The Windward Islands Volcanoes are firmly in the drivers’ seat at the halfway stage of their 2024 West Indies Championship opening round fixture against the Jamaica Scorpions at Sabina Park in Kingston.

The Volcanoes started day two 157-2 off 41 overs trailing the Scorpions by just two runs and looking to build a substantial first innings lead on Thursday.

The pair at the crease for the Windwards, Johann Jeremiah and Sunil Ambris, carried the score up to 180 in the 52nd over before Ambris was dismissed by Peat Salmon for a 75-ball 45.

The Scorpions then built some much-needed momentum going into the lunch break with the wickets of Jeremiah, Shadrack Descarte and Tevyn Walcott leaving the Volcanoes 219-6 at lunch, leading by 60 runs.

Jeremiah, who entered day two unbeaten on 66, eventually made 80 off 115 balls including 11 fours and a six while Descarte and Walcott made one and 20, respectively.

The post-lunch session, however, was anything but fruitful for the Scorpions as Shamar Springer and Ryan John, the pair who did most of the damage with the ball in the Scorpions first innings, repeated their exploits with the bat.

The pair batted excellently on their way to a 118-run seventh-wicket partnership that killed all the momentum the Scorpions may have built before lunch.

The partnership was finally ended when John went caught off the bowling of Gordon Bryan for 57 to leave the Windwards 328-7 off 97 overs at tea.

His knock lasted 85 balls and included five fours and three sixes.

Shortly after the resumption, Springer was next to fall for a well-compiled 131-ball 71 including seven fours.

Shermon Lewis and Darius Martin fell soon after as the Volcanoes were bowled out for 341 off 105.2 overs, a lead of 182 runs on first innings.

Pacer Gordon Bryan led the way with the ball for the hosts with 4-64 from 23 overs while Peat Salmon took 3-78 from 31 overs with his off-spin. Marquino Mindley also chipped in with 2-60 from 22.2 overs.

The Scorpions reply then got off to a less than ideal start as, for the second time in the contest, their top three failed to significantly contribute.

Carlos Brown and Kirk McKenzie both fell to Darius Martin in the second over of the innings without troubling the scorers before, seven overs later, the Scorpions were three down with just 34 runs on the board after Chadwick Walton was bowled by Martin for 20.

Nkrumah Bonner and Captain Jermaine Blackwood then tried to lead the Scorpions recovery with a 36-run fourth-wicket partnership before Blackwood went for 16 with just 15 minutes left in the day’s play.

In the end, the Scorpions were 76-4 at stumps, trailing by 106 runs with Nkrumah Bonner on 36 and Gordon Bryan on one.

Darius Martin has taken 3-29 off seven overs for the Volcanoes.

Full Scores: Jamaica Scorpions 159 all out off 41 overs (Romaine Morris 35, Peat Salmon 26, Ryan John 5-43, Shamar Springer 3-53) & 76-4 off 18 overs (Nkrumah Bonner 36*, Chadwick Walton 20, Darius Martin 3-29)

Windward Islands Volcanoes 341 all out off 105.2 overs (Johann Jeremiah 80, Shamar Springer 71, Ryan John 57, Sunil Ambris 45, Gordon Bryan 4-64, Peat Salmon 3-78, Marquino Mindley 2-60)

Yorkshire have confirmed the controversial return of Colin Graves to the board of the club.

The 76-year-old has been appointed as a non-executive director ahead of his election as chair at Friday’s board meeting.

Graves will succeed interim chair, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who will remain on the board as a non-executive director, and the previous chair Harry Chathli.

Yorkshire’s members accepted a loan offer to the debt-ridden club from Graves, who previously served as chairman and helped to save them from financial ruin in 2002.

His comeback is hugely contentious, however, given the racism scandal which has engulfed the club since 2020 took place partially on his watch.

Graves, who has previously apologised for the mistakes of the past, vowed that “lessons have been learned”.

He said: “It is an honour and privilege to be appointed and be back at Yorkshire CCC.

“I will work tirelessly with the board to resolve the financial position in which the club currently finds itself, and to restore financial stability and sustainability to Yorkshire cricket for generations to come.

“Equally, it is my personal pledge to members and to the entire Yorkshire public that, regardless of background, community or ethnicity, all will be welcome in the fully inclusive culture and environment of The Yorkshire County Cricket Club. There will never be any exceptions.

“I have unreservedly apologised for any, and all mistakes either I or the club has made over the painful and difficult years of the recent past.

“Lessons have been learned and will continue to be acted on as we move forward and focus on the future of our great club. Yorkshire CCC will become a sporting institution of which everyone can be proud.”

The racism scandal began when bowler Azeem Rafiq spoke out about the discrimination he faced during his time as a player.

The ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup 2024 final will see Australia facing off against India after the former edged Pakistan in a thrilling contest in Benoni on Thursday.

If India's narrow win over South Africa in the first semi-final was not enough, Benoni bore witness to another nail-biter as Australia beat Pakistan by one wicket to join India in the tournament final.

Reduced to nine wickets with 16 runs still required in a run-chase of 180, Pakistan had one foot in the final. However, Australia's last-wicket pair held their nerve, defying the odds to clinch the match with just five balls remaining, leaving the spectators on the edge of their seats.

The win means that we will have a repeat of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 final with U19 World Cup defending champions India going head to head against Australia.

Australia beat Pakistan by one wicket in Benoni

Pakistan 179 (48.5 overs) beat Australia 181/9 (49.1 overs)

Australia's captain, Hugh Weibgen, won the toss and opted to put Pakistan in to bat in the crucial semi-final match of the 2024 edition of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup, unleashing his pace bowlers on a fresh wicket.

