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Chris Jordan says that a mixture of intra-squad rivalry and on-field collaboration has been the key to England’s T20I success in South Africa, after the team came through two stiff tests in Cape Town and Paarl to secure an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

In the course of Sunday’s four-wicket win in Paarl, Jordan also drew level with Stuart Broad as England’s leading T20I wicket-taker with 65 scalps in 54 games. But, he said, such accolades were just a by-product of the team’s success, and that he took more satisfaction from the improvements he and his fellow bowlers had made from the first match to the second.

“Winning the series, that’s what we set out to do first and foremost,” Jordan told Sky Sports after Sunday’s victory. “It’s obviously a nice milestone to have but, as long as I’m doing the job for the team, and the team are winning series and winning games, I’m more than happy. If the accolades come with that, then so be it.

“It was a solid team performance in the first game, but we put a lot of things right this game, especially in the bowling department and to restrict them to 146, on what we thought was a pretty decent wicket, and to get over the line, was very pleasing.

“Once we’d got a couple of wickets, we were able to build a bit a little bit of pressure, build a few dots,” he added. “But with our batting line-up, most par scores feel as if the teams are 15-20 short most of the time, and [Dawid Malan’s] innings shows why he’s at No.1 right now.”

England’s captain, Eoin Morgan, had been underwhelmed with England’s efforts in the field in Friday’s opening fixture, describing the performance as “average” after South Africa racked up a challenging 179 for 6 in their 20 overs – a total that was only overcome thanks to Jonny Bairstow’s brilliant 86 not out from 48 balls.

And Jordan admitted he had taken that criticism on the chin and gone away to work on his game to visible effect, as did his fellow death bowler, Tom Curran, who followed up figures of 1 for 55 at Newlands – the most expensive T20I figures of his career – with a much improved haul of 1 for 37, which included an excellent 20th over in which he conceded just seven runs.

ALSO READ: Jason Roy’s spin struggles could provide test of Eoin Morgan’s loyalty

“We didn’t really speak as an entire group,” Jordan said. “You just drag the coaches to one side, and make your own personal assessments on the game. For the first game, I gave away a couple of soft wides which then cost me at the back end of the over with a couple of boundaries, so I just tried to tidy that up.

“And TC [Curran], he tried to stick to his strengths as much as possible, and go to his slowies a little bit earlier. He was a bit more clever with the way he bowled, and was able to look after his figures as well. So it’s about making those personal assessments and trying to put those wrongs right.”

As Morgan admitted ahead of the opening fixture, victory in South Africa hasn’t been England’s sole objective for the series. The process of defining roles for each player in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup has been every bit as important, and thanks to two highly competitive intra-squad warm-up games as well as the on-field collaboration that he and his fellow bowlers have been working on this week, Jordan believes they’ve already made good strides.

“In the first couple of overs, we try to get a read [of the pitch] from Sam and Jof,” Jordan said. “I stand at mid-off quite a lot, so I’m just trying to get feedback from the bowlers, until I get into the game myself. Obviously Jof’s a taller bowler, Sam’s a skiddier bowler, me and TC are probably a little bit similar in height, so we try to get a read, almost every single ball, and then feed back to Morgs and try and come up with the best possible plans.

“The competition for places is brilliant,” he added. “[The warm-up games] were really good fun because everyone wanted to get each other out, or match each other for sixes. It just raised the level of everyone’s game.

“The way Sam [Curran] is striking the ball at the minute is pretty unbelievable, he’s come back with a lot of confidence from the IPL. Stokesy and Rooty, there’s a little bit of rivalry there as well, but it’s all in good spirits because we’re trying to pull in the same direction as a team. We’re trying to make the entire team and squad better, and those type of things just get you ready for series like this.”



