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Nottinghamshire prevail in morning of 12-wicket madness – WSAIGO Sports
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Nottinghamshire prevail in morning of 12-wicket madness

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Nottinghamshire 222 (Bailey 3-26, Livingstone 3-27, Mennie 3-46) and 10 for 4 (Mennie 3-4) beat Lancashire 158 (Ball 5-43) and 73 (Gurney 6-25, Ball 4-14) by six wickets
Scorecard

It was a morning when batsmen came and went like leaders of UKIP; a morning when the rapidity of events boggled the scrambled mind and outstripped the scribbling pen; a morning when 12 wickets fell in exactly 15 overs, Lancashire losing their last eight for 15 runs. Then Nottinghamshire leaked another four in scoring the mere ten runs they required to give Steven Mullaney a six-wicket victory on his championship debut as skipper.

But when this ridiculous game leaves its marbles in the changing room, it is important to identify a moment of calm brilliance which encapsulates the hurtling sequence of events. In the sixth over of the morning Jake Ball bowled a ball to Steven Croft which pitched somewhere near the line of middle stump before hitting the top of off. The blameless batsman strolled away, perhaps thinking that if a cricketer has been born who can play those, he would like to congratulate his or her parents on their genes.

During the winter Ball was presented with the shortest of straws by England; he was asked to bowl it short when his strength is pitching it up. Today on a wicket which was always softer, colder and damper than it looked, Ball dismissed three more batsmen to finish the innings with 4 for 14 and the match with 9 for 57. Twice in eight balls he was driven to the boundary by Liam Livingstone; undaunted he stuck to his craft, pitched it up again and saw the Lancashire skipper edge a catch to Tom Moores when attempting another booming drive.

But by the time Lancashire’s new captain was dismissed, the good ship Red Rose was already capsizing. It had been holed as early as the third ball of the morning when Keaton Jennings played a milksop of a leg-side push to a straight ball from Harry Gurney. Umpire Graham Lloyd did not have to think too long about the leg before. Next over Shivnarine Chanderpaul, a man who is well used to batting across geological eras, could not get over a ball from the excellent Gurney and was taken at slip by Ross Taylor.

Then Livingstone departed; then Croft. 66 for 6. There was much harrumphing and a modicum of hoping in the Old Trafford pavilion but the lower order could do nothing to halt the slide. Nottinghamshire’s slip catching was outstanding, as Jordan Clark and Dane Vilas discovered, when Chris Nash and Riki Wessels scooped up chances. Gurney finished with a career-best 6 for 25 in the innings and 8 for 43 in the match. Eight batsmen had been dismissed in ten overs this morning and Lancashire had lost all ten second-innings wickets for 24 runs.

“Extraordinary is probably the right word for it,” agreed the Nottinghamshire coach Peter Moores. “It was an outstanding hour of cricket by us. The quality of the bowling and catching was absolutely fantastic. Harry Gurney bowled brilliantly all game and Jake Ball did what Jake Ball can do. If he wanted to make a statement in the first game of the county championship season then he’s done it.”

But still we were not done with madness. Presented with an opportunity to lead his side home in sober fashion, Mullaney hooked the seventh ball of the innings to Graham Onions at long leg. Two overs later, Joe Mennie struck again when Nash was hustled for pace and Haseeb Hameed scampered back from slip to take a brilliant diving snare some forty yards from the stumps. More conventional efforts by Livingstone removed Jake Libby and Taylor. Some folk jested that ten runs might be too stiff a target. As it turns out it is the lowest total ever successfully chased when losing four wickets. But you knew that anyway.

The game ended when Riki Wessels nudged a single backward of square on the leg side. It was almost the only mundane moment of the day. The two sides lined up to shake hands; it is cricket’s answer to line-dancing. One thought of the two skippers trying to cope with the aftermath of mayhem. There is an enormous difference between the idea of doing a thing and actually doing it. The former is a diverting notion whereas the latter is often hard work. When invited to captain their respective counties Livingstone and Mullaney were no doubt attracted by the prospects. They have now discovered what leadership is like when Dame Cricket takes a hand. They had better get used to the glorious madhouse.



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Dhoni, Dhawan should have played domestic cricket before Australia ODIs – Gambhir

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Gautam Gambhir believes that the likes of MS Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan should have been asked to play first-class cricket before joining the Indian team for the ODI series in Australia, so that they could have hit the ground running. He was also sceptical about Rishabh Pant’s chances of making it to the World Cup squad, and said playing in the IPL before the World Cup could be a blessing in disguise for India’s players. Gambhir was speaking at an event in Bangalore. Excerpts:

On playing domestic cricket before the Australia ODIs:

I was a little disappointed because some of the guys should have played first-class cricket. The selectors should have pushed them to play first-class cricket. Because it’s a World Cup year, you’ve got to be in prime form. Whether it was MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu (Rayudu retired from first-class cricket earlier this season)… all those guys who went to Australia.

