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Graham Clark hundred in vain as Scarborough plays host to four-wicket cliffhanger

Gloucestershire 336 for 6 (Bracey 90, Charlesworth 87, Taylor 49*) beat Durham 335 for 4 (Clark 140, Lees 85, Worrall 4-58) by four wickets

Jack Taylor performed heroics in the final over of Gloucestershire’s Royal London Cup clash against Durham at Scarborough, securing their first win in the competition of the 2021 campaign by four wickets.
The visitors required 336 to beat Durham in the contest at North Marine Road after Graham Clark scored a brilliant 140 for the hosts.
Two fine innings from Ben Charlesworth and James Bracey had manoevured Gloucestershire into a decent position. However, it looked to be in vain as late wickets appeared to have halted their charge. Taylor took on the mantle and turned the game in the final over, dispatching Chris Rushworth for three straight boundaries to deliver an unlikely victory to get them off the mark in Group A.

Durham were inserted by Chris Dent, but made solid progress in the sunshine on the coast. Clark and Lees continued their impressive start to the competition at the top of the order, passing fifty in the 11th over. Clark pushed the accelerator to record his third fifty in a row, scoring three successive boundaries off Jared Warner.

Gloucestershire could find no answer in their bid to make a breakthrough amid the controlled aggression of the hosts’. Lees compounded Durham’s position of strength, working his way to his 13th List A half-century from 58 deliveries with a gentle nudge. Clark worked the hosts’ past their next milestone of 150 with a blistering cover drive. The right-hander pressed on and notched his second century in a week, clipping Josh Shaw through mid-wicket to the fence for his 15th boundary.

Clark and Lees brought up their second stand worth 200 in the competition, leaving Durham with a great platform to attack in the closing overs. Clark’s outstanding innings ended on 140 as he mistimed an on-drive as Dan Worrall and Taylor combined before the duo struck again to remove Lees for 85, offering Gloucestershire hope of holding Durham in check in the closing overs.

However, Sean Dickson ensured that Durham posted a score over 320 with an unbeaten 46, and Ned Eckersley blasted two sixes off the final over to end the innings on 335.

Gloucestershire made a bright start to their reply as Charlesworth found his range against Chris Rushworth and Jack Campbell. Chris Dent was given a life after being dropped on 10 by Clark, but Rushworth made the breakthrough to remove the Gloucestershire skipper for 20. Tom Lace and Charlesworth allowed the visitors to maintain their momentum, putting on a stand of 66 for the second wicket before Liam Trevaskis prised out Lace for 38.

Charlesworth continued his impressive outing, recording his first List A half-century from 79 balls. Bracey worked his way into form by finding gaps in the field, and the left-hander soon reached fifty from 45 balls. The hosts’ bowlers were suffering from the same issues that plagued the Gloucestershire attack, failing to put the batsmen under pressure at the crease as runs flowed with ease during the middle overs.

Bracey and Charlesworth brought up their hundred partnership at a rapid rate to bring the visitors within 100 runs of their target. Charlesworth’s attempt to up the ante resulted in his dismissal for a career-best 87. The wicket sparked a collapse in the order as Graeme van Buuren and the key man Bracey fell in quick succession to Trevaskis and Borthwick respectively.

Gloucestershire were given a glimmer of hope courtesy of two George Scott sixes against Paul van Meekeren, but his third heave ended in the gloves of Cameron Bancroft. The visitors required 16 off the final over, and Taylor was up for the challenge. After opting against a run for the first ball he smashed Rushworth over the rope twice along with a boundary to power his team over the line.

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Match Preview – Sri Lanka vs South Africa, South Africa in Sri Lanka 2021, 1st T20I




After toppling the visitors with spin in ODIs, Shanaka’s men will look for more of the same in friendly conditions

Big picture

A T20 World Cup is around the corner. For Sri Lanka, it begins with the qualifiers, which kick off approximately six weeks from now. For South Africa, who go straight through to the main draw, the World Cup starts about a week later. Either way, this is the lead-in – the phase in which teams look to tighten up their combinations, get key players into form, and battle-test their match-ups and strategies. South Africa’s eight T20I wins to their seven losses this year suggests they are closer figuring out a good game plan than Sri Lanka, who have lost six and won only three (two of those wins were against a severely depleted second-string India side).

