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Shoaib Malik has given the Lanka Premier League his seal of approval, a week into the tournament. Malik is the most experienced T20 player in the league, having now played 405 T20s, and is among the high-profile overseas players in the tournament. He has played in various T20 leagues around the world, including the Big Bash League, Bangladesh Premier League and Pakistan Super League.

“Overall the tournament is going very nicely and I’m really enjoying it,” Malik said. “I was talking to some other overseas players as well and they were praising the whole league. In these tough times the way the people who are involved in the league must be given credit. The first year is tough for any league. But if we support the league, I’m sure, the second year will be better and the third year will be the same. I think I was expecting more big names, but with their personal commitments, they are not there. Definitely from next year, they will also be the participants in the league.”

The tournament is being played at Sooriyawewa stadium in its entirety, largely because that arrangement allowed the tournament organisers to more efficiently maintain a playing bubble. Players also had to undergo seven days of quarantine before the tournament, and many foreign players – including Malik – did not arrive in Sri Lanka early enough to train substantially with their teams ahead of the event.

“It wasn’t easy to stay in the room on the quarantine days, but there are rules and regulations to follow – we have to respect them,” Malik said. “Of course I wanted to practice before getting into the tournament, but I had no time to go through practice sessions and everything. It’s not anybody’s fault. We are all going through these tough times.

“But the quality of cricket in LPL is very good. From next year, I’m sure there will be more big names. We’re also very limited in the sense of having to use one stadium and facility. Next year, Inshallah, we will come out of this Covid-19 thing and there will be more venues and a crowd at the ground, and the crowd will make things bigger.”

Malik has been part of the Jaffna Stallions franchise – the only as-yet unbeaten side in the tournament. Captain Thisara Perera‘s batting has contributed significantly to their success so far, but Malik had praise for legspinning allrounder Wanindu Hasaranga, as well. Hasaranga has five wickets from three outings with the ball and has only gone at 4.41 runs an over from his 12 overs.

“We know Wanindu is a quality bowler. He’s improving day by day. The best part is that it’s not just about his bowling. If you ask him to go field in the hot spots, he would love to do that. He’s a proper team man. It’s not just about your own bowling – he’s fielding as well as batting. I would say he’s the complete allrounder.

“It’s a lot easier when you know your management and the captain. We’ve found nice combinations for our team. The first wins are always important. The team is going in the right direction. Everyone is backing each other up.”



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Recent Match Report – Sultans vs Kings 16th Match 2020/21-2021

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Needing to win nearly every game for play-off contention, Imran Tahir also plays starring role

Multan Sultans 176 for 5 (Shah 44*, Rossouw 44, Perera 2-12) beat Karachi Kings 164 for 6 (Azam 85*, Walton 35, Imran 3-28) by 12 runs

Needing to win almost every game to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Multan Sultans began their UAE leg with a 12-run win over the second-placed Karachi Kings.
On a slow surface, Rilee Rossouw and Khushdil Shah made a pair of match-turning 40s to prop up the Sultans after a brief stutter that led to them finishing with 176 for 5, at least 30 fewer than they looked like getting at the halfway mark.
But the Kings never got going in their reply. Not even Babar Azam‘s presence until the final over of the chase made a difference to the end result. He made 85*, an innings that never really got out of second gear until he got to a 45-ball half-century in the 14th over. Then, even a sensational acceleration towards the end was not enough to get them over the line.
The Maqsoods make an early splash
Walking in to bat in the very first over, Sohaib Maqsood didn’t take long to get sighters as he went after Imad Wasim. With the knowledge that the ball wasn’t going to turn or even skid through on a slow deck, he used his height and muscle to keep backing away to pepper the off-side boundaries in a sequence of 4,4,6,4 in Wasim’s second over, the third of the innings, to give the Sultans a power boost.
Waqas Maqsood, the left-arm medium pacer, wasn’t spared either as Sohaib slapped the first delivery he faced off him to the point boundary. But Waqas would have his man four balls later as Sohaib chopped on trying to run one down to third man. At that point, the Sultans were 40 for 2 in four overs.
Rizwan and Rossouw rev up
Mohammad Amir’s search for swing was unsuccessful, which meant easy pickings for both Mohammad Rizwan and Rossouw. Off the third ball he faced off Amir, Rizwan nonchalantly flicked him over fine leg to get going. And when Amir went shorter, Rossouw backed away to muscle a pull as if he was swatting a mid-120s bowler. This was some kind of a message that the Sultans were going to counter-punch. The pair raised their half-century stand off just 28 deliveries as the Sultans were well-perched at 107 for 2 in ten overs.
Perera applies the brakes, Shah the finishing touches
Then came the brakes. The Sultans didn’t score a boundary for 38 deliveries – from the middle of the tenth over till the start of the 16th – and lost both set batsmen in Rizwan and Rossouw in the space of three deliveries. Thisara Perera dictated terms, as he stuck to a simple wicket-to-wicket approach with excellent variations in pace. Perera would bowl just three overs, his 2 for 12 going a long way in restricting the Sultans in the middle. Having lost 4 for 21 going into the death overs, the Sultans found a saviour in Shah. Perhaps realising the need to bat till the end, he delayed his slog before suddenly coming alive by clouting Amir for two fours and a six in a final over that went for 19. Shah’s contribution by then was a neat unbeaten 32-ball 44.

