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Batting worries for CSK ahead of big homecoming



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If Chennai Super Kings are capable of doing anything without a flourish, we won’t be seeing evidence of it on Tuesday. Having put up a red-carpet premiere in Mumbai on their return, MS Dhoni’s ensemble are ready for the full public release in Chennai. A full house awaits in the ground where they have a 70% win rate. Into this scene will walk Kolkata Knight Riders, who answered questions about their bench strength with a full display of the power of their starting XI against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday.

There’s little doubt that this game’s rhythm will be dictated by spin. Super Kings have spinners in abundance this year and the pitch will be in their favour. However, Knight Riders have historically been a team that relies on spin as well. Can their middle order of Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana and Dinesh Karthik counter the home team’s bowling-centric strategy to win the middle overs? They won’t have too many batting issues at the start and end of the innings.

This will be both teams’ second game of the season and while it’s too early to worry about the table, it’s an early chance to go to first place and set up the momentum for a winning streak for the two teams that copped most criticism after the auction.

In the news

Super Kings have lost Kedar Jadhav to a hamstring tear, and are waiting on Faf du Plessis, who has picked up a side strain alongside his finger troubles. Having both of them fortifying the batting with a promoted Dhoni would have been central to their strategy, with the belligerent confidence of Dwayne Bravo to follow. They’ll now be forced to rethink that plan. The good news is, M Vijay, who missed the last game because of a knock to the ribs in training, is set to return.

The likely XIs

Chennai Super Kings: 1 M Vijay, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Mark Wood/Lungi Ngidi, 11 Imran Tahir

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), 6 Rinku Singh, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Vinay Kumar/Shivam Mavi/Kamlesh Nagarkoti

Strategy punt

  • Since IPL 2015, Narine has only been dismissed twice against spin and scores at a staggering strike rate of 247.2 against them. Super Kings’ opening bowlers in the last match – seamers Deepak Chahar and Shane Watson – will be a better bet than the spinners against him in the Powerplay, but they will set themselves up for an early wicket if they hand the new ball to whichever overseas fast bowler they choose – Mark Wood and Lungi Ngidi are two options.

Stats that matter

  • Knight Riders have only beaten Super Kings twice in Chennai in seven attempts

  • Dhoni continues to show signs of a weakness against right-arm spinners. Since 2015, his strike rate against offspin is 71.7 and against legspin it is 103. Only Suresh Raina (seven) has more IPL fifties than Dhoni (six) at this ground and no one has more 30-plus scores (18) than him

  • Andre Russell has been destructive against Dwayne Bravo in T20s – 175 runs off 88 balls and strikes a boundary against him every 3.52 balls

  • But Bravo fares much better against Karthik, whom he has dismissed thrice in seven innings and has only conceded 25 runs off 21 balls

  • Super Kings openers Shane Watson (117.81) and M Vijay (110.36) have significantly lower Smart Strike Rates than Knight Riders’ openers Narine (191.97) and Lynn (215.79).

Fantasy picks

  • Imran Tahir didn’t have a great time against Mumbai Indians, but he is likely to get another shot and is a good pick, especially on the dry pitch in Chennai. Tahir has the best career bowling strike rate in the IPL among all his team-mates – 15.2 – and has taken more than two wickets 17 times in 54 matches in all T20s since the start of 2017. He is also the leader on that front among his Super Kings team-mates.


“We feel like we’ve got the necessary backup or depth to be able to cover it. It’s certainly going to be a focus going forward. The players at the top of the order, Nos. 1-4, need to take the responsibility to try and score the bulk of the runs.”
Michael Hussey, Super Kings’ batting coach, on Jadhav’s injury and the focus on the top order

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Recent Match Report – South Australia vs Victoria 6th Match 2020



Victoria 0 for 38 trail South Australia 200 (Hunt 50, Sutherland 3-26) by 162 runs

Making a belated start to their season, which has followed two weeks of quarantine in Adelaide where they could only train in groups of four, a young Victoria attack took the honours on the opening day as they removed South Australia for 200.

Mitch Perry and Zak Evans were making their first-class debuts while Will Sutherland had five matches under his belt. They were complemented by the experienced duo of Scott Boland and Jon Holland, but the young trio did more than their share of the damage on a well-grassed surface.