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Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Middlesex South Group 2021

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Imposing Hampshire target overhauled with two balls to spare in outground thriller

Middlesex 217 for 7 (Cracknell 77, Simpson 62) beat Hampshire 215 for 6 (Short 48, McManus 47, Weatherley 41) by three wickets with two balls to spare

Middlesex pulled off their second highest T20 chase – by three wickets with two balls to spare – in a memorable match at Radlett which saw the next generation take charge of a county going through a difficult transition, and leave another ailing T20 side, Hampshire, fearing that they don’t seem to be in much of a transition at all.

Radlett is about as far away from the ECB’s vision of T20 cricket as it is possible to be. The dream is maximum revenue from large stadia, a football-style atmosphere and a sense of theatre that delights a TV audience. Start an overly loud, alcohol-fuelled chant at Radlett and you may be blackballed from the golf club or become the subject of gossip in the Ladies Circle.

It would be interesting to know what Middlesex and England’s limited-overs captain, Eoin Morgan, who makes no pretence that he shares the ECB’s modernising vision, privately thinks of it when he decamps from Lord’s. Last night, as a setting sun cast a gentle amber light over a fine victory, he might even have been getting to like it.
What a game Radlett staged. Professional cricket in England obviously can’t financially survive on small club grounds, but is also about highly entertaining nights like this, fought out before people who care deeply, and even more wonderfully so when two players at the start of their careers come to the fore in such a fashion. Blake Cullen is not about to get a headline for his intelligent and aggressive 1 for 29 in four overs; Joe Cracknell can be assured of plaudits for a brilliant 77 from 42 balls which saw Middlesex home. Both give Middlesex faith that their player development is reaping dividends.

Hampshire’s first 200-plus total for three years was eminently chaseable in perfect batting conditions. But patently not by Middlesex, most of their supporters would have suggested. At 30 for 3, with Morgan trudging off, having reached at a very wide one to hole out at deep backward point, a philosophical kind of pessimism had taken hold.

But Cracknell, whose threat was illustrated by a 22-ball 50 against Kent, and John Simpson rallied with a stand of 122 from 59 balls. Cracknell possesses a natural belligerence and his youthful optimism began the surge – his innings full of commanding pulls and slog sweeps; Simpson then took over with successive sixes against Liam Dawson’s left-arm spin, never as stylish, but possessing the experience to know what he can get away with.
Simpson was stumped at the second attempt, off the leg spin of Mason Crane for 62 from 30 balls. Cracknell, seeking an off-side boundary, where he had rarely ventured, also fell to Crane for 77 from 42. He had been selected ahead of Max Holden which, with due respect to Holden, was a bit of a no-brainer in this format.
Crane had carried some threat, as illustrated by his 3 for 35 in three overs. Dawson’s full allocation had gone for 54 and his return to the England T20 squad looked even more like a selection of habit. But Hampshire’s skipper, James Vince, opted logically enough to give the final over to the seam of Brad Wheal with ten needed and Chris Green hammered a successive four and six over deep midwicket to give Middlesex the game.

Radlett is an idyllic county ground: a good batting surface, a ground lined by trees and hedges, and a convivial crowd adopting a Country Show attitude to any minor privations in the marquees and the portable toilets. They were allowed not far short of 1,000 spectators which is roughly the same as some of the smaller county grounds, which have stands and things. All to do with pinch points apparently.

Hampshire’s 215 for 6 was their first 200-plus score for three years, but it was far from impregnable. Their record since then is as bad as any county in the country and conditions – excellent pitch, fast outfield, short boundaries – was considerably bowler-friendly. They were also without Chris Wood which meant that Kyle Abbott played his first T20 match since turning out in the Lanka Premier League in December.

They were on the verge of a colossal Powerplay with 68 garnered from the first five overs and Vince and D’Arcy Short in a blissful world where they could do much as they pleased. With Middlesex lacking five pace bowlers because of injury or (in the case of Tom Helm) recovery from Covid-19, a colossal score looked on the cards.

Then came Cullen. Three off the first over; Vince’s head-high hook falling to deep backward square in his next. In his final over, he twice troubled Hampshire’s ex-Middlesex man, James Fuller, twice for pace, the first of them gloved to third man.

