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Sri Lanka 135 (Chandimal 28, Bess 5-30, Broad 3-20) vs England

Stuart Broad could have been forgiven if, in the early moments of this Test, he reflected on the wisdom of the phrase ‘careful what you wish for’.

For by then, England had lost what was anticipated to be an important toss and been sentenced to bowl first on a surface expected to deteriorate. And, by then, any hope that England’s seamers might have had that recent unseasonable rain in the region would provide them with some assistance had been dispelled. The ball resolutely refused to budge, off the pitch or in the air, in those opening overs. The pitch looked flat, slow and, for a seamer at least, remorseless.

Might Broad, who had memorably railed against the decision to leave him out of the team at the start of the English international summer, have allowed his mind to drift to the dressing room and wonder whether James Anderson, left out of the side for this game, was the luckier of the veteran pairing?

Probably not. Broad is nothing if not competitive and probably wouldn’t entertain such negative thoughts. And despite going into this match with a gruesome record in Sri Lanka – his three wickets, across three previous tours, had come at a cost of 83 apiece – he used all his experience and all his skill to find a way to contribute.

Within his first eight overs, he had taken as many wickets as in those three previous tours. Recognising that his usual ploy to left-handers – going round the wicket, aiming at off stump, and persuading the odd ball to leave the bat – was not going to work on this surface, he instead started to improvise.

Angling the ball into the left-handers, he was rewarded as Lahiru Thirimanne, attempting to nudge the ball off his hip, succeeded only in guiding the ball to Jonny Bairstow at leg gully, before Kusal Mendis, coming off a gruesome run of form, was drawn into feeling for a cutter outside off stump which gripped and left him just fractionally only two deliveries later. It was Mendis’s fourth successive duck and means he has been dismissed five times from his most recent 13 balls in Test cricket without scoring a run.

While Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews rebuilt in a stand of 56 for the fourth wicket, Broad’s return after lunch split the pair. Varying his pace relentlessly, he persuaded Mathews to attempt to cut one that was probably both too full and too close to him for the stroke. The resultant edged flashed to slip where Joe Root did well to hold on.

Broad had, on a pitch offering him nothing, made deep inroads into the Sri Lankan batting. Their final total, 135, was the lowest first-innings total in Galle’s history as a Test venue.

But if Broad made the inroads, it was Dom Bess who was the beneficiary. Despite looking some way beneath his best, Bess claimed his second Test five-for – and Test-best figures at this stage of his career – in finishing with 5 for 30.

Sri Lanka, it has to be said, were culpable for several of these dismissals. That’s putting it mildly, really. Their batting was awful. Failing to take advantage of winning the toss, they looked short of confidence and preparation time after recently returning from a drubbing in South Africa.

Kusal Perera, having seen his side lose two wickets in the game’s opening seven overs, reacted to the introduction of spin by attempting to reverse-sweep Bess’s second delivery. Perera’s range of stroke and ability to put pressure on the bowlers is a strength of his game, but this looked an odd – and probably inappropriate – response to his side’s predicament. He succeeded only in scuffing the ball to first slip off his glove.

In truth, Bess will bowl better and finish wicketless. In particular, he struggled to maintain a probing length. But he was the beneficiary again when Niroshan Dickwella, eyes lighting up when he was served the longest of long-hops, somehow managed to slice the ball to point. It was a moment of cricket which might have been more familiar at the lower reaches of a club game though to be fair to both teams, they come into this series having had an unprecedented lack of preparation time.

Perhaps Sri Lanka will reflect that they didn’t enjoy much luck, either. Dasun Shanaka connected nicely with a slog-sweep only to see the ball thump into the ankle of Jonny Bairstow, jumping to evade it at short-leg, and balloon to the keeper, before Lasith Embuldeniya, backing up, was run-out after the bowler, Jack Leach, managed to get a fingertip on Wanindu Hasaranga’s straight drive and the ball deflected into the stumps at the bowler’s end.

