West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, says Sri Lanka’s resistance on the penultimate day of the second Test match in Galle will make it difficult for the West Indies to level the two-match series.

Virat Kohli is ready to put in the "hard yards" with the bat as he returns to India duty for the series-deciding second Test against New Zealand.

Captain Kohli elected to sit out the T20I series and the first Test against the Black Caps and has been working with former India batting coach Sanjay Bangar during his time away from the team.

He has made 41 centuries across all formats as captain of India, which puts him level with Ricky Ponting for the most while serving as an international skipper, and Kohli declared he feels ready to stay at the crease for a long time in Mumbai. Kohli's last international century came over two years ago, in November 2019 against Bangladesh.

Ahead of Friday's start to the match, rain impeded the teams and meant practice sessions at the Wankhede Stadium could not go ahead as planned on the eve of the Test.

Both sides were toying with selection options as a result of the weather, and it remained to be seen who would make way for Kohli's return, with Ajinkya Rahane perhaps the batter most vulnerable despite captaining India in the first Test.

Kohli said: "I really enjoy playing at the Wankhede. That's a ground that I've always had happy memories in. More than that, I think it's the impact you leave on the team that matters to me more. That was the focus in the past and that's precisely my focus every time I take the field.

"If the situation demands me to bat for longer periods and get the amount of runs that puts the team in a pole position or a dominant position or gets the team out of trouble, I take a lot of pride in doing that.

"Not all the time will you have phases where you bat the same way, and you have to understand and accept that in a long career span, so it's all about putting in the hard yards, working hard on your game, staying very balanced, staying in a space where you understand you are progressing in the right direction, and you walk on the field knowing you're prepared fully and you're ready to give your best, and after that it's all about execution.

"You have to be professional and understand when there is lack of execution or there is a lack of good decision-making. That's always been my point of analysis on my personal game, whether I've committed a mistake, what the situation was like, how can I improve, how can I get better, and that is something I will continue to strive to do and try to put in the performances that help the team in any way that I can."

It will be Kohli's first match under new coach Rahul Dravid, and follows on from the drawn opening Test in Kanpur that saw New Zealand's 10th-wicket pairing of Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel defy India, clinging on for the draw late on the fifth day.


Spin or extra speed? The choice facing both teams

With plenty of moisture in the air, and the suspicion the Mumbai pitch will serve the quicks well, there could well be changes to the bowling line-ups on both teams. India would consider bringing in Mohammed Siraj, while New Zealand have Neil Wagner waiting to come in, with William Somerville potentially vulnerable.

India chasing hat-trick of Wankhede wins

The hosts last played a Test at this ground in 2016, when Kohli made a double century in an innings win over England. They also won at the ground in the match before that, also by an innings but this time against West Indies. Victory by any means would be welcomed by India this time, given this is the second and last match in the series. They have won four of nine Tests at the ground since 2000, with South Africa, Australia and England (twice) having also enjoyed victories at the Wankhede.

An unbroken ninth-wicket partnership of 107 between Dhananjaya de Silva and Lasith Embuldeniya put Sri Lanka in control on the penultimate day of the second Test against the West Indies at Galle on Thursday.

At stumps, Sri Lanka are 328-8, a lead of 279 with two wickets still remaining. De Silva is 153 not out while Embuldeniya is on 25. Together they took Sri Lanka from 221-8 after the West Indies had threatened to restrict the home side to a lead below 200 runs, having trailed by 49 on first innings.

Resuming on 46-2, still three runs behind on first innings, Sri Lanka lost their third wicket at 73 when Veerasammy Permaul had Charith Asalanka caught at short leg for 19. Pathum Nissanka, 21, overnight, and de Silva stitched together a stand of 78 that was broken when the former got out lbw to Roston Chase for 66.

It was then 151-4.

At 157, Chase had Dinesh Chandimal out caught and bowled for two and the Sri Lankan lead was now only 108 with five wickets left.

However, de Silva forged a partnership of 51 with Ramesh Mendis, who made 25. Permaul then dismissed Suranga Lakmal for seven and the injured Angelo Matthews for 1 as Sri Lanka slipped to 221-8, a lead of 172.

It was the last success the West Indies would enjoy.

Permaul, who took 5-35 in the first innings, has so far taken 3-100 while Chase has figures of 2-82.

