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SA vs India 3rd Test – Dean Elgar on DRS drama

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“It was maybe a team under a bit of pressure and things weren’t going their way, which they are quite used to of late”

Elgar was the batter who survived a review late on the third day when he was given out lbw off R Ashwin by Marais Erasmus to a delivery that drifted in from around the stumps and struck in front of middle stump, below the knee roll.

Elgar sent the decision upstairs and ball-tracking showed the ball would have gone over the stumps. India went on to question the decision vocally on-field as well as insinuate the host broadcasters were biased in favour of the home team, but only dismissed Elgar nine overs later, at the close of play. By that stage, Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen had put on 41 runs, at a scoring rate of 4.5 and brought the target down to 111 on the final day.

Asked what he thought of India’s chatter, Elgar said that he “loved it” because of the advantage it gave South Africa. “It was maybe a team under a bit of pressure and things weren’t going their way, which they are quite used to of late [getting things to go their way],” he said. “It was a bit of Test match cricket pressure which gave us a little bit of a window period to score freer and chip away at the target. It played nicely into our hands that for a period of time, they forgot about the game and they were channelling a bit more of the emotional side of what Test cricket has to offer. I am extremely happy it happened that way.”

South Africa went on to deny arguably the best Indian side that has toured here a first series win in this country and stood tall against quality fast bowling and lots of banter. Throughout South Africa’s chase, India peppered them with comments ranging from references to the 2018 series between the two teams – “remember who wanted to call off the Jo’burg Test” was heard on the stump mic – to reminding Rassie van der Dussen of his own sledging to Rishabh Pant. South Africa did have their fair share to say in the field and Elgar has confirmed he is not shy to use his words, although he only spoke in reference to his own team.
After the second Test, Elgar revealed how he had a conversation with Kagiso Rabada that fired him for the rest of the series. He has since shared that he has similar chats with all the members of his squad, as he tries to get the best out of them, but stressed that the chats are underpinned by an ethos of care.

“You’ve got to have mutual respect with every individual player and that’s a two-way street. That enables you to have the conversations we’ve had in the last few weeks,” he said. The players need to understand that I am not there to manipulate them. I’m not there to try and do their career injustice because I need them to operate at a level that is respectable at this level of Test cricket. If you want to be the best, you need to operate at a level like what we have done over the last few weeks but you need to be pretty consistent around that. I’d like to think I’ve got a pretty good relationship with everyone – from the oldest player to the youngest player. I’d like to think I connect with them in a pretty good way; a special way. The guys know Dean is doing this for the right reasons.”

Exactly what all those discussions are about, we will never know as Elgar said he is “not going to reveal everything because what happens in the team stays in the team”, but essentially his mantra is around putting the collective first.

“We all want to influence things in our own way but the team’s way is the only way going forward. It sounds a little bit harsh but if you want to be the best, you need to have that skill, which is a unique skill. I would like to think I am not offending anyone by the language I use or the words I speak. I am there to motivate and influence this group.”

Elgar does not immediately come across as a player who controls things so carefully behind the scenes. For most of his now-decade-long international career, he was not seen as a natural leader and even now that he has taken over the captaincy, he does not play to the gallery like his opposite number, Kohli. But that’s intentional.

“My skin is pretty thick when it comes to on-field matters and matters that value the team in a big way. Now, being a lot more experienced, I’ve gained the kind of people skills that I lacked. I’d like to think it’s something I am still going to work on and grow as a human. The pressure situations are tough. Especially when you don’t have a bat in hand.

“You can’t control anything that’s happening out there. That’s something I kind of manage pretty well. You don’t want to show your emotions on camera. From that point of view, it’s something I have learnt a lot and I’ve had to learn it quite quickly. From a captaincy point of view, it’s helped me be calmer and not panicking too soon.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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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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Match Preview – West Indies vs England, England tour of West Indies 2021/22, 4th T20I

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Coming into this five-match series, Eoin Morgan had said that the “development of our game is more important than a series win” … and that caveat may be one that England are keen to cling onto as the climax of the campaign approaches.
With a glut of Ashes campaigners already absent for this tour, England’s resources in Barbados have been further hit by illness and injury – the latest being a quadriceps niggle that has forced Morgan himself onto the sidelines. As for the action itself, the understudies on parade have frequently been put through their paces, most emphatically on Wednesday, when West Indies surged back into the series lead on the back of Rovman Powell‘s 51-ball century.

And so England go into this weekend’s back-to-back fixtures needing consecutive victories to swipe the spoils. As recently as November, you’d have backed them to do just that, after West Indies old guard were put out to pasture in a humiliating 55-all-out display at the T20 World Cup. But Powell’s pyrotechnics, coupled with Nicholas Pooran’s power at No. 3 and an enviable depth of hitters that came to the fore in West Indies’ one-run loss on Sunday, suggests that the mood of the hosts may have shifted a touch this past week.

Nevertheless, as DJ Bravo noted in an exasperated tweet on Thursday, it’s never easy to rally round West Indies these days without a few political spanners impeding on the works. A curious row about Odean Smith’s “victimisation” has blown up since he was dropped to make way from Powell’s power-packed return, with Phil Simmons, the head coach, being forced to decry such talk as “foolishness” in his pre-match press conference before Ricky Skerritt, the board chairman, weighed in too.

The off-field issues have detracted from a genuinely uplifting series of displays from West Indies – a team that lost an ODI series to Ireland only last week, but which has hit upon a potent balance of youth and experience for England’s visit. In particular, some canny bowling from the veterans Jason Holder and Kieron Pollard has offered a steady foil to a batting line-up that is still prone to over-reaching, but which looks better balanced than it had been at the World Cup.

