India kept their hopes of progressing to the T20 World Cup semi-finals alive with an eight-wicket win over Scotland in Dubai.

Virat Kohli turned 33 on Friday, and his team handed the captain a birthday gift with a brilliant display against the minnows.

With New Zealand having beaten Namibia to move onto six points in Group 2, India needed a big win to maintain their slim semi-final hopes.

Kohli won the toss and chose to field, and though George Munsey – who hit a six off the first over – started brightly, his knock of 24 from 19 deliveries was the highest score any Scotland batsman managed.

Scotland were skittled out for just 85, Mohammed Shami finishing with figures of 3-15, identical to those of Ravindra Jadeja, while Jasprit Bumrah took 2-10. Shami began the 17th over with wickets from the first three balls, including a run out.

The bowling performance paved the way for a swift India success, led by the magnificent KL Rahul, who hit 50 from 19 balls before looping a shot down the ground to Calum MacLeod from Mark Watt's enticing delivery.

Rahul's fellow opener Rohit Sharma – aiming to become just the third player to reach 3,000 T20I runs – reached 30 before succumbing lbw to Brad Wheal.

Kohli ticked over two singles before a huge six from Suryakumar Yadav sealed India's success after just 6.3 overs.

Rahul and Rohit sparkle

India's openers raced to the fastest team 50 in the tournament, taking just 23 balls to reach that mark.

Rohit is now just 18 runs short of joining team-mate Kohli and New Zealand's Martin Guptill in the 3,000-runs club, though he may well only have one more shot at that this tournament. His partner Rahul dazzled, hitting three sixes and a further six boundaries in a sensational show of quality.

India need a New Zealand slip-up

There is real jeopardy in Group 2, and a big team will miss out on going any further. Pakistan top the standings with eight points from their four games, so are assured of their place in the semi-finals.

India, who round off their Super 12 campaign against Namibia, are now on four points, two behind New Zealand, but they have a much better run rate of 1.62 compared to 1.28 for the Black Caps, who face Afghanistan (another side on fourth points) in their last game. It is all to play for.

New Zealand negotiated a Super 12 win over Namibia with minimal fuss, prevailing by 52 runs to maintain control of their semi-final fate at the T20 World Cup.

The Black Caps came into Friday's match third in Group 2 but crucially two points ahead of India with a superior net run rate.

And although Namibia initially kept the New Zealand batsmen quiet, there was to be no great upset, meaning Kane Williamson's men can book their place in the last four by beating Afghanistan – also still in contention – in their final match.

There may have been some Kiwi nerves when they stumbled to 87-4 through 14 overs having been put in to bat, with captain Williamson a big scalp, bowled for 28 by opposite number Gerhard Erasmus (1-22).

But Glenn Phillips (39 not out) and James Neesham (35 not out) then combined for an unbeaten 76 to reach 163-4 in a devastating finish to the innings, as five sixes across the last four overs included 21 runs off David Wiese in the 18th alone.

The task with the bat then got away from Namibia, who stuck with New Zealand's early run rate but lacked the same acceleration in the closing stages.

Nobody topped opener Michael van Lingen's contribution of 25, fittingly ended by Neesham, as the chase fell well short on 111-7.

Erasmus efforts in vain

Namibia captain Erasmus had bowled only two overs at this World Cup prior to this point but took on a far more prominent role in a bid to slow New Zealand. It was successful as he conceded only 22 runs from his four overs.

However, he then put the ball in the hands of his team-mates in the closing stages of the innings and saw them punished ruthlessly by Phillips and Neesham. In reply, Erasmus could score only three.

Southee stunts chase hopes

Having starred with the bat, Neesham's dismissal of Van Lingen was a big one, ending a stand of 47 for the first wicket. However, Namibia were still in contention deep into their innings due to New Zealand's slow start.

But Tim Southee stepped up in good time to lead the All Blacks comfortably across the finish line. Wiese had averaged 61.7 at this World Cup, the best efforts of any batsman from a non-Test playing nation, but he went lbw to Southee, who also accounted for Zane Smith en route to figures of 2-15 from four overs. He now has wickets in eight straight T20I innings.

