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Recent Match Report – Gloucestershire vs Sussex, County Championship Division Two, 1st Innings

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Sussex 73 for 0 (Salt 53*, Wells 6*) trail Gloucestershire 200 (Bracey 61) by 127 runs

Studies in Texas have revealed that it took a meteorite hitting Earth at a force ten billion times the power of the Hiroshima bomb to wipe out the dinosaurs. Bowlers at flat-track Bristol must often feel they need something equivalent to remove 20 batsmen, and one theory for Gloucestershire’s surge to second place in Division Two is their high ratio of games at Cheltenham to headquarters this season.

Surprise all round, then, at the clatter of wickets on a slightly untypical surface that, while slow, has offered signs of variable bounce. Sussex capitalised by dismissing Gloucestershire for only 200 in 77.5 overs in a game that they might not quite need to win to remain in contention for promotion, but can hardly afford to lose to a side four places and 30 points ahead of them at the start.

Things are so tight that three successive wins, including two at Cheltenham, have propelled Gloucester from second-from-bottom in mid-July to next-to-top. They also boast most batting points in the division, but could add only one more this time as too many players made starts before losing their way against generally well-disciplined bowling and reliable fielding.

Only the composed James Bracey made a serious contribution before becoming the first of two victims in a fine spell by Chris Jordan after lunch. The England bowler swung the ball from lines that made both right and left-handers play consistently. When Bracey nibbled, Ben Brown took an excellent, low catch in front of first slip, and Tom Smith did well even to edge one that compelled a stroke.

Any hope that Gloucester might then end the day more positively was denied as they failed to break through with the new ball. Shannon Gabriel has been signed for the sound and obvious reason that his extra pace gives sharper teeth to the attack, but spells from both ends proved erratic and expensive despite the odd one signalling menace as well as promise. Maybe he was trying too hard.

Phil Salt almost edged an attempted hook behind having been rushed into the stroke, but the vehement appeal was rejected and Salt proceeded to play the best shot of the day, a lovely, fierce off-drive when David Payne overpitched. As if that was not enough, Ryan Higgins found himself warned for running on the pitch, the penultimate misfortune of a rotten old day.

The final ignominy arrived as the shadows neared the square when Salt struck four boundaries in a row off Gabriel to complete a half-century from 56 balls. If Gabriel thought that Salt would hang on the back foot expecting bouncers the hope proved wishful as half-volleys were stroked through the off side. Thanks to Salt’s positive attitude the deficit has already been cut (or driven) to 127.

“They got away from us at the end, but if we can stand up and fight for a bit tomorrow we can get back in the game,” Bracey said. “It always seems to be low and slow here, it does a little bit for the first couple of sessions but come tea we hope to be no more than four-down rather than six-down as we were this time. That does make it hard. Hopefully we can be a bit more precise.”

Without a big innings or anything more than a three-fer the day was not one for the painters or the poets. But there was scope for comedians in a stoppage of several minutes when glare from an open doorway in a flat at the Ashley Down Road End disturbed Matt Taylor, the batsman. Unfortunately, the home-owner wasn’t at immediate hand to shut it.

Umpire Ben Debenham could only shout from the boundary to the nearest neighbour for advice and help in spreading the word. This well-tanned, second-floor resident was bare of chest, in holiday blue shorts and sandals, and did not look prepared to have his half-hour of sun worship interrupted by a man in a white coat. Play resumed, the episode a footnote and the spectator back catching his rays.

Gloucester actually started solidly, undaunted under cloudy sky with the floodlights on. Bracey made an immediate impact when he moved up to open in the previous game against Derbyshire and started to look good value for a second century, leaving and defending well without ever getting bogged down against a very varied attack.

But Gareth Roderick was bowled shouldering arms and another important moment came when Miles Hammond top-edged George Garton’s second ball into the off side. A happy moment for Garton, briefly an England squad member on the 2017-18 Ashes but here making his first Championship appearance since May last year. His skiddy, left-arm pace is still there, still promising.



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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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