Dimuth Karunaratne holds the key to Sri Lanka salvaging the second Test with South Africa as the tourists reached 150-4 at stumps on day two - a second-innings lead of just five runs.

Having collapsed to 157 all out in their first innings, Sri Lanka saw Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen build on their overnight stand of 114.

The pair added another 70, Elgar registering his 13th Test century and Van der Dussen eventually dismissed for 67.

But a maiden five-wicket haul in Tests from left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando (5-101) in Johannesburg saw the Proteas collapse from 218-1 to 302 all out, denting their hopes of closing out a 2-0 series win.

A heavy defeat still looked the most likely outcome for Sri Lanka when Kusal Perera fell in the third over of their second innings.

Yet captain Karunaratne counter-attacked in thrilling fashion to post 91 at the close and ensure this side hold a slim advantage with six wickets still in hand.

Elgar knocked a Vishwa delivery past point to bring up three figures and at that moment there was little sign of the chaos to follow, with Van der Dussen easing to a half-century.

The opener eventually edged Dushmantha Chameera to first slip as his innings was ended on 127. Van der Dussen followed in short order, deemed to have gloved Dasun Shanaka behind on review.

Lungi Ngidi (3-26) went round the wicket to remove Perera, the seamer going on to account for Lahiru Thirimanne (31) and Kusal Mendis (0).

However, Sri Lanka - who lost Minod Bhanuka to a stunning Keshav Maharaj catch off first-innings tormenter Anrich Nortje - found hope at the top of the innings in the form of Karunaratne, whose 116-ball stay at the crease has so far yielded 17 fours.

Sri Lanka have little room left for error, though, and will hope the skipper and Niroshan Dickwella (18 not out) can guide them towards a total that Vishwa and an on-form attack at least have a chance of defending.

Moeen Ali has tested positive for coronavirus upon arrival in Sri Lanka, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced.

Ali and the rest of the England Test squad were checked at the airport in Hambantota on Sunday after flying in ahead of the two-match series, which gets underway on January 14.

The all-rounder will now observe a 10-day period of self-isolation, while team-mate Chris Woakes will isolate for a minimum of seven days after being deemed a possible close contact.

Further testing of the rest of the party will be carried out on Tuesday, with England's players then due to begin training the following day.

"Ali will now observe a period of 10-days self-isolation, in accordance with the Sri Lanka government's protocol on quarantine," a statement from the ECB read.

"Chris Woakes has been deemed as a possible close contact, and he will observe a period of self-isolation and further testing.

"The touring party will be PCR tested for a second time on Tuesday morning. At this stage, the team will train for the first time on Wednesday."

England selected a 16-man squad for the series in Sri Lanka, though seven reserves were also announced for the trip to help cover for potential absences.

The white-ball tour to South Africa in December was cut short due to a number of COVID-19 cases within the bubble shared by the two teams.

While the three-match Twenty20 series against the Proteas was completed, the one-day games scheduled had to be cancelled.

Kane Williamson continued his impressive form to give New Zealand control of the second Test against Pakistan on Monday.

Williamson scored his 24th Test century and second in as many Tests on a strong day two for the Black Caps at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

The right-hander finished the day unbeaten on 112 as New Zealand reached 286-3, trailing Pakistan by just 11 runs, with Henry Nicholls (89) also not out.

Williamson, who moved top of the ICC rankings for Test batsmen last week, was scratchy early before accelerating.

He needed 105 balls to reach his half-century but just another 35 to bring up his ton.

It came after Pakistan put themselves in a promising position by reducing the hosts, who lead the two-Test series 1-0, to 71-3.

The wickets of Tom Latham (33), Tom Blundell (16) and Ross Taylor (12) had Pakistan on a high, and they should have had Nicholls cheaply.

The left-hander was caught by Mohammad Rizwan on three, but Shaheen Afridi (1-45) overstepped.

Williamson and Nicholls attacked as the day went on and Pakistan had their troubles in the field, the former edging through Shan Masood and Haris Sohail in the slips on 82.

Masood dropped Williamson after the star New Zealander passed his century before Rizwan put down an easy chance off Nicholls – then on 86 – off Shaheen.

