Kieron Pollard and Jofra Archer were among the major award winners of the just-concluded 2020 IPL season.

Pat Cummins took four wickets after Eoin Morgan blasted a half-century as Kolkata Knight Riders kept their play-off hopes alive and ended Rajasthan Royals' Indian Premier League season with a 60-run victory.

Both sides needed an emphatic win in their last match of the regular season to stay in the hunt for a place in the last four and it was KKR who delivered.

Morgan's side are up to fourth and must now wait for the outcome of the clashes between Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday and Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians the following day to see if they qualify.

England ODI captain Morgan top scored with 68 not out off 35 balls to get the Knight Riders up to 191-7 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Shubman Gill (36) and Rahul Tripathi (39) also chipped in, while Rahul Tewatia was the pick of the bowlers with 3-25 and Jofra Archer (1-19) was outstanding yet again.

The Royals could only muster 131-9 in reply, paceman Cummins doing the bulk of the damage with 4-34.

Defeat for Steve Smith's men leaves them bottom of the table despite a late resurgence, Shivam Mavi and Varun Chakravarthy taking two wickets apiece as they fell well short of their victory target.

MORGAN GIVES STOKES A TASTE OF HIS OWN MEDICINE

Gill and Tripathi put on 72 for the second wicket in eight overs after Archer had Nitish Rana caught behind for a golden duck in the first over.

Tewatia got rid of Gill and Sunil Narine in a ninth over that went for just six runs, but skipper Morgan flexed his muscles in dewy conditions and Andre Russell smashed 25 off 11 balls.

Ben Stokes had a day to forget, Morgan hitting his England team-mate for back-to-back sixes in a penultimate over that cost 24 runs, with the left-hander – who cleared the rope six times – also setting about Shreyas Gopal.

RAPID CUMMINS RATTLES ROYALS

The Royals needed their key men such as Stokes and Smith to fire, but their tournament was all-but over when they were 41-5 at the end of the powerplay.

Cummins steamed through the top order, removing Robin Uthappa, Stokes, Smith and Riyan Parag.

Jos Buttler made 35 and Tewatia 31 but Rajasthan were never going to recover from Australia paceman Cummins' devastating early hostile burst.

Ben Stokes plundered a glorious century to help Rajasthan Royals chase down Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League on Sunday. 

The England all-rounder was in imperious form in Abu Dhabi, hitting an unbeaten 107 off 60 balls to keep the Royals – who had started the day bottom of the table – in the play-off picture. 

Mumbai, who remain top, had the chance to seal a play-off spot of their own with a win and they put themselves in a commanding position with a total of 195-5. 

Hardik Pandya was the star of their innings, striking an unbeaten 60 off 21 balls. His knock, which included seven sixes and two fours, was the fourth-fastest of this season's IPL. 

Mumbai opener Ishan Kishan went for 37 in spectacular circumstances, with Stokes' England team-mate Jofra Archer taking an acrobatic one-handed catch by the boundary.

The Indians might have thought they had done enough to secure an eighth win in 11 games this season but Stokes and Sanju Samson had other ideas, the pair putting on a third-wicket stand of 152 from 82 balls to take the Royals home with 10 balls to spare 

Rajasthan move up to sixth in the table with 10 points from their 12 games, while the result condemns Chennai Super Kings, who had thumped Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier in the day, to elimination. 

STOKES FINALLY ARRIVES IN THIS SEASON'S IPL  

Stokes had struggled to make an impact in the IPL before his match-winning turn on Sunday, scoring just 110 runs off 103 balls in this season's competition. The 29-year-old said he felt in confident mood ahead of Sunday's game thanks to a positive training session a day earlier. 

"I'm a bit taken aback by why it's taken me so long to get into the tournament for the team," he said. "To be honest, the training I've had yesterday was the best I had throughout my time here, so I came into this with a bit of confidence. It was coming on nicely."

ARCHER PLAYS HIS PART

Archer set the stage for Stokes' heroics with a fine display in the field. His catch from Kishan was a thing of beauty, while he also removed Quinton de Kock and Saurabh Tiwary on six and 34 respectively. 

Jason Holder made an instant impact and Manish Pandey cut loose as Sunrisers Hyderabad stopped the rot with an eight-wicket Indian Premier League win over Rajasthan Royals.

