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Nov 30: Kandy Tuskers vs Galle Gladiators, Hambantota

Pro Tip: The pitch still looks really good for batting, so pack your team with top-order hitters. Having watched the first game, we would suggest some slight tweaks, like bringing in a spinner instead of a pacer if there is enough purchase for spinners in this afternoon game.

Our XI: Kusal Perera, Azam Khan, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Shehan Jayasuriya, Asela Gunaratne, Shahid Afridi, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Nuwan Pradeep

Substitutes: Hazratullah Zazai, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Seekkuge Prasanna, Dilruwan Perera

Player availability: Dale Steyn was expected to be available after the first two games for the Kandy Tuskers, but there has been no official confirmation yet. We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Captain: Kusal Perera

When it comes to captaincy choices for the Kandy Tuskers, there is no need to look beyond Perera. He looks in absolute red-hot form, having scored 91 runs in two innings so far. In 2020, he has batted in six T20s and has scored 213 runs at a strike rate of 148.95.

Vice-captain: Danushka Gunathilaka

Since 2019, Gunathilaka has played only 11 T20 innings, and has scored 258 runs in them. He was very impressive in his two knocks of 38 and 30 in LPL 2020, and opening the batting gives him the cushion to score big runs. He is handy with the ball too, having picked up 30 wickets in 41 T20 innings.

Hot Picks

Rahmanullah Gurbaz: Just 19, Gurbaz has already played 38 T20s and has scored 983 runs at an average of 26.56 and a strike rate of 157.53 in them. He has started well here too, with 53 and 30 so far. In the 40 balls he has faced in this tournament, he has hit 15 boundaries (ten fours and five sixes).

Shahid Afridi: Afridi has started the tournament in typical style, scoring 70 from 29 balls, which included six sixes, in two innings. He is yet to pick a wicket, but has bowled economically, conceding just 20 runs in his four overs in the first game. His T20 career batting strike rate (154.48) and bowling strike rate (19.9) are amazing for a player who has played 321 games.

Naveen-ul-Haq: The 21-year-old quick is the joint-highest wicket taker with four strikes at this stage. In a tournament where bowlers are finding it a bit difficult, Naveen has bowled really well so far. He has taken 51 wickets in 47 T20 games overall.

Differential Picks

Shehan Jayasuriya: Jayasuriya topped the run-scorers’ list in the last Sri Lankan domestic T20 competition with 385 runs in eight games at an average of 48.13 and a strike rate of 157.14. He also picked up six wickets in the tournament.

Azam Khan: In his short T20 career, Khan has hit 27 sixes in 23 games and scores at a strike rate of 148.38. His wicketkeeping has been on point so far and he can get you some points for his work there too.

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ENG vs SL 2nd T20I – Mickey Arthur on England and Sri Lanka




Sri Lanka’s head coach said he wants the batsmen to be more proactive against a world-class England attack

Mickey Arthur has urged his Sri Lanka side to stay patient after they slipped to a second defeat in as many nights in Cardiff, leaving them on a run of 11 defeats in their last 12 completed T20Is dating back to October 2019.
Opting to bat first in both games after winning the toss, Sri Lanka posted scores of 129 and 111, and while they came much closer to defending their total on Thursday night than in Wednesday’s eight-wicket pasting, they always looked a long way short of a par score, failing to hit a boundary in the powerplay for the first time in their T20I history. Arthur, Sri Lanka’s head coach, stressed at the start of the tour that he wanted to add a level of consistency to selection following a turbulent period of chopping and changing, and that it would be important to “nail down the guys’ roles” in this series.
Dasun Shanaka, with scores of 50 and 8 from No. 7, is their leading run-scorer in the series, with Danushka Gunathilaka and Avishka Fernando – backed as opening options for the long term – both struggling to make an impact at the top of the order. Their lack of attacking intent with the bat came under scrutiny on Thursday, but while Arthur suggested that they could be “more proactive” in future, he said that there had been limited opportunities to score against a “world-class” England side on a slow, two-paced pitch being used for the second night in a row.

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England vs Sri Lanka T20Is – Liam Livingstone makes virtue of versatility in pitch for England World Cup role | Cricket



Liam Livingstone has enhanced his World Cup claims with two important displays © Getty Images

Teams can take a squad of 33 players to cover 15 starting positions in rugby’s next World Cup, and 23 for 11 spots in football’s, but cricket diverges from the norm. England will take a 15-man squad to the T20 World Cup this winter – albeit with the possibility of a couple of reserves as a Covid precaution – and as a result, the ability of back-up players to cover a range of roles is crucial.

