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England vs New Zealand – T20 World Cup 2021 semi-final – New Zealand always believed

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New Zealand never felt that the target of 167 was beyond their reach, despite losing early wickets and falling behind the asking rate, in their semi-final against England in Abu Dhabi. So said finisher-turned-opener Daryl Mitchell after his unbeaten 72 off 47 balls dragged New Zealand into their first-ever T20 World Cup final.
He put on 40 for the fifth wicket with Jimmy Neesham in a mere 17 balls after his side had slipped to 107 for 4 at the start of the 16th over.

“No, it probably sounds weird, but it never felt like it was out of our grasp,” Mitchell said at the post-match press conference. “I think especially with that smaller side boundary on one side, we knew that there were going to be match-ups there that might suit us towards the end, and look, we were obviously very lucky at times; a couple sailed over the ropes that could have been a metre shorter and we’re all out.

“But at the same time, we always knew that as long as we kept just within the certain numbers that we felt comfortable with that we were always a chance. I thought the way that Neesh [Neesham] came out and really dominated that one over really set the momentum heading into those last few, so yeah, take my cap off to him. He played a hell of a knock.”

Mitchell’s rickety start mirrored New Zealand’s: he was on 12 off 10 balls after the powerplay and then 28 off 28 in the 13th over. Mitchell struggled against the swing and seam of Chris Woakes, but he somehow rode out that incisive new-ball spell and picked off the seamer for 6,6,4 to seal New Zealand’s victory, with an over to spare.

“Yeah, I think the new ball is very challenging on that surface,” Mitchell said. “It was pretty two-paced to start off with, and as you could probably see, it was tough to get going at times.

“I thought the way that all the batters that came in sort of hung in there and helped build a platform to try and allow us to launch at the end, and we were very lucky that a few just snuck over the rope and got us going… it’s a bit of a blur, but I can imagine it was a hell of a game to watch, and I think the way England played was very special as well. It’s obviously pretty cool to get the job done, but I know it’s a game of inches, that’s for sure.”

Mitchell’s parents had flown into Abu Dhabi ahead of the semi-final to support him at his first World Cup. Mitchell’s father, John, is a prominent sporting figure in New Zealand; he is a former All Blacks player and coach. Mitchell had last met his father after exiting the World Test Championship bubble in the UK, where John was then part of the England rugby team as their defence coach.

“It was cool to have dad there,” Mitchell said. “Obviously flying over from England, with what’s going on in the world at the moment with Covid, yeah, it makes it challenging at times, but it was cool to have him in the crowd. Obviously with the bubble life I can’t catch up with him, but I’m sure I’ll have a chat to him on the phone tonight and he’ll be pretty chuffed.”

Mitchell is sort of a late bloomer, having made his domestic debut for Northern Districts in domestic cricket in 2011. It was only in 2020-21 that he had a bumper season after moving to Canterbury – a run that culminated in a first New Zealand central contract and a first call-up to New Zealand’s World Cup squad. Mitchell also had a stint with Middlesex in the most recent T20 Blast, scoring 209 runs in eight innings at a strike rate of 144.13 in addition to picking up eight wickets.

“I guess I actually consider myself very lucky to have played for New Zealand,” Mitchell said. “I think I debuted at 27, so to be able to get seven, eight years of domestic cricket under my belt before representing New Zealand, I think I actually consider myself very lucky.

“I learned my game a little bit and [to] go through the highs and lows of domestic cricket so that once you get on to the international stage you understand what works for you both as a cricketer and as a person, you can just go about doing your business. I’m just enjoying being able to represent my country, play for New Zealand and share a changing room with all my teammates. It’s pretty cool. I’m having a blast and just trying to make the most of it.”

New Zealand are just one step away from winning two world titles in the same year, but they aren’t getting ahead of themselves.

“Look, we’re a bunch of Kiwis,” Mitchell said. “There’s only five million of us, so we’re obviously very proud to be representing our country. Obviously we’ve had some success in the last few years. But we’re going to enjoy the win tonight, make sure that obviously we celebrate that, but then we move on pretty quickly.

“We know that we have a final on Sunday, and whoever we’re taking on should be good fun. We’ll give it everything we’ve got, but at the end of the day there’s certain things you can’t control, so we’ll see what happens.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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South Africa vs Netherlands 2021

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Although Netherlands are unable to catch a flight out, it is understood the players have communicated they are not in the right mental state to play

The second and third ODIs between South Africa and Netherlands have been postponed after concerns around a new Coronavirus variant, Omicron. The first match in the series, which forms part of the World Cup Super League, was washed out on Friday, leaving the teams sharing five points each. That keeps Netherlands in last place on the points table, and South Africa in ninth, outside the automatic qualification zone.