David Warner's Sunrisers had lost three consecutive games but ended their slump with an impressive performance in Dubai on Thursday.

West Indies captain Holder, unsold at the IPL auction but drafted in to replace the injured Mitchell Marsh last month, took 3-33 and also ran out Robin Uthappa in his first appearance of the tournament.

Sanju Samson top-scored with 36 and Ben Stokes laboured to 30 as the Royals could only post 154-6 after Warner put them in.

Jofra Archer blasted a quickfire 16 and then removed Warner yet again before bowling his England team-mate Jonny Bairstow in a rapid early burst.

At 16-2 in the third over of Sunrisers' reply it was very much game on, but an unbroken stand of 140 between Pandey (83 not out) and Vijak Shankar (52) consigned Rajasthan to defeat.

Pandey was the chief aggressor, hitting eight sixes in a brilliant 47-ball knock to move Sunrisers up to fifth, finding great support from Shankar, who hit the winning runs off the first ball of the 19th over.

HOLDER GRASPS HIS CHANCE

All-rounder Holder was given his opportunity after Kane Williamson was ruled out and he grabbed it with both hands.

He ended an opening stand of 30 by producing a sharp piece of work to dismiss Uthappa with a direct hit and then bowled the dangerous Samson with a slower ball, having seen the previous delivery disappear for six.

Holder was not finished there, removing Steve Smith and Riyan Parag from successive deliveries. He bowled 11 dot balls in an impressive start with ball in hand.

 

PANDEY PUMMELS ROYALS

Archer rocked Sunrisers with a hostile opening spell, Stokes taking a good slip catch to ensure his England colleague has dismissed the Australia opener six times in seven innings.

Bairstow also failed to hang around, but Pandey and Shankar took charge of the run chase with a stand that sapped the life out of the Royals.

Shankar was content to score at just over a run a ball as Pandey produced a masterful display of timing, power and use of the feet, reaching his half-century in 28 balls and finishing with a 176.59 strike rate.

Kartik Tyagi and Stokes were hit for three sixes apiece as Pandey put the Royals attack to the sword. Only Samson and Ishan Kishan - with nine apiece - have scored more maximums in an IPL innings this year.

Delhi Capitals went top of the Indian Premier League with a gripping 13-run win over Rajasthan Royals.

Half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Shreyas Iyer accounted for the bulk of the Capitals' 161-7.

Ben Stokes (41) and Jos Buttler (22) impressed at the top of the Rajasthan reply but neither man could kick on and when Anrich Nortje (2-33) crowned a blistering fast-bowling display by bowling Robin Uthappa for 32, the task was beyond a Royals side who have now lost five of their eight games in the competition.

Jofra Archer gave Rajasthan the perfect start with a beautiful delivery that nipped back off the seam to bowl Prithvi Shaw from the first ball of the match.

That launched a stunning opening burst of 2-5 from the England paceman, who Ajinkya Rahane pulled tamely to mid-on.

Dhawan played with typical authority until his 33-ball stay ended in inauspicious fashion on 57 when he scooped Shreyas Gopal to Kartik Tyagi at third man.

Iyer passed fifty when a third umpire review showed Stokes had the ball in his hand and a foot grounded behind the rope when attempting to take a catch off Jaydev Unadkat.

The Capitals captain holed out for 53 off Tyagi next over and the end of their innings brought a clatter of wickets, with Archer (3-19) and Unadkat (2-32) the beneficiaries.

Stokes clipped the opening ball of the Royals' reply for four and he and England team-mate Jos Buttler ensured an explosive initial response.

South Africa paceman Nortje elected to meet fire with fire and, having been thumped over wide long-on for six and scooped for a pair of fours, he bowled Buttler to end an undulating nine-ball stay.

Rajasthan's promising start went further off the rails when Smith continued poor recent form by chipping a return catch to Ravichandran Ashwin for one.

Stokes looked in immaculate touch and hit six fours in his 41 before misjudging Tushar Deshpande's slower ball to be caught in the deep by substitute Lalit Yadav.

Sanju Samson hit Axar Patel over midwicket for a monstrous six that resulted in the retrieved ball being changed but the left-arm spinner had his revenge, bowling the big-hitter for 25.

Patel then accounted for Riyan Parag via a run out - a debacle for which Uthappa was unable to atone as his team-mates limped to148-8.

