Quade Cooper made a sensational match-winning return as Australia got up and running in the Rugby Championship with a last-gasp 28-26 victory over South Africa on Sunday. 

Following back-to-back defeats to New Zealand to start the competition, veteran fly-half Cooper was named in the starting line-up for the visit of the world champions – his first international appearance since June 2017. 

The 33-year-old's kicking was exemplary, slotting through a seventh penalty and eighth successful kick of the game from 40 metres with the clock in the red to snatch the win at the death. 

Handre Pollard and Cooper scored two penalties apiece before Siya Kolisi's yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Tom Banks was pounced upon by Australia.

Samu Kerevi's excellent pass released Andrew Kellaway, who cut in off the right wing and dived in behind the posts. 

The Springboks responded well and Bongi Mbonambi powered over from the back of a driving maul after Matt Philip was sent to the sin bin for repeated ruck infringements, but the Wallabies still took an eight-point lead into the break. 

Willie Le Roux was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on in the 52nd minute and he was joined in the bin by Folau Fainga'a before replacement hooker Malcolm Marx touched down in the middle of another driving maul. 

Marx did likewise in the 72nd minute for his second try to put the Springboks in front, but Damian Willemse made a costly miss when attempting to convert from the tee. 

And after South Africa conceded a penalty at the death for not releasing on the ground, Cooper made them pay with a winning kick. 

Quade a display

He may have made 70 previous appearances for the Wallabies, but Cooper only scored 10 points or more in six of those matches. His 23 points against South Africa was consequently his best display for his country.

Hooper at the heart

Cooper may have taken the headlines, but Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper was formidable in the pack. He made two of his team's three clean breaks and did not miss any of his eight tackles.

Australia are looking for a lift and have turned to Quade Cooper to provide guile from number 10 against South Africa as the Rugby Championship resumes.

Three weeks on from the second round of games, Australia and the Springboks go head to head, and New Zealand tackle Argentina, with both games being played on Sunday at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.

The Wallabies took a Bledisloe Cup drubbing at the hands of the All Blacks, losing all three games in that series, with two of those forming part of this tournament, so they are looking for a spark and will hope Cooper, making his first international appearance in over four years, can provide that.

The 33-year-old last featured, briefly, against Italy in June 2017 and now plays for Japanese team Kintetsu Liners.

His career looked to be in steep decline at one point, as Cooper lost his place in not only the Australia squad during Michael Cheika's reign as coach, but also fell out of favour with the Queensland Reds.

Now he is set for a 71st Test appearance, having been originally beckoned into Dave Rennie's squad as a training player.

South Africa make seven changes to their starting XV for the match, with number eight Duane Vermeulen selected to make his first appearance for the Boks since the 2019 World Cup final after recovering from ankle surgery.

There are changes afoot for New Zealand too, with lock Brodie Retallick named captain for the clash with Argentina as Ardie Savea sits the game out after taking a knock to the head last week.

Ahead of the crunch double-header, the third of six rounds of games in the championship, Stats Perform looks at the key Opta facts.

NEW ZEALAND v ARGENTINA

Form

The All Blacks are inevitably on a high after crushing the Bledisloe Cup aspirations of their trans-Tasman rivals and duly making a strong start to the championship. They have full-back Jordie Barrett available despite his red card against Australia last time out after the punishment was rescinded on appeal in midweek.

New Zealand have won their last seven men's Tests on the bounce by an average margin of 40 points per game. The last time they won more in succession was a nine-game streak from November 2017 to September 2018 which included a 46-24 win over Argentina.

They have not always had it easy against the South American powerhouses, though. Their clashes in last year's Tri-Nations were memorable, with Argentina scoring a stunning 25-15 win over the All Blacks on November 14, 2020, only to then lose 38-0 when they met again a fortnight later. New Zealand have won 29 of their 31 Tests against Argentina (D1, L1).

New Zealand have had just 12 minutes and 53 seconds of possession per game in this year's Rugby Championship, the lowest of any team in the competition. Despite this, they lead the competition in metres gained (615), clean breaks (15), and points scored (48) per game.

Argentina's two defeats to South Africa in the opening two rounds suggest they might find the going tough this weekend.