Rahul Dravid will replace Ravi Shastri as India head coach after the T20 World Cup.

Shastri's reign will come to an end following the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and the Board of Control for Cricket in India last month invited applications for the post.

Legendary former India batter Dravid was expected to succeed Shastri and his appointment was confirmed while India were playing Afghanistan in a crucial World Cup match on Wednesday.

Dravid, 48, will start his tenure with a home T20I series versus New Zealand this month followed by two Tests against the Black Caps.

Shastri took over as head coach of his country for a second time in 2017 and helped guide India to the top of the Test rankings and an inaugural World Test Championship against New Zealand, which the Black Caps won this year.

Dravid said: "It is an absolute honour to be appointed as the new head coach of the Indian Cricket Team and I am really looking forward to this role.

"Under Mr Shastri, the team has done very well, and I hope to work with the team to take this forward. Having worked closely with most of the boys either at NCA, U19 and India A setup, I know they have the passion and desire to improve every day.

"There are some marquee multi-team events in the next two years, and I look forward to working with the players and the support staff to achieve our potential."

Sourav Ganguly, president of the BCCI, said: "The BCCI welcomes Rahul Dravid as the head coach of India's senior men team.

"Rahul has had an illustrious playing career and is one of the greats of the game. He has also served Indian cricket as head of National Cricket Academy (NCA) with distinction. Rahul’s effort at the NCA has nurtured several young cricketing talents who have gone on to represent the country at the international stage.

"I am hopeful that his new stint will take Indian cricket to new heights."

South Africa edged closer to a T20 World Cup semi-final spot thanks to a straightforward six-wicket victory over struggling Bangladesh on Tuesday.

Few gave Bangladesh any hope of picking up their first win following the loss of talisman Shakib Al Hasan and they folded without putting up much of a fight, South Africa comfortably reaching their target of 85.

After a somewhat slow start for the South African bowlers, they soon found their stride as Kagiso Rabada (3-20) made a real dent in Bangladesh's batting order.

Rabada took Mohammad Naim (9) and Soumya Sarkar (0) in consecutive deliveries in the fourth over and got his third wicket in the sixth, with Reeza Hendricks catching Mushfiqur Rahim (0).

Wickets continued to tumble, with Mahmudullah (3) and Afif Hossain (0) also joining their fallen team-mates back in the pavilion by the end of the ninth over.

Mahedi Hasan (27) and Liton Das (24) did their best to give Bangladesh a chance but otherwise only Shamim Hossain (11) even reached double figures and they were all out for 84 with eight balls left, Anrich Nortje (3-8) finishing them off with successive wickets.

The Proteas' chase did not get off to the greatest start as they lost Hendricks (4) lbw to the impressive Taskin Ahmed (2-18) on the sixth delivery, though they soon found something of a groove with four boundaries before losing their next wicket, Quinton de Kock (16), in the fifth over.

Aiden Markram's day then ended before it had barely started, the right-hander caught by Naim at wide slip for a duck, but Temba Bavuma (31 not out) stepped up and hit three fours and a single six as he top-scored.

Rassie van der Dussen's dismissal after 22 off 27 deliveries meant little in the grand scheme, as South Africa comfortably crossed the line with 39 balls remaining.

Victory keeps them in second place in Group 1 behind England with one match left, and with a superior run rate to Australia.

Rabada cadabra!

The wicket in Abu Dhabi always looked promising for seamers and Rabada was in fine form. Nortje got even better figures with the ball, but Rabada's work was decisive in truly dismantling Bangladesh nice and early.

He said: "That wicket favoured the seamers and I'm just glad that today was my day. Every time we have the opportunity to practice, we try and implement what could possibly work for us. We always train hard, and today it paid off. It's nice to see the ball swing, especially in T20 cricket, but it wasn't a surprise, having seen that happen in the IPL games here."

Ahmed a bright spark

Ahmed was one of few reasons for optimism for Bangladesh here. Overall, he has enjoyed a decent tournament and he kept South Africa's batsmen on their toes, impressing his captain.

