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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs West Indies 1st Test 2021/22

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On a surface that is expected to dry out and take turn by day three, Sri Lanka’s 267 for 3 represents a substantial advantage

Sri Lanka 267 for 3 (Karunaratne 132*, de Silva 56*, Nisaanka 56) vs West Indies

Dimuth Karunaratne hunkered down in the difficult first session, scored more confidently in the afternoon, and then pressed home Sri Lanka’s advantage in the evening, to go to stumps at 132 off 265 balls in his first Test since May. Pathum Nissanka and Dhananjaya de Silva also made contrasting fifties, to help their captain bookend the day with big stands. On a surface that is expected to dry out and take turn by day three, Sri Lanka’s 267 for 3 represents a substantial advantage for the hosts.
West Indies will rue a number of close and missed chances, none greater than the dropped catch off Karunaratne when he was on 14. Rahkeem Cornwall, who perhaps put Karunaratne through his greatest test of the innings with his first spell, got a ball to take the outside edge as the batter attempted to open the face. It flew just wide of the wicketkeeper’s gloves, and at a catchable height to the right of slip. Jermaine Blackwood could not get two hands to the ball, though, and grassed it.
Offspin was West Indies’ most effective weapon on day one, with Roston Chase removing Oshada Fernando and Angelo Mathews, both for 3, after tea. Their best bowler, however, was Jason Holder, who delivered eight maiden overs in his total of 14, and troubled Mathews so consistently that it prompted the batter to take a fatal risk against Chase.

Shannon Gabriel, who was controversially preferred over Kemar Roach for this Test, was the other bowler to take a wicket, when he had Nissanka chase a wide delivery, and nick off to first slip roughly midway through the middle session. Gabriel was expensive, though, leaking 56 runs from his 12 overs. Both frontline spinners – Cornwall and left-armer Jomel Warrican – also delivered good spells, particularly in the morning, when the pitch had a little bite.

Karunaratne struggled in the early overs, as you might expect from a batter who has barely played any competitive cricket over the past six months. He played and missed against Gabriel and Holder, and was pinned down by Cornwall, who used the crease to vary his angle to the left-hander from around the wicket. With the benefit of that dropped catch, though, Karunaratne survived, and began to build. He went to lunch on 32 off 75 balls, and raised the tempo after the break – the conditions having settled somewhat. He used his feet to drive the spinners through mid-off, and sometimes shuffled across to either lap or glance them through fine leg – his two most productive regions. The seamers he largely hit square of the wicket, often employing his favoured flick.

Karunaratne got to fifty soon after lunch, and had a second mild slice of fortune soon after, when he hit one low in the air through the legs of bowler Cornwall, who was not quick enough to get down to the possible catch. But the remainder of his innings was largely fuss-free. He used the depth of the crease to punish spinners who pitched too short, and although his first attempt at a reverse sweep had prompted a big lbw appeal, he got better with that shot through the course of the day. Karunaratne did get stuck in the nineties for 29 balls, but that was largely the doing of Holder’s impeccable line and length. The hundred, which came off 212 deliveries, was the 13th of his career, and his fourth this year – his previous four innings having brought 66, 118, 244 and 75. Earlier in 2021, he’d also hit a second-innings hundred at The Wanderers.

Karunaratne’s most fruitful stand of the day was with Nissanka, who hit 56 off 140 balls. The pair made 139 together, which is a Sri Lankan record for the first wicket against West Indies. Although Karunaratne was reticent through the first session, Nissanka had been even more so, having been promoted to the top of the innings due to the elected absence of Lahiru Thirimanne.

Late in the day, after West Indies’ dry bowling had brought them two wickets, de Silva came in at No. 5 and livened up the place, as he often does. He creamed his fourth ball behind point for four, came down the track against the spinners and hit them aerially down the ground, swept effectively, square drove, and reached his ninth Test fifty off the 62nd ball he faced.

West Indies took the second new ball late in the day, but could not make a breakthrough before bad light stopped play two overs short of what would have constituted a full day.

