Black Caps relaxed ahead of tri-series T20 opener against Australia

NZ take on the hosts tonight in their first T20 match at the Sydney Cricket Ground since 2009. Source: 1 NEWS

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A long time coming – Wellington Firebirds batsman finally gets his shot

Top-order batsman Andrew Fletcher will finally make his Wellington Firebirds debut, four years after first making the wider training squad.

Fletcher said he had his doubts about ever donning on the Firebirds uniform.

"Many times I doubted if this was going to happen. Especially getting into my mid-20s, those thoughts definitely go through your mind," said Fletcher.

"But you've got to stay positive, keep working for what you want, and it will come eventually. And it did come (for me) and I’m just really happy."

Fletcher, who plays his club cricket at Onslow cricket club, was awarded the 16th and final contract for 2018-19.

"I've been privileged to come into such a good environment."

Fletcher and the Firebirds will get their Plunkett Shield campaign underway at the Basin Reserve tomorrow morning, where they host the Auckland Aces.

Four years since making the wider training squad, Fletcher will finally play against the Auckland Aces at the Basin Reserve. Source: 1 NEWS

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Banned Aussie batsman Cameron Bancroft falters in first game on home soil since ball-tampering scandal

Banned Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft starred in the field but struggled with the bat in his first cricket match on WA soil since the ball-tampering scandal.

Captaining his local club Willetton on Saturday, Bancroft fell for four in his team's small run chase against Midland-Guildford in the 50-over match at Burrendah Park.

The 25-year-old was the first wicket to go as Willetton aimed to chase down the victory target of 87 in the WA Premier Cricket League season opener.

Bancroft looked rusty before opening his account with a cracking cover drive to the boundary in the fourth over. But he fell shortly after, caught behind off Corry Verco in his 13th delivery faced.

He looked unhappy with the decision before trudging off the ground.

It soured what had been a good day in the field for Bancroft.

After winning the toss and electing to field, Bancroft was in the play immediately with a low catch at second slip as Midland-Guilford lost their first wicket. He finished with three sharp catches, the best being an outstretched dive to his left off seamer Aaron McCall.

It was a low-key return for Bancroft who is serving a nine-month suspension from international and state cricket for his role in the ball-tampering incident against South Africa during Australia's third Test defeat in Cape Town in March.

Only a handful of spectators were at the ground in a notable contrast to the fanfare that greeted the recent grade cricket comebacks of former Australian leaders Steve Smith and David Warner in Sydney.

Since his suspension, Bancroft had only played in the Northern Territory Strike League in Darwin in July. His ban ends on December 29 and he is likely to move up the ranks through the BBL with the Perth Scorchers playing Hobart Hurricanes on December 30.

Cameron Bancroft of Australia talks to the umpire on the third day of the third cricket test between South Africa and Australia at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Saturday, March 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
The umpires speak to Cameron Bancroft (left), who admitted cheating, while his captain Steve Smith watches on. Source: Associated Press


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White Ferns thrashed in final T20 as Australia secure series whitewash

Alyssa Healy provided the batting fireworks and allrounders Ellyse Perry and Sophie Molineux the bowling pyrotechnics, with Australia completing a first women's T20 series clean sweep of New Zealand .

Australia added a nine-wicket win at Canberra's Manuka Oval to the six-wicket victories in the first two matches of the series in Sydney and Brisbane.

New Zealand's openers put on 29 for the first wicket but the White Ferns lost 6-16 before being rolled for just 103.

Wicketkeeper Healy and fellow opener Beth Mooney made light work of the modest target, which was reached after just 12.3 overs.

Healy laid into an ineffective attack, smashing 67 off 44 balls before lofting a catch to deep midwicket with six runs required.

Coming off 57 in the second game, Healy belted 12 fours and a six, while Mooney finished unbeaten on 29.

Healy was named player of the series.

Fast bowler and player of the match Perry was at her aggressive best, taking 4-21, including the key scalps of Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite.

