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Recent Match Report – New Zealand XI vs Indians Tour Match 2020



68 overs Indians 217 for 4 (Pujara 87*, Vihari 85*, Kuggeleijn 3-40) v New Zealand XI

Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill. On a green Seddon Park pitch that offered the new ball steep, tennis-ball bounce, Scott Kuggeleijn took just 3.2 overs to rip out the three contenders to open for India in the first Test in Wellington next week.

From 5 for 3, which became 38 for 4, the Indians recovered courtesy an unbroken stand of 179 between Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari, and were 217 for 4 at the drinks break midway through the final session. Both saw off the early discomfort before bedding in against the older ball, on a pitch that flattened out once it lost its early moisture.

It was far trickier to bat on at the start, however, and it may be harsh to read too much into the scores of 0, 1 and 0 against the names of the three opening candidates.

Four balls after the two teams agreed to let the Indians bat first, Shaw was out for a duck, caught at short leg, fending one that rose unexpectedly towards his throat from short of a length. In Kuggeleijn’s fourth over – the seventh of the Indians’ innings – Agarwal fell for one that left him outside off stump, and edged behind to Dane Cleaver.

On the eve of this match, Gill had spoken about the need for India to ensure New Zealand don’t take too many wickets with the short ball in the Tests. A short ball sent him on his way here, though it was a hard one to negotiate, climbing awkwardly in the fourth-stump channel. Gill, who had made 83, 204* and 136 in his last three innings, was out first ball, opening up and fending to gully.

The ball continued to nip around for the next half hour or so, and seam movement consumed Ajinkya Rahane, caught at slip off James Neesham, after he had looked reasonably solid in a 33-run fourth-wicket stand with Pujara.

More to follow…

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Sheffield Shield round-up: Centuries for Daniel Hughes and Cameron Green



New South Wales 7 for 294 (Hughes 103, Gilkes 83, Mennie 4-82) v South Australia

Daniel Hughes struck his first Sheffield Shield hundred of the season and Matthew Gilkes made an eye-catching maiden first-class fifty, but New South Wales suffered a late wobble against South Australia. From 4 for 272, they lost 3 for 21 as Chadd Sayers made inroads with the second new ball including the scalp of Gilkes who was caught in the gully 17 short of a century having hit nine fours and three sixes.

Hughes dominated the first part of the day with a controlled hundred to give New South Wales a solid base as they looked to bounce back from their defeat against Victoria. Joe Mennie chipped away for South Australia, including a brace of terrific deliveries to bowl Daniel Solway and Jason Sangha, then added Hughes shortly after he brought up three figures when the opener skewed a back-foot drive to gully.

Western Australia 6 for 291 (Green 105*, Philippe 63, Whiteman 53) v Tasmania

Cameron Green made his third hundred of the season as Western Australia overcame a tricky start to enjoy a solid day against Tasmania in Hobart. Green, the promising allrounder who is currently unable to bowl due to a back injury, and Josh Philippe added 121 for the fifth wicket to turn an uncertain position into one from where they will expect to take control of the match against a brittle Tasmania batting line-up.

Tasmania had made early inroads after opting to bowl first with Sam Rainbird finding the edge of Cameron Bancroft and Shaun Marsh in the space of three deliveries as the new ball nibbled. Gabe Bell then had Jake Carder flashing another edge to Tim Paine to leave Western Australia 3 for 43. Sam Whiteman started to steady things alongside Green before he became a maiden first-class wicket for Jake Doran with just the fifth delivery he had bowled in the format.

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‘We allowed them to bowl well for longer periods’ – Virat Kohli



New Zealand’s fast bowlers are unmatched when it comes to using the short ball as a defensive option, particularly in home conditions. For the best part of India’s second innings at the Basin Reserve, the hosts’ expert use of shorter lengths on a two-paced pitch with spongy bounce turned the contest into one where both teams were playing the waiting game.

