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Rain spoils Punjab’s hopes as Tamil Nadu go through to Vijay Hazare Trophy semi-final

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No result Punjab 52 for 2 (Sanvir 21*, Sai Kishore 1-17) v Tamil Nadu 174 for 6 (Aparajith 56, Gurkeerat 2-25, Markande 2-26) in 39-over match

Tamil Nadu qualified for the semi-finals of the 2019-20 Vijay Hazare Trophy on the basis of more wins in the league stage after rain washed out their quarter-final against Punjab in Alur. The match was evenly poised at the time of the call off, but Tamil Nadu’s nine out of nine wins to Punjab’s five out of eight saw them through.

Due to a wet outfield, the game itself started 45 minutes late, as a 47-over contest, and was further reduced to 39-overs-a-side when a passing shower brought a pre-mature end to Tamil Nadu’s innings. At that stage, Tamil Nadu were 174 for 6, thanks to B Aparajith‘s 56.

Chasing a VJD-adjusted target of 195, Punjab reached 52 for 2 in 12.4 overs before it started raining again, this time bringing a complete end to play.

ALSO READ: Dinesh Karthik tells the story of Tamil Nadu’s nine wins in a row

Tamil Nadu had a nervy start after being put in. Abhinav Mukund tried to impose himself but ended up chopping Sandeep Sharma onto his stumps. M Vijay struck two fours, flicking Sidharth Kaul’s pace with ease over midwicket, but he missed the same shot against left-arm spinner Karan Kalia and was lbw for 22.

When Mayank Markande dismissed Vijay Shankar, Tamil Nadu were 82 for 3. Aparajith and Dinesh Karthik took the side past 100 before Karthik pulled a long hop from Markande straight to short midwicket.

Aparajith though kept chipping away and took his tournament tally past 500. Along the way, he smashed a free hit from Sanvir Singh over long-on, pulled Sandeep over deep-backward square leg and brought up his fifty in 68 balls. Washington Sundar held it together at the other end as the duo added 51 in 59 balls. Aparajith was looking set for a big score but he ended up hitting an innocuous Gurkeerat Mann delivery straight to deep midwicket. In his next over, Mann dismissed Shahrukh Khan in the same manner as well.

Punjab lost Abhishek Sharma in the fourth over of their chase. Anmolpreet Singh hit a couple of boundaries before Sai Kishore got him caught-behind, leaving Punjab 37 for 2 at the end of seven overs. Sanvir hit a couple of good-looking drives to keep the chase on track but the rain had other plans.



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Ishant Sharma reveals secret to his red-hot form

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A renewed approach to life has helped Ishant Sharma grow as a bowler, he said after taking a five-wicket haul in India’s first day-night Test. It was his first five-for in India since his first home match in 2007 against Pakistan.

Ishant has more or less become a permanent member of this Indian team over the last two years, and is central to the pace attack that has progressively improved as India firmly established themselves in the No. 1 spot in Tests. This permanence and the recent bursts of improvement have not been enough to make Ishant consistently challenge for a limited-overs spot. But 12 years and 96 Tests later, he is not wasting time feeling sorry for himself.

“In some sense [it hurts], yes. But I’m at a stage of my life where I’ve stopped worrying about these kind of things. I’m 31 now, I can’t keep worrying now about which format my name has been picked for.” Ishant said at the press conference in Kolkata. “Whether I play for India, whether I play Ranji Trophy – I just want to be playing at this point. It’s a simple thing. If you desire to keep playing, you’ll do well. Cricket’s given us everything. If we keep cribbing about small things like these, we will never improve.”

Just before Sri Lanka’s tour of India almost exactly two years ago, Ishant had taken 212 wickets at 36.93 in 77 Tests. Since the start of that series, he has taken 76 wickets in 19 games. His career average has gone up by a dramatic four runs per wicket and is presently at 32.94. That is precisely the average at which Zaheer Khan finished his career. If he plays in four more Tests, Ishant will be first frontline fast bowler since Kapil Dev to go past 100 Tests for India. These are all feats that were improbable some five years ago. What changed?

“I think I’m enjoying my cricket now,” Ishant said. “Earlier I used to put pressure on myself about performing – that I need to take wickets, that I’m only beating the batsman…a lot of things used to run on my mind. Now I don’t think too much about those things, just how to take wickets. Obviously I’m experienced so I can assess conditions and adjust my lengths quickly, that makes it easy.”

Ishant Sharma interview on The Cricket Monthly: ‘If I don’t take wickets even in one innings, I think my career for India is over’

Another feat Ishant achieved on Friday was that he bowled India’s first delivery in a day-night Test. Bowling with the pink ball, he said, was not the same.

“It was very different. In the start you must have seen that when we bowled a normal length, it wasn’t swinging that much. After that we realised what lengths we need to be hitting in order to get some more help. So the three of us [fast bowlers] communicated about hitting the right length,” Ishant said.

