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Minutes after Virat Kohli had skied a catch into a diving Kyle Jamieson's hands at third man, he disappeared into the nets located at the back of the Bay Oval. There he would stay for the next 40 minutes or so, focusing purely on getting bat to ball. He'd in fact not even take any of his gear off upon getting back to the dressing-room and only stopped to have a quick chat with two senior support staff members.
He'd just played one of the more untoward ODI innings of his career. It started with a bunch of plays and misses, where he kept poking his bat at deliveries outside his off-stump. That is before he jumped out to Tim Southee and uncharacteristically cross-batted a length delivery for six. Then came the innocuous poke of doom off Hamish Bennett. Cricket Betting Tips The Indian captain had come into the match having scored a single half-century in six white-ball innings on tour.
This was Kohli showing that even the best in the world can get anxious, if not desperate, for achieving the level of success that they're used to, even if it doesn't come their way for a very brief period of time. That even they can get too ahead of themselves and in a way end up taking the basics of what made them that successful for granted - which in his case was waiting for the ball to come to him rather than go chasing after it. And Kohli's mid-match stint in the nets was all about refocusing his mind towards what has always worked for him.
Much like Jasprit Bumrah's was in the same net in Mt Maunganui a day earlier.
Bumrah, like his captain, has had an unsatisfactory tour overall. And he'd not only gone wicketless in the first two ODIs but also lost his shape and his temper on a number of occasions. There were even some who believed that his best bet would be to get some time away and perhaps rest his body and mind during the third ODI at the Bay Oval. But instead, Bumrah decided to use the optional practice session on Monday (February 10) to focus on what he does best. He ran in and bowled fast, ensuring that the seam was coming out exactly the way he wanted it to, and he was hitting spots on the pitch exactly how he wanted to. It was just him wanting to feel good with ball in hand.
But Bumrah, unlike Kohli, is coming off a serious injury. Like any world-class bowler, it's only natural that he wants to get back to immediately being the force that he was before the uncalled-for sabbatical. It's therefore not surprising that he goes the extra yard in search of wickets rather than waiting for them to come to him, which is what has always worked for him. And in doing so, he too gets ahead of himself.
It's very easy to look at Bumrah and just assume that he's been around forever and that we should expect him to just shake off even a six-month hiatus without a fuss. And when he doesn't do so, just declare that it isn't the same Bumrah anymore. Even if this is officially his first-ever lengthy layoff due to injury. He is still only in his fourth year of international cricket.
If anything, he's looked like the same Bumrah, bowled at the same high speeds, got the seam coming out upright like he always does and even got the white ball to jag around as effectively as was the norm. Most importantly, his body has looked in absolutely no discomfort in executing these skills.
It's only that it hasn't reflected in the wickets column like it did before he broke down. What we've seen as a result is the youngster perhaps getting sucked into proving to nobody but himself that he is still the same Bumrah, even when it comes to being the man who always gives his team the wickets they need.
Bumrah's white-ball attributes have always been based mainly around not giving anything away. It's the new red ball that he hoops around corners, however, and with which he can often be unplayable - as the West Indians in particular found out when he last played regular cricket. The lack of consistent control from the other end during these ODIs in New Zealand, courtesy the inexperienced likes of Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini, has only made it tougher for Bumrah to stay immersed in his own task. He's had to literally play defence and attack for India with the white ball since he returned to 50-over cricket against Australia at home last month. It hasn't helped either that he has had to contend straight up with the likes of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Martin Guptill, limited-overs openers who just don't allow any margin for error.
Bumrah hasn't looked at the least overawed, but has perhaps been overeager to overcome the challenge. But he wouldn't be the first world-class athlete to get blinded by a sense of desperation to fast-forward to the kind of results you've been accustomed to rather than having your eye on the ball, literally. It's this disharmony that has been the cause for the elementary mistakes in terms of Bumrah losing his line and length more often than we've ever seen before.
Wednesday's outing at the Bay Oval was perhaps Bumrah's best across the three ODIs, even if he didn't manage a wicket or really have any significant impact on the contest or the opposition. And he ended it with a wry smile after gently rolling the ball towards the stumps. It almost seemed like his way of pulling the plug on this chapter of the New Zealand visit. He almost seemed at peace with himself for the first time since landing here last month. Perhaps it's not taking wickets the way he's so used to doing that will eventually lead to him taking a lot them. A lull before the storm.