To cap Victoria’s day their openers, Marcus Harris and Will Pucovski, got through a testing last hour to leave them well placed to take advantage of the bowlers’ good work.

Sutherland had the pick of the figures and claimed the two senior middle-order batsmen either side of lunch: Travis Head nicked an excellent delivery from round the wicket and Callum Ferguson edged a drive that he will want to forget.

The first wicket of the day had been Perry’s maiden scalp when Conor McInerney top edged a pull and later Evans also got off the mark when Liam Scott edged to second slip.

It wasn’t all the kids, however, with Boland getting Brad Davis caught behind and Holland’s left-arm spin doing both an excellent holding job and chipping out two wickets. Holland’s first of the day removed Henry Hunt, playing around a full delivery, after the opener had done the majority of South Australia’s run-scoring.

That left the Redbacks in a hole at 5 for 76 and when Holland struck again, having Chadd Sayers caught at cover, they were 7 for 116 but they managed to haul themselves towards something respectable.

Harry Nielsen produced another valuable innings while Wes Agar provided a somewhat unexpected boost with a career-best 41, adding 34 for the last wicket.

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Australia v India, 2020-21 – Cameron Green’s runs defy Justin Langer’s first impression



About the time Cameron Green was getting into the 190s for Western Australia in Adelaide, a fourth century in his most recent nine Sheffield Sheld matches, a mea culpa message buzzed through to the phone of the former selector Greg Chappell. It was from Australia’s coach, Justin Langer, who was finally ready to concede his first impressions of Green had been overtaken.

In fairness to Langer, that first impression had taken the shape of a zingy, swinging spell of pace bowling from Green at Bellerive in early 2017, when he snapped up 5 for 24 on his Shield debut for the state while batting at No. 8. Chappell, though, had remained steadfast in his belief that Green would ultimately be more valuable to Australian cricket as a batsman than a bowler, with the risk of losing that opportunity through the injuries so often suffered by young speedsters.

ALSO READ: Warner, Smith, Cummins and Hazlewood likely to be rested before India Tests

So Langer, a few days before selecting Green in Australia’s limited-overs squad to face India without seeing him even bowl a single competitive ball this season, reached out magnanimously to Chappell. “I texted Greg Chappell a couple days ago,” Langer said, “and I said ‘GC, wasn’t it me that was telling you what a great batsman Cameron Green was’ and I had a whole lot of smiley emojis, because Greg Chappell’s been telling me for two years ‘Cameron Green is brilliant, he is the best young batting talent’.

“[Back then] I said ‘mate he’s six foot seven, I saw him bowl to George Bailey in his first over and he’ll never bowl a better over in his whole career than he did’. When I first saw him bowl I thought his action was like a young Shaun Pollock, because it was just so simple, but then he grew a lot.

“I know he’s working hard on his action to ensure he stays healthy, but if Greg Chappell’s telling me he’s the best young talent he’s seen for a long time, and I’ve seen how he bowls, he’s potentially in the future a great all-round package. At the moment his batting speaks for itself and he’s bowling a few overs. But it’ll be a pretty good package won’t it, if he stays fit and healthy.”

Leaving aside a low score on a grassy pitch in the Shield game against Tasmania that began on Friday, Green has won plaudits from opposing captains, bowlers and team-mates for offering a maturity of approach that does not always seem the way of a 21-year-old. No less a judge than the Test captain Tim Paine has spoken warmly of Green’s awareness of what bowlers and captains are trying to do, and of the unruffled countenance that has allowed him to put together many hours at the crease.

“He bats long periods,” Langer said. “I know George Bailey’s really big on this as one of our new selectors, he bats time. Allan Border used to say ‘there’s a lot more time than you think young fella’, so there’s a lot of time in Test cricket, there’s a bit more time in one-day cricket. Obviously there’s less time in T20 and he was batting down the order for the Scorchers last year, which is a tough spot for anyone let alone a kid, but he’s ticking a lot of boxes at the moment.

“I go back to the point, competition’s healthy, he is banging really hard on the door, like Moises [Henriques] has been doing, and he deserves an opportunity as a specific replacement for Mitch [Marsh]. So they’re banging on the door hard, which is a positive thing.

