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Recent Match Report – England vs Australia, ICC World Test Championship, 3rd Test

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Australia 179 (Labuschagne 74, Warner 61, Archer 6-45) v England

Anyone watching his debut at Lord’s was left in little doubt as to what Jofra Archer brings to this England side, but his six-wicket haul rammed the message home all the same as Australia were bowled out for 179 on the opening day of the third Test at Headingley.

It was a case of another day, another intriguing chapter in this Ashes contest as David Warner found some form and Marnus Labuschagne – only in the side because Steven Smith was still suffering the effects of being concussed by Archer – top-scored for Australia for the second time in as many innings. But Archer, playing just his second Test, had the last word, his 6 for 45 putting England on top.

Despite rain and bad light forcing a delayed start and long, frustrating stretches without any play at all, there were enough twists and turns amid the action to ensure it was in keeping with the rest of the series so far.

England, keen to make the most Joe Root’s decision to bowl in overcast conditions upon winning the toss and having already reduced the tourists to 25 for 2, were stymied first by the weather they had hoped would work in their favour and then by the stubborn pairing of Warner and Labuschagne.

But just as it looked like Warner might dig in after rediscovering some much-needed form with his first double-figures score of the series and then having a caught-behind decision rightfully overturned, he exited, the first in a flurry of three wickets that had England back in control as Australia slid from 136 for 2 to 139 for 5 in the space of 15 balls.

That became 162 for 6 thanks to Root’s deft use of the DRS when Tim Paine was given not out lbw on 11 to a Chris Woakes inswinger, with replays showing the ball hit the knee roll in line and would have taken the top of leg stump.

But as in the second Test, when he came in as Smith’s concussion replacement and scored 59, Labuschagne produced another composed innings.

After play started 70 minutes late, Archer struck in the fourth over of the match when he had Marcus Harris – in the side for Cameron Bancroft who was dropped after scores of 8, 7, 13 and 16 in the series so far – caught behind for 8. Harris’ disappointment was compounded as the players immediately followed him off the field as the rain returned.

After lunch was taken early, Stuart Broad had Usman Khawaja out just as cheaply early in the second session, caught down the leg side after a confident and ultimately successful review by Root. The England players looked rather dubious when play was halted as light rain began to fall again with Warner on 18 and Labuschagne yet to score and they were even slower to leave when bad light was called 3.1 overs into the resumption.

An elongated tea break was followed, however, by a break in the weather, which is forecast to be fine for the coming days. That did not, however, lift England’s mood as they became bogged down in a tenacious partnership between Warner and Labushcagne, which yielded 111 runs.

Warner reached his half-century off 79 balls with a four off Woakes and booing could be heard as the batsman – still finding his way back into the game following his year-long ball-tampering ban – acknowledged the crowd, which also offered warm applause as his wife and two of his three young daughters cheered him on from the stands.

Warner was on 61 and mighty swift to call for a review when he was given out caught behind off Broad, with UltraEdge revealing he had not hit the ball. He failed to add to his score, though, before Archer found the edge in the next over with a near-unplayable 90mph ball and Bairstow took the catch.

Far from the onslaught of speed and aggression he showed with such devastating effect at Lord’s, Archer bowled in more controlled spells with no damage whatsoever to his figures. He still produced speed when he needed to, as Warner discovered, and enough bounce to keep the batsmen on their toes. He bowled the most overs with 17.1, having sent down 44 overs of venom in the previous match, which ended just four days ago.

Broad, too, caused Australia some problems, answering Labuchagne’s fifty celebration with a ball to the groin that took the batsman several minutes to recover from and taking 2 for 32 from his 14 overs, including the dismissal of Travis Head for a duck with a gem of a delivery that crisply struck the top of off stump, the second wicket of Australia’s mini-collapse.

Matthew Wade followed, also for a duck, after an Archer delivery struck him on the glove and thigh pad before dropping behind him and rolling gently into the base of leg stump.

Labuschagne carried on as Paine, James Pattinson and Pat Cummins fell – the latter two more Archer fodder – before his bizarre dismissal, lbw to a dipping Ben Stokes full toss that he reviewed to find the ball would have smashed into the centre of middle stump.

Nathan Lyon was the last man out, and Archer’s sixth wicket, lbw to a full, straight ball that was hitting leg stump and which allowed England to claim the day.



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ECB hopeful India’s women may yet feature in the Hundred

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The ECB is in talks with the BCCI about agreeing the involvement of some of the India women’s team in the inaugural edition of the Hundred later this year. However, the chances of India’s men also being allowed to play in the tournament remain slim.

Players such as Harmanpreet Kaur, who will lead India at the forthcoming Women’s T20 World Cup, and Smriti Mandhana have previously featured in England’s T20 Kia Super League, which has now been disbanded to make way for the Hundred. Their presence in the 100-ball competition would be a boost for the ECB’s new format, as well as raising its visibility around the world.

ESPNcricinfo understands that the ECB is currently engaged in discussions with the BCCI about allowing such a move. But while that may be seen as a way of preparing the ground for India’s male stars to participate in future editions of the Hundred, BCCI officials have poured cold water on the idea.

ALSO READ: Expanded Hundred could help ‘working class connection’ – Harrison

A few India internationals, such as Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh, have expressed an interest in the Hundred, but the BCCI has long exercised tight control over granting permissions to play in limited-overs tournaments overseas. Virat Kohli, India’s captain, even questioned the need to “experiment” with a new format.

The ECB last year conceded that India’s men were unlikely to be involved from the outset. “I can’t commit to the involvement of India players,” Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, said. “It’s a political conversation as much as anything.”

