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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs West Indies 2nd Test 2021/22

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Ninth-wicket partnership of 107 with Embuldeniya hurts West Indies and their hopes of victory in Galle

Sri Lanka 328 for 8 (Dhananjaya 153*, Embuldeniya 25*, Permaul 3-100, Chase 2-82) and 204 lead West Indies 253 by 279 runs

Dhananjaya de Silva came to the crease with Sri Lanka only 23 runs ahead, with three wickets down, and their most experienced batter injured an unable to play normally. By the time his work ended on day four, Sri Lanka were 279 runs ahead, with two wickets still in hand, in firm control.
De Silva, in sublime touch for much of this knock, was 153 not out off 259 balls by stumps, put on 78 alongside Pathum Nissanka to rescue Sri Lanka from immediate peril, and made 51 with Ramesh Mendis during a second session in which West Indies’ spinners made a four-wicket charge, but it was with No. 10 Lasith Embuldeniya with whom he produced the most consequential and perhaps match-defining partnership – an as-yet unbeaten association of 107 runs, during which he completed his eighth Test century, and breezed past 150, plundering 73 runs off 98 balls from a tiring attack.
He was dropped twice – both times off the bowling of Veerasammy Permaul. On 5, wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva could not hold on to a big edge, though this was an incredibly difficult chance, the ball traveling quickly and hitting only the tips of his gloves. The opportunity West Indies will rue more came when de Silva was on 116 and attempted a slog sweep with the field spread. Permaul got himself under the swirling top edge as he ran toward the sight screen, but ultimately could not wrap his fingers around the ball. If he’d caught that, Sri Lanka would have been nine down with a lead of 218. It’s possible West Indies would already have been batting by now, chasing a difficult but not outlandish target.

The earliest stretch of the de Silva-Embuldeniya stand had been tense. Embuldeniya had come in with Sri Lanka only 179 ahead, and with Permaul having taken two wickets in quick succession with the second new ball. De Silva was batting on 80, and so the hundred was in sight as well. But the pair settled into a rhythm – de Silva farming the strike to give Embuldeniya only the last two or three balls an over, where possible. Though de Silva didn’t always attempt to hit boundaries early in those overs, largely because Kraigg Brathwaite had positioned fielders on the rope.

Embuldeniya scratched his way through that period, facing 20 balls before de Silva was able to complete the century. After that, de Silva moved up the gears. He hit Roston Chase behind point for four soon after getting to a hundred, then slammed him over long-on two balls later. The field spread back to him, he ran hard twos, and when Brathwaite brought the seamers back, attacked them as well. Having got to his hundred off his 189th delivery, he added the next 50 off 65.

Embuldeniya played an unambitious supporting hand, all the way up to stumps. He faced 110 balls for his 25. He did not hit a single boundary, but was largely good in defence. West Indies, through this period, seemed ragged and short of ideas. Brathwaite bowled a strange spell in which he occasionally tossed the ball up almost comically high.

West Indies will be kicking themselves for letting the situation slip, after having surged through the middle session, and having kept the opposition in check even before lunch. Sri Lanka had begun the day still three runs in arrears, and with two inexperienced batters at the crease. Permaul got one to bite to take Charith Asalanka’s inside edge, which popped up off the pad to short leg, in the first hour of play. And although Nissanka completed his third fifty of the series in the company of de SIlva, he was out the ball before lunch too – lbw to Chase.

Chase struck again in the afternoon, pocketing a return catch off Dinesh Chandimal, before Brathwaite was the beneficiary of the only wicket Sri Lanka truly threw away in the day – Mendis holing out at deep midwicket the over before the second new ball was due. Permaul removed Suranga Lakmal and Angelo Mathews cheaply with that new ball. He finished the day on 3 for 100 – West Indies’ best analysis.

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



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BBL 2021-22 final – Adam Voges: ‘For Laurie Evans and Ashton Turner to be brave and take risks was outstanding’

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Sydney Sixers’ captain Moises Henriques says Scorchers had their measure “throughout the season”

As a jittery Perth Scorchers suffered a dramatic top-order collapse against a shorthanded Sydney Sixers, head coach Adam Voges decided to make a drastic change in a bid to spark his team in the BBL final.
An uncharacteristically reckless Scorchers repeatedly threw away their wickets to be teetering at 4 for 25 after being sent in at a closed-roof Marvel Stadium. It left Voges filling out the official form to insert young allrounder Aaron Hardie into the contest as the X-factor at the designated ten-over mark of the innings.
But Scorchers’ brains trust decided to wait on lodging the paperwork until a fifth wicket fell. It didn’t eventuate any time soon and Hardie was not required as Player-of-the-Final Laurie Evans and skipper Ashton Turner turned the match with a belligerent 104-run partnership to fuel Scorchers’ eventual 79-run victory and record fourth BBL title.

