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“My best not good enough right now” – Bavuma

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Thirty-four for 3, 20 for 3, and 53 for 5.

This hasn’t been a uniformly terrible tour for South Africa’s batsmen. Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock have both scored hundreds, and Faf du Plessis has made a couple of fifties. The lower order has stuck around to the extent that South Africa, on this tour, have achieved two of the five longest ninth-wicket partnerships ever seen in India.

But it has been a nightmare tour for South Africa against the new ball, and Temba Bavuma, their No. 4, isn’t shying away from that.

“Look, from the guys at the top, the top-order batters, the guys who are entrusted with scoring the bulk of the runs, it does kind of hurt,” Bavuma said at the end of the third day’s play in Pune. “It does dent your ego when you’re seeing the lower order go out and fight it out to do what you’re really playing to do.

“The boys are trying with the bat and I think, looking forward, looking at the second innings, there’s a lot of confidence we can take in the fact that it’s not all demons out there. We can actually bat. We’ve just got to find a way to dominate with the bat, as much as India have done so.

“I don’t have the answers as to where it’s going wrong. The obvious one is that we’re not able to put up partnerships. We haven’t been able to absorb and sustain the pressure that the Indian bowlers have put on us for a consistent period of time.

“And that’s obviously something that we’ll be trying to rectify. We’re going to have an opportunity now in the second innings, whether India decide to bat again, whether they decide to [enforce the] follow-on, we’re going to have an opportunity as batters to really stake our claim.”

In three innings on this tour, Bavuma has made 18, 0 and 8. He knows a lot more is expected of him.

“I can understand all the criticism and all the flak that is coming my way,” Bavuma said. “Like I’ve always said, as a batter your currency is runs and that’s what you’re judged according to. And when your performances are not at the level that we’re so accustomed to as South African batters, people are going to come hard.

“The South African public, the fans, are very proud and they’re used to a higher standard of cricket. Us as sportsmen represent the South African country – that’s the pressure we deal with. From my side as a player, it’s not as if I am going out there and trying to nick balls and trying to miss straight ones.

“I can honestly probably say, being critical of myself, that I’m giving my best but probably my best at this point in time is not good enough. In saying that, it is not something that I’ll shy away from. Criticism is a good thing. I’ve always felt that it’s just a matter of me, as a professional cricketer, stepping up to the pressure that is before me and trying to win back the support of the fans back home.”

At the end of the second day’s play, when South Africa were 36 for 3 in response to India’s 601 for 5 declared, their team director Enoch Nkwe had stern words for the players.

“We had an honest and truthful chat from the coach,” Bavuma said. “He gave us his true feelings, his true thoughts on how we had gone about our last two days. He was really critical of our effort. Basically he said with everything that’s happened, we’ve got to find a way.

“We haven’t come to India to lose, we haven’t necessarily come to India to just learn; we’ve actually come to compete and to win. That’s what our goal is. Yes, we haven’t done it in the first Test. We haven’t been able to do that in the first two-and-a-half days [here], but there’s an opportunity going forward to do it. Like I said, there is a responsibility from us to stake our claim and do everyone justice.”

The top-order batsmen, Bavuma said, could look to the lower-order pair of Keshav Maharaj and Vernon Philander, who put on 109 in 259 balls, if they need any inspiration for the second innings.

“It was a spectacular effort from Vernon and Keshav to fight it out there out in the middle, and face as many balls as they did, and in saying that still accumulate runs. I mean, us in the change room and even on the sides, we were enjoying every moment of it.

“But as I said, we were feeding from the confidence they were giving us. You saw the balance between their defence as well as their attacking shots. That’s something we’ve been speaking about as batters. That’s been our aim in what we’re trying to do. The mood is definitely positive, the mood has been positive, to be honest. It was enjoyable, the 260-ball partnership between those two.”

There was more inspiration to take from the fact that Maharaj, who scored his first Test fifty, was batting with an injured right shoulder.

“There’s definitely a lot of positives to take,” Bavuma said. “This is a confidence-booster. Keshav is a big player in the team, obviously Vernon as well. For big players, for senior players in the team to step up when the occasion arises is definitely is something that you can stick out your chest on.

“Like I said, over the next two days we’re going to need a lot more of that, with the ball, with the bat, in every department, we are going to need guys to put up their hand and no matter which way the result goes, let’s just make sure that our pride is intact.”



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Ajinkya Rahane moves from Rajasthan Royals to Delhi Capitals

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Ajinkya Rahane has been traded from Rajasthan Royals and will play for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2020. The move was confirmed by the IPL and both franchises on Thursday, the final day of the trading window. Rahane has become the second high-profile player to be acquired by the Capitals in the trading window after R Ashwin, and he’ll join a line-up that is already top-heavy, with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer in the top order, with Rishabh Pant to follow.

Rahane is the Royals’ most capped player and has played 106 matches for the franchise, with 100 matches coming in the IPL and six in the Champions League T20. He has represented them since 2011, with the exception of the 2016 and 2017 seasons when the team was suspended. He is also the Royals’ leading run-getter, having scored 3098 runs for them overall, at an average of 35.60 and a strike rate of 122.30. In the IPL, he has scored 2810 runs for the Royals at an average of 34.26 and a strike rate of 122.65.

He has captained the Royals in 24 matches, winning nine and losing 15. Rahane had faced some criticism for his strike-rate at the top of the order for the Royals in IPL 2018, when he tallied 370 runs at 28.46 but at a rate of only 118.21. He improved those numbers significantly in IPL 2019, with 393 runs at 32.75 and a strike rate of 137.89.