In December, the BCCI’s top three administrators were in London to meet ECB counterparts. The BCCI team was led by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who was elected as the Indian board’s president last October. Ganguly was flanked by Jay Shah and Arun Dhumal, the BCCI secretary and treasurer respectively.

It is understood the BCCI was open to considering the ECB’s request of looking into Indian women participating in the women’s leg of the Hundred, but since then there has been no firm decision taken on that front. “We have had discussions on county cricket and women players might be allowed,” a senior BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo.

As for the question of India men’s cricketers participating in the Hundred, there has been no change in the BCCI’s stance. It will not allow India men to participate in any overseas T20 or other similar leagues.

The BCCI official reiterated that by allowing the men to participate in overseas leagues, it would hurt the IPL, the biggest cash cow for the BCCI. In 2017, global sports broadcaster Star India bought the consolidated global rights for IPL for a record US$2.55 billion for a five-year period, the biggest deal in cricket.

The official also pointed out that with the Future Tours Programme planned in advance, players could be at risk of missing bilateral events, which is another stream of revenue the BCCI heavily relies on.

The first draft for the men’s Hundred took place in October. Harbhajan was the only Indian player to put his name forward, but he subsequently withdrew after it was suggested he would have to retire from international competition – and potentially forego an IPL contract – if he wanted to be considered.



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Fantasy Picks: Bank on experience, pick Imran Tahir and Moeen Ali

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February 21: Lahore Qalandars vs Multan Sultans at Gadaffi Stadium, Lahore

Our XI: Chris Lynn, Sohail Akhtar, James Vince, Rohail Nazir, Mohammad Hafeez, Moeen Ali, Mohammad Ilyas, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Sohail Tanvir, Imran Tahir (c)

Captain:Imran Tahir

The legspinner is one of the most experienced T20 players. He was the leading wicket-taker (17) in the last T20 tournament he played – the Mzansi Super League 2019-20.

Vice-captain: Haris Rauf

The right-arm quick was the show-stopper at this year’s Big Bash League. He picked 20 wickets in just 10 games and struck every 11.3 balls. It all started at the PSL for him and he will look to put up a good show this year as well.

Hot Picks

Chris Lynn

Though the Lahore pitch has traditionally favoured the bowlers, Lynn can stand out even in those conditions with his big hits. In the T10 league last November, he was the highest run-getter with 371 runs, striking at 236.3.

James Vince

Vince scored 323 runs in the BBL at a strike rate of 123.28. As someone who can help his sides get off to brisk starts, he is expected to shine in Lahore.

Moeen Ali

Moeen’s all-round ability could be valuable for the Sultans. Although he’s coming into the tournament following a poor run, his experience would definitely come in handy.

Value Picks

Rohail Nazir

The Pakistan U-19 captain is Sultans’ wicketkeeper who bats in the top order. Nazir scored 111 runs in four innings in the U-19 World cup leading up to the tournament and will be a good value pick.

Mohammad Ilyas

The 20-year old right-arm quick was impressive last year in the limited opportunities he got. He picked up nine wickets at a strike-rate of 16 and an economy of a touch over 8.

Points to note

Points to note:

  • The average first innings score in T20s at Lahore since 2018 is 158 (five international and two PSL games)

  • In the last five T20 matches in Lahore, fast bowlers have picked up 36 wickets at an economy of 7.31 and spinners have taken 15 wickets at an economy of 7.22



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Fantasy Picks: Smriti Mandhana, Beth Mooney must-haves in your XI

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February 21: Australia v India, in Sydney Showground

Our XI: Smriti Mandhana, Alyssa Healy, Shafali Verma, Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner, Ellyse Perry, Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma, Megan Schutt, Jess Jonassen, Poonam Yadav

Captain: Beth Mooney

The left-handed batter strikes at 123 in the format. She has also been in outstanding form, in similar conditions as well, scoring three fifties in her last five T20I innings. It’s a good punt to make her your captain.

Vice-captain: Smriti Mandhana

Another left-handed opener who is in great form. In the recently-concluded tri-series, Mandana was the top run-getter, scoring 216 runs at 136.70 and if India are chasing, you may consider swapping Mooney with her as the captain.

Hot Picks

Harmanpreet Kaur

It is difficult to leave out India’s captain from a T20I fantasy XI. She is the only Indian woman to score a hundred in the format, and when she gets going, there are few batters who can strike the ball as well as her. Given her golden arm, her offspin might fetch you some points too.

Alyssa Healy

She may have had a lean tri-series but she is too experienced and talented a player to not turn things around come the big stage. Among those who have scored at least 1000 runs in the format, she has the highest strike rate (129.45). Don’t forget, she can get you some points through her wicketkeeping as well.

Ellyse Perry

Perry, the No.1 allrounder in the format, is someone you cannot leave out of any XI. She is the second highest wicket-taker in T20Is and also the only pacer to have taken four or more wickets on four occasions.

Value Picks

Shafali Verma

The 16-year old scored a 28-ball 49 against Australia less than a couple of weeks back. In her short career so far, she has scored 324 runs at an average of almost 25, striking at 141. For the price, she is surely a value pick.

Jess Jonassen

Jonassen is a left-arm spinner with great control and pace variations. She is capable of tying one end up while the Australian quicks look for wickets from the other end. Her best bowling performance (5 for 12) in T20Is came just over a week ago against India.

Points to note

  • Only three women’s games have happened at this venue in the last three years and the chasing team has won all three.

  • India’s top three scored 59.5% of the total runs scored by the team in the recently-concluded tri-series.

  • India average only 135 batting first in their last five games (when they have batted 20 overs). So if they are batting first you may want to consider replacing Verma with Meg Lanning.



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