“It wasn’t the start we wanted,” Voges said. “We didn’t get the tempo right, went too hard. Fortunately, Laurie and Ashton changed the whole course of the game. For them to be brave and take risks was outstanding.”

English import Evans produced his best innings of his debut BBL season, where he smoked an unbeaten 41-ball 76 marked by aggression from the get-go against Sixers’ star spinners Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon, who had torn through the top order.

“We spoke to people in England about him,” Voges said of Evans who played with a broken toe sustained at the end of the regular season. “He’s suited to these types of wickets. He has gotten better and better and he saved his best for tonight.”

Evans had been overshadowed through the season by Scorchers’ big-hitters at the top of the order but his energetic batting made him an important part of their middle order. Given their usual strength at the top, Evans had mainly batted in the backend of innings but he showcased his devastating firepower after coming in at the end of the sixth over.

“It’s a do-or-die game, you come out swinging,” Evans said. “It was about managing risks and the game plan. I’ve played a lot of cricket and batted everywhere… I tried to add some experience and skill.”

Scorchers’ triumph might be the sweetest in their storied history having been the team to beat all season despite being on the road for 50 straight days due to being shut out of Western Australia’s closed borders.

“If we had lost today it would have meant nothing,” Evans said. “To dominate the way we did says a lot about the group and coaching staff. It was my job to put the cherry on top.”

The victory meant Scorchers broke the deadlock for most BBL titles with arch-rivals Sixers, who had limped into the final after being decimated by Covid-19 and injury.

Sixers captain Moises Henriques rued his attack leaking 38 runs from overs eight to ten as their bid for a historic hat-trick of titles ended after a fourth straight defeat to Scorchers this month.

“They put the pressure back on us,” Henriques said. “That was one of the better partnerships I’ve seen. I didn’t think they would take SOK [O’Keefe] on, and they kept going and took that momentum. It completely changes the mindset.

“Perth had a fantastic year. They had our measure throughout the season.”

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth



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Women’s Ashes 2022 – Heather Knight’s innings is among ‘top three’ performances, says Katherine Brunt

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Fast bowler praises competitive surface after picking up five-wicket haul on second day

Heather Knight‘s battling century in the Ashes Test in Canberra ranks among the “top three” performances in women’s cricket, according to her longest-serving team-mate Katherine Brunt, whose own five-wicket haul helped to keep England in contention after two days of a keenly fought contest.

By the close of the second day, Knight’s unbeaten 127 had rescued England from the prospect of the follow-on, after they had at one stage slumped to 169 for 8 in reply to Australia’s 337 for 9 declared. But with Sophie Ecclestone providing stout support with an unbeaten 27, England reduced the arrears to 102 with the prospect of further runs when play resumes on Saturday.

It was Knight’s second Test century, after a matchsaving 157, also against Australia at Wormsley in 2013, but Brunt – who has been critical of the quality of pitches used for women’s Tests – had no doubts that this was the superior knock, after withstanding a varied Australia attack on a surface offering turn for the spinners and carry for the quicks.

“It was massive, beyond a shadow of a doubt,” Brunt said, of an innings that spanned 249 balls, and was 100 runs more than England’s next highest scorer. “She’s resilient as ever, showing fighting spirit, and she’s 100% a leader. You want to lead by example, and that’s how you do it. I don’t know how she does it personally, but if she could teach me how, that’d be lovely.

“There was a bit more in this [pitch],” Brunt added, compared to the Wormsley match in which 23 wickets fell across the four days. “Both were equally brilliant, both really tough situations. But that’s what she’s made for. And none of us thought that she would go out there and not do it. We all believe that she can do it – she does, Australia do. She’s at that level [now], but unfortunately no-one could back her up which is the sad thing about it.

“I’ve been around a long time now, and seen some brilliant hundreds in World Cup cricket and a hundred here by Danni Wyatt in in a T20 [in the 2017-18 Ashes], but that [was in the] top three. Not one person has scored a significant score so she has taken the whole world on her shoulders and dug extremely deep to put a score on the board.”

Earlier, Brunt did her utmost to keep England afloat, claiming her third Test five-for, and her first since 2009. She picked off both of the Australia wickets to fall on the second morning, prior to Meg Lanning’s declaration, including an outstanding delivery to pick off the top of Annabel Sutherland’s off stump.