Mahmudullah said: "That was a poor batting display but having said that there was enough assistance in the pitch. Taskin has been bowling well in this tournament. We had the choice between Taskin and Fizzy [Mustafizur Rahman], but we went with Taskin because he has been bowling well."

Virat Kohli accused his India team-mates of a lack of courage after defeat to New Zealand left them on the brink of elimination from the T20 World Cup.

India went down by eight wickets against the Black Caps on Sunday as they produced another meek display following the 10-wicket thrashing by Pakistan in their opening game.

The pre-tournament favourites posted a modest 110-7 from their 20 overs and the Kiwis knocked it off with 33 balls to spare at the Dubai International Stadium.

Kohli's side now need to beat Afghanistan, Scotland and Namibia, and hope results elsewhere go their way to become one of the two teams in their group to progress to the semi-finals.

"I don't think we were brave enough with bat or ball," India captain Kohli said in the post-match presentation.

"With the ball, I mean, obviously we didn't have much to play with, but we were just not brave enough with our body language when we entered the field. 

"New Zealand had better intensity, better body language, and they created pressure on us from the first over onwards, really, and continued that through the innings.

"Every time we felt like we wanted to take a chance [while batting], we lost a wicket. That happens in T20 cricket, but that's most probably or most often the result of that little bit of hesitation with the bat, when you feel like should you go for the shot or not."

New Zealand recorded a third straight victory over India at T20 World Cups, having previously prevailed when they met in 2007 and 2016, as the Men in Blue lost successive T20Is outside India for the first time.

Kohli claimed India's players have been affected by the burden of expectation on them from millions of fans back home and failed to cope with the pressure that brings.

"When you play for the Indian cricket team, you obviously have a lot of expectations, everyone knows that – not only from the fans but from the players themselves," he explained.

"Wherever we play, we are watched, people come to the stadiums to support us, so there's always going to be more with our games, that's always been the case. 

"We've embraced it over the years, and everyone who plays for the Indian team obviously has to embrace that as well, and learn how to cope with it.

"And when you cope with that as a team, you tend to overcome that pressure and those tough situations. And we haven't, in these two games, and that's why we haven't won.

"There's only one way to play T20 cricket – you have to be optimistic, you have to be positive, take calculated risks, and that's what this format is all about.

"Just because you're the Indian cricket team and there's expectations, doesn't mean that you start playing the format differently."

India bowler Jasprit Bumrah has suggested that an aggressive batting approach was the cause of their eight-wicket defeat to New Zealand in the T20 World Cup.

After the pre-tournament favourites only posted 110-7 from their 20 overs, Bumrah and his fellow bowlers could not stop their opponents from easing to their target for the cost of just two wickets and with five and a half overs to spare.

Sunday's result is India's second loss in as many games and leaves their hopes of qualifying hanging by a thread.

It follows the 10-wicket hammering at the hands of rivals Pakistan in their opening game, and means that India will need to win well against Afghanistan, Scotland and Namibia, while hoping for favourable results from elsewhere.

Virat Kholi's team had no answer to the power of the Black Caps, and instead of the Indian captain, it was Bumrah who faced the post-match press conference.

When asked about the first innings, Bumrah said: "We wanted to get extra runs that could give us an advantage in the second innings. I think in that process we played a lot of attacking shots. That didn't come off today.

"I think that was the approach as a batting unit because in the second innings, batting does get easier. So we wanted to give that cushion to the bowlers. I think that was the thought process. I think in that thought process, there were a lot of attack issues."


Bumrah - who took the only two wickets in the New Zealand innings - was also asked about the scheduling of the tournament, with India's opener against Pakistan coming just nine days after the final of the Indian Premier League, and the requirement for players to be on the road for such long periods in bubbles.

"Absolutely. Sometimes you need a break. You miss your family sometimes," he added. "You've been on the road for six months. So all of that sometimes plays on the back of your mind.

"But when you're on the field, you don't think of all those things. You don't control a lot of things, how the scheduling goes on or what tournament is played when.