Pace like fire

The pitches of Dubai are rarely thought of as the ideal stage for the world's premier fast bowlers but Archer and Nortje put on a thrilling exhibition of their art. Of the five runs Archer conceded in his opening spell, only two came off the bat.

If none of the Delhi Capitals line-up could get the measure of Archer, the same could not be said about the Royals' batsmen's ability to deal with Nortje initially, as Buttler threatened to dispatch him to all parts.

The solution? Bowl faster. And faster still. The delivery that bowled Buttler and the one he ramped preceding it both touched 156 km/h. It was a gripping battle.

Smith gets it wrong

Normally so reliable with the bat, Smith's form has fallen away dramatically. This was his fifth single-figure score in six innings and the Australia star also fell short with his captaincy.

The decision to remove a rampant Archer from the attack after two overs looked questionable at the time and it felt like Delhi had been decisively let off the hook as Dhawan and Iyer compiled their crucial 85-run stand.

Rajasthan Royals returned to winning ways in the Indian Premier League, producing a stunning late onslaught to down the Sunrisers Hyderabad by five wickets in Dubai. 

The Royals appeared in danger of suffering a fifth straight loss when, replying to Hyderabad's total of 158-4, they were left needing 54 from the final four overs in their run chase. 

However, Rahul Tewatia and Riyan Parag combined to see their team home with a delivery to spare, the latter sealing victory with a towering six over cover. 

Tewatia, though, had crucially gone after Hyderabad's key bowler in Rashid Khan, the leg-spinner's final over - the 18th of the innings - leaking 14, as he smashed 45 off 28 deliveries.  

Parag finished up unbeaten on 42 from 26 as an unbroken stand worth 85 covered for the failures of the big names at the top of the order, including the returning Ben Stokes. 

The England all-rounder had earlier sent down just a solitary over as the Sunrisers set a competitive target thanks to contributions from captain David Warner (48) and Manish Pandey, who made 54. 
 

STOKES BACK, BUT ARCHER HITS THE SPOT 

It was a low-key comeback to cricket for Stokes. Having not played since August for family reasons, he made six from five balls as an opener for the Royals when batting alongside Jos Buttler (16).

Instead, it was Jofra Archer who was the top-performing England player in action. He bowled a seriously quick over up front to international team-mate Jonny Bairstow, then returned later in the innings to emphatically clean up Warner as the Sunrisers skipper looked to cut loose. 

TEWATIA TURNS THE TABLES 

It seemed the Sunrisers were set to prevail having knocked over the Royals' top order cheaply, including running out Steve Smith for five. 

Yet Tewatia had other ideas, particularly when it came the pivotal over from Rashid. Having gone for just 12 from his previous three, the Afghanistan bowler was the subject of two outrageous reverse sweeps, both of which went to the boundary. 

Early Indian Premier League leaders Rajasthan Royals suffered a 37-run defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders in Dubai on Wednesday despite Tom Curran's late half-century.

The Royals had won their opening two matches of the competition but, just three days on from the highest successful run chase in IPL history against Kings XI Punjab, turned in a miserable display with the bat.

Rajasthan, set 175 to win, tallied 12 runs off their first over - led by Jos Buttler (21) - but the signs of their subsequent struggles were there as Steve Smith came unstuck at the hand of international team-mate Pat Cummins (1-13) in the second.

Another big dismissal followed in the fifth over as Sanju Samson dragged Shivam Mavi (2-20) to midwicket and Buttler's departure to the same man prompted a flurry with two more wickets supplied by Kamlesh Nagarkoti (2-13) in the eighth over.

Rahul Tewatia had improbably inspired the dramatic victory over Kings XI last time out and similar heroics were required as he arrived at the crease.

There was a solitary six, but Tewatia (14) was beaten by Varun Chakravarthy (2-25), who found the middle stump, as the odds increasingly stacked against the Royals.

Curran made a fine 54 off 36, yet his side fell well short of the Knight Riders' 174-6, a target which might have been even greater but for Jofra Archer's (2-18) return to form with the ball.

The Knight Riders' top score came from opener Shubman Gill (47), who hit five fours and a maximum before handing Archer a simple catch off his own bowling.

Andre Russell sought to pick up the mantle and accelerated Kolkata's scoring with 16 runs off the 13th over, but he too departed as he picked out Jaydev Unadkat at the boundary attempting his fourth six of the innings.

