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

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Sri Lanka 204 and 46 for 2 (Nissanka 21*) trail West Indies 253 (Brathwaite 72, Blackwood 44, Mendis 6-70) by 3 runs

On the first full, rain-absent, day’s play of the Test, Sri Lanka and West Indies set up what promises to be the quintessential Galle classic. At stumps, the hosts in their second innings trail by three runs with eight wickets in hand, on a pitch that has produced 21 wickets over the past two days – though the last two will have the Dimuth Karunaratne’s side kicking themselves, both being entirely avoidable run outs.

The first came as a result of an outstanding direct hit from Kyle Mayers to dismiss the captain himself, while the second was rather more self-inflicted, with Oshada Fernando hesitating in the middle of the pitch and failing to return to his crease in time.

That has left Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka at the crease, on 21 and 4 respectively, with the former also nursing a knee injury that he had received treatment for on the field.

Therefore going into the final two days, with rain also expected in bursts, the game is poised to go down to the wire. While West Indies will be wary of having to bat last – only two teams have chased a score higher than double-digits to win in Galle – they will be quietly confident of the ability of their batters in chasing what could end up being a modest target.
Indeed, despite losing their last seven wickets for just 87 runs earlier in day, Kraigg Brathwaite would have been buoyed by how well the top order coped with Sri Lanka’s spin threat for the most part. He himself was the top scorer, hitting 72 off 185, while Jermaine Blackwood (44), Nkrumah Bonner (35) and Kyle Mayers (36) all chipped in with handy knocks to secure a 49-run lead. That could have been considerably more had it not been for the Sri Lankan spinners who, after a sub-par showing in the morning, imparted a vice grip on the visitors after lunch.
Ramesh Mendis was the undoubted star for the hosts, ending with career-best figures of 6 for 70 – his first five-wicket haul in Tests – while Lasith Embuldeniya and Praveen Jayawickrama picked up two apiece. Mayers’ unbeaten 36 off 64 late on had briefly threatened to balloon the lead, but he eventually ran out of partners.

Mendis, Embuldeniya and Jayawickrama all found better lengths after lunch and in the process dried up the scoring. They were also perhaps aided by the extra bounce afforded by the new ball, with five of the six wickets to fall in the session coming after they opted for it – the last two wickets fell swiftly after tea.

That said, the most important breakthrough came at the start of second session, when Embuldeniya worked over a set Brathwaite in brilliant fashion. Having shifted to over the wicket against the right-hander, Embuldeniya peppered a leg-stump line – replete with leg slip and short leg – for the first couple of deliveries, before getting one to spin sharply past Brathwaite’s, oddly lax, forward defence. The ball proceeded to hit the top of middle stump, a dream dismissal for the left-arm spinner but one which Brathwaite could have avoided by simply padding away.

That brought to an end an 85-ball 25-run stand between Brathwaite and Shai Hope, the last one of any significance. Mendis took charge of proceedings from thereon, getting rid of Roston Chase, Hope, Jason Holder and Joshua Da Silva in the span of a few overs, before returning after tea to close out the innings with the wicket of Jomel Warrican.

This turn of events had seemed far from likely in the morning. Indeed, such was the level of West Indies’ control that, aside from the wicket of Bonner, the only real moment of peril occurred courtesy Suranga Lakmal, Sri Lanka’s lone seamer, who got a fuller one to jag back into Bonner’s pads, only for a subsequent review to show a faint inside edge. There was also a potential catch down the leg side, also off Lakmal, that Chandimal seemed to have grassed, only for replays to show that there was no bat or glove involved.

Those instances typified a luckless morning for the home side with Brathwaite and Bonner resolute. The Sri Lankan spinners did themselves little favours in any case, unable to extract the same turn and bounce West Indians were able to do so consistently the previous day.

Much of this was down to an inability to find the right lengths, with Jayawickrama and Embuldeniya particularly culpable, far too often straying full and making it easy to smother any turn on offer. On the few occasions that they did hit a good length, both Brathwaite and Bonner were able to get bat in the way and deal with it safely. And it wasn’t long before the home side’s frustration began to show, as they began to offer more scoring opportunities, ones the West Indians were ruthless in dispatching.

Brathwaite, who was quite comfortable staying back and navigating the spin late in most circumstances, was the biggest beneficiary on this front – he would end his innings with nine boundaries, and was all too happy to put away anything short, square of the wicket on either side. The pick of his shots, though, were two front-foot efforts either side of mid-on – for the first, he showed exquisite wrist work to take one that was a little fuller and steer it to the left of a straight-ish mid-on, while the second was a delightful clip to the midwicket fence.

It was only following Bonner’s dismissal that Sri Lanka’s spinners rediscovered some sort of rhythm, which in the end they managed to carry over in spades for the rest of the innings.



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Australia top ICC Test rankings after Ashes win, India slip to third place

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South Africa move up a spot to fifth place after beating India; New Zealand retain second spot

Australia have overtaken India and New Zealand to reclaim the No. 1 ICC Test rankings spot after their 4-0 Ashes win at home, pushing India down to third spot. South Africa’s 2-1 win over India at home took them one spot up to fifth place, whereas New Zealand retained their second position.

New Zealand, the inaugural WTC winners, remained in second place after their 1-1 drawn series at home against Bangladesh, which included the hosts’ first ever loss to Bangladesh at home across formats.

Pakistan went down one spot to sixth place, whereas Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland retained their positions.



