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Gayle’s blazing ton hands Sunrisers first loss

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Kings XI Punjab 193 for 3 (Gayle 104*, Nair 31) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 178 for 4 (Pandey 57*, Williamson 54, Tye 2-23) by 15 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Prior to the start of IPL 2018, Kings XI Punjab’s director Virender Sehwag said Chris Gayle would be worth the money spent on him if he were to win his team two or three games. Gayle has now played two match-winning innings in two matches. Four days after his 33-ball 63 against Chennai Super Kings, Gayle shellacked his sixth IPL hundred and 21st overall in T20s to consign Sunrisers Hyderabad to their first defeat of the season.

On Sunday, Gayle lined-up CSK’s medium-pacers, but adopted a different approach against a formidable Sunrisers attack. He saw off Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s first spell and later unleashed a brutal assault on Rashid Khan’s legspin. All told, Gayle smashed 42 off 16 balls from Rashid at a strike-rate of 262.50.

Gayle batted through the innings for his 104 not out off 63 balls, which also included four twos. In pursuit of 194, Sunrisers lost early wickets as well as Shikhar Dhawan to an elbow injury, and there was no way back for them, despite fifties from their captain Kane Williamson and Manish Pandey.

Kings XI’s Jekyll-and-Hyde start

After becoming the first captain to opt to bat this season, R Ashwin reckoned Kings XI would be better off setting a target as opposed to chasing one against the best attack in the tournament at one of India’s larger grounds. Gayle and KL Rahul began cautiously against the swing and change-ups of Bhuvneshwar and Chris Jordan, and played out 12 dots in the first three overs. Gayle then launched Kings XI’s innings when he hit four boundaries in seven balls, including three leg-side sixes off Jordan and Rashid. In between, he was dropped on 14 by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha off Rashid’s first ball – a difficult chance off the toe end when he looked to cut.

Rahul, at the other end, had an early scare when he was given out lbw on 5, but he survived after a review thanks to a thin inside edge. Rahul moved to 18 off 20 before being pinned in front by a Rashid skidder. Rahul’s Karnataka team-mate Mayank Agarwal flickered briefly before slicing Siddarth Kaul to backward point for 18 off 9; by then Kings XI were 83 for 2 in the 11th over.

Gayle v Rashid: round-II

With two wickets falling in quick succession, Gayle slowed down and brought up his fifty off 39 balls. He then kicked into top gear and became only the second batsman, after AB de Villiers, to take Rashid for four sixes in an over. Gayle did so off successive balls, in the 14th over, which cost 27 runs.

When Rashid erred too full, Gayle simply opened up hips and put the sightscreen in danger, and when Rashid dragged his length back he mowed the ball over the leg side. The visual moment of the over, though, came when he hared back for a second run off the last ball and wore a wry smile.

With their premier spinner leaking runs, Sunrisers were forced to look beyond their frontline options. Deepak Hooda, however, could not do much with his part-time offspin.

Gayle’s party continues

After getting to his first fifty off 39 balls, Gayle surged to his second off only 19 balls. He moved to 99 with his 11th six – the most by a batsman this season – and raised the landmark by guiding one past backward point in the 19th over. He brought out the ‘cradle’ and later dedicated the innings to his daughter, who will turn two on Friday.

Gayle found supporting hands from Karun Nair (31) and Aaron Finch (14*) as Kings XI finished strongly at 193 for 3. Rashid was left nursing his worst T20 figures of 4-0-55-1.

Sunrisers sink in chase

Sunrisers received a big blow in the first over when Dhawan retired hurt after taking a blow to the elbow, and he did not return to bat. Mohit Sharma varied his pace excellently and bowled both Wriddhiman Saha and Yusuf Pathan to leave Sunrisers 37 for 2 in five overs.

Williamson and Pandey worked past the early blows with a 76-run stand for the third wicket, but they struggled to keep in touch with the soaring asking rate. Mujeeb Zadran’s mystery spin, Andrew Tye’s control, and the bigger boundaries in Mohali did not help Sunrisers’ cause either. When Williamson holed out for 54 off 41 balls in the 15th over, Sunrisers were left needing 81 off 34 balls. It was just too much for a middle order lacking muscle.



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Make South African cricket great again, and other items on the interim CSA board’s agenda

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South African sports minister Nathi Mthethwa has given Cricket South Africa’s nine-member interim board the mandate to do “whatever is necessary and appropriate to restore the reputation” of the organisation. Within that wide remit, there are four pressing matters for the board to attend to. We break these down for you.