Scores in the match: Sri Lanka 204 and 328-8; West Indies 253.

 

Alex Carey is set to make his Test debut in the Ashes opener between Australia and England in Brisbane next week.

Cricket Australia (CA) on Thursday announced Carey will replace former captain Tim Paine as wicketkeeper in the team for the first two Tests, starting December 8 at the Gabba.

Debutant Carey will be behind the stumps after Paine – who stood down as skipper having been embroiled in a sexting scandal – took a leave of absence from all forms of cricket for the "foreseeable future".

"I am incredibly humbled by this opportunity. It’s an exciting build-up for what is a huge series ahead," Carey – Australia's one-day international wicketkeeper – said in a statement

"My focus is on preparing and playing my part in helping Australia secure the Ashes.

"This is also for my dad who has been my coach, mentor and mate, my mum, my wife Eloise, kids Louis and Clementine, my brother and sister and all of those who have supported me. I will be doing my absolute best to make them and our country proud."

Carey has averaged just 21.85 runs over eight innings with the bat in the Sheffield Shield, though the left-hander has been a consistent performer over the years.

The South Australia star has averaged 59.64, scoring four centuries in nine matches.

England's Jack Leach has said Ben Stokes' return to the squad is a "great boost" ahead of the start of the Ashes series in Australia.

Stokes has not played competitively since July and was initially omitted from England's squad as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing, but the all-rounder was subsequently added to the travelling party.

Stokes famously partnered Leach in a last-wicket stand of 76 to dramatically beat the Aussies in the third Test at Headingley in 2019.

"Obviously having Stokesy back is a great boost for all of us," Leach said. "Some of the things he's done in the past, you know, he's such an important player for us.

"In terms of the balance, it really helps things out, and it's probably good news for the spin department.

"The wickets aren't necessarily going to be really spin-friendly, but I think spin has as a big part to play in Ashes series where England have been successful.

"The spinners have got a big part to play. So, yeah, I'm hopeful I can be the guy and play that role, definitely."

On how Stokes has reintegrated into training and the squad, Leach added: "Luckily, I haven't had to face him in the nets. But yeah, he's looking really good.

"He's fit back into the group brilliantly. It's great to have him back around.

"He's been brilliant and he's such a team man. I think the group is only better for having him in it. He brings experience, I think he really brings the boys together, so that's been really good.

"He's looking good bowling and batting. I've bowled at him and he doesn't block too many balls from the spinners, so yeah, he's looked good."

Leach is hopeful of playing a part in the upcoming series, and admitted to regularly watching his Australian counterpart Nathan Lyon to pick up tips and tricks to improve his own bowling.

"I'm preparing to play, definitely. Like I do for every series that I'm involved with," he added. "For me, the best way to go about it, obviously is to try to prepare to play, and then obviously be really disappointed if I'm not.

"For years I've watched Nathan Lyon, and he's very impressive how he goes about his business. Just how strong his stock ball is and on wickets that don't necessarily offer a lot spin-wise, I think he's found ways to extract bounce and dip. So a lot over spin from him, and I think those are the kind of things I've been trying to add in.

"You take little bits from everyone you play against. I was in India looking at Axar Patel, [Ravi] Ashwin and seeing what I can take from them. So you're always doing that.

"But I think it's important not to get too caught up in that and also just stick to your strengths as well, and know that you're playing at this level for a reason."

West Indies middle-order batsman, Kyle Mayers, insists the team must keep the pressure on Sri Lanka if they aim to stay in with a chance of levelling the series heading into the fourth day.

Mayers dug in to put on a useful 36 from 64 balls as the Windies secured a narrow lead over the hosts at the end of their first innings, on the third day.

Resuming the day at 69 for 1, the Windies had a strong morning session, but the Sri Lanka spinners struck back to claim the team’s last seven wickets for just 87 runs. 

The Windies began the second innings with a narrow lead of 49 but kept the pressure on by striking twice with two exceptional runouts to leave the hosts at 46 for 2, at the end of the day’s play.  Mayers, who did his part by dismissing the dangerous Dimuth Karunaratne, insists the team must keep that attitude heading into tomorrow.

“We need to keep down the run rate and keep up the pressure,” Mayers said, following the end of play.

“We are ahead in the game now, so if we can stop them from scoring, runs are crucial heading into the last day.  The least amount of runs they get is the better it is for us,” he added.