As part of the trade, the legspinning duo of Mayank Markande and Rahul Tewatia will move from the Capitals to the Royals. That also makes Markande the first player to be traded twice between seasons – having gone to the Capitals from Mumbai Indians earlier.

Markande played only three matches in IPL 2019, losing out on the legspinner’s spot to Rahul Chahar in the Mumbai side, taking one wicket and conceding runs at 9.83 per over. He had made his IPL debut with Mumbai in 2018, bursting onto the scene as an unknown and taking 15 wickets.

Tewatia played five matches in IPL 2019, but bowled only 6.2 overs overall, picking up two wickets. This move will mark a return for Tewatia to the franchise he started his IPL career with, having been part of the Royals in 2014 and 2015. He was also part of Kings XI Punjab in 2017, before the Capitals secured his services in 2018.

Their addition gives the Royals a surfeit of leggies, with Shreyas Gopal already in the team and expected to be the frontline spinner.

“Rahul and Mayank are both extremely talented cricketers with a bright future ahead of them. I am confident they will excel at Rajasthan Royals,” Delhi Capitals co-owner Parth Jindal said on the occasion. “I am also extremely honoured to welcome one of India’s most stellar and consistent batsmen, Ajinkya Rahane, to the DC family. When the franchise underwent a revamp last year, a decision was made to keep Indian players at its core. The result was there for everyone to see, with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Ishant Sharma performing brilliantly for us, and complimenting the youth that DC has in Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Prithvi Shaw, among others.

“That thought process has continued for us this time around as well, as is evident in the signing of Ravichandran Ashwin, followed by that of Ajinkya Rahane. I am sure Rahane’s wealth of experience, and familiarity with the conditions will help Delhi Capitals go a long way in IPL 2020.”

The Royals had used one of their Right to Match cards to buy Rahane for INR 4 crore in the IPL 2018 auctions, following bidding between Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians which Kings XI won. Tewatia had been bought by the Capitals for INR 3 crore, from a base price of INR 20 lakh. Mumbai had bought Markande for his base price of INR 20 lakh.



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Jack Leach signs Somerset contract extension

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Jack Leach, the England left-arm spinner, has signed a two-year contract extension with Somerset that will keep him at the club until the end of the 2022 season.

Leach, who was born and raised in Taunton, has been part of the club’s system since his childhood, and has been a first-team regular since the 2016 season, when his 65 wickets at 21.87 apiece nearly fired Somerset to a first Championship title.

He was perhaps unfortunate to miss out on a red-ball central contract with England – he has been given an incremental contract instead – and is currently in New Zealand, preparing to play in the first Test at Mount Maunganui on November 21.

“I’m very happy to sign this new contract,” Leach said. “I’m a Somerset fan at heart so I’m very proud to represent the county. I have a great relationship with the members and fans, and I can’t thank them enough for the support they give the team and me as an individual.

“I’d also like to thank Jason Kerr [head coach] and Andy Hurry [director of cricket] for the belief they have shown in me. I’m looking forward to the winter and can’t wait for next season.”

Hurry said: “Everyone at the club is delighted that Jack has committed his future to Somerset. He is an exceptional talent and a big influence in the dressing room. I can’t speak highly enough of him both as a player and as a man.

“He has a genuine passion for the game and in particular for Somerset. That shows itself every time he trains, in his diligent preparation and in his wholehearted performances every time he takes to the field. We feel that he has a major role to play for both Somerset and England over the forthcoming years.”

Leach’s extension is something of a blow to Dom Bess, the offspinner who played two Tests for England in May 2018 but found himself in the Somerset 2nd XI later that summer.

Bess – who twice went on loan to Yorkshire last summer – is contracted until the end of next season, and is unlikely to change clubs this winter despite Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale publicly registering his interest in making that move permanent. But having played only nine times for Somerset in all formats last year – seven in the Championship and twice in the One-Day Cup – another frustrating season may leave Bess with no choice but to look elsewhere given he retains ambitions of a long international career.



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Recent Match Report – South Australia vs Tasmania, Sheffield Shield, 11th Match

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South Australia 6 for 490 dec and 5 for 191 dec (Ferguson 82, Hunt 69) drew with Tasmania 6 for 345 dec and 8 for 308 (Doolan 116, Agar 3-49)

Alex Doolan became just the seventh Tasmania batsman to score twin centuries in a Sheffield Shield match to deny South Australia victory on the final day in Adelaide.

The Redbacks haven’t won in two seasons and came within two wickets of breaking their drought. However, Doolan’s 116, following on from 170 not out in the first innings, combined with stubborn resistance from Ben McDermott and George Bailey helped Tasmania force a draw although for a long time they were in with a good chance of victory.

Doolan joined an elite group of Tasmanians which includes Test greats Ricky Ponting and David Boon to produce twin hundreds in a match. He also achieved the rare feat of facing more than 600 deliveries in a Shield game, something only a handful of players including Steve Waugh and Bob Simpson have achieved.

Tasmania were set 337 in 90 overs on the final day after South Australia declared for the second time in the game. Callum Ferguson fell for 82 in the morning having added only 10 to his overnight total.

They appeared well on track to chase the target down having reached 3 for 240 with 25 overs remaining. Beau Webster, Matthew Wade, and McDermott all featured in significant partnerships with Doolan but when he finally fell to Wes Agar the chase stalled.

Nick Winter clean bowled McDermott and Tim Paine in consecutive overs then Agar returned to knock over Jackson Bird before Joe Mennie struck with the second new ball to leave Tasmania eight down.

George Bailey had to shepherd Lawrence Neil-Smith through the last 41 balls and the pair did so successfully to extend South Australia’s drought.



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