South Africa are not only fresh from a series win against Ireland (whom Sri Lanka will face in the qualifiers), but had even defeated West Indies in the Caribbean in June and July. In Aiden Markram and David Miller, they have batters that have scored heavily in the format in 2021; in Tabraiz Shamsi they have a wristspinner who has claimed 24 wickets at an economy rate of 5.32. No other bowler has more wickets than Shamsi in T20Is in 2021.

Sri Lanka will feel they have some momentum after their ODI victory, but their T20I ranking of ninth is deserved – this is the format in which they have struggled most over the past few years. They will hope that the confidence gained from two consecutive series victories in a row (the first being that T20I series win over a depleted India), and familiarity with the conditions – which again are expected to be spin-friendly – can help elevate them to South Africa’s level.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)

Sri Lanka WWLLL

South Africa WWWWL

In the spotlight

Do Sri Lanka have a new Ajantha Mendis on their hands? On Tuesday, Maheesh Theekshana unveiled his well-disguised carrom ball and his googly at the international level, claiming four wickets – a record for a Sri Lanka spinner on ODI debut. Those figures, however, came on a deck that offered substantial turn. Can he be as effective on less spin-friendly surfaces? And now that South Africa have had a chance to analyse footage, how much of his mystery will Theekshana retain?
In 14 bowling innings this year, only once has Tabraiz Shamsi gone wicketless. Of those innings, only in one – when Babar Azam hit full tilt in Centurion – did Shamsi go at more than eight an over. These are not just good statistics, they are performances that have elevated Shamsi to the top of the T20 rankings, one place above Wanindu Hasaranga from the opposition. Having already taken eight wickets in the ODIs, the T20s look set to see more Shamsi magic. There will be no bowler Sri Lanka will spend more prep time working out how to defuse.

Pitch and conditions

Expect another turning track. With showers frequently rolling through Colombo, rain interruptions are on the card too.

Team news

Kusal Perera is likely to return to the Sri Lanka XI, after regaining match fitness following his bout of Covid. Kamindu Mendis will probably stat at No. 3, given his excellent T20 domestic form recently. Sri Lanka may think about bringing in offspinning allrounder Ramesh Mendis to bolster the lower middle order, too.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Avishka Fernando, 2 Kusal Perera (wk), 3 Kamindu Mendis, 4 Dhananjaya de Silva, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt.), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Ramesh Mendis, 9 Chamika Karunaratne, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 11 Maheesh Theekshana

David Miller has recovered from a hamstring strain and is available. Lungi Ngidi, though, won’t be, as he has flown straight to the IPL. Keshav Maharaj will captain the side.

South Africa (possible): 1 Janneman Malan, 2 Reeza Hendricks, 3 Aiden Markram, 4 David Miller, 5 Rassie van der Dussen, 6 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 7 Wiaan Mulder, 8 George Linde, 9 Keshav Maharaj (capt.), 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi

Stats and trivia

  • South Africa have won seven, and lost five of their T20 internationals against Sri Lanka.
  • Sri Lanka’s two T20I wins over India came after a five-match losing streak. Their previous win, over West Indies, had come after an eight-match losing streak.
  • In 12 bowling innings since the start of 2020, Wanindu Hasaranga’s economy rate is 5.8. He has taken 21 wickets in that time.
  • Quotes

    “Performance is everything, so we want to come here and win the series, to go to the World Cup with a log of confidence. What we’ve gone through in the last couple of months have been huge stepping stones for our T20 team. Beating West Indies – a lot of people thought we were underdogs. We won 3-2. A lot of confidence has been taken from that.”
    David Miller on South Africa’s form

    Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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    T20 World Cup 2021 – Rashid Khan steps down as captain protesting against Afghanistan’s T20 World Cup squad selection




    “The selection committee and ACB has not obtained my consent for the team”

    Less than half an hour after Afghanistan announced their squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup, Rashid Khan stepped down as captain, saying “the selection committee and ACB has not obtained my consent for the team which has been announced by ACB media”. It is understood that the team will now be led by allrounder Mohammad Nabi.