It was left to Eoin Morgan to boost the total as he ended unbeaten on 34, surviving a scare off more dangerous Archer bowling, although it ultimately would have mattered little.
 

OUTSTANDING ARCHER

The Royals' star bowler was a dismal 0-46 in their dramatic victory on Sunday, but he was in the mood this time. A rapid first over saw just one run and set the tone, before he crucially caught Gill off his own bowling at the start of his next stint.

Archer's pace slowed Russell briefly and then saw Dinesh Karthik edge behind. He might have added the scalp of Morgan, too, had Tom Curran not dropped his England captain over the boundary.

"It's a different wicket here," Archer explained at the end of the innings. "You can hit length a bit more confidently."

KKR KIDS DO DAMAGE

Cummins made a superb start against Smith, another of the world's best bowlers following opponent Archer's lead, but it was the Knight Riders' younger stars who really sparkled.

Mavi and Nagarkoti are 21 and 20 respectively but both have missed long stretches in recent years due to back injuries, with the younger man not making his IPL debut until this season.

They shone against more experienced players on Wednesday, though, with Mavi crucially getting Samson and Buttler as the Royals started to recover from Smith's wicket.

Rajasthan Royals pulled off the highest run chase in the history of the Indian Premier League against Kings XI Punjab, overshadowing a superb century from Mayank Agarwal.

Steve Smith, Sanju Samson and Rahul Tewatia all made key contributions with the bat as the Royals pulled off a stunning four-wicket triumph to make it two from two in the early stages of the 2020 season. 

Agarwal shared in an opening stand worth 183 with in-form skipper KL Rahul as he made a magnificent 106, helping Kings XI post 223-2 after being put into bat.

Nicholas Pooran produced a late cameo, making 25 from just eight deliveries, though his most notable contribution came later in the field with a gravity-defying stop in the deep.

Rajasthan lost Jos Buttler early in their reply, yet captain Smith made 50 in a hurry to make sure his team remained up with the required rate. 

Samson top scored with 85 from just 42 deliveries but, after he became the first of three wickets for seamer Mohammed Shami, Tewatia took over. 

The left-hander vindicated his unexpected promotion up the order, overcoming a sluggish start to blast his team towards their target. Sheldon Cottrell suffered the most, taken for five sixes in an over that cost 30. 

Jofra Archer smashed two maximums to finish 13 not out before fellow England international Tom Curran delivered the winning blow, sending his first ball to the boundary midway through the last over.

 

OPENERS CAUSE ROYAL ISSUES

Having made 132 not out against Bangalore Royal Challengers last time, right-hander Rahul was again in the runs for Kings XI.

The India batsman made 69 from 54 deliveries but played second fiddle to opening partner Agarwal, who hit seven sixes and 10 fours to reach three figures from just 49 deliveries.

Their partnership is the third highest for the first wicket in the competition, while this was Agarwal's maiden IPL century.

POORAN TAKES OFF

Samson appeared to have hit Murugan Ashwin for six when he launched the spinner deep to midwicket in the eighth over of the Royals' innings.

However, Pooran had other ideas. Leaping backwards beyond the boundary, he managed to catch the ball before flicking it back into play prior to him hitting the ground, timing the release to perfection.

COTTRELL GOES THE DISTANCE

Tewatia, whose solitary over with the ball went for 19 runs, had 17 to his name from 23 balls at one stage. Then, with 51 required from the final three overs, everything changed - most notably his strike-rate.

He certainly took a liking to Cottrell's bowling, turning what appeared to be a tall order into a straightforward equation.

A solitary dot ball spared the left-armer completing the unwanted full set of sixes in the over, but the sudden onslaught turned the game at a crucial stage. 

Australia coach Justin Langer has admitted the team could have discussed continuing a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, during the ongoing tour of England, but insists there was no disrespect or disregard meant.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding was recently critical of both teams, as he pointed out that they had ditched the symbolic taking a knee gesture during the ongoing series. England and the West Indies showed support for the movement before all three Tests at the start of the season, and the practice continued for the one-day series against Ireland. It has not been seen for the visits of Pakistan and Australia.

While insisting that the team had not forgotten the issue, Langer pointed out that Australia had simply been focused on the series and unusual circumstances, but that in retrospect there could have been more discussions surrounding the issue.

