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Steyn, Philander leave Sri Lanka in a mess

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Sri Lanka 133 for 6 (Kusal Perera 37*, Steyn 2-24, Philander 2-32) trail South Africa 235 (de Kock 80, Bavuma 47, Vishwa 4-62) by 102 runs

South Africa’s fast bowlers tipped the balance back in their favour by picking up with three wickets inside the first hour and five by lunch. Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Duanne Olivier picked up a wicket apiece in the session, while Vernon Philander struck twice before Kusal Perera and Dhananjaya de Silva came together to add 43 for the sixth wicket. At the stroke of lunch, Dhananjaya fell to a cunningly-laid trap for the pull and Sri Lanka went to the interval at 133 for 6, still 102 runs adrift.

While Dhananjaya and Kusal Perera restored a little control in the second hour, the first had belonged almost entirely to the bowlers. Already faced with the daunting challenge of fronting up to South Africa’s quicks with the ball wobbling around, Sri Lanka made things harder for themselves.

Within the first thirty minutes of play, they had already declined to take a review that would have saved debutant Oshada Fernando when he was given out lbw to Steyn. Replays proved the ball would’ve missed leg stump. Having failed to use one when they could’ve been saved, they burnt one when Dimuth Karunaratne was given out and replays only served to confirm the umpire’s call.

Those two strikes early on ramped up the pressure on a brittle middle order, but the Kusals – Mendis and Perera – responded with some authoritative strokeplay. Kusal Mendis was off the mark with a fluid on drive, and even had the gumption to lift Steyn in the air over mid off, but was eventually undone by Philander’s persistent line in the channel outside off. Jabbing at a length delivery with hard hands, Mendis sent an edge low towards the slips, where Faf du Plessis stooped low to hold the catch – his 50th in Tests.

Olivier’s introduction quickly brought Niroshan Dickwella’s end, the left hander checking a pull at a short ball halfway through the shot to swirl a top edge out to Steyn at third man. But at the other end, Kusal Perera refused to allow the dismissals to slow his tempo. Having taken back to back boundaries off Philander, he crunched Rabada on the up through cover and then lifted the same bowler for six over deep square leg to race into the 20s.

Sri Lanka’s 100 came up shortly afterwards, and Dhananjaya followed Kusal Perera’s lead in taking the attack to the bowlers. He was a little fortunate to get away with a top-edged pull off Rabada that carried all the way over the fine leg boundary, but some iffy strokes were interspersed with confident ones.

Dhananjaya was into the 20s himself with a thick edge through gully that was immediately followed by an imperious pull off Rabada, but moments before lunch his propensity to get after the bowling brought his downfall.

With Olivier placed at fine leg, Dhananjaya aimed a wild swipe at a shortish delivery from Rabada. The trap was laid, and on the penultimate ball of the session, de Silva leapt right into it. While Perera and de Silva were together, Sri Lanka looked like at least achieving parity in the first innings, but the late strike has put South Africa ahead going into the second session of the day.



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Oman ride on Mohammad Nadeem’s sizzling form to overcome USA

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Oman 152 for 4 (Nadeem 55*, Suraj 50*, Ali Khan 4-27) beat USA 148 (Silva 33, Fayyaz 3-23) by six wickets

Allrounder Mohammad Nadeem‘s sizzling 2019 form helped Oman to a six-wicket win over USA at United CC. Coming into the tournament on the back of half-centuries in wins over Scotland and UAE, Nadeem made another unbeaten half-century in a 97-run unbroken stand with Suraj Kumar to repel USA after Ali Khan‘s four-wicket burst.

On a very sluggish outfield and up-and-down pitch in the first innings, USA were bowled out for 148 in just 38.5 overs as a sensational fast bowling effort from Bilal Khan, Kaleemullah and Fayyaz Butt set up what should have been a straightforward chase of a below-par target. The surface had begun to flatten out in the afternoon sun, but Ali took three wickets with the new ball to leave Oman reeling at 17 for 3.

Ali then returned in the 22nd over and struck with his very first ball of a new spell to get captain Zeeshan Maqsood fiddling an edge behind to make it 55 for 4. Curiously though, Ali only bowled two more overs, meaning he bowled two short of his available quota in one of several eyebrow-raising strategic moves on the day for USA, who also left out Nosthush Kenjige from the XI just a few matches after he had claimed 5 for 27 against Lancashire.

With Ali hidden from the attack, Nadeem and Kumar rebuilt the chase and soon became impossible to dislodge. Nadeem ended on 55 not out off 120 balls while Kumar brought up his half-century on the last ball of the match, sweeping Timil Patel for four through midwicket when scores were level.

Hong Kong 223 for 3 (Rath 114*, Atkinson 35, Dutta 2-30) beat Canada 222 for 8 (Jacobs 52*, Kinchit 4-34) by seven wickets

Hong Kong captain Anshy Rath helped construct a trio of half-century stands, including 90 for the first wicket with former captain Jamie Atkinson to chase down Canada’s 222 with 16 balls to spare at Affies Park.