Regardless of that rustiness, India managed to be consistent enough to have Bangladesh six down by lunch. The fall of those wickets began with Ishant trapping Imrul Kayes lbw. And it came with a ball he only started developing during the second day in the previous Test.

“You must have seen that normally I used to swing it away from the left-hander,” Ishant said, talking of his new incoming delivery. “So I needed to add a variation. Your game only improves when you bring variety to it, and build confidence to bowl those in the match. So I was trying to bowl more of that in practice. In this match, the first wicket that I got – Imrul Kayes lbw – I got him with that ball. The two bowled wickets I got were also that ball. The ball lands and stays straight, it doesn’t go away from the batsman.”

On the flip side of this contest, Bangladesh have struggled to show any resistance, in any innings, against this Indian attack. While neither of the pitches have particularly difficult to bat on, Bangladesh’s top-order has crumbled in the face of relentless pressure. At the same time, their bowlers haven’t come as close to troubling India. But even as they face a grueling period, head coach Russell Domingo was optimistic, citing Ishant’s steep rise as a potential inspiration for his own bowlers.

“I don’t want to keep comparing the two sides but if you think of the number of Tests their pacers have played, and compare that with Ebadat’s fourth Test match, we have a very inexperienced bowling line-up.,” he said.

“Look at the way Ishant started, and the way his career is now. It takes a bit of time for these young fast bowlers to find the length and the discipline it takes to bowl to guys like Rohit, Virat or Pujara. It is a steep learning curve at the moment.”



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Baroda hold off Delhi by one run, while TN beat Mumbai

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Baroda and Karnataka surged to the top of the Super League groups A and B, winning their Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy matches on Friday. While Baroda held off Delhi by a solitary run, Karnataka beat Jharkhand by 13 runs in a game they looked like they would win at a canter at one stage. The victories gave them both eight points each from two matches.

Rajasthan and Jharkhand, who have both had a close defeat each in high-scoring games, now find themselves with two defeats in as many Super League games, making a spot in the semi-finals difficult.

Like on Thursday, there were IPL scouts from at least four franchises in attendance for the matches, making performances in the Super League particularly crucial given the IPL auction that is scheduled for December 19.

Baroda v Delhi

A combined effort by the Delhi bowlers kept Baroda to 151 for 6. However, Delhi’s chase stuttered and finished on 150 for 9. Babashafi Pathan, the right-arm medium-pacer, took 3 for 24 for Baroda, while Kunwar Bidhuri fought a lone battle for Delhi.

Bhiduri, handed a game due to Shikhar Dhawan’s injury, had a sparkling T20 debut, hitting 68 off 51 balls at the top of the order. However, he lacked support from the rest of the Delhi batsmen. He was ninth out at the start of the 20th over. Delhi needed 19 to win from the remaining five balls and though Suboth Bhati swung his bat during an unbeaten 20 off 8 balls, Delhi could make only 17 runs.

Baroda didn’t have any batsman making a standout innings, though Aditya Waghmode continued his good form, top-scoring with 36 off 31 while opening. Only Deepak Hooda (26 off 19) among the other batsmen crossed 20, though useful contributions right through meant Baroda got to a competitive – and eventually winning – total.

Tamil Nadu v Mumbai

Tamil Nadu put behind a comprehensive defeat to Karnataka to hand the other tournament favourites – Mumbai – a resounding loss, by seven wickets with 6.1 overs to spare. Left-arm spinner Shams Mulani had a remarkable day, but the rest of the Mumbai team crumbled.

Tamil Nadu’s bowlers ensured Mumbai could get only 121 for 9, despite Mulani hitting 73 off 52 after being promoted to No. 4. R Sai Kishore continued his good run with figures of 3 for 18 in four overs, while M Siddharth took 4 for 16. Prithvi Shaw made 30 off 19 at the top of the order, but no other Mumbai player got into double-figures.

Tamil Nadu sent in Shahrukh Khan to partner Hari Nishanth at the top of the order, and the duo gave the team a rapid start. Shahrukh fell in the fourth over, bowled by Mulani, with B Aparajith following him back two balls later. However, Nishanth, who didn’t have a good outing against Karnataka, came to the fore in style, smashing 73* off 44 balls.

Mulani took all three wickets to fall – Dinesh Karthik being the third – to complete a fabulous all-round day with figures of 3 for 26 in four overs, but Vijay Shankar ensured he stayed alongside Nishanth as victory was raised in just 13.5 overs.

Karnataka v Jharkhand

Put in to bat, Karnataka rocketed off the blocks, before losing their way in the second half of their innings. Their fantastic start nonetheless ensured a sizeable 189 for 6 on the board, and though Jharkhand fought gamely, the required rate was always a touch above what they looked like achieving, eventually finishing on 176 for 5.

