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Recent Match Report – Birmingham Bears vs Leicestershire, Twenty20 Cup (England), North Group

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Birmingham 117 for 3 (Agar 41*) beat Leicestershire 115 for 9 (Edwards 4-22) by seven wickets

Fidel Edwards made one of the most spectacular starts in Vitality Blast memory to set Birmingham Bears motoring to a seven-wicket victory over Leicestershire in front of a bumper crowd at Edgbaston.

The West Indian paceman, making his debut on loan from Hampshire, took wickets with his first, third and sixth balls to leave the Foxes in immediate disarray at 2 for 3 after one over.

There was no way back from that for the visitors who mustered only 115 for 9, Edwards finishing with 4 for 22 while captain Jeetan Patel added 2 for 24.

To the delight of most in a noisy Edgbaston crowd of 11,442, the Bears then eased to 117 for 3 from 14.5 overs thanks to Sam Hain, who struck 31 off 33 balls, and Australian debutant Ashton Agar, who was unbeaten on 41 off 28.

Put in, Leicestershire were immediately blitzed by Edwards who bowled openers Neil Dexter and Mark Cosgrove for golden ducks and had Arrun Lilley caught at deep square leg.

From such a terrible foundation, the Foxes’ recovery was only ever partial. Harry Dearden and Colin Ackermann added 45 for the fourth wicket but were then bowled in the first overs from Patel and Will Rhodes respectively. Agar chipped in with the wicket of Lewis Hill, caught at long on, as Leicestershire crawled past 100 in the 18th over.

Edwards returned to add his fourth wicket when Callum Parkinson skied to wicketkeeper Michael Burgess. Ben Mike, recently a popular loanee with the Bears, batted intelligently for 19 but was bowled slogging at Patel.

When the Bears set out in pursuit of their small target, Leicestershire desperately needed to take early wickets but snared only one, Michael Burgess who chipped Parkinson to mid-wicket. Ed Pollock thrashed 27 from 16 balls and, after he was caught off Dieter Klein’s first ball, Hain and Agar added 49 in seven overs before the former heaved Mike to deep square leg.

As Agar accelerated, the Bears coasted to victory in serene fashion in a match which will long be recalled for Edwards’ sensational start.

“That first over was special,” Edwards said. “They always say the first over is so important in Twenty20 so I just tried to do my best and it just happened for me. I was keen to get out there and see if the ball would swing and luckily it did for me today. I really enjoyed the day with a great crowd in. With England having just won the World Cup it is a great time for English cricket.”



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Dark skies in Chennai as India look to shake off ODI rust

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India last played a 50-over game in August, but the biggest concern is the fickle weather



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Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, ICC World Test Championship, 1st Test

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Stumps Sri Lanka 282 for 6 (de Silva 87*, Dilruwan 6*, Afridi 2-58) v Pakistan

A scintillating onslaught from the weather overnight proved yet again to be the definitive performance in the Rawalpindi Test, which did not see a single ball bowled on day four before play was called off at noon. Frigid showers have been in outstanding form right through this Test, and the force with which they imposed themselves on a hapless outfield ensured that the turf was too sodden for play.

The covers also showed signs of having endured a battering, with vast pools of water laying atop them in the morning. The groundstaff cleared some of the water off them over the course of several hours, but this merely made an inevitable result look a little closer than it was. There was just no beating the weather in this mood.



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Recent Match Report – Australia vs New Zealand, ICC World Test Championship, 1st Test

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Lunch Australia 0 for 1 (Warner 1*) and 416 (Labuschagne 143, Head 56, Wagner 4-92, Southee 4-93) lead New Zealand 166 (Taylor 80, Starc 5-52) by 251 runs

Mitchell Starc just kept doing what he always does in Australia, whether the ball is red or pink or white. He runs in and goes whang. In the course of that, he picked up his 13th five-wicket haul – seventh at home – to wrap up New Zealand for 166 and secure a lead of 250.

That gave Australia the chance to enforce the follow-on but it was hardly ever a realistic option with Josh Hazlewood out of the game with a hamstring strain. The ease with which Tim Paine and his men managed that – an injury to one of their best weapons to a pink ball – was remarkable. Of course, it must have helped that they had 416 runs in the bank and the batsmen they were targeting already had been in the field for nearly 150 overs.

Starc’s fifth wicket was a bit of an event though. He looked to have bounced Colin de Grandhomme out – umpire Aleem Dar certainly thought so – but when the batsman took the option of DRS, replays seemed to indicate the ball might have just gone off the helmet on its way to Steven Smith at second slip. But since the visuals weren’t conclusive enough the third umpire Marais Erasmus had to stick with the on-field call.

It tells a great deal of the faith Australia have in their fast bowlers that they went out to the field on Saturday and immediately settled into a short-ball plan. Starc and Pat Cummins were the only ones left standing. The heat was in the 40C range again. New Zealand were already five down, but their lower-order rarely ups and folds like a deck chair. There was a chance it could have gone all wrong, that the two big quicks would be bowled into the ground and Ross Taylor, who was well past fifty, could have marshalled the resources he had left to some semblance of safety.

But what really happened was, after swaying out of the way of a ball that was coming for his nose, BJ Watling was slow to get in line with the follow-up delivery and was bowled. A man who had come into this game with scores of 77, 105*, 205 and 55 had been one-twoed by Cummins’ ruthless precision. He has 52 wickets this year, 14 more than his nearest rival.

Taylor took on the short ball with varied degrees of success – some zipped past him while others zipped to the boundary – but his biggest test came at the hands of Nathan Lyon. The offspinner’s first over included a ball that skipped through the gap between bat and pad and nearly bowled Taylor. Ever since then, he began to look unsure of his scoring options because he was unsure how much the ball will spin. Eventually, a beautifully tossed up offbreak took Taylor’s outside edge as he played inside the line and he was caught for an otherwise flawless 80. Lockie Ferguson, who has already been ruled out of bowling in this Test match, came out at No. 11 to try and extend New Zealand’s innings but even that brave, last-ditch effort from New Zealand didn’t quite go the way they would have wanted it to.



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