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Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs Namibia 31st Match, Group 2 2021/22

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Pakistan ticked several boxes as they wrapped up a fourth win in four games at the T20 World Cup

Pakistan 189 for 2 (Rizwan 79*, Babar 70) beat Namibia 144 for 5 (Wiese 43, Williams 40, Imad 1-13, Hasan 1-22) by 45 runs

With one foot in the semi-final already, and having an opportunity to tick off some other boxes before the knockouts, Pakistan did exactly that by opting to bat first, putting on a total of 189, and then defending the score with ease.

Pakistan’s 45-run win over Namibia has now confirmed their final-four spot, leaving only Scotland in their path to a 100% group-stage win rate.

It was Pakistan’s first time winning a game while batting first in this tournament. Their captain Babar Azam mentioned that as their main objective at the toss and he backed his words up with a 49-ball 70 as well. His opening partner Mohammad Rizwan complimented him with 79. And an all-round bowling effort saw them cruise to victory.

The only box Pakistan did not tick was in testing their bench strength. Pakistan played the same XI like their first three games, and Azam said that was because the Namibia contest was their first in Abu Dhabi. Although Pakistan’s bowlers could take only five wickets in Namibia’s chase, they did well to restrict their opponents to 144 with Imad Wasim and Hasan Ali going at economies of less than six.

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WATCH - Rizwan slaps it over deep square leg to raise his fifty

WATCH – Rizwan slaps it over deep square leg to raise his fifty

Azam-Rizwan develop a century habit

Pakistan’s start was not fluent. Left-arm seamer Ruben Trumpelmann beat Rizwan’s outside edge thrice in the first over to start off with a maiden. Rizwan then struggled with his timing as he either missed or mis-hit his shots. With the Namibia seamers – JJ Smith and David Wiese, along with Trumpelmann – all bowling change-ups on a sticky deck, Pakistan could only muster 29 in the first six overs. That was the fourth-lowest powerplay score in all T20Is for a team that lost no wickets.

But while Rizwan was looking off-colour, Azam kept finding the gaps with his controlled aggression and together they reached 59 in ten overs. At that stage, Azam was on 43 and Rizwan 16 in 25 balls.

But with ten wickets in hand, and only ten overs left, the duo had the liberty to up the risks. Azam’s 70 took them to their fifth T20I century stand – the most by any pair in the format’s history – before the first wicket fell in the 15th over. But by then, Pakistan were at 113.

Rizwan changes gears

Aggression was the only way to approach the last five overs. But Fakhar Zaman did not last long, caught by the wicketkeeper Zane Green as he dived to his left after being briefly wrong-footed. That brought in Mohammad Hafeez at No. 4, and he began with an assault that saw him made 32 in 16 balls that included five fours. Most of those boundaries were deft shots, either scooping fours past short fine leg or threading late cuts between backward point and short third man.

In Hafeez’s company, Rizwan finally found his hands. Before the final over, he was on 55 off 44 balls. And then he decided to break loose. The last over from Smit went for 24 off Rizwan’s bat and Pakistan’s late hitting took them to 189 for 2. Namibia leaked 130 in the back half after conceding only 59 in their first half.

Hasan finds his footing

Although Hasan hasn’t been horrendous by any means, the success of the other bowlers in the Pakistan set up so far meant that he was the least impressive bowler in the XI coming into the game.

On Tuesday night, he – instead of Imad – was given the new-ball duties alongside Shaheen Shah Afridi, and struck in his first over by getting a full ball to swing in and dislodge left-hand batter Michael van Lingen’s stumps.

That set the tone for his first spell, where he conceded just nine runs in two powerplay overs. He returned for another two overs later in the innings, and conceded only 13 in those 12 balls to finish with 1 for 22. It was just the kind of return Pakistan needed from Hasan for his own confidence moving into the business end.

Too much for Namibia to do

Although Namibia lost just five wickets, they were never really in the chase. Craig Williams batted for 37 balls, but he could eke out only 40. Stephen Baard made a run-a-ball 29 before being run out. Gerhard Erasmus’ 10-ball 15 looked promising, but he was snuffed off by Imad before he could cause big damage.