Ones to watch

Blindside flanker Akira Ioane has crossed the gainline on 17 of his 18 gainline carries for New Zealand in the competition so far. His 94 per cent rate is the highest of any player to have made at least 10 gainline carries in this tournament.

Retallick will carry the responsibility of leadership after he was favoured ahead of Beauden Barrett who, at fly-half, was judged to have enough going on without having to issue orders.

Coach Ian Foster said of Retallick, who has returned to Test action this year after a spell in Japan: "He's back, he's confident, he's got the smile on his face, and that's part of the biggest thing with Brodie. When he's settled and he loves the environment, then he can go out and express himself.

"And I don't want a lot to change with that captaincy band. It's one of the challenges of giving it to someone like Brodie, do you force him into someone that he's not? But I'm really comfortable. He knows his role, he's clear and the boys certainly want to follow him."

Discipline will be important for both sides, with Argentina having received six yellow cards and one red card in their last six men's Tests, including two yellow cards against the Boks last time out. They had received only one yellow card and one red card in their previous 25 Tests.

SOUTH AFRICA v AUSTRALIA

Form

After the tussle between the All Blacks and Pumas, perhaps this can be considered the headline match of the weekend, an embattled Australia facing World Cup winners who are aiming for a statement victory.

For COVID-19 reasons, Queensland is staging the remainder of this tournament, and Australia coach Rennie will look for a response from his players to their sequence of losses.

The three-in-a-row streak is a concern, and the last time the Wallabies lost more in succession was a four-game stretch from June to August in 2018. They lost twice to Ireland and twice to New Zealand before ending that losing run with a 23-18 success against South Africa.

Australia have won 19 of their last 24 men's Tests at home against South Africa, logging just three defeats in that span (D2). They are undefeated in their last five such fixtures (W4, D1), yet each of those games has featured a margin of fewer than seven points on the day.

It could be tight again, with South Africa having won 15 of their 18 Tests since the beginning of 2019. They have won their last four on the bounce, and their 83 per cent win rate since the beginning of 2019 is the best of any top-tier team in that time.

South Africa defeated Argentina 29-10 in the second round, while Australia went down 38-21 to New Zealand in Perth.

The Springboks have missed the fewest tackles per game (16) so far in the championship and have the highest tackle success rate (89 per cent) of any team. Australia’s tackle success rate of 82 per cent is the lowest of the four sides, but the context is that they were facing the All Blacks.

South Africa have created 20 mauls throughout this tournament, which is twice as many as any other team and five times as many as Australia (4); the Springboks have gained 56 metres and scored one try from those mauls.

Ones to watch

Australia scrum-half Tate McDermott has beaten nine defenders in this year's Rugby Championship, the second-most of any player (Akira Ioane – 12). He beat seven defenders against the All Blacks in the last round, and only twice in the last decade has any scrum-half from a tier one nation made more (Antoine Dupont 9, Francois Hougaard 8).

He therefore has a pivotal role to play, and how he combines with Cooper will be keenly observed.

Rennie said he was "thrilled" to be able to be giving Cooper another chance to show his quality at this level, and it remains to be seen whether this is a one-off comeback or something that might have longer-term legs.

Michael Hooper will match George Gregan's record of 59 matches as captain of Australia as he wins a 112th cap, and there are other landmarks set to arise. Reece Hodge, who starts on the bench, and Allan Alaalatoa will each win 50th caps.

Rennie described the match as "a huge occasion" for Hooper, hailing his longevity as "testament to his leadership and resilience".

Boks coach Jacques Nienaber said of the occasion: "Australia pose a strong threat with their running rugby and they like to keep the ball in play. They will also be playing in front of a charged-up home crowd, so it will be good to have these experienced players back as they know what it takes to perform in big matches."

South Africa have won their last two Tests on the bounce against Australia, as many as they had won in their eight encounters prior (D2, L4). The last time they won more successive games against the Wallabies was a three-game winning stretch from September 2012 to September 2013.

South Africa put the disappointment of losing the ODI series behind them as they eased to a 28-run victory over Sri Lanka in the opening T20I on Friday.

Led by Aiden Markram's excellent 48 from 33 balls, the Proteas were on dominant form in Colombo, successfully defending their 163-5 total.

Making his T20I debut, South Africa captain Keshav Maharaj won the toss and chose to bat, with his openers swiftly proving that decision correct.