Nicholls hurt his calf late in the day but managed to get to stumps alongside Williamson on an excellent day for the Black Caps.

Crowd capacity for the Sydney Test between Australia and India starting on Thursday has been reduced to 25 per cent.

Questions were raised over the venue of the third Test after a coronavirus outbreak in New South Wales.

The clash will go ahead at the SCG, but on Monday it was announced the crowd capacity had been cut from 50 per cent to 25.

"In response to the public health situation in NSW, we are working closely with Venues NSW and NSW Health to put appropriate biosecurity measures in place for our staff, players, match officials, broadcasters and fans to ensure we play the third Test at the SCG safely," Cricket Australia (CA) interim chief executive Nick Hockley said.

"Reducing the capacity of the venue is crucial in achieving social distancing requirements, and we sincerely thank ticketholders for their patience, as we process refunds today, reconfigure the SCG seating plan to deliver these social distancing measures and go back on sale."

The four-Test series is locked at 1-1, with some doubts now over the venue for the final match – due to be held in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, Australia paceman James Pattinson has been ruled out of the Sydney Test due to bruised ribs suffered in a fall at home.

West Indies One Day International (ODI) captain for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh, Jason Mohammed, hopes to bring a sense of calm to the team ahead of what is expected to be a difficult match-up next month.

A quick glance at the record books will tell you that the hastily selected second-string unit is expected to have a difficult trip to Asia. The West Indies has won just one of the last seven ODIs against Bangladesh.  The most recent loss saw Bangladesh stroll to a comfortable 7-wicket win at the 2019 World Cup.  With several first-team players, including West Indies captain Jason Holder, in-form batsman Shai Hope, in the 50-over version anyway, and the explosive Shimron Hetmeyer are just a few of the players missing from the squad.  Their replacements will be short on experience.

While admitting that results will not be easy to come by for the series, Mohammed hopes to at least lead the team to consistent and calm performances.

“What I can bring to the table is being calm.  That’s one of the things that get us in trouble.  Speaking for myself, as an experienced player, sometimes when we overthink the situation, we just don’t stay calm in certain situations like bowling in the right areas, shot selections,” Mohammed told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“A lot has been said about the team going but I don’t think there will be a lot of pressure on us as players because at the end of the day we are going to represent the West Indies.  We still have a job to do.”

 

West Indies ODI Squad

Jason Mohammed (captain)

Sunil Ambris (vice-captain)

Nkrumah Bonner

Joshua Da Silva

Jahmar Hamilton

Chemar Holder

Akeal Hosein

Alzarri Joseph

Kyle Mayers

Andre McCarthy

Kjorn Ottley

Rovman Powell

Raymon Reifer

Romario Shepherd

Hayden Walsh jr

 

 

 

 

Anrich Nortje claimed career-best bowling figures as South Africa dominated the opening day of the second Test against depleted Sri Lanka in Johannesburg.

Nortje finished with 6-56 as the tourists were dismissed for 157 in just 40.3 overs, with the Proteas already closing in on that below-par total as they were on 148-1 in reply by the close.

Dean Elgar finished up unbeaten on 92, in the process becoming just the 10th South Africa batsman to reach 4,000 Test runs.

The left-handed opener combined with Rassie van der Dussen – who will resume on Monday on 40 not out – to share in an unbroken second-wicket stand worth 114.

Sri Lanka handed debuts to Minod Bhanuka and Asitha Fernando as injuries forced changes to the team that had lost the series opener by an innings at Centurion.

Kusal Perera top scored with 60 from 67 deliveries in their innings but, having made it to 71-1, his dismissal sparked a collapse, a middle order missing Dhananjaya de Silva and Dinesh Chandimal – who both scored half-centuries in the first Test – crumbling.

The visitors lost their final nine wickets for just 86 runs, the impressive Nortje rattling through the tail to claim his second five-wicket haul in the format.

Wiaan Mulder ended the innings with 3-25, including taking two in an over, while the other wicket was picked up by Lutho Sipamla. Despite being passed fit following a groin injury, Kagiso Rabada was not recalled to the team.

Fernando claimed his first Test wicket when Aiden Markram was caught at second slip for five, though that was the solitary success for Sri Lanka's new-look attack.

