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All six matches will be played at Kingsmead, with three games moved from Pietermaritzburg

South Africa women’s captain Dane van Niekerk and allrounder Chloe Tryon have been ruled out of the upcoming ODI and T20I series at home against Pakistan as they recover from back injuries. A third player, who cannot be named because of doctor-patient confidentiality, will also miss the series after testing positive for Covid-19.

The rest of the squad have all returned negative Covid-19 tests and have entered a bio-bubble in Durban. All six matches will be played at Kingsmead, after it was initially announced that one ODI and two T20Is would take place in Pietermaritzburg. The change is likely to ensure that the teams are back in Durban before South Africa’s Covid-19 curfew at 9pm, and to avoid the teams needing to visit another venue.

“Both Dane and Chloe sustained lower back injuries in September and both are [at] different stages of rehabilitation. They are progressing well but will not be available for this series,” Tshegofatso Gaetsewe, South Africa’s team doctor, said. “They are doing well – just not eligible for this tour. Everything about their rehabilitation is on track.”

Marizanne Kapp, who suffered a health scare during the WBBL when she was taken to hospital with an elevated heart rate, has returned to full fitness and is part of the team’s camp. “She is in good condition and her health issues have been taken care of. Anything subsequent that she needs she will get but for now everything is ok. She is in good health and we don’t anticipate any problems,” Gaetsewe said.

Coach Hilton Moreeng described the absence of van Niekerk and Tryon as a “very big setback”, especially because of the scarcity of fixtures on the calendar, with the Pakistan series the only confirmed matches for South Africa in 2021 so far.

“One reason is that you don’t know how the year is going to pan out because of the virus,” Moreeng said. “When there is an opportunity to play cricket you want to have all your best players available because you don’t know when you’re going to have another opportunity. From another perspective, the players who are going to get opportunities can show what they can do and that will make us stronger.”

The team management is yet to confirm a captaincy replacement with Suné Luus among the candidates to replace van Niekerk. Luus has led the side in ten ODIs and nine T20Is between 2017 and 2019, including in a series against Pakistan in which the ODI trophy was shared and South Africa won the T20Is 3-2.

“We know in the past Suné Luus did a really good job but it is something that will be discussed closer to the time,” Moreeng said. “For now, we are just making sure we get everyone prepped for the upcoming series.”

South Africa have not played as a team since the T20 World Cup in March last year but eight of the 14 nationally contracted players have been in action in the WBBL and the Women’s T20 Challenge, which gave them some match time. South Africa had a home series against Australia and an away tour to the West Indies postponed while they were unable to accept an invitation from England to tour in August-September because of lockdown restrictions in South Africa at the time.

Moreeng and the rest of the support staff used the time to mine the talent pool and broaden the scope of players that could turn out for South Africa in future. “When the pandemic broke it was frustrating because it was on the eve of Australia coming to play on our shores but then it was our offseason it gave us an opportunity to work with players and see our depth,” Moreeng said. “It gave us a good indication of what we have in reserve. We’ve now got a squad of players that we have been working with for the last four or five months. We’ve had a warm-up game, we’ve had camps but we can only prepare for so long. Now, we have an opportunity to see where the squad is.”

The long layoff means that Moreeng is being careful not to create too many expectations around the series and is instead seeing it as an opportunity to begin building towards the 2022 ODI World Cup in New Zealand, which South Africa have already qualified for. “The most important thing for us is the opportunity to play cricket. It’s been almost a year that we haven’t had competitive cricket. For us it’s just to get to the park first and then we can start thinking about the way forward.”

Pakistan have not played since meeting South Africa at the Women’s T20 World Cup last year in Australia and will need to play in a World Cup qualifier to attempt to secure a spot at the tournament. They also have a home series against England confirmed for October this year.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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IPL 2021 – New Zealand

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Mike Hesson has backed his IPL team’s million-dollar recruit after the quick proved expensive in the T20Is against Australia

Mike Hesson, the director of cricket operations at the Royal Challengers Bangalore, has backed the team’s INR 15 crore recruit Kyle Jamieson despite the fast-bowling allrounder having a forgettable T20I series against Australia.

In the first four T20Is of the series, Jamieson has conceded 175 runs in 16 overs – economy rate of 10.94 – for just one wicket. But Hesson, talking to Sky Sports NZ after the third match – said that Jamieson shouldn’t be judged on his recent outings.

“He’s struggled, probably for the first time in international cricket really, which I don’t think is a bad thing,” Hesson said in a conversation with Ian Smith. “He’s battled to find his lengths, which when you’re put under pressure, that can happen. And pressure not only from the opposition but also the weight of expectations. For Kyle, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.



