Quinton de Kock blasted an unbeaten 59 as South Africa sealed a T20I series whitewash over Sri Lanka with a 10-wicket win on Tuesday.

The Proteas, who clinched the series victory on Sunday, completed another routine win after the hosts limped to a run-a-ball 120-8, with Kagiso Rabada and Bjorn Fortuin taking two wickets apiece.

De Kock, who top-scored with 58 not out against in the previous game, was ably supported by Reeza Hendricks (56 not out) as the pair sealed victory inside 15 overs.

Sri Lanka opening batsmen Kusal Perera offered the most resistance, making 39, but when he was dismissed by Keshav Maharaj with the score at 80-5, the hosts failed to reach an imposing total once more.

Chamika Karunaratne managed an unbeaten 24 – his highest score in the format – but with De Kock and Hendricks racing to 46 without loss after the powerplay, another victory for the tourists was all but confirmed.

De Kock reached his 11th T20I fifty, and fifth for the year, off 40 balls and Hendricks followed suit, recording his sixth T20I half-century in two balls fewer as Maharaj's side triumphed with 32 balls remaining.

Miserly Maharaj

De Kock will steal the headlines with more top-order fireworks, but captain Maharaj should take credit as well as he continues to improve ahead of the spinning surfaces that await him at the T20 World Cup.

The left-armer assumed the captaincy role for his first ever T20I series and, in the final match, bowled a game-high 12 dot balls as he conceded just 14 runs from his full allocation, including the wicket of Perera.

Persistent Perera

Perera scored a third of his team's runs in the second T20I as he made 30 off 25 balls and he almost repeated the feat on Tuesday with his highest score of 2021.

However, the opener was not supported by his team-mates, with only Karunaratne and Dasun Shanaka (18) troubling the opposition bowlers, who dominated once more in Colombo.

England's home schedule for 2022 has been confirmed with New Zealand, India and South Africa all set to tour during a hectic year.

The ECB released the men's international fixture list on Wednesday, which launches with a three-match Test series against world champions New Zealand in June.

The Black Caps – winners of the inaugural World Test Championship earlier this year – face England at Lord's (June 2-6), Trent Bridge (June 10-14) and Headingley (June 23-27).

Joe Root's side then welcome India for a three-match T20 series beginning at Old Trafford on July 1, before a three-match ODI series follows from July 9 at Edgbaston.

South Africa then arrive for a three-match ODI series starting at Riverside on July 19, before a three-match T20 series between the sides begins in Bristol eight days later.

The Proteas will also provide the opposition as England conclude their calendar year on home soil with a three-match Test series played at Lord's (August 17-21), Edgbaston (August 25-29) and the Oval (September 8-12). 

ECB chief executive officer, Tom Harrison, said: "It has been a scintillating summer of cricket and so good to see crowds back packing out venues later this summer. 

"For next summer, I am pleased to be able to confirm three high-quality men's international touring teams for 2022, starting with a three-Test series against World Test champions New Zealand.

"We also look forward to India returning for two white-ball series before we host South Africa for what promises to be hard-fought series across three formats, including three Test matches."

A career-best bowling performance from Karishma Ramharack led West Indies Women to a magnificent victory over South Africa Women on Saturday.

The 26-year-old off-spinner came into the attack in the 15th over in her first match of the series. She took a wicket with her third ball and returned the superb figures of 3-0-8-3 to receive the CG Insurance Player-of-the-Match award.

This limited the Proteas to a mere 80-9 off their 20 overs and West Indies then strolled to 81-5 off 11.5 overs to level the series 1-1.

Ramharack was supported by some excellent fielding when Chadean Nation ran around to her right at long-on, dived full length and held onto a catch to dismiss Chole Tyron. Two overs later Kyshona Knight snapped up a sharp chance to remove Trisha Chetty and Ramharack got her third when she clean-bowled Ayabonga Khaka in the 19th over.

