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Recent Match Report – Australia vs England, World Cup, 2nd Semi-final

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England (Roy 85) beat Australia 223 (Smith 85, Woakes 3-20) by eight wickets

How does that old song go again? Thirty years of hurt? Make that 44 and counting (and contrary to the lyrics, England’s cricketers certainly gave up dreaming for at least 20 of those). But suddenly it’s all up for grabs. On home soil, with the wind behind their backs and the fates screaming in their favour. Is it coming home this time? If you don’t believe it now, you truly never will.

One thing is for sure. New Zealand await in the World Cup final at Lord’s on Sunday, where for the first time since Sri Lanka at Lahore in 1996, a brand-new team is sure to be crowned as champions. But after the jitters and the wobbles, the niggles and the doubts, today was the day when England banished the angst and restored the roar that had carried the side to the top of the world ODI rankings.

Put simply, Australia are not meant to suffer beatings this comprehensive in World Cup knock-out matches. They had not lost any of their previous seven visits to the semi-finals, and yet a massive 107 deliveries still remained when victory, fittingly, was sealed with a swipe over long-on from England’s captain, Eoin Morgan, the man in whose image this team has been remoulded since the misery of 2015.

After adapting their gung-ho attitudes to haul themselves into the last four, this a throwback performance of precisely the right genre from England, on a day that had dawned fraught with the sort of anticipation not truly witnessed in an England v Australia contest since that seismic Ashes Test at Edgbaston in 2005. Then as now, England knew they had their opponents’ measure after a generation of subjugation, but the weight of history isn’t something that can be cast off at a whim.

Or so we might have assumed. Instead, England tapped into the same mindset that had crushed Australia 5-0 in their bilateral series a mere 12 months ago, and produced a performance that had far more in common with that 481-run pasting at Trent Bridge than the rather timid, confused surrender at Lord’s a fortnight ago that had left their tournament in such jeopardy.

Ferocity was England’s watchword from the outset, and with ball and bat alike. Not even the loss of an apparently crucial toss could not unhinge them, as Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer contrived in the space of 16 balls to blow away Australia’s totemic openers, Aaron Finch and David Warner, before Adil Rashid produced the spell of his tournament to undermine a doughty fightback from Steve Smith and Alex Carey.

And thereafter it was over to Jason Roy – the man of England’s tournament, whatever the final may bring – who climbed into a sub-par target of 224 with a hugely intelligent blend of caution and mounting arrogance. He and Jonny Bairstow displayed the wisdom gleaned from earlier tournament hiccups to see off a briefly threatening Mitchell Starc, but retained the strike to flog allcomers with impunity wherever their lines strayed from the straight and narrow.

At the end of the Powerplay, England were 50 for 0 and cruising, and Roy began to turn on the afterburners. Nathan Lyon, a scourge of English batsman in Ashes battles gone by, was pumped for six first-ball as he entered the fray for the 11th over. And when Australia, in desperation, tossed the ball to Smith in a bid for any sort of a breakthrough, Roy responded with three consecutive sixes – the third of which, into the fourth tier of the new stand, was surely the largest on this ground since Andrew Flintoff’s iconic smoking off Brett Lee into what was then a building site during that 2005 Test.

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Fantasy tips: India v West Indies, 2nd T20I

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December 8: India v West Indies, 2nd T20I in Thiruvananthapuram

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates

Captain: Rohit Sharma

Rohit rarely fails to perform through an entire T20I series. He had an off day in Hyderabad, and is likely to make amends.

Vice-captain: Yuzvendra Chahal

In a high-scoring first T20I, Chahal was India’s most successful bowler, even coming back at the death to pick up two crucial wickets.

Hot picks

Virat Kohli

After that 50-ball 94..

Kieron Pollard

Pollard got going in the first game with the bat, finding his range and clearing some of the longer boundaries in Hyderabad. Why not one more time?

Deepak Chahar

An early wicket is almost always assured with Chahar, but he took quite a beating in the first game. It should be worth backing him one more time.

Value for money

Nicholas Pooran

He’s been striking it at 147.73 in T20s over the past two years, and can clear the boundary against both pace and spin.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Among the most experienced T20 bowlers going around, he had a decent first outing on return from injury.

Sheldon Cottrell

His angle from around the wicket, swing, and variations all make him a solid proposition. More salutes = more fantasy points.

Point to note

  • Thiruvananthapuram was not among the higher-scoring venues in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, with an average first innings score of 127. That was due in part to some weaker domestic sides playing there, so a total in excess of 180 on Sunday can’t be ruled out.



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What is the reward for performing in this Ranji Trophy?

