Shreyas Iyer's second Twenty20 International half-century fired India to a six-wicket victory over New Zealand after Jasprit Bumrah gave the tourists a brief injury scare at Eden Park.

The five-match series got under way in impressive fashion for India, despite the Black Caps - led by half-centuries from Colin Munro (59), Kane Williamson (51) and Ross Taylor (54 not out) - posting 204-4 in Auckland on Friday.

KL Rahul (56) and Virat Kohli (45) combined for a second-wicket stand of 99 - aided by some gifts in the field -  to do much of the heavy lifting, and the chase was then completed in style by an unbeaten 58 from Iyer with an over to spare.

Paceman Bumrah took 1-31, yet he looked to be in real pain after a fall during New Zealand's final over, requiring treatment and initially appearing to indicate he could not continue.

India's bowling options for the Test series already look to be restricted by an injury to Ishant Sharma, but Bumrah, who has just returned from a back problem, was able to see out the innings.

New Zealand had started with an excellent partnership of 80 between Martin Guptill (30) and Munro, before Williamson sought to lift the rate as the pace slowed.

Williamson's stand with Taylor was particularly effective - 61 off 28 - but the captain offered a simple catch to opposite number Kohli, and Bumrah then came to the fore.

Tim Seifert was swiftly dealt with, yet the final over began with a four from overthrows, before Bumrah rolled his left ankle on the edge of the wicket with the second delivery, eventually lifting himself to at least limit New Zealand to 203-5.

India's unconvincing fielding paled in comparison to their opponents' initial efforts, though.

Rohit Sharma departed for only seven but New Zealand passed up huge opportunities to halt Rahul and Kohli, failing to run out the former with two attempts and then seeing Ish Sodhi drop the captain.

But Tim Southee clung on brilliantly as Rahul belatedly departed in the 10th over, before an even better take from Guptill spelled the end of Kohli's knock.

The boundaries subsequently dried up, threatening to let New Zealand back in, before Iyer took up the mantle, blasting the winning six - his third - with the final ball of the penultimate over.

James Vince and Josh Philippe made half-centuries as Sydney Sixers thrashed Brisbane Heat by eight wickets in Steve Smith's Big Bash League return.

All eyes were on Sixers batsman Smith in his first BBL appearance for six years, while Heat batsman Marnus Labuschagne played his first match of the 2019-20 tournament after returning from Australia's ODI series in India.

Labuschagne made only three as the Heat were restricted to 126-8, with runs hard to come by on a slow Gabba surface on Thursday.

Steve O'Keefe was named man of the match after taking 1-20 from his four overs, while Jackson Bird, Tom Curran and Ben Dwarshuis took two wickets apiece.

The Sixers eased to their target with 25 balls to spare, Vince making a stylish 51 off 37 balls and fellow opener Philippe an unbeaten 52 from 43.

Smith fell for only nine, but the Sixers were all-but home by then as they moved above Adelaide Strikers into second spot in the battle to face Melbourne Stars in the first Qualifier at the MCG.

The Heat have now lost three in a row and are just outside the play-off spots with two games to play.

 

STRUGGLING HEAT BATSMEN FAIL TO FIRE

O'Keefe stuck a big blow by removing Chris Lynn's off stump in the third over and the Heat were 33-2 in the fifth when Matt Renshaw was removed by Bird, having struck Nathan Lyon for six and four in the previous over.

Lyon had Sam Heazlett caught and bowled before Labuschagne was taken by Smith attempting to pull Curran, with the Heat slumping to 57-5 halfway through their innings.

James Pattinson made a brisk 27 not out from 15 balls after AB de Villiers (25) was caught by Smith in the deep, but the Sixers bowlers did a great job of restricting the Heat to a below-par total.

 

VINCE PROMOTION PAYS OFF

England batsman Vince was promoted to open with Philippe, Daniel Hughes dropping down the order.

He made the most of his opportunity at the top of the order, full of confidence after making an unbeaten 41 in a victory over the Melbourne Stars last time out.

Vince showed his class with glorious strokes on both sides of the wicket, coming down the track to launch Mujeeb Ur Rahman into the stands and reaching his half-century off 34 balls with a classy drive over cover before pulling Ben Laughlin to Heazlett.

 

PHILIPPE RETURNS TO FORM, SMITH MISSES OUT

Wicketkeeper batsman Philippe had mustered only 32 in his previous five knocks, but returned to form in batting conditions that were not straightforward.

Vince comfortably outscored Philippe in a stand of 75, but the 22-year-old clattered Laughlin for 10 off two balls as the Sixers closed in on an emphatic victory.