Earlier in the innings, Britney Cooper again demonstrated her immense skills in the outfield with a stunning running and diving catch at mid-on to pick up the key wicket Lizelle Lee for nine off Aliyah Alleyne, who ended with 2-16.

It proved to be a very important wicket moment in the match as Lee fell for single digits for the first time in the series. In the previous knocks, Lee made a run-a-ball 30 and 75 off 52 balls to be named CG Insurance Player-of-the-Series.

In reply, West Indies easily reached the target closing out the match at 81-5 off 11.5 overs to win with 49 balls to spare. Deandra Dottin again led the charge with a purposeful knock of 31off 21 balls.

She hit three fours through the on-side and a massive straight six from a flighted delivery from left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba. Left-hander Kycia Knight also played well – with 26 off 27 balls – which included four flowing boundaries, as she added 53 for the second wicket with Dottin.

The two teams will now switch to the CG Insurance One-Day International Series. The opening match will be at the Coolidge Cricket Ground on Tuesday. First ball in the day/night match is 2:45pm (1:45pm Jamaica Time).

 

Australia avoided a series whitewash by Bangladesh after winning the fourth T20I by three wickets in Dhaka.

The Tigers wrapped up the series with two matches to spare as they prevailed by 10 runs on Friday.

But despite a fifth successive T20I series defeat, Australia hit back to prevent Bangladesh from completing only a third series clean sweep in their history.

Dan Christian led the way with 39 runs from 15 balls – including a whopping 30 after hitting five sixes during the fourth over – as Justin Langer’s side chased the target of 104.

A further 27 from Ashton Agar moved the visitors to the brink of only a second victory in their last 10 T20Is.

Andrew Tye sealed it with an over to spare and ended Bangladesh’s four-match winning streak.


NO CENTURY FOR SHAKIB

Shakib Al Hasan came into the match just three away from becoming only the second player after Lasith Malinga to take 100 wickets in men’s T20Is – and first for Bangladesh.

However, he failed to add to his tally of 97 and conceded 50 runs during his four overs, including that sensational 30 from Christian.


SWEPSON STEPS UP

Mitch Swepson stepped up to the plate for Australia with three wickets in four overs, while conceding just 13 runs – his new best figures in T20Is.

It was a wonderful return for the spin bowler, who dismissed Mohammad Mahmudullah, Nurul Hasan and Mohammad Naim along the way.

Bangladesh continued to make the most of home comforts against depleted Australia, doubling their lead in the T20I series with a five-wicket win on Wednesday.

Afif Hossain and Nurul Hasan combined superbly in the run chase as Bangladesh recovered from 56-5 to triumph with eight balls to spare in Dhaka.

The Tigers have now won six on the spin in the shortest format, including their last four on the bounce at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. They have never previously won more than three in a row at any venue in T20 cricket.

Bowled out for 108 in the opening game, Australia managed slightly better in their second outing on the short tour, posting 121-7 after winning the toss and opting to bat.

Mitchell Marsh top-scored with 45 from 42 deliveries, including sharing a 57-run stand with Moises Henriques (30), who hit the only six of the innings.

Shakib Al Hasan and Mahedi Hasan contributed 26 and 23 respectively in the reply, yet Bangladesh looked in serious trouble when the latter was stumped by Australia's stand-in skipper Matthew Wade off the bowling of Adam Zampa.

However, Afif Hossain hit an unbeaten 37 that included a six and five fours. Wicketkeeper Nurul (22 not out) played a supporting role as the duo put on a match-winning partnership worth 56.

Australia's T20I woes continue

While without several regulars - skipper Aaron Finch is out through injury, while David Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins are not on the trip - Australia have now lost seven of their last seven eight T20I outings.

Indeed, they have been beaten in 14 games in the format since the beginning of 2020 - that is level with South Africa for the most losses for any international team across that period.

Mustafizur magic helps restrict the target

Bangladesh had not beaten Australia previously before this series but have quickly claimed a commanding lead with just three games to go in the series.