As for England, they’ve had their moments in between the ignominies. Tom Banton and Phil Salt served up a pair of powerful fifties on Wednesday that fitted the imposing template that England’s absentee World Cup winners have crafted for the white-ball team since 2015, while the spin-twins Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid remain a pre-eminent force as the countdown continues to another T20 World Cup in Australia in barely 10 months’ time.
But on the seam-bowling front, there’s obvious room for improvement, particularly at the death, where England’s recent stats make eye-watering reading. Reece Topley has been a notable exception to the theme – his lanky left-arm line and canny variations have confirmed the promise he showed when called up for the 2016 World T20 in India. But Chris Jordan and Saqib Mahmood, at opposite ends of the experience spectrum, have both endured some rough treatment in this series, as have Tymal Mills and the debutant George Garton.

As Morgan admitted, it’s better for England’s development to be put under pressure in this build-up period than to experience such setbacks on the main stage in November. But as Moeen prepares to lead England out for these final two games, there are perhaps a few more unknown factors in his ranks that the management would have bargained for at the start of the tour.

Form guide

West Indies WLWLL (most recent first)
England LWLLL

In the spotlight

Consistency has been one of West Indies’ watchwords for this series, and so all eyes will be on Rovman Powell after his startling return to the fray on Wednesday. Expecting him to back up his 51-ball hundred with a similar performance this weekend might be a stretch, but given that West Indies’ top-order collapsed to 65 for 7 in the second match after a serene display in game one, how he resets after that effort could be a microcosm of the team’s mentality at large. Either way, he’s made a phenomenal mark as one of only three West Indies batters to record a men’s T20I century, alongside Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis. It’s illustrious company, and after six years on the team’s periphery, it gives him a golden opportunity to cement that place as his own.
It’s been a good problem for England to have down the years, but such has been their glut of explosive white-ball hitters, almost everyone in the line-up has been queuing up for a place in the top three. Phil Salt is a potential exception to that rule, after making his debut at No. 6 on Wednesday, and responding to the challenge with a fine innings of 57 from 24 balls. He prides himself on his ability to strike the ball hard from the get-go, and with Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow among the dead-certs missing this campaign, there’s a more obvious long-term vacancy in the middle-order. Morgan’s absence should guarantee he’ll get the next two games to make his mark.

Team news

There are few reasons for West Indies to make wholesale changes to a line-up that performed so impressively in the third T20I, although one tweak may come at the top of the order, where Shai Hope’s haul of 26 runs from 40 balls shows room for improvement. He may make way for Kyle Mayers, which would also give West Indies a left-right opening alliance. Nicholas Pooran would take over as wicketkeeper in that case. The Odean Smith controversy probably means he’s further from a recall now than he might have been had that issue not become headline news, especially in light of Powell’s blistering reintroduction. But it’s feasible that he might also come in at the expense of Darren Bravo.

West Indies (possible): 1 Shai Hope / Kyle Mayers, 2 Brandon King, 3 Nicholas Pooran, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Rovman Powell, 6 Kieron Pollard (capt), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Fabian Allen, 9 Romario Shepherd, 10 Akeal Hosein, 11 Sheldon Cottrell

There were so many changes to England’s line-up for the third game that Moeen Ali, the stand-in captain, failed to remember them all – but then, seeing as one of them was the ever-overlooked Liam Dawson (now back on the sidelines after a solitary T20I appearance in four years), perhaps that’s understandable. In theory, there should be fewer changes this time around – assuming Liam Livingstone doesn’t suffer a recurrence of his acid reflux issue, he will be a lock in the middle-order, where Sam Billings may yet rejoin him if he’s got over his understandable jet-lag. Harry Brook, a late inclusion after Eoin Morgan’s quad strain, is the obvious man to make way. Assuming Reece Topley’s fitness holds up, he’s the first-choice quick on the team-sheet. Saqib Mahmood, taken out of the firing line on Wednesday, may be ripe for a return.

England (possible): 1 Jason Roy, 2 Tom Banton, 3 James Vince, 4 Moeen Ali (capt), 5 Liam Livingstone, 6 Sam Billings (wk), 7 Phil Salt, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Saqib Mahmood / Tymal Mills, 11 Reece Topley

Pitch and conditions

There have been a variety of surfaces for this series so far – a bit of a flyer that caught England on the hop in game one, a lop-sided lay-out for Sunday’s second match which played havoc with the quick bowlers’ tactics in particular, then a surprise belter on Wednesday, which served up a total of 428 runs across 40 overs.

Stats and trivia

  • Kieron Powell needs 22 runs to reach 1500 in his T20I career. This will be his 97th match in the format.
  • Nicholas Pooran needs 34 runs to pass 1000 T20I runs. He will be playing in his 53rd match.
  • The 428 runs scored in the third match was the third-highest aggregate in a 20-over match involving West Indies. They took part in the highest-scoring T20I ever, a one-run win over India in Lauderhill in 2016, when 487 runs were scored.
  • Quotes

    “If Odean wasn’t in the best team for the day, it is because we thought that Rovman was better suited for yesterday. All those who want to sit out there and preach about victimisation, I think they need to look within themselves.”
    West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, is unimpressed with rumours of a rift in his camp.

    “They’re such good strikers of the cricket ball. I remember I was keeping last night and just seeing how far they hit it, it was pretty scary to be honest.”
    Tom Banton was an impressed onlooker during West Indies’ batting display on Wednesday.

    Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket



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