"So obviously staying in a bubble and staying away from your family for such a long period of time does play a role on the player's mind as well. But they also tried their best to make us feel comfortable.

"But this is the time which we're living in right now. It's a difficult time. There's a pandemic going on. So we try to adapt. But sometimes bubble fatigue, mental fatigue also creeps in, that you're doing the same thing again and again and again.

"So it is the way it is, and you can't control a lot of it here."

The 27-year-old made clear that he and his team-mates should not focus on the negatives, and urged calmness. 

"As a sportsman, you face a lot of days in cricket. Some days will be good and some days would be bad. What I try to do is not get very high when good days happen and not get very low when low days happen," Bumrah said.

"All of these things are always part and parcel of a cricketer's life. Try to stay in the moment, analyse what went wrong, what went well and try to move forward. That's the only way that you can move forward in this game."

New Zealand landed their first win at this year's T20 World Cup after defeating India by eight wickets in the Group 2 clash at the Dubai International Stadium.

Trent Boult took three wickets – taking his T20I career tally to 50 – as the Black Caps recorded a third straight victory over India at the tournament, having previously prevailed when they met in 2007 and 2016.

After Kane Williamson won the toss and elected to field, Boult dismissed Ishan Kishan (4), Hardik Pandya (23) and Shardul Thakur (0).

He also caught Virat Kohli for nine from Ish Sodhi’s delivery, as India posted a total of 110-7, which proved much too low.

Daryl Mitchell led New Zealand's charge with 49 from 35 balls, while Martin Guptill had a knock of 20 in his 100th T20I innings.

Captain Williamson coasted to 33 not out as the Black Caps secured a commanding victory with 5.3 overs to spare, condemning their opponents to a fourth successive T20I defeat outside India for the first time. India could still reach the semi-finals, but it will take a huge turnaround in fortunes after losing their opening two games.


Brilliant Boult reaches the half-century

The 32-year-old left-arm quick captured 3-20 during another impressive performance for the Black Caps.

Reaching 50 T20I wickets, Boult became the fifth New Zealand bowler to achieve the feat after Tim Southee, Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Nathan McCullum.

Ton up for Guptill

The batsman chalked up his 100th innings in the short format for the Black Caps, but it was his exploits in the field that were more important here.

The 35-year-old took catches to remove Pandya, Thakur and Rohit Sharma.

England and India will complete their interrupted Test series in July 2022, but Old Trafford will not stage the fifth match between the teams.

Concern over a rising number of cases of COVID-19 in the India camp caused the match to be called off on September 10.

Rather than being staged at Lancashire's home ground, however, the fixture has been switched to be played at Edgbaston in Birmingham.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement: "The match, which was due to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID-19 cases inside the camp.

"With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)."

The ECB cited "complexities in the schedule" that meant Old Trafford could not host the rescheduled match, pointing to "clashes with pre-planned events at the venue, which will leave insufficient time to prepare a Test pitch".

Those events have not been specified; however, rock band Foo Fighters are due to play a concert at the cricket stadium on June 25.

Old Trafford will still get a Test match next year, with the second match of England's series against South Africa being switched from Edgbaston to the Manchester venue, with that match due to start on August 25.

The start of the planned T20I and ODI series between England and India has been set back by six days due to the Test being planted in the diary, and the T20I games will get under way on July 7 at the Ageas Bowl.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said of the fixture shake-up: "We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement with BCCI to creating a fitting end to what has been a brilliant series so far."

BCCI honorary secretary Mr Jay Shah said: "I am delighted that the England-India Test series will now have its rightful conclusion. The four Test matches were riveting, and we needed a fitting finale."

England players will no longer be awarded separate red and white ball contracts under a new structure that was revealed on Friday.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced the first 20 players who have been awarded a single contract for 2021-22.

A change of structure was introduced following consultation between the ECB, Team England Player Partnership (TEPP) and the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA).

The ECB stated that it was "designed to meet England's future needs in what has become a fluid and dynamic landscape."