It suited New Zealand perfectly, given they had a 183-run first-innings lead. Could India have batted more proactively, and tried to put the bowlers off their plans? Their captain Virat Kohli certainly thinks they could have.

“You have to try and get into a positive frame of mind,” he said, after New Zealand had completed a ten-wicket win inside the first session of day four. “I think in Test cricket in general, you have to be in a clear state of mind. At home also, you can’t really play a lot of shots. You can’t just say that I will smash it from ball one. You have to choose which balls to hit even on turning tracks but you also have to maintain that intent when you are putting the boundary balls away.

“Also, we have to understand and accept that New Zealand bowled really, really well in this Test match in both innings, although in first innings there was a bit more assistance, but in the second innings, that’s been their strength. They set fields accordingly, get into the mind of the batsmen, and make the batsmen do something that they don’t want to.

“I think that’s a very thin line and a very delicate balance of when to attack and when to put bowlers under pressure, which we failed to do in this match, and there is no harm in accepting that. We have done that on many occasions but this was a Test match where we were not able to do it. That has got to do with partly good bowling from New Zealand and partly us not pressing that momentum on to them when required.

“It was perfect for them because they bowled well and we allowed them to bowl well for longer periods rather than doing something about it in a partnership. When Jinx (Ajinkya Rahane) started, the plan was to go positive. If we both add 70 to 80 positively, then the game changes. You have to take chances. Sometimes they don’t come off, but if you try and do that for longer periods they do tend to come off and the situation changes, which we have addressed already and something that we will keep in our mind going forward.”

According to ESPNcricinfo’s data, India’s batsmen scored 126 runs off 301 short and short-of-good-length balls across their two innings in Wellington, at a rate of 2.51 per over. New Zealand went after short and short-of-good-length balls more often, and ended up with 130 runs off 150 such balls, at 5.20 per over. They lost a wicket once every 32.5 balls with this approach, while India lost one every 75.25 balls, but the averages – 32.50 for New Zealand, 31.50 for India – ended up more or less identical.

And because they found runs so hard to come by against the shorter ball, India ended up losing wickets off errors they may not otherwise have made against fuller-length balls.

Much of India’s short bowling was to New Zealand’s lower order, who could afford to go after the bowling with their team already in the lead. When India batted, they were in situations where survival was of utmost importance. And India’s struggle to score against the shorter ball also had a lot to do with the skill of New Zealand’s bowlers in their own conditions, and an unusual pitch.

“We have faced attacks in the past as well, with a lot of variety. We played in South Africa with Morne [Morkel], [Dale] Steyn and [Vernon] Philander all in the side. So we’ve faced those kind of attacks,” Kohli said, when asked about the difficulty of a New Zealand attack containing a left-arm quick (Trent Boult), a right-arm swing bowler (Tim Southee), a 6’8″ fast bowler with steep bounce (Kyle Jamieson) and a medium-paced metronome (Colin de Grandhomme).

“But it was a strange pitch. I was talking to Kane [Williamson] as well. It wasn’t seaming around, wasn’t troubling us with swing. But it was slow, on the drier side. So you were not able to get the shots away. And I think to be honest, lack of pace is something that cost us more than something like being intimidated or being bowled out by an attack.

“It played perfectly into their plans because they feed off bowling on one spot for long periods and having fielders close in, and unless you take them on, that field is not going to change. I think the way they bowled was very accurate and the pace of the pitch also allowed them to keep bowling there because it wasn’t easy to get those shots away.

“To be honest, they did not give us any room, on the front foot or the back foot, so we have to accept that they outplayed us this game and they bowled much better than we did, and put enough pressure on us, understanding the wicket well, which you expect them to do, playing in their conditions. But I think going forward we understand what they would like to do and it’s our job as batsmen to try and disrupt it so that as soon as possible we put enough runs on the board.”

Between now and the second Test in Christchurch, which begins on Saturday, Kohli said India would try and work on ways to put New Zealand’s bowlers under pressure with a more proactive approach.