Pakistan's openers, Shamyl Hussain and Shahzaib Khan, started cautiously against the new ball from Mahli Beardman and Callum Vidler. However, the introduction of Tom Straker as the first change bowler brought immediate success for Australia.

In just his second over, Straker claimed the important wicket of Shamyl Hussain, who attempted an ambitious pull shot only to top-edge it to Oliver Peake, taking a fine catch at mid-on. Shortly after, Shahzaib's watchful innings came to an end as he miscued a drive off Vidler to Hugh Weibgen at backward point, who held onto a splendid low catch.

With both openers dismissed within the Powerplay, Australia gained a strong foothold in the semi-final. Saad Baig and Azan Awais looked to rebuild for Pakistan and the former was saved by a dropped chance from Harry Dixon at first slip off Straker.

Baig’s luck didn't last long, though, as Straker had the last laugh in the next over. The seamer found the left-hander’s edge again and this time Dixon hung on to the catch at slip to reduce Pakistan to 43 for three.

After 16 overs dominated by pace, Weibgen introduced spin into the attack. Raf MacMillan responded to his captain's call by dismissing Ahmad Hassan with a well-pitched delivery that trapped him in front of the stumps.

MacMillan came close to claiming another wicket when Haroon Arshad narrowly survived a stumping chance. However, Beardman's return to the attack proved fruitful as he dismissed Arshad with a delivery that skidded off the pitch and disturbed the off-stump.

Arafat Minhas joined Azan Awais, and together they revived Pakistan's innings with a steady partnership. Awais reached his half-century off 83 balls, as the pair steadily increased the scoring rate between overs 31 to 40.

However, Straker ended their partnership by dismissing Awais for 52, caught behind by the wicketkeeper. With Awais departing, Pakistan found themselves in a precarious position at 133 for six, requiring a significant contribution from the lower order.

Minhas carried on unflustered, thumping Vidler off the back foot with a strong pull and bringing out the square cut against the spinner. He reached his half-century off 60 balls, cutting Tom Campbell in front of square for a boundary, but fell next ball when he attempted a loft over cover and sliced it to the deep fielder.

The tailenders couldn’t add too much to the total as Straker ran through them, cleaning up the last two off successive deliveries, to finish with six wickets, as many as he had managed in the entire tournament until today. 

Pakistan finished on 179, needing their bowlers to step up big-time to put them in the finals of the tournament. 

While Harry Dixon and Sam Konstas got Australia off to a slow, steady start, Pakistan made a roaring comeback after the Powerplay overs.

Fifteen-year-old Ali Raza cleaned up Konstas with a delivery that nipped back in sharply to hit the stumps. Weibgen smashed a full toss straight to short cover off Naveed Khan to depart for four and a massive mix-up between Harjas Singh and Dixon saw the end of the former. 

With three wickets falling quickly, Baig turned to strike bowler Ubaid Shah and the move worked. The dangerous Ryan Hicks was bowled off an inside edge for a golden duck as Australia slipped to a tense 59 for four. 

Dixon was joined by the left-handed Ollie Peake, who has had to bat only two times in the competition before this. The two left-handers went about rebuilding the innings as Pakistan looked to attack further. 

Dixon completed his half-century in the 24th over as Peake settled in at the other end. Minhas’ entry into the attack saw the back of Dixon. The left-arm spinner had the well-set Dixon cleaned up for 50 with a delivery that turned massively back into the batter.

Runs dried up as Minhas and Naveed Khan kept things pretty tight. Raza returned to the attack after Naveed was bowled out and almost instantly found a wicket. Tom Campbell’s edge was found but the ball raced over the keeper for a boundary, the first for Australia in nine overs.

Minhas, meanwhile, continued to bowl unchanged from his end and in his eighth over, the left-arm spinner struck again. Campbell was undone by an arm ball that skidded on with the angle and hit the stumps. 

With another threatening stand broken, Pakistan were back into the contest. Australia were still 34 runs away with four wickets left in the bank. Raza found MacMillan’s edge the very next over with the slip fielder diving to take a catch close to the ground. But confirmation for a clean catch wasn't needed as the ball was over waist height and hence a no-ball.

Peake continued to build, unflustered by the chaos around him, but while on 49, he nicked a harmless Raza delivery, going down the leg-side, through to the wicketkeeper to leave Australia in a tricky position. They were still 25 runs away and Pakistan sensed a way back to win the contest.  

Raza added two more in his final over to put Pakistan on the brink of a sensational win, sending back Staker and Beardman to reduce Australia to nine down. 

MacMillan continued to fight though and got a lucky top edge over the keeper's head for four in the 48th over with Australia needing less than 10 runs. 

Ubaid Shah almost trapped the lower-order batsman in front in the following over, but the umpire dismissed the appeal, judging the ball to be sliding down the leg-side. Vidler then played out the remaining deliveries, reducing the equation to just three runs needed off the last over.

In a nerve-wracking climax, on the first ball of the final over, MacMillan, who looked to punch off his back foot, got an inside edge and the ball raced through fine leg, securing Australia's thrilling victory. 

Australia now have the opportunity to replicate the success of their senior team from three months ago when they face India in the final on Sunday, 11 February.

Australia skipper Hugh Weibgen stated that he had full confidence in Vidler and MacMillan to successfully finish the run-chase.

“Never in doubt [win]. We had full faith in Vids [Vidler] and Raf [MacMillan] to get the job done. There was quite a bit of emotion in the dressing room. I was quite tense and excited too. I still don’t know what really happened, but it was awesome.”