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Into its 86th year, the biggest first-class competition in the world – the Ranji Trophy – gets bigger with a 38th team, Chandigarh, added to the roster for the 2019-20 season. Like every year, it gives around 800 hopefuls a platform to establish themselves. Players aside, it is also a true test for ground staff, curators, logistics personnel, scorers, coaches and, of course, match officials. Here is a look at what the key talking points from this season are likely to be.



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Rahul 2.0 makes strong case for regular limited-overs spots

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Ball dekho, maaro.” (See ball, hit ball)

Speaking to Chahal TV for the BCCI website, this was how KL Rahul summed up his approach and mindset after getting to a start in India’s pursuit of 208 against West Indies in the T20I series opener in Hyderabad. In stark contrast to his captain Virat Kohli’s early struggles at the other end, Rahul seamlessly built on his start and converted it into a 40-ball 62. It was Rahul’s innings that set the scene for the angry Kohli masterclass in the latter half of the chase.

When Rahul had broken into first-class cricket in 2010, he was a proper top-order batsman whose game was founded on the old-school virtues: leaving anything that’s wide of off stump and playing the balls that threaten the stumps with a dead-straight bat.

Rahul, however, unlocked the white-ball monster in him during IPL 2018, when he racked up 659 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 158.41. He followed it up with 593 runs in 14 matches in 2019, having expanded his range with a variety of sweeps, scoops and big hits. Some of that funkiness has perhaps seeped into his red-ball game and as a result he has been jettisoned from the Test squad.

His white-ball form, though, is reaching a stage where it might be just too hard to ignore. Rahul might not have even started the series had Shikhar Dhawan been fit. This, despite being at the forefront of Karnataka’s 20-overs Syed Mushtaq Ali title defence. Rahul had tallied 313 runs in eight innings at an average of 52.16 and strike rate of 155.72, including some tough runs on spin-friendly tracks in Surat.

On the eve of the T20I series against West Indies, Kohli was even asked if the management might consider bumping Rishabh Pant to the top, but the India captain shot that thought down quickly and indicated that Rahul will slot in alongside Rohit Sharma.

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KL Rahul on getting to open the innings in T20Is and the new front-foot no-ball monitoring system

Rohit picked out deep midwicket for 8 off 10 balls in India’s steep chase in Hyderabad and Kohli just couldn’t find his bearings early on at the other end. West Indies’ bowlers, particularly Sheldon Cottrell, varied their pace and lengths smartly to make life more difficult for India.

After Cottrell had softened Rohit with a length ball that burst off the track and pinged his right glove, left-arm fingerspinner Khary Pierre made the incision for West Indies. However, Rahul continued to pick off runs in risk-free fashion.

Having all the shots is one thing and knowing when to use them is another. When Cottrell or Holder found some extra bounce and aimed for the fourth stump, Rahul simply rode it and tapped it behind point, down towards third man.

Only when the ball was well short and wide of off did Rahul unleash the full-blooded cut. Hayden Walsh Jr. was the best fielder of CPL 2019, his athletic interventions at backward point turned games as much as his wristspin did for eventual champions Barbados Tridents. Just ask West Indies and Trinbago Knight Riders captain Kieron Pollard. It was a moment of brilliance in the field from Walsh Jr. that ran out Pollard in the second qualifier and KO’d Knight Riders.

On Friday night, Rahul cracked a brace of square-cuts, beating a sprawling Walsh Jr. – both to his left and right for fours. Then, after bedding in, in the last over of the Powerplay, Rahul brought out his attacking enterprise. He backed away to left-arm fingerspinner Pierre and slog-swept him over square leg for six. See ball, hit ball.

In the next over, Rahul used the extra pace of Walsh Jr. to his advantage and dabbed him fine of short third man for four. He also rotated the strike without much fuss and raised his fifty off 37 balls. During the process, Rahul passed 1000 T20I runs in his 29th innings.

Just when Rahul was about to hit full tilt, having sent Kesrick Williams and Pierre for sixes over midwicket, he holed out to long-off while attempting a third six. By then, Kohli had found his touch and India eventually sailed to victory.

“[It’s] important to lay a solid foundation as an opener because there are power hitters in the back end,” Rahul told Star Sports after the match. “Playing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy helped a lot. Doesn’t matter how many hours you spend in the nets. Winning games gives me the most confidence. Did that with Karnataka, happy to do it with India. Good that I can carry my confidence across tournaments.”

Rahul has two more T20Is in this series to extend his rich white-ball form and give the Indian management another happy headache in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in Australia – the scene of his Test debut – next year.

“It’s a long way [away], honestly,” Rahul said of the T20 World Cup, at the post-match press conference. “I’ve got the opportunity to bat at the top of the order again after a couple of series. So [I’m] looking forward to just making the best use of it. Today was a good outing, a good hit in the middle, and hopefully I just continue the same thing and not worry about October next year, there are a lot of games before that.”



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