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Back Mitchell Marsh to rediscover form in crunch game

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January 26: Sydney Thunder v Perth Scorchers at Sydney

Our XI: Alex Hales, Liam Livingstone, Josh Inglis, Callum Ferguson, Alex Ross, Mitchell Marsh, Chris Morris, Ashton Agar, Daniel Sams, Matthew Kelly, Fawad Ahmed

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

Captain: Liam Livingstone

With scores of 78 and 79 in his last two innings, Livingstone is probably the most in-form batsman coming into this game. He has often combined with Josh Inglis to provide good starts for Scorchers.

Vice-captain: Alex Hales

Hales’ season was up and down at the very start, but he has turned extremely consistent over the second half. He has three fifties in his last five innings, two of them in the last two. A good shout for captaincy as well.

Hot picks

Daniel Sams

Another good shout for captaincy. It is impossible not to have Sams in your squad. He has 24 wickets this season and in all likelihood will finish as the top wicket-taker at the end of the league stage. He bagged a four-for in his last match.

Josh Inglis

Livingstone’s partner up front and one of the most valuable players for Scorchers this season. He has enhanced his reputation as opener and is a good wicketkeeper to boot. Comes cheap too.

Mitchell Marsh

Marsh has gone cold over the last few batting innings, but with a top-four spot on the line, the Scorchers captain will be determined to make his innings important.

Value picks

Matthew Kelly

Took his time getting into rhythm at the start, but Kelly has become indispensable to the Scorchers bowling attack. In his last three matches, Kelly has not conceded more than 27 runs when he’s completed his four overs. He also has five wickets in that period.

Alex Ross

At this point, it is not wrong to say that Ross is the only functioning component in the Thunder middle order. Ross has been moved up and down the order between Nos. 4 and 7, and has invariably made runs as several batting experiments have failed around him. He has scores of 32*, 51, 22* and 36 in his last four innings.

Point to note

Chris Jordan is leaving Scorchers for national duty and will be replaced by Morne Morkel. If you want to beef up your bowling, that is a choice. His leaving also means Ashton Agar might get more batting duties.



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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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