Spinner Molineux showed great control to earn lbw decisions against Bernadine Bezuidenhout and Kate Ebrahim in successive deliveries and although denied a hattrick she could celebrate her best T20 international figures of 3-11.

So dominant were Australia through the series that accomplished batters Perry and Molineux didn't have a hit in the three games.

New Zealand contributed to their downfall with some loose shots as Australia's bowlers extracted some swing in chilly conditions.

The only White Ferns batter to fire was Katey Martin whose defiant unbeaten 35 off 34 balls, included three of the innings' seven fours.

While an unchanged Australian line-up dropped two chances early on, vice-captain Rachael Haynes took a superb diving left-handed catch to remove Jess Watkin for the first of New Zealand's five ducks.

Australia will play three matches against Pakistan in Malaysia later this month before heading to the West Indies for the World T20 tournament in November.

Australia's Delissa Kimmince appeals against the White Ferns
Australia's Delissa Kimmince appeals against the White Ferns Source: Photosport


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Indian teen Prithvi Shaw scores brilliant Test century on debut against Windies

Prithvi Shaw became the fourth youngest debutant to score a Test cricket century as India walloped the West Indies to be 364-4 on day one of the series today.

Opening for India, the 18-year-old Shaw scored 134 off 154 balls, hitting 19 boundaries.

Chesteshwar Pujara added 86 and captain Virat Kohli was 71 not out, as India notched their highest Test total in a day's play against the West Indies.

"I was a bit nervous to start off but when I got in, I got comfortable," Shaw said.

"I just tried to play my natural game. I have played a lot of cricket since a smaller age. I used to play 30-35 school games in a year, and played a lot of (first-class) Ranji (Trophy) cricket as well. So I was just thinking it is only another game for me."

The stage was ideal for Shaw.

Rajkot was where he made a century on debut in the Ranji Trophy.

And the West Indies attack was depleted. Kemar Roach returned home for the funeral of his grandmother, and captain Jason Holder withdrew because of an ankle injury.

India opener Lokesh Rahul was out in the first over for a duck, but Shaw and Pujara cruised, putting on 206 runs together.

Shaw reached his fifty off 56 balls, and Pujara scored his 19th test half-century off 67 balls as the duo scored at 5.32 runs per over in the morning session.

West Indies improved its lines post lunch, but it didn't hamper Shaw, who reached his century off 99 balls, the third quickest on debut in Test history.

He became the second youngest Indian to score a maiden hundred after Sachin Tendulkar (17 years, 112 days) in 1990 against England. Overall, he's the seventh youngest batsman in Test cricket to achieve this feat.

His immediate success in the test arena justified the selectors' move to build for the future. India regular Test openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay were dropped after poor form during the recent tour of England.

Shaw earned a reputation as a batting prodigy. He scored 546 runs in a school game in 2013, and captained India to the Under-19 World Cup title in January in New Zealand. Delhi Daredevils signed him for $187,500 for the Indian Premier League.

"I was thinking about my father (after reaching the hundred)," he said.

"He has sacrificed a lot for me. This first century is all for him. I wanted to make this opportunity count. The wicket was good and I should have kept batting. I needed to be more careful as there were only 10 minutes left before tea."

He was out trying to drive legspinner Devendra Bishoo but only chipping straight back to the bowler.

Meanwhile, Pujara poked at a wide ball and fell for 86 off 130 balls, giving fast bowler Sherman Lewis his first Test wicket.

In the final session, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane added 105 runs for the fourth wicket.

Kohli reached his 20th Test half-century off 100 balls. Overall, he faced 137 balls and hit only four boundaries, not the most fluent knock by the world's No. 1-ranked test batsman.

Rahane, too, lacked the ease with which Shaw batted earlier in the day, and fell on 41 to Roston Chase in the last hour.

Kohli and Pant, 19 not out, handled the attack to stumps on day one of the first Test.


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