It was Rath’s second ton for Hong Kong in the last eight months after compiling 102 in a win over UAE at the Asia Cup Qualifier in Malaysia. In addition to the stand with Atkinson, Rath added 50 with Kinchit Shah and another 63 with Ahsan Abbasi for the third wicket.

It was a superb all-round day for Kinchit, who bowled spin with the new ball and claimed the prized scalp of Ruvindu Gunasekera with his fourth ball of the day before coming back to take a hat-trick in the final over. With captain Davy Jacobs red-hot on 52 off 53 balls, he went ice cold at the non-striker’s end watching helplessly as Kinchit nabbed Saad bin Zafar, Dilon Heyliger and Nikhil Dutta with the last three balls of the innings to ensure Canada were defending a below part total.

Namibia 120 for 7 (Frylinck 23*, Amini 3-46) beat PNG 118 (Soper 36, Frylinck 3-16, Williams 3-25, Smit 3-34) by three wickets

Jan Frylinck played a vital role in a low-scoring thriller to help the tournament hosts off to a winning start against Papua New Guinea. Frylinck snared the prized pair of Tony Ura and captain Assad Vala inside the Powerplay and from there, PNG’s innings never gained any momentum. Chad Soper stretched the innings out with 36 from No. 6 before he was last person out in the 43rd for Frylinck’s third victim.

The early part of Namibia’s chase wasn’t much better than what PNG had produced. After legspinner Charles Amini ripped though the middle-order, Christi Viljoe was runout for 8 to leave Namibia 67 for 6 chasing a target of 119.

But Frylinck followed up his wickets with an instrumental 23 not out off of 20 balls to get Namibia over the line with a whopping 19.3 overs to spare. It means they hold a sizeable early advantage with the tournament tiebreaker of net run rate.





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Oman ride on Mohammad Nadeem’s sizzling form to overcome USA

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Oman 152 for 4 (Nadeem 55*, Suraj 50*, Ali Khan 4-27) beat USA 148 (Silva 33, Fayyaz 3-23) by six wickets

Allrounder Mohammad Nadeem‘s sizzling 2019 form helped Oman to a six-wicket win over USA at United CC. Coming into the tournament on the back of half-centuries in wins over Scotland and UAE, Nadeem made another unbeaten half-century in a 97-run unbroken stand with Suraj Kumar to repel USA after Ali Khan‘s four-wicket burst.

On a very sluggish outfield and up-and-down pitch in the first innings, USA were bowled out for 148 in just 38.5 overs as a sensational fast bowling effort from Bilal Khan, Kaleemullah and Fayyaz Butt set up what should have been a straightforward chase of a below-par target. The surface had begun to flatten out in the afternoon sun, but Ali took three wickets with the new ball to leave Oman reeling at 17 for 3.

Ali then returned in the 22nd over and struck with his very first ball of a new spell to get captain Zeeshan Maqsood fiddling an edge behind to make it 55 for 4. Curiously though, Ali only bowled two more overs, meaning he bowled two short of his available quota in one of several eyebrow-raising strategic moves on the day for USA, who also left out Nosthush Kenjige from the XI just a few matches after he had claimed 5 for 27 against Lancashire.

With Ali hidden from the attack, Nadeem and Kumar rebuilt the chase and soon became impossible to dislodge. Nadeem ended on 55 not out off 120 balls while Kumar brought up his half-century on the last ball of the match, sweeping Timil Patel for four through midwicket when scores were level.

Hong Kong 223 for 3 (Rath 114*, Atkinson 35, Dutta 2-30) beat Canada 222 for 8 (Jacobs 52*, Kinchit 4-34) by seven wickets

Hong Kong captain Anshy Rath helped construct a trio of half-century stands, including 90 for the first wicket with former captain Jamie Atkinson to chase down Canada’s 222 with 16 balls to spare at Affies Park.

It was Rath’s second ton for Hong Kong in the last eight months after compiling 102 in a win over UAE at the Asia Cup Qualifier in Malaysia. In addition to the stand with Atkinson, Rath added 50 with Kinchit Shah and another 63 with Ahsan Abbasi for the third wicket.

It was a superb all-round day for Kinchit, who bowled spin with the new ball and claimed the prized scalp of Ruvindu Gunasekera with his fourth ball of the day before coming back to take a hat-trick in the final over. With captain Davy Jacobs red-hot on 52 off 53 balls, he went ice cold at the non-striker’s end watching helplessly as Kinchit nabbed Saad bin Zafar, Dilon Heyliger and Nikhil Dutta with the last three balls of the innings to ensure Canada were defending a below part total.

