The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will decide this week whether to go ahead with the upcoming Ashes Tour after communicating Cricket Australia's proposed arrangements with players.

The first Test of the Ashes is due to begin on December 8 at the Gabba in Brisbane, though the full length of the Tour is expected to be 11 weeks, and during that time the England team will have to live under restricted conditions in an attempt to prevent coronavirus outbreaks.

Australia has been one of the most restrictive countries in the world during the pandemic, with strict border rules in force since March 2020.

Its international borders are set to reopen in November, though Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested last month that England will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules if they are to travel to Australia.

Nearly 57 per cent of Australians are fully vaccinated, while 82.5 per cent of Brits are, though all state and international borders are not expected to be open until regional and national vaccination rates hit 80 per cent.

With players and management informed over the weekend of what life will look like for them in Australia, the ECB board is set to make a final decision on whether to go ahead with the trip by the end of the week.

An ECB statement read: "Over the weekend we have been talking to England men's players and management to provide them with the latest information about the proposed arrangements for this winter's scheduled Ashes Tour.

"We remain in regular and positive dialogue with Cricket Australia over these arrangements as the picture is constantly evolving.

"With health and wellbeing at the forefront, our focus is to ensure the Tour can go ahead with conditions for players and management to perform at their best.

"We will continue talking to our players this week to share the latest information and seek feedback.

"Later this week the ECB Board will meet to decide whether the conditions in place are sufficient for the Tour to go ahead and enable the selection of a squad befitting a series of this significance."

Shubman Gill made a decisive half-century as Kolkata Knight Riders beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets in their battle for the final Indian Premier League play-off spot.

There is only one place in the last four up for grabs after Royal Challengers Bangalore qualified on Sunday and KKR are primed to extend their season after this victory at the Dubai International Stadium.

Rooted to the bottom of the table with only two wins, Sunrisers could only post 115-8 after Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to bat first.

Williamson top scored with only 26 and Abdul Samad made a quickfire 25, with Tim Southee (2-26) Shivam Mavi (2-29) and Varun Chakravarthy 2-26 restricting Hyderabad to a below-par total.

Shakib Al Hasan marked his first appearance since the tournament resumed in the UAE by running Williamson out with a direct hit and the all-rounder also took 1-20.

Gill struck 57 from 51 balls with support from Nitish Rana (25) and Dinesh Karthik made an unbeaten 18 as the Knight Riders got home with two balls to spare

The win moves Eoin Morgan's fourth-placed side two points clear of Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians with a superior run-rate.

Rajasthan and defending champions Mumbai have a game in hand ahead of KKR's final match of the regular season against the Royals in Sharjah on Thursday.

Southee sets the tone

New Zealand paceman Southee went for 40 from four wicketless overs in a loss to Punjab Kings on Friday.

He charged in to put that behind him two days later, trapping Wriddhiman Saha leg before first ball off the second delivery of the match.

Southee also saw the back of Samad after he had hit three sixes, with Varun and Mavi also impressing along with the returning Shakib.

Composed Gill fits the bill

Calm heads were needed in the run chase with so much at stake as the play-off battle hots up, with the Royals knowing a second successive defeat could be so costly.

Opening batsman Gill delivered, laying the foundations with a composed knock that included 10 boundaries.

Siddarth Kaul had Gill caught by Jason Holder, who took 2-32, in the deep in the 17th over, but Morgan's men were well on their way to victory by then.

Royal Challengers Bangalore sealed an Indian Premier League play-off spot thanks to a six-run win over Punjab Kings on Sunday.

Glenn Maxwell smashed 57 from just 33 deliveries as Royal Challengers made 164-7 after opting to bat first, the highest total posted at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium since the 2021 season resumed.

Punjab Kings had won each of the three previous games against their opponents staged in the United Arab Emirates, and they looked well set to extend that streak when opening duo KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal impressed again, putting on a 91-run stand.

However, the innings lost momentum after Rahul departed for 39, spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3-29) turning the tide in his side's favour.

Agarwal would end up top-scoring with 57, but the Kings came up short in the final reckoning, ending on 158-6 as Bangalore's bowlers held their nerve in the closing stages.

While Punjab missed the chance to move into the play-off positions, Bangalore are certain to finish the round-robin stage in the top four after ending a three-match losing run at the venue.