Analyse and act on the forensic report used to fire former CEO Thabang Moroe

South African cricket’s best-kept secret is this document, which has only been seen by three former CSA independent board directors and Mthethwa, and which can only be viewed by those willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement. A summary released by CSA did reveal some of the contents of the report, including financial misconduct on the part of Moroe, and implicated several former board members including Beresford Williams, acting president till the other day.

Mthethwa wants the interim board to study the report and act on it, including taking any actions against parties who are proven guilty of wrongdoing, and he also wants the report to be made available more widely.

“This thing that you have a report that is a secret document must come to an end,” Mthethwa said. “It be a document which must be understood and scrutinised; implement what the recommendations are but be at liberty to look at the report itself, critically so, so that there is nothing which is an area you can’t get into.”

Implementation of the 2012 Nicholson Report

Eight years ago, when Gerald Majola was investigated and then sacked after being found guilty on nine charges at a disciplinary hearing around the awarding of bonuses during the 2009 IPL, which was held in South Africa because of the Indian general elections, judge Chris Nicholson compiled a report which made recommendations including about how CSA should constitute its board. Nicholson suggested the board be made up of as many independent directors as non-independents (people from within the members’ council) and that the chairperson be independent too. To date, CSA has not implemented this. Instead, it had a board made up of a majority of non-independent directors and a president chosen from that, and a minority of independents. Part of the reason CSA did that was to please the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), which did not approve of a majority of independent directors.

Now that Mthethwa has taken over the case of CSA from SASCOC, he has insisted that the Nicholson recommendations are put in place. Therefore, the job of the interim board is likely to be to determine a process by which the permanent board will be appointed, bearing in mind the Nicholson report’s criteria.

Review board decisions taken since 2019

Although the summary of the forensic report that was used to fire Moroe indicated that many of Moroe’s actions, especially with regard to deals over the Mzansi Super League, were undertaken without the board’s knowledge, the board made several of its own decisions which Mthethwa wants the interim structure to look into.

“This team is going to look into everything, including the decisions that were taken by the board that resigned,” he said. That would include things like the firing of five members of staff other than Moroe – which includes former COO Naasai Appiah, former head of sales and commercial Clive Eksteen, both of whom are fighting their dismissals in court – and decisions over the structure of cricket operations and the domestic game.

Make South African cricket great again

Strictly speaking, this is the job of the executive (the CEO, acting in this case, and those who work in the office) and the players, but the board is responsible for making sure that the right things get done. In the last year, CSA has attracted “public criticism around how (it) has conducted its affairs, particularly in the areas of leadership, governance, transformation, selection of teams and so on from various interest groups within and outside of cricket”, as Mtethwa pointed out, it has lost sponsors and will be on the back foot when negotiations for a new broadcast deal begin. CSA’s deal with pay-television channel SuperSport ends in April next year, by which time the performance of the national teams over the summer will play a role in determining whether the organisation has a strong product to bargain with. The more competitive the teams are, the better the deal CSA can get, and although team form is not in their control, creating an environment that is suitable for growth is.

Last summer, South Africa lurched through a string of poor results in India and at home as massive uncertainty shrouded the organisation. A more stable structure may help support stronger results and the rebuilding of a team that used to be on top of the Test rankings and still has unfulfilled ambitions of hoisting a World Cup.



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West Indies begin quarantine period in New Zealand after 54-hour journey

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West Indies have begun their two-week quarantine period in Christchurch ahead of their T20I and Test series in New Zealand, after a gruelling 54-hour journey from Barbados.

Squad members not involved in the IPL left Barbados on Tuesday, initially flying to London before further stops in Dubai and Auckland. Having already played a three-Test series in England in July, West Indies are the only international team to have embarked on two overseas tours in the Covid-19 era.

After passing their first health test on arrival, the touring squad will initially be based at the New Zealand high-performance centre at Lincoln University in Christchurch, where they will be able to train after day four of their quarantine period. The low incidence of Covid-19 in New Zealand means that players will be able to interact with society following their quarantine, unlike on the England tour when the squad was confined to a biosecure bubble.

Speaking to the Mason and Guest radio show in Barbados, Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave said that the board had learned from the England tour that it was important to keep those players not picked for the Test side active, and as such, two four-day West Indies A fixtures have been scheduled: the first at Mount Maunganui to run alongside the first Test, the second at Nelson coinciding with the second Test.

“At the end of the T20 series, about half the squad are going to fly back to the Caribbean, and about half the team – along with the six reserves, and probably the 14th and 15th members of the Test squad – will form an ‘A’ team,” Grave said.

“For some of those T20 players who have played so much white-ball cricket for West Indies during the West Indies Championship over the last couple of years, it’s going to be the first opportunity they’d have had in probably two years to play some red-ball cricket.” While discussions are ongoing as to which players will stay on, Fabian Allen, Brandon King and Nicholas Pooran are expected to be among them.

