Australia’s list of injuries continued to grow with captain Aaron Finch expecting to go for a scan on Saturday after picking up a “hip or glute” problem during the first T20I
He was clearly hampered while batting and with such a short turnaround between games – the next match is on Sunday before the final game on Tuesday – he could be in doubt.
“It’s a bit of a hip or glute, we’ll wait and see,” Finch said in the post-match presentation. “It progressively got worse throughout the game.”
Australia are already without David Warner (groin) for this series while Marcus Stoinis is still recovering from the side strain he suffered in the opening ODI. Ashton Agar was ruled out of the T20I series ahead of the first game with a calf strain and legspinner Mitchell Swepson was brought across from the Australia A squad training in Sydney to play in Canberra.
If Finch was unavailable it would be likely that Matthew Wade, who was vice-captain for the first T20I, would step up to lead. Regular vice-captain Pat Cummins has been rested for the series while previous joint vice-captain Alex Carey is currently not part of the XI.
Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green are the other batting options in the limited-overs squad.
Following this T20I series, Finch will head onto the BBL with the Melbourne Renegades. Their opening fixture is on December 12 against the Perth Scorchers in Hobart.
Recent Match Report – Zalmi vs Sultans 21st Match 2020/21-2021
Maqsood too chips in with bruising half-century as Sultans make it two in two in UAE leg
Multan Sultans 167 for 1 (Rizwan 82*, Maqsood 61) beat Peshawar Zalmi 166 for 7 (Rutherford 56, Akmal 35, Dahani 4-31) by 9 wickets
Chasing 167, Rizwan never once looked remotely under pressure as he caressed a classy 56-ball 82 without once appearing to take any risks. The flawless chase was merely following on from a fairly error-free effort from the Sultan’s bowlers, who had the wood over the Zalmi batsman for much of the innings. Only Sherfane Rutherford’s breezy half-century briefly threatened to leave them with a bigger target.
Imran Tahir, operating from the other end, while wicketless, rarely allows too many runs, and with the wickets falling and run scoring spluttering, Zalmi were visibly fading in the game. A handful of clubbed sixes from Rutherford at the death threatened to rob Multan of momentum at the changeover, but a shoddy Powerplay from the Zalmi bowlers meant all that advantage was swiftly squandered.
Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Irfan operated too often along a leg stump line Rizwan was working away to a vacant boundary for fun, and with wides and misfields thrown into the mix, it was little surprise to see the 50 brought up in the fifth over.
Once Sohaib Maqsood got together with Rizwan at the crease, the contrast of styles proved a devastating combination, much too hot for Wahab Riaz’s side to handle. If Rizwan was painting his way through his innings, Maqsood was hammering away during his. A whirlwind 31-ball 61 guaranteed this was never going to be allowed to go too deep, and when Rizwan helped a Riaz delivery over fine leg with six to go, it seemed a fitting way to end.
The Rutherford Revival
With eight overs to go and Dhani’s four-wicket burst leaving Zalmi reeling, it was Rutherford who ensured what looked set to be a below-par total would end up a somewhat competitive one. Having taken a few balls to bed in, he was content to play second fiddle to David Miller while the South African was around. But when Miller holed out thanks to a spectacular catch from Rizwan, Zalmi were running out of batters, and the time for caution was over.
A six clubbed back over Blessing Muzarabani’s head began a momentum shift, but the left-hander was only getting started. He would follow it up with a monster hit over square leg the same over, and two more off Sohail Tanvir brought up a 34-ball half-century. Where Zalmi looked like they might meander to 140, 45 runs off the final three overs got them past 166.
Dahani’s fluctuating fortunes
Nothing about the way this game began suggested it might be Dahani’s day. He put down a sitter to reprieve Haider Ali in the third over, and went on to leak 15 the first time he came on in the fifth. It was a curious over that involved the veteran Kamran Akmal placing him across the park for three successive boundaries, followed by Rizwan spilling an easy chance to deny Dahani his wicket.
Dahani followed it up with a beamer that struck his captain on the shin in an all-round horror show. When he came back for his second spell, Haider Ali greeted him with a swiped six off the first ball. From that nadir, Dahani would turn things around to somehow become the pick of the Multan bowlers.
Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik were removed off successive deliveries, and Dahnai would take two more in a brilliant follow-up over. Haider holed out to mid-off before the dangerous Rovman Powell top-edged a pull thanks to a canny change of pace, leaving Zalmi reeling after a strong start. It helped keep the target manageable and Rizwan, who took a phenomenal catch running backwards to remove Powell, ensured with the bat Dahani’s efforts would not be in vain.
Where they stand
Multan bolster their chances of finishing in the top four, and are tied with fourth-placed Karachi on six points. Peshawar remain third with eight.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
Recent Match Report – Kent vs Gloucs South Group 2021
Gloucestershire come close through Benny Howell’s 44 from 23
Kent 183 for 5 (Leaning 81*, Bell-Drummond 51, Payne 3-30) beat Gloucestershire 178 for 8 (Howell 44, Denly 2-20) by five runs
Kent Spitfires held their nerve to win a thriller against Gloucestershire at Canterbury. The visitors needed 10 off the final over, but Fred Klassen responded with two wickets from the first two balls, to give the Spitfires their third Vitality Blast win out of three, by five runs.
Gloucestershire had looked favourites after racing to 54 without loss, Chris Dent making 40 and Glenn Phillips 38. Kent then reduced them to 125 for 5, but just as Benny Howell seemed to have tilted the balance back in the visitors’ favour he was out for 44, and they finished on 178 for 8.