Pakistan skipper Saad Baig commended Ali Raza for his splendid spell, but remained composed despite the heartbreaking loss.

“It is difficult to be the losing team, but I felt we were 20-30 runs short. The boys played really well. Ali Raza was brilliant. Our bowling was pretty good throughout the tournament. Anyway, one team has to win, one has to lose, that’s the game.”

 

Jason Mohammed has so far posted the first century of the 2024 West Indies Championship, as Trinidad and Tobago Red Force closed day one in a good position at 215-4 in their opening contest against reigning champions Guyana Harpy Eagles at Conaree Cricket Centre in St Kitts.

Mohammed, who came to the middle with Red Force in a spot of bother, after Ronsford Beaton removed Cephas Cooper (eight) and Jyd Goolie (three), ended Wednesday’s first day unbeaten on 101.

The 37-year-old will resume his innings, which so far includes 11 fours, on Thursday with Vikash Mohan, who was also unbeaten on 20.

Beaton and Veerasammy Permaul, shared the four wickets, as the latter accounted for Amir Jangoo (27) and Tion Webster (49). Beaton so far has 2-39, while Permaul has 2-49.

Scores: Trinidad and Tobago Red Force 215-4 (81.2 overs); Guyana Harpy Eagles (Yet to bat)

Elsewhere, Windward Islands Volcanoes are on course to secure first innings honours over Jamaica Scorpions, as they closed day one on 157-2, after restricting their hosts to 159, at Sabina Park.

Johann Jeremiah, on 66, and Sunil Ambris, on 30, will resume batting for the Volcanoes on Thursday’s second day.

After asking the Scorpions to take first strike, Hurricanes seamers Ryan John and Shamar Springer produced clinical bowling efforts to rip through the opponents’ batting line up. John bagged 5-43 in 13 overs, while Springer had 3-53 in 10 overs, including two maidens.

Only Peat Salmon, with a 30-ball 26, including three fours and a six, and Romaine Morris’s 29-ball 35, including four fours and two sixes, had notable scores in the Scorpions’ sub-par effort.

The Volcanoes response started positively, with Kimani Melius (31) and Jeremy Solozano (26), both getting starts, but were unable to push on. Melius, who had six boundaries in his 32-ball knock, was removed by Abhijai Mansingh, while Salmon accounted for Solozano, who had five boundaries in his knock.

However, that was all the success the Scorpions would taste, as Jeremiah and Ambris took the bowlers to task and saw out the day.

Scores: Jamaica Scorpions 159 all out (41 overs); Windward Islands Volcanoes 157-2 (41 overs)

Meanwhile, no play was possible in the contest between Combined Campuses & Colleges Marooners and Barbados Pride at Chedwin Park, in Jamaica, due to a wet outfield caused by a ruptured water main.

A superb bowling performance by the West Indies Academy has put them in control against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Warner Park in St Kitts on the opening day of the 2024 West Indies Championship.

At stumps, West Indies Academy were 60-2, just 77 runs behind the Hurricanes, who were bundled out for a mere 137 thanks to the brilliant bowling efforts of the Academy’s bowlers.

Jeremiah Louis’ late-innings knock of 45 was the only thing that stood between the Hurricanes and complete humiliation as they were blown away by the bowling of allrounder Joshua James, who took 3-11 and Ashmead Nedd, who two wickets came at a cost of only three runs. Johan Layne weighed in with 2-18.

Nyeem Young was the least efficient of the bowlers conceding 52 runs from his 10 overs during which he took two wickets.

Terance Ward score of 28 and Jahmar Hamilton contribution of 22 were the only other noteworthy efforts in an otherwise woeful batting display from the Hurricanes.

Mbeki Joseph will resume on 30 and Ackeem Auguste 15 when play begins on Thursday.

 

Rehan Ahmed is loving life as Ben Stokes’ leg-spin wildcard, admitting he finds bowling maidens “boring” and may have struggled to find his place in a different era of English cricket.

Ahmed became the country’s youngest ever men’s Test cricketer when he claimed a five-wicket haul on debut in Karachi, but has had to wait almost 14 months for his next opportunity on turning pitches in India.

After playing a supporting role in the opening game at Hyderabad, the 19-year-old enjoyed a more central part in the second Test, claiming three wickets in each innings and volunteering himself for promotion in the batting order as the so-called ‘nighthawk’.

Spurred on by the attacking instincts of captain Stokes, Ahmed has been given full licence to make things happen without worrying about his economy rate and looks well placed to resist England’s historic aversion to wrist-spin.

“I don’t like bowling maidens. I think that’s just boring. I’ll try and change things,” he said, refreshingly honest about his role in the side.

“The leadership and the back-up we have has been very good. They just don’t care about how bad things can go, it’s always about what good you can get out of it.

“If I bowl four bad balls and get a wicket, that’s better than bowling 16 good balls in a row. I think that says more about the team and how comfortable I feel with this team.”

The story of talented English leg-spinners is a brief and largely unhappy one, with the likes of Ian Salisbury, Chris Schofield, Scott Borthwick and Matt Parkinson all failing to turn potential into a long-term place.

But the one that really got away in the Test arena is Adil Rashid: a two-format World Cup winner in white-ball cricket and record T20 wicket-taker, but owner of just 19 red-ball caps and 60 wickets.

He helped mentor Ahmed when he first emerged on the international scene and the pair are still in regular contact.

While fans may wonder how a player like Rashid would have fared under the current regime, Ahmed realises he is lucky to operating in a different environment.

