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India 302 for 5 (Pandya 92*, Jadeja 66*, Kohli 63, Agar 2-44) vs Australia

Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja nearly doubled India’s 32-over score of 152 for 5, but India’s 302 for 5 was still only the third-highest score in a full-length ODI at the high-scoring Manuka Oval. Pandya came within a couple of hits of a maiden ODI hundred, but he ran out of strike in the final overs, which was just as well for India because Jadeja ran rampage against an inexperienced Sean Abbott just then. The last five overs yielded 76 runs, but it remained to be seen whether the damage in the first 32 overs was enough for Australia to seal a sweep of the three-ODI series.

Josh Hazlewood got Virat Kohli for a third straight time with a short ball, and the rest of the engine room made errors against the spinners in the middle overs after a solid enough start. In those middle overs, Kohli went 50 balls without a boundary after getting off to a start of 21 off 16. It is a chicken-and-egg question: did the falling wickets necessitate a Kohli slowdown or did the slowdown bring about ambitious shots from the other end that resulted in those wickets?

The conditions were probably not as flat as India had expected when they won the toss after having lost chasing two humongous totals in the first two games of the series. There was some extra bounce and just the tiny bit of nibble for Australia to get off to their best bowling start of the series even though they were resting two of their first-choice quicks, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. As Shikhar Dhawan tried to upset this controlled start, dancing down to Sean Abbott, he only managed a chip to short cover to make it 26 for 1 in the sixth over.

Even before Abbott had had a go, Australia had tried a couple of overs from Glenn Maxwell at the top. Australia clearly expected some assistance for the spinners having brought in fingerspinner Ashton Agar for Starc. The first specialist spinner introduced, Agar interrupted a threatening partnership between Kohli and Shubman Gill, who inexplicably replaced Mayank Agarwal, who had selflessly got India off to quick starts in the two tall chases. Agar’s intervention brought about a boundary drought, Gill brought out the big sweep, and was trapped in front by one that just held its line. The promising innings ended at 33 off 39.

Tight bowling continued from both ends, Kohli set up his stall to bat through, and in these circumstances, the onus was on Shreyas Iyer to try and unsettle the bowlers. Seven overs into the partnership, he went too hard at an Adam Zampa legbreak, edging him to point. Tied down, KL Rahul repeated the Gill mistake: sweeping Agar and missing the length completely. India had now slipped from 59 for 1 in the 11th over to 123 for 4 in the 26th.

At the other end, Kohli played serenely, but he let the bowlers bowl at him. When he got a short and wide delivery from Zampa in the 29th over to finally hit a boundary for the first time since the 12th, his last 50 deliveries had brought him 34 runs. The intent now intensified, but he still eschewed aerial hits. This was the time Aaron Finch felt he needed to go back to Hazlewood. He kept banging the ball in to Kohli, using changes of pace and keeping the ball wide of his reach. In the 32nd over, he premiered his knuckle ball to take the edge but it didn’t carry. The next ball was on-pace, and it held its line to take a faint scratch, which needed a DRS review to be ascertained.

India were now staring at the possibility of a well-below-par total with a long tail only one wicket from being exposed. This was when came together two allrounders whose batting has been under pressure to justify their selection. Pandya has not been bowling of late, which means he has had to justify the tag of a specialist batsman (and only a part-time bowling option). The need to play Jadeja has split India’s two wristspinners, hampering their ability to pick up middle-overs wickets, which means he has to keep performing with the bat to justify that call.

Both batted like proper batsmen to keep criticism at bay. They got into their innings without sacrificing strike rate, especially with Pandya keeping the bowlers on their toes. With only two specialist quicks in the XI – debutant Cameron Green did put in four overs – Hazlewood and Abbott had to bowl all of the final six overs. This usually brings familiarity and the opportunity to line bowlers up, which is exactly what Pandya and Jadeja did.

Pandya first got stuck into Abbott, taking 17 off the 46th over, reaching 75 off 66 by the end of it. In the last four overs, though, it was all Jadeja as the bowling disintegrated. Abbott failed to bowl to his fields, providing Jadeja relatively easy opportunities to hit boundaries, which he took with both hands. By the end, he had hit more sixes than Pandya and his strike rate was higher too.

