Lower-order fights back for Sri Lanka after Ajaz Patel's five-wicket haul for New Zealand

Ashish Peter 15/08/2019
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Suranga Lakmal shone with both bat and ball on day two.

A lower-order fightback led by Niroshan Dickwella kept Sri Lanka afoot in the first Test against New Zealand at Galle after what was an evenly contested day two between both sides.

An unbeaten 66-run stand between Dickwella and Suranga Lakmal saw the hosts reach 227-7 at stumps on the second day after the Kiwis had earlier been bowled out for 249 runs in their first innings.

New Zealand started the day at 203-5 with Ross Taylor inching towards a 19th Test ton but the right-hander failed to add to his overnight score before he was caught-behind off the bowling of Lakmal.

Lakmal was in inspired mood in the morning session at Galle and the Sri Lanka seamer ran through the Kiwi tail after dismissing Taylor. Lakmal sent Mitchell Santner, Trent Boult and Ajaz Patel packing in a terrific spell with the visitors adding just 46 runs to their Day One total.

In response, Sri Lanka lost opener Lahiru Thirimanne early to the left-arm spin of Patel while Dimuth Karunaratne marched to 39 before falling prey to the same bowler.

Patel picked up his second five-wicket haul in Tests.

Patel picked up his second five-wicket haul in Tests.

Kusal Mendis and Angle Mathews put the hosts back on track with both the batsmen registering their half-centuries. Sri Lanka looked to be in command at 143-2 before Patel turned the game on its head with a flurry of wicket.

The Kiwi spinner sent dismissed Mendis and Mathews in quick succession before sending back Dhananjaya de Silva as well to bring up his second five-for in Test cricket. Boult removed Kusal Perera at the other end while William Somerville got the better of Akila Dananjaya as Sri Lanka slid to 161-7.

However, the visitors were frustrated for much of the final session at Galle with Dickwella and Lakmal leading a stubborn resistance which has reduced the lead to just 22 runs.

SCORECARD

New Zealand first innings: 249 all out

Ross Taylor: 86

Akila Dananjaya: 5-80

Suranga Lakmal: 4-29

Sri Lanka first innings: 227-7

Kusal Mendis: 53

Angelo Mathews: 50

Azaj Patel: 5-76

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Brendon McCullum unveiled as new head coach of Kolkata Knight Riders

Sudhir Gupta 15/08/2019
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McCullum turns coach for KKR.

Former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum has been appointed as the head coach of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Kolkata Knight Riders for the upcoming season.

McCullum has also taken charge as head coach of Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) with both franchises being owned by the same management.

The former Black Caps skipper only recently announced his retirement as a T20 freelance player post the completion of his Global T20 Canada stint.

“It’s a great honour to take on this responsibility,” McCullum said on his appointment as KKR coach.

“The Knight Rider franchises in IPL and CPL have become iconic and have set the standard in franchise cricket.

“We have fantastic squads in both KKR and TKR and I, along with the support staff will be looking to build on the success both franchises have enjoyed.”

The Kolkata franchise had earlier parted ways with previous head coach Jacques Kallis and his assistant Simon Katich following the team’s failure to qualify for the play-offs of the 2019 edition.

KKR chief executive Venky Mysore has expressed his confidence in McCullum to do a good job with both Knight Riders franchises.

“Brendon has been an integral part of the Knight Riders family for a long time,” Mysore said.

“His leadership qualities, honesty, positive and aggressive style, combined with his natural ability to bring the best out of the teams he has been a part of makes him ideally suited to lead both KKR and TKR as a head coach.”

McCullum has previously been associated with the Kolkata franchise as a player in two separate stints. He was part of the squad for the inaugural edition in 2008 and scored an explosive 158 in the very first match of the competition’s history.

He had another stint with KKR between 2012-13 before spending three seasons with CPL franchise Trinbago Knight Riders from 2016 to 2018.

McCullum’s first assignment will come with the 2019 edition of the CPL which gets underway on September 21.

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Dream of franchise cricket beginning to face harsh reality

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Eoin Morgan was one of the star names associated with Euro T20 Slam.

Change is the only constant. In the fast changing world of likes and retweets, expecting things to remain stable or predictable is infantile.

The cricketing landscape altered dramatically in the last decade, which is no surprise given the proliferation of T20 and franchise cricket. The rules of the game, figuratively speaking, were not the same anymore and playing Tests – or even international cricket – was not the ultimate aim of every budding player.

As IPL burst onto the international scene and carved two months out of the calendar just for itself, it became evident that cricket boards and players were going to follow the money. Slowly but surely, top limited overs cricketers started to pick and chose between international assignments and franchise cricket. Nearly the entire elite group of Windies cricket became freelancers with almost all of them giving up on Tests.

Franchise cricket gave many players on the fringes of the national team and those past their prime an opportunity. They found that it would be easier to give up their national contract and make themselves available for three to four tournaments a year and still earn more money while playing lesser cricket.

But with the game cannibalising itself, something was always going to give. And it has started to.

The inaugural Euro T20 Slam was on Wednesday postponed to 2020, just two weeks before it was supposed to kick off with teams from the Netherlands, Ireland, and Scotland. But cash flow problems and other organisational issues forced the promoters to push it back to next year.

Trouble began when the recently concluded Global T20 Canada – backed by the same entity which is behind the Euro T20 Slam – saw teams refusing to play matches until their payments were cleared.

Needless to say, it’s the players who have been hit the hardest. Many top names like Rashid Khan, Chris Lynn and Shane Watson had opted out of Caribbean Premier League – which begins in September – to be a part of the Euro. This will be a serious hit to their finances and also confidence in the franchise model.

Here in the UAE, we saw the ill-fated Masters Champions League fold up after one season in 2016 with many players not paid for their services. Then last year, the proposed UAE T20x was postponed with the Emirates Cricket Board now looking at a relaunch in 2020. Also, the Hong Kong T20 Blitz was called off last month due to financial issues.

Franchise cricket is great for the viewers. But it is an increasingly volatile product which is feeling the pinch of global slowdown. There is a limited amount of money in the game, which oscillates between franchise and international cricket. A major chunk of it is generated either in India or by entities targeting the Indian audience and thus securing sponsorship. For anything else, there just isn’t enough appetite in the market.

What players need to realise is that you can be a journeyman cricketer only if you are very good at what you do and can get into IPL, Big Bash, T20 Blast, Bangladesh Premier League, Caribbean Premier League and Pakistan Super League. Apart from these, there isn’t much by way of long-term, guaranteed cricket around which players can plan for the next five to seven years.

If you are a mid-tier player and have a national or a domestic contract, think twice before chucking it in the hope of prime franchise dollars. Even the England board is reportedly feeling a cash pinch owing to the launch of ‘The Hundred’. So be safe, and hope there is enough to go around for everyone in this game.

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