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The Ashes 2021-22 – Joe Root

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Squad has emerged from hard quarantine to focus on acclimatisation in Queensland

Joe Root, England’s captain, believes that Ben Stokes is firmly on track for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane in just under a month’s time, after making a cautious return to training at the squad’s quarantine base on the Gold Coast in Queensland.

Speaking after the squad’s emergence from three days of hard quarantine, Root said their main priority had been overcoming jet lag and acclimatising to the heat and humidity of Australia, but added that the progress of Stokes – who only returned to training a fortnight ago after recovering from a second finger operation – was “very promising”.

“Ben has been fully involved in training the last couple of days,” Root said. “It has been very light, we are just trying to acclimatise as best we can. He’s had a bat, a bowl, taken some catches, doing his fielding work slightly separately. It looks like he’s on track and it’s really exciting. It’s managing that excitement and making sure we don’t push him too hard so he’s ready for the first game.”

Stokes missed the whole of the 2017-18 Ashes campaign in the wake of the Bristol nightclub incident, and given that England have not won in Brisbane since 1986-87, the tone for this latest series could once again be set at the Gabba, when the first Test begins on December 8.

“I really hope so,” Root said, when asked if Stokes would be fit to play. “It’s been remarkable to see how far he’s come. It looks very promising. He’s been brilliant. We’ve seen him at training, having him back amongst things is always great, so it’s really nice to have him back involved.”

Stuart Broad is another player who is working his way back after a lengthy absence, following the calf injury that brought an early end to his 2021 home season. Root added that Broad too had been getting himself ready with light training since the end of the quarantine period.

“He bowled today in the nets again, very light workloads at the minute, but it’s good to see him back in and around things, and being able to get into it,” Root said. “It’s about getting those workloads back up again, with all the bowlers really, making sure that they are absolutely ready to go for that first Test match. We’ve got all options on the table.”

In terms of the lockdown lifestyle, Root reiterated his gratitude at the leeway that England’s players have been afforded for this period of the tour, following protracted negotiations between the ECB, Cricket Australia, and the state and federal governments.

“There are always obvious restrictions within the hotel,” he said. “All we can do really is live by the guidelines that have been set out. It’s not too dissimilar to other things that we’ve experienced in the past. It’s been great, the last couple of days, that we’ve been able to get out and train and use some of the facilities, so hopefully that can continue and we can keep enjoying that, keep readying ourselves as best we can.

“The weather is probably the hardest factor,” Root added. “We’ve had a big thunderstorm this afternoon which interrupted part of our training but everyone’s got into things pretty well. We’re very lucky to have been looked after like this.”



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Deepak Chahar, Ishan Kishan to join India A squad for red-ball series in South Africa

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Both are in Kolkata for the third T20I against New Zealand and will leave with the squad on November 23

Chahar and Kishan are in Kolkata for the third T20I against New Zealand and will leave with the squad on November 23.

“Yes, Deepak and Ishan have been drafted to the squad. They will finish the match in Kolkata and link up with the A team before they leave for South Africa,” a senior BCCI official confirmed the development to PTI.

It is understood that Kishan is being sent because the Chetan Sharma-led committee had initially kept only one wicketkeeper for the ‘A’ tour in Railways’ Upendra Yadav.

“They needed a second keeper and who is better than Ishan. He probably now would be first keeper and rightly so,” another official said.

Chahar has not played a lot of red-ball cricket but with his ability to swing the ball, selectors want to keep him busy.

Gujarat top-order batter Priyank Panchal will lead the India A squad for the South Africa tour, beginning November 26.

Squad: Priyank Panchal (capt), Prithvi Shaw, Hanuma Vihari, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Devdutt Padikkal, Sarfaraz Khan, B Aparajith, Upendra Yadav (wk), K Gowtham, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Kumar, Navdeep Saini, Umran Malik, Ishan Porel, Arzan Nagwaswalla, Ishan Kishan (wk), Deepak Chahar



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Recent Match Report – Gladiators vs Abu Dhabi 6th Match 2021/22

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Team Abu Dhabi 99 for 6 (Overton 33*, Hasaranga 4-12) beat Deccan Gladiators 97 for 9 (Smith 34) by four wickets

With five needed off the last ball, Danny Briggs was facing a man who had yet to bowl a ball in the tournament, never mind the innings itself. He duly hit Anwar Ali for six to seal a third consecutive win for Team Abu Dhabi in a nail-biting encounter against Deccan Gladiators at the Zayed Cricket Ground. Yet, that was just the final act of a dramatic contest that went down to the wire.

“I was just thinking about getting good contact on the ball and I got a top edge which went high and luckily for me, just long enough,” Briggs said afterwards.

Long enough by just a whisker. Hamid Hassan had steamed in to Jamie Overton for the penultimate delivery, before pulling up and having to limp off, leaving Wahab Riaz to turn to his countryman Anwar. It was Anwar’s first ball of this year’s T10 and his length delivery was met with a top edge from Briggs which flew off the bat and towards the fine leg boundary where none other than Andre Russell was placed. Russell had starred with the bat in Deccan’s win on Saturday, but was dismissed for a golden duck earlier and bowled a costly ninth over which went for 17. Yet, perhaps, this was his moment to be a hero again…

The ball seemed for all it’s worth to be sailing over the boundary and into the Team Abu Dhabi dugout, but Russell leapt and somehow flicked it back in. The ground held its breath to see whether the West Indian was in contact with the boundary cushion. No one, not even Russell, really had an inkling as to who had won. It was agonisingly tight, before replays indicated that his heel was barely touching the rope at the moment he made contact with the ball. Paul Baldwin, the TV umpire, confirmed to Nigel Llong, the on-field umpire, to raise his arms and confirm that it was six.