“Rash was in England cricket at a different time to me,” he said.

“The way he grew up and the way he played is how England cricket was then. Leg-spinners were always felt to not be the controlling ones. Obviously he would have wanted to play more Test cricket, but the time he played didn’t allow that.

“He’s had an unbelievable career and had a huge influence on a lot of players where I’m from, he has done so much for me in cricket.

“(But) Rash grew up with more traditional leg-spin. In this new era with attacking, positive mindsets, I think I fit into this team whereas he fit into that team. It’s just two different players at two different times.”

As well as helping Ahmed with his craft, Rashid and Moeen Ali also helped pave the way in making their Muslim faith an everyday part of life in camp.

Ahmed sat out an optional training session ahead of the second Test as he was fasting and earlier excused himself from a team together that clashed with prayers.

“My faith is obviously much more important than cricket, that’s first in my life,” Ahmed said.

“As long as I’m ticking that over properly, I’m fine whatever happens in cricket. I think that’s what helps me be so calm on the field. Stokes is so good with that.

“He messaged me and said ‘come to me whenever you want about this kind of stuff, I understand it fully’ and he’s stuck by his word. Every time I pray, he is so respectful and understanding. Everyone is on this tour.”

One thing that may prove more divisive is Ahmed’s views on the squad’s favourite pastime, which will feature heavily in the coming days as they take a break in Abu Dhabi ahead of the third Test.

He added: “Golf? Nah. I’m not sure how anyone plays that. It’s a shocking sport.”

India batter Virat Kohli has emerged as a major doubt for the remainder of their Test series against England.

Kohli withdrew from the first two Tests citing personal reasons and several Indian media outlets are reporting his absence will extend into at least the next two matches in Rajkot and Ranchi this month.

While there has been no official confirmation about the speculation from the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Kohli could also be unavailable for next month’s fifth and final Test in Dharamshala.

With almost 9,000 Test runs and 29 centuries banked, Kohli, who averages 56.38 on home soil against England, has been a big miss in India’s middle-order in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.

Shreyas Iyer has failed to pass 35 in his four innings but could be given a stay of execution if Kohli, the former India captain, continues to sit out.

It has also been reported India are giving serious consideration to resting Jasprit Bumrah when the series, currently level at 1-1, resumes in Rajkot next week in a further boost to the tourists’ hopes.

Bumrah was in electrifying form in Vizag with a match haul of nine wickets for 91 runs, helping him become the first India paceman to go top of the International Cricket Council’s Test bowling rankings.

Despite a 10-day gap between the end of the second and start of the third Tests, India are said to be mindful of Bumrah’s workload after returning from back surgery last year.

The 30-year-old has bowled 57.5 overs in the series so far and could be kept fresh for the fourth and fifth Tests.

Ahead of naming their squad for the third Test later this week, India must decide whether all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and batter KL Rahul are ready to return from injury.

The West Indies Championship 2024 is the region’s first-class four-day red ball tournament bowls off in Jamaica and St. Kitts and Nevis from 7-10 February, with four simultaneously contested matches.

The tournament will open with defending champions Guyana Harpy Eagles in a bid for a second successive title, taking on Trinidad and Tobago Red Force at Conaree Cricket Centre in St. Kitts, with the Leeward Islands Hurricanes hosting the West Indies Academy at Warner Park.

In Jamaica, the Scorpions will start their campaign when they face the Windward Islands Volcanoes in the feature match at Sabina Park. At the same time, the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC)will take on the Barbados Pride at Chedwin Park.

The second round will be played from 14 to 17 February when Jamaica will meet the CCC at Sabina Park; Barbados will take on Windward Islands at Kensington Cricket Club; while over in St. Kitts, the Leeward Islands will face Guyana at Warner Park and Trinidad and Tobago will face the West Indies Academy at Conaree Cricket Centre.

The third round of the West Indies Championship will be played from 21-24 February after which there will be a break before the resumption of Rounds 4-5 from March 13-23 to be played in Trinidad and Antigua and Rounds 6-7 from April 10-20 to be played in Jamaica, Trinidad and Antigua. Every West Indies Championship match will be streamed live on the Windies Cricket YouTube channel.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Round 1

7 to 10 February: 

Jamaica Scorpions vs Windward Islands Volcanoes - Sabina Park, Jamaica

CCC vs Barbados Pride - Chedwin Park, Jamaica

Leeward Islands Hurricanes vs West Indies Academy - Warner Park, St. Kitts

Guyana Harpy Eagles vs Trinidad & Tobago Red Force - Conaree Cricket Centre, St. Kitts

Round 2

14 to 17 February: 

Jamaica Scorpions vs CCC - Sabina Park, Jamaica

Barbados Pride vs Windward Islands Volcanoes - Kensington Cricket Club, Jamaica

Leeward Islands Hurricanes vs Guyana Harpy Eagles - Warner Park, St. Kitts

Trinidad &Tobago Red Force vs West Indies Academy - Conaree Cricket Centre, St. Kitts

Round 3

21 to 24 February: 

Jamaica Scorpions vs Barbados Pride - Sabina Park, Jamaica

Windward Islands Volcanoes vs CCC - Chedwin Park, Jamaica

Leeward Islands Hurricanes vs Trinidad &Tobago Red Force - Warner Park, St. Kitts

West Indies Academy vs Guyana Harpy Eagles - Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG), Antigua

Round 4

13 to 16 March:

Trinidad &Tobago Red Force vs Windward Islands Volcanoes - Queen’s Park Oval, Trinidad