Quinton de Kock (36) set the tone with a boundary off the second ball and Reeza Hendricks soon skittled off 12 runs in the space of three deliveries to get South Africa up and running.

Both openers had moved into the 30s by the ninth over, though De Kock was the first to fall when he sliced a sweep to deep midwicket.

Wanindu Hasaranga picked up his and Sri Lanka's second wicket in his next over, dismissing Hendricks for 38, but Markram – with support from David Miller (26) – put South Africa back on the front foot.

Markram fell just short of a half-century in the penultimate over, though the damage was done as South Africa set a challenging target of 164.

Sri Lanka started their chase confidently, and had 34 runs in the bank by the time Avishka Fernando succumbed in the sixth over.

Yet Maharaj's first ball in a T20I brought up the Proteas' second wicket – Bhanuka Rajapaksa going for a duck – and the hosts failed to keep up the run rate.

That was despite the best efforts of Dinesh Chandimal, who top-scored with 66 not out, but Chamika Karunaratne (22no) was his only team-mate to make it above 20 as Sri Lanka were limited to 135-6.

Memorable debut for Maharaj

Installed as captain on his maiden T20I appearance, the spinner took a wicket with his very first ball, after South Africa's batsmen had shown just why the 31-year-old was right to bat first.

Maharaj has plenty of international experience, with 36 Tests and 14 ODIs under his belt, and in total he has now taken 149 wickets for his country.

Chandimal cannot carry Sri Lanka

It was a valiant effort from Chandimal, whose unbeaten 66 included five fours and two sixes. However, he did not have the necessary support from the rest of Sri Lanka's batsmen, with two going for ducks and Dhananjaya de Silva only scoring one.

Chandimal did bring up his highest score in his T20I career, though, with the wicketkeeper's previous best having been 58, a score he made twice in 2016, against Pakistan and Australia.

Quade Cooper will make a remarkable return for the Wallabies after being named to play for the first time since 2017 when Australia face South Africa on Sunday.

Cooper had been part of Australia's squad for the Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand, but was not used in any of the three Tests which the All Blacks comfortably won.

Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has rolled the dice for the Rugby Championship showdown against South Africa on the Gold Coast, with 33-year-old Cooper named at fly-half, displacing 21-year-old Noah Lolesio.

Cooper's career has taken several turns since his last cap in 2017 against Italy, frozen out at Brad Thorn's Reds in Super Rugby, before a one-year stint at the Rebels and a move to play in Japan in 2019.

"He's had a really positive impact since joining the group, put pressure on us as selectors and he's excited to get out there and perform on Sunday night," Rennie said.

Angus Bell will earn his first start in the front-row, while Izack Rodda also comes into the starting line-up, with the backline unchanged.

Wallabies hooker Feleti Kaitu'u and back-rower Rob Leota are in line for debuts off the bench.

The match will see Australia captain Michael Hooper equal George Gregan's record for most Tests as Wallabies skipper when he steps out for the 59th time.

Meanwhile, Brodie Retallick has been named as captain for New Zealand after a head knock to Ardie Savea ahead of their Test against Argentina on Sunday.

Hooker Asafo Aumua will make his first Test start for the All Blacks, while prop Joe Moody returns following foot surgery via the bench.

"Brodie is a great leader in this team and we don't take his leadership for granted," said All Blacks coach Ian Foster. "We think this is a great honour for him, and he and his family can be hugely proud. 

"He's playing really well and leads from the front. He has come back into the black jersey this year and just picked up where he left off.

"He also has an experienced partner in Beaudy [Barrett] alongside him who is bringing a calmness to the team and a sense of direction and we’re seeing that in the way he plays."

 

Australia: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Tate McDermott; Angus Bell, Folau Fainga'a, Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Matt Philip, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Hooper, Rob Valetini.
Replacements: Feleti Kaitu'u, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, George Bridge, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Karl Tu'inukuafe, Asafo Aumua, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Luke Jacobson.
Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Joe Moody, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa'I, Ethan Blackadder, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Rieko Ioane.

South Africa are confident Keshav Maharaj can provide inspiring stand-in leadership as the spinner marks his T20I debut by captaining the Proteas against Sri Lanka.

Almost five years have passed since Maharaj made his Test bow against Australia, while his first ODI appearance came in 2017 on the tour of England.