Although Netherlands will be in South Africa for the duration of the series because they are unable to catch a flight out, ESPNcricinfo understands that the players have communicated they are not in the right mental state to play. On Friday, their coach Ryan Campbell tweeted that the team played with “unbelievable pressure hanging over their heads,” after travel restrictions began to affect the southern African region.

“We are disappointed by the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in, but the comfort of all visiting teams must always be paramount,” Pholetsi Moseki, CSA’s acting CEO, said. “The mental well-being of players is one of CSA’s top priorities, and we respect our visitors’ position and point of view.

“CSA and KNCB will get into discussions around possibly rescheduling the tour within this cycle of the ICC Future Tours Programme ending in 2023.”

“We are saddened by these circumstances, but are grateful to Cricket South Africa for their assistance and understanding of our team’s position,” Jurgen Delfos, chairman of Netherlands cricket board, said. “

It must be made clear that the concerns are strictly over travel issues and how soon the team can get home and have nothing to do with the integrity of the Bio-Secure Environment (BSE) that CSA has successfully hosted. Our team has been pleased with every aspect of the organisation of the tour and have been well treated by our hosts.”

The United Kingdom, United States, much of Europe, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand have all banned travel to and from countries in southern Africa, and imposed a quarantine on their own citizens returning from the region in response to Omicron.

News of a new variant was first made public on Tuesday, November 23 and cases in the Gauteng province of South Africa, where the Netherlands series is taking place, have increased severalfold since. Although South Africa is only reporting around 2,000 new cases a day, there are concerns this will rise exponentially and stricter restrictions are due to be introduced soon. South Africa is currently on Level 1 of 5 of its restrictions, the most lenient since the pandemic began, and the first ODI was the first time since March 2020 that cricket was played in front of a limited crowd, but the government is meeting on Saturday to discuss further measures.

As yet there is no indication of how this will affect the rest of the cricket calendar. India A are also in South Africa, playing first-class matches against South Africa A in Bloemfontein. So far, that series is continuing. India’s senior side is due to travel to South Africa for three Tests, three ODIs and four ODIs on December 8. India has not imposed any restrictions on southern African travelers to date, but has stricter testing measures for people from the region in place.

Last summer, South Africa’s season was severely impacted after England left the country early without playing the ODI leg of their white-ball tour and Australia pulled out of a four-Test series which was pencilled in as the marquee event of the summer. Sri Lanka and Pakistan both toured the country without incident in strict bio-bubble conditions, which Cricket South Africa will replicate for the India series.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent





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Recent Match Report – Scorchers Wm vs StrikersWmn Final 2021/22

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The home side finished strongly with the bat and started superbly with the ball in the powerplay

Perth Scorchers 5 for 146 beat Adelaide Strikers 6 for 134 by 12 runs

Marizanne Kapp, who had been ill all week in the lead-up to the WBBL final and barely left her hotel room, produced a critical all-round display to help Perth Scorchers claim their maiden title as Adelaide Strikers’ powerful late-tournament surge came to a halt at Optus Stadium.
In front of a crowd of 15,511, the highest for a standalone WBBL match, the defining passages of the match were how Scorchers finished their batting innings and then started with the ball: their final five overs brought 47 runs, with vital hands from Player of the Match Kapp and Alana King, then they restricted Strikers to 2 for 16 in their powerplay with Kapp’s first two overs costing just two runs and Sophie Devine producing a wicket maiden.

The middle order did their best to keep Strikers in the match with useful hands but it proved out of reach despite Madeline Penna’s best efforts with 30 not out off 21 balls.

Kapp produced some superb deliveries to build the pressure on Strikers’ openers and it was Devine who earned the reward when Katie Mack’s extraordinary run of scoring was halted as he she drove to cover. Before this match Mack had made 332 runs in her last six innings for just one out.

Without a run added van Niekerk also departed, edging Taneale Peschel down the leg side, and by the end of the powerplay the asking rate was above nine an over.

Laura Wolvaardt and captain Tahlia McGrath rebuilt with a stand of 65 in eight overs which was forming a base from where Strikers could have run down the target. However, both fell within the space of six balls carving catches to the off-side ring which meant new batters had little time to get set.

The prolific Scorchers opening pair of Devine and Beth Mooney made a solid if unspectacular start after being put into bat, reaching 0 for 37 after the powerplay. They were immediately aggressive against Amanda-Jade Wellington who conceded more in her first four balls than she did the entire record-breaking Eliminator spell, although she would fight back well.