“I don’t think there is anything technical [the batsmen need to do],” he said. “It’s all about clarity of mind and taking responsibility individually when you walk out to bat. I feel as a batsman you should not wait for a message from outside to execute something in the middle. I think it’s about understanding what you want to do as a batsman, and if that doesn’t come off then you say fine, I did not do it in this innings.

“But if six-seven people can think like that, for sure two-three people will come good. So if we go with a bit of hesitation whether to play our shots or not, rather than just going for shots, then you know, analysing the execution later on, that’s a better balance that we have stuck to in the past, especially playing in away conditions.

“We are very clear with what we want to do as batsmen, that we get off to a start and we keep that momentum, we start leaving well, we start defending well, we start dropping and running well so these are things that are an outcome of a clear head. We will definitely be much more positive.

“There’s no doubt about it, especially in the first innings. We will try and put their bowlers under pressure and try and make them do something different rather than them making us do something different. I think as international cricketers, we are good enough, and that’s why we are here, and we should be able to find that balance and we definitely take this as a challenge to put in a better batting performance next time.”

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Oman’s Yousef Abdulrahim Al Balushi banned for seven years



The ICC has banned Oman player Yousuf Al Balushi from all cricket for seven years after he accepted four charges of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code. The charges relate to attempting to influence team members to engage in corruption during the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifier, played in the UAE.

Balushi had been suspended last month for the same offence, and has now been formally slapped with the sanction after he “chose to admit the charges and agreed the sanction with the ICC in lieu of an Anti-Corruption Tribunal hearing,” an ICC release said.

While Alex Marshall, the ICC’s general manager for Integrity, called Balushi’s offence “very serious”, he also revealed that the ban could have been “significantly longer” had Balushi not cooperated with the investigation and admitted his guilt.

“This is a very serious offence where a player attempted but failed to get a team mate to engage in corrupt activity in high profile games and this is reflected in the severity of the sentence,” Marshall said in the ICC statement. “Without Mr Balushi’s admission of guilt and full cooperation throughout our investigation, the ban could have been significantly longer. The player has also indicated that he is willing to contribute to future integrity education programmes on our behalf to help younger players learn from his mistakes.”

The ACU had charged Al Balushi for breaching its code on the following four counts:

Article 2.1.1: Being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive in any way the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of matches in the ICC World T20 Qualifiers 2019.

Article 2.1.4: Attempting to solicit, induce, entice, persuade, encourage or intentionally facilitate a Participant to breach Article 2.1.

Article 2.4.4: Failing to report the approaches or invitations that you received from three different individuals to be a party to an agreement or effort to fix matches in the ICC World T20 Qualifiers 2019.

Article 2.4.7: Obstructing or delaying an investigation carried out by the ACU in relation to possible Corrupt Conduct under the Code, including by concealing or tampering with information that may be relevant to that investigation and/or that may be evidence of or lead to the discovery of evidence of Corrupt Conduct under the Code.

The ICC’s investigation found that Balushi had been approached in August 2019 by someone he knew from playing in an unsanctioned Arabian Carnival League match in Bahrain. The individual, referred to as Mr X by the ICC, asked Balushi if they could “do some work together”, asking for Balushi’s help to fix matches in the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifiers.

Subsequently, Mr X introduced Balushi to two other men (Mr Y and Mr Z) who told him he needed to get a particular Oman player on board. The fix would involve this player getting out for less than a pre-agreed amount of runs. To show that the fix was on, the player would have to use an orange or black coloured grip on his bat, and he would then have to act on a signal from Mr Y and Mr Z, who would be in the stands.

Balushi messaged the player and put the offer to him, but the approach was immediately rejected and reported to the ICC’s anti-corruption unit. Balushi learned of the approach being reported, and on being told that the ACU would interview him and also look at his phone messages, he deleted the messages. Balushi did not report the approaches made to him and accepted he had deleted incriminating messages on his phone, which then led to the punishment.

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