It is high time 31-year-old Maharaj was seen in the shortest format, and he enters with the added responsibility of leading the team, having also skippered the tourists in the second and third ODIs against Sri Lanka.

With regular captain Temba Bavuma sidelined by a fractured thumb, Maharaj, who was named ahead of George Linde in South Africa's T20 World Cup squad on Thursday, gets his chance to show what he can do in the quick-fire game.

South Africa sealed a 3-2 T20I series win over West Indies in July, and they sit fifth in the ICC team rankings, four places above the Sri Lanka side they will face in three matches, to be played in Colombo on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday.

Having lost 2-1 to Sri Lanka in the ODIs, South Africa are seeking succour. Convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang described Maharaj on Thursday as "an excellent leader", whose "exemplary captaincy" can be a steadying short-term influence.

Speaking this week, Maharaj said of his temporary new duty: "It was overwhelming at the start. I was actually nervous before I got to the field in my first game but I really enjoyed being the captain of the national team.

"Unfortunately I could not help the team cross the line in the third and final match [in the ODIs] but I thoroughly enjoyed the captaincy."

He added, according to Times Live: "I feel captaincy gives me a bit of responsibility, it keeps me calmer and it gives me a different outlook of the game."

The T20 World Cup will take place in Oman and the United Arab Emirates, and by edging cup holders West Indies in the run-up, South Africa believe they are in good shape.

That view could be coloured by what happens in the coming days, but batsman David Miller sees things from a positive perspective.

Miller said, quoted on iol.co.za, "What we've been through in the last couple of months, I believe, has been a huge stepping stone in our T20 campaign. We took a lot of confidence from beating the West Indies.

"We still need to work out different combinations. In T20 you need to be flexible. That is something that we will get right. There have been areas in the last few months in the fielding department where we can certainly improve. We are aware of it."

 

HASARANGA TEST FOR PROTEAS

Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga marked his 24th birthday in grand style on his last T20I appearance, taking staggering figures of 4-9 against India in Colombo on July 20 to set up his team for a series-winning victory. It is clear he represents a big threat to South Africa, with his strike rate in T20I power play this year standing at six, the best rate among all bowlers to have a delivered a minimum of 20 balls.

Sri Lanka were beaten 3-0 by the Proteas the last time these teams met in a T20I series. That was in South Africa in March 2019, with the hosts winning the opening match on a one-over eliminator after the contest finished tied.

TOURISTS WELCOME BACK RESTED STARS

South Africa allowed Quinton de Kock, Miller and Lungi Ngidi to sit out the ODI series. De Kock and Miller return for the upcoming three games, crunch match practice now the World Cup countdown is on.

De Kock needs just two more dismissals to record the second most by a wicketkeeper in men's T20I matches. He currently has 62 dismissals and only has MS Dhoni (91) and Denesh Ramdin (63) above him.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Sri Lanka have won their last two men’s T20I matches at home, the last time they registered more consecutive wins in this format at home was in 2012 (4 matches).

– South Africa have won their last four men's T20I matches on the road. The last time they registered more such wins in a row was in 2009 (5 matches).

– Sri Lanka have a chance to register a hat-trick of men’s T20I wins for the first time at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. They won their last two matches at this venue against India (July 28 and 29). They have one win and a loss against South Africa at this venue.

– Sri Lanka have a batting strike rate of 114 in men’s T20I since the beginning of 2020, the poorest among all Test-playing nations in this format; South Africa have a strike rate of 142, the fourth best during this period.

– South Africa have a catch success percentage of 75 per cent in men’s T20I since the beginning of 2020, the poorest rate among Test playing nations. They have dropped 35 of the 140 chances presented to them.

Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir and Chris Morris have all missed out on selection for South Africa's preliminary T20 World Cup squad but Keshav Maharaj is included despite having yet to make his international debut in the shortest format.

Du Plessis had retired from all other forms of cricket, with an eye on the World Cup, while all-rounder Morris also misses out on a squad where Temba Bavuma has been named captain.

World number-one ranked T20I bowler Tabraiz Shamsi, who has taken 24 wickets at an average of 12.2 in 2021, will operate as the main leg-spinner with veteran Tahir, who last appeared for his country in 2019, left out.

