The inaugural edition of the Lanka Premier League, the premium T20 tournament of Sri Lanka, got off to a flyer with a super over finish at Hambantota in the very first game featuring Colombo Kings and Kandy Tuskers. In the super over, batting first, the Kings made 16 runs, thanks to some lusty blows from Caribbean import Andre Russell and captain Angelo Mathews.
Defending the total was Isuru Udana, who had played a match-saving knock earlier with the bat. Udana was hit for a four and a six by Afghan batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz to bring down the equation to seven from three balls, having played the first delivery as a dot ball.
However, a rash umpiring decision meant that wide was not called in favour of the chasing side and thus seven was required from the last two balls. Udana bowled a wide Yorker which got Gurbaz off strike with Kusal Perera facing the first delivery in the super over and was required to hit a six, which he failed to do, thereby letting his team lose the match by four runs.
Earlier in the game, the Tuskers, riding on the brilliance of their two openers, Gurbaz (53 of 22) and Perera (87 of 52), got up to 219 in their innings. Kings too did not back away in the chase and made merry on the dew-laden ground as they equalled the daunting total thanks to some amazing hitting by experienced pros Dinesh Chandimal (80 of 46) and a late dash by all-rounder Udana, who hit 34 off just 12 , including four sixes.
Chandimal, for his brilliant knock, was chosen Man of the Match. On Saturday, the Galle Gladiators, captained by Bhanuka Rajapaksa in the absence of Shahid Afridi, would take on Jaffna Stallions, led by Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera.
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Saying that it’s a no-brainer that the senior bowling pros of the Indian team Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami would be rotated in the limited-overs series; the Indian captain suggested that it is being done to make sure they remain fresh for the all-important Test series. “They have gone through a full IPL. It will be important to monitor their workload. You want to see how people react to different situations,” Kohli said in a virtual press conference on the eve of the first ODI in Sydney. “There is a fine balance that you need to maintain, something we have managed to do for the last few years,” added the Indian captain. The 32-year-old reasoned that rotation has been the reason for Indian bowlers remaining fit for the important games. “That is why our bowlers have been fit and available for the important matches most of the time for us. It is an important factor for me as a captain. It is going to be crucial,” said Kohli. For many Indian players, it is going to be an altogether new experience playing down under, Kohli being aware of it said that it surely can be a very intimidating experience, no doubt. But according to him, that happens only when one is not ready mentally and doesn’t have the skills. “In every sport, they are very tough, the crowd can be tough on traveling players and rightly so. But if you perform well, you get a lot of respect. As a sportsman, I am a big fan of it. The stadiums are amazing, always a nice tour full of challenges,” the Delhi born told the press.
One of the greatest all-rounders of the cricketing world and England captain Ian Botham has lavished huge praises on Ben Stokes, calling him the biggest name in the world cricket at the moment. The former great praised Stokes not only for his on-field heroics but also for the work that he puts in off it. “Nowadays, Ben Stokes is obviously right up there. He’s box-office, he’s great to watch, he’s fantastic for the dressing room,” Botham said in an interview to Wisden’s Monthly Cricket Magazine’s special issue. Botham, 65, also praised the World Cup-winning all-rounder’s leadership qualities in which he motivates his teammates, be it from England or from his County Durham to do well. “Even at Durham, if he’s got a day off, and they don’t get too many these days, he’ll pop in and see the boys. He’s very much a Durham boy and wants to see how the team is doing. He’s exceptional. For me, probably the biggest name in world cricket at the moment,” said Botham. Asked about who he considers as the greatest all-rounder, the recently nominated member of the House of Lords said that although his childhood hero had been Kenny Barrington, for him, West Indian Garry Sobers stood above all. “Garry Sobers. He did everything. As all-rounders go, I think Garry was the most complete: fantastic fielder, magnificent batsman, averaging above 50, he could bowl left-arm swing and also bowl Chinamen. That’s probably the ultimate in being an all-rounder,” he said.
The Cricket South Africa’s Chief Medical Officer has warned the media and the people that if more positive cases are reported in the Proteas camp, then there might arise a situation when no game would take place between the hosts and England, the touring party. Addressing the Press ahead of the first T20I in Newlands, a part of the three-match T20 series, CMO Shuaib Manjra said, "There probably won't be a game.” Already two South African players have tested positive for the virus and have been isolated from the rest of the team members. "If you've got lots of positives you've got a quarantine context," Manjra said. "We cannot bring in a player from the outside without testing them at least twice before we bring them into this space,” he added. However, the doctor was still positive that too many cases won’t result positive and hence it would be possible to conduct the series. “If a large group of people tests positive we wouldn't have adequate opportunity to bridge people into the bio-bubble. But we've got a squad of 24. Hopefully, we can put a team together," he said. The South African players have tested in the morning on Thursday and results are expected by the evening.
England captain Eoin Morgan is not sure of his best XI going into the T20I series against hosts South Africa, starting with the first T20I in Newlands, Cape Town. The problem is not of shortage but of plenty, as after the covid-19 break, this is the first time that the full England squad is at the display for his choosing. “No, I don’t know my best XI. There are probably seven or eight guys who are strong candidates (for the remaining places). With a full-strength squad here there is so much to discuss around team selection,” Morgan said on the eve of the first T20I. “We are playing what we think is our best XI to beat South Africa here and now. But also think, looking ahead to the World Cup, that we will need the option of two spinners,” added the 34-year-old captain. However, one thing was made certain that Sam Curran would get the preference over fellow all-rounder Moeen Ali in the playing XI, mostly because the conditions in South Africa are seamer-friendly. Talking about Curran, who had a brilliant IPL season, with an otherwise dull Chennai Super Kings, Morgan said, “Sam has certainly grown in confidence, probably even more so with the bat than the ball. He was certainly thrown in all sorts of circumstances and had all sorts of challenges but came out the other side glowing, which is great.” “If we have the luxury of two all-rounders in the side in Ben and Sam, that’s huge,” added the Dublin born, who plays for Middlesex in the England domestic competition. Morgan also said that Jofra Archer might get a game or two but wouldn’t play often considering the workload and the idea of keeping him fresh before the World Cup. . “He’s one of the best in the world, he is coming off the back of being named MVP at the IPL,” said Morgan. But I don’t think we will have him that often in between now and the World Cup,” he said.