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Ind vs NZ 2021, 1st Test – Rahul Dravid

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India don’t feel they batted on too long after they ended one wicket short of a win

When a side comes as close to winning as India did and the opposition is more than 100 away from their score, it is tempting to look for a few priceless minutes from earlier in the match. The mind immediately goes to India’s last partnership before declaration, which went at a little over three an over for over 20 overs. However, India coach Rahul Dravid said those runs were extremely important to bat New Zealand out of the game. He didn’t feel India had got the timing of the declaration wrong, which left New Zealand 284 to get at under three an over.

Dravid was asked if Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel could have been more adventurous in that partnership and given India an extra half hour. “I don’t think so,” Dravid said. “That is not my reading of the game. Till half an hour before we declared, we were under pressure. All three results were possible.

“To be very honest with you, if we had got out – Wriddhiman Shaha showed great courage and character to be batting with the stiff neck that he had – if we had lost our three wickets quickly and they were chasing 240-250 in approximately 110 overs, then they are looking at 2.2-2.3 runs an over. So no that is not my reading of the game. We needed that partnership.”

Dravid went on to suggest they would have approached the final session of day four differently had they not lost half-centurion Shreyas Iyer to the last ball before tea, but then stopped himself. “We lost Shreyas just before tea,” Dravid said. “Then we had that partnership, which was critical for us. From 167 for 7 to get to 230 for 7 was absolutely necessary. If this wicket was turning square and bouncing, and we had both the edges in play, I would have… you know there would have been a different situation.

“My reading of the game was not that at all. Even today you walk into the ground, and you know the opposition needs just under three an over. That’s not a lot of runs if a couple of batters get set. Of course, we thought we did it well. We timed it well. We managed to get a wicket yesterday, and we came very close today. We were under pressure as well, people forget that, even 45 minutes before we declared.”

The biggest deciding factor was the conditions, an unresponsive pitch that took out a couple of modes of dismissals from the game. “Facts of the pitch were it probably was low and slow, probably didn’t have that much bounce, didn’t have turn,” Dravid said. “You probably expect a little bit more of wear and tear on these wickets in Indian conditions over five days. This didn’t seem to have that bite. Generally on days four and five, as a spinner, you can challenge both the edges. The outside edge for the catches, and you can get the lbws by beating the inside edge. Honestly, in this Test the outside edge was virtually ruled out.

“Even on the last day, none of the edges carried. I can’t remember a catch close to the wicket. [KS] Bharat [substitute wicketkeeper] took a couple but other than that there was nothing. It sort of felt like there was only one way to get people out, which is lbw and bowled. Which was probably true in the last session.”

Dravid lauded his bowlers for bringing India as close as they did despite the pitch. “I think we did a great job in spite of that,” he said. “It was tough. Look we expect it to be tough in Kanpur. Let’s be honest, I have played here before, I know wickets here can be tough, but this was probably even lower and slower than anything I have experienced here.

“Usually on day five you should get little more help. The cracks widen up a little bit. I don’t know, maybe it is the winter. I don’t know what it was but it just felt like if you wanted to block and not score runs, it was difficult to get you out. We saw that. We had quality guys who were able to make a game out of this. Otherwise this could have been a dull draw.”

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Mark Boucher charged with ‘gross misconduct’

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South Africa’s head coach to face a disciplinary hearing chaired by senior counsel advocate Terry Motau; he will remain in his role as coach in the interim

In a follow-up to the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) report, Mark Boucher has been charged with gross misconduct by Cricket South Africa, and will face a disciplinary hearing chaired by senior counsel advocate Terry Motau. Boucher remains in his role as head coach of the senior men’s team, and will be with the team as they take on India in the second ODI in Paarl on Friday.

On Thursday, CSA named Motau as chairperson of the disciplinary hearing into the allegations of misconduct against Boucher, and said in a statement that the coach had been presented with his charge sheet.

The statement said: “It is proposed that the parties [Boucher] will meet with Advocate [Motau] on 26th January 2022 to determine a timetable for the proceedings.

“This follows December’s Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) report, which made tentative findings regarding allegations of discrimination and racism against various persons, including Mr Boucher. Specifically, during the SJN process, allegations of racism were levelled against Mr Boucher by his former Proteas team-mate, Paul Adams.
“CSA confirms that a charge sheet, containing both the disciplinary charges against Mr Boucher, as well as his rights, was provided to him on 17 January. The upcoming inquiry will also consider concerns and allegations that arose following the resignation of former assistant coach, Enoch Nkwe.

“While Mr Boucher is being charged with gross misconduct, which could lead to his dismissal, CSA emphasises it is important that the independent inquiry first needs to test all allegations before any question of sanction can arise.”

