarantines when he goes back home



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VVS Laxman to be part of India’s U-19 World Cup contingent

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Former India batter to officially take over NCA job on December 13

VVS Laxman will be taking over as NCA chief on December 13 along with the other coaches after the appointments were ratified by the general body at the BCCI AGM in Kolkata on Saturday.
Laxman and Troy Cooley who has been roped in as bowling coach, are among the high-profile appointments. Cooley has been signed with an aim to develop India’s next generation of fast bowlers.

“Laxman’s contract has been signed already. His last media assignment is the second Test between New Zealand and India,” a senior BCCI officer bearer told PTI. “He will be joining in Bengaluru from December 13.”

Laxman’s immediate task is to oversee India’s preparation for the 2022 Under-19 World Cup in the Caribbean in January-February. With covid forcing the junior calendar to a halt earlier this year, the BCCI is currently in the midst of identifying a core group of players following the completion of back-to-back Under-19 tournaments.

As per the PTI report, Laxman is expected to travel to the Caribbean for a certain period during the World Cup. The BCCI office bearer also said one of Hrishikesh Kanitkar or Sitanshu Kotak, who are back on the NCA roster, will be travelling as head coach. Kotak is currently with India A on their shadow tour of South Africa.

Meanwhile, the BCCI will be sending 20 players across formats for the South Africa tour. The BCCI functionaries confirmed that the tour was postponed by a week, and will now include three Tests and as many ODIs. The T20I leg is expected to be played at a later date.



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Eileen Ash oldest-ever Test cricketer, dies aged 110

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ECB pay tribute to “a remarkable woman who led an extraordinary life”

Eileen Ash, who was the oldest living Test cricketer, has died at the age of 110 with the ECB paying tribute to “a remarkable woman who led an extraordinary life”.
Ash, née Whelan, made her Test debut for England against Australia in 1937 and played seven Tests in total, taking 10 wickets at an average of 23.00 with her right-arm seam bowling before her retirement in 1949. In the middle of her international career, she was seconded to MI6 – the UK’s secret intelligence service – during the Second World War.

Ash was a well-known figure throughout her final years. She rang the bell at Lord’s ahead of England’s win in the final of the 2017 Women’s World Cup against India, and two years later the MCC unveiled a portrait of her at the same ground.

Clare Connor, the ECB’s managing director of women’s cricket and the MCC’s president, said: “Our sport owes so much to its pioneers and Eileen was one of them. I am deeply sad to be saying goodbye to her today.

“Heather [Knight, England captain] and I went to visit Eileen about six months before the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup – she was 105 at the time – and it was one of the most remarkable experiences. Eileen taught Heather yoga, we played snooker, we drank cups of tea and we leafed through newspapers and scrapbooks celebrating Eileen’s time as a player in the 1930s and 1940s.

“She regaled us with some amazing stories, including how she came to have her bat signed by Sir Donald Bradman at a French restaurant in Sydney in 1949. I know neither of us will ever forget that day, it was so special.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Eileen’s family as they come to terms with losing such a wonderful woman and the end of an astonishing life.”



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