“So, if we can keep the pressure on and squeeze some wicket out early tomorrow, first hour, I think we will be good.”

Sri Lanka are 46-2 at the end of the third day of the second Test against the West Indies at Galle on Wednesday, still three runs behind the visitors in a match that is delicately poised heading into Thursday’s fourth day.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has declared himself "fit and hungry for a big series" ahead of the first Ashes Test against Australia.

Joe Root's side get their campaign started on December 8 in Brisbane and will be boosted by the return of their star all-rounder Stokes.

The 30-year-old has not played competitively since July and was initially omitted from England's squad as he recovered from a second operation on a broken finger and took a break to protect his mental wellbeing.

But Stokes was subsequently added to the travelling party in October as he assured he was ready to make a comeback for the tour and first Test at The Gabba.

Stokes, who averages 38.37 against Australia, offered England a scare when he took a blow to the forearm in a net session last week before Root confirmed the Durham man was fit. 

With just a week to go before the two old foes do battle once more, Stokes is relishing the opportunity to take on Justin Langer's side.

 

"Don't call it a comeback," Stokes posted on Instagram alongside a video of him training with bat and ball on Wednesday.

"Spent some time testing out the finger with [Adidas] last month.

"Two months ago, I couldn't hold a bat. With one week to go till the first Test, I'm fit and hungry for a big series Down Under!"

Michael Vaughan remains under contract with the BBC, who "expect to work" with the former England captain again after standing him down from their Ashes coverage following Azeem Rafiq's racism allegations.

Vaughan was named in a report this month investigating Rafiq's claims of institutional racism at Yorkshire, but has repeatedly and categorically denied the allegations.

The 47-year-old, who played for Yorkshire between 1993 and 2009, allegedly told a group of team-mates in 2009 there were "too many of you lot, we need to do something about it".

Those claims were corroborated by then Yorkshire player Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and current England white-ball specialist Adil Rashid.

Vaughan has since been stood down from his BBC Radio 5 Live Show before being removed from the broadcaster's Ashes coverage due to his involvement in a "significant story" representing a "conflict of interest".

The BBC reiterated their stance on Wednesday, as they informed that Vaughan – who led England to Ashes glory in 2005 – would play no role in their upcoming coverage, though they look set to work with him in the future.

"We're in regular contact with Michael and have had positive conversations with him in recent days," read a statement from the BBC.

"Our contributors are required to talk about relevant issues, so Michael's involvement in a story of such significance means it's not possible for him to be part of our Ashes coverage or wider cricket coverage at the moment.

"We're pleased with how our conversations are going and expect to work with Michael again in the future. He remains on contract to the BBC."

Vaughan said after the BBC's decision he was "very disappointed not to be commentating on the Ashes" but added he was looking forward to working on the series for Fox Sports in Australia.

The trio of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, and Nicholas Pooran led a list of 9 West Indies players not retained by their respective Indian Premier League (IPL) teams ahead of the upcoming mega auction.

The 38-year-old Bravo, who has been with Chennai Super Kings since 2018, and previously spent four years with the franchise between 2011–2015, was a part of the team’s IPL-winning run last season.  Retention policies, however, forced the team to shed a few of the team’s veteran players.

In addition to Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Josh Hazlewood, Suresh Raina, and Cheteshwar Pujara were also among those released.  In the meantime, the team retained MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali, and Ruturaj Gaikwad.

Gayle, Pooran, and Fabian Allen, in the meantime, all played for Punjab King’s XI with Gayle and Pooran having seasons to forget.  Gayle averaged 21.44 in 10 games, while Pooran averaged a measly 7.72 in 12 games.  Punjab retained only Mayank Agarwal and Arshdeep Singh and will have a hefty purse for the auction.

In the meantime, only three West Indies players were retained. The Kolkata Knight Riders kept all-rounder Andre Russell and mystery spinner Sunil Narine, while the Mumbai Indians have kept a hold of Kieron Pollard.  Other Windies players released include;

Shimron Hetmyer (Delhi Capitals), Evin Lewis, Oshane Thomas (Rajasthan Royals), Jason Holder, Sherfane Rutherford  (Sunrisers Hyderabad).