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Recent Match Report – Stars vs Strikers 40th Match 2020

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Adam Zampa picked up 5 for 17 in a match totally dominated by Melbourne Stars

Melbourne Stars 2 for 179 (Fletcher 89*, Valente 1-36) beat Adelaide Strikers 68 (Zampa 5-17) by 111 runs

Andre Fletcher has repaid Melbourne Stars’ faith in him with a stunning 89 not out before Adam Zampa claimed 5 for 17 to set up a huge 111-run victory over Adelaide Strikers at the MCG.

The Strikers were bowled out for just 68 chasing 180, their lowest total in BBL history, the third-lowest overall, and it was also the fourth-largest defeat by any team.

Fletcher had not passed 18 in the first nine matches in the tournament but he overcame a lack of strike in the first 10 overs to reach his first half-century in T20 cricket in more than 12 months before destroying the Strikers’ quicks in the Power Surge to set up a match-winning total of 2 for 179.

Fletcher revealed he received a phone call of encouragement from West Indies great Brian Lara a few days earlier, which inspired his innings.

He got good support from Glenn Maxwell (37 off 28) and Hilton Cartwright (30 not out off 17), though Cartwright’s innings possibly cost him a century. The Strikers attack lacked penetration without Rashid Khan and Peter Siddle, although Liam O’Connor and Daniel Worrall bowled tidily.

The Strikers then succumbed to the Stars’ spin trio as they raced through the overs with rain looming on the radar. Maxwell and Zahir Khan set it up in the Powerplay and finished with 4 for 31 from eight overs combined. Zampa then finished the job as the rain began to fall claiming his second T20 five-wicket haul.

Stoinis go-slow

It was a bizarre innings from Marcus Stoinis. He admitted to the media on Thursday that he had been struggling with how to build an innings under the new rules, having at times gone too hard in the four-over Powerplay and he even revealed he forgot about the Power Surge in the last game. Fletcher’s lean tournament has no doubt also played a part in his indecision. Stoinis faced 14 dots in total including 10 in Worrall’s first two overs. He has the confidence he can catch up but he never did, holing out to long-off to a borderline waist-high full toss from Danny Briggs for 13 off 26.

Fletcher faced just 15 balls and reached his highest total of the tournament of 22 while Stoinis was at the crease. Maxwell walked out at No.3 and avoided his third consecutive golden duck, but the Stars crawled to 1 for 57 after 10 overs with O’Connor stepping into Rashid’s enormous shoes and bowling and excellent four-over spell. However, he wasn’t able to take any wickets to expose the Stars’ middle order. Maxwell and Fletcher opted not to take the Power Surge despite both men being set at the start of the 15th over and Maxwell holed out to long-on at an inopportune time.

Spiceman runs hot

Fletcher hadn’t reached fifty in his last 30 T20 innings dating back to his century in the Bangladesh Premier League in 2019. Here, he got to his 50 off 36 balls at the end of the 16th and the relief on his face was palpable. The Stars took the Power Surge and Fletcher filled his boots. He torched Wes Agar and Worrall for four fours and two sixes as both quicks got their lengths horribly wrong delivering a mix of full tosses and length balls. Fletcher delivered a contemptuous no-look strike off Worrall over the long-on off the last ball of the Surge.

He was 82 not out with 12 balls left in the innings but only faced two more. Cartwright made 30 not out off 17 balls with two sixes, two fours, and three twos leaving Fletcher to watch at the other end. Fletcher finally got on strike last ball of the innings and deposited Briggs over the sightscreen. He was emotional as he walked off the ground and received a lengthy embrace from his skipper Maxwell. He later revealed that the emotion was for his late uncle.

Rain rush wrecks Strikers

With rain looming on the radar, Maxwell decided to race through three overs of spin in the Powerplay to get through five overs as quickly as possible. The gamble paid huge dividends as the Strikers slumped to 2 for 10. Alex Carey promoted himself to open with Phil Salt and both men fell cheaply. Salt gloved an attempted reverse sweep off Zahir to the keeper while Carey was clean bowled trying to launch Maxwell over long-on. Maxwell kept the spin attack rolling bowling just two overs of pace in the first 10 as the Stars defended just 57 to claim the Bash Boost point. Matt Renshaw and Jon Wells did not score a boundary off the spinners with Renshaw holing out to Zampa in the 10th over.

