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Recent Match Report – England vs Australia, ICC World Test Championship, 2nd Test

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England 258 and 96 for 4 (Stokes 16*, Buttler 10*) lead Australia 250 (Smith 92, Broad 4-65) by 104 runs

Steve Smith was always destined to be the headline act, but the way he commanded centre stage at Lord’s could scarcely have been more dramatic.

Australia’s fortunes in this second Test hung on Smith’s performance going into day four with his side desperately needing him to stand up again as they resumed at 80 for 4 in pursuit of England’s first-innings 258.

By the end of a day in which Jofra Archer unleashed hell in the form of searing pace and destructive force and Smith had barely withstood the barrage, felled by a nasty blow to the neck and struck hard on the forearm, England held a 104-run lead with six wickets in hand.

The hosts could have been much worse off were it not for two dropped catches at the hands – or not, more to the point – of David Warner, and a failure to review two not-out lbw decisions that replays suggested would have delivered the wickets of Rory Burns and Ben Stokes.

Smith was to be monitored overnight for any delayed signs of concussion, having been cleared to resume batting after initially retiring hurt when he was struck behind the left ear by Archer’s short ball. Despite the ugliness of the hit, which knocked Smith off his feet and sent a hush over the shocked crowd as players and medical staff rushed to his side, it was the blow to his forearm, suffered six overs earlier that sent him to hospital for precautionary X-rays.

Smith did not take the field for England’s second innings and was replaced by substitute Marnus Labuschagne, although he was later cleared of any fracture and returned to the dressing room, where he sat with his arm in ice. Sense would suggest he should perhaps have rested as a result of being hit on the neck anyhow, and Smith’s participation in the rest of the match will depend on how he pulls up on Sunday morning.

The sight of any player being struck on the neck – Smith wasn’t using stemguards – was sure to evoke memories of Phil Hughes, the Australian batsman who died after being hit in a similar area in 2014. As awful as Smith looked having collapsed immediately after the blow, he calmed the worst fears by quickly removing his helmet and rolling on to his side and then his back.

Those fears were eased further as Smith walked back to the pavilion, apparently reluctantly, retiring hurt on 80 with Australia 203 for 6, and, when he returned to bat again after Peter Siddle’s dismissal, it was to relieved and astounded applause from the crowd, which was blighted by some tasteless booing.

Smith added 12 more runs, including consecutive fours plundered off Chris Woakes before Woakes had him out lbw for 92 two overs later. Smith called for a review, but his dismissal was upheld by the DRS.

Before all the drama, Smith’s role had looked pivotal as he and Matthew Wade resumed for the day on 13 and nought respectively, not least in light of Smith’s twin tons and Wade’s century in the first Test. When Wade was out, Australia needed Smith to turn the match as much as they had at Edgbaston.

Smith and Tim Paine, who made their Test debuts together at Lord’s in 2010, looked dangerous before Archer hit his straps with a menacing display that dismissed Paine and turned Smith’s body into collateral damage. In one over, Archer’s slowest delivery was 88mph and his fastest – at 96mph – did the least damage of the three that hit Smith. Batting with an arm guard two overs after the blow to his forearm, the ball smashed into Smith’s gloves as he guided it down safely in front of Jos Buttler at short leg.

In England’s innings, Pat Cummins did his best to stretch the tension wire tight by claiming two wickets in as many balls in the fifth over. The hosts’ lead was just 17 when they fell to 9 for 2 with Jason Roy out for 2 and Joe Root registering a golden duck.

Roy’s dismissal, on the first ball of the over, was somewhat bizarre. He got a leading edge to a short-of-a-length Cummins delivery which bobbled down the pitch slightly to the on side as Cummins pivoted from his follow through to collect the return catch. Cummins then found a thick edge as Root pushed forward and was caught behind by Paine.

Warner put down a low chance to his right off the bowling of Siddle to give Joe Denly a second chance. Nathan Lyon then had an appeal for lbw turned down by umpire Aleem Dar when Burns was on 24 and as Paine declined to review and replays suggested the ball was hitting leg stump. Burns added just five more runs before Siddle had him caught behind. That was after Siddle dismissed Denly, caught and bowled.

Again Australia failed to review as Lyon appeared to trap Stokes lbw, with Hawk-Eye confirming their error. That was after Warner had dropped a chance off Stokes, Lyon again the bowler.



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Liam Livingstone, Josh Inglis smash fifties in Perth Scorchers' victory

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Chasing a modest 154, the belligerent openers flayed the Thunder attack in an opening stand of 136



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Ishant Sharma injures ankle in Ranji Trophy game

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An lbw appeal during a Ranji Trophy match could end up having an impact on India’s tour of New Zealand. Ishant Sharma will be hopeful the MRI scan he takes on Monday evening will not reveal a fracture or a tear, after he twisted his ankle and hobbled off the field during Delhi’s match against Vidarbha at Feroz Shah Kotla. ESPNcricinfo understands he was in considerable pain and his ankle was swollen.

