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T20 World Cup 2021 – Coach Gary Stead lauds New Zealand’s ‘never-say-die attitude’ during semi-final win over England

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He also says that it’s likely Tim Seifert will come in place of Devon Conway for the final

New Zealand had many heroes in their semi-final victory over one of the pre-tournament favourites England in Abu Dhabi. Tim Southee handcuffed England with his Test-match lines and lengths in the powerplay. Adam Milne had Jonny Bairstow jabbing a catch to mid-off. Chris Woakes then dismissed both Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson with Test-match lines and lengths of his own during New Zealand’s pursuit of 167. However, New Zealand eventually scrapped to their first-ever T20 World Cup final, thanks to a late blitz from James Neesham and Daryl Mitchell.
Head coach Gary Stead was particularly impressed with how New Zealand dealt with pressure in Abu Dhabi and KO’d Eoin Morgan’s men.

“I think the never-say-die attitude is that we pride ourselves on and take things, bigger teams right down to the wire and then it’s who can hold their nerve the best as well in the most pressurised situation,” Stead said. “The innings that Jimmy Neesham played put us in a position where we could genuinely win the game and then Daryl Mitchell had obviously fought throughout the innings and then him to finish it off…that was particularly pleasing as well.

“I thought on the whole we actually bowled pretty well. I think there was an odd over that went for a bit of a tap, but that happens in T20 cricket and if you watch the second semi-final, the same thing happened between two quality sides. It’s really just about holding your nerve and that’s the thing that was particularly pleasing for me that we managed to do that against the pre-tournament favourites.”

Devon Conway also played his part in the semi-final by repairing the chase after early damage but has now been ruled out of the T20 World Cup final and the subsequent India tour after suffering a bizarre hand injury. In the absence of Conway, New Zealand have only one other genuine wicketkeeping option in their squad in Tim Seifert, who has played only one game this competition.

“Everyone keeps talking about the dew factor but that hasn’t really been so much of a factor of perhaps what it was a couple of weeks ago”

Glenn Phillips can also keep wickets, but a back condition has prevented him from doing the job for longer periods. Moreover, New Zealand prefer having him in the hotspots in the outfield. Stead said that the potential inclusion of Seifert could result in rejigging the batting line-up.

“Look, I mean we need to have a keeper,” Stead said. “So, it’s likely that Tim [Seifert] will come into the side and then we will just balance out the attack and I guess the order of what we think is right. Dev [Devon Conway] has obviously been batting at [No.] 4. Whether we bring Glenn Phillips up one and put Seif in behind him – something that Kane and I have to work through the next day or so when we train and work those things out.”

Stead was also wary of Australia who qualified for the finals by chasing down 177 against Pakistan, who arguably have had the best bowling attack in the competition.

“I think it’s really exciting for this team to be in this situation again,” he said. “We’ve played some wonderful cricket in the last four-five years and I guess people measure that success at World Cups. So, for us, to be in another final is really, really satisfying and rewarding for the team. Australia have got a bunch of guys who are real match-winners as well and we’ve got to make sure our planning and scouting is right on point for all their players because they can rip a game open pretty quickly as well.”

Left-arm fingerspinner Mitchell Santner bowled just one over in the semi-final against England as New Zealand kept him away from the left-handed pair of Moeen Ali and Dawid Malan. In New Zealand’s last game in the Super 12s, the left-handed Najibullah Zadran had taken him for 23 off nine balls from Santner. Stead, though, expected Santner to play a bigger role against Australia, who have only two left-handers in their top seven.

“I think that’s the decision that Kane makes out on the field right there, so certainly wasn’t pre-planned or anything like that,” Stead explained. “With the two left-handers in, we just felt that [bowling Phillips] was a match-up. I think it was the 11th over that was worth shooing in and Malan hit him for a couple of fours and sad he bowled just the one over.

“But him [Santner] and Ish have been instrumental in us being in a final situation, being real stalwarts of our bowling attack. People who can rely on all conditions in the last four-five years. So, we’ll certainly be leaning on them in the final when the time comes around.”