Mustafizur Rahman was outstanding with the ball in taking 3-23, while Shoriful Islam (2-27) helped Bangladesh reduce their opponents from 88-2 to 106-7 in the space of four overs.

England's planned tour of Bangladesh, which was due to take place in September and October, has been postponed until March 2023.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Bangladesh "mutually" came to an agreement for the rescheduling, according to the ECB.

The ECB's statement on their official website on Tuesday said: "The England and Wales Cricket Board and the Bangladesh Cricket Board have mutually decided to reschedule the tour, which includes three One Day Internationals and three T20 internationals.

"The tour is planned to take place in the first two weeks of March 2023, with three ODIs and three T20Is due to take place at the SBNCS, Dhaka, and the ZACS, in Chattogram."

With both England and Bangladesh facing packed international calendars and the necessity for teams to stay in protected team bubbles or monitored environments, COVID-19 has been a driving force for the postponement.

The decision means both sets of international stars could now also be available for the rearranged Indian Premier League, which restarts in September in the United Arab Emirates.

Eoin Morgan's limited-overs side are still set to face Pakistan in two T20Is in October before the T20 World Cup begins in the UAE on October 17.

Before the T20Is and T20 World Cup get underway, England play a five-Test series against India, with the first taking place at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.

The hosts will be without Ben Stokes, who has decided to rest his injured finger and protect his mental wellbeing as he takes an indefinite break from cricket.

Australia will be aiming to preserve their 100 per cent record against Bangladesh in T20I action when a five-match series begins in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Matthew Wade will captain Australia in place of Aaron Finch, who is to undergo surgery on a knee injury, while Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis are also not part of the touring squad.

Pat Cummins is another notable absentee, though the visitors still boast a strong bowling attack that is set to be led by Mitchell Starc, who is on the brink of becoming his country's all-time leading wicket-taker in the shortest format.

The left-arm paceman has 48 wickets to his name, putting him in a tie for top spot on Australia's list alongside former team-mate Shane Watson.

Set to keep wicket as well as lead the team, Wade – likely to bat in the middle order, a role he seems likely to fill for the T20 World Cup later this year – understands the issues that come with taking on a dual role.

"I'm obviously wicketkeeping, so the distance between the bowler and myself is a lot greater and that means there's a lot more responsibility on the individual," he told reporters.

"When you come in and take over from someone it's just about giving the ability for those guys to really take ownership of their game and at the top of the mark, they need to execute."

Bangladesh have some key figures missing too, including injured opening batsman Tamim Iqbal. As for Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das, they are not involved having failed to meet requirements for the bio-secure bubble agreed upon by the two respective cricket boards ahead of the series.

Mushfiqur left the recent tour of Zimbabwe early for family reasons amid the COVID-19 health crisis and could not make the July 20 cut-off date.

While they have lost all four previous T20I meetings between the countries, Bangladesh will recognise they are facing vulnerable opponents. Australia have lost each of their previous four series in Twenty20 cricket, a run that started after a 2-1 triumph over South Africa in February 2020.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, have won three of their last four men's T20Is played at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, venue for all five matches.


Marsh makes an all-round impact

Mitchell Marsh excelled on the tour of the West Indies, finishing up as leading run-scorer in the T20 games (219 at an average of 43.80). However, his work with the ball was just as impressive in the Caribbean, claiming eight wickets while going at an economy rate of 6.76 runs per over. 

The 29-year-old all-rounder has a bowling average of 10.1 in T20Is since the beginning of 2019, the best by any player from a Test-playing country in that time (minimum 10 overs bowled).

Star Shakib needs to shine

Bangladesh's batting line-up is weakened by the absences of Tamim, Mushfiqur and Das, meaning even greater responsibility could land on the shoulders of Shakib Al Hasan.

