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Match Preview – India vs Scotland, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 37th Match, Group 2

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Royal Challengers Bangalore need to win their next two and hope Chennai Super Kings beat Kolkata Knight Riders by a certain margin, and then… Rings a bell? It should. For Virat Kohli at least. Used to dealing with a lot of those in the IPL, he and his Indian team have had to do quite a bit of it at the T20 World Cup too.

India’s fate is not entirely in their hands, but they need to win big in their next two games to elevate their just-positive net run-rate. Scotland can’t qualify, but a statement against a top-billed side won’t do any harm to their standing as an improved Associate side that wants to go toe to toe with the big boys.

On Wednesday, they did wonderfully well, running New Zealand close in a very big chase and giving them the jitters, for a while at least. One big partnership, one better death over, one small push – that’s how close they were from causing an upset that would have won them many Indian fans. If they can sustain that momentum and run India close, it will be a giant leap for them – though it might not help with Indian fans much.

5:32

WATCH - India beat Afghanistan by 66 runs

WATCH – India beat Afghanistan by 66 runs

Against Afghanistan, India’s top four – for the day – fired in unison, sustaining aggression and momentum right through the innings, something they hadn’t done in their first two games. They would have, however, liked to win by a bigger margin after removing the cream of Afghanistan’s batting by the halfway mark. They ended up conceding 56 off the last five overs, and will hope to close out better with the ball against Scotland, while hoping the batting carries on in similar fashion.

It’s all pretty clear. A big win is a non-negotiable for India; they wouldn’t want to leave too much ground to cover in the final game against Namibia, should Afghanistan beat New Zealand. Scotland might have done well, very well, over the years, but they wouldn’t get the attention they will if they beat India. That is motivation enough.

Form guide

India WLLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Scotland LLLWW

In the spotlight

Hardik Pandya‘s immediate white-ball future could hinge on his ability to bowl consistently, apart from offering lower-order batting muscle. Against Afghanistan, he was far from being in rhythm in his two expensive overs, but his six-laden 13-ball 35* helped no end. But, well, he is an allrounder.

As an opener, George Munsey can access parts of the ground few batters in the current Scotland team can. And the ability to do it in the powerplay makes him a dangerous proposition. But, so far this tournament, while he has given glimpses of this ability, he has failed to convert his starts, 29 being his highest in six innings. He has one more chance to come good here.

Team news

India have welcomed a fit Suryakumar Yadav back but were set back by an injury to Varun Chakravarthy against Afghanistan. But with R Ashwin returning 2 for 14, it’s likely Chakravarthy will have more time to recover.

India: 1 KL Rahul, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Jasprit Bumrah

Fast bowler Josh Davey is still nursing a “niggle”, according to captain Kyle Coetzer, and a final call will be taken on match day.

Scotland: 1 George Munsey, Kyle Coetzer (capt), 3 Calum MacLeod, 4 Richie Berrington, 5 Michael Leask, 6 Matthew Cross (wk), 7 Chris Greaves, 8 Mark Watt, 9 Safyaan Sharif, 10 Josh Davey/Alasdair Evans, 11 Brad Wheal

5:22

WATCH - New Zealand beat Scotland by 16 runs

WATCH – New Zealand beat Scotland by 16 runs

Pitch and conditions

It’s a night game in Dubai, with heavy dew likely in the second half. That means the captain winning the toss would once again want to chase. Will the luck of the coin smile on Kohli, who has now lost 13 of his last 14 tosses for India? A lot might depend on what the surface in Dubai is like.

Stats that matter

  • India are yet to play Scotland in a completed T20I. They were slated to open their campaign against Scotland in the inaugural edition in 2007, only for the game to be washed out without a ball bowled.
  • India have never lost a T20I when Rohit Sharma has made 50 or more since 2017.
  • Jasprit Bumrah is one strike away from joining Ashwin as the highest wicket-taker in T20Is for India.
  • Michael Leask’s strike rate of 164 is the third-best in the competition among those who have faced at least 50 balls. He’s so far batted at Nos. 6 and 7. He’s presented a case clearly for Scotland to try and utilise him better.

  • Munsey is set to play his 50th T20I.
  • Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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    BBL11 2021-22 – Ashton Turner backs uncertainty to galvanise Perth Scorchers

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    There are only two games locked in for Perth with Covid-19 potentially causing more disruption

    Captain Ashton Turner refused to be drawn into whether Perth Scorchers had the toughest challenge in the upcoming BBL amid ongoing pandemic hurdles, instead striking confidence that his team is well equipped to handle any arising drama.

    The Covid-19 situation across Australia continues to cause headaches on the eve of the new BBL season exacerbated by the unknown of the Omicron variant.

    With Western Australia implementing the strictest border controls in the country, where travellers from New South Wales and Victoria are not currently allowed into the state, Scorchers could face lengthy stints on the road much like last season when they only played four games at Optus Stadium.

    Scorchers start their season against Brisbane Heat at home on December 8, but their next fixture against Adelaide Strikers on December 11 had to be moved to Sydney due to changed border rules.

    Their only other confirmed match at Optus Stadium is against Hobart Hurricanes on December 20.

    There are fears chaos could ensue during Scorchers’ bid to end a five-year title drought, but Turner sought a positive approach.

    “We know we are going to get challenged,” he said as he was unveiled as Scorchers’ permanent captain on Wednesday. “There is a bit of uncertainty over where we will play our games. It’s something we’ve had time to prepare for. Everyone is used to changing schedules and fixturing at the last minute.”

    Against the odds, Scorchers were runners-up last season and showcased a resolve reminiscent of their golden era under Justin Langer. Turner, who was the interim captain last season relieving then skipper Mitchell Marsh, believed they could once again be “galvanised” if the situation goes awry.

