Quinton de Kock hit an unbeaten 58 as South Africa clinched the T20I series against Sri Lanka with a nine-wicket thumping on Sunday.

The Proteas, who won Friday's opener in the series by 28 runs, were hardly tested by their flat opponents, who managed just 103 in 18.1 overs. That was their lowest first-innings total at home in this short format.

South Africa wasted little time chasing that figure down, De Kock helping them open up a 2-0 series lead inside 15 overs.

Sri Lanka had little answer to South Africa's spinners – Bjorn Fortuin, Aiden Markram, captain Keshav Maharai and Tabraiz Shamsi – who took nine wickets and conceded just 63 runs in their 14.1 overs.

Markram finished with a career-best three for 21, which included the wicket of opener Kusal Perera for 30.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa was Sri Lanka's next highest scorer with 20 as the hosts lost seven for a paltry 32 runs between the 10th and 19th overs.

Sri Lanka failed to get rid of De Kock with a review following the fourth delivery of South Africa's innings and the 28-year-old did not look back.

He brought up his 10th T20I fifty, and fourth of the year, after his opening stand with Reeza Hendricks was broken in the ninth over when Hendricks was caught by Dinesh Chandimal off the bowling of Wanindu Hasaranga.

Markram added an unbeaten 21 as South Africa reached their target with almost seven overs to spare.

De Kock proves his importance

De Kock was rested for the ODI series, which Sri Lanka won 2-1, and he showed his worth here. He steered his side to victory with an unbeaten 58 off 48 deliveries and will be a key figure if South Africa are to challenge for the T20 World Cup, which begins next month.

Perera not backed up by team-mates

Perera got Sri Lanka off to a solid start with 30 from 25 balls, but his team-mates failed miserably to capitalise. The 31-year-old, making his comeback after recovering from COVID-19, hit a third of his side's runs, with only three others reaching double figures.

A remarkable run chase from the Barbados Royals ensured they ended their 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) campaign with a victory against the Saint Lucia Kings at Warner Park on Sunday.

St Kitts & Nevis Patriots returned to winning ways with an eight-wicket victory over the Trinbago Knight Riders on Saturday night to seal a spot in the latter stages of the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League. 

The Patriots bowled brilliantly and then backed that up with a dominant batting display that saw them knock off the victory target with 32 balls to spare. 

 It was Evin Lewis who was the star of the show, making 102 from just 52 balls. 

 The Knight Riders got off to a slow start in the face of some excellent bowling from the Patriots. They reached the end of their PowerPlay at 28-2 with both Lendl Simmons and Denesh Ramdin dismissed caught on the mid-wicket boundary. Ramdin could have gone an over earlier, but Ravi Bopara put down a simple chance. Thankfully for the Patriots, this did not prove too costly. 

A 50-run stand between Darren Bravo and Colin Munro steadied the ship and brought the Knight Riders back into the contest. Munro would go on to top score with 47 but when Darren Bravo went for 22 the Knight Riders lost momentum once again. When Munro and Kieron Pollard went in successive balls bowled by Jon-Russ Jaggesar it looked as if the Knight Riders would set a sub-par total but some big hitting from Sunil Narine took his team to 159-7. 

 The Patriots innings got off to a flying start thanks to Evin Lewis and Chris Gayle who was promoted to open as a result of an injury to Devon Thomas. They reached 67-1 from their PowerPlay overs with Gayle the wicket to fall for 35 from 18 balls. 

When Gayle went it was Lewis who took up the attack, passing his fifty from just 27 balls. While Narine was economical, returning figures of 0/10 from his four overs, the rest of the Knight Riders bowlers struggled for control in the face of the Lewis onslaught. 

Bopara and Lewis shared an 85-run stand, and Bopara contributed just seven runs as the Patriots opener smashed the ball to all parts. 

 This win moves the Patriots back to the top of the table and guarantees them a space in the semi-finals on Tuesday 14 September. 