The all-rounder is on the cusp of becoming the first player to record 10 scores of 50 or more for Bangladesh in T20I action. His batting average in the format against Australia (35.8) is his second best against any team, only managing better against Pakistan (41.7).

Key series facts

- Australia's 4-0 record against Bangladesh in T20I action is the most number of games they have played against any country without suffering defeat.

- Bangladesh will be aiming to win back-to-back multi-game T20I series for the first time, after defeating Zimbabwe 2-1 in July 2021.

- Australia have won only one of their last T20Is (L5), a four-run victory over West Indies in July 2021.

- Bangladesh have scored 52 per cent of their runs from boundaries in T20Is since the beginning of 2019, the second lowest rate of any Test-playing country in that time (Sri Lanka: 45 per cent).

- Australia have a bowling dot ball percentage of 37 per cent in T20I fixtures since the beginning of 2019, the highest rate of any Test-playing country in that time and two percentage points higher than Bangladesh (35 per cent).

Sri Lanka claimed a first ever T20I series victory over India as they beat their depleted opponents by seven wickets in the third and final match.

India were undefeated in the previous four series between the nations, yet a COVID-19 outbreak – nine players were put into isolation following a positive test for Krunal Pandya – had further decimated their ranks, considering several regulars are absent with the Test squad in England.

They did win the toss for the decider but were only able to post 81-8 from 20 overs, their third lowest total in the shortest format.

Wanindu Hasaranga was the star for Sri Lanka with the ball, claiming figures of 4-9 from his four overs of leg-spin, and Dasun Shanaka claimed two wickets.

Sri Lanka had few issues chasing such a meagre target, despite a sluggish start to their reply. Avishka Fernando (12), Minod Bhanuka (18) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (6) were the batsmen dismissed, all to the impressive Rahul Chahar (3-15).

Dhananjaya de Silva and Hasaranga made sure victory was secured with plenty of time to spare, finishing up on 23 and 14 not out respectively as the game finished midway through the 15th over following a wide bowled by Varun Chakravarthy.


Short of options, lacking in runs

India's squad suffered a further blow with Navdeep Saini ruled out of the winner-takes-all clash through injury. Sandeep Warrier, who had initially made the trip as a net bowler, was handed a debut, but the pace bowler had little to work with after the tourists' top order collapsed.

Captain Shikhar Dhawan fell for a first-ball duck as India slumped to 25-4 after 30 deliveries. Kuldeep Yadav finished up as the top scorer with 23 not out, one of just three players to reach double figures.

Happy birthday, Hasaranga! 

Hasaranga had already moved up to second in the T20I bowling rankings prior to producing career-best figures on Thursday. His dazzling spell included 15 dot balls, while he unsurprisingly did not concede a boundary. India did not manage to hit one six, either.

The birthday boy celebrated turning 24 in style, helping Sri Lanka win successive T20 games for the first time since October 2019 in the process, while India had not suffered back-to-back losses in the 20-over format since July 2017.

India went down by four wickets to Sri Lanka in Colombo on Wednesday, levelling their Twenty20 International series after losing a number of big names to a coronavirus outbreak.

The tourists will have to bounce back quickly ahead of Thursday's decider having come up just short of a victory that would have secured a fourth successive bilateral series success against Sri Lanka in this format.

Krunal Pandya's positive COVID-19 test prompted the postponement of this match on Tuesday and ruled out eight players as close contacts.

That meant there were four debutants in the India XI, with Ruturaj Gaikwad opening in a depleted batting line-up and Devdutt Padikkal coming in at number three, and Sri Lanka capitalised.

India made a promising start, but were restricted to 132-5 after being asked to bat first, captain Shikhar Dhawan top scoring with 40.

Although Minod Bhanuka (36) departed quickly after he was dropped by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sri Lanka remained within reach heading into the closing stages of their chase.

A brief late rain delay dragged out the drama and Sri Lanka – led by Dhananjaya de Silva (40 not out) – then immediately profited from a 12-run 19th over that brought them within eight, a target achieved with two balls to spare.