Why do you skip it? Because ultimately you will get confidence by scoring runs, not by hitting the nets. You can’t be thinking, ‘I’m going to come back into form just by playing international cricket.’ The only way everyone has done it is by playing domestic cricket and scoring runs. It’s a World Cup year, so I think the selectors should have made everyone play domestic cricket.

Does Rishabh Pant have a place in the ODI squad?

I don’t think so. They’ve got MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik. He can wait for his opportunity. Obviously he has done well in Test cricket. He’s doing all the right things. But if you’ve got Dhoni, who got [the] Man-of-the-Series award, he deserves to be there now. And it’s so close to the World Cup, you need someone like Dhoni. Karthik has been in decent form as well over the last four-five months. The good thing is, Rishabh is keeping them on their toes as well, which is always a good sign for Indian cricket, that youngsters are pushing the seniors.

On players potentially skipping the IPL to rest before the World Cup:

I think playing the IPL is a fabulous opportunity for most of those guys to be in peak form. Because you’re only bowling four overs. It’s not like there is a lot of physical burden on you. Plus you’re going to be bowling in difficult conditions as well, whether in the first six overs or the last four. So that will keep you in good shape. You don’t suddenly miss the IPL and say ‘I’ll go to the World Cup fresh and raring to go.’ That is only from the physical point of view, but from the skill point of view, to be at the top of your game, you’ve got to be playing a tournament like the IPL. And if you do well at the IPL, it’s going to keep you in very good stead in the World Cup. Imagine Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowling well in the death overs, how confident they would be going into the World Cup. Or some of the middle-order batters finishing the game for their franchise, they’ll go to the World Cup thinking, ‘We can finish from any situation’. So I think the IPL can be a blessing in disguise. I think MS Dhoni made a very good point when he said that it’s going to be a great opportunity for most of the players to be in prime form from the skill point of view.

On how Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul’s potential absence could affect the team:

One person does not change anything. The core still remains the same. KL Rahul wasn’t even there in the playing XI because we had Rayudu who did fabulously well against West Indies, so he deserved a chance before Rahul in the one-day format. Yes Hardik Pandya [might have made a difference], but you’ve replaced him with Ravindra Jadeja, who again is an allrounder. We only have, what, ten ODIs left before the World Cup? So we should maintain consistency and give people who are going to play the first game of the World Cup these ten games and see how they deliver.

On the journey from sharing his Player-of-the-Match Award with Virat Kohli when the latter made his first ODI hundred, to Kohli sweeping all the ICC awards:

It’s his hard work. I shared it because it was his first international hundred. I wanted to make him feel special because it was his first international hundred. Irrespective of how many you get, I remember my first international hundred till now, even when I’m retired. That always stays close to your heart, it’s a feeling that can never be replaced, even if you get 100 international hundreds, or how many ever. The first is always special, your debut is always special. Whenever he sees that trophy he should remember that. And whatever he’s achieved is all because of his hard work. I hope he continues this form because it’s going to be an important year for Indian cricket.

On what makes Jasprit Bumrah difficult to pick:

People ask me this about Sunil Narine as well, what made him so difficult to pick – and I just said, ‘quality’. Mystery can be solved over a period of time, but he had the quality. People can keep talking about Bumrah’s action, but he’s just a quality bowler. The action can only help you in one format, probably T20 where you have to go after the bowling. But he’s been so successful in Test cricket. He’s probably the best bowler in the world right now in all three formats.

On which spinners India should look at for the World Cup:

I think both wristspinners have done a fabulous job for Indian cricket over the last one year. But I still feel that R Ashwin is someone we should look at. A quality spinner is a quality spinner, irrespective of whether you’re a wristspinner or a fingerspinner. Look at what Nathan Lyon has done in the Test series. He’s probably the best offspinner in the world and he’s a fingerspinner. So I feel we should not differentiate that there’s a wristspinner so there’s no space for a finger spinner. Someone like Ashwin, we should always consider. Looking at the conditions in England during that time of the year, the wickets could be dry and a fingerspinner could have an important role.



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Hasan Ali’s counterattacking fifty hauls Pakistan to 203

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Pakistan 203 (Hasan 59, Sarfraz 41, Phehlukwayo 4-22, Shamsi 3-56) v South Africa

Only a check of the schedule would tell you it’s an ODI, much less that it’s being played at Kingsmead. The first innings today took Pakistan back to the Test series, where the short ball was an unconquerable demon, and Duanne Olivier and Kagiso Rabada invincible tormentors. A series of dismissals when the ball was pitched short saw Pakistan hampered in their innings early on, before an inspired performance from Tabraiz Shamsi, deputising for Imran Tahir, helped reduce Pakistan to 112 for 8. The left-arm wristspinner, fighting for a World Cup spot, ended up among the better bowlers, taking three wickets, and at one point appeared to have set up his side for a seemingly straightforward chase.