Pattinson followed Smith and had his Australia team-mate caught behind when he moved outside leg stump attempting an expansive drive, but Philippe brought up his half-century before Moises Henriques put the Heat out of their misery.

Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out of India's upcoming Twenty20 and ODI matches against New Zealand with a shoulder injury.

Opening batsman Dhawan sustained the problem while fielding in the first innings of the third ODI against Australia - a series India won 2-1 - in Bengaluru on Sunday.

An MRI has since confirmed the left-hander sustained a grade two injury to his acromioclavicular joint and will begin rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in the first week of November.

Sanju Samson had replaced him in the T20 squad with Rohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami returning after being rested for the January series against Sri Lanka, while Prithvi Shaw got the nod for the ODIs.

The first of five T20s against New Zealand is at Eden Park on Friday, before the three ODIs begin with a meeting at Seddon Park on February 5.

 

T20 squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Sanju Samson, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Shivam Dube, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur.

ODI squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Shivam Dube, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, Kedar Jadhav.

Sydney Thunder's bowlers tore through Sydney Sixers before they won a rain-affected Big Bash League derby match by four runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method on Saturday.

Two interruptions due to adverse weather inside the opening three overs resulted in the match being reduced to 16 overs each, but the Sixers were already in trouble at 6-3.

Daniel Sams claimed figures of 3-14, which included the scalps of Justin Avendano (28) and Ben Dwarshuis (19) – the only Sixers batsmen to reach double figures.

Chris Morris (2-12 from 3.5 overs) removed Jackson Bird and took the bails off to run out Steve O'Keefe for a diamond duck in the final over as Moises Henriques' team were skittled for the second-lowest BBL score of 76.

Usman Khawaja was on 13 when he fell to Tom Curran in the fourth over of the chase, but Callum Ferguson (8 not out) and Sams (5no) ensured the Thunder stayed above the par score by getting to 28-2 when the rain hit again.

The Sixers consequently missed a chance to open up a four-point advantage on the teams chasing second place, with the Thunder now two points back in fourth.

MS Dhoni has lost his central contract with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), sparking fresh speculation over his international future.

Former limited-overs captain Dhoni was not among the 27 India players to receive deals for the period from October 2019 to September 2020.

The wicketkeeper-batsman has not been in action since the semi-finals of the 2019 Cricket World Cup last July, though he has not officially retired from the international arena.

India coach Ravi Shastri previously said Dhoni had a chance of featuring at the T20 World Cup if he performed well in the Indian Premier League, which starts in March.

Dhoni made his international debut in an ODI against Bangladesh in 2004 and captained his country to glory at the 2007 World Twenty20, 2011 World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy.

He featured in 90 Tests before retiring from the longest format in 2014.

Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik and Khaleel Ahmed also lost their central contracts, while Mayank Agarwal, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Shreyas Iyer and Washington Sundar were granted deals by the BCCI.

Melbourne Renegades' long wait for a first win of the Big Bash League season finally came to an end on Wednesday.

The Renegades beat Sydney Thunder by 12 runs under the Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method in a rain-affected clash in Canberra to end their nine-match losing streak in convincing fashion.

Sam Harper (52 off 38 balls) and Shaun Marsh (47 from 34) starred with the bat as the defending champions posted 172-4, with Mohammad Nabi and captain Dan Christian's late big hitting bolstering the total.

Sydney were behind the rate when the weather closed in, returning with a revised total of 135 off 14 overs and coming up short on 122-7 despite the best efforts of Alex Ross (51 off 27), as Christian proved the Renegades' saviour with the ball.

RENEGADES MAKE A STATEMENT

With such a miserable run of form weighing on them, Melbourne needed to post a challenging target.

Opener Marsh certainly got the memo, his 34-ball knock including six fours and a maximum, while Harper also got on the front foot to boost the holders.

Still, the late cameos of Nabi (11 off 3) and Christian (21 off 12) were key, with the Renegades on a modest 125-3 at the end of the 17th over.

A strong finish saw them put up another 47 runs in the final three overs, Nabi thrashing the last ball for six.

 

ROSS CUTS LOOSE BEFORE CHRISTIAN FIGHTS BACK

The revised target was a tough ask for the Thunder, who initially made precious little headway in pursuit.

That was until Ross thrashed 26 balls of one Nabi over to haul his side back into the contest.

But all-rounder Christian came to the fore in the next over, in which he took two wickets – including that of danger man Ross – for just five runs.

There were no late fireworks as the Thunder, who sit sixth, finished on 122-7.