HERO TO ZERO

This should have been a night to remember for Bhuvneshwar, whose unbeaten career-high 13 in India's innings – batting up the order at six – was followed by his 50th wicket in the format. He is the fourth Indian bowler to this mark.

But, as well as that awful drop, he was the man running in for the 19th over, with Sri Lanka in complete control after Chamika Karunaratne hit a full toss for six.

TOUGH GROUNDING

For a time, it had appeared as though Bhuvneshwar was setting an example for Chetan Sakariya, the debutant seamer who struggled from the outset. Ultimately, they both contributed to India's defeat.

Starting alongside Bhuvneshwar in the attack, there were nine runs off Sakariya's first over and 10 off the second. A first wicket came in the third as Ramesh Mendis paid for his aggressive approach, but that over still brought eight and the miserable fourth saw Sri Lanka seal victory. Sakariya went for 34 off 3.4 overs.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar took four wickets as India eased to a 38-run win over Sri Lanka in the first T20 international on Sunday.

India posted 164-5 after they were asked to bat first in Colombo, with skipper Shikhar Dhawan's 46 and a 34-ball 50 from Suryakumar Yadav providing the bulk of the runs.

Dushmantha Chameera (2-24) and Wanindu Hasaranga (2-28) did the damage for Sri Lanka, but the majority of the home side's batsmen failed to fire after the interval.

Avishka Fernando (26) and Charith Asalanka (44) briefly gave Sri Lanka some hope, but Kumar (4-22) and Deepak Chahar (2-24) got the job done as the hosts were bowled out for 126 with nine balls to spare.

Sri Lanka were outclassed in their recent T20I series in England, which ended in a 3-0 loss, but even on home soil Mickey Arthur's side lack the batting firepower and they have now won just once in their previous 14 completed fixtures.

The second and third Twenty20 internationals in Colombo, both also at the R. Premadasa Stadium, take place on Tuesday and Thursday as both sides continue their preparations for the T20 World Cup later this year.

Kumar closes in on milestone

India seamer Kumar was cool during the business end of the match as he took three of the final four wickets to fall. He needs just one wicket to reach 50 in T20I action for India and become the fourth player to achieve this feat for the country.

Shanaka must deliver more

Sri Lanka lost their final six wickets for less than 15 runs and needed more from T20 captain Dasun Shanaka, who made a tame 14-ball 16. Shanaka is normally an aggressive middle-order batsman but his modest innings included just one four before he was stumped off the bowling of debutant Varun Chakravarthy.

Captain Temba Bavuma led the way with the bat as South Africa wrapped up a T20I series sweep against Ireland thanks to a 49-run victory in the third and final game.

The Proteas made it four wins on the spin in the shortest format – their best run since a five-match span between October 2018 and February 2019 – thanks to a dominant display at Stormont, despite making five changes to the team.

Bavuma struck his maiden T20I half-century, making 72 from 51 deliveries while opening the batting as South Africa posted an imposing total of 189-2.

Reeza Hendricks made 69 at the top of the order, helping put on 127 for the first wicket with his skipper. Ireland eventually broke the stand in the 16th over, though David Miller came out at three to produce a stunning late attack, blitzing 36 from just 17 deliveries.

The home team lost Kevin O'Brien to the ninth ball of their reply, setting the tone for wickets to fall at regular intervals. Andy Balbirnie top-scored with 27 before becoming one of three batsmen to be dismissed in the space of nine runs, ending any hope of an Irish victory as they slipped to 78-5.

George Linde, Lizaad Williams and Wiaan Mulder all claimed two wickets apiece but Ireland at least avoided being bowled out inside the distance, finishing up on 140-9.


Miller makes hay on tour

A late cameo in the third game completed an impressive series for Miller. The left-handed batsman finished up with 139 runs having been dismissed just once.