“When Mikey says what he says, it’s certainly worth listening to. In terms of taking a knee, to be completely honest, we could have talked more about it perhaps leading up to the first game,” Langer said.

“There was so much going on leading up to us getting here, maybe we should have talked more about it,” he added.

“What we do talk about within the team was that we want to have a response that is sustained and powerful and that it can go not just in one action but a sustained period. Not just throughout this series and the summer but throughout time.

“I just hope if it looked like there was a lack of respect, it wasn’t the intention of our team. We were very aware of it.”

England pace bowler Jofra Archer had issued a much sharper response, insisting that England had not forgotten the issue and that Holding should have “done his research”.

Australia suffered another batting collapse as England fought back from the brink to draw level in their ODI series with a brilliant 24-run victory at Old Trafford.

Eoin Morgan's side came back in thrilling fashion in the opening Twenty20 against Australia earlier in September, and the tourists snatched defeat from what looked set at one point to be a comfortable triumph in Manchester.

Four wickets – one from Jofra Archer (3-34) and three from Chris Woakes (3-32) – in a fantastic five-over spell in the middle of Australia's innings reduced Justin Langer's side from 142-2 to 147-6.

Australia's collapse came on the back of a strong start from Aaron Finch (73), whose side had ripped through England's top order after Morgan elected to bat first.

Adam Zampa (3-36) was the pick of Australia's bowling attack, which had England on the ropes until a stand of 76 between Tom Curran (37) and Adil Rashid (35 not out) helped the hosts finish on 231-9.

Yet despite Finch and Marnus Labuschagne (48) looked to be ticking Australia towards a series win, England rallied – Sam Curran (3-35) wrapping up the victory after Woakes and Archer dismantled the tourists' middle-order.

 

Jofra Archer pointed out he is not a robot after the England fast bowler's pace levels were again called into question on day two of the first Test against Pakistan.

The hosts reached stumps on 92-4 at Old Trafford, with Ollie Pope's unbeaten 46 the clearest note of defiance against a superb opening burst from Pakistan's seamers – Mohammad Abbas the pick with 2-24 after bowling Ben Stokes for a duck.

A career-best 156 from Shan Masood did most of the heavy lifting in the tourists' 326 all out, in which Archer and Stuart Broad took three wickets apiece.

However, in between scything a brilliant ball through the defences of Shan's opening partner Abid Ali on the first morning and removing tailenders Yasir Shah and Abbas, much of Archer's work was pedestrian.

He rarely looked like pushing the speed gun beyond 90 miles per hour as he did notably during last year's thrilling Ashes duel with Steve Smith.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the day's play, Archer said he was not purposefully bowling within himself but added a track taking spin on the second day in Manchester was not one on which a fast bowler should "bend your back".

"It's not deliberate. Not every day are you going to come in and bowl 90 miles per hour," he said.

"I seen the guy [Naseem] Shah started bowling 90 today, so we'll see how he goes later on tomorrow.

"No one's robots, so I'll be very interested to see what he can produce a bit later.

"This wicket is not really one you're going to try and bend your back on. We bowled first, there was a little bit there in the morning but it's spinning on day two so that says a lot about the wicket right now."

Captain Joe Root – who fell cutting at leg-spinner Yasir for 14 – has been accused of over-bowling Archer in his still-fledgling Test career, but he went almost two hours without turning to his strike bowler as Pakistan threatened to get away from England during the middle session.

"If you looked at the time, it was approaching the [second] new ball and I think he just wanted all of the bowlers fresh," an unperturbed Archer observed.

"Obviously there was a time last night when I probably got off the hook as well. The umpire said it was a bit too dark.

"He probably did want to bowl me last night as well. He didn't want to bowl me after the break but I guess the captain knows best.

"We've got more than enough bowlers here to do a job. I wouldn't be upset at all."

Archer returned to the England XI for last month's series-clinching win over West Indies after being ruled out of the second Test for violating bio-secure protocols.

In a column for the Daily Mail, Archer detailed his resulting mental anguish and, asked whether he had put that episode behind him, he added: "I hope so… yeah, I definitely did. I'm just glad to be back playing out playing again."

Joe Root recalled Jofra Archer and James Anderson to an England team a batsman light due to Ben Stokes' injury concerns.