Taking it to the Max

While Virat Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal made 25 and 40 respectively at the top of the Bangalore order, both struggled to force the pace before being dismissed by Moises Henriques, who finished with 3-12. However, Maxwell had no such problems, smashing four sixes in a knock that was eventually ended when he became one of three wickets for Mohammed Shami (3-39) in an eventful final over.

Rahul on top, Kings in trouble

Rahul is back on top of the IPL's run-scoring list for the campaign; he has now managed 528 in 12 innings at an outstanding average of 52.80. His dismissal to Shahbaz Ahmed changed the complexion of proceedings, though, as his team fell away down the stretch to suffer a painful defeat.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard believes the team’s overall experience will be a critical factor in the bid to successfully defend its World T20 title.

The final 15 selected to represent the West Indies, for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, has stirred up considerable debate in the Caribbean, with several questioning the age of the squad.  At current, the team boasts four players over the age of 35, with an average age of 30.6.

Pollard, however, sees the likes of Chris Gayle, Ravi Rampaul, and Lendl Simmons in the squad, several of who have won multiple World Cups, as a major advantage, particularly in tight situations.

“It’s great to have all these guys and myself playing together again,” Pollard told India.com.

“This hasn’t happened in a very long time. No matter which way you look at it you can’t beat experience because we have seen different scenarios time and time again,” he added.

“We react (to those scenarios) and we get the other players to react and understand the magnitude of what we are in and what we are about to do. Having guys like that to lean on is great, and guys that can get you out of situations where people might think, or you might think as well, that you can’t get out of.

“The younger guys get to learn and get to understand some of the things that are needed to be successful, especially from a T20 aspect. As I’ve said before, we would have seen it time and time again all over the world, different situations, different conditions, different bowlers – having guys like that to help the younger guys, I think you can’t ask for anything better than that.”

 

 

Ruturaj Gaikwad's magnificent maiden Twenty20 century was in vain as Rajasthan Royals boosted their Indian Premier League play-off hopes with a seven-wicket win over leaders Chennai Super Kings.

Gaikwad replaced KL Rahul as the leading run-scorer in the 2021 tournament, hitting a six off the final ball of CSK's innings to finish unbeaten on 101 off 60 balls.

The opener struck five sixes in a sensational knock, with Ravindra Jadeja scoring a rapid 32 not out in the Super Kings' 189-4 at Zayed Cricket Stadium on Saturday.

Rahul Tewatia took 3-39 but it was a tough day for the Royals bowlers, Mustafizur Rahman going for 51 off his wicket-less four overs.

A big run chase was no problem for the Royals, though, as they cruised to a what could be a vital win with 15 balls to spare in an Abu Dhabi run-fest.

Shivam Dube (64no from 42) struck a brilliant maiden IPL half-century after Yashasvi Jaiswal made 50 from just 21 balls, with Josh Hazlewood (0-54) and Sam Curran (0-55) given the treatment.

Victory for the Royals leaves them in sixth place with two games of the regular season to play, behind Kolkata Knight Riders and Punjab Kings on net run-rate.

CSK are already assured of a play-off place but are not guaranteed a top-two finish after their four-game winning run came to an end in MS Dhoni's 200th match as an IPL captain.

Gaikwad takes Royals to all parts

The Rajasthan bowlers were taken to all parts by an inspired Gaikwad, who set the tone by hitting the first ball of the match from Akash Singh for four. 

He brought up a seventh IPL half-century off 43 balls and then cut loose, taking 71 off 30 deliveries and reaching three figures by launching Mustafizur for a huge six.

Gaikwad has 19 runs more than Rahul in the battle for the orange cap, having found the rope nine times to go with his five sixes in a breathtaking innings.

Dube and Jaiswal stun CSK

It was the turn of the CSK bowlers to suffer as Jaiswal and Evin Lewis (27 off 12) made a blistering start to the run chase, putting on 77 in 5.2 overs.

Teenager Jaiswal had his half-century off only 19 balls, striking Hazlewood for two sixes in a fifth over that cost 22 runs before falling to KM Asif to leave the Super Kings on 81-2.

Dube then came to the fore in a stand of 89 with captain Sanju Samson (28), bringing up a maiden fifty from 31 deliveries in a knock that included four sixes, and debutant Glenn Phillips hit the winning run to end the Royals' run of three consecutive defeats.

Shreyas Iyer nudged Delhi Capitals to a four-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians to leave the defending Indian Premier League champions in danger of missing out on the play-offs.