It required the most delightful joie de vivre sort of innings from Hasan Ali – a character who matches that description to the fullest – to keep Pakistan in the contest. They were 59 of the most uncomplicated runs that saw Pakistan recover to 203. Hasan was responsible for 59 of the 90 runs which came in a ninth-wicket partnership with Sarfraz Ahmed, and was last man dismissed after Andile Phehlukwayo returned to remove both Sarfraz and Hasan in the 46th over.

Hasan’s innings remained in spirit the typical knock of a have-a-go hero, but the sweet timing of the strikes against legitimately world-class bowling gave it the air of conventional classiness you might not expect from Hasan. At any rate, it gave Pakistan more than a fighting chance. It was only thanks to career-best figures from Phehlukwayo that it wasn’t even more, his 4 for 22 including those vital last two wickets that finally put paid to Pakistan’s innings.

Faf du Plessis had won the toss again, this time deciding to let Pakistan bat first after much criticism around his side’s failure to pace their innings well. Pace was never a problem for his fast bowlers, though, who accounted for Pakistan’s top four in the first hour with deliveries that grew big on the batsmen. Imam-ul-Haq mistiming a pull shot off a Rabada ball was a harbinger for what was to come, and Babar Azam was dismissed cheaply much the same way. Then came the now-customary Fakhar Zaman dismissal off a short ball, when Olivier got one to rise towards his grille, the batsman fending it off to gully.

The middle overs might have been an opportunity for rebuilding, but Shamsi had other ideas. Brought in to replace Tahir, he had big boots to fill, and he acted like it. The first ball of his spell drew an edge from Malik that first slip would have pouched had one been placed, and off his fourth delivery, he snared fellow spinner Shadab Khan. It wasn’t long before debutant Hussain Talat, curiously promoted ahead of Sarfraz, fell to perhaps the ball of the innings. An exquisite stock ball beat Talat’s outside edge, drawing him out of his crease while Heinrich Klaasen deftly removed the bails.

Sarfraz, who has been shy of batting too high up the order since becoming captain, finally came in at No. 8. While Pakistan fans might have hoped for a valuable partnership with Shoaib Malik to rescue the side, injudicious shot selection from Malik soon left Pakistan eight down. It was after that that Pakistan’s finest moments in the innings were to arrive, thanks to a refreshingly straightforward innings from Hasan. He threw off the shackles, attacked every bowler he faced, seamer or spinner, his 59 coming off just 45 balls. It included five fours and three sixes, taking Pakistan past 200 where once they looked like they might struggle to reach 125.

South Africa still may be expected to chase this; 203 is, after all, well below par. But where once this looked like it might be headed for an early finish, there may now be a contest to be enjoyed after all.



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BPL stints put Taskin, Shafiul, Nayeem on selectors’ radar for ODIs

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Taskin Ahmed is in contention for a recall to the ODI side on the back of his recent BPL form, according to ODI captain Mashrafe Mortaza. The Bangladesh selectors are likely to announce the squad for the three-match ODI series against New Zealand next month, on Wednesday.

Mashrafe also mentioned Sabbir Rahman among those who are likely to interest the selectors, but his six-month ban will still be in place when Bangladesh play the ODIs in New Zealand, from February 13 to 20.

“I think Taskin and Shafiul [Islam] are doing well [in the BPL],” Mashrafe said. “Sabbir has had one good knock (an 85 for Sylhet Sixers). The hope is for him to keep performing. There is unlikely to be a big change. There are some places which may be up for grabs if these players keep doing well. But there’s still a lot left in the tournament.”

Sabbir is unlikely to play in the first of the three Tests too, with his ban valid until February 28, the same day the first Test starts in Hamilton. The only way for him to play for Bangladesh before that is if the BCB relaxes its rules to make room for a batsman who is seen as a potential No. 6 in the ODI line-up.

“The type of innings he played against us, that’s the sort of batting we have expected from him in the Bangladesh set-up. But it is still early [days] to talk about.

“If we are thinking about an extra batsman, we can also talk about Mosaddek Hossain. Among the spinners that we usually pick as Shakib [Al Hasan]’s back-up, Nayeem Hasan has done well,” Mashrafe said.

Taskin has shown consistent pace, lengths and variation during the BPL so far, taking two four-wicket hauls for Sylhet Sixers among his 14 wickets. He last played an ODI in October 2017 and has been out of the reckoning due to fitness and form issues since March last year. Two other bowlers – Shafiul and Nayeem – too have earned Mashrafe’s mentions, having bowled reasonably well during the tournament.

Among those whose ODI spots could be under doubt for the New Zealand tour are Nazmul Islam, Abu Hider and Ariful Haque, none of whom have so far had impressive performances to show. Nazmul remains a back-up option for Shakib in those conditions, and that position could go to Nayeem, the promising 18-year-old offspinner.

Taskin may take Hider’s place while Sabbir – if he returns before February 28 – could yet be taken in Ariful’s place after the latter failed to come up with a sizeable score despite being kept in the senior side for a considerable period.



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