Scores: St Kitts & Nevis Patriots 160-2 (Lewis 102*, Gayle 35; Pollard 1-20, Khan 1-54) beat Trinbago Knight Riders 159-7 (Munro 47, Narine 32*; Jaggesar 3-32, Drakes 3-32) by eight wickets

 

Guyana Amazon Warriors have one foot in the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) semi-finals following a 46-run victory over the Jamaica Tallawahs 

The Amazon Warriors won the toss and elected to bat first and captain Nicholas Pooran led the way with a brutal 75 not out to set the Tallawahs 170 to win.

In reply, the Tallawahs succumbed to a heavy defeat as Odean Smith and Gudakesh Motie combined to bowl the Amazon Warriors to victory.

Guyana got their innings off to a steady start amassing 46 runs in the PowerPlay but they had to contend with the loss of Brandon King and Chandrapaul Hemraj in doing so.

Despite Shimron Hetmyer then running himself out, Nicholas Pooran and Shoaib Malik put together a partnership of 54 runs from 33 balls to place Guyana in a strong position with six overs to go.

Pooran then took on the responsibility of getting his side into a good position and his pyrotechnics at the back end of the innings ensured Guyana Amazon Warriors posted a very competitive 169/6.

The Tallawahs were able to keep pace with the required run rate in the early stages of their reply as Haider Ali and Kirk Mckenzie overcame the loss of Kennar Lewis to put on a 41-run partnership.

Odean Smith’s entry into the attack proved pivotal as his two wickets in two balls swung the pendulum back in Guyana’s favour and he wasn’t done there as he also got rid of Andre Russell in a wonderful wicket maiden over.

Alongside Smith, Gudakesh Motie spun a web as his three wickets helped ensure there was no chance of an unlikely win for the Tallawahs.

The victory for the Amazon Warriors means the Tallawahs will now have to win the return game to make the semi-finals. 

A superb bowling spell from David Wiese helped Saint Lucia Kings gain their fifth win of the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and end any chance of the Barbados Royals qualifying for the semi-finals in the process.

The Royals won the toss and captain Jason Holder chose to field first, which looked like a good decision as the Kings lost two wickets in the Powerplay to the superb Mohammad Amir. However, Saint Lucia Kings captain Faf du Plessis once again produced a masterful performance, scoring 84 runs to take his side to a commanding 175 for 6.

Despite a strong start in reply, the Royals were sent into disarray in the ninth over as Wiese took three wickets, Johnson Charles, Shai Hope and Glenn Phillips all fell within five balls. Despite a late fightback from Holder and Hayden Walsh, it was not enough and the side finished on 154 for 8. 

Saint Lucia Kings had reshuffled their batting order for this game, with Mark Deyal opening, yet it was to have little effect as both Andre Fletcher and Deyal were back in the pavilion after three overs, with Amir once again getting early wickets. It was left to du Plessis to build a big score, scoring 84 from 54 balls, partnering effectively with Tim David. A late cameo from Keemo Paul with the bat saw the Kings reach a substantial total. 

The Royals lost Kyle Mayers in the third over but rebuilt with Charles and Hope looking confident at the crease. However, after three wickets fell in an over, they were unable to recover, losing more wickets as the run rate increased, notably Holder, who was looking dangerous on 34 runs off 24 balls. A rain delay saw their innings reduced by one over, and Walsh resumed play with a few boundaries to keep his side’s hopes alive. However, Wiese struck again and took Walsh’s wicket in the 19th over, his fifth wicket of the game,  giving the Kings the crucial win.

With this loss, Barbados Royals can no longer qualify for Tuesday’s semi-finals and will be playing for pride when they face the Saint Lucia Kings once again in their final group game tomorrow.

 

 Cricket West Indies chief of selectors Roger Harper is hopeful the region will see the best of fast bowler Oshane Thomas following his selection to the T20 World Cup squad.