England face West Indies in the third and final Test at Old Trafford on Friday needing to win to regain the Wisden Trophy.

As for the second match, Root has altered his attack, although Mark Wood again misses out.

Archer - unable to play last time out after breaching biosecurity protocols - and Anderson are back, meaning Sam Curran makes way.

But with Stokes managing an injury, number three Zak Crawley has also dropped out to get the extra bowler in, seeing the rest of the order shift up.

That batting order was swiftly tested after Windies captain Jason Holder won the toss and, as in the previous match, opted to bowl first.

"We've balanced the side out as best we can and I actually feel like we've got a very good, well balanced team. I'm not worried about that at all," Root said, before quickly finding himself in the middle when Kemar Roach dismissed Dom Sibley lbw for a duck in the first over.

Of Archer's return, the captain added: "Jofra's ready to play. Over the last couple of days, he's got his smile back and bowled with real pace in the nets.

"He knows he's got the full support of the dressing room and the guys around him. We're really looking forward to him getting back out there and showing everyone how talented he is."

On the possibilty of Stokes bowling, Root said: "We'll have to see how things go. We can monitor that as the game progresses. But we have to make sure we look after him as best as possible."

Stokes - now the ICC's top-ranked all-rounder - revealed he had "been better" and was still unsure of the nature of the injury.

He said: "It's going to be a day by day thing. I was a little bit worried I wouldn't be able to offer everything I could with the ball, especially in the first innings."

The Windies have also made a change, meanwhile, bringing in spinner Rahkeem Cornwall for Alzarri Joseph in a match they need only to draw to retain the trophy.

Rain is forecast on four days in Manchester.

Joe Root admits it will be a major test of his captaincy to rein in Ben Stokes and ensure England do not place too great a burden on their talisman.

England are toying with deploying Stokes as a specialist batsman and taking bowling responsibilities off the Durham all-rounder for the series decider against West Indies.

The third Test gets under way on Friday at Old Trafford, the same venue where Stokes' brilliance paved the way for England's 113-run victory in the second match of the series.

Stokes is carrying a niggle that England would hate to become anything more serious, but Root knows just how difficult it will be to prise away any responsibility from the 29-year-old, who scored 254 runs in the previous contest and took three wickets.

"He wants to affect the game. That's the beauty of him," Root said. "He's desperate to be the man to turn things around and to win you the game."

Stokes has the ability to decide matches with bat or ball, but England have a lot of cricket to come in the weeks and months ahead, which is why Root is determined to at least not over-stretch him.

"There were a few occasions where I did check in with him first and second innings [in the second Test] and I said 'I think that’s enough' and he wanted one more [over]," Root said.

"He has matured as a player now and you sometimes have to put trust in a player to tell you when enough's enough.

"I feel like he's in a place where he can do that. That's the sort of commitment that you want to see from senior players and it feeds down into the rest of the group.

"He's definitely okay to play as a batsman. It's just how much of an impact he can have with the ball.

"We want to make sure we get the best out of Ben and I'm sure he wants to ride a wave.

"And it must be quite difficult when you're playing as well as he is to maybe have to rein it back in now and again. It is important that he's looked after."

Should Stokes let others take the bowling strain, it will mean England either going in with one fewer bowling option, or sacrificing a batsman to bring in another seamer.

They have abundant options, with Jofra Archer, James Anderson and Mark Wood vying for places with the pace attack from the second Test: Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran.

Root knows he cannot pick all six, and culling players could be particularly tough, given how close the skipper is to some members of the squad.

"It shouldn't come down to them being your mate or not," Root said. "If guys are upset and annoyed about it, that shows that they care and if they're annoyed with me for a few days then I have to deal with that."

Archer's inclusion in the 14-man squad reflects an eagerness to get back on the field, having been sidelined for the second Test after breaching strict protocol rules between the first Test in Southampton and England's current residency in Manchester by briefly returning to his Hove flat.

Root condemned as "disgusting" the social media abuse that Archer has faced recently, and stressed the Sussex quick has his full backing.

"I've had some good conversations with Jofra. It is important he's in a mentally good enough place to play the game," Root said. "We're all here to support him. I'm very excited to see him smiling and enjoying his cricket."

While understandable attention surrounds Archer, it could yet come down to the tried and tested partnership of Anderson and Broad opening the bowling for England.

