News Cricket

England all-rounder Moeen Ali set for 100th ODI v Sri Lanka 

AP Updated: 21 June, 2019, 10:40 AM IST


It says a lot about England's approach to one-day cricket since the last World Cup that Moeen Ali ranks the highlight of his career in the format as just being a part of the squad.

Moeen made his ODI debut against West Indies in 2014 and was a member of the England squad that had a humiliating group-stage exit at the 2015 World Cup.

He's preparing to play his 100th ODI on Friday against Sri Lanka, with England in a completely different level.

England has undergone a revolution in attacking style under Eoin Morgan's captaincy and is now the pace-setter in the ODI format, starting this World Cup as the title favorite on home soil.

"Just being part of the team — being part of the change, I guess, since when I first came in and to see the team where we are now," Moeen said when asked for the highlight of his first 99 ODIs. "Looking back if I was to retire, I'd always think I was part of that change, the mind-set changing and the great cricket we've played."

With Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow blazing away at the top of the order, Joe Root as a steadying influence, the likes of Morgan, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes in the middle order and Adil Rashid as the preferred spin bowler, there's not always room for Moeen in the starting XI.

That doesn't bother Moeen, who missed the win over Bangladesh days before his wife gave birth to their second child and then was a strategic omission in the victory over the West Indies. He played a cameo nine-ball 31 in the win over Afghanistan in Manchester that contained four sixes and helped England improve its own world record for most sixes in an ODI innings to 25.

He's set to go again against Sri Lanka at Headingley, with England unlikely to change the combination — particularly with Roy sidelined with injury.

Moeen averages 26, has three centuries and 83 wickets in ODIs, but he can have a big impact on a game batting at No. 7 and contributing tight overs with the ball.

England have beaten South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies and Afghanistan in the tournament so far and can retake the lead in the standings with a victory over a Sri Lanka squad that has had a disjointed tournament. The Sri Lankans have had just one win — over Afghanistan — as well as two washed-out games and two losses.

The top four teams — unbeaten New Zealand and India, plus England and Australia — have been the most consistent so far, but Moeen said teams such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were capable of producing upsets that could have an impact on the final four teams.

England were upset by Pakistan immediately after its tournament-opening win over South Africa.

"Sri Lanka poses a big threat tomorrow," Moeen said. "At the moment, the top four are there for a reason because they are playing probably the best cricket out of all the teams and most consistent, but there's still a lot of games to go.

"Every game is huge for us and every point that we get is going to be massive — there could be some weather around later in the tournament so we want to make the most of the occasion."

Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne said England's batters were playing spin better than any other team at the tournament, and that was forcing some strategic recalculations.

"We have to think out of the box," he said. "We have a couple of ideas, so we need to work on those things in the middle."

Karunaratne, who scored 97 against Australia, said he needed his middle-order batsmen to apply themselves to building big partnerships and his bowlers to keep mixing it up. If they can reproduce the kind of performance that helped Sri Lanka beat India in the Champions Trophy here two years ago, they can reach the semifinals again.

"Definitely," Karunaratne said. "We have the ability to do it. If everyone can lift their mental strength, we can be in the semifinals."

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News Cricket

We were not always at our best, but we've fought really hard - Joe Root

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:34 AM IST


England resumed its second innings on 313-8 and was all out for 329 with Lyon taking 4-69. After being put into bat, England scored 294 in its first innings and Australia replied with 225.

Australia won the first test at Edgbaston by 251 runs, the next test at Lord's was drawn before England drew level with a one-wicket win in a thrilling third test at Headingley, which Smith missed. Australia won the fourth test at Old Trafford by 185 runs.

"We were excellent this week. Having lost the toss, to play as we did was fantastic. We drove the game all the time and got there in the end," Root said. "Collectively we've shown a lot of character throughout the whole series. We were not always at our best, but we've fought really hard."

Wade and Jofra Archer had repeated stand-offs and staring contests on Sunday as England attempted to wrap up victory before stumps with a day to spare. Archer, who took 6-62 in the first innings and was player of the match, also struck Wade high up on the arm during a relentless spell of pace bowling.