A chase of 98 should have been straightforward. Especially considering the fact that Liam Livingstone’s outfit had breezed to scores of 145 and 132 in their first two matches of the tournament.

But they had yet to deal with the magic of Wanindu Hasaranga. Livingstone, who had seen his England counterparts struggle to pick the Sri Lankan during the T20 World Cup, had breezed to 17 off seven deliveries when Hasaranga came into the attack. Fresh from blasting 30 off 18 with the bat to rescue the Gladiators from 18 for 5, Hasaranga now had the ball in hand.

Livingstone was welcomed with a tossed-up delivery that he top-edged into the Abu Dhabi sky. But, the Gladiators wicketkeeper Tom Moores failed to get anywhere near it. Two balls later, Hasaranga tempted the Englishman yet again and Livingstone again tried to hit him out of the ground. Instead he skied it straight to long-on and with the captain, Phil Salt and Paul Stirling all back in the hutch and no Chris Gayle, the Gladiators had every chance of becoming the first side in T10 history to defend a total of fewer than 100.

Not least when the very next ball, Colin Ingram was undone by a wrong-un and Team Abu Dhabi were four down for 44. There is no such thing as defending out the hat-trick ball in this format: Overton came to the crease to face the music and was lucky to sneak a bottom-edge to the boundary as he swept at Hasaranga.

But Hasaranga wasn’t done yet. He was fortunate to get an lbw decision in his favour against Chris Benjamin, as replays showed a clear inside-edge from the batter, but there was nothing lucky about the next ball, Marchant de Lange utterly bamboozled by a wrong-un which crashed into his stumps. Hasaranga and the Gladiators were going in for the kill.

Briggs arrived at the crease for another hat-trick ball and survived, before being beaten by a wrong-un from the Sri Lankan which narrowly missed the stumps. Both he and Overton must have breathed a sigh of relief knowing that Hasaranga had finished. The Sri Lankan ended with figures of 4 for 12 and had left the Abu Dhabi outfit reeling at 53 for 6.

Yet, despite all his heroics with the bat and the ball, it was his fielding that would ultimately prove pivotal. In the next over, Overton skied one towards Hasaranga at midwicket for a regulation catch, which the Sri Lankan failed to hold on to.

And the allrounder made him pay, as he crashed an unbeaten 33 off 18, combining with Briggs to hit 46 off the last four overs and somehow steal a victory for Team Abu Dhabi to maintain their 100% record.

“It’s still T10, you’ve still gotta go [whenever you come in],” Briggs said. “With two overs left, we said to each other that we needed a big one to get ourselves back in.”

Overton added: “We were just trying to play our way, play our strong shots, and try to take one good over. We got a good over in the ninth with Dre and then Briggsy got us over the line.”

Livingstone was beaming with joy at the way the pair rescued his side. “We were pretty much behind the game for all of our innings but I thought Jamie [Overton] played beautifully and it was great for Briggsy to hit the last one for six,” he said.



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Ind vs NZ 3rd T20I – Rahul Dravid

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India’s coach also suggested that the team might continue to rest and rotate players over the coming 12 months

India may have just swept the T20 World Cup runners-up 3-0 in his first series as full-time head coach, but Rahul Dravid wants to take a “realistic” view of where the team stands. He is mindful, in particular, of New Zealand’s hectic schedule: they began this T20I series just three days after their World Cup final defeat in Dubai, while missing their captain Kane Williamson.

“We have to keep our feet on the ground and be realistic, especially with bigger things down the line in the next 12 months,” Dravid told host broadcaster Star Sports after the third T20I in Kolkata. “It’s not easy for New Zealand to play a World Cup final, turn up three days later, and play three games in six days. We knew it was never going to be easy on them.”

While New Zealand were without Williamson through the series and rested stand-in captain Tim Southee for the last match, India, too, missed key personnel, with Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja rested. Dravid said the big positive from the series win was the performance of the players who got chances in the absence of the seniors.

Harshal Patel picked up four wickets in two games while returning an economy rate of 7.28, and also contributed a useful lower-order cameo in Kolkata. Axar Patel, standing in for Jadeja, played all three games and ended the series with a Player-of-the-Match-winning three-wicket haul in the final T20I. There were promising displays from the debutant allrounder Venkatesh Iyer and the back-up opener and wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan as well.

“It’s been great to see the younger guys come through, we’ve given opportunity to some of the guys who haven’t played too much cricket in the last few months with the seniors taking rest,” Dravid said. “The greatest takeaway for us is to see the skills available to us. We need to continue developing those skills.”

Dravid said that with player workloads in focus over a packed upcoming 12 months, India are likely to continue resting key players across the year and giving new players regular game time. That thought process was in full view in Kolkata, where KL Rahul and R Ashwin – two players who are set to feature in the upcoming Test series – were rested after victory was secured in Ranchi.

“It’s really nice that we have options,” Dravid said. “We can mix and match. Its going to be a long season, lots of games to be played till the next World Cup and we need to do that [rest and rotate] with some of our players and be realistic about how much cricket needs to be played.”

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



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