CCC vs Leeward Islands Hurricanes - Diego Martin Regional Complex, Trinidad

Guyana Harpy Eagles vs Barbados Pride - Sir Frank Worrell Cricket Ground at UWI Spec (UWI SPEC), Trinidad

West Indies Academy vs Jamaica Scorpions - CCG, Antigua

Round 5

20 March to 23 March: 

Trinidad &Tobago Red Force vs Barbados Pride - Queen’s Park Oval, Trinidad

Leeward Islands Hurricanes vs Jamaica Scorpions - Diego Martin Regional Complex, Trinidad

Guyana Harpy Eagles vs Windward Islands Volcanoes - UWI SPEC, Trinidad

West Indies Academy vs CCC - CCG, Antigua

Round 6

10 to 13 April:

Jamaica Scorpions vs Guyana Harpy Eagles - Sabina Park, Jamaica

CCC vs Trinidad &Tobago Red Force - Chedwin Park, Jamaica

Leeward Hurricanes vs Barbados Pride - UWI SPEC, Trinidad

West Indies Academy vs Windward Islands Volcanoes - CCG, Antigua

Round 7

17 to 20 April:

Jamaica Scorpions vs Trinidad &Tobago Red Force - Sabina Park, Jamaica

CCC vs Guyana Harpy Eagles - Kensington Cricket Club, Jamaica

Leeward Islands Hurricanes vs Windward Islands Volcanoes - UWI SPEC, Trinidad

West Indies Academy vs Barbados Pride - CCG, Antigua

SQUADS LISTING

BARBADOS PRIDE -Kraigg Brathwaite, Shaquille Cumberbatch, Shane Dowrich, Jonathan Drakes, Chaim-Alexis Holder, Chemar Holder, Akeem Jordan, Jair McAllister, Zachary McCaskie, Shayne Moseley, Roshon Primus, Jomel Warrican, Kevin Wickham.

COMBINED CAMPUSES AND COLLEGES -Kirstan Kallicharan, Shatrughan Rambaran, Jonathan Carter, Shamarh Brooks, Demario Richards, Shaqkere Parris, Romario Greaves, Sion Hackett, Sadique Henry, Jediah Blades, Damel Evelyn, Zishan Motara.

GUYANA HARPY EAGLES -Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Raymond Perez, Matthew Nandu, Ronsford Beaton, Richie Looknauth, Veerasammy Permaul, Neiland Cadogan, Kevin Sinclair, Kemol Savory, Kevlon Anderson, Antony Adams, Ronaldo Alimohamed, Steven Sankar.

JAMAICA SCORPIONS -Jermaine Blackwood, Chadwick Walton, Carlos Brown, Romaine Morris, Marquino Mindley, Abhijai Mansingh, Derval Green, Nkrumah Bonner, Peat Salmon, Jeavor Royal, Ramaal Lewis, Gordon Bryan, Kirk McKenzie.

LEEWARD ISLANDS HURRICANES -Jahmar Hamilton, Rahkeem Cornwall, Mikyle Louis, Daniel Doram, Colin Archibald, Terence Warde, Jeremiah Louis, Joshau Grant, Ross Powell, Kofi James, Javier Spencer, Sheno Berridge, Karima Gore.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO RED FORCE -Joshua DaSilva, Amir Jangoo, Imran Khan, Terrance Hinds, Jason Mohammed, Jyd Goolie, Jayden Seales, Anderson Phillip, Bryan Charles, Vikash Mohan, Cephas Cooper, Tion Webster, Khary Pierre.

WEST INDIES ACADEMY -Ashmead Nedd, Ackeem Auguste, Nyeem Young, Johann Layne, Carlon Bowen-Tuckett, Joshua Bishop, Mbeki Joseph, Kelvin Pitman, Rivaldo Clarke, Joshua James, Rashawn Worrell, Ramon Simmonds, Kadeem Alleyne.

WINDWARD ISLANDS VOLCANOES -Kimani Melius, Ryan John, Tevyn Walcott, Johann Jeremiah, Sunil Ambris, Shamar Springer, Shermon Lewis, Jeremy Solozano, Daurius Martin, Shadrack Descarte, Darel Cyrus, Kenneth Dember, Keron Cottoy.

The clash between unbeaten India and hosts South Africa lived up to its billing in the first semi-final of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024.

In a thrilling contest that went down to the wire, India secured a hard-fought victory, thanks to outstanding half-centuries from Uday Saharan and Sachin Dhas. 

Saharan's team will now have the chance to defend their title in the final on Sunday, 11 February.

India now await the winner of the second semi-final match between Australia and Pakistan on Thursday to see who they will face in the title clash.

India beat South Africa by 2 wickets in Benoni

South Africa 244/7 (50) vs India 248/8 (48.5)

After losing four tosses in the first four games, Uday Saharan got it right for the second in a row and chose to field first. This was the first time that India bowled first in the tournament, having batted in each of their five victories so far.

Once again displaying his customary aggression in the tournament, South Africa opener Steve Stolk took charge early on, hitting two fours in the first three overs. He continued his onslaught with a maximum off Raj Limbani in the fifth but it was the Indian pacer who had the last laugh as Stolk's attempted cut resulted in an edge straight into the hands of the wicketkeeper.

Lhuan-dre Pretorius kept the foot on the pedal thereafter, including a six and a four against Naman Tiwari in the 8th over. At the other end though, Limbani was on the money and accounted for the wicket of David Teeger for a duck, rattling the stumps with a peach of an inswinger.

Undeterred by the loss of two wickets, Pretorius continued playing attacking shots, and by the end of the Powerplay, South Africa were going close to a run-a-ball.

