The defending champions, the Lions, registered their first win of this season’s competition by chasing down a record total against the Knights at the Wanderers. Their 336 for 6 beats the previous best, 310 for 8 by Australia in the 2011/12 season, and finished off a remarkable comeback for the hosts, who were behind by 98 runs in the first innings.
The Knights were kept to 300 in their first innings, thanks largely to Sisanda Magala‘s 6 for 60 and held together by half-centuries from Grant Mokoena and Migael Pretorius, who then took 4 for 40 against his former franchise. The Lions never quite got their reply going and went from 47 for 5 to 202 all out. That gave the Knights a perfect platform to bat the Lions out of the match and when they stretched the lead to 283, with six wickets in hand they may have thought they were on track. But the Knights lost 6 for 44 and set the Lions 334 to win.
Centuries from openers Josh Richards and Dominic Hendricks, who shared a stand of 256, took the Lions to the brink and the middle order finished off. Despite the victory, the Lions remain more than 20 points behind the Knights in Pool B.
Also on the Highveld, the Warriors chased 218 to beat the Titans at SuperSport Park, to earn their first win of the competition and deny Aiden Markram victory despite his twin centuries in the match.
After six Covid-19 related absences from the first two rounds, the Warriors were back to full strength for this fixture and the difference in morale and performance showed. They bowled the Titans out for 320 and then piled on 392 in their own first innings.
By the time the Titans erased the 72-run deficit, three of their top four were dismissed and they had to rely on Markram and the middle order to set the Warriors a competitive target. Only one batsmen other than Markram got past 30, and the Warriors were required to chase 218. They made tricky work of it, but won by three wickets to close the gap between themselves and the Titans to less than 18 points in Pool A.
The Cobras lie at the bottom of the pool and are the only team not to have won a match after the first three rounds. They held on for the draw against the Dolphins in Durban after failing to bowl the Dolphins out in either innings and being set 295 runs to win. The Dolphins declared their first innings closed on 389 for 8, built on a century from Khaya Zondo. In reply, Tony de Zorzi top-scored for the Cobras with 58 as they were dismissed for 312, 77 runs behind.
Fifties from the Dolphins top three and a scoring rate of 4.34 runs to the over saw them declare again on 217 for 4 on the final day, setting up a thrilling last two sessions. They had 62 overs at the Cobras, who needed to score at close to five runs an over to win. The Dolphins might have fancied their chances when they had the Cobras 66 for 3, but Pieter Malan and Aviwe Mgijma dug in, and though both of them were eventually dismissed, the Dolphins could not nip out the last four wickets. The Dolphins are also at the bottom of their pool, Pool B, but are less than 10 points behind the Lions.
On the National Radar
Markram’s return to form could not have come at a better time, with the Test series against Sri Lanka a month away and decisions to be made about both the opening spot and the captaincy. He scored 149 and 121, almost 45% of the Titans total runs in the match, and sits in second place on the overall run charts. Less encouraging were the performances of Dean Elgar (20 and 6) and Theunis de Bruyn, who bagged a pair. While both Elgar and de Bruyn have centuries to their names in the tournament so far, Elgar has gone to add to half-centuries to that but de Bruyn’s three ducks and a 13 may see him slip down the order of preference.
Also of interest is two-time Test cap Senuran Muthusamy’s performance for the Dolphins. He was promoted to opening the batting and scored 79 and 56 while also eight wickets in the match (four in each innings) with his left-arm spin. Muthusamy now sits in joint fifth place on the wicket-charts and though South Africa are not short of left-arm slow bowlers, having an all-round option is always handy.
Though Markram has all but secured the Test opening spot, Sarel Erwee continues to impress and remains the leading run-scorer. Erwee registered a third score of 50-plus in his third match, with 56 in the second innings to help the Dolphins set up their victory push. No.3 batsmen Keegan Petersen also scored 56 while in the first innings Zondo’s hundred will be noted with interest, especially after his struggles for form since being on the fringes of the national side.
Other batsmen who showed signs of strong form are Dominic Hendricks, who scored a second century in successive matches, Richards, whose hundred was his first at franchise level and Sinethemba Qeshile of the Warriors, who scored 97.
With Tabraiz Shamsi on international duty, the Knights’ Pretorius is now the leading bowler with 16 wickets to his name. Warriors’ left-armer Marco Jansen is in joint-fourth place and took seven wickets against the Titans while exciting young quick Lifa Ntanzi, claimed 3 for 51 in the first innings for the Dolphins against the Cobras.