While the Proteas opted to leave out the experienced trio, they will have the likes of Quinton de Kock, David Miller and Aiden Markram to call upon, with Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje the standout pace options.

And Victor Mpitsang, South Africa's convenor of selectors, feels the 15-man squad could challenge in October after crashing out in the group stages of the last T20 World Cup in 2016.

"There is no better time than now for us to bring home the trophy and bring the nation together in a way that only sport can," said Mpitsang. 

"We hope that South Africans will rally behind this team and cheer them all the way to the final."

Maharaj is perhaps the surprise inclusion having never played a T20I and only featuring 14 times in 50-over cricket, taking 19 wickets.

The left-arm off-spinner will captain in the absence of the injured Bavuma as the Proteas face Sri Lanka in a three-match T20I series starting on Friday, a decision supported by Mpitsang.

"Kesh [Maharaj] is an excellent leader," said Mpitsang. "He has the backing of the team and us as a panel. 

"He has more than proven his leadership skills in the Dolphins set up and reinforced our good decision during the ODI series against Sri Lanka which ended on Tuesday.

"His exemplary captaincy is what we believe is in the best interests of the team’s stability during this last international series that the team gets to play ahead of the World Cup."

South Africa start their World Cup campaign against Australia on October 23 before facing West Indies three days later.
 

South Africa squad: Temba Bavuma (c), Keshav Maharaj, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen

Reserves: George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lizaad Williams.

Lizelle Lee produced another match-winning performance as South Africa Women earned a comfortable victory in the opening match of the CG Insurance One-Day International Series. The powerful opener top-scored with a purposeful 91 not out as the Proteas easily reached 157-2 off 39.3 overs. This was in reply to West Indies 153 off 46.4 overs.

Lee’s innings earned her the CG Insurance Player of the Match award following up on her CG Insurance Player of the Series award in the recent T20 Internationals. The experienced opener made her 21st half-century at this level and laid the perfect platform for the run-chase as she faced 127 balls and hit 10 fours and a six. She added 88 in 22 overs with Laura Wolvaardt who again looked in good touch before she was bowled by Anisa Mohammed for 35, which came off 65 deliveries.

The West Indies had one other success when Sune Luus was trapped leg-before wicket to left-arm spinner Qiana Joseph without scoring.

In the first half of the match, West Indies found the going challenging. Left-hander Kycia Knight top-scored with 39 off 78 balls, but was run out by a superb throw from Mignon duPreez at deep square leg.

Deandra Dottin, looked set for a significant score as she raced to 38 off 36 balls, but was well caught at long-off by duPreez, which gave leg-spinner Dane van Niekerk her first wicket. The South Africa skipper ended with 2-23 off her 10 overs to put pressure on the West Indies middle and lower order.

 The two teams will return to the same venue on Friday for the second match of the five-match rubber. First ball is 10 am (9 am Jamaica Time).

Debutant Maheesh Theekshana produced a stunning performance with the ball to inspire Sri Lanka to a series-clinching ODI win over South Africa.

An unconvincing batting display saw Sri Lanka post a slightly disappointing total of 203-9 after the hosts won the toss for the third and final match.

However, that modest target proved well beyond the tourists, who were undone by Theekshana's off-spin in an innings interrupted by rain.

Theekshana took 4-37 as the Proteas were skittled for 125, ensuring Sri Lanka secured a 78-run victory in style.

Charith Asalanka, the top run-scorer in the series, was the sole Sri Lanka player to excel with the bat, scoring 47 off 71 deliveries.

Dhananjaya de Silva (31) did threaten to post a big score yet he failed to build on his encouraging start and Dushmantha Chameera added a quick 29 off 39 balls.

But the success of the South Africa spinners, with captain Keshav Maharaj taking 3-38 and George Linde (2-32) and Tabraiz Shamsi (2-31) also excelling, provided clear encouragement for Theekshana and the Sri Lanka attack.

They wasted no time in making inroads, reducing South Africa to 19-3 inside five overs. Janneman Malan (18) and Heinrich Klaasen (22) steadied the ship with a stand of 36 but Theekshana got Malan caught in the slips and then trapped Klaasen lbw either side of Wiaan Mulder (2) being bowled by Wanindu Hasaranga (2-32).

Linde (18) and Andile Phehlukwayo (17) mounted something of a recovery from 54-6, but it did not last, and it was Theekshana who had the final say when he drew an edge from Maharaj.