Paine made his first successful review of the series when the wicketkeeper-captain caught England tailender Archer off Pat Cummins and, after the umpire initially gave not out, Paine's decision to challenge was vindicated when replays showed the ball brushed Archer's glove.

Smith was Australia's player of the series, Stokes took the honors for England.

News Cricket

Runs are bigger than Sandpaper: Steve Smith gets standing ovation from English fans

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:31 AM IST


Steve Smith proved a formidable presence at No. 4 for Australia throughout the series but was caught by Ben Stokes at leg gully off pacer Stuart Broad for 23, by far his lowest score of the series.

Smith finished with 774 runs in the series in only seven innings at an average of 110. The star batter received a standing ovation from England and Australia fans as he left the field on Sunday, a strong sign Smith has been forgiven after a ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal. The 30-year-old Smith posted the highest number of runs in a five-match series since Brian Lara managed 798 against England in 1993-94. In contrast, Australian opener David Warner finished with just 95 runs from 10 innings

Matthew Wade was Australia's top scorer with 117 after beginning to worry England as the visitors chased an unlikely winning target of 399. Wade was stumped off a delivery from England captain Joe Root (2-26).

Broad took 4-62 and spinner Jack Leach 4-49 for England. Broad became the first England bowler to take 20-plus wickets in four Ashes series — 2013, 2013-14, 2015 and 2019. Leach ended the game at 6:10 p.m. local time with two wickets — Nathan Lyon (1) and Josh Hazlewood (0) — in two balls.

News Cricket

Retaining Ashes is a great deal – Tim Paine

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:29 AM IST


England beat Australia by 135 runs in the fifth and final Ashes test at the Oval on Sunday to draw the series 2-2.

It's the first time an Ashes series has ended in a draw since 1972.

Both teams had something to celebrate as Australia was later presented with the Ashes urn. Australia had already retained the urn as holder but was thwarted in its goal of a first outright series win in England in 18 years after being dismissed for 263 in its second innings deep into the evening session on Day 4.

"We've got to bat, bowl better than we did in this test match," Australia captain Tim Paine said. "No doubt today puts a dampener on it, but from where this group's come from, to retain the Ashes is still a big deal."

News Cricket

Skipper Rashid Khan praises players after Afghanistan beat Bangladesh

AP Updated: 16 September, 2019, 10:21 AM IST


Mohammad Nabi's 54-ball 84 not out was complemented by off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman's career-best 4-15 as Afghanistan beat Bangladesh by 25 runs to go top in the Twenty20 tri-series on Sunday.

Nabi's fireworks saw Afghanistan recover from 40-4 to compile a respectable 164-6 after which Rahman's bowling helped to dismiss Bangladesh for 139 in 19.5 overs.

Nabi struck three fours and seven sixes, and he shared a fifth-wicket stand of 79 runs in around 10 overs with Asghar Afghan to rescue the innings.

"It's always tough to get out of such tough situations and post such a good score," Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan said. "I think the senior players took the responsibility. That's how we recovered from four down to 160-plus."

Afghan, who survived on 31 after a no ball from spinner Taijul Islam, scored 40 off 37.

"I think that no ball cost us big time, that over went for 17 runs and that changed the momentum," Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan said.

Pace bowler Mohammad Saifuddin produced his career-best 4-33 for Bangladesh.

Gulbadin Naib took 2-27 and Rashid Khan 2-23 for Afghanistan.

It was Afghanistan's second straight victory after beating Zimbabwe by 28 runs on Saturday.

News Cricket

‘Rohit Sharma can help chase down unachievable targets’: Sanjay Bangar

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:57 PM IST


Former Indian batting coach, Sanjay Bangar has made a big prediction about Rohit Sharma in Test cricket. He is of the opinion that Rohit Sharma will help India chase difficult targets in Test cricket if he bats as an opener in his own trademark style.