With three overs to go, Namibia’s chances of a win according to ESPNcricinfo’s forecaster was 0.67%. And despite the ultra-aggressive hitting from David Wiese it kept dipping even further. Wiese did the best he could to ignore the match situation and entertained the crowds with his two sixes and three fours to finish unbeaten on a 31-ball 45.

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



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India vs NZ, 2nd Test

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Tom Latham will lead New Zealand

Rahane is out due to a minor left hamstring strain he picked up while fielding on the final day of the Kanpur Test. Jadeja’s is a right forearm injury that required scans which revealed swelling. “He has been advised rest,” stated a BCCI release.

Ishant, meanwhile, dislocated his left little finger on the final day in Kanpur, leaving the door open for Mohammed Siraj‘s return. Siraj had himself sustained a finger injury during the T20I series, but has now been deemed fit.
For Williamson, it’s the recurrence of an old left-elbow problem that has troubled him for much of the year. Coach Gary Stead confirmed the injury had flared up during the first Test and with it failing to improve in the days following the match, the call was made to rule him out. In his absence. Tom Latham will lead the side.

“It’s been a really tough time for Kane having to deal with such a persistent injury,” Stead said. “While we’ve been able to manage the injury through the year and the T20 World Cup, the shift to Test cricket and the increased batting loading has re-aggravated his elbow.

“Ultimately the injury is still not right and while he got through the Kanpur Test, it was clear playing in the second Test wasn’t an option.”

Meanwhile, the absence of Rahane and Jadeja could leave India’s team management contemplate a sixth batting option. If they go down this route, it could mean a debut for KS Bharat or Suryakumar Yadav at his home ground. Wriddhiman Saha was ruled fit by Virat Kohli a day before the match.



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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs West Indies 2nd Test 2021/22

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Ninth-wicket partnership of 107 with Embuldeniya hurts West Indies and their hopes of victory in Galle

Sri Lanka 328 for 8 (Dhananjaya 153*, Embuldeniya 25*, Permaul 3-100, Chase 2-82) and 204 lead West Indies 253 by 279 runs

Dhananjaya de Silva came to the crease with Sri Lanka only 23 runs ahead, with three wickets down, and their most experienced batter injured an unable to play normally. By the time his work ended on day four, Sri Lanka were 279 runs ahead, with two wickets still in hand, in firm control.
De Silva, in sublime touch for much of this knock, was 153 not out off 259 balls by stumps, put on 78 alongside Pathum Nissanka to rescue Sri Lanka from immediate peril, and made 51 with Ramesh Mendis during a second session in which West Indies’ spinners made a four-wicket charge, but it was with No. 10 Lasith Embuldeniya with whom he produced the most consequential and perhaps match-defining partnership – an as-yet unbeaten association of 107 runs, during which he completed his eighth Test century, and breezed past 150, plundering 73 runs off 98 balls from a tiring attack.
He was dropped twice – both times off the bowling of Veerasammy Permaul. On 5, wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva could not hold on to a big edge, though this was an incredibly difficult chance, the ball traveling quickly and hitting only the tips of his gloves. The opportunity West Indies will rue more came when de Silva was on 116 and attempted a slog sweep with the field spread. Permaul got himself under the swirling top edge as he ran toward the sight screen, but ultimately could not wrap his fingers around the ball. If he’d caught that, Sri Lanka would have been nine down with a lead of 218. It’s possible West Indies would already have been batting by now, chasing a difficult but not outlandish target.

The earliest stretch of the de Silva-Embuldeniya stand had been tense. Embuldeniya had come in with Sri Lanka only 179 ahead, and with Permaul having taken two wickets in quick succession with the second new ball. De Silva was batting on 80, and so the hundred was in sight as well. But the pair settled into a rhythm – de Silva farming the strike to give Embuldeniya only the last two or three balls an over, where possible. Though de Silva didn’t always attempt to hit boundaries early in those overs, largely because Kraigg Brathwaite had positioned fielders on the rope.

Embuldeniya scratched his way through that period, facing 20 balls before de Silva was able to complete the century. After that, de Silva moved up the gears. He hit Roston Chase behind point for four soon after getting to a hundred, then slammed him over long-on two balls later. The field spread back to him, he ran hard twos, and when Brathwaite brought the seamers back, attacked them as well. Having got to his hundred off his 189th delivery, he added the next 50 off 65.