The 24-year-old pace bowler was once considered one of the hottest prospects in regional cricket after bursting on the scene with fiery spells for Caribbean Premier League (CPL) team Jamaica Tallawahs during the 2016 season.

However, despite going on to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the last two seasons and 17 T20 international matches for the West Indies, Thomas is yet to quite hit the heights his talent promised early on.

In-between indifferent spells of forms and fitness issues, the player has taken 19 wickets for the team.  Thomas has, however, looked lively in the CPL this season taking 4 wickets in six games.  The player’s rejuvenated look has been enough to attract the attention of the selectors and Harper hopes the decision pays rich dividends come next month.

“Oshane brings that sort of x-factor to the team, we know when Oshane is at his best he is a real force,” Harper told members of the media on Thursday.

“We haven’t seen him at his best for a while, but we saw him coming to that point in this tournament (CPL).  A lot of work has been done in the various T20 series, behind the scenes with Oshane,” he added.

“When he played, we didn’t see exactly what we were looking for, but now we see a bit of the Oshane that we know in this tournament (CPL) and will feel that if he keeps improving he will be the sort of bowler that could make a difference for us in the right condition.  Hsis extra pace, his extra bounce, and when he is on song he gets the ball to swing at that pace as well.  So, we think he could make a big difference in the team.”

 

 

South Africa put the disappointment of losing the ODI series behind them as they eased to a 28-run victory over Sri Lanka in the opening T20I on Friday.

Led by Aiden Markram's excellent 48 from 33 balls, the Proteas were on dominant form in Colombo, successfully defending their 163-5 total.

Making his T20I debut, South Africa captain Keshav Maharaj won the toss and chose to bat, with his openers swiftly proving that decision correct.

Quinton de Kock (36) set the tone with a boundary off the second ball and Reeza Hendricks soon skittled off 12 runs in the space of three deliveries to get South Africa up and running.

Both openers had moved into the 30s by the ninth over, though De Kock was the first to fall when he sliced a sweep to deep midwicket.

Wanindu Hasaranga picked up his and Sri Lanka's second wicket in his next over, dismissing Hendricks for 38, but Markram – with support from David Miller (26) – put South Africa back on the front foot.

Markram fell just short of a half-century in the penultimate over, though the damage was done as South Africa set a challenging target of 164.

Sri Lanka started their chase confidently, and had 34 runs in the bank by the time Avishka Fernando succumbed in the sixth over.

Yet Maharaj's first ball in a T20I brought up the Proteas' second wicket – Bhanuka Rajapaksa going for a duck – and the hosts failed to keep up the run rate.

That was despite the best efforts of Dinesh Chandimal, who top-scored with 66 not out, but Chamika Karunaratne (22no) was his only team-mate to make it above 20 as Sri Lanka were limited to 135-6.

Memorable debut for Maharaj

Installed as captain on his maiden T20I appearance, the spinner took a wicket with his very first ball, after South Africa's batsmen had shown just why the 31-year-old was right to bat first.

Maharaj has plenty of international experience, with 36 Tests and 14 ODIs under his belt, and in total he has now taken 149 wickets for his country.

Chandimal cannot carry Sri Lanka

It was a valiant effort from Chandimal, whose unbeaten 66 included five fours and two sixes. However, he did not have the necessary support from the rest of Sri Lanka's batsmen, with two going for ducks and Dhananjaya de Silva only scoring one.

Chandimal did bring up his highest score in his T20I career, though, with the wicketkeeper's previous best having been 58, a score he made twice in 2016, against Pakistan and Australia.

In-form batsman Sherfane Rutherford and spinner Sunil Narine were among a few players not eligible for selection to the World Cup squad after failing fitness standards, chief of selectors Roger Harper has confirmed.