“At the moment, there is no place in the settled middle order in the Test team. Opening will be a new challenge for him, since he has rarely done it in the longer formats. But the advantage is that he will get to bat against a hard-ball with plenty of gaps in the field. He will also not have to wait for his turn to bat, which will save his mental energy,” Bangar told ESPNcricinfo in an interview.

“If he succeeds, his style of play will be extremely helpful to the team. It might result in being able to successfully chase down targets that we haven’t achieved in the past, like in Cape Town and Edgbaston,” he added.

Rohit Sharma has featured in 27 Tests so far, scoring 1,585 runs at an average of 39.6. The swashbuckling opener has been an underperformer outside home. But, he has been picked as India's no.1 choice opener for the home Test series against South Africa. The first Test against South Africa will take place in Visakhapatnam from October 2

“The key to his success will be if he maintains his individual style of play. He has to maintain his individuality,” Bangar added.

News Cricket

Pakistan has always supported other countries by touring: Sarfaraz Ahmed

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:36 PM IST


Pakistan Cricket Board and its fans were left disappointed after 10 Sri Lankan cricketers opted out of the tour of Pakistan citing security reasons. The likes of Dimuth Karunaratne (Test and ODI captain), Lasith Malinga (T20I captain) and Angelo Mathews were few of the biggest names to have backed out from the tour.

Lahiru Thirimanne will lead the ODI side while Dasun Shanaka has been named skipper for the T20I side in absence of the regular stalwarts.

Sri Lanka are scheduled to lock horns with Pakistan in ODI and T20I series at the National Stadium in Karachi and Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. The tour will commence from September 27.

Pakistan captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed, who was retained as Pakistan's skipper for the home series after speculations that he will be removed from captaincy, has said that Pakistan has always been supportive of other teams.

“Pakistan has always supported other countries by touring. Recently, Pakistan sent its junior team to Sri Lanka a couple of weeks after bombings took place,” the 32-year-old Sarfaraz was quoted as saying in Pak Passion.

News Cricket

Gautam Gambhir warns Rishabh Pant, says beware of my favorite Sanju Samson

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:22 PM IST


India and South Africa will take on each other in a three-match T20I series starting from September 15 at Dharamshala. A lot of eyes will be fixated on Rishabh Pant, who had a largely unimpressive tour of West Indies as India's first-choice wicket-keeper batsman across formats. But, T20 format is something that Pant has impressed us the most, especially in IPL.

Former Indian cricketer, Gautam Gambhir has a warning for Rishabh Pant. Gambhir wrote in his column for Times of India that Pant needs to perform better so that he can counter challenges thrown at him by Kerala wicket-keeper batsman, Sanju Samson, who recently awed one and all with a brilliant fifty against South Africa A.

“It is another opportunity for young Indian batsmen to cement their place in the side. Manish Pandey looks much younger than his age of 29. Shreyas Iyer explained enough in the West Indies that he is a great deal more than the ‘South Bombay’ swag. KL Rahul is a force in white-ball format. Rishabh Pant is always exciting but he has to watch his back as my favourite Sanju Samson is throwing some serious challenges at him. It is an exciting series as there are a lot of individual battles going on considering the T20 World Cup next year,” wrote Gambhir.

Gambhir also compared Quinton de Kock with Kumara Sangakkara and Brian Lara.

“In the context of South Africa’s tour of India, the visitors may relate to this as this is their first international engagement after a forgetful World Cup campaign. I like Quinton de Kock. He is one of those gorgeous left-handers which I always aspired to be but could never be. In full flow, he reminds me of Kumara Sangakkara and Brian Lara. Hopefully, he delivers as a captain but not at the cost of curtailing fluidity of his batting,” Gambhir said.

News Cricket

Jasprit Bumrah reveals the "reason" for lethality in swing

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 4:17 PM IST


There has been never any doubt regarding Jasprit Bumrah's ability in limited-overs cricket. In fact, he made a name for himself with his yorkers and great death bowling in T20 cricket. But, he made a great transition to ODIs and now Tests as well.

More than skills, it has always been Bumrah's sharp cricketing brain and strong temperament that has helped him do well in cricket. Using these virtues, he impressed one and all with his displays even in the longer version of the game, a format, where people had question marks about him.