Cullen, a former England U19, has played for Middlesex since the U10s, and both player and club are beginning to reap the reward of years of endeavour. Pacey, with a strong action, he can reputedly swing the ball in four-day cricket, but here, he adapted intelligently and hit the pitch. The assessment of Middlesex’s director of cricket, Angus Fraser, that he “bowls like a grown man” could not have been more apparent.

Green’s night did not begin well. He averages below seven runs an over in a career spanning more than 70 matches, making him beloved of T20 aficionados, and he was also on the back of a five-for against Kent, with four wickets taken in the final over. He was Middlesex’s most expensive bowler, leaking 55 from four overs as his method of pushing it fast and wide across the right-hander brought no dividends.

If Middlesex prospered by slog sweeps, Hampshire perished by them, courtesy of the leg spin of Nathan Sowter. Short and Joe Weatherley, the latter after 41 from 22, both fell in such a fashion.

Middlesex missed chances in the field, and a succession of shots escaped clawing fingers. The most damaging, in more than one sense, was Sowter’s drop of Dawson, running in from deep backward square, his right ankle sprained in the process. But not damaged enough for him to play a part in Middlesex’s uplifting victory.

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps



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Recent Match Report – Kings vs Zalmi 24th Match 2020/21-2021

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Peshawar’s bowlers restricted Karachi Kings to their lowest ever PSL total before Zazai made short work of it

Peshawar Zalmi 109 for 4 (Hazratullah Zazai 63, Imad Wasim 2-2) beat Karachi Kings 108 for 9 (Abbas Afridi 27*, Abrar 3-14, Wahab 3-34, Gul 2-13) by six wickets

There are dispiriting losses, humiliations, and whatever it is that happened to Karachi Kings today. A bowling performance of near perfect discipline by Peshawar Zalmi was followed up by a whirlwind 26-ball 63 from Hazratullah Zazai to conclude one of the more one-sided PSL games in the league’s history.

Only Islamabad United have gunned down a target quicker, and even their ten-over chase against Quetta Gladiators earlier this week looked like it would be eclipsed comfortably. In the end, three late wickets slowed things down slightly, but it still meant Zalmi had coasted to the target with nine overs to spare. Karachi Kings’ poor run since the resumption of the league continues, but the damage this defeat will inflict might reflect just as heavily in the minds as it will in the run-rate column.

The squeeze began from the outset, with Wahab Riaz trapping Babar Azam in front off just the third delivery. Counter-intuitively, Azam’s duck underlined his importance to the side; over the past few games, his role, and the rate at which he scores his runs, had come under forensic scrutiny. But with him out of the way, few Kings batsmen could stamp their authority on an innings regularly punctuated by the fall of wickets.
Kings might have been hoisted by their own petard to some extent, playing as they were a batsmen light, meaning they had no fallback plan when four wickets fell inside seven overs. Imad Wasim hobbled along during an innings that never caught fire, managing just 19 off 31. It was Karachi’s ex-player Abrar Ahmed who was the pick for Zalmi in the end, taking three crucial middle-order wickets, denying the Kings a chance at pushing the score past 120. The 108 they finished with was their lowest in PSL history, and even that came about thanks to some lusty lower-order hitting from bowling allrounder Abbas Afridi. In the end, though, Zazai ensured it mattered not one jot.

Zazai’s devastating debut

Zazai is set to become a T20 franchise darling over the years, but even so, the contempt with which he lay waste to experienced, wily Kings bowlers in his first PSL game was a sight to behold. Once Kamran Akmal was dismissed in the second over, Zazai decided he wouldn’t let it scupper plans to wrap up the game in a hurry, and Amir was the unfortunate recipient at the end of his first offensive.