"It's exciting to know there's pretty much 1,000 wickets between them and they could be leading the attack," Root said. "They're two of our best cricketers of all time and I feel they've got a lot left in both of them."

Ben Stokes could be forced out of England's bowling plans for the third Test against West Indies but Jofra Archer is delivering the ball "at the speed of light".

That was the verdict of captain Joe Root on Thursday as he readied the home team for the series decider at Old Trafford.

Talisman Stokes bowled 27.4 overs across two innings in the second Test, picking up three valuable wickets, as well as making 176 and 78 not out with the bat.

But England are determined to protect their star all-rounder and that may means he is selected as a specialist batsman on Friday morning.

"We'll have to be really clear on where Ben's at - he's still feeling it a little bit on his quad, so we're making sure he's fit to bowl and if not that might change how we go with things slightly," Root said.

"He pretty much spent the whole time on the field [in the second Test]. It was a long old game for him, but it does take a lot to keep him down and to take him out of the action.

"We'll see how he is in the morning and if you look at the squad of players we've got, we've got plenty of brilliant options.

"I feel like whatever combination we decide to go with will definitely be worthy of taking 20 wickets."

Quicks Jofra Archer, James Anderson and Mark Wood come back into the picture for the third Test, providing competition for Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad and Sam Curran in a 14-man squad.

Root explained Archer is raring to go and said the recent online racist abuse suffered by the Sussex paceman had been "disgusting".

Archer, who missed the second Test after breaching strict protocols on the team's bio-secure environment, said in a newspaper column he reported the racist abuse to the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Root said: "He's got his smile back. He's been bowling at the speed of light.

"It was disgusting to see some of the stuff he's had to put up with over the last week. As a squad we've tried to get round him and let him know we're all there for him.

"No-one should have to go through anything like that. There's no other word other than disgusting really."

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has reported racist abuse received by Jofra Archer on social media.

Archer was forced to sit out England's series-tying victory over West Indies in the second Test at Old Trafford after breaking COVID-19 protocols.

The fast bowler made an unauthorised trip to his Brighton home en route from Southampton – where the Windies took a 1-0 lead in the series – to Manchester last week.

After accepting a fine, understood to be in the region of his £15,000 match fee, and a written warning, Archer is available to take part in the series decider that begins on Friday.

In a column for the Daily Mail, the 25-year-old said he had endured an "extremely tough" week in relation to the fallout from actions that forced him to spend five days in isolation in a hotel room – a situation compounded by sickening online abuse.

"Some of the abuse I have taken over the past few days on Instagram has been racist and I have decided that enough is enough," Archer said.

"Since Wilfried Zaha, the Crystal Palace footballer, was abused by a 12-year-old online I drew a line and I will not allow anything to pass, so I have forwarded on my complaints to the ECB and that will go through the correct process."

A statement released by the ECB on Wednesday read: “The racist message was brought to our attention by Jofra Archer last week.

"We are supporting him and we have reported the message through the appropriate channels and authorities."

Archer thanked England captain Joe Root and vice-captain Ben Stokes for supporting him following his indiscretion but conceded he was unsure whether he would be mentally ready to compete in the third Test.

"I found I was struggling for motivation in the circumstances when it came to returning to bowling in the nets," he said.

"I spoke briefly to the doctor about how I'm feeling and also to Ben Stokes on Monday night.

"Ben tried to advise me on how to deal with being in the spotlight of international sport. He vowed to back me and support me.

"Now, I need to be 100 per cent mentally right so that I can throw myself into my cricket this week.

"There is a series to win, and after the win in the second match it's there for the taking. We have got amazing depth in the squad, especially now no one is injured, so many options and therefore to do justice to myself and the rest of my team-mates I have to be ready when called upon.

"I give 100 per cent every time I go out there and I don't want to go out on the field unless I can guarantee doing that."

Archer has taken 33 wickets at an average of 28.12 in eight Tests, including three five-wicket hauls. Since making his international debut last year, he has claimed 58 wickets in all formats.

Last November, he was racially abused by a spectator when England played New Zealand in Mount Maunganui. A 28-year-old man who admitted to the offence was banned from attending international and domestic cricket matches in New Zealand for two years.

Throughout the three-Test series, which is being played behind closed doors, England and West Indies players are wearing the "Black Lives Matter" logo on their kits.

Page 1 of 4
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.