Elgar hit 16 boundaries to close in on a 13th Test century; he will no doubt be eager to get there on day two, having been dismissed for 95 in the previous match.

West Indies spinner Rahkeem Cornwall is eager to make use of what could be a solid opportunity on the upcoming tour of Bangladesh, which will provide conditions more suited to spin bowling.

Amidst a flurry of withdrawals, Cornwall was one of the current members of the squad to readily accept the invitation to tour the Asian country next month.

The 27-year-old has been part of the West Indies squad since being invited to the England tour with the team in July.  He then traveled to New Zealand with the team for the tour that took place in December.

Cornwall has, however, had a difficult time making an impact.  Called to the first-team squad for the third Test in England, the spinner bowled 46 overs but did get a wicket.  He was not added to the first team for the New Zealand tour.  On the slower, more spin-friendly matches in Bangladesh, however, the player hopes to have a much bigger impact.

“I think I’m in a good space and we know Bangladesh is known for being more conducive to spin, so I just have to set my mind for a next bubble and go out there and perform the way I should,” Cornwall told the Antigua Observer.

“I went on two tours in England and New Zealand and there was nothing there for spinners and after playing three Test matches, I finally got something that suits me and I hope I can go there and perform,” he added.

Cornwall will have good memories of performing in Asia, as he claimed his career-best figures of 7 for 75 against Bangladesh last year.

Kyle Jamieson ripped through Pakistan’s batting line-up but their middle order proved defiant as New Zealand edged day one of the second Test.

The 6’8” fast bowler grabbed his third five-wicket haul for 69 runs in his sixth Test appearance as the tourists were bowled out for 297 in Christchurch.

Mohammad Rizwan’s side were reeling at 88-4 at lunch after Kane Williamson put Pakistan into bat and Jamieson recorded figures of three for 26 runs in a devastating first session.

Tim Southee made the breakthrough removing Shan Masood for a duck, before Jamieson claimed Abid Ali for 25, Haris Sohail for one and Fawad Alam for two as Pakistan lost three wickets for 17 runs.

Azhar Ali and Rizwan’s 88-run fifth-wicket partnership helped Pakistan recover from their morning collapse until Jamieson found Rizwan's outside edge and BJ Watling snared his opposing wicketkeeper for 61.

West Indies talisman Chris Gayle has targeted matching the exploits of India great Yuvraj Singh who once cleared the boundary rope six times in one over.

Singh, who retired from cricket in June of last year, achieved the feat in 2007 in a league-stage match of the inaugural T20 World Cup when he clobbered Stuart Broad.

The India legend achieved the feat on the biggest stage, but six other cricketers have also managed the achievement.  West Indian legend Gary Sobers, Ravi Shastri of India, Herschelle Gibbs of South Africa, Ross Vitali of England, Hazratullah Zazai of Afghanistan, and Leo Carter of New Zealand.

Despite being 41, Gayle still fancies his chances of becoming the eighth player to do so.  Based on his recent performances at this season's IPL, one wouldn’t bet against it.  It was at the IPL this season that Gayle became the first player to get to 1000 sixes in T20 cricket.  The big left-hander went close to the feat in 2016 when he hit five sixes in an over off Sulieman Benn in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

"It’s very much possible to hit six sixes.  So, if six is possible and Yuvraj has done it before so why can’t I do it? Yes, you, I anybody can do that,” Gayle told the Hindustan Times.

The Nevis Cricket Association (NCA) has strongly refuted claims batsman Kieran Powell has not made the West Indies selection fitness standard, pointing out that the player achieved the requirements in June.

Despite several key players choosing to make themselves unavailable for the upcoming Bangladesh tour, Powell was surprisingly not selected for hastily compiled ODI or squads.  In explaining the unusual situation, chief of selectors Roger Harper claimed the player had not been considered as he was yet to make the team's required fitness standard.  In a recent release, however, the NCA has vehemently disputed the claim.  The 30-year-old top-order batsman was the top scorer in the previous season of the Cricket West Indies (CWI) Regional Super50 competition.  Powell scored 524 runs at an average of 58.22, with two 100s and two 50s.

