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New Zealand ‘quietly optimistic’ on Boult, de Grandhomme being fit for Australia

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New Zealand are “quietly optimistic” that Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme will be fit to play in Australia.

Boult and de Grandhomme missed the second Test against England after sustaining injuries during the victory in Mount Maunganui. And while New Zealand coach, Gary Stead, admits it is too early to know for sure if the pair will be available for the Perth Test on December 12, he described progress so far as “encouraging”.

Both players will be obliged to step up their rehabilitation in the coming days. While they have had gentle bowls over the last couple of days, they will be pressed a little harder on Wednesday and then expected to deliver “a decent spell” on Friday. Only after that will a decision be taken on whether they fly to Perth on Saturday.

If either of them struggle to get through those sessions, Stead suggested a replacement would be called into the squad.

“Both Colin and Trent are progressing well, which is encouraging for us,” Stead said. “Colin could have kept bowling through the last Test so he’s probably just a little more advanced. But Trent actually rocked up really well today.

“Both have rolled their arm over at a very low level in the last two days. But both are going to have to prove their fitness a couple of days out from the first Test and bowl a decent spell of 10-12 overs at least over two or three spells.

“I don’t know if I’m really confident, but I’m quietly optimistic they’re tracking where we want them to be. But it’s a long way to go if we know they’re not going to play, so it’s likely we’d look at replacements.”

In an ideal world, New Zealand would probably have time to reflect on an excellent series victory over England – their fifth home series win in succession and their second over England in little more than 18 months – before heading into another Test campaign. But such are the schedules in modern international cricket that they will instead be obliged to go into a day-night Test in Perth without any sort of warm-up game. Instead, three training sessions – two of which are under lights – will have to suffice.

“It’s just another thing to adapt to,” captain Kane Williamson said phlegmatically. “Such is the international schedule. We fly out in a couple of days, have a bit of training and we’re straight into another match. So it is quite a quick turnaround.

“The conditions – the surfaces – are quite different. They will bounce a bit more. This was a brilliant series win for us, but we’re going to have to adapt quickly. We know it’s tough – a lot of the guys have been there before – and we know they’re very strong, clinical in their own [backyard]. We’ll look forward to the challenge.”

Williamson also confirmed that opener Jeet Raval, who endured a miserable series, would be retained for the Australia series. Raval made just 24 runs in the series falling to a couple of loose shots in his first two innings and failing to review a leg-before decision which replays show he hit in his third. His most recent seven Test innings have produced five single-figure scores – including two ducks – and a best of just 33.

But his long-term record is decent – he scored his maiden Test century only six Tests ago – and New Zealand have not lost faith in him at this stage.

“These things happen,” Williamson said of Raval’s grim series. “He has had a number of successful times at the top of the order with Tom Latham and he has been up against a really strong bowling attack here against England. He’s been playing well and he’s been very successful. He’ll be turning his focus to Australia now.”

A 213-run partnership between Williamson and Ross Taylor shepherded New Zealand to safety on the final day in Hamilton. Despite resuming with their side still in deficit, the pair both completed centuries – Williamson’s 21st at Test level; Taylor’s 19th – to ensure the draw. During the course of his innings, Taylor also became the second New Zealand batsman to make 7,000 Test runs (Stephen Fleming is the other) and passed 1,000 Test runs at Seddon Park. This was his sixth Test century at the ground in 12 Tests.

While Williamson admitted he had been fortunate to survive a remarkable dropped chance to Joe Denly – it really was as simple as they come at this level – such is his confidence at present, he hinted that he was a bit disappointed that the rain curtailed this Test denying New Zealand the chance to chase victory.

“It was a great effort form the guys after being slightly up against it after the first innings,” he said. “A lot of hard work went into saving the match in the end when rain didn’t allow us time to win it. But overall it was a really good effort. Ross’ record here is incredible.

“The catch? It was fairly simply. No doubt Joe Denly is disappointed. The bowler, Jofra Archer, certainly was. I was very fortunate. You don’t get many opportunities like that.”



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Virat Kohli stresses on intensity and clarity in New Zealand

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India will focus on starting their T20I series against New Zealand, which will kick off the month-long, all-format tour of the country, with “intensity”, Virat Kohli said on the eve of their departure to Auckland.

In the short ODI series at home against Australia, India batted first with mixed results in the first two matches, before sealing the third one in a chase. One way or other, Kohli said, India wanted to go into the New Zealand series with clarity and purpose.

