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IPL’s biggest rivalry kickstarts new season

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Vinay Kumar to [Mohit] Sharma, FOUR, top edge over the keeper’s head, but Mumbai Indians don’t care where the ball has gone. This is a legal delivery, and that means they have won the IPL again

May 24, 2015, Eden Gardens. We didn’t know it then, but this would be the last bit of on-field action for Chennai Super Kings for close to three years. An inconsequential top-edged four in a big defeat, in their sixth IPL final.

On Friday, Super Kings will be back, with a team full of familiar names and sentimental favourites, and while they would have liked to play their comeback match in front of their home fans at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, this is probably the next-best thing: Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede. The IPL’s two most successful franchises, head-to-head, in the opening match of a new season.

Despite all the upheaval between that 2015 final and now, there’s a remarkable number of old storylines still at play when these two sides meet: half of the 22 players who lined up for that match are still part of the two squads, with two – Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu – crossing over from blue to yellow.

Taken too far, however, continuity can turn into stagnation, and that’s a danger Super Kings, in particular, will have to guard against, with their squad containing 11 players in their 30s. It’s also a squad that looks a touch unbalanced, loaded with spinners and light on pace options and power-hitters. It might be just the right squad for the slow turners that they typically play on in Chennai, but perhaps not for flatter, bouncier pitches – like the Wankhede, for instance.

Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede, then, will be a massive litmus test for Super Kings’ adaptability, right at the start of the season. Any early cracks they show will be ruthlessly pounced upon by every other team.

In the news

Stephen Fleming, the Super Kings coach, has confirmed that Faf du Plessis is unavailable for selection. Du Plessis is recovering from a finger injury that troubled him all through South Africa’s recently concluded home summer, an injury that was aggravated by a painful blow from (Mumbai’s) Pat Cummins during the Johannesburg Test.

The likely XIs

Mumbai Indians: 1 Evin Lewis, 2 Ishan Kishan (wk), 3 Rohit Sharma (capt), 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Mitchell McClenaghan, 9 Mustafizur Rahman, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Rahul Chahar.

Chennai Super Kings: 1 M Vijay, 2 Sam Billings, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Shane Watson, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Shardul Thakur, 11 Mark Wood.

Strategy punt

Shane Watson has struggled against left-arm spin in the IPL since the start of the 2015 season, scoring 100 runs off 105 balls while being dismissed ten times. M Vijay (5.84 per over) and Sam Billings (6.41), meanwhile, have poor scoring rates against spin in the Powerplay overs of T20 games. Given that these three are Super Kings’ main options to open the batting, Mumbai should seriously consider giving Krunal Pandya the new ball.

Stats that matter

  • Super Kings have a positive head-to-head against every team in the IPL apart from Mumbai, against whom they have won 10 games and lost 12.

  • Since the start of the 2015 season, Rohit Sharma has had difficulties against legspin, having been dismissed nine times in 27 innings against that type of bowling while striking at 113.7. His IPL record against Imran Tahir is middling: 50 off 42 balls while being dismissed once.

  • MS Dhoni has become a distinctly slower starter in recent seasons of the IPL. Until the end of the 2014 season, he made his runs at a strike rate of 122.35 across the first ten balls of his innings. Since the start of the 2015 season, that number has dropped to 98.97.

  • If JP Duminy starts for Mumbai, Super Kings should look to bowl their offspinners against him at every opportunity. He has career T20 strike rates of 84.3 against Harbhajan Singh and 92.00 against Suresh Raina.

  • Kieron Pollard doesn’t bowl that much these days, and he probably shouldn’t bowl anyway on Saturday. Almost all of Super Kings’ batsmen have towering strike rates against him in T20 cricket, with Suresh Raina (180.4), Shane Watson (179.6), MS Dhoni (177.1) and Dwayne Bravo (145.2) leading the way.

Quotes

“It’s hard to read it right now. It’s very dry underneath. It’s tough one to read. Usually it plays pretty well. This time of the year the average score is 165. We’re expecting there will be good pace and carry. Dew factor there’s a lot of aspects of it to consider but think it’ll be pretty good.”
Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming on what to expect from the Wankhede

“I would like to keep that as a surprise. Our middle order is very good and we have got good openers in Evin Lewis and Ishan Kishan. We will see on the 7th where I bat. I would like to keep that as a surprise.”
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma on whether he will open the batting



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Recent Match Report – Somerset vs Gloucestershire Central Group 2020

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Gloucestershire 163 for 8 (Cockbain 89, Sale 3-32, Davey 3-24) beat Somerset 161 for 7 (Gregory 50) by two wickets

Ian Cockbain played the starring role as Gloucestershire eliminated arch-rivals Somerset from the Vitality Blast with a thrilling two-wicket Central Group win in Bristol.