The Indian pacer recently had a brilliant tour of West Indies, where he ended up with 13 wickets in two Tests which included two five-wicket-hauls and a maiden hat-trick. The right-armer also rose to no.3 spot in ICC Test rankings, which is simply amazing given he has hardly played 12 Tests. His ability to move the ball was one of the best sights in West Indies.

Bumrah revealed that it was the England tour, which helped him gain lethality in swing bowling. “I always used to have out-swingers. I have not used it a lot but playing in England did give me a lot of confidence. The Duke ball does swing for a longer period of time. So, because I got more and more confident as I played the Test matches, I could execute it well,” he said at a promotional event here.

He added, “In white-ball cricket, the ball doesn’t swing for a long period so you have to assess what kind of delivery works every time. I was working on it (the out-swinger) for a long period. I used it in England as well when we were playing against county teams. You can’t use everything in one match. You just try to assess the conditions on the given day and see what could work.”

Feature Cricket

What’s next for Faf du Plessis and South Africa?

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 14 September, 2019, 2:11 PM IST


Even as South Africa undertake the important tour of India beginning with a three match Twenty20 internationals, questions remain about the future of the most prominent member of the squad missing from the lineup.

Quinton de Kock might be reasonably excited about the possibility of captaining South Africa in India, albeit for only the Twenty20 internationals part of the tour. Under normal circumstances, it would have been reasonable enough to raise expectations under a new leadership. Yet given the kind of change that Cricket South Africa (CSA) have embarked upon since the debacle that was their campaign in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England, there is some skepticism as well as a great deal of uncertainty about how South Africa move forward.

The end of South Africa’s ICC Cricket World Cup did not anticipate the idea of the cricket board doing away with the coaching position and instead bringing on a team manager a la football. Furthermore, while it was expected that questions would be raised about the practicality of continuing the journey with Faf du Plessis at the helm given his age and also, the fact that the next major fifty overs World Cup is four years away, there was little doubt with so many retirements and changes on the anvil, Faf could be the perfect foil as a catalyst to lead a new team and leadership in the transition.

Yet, it would appear South Africa have arrived in India without having taken people into confidence and with another round of shooting-in-the-dark strategies that could make or break them. If that became apparent as Cricket South Africa made the announcements, those doubts would have been exacerbated after the comments that have come forth from the team management after the team landed in India.

CSA acting director of cricket, Corrie van Zyl insisted Faf du Plessis was very much in the mix even as the team for the tour of India was announced with Faf named only as South Africa’s Test captain and not even included in South Africa’s Twenty20 squad. On his part, Faf, who led the latter half of South Africa’s campaign with a century and near century, albeit after the ship had sailed, insisted that he would still be South Africa’s Twenty20 captain for the 2020 ICC World Twenty20 event in Australia next year and that South Africa were merely using the time as opportunity to experiment in order to find a worthy successor.

But while Faf flits from one Twenty20 tournament that got scuttled to another before coming to India to take charge of the Test team, the words of the team management would not have given him any comfort either with regard to his future as South Africa’s limited overs captain or his place purely as a batsman.

Enoch Nkwe, the team director, upon landing in India, almost put the nail in the coffin, particularly as far as Faf’s career as South Africa’s limited overs captaincy is concerned by stating that the team was intent on looking forward while acknowledging his past contributions, the emphasis being on past.

With the likes of AB de Villiers having retired of their own volition, with South Africa losing players to Kolpak deals and the such, can South Africa afford to lose not only an experienced captain but also, a valuable mentor and member of the dressing room this close to another World Cup challenge, albeit in a different format?

While Faf du Plessis may have little choice but to build up a string of performances in the opportunities outside South Africa’s cricket and prepare to take on South Africa’s Test challenge that kicks off their ICC World Test Championship, it will be interesting how this experiment with a new management and a new captaincy trial works out and whether Faf du Plessis then becomes the one holding the key should South Africa’s experiments fail to yield the desired results close to the ICC World Twenty20 2020. Anxious times for Faf du Plessis and South Africa.