Embuldeniya played an unambitious supporting hand, all the way up to stumps. He faced 110 balls for his 25. He did not hit a single boundary, but was largely good in defence. West Indies, through this period, seemed ragged and short of ideas. Brathwaite bowled a strange spell in which he occasionally tossed the ball up almost comically high.

West Indies will be kicking themselves for letting the situation slip, after having surged through the middle session, and having kept the opposition in check even before lunch. Sri Lanka had begun the day still three runs in arrears, and with two inexperienced batters at the crease. Permaul got one to bite to take Charith Asalanka’s inside edge, which popped up off the pad to short leg, in the first hour of play. And although Nissanka completed his third fifty of the series in the company of de SIlva, he was out the ball before lunch too – lbw to Chase.

Chase struck again in the afternoon, pocketing a return catch off Dinesh Chandimal, before Brathwaite was the beneficiary of the only wicket Sri Lanka truly threw away in the day – Mendis holing out at deep midwicket the over before the second new ball was due. Permaul removed Suranga Lakmal and Angelo Mathews cheaply with that new ball. He finished the day on 3 for 100 – West Indies’ best analysis.

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



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‘Absolute clarity’ on South Africa tour ‘within a day or two or pretty soon’

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As of now, India are scheduled to start their Test series in South Africa on December 17

India players are confident they will have “absolute clarity” around the South Africa tour in “a day or two or pretty soon”, their captain Virat Kohli has said. Kohli was speaking at the pre-match press conference for the second and deciding Test of the series against New Zealand, which is scheduled to end on December 7. As of now, India are scheduled to start their Test series in South Africa on December 17, for which they will have to leave India pretty much immediately after the Mumbai Test ends.

However, the situation in South Africa is dynamic with the new variant of Covid-19, Omicron, bringing a surge in daily positive cases and hospitalisations, especially in the Gauteng province of South Africa where India are scheduled to play the first two of the three Tests before moving south to Cape Town.

Last week, the second and third ODIs of Netherlands’ tour of South Africa were called off after several countries, including many in the European Union, imposed travel restrictions on southern Africa. But the India A team has stayed back in South Africa to continue with its shadow tour before the Tests, which gives CSA hope that the senior team will make the journey.

“Look, it is pretty natural [for them to wonder and worry and talk about whether the tour will go ahead and what the protocols will be],” Kohli said. “We are not playing in normal times anyway. So there is a lot of planning that is involved, a lot of preparation that is involved in terms of understanding exactly what is going to go on. There are players who are not part of the group right now who will be entering quarantine to join the team bubble to fly in a charter.

“Those kinds of things you want to seek clarity as soon as possible. So we have spoken to all the senior members of the squad. Obviously, Rahul bhai [Dravid, the coach] has initiated a conversation within the group, which is very important.

“Our focus from the Test match will not shift regardless, but also you want to have clarity and you want to be in a situation where you know exactly what is going on. We have been talking to the board, and we are pretty confident that within a day or two or pretty soon we will have absolute clarity as to what is going on.

“We have to be realistic as well. We cannot just ignore the things that potentially could put you in a confusing place. And no one wants to be there. I am sure everyone is working hard towards finding clarity and giving us the situation as it unfolds as soon as possible. We all are hopeful that that will happen soon. Our prime focus right now is the second Test, and the other things are simultaneously being taken care of.”

The BCCI has said the tour is on as of now, but the eventual green signal will have to come from the government of India. However, the board will also have to take the players along. It is worth noting they decided to not play the series-decider at Old Trafford in England when there were positive cases in the Indian support staff. They have been playing practically non-stop and moving from bubble to bubble ever since the IPL started in 2020.

CSA nervously awaits India’s decision because losing out on an India tour could really set them back financially. There were reports that India might have asked for the tour to be pushed back by a week so that they can monitor Omicron a little more and then make a decision, but CSA denied any such conversation had happened. “There hasn’t been such request or discussion with the BCCI, hence it is purely speculation unless or until they engage us on this,” CSA’s acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki said. “So as of now, CSA is not aware of this.”

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



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