It's a rainy day in Christchurch and Trent Boult is bowling in the nets on the sidelines of the Bert Sutcliffe Oval at Lincoln. He's all of 15 and is here accompanying older brother Jono, four years his senior, who's attending the national under-19 selection trials. The junior Boult catches the attention of the late Mike Shrimpton, renowned selector and coach, and he walks up to the left-arm swing bowler for his details. Shrimpton though is shocked when informed that neither is the slight teenager from Tauranga up for selection here nor is he part of the Northern Districts under-17 squad back home.
"Shrimpton called ND and asked why Trent wasn't in the team. That's how he got picked and very soon he was in the national under-19 squad and was hitting a last ball six to win a match against an under-19 India side led by Virat Kohli," the senior Boult recalls to Cricbuzz.
We are at Christie's Flooring where Jono works as a Sales Consultant. It is a quiet weekday afternoon when you walk through the doors asking for him. And he's right there behind the main counter, typing away on his work computer. He happily leaves his desk though to talk when asked about his slightly more high-profile brother. The 34-year-old played first-class cricket himself for Northern Districts during a six-year career and even played in the Champions League on Indian soil back in 2014. But he hasn't forgotten about his competitive backyard battles against his younger brother when they picked up cricket after moving from their original hometown of Rotarua.
"He didn't get very good at batting and he just kept bowling. Always a lot of arguing. Someone saying they're not out or out and a few punches thrown around. Cricket Betting Tips We were 15 or 16 when we started taking cricket seriously. He was always a left-arm seamer and had that natural whippy release and wrist action," says Jono.
The older of the two Boult brothers reveals how the man who would go on to be the leader of the Black Caps' new-ball attack wasn't always a first-pick in his early teen years. And he puts it down to him being at the wrong school, the Otumoetai College, which never had a great school. It in fact at one stage led to the youngster even questioning whether he should leave the sport.
Former New Zealand opener Llorne Howell's father Glynn was the one who had to intervene and make sure one of the most talented cricketers to emerge from this country wasn't lost entirely to the game.
"What happened was that my father, he was coaching the boys in Tauranga. Trent one day came to the academy and bowled. My father was like this guy's got the skill. But maybe we don't know the mind. At Tauranga, there's big cricket school called the Tauranga Boys. So in the U-17 boys team, they were 12 boys from the school. But Trent was from Otumoetai. So he came up and asked my father, why he can't make it to the team. My father told him you have a lot of skill and it will happen," recalls Howell, who then oversaw the rise of both Boult and future captain Kane Williamson.
He too reminisces about how Boult always had the ability to swing the ball prodigiously and remembers a game where he ran through a tougher opposition purely with his trademark movement of the ball and pitch-perfect yorkers.
"We won a lot of games with the Cadets, and in one match when he was quite young, he got 7/5. It was the same. One day he got very angry with me because I told him he was bowling length, like in India. I told him bowl fuller, because they will never hit you then. He was around 18 or 19," says Howell.
At the innings break, there were two ways to look at 178 -- the target South Africa set England in the first T20I at Buffalo Park. On one hand, it needed a record run-chase at the ground for England to win the game, and on the other, it roared praise for their genius at the death, where Chris Jordan and Mark Wood combined to concede only eight runs in the last two overs and effectively won their side the elusive yet non-quantifiable "momentum".
Not that it mattered at this small ground, where wind often decided whether the ball will be caught in the deep or sail over for a six. England famously botched the run-chase, slipping from 132/2 after 14.2 overs to hand South Africa a one-run win, and a 1-0 series lead, in a thrilling last-ball finish.
Just how did England lose this?
Lungi Ngidi. And a bit of panic.
Ngidi bowled the 18th and the 20th overs of the run-chase, giving away only 10 runs and picking three wickets. That it came after his first two overs had gone for 20 runs showed how he'd learnt along the way, using slower balls and yorkers on a pitch that was slowing down by the minute. Beuran Hendricks's 27 runs in two overs around the same time should contextualise just how good Ngidi was on the night.
Tell me more...
England lost five wickets for 43 runs after being in a strong position at 132/2. Eoin Morgan was always going to be a key in a tight run-chase, and he proved to be until he was around with a 34-ball 54. He even pinched 16 runs off five balls in the 19th over and brought the equation down to seven off seven, but his wicket off the last ball of the 19th opened the doors for South Africa, exposing Tom Curran and Moeen Ali to Lungi Ngidi's bowling clinic. The last over read: 2, W, 0, 2, W, 1+W, the last wicket being a run out when England needed two for a Super Over. Not this time.