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



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Green vs Stokes? Let Cam be his own man

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The clash of the allrounders will be a closely watched head-to-head but there still needs to patience with Green



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SJN report – Another delay as CSA ombudsman asks for week’s extension

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“We will have a board meeting soon after we receive the report and then we will release it publicly,” CSA acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki

CSA’s Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) report will be delivered to the organisation a week later than scheduled, with the ombudsman, Dumisa Ntsebeza, requesting an extension to the revised November 30 deadline. The report will now be sent to the board on December 6.

Pholetsi Moseki, the CSA acting chief executive, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that the report would be made public after the board has spent time deliberating on its contents: “We will have a board meeting soon after we receive the report and then we will release it publicly.”

The report will contain recommendations made by Ntsebeza on issues relating to discrimination in South African cricket, and is expected to cover issues around the culture in the national teams, selection, match fees, and the grassroots.

CSA is not obligated to implement any of Ntsebeza’s suggestions, but is likely to act on at least some of them.

This is the second time the report has been delayed after it was initially expected to be completed by September 30. The deadline had to be extended after several parties that were implicated in the first phase of testimonies between July 5 and August 6 requested for time to compile their replies, which was granted.
The second phase of testimonies was held in October and included responses by current head coach Mark Boucher, director of cricket Graeme Smith, and former men’s captain AB de Villiers. All three submitted written affidavits and did not appear before the SJN to give oral evidence, and only Boucher’s statement has been made public so far.
Although Ntsebeza had previously indicated that the process could do with more time, it has already run for most of 2021 after the first call for submissions was put out at the end of April. It is believed that CSA had budgeted Rand 5 million (US$ 350,000 approx) for the project but the amount has gone up because of the extensions. The costs have come at a time when CSA is waiting to see if its coffers will be filled by an India tour, scheduled to begin in mid-December but in doubt because of the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant in southern Africa.

South Africa’s men’s team is also due to play New Zealand (away) and Bangladesh (at home) this summer, while the women’s team is scheduled to host West Indies before the Women’s World Cup.

Last week, CSA confirmed that all national teams would continue to take a knee before each match this season to show solidarity with the fight against racism.



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Manchester United owners acquire team in UAE T20 League

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After failed bids to acquire an IPL franchise, the Glazers have made their first formal foray into cricket

Manchester United Football Club’s American owner, Lancer Capital, has made its first foray into cricket by acquiring a franchise in the soon-to-be-launched UAE T20 League. The update came a week after Reliance Industries, the owner of Mumbai Indians in the IPL, also announced their investment in the league through a franchise ownership.

“I am very excited to be a part of UAE T20 at its formation,” Avram Glazer, chairman of Lancer Capital, said in a statement. “UAE T20 promises to be a world class event that will be transformative to the growth of cricket in the Emirates.”

Last month, Lancer Capitals was among the final shortlisted bidders for the two new IPL franchises, eventually losing out to RPSG Group and CVC Capital, the groups that acquired the Lucknow and Ahmedabad franchises respectively.

Out of the nine bids, Lancer Capital had posted the lowest bid at INR 4128.65 crore (US$ 551 million approx.) for the Ahmedabad franchise, and INR 4023 crore (US$ 537 million approx.) for the Lucknow franchise.

The latest investment adds to the company’s portfolio in the sporting world: the Glazer family also owns Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I am very excited to welcome Mr. Glazer to the UAE T20 Family,” Khalid Al Zarooni, UAE T20 League chairman, said. “To have a partner who has invested into sports properties with a long term investment perspective is a testament to the strength of the UAE T20 League’s Business Model and its value proposition to its stakeholders and an ode to the UAE as the destination of choice for global sports events.”

The owners of the Knight Riders T20 teams are also understood to be “on-board” to own one of the teams in the UAE event. Capri Global, which also made a failed bid for the two new IPL franchises, Big Bash League’s Sydney Sixers, and Kiran Kumar Grandhi, a co-owner of Delhi Capitals, are believed to be among the other interested parties.

The six-team league has been sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board and is looking to make room for itself in the January-February window, although its inaugural edition in 2022 is likely to be played in February-March.



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