AB de Villiers says he would "love" to make a South Africa comeback but says talk of him playing in the T20 World Cup is premature.

The maverick batsman announced his retirement from international cricket in May 2018 as he had "run out of gas."

Mark Boucher said it would be remiss of him not to try to tempt De Villiers, who turns 36 next month, to play for his country again after he was appointed as Proteas head coach last month.

Captain Faf du Plessis has also spoken of his hope that one of South Africa's greatest ever players will grace the international stage again and talks had been held over a return.

De Villiers is not getting ahead of himself, but would jump at the chance to feature in the T20 World Cup in Australia this year.

"There's a lot that needs to happen before that becomes reality," he said after scoring a quickfire 40 on his Big Bash League debut for Brisbane Heat in a thrashing of Adelaide Strikers on Tuesday.

"I would love to. I've been talking to Bouch, Graeme Smith [South Africa director of cricket] and Faf back home, we're all keen to make it happen.

"It's a long way away still, and plenty can happen – there's the IPL coming up, I've still got to be in form at that time. 

"So I'm thinking of throwing my name in the hat and hoping that everything will work out. 

"It's not a guarantee, once again. I don't want to disappoint myself or other people, so for now I'm just going to try and keep a low profile, try and play the best possible cricket that I can and then see what happens towards the end of the year."

De Villiers appeared in 114 Tests for his country, with 228 ODI and 78 T20s under his belt.

Josh Inglis and Mitchell Marsh put on a century stand with the bat before Jhye Richardson posted T20-best figures as the Perth Scorchers hammered the Hobart Hurricanes by 77 runs in the Big Bash League.

A 46-ball 73 from Inglis and a valuable knock of 40 from Marsh helped the Scorchers to 175-7 at the Bellerive Oval.

The hosts completely wilted in reply, mustering a measly 98 with George Bailey's 36 providing the best resistance.

Richardson took two wickets in his first over to inflict early damage before returning for a couple more late on and the paceman finished with figures of 4-20.

Perth's third straight win sees them climb to third in the standings, while Hobart remain second from bottom.


INGLIS LESSON FOR HURRICANES

The early losses of Liam Livingstone (3) and Sam Whiteman (8) left the Scorchers reeling but Inglis and Marsh piled on the pressure.

Inglis anchored the innings with four fours and as many sixes in an exciting display, while Marsh was looking dangerous before mistiming one off Rogers to Qais Ahmad.

Just seven balls later, Qais tempted Inglis into a slog to long on and a flurry of late wickets stemmed the momentum.


RICHARDSON ROARS

Things started badly for the home side as the excellent Richardson angled one into Matthew Wade (3), who hurried one to deep square leg, before David Miller (0) top-edged the same man to cover.

Bailey and Caleb Jewell (28) put on 41 but from there only Simon Milenko (19) made double figures.

Richardson would return to the attack to account for Thomas Rogers (5) and Nathan Ellis (0) to complete a fine outing. 

Jonathan Wells and Matthew Short put on a big partnership before Peter Siddle led the way with the ball as the Adelaide Strikers hammered the sorry Melbourne Renegades by 63 runs.

The Strikers scored 66 from the final five overs after a sedate start, with Wells (58 off 38) and Short (41 off 28) combining for 80 runs to help set a competitive total of 173-6 at the Adelaide Oval.

It was a score the Renegades, Big Bash League champions last season, never got near with only Beau Webster (49) and Shaun Marsh (21) making double figures in a risible chase.

Siddle (3-14) was chief protagonist, while Travis Head (2-26) - playing his first BBL game of the season - did early damage and Rashid Khan (2-19) also played an influential role in bowling the visitors out for 110.

The Strikers move third in the table, while the Renegades are 0-9 in an awful defence of their title.


WELLS AND SHORT STEP UP

Phil Salt (18), Jake Weatherald (27) and Head (22) all failed to build on starts and the Strikers were 81-4 when Harry Nielsen (4) trudged back in the 11th over.

But Wells upped the ante, with his knock including five fours and a six, while Short slogged three straight over the ropes in his innings.

It was a partnership that boosted the Strikers at the right time, with each member of the Renegades attack taking a wicket bar Dan Christian.


SIDDLE SINKS RENEGADES

The Renegades were up against it right from the off, with Head sweeping up Marcus Harris (4) in the very first over.

The sensational Siddle cleared up Sam Harper (5) from his first set of six and Marsh's promise was ended by the dangerous Head.

Rashid kept things tight and earned his reward with the wicket of Mohammad Nabi (6) before also ending the valiant resistance of Webster, who clobbered 49 off 33.