Azam left high and dry, as Tahir leaves imprint
The Kings had an early setback when Sharjeel Khan was run out backing up too far at the non-striker’s end in the fourth over. Thereafter, Martin Guptill did little to enhance his reputation in Asia, totally foxed by a Tahir googly for a painstaking 16-ball 11 in the tenth over, by which time the asking rate had spiralled to 11.50. Only Azam stood in the way of victory for the Sultans.

He found an ally in Chadwick Walton as the pair offset the mounting asking rate with some cheeky strokes by looking to use the pace rather than muscle the ball big. With 72 needed off 29 deliveries, Tahir was denied a third wicket when Rizwan missed a stumping to reprieve him on 61. Azam immediately put the pressure back by shellacking the second ball he faced after that for a six.

Going into the final three overs, the Kings continued to mount a final assault, eventually bringing it down to 36 off the last two. But you got the sense they were one big shot or a run out away from losing the game, which is what eventually happened. Azam was stranded in the end on 85, perhaps wondering if he’d just miscalculated a bit.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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England vs NZ 2021 – As it happened: England vs New Zealand, 2nd Test, Edgbaston, 1st day

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Welcome to day one of our live report of the second Test between England and New Zealand from Edgbaston. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here.

* Most recent entry will appear at the top, please refresh your page for the latest updates. All times are local

5.55pm: Lawrence brings up his fifty





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Tasmania confirm signings of Elyse Villani and Molly Strano

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The state has been able to gain the leading run-scorer and leading wicket-taker from last season

The long-expected moves of Elyse Villani and Molly Strano to Tasmania have been confirmed along with the signing of Hayley Silver-Holmes from New South Wales.

Securing Villani and Strano is especially significant as it gives Tasmania both the leading run-scorer and leading wicket-taker from last season’s WNCL.

Villani was prolific with the bat as she scored 611 runs at 87.28 with three centuries while Strano captured 14 wickets at 14.42.

Offspinner Strano, who was part of Australia’s successful T20 World Cup squad last year, was a late addition to Australia’s tour of New Zealand although did not feature in any of the matches but Villani has not been selected since early 2019.

Silver-Holmes made her WBBL debut for Sydney Sixers aged 15 and her WNCL debut for New South Wales at 16 making her the second-youngster player for state. She will bolster Tasmania’s pace-bowling resources as they look to build on last season’s third-place finish.

“It’s a really exciting group of players we’ve got here at the Tigers,” head coach Salliann Beams said. “We’ve worked to build both our program and our list over the past few years, and with the additions to our playing group this year, it’s a testament to the staff and players within our program – as well as the wider organisation – that we have players of this calibre wanting to be a part of our team.”

Amy Smith, the 16-year-old legspinner, is among the current Tasmania players to sign new deals along with former New Zealand wicketkeeper Rachel Priest. Emma Thompson will miss the 2021-22 season on maternity leave.

Tasmania squad Chloe Abel, Nicola Carey (CA contracted), Maisy Gibson, Heather Graham, Corinne Hall, Emma Manix-Geeves, Sasha Moloney, Rachel Priest, Hayley Silver-Holmes, Amy Smith, Emily Smith, Naomi Stalenberg, Molly Strano, Emma Thompson (maternity leave 2021-22), Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani.



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