The visitors posted 161 for 7 after winning the toss under cloudless skies, Lewis Gregory hitting 50 and Babar Azam 42. Tom Smith was the pick of the Gloucestershire bowlers with 2 for 25.

In reply, Gloucestershire reached 163 for eight off the final ball of the match, Smith hitting a boundary off Ollie Sale through midwicket. Cockbain had set up the victory with a brilliant 89 off 57 balls, including nine fours and three sixes.

The result meant a home quarter-final for the hosts, while Somerset were left to reflect on a bitterly disappointing campaign.

They were given a brisk start to their innings by Babar and Steve Davies, who took the score to 53 by the end of the fifth over. Davies was timing the ball sweetly but, having moved to 31 off 19 balls, he pulled a catch to deep midwicket off Josh Shaw.

Gloucestershire then applied their customary mid-innings squeeze, taking pace off the ball with left-arm spinners Smith and Graeme van Buuren, well supported by the wily medium pace of Benny Howell.

Somerset could score only 24 runs between the fifth and tenth overs, the last of which from Howell saw Will Smeed caught at mid-off.

Smith removed Tom Abell to a catch at point in the 11th over and in his next claimed the big wicket of Babar, the Pakistan batsman giving a return catch, having faced 35 balls and hit five fours.

Tom Lammonby reverse-swept a catch to deep cover off van Buuren and Somerset were struggling at 105 for 5.

But Gregory supplied much-needed acceleration, hitting the first six of the innings in the 18th over and following up with another maximum over deep square off David Payne. The Somerset skipper also hit four fours in his 28-ball innings. When he fell to the second ball of the final over, his team could add only two off the last four deliveries.

Sale struck a major blow for the visitors by have Chris Dent caught at deep square off the final ball of the second over of Gloucestershire’s reply.

Miles Hammond feathered a catch to wicketkeeper Davies off Josh Davey to make it 20 for 2. That became 27 for 3 when James Bracey mishit a catch to mid-on to give Sale a second wicket.

When Ryan Higgins holed out to deep midwicket off 19-year-old left-arm spinner Lewis Goldsworthy, it was 50 for 4 and much rested on Cockbain, who was looking in dangerously good form.

The first six of the innings was struck by van Buuren off Goldsworthy in the 12th over, but he then fell to a catch at short third-man off Josh Davey.

Cockbain moved to a classy 35-ball half-century, with seven fours. He and Jack Taylor both hit straight sixes off Goldsworthy as the 15th over went for 19 runs.

Taylor then drove a catch to long-off to give Gregory a wicket. Cockbain cleared the ropes again off Sale and Howell hit Gregory for a straight six to leave 24 required from two overs.

Another Cockbain six off Davey made Gloucestershire favourites, but the batsman then cross-batted a catch to long-on.

The last over, bowled by Sale, began with 13 runs needed. Two Howell boundaries followed, but there was another twist then he was caught at long-off.

Three runs were still required when Smith faced the last ball, which he smote over wide long-on for four to loud cheers from Gloucestershire fans in the flats adjoining the ground.

Vitality Blast quarter-finals:

Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire
Surrey v Kent
Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire
Sussex v Lancashire
All fixtures to be played on October 1



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Recent Match Report – Birmingham Bears vs Northamptonshire Central Group 2020

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Northamptonshire 193 for 7 (Taylor 50*, Bresnan 3-25) beat Birmingham Bears 191 for 5 (Hose 119, Mousley 58*) by three wickets

Northants Steelbacks booked their place in the Vitality Blast quarter-finals with a stunning three-wicket victory over Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston, who missed out on the last eight on net run-rate after their defeat.

A wildly fluctuating match was yanked the Steelbacks’ way in the closing stages when a violent assault from debutant Tom Taylor, who hit 50 not out off 26 balls and Graeme White, whose 13-ball 37 included two fours and four sixes, saw them collect an unlikely 73 from the last six overs.

The Bears had posted a hefty 191 for 5 having been rescued from 20 for 4 by a fifth-wicket stand of 171 from 99 balls between Adam Hose and Dan Mousley. Hose blasted his maiden T20 century, making 119 from 64 balls with nine fours and seven sixes, while 19-year-old Mousley struck a T20-best 58 not out.

The Steelbacks reply hit trouble at 28 for 3 and 71 for 6 but Taylor, making his debut after moving across the East Midlands from Leicestershire, and White hit cleanly to see their side home with seven balls to spare.

The Bears chose to bat but the Steelbacks quickly took control by taking two wickets in the third over and two more in the fourth. Taylor’s first ball for Northants was lifted for six by Rob Yates but his second had the batsman caught at mid-on. Will Rhodes was then bowled, first ball.

