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WI vs SL | 2nd Test: Karunaratne, Thirimanne keep Windies at bay; Test series ends without a result

Sri Lankan openers showed grit and determination to stop West Indies from claiming 10 wickets on the last day and seal the series. The pair of experienced batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne and skipper Dimuth Karunaratne set out a plan and churned out an invaluable partnership to lower the morale of Kraigg Brathwaite’s men who felt that they were on top at the end of day four.

The opening wicket added 101 runs and delayed any prospect of a breakthrough by the 39th over. Even when Thirimanne was caught brilliantly at the slips by Rakheem Cornwall off Alzarri Joseph, the Sri Lankans didn’t let the pressure build as the new man in Oshada Fernando kept rotating the strikes after blocking balls en masse. By the time the skipper was dismissed by Kyle Mayers, Sri Lanka had consolidated their position, scoring just 146 in the chase of 377, but essentially blocking out almost 56 overs off the 80 that they were supposed to play (minus the extra hour of play). 

The pitch too played its part in confirmation of the draw as it did not break and remained a good slow batting track. Coupled with the inclement weather and injury to Shanon Gabriel, the Windies were unable to push on with the attack and Dinesh Chandimal and Oshada remained unbeaten at 10 and 66 respectively to see the islanders to a comfortable draw. 

Earlier Windies were late at declaring their second innings at 280-4 and with rain disturbing the match throughout, the Sri Lankans, even after getting out for 258 in the first innings in response to Windies’ 354, were able to save the game and draw the series. 

Brathwaite, who scored a century in the first innings and 85 in the second was adjudged Man of the Match. Suranga Lakmal, who is on a path to rediscover himself with fierce fast bowling was adjudged Man of the Series for taking 11 crucial wickets at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.  

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I consider it my World Cup: Winning WTC is the ultimate goal for ageing Umesh Yadav

India’s fast bowler, Umesh Yadav believes that for players who play very limited to no white-ball cricket, representing the country at the World Test Championship and winning it is the ultimate goal. At 33, Yadav hopes to make it to the playing XI in England and then perform his best to have a lasting memory of the showpiece Test event. "We have worked really hard to get there,” Yadav told ESPNCricinfo about the WTC finale in England. “With players like me who are not regulars in white-ball cricket, it is this that we consider our World Cup. If I am able to perform well in that match and we end up winning, being world champions will forever be a memory," he said. Considering that England is a place where India would like to play with four-seamers, Yadav sees himself being a part of the bowling lineup. "The match is in England, where swing and seam are important, so I definitely see myself in the playing XI for that game," said the Nagpur born. The WTC final is scheduled to take place between India and New Zealand from 18-22 June at Southampton in England. Talking about his future in cricket, Yadav said that he hardly has two to three years to push himself and if he could do that, it would ultimately be beneficial to the team. "I am 33 now and I know that I can mostly pull my body for another two or three years, and there will be some youngsters who will be arriving (to play). I feel this is just healthy because it ultimately ends up benefiting the team,” he said. The Vidarbha bowler who has so far taken 263 wickets in 130 appearances for India feels lucky that he hasn’t faced the brunt of injury as much as some of his peers have had to. “Relatively I haven't had that many injuries. And that is satisfying as a fast bowler, because once a fast bowler starts getting injured (regularly), he tends to start struggling, which ultimately reduces his (playing) life,” said Yadav, who will be playing for Delhi Capitals in the upcoming edition of the IPL.


SA vs PAK: Pakistan does what Pakistan do; mess up easy chase and win last-ball thriller

It was a normal day at SuperSport Park in Centurion with two teams playing usual (referred to as boring in modern lingo) ODI cricket until one of them decided to make it interesting. Pakistan, while chasing down a target of 274 set up by the South African, were having an easy ride, were rather cruising to it at 186-1 in the 32nd over with their young skipper having completed his 13th ODI century in just his 78th game. But Pakistan and things going smoothly are antonyms to an extreme. Babar, trying to be cheeky, edged one to the wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock and was soon followed by his partner Imam-Ul-Haq, jeopardising their chances, but not completely. However, two newcomers, debutant Danish Aziz and relatively inexperienced Asif Ali also fell in the footsteps of their skipper, playing wasteful shots to put Pakistan under all sorts of pressure. From 186-1, they were suddenly 203-5. It was then that the experienced and calm heads of Mohammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan eked out a plan to get the remaining runs, which were required at less than run a ball. The duo added 53 for the seventh wicket. Just when Pakistan looked in complete control, the panic button was pressed once again. Rizwan, trying to hit one out of the park, just managed to hole it out in the deep to Andile Phehlukwayo. The run rate pressure mounted again and from 18 required off 17 balls, the equation got up to 13 off nine balls. But then Pakistan were gifted another lifeline as Lungi Ngidi bowled Shadab, but it was declared a waist-high no-ball and on the free hit, he hit a four and then took three of the last ball to simplify the matters with three required off the last over. So we thought it was over by then, but it wasn’t. Shadab trying to be a superhero, hit the very first ball in the air and was caught by Rassie Van der Dussen at deep Point. Rassie was the one who had dropped him early on. Faheem Ashraf then played three dots with the last of them hitting him on his helmet and the physio rushing to the field for the mandatory concussion check. Whether it was the physio or the ball hitting, but some sense was put in Faheem’s head and to his support, Phehlukwayo, who had kept it short and wide for the first four balls, pitched it fuller and the left-hander hit it down the ground to pick up two and make the match tantalizingly enticing with Super Over hopes getting aroused. With one required of the last ball, Temba Bavuma the skipper brought in the field and blocked all the ways. All that Phehlukwayo was required to do was to land in a near-perfect yorker or a wide yorker at the very best, if not a perfect toe crusher. But he bowled it a pitch-perfect length ball for Faheem to drive past short cover and get to the win. Pakistan won by three wickets. Nortje was the best bowler for the Proteas with four scalps to his credit. Earlier in the day, Babar invited Bavuma’s men to bat after winning the toss. The result was as desired for the Pakistanis (can’t say men in green as both the teams wore almost the same dress) as they picked four wickets pushing the South African train off the tracks. Shaheen Afridi was the wrecker in chief, picking two of those four wickets. Rassie, playing only his 22nd game, turned out to be the saviour for South Africa, scoring his maiden ton and getting the team up to a respectable total of 273-6. He was supported well by David Miller who got a fifty and Phehlukwayo (29 off 35). The two teams will now collide at The Wanderers Stadium in the second ODI on 4th April.


IPL 2021: With Indian core group intact, Simon Katich feels RCB has got the right balance to click

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