“When questioned on the omission of Powell, Chairman of Selectors, Roger Harper, responded that Powell is ‘yet to make the fitness standard’. This statement is incorrect. When the Leeward Islands Hurricanes conducted their fitness tests on June 30th, 2020, Kieran Powell successfully passed all aspects of the tests including the yo-yo test. The results of the tests were communicated to Mr. Peter Abraham Jr., CEO of the Leeward Islands Cricket Board, shortly thereafter. These results and, in particular, as they relate to Kieran Powell ought to have been made known to Cricket West Indies and their employees as they have an interest in the fitness of all of their players,” the release read.

“Subsequently, we presume Cricket West Indies were in receipt of Kieran Powell’s successful fitness test results as Powell was included in a group of probable players that were in consideration for the West Indies tour of Bangladesh as recently as two weeks ago.”

The NCA also claimed that in the first instance of Powell failing a fitness test, alongside Shimron Hetmyer and Evin Lewis, arrangements were made for the other two players to speedily retake the test, but no such provision was made for Powell.

The body has called the statement made by Harper ‘damaging’ and demanded a retraction, insisting the player is both fully fit and obviously in good form.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts has questioned some of the reasoning behind players opting not to go on the team’s upcoming tour of Bangladesh.

12 players, including captains Jason Holder, Kieron Pollard, and Roston Chase all opted to make themselves unavailable for the series, citing health and safety concerns.  Joining the trio on the sidelines are Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen and Shane Dowrich.

The West Indies was one of the first teams to resume international cricket when they visited England, under quarantine protocols, in July.  On that occasion, Bravo, Hetmeyer and Keemo Paul opted not to go on tour. The team then travelled to New Zealand earlier this month.  On that occasion, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, and Lewis opted out of the tour.

With so many players deciding not to accept the invitation on this occasion, however, Roberts has questioned the difference between England and New Zealand vs Bangladesh.

“How do all of these guys who couldn’t make a team two or three years ago now become so big that they are refusing to tour and blaming it on the bubble,” Roberts said.

“Was it a problem when the majority of these players went to England?  Was it a problem when the majority of these players went to New Zealand? How now is it a problem when they are going to Bangladesh?”

Bangladesh has a very high rate of COVID transmission with 510,080 confirmed coronavirus cases and 7,479 deaths.  However, England also had a high death and infection rate at the time of the tour.  Under the CWI Covid-19 rules, however, the players have the option to accept or decline tour invitations during the pandemic without it influencing thoughts of future selection.

 

West Indies fast bowling legend Curtly Ambrose has rubbished suggestions conditions in Bangladesh are a good reason for up and coming fast bowler Chemar Holder to be left out of the Test team for next month’s tour.

The 22-year-old made his debut under difficult conditions in New Zealand, earlier this month, performing creditably despite a heavy loss for the West Indies.  Holder ended with figures of 2 for 110, with one maiden, but often providing some testing deliveries despite not claiming more wickets.

For next month's tour, despite 12 first-team players opting not to take part in the series, there is no space in the Bangladesh Test squad for Holder.  One of the players missing is West Indies captain Jason Holder, who typically makes up part of a pace bowling quartet alongside Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, and Alzarri Joseph.

Some believe Holder would have proved a suitable replacement for his namesake, but Cricket West Indies chief of selectors Roger Harper pointed out that the player had been excluded for a spinner, considering the spin-friendly nature of pitches in Asia.

Ambrose, however, does not agree and pointed out that it is crucial the young fast bowler, having shown promise, be given the opportunity to excel in all kinds of conditions.

“That to me is utter nonsense.  I can’t support that.  If you want to be a top-class international cricketer, you have to be able to bowl on all surfaces, in all conditions anywhere you go,” Ambrose said.

“To me, that type of reason does not hold any water, it is disappointing.  Having made his debut in New Zealand and done fairly well on his debut, he is full of confidence, he is one of the guys for the future in my view.  To be left out of the Test squad to me was a big surprise…Don’t tell me because it’s a spin-friendly environment that you are going to, you want to walk with 10 spinners, that to me makes no sense.”

 

West Indies opener Kieran Powell remains unavailable for selection after failing to make the team's fitness standard, according to CWI chief selector Roger Harper.

The 30-year-old Powell was surprisingly left out of a team that was hastily arranged after several members of the first team declined to tour Bangladesh.  Many believe Powell capable of being a regular part of the first team.