Saharan decided to introduce his spinners into play, effectively curbing South Africa's scoring – only five boundaries were scored in the span of overs 11 to 30.

However, the partnership between Pretorius and Richard Seletswane ensured a steady flow of runs, with Pretorius reaching his half-century off 59 balls.

With the run-rate at less than four, the mounting pressure got to Pretorius, who tried to swat Musheer Khan over mid-wicket, but Murugan Abhishek showed brilliant reflexes to hang on to a stunning catch.

The Proteas saw an uptick in boundaries when Seletswane and Oliver Whitehead combined for a 45-run partnership. Just as the partnership started to look dangerous, Musheer struck with the final ball of his spell, dismissing Whitehead.

South Africa’s decision to delay the entry of the dangerous Dewan Marais proved unsuccessful as he holed out to Saumy Pandey inches inside the boundary for just 3.

Between the two wickets, Seletswane brought up a patient half-century but having taken 90 balls to get to the milestone, the youngster fell trying to make up for the scoring rate.

Having hit Limbani for two fours in the 45th over, Seletswane tried to take the attack to Naman Tiwari in the next, but was undone by a good catch by Priyanshu Moliya running in from the deep.

Juan James too departed after a solid 19-ball 24-run cameo, leaving South Africa at 221/7 with two overs to go.

Tristan Luus gave the innings some much-needed impetus in the final two overs, unleashing two sixes and a four to finish with an unbeaten 23 off 12 balls. 

As a result, South Africa set India a target of 245. This was the first time a team had got past the 200-run mark against India in the tournament so far.

In the chase, South Africa started brilliantly, courtesy Kwena Maphaka's breakthrough on the first ball of the innings. Adarsh Singh found himself helpless against a sharp bouncer, awkwardly prodding it to the keeper.

The short ball proved to be India's downfall once more as Tristan Luus' accurately-directed bouncer outsmarted the dangerous Musheer Khan, sparking massive celebrations in the South African camp following the dismissal of the leading run-scorer in the tournament.

India had to be patient, waiting until the seventh over for their first boundary, which came in the form of a maximum from Arshin Kulkarni off Maphaka. Unfortunately, that solitary moment of joy for India was short-lived, as their difficulties continued to mount with Arshin falling victim to Luus in the final over of the Powerplay.

India's situation worsened when Moliya, who had managed to strike a boundary off the first ball of Luus' over, departed while attempting a loose drive.

Facing a daunting situation at 32/4, captain Saharan and Sachin Dhas orchestrated a remarkable rescue mission with an impressive partnership. With runs drying up, the pair mixed caution with aggression to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Particularly targeting the bowling of Riley Norton, Dhas showcased his prowess by striking three boundaries in a single over, reclaiming some control for India. While Saharan held firm at one end, Dhas assumed the role of the aggressor, racing to a half-century off 47 balls to keep the required run rate under 6.

Saharan quickly found his rhythm with a splendid boundary off James, not only marking the 100-run partnership for the fifth wicket but also propelling himself past Musheer Khan to claim the top spot on the tournament run-scoring charts.

The partnership between the two was a masterclass in innings building and chasing, as they milked singles relentlessly while putting the poor deliveries away for boundaries. 

The skipper too got in on the act, reaching his fifty off 88 balls with a boundary as India inched closer to victory.

Just as the required run rate got to a run-a-ball, Dhas and Saharan dispatched James for a six and four respectively to calm the nerves in the Indian camp.

But there was another twist as South Africa hit back when Maphaka was reintroduced into the attack. He got the better of Dhas with a well-disguised slower ball, the batter falling agonisingly short of a century on 96. 

The wicket brought about a lull in scoring, and the mounting pressure became palpable. Aravelly Avanish displayed nerves of steel by striking a crucial boundary off Norton on the final ball of the 46th over.

Maphaka bowled the 47th over and made a big difference off the last ball of the spell with the wicket of Avanish, with Norton taking a good catch in the deep. Two balls later, the game turned on its head again when Abhishek Murugan fell victim to poor running, being caught short of his crease by a direct hit from Marais.

The two wickets put the pressure back on India but a six from an unlikely source – Raj Limbani – shifted the equation, bringing it down to nine runs required off the last two overs.

Saharan put to rest any hopes of a South African comeback with four off the first ball of the penultimate over. In another twist to the game, Saharan was run out trying to scramble for the winning run. 

However, Limbani came in clutch again and struck a four off the final ball of the over to continue their unbeaten run and book their berth in the final.

The Player of the Match, India captain Uday Saharan, shared insights in the post-match presentation after bailing the team out of early trouble.

“I just believed in myself [after coming out to bat]. I knew it was a matter of one partnership and the game would be ours. I just kept telling myself repeatedly that I needed to bat till the end.” 

 

SAT20 side Paarl Royals released a statement on their website on Tuesday confirming a report that West Indies left-arm spinner Fabian Allen was a victim of a robbery in Johannesburg during the ongoing tournament.

In what Paarl Royals described as an "isolated incident," Allen was robbed of his personal belongings, including a luxury wrist watch, while he was returning to the team hotel with a few other Royals players on January 25, a day after they played the Joburg Super Kings.

However, it could not be confirmed if Allen or Royals reported the issue to the police.

The Royals statement did not go into detail, but said Allen was "safe," and was preparing for the Eliminator against Super Kings on Wednesday in Cape Town.

"The franchise works closely with the league to ensure the safety and well-being of its players and staff, while also allowing them to have free personal time as well," the statement said.

