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South Africa docked six WTC points, fined 60% match fees for slow over rate

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South Africa have become the first team to be docked World Test Championship (WTC) points for a slow over rate after were fined 60% of their match fee after falling short of their target in the fourth Test of their series against England at the Wanderers.

After leaving frontline spinner Keshav Maharaj out of their side, South Africa did not bowl a single over of spin in the Test, leaving them three overs short after time allowances were taken into consideration.

ALSO READ: What’s new? WTC playing conditions

In line with Article 2.22 of the ICC’s code of conduct, players are fined 20% of their match fees for every over their side fails to bowl in the time allocated to them, and in accordance with Article 16.11.2 of the WTC’s playing conditions, a side is penalised two points for every over they are short.

Faf du Plessis, South Africa’s captain, pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the proposed sanction, meaning there was no need for a formal hearing following the levelling of the charge by the match officials.

South Africa sit seventh out of nine teams in the inaugural WTC, with 24 points after seven matches.



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Cricket

Sibley, Jennings and Lawrence record tons in England Lions four-day match

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Test candidates enjoy time in the middle on day one against Cricket Australia XI



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‘India top order should bat 20 overs’ – Smriti Mandhana

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From the outside, it looks like India’s women’s team has a problem with its middle order. The team is gearing up for the T20 World Cup – the preparation included playing the favourites Australia and England recently, and a theme that emerged from that tri-series is that they are prone to collapses.

Playing on one of the grounds which will host those World Cup matches in a few days’ time, India were on course for victory in the final, until they lost seven wickets for 29 runs. The collapse began with Smriti Mandhana‘s wicket in the 15th over and led to a stinging critique from former India captain Diana Edulji, who called the players “lazy”.

On Saturday, Mandhana admitted the collapses – there was one against England as well, when India went from 78 for 3 to 99 for 9 – were a cause for concern but that there was a way around it.

“The middle order could definitely improve,” she said. “There are some things we still have to figure out with our batting and we are trying hard to do that.

“The best way to support the middle order is for the top order to bat 20 overs. I think we need to try and bat long as a top four. We must try not to get out in the 16th or 17th over and the problem will be sorted if we can stay until the 20th over.”

India do contain players capable of pulling this off. Mandhana herself is a prime candidate alongside the captain Harmanpreet Kaur and the two teenagers Jemimah Rodrigues and Shafali Verma. This too was readily apparent in the tri-series when India chased down a target of 174 against Australia.

ALSO READ: ‘Even if the top order is firing, the winning runs will be the 20-odd from the lower order’ – India women’s coach WV Raman

Australia had put up what seemed like a winning total riding on Ash Gardner’s 93 off 57 balls but India were able to cruise the chase, losing only three of their wickets. Mandhana held the innings together with a steady half-century while Verma (49 off 28) and Rodrigues (30 off 19) had the liberty to clatter the ball to all parts. That game exemplified why Australia coach Matthew Mott rated India as having the most feared batting line-up in the world.

“We can be very unpredictable on our day, but I’d like to agree (with Mott),” Mandhana said in response. “We have some great batters and our order is very balanced. The top four or five are quite settled. We’ve had the same top five for the last year and that’s been a good thing for us.”



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‘Still want to prove myself in Tests’ – Moeen Ali

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Moeen Ali has restated his desire to return to Test cricket in the future, saying he has “huge ambitions” to prove himself in the format. Moeen did not make himself available for next month’s tour of Sri Lanka but said he was keen to be involved in next winter’s five-Test World Test Championship trip to India.

Moeen’s last Test appearance was in August, for the opening encounter of the 2019 Ashes. He subsequently took time away from the game to deal with burnout, making his England return in the third ODI against South Africa last week.

He was named Player of the Match in Durban on Friday as England levelled the T20I series, and spoke afterwards about his plans for a Test return.

“I do want to be part of that [tour to India] for sure,” Moeen told the BBC. “I still have huge ambitions for Test cricket.

“It is still the best form of the game and the hardest. I want prove to myself and to other people that I am not a bad Test player.”

England play two Tests in Sri Lanka in March, before taking on West Indies and Pakistan during their home summer.

Moeen, who lost his central contract in October but could have been obliged by the ECB to make himself available for Sri Lanka as part of his white-ball deal, will next head to the Pakistan Super League, where he has been signed by Multan Sultans.

“I am going to give myself a bit more time,” he said of his break from Test cricket. “I want to make sure when I come back I am ready and fresh.

“I want to keep enjoying my cricket and get that hunger back because I feel I lost that completely. I had no interest in my batting and bowling and when you are in that situation there is no point playing.

“I definitely feel like I am getting there and not far [away]. I want to give myself extra time and know when I come back I will have to fight for my place.”

Moeen played once during the ODI series against South Africa, taking 1 for 41 and then hitting the winning runs in Johannesburg. He showed signs of getting back to his free-scoring best in the second T20I, cracking a whirlwind 39 off 11 balls to fire England to a score they narrowly managed to defend in a dramatic final-over finish.

“It was amazing to contribute and finally feel like I am back for England,” he said. “I will not take it for granted.”



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