News Cricket

Ashes god Steve Smith defends team-mates for lack of scores

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 2:00 PM IST


Steve Smith is having a record-breaking 2019 Ashes series. Due to his exceptional batting and Australia's excellent bowling, the Kangaroos have already retained the Ashes. If Australia manage to win this Test or draw the game, they will win the Ashes series in England for the first time since 2001.

But Australia got bundled-out on 225 runs after England made 294 runs in the first innings. Barring Smith, who made 80, no other batsman could even touch the fifty-run mark. Smith has a total of 751 runs in the series. Apart from Smith and Labuschagne, who has 339 runs at an average of 56.5, no other Australian batsmen has averaged even 30. On the second day as well, it was only Smith (80) and Labuschagne (48), doing well for the visitors.

Steve Smith, however, has defended his teammates despite their poor show. The former Aussie skipper said, “We haven’t seen any huge totals really throughout the whole series so it’s not been easy. There’s always been something there, I felt. If you bowl in good areas for long enough then I think we’ve seen you’ll get rewards. Playing in England is completely different from playing back home and you’ve got to find ways to play away from home.

“Sometimes you need to change certain little things that can help you play in certain conditions and adapt accordingly but I think it will be a good learning curve for all of our batters,” added Smith.

News Cricket

Ashes GOD Steve Smith leaves Don Bradman behind

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 1:51 PM IST


Steve Smith is batting like a dream for Australia in the ongoing Ashes series. He was out of action for more than a year. But right in the first Test series since his comeback to the format, he snatched back his no.1 position in ICC Test rankings. But his exploits against England knows no bounds. Smith is turning out to be an Ashes god. Don't believe me? Read this stat.

Smith has 1,251 runs in last ten Ashes innings. In last ten innings, his scores read 239, 76, 102*, 83, 144, 142, 92, 211, 82, 80. His lowest score has been 80, which he made in the first innings of the Oval Test. The right-hander has five centuries and fifties each with two double-centuries. Now, he has even bettered Sir Don Bradman's record of most runs in 10 successive Ashes innings.

Between 1937 and 1946, Bradman had made 1,236 runs in ten successive Ashes innings with scores of 212, 169, 51, 144*, 18, 102*, 103, 16, 187, 234.

Smith is batting like a beast in the ongoing Ashes series. He now has 751 runs in the series at an average of 125.17. And this is Smith's comeback to Test cricket after a long lay-off that too in high-pressure situations but he doesn't feel pressure, he is an Ashes god, after all. Smith now has 2,777 runs in Ashes cricket after 47 innings that with 11 centuries.

Feature Cricket

T-20 Series: South Africa’s best chance to win in India

Partab Ramchand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 12:08 PM IST


The South Africans start their short tour of India with the first of three T-20 internationals at Dharamsala on Sunday and this format gives them their best opportunity to win in India. There is very little chance of the visitors winning the three-match Test series that follows going by their past record in this country. In the first place it is the one format in which they are above India in the ICC rankings being third to India’s fourth. Secondly it does appear that they have the team personnel to challenge India.

In skipper Quinton de Kock they have one of the leading players in the world in the shortest formats of the game. He loves to strike the ball hard and high and is equally proficient in ODIs. He has a particularly good record against India and who can forget his three hundreds in successive ODI’s six years ago. He followed this up with two more hundreds in India a couple of years later.

David Miller is another player the Indian bowlers will be wary of. The 30-year -old has class, skill and experience and his career strike rate of 140 in T20 internationals is among the best in the format. Both de Kock and Miller have been regulars in the IPL for years. Miller has been one of the stalwarts for King’s XI Punjab while the skipper has turned out for Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils. Little wonder then there have been reports that other team members have been picking the brains of the duo to find out more about Indian players and conditions.

Pace bowling has a major role to play in T-20 cricket and here the visitors are well served. Kagiso Rabada heads the department and he has the likes of Andile Phehlukwayo, Beuran Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorious and Anrich Nortje for company and South Africa will be hoping that the bowling can cover up for any weaknesses in the batting which to be candid lacks depth.