Theek tough

The selection of Theekshana proved inspirational and captain Dasun Shanaka heaped praise on the 21-year-old at the post-match presentation.

"Theekshana was our trump card," said the skipper. "He's more of a T20 bowler but I used him wisely in this match. He's a real prospect going forward."

Chameera's all-round impact

Theekshana, however, was not the man of the match. That honour went to Chameera, who along with Klaasen struck the most fours in a low-scoring contest, finding the rope three times.

He followed up his effort with the bat by taking 2-16, with the early dismissals of Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen putting South Africa in a hole they never looked like escaping.

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).

 

South Africa one-day captain Temba Bavuma has been ruled out for the remainder of the Proteas' ODI series in Sri Lanka with a fractured thumb.

The skipper suffered the freak injury during Wednesday's first ODI that, inspired by centurion Avishka Fernando, the hosts won by 14 runs.

Bavuma was inadvertently struck from a fielder's throw-in during the 26th over at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium.

Persistent discomfort saw him retire hurt two overs later, with scans later revealing a fracture.

Bavuma will return to South Africa for further treatment, from which his recovery time will be determined.

Keshav Maharaj will deputise as captain for the second ODI of the three-match series on Saturday.

 

Avishka Fernando's third ODI century set Sri Lanka on course for a 14-run win in the opener of their three-match series against South Africa.

The Proteas were always fighting a losing battle in Colombo after allowing Sri Lanka to make 300-9 – their highest total in 50-over cricket in 2021.

Avishka (118) was the star with the bat, putting on 79 in a partnership with Dhananjaya de Silva (44) that was disrupted briefly by a rain delay, with better to come as he was joined in the middle by Charith Asalanka (72).

That stand of 97 for the fourth wicket put Sri Lanka in command, as a bowling attack led by Kagiso Rabada (2-66) struggled to keep them in check.

South Africa were no more than steady in reply and keenly felt the dismissal of Aiden Markram to an outstanding Wanindu Hasaranga catch after 96 runs, including four sixes.

Captain Temba Bavuma had already retired hurt after taking a blow to his hand, and Rassie van der Dussen's departure preceded some superb death bowling to see Sri Lanka comfortably over the line – the Proteas short of their target on 286-6.

Profitable partnership

With the exception of Keshav Maharaj, who gave up 30 runs in 10 overs for his most economical ODI return, South Africa's bowlers were really poor. But Avishka and Asalanka still had to capitalise and did exactly that with a vital partnership that scored at 8.19 an over.

Denied at the death

South Africa required 41 off 25 when Van der Dussen departed, yet they mustered only two more boundaries – both fours from Rabada in the final over when the chase was up. Hasaranga started well and finished strongly, too, slowing Heinrich Klaasen in giving up just three from the 47th over.

England captain Joe Root has regained top spot in the ICC men's Test batting rankings following his impressive displays in the ongoing series with India.

The 30-year-old has recorded centuries in all three Tests, which is tied at 1-1 ahead of the fourth match at The Oval this week, aggregating 507 runs at an average of 126.75.

Root was fifth on the list at the start of the series but his form throughout 2021 has seen him overtake Virat Kohli, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and previous number one Kane Williamson to lead the way for the first time since December 2015.

Kohli has slipped out of the top five, with Rohit Sharma overtaking his team-mate with his highest ever position.

The 916 ranking points accrued by Root is one below his career-best aggregate from August 2015 and has been bettered by only four other England batsmen – Len Hutton, Jack Hobbs, Peter May and Denis Compton

"Obviously it's a nice thing to hear," Root said. "I've got to keep trying to score in this series and get us over the line.

"As nice as it is, there is still so much hard work to do. Our focus does not change. I'm obviously proud to have achieved this and I'd like to stay there now by playing like I am.

"Hopefully the form of my life is still to come, but I do feel very good at the minute. I've got to stay focused now."

In bowling terms, Root's England team-mate James Anderson has moved back up to number five in a list led by Australia's Pat Cummins.

England levelled their five-match series with India thanks to an innings victory in the third Test at Headingley last week.

All-rounder Moeen Ali has been confirmed as England's vice-captain for the fourth Test after Jos Buttler was given a paternity break ahead of the arrival of his second child.
 

