When West Indies finished the fourth day on a score of 52-6 with Sri Lanka needing only four wickets on the last day at Galle to win the first Test of the two-match series between the two teams, nobody would have given the Caribbeans any chance to survive even the first hour.
However, surprising all the cricket pundits, not only did Nkrumah Bonner and Joshua Da Silva, the unbeaten pair from the fourth day survive the first hour, but even went on to add 66 more runs to their 34 run partnership from the previous day and thus added 100 runs for the sixth wicket.
Da Silva did get out just before lunch, but not before completing a fighting fifty. Most importantly, he played 129 balls to score his 54 runs. However, Sri Lanka’s thought that they might now induce false shots from the upcoming tail were dashed as Rahkeem Cornwall joined Bonner and the pair have so far added 20 runs, and most importantly, has kept Sri Lankan spinners wicketless for 11 overs.
Bonner also completed his fifty, his third in Test cricket courtesy of this partnership. At the time of writing this piece, Bonner was batting on 55 off 190 balls, while Cornwall remained unbeaten on 7 off 35 balls.
Apart from some dogged batting approach from the West Indian batters, Sri Lanka would also have to keep an eye on the skies as they are filled with grey clouds threatening to burst at any time and ruin the home side’s chances of a victory. As of now, 47 overs are still to be bowled and West Indies are 140-7.
New Zealand have made their way back on the first day of the ongoing first Test against India in Kanpur with big wickets of Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara in quick succession. Kyle Jamieson was the pick of the Kiwi’s bowler and picked up both the opener Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill to deny India the chance to get away with the game. He first tested Agarwal outside his off stump continuously before finally getting the edge of his bat to the wicketkeeper Tom Blundell. After his fall, Gill played some crips drives and lofted shots off the left-arm spin bowling of Ajaz Patel and reached his third fifty in the longest format. He and Cheteshwar Pujara took India to lunch without any further damage. He looked all set for a big score and was batting fluently before Jamieson came back right after the lunch interval to sneak through his defence. Gill’s departure brought the under-pressure duo of Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, who is leading the side in absence of Virat Kohli together at the crease. Both batted with some control as New Zealand spinners offered them loose deliveries to capitalise on. However, Kane Williamson quickly switched back to his pacers and introduced Tim Southee from one end and he produced the much-needed wicket of Pujara to take his 350th wicket in the format and left India in some sort of trouble. The debutant Shreyas Iyer and Rahane have the task of leading the hosts to a good total in the first innings. Notably, they are without Rishabh Pant and they don’t have any specialist batsman left behind them in the playing XI.
Weeks before the mega auction for the next few editions of the Indian Premier League could take place, multiple franchises have all but made up their mind on the players they want to retain for the upcoming seasons. As per a report in The Indian Express, as many as four franchises such as the Chennai Super Kings, the Delhi Capitals, the Mumbai Indians, the Kolkata Knight Riders have finalised the players they want to retain. The defending champions, the Chennai Super Kings have finalised to retain their talisman MS Dhoni before the mega auction. Dhoni has not been vocal about his plans and has been giving only mixed signals on his future plans as the skipper of the Super Kings. Apart from MSD, the Super Kings have marked the all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, and the young opener Ruturaj Gaikwad as the other two retentions among their Indian players. From the list of overseas players, the side in yellow are yet to finalise one among Moeen Ali or Sam Curran as their players. The Delhi Capitals have finalised their new skipper Rishabh Pant as their top retention for the next few editions. They have also marked the explosive opener, Prithvi Shaw and the all-rounder Axar Patel as their other two retentions among Indian players. Among their list of overseas players, they have finalised Anrich Nortje as their only foreign player. The most successful franchise—the Mumbai Indians, have decided to retain their five-time IPL winning captain Rohit Sharma as their first retention. Apart from Rohit, they have also earmarked Jasprit Bumrah as their retention. They have also finalised Kieron Pollard, who has been there with the franchise throughout the entire length of his career in IPL and they are having discussions with him. They have also finalised Ishan Kishan as their fourth retention and talks are underway with him as well. The Kolkata Knight Riders have finalised just two names as Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, who have been at the forefront of their success in so many past seasons. They have not made any retentions from among Indian players.
Nathan Lyon will have “no dramas” with either Steve Smith or Pat Cummins becoming the next skipper of Australia’s Test side as “they are probably the two best candidates” in his views. Notably, Cricket Australia has appointed a five-member panel to select the next captain of the side after Tim Paine resigned from the leadership position due to a historic scandal. Both Cummins and Smith have been interviewed by the committee including the chairman of selectors George Bailey and Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley but the former has garnered more support from the pundits and former players of the game. Lyon recalled his playing days for New South Wales under Cummins and said that he will make a good leader of the side. He also assured all support from senior players including himself if he will be appointed the next skipper. On the other hand, he rated Smith as a “great cricket mind” and one of the best batters going around the world cricket which can bring immense value to the Australian Test side. "I think you look at the two guys who have been interviewed by Australia for the two roles, I think they're probably the two best candidates in my eyes," Lyon said. "Playing under Pat at New South Wales cricket in the one-day set up last year, I think he did a really good job, to be honest with you. I know it's going to be a different kettle of fish, but he's got a lot of senior players around him to support Pat if he does get the nod. But then you look at Steve Smith, I think Smithy is up there with the best batters in the world. He's got a great cricket mind and I've got no dramas with both of them putting their hand up for the captaincy, to be honest with you." The first Test of Ashes is scheduled to start on December 09 at Gabba in Brisbane.
Australia’s two-time world cup winning captain Ricky Ponting has said that the resignation of Tim Paine as the captain of the side just a few days before the upcoming Ashes series will be a distraction for the players during the big series. However, he said that Paine took a huge call to serve the better purpose of Australian cricket. He said that the issue will not be left behind when Paine joins the side and plays in Brisbane and the talks around the scandal will stick around him for whatever time he will be around in the Australian team. He suggested that the players must make an effort to move on from the saga and knuckle down the issue as soon as possible. "I think inevitably it will (be a distraction)," Ponting told cricket.com.au. "Yes, he's made a huge call for himself, for Australian cricket and for the betterment of the Australian cricket team. But it's not going to go away.” "We're only a few weeks out from the first Test – it will bubble along. As much as we would all love to see it go away and there comes a point where it's never talked about, it's inevitable that it's going to be there. If he plays in Brisbane (for the first Test), the rest of the group and everyone needs to move on and do the best they can to forget about it and knuckle down.” "Unfortunately for Tim he's going to get asked about it everywhere he goes. Whenever you make mistakes and you've got to front up in front of the cricket-loving public, you have some doubts in the back of your mind for a period of time." Paine resigned from captaincy after an investigation report of a scandal when he texted his female colleague obscene messages was about to come out. He was cleared in a preliminary investigation but Paine said that as he realised the details of those messages would be made public, he put his hands up saying it would not have met the standards of an Australian captain. Cricket Australia has appointed a five-member panel to select the next skipper of Australia and the vice-captain Pat Cummins and former captain Steve Smith are the frontrunners to replace Paine as the skipper.