Siddle then accounted for Samit Patel (8) and Christian (2), with the rest of the Renegades tail unable to stop the rot.

India completed a 2-0 series victory over Sri Lanka by comfortably winning the third Twenty20 in Pune by 78 runs.

KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan each had fifties for India, whose impressive score of 201-6 never looked achievable for a Sri Lanka side that was skittled for 123 with 4.1 overs remaining.

Dhawan (52) brought up his half century with a single after a shot through extra cover but his 97-run union with Rahul was ended by Lakshan Sandakan (3-35) three balls later.

Rahul (54) fell two deliveries after making his fifty and Sandakan removed Shreyas Iyer in the same over to bring in captain Virat Kohli, who was batting down at number six.

Kohli hit a match-winning six in the second T20 and he made 26 off 17 before being run out attempting an ambitious second off Lasith Kumara, who dismissed Washington Sundar for a golden duck next ball.

India were at 164-6 with 16 balls remaining so Manish Pandey (31 not out) and Shardul Thakur cut loose, the latter bludgeoning two maximums and a four in a sensational eight-ball 22.

Jasprit Bumrah (1-5) moved clear of Yuzvendra Chahal (0-33) as India's leading T20 wicket-taker with a short ball to Danushka Gunathilaka (1) in the opening over of the chase and Sri Lanka were soon in trouble at 26-4.

Angelo Mathews (31) and Dhananjaya de Silva (57) steadied the ship with a 68-run stand for the fifth wicket, but when Sundar accounted for the former the jig was up.

Dhananjaya managed to reach fifty despite a distinct lack of support, but Navdeep Saini (3-28) removed him and Lasith Malinga to put the tourists out of their misery.

Glenn Maxwell's masterclass guided the Melbourne Stars to a seven-wicket victory over the winless Melbourne Renegades in Friday's Big Bash League derby.

The gifted all-rounder, nicknamed the 'Big Show', made an unbeaten 83 off only 45 balls at Marvel Stadium as the table-topping Stars chased down a target of 169 with eight balls to spare.

Such an outcome looked unlikely when the Stars needed 60 off the final five overs, with defending champions the Renegades scenting an opportunity to break their duck at the eighth attempt.

But Maxwell smashed his second consecutive half-century to put his side two points clear of the Sydney Sixers and give another nudge to the Australia selectors after being omitted for the ODI series in India.

Shaun Marsh earlier made a 43-ball 63 but the beleaguered Renegades lost four wickets for just 22 runs in their final four overs and a total of 168-7 was not enough.


RAUF AND COULTER-NILE STOP GADES IN THEIR TRACKS

Marsh needed a new bat after a ferocious delivery from Lance Morris snapped his blade in two, but he flanked the Gades' innings in a knock that included seven fours and two sixes.

The Gades were well placed at 146-3 through 16 overs, only to have their momentum stemmed.

Nathan Coulter-Nile (2-29) ensured Tom Cooper (15) could not build on a start and sent Sam Harper back for a golden duck, while Haris Rauf conceded just eight runs from his final two overs and accounted for Dan Christian (12).


MARVELLOUS MAXWELL SHINES FOR STARS

The Renegades made a poor start when Marcus Stoinis – the BBL's top run-scorer this season – holed out to long-off off Samit Patel for a three-ball duck.

Hilton Cartwright (35) was stopped in his tracks by Cameron Boyce and the Stars were facing a tall order to get over the finishing line.

But Maxwell kept his cool before finishing with a flourish, hitting a couple of huge sixes off Joe Mennie and Boyce before giving Richard Gleeson the treatment from consecutive deliveries in the 18th over.

A 91-metre six off Christian preceded another whack beyond the ropes over deep square leg to seal victory in style, having cleared the rope seven times in a swashbuckling innings.

MS Dhoni will soon officially call time on his ODI career but could still feature at the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year, according to India coach Ravi Shastri.

Dhoni is a veteran of 448 internationals across the limited overs formats, and captained India to glory at the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 and the 2011 World Cup - the latter an unforgettable triumph on home soil.

The 38-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman has not featured for India since their semi-final loss to New Zealand at last year's World Cup and he is currently on a break from the game.

Rishabh Pant has taken the gloves for India in white-ball cricket but the Dhoni era might not be over just yet.

"I have had a conversation with MS and that is between us," Shastri told News18. "He has finished his Test career, he may soon end his ODI career. So he will be left with T20, he will definitely play the IPL.

"One thing I know about Dhoni is that he will not impose himself on the team. But if he has a cracking IPL, well, then... 