    “We feel like we can be adaptable. We have a team that can play on the east coast,” he said. “I think there is a real benefit of being in a confined space together for a long period of time.”

    Coupled with the off-field uncertainty, there is an unknown over a new-look Scorchers outfit without big-hitting openers Jason Roy and Liam Livingstone. It will add burden on returning international Colin Munro who has an extra point to prove after missing selection for New Zealand’s T20 World Cup squad.

    Turner, however, believed the Scorchers had the “flexibility” to cover the absences of the dynamic Englishmen. “It will be a different approach this year. Mitch Marsh is probably the in-form T20 batter in the world and will move up the order,” he said. “I’m looking forward to Kurtis Patterson coming into the team and Cameron Bancroft having a more stable position at the top of the order.”

    Scorchers will be short-handed at the start of the season with several stars on Ashes and Australia A duties, including in-form quick Jhye Richardson who Turned tipped to be absent for a while to come.

    “He’s only getting better and better and I can’t wait to watch him on TV playing in the Ashes,” he said.

    Stepping into the captaincy permanently, Turner takes the reins of the BBL’s most successful franchise which returned back to prominence last season after a couple of years in the wilderness.

    “We’ve got a rich history…Katich, Voges, Marsh left their legacies,” he said. “It’s hard to emulate those guys who have come before. I’m learning, trying to get better.

    “I’m hopeful for the best case scenario [this season]. We don’t know what happens [after the first two home games]. But what we can do is focus on the first game and we’re excited to play.”

    Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth



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    Alex Carey determined to keep focus in 'the biggest game I'll play' as Test debut locked in

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    The South Australia left-hander has been preferred ahead of Josh Inglis



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    BBL11 2021-22 – David Hussey aims to bring Kolkata Knight Riders lessons to Melbourne Stars

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    Stars’ batters are going to be given the backing to be as aggressive as they want

    Melbourne Stars coach David Hussey believes he learned more from the failure of last season’s BBL than the success of the season before and hopes to implement some of the strategies that he and Brendon McCullum used to turn Kolkata Knight Riders around in this year’s IPL.

    Hussey’s first season as Stars coach in 2019-20, having taken the reins from Stephen Fleming, went like a dream until they fell at the last hurdle against Sydney Sixers in a rain-affected final in Sydney.

    But his second campaign did not go as smoothly as the side battled to win just five games and lost their last three to miss out on the finals.

    “I actually learned more about [the job] last year when we’re not playing as well than the first year when everything was going smoothly,” Hussey told ESPNcricinfo. “A lot of man management, a lot of strategy meetings, and sometimes your strategy is not always correct.”

    Hussey appreciates the role of the assistant coach having spent a couple of seasons alongside McCullum at KKR. As a result, he is going to put a lot of trust in new Stars assistants Ben Rohrer and Clint McKay to help run the team. “You should get more and more ideas and a lot of trust in the assistant coaches,” he said.

    But he also wants to implement some of the things that worked so well at Kolkata this year. When the IPL was postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak in India, KKR sat seventh on the table with just two wins. On returning in the UAE later in the year they were a completely different side, unshackled, unburdened, and playing an exhilarating brand of cricket. They stormed to the playoffs and made the final only to be beaten by Chennai Super Kings.

    Hussey wants to recreate the KKR environment for his Stars players in order to get the best out of them.

    “Be firm but fair,” Hussey said. “Have the honest constructive conversations with all the batters and the bowlers. A lot of one-on-one time. But also have them believing. Cricket at the moment is so highly pressurised, every ball that’s bowled or faced is so important a game of T20 cricket. Try and remove all the pressure from that situation you possibly can. If they’re nice and relaxed, they generally play their best.”

    Like with KKR, Hussey wants his batters to be bold. Stars missed out on a big-name recruit but have added uncapped Englishman Joe Clarke to keep wicket and bat at the top of the order alongside Marcus Stoinis. Joe Burns and Beau Webster add a lot of flexibility in the middle-order alongside captain Glenn Maxwell, Nick Larkin, and Hilton Cartwright.

    He may also sometimes utilise Nathan Coulter-Nile’s power-hitting earlier in the innings after he conceded Stars “got surge yips last year” trying to work how to best exploit the BBL’s Power Surge playing condition with two powerplay overs saved for the second half of the innings.

    Hussey admitted his batting philosophy has changed, particularly around six-hitting and strike rotation, and will encourage players in certain situations to turn down singles if they feel a match-up is right for them to try and hit multiple sixes in an over.

    “Old school T20 batting is hit a six and a one,” Hussey said. “But new school batting is hit a six then another six. Put the bowler under as much pressure as possible. So my thinking has changed. But if you go in with negative thoughts as a batter and pass it on, they start doubting themselves so it’s all about giving them as much confidence as they possibly can and if they want to hit six sixes in the over, they’ve got our blessing.”

    Stars have recruited Qais Ahmad to work in combination with Adam Zampa after having success with two legspinners at the MCG two years ago. They do have some injury concerns in the pace bowling ranks. Billy Stanlake is unlikely to play a part in the tournament due to a back injury while Liam Hatcher will also miss the early part of the BBL due to his back issue. They lost tearaway quick Lance Morris who has signed with Perth Scorchers.
    Victorian youngsters Brody Couch and Sam Elliott, son of former Australia Test opener Matthew Elliott, could well get an opportunity.

    “We might have to rejig the strategy there and maybe open the bowling with Sam Elliot and a spin option to try and spread out our best bowlers to bowl in the middle,” Hussey said.

    Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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