Zampa shrugs off shoulder concern

Zampa hurt his shoulder diving in the field and had to spend some time sitting on the dug-out when he wasn’t bowling. But it didn’t affect his legspin as he put on another masterclass. The damage had been done by Maxwell and Zahir but Zampa was still needed to close out the 10th over and secure the Bash Boost point. He was far too good for the Strikers tail claiming four of the last five wickets.

Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne

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Kaprizov’s OT winner lifts Wild past Kings in season opener

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LOS ANGELES — Kirill Kaprizov scored his first NHL goal with 1:13 remaining in overtime and finished with three points as the Minnesota Wild rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the season opener for both teams Thursday night.

The 23-year-old Russian scored on a breakaway, putting the puck past Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick. Kaprizov, who is the third Russian-born player to make his NHL debut with the Wild, also had a pair of assists. He was a fifth-round selection by Minnesota in 2015 before signing a two-year, entry-level contract last summer.

Minnesota trailed 3-1 after two periods before rallying. Jonas Brodin, Victor Rask and Marcus Foligno also scored for the Wild. Cam Talbot made 32 saves in his Minnesota debut.

Dustin Brown scored his 300th goal, Jeff Carter had a goal and an assist and Andreas Athanasiou also scored for Los Angeles. Quick stopped 23 shots.

Brown got his milestone goal with 2:55 remaining in the second on the power play with a wrap-around that put the Kings in front by two goals.

The Kings, who were one of seven teams that missed the playoffs, were playing their first game since March 11. They were the league’s hottest team with seven straight wins before last season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Minnesota was playing its first game since Aug. 7, after it lost to Vancouver in four games in the best-of-five qualifying round in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Talbot had a rough game in his Wild debut. Talbot, who signed a three-year contract last July, fell to 7-10 in 17 career starts against Los Angeles.

UNAVAILABLE

Minnesota G Alex Stalock, along with Los Angeles D Kurtis MacDermid, G Cal Petersen and Sean Walker

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The Wild remarked before the game how strange it felt walking through their largely empty hotel across the street from Staples Center, with no activity at the adjacent LA Live complex, either. There was no team meal, just grab-and-go food for coaches and players to take to their rooms and eat on their own.

“I packed a lot more recovery stuff this year,” Talbot said. “More sweatpants. Less jeans. You can’t really go anywhere, so it’s just comfy clothes and stuff to keep you entertained in the room.”

WHAT’S NEXT

The teams will meet again on Saturday night. Eight of Los Angeles’ first 21 games are against Minnesota and the season series will be wrapped up by the end of February. The Wild are one of four Central Division teams who are part of the reconfigured West Division this season.

“Adjustments will come into play on both sides but saying that these early games are more about us,” said Kings coach Todd McLellan about playing teams in back-to-back games for most of the season. “It is about doing things in our world before picking things apart about other teams.”



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Evander Holyfield wants to fight Mike Tyson for a third time: ‘No more excuses’

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Evander Holyfield heard about the hype behind a 54-year-old Mike Tyson returning to the ring to fight a 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr. and decided that he wanted in on the action. The former undisputed heavyweight champion has called out Iron Mike for one last bout between the two middle-aged men.

“No more excuses,” said Holyfield in a statement, per Reuters. “This is the fight that must happen for both our legacies. Saturday night you said you were ready to fight me, so sign the contract and get in the ring, Tyson. The world is waiting and it’s on you now. I’m ready.”

If there’s anyone who understands the magnitude of the draw these two fighters can still bring, it’s Holyfield. Not only does the boxer keep his ear to the ground on such things, but Tyson once helped it get there in one of their two famous bouts. The first Tyson-Holyfield fight ended in an 11th round TKO for Holyfield, while the second infamously ended when Tyson was disqualified for biting a chunk of Holyfield’s ear off.

Holyfield offered up his services to fight Tyson in his return to the ring, but promoters went with Jones Jr. instead. The 58-year-old appears to be using his being spurned as motivation to get this second comeback fight for Tyson to happen.

“My side tried to make the fight happen and we got nothing but excuses,” Holyfield’s statement continued. “Now I can see why he wanted a tune-up fight before thinking about fighting me. Roy Jones was a good local opponent for Mike but a fight with me would be a global event and the only fight that anyone wants to see is a fight between us.

“There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t make it happen.”



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