His strike-rate of 169.51 runs per 100 deliveries was the best for any South African who faced a minimum of 10 balls, aided by hitting 11 fours and six sixes.

Irish made to wait

Ireland's winless run in T20I action continues. It is now seven without success, with this result extending their longest drought in the format.

Even facing a much-changed line-up minus both Quinton de Kock and Tabraiz Shamsi, two pivotal players for the Proteas, they were well beaten having been far more competitive in the preceding 50-over fixtures between the nations.

Sri Lanka will be hoping a win in 50-over cricket can trigger a white-ball resurgence as they prepare to take on India in a three-match T20I series, beginning on Sunday in Colombo.

Half-centuries from Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa helped Sri Lanka win the third and final ODI between the nations on Friday, just their second win in 11 outings.

They have struggled in T20 action too, winning just once in their previous 13 completed fixtures. Home advantage should help, yet they have not triumphed at the R. Premadasa Stadium – the venue for all three of the upcoming fixtures against India – in the shortest format since August 2018.

Runs were hard to come by on the recent tour of England, including being bowled out for 91 in the final match as the hosts completed an emphatic 3-0 sweep at the Ageas Bowl.

Sri Lanka at least avoided that fate against India in one-day action, aided by a turning track on Friday that allowed their spinners to trigger a batting collapse – the tourists lost their final seven wickets for just 68 runs following a rain delay.

They could also be boosted by the return of Wanindu Hasaranga, who missed the final ODI due to an injury concern.

India, meanwhile, remain without a number of their star names, so these games provide crucial opportunities for fringe players as they look to impress, particularly as this is a World Cup year.

Pushing the boundaries

Sri Lanka have hit a boundary once every 7.7 balls faced in the powerplay overs since the beginning of 2020 in T20I action, the worst rate for any team in that period. 

India have the third-slowest rate, taking 5.6 balls for every boundary. Captain Shikhar Dhawan will hope to help lower that number as he continues to lead the team, while Prithvi Shaw could get the chance to stake his claim for a regular top-order spot.

Positive spin can help India

Varun Chakravarthy could finally be handed his international debut in the series. India appeared keen to pick the mystery spinner against England in the T20I series on home soil earlier this year, yet concerns over his level of fitness ruled him out of contention.

The 29-year-old is a compelling option, though. He has taken 25 wickets in 21 matches in the Indian Premier League, 17 of which came in a 2020 campaign for the Kolkata Knight Riders that saw him finish with an economy rate of 6.84 runs per over.

Key series facts

– India are unbeaten against Sri Lanka in multi-game bilateral T20I series (W3 D1). India have beaten Sri Lanka in each of the past three such series, the most recent meeting being in January 2020.

– Sri Lanka have one win from their past 11 completed T20I matches against India (L10). The solitary triumph was achieved in March 2018 when the Lions beat the Men in Blue by five wickets at the very same venue this match is being played.

– Since the beginning of 2020, only 43 per cent of the runs scored by Sri Lanka in men's T20I matches have come via boundaries, the lowest rate for any team in that period.

– Dasun Shanaka has a batting dot ball rate of 48 per cent in T20I matches since the beginning of 2020. Only two players have a higher rate than the Sri Lankan (Chris Gayle at 53 per cent and Andre Fletcher at 51 per cent, minimum 100 balls faced).

– Bhuvneshwar Kumar needs five wickets to reach 50 in T20I action for India. He will become the fourth player to achieve this feat for his country, with his career-best figures seeing him take 5-24 against South Africa in 2018.

David Miller's 75 off 44 balls dragged South Africa back from 58-5 to reach 159-7 before Tabraiz Shamsi starred yet again to take 3-14 as he partnered with Bjorn Fortuin (3-16) to secure a 42-run victory and an unassailable 2-0 series lead against Ireland.

Despite losing the toss, Ireland started strongly as Paul Stirling removed Temba Bavuma and Janneman Malan without the Proteas scoring, before Mark Adair compounded further power-play misery by bowling Aiden Markram (eight off six balls) to leave the visitors 24-3 inside four overs.