“It’s been a while,” Brunt said. “I think someone said maybe 16 years [sic], which is absolutely ridiculous, but we don’t often get to play on wickets that have a little bit of something in it for the bowlers. So I’m just really happy that the conditions suit.

“No-one wants to play on a pitch where you don’t get a result,” Brunt added. “No-results are just sad, you always want it to go one way or the other. A result means an exciting game of Test cricket and, with it being viewed on air, we want to be able to showcase our skills bat and ball, not just the bat. It’s a breath of fresh air to have something to get excited about and be happy to run in on.”

England’s position could have been stronger but for a mixed display in the field. Knight dropped Lanning on 14 before lunch on the first day, while Nat Sciver reprieved Rachael Haynes off Brunt’s bowling, allowing Haynes to recover and post a key innings of 86.

“I can’t scream at my fiancée, can I?” Brunt said of Sciver’s spill. “Screaming and shouting gets you nowhere, I’ve found that over the years. It only makes people feel worse, then they are stressing about the next one coming. It’s heart-wrenching, but everyone’s trying their best. I’m really fiery and passionate and want the best, but stuff like that happens, so you can’t let it destroy you.”

Addressing the match situation, Brunt insisted that England “can win from anywhere” – and they need to as well, with Australia leading the series 4-2 on points after a win and two washouts in the T20Is.

“Had we taken our opportunities, they might be 100 less on the board and we’d be sitting in a really good position. But we’ve been clawing that back since, and the fight that we’re showing should be an example of what it means to us, and what we’re trying to achieve in this Test.”



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Recent Match Report – Gladiators vs Zalmi 2nd Match 2021/22

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Ahsan Ali 73, Will Smeed 97 in vain for Quetta Gladiators

Peshawar Zalmi 191 for 5 (Talat 52, Malik 48*, Nawaz 3-44) beat Quetta Gladiators 190 for 4 (Smeed 97, Ahsan 73, Qadir 2-20) by five wickets

Quetta Gladiators opened sensationally, while Peshawar Zalmi kept the fireworks going right through the chase. In a match that didn’t dignify either bowling attack or fielding performance much, a straight power-hitting shootout between the two sides ended with Zalmi hunting down 191 with two deliveries and five wickets to spare.

If 42-year-old Imran Tahir was the hero in the opening game, 39-year-old Shoaib Malik played a starring role on Friday night. Alongside Hussain Talat – whose sensational 29-ball 52 helped drag Zalmi back into a chase they had begun to falter in – he took the game deep, and waited for his moment to strike. It came in the 19th over, with James Faulkner the hapless target. Malik and Sherfane Rutherford plundered 22 off it, and all of a sudden, the game had been killed off.
It all began swimmingly for Gladiators after being sent in to bat, with Will Smeed and Ahsan Ali amassing 155 for the opening partnership in 15.3 overs. They capitalised on some ordinary powerplay bowling from Sameen Gul and Sohail Khan – and even worse catching – to ride their luck and play their shots. Smeed was put down early twice, and thereafter combined sumptuous timing with masterful power-hitting to make his debut PSL game a memorable one, finishing with 97 off 62 deliveries.

Ahsan, at the other end, was not to be outdone. He came into this tournament in fine domestic form and launched an assault that matched Smeed’s destructiveness. The 28-year-old excited Gladiators and Pakistan fans alike, scoring a blistering 46-ball 73. It was perhaps telling that when he finally holed out (a shade contentiously; Rutherford’s body language suggested he had touched the rope with his foot) Gladiators’ momentum stalled, and what should have been a score in excess of 200 ended up at 190.

But Sarfaraz Ahmed’s men appeared to lack sufficient intensity at the start of the second innings, perhaps cocooned in a false sense of security surrounding the size of the target. A lusty little cameo by Yasir Khan brought him 30 off 12 balls and got Zalmi ahead of the asking rate early. Mohammad Nawaz pulled things back, and seemed to put his side back in control once that opening partnership was broken, striking three times in his first three overs.

But Zalmi continued their onslaught, thanks to a knock of relentless belligerence from Talat, aided by some bowling decisions that seemed to fly in the face of analytical match-ups. The decision to bowl out Nawaz’s final over with a warmed-up left-handed Talat on strike seemed an odd one, and was duly punished with 17 in the 12th over to bring the asking rate back down under 10.

After Naseem Shah bowled a splendid 18th over to turn the equation into 26 needed off two overs, Malik lay in wait against the medium pace Faulkner, timing his assault to perfection against the Australian. It left Naseem with just three to defend off the final over in which Zalmi completed a remarkable heist.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000



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