The first six was a shade streaky, a top edge over third man, but there was nothing chancy about the three boundaries that followed in an over that leaked 21. It was followed up by an over from the other Aamer Yamin – which proved even costlier, two sixes and two fours from the Afghan seeing him hurtle along to a blitzkrieg half-century. The timing and power were both astonishing, a fearsome 97-metre swipe over square leg perhaps the shot of the night. The 50 would come in just 17 balls – a joint record – and by then, the match had long been over as a contest.

Abrar haunts his old franchise

When legspinner Abrar was first introduced to the PSL by Karachi Kings in 2017, he looked a proper mystery spin bowler, one who might go on to become a valuable asset for his franchise. Opportunities were hard to come by and he was let go after a couple of seasons, but making his debut for Peshawar Zalmi, he showed his old side what they missed. Coming in when Imad Wasim’s side were already hobbling after a difficult first ten overs, he kept the Kings on a leash in his first over, allowing just two runs.

The 22-year old burst to life in the one that followed, though. He broke the budding partnership with a carrom ball Najibullah Zadran ended up holing out to long-off, before one that drifted back in put paid to Yamin’s brief stint at the crease. With Wahab deciding to bowl him out consecutively, he would sign off by deceiving Waqas Maqsood with a googly, two balls after the batsman had smashed him for six. He would end his day with figures of 4-0-14-3, and they didn’t flatter him in the slightest.

Where they stand

Karachi Kings were top when the league resumed, but slipped to fifth, outside the qualification spots. Peshawar Zalmi moved up to 10 points alongside Lahore Qalandars, and into second place.

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



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Recent Match Report – Derbyshire vs Lancashire North Group 2021

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Leus du Plooy’s unbeaten 92 in vain in five-wicket defeat at Derby

Lancashire 197 for 3 (Davies 83, Livingstone 45, Vilas 40*) beat Derbyshire 196 for 5 (du Plooy 92*, Came 56) by five wickets with 10 balls to spare

Alex Davies led Lancashire Lightning to an impressive seven-wicket victory over Derbyshire Falcons in the Vitality Blast North Group match at Derby.

Davies hit 13 fours in an unbeaten 83 off 54 balls as Lancashire chased down a target of 197 with 10 balls to spare.

Liam Livingstone, dropped before he scored, smashed four sixes in 45 off 29 balls and Dane Vilas accelerated to an unbeaten 40 from 18 as Lancashire romped to 197 for 3.
Leus du Plooy scored a T20 best 92 off 56 balls and Harry Came made 56 from 37 in his third Blast appearance but 196 for 5 proved inadequate.

Derbyshire rebuilt after Tom Bailey had Luis Reece caught at mid off and Billy Godleman was bowled in the second over.

Came ramped Bailey for six and du Plooy repeated the stroke to take Derbyshire to 49 for 2 in the powerplay before du Plooy drove Tom Hartley onto the roof of the media centre.

The pair also ran well between the wickets to take the Falcons to 93 for 2 after 10 overs and the stand was worth 100 in 11 when Came pulled Danny Lamb to long on.

Derbyshire were aided by some sloppy ground fielding but there was little they could do when Critchley and du Plooy pulled Lamb for six to take 24 from the 17th over.

Critchley holed out to long-on but Wood speared a no-ball down the leg side for four byes in another costly over before du Plooy’s outstanding innings ended when he drilled Bailey to deep midwicket in the last over.

Lancashire’s chase began badly with Liam Livingstone dropped at third man by Conor McKerr on his T20 debut before Finn Allen was caught behind for a duck in the first over.

Livingstone ramped McKerr for six, pulled George Scrimshaw for two more before twice dispatching Fynn Hudson-Prentice over the ropes as Lancashire ended the powerplay on 72 for 1.

Livingstone was threatening to run away with the game when he was well caught by Critchley at long off but Davies reached 50 with his 10th four to leave Lancashire needing 84 off the last 10 overs.

Jos Buttler hit two sixes before holing out to deep midwicket attempting a third but Dane Vilas and Davies took 18 off van Beek in the 17th over to settle it.



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