Avesh Khan (3-15) and Axar Patel (3-21) limited Mumbai - who are sixth with two matches to play - to 129-8 as the holders lost wickets at regular intervals.

Anrich Nortje also picked up 1-19 from his four-over allocation and, despite Suryakumar Yadav's 33, Rishabh Pant's side looked like the firm favourites at the halfway point in Sharjah on Saturday.

Nathan Coulter-Nile dismissed fellow Australian Steve Smith (nine) with his first delivery to leave the Capitals teetering at 30-3 after openers Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw were also dismissed cheaply.

Pant (26) followed to off-spinner Jayant Yadav to leave Delhi 57-4 but Iyer and Shimron Hetmyer (15) offered resistance to drag their side up to 93-6 before the latter fell to Jasprit Bumrah's deceiving slower ball.

Ravichandran Ashwin (20) then joined Iyer, who finished unbeaten on 33, to secure victory for second-placed Delhi with five balls to spare and leave the Indians under serious threat of failing to reach the play-offs.

Avesh torments Indians

Avesh toyed with the Mumbai line-up as he delivered a mix of slower balls and inswinging yorkers to secure his three dismissals.

The seamer impressively dismissed the dangerous finisher Hardik Pandya in the penultimate over, while also removing Coulter-Nile after he had claimed the big scalp of Rohit Sharma in his first over.

Ashwin final-over gamble fails

Pant gambled by holding back Ashwin to the final over of Mumbai's innings. The off-spinner dismissed Jayant Yadav but conceded 13 from his final six deliveries as he ended with 1-41 from his four overs.

However, Ashwin made up for it with the bat as he sealed the win with a six off Krunal Pandya's first ball of the last over.

Kolkata Knight Riders captain Eoin Morgan insists the franchise is monitoring the fitness of West Indies star Andre Russell on a day-by-day basic but remains unsure of exactly when the player will return to action.

The bit-hitting all-rounder was forced to leave the field after making a good save on the mid-wicket boundary and jumped himself off the field as soon as he threw back the ball.  The 33-year-old did not feature for the team against the Dehli Capitals, or Friday’s encounter against the Punjab Kings XI.

Despite Russell missing the second game in a row, Morgan did not shed any more light on the player’s current injury status.

“Lockie and Russell are being monitored day by day. They have to rehab extremely well in order to be fit,” Morgan said.

Earlier, David Hussey, KKR’s team mentor, had described Russell’s injury as a hamstring injury but expressed hope that the player could return to the line-up soon,

“He said he felt something pop in his leg, his hamstring. We’ve got the best medical staff in the business so they’ll tend to him and hopefully, it’s nothing too serious, because he’s a key part of our team,” Hussey said.

In addition to the Knight Riders, the West Indies will also be closely monitoring the situation, with the player expected to line up for the World T20 later this month.

 

 

Punjab Kings emerged triumphant after a dramatic finish to beat Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets and keep their Indian Premier League play-off hopes alive.

Chasing 166 to win, captain KL Rahul (67 runs from 55 balls) took Punjab to the brink of a vital victory only to fall in the final over, leaving them needing four from as many balls.

Shahrukh Khan (22 from nine) then looked like he had been caught in the deep off the next delivery, only for Rahul Tripathi to drop the ball over the boundary for a six, ending the contest.

That thrilling finale came after a run chase that Punjab had long looked to have under control, with Mayank Agarwal (40 from 27) also making a key contribution.

KKR had earlier managed 165-7 after being put in to bat, with Venkatesh Iyer scoring 67 off 49 to give his side a chance.

Instead, Punjab's successful chase means they join KKR and Mumbai Indians on 10 points in a competitive battle to achieve a top-four place.

No Gayle, no problem for Kings

Chris Gayle leaving the IPL due to bubble fatigue was a blow for the Kings, but they were still able to get the win they desperately needed here.

Rahul, who had two maximums, anchored the innings and would have been disappointed not to have finished the chase himself. Still, he can reflect on a job well done while sitting as the competition's leading run scorer with 489, this being his fifth fifty in 11 matches.

KKR fail to build on Iyer platform

With Andre Russell out injured, it was Iyer who did the damage with the bat for KKR, his 72-run partnership with Tripathi for the second wicket setting an impressive platform.

However, KKR did not take full advantage and, having reached 120-2, they struggled. After Iyer's dismissal, Nitish Rana (31 off 18) was the only batter able to accelerate the rate.