In the ongoing Caribbean Premier League (CPL), Rutherford has been one of the most outstanding players so far, scoring 201 runs in 7 matches, with an average of 40.20 and a strike rate of 136.73.  Speculation had linked the player with a late consideration for a space in the West Indies World Cup squad but, as it has for other players in the recent past, it turns out his fitness level was an issue. 

“As well as he has been performing he is one of a few players who did not meet our fitness criteria, so he was not eligible for selection,” Harper told members of the media, in explaining the player’s omission.

Narine, once the top-ranked spinner in the world, has recently shown versatility at the top of the order as a pinch-hitter and could have been a weapon for the team at the tournament. 

“Sunil Narine is a great miss for a team like this in a tournament like this.  Any team would miss having a bowler of that quality in the team but as I mentioned with Rutherford and some of the others Sunil also did not make our fitness standards,” Harper said.

Based on standards implemented by Cricket West Indies (CWI), in 2019, players must achieve a mark of 40 in the Yo-Yo Endurance Test unless given a medical exemption by the CWI medical committee.  Another player that has shown plenty of promise during the CPL campaign, but did also did not meet the fitness standards, was fast bowler Odean Smith.

Man of the Match Kennar Lewis smashed his second half-century of the season as the Jamaica Tallawahs made it two wins in two as they defeated the Saint Lucia Kings by 55 runs at Warner Park, St Kitts.

This win means the Tallawahs move into a qualifying spot for the knockout games next week but all six teams still have a mathematical chance to reach the latter stages. The Kings remain in third place in the table with all teams having two more group matches left to play.

The Tallawahs got off to a lightning start thanks to other brutal innings from Kennar Lewis who smashed 56 from just 24 balls. Lewis was well supported by Shamarh Brooks as the Tallawahs reached 78-1 off their PowerPlay overs.

While wickets fell throughout the Tallawahs innings they managed to maintain a fast scoring rate throughout with contributions from the middle order. It was Imad Wasim who pushed the Tallawahs past 200 with 10-ball innings worth 27 runs including three consecutive sixes off the 20th over.

The Kings chase started just as quickly with Andre Fletcher and Mark Deyal both making quick-fire scores as they reached 79-1 off their first six overs. Roston Chase and Deyal put on 66 runs in just 32 balls but both fell in the space of two balls to Carlos Brathwaite to bring the Tallawahs back into the match.

Those two wickets gave the Tallawahs a lot more control as they squeezed the Kings in the middle overs with Brathwaite keeping things very tight. The Tallawahs took two wickets in two balls twice more as the Kings chase petered out and the Tallawahs emerged victorious.

Jamaica Tallawahs 211 all out (Lewis 56, Brooks 34; Royal 3-37, Royal 3-53) beat Saint Lucia Kings 156 all out (Deyal 33, Chase 30; Imad 3-34, Brathwaite 2-13) by 55 runs

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is working with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to reschedule the fifth Test after it was called off due to coronavirus fears.

The final match in the series at Old Trafford, which India lead 2-1, was cancelled a little over two hours before the first day of action was due to begin at 11:00 BST as India felt they were unable to field a team.

India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for COVID-19 during the fourth Test victory at The Oval and has been isolating along with backroom staff members Bharat Arun, R Sridhar and Nitin Patel.

Another member of the tourists' camp, reported to be a junior physio, was next to test positive on Thursday, forcing India to cancel their training session on the eve of the match 

Despite each member of the India squad returning negative PCR tests on Thursday, the decision was taken to call off the fifth Test to prevent the respiratory disease from further spreading.

In a statement published on Friday, the ECB initially said that India had forfeited the Test and the series was therefore drawn at 2-2, but they later clarified that was not the case.

The BCCI has now stated the call to cancel the contest was a joint decision and the governing body is working closely with the ECB to find a window to reschedule the final Test.

"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) along with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have jointly decided to call off the fifth Test match scheduled at Manchester in India's tour of England 2021," the statement read.

"The BCCI and ECB held several rounds of discussion to find a way to play the Test match, however, the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Indian team contingent forced the decision of calling off the Old Trafford Test match.