"Following the incident, the player was provided with the necessary support by the franchise and the league, and [he] was keen to continue his participation at the SA20, and has since been available for selection (twice also featuring in the playing XI for the Royals)."

Royals ended third after the round-robin stage of the SA20 this season, with Allen having played eight out of their ten games.

However, he bowled only in four innings, having taken two wickets at 35.50 across the eight overs he has delivered. Allen wasn't selected to play in Royals' final two matches before the playoffs.

 

Brendon McCullum credits the inspirational leadership and “total conviction” of Ben Stokes for giving England a fighting chance of leaving India with a series win.

The score is tied at 1-1 after two gripping Tests in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam, giving England a realistic shot at becoming the first side to win away on Indian soil since 2012.

Head coach McCullum will lead his side to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday for a short break before the contest resumes on February 15 and, while the players will be resting up with family rather than hitting the nets, he insists they will be ready to “drop the shoulder and go hard” when they return for the third Test in Rajkot.

A crucial part of England’s ability to do just that so far has been the contribution of three novice spinners in the form of Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir, who have defied their lack of experience to claim 26 wickets between them against players who have grown up against the turning ball.

And McCullum was glowing about Stokes’ ability to instil belief in the group.

“There are heaps of positives. Our spin bowling unit, albeit young and raw, have shown they’ve got what it takes,” he said.

“I put it down to the skipper. He has total conviction in his methods and is incredibly empathetic towards people.

“He spends time with them to ensure his messaging is really consistent, in his body language and behaviours, and he backs up what he says to them off the field with opportunities on the field. He is desperate to lead this team and he wants to take this team to whatever level he can take it.

“I am absolutely delighted in how they have performed with very little experience under their belt. You look around and you just see guys who look like they belong at international level.

“I think 1-1 is probably a fair reflection of where the contest is at the moment and, if the next three Tests are anything like these last two, it’s going to be one hell of a series.”

A return to form for Joe Root would be the biggest possible boost for England’s prospects, with the former skipper yet to make an impression with the bat.

A total of 52 runs from four innings represents a meagre return for a cornerstone player with a strong case for being the country’s best ever sub-continental batter.

The manner of his most recent dismissal, slogging wildly at the wily Ravichandran Ashwin, caused consternation, but McCullum harbours no such concerns.

“There are three Tests left, still an opportunity to score a whole s*** ton of runs,” he said with a smile.

“Joe’s a world-class player and as good as anyone England has ever seen.

“People will look to the dismissal, look at the method of his option, but he was trying to get the field back so he could milk them.

“It is the bravery you have to show at times and sometimes you get out doing it, that’s just the way the game rolls. There is no doubt from our point of view about that approach.”

England are not currently anticipating any changes to their Test squad for the second phase of the trip.

A virus has made an unwelcome intrusion on the camp but should be gone before the series resumes and concerns over Root’s injured little finger have eased.

There is no expectation of Harry Brook returning to the tour, with the team management giving him space to deal with the family matters that brought him home on the eve of the series.

The only uncertainty surrounds Jack Leach, who injured his knee in Hyderabad, missed the next game and has now been hit by illness.

“It is still pretty inflamed, but I don’t really know because he has been crook,” McCullum explained.

“His knee is pretty bad though and it was remarkable he got through what he did in the first Test match.”

West Indies suffered a white-wash in the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series against Australia, after another woeful batting performance saw the Caribbean side slump to an eight-wicket thrashing at Manuka Oval on Monday.

Opener Alick Athanaze with a 60-ball 32, was the only batsman to offer any real resistance as West Indies were embarrassingly bowled out for 86 in 24.1 overs, their fifth lowest ODI score. Only Keacy Carty (12) and Roston Chase (10) were the other double figure scores in the dismal innings.

Still, Australia, playing their 1,000th ODI, the second nation to do so after India, were almost flawless following comprehensive victories in Melbourne and Sydney.

Xavier Bartlett, like he did in the first contest, again starred with the ball, as he ended with four wickets for 21 runs, after which openers Josh Inglish and Jake Fraser-McGurk raced toward the low target by smashing 67 runs within five overs, and laid the foundation for the hosts to complete their eight-wicket victory with 43.1 overs to spare in what was the shortest men's ODI ever played in Australia.

The match lasted just 31 overs and was completed in three hours, including the innings break.

Australia 87 for 2 (Fraser-McGurk 41, Inglis 35*) beat West Indies 86 (Bartlett 4-21) by eight wickets

Inglis raced to 22 off seven deliveries, as he played gorgeous orthodox shots, but was quickly overtaken by Fraser-McGurk, who muscled three sixes in four balls off seamer Matthew Forde.

Fraser-McGurk was on track for a rapid half-century, but holed out to mid-on to end his 18-ball 41 and dashed Australia's hopes for a 10-wicket win.

Aaron Hardie made just two before Australia passed the target after 6.5 overs.

Earlier, Steven Smith's decision to bowl first was aided by a shoddy West Indies effort with a number of batters dismissed in tame fashion.

Following his stunning four-wicket debut at the MCG, Bartlett was immediately on the money with the new ball, as he had opener Kjorn Ottley trapped in front in his second over.

Athanaze and Carty held firm as West Indies' fortunes momentarily seemed to turn, and they eyed a decent total on the traditionally batting-friendly Manuka Oval surface.

West Indies avoided the early collapses that marred their opening two games, but the introduction of Lance Morris in the 11th over soon left them in familiar woe.