Still, when Hasaranga – getting into a horrible position as he attempted a reverse-sweep – was bowled to complete Bess’s five-for, it did sum up a truly wretched display of batting from Sri Lanka. Broad, in particular, bowled with intelligence and Dilruwan Perera might feel he was beaten in the flight by a ball that dipped sharply. But this was just about as soft a batting performance as you will see in Test cricket.

It had been a difficult morning for Sri Lanka even before the toss. Their captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, had been ruled out of the game as the result of a hand injury sustained during the Test series in South Africa. While he had been confident of being fit for this match, it is understood he suffered a recurrence of pain after training the day before the game and was forced to withdraw. His involvement in the second Test must also be in doubt.

By then, England had announced that Dan Lawrence would make his debut. He was presented with his Test cap – number 697 – by his former Essex captain, James Foster, who is with the squad in his role as wicketkeeping consultant. Lawrence did put down a simple chance at cover, off Leach, to reprieve Chandimal on 22. But it didn’t cost England much. Their only concern at the innings break was news that Bairstow had been forced off the pitch with a sore ankle as a result of the Shanaka dismissal.

As expected, England opted for just two specialist spinners, in Bess and Leach, and three seamers. With Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali all absent for various reasons and Ben Foakes not selected despite being player of the series on England’s last tour of Sri Lanka, it means there are only four survivors in their team from the side that won in Sri Lanka in 2018. England have lost the first Test in five of their last six series.

The England side wore black armbands in memory of John Edrich, Robin Jackman and Dom Smith, all former England Test cricketers who sadly passed away recently.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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India vs England 4th Test Ahmedabad – Dom Bess will be ‘more than ready to go’ if selected for fourth Test




Jeetan Patel says offspinner is in ‘good spirits’ and ready to return after being dropped

Jack Leach and Jeetan Patel have backed Dom Bess to recover from the disappointment of being dropped and play a major role if selected for England’s fourth Test in India as they look to square the series 2-2.

Bess took 17 wickets at 22.75 across both of England’s Tests in Sri Lanka and the first Test in Chennai – all three of which England won – but was left out of the side for the second Chennai Test with Moeen Ali preferred, and was again omitted in the third Test at Ahmedabad as England opted for a seam-heavy line-up.

England are unlikely to consider either of the back-up spinners in their touring group for the final Test, with Matt Parkinson and Amar Virdi still categorised as ‘reserves’ after Mason Crane flew home before the start of the third Test. As a result, Bess will be in line for a recall if they decide to revert to a side with two frontline spin options, having relied on Joe Root’s part-time offbreaks last week.

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Mumbai, Saurashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala through to Vijay Hazare quarter-finals




The last remaining spot will go to the winner of the Delhi vs Uttarakhand game

Mumbai, Saurashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Kerala have filled up the last four automatic qualification spots for the quarter-final stage of the Vijay Hazare Trophy. They join Gujarat, Andhra, and Karnataka, who had sealed qualification on Sunday by topping their respective groups. The eighth quarter-finalist will be decided by a playoff between Delhi, who finished eighth on the combined Elite division points table, and Uttarakhand, who finished as toppers of the Plate group.

This season’s format has the top-placed teams of the five Elite division groups qualifying automatically, alongside the top two teams on points from a combined Elite division table. Mumbai won their last Group D game by 200 runs against Himachal Pradesh to finish top with five wins in five games, while Saurashtra stayed on top of Group E with 16 points despite their first loss of the season to Services.

For the other two automatic qualification spots, the teams in contention were UP and Kerala (both from Group C with 16 points), Baroda (Group A, 16 points) and Delhi (Group D, 16 points). Baroda lost out to Delhi on net run-rate, while UP’s and Kerala’s vastly superior NRRs ensured they qualified as the sixth- and seventh-placed teams.

The Plate division, which plays as one group, had two teams – Uttarakhand and Assam – finish with five wins in five games. But Uttarakhand’s NRR in excess of +3 was far too much for Assam to better on the final day of the league stage. As a result, it will be Uttarakhand who play Delhi for the last quarter-final spot.