"In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match. Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match.

"The BCCI has always maintained that the safety and well-being of the players is of paramount importance and there will be no compromise on that aspect. 

"The BCCI would like to thank the ECB for their co-operation and understanding in these trying times. We would like to apologise to the fans for not being able to complete an enthralling series."

Any prospect of rescheduling the match during the current tour seems unlikely as the Indian Premier League resumes in the United Arab Emirates on September 19.

England are already due to host India next year across three T20Is and three ODIs, including a T20 fixture in Manchester on July 1.

The fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford has been called off due to fears of rising coronavirus cases in the tourists' camp.

The start of the final match in the series had been in doubt after India cancelled a practice session on Thursday as a result of a member of their support staff testing positive for COVID-19.

England had been hopeful of the contest, which was due to begin at 11:00BST on Friday, going ahead as planned.

But after talks between the England and Wales Cricket (ECB) board and their Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) counterparts, the match has been cancelled.

"Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled," an ECB statement read.

"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team.

"We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many."

The statement initially said India had forfeited the final Test and the series was drawn at 2-2, but that was later removed.

India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for coronavirus ahead of last week's 157-run win at The Oval, which gave his side a 2-1 lead in the five-Test series, while bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physio Nitin Patel isolated as a precautionary measure.

The overall number of positive cases climbed this week after another backroom staff member, reported to be a junior physio, also contracted the respiratory disease.

The entire India squad returned negative PCR Tests on Thursday, though any hopes of rescheduling the match appear unlikely given the start of the Indian Premier League on September 19, four days after the England series was due to finish.

The fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford has been called off due to concerns over rising number of coronavirus cases in the tourists' camp.

The start of the final match in the series had been in doubt after India cancelled a practice session on Thursday as a result of a member of their support staff testing positive for COVID-19.

England had been hopeful of the contest, which was due to begin at 11:00BST on Friday, going ahead as planned.

But after talks between the England and Wales Cricket (ECB) board and their Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) counterparts, the match has been cancelled.

"Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled," an ECB statement read.

"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team.

"We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many."

India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for coronavirus ahead of last week's 157-run win at The Oval, which gave his side a 2-1 lead in the five-Test series, while bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physio Nitin Patel isolated as a precautionary measure.

The overall number of positive cases climbed this week after another backroom staff member, reported to be a junior physio, also contracted the respiratory disease.

The entire India squad returned negative PCR Tests on Thursday, though it has been reported that some players raised concerns around leaving the United Kingdom ahead of the start of the Indian Premier League on September 19, four days after the England series was due to finish.

The fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford has been called off due to concerns over rising number of coronavirus cases in the tourists' camp.

The start of the final match in the series had been in doubt after India cancelled a practice session on Thursday as a result of a member of their support staff testing positive for COVID-19.

West Indies chief of selector Roger Harper admits it was a difficult choice to relegate talented all-rounder Jason Holder to a reserve position, following the unveiling of the 15-member T20 World Cup squad on Thursday.

Many were left astonished after Holder, who has had a few standout stints in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and international T20 cricket in recent months, was only named among four reserve players.

“Leaving a player of the standard and quality of Jason out of our final 15 was a difficult decision and it provoked a lot of debate,” Harper told members of the media via an online press conference.

“When we look at the type of composition we wanted, considering the all-rounders that we had and the balance, he was unfortunate not to make it,” he added.

“It was a 15-man squad, everyone couldn’t make it, different things were taken into consideration and Jason just missed out, but with a player of his stature and quality it was a difficult decision and one we didn’t take lightly.”

In 10 matches and three series against Pakistan, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, Holder totalled 90 runs, had an average of 30, and claimed 9 wickets.  He, however, struggled in the team’s most recent series against Pakistan totalling just 2 runs and 4wickets in four matches.