England vs India women’s Test 2021 – Harmanpreet Kaur: ‘We may not have much practice, but mentally we’re prepared’ | Cricket
Harmanpreet Kaur believes that a lack of adequate game time in the longest format in the lead-up to India Women’s return to Test cricket after nearly seven years can be offset in some measure by cultivating a positive outlook and heeding advice received from Ajinkya Rahane.
“I’ve played only two red-ball matches [in international cricket]. As a batting group when we have a discussion… this time we got a chance to speak to Rahane as well,” Kaur, the India Test vice-captain, said of her “easy and friendly talk” with her male counterpart in Southampton, where both the Indian teams served a hard quarantine upon arriving in the UK on June 3. “He shared his knowledge with us as to how to approach batting in the longest format and how one should divide their innings into parts.
“We may not have much practice under our belt [going into the Test], but mentally [we are prepared]. We’ve discussed a lot of things so we prepare ourselves well for the match. Even in the nets, we’ve tried to be in a good frame of mind because when you are happy, other than thinking too much about your batting, you tend to play well.”
The women’s team arrived in Bristol on Monday for the one-off Test against hosts England that begins on Wednesday. The opening fixture of a seven-match multi-format assignment, the Test marks India’s first outing in the format since the one-off Test at home against South Africa in November 2014. On the domestic circuit, the last multi-day women’s competition – the Senior Women’s Inter-Zonal Three-Day Game – was held in March-April 2018, in Thiruvananthapuram.
Kaur admitted that inadequate preparedness heading into the tour wasn’t ideal, but welcomed the revival of Test cricket for her team.
“Whatever time we’ve got [since coming out of quarantine], we’ve tried to simulate match scenarios as much as possible and tried to keep ourselves in the best frame of mind,” Kaur said. “We didn’t get much time to prepare, or any practice games. Individually, it’s imperative to adapt to the situation.
“We’ve never tried tinkering too much with Shafali because she is a natural player, and if you try talking too much technique or game planning with her, she can get disturbed because she is only 17″
Harmanpreet Kaur is all for letting Shafali Verma develop her own way
“The surfaces are different to what we get in India. We’ve practised against the swinging ball in the nets. We have a further two days – today and tomorrow – to prepare ourselves better for the match, so I hope we’ll be able to do that well.
“It’s a totally different scenario [to playing with the white ball]. I know we didn’t even get any domestic games with the red ball. In the upcoming season and years we’ll get more red-ball cricket also, which is a very good sign for us.”
As with Tests in the Women’s Ashes, the Bristol Test will feature the use of the Kookaburra red ball (the Dukes ball is usually used in England), with England captain Heather Knight saying last week that “we’re going to be using a Kookaburra in this match because that’s what we’re going to be using in the Ashes and it’s no secret this Test match is a huge part of our preparation going into that Ashes series and that Ashes Test match away from home.”
Kaur said that in the practice sessions India have had so far, the Kookaburra didn’t pose much challenge.
“Dealing with a Kookaburra didn’t feel too different because the ball size and weight is roughly the same [as the white ball we use in limited-overs cricket]. The last time we played [a Test], we felt the red ball was a bit heavier than the white variant, which makes you rely on your timing more. But the Kookaburra white and red ball feels the same; just the colour is different. We felt good playing with it because when you’re in whites and you play with the red ball, it’s a totally different feeling.”
When asked about the likelihood of 17-year-old big-hitter Shafali Verma making her debut on Wednesday, Kaur stressed that it was important for the senior players and the team management to refrain from talking shop too much with the young batter.
“We’ve never tried tinkering too much with Shafali because she is a natural player, and if you try talking too much technique or game planning with her, she can get disturbed because she is only 17 years old,” Kaur said. “To burden her with too many thoughts isn’t the right thing.
“All of us try to create a good environment for her to be able to feel less pressured and be able to enjoy her cricket well. She was looking great in the nets, and I hope if she gets a chance to play she’ll do better.”
As regards Jhulan Goswami, the senior-most bowler in the Indian attack, Kaur was hopeful that the 38-year-old pacer would replicate in this Test the consistency and success that’s been a hallmark of her nearly two-decade-long international career.
“She is someone who always takes the lead whenever we’re on the field,” Kaur said. “She’s always [been] special for us because her quota [of overs] is [important]. She will always give us breakthroughs whenever we need. Not only her but all the bowlers are very important because in Test matches you need breakthroughs, and I think she will be fantastic in this match also.”