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Under-19 World Cup 2022 – Harnoor and Raghuvanshi fifties guide Covid-hit India to quarter-finals

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Ireland slipped to 66 for 6 and were swept aside in Tarouba

India 307 for 5 (Harnoor 88, Raghuvanshi 79, Bawa 42, Sherzad 3-79) beat Ireland 133 all out (Macbeth 32, Tambe 2-8, Gautam 2-11, Sangwan 2-23) by 174 runs

Despite missing their captain Yash Dhull and vice-captain Shaikh Rasheed after both tested positive for Covid-19, India thumped Ireland by 174 runs and in the process secured their quarter-final spot too.
Sent into bat, India openers Harnoor Singh (88) and Angkrish Raghuvanshi (79) hit exquisite half-centuries to set the tone with a 164-run opening stand. The middle order then made crucial contributions to take India past 300. In Ireland’s chase, they were reduced to 66 for 6 inside 22 overs, after which the only question that remained was the final margin of India’s victory.
With six of their 17 squad members either Covid positive or suspected as infected, India fielded the only 11 players who were available for selection. They were led by 17-year-old Nishant Sindhu from Haryana, and he struck a 34-ball 36 after the openers built the foundation. On either side of Sindhu’s innings, No. 3 Raj Bawa made 42 and the lower-order batter Rajvardhan Hangargekar – promoted for the slog overs – smacked 39 in a 17-ball innings to post 307 for 5.

Openers Harnoor and Raghuvanshi had both failed in the first game against South Africa, but with the usual No. 3 Rasheed and No. 4 Dhull not available, both batters had an added responsibility. They were, however, unperturbed in their batting style, attacking right from the start. The right-handed Raghuvanshi hit a hat-trick of fours in the third over off Ireland spinner Matthew Humphreys and followed it up with three boundaries off offspinner Nathan McGuire to race away to 26 in 22 balls.

After that, Harnoor found the gaps to hit back-to-back fours off seamer Muzamil Sherzad, and by the time the tenth over was up, India were 68 for 0.

Raghuvanshi reached his fifty first, off 41 balls, when he pulled a short delivery from Humphreys over deep midwicket for six. Harnoor’s scoring-rate kept increasing steadily, and by the 21st over, he too had reached his half-century in 56 balls. A series of fours – all around the ground – then flowed from Harnoor’s bat and soon enough he had caught up to Raghuvanshi’s score, with both batters in their seventies.

The stand was finally broken in the 26th over when India were 164 for 0. Raghuvanshi, on 79, was caught behind off left-arm spinner Jamie Forbes. The opening partnership gave No. 3 Bawa the liberty to settle in, but the 35th over brought about Harnoor’s end, as he was dismissed lbw by Humphreys on 88.

With eight wickets in hand, a big finish was expected. It came with Sindhu playing aggressive shots off his pads on numerous occasions. After Sindhu fell in the 46th over, India promoted the seam bowler Hangargekar, and he got into the groove by hammering Humphreys for two sixes down the ground. In the 50th over, he spoiled Sherzad’s spell by crunching a hat-trick of sixes and ending the innings with a four to third man.

Ireland’s chase of 308 began sedately. The first wicket came when left-arm seamer Ravi Kumar had Liam Doherty caught at midwicket in the fourth over. Hangargekar, on a high after at a strike rate of 229, then trapped Jack Dickson lbw. Bawa’s direct-hit then sent David Vincent back with Ireland at 17 for 3.

Right-arm seamer Garv Sangwan, into the India XI because of the forced absences, then removed Ireland captain Tim Tector when the batter sliced a shot to gully. Sangwan followed it up with the wicket of Joshua Cox, who edged one to wicketkeeper Dinesh Bana.
With half the side gone for only 66, Ireland’s chances of a win were almost zero. Vicky Ostwal, who took four wickets against South Africa, had Philippus le Roux lbw when he played a sweep down the wrong line. Although Scott MacBeth smacked 32, the rest of the game was a one-sided affair. Left-arm spinner Aneeshwar Gautam, another new entrant into the XI, then took two lower-order wickets, and offspinner Kaushal Tambe cleaned up the tail.

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



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Aus vs Sco – Under-19 World Cup 2022

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Team now relying on Sri Lanka to beat West Indies on Friday

Australia 240 for 3 (Wyllie 101*, Cahill 72, Kellaway 47) beat Scotland 236 for 8 (Tear 54, Mackintosh 54, Cahill 2-33, Salzmann 2-38) by seven wickets

In their final Group D match, Australia needed a big win to give themselves their best chance of making the quarter-final, and they did so by chasing Scotland’s target of 237 with more than ten overs to spare. Opener Teague Wyllie, Australia’s Player of the Match in their win over West Indies, struck an unbeaten 101 and No. 3 Aidan Cahill a quick-fire 72.
Australia’s chase began with a century stand between Wyllie and Campbell Kellaway (47), followed by the 97-run second-wicket partnership between Wyllie and Cahill with the latter going at a strike-rate of 160. With only three wickets down, No. 5 Isaac Higgins hit the winning runs, a boundary, in the 40th over.

In the first innings, Scotland reached 236 courtesy a couple of 54s from opener Charlie Tear and No. 3 Thomas Mackintosh. But Australia captain Cooper Connolly used as many as eight bowlers to get the breakthroughs. Cahill, the eighth bowler used, took 2 for 33 in his five overs, while seam bowler William Salzmann rattled Scotland in the slog overs with two wickets.

Australia’s big win gave them a net run-rate boost but with four points they are not assured of qualification. If West Indies beat Sri Lanka in a very close finish, then Australia could be eliminated to the Plate round. If Sri Lanka beat West Indies, Australia will qualify.

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



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