Quinton de Kock's 27 off 20 balls offered counter-attacking hope but when he fell to Simi Singh's first delivery, South Africa looked nervy at 38-4 as they chased back-to-back T20I series wins for the first time since March 2019.

Miller, however, rebuilt for the visitors as he recorded his fourth T20I half-century and combined with Wiaan Mulder (36 off 26 balls) to put on 58 for the sixth wicket and guide his side to their first-innings total of 159-7.

Kevin O'Brien's lean spell then continued as he was caught and bowled by left-arm spinner Fortuin in the first over without troubling the scorers and that set the platform for another disappointing batting performance from Ireland.

George Dockrell, who was offered a lifeline on 12 by Markram's drop, scored 20 off as many deliveries but only he and Shane Getkate (24 off 18 balls) provided any resistance after Stirling had been removed for 19 off 23 balls by star spinner Shamsi.

In what looked like an identical repeat of the series opener, Andy Balbirinie's men batted timidly and appeared awestruck by the talent of Shamsi and Fortuin as they limped to 117 all out with three balls to spare.

Miller eradicates Stirling start

In 79 previous T20Is, Stirling had bowled 84 overs and taken just 17 wickets. But his two scalps, both caught by Josh Little in the first over, set Ireland off on a remarkable start.

But Miller, whose third fifty while batting at number six or lower in T20Is equalled the record set by Mohammad Nabi and Thisara Perera, provided an emphatic fightback to guide the visitors above par in Belfast.

The left-handed batsmen took 37 deliveries to reach the milestone but added 25 in his final seven as he blasted four sixes off Little's 20th over to finish strongly.

Spin it to win it, again

After spinning the Proteas to victory in Malahide with 4-27, the world's number-one ranked T20I bowler combined with Fortuin to dictate the Ireland chase.

Prior to this series, Shamsi's economy rate of 6.5 was the best among all bowlers to have bowled more than 10 T20I overs since the start of 2020, and the leg-spinner did that statistic no harm as he delivered 12 dot balls to go at just 3.5 an over during his spell.

While it was George Linde in Malahide, this time it was Fortuin who provided ample back-up to Shamsi as he bowled 18 dots to finish with an economy of just four an over.

Head coach Mark Boucher will hope to rouse his South Africa side for this week's T20I series against Ireland, conceding a lengthy limited stint away from home has taken its toll.

The Proteas diced with humiliation in the ODI rubber, as Ireland beat them in the 50-over format for the first time before centuries from Janneman Malan and Quinton de Kock secured a 70-run win in the third match to snatch a 1-1 series draw.

South Africa moved from one bio-secure bubble to another, following their 3-2 T20I victory in the West Indies with the trip to Ireland, and those obligations have taken place amid a slew of awful news from back home.

A third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has gripped South Africa, while Boucher's players wore black armbands for the third ODI to show solidarity with those affected by mounting scenes of violence.

"We weren't there the other day," Boucher said of the 43-run defeat to Ireland, as quoted by ESPNCricinfo. "Our awareness was down; our intensity was down.

"We looked at quite a few things without making excuses. We had a long chat after the game and we said, 'Guys we are in a position where we can't afford to make excuses. You are playing for your country and you have to be up every game'."

South Africa only have these games – Monday's match at Malahide before back-to-back games in Belfast - and three more versus Sri Lanka before the T20 World Cup gets underway in Oman in October, not an ideal situation given a devilish Group 1 draw alongside England, Australia and West Indies.

However, if Boucher's players were to complain about being under-cooked, they would have few grounds for complaint alongside Ireland.

Andy Balbirnie's side have not played a T20I since last March, with proposed series against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Pakistan falling foul of the pandemic.

Five matches against Zimbabwe follow this series before Ireland enter the Group A qualifier section alongside Sri Lanka, Namibia and the Netherlands at the T20 World Cup, from which two teams progress.