Kent won the toss and chose to bat, but lost Joe Denly to the fourth ball of the innings, bowled middle stump by Payne for 4. In the next over Josh Shaw bowled Ollie Robinson for 2, sending his off stump flying and in the third Alex Blake was caught behind off Payne for nought, after a sharp one-handed catch by Phillips.
Bell-Drummond and Leaning steadied the innings with 76 for the fourth wicket before the former was bowled by Graeme van Buuren. Payne then had Jordan Cox caught at first slip by a diving Matt Taylor for 15, but Leaning and Darren Stevens, who cracked a quickfire 16 from seven balls, put on 52, including 27 off the final over.
Gloucestershire’s openers started well before Dent was caught on the square leg boundary by Leaning off Matt Milnes. Miles Hammond then tried to reverse-sweep Qais Ahmad and was lbw for 14.
Denly caught and bowled Ian Cockbain for 7 and the momentum shifted when Ahmad had Phillips caught by Cox at long-on and Jack Taylor holed out to Denly and was caught by Blake for 9. Howell, however, survived an appeal for caught behind off a Denly wide and nearly stole the victory, only to be bowled with the first ball of Klaassen’s final over.
Klaassen then had Matt Taylor caught by Cox off the next delivery. Singles were scrambled off the next two deliveries before van Burren was run out for 17 chasing a second from the fifth ball. Needing six off the final ball to tie, Shaw could only manage a single.
Recent Match Report – Notts vs Northants North Group 2021
Opener’s 136 single-handedly holds Notts together for first win of Blast
Nottinghamshire 214 for 7 (Clarke 136) beat Northamptonshire 200 for 7 (Cobb 62, Ball 3-58) by 14 runs
Clarke’s 136 from 65 balls, with 11 sixes and six fours, was the eighth-highest T20 score in England and the best by a Notts batter. His 11 sixes have only been surpassed by three players – Graham Napier and Cameron Delport, both for Essex, and Chris Gayle for Somerset. Gayle might have possessed more awe, but surely none of them played with Clarke’s sweetness of touch. In this sort of form, very few do.
He single-handedly took hold of Notts’ stuttering start to the Blast and guided it into winning territory at the third time of asking. Northants’ innings was the undercard, but they can feel good about getting within 14 runs. They retained slight hopes of chasing down Notts’ 214 for 7 with 87 needed off the last seven overs, and Josh Cobb on 55 from 24 balls, and going long at every opportunity, but then Cobb yanked a hamstring, the offspinner Matt Carter, who was excellent throughout, reasserted control, and from then on it was just a matter of how close they could get.
It is worth reminding ourselves after Clarke’s gentle demolition of Northants’ attack that there is not one England batter who is persona non grata but two. Alex Hales, he of the Johnny Ringo moustache, is the sharpshooter who will probably never escape those “Wanted: Alive of Dead” posters, and appeals for clemency are regularly lodged on his behalf. But Clarke, too, was once England’s golden child, only for his magical adventure to turn into the Golden Child, Eddie Murphy style, a mess of a film which ranks at 22% on Rotten Tomatoes.
He does not make light of his mistakes and he saw a psychologist to help him through. More pertinent for his batting career, though, might have been a discussion with Peter Moores, Notts’ coach, who told him he was sort of a messed-up version of Marnus Labuschagne. If the ego of a talented youngster has given way to the substance found in true quality, then the runs may be about to flow. And England are not exactly drowning in that commodity, not in Test cricket at least. Forgiveness is given most readily to those who are most needed – that’s just how desperate life is.
Cold statistics illustrate how much Clarke dominated Notts’ innings. His 136 came off 65 balls at a strike rate of 209. The rest of Notts’ batting line-up managed 67 off 57 at a strike rate of 117. Clarke hit 11 sixes; the rest mustered only two more. It was a supreme one-man show.
From the second ball, it felt as if he meant business as the left-arm spinner Graeme White was treated to the gentlest of inside-out blows over extra cover, a shot played as if he was carrying out an MOT on his timing. Dropped on 29, he exacted mean punishment. White and the swing (non-existent on this occasion) of Ben Sanderson were most harshly dealt with, with Sanderson conceding three sixes in succession in the 16th over.
The first of these blows left Sanderson with hands on hips, as he exchanged a few words of despair with the non-striker, Steven Mullaney. A shimmy across his stumps, followed by the laziest six over midwicket, left Sanderson with hands on knees. The next ball, with the bowler by then disorientated, was a full toss which was deposited over long-on. By then Sanderson didn’t know where to put his hands – or put the ball.
Only the South African Wayne Parnell escaped punishment – or sixes – and, suitably, he almost pulled off a return catch, on 125, although he was probably just grateful he escaped with his hand intact. He was also caught off Brandon Glover’s waist-high no-ball on 127, a second blemish which saw Glover removed from the attack. He fell in the last over, a nine iron down the ground against Tom Taylor.
The rest of Notts’ much-vaunted batting line-up failed to fire, although Peter Trego, promoted up to No. 3 in the absence of Ben Duckett, who did not travel to Northampton as a Covid precaution, did share in an 82-run stand before he became one of a succession of batsman to slog to deep midwicket.
Clarke marked his hundred with a beating of his chest – although he did not appear to follow up with some appropriate verses from St Luke about God being merciful because he was a sinner. It is time for England to be merciful though and state, in the clearest terms, that runs are now all that matter.
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
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