A five-wicket haul from spinner Veerasammy Permaul hobbled Sri Lanka to give the West Indies a slender advantage at the close of a rain-affected second day, in Galle, on Tuesday.

Resuming the score with a comfortable overnight total of 113 for 1, the Sri Lankans were 204 all-out just before lunch.  The decision to use left-arm spinners Permaul and Jomel Warrican proved to be a masterstroke that paid rich dividends for the visitors.

Permaul, ended with overall figures of 5 for 35, while Warrican took 4 for 50.  With the other wicket going to Roston Chase on the first day, it was only the fourth time the typically pace-dependent Windies saw their spinners claim 10 wickets in an innings.

In response, the West Indies came up with an all-around solid batting display and put 69 for 1 on the board, leaving the visitor trailing by 135 runs. Jermaine Blackwood, who put 44 on the board from 91 balls was the lone casualty before the rains came.  Blackwood was dismissed lbw after misjudging a Praveen Jayawickrama arm ball. Kraig Brathwaite was unbeaten on 22 off 77 deliveries, and alongside him was Nkrumah Bonner on 1 at the close of play.

 

West Indies left-arm spinner, Veerasammy Permaul, was delighted after taking a maiden five-wicket haul in his 7th match in Test cricket.

Permaul took 5-35 from his 13 overs to help restrict Sri Lanka to 204 all out on day two of the second Test in Galle.

The Guyanese bowler, who is playing in his first Test match since 2015, reacted joyously to his achievement.

“First of all, I’d like to thank God for giving me strength. I’m very overwhelmed. Over the years I’ve been working really hard to get back into the team and now it is paying off,” he said.

Permaul said trying to spin the ball as much as possible served him well in the Sri Lankan conditions.

“I tried to adjust to the conditions and see what pace is good for the wicket. I also tried to spin the ball as much as possible and I think that is what brought me success,” he said.

He also referred to the bowling partnership between himself and fellow left-arm spinner, Barbadian Jomel Warrican, who took 4-50 from his 18.3 overs.

“I think Warrican bowled really well. He was the one that was controlling the scoring rate. He was bowling tight at one end and I was attacking at the other end and that is the key to a good bowling partnership,” he said.

When asked how the Windies bowling performance can carry over into future encounters, Permaul said consistency is key.

“Moving forward, it’s very important that we stay consistent as a bowling unit. Be patient and don’t look for wickets. Try to create opportunities rather than experimenting,” he said.

The West Indies ended day two on 69-1 in their first innings reply to Sri Lanka’s 204 all out with captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, at the crease on 22 and Nkrumah Bonner on one.

Jermaine Blackwood is the only batsman out so far for 44.

 

You know things aren’t going well when your team suffers a massive defeat to the worst team in your league.

Rovman Powell is sure to feel that things are definitely not going his way this season when the Northern Warriors lost by 10 wickets to Chennai Braves on Monday in the Abu Dhabi T10 league.

On a personal level, Powell is having a great season. His 294 runs lead the league and his 26 sixes are second only to Liam Livingstone’s 28, but for all his success, Northern Warriors seem incapable of capitalizing.

The Jamaican all-rounder scored 31 runs on Monday from just 13 balls from which he smashed four sixes in his side’s 108 all out in 9.5 overs. He got support from Upul Tharanga, who scored 32 from 14 and Moeen Ali, who got 25 from 15 but Warriors were never able to get on top of Chennai’s bowling led by Ravi Bopara who took 2-6.

Curtis Campher (2-16) and Dasun Shanaka (2-25) did their part to contain Warriors' batsmen.

Chennai’s batsmen took full advantage of the opportunity racing to 114-0 in just 8.3 overs to record their first win of the season.

Mohammad Shahzad raced to 54 from just 29 balls smashing nine fours and two sixes along the way. His opening partner Bhanuka Rajapaksa needed six fewer balls to score 55 that included six fours and four sixes.

Oshane Thomas’ two overs went for 27 while Rayad Emrit’s nine balls cost the Warriors 20 runs as their team lost their seventh match of the season.

Joe Root believes that England's four-day warm-up game against England Lions in Brisbane provides his side with an opportunity to get ahead of Australia in their Ashes preparations.

Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan and Chris Woakes are finally available to participate again after 14 days in quarantine following their involvement in the T20 World Cup.