In fact with India either resting their main pace bowlers or not considering them for the shortest format South Africa are better served in the department. In the absence of the regulars it will be up to the likes of Deepak Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini and all-rounder Hardik Pandya to come up with something special. Of course India has the better spin attack with Ravindra Jadeja and Krunal Pandya so things sort of level out in the bowling department. But where India should have the decisive edge is in the batting. In Virat Kohli they have the best batsman in limited overs cricket and the support cast too is of the top drawer – Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey and KL Rahul.

News Cricket

Bloody thing, faked it. He got me: Steve Smith on Jonny Bairstow's fake run-out attempt

AP Updated: 14 September, 2019, 11:57 AM IST


England pacer Jofra Archer took 6-62 as Australia was dismissed for 225 on Day 2 of the fifth Ashes test, with star batter Steve Smith out for 80 in his lowest score of the series.

England had a first-innings lead of 69 — after scoring 294 when it was put into bat in a gamble by Australia captain Tim Paine — and reached stumps Friday on 9-0 in its second innings to lead by 78 runs overall.

Smith was trapped leg before wicket by a straight delivery from Chris Woakes and has now made 751 runs from his six innings this series. Marnus Labuschagne hit 48 before he was out lbw to Archer, who took the first three wickets of the innings. Sam Curran also proved a significant threat with 3-46 in his first appearance of the series.

Smith took his sequence of 50-plus scores against England to 10 in a row, but this time he was unable to fully make up for the mediocrity of his teammates.

Smith was only really troubled when Jonny Bairstow's arrival at the stumps led to him diving awkwardly to beat a throw that was instead collected at the non-striker's end.

Smiles were exchanged with the seemingly mischievous England wicketkeeper, Smith dusted himself down and passed 50 by carving Leach for six.

"He got me there, didn't he? Dirtied my clothes. He didn't say anything, I don't think, but he got me. I didn't know where the ball was. Bloody thing, faked it. He got me. I don't know what else to say," Smith said during the press conference after stumps.

News Cricket

He literally cannot get out: Jofra Archer on Steve Smith

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 11:52 AM IST


Jofra Archer has been making the right noises that too in his first Test series. The English paceman has taken 22 wickets so far. He scalped a six-fer in the first innings of the ongoing Oval Test as well. But, England's leading pace bowler is finding it extremely difficult to get the world's no.1 Test batsman, Steve Smith out.

Smith continued his insane run of form as he made 80 in Australia's first innings despite suffering from flu. "Steve Smith didn't look himself today, he didn't look as nailed on, he didn't seem the same way,” Archer asserted.

“It’s weird, you know. Every time he bats, I don’t know what it is. He literally cannot get out. If he plays a bad shot, the ball lands in no man’s and. For the whole series. Obviously he’s a good batter, he’s got a good temperament, but I don’t know what it is: the ball never ever goes to hand,” the pacer said.

“We know he’s going to miss one, though, and today just proves it. Funnily enough, the last person he missed one-off was Woakes [at Lord’s],” he added.

News Cricket

David Warner creates unwanted record in Ashes 2019

Harshit Anand Updated: 14 September, 2019, 10:52 AM IST


Australian opener David Warner had a sensational 2019 IPL followed by an equally good Cricket World Cup campaign. But, he has failed to make a smooth transition to Test cricket and has continued his poor track record on the English soil.

He added an unwanted record to his name during Australia's first innings in the ongoing Oval Test when he got out for 5 runs off 8 balls to become Jofra Archer's first of six scalps on the second day of the final Test.

Notably, this was Warner's eighth single-digit score in the ongoing Ashes series. With this, he has become the first batsman to achieve this unwanted feat (most single-digit-scores) in Ashes cricket.

Warner has scored 84 runs in nine innings at an average of 9.33 and if it was not for 61 in the Headingley Test, his numbers would have been even poorer. Interestingly, Steve Smith has hit more fours (88) than Warner's run-tally in the series.