The Leeward Island’s batsman was the highest runs scorer in the previous season of the Cricket West Indies Super50 tournament.  Powell scored 524 runs with a high score of 121 not out.  He also had two 50s and two 100s.

The player was initially surprised he was not selected to the team to tour England earlier this year, after a strong showing for the season.  He admitted, however, to having failed a fitness test but claimed he was perplexed as others who did not show up for the test or also failed it were still selected.  According to Harper, however, the issue of Powell’s fitness remains a hindrance and formed part of the consideration on this occasion as well.

“Mr. Powell has performed very well, he was the leading runs scorer for the Super50 competition, but he is yet to meet the fitness standard,” Harper told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Players have been left out of the team for the same reason.  The players we have selected on this squad have all met the fitness standard,” he added.

“Evin Lewis declined the invitation but he too is now available for selection.”

Lewis was dropped from the squad, along with Shimron Hetmyer earlier this year, after failing fitness tests.

 

Cricket West Indies chief of selectors Roger Harper is confident the team will put in a competitive showing, in Bangladesh, despite the absence of several regular first-teamers.

Team captains Jason Holder, Kieron Pollard, and Roston Chase were among 12 players opting not to go on the Bangladesh tour due to Covid-19 concerns.  The list includes Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, and Nicholas Pooran. Fabian Allen and Shane Dowrich will be unavailable because of personal reasons.

With the first team players missing Kraigg Brathwaite will lead the Test team, with Jermaine Blackwood assigned as his deputy.  Trinidad & Tobago and West Indies A team captain, Jason Mohammed, will lead the ODI team with Sunil Ambris as vice-captain.

 The absence of the A-list players will see Kavem Hodge, a right-handed top-order batsman, called to the Test squad for the first time.  Left-handed opener Shayne Moseley and all-rounder Kyle Mayers will now feature in the first team for the first time, after making trips to England and New Zealand as reserves earlier this year.

Two other players will earn their first call-ups for the ODI squad — Akeal Hosein, a left-arm spinner allrounder; and Kjorn Ottley, a left-handed top-order batsman.

Despite coming off the back of dismal Test performances in England and then New Zealand, where they lost both matches by an innings, Harper believes the desire to prove themselves as good enough to play at the highest level could see the stand-in team put in a strong shift.

“Touring Bangladesh is not easy.  Bangladesh is a team that plays well in its own conditions but I really believe that the group of players that we put together, the squad for both the Test series and ODIs, will be competitive and give a good account of themselves,” Harper told members of the media on Tuesday.

“I think we can come away with some positive results from this series.  Bangladesh plays extremely well in one-day cricket, so the players will have to play well be at the top of their games and make smart decisions,” he added.

 

Cricket West Indies chief of selectors Roger Harper believes the opportunity for cricketers to earn, despite the ongoing global pandemic, should be seen as a positive with many others not so fortunate.

Recently, several players, including team captains Jason Holder, Kieron Pollard, and Roston Chase have pulled out of the upcoming tour of Bangladesh after citing health and safety concerns. With the team about to embark on its third tour in a few months, concerns have been raised regarding the mental effect of having to quarantine for weeks at a time, in order to take part in these competitions.  The West Indies were one of the first teams to resume playing international cricket when they toured England in July, under heavy quarantine restrictions.  The Windies then managed to keep busy with a tour of New Zealand earlier this month and are lined up to tour Bangladesh next month.  

While admitting that it was a concern that CWI took seriously and one that was still being assessed, Harper insists things have to be looked at in a positive manner in light of the uncertainty the pandemic has unfurled.

“If you look at things from the other perspective there are a lot of people looking for the opportunity to work and continuing to do.  I still think cricket is providing that opportunity for several people,” Harper told members of the media following the naming of an adjusted West Indies squad on Tuesday.

“I know there is a vaccine on the horizon and in some places, it's being doled out.  We don’t know how long before it gets to this region but if cricket is going to survive, we have to seek every opportunity to play the sport at the international level and continue to perform.  Life in the general sense is being affected because several people are out of work and would love the opportunity to work.”

As part of attempts to mitigate the situation, the CWI has included a psychologist as part of the touring management team.  

 

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