    Rashid had been named captain in the squad put out by the ACB’s official Twitter handle, but said he was stepping down, effective immediately through his own tweet, posted 22 minutes after the ACB’s.

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    Eng vs Ind, 5th Test, 2021




    The fate of the fifth Test was in balance after India’s assistant physio Yogesh Parmar tested Covid-19 positive

    The Manchester Test is back on. Its fate was in balance after India’s assistant physio Yogesh Parmar tested Covid-19 positive on Wednesday evening. But the BCCI, after discussions with the Indian team management and the ECB as well, has now made it clear that the final Test of the Pataudi series will go ahead as scheduled. This was the most likely outcome as soon as the entire Indian squad were found to be negative for the virus, although they did have to deal with a day’s worth of uncertainty.

    Beyond the Manchester Test, the BCCI had also been concerned that Parmar testing positive could have a cascading effect on the second half the IPL, which starts in the UAE from September 19. On September 15, a bulk of the India and England players are scheduled to board charter flights to Dubai to join their respective IPL franchises.

    The BCCI does not want the IPL to be impacted as it is scheduled to host the men’s 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman two days after the IPL ends, on October 15.

    On Thursday morning the BCCI’s top brass conducted a virtual meeting with the Indian team management including captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri to figure a way forward. It is understood that the Indian players had been concerned about the threat of Covid-19 but they left the final decision with the BCCI.

    Through Thursday the BCCI engaged in discussions with the ECB on the way forward in case were more cases were to break out in the Indian camp. The BCCI also put out the option of cancelling the final Test, but the ECB is understood to have made it clear that it would interpret any refusal to play as forfeiture. The BCCI was keen to avoid such a scenario as not only would it see England square the series, but it could expose them to claims of lost revenue from broadcasters and the venue. The lost revenue could be up to £30 million (INR 306 crore).

    The World Test Championship playing conditions, though, state that a Covid-19 outbreak within a team is an acceptable reason for a Test to be abandoned. With the WTC table now based on the percentage of points available, a four-Test series instead of five would not have impacted any side’s final tally. In case the final Test had not been played, India would pocket 26 WTC points while England will have 14 out of the 48 that was available.

    Parmar was found to be Covid-positive on Wednesday evening after he reported having symptoms at the end of a training session. He is the fourth member of the Indian contingent to test positive in the last week. On September 4, after the third day of the Oval Test, India head coach Ravi Shastri returned a positive test and the BCCI medical team identified Bharat Arun, R Sridhar and head physiotherapist Nitin Patel as the immediate contacts for Shastri.

    The next morning Shastri along with Arun and Sridhar returned positive RT-PCR tests, thus sending them into ten-day quarantine. Patel, meanwhile, returned a negative test but remained in his room in London. He then travelled separately by road to Manchester where he is understood to be staying on a separate floor from the rest of the Indian squad at the team hotel.

    At the moment, little is known about Parmar’s immediate contacts. He has been treating several key Indian players for niggles, including Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma. These players have been mingling among the wider group.

    According to the UK government’s Covid-19 guidelines, any person who receives a positive PCR test for Covid-19 is obliged to self-isolate for ten days. However, those identified as close contacts don’t need to isolate themselves if they test negative and it has been more than 14 days since their second jab.

    The ECB has relaxed its protocols around biosecure bubbles with its chief executive officer Tom Harrison declaring that “cricket must learn to live with Covid” and accept some “risks” while maintaining basic social distancing and medical guidelines That has allowed the Indians to travel on trains across England between the Tests and step out of team hotels and go for walks as well as sit at outdoor cafes. On the eve of the Oval Test, Shastri organised an event for his book launch that was attended by members of the public along with the Indian squad.

    Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo. George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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