Namibia 120 for 7 (Frylinck 23*, Amini 3-46) beat PNG 118 (Soper 36, Frylinck 3-16, Williams 3-25, Smit 3-34) by three wickets

Jan Frylinck played a vital role in a low-scoring thriller to help the tournament hosts off to a winning start against Papua New Guinea. Frylinck snared the prized pair of Tony Ura and captain Assad Vala inside the Powerplay and from there, PNG’s innings never gained any momentum. Chad Soper stretched the innings out with 36 from No. 6 before he was last person out in the 43rd for Frylinck’s third victim.

The early part of Namibia’s chase wasn’t much better than what PNG had produced. After legspinner Charles Amini ripped though the middle-order, Christi Viljoe was runout for 8 to leave Namibia 67 for 6 chasing a target of 119.

But Frylinck followed up his wickets with an instrumental 23 not out off of 20 balls to get Namibia over the line with a whopping 19.3 overs to spare. It means they hold a sizeable early advantage with the tournament tiebreaker of net run rate.





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With the bat and in the mind, Steven Smith is ‘happy where things are at’

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Leadership was far away from Steven Smith‘s mind when there was a knock on his hotel room door on Friday evening in Jaipur. It was a member of the Rajasthan Royals team management, and the message was simple – he was the captain of the team. A day later, Smith admitted to being surprised by the update, and said his first act was to have an “honest chat with Ajinkya Rahane“, who he described as the “perfect team man”.

“I think Ajinkya has done a terrific job for the last year-and-a-half. Obviously, he got the boys to the playoffs last year, but the management called me in yesterday and said they wanted me to captain for the rest of the season,” Smith said after steering Royals to a five-wicket win over Mumbai Indians with an unbeaten half-century, his first of the season. “I was a bit surprised by it at the time, but yeah, that’s their decision.

“I wasn’t going for the captaincy or anything like that. The management just called me and told me this was how it’s going to be. So I had a chat with Ajinkya, he’s a terrific guy. He said ‘whatever’s best for the team, I’ll support’. You just have to see the way he came out. It’s never easy being told those kind of things but he came out today and played some nice shots at the start, got us off to a good start. He’s a terrific guy and always does what is the best for the team.”

“I haven’t quite enjoyed hiding in the field, it’s not my sort of way around things. I like being in the midst of the action, around the hotspots, and get involved”

It’s the latest upturn in what has been a rollercoaster few months for Smith, during which an elbow problem – and the after-effects of a surgery on it – have been constants. He has been playing with an elbow guard, both while batting and while fielding, to help curb the flexing of the muscles near the area that was affected. While this has impacted his throwing and forced him to curb certain shots, Smith said the good news was that he was “only two weeks away” from complete recovery.

“I still have to play quite heavily strapped, there’s still a few issues with throwing, but I am getting there slowly,” he said. “I can’t throw full tilt yet, but in a couple of weeks, I should be able to throw at full pace, which is going to be nice. I haven’t quite enjoyed hiding in the field, it’s not my sort of way around things. I like being in the midst of the action, around the hotspots, and get involved.

“The elbow is coming along nicely. Since I’ve been in India, I haven’t felt any pain batting. It’s more about just getting used to the fact that I can’t straighten my arm, which took some time to get around, but I’m feeling good, better with each and every game that I play.”

Before this game, Smith has been unable to put up a really big score, or impact the result of a game in a big way. Smith expressed relief at doing that on Saturday, and sounded happy with where his game was at.

“I feel like I’m getting better and better, the way I’m hitting the ball,” he said. “More importantly, my mind is probably getting better and better, the decisions I’m making. I base my batting around the decisions I make, and I’m clearer in my mind. I’m getting clearer and clearer about the way I play.

“I’m happy where things are at, currently. Hopefully, things can get better for the Royals over the next few games. That’s what I’m thinking about for the moment.”

Smith reserved special praise for Riyan Parag, the third youngest after Prayas Ray Burman and Mujeeb Ur Rahman to feature in the IPL. Smith shared a 70-run stand with the 17-year-old to help Royals recover from a mini-slump and canter to victory. Parag’s audacious shot-making, particularly off Lasith Malinga and Hardik Pandya, had Smith run up to him to exchange high-fives.

The new Royals captain said Parag had taught even the experienced players, including himself, a few lessons. “He’s a terrific young kid,” Smith said. “He works very hard, he’s a fit and strong young kid. The way he batted, even in the first game that he played, he taught a lot of the experienced players a few lessons, including myself. He played with a really cool head, just came out and played with freedom.

“He saw the ball, hit the ball and didn’t worry about anything.”

On Parag’s bowling – full of tricks and variations – Smith said, “He’s also got terrific skills with the ball. He bowled really well against Chennai (Super Kings) and bowled really well here. He only started bowling the stuff that he’s been bowling three weeks ago, before that he was just a genuine offspinner. The kid learns very quickly, sign of a very good player, someone who has a bright future. There’s no doubt about that.”



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