Group D

Mumbai began the day all-but-qualified, on 16 points with an NRR boosted by their explosiveness against Puducherry last week. They fell to 49 for 4 against HP after electing to bat and it took three of their most senior players – Suryakumar Yadav (91 off 75), Aditya Tare (83 off 98) and Shardul Thakur (92 off 57) – to not only rescue them but put them far beyond the reach of HP, who folded for 121 in a chase of 322. Legspinner Prashant Solanki, in his debut season for the Mumbai senior team, took 4 for 32 to take his tally to 11 wickets in three matches. Left-arm spinner Shams Mulani took 3 for 42, including the wicket that ended the game.

Delhi‘s bowlers arrested Rajasthan‘s charge in the slog overs and bowled them out for 294, before an unbeaten 117 from Himmat Singh, and his unbroken 183-run stand with Nitish Rana (88 off 75) helped them win by eight wickets with more than five overs to spare. Rajasthan had been on course for bigger runs on the back of Manender Singh‘s 73 and Arjit Gupta‘s 51-ball 78 before Simarjeet Singh (4 for 36) and Pradeep Sangwan (3 for 62) intervened.

In the only other Group D match, Maharashtra‘s Yash Nahar made 119 to end his maiden List A season with 390 runs in five matches. That knock in a big partnership with Ankit Bawne, who made 110, and Rahul Tripathi‘s 30-ball 59, combined to help Maharasthra put up 333 for 4 and win by 137 runs. Kedar Jadhav bowled a 10-over spell that went for 34 and got him two wickets.

Group E

A career-best 158 for Rahul Singh Gahlaut helped Services pick up their second win of the season, and upset of table-toppers Saurashtra. After being put in and falling to 26 for 4, it took a 182-run stand between Gahlaut and wicketkeeper Devender Lochab (64 off 86) to lift Services past 200. They scored at more than ten an over in the last eight overs, a 21-ball 43 from former Delhi allrounder Pulkit Narang helping them get to 301 for 7. Saurashtra’s middle order collapsed in chase, courtesy of left-arm spinner Rahul Khajan Singh‘s 4 for 45, and medium-pacer Varun Choudhary‘s 3 for 62. They fell short by 68 runs with about seven overs to spare.

Meanwhile, Jammu & Kashmir made light work of chasing down Chandigarh‘s 241. Shubham Khajuria‘s 120 off 86 balls, and Henan Nazir‘s – playing only his second game – unbeaten 110 off 88 balls formed a partnership of 183 that came in fewer than 24 overs as they won with eight wickets and 16 overs to spare. Umar Nazir, Parvez Rasool, and Auqib Nabi had previously taken three wickets each.

Bengal‘s campaign ended with a loss to Haryana at the Eden Gardens. All five of Haryana’s bowlers were among the wickets, led by Sanjay Pahal‘s 3 for 32, as the hosts folded for 177. In response, Haryana had fifties from both openers – Chaitanya Bishnoi and Shubham Rohilla – anchoring different parts of their chase as they won by five wickets. They did, however, finish bottom of the table.

Plate division

Left-handed Kamal Singh made his first ton in senior cricket to help Uttarakhand post 306 against Sikkim. Sikkim’s response never took off, and they ended their campaign with the aim to bat out 50 overs – which they did, finishing on 161 for 6.

In the other Plate matches, Assam and Meghalya followed similar templates – putting up scores in excess of 300 and winning by 83 and 182 runs respectively against Manipur and Mizoram.

The only match to buck that trend involved Nagaland chasing down 287 with eight wickets and just about as many overs to spare. Captain Rongsen Jonathan and Shrikant Mundhe both made centuries, while allrounder Stuart Binny capped his 100th List A game with a 37-ball 55 to see them home against Arunachal Pradesh, who had been fueled by an unbeaten 138 from Rahul Dalal earlier.

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 1st Test – Sean Williams



Zimbabwe are hoping to begin the process of rebuilding their national side, with at least two confirmed Test series in the next two months, and several white-ball fixtures in the lead up to the 2023 World Cup. The windfall of matches, which starts with two Tests and three T20Is against Afghanistan in the UAE, comes after a lean year for Zimbabwe in which they only played six internationals, none of them Tests. This return to the rigours of the longest format is what captain Sean Williams says his team needs to improve across the board.

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