Ishant is all but out of the last two days of the match. An ankle injury is serious because it leaves an athlete almost immobile during rehabilitation. However, there is cause for optimism in that Ishant’s first match on the tour of New Zealand – the three-day warm-up game before the first Test – starts on February 14, which gives him nearly three weeks to recover. The first Test begins on February 21. It is estimated that such an injury – should there be no tear or break – takes about two weeks to heal.

Ishant suffered the injury on the second afternoon, during his third over of the second innings, after Delhi had fallen behind Vidarbha by 16 runs. It appeared that he twisted his ankle as he turned around to appeal. He was attended to by the Delhi support staff before limping off the park on his own steam, which could be a positive sign. Ishant is scheduled to fly to New Zealand in the first week of February. The fourth seamer in the squad for New Zealand will be Ishant’s opposite number in this match, Umesh Yadav, who took two wickets to help bowl Delhi out for 163.

This was going to be Ishant’s last match before he went to New Zealand, with India’s team management monitoring workloads closely. Losing him in this match, though, leaves Delhi with little hope of an outright win on a pitch that is slowing down.

Four short of the feat of 100 Tests – only one India fast bowler has managed that – Ishant has enjoyed a late revival over the last three years. He credits it to a recent change in his bowling by which he has been able to pitch the ball fuller without losing any pace. His combination with Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami has turned India into a feared fast-bowling unit even in away conditions.

“Having a bunch of fast bowlers like this, who can just bowl out any opposition anywhere, is a brilliant thing to have in Indian cricket,” India’s captain Virat Kohli recently said. “[It’s] something that we haven’t quite relied on in the past, but I think them taking the attention away from the spinners in India is a huge statement, so I think that’s what makes us feel that when we travel now, we have it in us to win a series, and not just one-odd Test match here and there. So I think it’s been hard work, persistence, learning the game, thinking about the game that’s got them to where they are and they deserve it fully.”



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Sana Mir left out of Pakistan squad for Women’s T20 World Cup

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Sana Mir, the vastly experienced former captain of the Pakistan women’s team, has been left out of the 15-player squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup.

Bismah Maroof will lead the side, which has three changes from the side that lost a T20I series 3-0 against England in Kuala Lumpur in December last year: batsmen Nahida Khan and Ayesha Zafar, and offspiner Rameen Shamim have been dropped, and in their place batsmen Muneeba Ali and Ayesha Naseem, and medium-pacer Aiman Anwar have been brought in.

Mir, 34, wasn’t a part of that series but played in the 3-0 win over Bangladesh at home in Lahore in November, picking up five wickets with a best of 3 for 49 in the second fixture. Overall, she has turned out in 106 T20Is over the years – the same as Maroof, making them the most experienced Pakistani players in the format – as well as 120 ODIs, the most among Pakistan women players.

“Though Sana Mir doesn’t feature in the 15-player line-up, I believe we still have the desired experience in the squad,” Urooj Mumtaz, the chair of the national women’s selection committee, said in a statement. “Sana has been a phenomenal servant of Pakistan cricket while being an inspiration to many girls out there. Unfortunately, her recent performances in the T20 format were not on her side.”

Captain Maroof said she had wanted Mir in the side, and hoped the veteran would continue to be a part of the set-up going forward. “It was a tough decision to leave out Sana Mir,” Maroof said. “I wanted to have her in the squad over which I, along with the selection committee, had deep deliberations. We had to decide between her and the emerging players who had been impressing on all the stages.

“I respect and support the decision of the major group and hope she will continue to serve Pakistan women’s cricket in future with the same passion and energy.”

On the make-up of the side, especially the inclusion of the teenaged Zafar and Aroob Shah, Mumtaz said, “Though the players who have been left out will be disappointed and heart-broken, this, however, should act as a motivation for them to comeback more strongly. On the other side of the coin, the selection of 15-year-old Ayesha and 16-year-old Aroob Shah should be a motivation and message for all the budding youngsters.

“Furthermore, the selectors have also valued our domestic competition, while also taking into consideration the players who have been regularly part of the side since the Bangladesh series. The team has been selected keeping in mind the current form and performances along with the conditions in Australia and, at the same moment, we have come up with the right balance of youth and experience which will complement each other in the mega event.”

The Women’s T20 World Cup, to be played in Australia, will start on February 21, with Pakistan playing their first game on February 26, against West Indies in Canberra.

As part of the preparation for the event, Pakistan will leave for Australia on January 31 and play three warm-up matches against West Indies in early February. Prior to that, the PCB confirmed, there will be an eight-day camp from January 23 to 30 at the Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre in Karachi.



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