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Recent Match Report – Australia vs New Zealand 4th T20I 2020/21

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On a tricky surface for strokeplay, Finch anchored the visitors before New Zealand’s batting folded

Australia 156 for 6 (Finch 79*, Sodhi 3-32) beat New Zealand106 (Jamieson 30, K Richardson 3-19) by 50 runs

A crucial innings from captain Aaron Finch on a tricky pitch, as he became Australia’s leading scorer in men’s T20Is, followed by a tight display in the field enabled them to take the series to a decider in Wellington on Sunday as the home side’s batting disappointed for the second game running.

On a surface being used for the fourth time in three days (with two more matches to come), scoring was much tougher than when Australia put more than 200 on the board in the previous game. New Zealand had control for the majority of the time in the field – Ish Sodhi and Trent Boult taking five wickets between them – but Finch took full toll in the final over of the innings as Kyle Jamieson was plundered for 26.

New Zealand were under pressure from the start of the chase and could not make a dent on the target in the powerplay. Australia’s three spinners – Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell – produced combined figures of 11-0-49-6.

New Zealand’s bowlers hold sway

The signs were there early that scoring would not be as easy as in the previous match, when Mitchell Santner, who missed the third game under Covid-19 protocols, was introduced in the third over. He removed Matthew Wade third ball, continuing the wicketkeeper’s unconvincing series, and immediately got turn from the surface. He would bowl his four overs for just 16 including 13 dot deliveries, highlighting what New Zealand had missed on Wednesday.

Boult and Sodhi did the damage to the middle order as Australia struggled to increase the tempo. Boult removed Maxwell just when he was threatening something destructive again and produced a terrific yorker to remove Agar, who had been promoted to provide a left-right combination. When Sodhi took his third wicket, removing Mitchell Marsh to a top-edged sweep, Australia were in trouble at 116 for 6 heading into the closing overs.

Finch’s reward for going deep

At the start of the 18th over, Finch was 41 at a run-a-ball. He had been starved of strike for significant parts of the innings and the nature of the surface made strokeplay difficult. However, by hanging in, it meant that Australia had a set batsman for the closing overs. He went to a half-century off 47 deliveries and then it was the final over where he really made it count against the struggling Jamieson who has now conceded 175 runs in the series. The day after Kieron Pollard had taken six sixes off an over, Finch managed four – the first two over extra cover and then a brace over the leg side. A player who had been under scrutiny just a few days ago had made back-to-back crucial contributions.

Powerplay squeeze

Finch was quick to follow the spin playbook, handing the first over of New Zealand’s innings to Agar – fresh off his six-wicket haul in the third game – and he went for just a single to set the tone. Agar would end up bowling three of the powerplay overs, conceding just seven runs, and in that third over he removed the key figure of Martin Guptill, who tried to clear the off side but was superbly caught by Maxwell who showed some neat footwork to stay inside the rope. When Riley Meredith went for just two in the sixth over, New Zealand were stalled on 25 for 1 with Tim Seifert having used up 21 balls for 15.

Pressure tells

Having soaked up so many deliveries, Seifert had to play the Finch-type innings but his difficult stay was ended when he chopped on against Kane Richardson as the asking rate climbed over 10 an over. Williamson rarely does ugly at the crease, but was caught at point off the back of the bat as he attempted to sweep Maxwell whose offspin proved highly valuable. It quickly became a forgettable performance from the home side with Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway ending up at the same end in a mix-up. In a way, though, New Zealand’s defeat is a good thing because with the relaxation of Covid-19 alert levels tomorrow a crowd is now able to attend Wellington on Sunday. They have a decider to enjoy.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Recent Match Report – Tasmania vs Victoria 15th Match 2020/21

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Tasmania hit back in the final session but Peter Handscomb’s good form continued

Victoria 3 for 70 (Handscomb 52*) trail Tasmania 188 (Doran 52, Boland 4-44) by 118 runs

Tasmania kept themselves in the contest on the opening at the MCG after a disappointing batting display saw them dismissed for 188. Scott Boland continued his excellent season with a four-wicket haul while Nic Maddinson made an impression in the field with two direct-hit run-outs in the space of two overs.

Jackson Bird struck twice in the final session, while Beau Webster had Marcus Harris caught behind trying to leave the ball, but captain Peter Handscomb continued his impressive form with an unbeaten half-century – just the second batsman to pass fifty in the day alongside Jake Doran.

Tasmania were forced into a late change when Tim Paine woke up feeling ill and was ruled out under Covid-19 protocols. It meant a hasty journey from Hobart for Alex Doolan as the only spare player the visitors had the squad was seamer Gabe Bell. By the time Doolan arrived at the MCG, Tasmania were two down but he was able to slot in at No. 6 where he made 12 before shouldering arms at Mitch Perry.

Alongside Boland, who started and ended Victoria’s wicket-taking, James Pattinson bowled with good pace and the delivery to remove Caleb Jewell, which climbed to take the edge was especially eye-catching.

After the tea interval, Maddinson pulled off two moments of brilliance in the field: firstly he hit direct from mid-on to find Doran short with an underarm flick and then hit from the in-field to remove Jarrod Freeman.



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