“We want to bat well when we bat first and in case we’re defending a low total, we should be able to do that as well,” Kohli said. “[…] Clarity of mind is really crucial because we’re playing in conditions that are not ours, so we have to take even more intensity into that series to put the home team under pressure, set that sort of template from game one and build from there.

“We can’t afford to ease into the series after two games, because then it keeps getting tougher and tougher, so we’ll look to make a mark in the first game that we play, play expressive cricket and be sure of what we want to do.”

ALSO READ: ‘The last six or eight months have been a revelation’ – Kohli

India lost their first ODI against Australia by ten wickets before coming back to win the series 2-1. Kohli said that during the huddle ahead of the final ODI against Australia in Bengaluru on Sunday, the team discussed going to New Zealand on a happy note, and beating a team like Australia was vital ahead of a tough tour.

“It’s important. We spoke of that at the huddle, that this is the last game we’re playing in the series and if we win, you go on a tour on a happy note,” Kohli said. “If you lose, it can go under the radar, you can brush it aside as ‘oh it’s just one loss’, but when you win and win under pressure – the last two games were tough wins – it boosts your confidence which we’re carrying forward, so looking forward to the New Zealand tour.”

India last toured New Zealand almost exactly a year ago and began with a 4-1 win in the ODI series, but New Zealand won the T20I series that followed. That tour came in the lead up to last year’s ODI World Cup, and the number of matches in each format are reverse this year, with the T20 World Cup scheduled for later in the year.

“[On the last tour] we were very positive in how we played, very sure of what we wanted to do,” Kohli said. “The thing about playing away is if you’re able to put the home team under pressure, you can enjoy your cricket. You have to win at home, there’s that sort of feeling. So if you bring out your A game, you can really put them under pressure.

“That’s what we did last year, squeezed them in the middle overs, picked up wickets, and the spinners were outstanding. Looking forward to take that same intensity into the series. We’ve played really well in 2020, want to continue that.”



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Recent Match Report – Zimbabwe vs Sri Lanka 1st Test 2020

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Sri Lanka 42 for 1 (Oshada 21, Karunaratne 12*, Tiripano 1-5) trail Zimbabwe 358 (Ervine 85, Kasuza 63, Masvaure 55, Embuldeniya 5-114) by 316 runs

Lasith Embuldeniya completed a second five-wicket haul in Test cricket, and Sri Lanka’s attack finally made headway, but Zimbabwe still ended day two in a position of strength in Harare, thanks in part to a late Sri Lankan wicket.

Nine batsmen fell on Monday in total, in comparison to the two on the stolid first day. The pitch was beginning to show hints of deterioration and life. Where there had been virtually no spin on Sunday, there was at least modest grip today for Embuldeniya to exploit. After Zimbabwe had been bowled out for 358 early in the second session, Donald Tiripano then delivered the ball of the match so far, getting a length ball to jag dramatically back at opener Oshada Fernando, to breach his defences and send middle stump cartwheeling. It seems likely that ball had struck a widening crack.

Still 316 runs ahead, and with Sri Lanka one down now, Zimbabwe can still dream of a healthy first-innings lead overnight. Tiripano was chief among those pushing their cause forward on day two, first hitting 44 not out from No. 8, and joining debutant Victor Nyauchi to put up a 30-run last-wicket stand to further defy a Sri Lanka side that had been made to field for 139 overs (it would be 148 by the time the innings was done). His dismissal of Fernando, which he produced in his first over of the match, then buoyed Zimbabwe just before stumps, and will have worried the Sri Lanka batsmen looking on. Sikandar Raza also made a confident 41 through the course of the afternoon, and was the only Zimbabwe batsman to strike at better than 50.

It was Embuldeniya, though, who did most to bring what was a sleepy Test to life on Monday. In the morning session, he artfully lured Sean Williams to push at a floated, wide delivery, and took his outside edge, which was snaffled by the wicketkeeper. He then took three wickets in the afternoon session to complete his haul (he had also dismissed Prince Masvaure on day one), first having Regis Chakabva caught by a tumbling Angelo Mathews at mid-on, then spinning one past the advancing Raza, before turning a ball between the bat and pad of Kyle Jarvis to clatter off stump. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given he is the lead spinner, Embuldeniya bowled 42 overs in the innings, which comprised more than 28% of the overs delivered by Sri Lanka. His five wickets cost 114 runs.

Full report to follow…



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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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