Responding to the development, Boucher issued a statement of his own later in the day, saying: “I look forward to dealing with and defending these allegations which have been made and will do so at the hearing in due course. For now I am solely focused on my duties as head coach of the Proteas.”*

The SJN report, which was released in December, made “tentative” findings that Boucher, among others, had engaged in prejudicial and discriminatory conduct in the past on the basis of race. But ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza was unable to make definite findings, and recommended to CSA that a further process be undertaken for this. This secondary process is now what CSA is flagging off, with Motau at the helm.

The CSA statement said further steps in this regard will be announced “in due course”. “Further steps and action by CSA to transform cricket and act on other applicable recommendations in the SJN report, aligned to the Board’s new strategic framework and pillars of access, inclusion and excellence, will be announced in due course.”

*2.45pm GMT, February 20: The article was updated with Boucher’s statement.



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Match Preview – Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe in Sri Lanka 2021/22, 3rd ODI

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Sri Lanka looked a batter short in the second ODI, with the Zimbabwe quicks triggering a collapse

Big picture

On Tuesday, two significant weaknesses in Sri Lanka’s XI were exposed. On flat tracks, even with Dushmantha Chameera in the side, the bowling attack lacked for penetration through the early and middle overs, with only legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay claiming wickets in the first 35. Then, while chasing 303, the top order’s fragilities were laid bare. Against testing but hardly unplayable bowling, Sri Lanka were 31 for 3 inside eight overs, and 63 for 4 inside 15. Although captain Dasun Shanaka‘s maiden international hundred kept Sri Lanka in the hunt, you don’t come out on top of many chases with the kind of start they had.

Their strategy has come under serious review with that loss; perhaps they are a batter short. With Kamindu Mendis and Charith Asalanka capable of contributing overs, could they perhaps push Chamika Karunaratne down to No. 8? And it is possible they did not use their better bowlers enough. Vandersay had one over unbowled; Karunaratne, who had taken a wicket and gone at only four an over, delivered only six of his possible ten.

Zimbabwe, meanwhile, will be thrilled at their own bowlers’ performances. Blessing Muzarabani was the standout on Tuesday, as he, Tendai Chatara and Richard Ngarava produced arguably the defining period of the game – the early overs of Sri Lanka’s innings. In fact, such was the dominance of those three quicks, and the control of left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza, that Zimbabwe didn’t even need Sikandar Raza to bowl his offspin at any stage. The attack also held its nerve when the match seemed headed for a tight finish.
A victory in the final match would give Zimbabwe their first series win of this inaugural Super League cycle after also tying a series against Ireland. And it would be the second successive ODI series they would have won in Sri Lanka, having done the same back in 2017, which amounts to serious bragging rights.

Big picture

Sri Lanka LWWLW (Last five completed matches; most recent first)
Zimbabwe WLLWL

In the spotlight

In the four years that Blessing Muzarabani has played ODIs for Zimbabwe, he has had a substantial impact. Away from home, his numbers are excellent: 25 wickets from 16 matches at an average of 27.32. And what is more, since late 2020, he is on a pretty serious run of form despite the infrequency with which Zimbabwe play. In his last nine ODIs, he has gone wicketless only once. Tall, sharp and accurate, he will likely be a menace again come Friday.

While Dasun Shanaka did not have the best night as captain, perhaps mismanaging his bowling resources, he will at least be pleased that he produced his first excellent innings since taking over as Sri Lanka’s white-ball captain last year. His form had been a concern right through the last few months, and was perhaps the greatest sticking point in his captaincy so far. Another good innings will help shore up his leadership.

Pitch and conditions

Another flat surface is expected in Pallekele. The weather is not forecast to interrupt.

Team news

Offspinning allrounder Ramesh Mendis is likely to come into Sri Lanka’s XI in order to target Craig Ervine and Sean Williams, the two left-handers in Zimbabwe’s middle order, as well as to bolster the hosts’ batting. Maheesh Theekshana, who has been economical without being a major wicket-taking threat, is likeliest to make way.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Mendis (wk), 3 Kamindu Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Ramesh Mendis, 9 Dushmantha Chameera, 10 Jeffrey Vandersay, 11 Nuwan Pradeep

Zimbabwe were unchanged in the second ODI, and will probably see no need to switch things up for this game too.

