Cricket News: Alex hails Thunder after they beat Heat, Pandya to captain India, England’s new frontier, Kiwis on top

    Sydney Thunder star Alex Hales says he and his teammates felt like they had a point to prove after marking their return to the Sydney Showground with a 10-wicket victory over the Brisbane Heat on Tuesday.

    The home fixture was the Thunder’s first since they were all-out for 15 against Adelaide less than a fortnight ago, with Hales (59no) and fellow opener Matthew Gilkes (56no) to thank for their dominant showing.

    The win – with 50 balls to spare – was the Thunder’s second of the season and moves them off the bottom of the BBL table.

    The cavalier approach from Gilkes and Hales helped the Thunder chase down the Heat’s target of 121 with ease, much to the delight of the 8,534-strong crowd.

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    Gilkes in particular took great delight in punishing Test hopeful Mitchell Swepson (0-40 from three overs), smashing him across the ground for 25 off one over.

    Matthew Gilkes. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

    “What happened in the last game (at home) … this was the polar opposite,” Hales said. “I thought we bowled really well, they were brilliant from the get-go and they’ve been really good all year, our bowlers.

    “It was good to back it up with the bat. You try not to speak about that, what happened was an anomaly. It was probably more on the crowd’s mind than ours, we just wanted to make sure we were positive and try to get on top of them early on.”

    Brisbane had a hard night after winning the toss and opting to bat, with Max Bryant, Sam Billings and Matt Renshaw all walking for single figures.

    Opener Colin Munro steadied the ship with a methodical 43, building a balanced partnership with Jimmy Peirson (27).

    Anyone know this guy who can let us know if his nose is all good?! ????@KFC #BucketMoment #BBL12 pic.twitter.com/YVjvgg6a9v

    — KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) December 27, 2022

    There was some concern when Peirson was hit on the helmet by a 132kmh pacer from Nathan McAndrew in the 11th over.

    While Peirson was able to play on, his dismissal was the start of the Heat’s implosion, with Munro going and Michael Neser walking for a golden duck.

    Xavier Bartlett added a rapid 28 off 17 balls to leave the Thunder with a modest and achievable total.

    They rose to the challenge with Gilkes and Hales making a point of going after Swepson and Neser from the get-go and they didn’t relent.

    “Hales is world class and Gilkes batted terrific too,” Neser said. “We know we can play good cricket, it’s just inconsistency. The gap between our best and our worse is a lot and hopefully that (gap closing) is not too far around the corner.”

    Pandya to captain India

    Hardik Pandya will captain India for their Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka next month in the absence of Rohit Sharma, who will return for the following one-day internationals.

    India will host Sri Lanka for three T20Is and three ODIs from January 3, with Pandya reprising his role as T20 captain for a second straight series, after leading India to victory over New Zealand in November.

    Pandya captained the Gujarat Titans to the Indian Premier League title this year in their debut season, where he played alongside Australia’s Matthew Wade. 

    He will serve as vice-captain under Rohit for the ODI series.

    Rohit missed this month’s Test series against Bangladesh after sustaining a blow to the thumb during the preceding ODI matches.

    Virat Kohli will not feature in the T20Is against Sri Lanka, while batter Shikhar Dhawan was not included in the ODI squad after scoring just 18 runs across three matches in Bangladesh. 

    Rishabh Pant missed out on both squads.

    T20I SQUAD: Hardik Pandya (capt), Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel, Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi, Mukesh Kumar.

    ODI SQUAD: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh.

    England returning to Bangladesh

    England’s re-arranged white-ball tour will take the world champions to Bangladesh in March for their first series in the country since 2016. 

    The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Tuesday that dates for the three one-day internationals and three T20Is had been agreed with the hosts.

    The matches were originally due to be played in September and October 2021 but were postponed because of pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    It has now been confirmed the tour will start with the first ODI on March 1 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka, with the second at the same venue two days later.

    (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

    The third match of that series will be played at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram on March 6.

    Chattogram will then stage the first T20 fixture on March 9 with two further games back in Dhaka on March 12 and 14.

    Jos Buttler’s side will travel as world champions in both of these formats of the game. 

    England won an ODI series 2-1 in Bangladesh on their last visit more than six years ago.

    Black Caps on top in Karachi

    Devon Conway and Tom Latham have forged an unbroken opening partnership of 165 to lead New Zealand’s robust reply to Pakistan’s first-innings 438 in the opening Test in Karachi.

    Conway ended Tuesday unbeaten on 82 having completed 1000 Test runs in 19 innings, the fastest by a New Zealand batsman.

    Latham was on 78no, with New Zealand, who scored at three-and-a-half runs an over, finishing day two 273 behind.

    After Pakistan resumed on 5-317, home captain Babar Azam fell in the first over but the lower order resisted strongly, led by Agha Salman’s maiden test hundred.

    Babar could not add to his overnight score of 161 and was caught behind off the bowling of Tim Southee. 

    But the collapse New Zealand were hoping for did not materialise.

    Batting with the tailenders, Agha cleverly rotated the strike and brought up his hundred with back-to-back fours off spinner Ish Sodhi (2-87).

    Agha, who ended on 103, was the last Pakistan wicket to fall, trapped lbw by Southee (3-69) after trying to hit the bowler over midwicket.

    #StatChat | Skipper Tim Southee’s 3 wickets in the 1st innings in Karachi made him just the third New Zealander to take 350 Test wickets. Southee is 26th on the all-time Test wicket list. #PAKvNZ pic.twitter.com/BgCAvJUEtb

    — BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) December 27, 2022

    Conway and Latham denied Pakistan an early breakthrough and shared a century stand before the home side managed to create an opportunity.

    Conway was on 57 when he attempted to cut left-arm spinner Nauman Ali (0-37). Pakistan’s half-hearted appeal for caught-behind was turned down.

    Nauman looked convinced Conway had edged the ball – and replays later confirmed it – but Babar, who was standing in the slips, chose not to review the decision.

    Conway and Latham had little difficulty dealing with young Pakistan spinner Abrar Ahmed (0-57), who had claimed 17 wickets in two matches in his debut series against England this month.

    Babar himself bowled three overs but his part-time off-spin failed to make a breakthrough.

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