With that in mind, Liam Livingstone has done his chances of inclusion no harm at all in the first two games of their T20I series against Sri Lanka in Cardiff. An innings of 29 not out off 26 balls and four tight overs of liquorice-all-sort spin that have cost 19 runs do not demand retention in themselves, but have demonstrated the flexibility that Livingstone would add to a touring party as a utility player.

“It’s something that I pride myself on, being as versatile as I can,” he said after the second T20I, in which he won the match award after steering England home from No. 6. “It’s something that’s rolled into my bowling as well, trying to bowl both legspin and offspin to give people different options [and] it’s the same with my batting, trying to make myself a player who can bat all the way from No. 1 to No. 8.”

While he has made a reputation for himself as a power-hitter who deals in sixes – in last year’s Big Bash, he scored a higher percentages of his runs in sixes (39.4%) than anyone else in the top 25 run-scorers – Livingstone’s innings on Thursday night demonstrated his willingness to adapt, with a single ramped six standing out alongside a series of clips and pushes into gaps to suit the situation and build a partnership with Sam Billings. Four years on from a pair of frenetic innings in his first two T20Is, he looked a different player.

Importantly, given England’s logjam of top-three options, it also demonstrated an ability to bat in the middle order. Twenty-five of Livingstone’s last 26 innings in domestic T20 cricket for Lancashire and Perth Scorchers have come as an opener, with Jos Buttler even moving down to No. 4 in order to accommodate him at the top in this year’s T20 Blast, but there is little chance of him batting there in an England shirt.

While he will have limited opportunity to do so before the start of the World Cup, Livingstone should consider shuffling down the order for one of his clubs if he can – potentially for Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred – in order to gain more experience in the role, though batting in the middle order for Peshawar Zalmi and Cape Town Blitz two winters ago meant he had something to lean back on.

“I batted at No. 4 and 5 in the PSL and in the South African T20 [MSL],” he said. “I guess that’s the reason I go away and play in these competitions: trying to get experience of batting in different roles, which has obviously helped me coming into an England side, batting in a position I’m not really used to.”

But it is with the ball that Livingstone is particularly multi-talented, as he has demonstrated in this series. He generally bowls legbreaks to right-handers and offbreaks to left-handers, and while not a prodigious turner of the ball, he gets enough spin both ways to keep batters guessing and forcing them to watch him carefully out of the hand.

“It’s certainly advantageous isn’t it?” Buttler said after Wednesday night’s game. “It’s a fantastic skill to have, to be able to bowl offspin and legspin to international standard. We will potentially see that come into the game more and more. He’s an exciting package, a great guy to have in your squad and your XI.”

Livingstone is not the finished article with the ball. Two of the three most expensive overs of his T20 career have come at crunch moments, confirming Lancashire’s exits in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the last two Blast seasons when Ravi Bopara and Dan Christian took him down, but he insisted that those experiences have been beneficial in the long run.

“[My bowling] has always been well-regarded at Lancashire,” he said. “I’ve obviously had a couple of tough moments with it over the last couple of years, but they are the moments that have made me a better bowler. It’s something I’ve worked hard on for this sort of opportunity, to push my way into a team as someone that can offer something in all three facets of the game.”

As an excellent outfielder too, Livingstone’s case for inclusion in the World Cup squad is strong: even if he is unlikely to start once Ben Stokes returns from injury, the fact he offers some overs as a second – or even third – spinner, can cover a number of batting roles and is a good option to come on as a substitute fielder mean that he has quickly become England’s Mr Versatile.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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WTC final Ind vs NZ – Michael Mason and Kane ‘not the last man standing’ Williamson




“I have never experienced 139 runs taking so long and there was a lot of nervous energy in the change room” – Southee

Meet “Michael Mason“. Not him, actually, but the mace that has gone to the New Zealand team after they became the inaugural Test world champions. They also took home a prize money of US$ 1.6 million, but it’s the mace, nicknamed after the former fast bowler by the current players, that is all the talk.
But impressive as it looks, you still can’t drink out of it. You can instead give it a special nickname. Or, as a wise man agreed to a suggestion on Twitter, it can be used to stir drinks in the Bledisloe Cup.
The party’s just started
The mace – or the Mason – was also given a seat on the flight the players are taking back home. The team – minus the players who are staying back for The Hundred and county stints – is expected to land in Auckland on Saturday morning, and Trent Boult is hoping the celebrations continue at home after they get through their quarantine.

“Waggy [Neil Wagner] probably hasn’t let the mace go since last night,” Boult was quoted as saying by “The boys are ecstatic. There’s been a mixture of emotion and jubilation. Once we get home and through quarantine, we’ll hopefully continue the celebrations.

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