Shamsi looking to consolidate number one status

Irrespective of how ideal or otherwise their preparations have been, South Africa have their T20 World Cup trump card in Tabraiz Shamsi. The left-arm wrist spinner is ranked as the number one bowler in the world in the shortest international format and his economy rate of 6.5 since the beginning of 2020 is the best of anyone to have bowled in 10 or more innings.

 

O'Brien hoping to regain form alongside old ally Stirling

Ireland's main threat in the shortest format often comes from Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien at the top of the order. The veteran O'Brien is one of his country's finest ever players but he did not feature in the recent series against South Africa, having retired from ODIs. His final four knocks in the format were two, one, one and nought and the 37-year-old will hope to put that slump behind him.

Key Opta facts
- This will be the first bilateral men's T20I game between Ireland and South Africa. Ireland will be South Africa's 13th opposition in the format, while the Proteas will be their hosts' 24th.
- South Africa have dropped 29 chances since the beginning of 2020 in T20I cricket, the most of all Test playing nations during this time. Ireland have dropped the fewest (five), although they’ve also played the joint fewest such matches of any Test playing nation.
- Ireland have hit a boundary once every 3.7 balls in T20 powerplays since the beginning of 2020, the most frequent of any Test playing country in that time.
- De Kock has hit 31 sixes in T20Is since the start of 2020. Only Martin Guptill and Evin Lewis (both 34) have struck more.
- Balbirnie requires 55 more runs to become the fifth Irish batsman to score 1,000 runs in T20Is in just his 40th innings. He is set to surpass Stirling's Ireland best mark of reaching the landmark in 45 knocks.

Pakistan posted a record total before staving off a historic Liam Livingstone onslaught as they won a high-scoring opener in the T20I series against England.

Captain Babar Azam led the way with 85 while opening partner Mohammad Rizwan contributed 63 to help Pakistan – swept 3-0 in the recent one-dayers when facing makeshift opponents – reach an imposing 232-6 in Nottingham.

An innings that struggled for early momentum would finish with a flurry of boundaries, including 152 runs coming from the final 10 overs.

England, who had seen returning skipper Eoin Morgan win the toss and opt to bowl first, lost wickets early and often in the powerplay overs to hamper their reply.

Livingstone, however, kept his team in the race, hitting a maiden international century in stunning fashion. He reached the milestone from a mere 42 balls, making it the fastest ton for England in the shortest format.

Yet with his side's hopes resting firmly on his shoulders, the right-hander fell immediately after reaching three figures with a ninth six, caught in the deep for 103 off the bowling of Shadab Khan when trying to repeat the trick.

The innings finished up at 201, Shaheen Shah Afridi (3-30) taking the final wicket with four balls to spare as Pakistan triumphed by 31 runs.

Amid the carnage in just the third T20I England have played at Trent Bridge, Mohammad Hasnain returned impressive figures of 1-28 from four overs. Shadab was far more expensive, going for 52 runs during his allocation, but he did crucially claim three wickets.


Openers lay the platform

Babar and Rizwan put on 150 despite getting off to a sedate start. Indeed, Pakistan failed to register a six in the first half of their innings yet finished up hitting 12 maximums, England's bowlers unable to stem the sudden flow of runs.

Fakhar Zaman (26) and Mohammad Hafeez (24) hit three apiece during late cameos, while debutant Azam Khan smacked a four from his first ball in international cricket during the final over.

Livingstone makes expedition into record books

Coming in at number five with his team 48-3, Livingstone set about the Pakistan bowlers instantly in the face of a tall order. He reached his half-century from 17 balls – England's previous record for that landmark had been 21 deliveries – and just kept on going, despite receiving limited support.

Jason Roy had made 32 in a hurry at the top of the order, but this was a one-man show for a team welcoming back several regulars following a coronavirus outbreak that had stopped them being involved in the one-dayers.

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