How did the two innings compare?
Quite symptomatic of the close finish later, both England and South Africa were 68/1 after the powerplay. It was de Kock (31 off 15) for South Africa and Jason Roy (70 off 38) for England teeing off against the new, hard ball. And the two sides continued to match shot for shot until the 11th over. That's when Rassie van der Dussen got out and South Africa lost steam. In contrast, England, though behind by 10 runs at the halfway stage, had their opening batsman Jason Roy (70 off 38) bat bigger and deeper into the 15th over. Cricket Betting Tips And when Roy and Joe Denly fell in consecutive overs with around 40 more runs needed, they still had Eoin Morgan to anchor the chase. And he almost did. Just that things didn't go to plan.
Who helped limit South Africa to 177 earlier?
Ben Stokes. This must have been an easy guess but the allrounder had some notable help from Adil Rashid at the other end, the legspinner finishing with 1 for 23 in a match where the run-rate was just short of nine.
South Africa were 111/1 in the 11th over when Stokes came in to bowl and had Rassie van der Dussen caught off a short ball. What didn't help further was Temba Bavuma's wicket in the next over. Bavuma had just been put down by Joe Denly in the deep when he went for another sweep off Rashid, this time to a ball down the leg-side and found Moeen Ali at short fine leg. And by the time the next batsman David Miller got out, South Africa had only added 24 runs in 4.2 overs.
Why couldn't SA accelerate in the death overs?
Mark Wood and Chris Jordan.
Mark Wood picked a wicket and conceded only three runs in the 19th over. And just when you thought that the over couldn't be bettered, Jordan bowled the last of the innings, picked two wickets and gave away only five runs.
With only 17 runs in the last three overs, South Africa, who once looked like pushing 200, were kept below 180. And against a batting line-up like England on this small ground, that's anything but a par score. And but for Ngidi's spell later, this could have been a breeze of a run chase.
Tell us about Dale Steyn's comeback!
Not a kmph slower. Steyn last played international cricket in March 2019 but his success at the Mzansi Super League seems to have given him some newfound belief. And he can still get the best batsman in the side out. Like he did in this first T20I, getting Buttler caught at long-off by pitching the ball on a hard length.
Where he struggled a little was in terms of line, where even the slightest of movement outside off would open up boundaries through point region, notably for Bairstow and Buttler. Steyn also bowled a dipping high full-toss, a deliberate change-up delivery that took Bairstow by surprise first-ball but not so much the next time.
You know what day February 14 is. It's the day when England and South Africa clash for the second of the three T20Is in Durban.
As the first T20I drew to a close, England looked like they had everything under control on a balmy Wednesday evening in East London. With seven balls to go, a victory and a series lead seemed to be a formality. Just a matter of crossing the i's and dotting the t's. Until, suddenly, it wasn't all under control. The formality rather quickly turned into calamity.
England needed just a run a ball from those last seven deliveries of their innings. They had five wickets in hand to boot and captain Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali at the crease. It should have been a gimme. Cricket Betting Tips It was a gimme. Instead, they lost four wickets and mustered just five runs to fall short of South Africa's total. Lungi Ngidi's final over was impressive but England's failure to get over the line was more down to batsmen error than bowler induced. Pressure is a funny old thing.
Both Morgan and Tom Curran were caught on the boundary, needlessly so. The captain had just taken 14 runs off his previous three balls but then holed out when a single would have done to get him on strike for the final over. "With all the games I've played I'd have liked to see it through," he admitted after the game. Two balls later, Curran played a similar shot with five runs needed at a run a ball and with Moeen at the other end. Another single should have been the order of the day rather than a hoick to the boundary. Then, when Moeen finally did get on strike, he advanced down the wicket and yorked himself.
It was a frustrating end to an indifferent performance from the tourists, albeit one that still should have been good enough to secure the victory.
In truth, things had started to go wrong earlier than the last seven deliveries. The confusion and poor game management of the middle order dogged the entire final third of England's innings. After all, at 14.1 overs, the score was 132 for 2 and England were coasting. The following delivery, Jason Roy, who had been brutalising South Africa's bowling, was deceived by a slower ball bouncer to be caught. That was the start of his side's descent to defeat. They lost seven wickets for 44 in the space of the final 5.5 overs.