Karnataka’s start was driven by Devdutt Padikkal – in many ways the batsman of the tournament so far – who raced to 63 off 30 balls in an opening stand that brought 114 in 9.3 overs. His opening partner KL Rahul was more sedate in comparison, while Manish Pandey came in and picked up where Padikkal had left off. However, both men fell shortly thereafter, though at 130 for 3 in 11 overs, Karnataka were still looking at a total well in excess of 200. However, with their three main batsmen gone, the rest of the line-up struggled and could only score at around a run a ball thereon. Left-arm spinner Sonu Singh did most of the damage, with 3 for 28 in four overs. He took out both Rahul and Pandey, and added the wicket of Karun Nair too.

Jharkhand’s reply was driven by Virat Singh‘s 76* off 44 from No.3, but the batsmen around him couldn’t keep up with the required rate. They needed 87 runs in the last six overs, which is when Virat and Sumit Kumar (23 off 16) cut loose, but though they scored at more than two runs per ball, the eventual target proved too steep.

Haryana v Rajasthan

Tight bowling by Haryana gave them a four-wicket victory over Rajasthan with 4.4 overs remaining, with Harshal Patel putting in an all-round show once again.

Harshal, who has been opening the batting in this tournament, first took 1 for 19 in his four overs as Rajasthan were restricted to 123 for 8. Ankit Lamba top-scored with 38, but took 41 balls, and only Chandrapal Singh (25* off 14) crossed 20 among other batsmen. Rahul Tewatia, recently traded from Delhi Capitals to Rajasthan Royals, was the most successful bowler, with 3 for 18 in four overs.

Interestingly, Haryana opened with two leggies in Yuzvendra Chahal and Amit Mishra, while Tewatia – another leggie – was the first change bowler.

Harshal led Haryana’s reply, smacking 41 off 25 at the top of the order to be the highest score of the match. Haryana didn’t have too many others contributing, but given the small target, they didn’t need to.



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Recent Match Report – Paarl Rocks vs Jozi Stars, Mzansi Super League, 13th Match

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Jozi Stars’ title defence hopes are hanging by a thread after losing a fifth successive match in the Mzansi Super League (MSL). Although mathematically it is still possible for them to make the playoffs, they will need more than just their own results to go their way. Despite shuffling their batting line-up, the Stars did not manage to score enough runs and their 129 for 3 was never going to be enough against a strong Paarl Rocks side. James Vince picked up from his undefeated 86 against the Spartans last Sunday, scoring 43 to ensure the Rocks successfully chased down their target inside 17 overs. They move to third on the table, four points behind leaders, the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants.

Will Chris Gayle play his 400th T20 in South Africa?

In his 399th T20 game, Chris Gayle was dropped down the order to No.3 after a poor start, with 46 runs in five innings so far. At first, the move seemed successful. Ryan Rickelton and Reeza Hendricks opened the Stars’ innings with a strong stand of 64 in 9.4 overs before Rickelton was dismissed for 40. That brought Gayle to the crease with enough of a foundation to get going immediately. But Gayle only managed a single before he was struck on the pad by Hardus Viljoen and given out. Replays showed the ball had pitched outside leg but with no DRS, Gayle would not have even been able to review. He is now in danger of leaving the tournament without making much of an impression or completing a personal milestone. Gayle is available for one more match in this tournament when the Stars play the Tshwane Spartans on Sunday. If he plays, it will be his 400th, but the Stars have already hinted they made need to make significant changes to their side.

Magic tricks

Tabraiz Shamsi has packed his phone away for this season and is now showing off his skills as a magician in the making. Shamsi keeps a handkerchief in his pocket which turns into a wand, and when he takes a wicket, he brings it out in celebration. The contraption made its first appearance in this edition of the MSL when he had Hendricks caught at long-off. None of Shamsi’s team-mates went too close to him when the catch was taken, perhaps knowing he needed some space, and allowed the Paarl crowd to see their very own Harry Potter at work.

KG on the comeback trail

Kagiso Rabada has not looked his usual sprightly self since the tour of India, until his first ball at Boland Park. It wasn’t the first ball of the innings, as it might ordinarily have been. Rabada was used as first-change after Gayle was given the new ball, and he quickly showed what he is capable of. He fired in a full delivery outside off, and Henry Davids, who was caught on the back foot trying to cut, inside-edged onto leg-stump, which went cartwheeling away. Rabada returned in the 15th over, with the cause all but lost and managed to have something of a last say when he caught Mangaliso Mosehle off his own bowling. A lengthy check for a no-ball showed that Rabada was just on the line and Mosehle had to go. Rabada could have had a third off the next ball but Gayle dropped an Isuru Udana skier at point.

Olivier’s over

The match was tensely poised with the Paarl Rocks on 64 for 4 halfway through their chase, still needing 66 runs off the final 10 overs when Duanne Olivier released the pressure with an over that cost 15. Vince was the beneficiary of Olivier’s misdirected line down leg and the vacant third man area, where he sent three, successive boundaries. The required run-rate dipped under six an over after that, and dipped to four when Simon Harmer’s second over cost 17. There was no stopping the Rocks from there.



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