“When I used to go play county cricket all those years ago, all the English guys used to say ‘in Australia you’ve got this great youth policy, you always pick these young players’ and they talk about Damien Martyn or Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke. But what I kept saying was ‘it’s not a youth policy, you just pick the guys who are playing the best cricket’. Cameron Green’s got, albeit in Sheffield Shield cricket, four hundreds in his last six or seven Shield games, so he’s a terrific young player.”

Expectations of course are now sky high, not least after Chappell himself labelled Green the best young talent he had seen come through since Ricky Ponting. But Langer is hopeful that the same temperament Green has displayed in the middle will be applied to dead-bat the dangers of thinking too far ahead, or letting the ego chase deliveries that the mind and hands would prefer to leave well alone.

“It tends to happen doesn’t it, the new kid on the block comes in and there’s high praise and people get carried away,” Langer said. “How does he handle it? He watches the ball as closely as he is now, he stays fit and healthy and he gets on with his job.

“That’s the hardest part actually of playing international cricket, eliminating the distractions, but that’s what mental toughness is about, he’s not going to have it all at the moment, it’s going to be a journey for a long time for him as it is with any young player. But this is all part of it, people will say ‘he’s the next future captain, he’s the next Ben Stokes, he’s the next this and this’, that’s why I tell all of them not to listen to any of it. If he wants to keep watching the ball, that’s all he needs to do.”

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Australian team reach out to former footballer Adam Goodes for racism education



Australian team management have reached out to the former Sydney Swans footballer Adam Goodes to speak to them about the nation’s history of racial discrimination and the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement, as they ponder how to engage with the issue after declining to take a knee during their limited-overs tour of England.

The Australia head coach Justin Langer, having previously admitted that the team did not commit enough thought to the area prior to the England matches, said that Cricket Australia had been in touch with Goodes among others as part of their effort to discuss issues around racism with the national men’s team ahead of the home fixtures against India.

Langer said he had spoken personally with an Aboriginal elder as he sought to understand the history of taking the knee, a globally recognised gesture that has been employed by several WBBL teams in the past week.

Goodes’ career as one of the most decorated players in AFL history was marred by oppressive, racially motivated booing over the final phase of his career, an episode that all parties have since admitted should have been more boldly handled in terms of pushing back against the crowds that continued to do it. The saga has been the subject of two documentaries, The Final Quarter and the Australian Dream, but Australia’s players would like more in-person discussion before the India series begins.

“We have to be really strong on this, we have to lead it. There’s a meeting between a few of us this afternoon,” Langer said. “I know Adam Cassidy at Cricket Australia is really strong and excellent in leading us on all this. We need to be educated and be really clear on what we standing for. We want to lead the representation of this.

“Now we’re working through talking to Aboriginal elders, talking to people, hopefully like Adam Goodes, [cultural commentator] Stan Grant was a really good idea in an email with me last night, we’ve got to be really clear, take our time and make sure we’re really strong on the messages and what we’re representing here.

“I don’t know Adam personally. I know Adam Gilchrist knows him well, he tells me he’s one of the greatest people he’s ever met in his life. Having watched Adam’s documentary I was blown away by that. There’s a lot of great people in Australia, who I’m sure will help the Australian cricket team represent racial discrimination with the respect and dignity it deserves. It’s one of the things I’ve learned in this job and in life.

“We are very, very fortunate that because we represent the Australian cricket team that we can reach out to a whole number of people. Hopefully when we come back together we can be better educated on this issue.”

Asked specifically about whether or not the team would consider taking a knee, Langer said he was in the midst of a discussion on precisely that topic. “I’m glad you’ve asked the question. I was with an Aboriginal elder last night,” he said. “One of my follow-up questions to him today, I want to understand the history of taking a knee. We talk about Barefoot Circles, we’ve talked about a number of things, different initiatives or ways of representing this. I really want to know the significance of that and if that’s the best way to represent it.

“I want to hear it from our Aboriginal elders, from people who have experienced racial discrimination. I haven’t [experienced it], I want to hear it and what the best way forward is. As I said to you guys a little while ago we’re really aware of it, it’s a very important issue in our society at the moment and we want to make sure we do it and represent it with great respect and dignity. Whether it’s taking a knee, we’ll come up with that in the next little bit. It’s certainly front of mind at the moment.”

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