Grave also confirmed that players and support staff will continue to receive 50% of their salaries, as has been the case since July, though match fees will be paid in full. The backroom staff on the tour are largely similar to the group that travelled to England, with Monty Desai, Andre Coley and Trevor Penney added and Floyd Reifer – who is standing as an MP in Barbados – replaced.

West Indies were winless on their last tour of New Zealand in 2017-18, losing both Tests, all three ODIs, and escaping with a 2-0 defeat in the T20I series thanks to a no-result in the second match. Roddy Estwick, one of the assistant coaches, admitted that New Zealand would be a “very, very difficult” side to play against, but said on arrival that he was optimistic about their chances.

“I think we’ve got to win series now,” Estwick said. “We win the odd Test match – you can look at all the teams we’ve played in the last two years – we’ve won one Test match, but we haven’t won the series. It’s important that we put two or three performances together, not one good performance and we tend to fade away. We’ve got to win series and there’s no doubt about that, and we’ve got to start here in New Zealand by trying to win this series by playing good, positive, hard disciplined cricket.

“New Zealand is a very, very difficult side playing at home. We’ve got to be up and we’ve got to execute properly. We’ve got to sit down, and we’ve got to plan. We know what it was like last time and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready because nobody goes to New Zealand and wins easily.

“You’ve got to be prepared to scrap. Sometimes they can be very patient and you’ve got to match that patience as well. We’ve got to leave no stone unturned to make sure we can combat New Zealand.”





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DC vs MI, IPL 2020, Fantasy Pick, team predictions

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Delhi Capitals vs Mumbai Indians, Dubai

Pro Tip: It is going to be a battle between the two top teams so pick reliable top-order batsmen and the best fast bowlers from the teams.

Our XI: Quinton De Kock, Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Shikhar Dhawan, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Rahul Chahar, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Jasprit Bumrah

Substitutes: Marcus Stoinis, Trent Boult, Axar Patel, R Ashwin

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Player availability: All players are available for selection. Rohit Sharma is unlikely to play this game as well.

Captain: Ishan Kishan

Kishan took the role of an opener in the absence of Rohit and has done a fine job. He has scored 130 runs in the three innings as an opener this season at a healthy strike rate of 141.3. Kishan has a strike rate of 142.51 against pace and 140.59 against spin in the tournament so the Capitals quicks may not really trouble him.

Vice-captain: Rishabh Pant

Pant has been getting starts in almost every game but hasn’t quite made it big. He has failed to cross 25 only twice in the tournament in nine innings. This could be the day he goes on beyond the 30s and scores some big runs. Since 2018, Pant has scored 196 in 4 innings against Mumbai at a terrific strike rate of 183.17. In the four innings, he has two big half centuries and a 47, all in quick time.

Hot Picks

Quinton De Kock: After a slow start de Kock has quickly caught up in the second half of the tournament. He is the leading run scorer for Mumbai so far this season with 392 runs at a strike rate of 140.3 out of his four fifties this season have come in the last six games and he is a must-have on form. Plus he can get you some crucial points from behind the stumps.

Shikhar Dhawan: After a series of fifties and hundreds, Dhawan has got a couple of low scores. But his purple patch this season started with an unbeaten 69 against Mumbai and we are backing him to replicate that. He also has a pretty good record against Mumbai since 2018 – 197 runs at 49.25 and a SR of 136.8 including a fifty and a couple of 40-plus scores.

Jasprit Bumrah: Bumrah is now the joint-second highest wicket taker in the tournament with 20 wickets at an economy of 7.18. He has been at his lethal best, taking eight wickets in the last four games at an economy of 6.31. You cannot leave him out given his form.

Differential Picks

Anrich Nortje: Nortje has been terrific for the Capitals this season. He has bowled in crunch situations and has come out on top more often than not. Nortje has picked up 15 wickets in the tournament so far at an economy of 7.79. Among all bowlers who have bowled 60 or more balls at the death this season, Nortje has the best economy of 8.26.

Kieron Pollard: Pollard has been striking the ball cleanly and consistently this season. He has scored 218 runs at a SR of 200 and has been dismissed only twice in 109 balls. His bowling has taken a turn this season as well. His clever change of pace and good lengths could get him a wicket or two and he takes the hotspots on the field which means points for catches.
Alternate Scenarios

  • If Mumbai bat second, Pollard may not get to face as many balls so Marcus Stoinis is a better option.

  • An alternate vice-captain choice is Suryakumar Yadav given the form that he is in. He also scored a half-century against the Capitals the last time the two teams met.



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