Spinner Jack Leach, batsman Dawid Malan and seamer Ollie Robinson receive central contracts for the first time.

Dom Sibley has lost his central contract after the opener was dropped during the home Test series against India.

All-rounder Liam Livingstone is awarded an increment contract along with seamer Tom Curran, who is among the players to have a white-ball contract for 2020-21.

Dom Bess and Chris Jordan have also been given increment contracts, while Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton and Olly Stone earned pace bowling development contracts.

Managing director of men's England Cricket, Ashley Giles, said: "I would like to thank TEPP and the players for all their constructive input through the process of developing this new system, which I believe is the fairest and most transparent way of rewarding players across all formats.

"We have worked well to get to this stage and the refinements made will take into account the amount of cricket we will be playing across formats over the next period of the ICC Future Tours Programme.

"Since the inception of central contracts in 2002, the system has facilitated improved preparation, performance and professionalism of the England team and has ensured that players are well rewarded for representing their country at the elite level.

"The international game continues to evolve, and we have to be mindful that we have to lead the way in player performance across cricket's ever-changing landscape. Our objective remains the same to develop world-class players in all three formats as we strive to become the most respected team in the world.

"I would like to congratulate all the players offered agreements for the coming year, particularly newcomers Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, and Ollie Robinson. Receiving your first central contract is a great moment in any player's career. They will all play a pivotal role in England's fortunes over the next 12 months."

 

England men's central contracts:

Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan, Ollie Pope, Adil Rashid, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

England increment contracts:

Dom Bess, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone.

England pace bowling development contracts:

Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Olly Stone.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes is highly unlikely to feature in The Ashes squad in December after having a second operation on his broken left index finger.

Stokes sustained the injury while playing in the Indian Premier League in April but returned to action with Durham in June.

The 30-year-old also played through the pain barrier in July to captain a second-string ODI side to a series whitewash over visiting Pakistan after an initial coronavirus outbreak ruled out the majority of the regular squad.

However, before the India Test series later that month, Stokes announced he would take a break from cricket to protect his mental wellbeing and to allow his finger to fully recover.

On Thursday, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) provided another update on the all-rounder's injury progress.

"England all-rounder Ben Stokes has undergone a second operation on Monday 4th October to address ongoing issues with the finger that he injured in the IPL in April," the statement said.

"Stokes had two screws and scar tissue removed from the index finger of his left hand. 

"He will now undergo an intensive period of rehabilitation for the next four weeks under the supervision of the ECB's medical team."

 

Stokes is already set to miss the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, which starts on October 17, but the operation puts further doubt on his return in time for The Ashes.

His presence with the touring party in Australia – who will host England if agreements on coronavirus-related bubble issues can be agreed – was already doubtful but the operation makes the likelihood of an appearance even slimmer.

The all-rounder will be sorely missed by Chris Silverwood's tourists if so, with Stokes averaging 38.37 against Australia, whom he scored 135 not out against in one of cricket's most famous knocks at Headingley in 2019.

Australia captain Aaron Finch has confirmed he will open the batting with the out-of-form David Warner at the T20 World Cup.

Warner has made only two runs in as many innings for bottom side Sunrisers Hyderabad since the Indian Premier League resumed in the UAE, finding himself dropped for a second time in the tournament.

The 34-year-old lost the captaincy before the competition was halted in India due to the coronavirus pandemic and has not played a T20 for his country for over a year.

Finch expects to be ready for Australia's opening game of the T20 World Cup against South Africa in Dubai on October 23 as he recovers from knee surgery and the skipper has given his backing to Warner.

Asked if Warner will be his opening partner, he replied: "Yep, absolutely. He's one of the best players to ever play the game for Australia.

"I've got no doubt that his preparation, while he would love to be playing for Hyderabad no doubt, I know that he's still training away. He'll be good to go."

 

Finch went under the knife in August and has stepped up his rehabilitation with the World Cup fast approaching.

"Over the last couple of weeks my recovery has progressed really well so it's looking more and more likely that I'll be fit and ready to go for them," he said.