"We will have to consider the person’s experience and form. They will bat in the number five or six position. If Dhoni plays well in IPL, then he does put himself in contention."

A return to Dhoni could be welcoming in some quarters, given criticism that has been levelled at Pant's glovework and his failure to convert starts into decisive contributions with the bat.

Pant averages 20.50 from 25 T20I innings, but Shastri is backing the youngster.

"How many 22-year-old wicket-keepers have made 100s? He hasn’t dropped many catches and everyone is entitled to make mistakes," he added.

"As he matures he will get better. These things don't happen overnight. There is no question that he is a match-winner.

"Talent is there, he is doing everything to cash in. He is working hard on his wicketkeeping."

Haris Rauf took a hat-trick and Glenn Maxwell became Melbourne Stars' record run-scorer as Sydney Thunder were beaten by six wickets at the MCG.

The in-form Stars moved top of the Big Bash League table, level on points with Sydney Sixers with a better net run rate and a game in hand, by securing a fourth consecutive victory on Wednesday.

Pakistani paceman Rauf claimed the second Big Bash hat-trick of the day after Rashid Khan took three in three during the Adelaide Strikers' defeat to Sydney Sixers.

The Thunder were restricted to 145-5 after a brilliant final over from Rauf (3-23), Matthew Gilkes top scoring with 41 from 35 balls.

Marcus Stoinis (50) struck a third consecutive half-century, while Maxwell made an unbeaten 59 from just 37 balls to replace Luke Wright as the Stars' leading run-scorer to get his side home with more than two overs to spare.

Defeat for the Thunder was their second in a row and dropped them down a place to fourth on a day in which spinner Chris Green was banned from bowling for three months due to an illegal delivery action.

 

RAPID RAUF ROCKS THUNDER

Rauf has been a revelation for the Stars since being plucked from grade cricket in Hobart as cover for Dale Steyn.

The quick could be returning to Australia for the T20 World Cup later this year after he took his tally of wickets to 13 in four matches in dramatic fashion.

Rauf saw the back of Gilkes, who struck two sixes, with the second ball of the last over and Callum Ferguson played on to the next delivery before Daniel Sams was trapped lbw on the hat-trick ball. 

 

SENSATIONAL STOINIS CONTINUES PURPLE PATCH

Stoinis maintained his outstanding form to move over the 300-run mark for the tournament.

The leading run-scorer in the 2019-20 competition had a touch of fortune when he was given not out after being rapped on the pad by Chris Tremain in the third over.

Stoinis took advantage by anchoring the run chase, hitting a six and another four boundaries before holing out off Jonathan Cook, leaving the Stars 103-4 in the 14th. 

 

MAGNIFICENT MAXWELL EASES STARS HOME

Captain Maxwell took only 29 balls to score his first half-century of the tournament.

The all-rounder, who also conceded just 18 runs from three overs, found the rope eight times and launched Tremain for six to keep the Stars on course for victory.

Maxwell was on the deck after trying to clatter Morris and making no contact, but he hit the South Africa bowler for a glorious boundary to finish off the job in the same over.

Virat Kohli's maximum wrapped up a comfortable seven-wicket win for India over Sri Lanka to take a 1-0 lead in their three-match Twenty20 series.

The opening clash was wiped out by rain in Guwahati and Sri Lanka's innings on Tuesday also proved a damp squib, the loss of late wickets limiting them to a modest 142-9.

India chased that down with 15 balls to spare at Indore, Kohli confirming the triumph in style to cap an explosive knock from the skipper.

Sri Lanka's top three made credible contributions but the tourists' line-up as a whole failed to fire.

Kusal Perera's brisk 34 included all three of his side's sixes, with Avishka Fernando (22) and Danushka Gunathilaka (20) providing support at the top end of the order.

Jasprit Bumrah had opened the bowling by conceding two wides and was then hit for four, but that went against the trend that was to follow.

Sri Lanka were frustrated in their efforts to reach anything close to a par score, despite Wanindu Hasaranga sending the final three deliveries to the boundary to book-end Bumrah's inconsistent spell.

With such a modest total to chase, India could afford to be patient and it took Sri Lanka until the 10th over to end KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan's 71-run opening partnership, Hasaranga claiming the former's scalp.

Dhawan went soon after, lbw to the same bowler, but it was never likely to trouble India's bid for victory and Shreyas Iyer added a handy 34 before falling in what proved to be the final over.

Kohli put the seal on things, swiping Lahiru Kumara over the ropes to finish with 30 off 17 deliveries.

The final match of the series takes place in Pune on Friday.

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