Morris had his first international wicket when Carty was brilliantly caught by a flying Marnus Labuschagne at backward point. Captain Shai Hope unsuccessfully reviewed a leg-before-wicket decision off Sean Abbott in the next over, before Morris clean bowled debutant Teddy Bishop with a searing full delivery that rattled the stumps.

Athanaze held the innings together until he threw away his wicket with a rash sweep stroke against leg-spinner Adam Zampa that was caught at deep backward square.

Smith went on the attack and brought back Bartlett, who on his first delivery nicked off Romario Shepherd.

West Indies' woeful performance was summed up with a comical run out of Forde, who bickered with batting partner Roston Chase on his way off, as their 27-year ODI drought against Australia in Australia continues.

England are locked at 1-1 after the first two games of their Test tour to India, with a pair of gripping matches in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.

Here, PA news agency looks at lessons learned as the teams take a week’s break before resuming battle in Rajkot.

Rookie spinners are learning fast

With Jack Leach injured, England sent out an almost-unbelievably raw spin attack in the second Test.

Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir had a grand total of three caps between them going into the game – compared to 96 for India’s lead spinner Ravichandra Ashwin.

But under Ben Stokes’ proactive captaincy the youngsters are over-delivering on expectations.

They have each shone in different passages and are a major reason why England have successfully kept India’s batters from getting away.

England took a big gamble by fast-tracking such inexperienced options in conditions where the slow bowlers take huge responsibility but their development is unfolding quickly in front of our eyes.

England need more from their Yorkshire engine room

Joe Root remains the best batter in the England team and nobody has epitomised the ambition of the ‘Bazball’ era better than Jonny Bairstow, but neither man has landed a blow on India so far.

In four innings on tour Root has 52 runs at 13 and Bairstow 98 at 24.50.

It is too early to call it anything other than a blip but if England are to prevail in the next three matches they will surely play an important part.

Root is the team’s best player of slow bowling and has an exceptional record on the subcontinent, while Bairstow has the ability to bully attacks into losing composure.

Both have big roles to play after a slow start.

India are missing Virat Kohli

Both teams are missing key members of their batting line-up for personal reasons, with Harry Brook back home in England and Virat Kohli withdrawing on the eve of the series.

India appear to be missing their former captain most obviously.

He would surely be a more attacking presence in the middle order and a psychological boost for his team-mates, not to mention an electrifying factor in the field.

As a spectacle, the series would benefit from his return, but it would give the away side a new batch of problems to deal with.

Anderson is essential

A lacklustre Ashes series left some wondering if time had finally caught up with the evergreen James Anderson.

Not for the first time, he has brushed the doubters aside with panache.

At the age of 41 his efforts on his return to the XI were exemplary.

He is in outstanding physical shape and bowling with skill, control and the occasional hint of magic.

No other bowler in the squad can combine economy and wicket threat quite like Anderson and, after missing the series opener, he is once again a must-pick.

Surgery has saved Stokes

Stokes finally opted to go under the knife in November in a bid to solve his long-standing left knee problems.

He had long resisted surgery, unsure how it would turn out, but it looks to have given him a new lease of life.

The skipper has already pulled off two brilliant pieces of fielding that would have been impossible before – a wonderful run out and a sensational running catch – and no longer seems in constant pain at the crease.

Even more importantly, he has been making a gentle return to bowling in practice and hopes to be back as a fully-fledged all-rounder by the summer.

Sir Alastair Cook stood down from his role as England Test captain on this day in 2017.

Cook’s 59 Tests in charge made him the nation’s longest-serving skipper, until he was overtaken by his successor Joe Root, with his spell at the helm beginning in 2013.

Throughout that period Cook won eight of his 17 series in charge, including a 2-1 win in India in 2012 – their first series victory there since 1985 – as well as a win in South Africa in 2015-16.

Cook also led the team to two home triumphs in the Ashes, in 2013 and 2015, with a Test record that totalled 24 wins and 22 defeats.

The opener cited a loss of energy as the reasoning behind his resignation, concluding that the team would benefit from new leadership and deciding to devote his full focus to his batting.

Cook, whose last series as captain was a 4-0 defeat to India, said: “It’s been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years.

“Stepping down has been an incredibly hard decision but I know this is the correct decision for me and at the right time for the team. We’ve kind of stagnated if we are being brutally honest.

“There is a lot of work to be done and I felt I just didn’t have that energy to do it. That’s part and the parcel of being captain, you are responsible.”

Cook remained part of the squad under new captain Root until 2018, when he announced his retirement from international cricket after 12 years, signing off with a century against India in his final innings in his 161st Test.

Cook, who was the recipient of a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2019, retired from cricket last October.

West Indies cricketer Fabian Allen, currently representing the Paarl Royals franchise in the SA20 league, encountered a harrowing experience as he was robbed at gunpoint in Johannesburg.

The 28-year-old Jamaican all-rounder fell victim to the armed robbery outside the team hotel, near the renowned Sandton Sun Hotel, according to reports emerging from South Africa.

During the incident, the assailants brandished a firearm, confronting Allen and making off with his phone, personal belongings, and a bag. The shocking event raises concerns about the safety of players participating in the league, potentially impacting its image.

Sources affiliated with the Paarl Royals team, SA20, and Cricket West Indies (CWI) have confirmed the incident.

Reports said West Indies head coach Andre Coley has been in touch with Allen and has reported that the player was not harmed.

Cricket South Africa (CSA), Cricket West Indies (CWI), and the SA20 league have all confirmed the incident, which has raised additional concerns over player safety in South Africa.

Though physically unharmed, reports suggest that Allen is understandably shaken by the ordeal.

 

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