The tour of England is also returning head coach Ramesh Powar‘s first assignment since replacing WV Raman in the role last month. Kaur, who is also India’s T20I captain, said her interactions with Powar on the ongoing tour had been no different to those during his first stint in the position which ended with the 2018 T20 World Cup, following a high-profile controversy involving himself, ODI captain Mithali Raj, Kaur, T20I vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, and several members of the now-defunct Committee of Administrators that was overseeing the BCCI.
“My interactions with him have been the same [as before]. He is someone who’s involved in the game all the time and expects the same of the players. Whenever you speak to him, you feel like you’re in a match. He asks you to imagine yourself in a match situation and figure out how you would react to it.
“I get a lot of information speaking to him because he, too, has played a lot of cricket, including T20 cricket. So the experience is the same. Whatever we had done in 2018, we are repeating those things now as well.”
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ind vs NZ – WTC winners to take home USD 1.6 million as well as Test Championship mace
Runners-up to get USD 800,000; the teams will split the prize money in case there isn’t a result
The winners of the India vs New Zealand World Test Championship (WTC) final will take home USD 1.6 million, as well as the Test Championship Mace, while the losing team will get USD 800,000, the ICC has announced. In case there is a stalemate, or weather prevents a winner from being identified despite the reserve day, the two teams will split the total prize money of USD 2.4 million.
Australia, who finished third on the points table, England, who were fourth, and Pakistan, the fifth-placed side, will receive USD 450,000, USD 350,000 and USD 200,000 respectively, while the remaining teams that were a part of the competition – West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – will get USD 100,000 each.
India Women in England 2021 – Nat Sciver
England vice-captain hopes home conditions will help overcome visitors’ mix of experience and bold youth
Sciver is one of six women in the current England squad who played in their last Test encounter with India at Wormsley, which the tourists won by six wickets. India have also named six players from that match in their current squad along with talented 17-year-old Shafali Verma.
Richa Ghosh, another 17-year-old who was recently added to India’s list of centrally contracted players, is not part of India’s combined Test and ODI group but is in the T20I squad for the multi-format series in which points are awarded across the standalone Test, three ODIs and three T20Is to decide the overall series winner.
“They’re an ever-growing side,” Sciver said. “There’s always a new, young talent on the team who isn’t afraid to go out there and show what they’ve got. They seem to be more fearless than I’ve seen before.
“Last time we played India, we weren’t very good in that Test match and we didn’t play to our potential so hopefully we can do better this time.”
“They don’t come around very often so it does bring something different to training and when you’re looking at tactics and stats that have been before you can’t really go on any of those because they’re so few and far between, women’s Tests,” Sciver said.
“So it is a learning curve every time we start to prepare and turn our minds to it. We’ve had a practice game and we’ve had a few centre-wicket practices where we’re just seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t work.”
Sciver was awarded the vice-captaincy on a permanent basis when England named their Test squad last week, having stood in for the injured Anya Shrubsole on the winter tour of New Zealand. She has already had a taste of the top job after acting as captain when England completed a 3-0 sweep of their T20 series against New Zealand while Heather Knight had a hamstring injury.
“I thought that Heather might hold on for that game that I actually had to captain so that was very nerve-racking,” Sciver said. “But it’s an absolute honour to be asked and something that I’ve had aspirations to do, to become more of a leader in the team, so I’m really looking forward to it.
“Naturally, I lead by action, not so much with my voice… helping girls along and I guess leading by example a little bit. That’s my style and hopefully I can grow from there really because if Heather does go down I’m going to need to lead in a different way. It’s a learning opportunity and something that I’m welcoming and really excited about.”
Allrounder Sciver was Player of the Match, scoring a half-century and taking 3 for 26 as England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in their ODI series in New Zealand in February. Her form at the start of the English summer has been more modest, with 26 runs and two wickets from three rounds of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy before entering England’s bio-secure training bubble.
“I feel good, I’d like a few more runs, being selfish,” Sciver said. “It was good to play some games. The practice games that we had were a bit rain-affected and a bit disjointed so it was good to play the last couple of weekends with my domestic side, the Northern Diamonds. It’s coming out nice with the ball but I’d like a few more runs, hopefully that will come.”
India’s most recent form is less impressive than England’s after they were defeated at home by South Africa 4-1 in their ODI series and 2-1 in the T20Is in March.
In the multi-format series, four points will be up for grabs in the Test with two points for a draw and one for no result while each of the three ODIs and three T20Is will be worth two points for a win.
As principal partner of England cricket, cinch is proud to help drive women’s cricket forward, literally. The online used car retailer showed its support for the team and their coaches by providing them with team cars to make the road to success that little bit more comfortable. See cinch.co.uk for more
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo
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