The muddled approach suggested a lack of clarity in what the batsmen were trying to do. Finish the game quickly or get them in singles? Perhaps there was a plan but England just couldn't execute it on the day. Sometimes that just happens although for an experienced set of players, the extent of the collapse was surprising. Or perhaps the lack of clear-headedness stems from a lack of clarity about the personnel, positions and roles in England's middle order. After all, it is the main area of concern for Morgan as he looks ahead to the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year. Who should bat from spots five to seven, and in which order, looks no closer to being resolved.
Today, Joe Denly, whose number of innings outside the top four in his nearly 200 T20 matches can be counted on one hand, came in at five, ahead of Ben Stokes. It was a surprising move considering Stokes' proven ability to get England over the line in tight chases but more than that, picking Denly for the finisher role in the first place doesn't add up. He has never been a middle order player in T20 country cricket yet England are seemingly determined to try and turn him into one at the age of 33.
There are other, better options. It's hard to think of a good reason why Stokes, England's best all-format batsman, should not bat at five with the way this team is currently set up. Moeen, such a force with the bat in T20 cricket for Worcerstershire, could be moved up to bat at number six. He feels wasted a place lower than that and England could then bring in Sam Curran, a better lower order hitter than Denly, a seven.
Another option would be for Dawid Malan, and his T20I average of over 50, to bat at number four with Morgan shifting into the middle order where he has such success for England at the start of his career. His innings of 52 from 34 balls tonight proved once again that he has the power game to be England's finisher and he certainly has the temperament to do the job.
Then there is the question of where Jos Buttler should bat. While his record at the top of the order in T20 cricket, for England and the Rajasthan Royals, is outstanding, England have a surfeit of other high-quality top order options who could do a fine job. They would not lose much by having Buttler down at five or six, positions he has played most of his T20I cricket, even if the management are currently reluctant to move him.
But whatever combination England end up with for the World Cup, it is obvious that in Stokes, Morgan, Moeen, Buttler and Malan they already have the raw talent to make a decent combination. It's just about getting them in the right order. That doesn't appear to be the case just yet, however.
Of course, England will hope to learn their lessons from this defeat. They have proved adept at doing so in the past under Morgan's leadership and there is little reason to think that they can't do so again. "Even in a position of needing seven off the last over, with new guys coming in, we expected to win that game," Morgan told Sky Sports. "But it's a great game to play in because you get a feel for where guys are at, what skill level they can produce, and how their temperament is. So in terms of actually improving, I think it's great for us."
South Africa deserve their fair share of credit for the way they forced England into errors as well. As Morgan pointed out, Ngidi was excellent, particularly in his final two overs, as were Tabraiz Shamsi and Andile Phehlukwayo. All three squeezed the life out of England in the second half of their innings. Shamsi was a case in point. He may not have picked up a wicket but his four overs cost just 25 runs and helped reign the tourists back in at the time when they looked like they would zoom out of sight.
South Africa played some fine cricket all told. But England will be in no doubt that this was a game they let slip away.
Adil Rashid has made himself unavailable for England's Test tour of Sri Lanka in March, he said after his side's series-leveling victory in the third ODI against South Africa. The legspinner reckoned that it'd be a 'bit unfair' when he's not put in the hard yards in county cricket and that he plans to 'earn the right' to be in the Test side.
"At this moment in time, I'm concentrating on playing for England in T20 cricket coming up in a couple of days," Rashid told Sky Sports. "I don't think I would [put my name for selection] at this moment in time. For me to get into Test cricket, I've got to earn that right and deserve my place. For me to get Test cricket, I've got to go back into county cricket, perform, do well, and then get selected.
"It's a bit unfair for me to just say, yeah, I'm available. At this moment in time, I'm really concentrating on white-ball cricket. Maybe in the future [I'll come back to Test cricket]."
England play two Tests in Galle and Colombo starting March 19 and, with Moeen Ali also marking himself unavailable for red-ball cricket, the visitors are likely to employ Dom Bess and Jack Leach as spin twins on the tour. Rashid, who's had a difficult time with his injured shoulder last year, was picked in the third and final ODI in Wanderers with an intention to train for the upcoming T20I series, which according to England captain Eoin Morgan is their major focus at the moment.
"Once you have that shoulder injury, that niggle, then you feel it, especially as a legspinner - you might struggle to get that extra zip, extra pace. It's frustrating, but you've got to make do with it, you've got to find a way.
"[Speed] is something I've been working on, especially with the shoulder, trying to get stronger and better. I've been trying to bowl a bit quicker, bit more in the run-up, in the action, trying to get more fizz. My mindset is pretty simple: go in the nets, work hard in the nets, try my best in the nets, and then try to deliver."