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Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting to lead teams in bushfire relief match

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Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting will captain teams in a bushfire relief match to be staged on February 8 before the Big Bash final as part of Cricket Australia’s fundraising efforts amid the devastating bushfires across the country.

Other former players confirmed for the match, called the Bushfire Cricket Bash, include Justin Langer, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Shane Watson, Alex Blackwell and Michael Clarke. Steve Waugh and Mel Jones will be involved in a non-playing capacity.

The game will take place on the same day as the Australia-India women’s T20 tri-series fixture in Melbourne and the BBL final. The bushfire relief match will be staged ahead of the final with the venue to be determined on January 31 when the hosts are confirmed in the Qualifier knockout match.

All match profits and funds raised on the day will go to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.

“I’m delighted to confirm the Bushfire Cricket Bash will be Cricket Australia’s major fundraising initiative to support Australians impacted by the recent unprecedented bushfire emergency,” Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts said.

“People the world over have seen the overwhelming images of hundreds of thousands of hectares burnt, precious lives lost, hundreds of properties destroyed and the devastating loss of wildlife as a result of the fires. These images have reinforced the need to get behind organisations like the Australian Red Cross which is responding to the immediate requirements of people who have lost loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods.”

The confirmation of the charity match is the latest part of cricket’s role in the fundraising efforts which have included the Australia Test attack donating A$1000 for every wicket they took in the SCG Test, signed shirts from both the Test side and BBL teams and BBL players donating money for sixes hit and wickets taken.

Warne has also played a significant role by donating his baggy green which was auctioned for more than one million dollars last week with Commonwealth Bank being revealed as the winning bidder. They will take the cap on a fundraising tour around the country before donating it to the Bradman Museum in Bowral.

“I’m very proud of the response not only from the Australian Cricket family but from the broader sporting industry and the community at large,” Roberts said. “It’s just so humbling to see the collaboration and determination to do whatever is needed to help our fellow Australians in their time of need.”



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Fantasy Picks: Pack your team with West Indians

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February 22: T20 World Cup – Thailand v West Indies, Perth

Our XI: Shemaine Campbelle, Stafanie Taylor, Hayley Mathews, Deandra Dottin, Naruemol Chaiwai, Nattakan Chantam, Anisa Mohammed, Suleeporn Laomi, Shakera Selman, Shamilia Connell, Chanida Sutthiruang

Captain: Deandra Dottin

West Indies’ most important player, Dottin had a wonderful T20 World Cup the last time and there is no reason why she wouldn’t sizzle again, even though she’s returning after a year out of action. Dottin has a batting strike rate of 125-plus and a couple of centuries in the format. With ball in hand, she has picked up 14 wickets in her last ten games.

Vice-captain: Stafanie Taylor

Captain Taylor is someone you can always bank on. A wily customer with the ball in hand and a hard-hitter who bats at No. 3, if she fails with the bat, she will fire with the ball more often than not. Her experience at the WBBL will come in handy as well.

Hot Picks

Hayley Mathews: A hard-hitting batter up the order, Matthews can demolish attacks on her day. She is the only player other than Dottin to score a century in the format, and her usefulness with the ball shouldn’t be forgotten either.

Shakera Selman: The leader of the bowling pack for West Indies, Selman is capable of swinging the ball away from the right-handers and into the left-handers, at pace. Her pace, swing and accuracy could prove to be too much to handle for Thailand and that makes her a must-have.

Chanida Sutthiruang: The Thailand new-ball bowler was the highest wicket-taker in the World T20 Qualifiers in Scotland last year, picking up 12 wickets in five games including a four-wicket haul. Sutthiruang’s strike rate of 3.47 in T20s is quite unbelievable – you do not want to leave her out!

Value Picks

Shamilia Connell: Connell is a right-arm seamer who bowls with a lot of steam upfront and she could rattle the inexperienced Thailand top order.

Suleeporn Laomi: Another legspinner who has been successful in T20s, Laomi picked up six wickets in the Qualifiers last year at an economy of 3.16 in 18 overs.

Points to note

In the last five T20s at this venue, the top-three batters have scored nearly 71% of the runs. If the West Indies top three manage to come close to that, they will fetch you a lot of points.



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‘We don’t want to play defensive cricket anymore’ – Sri Lanka’s Mickey Arthur

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On Wednesday, ahead of his first ODI series as Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur spoke about players being handed down well-defined roles within the team. On Friday, on the eve of the first one-dayer against West Indies, he went into a little more detail about what those roles were.