Tim Paine says the Ashes will go ahead as scheduled regardless of whether Joe Root and other key England players travel to Australia.

Root this week stated that he is "desperate" to do battle with fierce rivals Australia, but the England captain is not ready to commit to the tour until there is more clarity over coronavirus restrictions.

Jos Buttler is among the other England players who have made it clear they may pull out if their families are not allowed to head to Australia.

Talks between Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board over what protocols may be in place are ongoing, with players having already spent long periods in bio-secure bubbles at home and overseas.

Skipper Paine says he will lead his side out at The Gabba on December 8 come what may.

"The Ashes are going ahead - the first Test is on December 8 whether Joe's here or not," the wicketkeeper told SEN Hobart.

"They all want to come, there's no doubt about it.

"They're trying to get themselves the best possible conditions they can, but at the end of the day, we all are.

"It will be worked out above us and then they'll make a decision whether or not they'll get on that plane. There will be a squad of England players coming here for the first Test on December 8th."

Australia prime minister Scott Morrison last month warned England will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules when they arrive in the country.

Former West Indies batting coach Toby Radford has expressed concern that Cricket West Indies' (CWI) current system of allowing for medical exemptions for some players could present the illusion of unfairness.

The debate has continued to rage around the selection of the squad after the selection panel was unable to even considered some players for the World Cup squad after they had reportedly not made the requisite CWI fitness standard.

Among that crown were batsman Sherfane Rutherford, promising fast bowler Odean Smith and spinner Sunil Narine. With that considered, for some, the selection of players like Chris Gayle and Ravi Rampaul proved problematic, but both players were given exemptions by the CWI’s medical committee.

At current, all players are required to pass the popular Yoyo fitness test, but the results of the tests are graded on a sliding scale.  The CWI has repeatedly insisted that its policy, along with the exemptions is a standard international practice.  It has, however, continued to stir debate.

“You have to be seen to be fair across the board.  Either everybody does it (meet fitness standard) or nobody does it,” Radford told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“You can’t choose who gets tested and who gets an exemption, it doesn’t seem to be a fair system.  I think it either all the players are tested and they all need to pass it or they don’t,” he added.

“Otherwise, it makes a mockery of the test.  You’re leaving out players who are on form and younger and fitter, generally, saying they haven’t passed the test and you are taking people 10 years older who struggle to run between wickets and the field.”

The Universe Boss Chris Gayle has left the IPL bubble citing bubble fatigue and a need to stay fresh for next month’s ICC T20 World Cup.

Chennai Super Kings qualified for the Indian Premier League play-offs thanks to a six-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are eliminated from contention.

Hyderabad had won their previous outing, beating Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets to snap a five-game losing run in the competition, but this was another poor performance during a disappointing season for the franchise.

They mustered just 134-7 from their 20 overs, with only Wriddhiman Saha managing more than 18 runs in a sub-par showing with the bat in Sharjah.

However, the Sunrisers still ran their opponents close in the end, Chennai left needing 16 off the final two overs despite strong showings from opening duo Ruturaj Gaikwad (45) and Faf du Plessis (41). 

However, 40-year-old MS Dhoni rolled back the years to finish the game in style, smashing a six to secure the victory with two balls to spare.

Super Kings bolster impressive record

Chennai have now won eight of their last 10 matches against the Sunrisers. This latest success was built on a solid team bowling performance, one which was led by Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood (3-24).

Saha show not quite enough

While he was on the losing side, Saha certainly cannot be blamed for the defeat. He made nearly a third of Hyderabad's runs on his own as he managed 44 from 46 deliveries, including a pair of sixes, but received little support from the rest of the top order.

At 34-years-old, West Indies big-hitter Kieron Pollard admits these days there is great satisfaction in showing younger players he has plenty left in the tank, despite the realization that time is slowly catching up to him.

On Monday, the West Indian captain became the first player in history to take 300 wickets and 10,000 runs in T20s, after taking two wickets and making 15 runs for Indian Premier League team Mumbai Indians.

Over an outstanding career, the all-rounder is now second behind Chris Gayle on the all-time list with 11,217 runs and 8th on the all-time bowling list in terms of wickets taken.  Perhaps fitting Gayle was among one of the wickets he claimed on the way to the special milestone.  While proud of what he has accomplished in the sport, the dynamic player is keenly aware of a new generation of cricketers eager to make their own mark on the sport.