"And just in terms of the intensity that I've been able to train, the amount of accelerations, decelerations, putting load through my knee, that's all really positive. So, yeah, I've got no issues.

"I had probably my biggest session in terms of fielding, changing direction, and all that stuff with batting involved as well so that's gone as well as it could. I had a meeting with the surgeon yesterday and he was really happy with where it's at."

Lockdown restrictions have hampered Australia's preparations, but Finch is confident that should not be too much of an issue.

He said: "Training indoors or training just in the nets is no comparison obviously to game intensity so the two warm-up games and the lead-in to the World Cup is going to be really crucial.

"We get out of quarantine, I think there's three days of practice scheduled, and then two warm-up games, so they're going to be really important to get guys up to speed as quick as possible.

"But I've got a lot of confidence in the experience of the group. We've got guys who have come off long lay-offs before. We've got guys who have come off injuries before, and it's not really all that much different when you're trying to get yourself up to speed quickly.

"I think that will play into their hands and might allow us to be a little bit fresher, to be honest."

New Zealand have called off their cricket tour of Pakistan amid growing security concerns, on the day when the opening match was due to take place.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) stated its disappointment after New Zealand Cricket (NZC) announced the team would be returning home.

Pakistan and the Black Caps were due to meet in three ODIs and five T20Is, with the first fixture set for Friday in Rawalpindi, but the entire tour has been called off.

Neither team left their hotel on Friday morning and spectators were not allowed to enter the stadium.

A statement from NZC declared the team had decided to withdraw from the tour "following an escalation in the New Zealand government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground".

NZC chief executive David White said: "I understand this will be a blow for the PCB, who have been wonderful hosts, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option."

The PCB did not agree with NZC's decision, however, insisting the Pakistan government had been in contact with New Zealand's government to appease any fears over the security and safety of the travelling party.

"Earlier today, New Zealand Cricket informed us they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series," a PCB statement read.

"Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured New Zealand Cricket of the same. The Pakistan prime minister [Imran Khan] spoke personally to the prime minister of New Zealand [Jacinda Ardern] and informed her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team.

"The security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Pakistan government throughout their stay here.

"PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches. However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last-minute withdrawal."

Pakistan did not host Test matches from 2009 to 2019 after a terror attack on the touring Sri Lanka team, which left six players, two staff members and an umpire wounded, and eight others – six Pakistani police officers and two civilians – dead.

Virat Kohli has announced that he will step down as captain of the India T20I team after the upcoming World Cup.

Batting star Kohli said he needed to cut down his workload to be at his most effective in future, as he heads towards his mid-thirties.

The highest scorer in international T20 cricket, Kohli said he would continue to play for the team but would hand over leadership responsibilities.

He will remain captain of the Test and ODI teams, and will hope to go out on a high note as skipper in the shortest format.

The Super 12 stage of the World Cup, which is where India begin their campaign, begins for Kohli's team with an October 24 clash against Pakistan in Dubai.

Kohli wrote in a note posted to social media on Thursday: "I have been fortunate enough to not only represent India but also lead the Indian cricket teams to my utmost capability.

"Understanding workload is a very important thing and considering my immense workload over the last 8-9 years playing all three formats and captaining regularly for the last 5-6 years, I feel I need to give myself space to be fully ready to lead the Indian team in Test and ODI cricket.

"I have given everything to the team during my time at T20 captain and I will continue to do so for the T20 team as a batsman moving forward.

"Of course, arriving at this decision took a lot of time. After a lot of contemplation and discussions with my close people, Ravi bhai [Ravi Shastri] and also Rohit [Sharma], who have been an essential part of the leadership group, I've decided to step down as the T20 captain after this T20 World Cup in Dubai in October.

"I have also spoken to the secretary Mr Jay Shah and the president of BCCI Mr Sourav Ganguly along with all the selectors about the same. I will continue to serve Indian cricket and the Indian team to the best of my ability."

Kohli has been captain of India in all formats since 2017, having taken over the limited-overs responsibilities from MS Dhoni.

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.

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.

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