Heavy rains forced the abandonment of the first CG Insurance T20 International between the West Indies Women and South Africa Women at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

Batting first Marizanne Kapp top-scored with 36 as the visitors put 135 for three on the board.  In pursuit, the Windies Women were off to a tough start, after losing Deandra Dottin to injury and Hayley Matthews for 8 before the rain intervened.  Despite not playing the full encounter West Indies stand-in captain Anisa Mohammed took positives from the encounter.

"I’m really happy with the way the girls bowled today. I think we had them good up until the 18th over but with wickets in hand, we expected them to come hard at us. Having said that I still believe that 135 was a good total for us to chase unfortunately the rain had other plans. We now have a day to refocus and fine-tune carrying through the consistency until the end of 20 overs,” Mohammed told CWI Media.

The second and third CG Insurance T20Is take place at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground on Thursday, September 02, and Saturday, September 04 respectively. The five CG Insurance ODIs will be played from September 7 to 19, with the first three matches being played at the Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG) and the last two at the SVRCG.

South Africa pace bowling legend Dale Steyn has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.

The 38-year-old took 439 wickets across 93 Tests to become South Africa's all-time leading wicket-taker in the longest format, adding a further 260 dismissals across 172 limited-over international fixtures.

His returns in Test cricket ranks him eighth for all-time dismissals and his strike rate of 42.3 is the best of any player to take 250 wickets, though he did announce his retirement from red-ball internationals in 2019.

However, Steyn continued to operate as a white-ball specialist and, despite missing out on a central contract with South Africa, wanted to play in the T20 World Cup before the coronavirus-enforced delay.

He may have been considered an outsider for the rearranged T20 World Cup this year but he will not feature for South Africa again after taking to social media to announce his retirement.

"It’s been 20 years of training, matches, travel, people, wins, losses, strapped feet, jet lag, joy, and brotherhood," Steyn wrote on Tuesday as he prefixed his post with lyrics from the Counting Crows.

"There are too many memories to tell. Too many faces to thank. So I left it to the experts to sum up, my favourite band, the Counting Crows.

"Today I officially retire from the game I love the most. Bitter sweet but grateful.

"Thank you to everyone, from family to teammates, journalists to fans, it’s been an incredible journey together."

Steyn has not featured in franchise T20 cricket since March in the Pakistan Super League, though he remains one of the pioneers of the shortest format.

The South Africa bowler appeared in leagues across England, Pakistan, India, the West Indias, Sri Lanka and Australia, but pulled out of this year's Indian Premier League, insisting he was not retiring.

However, with Tuesday's announcement, an international in February 2020 and his final franchise appearance in March prove to be his last.

Former team-mate and fellow South Africa legend, AB de Villiers quickly responded to Steyn's post, adding: "Great player, great man, amazing memories! You picked a good song to sign off my bud. Legend forever!"

Coming off a successful series against Pakistan, West Indies Women Head Coach Courtney Walsh is expecting greater levels of consistency from his players when they take on South Africa in the first of three T20 Internationals in Antigua on Tuesday.

During the series that the West Indies won 3-2 over Pakistan, the Caribbean women benefitted from players like Kyshona Knight and Britney Cooper stepped up with the bat to support Captain Stafanie Taylor and Hayley Matthews, especially in light of Deandra Dottin’s poor form.

On the eve of the series against South Africa, Walsh says he expects even better performances from his players against a tough South African contingent.

“We are looking to execute a lot better than we did against Pakistan. Obviously, South Africa being ranked above us we have to be a lot more consistent than we were against Pakistan, so we will be looking to execute a lot better and improve. We know that they are a decent team and we have to be ready for that,” said Walsh.

He said it was a good sign to see players other than the ‘big three’ step up and wants to see more of that against South Africa.

“That’s the only way we are going to get the team where I think we can compete against the top teams and give ourselves a chance of winning major competitions.

“We have to move away from one or two players consistently getting us out of trouble so it was very good to see all the other players who performed well in the last series and we want that to continue and to try to extend that consistency from them, and once we can complement it with both departments, batting and bowling it will be good for us.

“And then, if we can complete the whole thing when we are in the field it would be excellent. So we just need to keep improving, raising the bar in those areas that we have to. It’s good to see other players putting their hands up and we want to see more of that.”

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