Australia's preparations have hardly been smooth. Six players in their squad were involved in the T20 World Cup success in the United Arab Emirates, while Tim Paine resigned as captain due to a sexting scandal before subsequently taking an indefinite break from cricket, meaning he is out of the series.

Pat Cummins, one of the players to lead Australia to glory in the shortest format earlier this month, has taken over as captain.

While poor weather conditions cut England's initial three-day practice match short, Root is hoping a high-intensity meeting with the Lions will set the tone for the Test series, which begins in Brisbane on December 8.

"There's a lot of people that will want to prove things, and will want to show that they deserve an opportunity for that first Test match," Root told reporters.

"This is a really good chance for us to get ahead of things, maybe get ahead of Australia in terms of preparation and game-time ahead of the series, and it would be silly for us to just cosy our way through the four days.

"It's been unusual. Having spent a period of time in quarantine and training within that quarantine phase, and then coming to Brisbane.

"We haven't had that three-day game, as we would have liked, but it was always going to be the case that tomorrow was really the first day as a squad that we would get together, with those World Cup guys joining us.

"So we always knew that this next phase was going to be the most crucial part, in terms of getting tight, getting clear and readying ourselves, and that's going to be the real test for us.

"We want that intensity to be as high as we can, as close to the Test matches as we can, and I expect it to be very competitive," Root added.

"The quality of the players will be there from both teams and, because of the lack of preparation that we've had in that previous three-day game, having that extra bit of flexibility to make sure we can get as many guys what they need throughout these four days is going to be crucial.

"But whether you play those games in your mind a little bit more, visualise a little bit more, it's really important you find different ways of making sure that, when that first ball comes down at the Gabba, we're in the best place possible."

England are looking to regain the urn after a drawn series in 2019 saw Australia retain the Ashes for the first time since 2002-03.

West Indies bowling coach, Roddy Estwick, was pleased with the bowling performance of his team on Monday's rain-affected first day of their second Test match against Sri Lanka in Galle.

Sri Lanka ended the day on 113-1 from the 34.4 overs that were possible after rain washed out the entire first two sessions.

Pathum Nissanka and Oshada Fernando are the batsmen at the crease on 61 and two, respectively, while Roston Chase has so far taken 1-33 from 7.4 overs.

The West Indies made two changes to the team from the first test in the bowling department with Veerasammy Permaul and Kemar Roach playing instead of Rakheem Cornwall and Shannon Gabriel.

Estwick says the presence of a number of right-handers in the Sri Lankan batting line-up was the reason why Permaul, a left-arm spinner, came into the side at the expense of Cornwall, who bowls off-spin.

“When you look at the Sri Lankan batting line-up, they’re packed with right-handers. We felt that with Roston already bowling off-spin, it would be wiser to go with two left-arm spinners,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to Estwick Roach replacing Gabriel was due to the short turnaround between matches.

“You now have to manage your bowlers with the short turnaround. Before, you had eight or nine days between Test matches and that is a thing of the past. There’s three days between Test matches plus there’s been a lot of rain around Galle so the field is a bit heavy and that can be very taxing on the fast bowler’s body. Kemar didn’t play in the first test and that was planned to keep him fresh for this one,” he said.

Overall, Estwick was, for the most part, pleased with the bowling of his left arm spinners on the day.

“I thought Jomel Warrican, in the few overs he bowled this evening, looked threatening. He went past the bat a lot. Permaul, obviously coming back from being out of Test cricket for a while, I thought he looked good initially but then a change in (the) field, meant he went a little bit too wide. He needed to be on the stumps a bit more challenging both the outside and inside edges.,” he said.

He was also generally pleased with how the Caribbean side executed their plans on the day, especially to Sri Lankan captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, who got scores of 147 and 83 in the first test but who made 42 Monday.

“Obviously, their captain is in good form. I think we stuck to our plans well. We wanted to take the stumps out of the equation and make him hit the ball through the offside. I think we achieved that. If you look at it, he scored 42 off 90 balls so I thought that, all in all, we bowled well,” said Estwick.

Looking at what lies ahead in the match, Estwick emphasised cutting down on loose deliveries and being flexible with their tactics.

“We could have been better with maybe a little bit; too many boundary balls. We’ll come tomorrow and work hard, make sure we keep reviewing our plans and then try to go and execute them,” he said.

Day 2 begins at 11:30 pm.

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