 

South Africa are confident Keshav Maharaj can provide inspiring stand-in leadership as the spinner marks his T20I debut by captaining the Proteas against Sri Lanka.

Almost five years have passed since Maharaj made his Test bow against Australia, while his first ODI appearance came in 2017 on the tour of England.

It is high time 31-year-old Maharaj was seen in the shortest format, and he enters with the added responsibility of leading the team, having also skippered the tourists in the second and third ODIs against Sri Lanka.

With regular captain Temba Bavuma sidelined by a fractured thumb, Maharaj, who was named ahead of George Linde in South Africa's T20 World Cup squad on Thursday, gets his chance to show what he can do in the quick-fire game.

South Africa sealed a 3-2 T20I series win over West Indies in July, and they sit fifth in the ICC team rankings, four places above the Sri Lanka side they will face in three matches, to be played in Colombo on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday.

Having lost 2-1 to Sri Lanka in the ODIs, South Africa are seeking succour. Convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang described Maharaj on Thursday as "an excellent leader", whose "exemplary captaincy" can be a steadying short-term influence.

Speaking this week, Maharaj said of his temporary new duty: "It was overwhelming at the start. I was actually nervous before I got to the field in my first game but I really enjoyed being the captain of the national team.

"Unfortunately I could not help the team cross the line in the third and final match [in the ODIs] but I thoroughly enjoyed the captaincy."

He added, according to Times Live: "I feel captaincy gives me a bit of responsibility, it keeps me calmer and it gives me a different outlook of the game."

The T20 World Cup will take place in Oman and the United Arab Emirates, and by edging cup holders West Indies in the run-up, South Africa believe they are in good shape.

That view could be coloured by what happens in the coming days, but batsman David Miller sees things from a positive perspective.

Miller said, quoted on iol.co.za, "What we've been through in the last couple of months, I believe, has been a huge stepping stone in our T20 campaign. We took a lot of confidence from beating the West Indies.

"We still need to work out different combinations. In T20 you need to be flexible. That is something that we will get right. There have been areas in the last few months in the fielding department where we can certainly improve. We are aware of it."

 

HASARANGA TEST FOR PROTEAS

Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga marked his 24th birthday in grand style on his last T20I appearance, taking staggering figures of 4-9 against India in Colombo on July 20 to set up his team for a series-winning victory. It is clear he represents a big threat to South Africa, with his strike rate in T20I power play this year standing at six, the best rate among all bowlers to have a delivered a minimum of 20 balls.

Sri Lanka were beaten 3-0 by the Proteas the last time these teams met in a T20I series. That was in South Africa in March 2019, with the hosts winning the opening match on a one-over eliminator after the contest finished tied.

TOURISTS WELCOME BACK RESTED STARS

South Africa allowed Quinton de Kock, Miller and Lungi Ngidi to sit out the ODI series. De Kock and Miller return for the upcoming three games, crunch match practice now the World Cup countdown is on.

De Kock needs just two more dismissals to record the second most by a wicketkeeper in men's T20I matches. He currently has 62 dismissals and only has MS Dhoni (91) and Denesh Ramdin (63) above him.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Sri Lanka have won their last two men’s T20I matches at home, the last time they registered more consecutive wins in this format at home was in 2012 (4 matches).

– South Africa have won their last four men's T20I matches on the road. The last time they registered more such wins in a row was in 2009 (5 matches).

– Sri Lanka have a chance to register a hat-trick of men’s T20I wins for the first time at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. They won their last two matches at this venue against India (July 28 and 29). They have one win and a loss against South Africa at this venue.

– Sri Lanka have a batting strike rate of 114 in men’s T20I since the beginning of 2020, the poorest among all Test-playing nations in this format; South Africa have a strike rate of 142, the fourth best during this period.

– South Africa have a catch success percentage of 75 per cent in men’s T20I since the beginning of 2020, the poorest rate among Test playing nations. They have dropped 35 of the 140 chances presented to them.

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