The toss has been a significant factor in Dubai, with 11 out of the 12 matches at this venue being won by the side chasing. The only successful defence was by New Zealand against Scotland in a day game.

“Yeah it [the toss factor] is interesting because the last three games at Abu Dhabi and tonight [Thursday night] in Dubai, there was no dew at all,” Stead said. “Everyone keeps talking about the dew factor but that hasn’t really been so much of a factor of perhaps what it was a couple of weeks ago. That may be a temperature thing – not so sure about that.

“If you bat first and get a good score on the board, there’s still a lot of pressure in the final situation as well. Again, we will work out what our strategy is and also understand that with the toss, there’s a 50% chance of it going our way. Sometimes you win them and sometimes you don’t. You’ve got to be prepared to do both.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Recent Match Report – India vs New Zealand 2nd Test 2021/22

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Axar Patel scored a half-century but it was the New Zealand left-arm spinner who dominated the proceedings

India 325 all out (Agarwal 150, Gill 44, Axar 52, Ajaz 10-119) vs New Zealand

Jim Laker, 1956. Anil Kumble, 1999. Now Ajaz Patel, 2021.
Until shortly before 1pm on Saturday, there were only two men who had taken all ten wickets in an innings in Test cricket history. When Mohammed Siraj slogged across the line and sliced the ball high to mid-on, it swirled and hung in the air for a second that lasted an hour while history held its breath – then dropped into the safe hands of Rachin Ravindra as Ajaz became the third man in the list. He did it in Mumbai, the city of his birth, becoming the first man to do it away from home.

It was one of those occasions when the scoreboard told the entire truth. New Zealand’s attack was Ajaz and the rest, and the wickets column reflected that, with 10 for 119 for Ajaz in 47.5 overs bowled out of the 109.5 that New Zealand sent down. Ajaz was consistently threatening, the others were at best support acts, but more often acted as pressure releases. That he still kept threatening, kept beating the bat, kept dangling the ball in a manner that batters couldn’t dominate was a testament to how well Ajaz had bowled.

That India still got an above-par 325 was thanks to a magnificent innings by Mayank Agarwal. He will have to live with being the sideshow because of Ajaz’s remarkable feat, but Agarwal’s 150 was as valuable to India as Ajaz’s wickets were for New Zealand. Not certain of his place, and only in the XI because of the absence of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane, Agarwal showed impressive range and temperament. Ajaz had regular periods of wrecking mayhem at the other end, but Agarwal continued serenely on, taking on the spinner particularly whenever he spotted an opportunity and showing excellent judgement of when to leave the ball, as well as excellent patience and shot-selection.
Axar Patel was a valuable ally for Agarwal in a seventh-wicket stand that yielded 67 runs. Resuming at 221 for 4, India were wobbly within two overs of the day’s start when Ajaz turned that into 224 for 6, trapping Wriddhiman Saha in front with one that skidded on and then castling Ashwin with the spinner’s perfect ball – drift, dip, enough turn to beat bat on a forward defensive, not enough to miss stumps. Axar and Agarwal were patient, waiting for the errors in length to punish, taking India to lunch on a 285 for 6.

After lunch, though, it was back to the Ajaz show. He got Agarwal a ball after the opener had cut beautifully to get to 150, with another great ball that even the well-set opener was forced to follow with his hands as it spun sharply, feathering an edge behind. A smart review accounted for Axar, who padded up to one well outside off. However, Ajaz was convinced it was turning enough to threaten stumps, and with no shot offered, the lbw was on. Replays proved his instinct correct, and once Axar fell, India unraveled quickly.

The returning Jayant Yadav thought quick runs were the need of the hour and didn’t have the wrong idea in taking on Ajaz – then in his 48th and what would turn out the final over – reckoning the tiredness could be taken advantage of. However, his attempt to clear long-off failed and he could only hole out. Siraj survived an inside edged four but a hoick across the line next ball did him in.

Ajaz was enveloped in a group bear hug even as he let out a roar of ecstasy, with the Wankhede crowd on its feat to acknowledge his achievement. Outside of that, though, India had built a good total on a pitch that was taking turn, and New Zealand will need their batters to show similar application to their left-arm spinner to stay in the contest.

Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Ind vs NZ, 2nd Test

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Tendulkar also praises Gill, saying the batter has the technique to bat at any position in Tests

Tendulkar was also impressed by the other opener, Shubman Gill, saying the youngster has the required technique and temperament to bat at any position in Tests but he needs to convert those starts into big knocks.

“There was moisture beneath the surface. Mayank took some time to get into the groove and once he was in the groove, he capitalised by putting pressure on spinners,” Tendulkar told PTI. “The hallmark of Mayank’s innings was that he was able to punish good deliveries too. When a bowler knows a batter can punish your good deliveries, then there is an element of doubt in him.

“What if the batter steps out and hits you and all those things go in bowler’s head and disturb his rhythm.”

Gill scored 52 and 1 in the Kanpur Test and was bowled by Kyle Jamieson both times. In Mumbai, he looked unperturbed on 44 before he got out to left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, who finished with a historic 10 for 119.

So does Tendulkar believe that Gill has the technique to do well in South Africa if he bats in middle order?

“When it comes to technique, different surfaces will test you differently. I think Shubman has an advantage as he played a very crucial innings (91) in Brisbane where we won the Test match,” Tendulkar said. “He has had the experience of playing on hard and bouncy tracks and I felt that he looked pretty comfortable. So, I don’t think there is any technical issue as such.”

But does staying “beside the line of the ball” become more advantageous on these surfaces for a batter?

“When he was playing the new ball [in Australia], I think he was behind the line and when the ball got old, he was marginally beside the line as he got to know how much the ball was swinging, how the field is set,” Tendulkar explained. “Accordingly, you decide whether you need to be behind the line to play on the on-side or stay beside the line and hit on the off side.”

However, Tendulkar wants Gill to convert his starts and is confident that he will do that consistently sooner than later.

“Shubman has started well and shown a lot of promise. The way he builds his innings, he has been good so far. Just that he needs to go further and convert those 40s into big scores.”

He doesn’t want Gill to take too much stress about three-figure marks.

“Once you get into that squad, it is about how hungry you are for bigger scores which I am sure he is. He needs to just convert those starts and not lose concentration. Both in Kanpur and Mumbai, he got a good deliveries. He is on a learning curve and will definitely take lessons.”

Tendulkar was all praise for Shreyas Iyer as well, who impressed on his debut in Kanpur with scores of 105 and 65.

“I thought Shreyas was fantastic and made most of the opportunities he got, at one stage the scoreboard wasn’t looking that good and he came up with a gem of an innings and resulted in India almost winning the Test. Both his knocks were important,” he said. “I am sure anxiety levels were there but it helped that he had made his T20 debut quite some time ago and these kinds of things ease up your pressure and it allows you to play your natural game.

“Early on, he must have felt nerves and once he connected, he must have felt more confident.”



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BCCI secretary Jay Shah – India to tour South Africa for three Tests, three ODIs, T20Is to be played later

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“The remaining four T20Is will be played at a later date,” BCCI secretary says

BCCI secretary Jay Shah has confirmed that the Indian team’s tour of South Africa will go ahead, but only for the three Tests and three ODIs, and the four T20Is that were also part of the original tour will be played later.

“BCCI has confirmed CSA that the Indian team will travel for three Tests and three ODIs. The remaining four T20Is will be played at a later date,” Shah told ANI.

There has been a lot of doubt around the tour to South Africa because of the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, in the country that has led to a surge in cases and hospitalisations, especially in the Gauteng province where India are scheduled to play the first two Tests before moving south to Cape Town.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) had also postponed three games of round four of Division 2 four-day matches after some players tested positive. The one-day matches due to take place on December 16 have also been pushed back to 2022.
India captain Virat Kohli had also said on the eve of the ongoing Test against New Zealand in Mumbai that it was natural for such a tour to involve a lot of planning and preparation.

“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 had said on Thursday. “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.”

When exactly the BCCI and CSA agree to play the four T20Is remains to be seen as another T20 World Cup is approaching in 2022, and both teams already have packed schedules for the coming year.



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