Neither opener could really cut loose and Strikers started to chip away at the top order. Mooney picked out mid-off, Devine was run out by a direct hit by Dane van Niekerk from short third and Chloe Piparo edged Darcie Brown who was rewarded for some rapid outswing bowling.

At 3 for 75 in the 12th the innings was at a tipping point and there was caution from Kapp and Heather Graham which threatened to leave Scorchers short. However, Kapp started to find the boundary and King made a dynamic late entrance with three boundaries in a five-ball stay.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2021-22 in Zimbabwe called off following concerns over new Covid-19 variant

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The tournament cannot be rescheduled, as the ODI World Cup is scheduled for March-April 2022

The women’s ODI World Cup qualifying event in Zimbabwe has been called off after travel restrictions were imposed on large parts of southern Africa following the detection of a new Covid-19 variant, called Omicron, in the region. With the marquee event scheduled to take place next year in March and April, the qualifier cannot be held at a later date, and the three remaining spots will be decided according to the ICC rankings.

Hosts New Zealand, Australia, England, South Africa and India have already qualified for the tournament. They will now be joined by Bangladesh, West Indies and Pakistan.

The news will be a disappointment to Thailand, who do not have a ranking at the moment, but beat Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in the tournament. Bangladesh were on top of Group B with wins over Pakistan and USA, while West Indies topped Group A after beating Ireland.

ESPNcricinfo has learned that the cutoff date for the women’s ODI rankings taken into consideration for deciding on the final three teams for 2022 ODI World Cup was September 30. Between the start of the pandemic and August 31, 2021, Pakistan played eight ODIs, winning two, West Indies played 10, winning three and having one tied, while Ireland, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh played none. Bangladesh, however, are understood to have been well ahead of Ireland and Sri Lanka on the rankings for more than a year.

Concerns over the future of the qualifier were raised on Saturday morning when the match between Sri Lanka and West Indies was called off without a ball bowled. ESPNcricinfo understands that the fixture could not be played because a member of the Sri Lankan support staff had tested positive for Covid-19.

“We are incredibly disappointed to have to cancel the remainder of this event but with travel restrictions from a number of African countries being imposed at such short notice, there was a serious risk that teams would be unable to return home,” Chris Tetley, the ICC head of events, said.

“We have explored a number of options to allow us to complete the event but it isn’t feasible and we will fly the teams out of Zimbabwe as soon as possible. Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies will now qualify for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2022 by virtue of their rankings, whilst Sri Lanka and Ireland will also join them in the next cycle of the ICC Women’s Championship.”

There had already been a few positive Covid-19 tests in the Sri Lanka camp after reaching Zimbabwe, the last of which was detected prior to their match against Netherlands on Tuesday. That match did go ahead with Sri Lanka winning a rain-affected fixture by 34 runs.

On the whole, Zimbabwe’s caseload remains relatively low at under 135,000, with fewer than 5000 deaths. However, with travel in and out of the country becoming increasingly difficult, the qualifier had to be scrapped for logistical reasons. Emirates Airline, which flew the teams into Harare, is understood to be suspending the route in the coming days.

The variant was first discovered in Botswana and has infected several hundred people in neighbouring South Africa, which is on the brink of a fourth wave of infection. The UK, USA, much of Europe, Australia, Sri Lanka and Thailand have all suspended travel to and from countries in southern Africa, putting several international events in doubt.

The women’s World Cup qualifiers got underway on Sunday, November 21, amid low case numbers in southern Africa, but Papua New Guinea had been “forced to withdraw” from the tournament at the start of the month due to a slew of infections in the camp. News of a new variant was first made public on Tuesday, November 23, and cases in the Gauteng province of South Africa have increased several fold since. Although South Africa is reporting around 2000 new cases a day, there are concerns this will rise exponentially and stricter restrictions are due to be introduced soon. South Africa is currently on Level 1 of 5 of its restrictions, the most lenient since the pandemic began.
The Netherlands men’s team is currently in South Africa playing a World Cup Super League ODI series and have two matches left to play. A decision on whether those are going to go ahead will be taken today.

India A are also in South Africa, playing first-class matches in Bloemfontein. So far, that series is known to be on schedule, since the region is regarded as safe. India’s senior side is due to travel to South Africa for three Tests, three ODIs and four ODIs on December 8. India has not imposed any restrictions on southern African travellers yet, but has installed stricter testing measures for people from the region.



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