Unsurprisingly, the two wristspinners in the squad – legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga and left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan – will be expected to make breakthroughs through the middle overs. Sri Lanka were one of the few teams without a reliable wristspinner during last year’s ODI World Cup. With a T20 World Cup later this year, the team is looking to fill that void.

“The key to the wristspiners, and to playing both of them together, is genuine wicket-taking options for us through the middle,” Arthur said. “That is the key, and that’s what wins you white-ball cricket games now. We want to play that brand of cricket. We are looking to attack and looking to take wickets. I think that’s the future for this team. I think in terms of our preparation, that’s been the message. The message has been around attacking. We don’t want to play defensive cricket anymore. That will be reflected in our selection. If the two wristspinners can do the job for us tomorrow, that will be fantastic, because they will take wickets.

“Wanindu is a fantastic cricketer. The way he bowls – the control of his length has been amazing. I’ve really marveled at watching him go about his business. That, coupled with his batting ability, and his fielding, he’s making a real name for himself. Sandakan, obviously, has been around the system a lot longer.”

On the batting front, Sri Lanka have a clear idea who their top six is. Each of those players has a specific job.

“The thing about our batting is that there is a license at the top of the order,” Arthur said. “You’ve got Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando at the top of the order – dynamic. Kusal Perera will bat three. Avishka will open with Dimuth Karunaratne. They will have a licence to get us away in that Powerplay period. And 4, 5, 6 is Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva. Those are the guys who we want to control those overs 11-40. And then hopefully, we’ll have the likes of one of them, a Thisara Perera and a Wanindu, to finish it. If we script the perfect game, that’s how it would work out. We know it doesn’t always happen.”

Where fitness and fielding have been major areas of concern for Sri Lanka over the past two years, Arthur also suggested there has been substantial improvement on both fronts.

“I was watching us go through our fielding yesterday. Our fielding has improved massively. That’s testimony to the players and their attitudes. They’ve bought into where we want to go. And the coaching from Shane McDermott around that has been fantastic. We’ve been big on the split step. We’ve been big on trigger movements on the field, just to trigger the guys into action. To see the whole field moving is a massive improvement on where we were when we went to India with that T20 side [in January].

“If you are fitter you can field better and move better. Your ability and speed to get to the ball is much better.”



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How Poonam Yadav bamboozled Australia

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Australia were cruising at 2 for 67 chasing 133 with Alyssa Healy rolling on 51 from just 34 balls. Poonam Yadav didn’t bowl in the first nine overs and Healy hit her fourth ball for six over long-on. But the legspinner changed the game with a dazzling spell. She bamboozled Australia’s much-vaunted middle order to take 4 for 19 and guide India to victory. She nearly took a hat-trick with Taniya Bhatia dropping a tough caught-behind chance from Jess Jonassen. Here’s how Alex Malcolm and Deivarayan Muthu described the action on ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball commentary.

9.5 Poonam Yadav to Healy, OUT, caught and bowled! Just a 63kph leg break does the trick. This was a better length, Healy came down to it but wasn’t to the pitch, tried to work to long-on, closed the face, got a leading edge and it floated back to Yadav!
AJ Healy c & b Poonam Yadav 51 (35b 6×4 1×6) SR: 145.71

11.3 Poonam Yadav to Haynes, OUT, Poonam strikes another blow! Lobs up a wrong’un, it lures the batter out and goes past the outside edge. Delightful flight and India are back in this. Bhatia continues her fine shift behind the stumps
RL Haynes st †Bhatia b Poonam Yadav 6 (8b 0x4 0x6) SR: 75.00

11.4 Poonam Yadav to Perry, OUT, Poonam is on a roll, she sends back Perry for a golden duck. She lobs up another wrong’un, Perry dares to step out. She is done in by the variation. Poonam sneaks through the gate and hits leg stump. What a double-strike from Poonam
EA Perry b Poonam Yadav 0 (1b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00

11.5 Poonam Yadav to Jonassen, no run, Nearly a hat-trick for Poonam. Bhatia, the keeper, drops it in the end. Fairly difficult chance for the keeper. Poonam lobs up another googly, draws an outside edge as the batter pushes away from the body, the keeper follows the ball, but it pops out of the gloves

13.5 Poonam Yadav to Jonassen, OUT, 58kph, tossed up on middle and breaks away sharply, yet another wrong’un. She finds the edge again. Top work from Bhatia this time, after denying Poonam the hat-trick in her previous over. She snaffles it and sends Jonassen back. She dared to sweep against the break and paid the price
JL Jonassen c †Bhatia b Poonam Yadav 2 (6b 0x4 0x6) SR: 33.33



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