Ben Sanderson followed up with two quickfire blows with successive balls as Bears linchpin Sam Hain was trapped lbw and Michael Burgess edged to Richard Levi at slip.

That was 20 for 4 but Hose and Mousley rebuilt, first carefully and then with increasing aggression. Hose reached 50 from 37 balls and then galloped to his century in just another 17 balls to become the third Bears T20 century-maker alongside Brendon McCullum and Ian Bell. Mousley played the perfect supporting role, posting his maiden T20 half-century from 37 balls.

Northants’ reply suffered early damage as three wickets fell in the first 20 balls. Jake Lintott was involved in them all, taking smart catches to remove Richard Levi and Adam Rossington off Tim Bresnan and ousting Josh Cobb via a catch by Mousley at extra cover. Lintott swooped again, this time at mid on, to dismiss Procter to leave Bresnan with 3 for 16 from his first three overs.

Paul Stirling’s dangerous innings – 38 off 23 balls – was ended by a gloved pull at Liam Norwell and when Saif Zaib became the fourth batsmen caught by Lintott, the Steelbacks were 71 for 6.

But Taylor and Rob Keogh clubbed a stand of 69 in 34 balls to keep their side in contention and then White arrived to crown a stunning fightback with a blitz of boundaries to seal the Steelbacks’ place in the last eight.

For the Bears, meanwhile, there was heartbreak, not least for club legend Jeetan Patel whose great Warwickshire career, which brought so much joy and success, had concluded with a devastating defeat.

Vitality Blast quarter-finals:

Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire
Surrey v Kent
Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire
Sussex v Lancashire
All fixtures to be played on October 1



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Recent Match Report – Nottinghamshire vs Durham North Group 2020

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Nottinghamshire 150 for 6 beat Durham 132 by 18 runs

A game-defining over from Imad Wasim ensured that Notts Outlaws defeated Durham in their Vitality Blast meeting at Trent Bridge to finish at the top of the North Group, as the visitors’ group-stage exit was confirmed.

Imad took 2 for 24 but also executed a couple of run-outs as Durham fell short of a victory target of 151 to lose by 18 runs.

Notts scored 150 for 7 after being asked to bat first, with Ben Duckett top-scoring with 29. Paul Coughlin and Liam Trevaskis each took two wickets for the visitors as the normally free-scoring home side were kept in check.

The result means that Notts finish the qualifying matches as the number one seed and will play Leicestershire Foxes at home in the quarter-finals. Durham’s loss ended their slim hopes of advancing to the next stage and means their season is now over.

Durham had given themselves a shot at reaching the last eight by winning four matches in a row prior to arriving in Nottingham. Their prospects of extending that sequence were given a major boost when Alex Hales fell in the first over of the match, driving the spin of Trevaskis to Graham Clark at cover.

Chris Nash followed for 13 but Notts looked to be getting back on track as Joe Clarke picked off a succession of boundaries. The right-hander had scored a century in the reverse fixture at Chester-le-Street and also helped himself to a hundred in the recent Bob Willis Trophy match between the two sides.

Clarke hit Coughlin for four boundaries in the fifth over but then attempted another and drilled the ball straight at Clark.

Duckett and Tom Moores added 102 together at Leicester on Friday evening and began another rebuilding job in the middle order before being parted after a stand of 49 when Moores was caught behind.

His partner coughed up an easy catch off Trevaskis in the next over to leave the hosts on 92 for five. Durham felt they’d dismissed Dan Christian first ball, with Alex Lees claiming a catch that the umpires adjudged against.

Christian didn’t profit to a great extent, being bowled by Nathan Rimmington for 13. Imad and Steven Mullaney gave the score a boost in the final overs with an unbroken stand of 31, which featured two sixes from Imad in his 26 not out.

Durham’s pursuit of 151 began badly, with Clark picking out substitute fielder Peter Trego in the first over but the main damage was reserved for the fifth over.

The chase floundered as 36 for 1 became 37 for 4. Ben Raine hit Imad straight to Alex Hales at mid-off, Lees was smartly stumped by Moores for 28 and then an horrific mix-up led to the Pakistan international whipping off the bails to run David Bedingham out.

Brydon Carse made 24 before picking out Matt Carter, to give Mullaney his 100th wicket in this format.

Imad then connected with a direct throw to find Scott Steel short of his ground and but for some late hitting from Trevaskis that was effectively that.

Trevaskis twice cleared the ropes in making 31 not out from 21 balls but he was left at the wrong end as Ball clean-bowled Rimmington to seal the win with five deliveries remaining and Durham on 132 all out.

Vitality Blast quarter-finals:

Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire
Surrey v Kent
Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire
Sussex v Lancashire
All fixtures to be played on October 1





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