“Age is catching up with me because (there are) young guys in the dressing room, so I have to continue to show them that, ‘listen, I still got it,” Pollard said after the game.

“So, most of the time, it’s just to show these young guys what I can do,” he added.

“For me, you are just supposed to do what the team requires. As an individual, I know what I can do in all the facets of the game, and whenever I get the opportunity just try to do my best.”

Glenn Maxwell scored his 10th Indian Premier League fifty as Royal Challengers Bangalore cruised to a seven-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals.

Australia star Maxwell scored 50 not out from 30 deliveries as RCB comfortably chased down their target of 150 with 17 balls to spare, finishing on 153-3.

Maxwell put on 69 with wicketkeeper Srikar Bharat (44), a partnership that ended any doubt over the outcome of the match after a brief hiccup when captain Virat Kohli (25) was run out.

Having been put in to bat by Kohli, Rajasthan had earlier looked like they were cruising to a huge total when they reached 100-1 after 11 overs, but the dismissal of opener Evin Lewis - who had smashed 58 runs off 37 balls - sparked a collapse to 149-9.

Yuzvendra Chahal (2-18) and Shahbaz Ahmed (2-10) impressed, with their combined six overs producing four wickets at an economy rate of 4.67, while debutant George Garton (1-30) was the man to remove Lewis.

Maxwell then racked up six fours and a sole maximum in an easy run chase for RCB, with Mustafizur Rahman (2-20) the only Rajasthan bowler to offer up any meaningful resistance.

More misery for Rajasthan against RCB

Rajasthan Royals have now lost their last four matches against RCB, extending what was already their longest active losing streak against a single opponent in the IPL.

With three straight losses, a playoff berth is starting to look like a tough ask for Rajasthan in contrast to RCB, who sit comfortably in third place after responding to a three-game losing run with two consecutive victories, Maxwell getting a fifty in both triumphs.

Fine season for Harshal continues

Harshal Patel (3-34) was already the leader in the purple cap race with 23 wickets coming into the match, having become only the fourth RCB player in IPL history to record a hat-trick last time out against Mumbai Indians.

It looked like he was in for a frustrating outing here but his persistence paid off as he claimed three wickets in the last over of a Rajasthan innings that went downhill rapidly, extending his advantage atop the standings.

Mumbai Indians put an end to a three-game losing streak to boost their play-off hopes in the Indian Premier League, beating Punjab Kings by six wickets. 

Saurabh Tiwary made 45 and Hardik Pandya hit an unbeaten 40 as the reigning champions overhauled their opponents' score of 135-6 with an over to spare on Tuesday. 

Looking to beat Mumbai for a third time in a row – a feat they had not managed since a run between the 2008-09 seasons – Punjab Kings simply failed to fire with the bat. They appeared to be making solid progress when their opening pair reached 36 without loss, only to then lose four wickets for the addition of just 12 runs.

Kieron Pollard claimed two in one over, including dismissing fellow West Indian Chris Gayle for one. Captain KL Rahul followed soon after, hitting a slower bouncer straight to Jasprit Bumrah at short fine leg to depart for 21. 

Aiden Markram led a recovery of sorts, finishing as the top scorer in the innings with 42. Deepak Hooda contributed 28 while Harpreet Brar ended up unbeaten on 14, though both struggled to up the run-rate in the closing overs. 

Ravi Bishnoi provided hope for Punjab Kings by dismissing Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav with successive deliveries in the powerplay, but Pollard came out at number six in the order to rush his team to victory, making 15 not out from just seven balls.

 

Bowlers help dethrone Kings 

Mumbai Indians have lost 13 games against Punjab Kings in the history of the IPL, the joint-most for the franchise against any rival in the tournament. 

However, they came out on top this time thanks mainly to their bowling attack. Krunal Pandya and Bumrah both claimed 1-24, while Nathan Coulter-Nile's four-over stint conceded just 19 runs. 

All-round excellence in Abu Dhabi 

Pollard may be better known for his big-hitting exploits with the bat, but the all-rounder has now reached the milestone of 300 wickets in Twenty20 cricket, meaning he becomes the first player to achieve both that feat and also score 10,000 runs in the format.

He dismissed Gayle for just the second time in T20 action, tempting the left-hander to have a go at a slower delivery that only ended up in the safe hands of Hardik Pandya. 

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