Zimbabwe (possible): 1 Regis Chakabva (wk), 2 Takudzwanashe Kaitano, 3 Craig Ervine (capt), 4 Wesley Madhevere, 5 Sean Williams, 6 Sikandar Raza, 7 Ryan Burl, 8 Wellington Masakadza, 9 Blessing Muzarabani, 10 Tendai Chatara, 11 Richard Ngarava

Stats and trivia

  • Zimbabwe have now won four of their last seven ODIs in Sri Lanka. Before 2017, they had never won a match on the island.
  • In 12 innings in 2020, Shanaka averaged 22.45 with a strike rate of 71. But thanks to Tuesday’s knock, he averages 112 and strikes at 106 across two innings so far this year.
  • Despite their modest overall ODI record, Sri Lanka have won three of their last four bilateral ODI series at home, defeating Bangladesh, West Indies and South Africa since 2019.
  • Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf



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    Womens Ashes 2022 – Tammy Beaumont wants England to ‘get over the line’ after encouraging start ends in defeat

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    England opener described Australia allrounder Tahlia McGrath’s execution as “the difference between kicking onto like 180-190”

    Tammy Beaumont has backed England to compete with Australia when the sides reconvene for back-to-back matches at the Adelaide Oval over the weekend to complete the T20I leg of their Ashes series. But despite a heavy defeat in the first T20I to start off the tour, she was keen to highlight the positives for England after the match – not least after the visitors’ senior side had lost both of their T20 warm-up matches to England A in the lead-up to Thursday’s series opener.
    “We’ve come a long way in the space of less than a week,” Beaumont said. “There’s still a long way to go. We’ve got a lot more cricket to play, and I’m sure [we] will improve. We wanted to come out here and play the way we want to play T20 cricket, and to put 170 on the board was certainly the way we go about it. The way Danni Wyatt came out and really attacked – particularly the spinners down the ground – I thought was exceptional.

    “We wanted to say that we’re going to come toe-to-toe with Australia, and I think they were surprised in the field. You saw some mistakes from them, so I think we started well but we’ve just got to try and get over the line.”

    Beaumont admitted that there was little England’s batters could do in the face of Tahlia McGrath‘s excellent bowling, which not only removed two set batters – Wyatt and Sciver in a double-wicket over – at a crucial time but also accounted for No. 5 Amy Jones, caught for four at long-on by Grace Harris, who returned to the Australian line-up with Beth Mooney’s fractured jaw pushing captain Meg Lanning up the order to open and Ellyse Perry dropped primarily owing to a dwindling strike rate.

    Australia’s depth wasn’t tested even after Sophie Ecclestone dismissed Alyssa Healy for just seven in the fourth over of their response thanks to McGrath and Lanning, the latter finishing on an unbeaten 64 off 44 balls. Ecclestone, the left-arm spinner who took a stunning 7 for 14 for England in a losing cause in one of the T20 warm-ups against England A, remains a huge weapon for the visitors, but the Australian line-up looked impenetrable in Adelaide on Thursday. As McGrath and Lanning turned up the pressure, cracks formed in England’s fielding and that was one area Beaumont said needed work.

    “I’ve been part of heavier defeats in some ways,” Beaumont said. “Obviously they have got a nine-wicket win at the end of the day but to post 170 on a ground where the par in women’s cricket here is a lot lower is a massive positive. We started really well in the powerplay as well with the ball. We’ve got to tighten up some areas: we probably didn’t field well enough on our ground fielding, and maybe tighten up our lines a little bit and come back with some plans to try and get those two out.”

    The hosts took the first two points of the seven-match multi-format contest with an emphatic victory in the opening game – thanks to McGrath’s three wickets and 91 not out, despite England setting themselves up well through an 82-run opening partnership between Beaumont and Wyatt, and another 59-run stand for the second wicket between Wyatt and Sciver. Wyatt had breathed new life into her international career with 89* in the third T20I against India in July and unbeaten 50-over scores of 63 and 43 during New Zealand’s visit to England in September. Her latest innings of 70 came off just 54 balls and included three glorious sixes, while Beaumont contributed 30 off 24.

    But the margin of defeat and the fact that England’s bowlers had no answers as McGrath and Lanning put on an unbroken second-wicket union of 144 to see their side home with three overs to spare, is cause for concern. So too is the fact that – surviving McGrath’s pin-point yorker in a devastating double-wicket over aside – England couldn’t have done much more with the bat.

    “We just need to build a bit of pressure, get a couple of dots an over, stop the boundary balls and then if they’ve got to get nine an over – which they did at one stage – they’re going to have to take more risks,” Beaumont said. “They played really well, took the right risks at the right time, but I’m not too worried about our bowling attack – it’s been brilliant for the last two, three years.”

    “At the beginning of the day we would definitely have taken 170,” Beaumont said. “We just really wanted to get off to a good start and set the tone really well for our team. Credit to Tahlia McGrath, she bowled two brilliant yorkers there to get our two set batters out and that’s probably the difference between kicking onto like 180-190.”

    Meanwhile, England face one injury concern going into the second match on Saturday after Maia Bouchier appeared to jar her right knee heavily as she attempted to stop a McGrath boundary and spent the rest of the match off the field with it strapped and packed in ice.

    Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo



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