Royal Challengers Bengaluru captain Faf du Plessis admitted his side were "a little bit" short when setting the score in their Indian Premier League playoff defeat to Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday.

RCB batted first but failed to capitalise on strong starts from Virat Kohli (33), Rajat Patidar (34) and Mahipal Lomror (32) as they finished on 172-8.

The Royals won with an over remaining, despite slipping to 160-6 in the 18th, as Rovman Powell got them over the line with an unbeaten 16.

"I think with the dew coming in the second innings, we thought we were a little bit short with the bat," Du Plessis said after the match on the official broadcast.

"It felt like we needed a push, a few more runs to make it even more competitive. So, I did think we were 20 runs shy of a good score on that pitch. But credit to our boys who fought really well, hanging in there right till the end. That's all you can ask for, a great fight.

"Batting first, it can be tough because the ball is sticking into the surface. You're thinking 190. But if you lose a couple of wickets, then the problem starts.

"What we found out this season is with obviously the extra batter and the longer batting line-ups because of the super sub [Impact Player], your par scores are really not what they used to be, especially if there's dew. So, we knew we needed a little bit more in terms of a score to challenge them."

RCB were the in-form team heading into the playoffs, having won each of their last six games to turn their season around, but they could not make it past the eliminator.

Despite falling at the first post-season hurdle, Du Plessis was still proud of the team’s achievements.

"A lot of teams would have probably fallen off after one [win] from nine [eight]," he added.

"We have got great characters in that dressing room, all of us really put our hands up with a lot of pride and a lot of fight in us to make sure we give our best and give absolutely everything we have. And to come back like that, winning six games in a row takes a lot of heart, takes a lot of character.

"So, it's a sad ending when it goes your way like that, you feel like is it possibly written in the stars that you could do something special here, but we weren't special tonight in terms of just pushing that extra 20 runs with the bat."

Virat Kohli's superb knock of 92 helped Royal Challengers Bengaluru to a fourth straight win in the Indian Premier League on Thursday as they kept their playoff hopes alive with a 60-run triumph over Punjab Kings.

Kohli smashed seven fours and six sixes in his 47 balls faced as the Challengers set the Kings a daunting target of 241, with Rajat Patidar also bringing up his half-century and Cameron Green (46 off 27) falling just short of doing so.

The Kings pulled off the biggest run chase in IPL history less than two weeks ago, but their hopes of another comeback were dealt a huge blow when Faf du Plessis took a wonderful over-the-shoulder catch to send Jonny Bairstow packing with Punjab at 71-1.

Kohli's contribution wasn't only limited to the bat, as he produced a stunning run out of Shashank Singh, haring onto the scene to send wickets flying with an underarm throw as Shashank failed to make it back by mere inches.

It was then up to Mohammed Siraj to polish off the Punjab tail, finishing with figures of 3-43 as the Kings fell to back-to-back defeats, keeping them ninth in the standings.

Data Debrief: Kohli leads the way

Having previously claimed the honour in 2016, Kohli leads the way in the race for the 2024 Orange Cap, another impressive innings taking him to 634 runs for the campaign.

Averaging 70.44 with a strike rate of 153.51, Kohli put further distance between himself and Chennai Super Kings' Ruturaj Gaikwad, whose 541 runs put him second in the standings. 

A rapid 64 from captain Faf du Plessis helped Royal Challengers Bengaluru to a third consecutive Indian Premier League win as they again saw off Gujarat Titans.

RCB comfortably defeated the Titans in an away game six days ago and then comprehensively saw off Shubman Gill’s side once more on Saturday, this time at home.

After the Titans were bowled out for 147, RCB raced to a four-wicket victory with 38 balls to spare to move off the bottom of the IPL table, jumping up to seventh after overcoming a brief scare towards the end of their chase.

Mohammed Siraj, Yash Dayal and Vijaykumar Vyshak took two wickets apiece as the Titans struggled batting first, falling to 19-3 midway through the sixth over. They needed Shahrukh Khan (37), Rahul Tewatia (35) and David Miller (30) to post some kind of total, with Tewatia passing 1,000 career IPL runs.

Any faint hopes of halting RCB’s run of form were ended when Du Plessis fired 64 from just 23 balls with 10 fours and three sixes, ably supported by opening partner Virat Kohli (42).

A brief spell of chaos saw RCB fall from 92-0 to 117-6 with Josh Little taking 4-45, but Dinesh Karthik (21 not out) and Swapnil Singh (15no) steadied the ship and finished off the chase.

Data Debrief: Kohli regains Orange Cap

While Du Plessis top scored in this game, another good knock from Kohli, who hit four maximums, saw the India great regain possession of the Orange Cap. With 542 runs in IPL 2024, Kohli has a narrow lead over CSK skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad (509).

Kohli is averaging 67.75 and striking at 148.08, with four fifties and a century to his name from just 11 innings in a memorable campaign.

He has helped RCB recover from being beaten in seven of their first eight games, while the Titans, finalists in each of the last two editions, have now lost four of their last five.

Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Faf du Plessis is relieved by his side's recent Indian Premier League improvement after having an over-reliance on India great Virat Kohli in the early stages of the competition.

A comfortable 35-run away win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday has lifted spirits for RCB after they had fallen just one run short of reaching a big Kolkata Knight Riders total in their previous outing.

RCB remain bottom of the standings going into back-to-back matches against the Gujarat Titans, but they approach that double-header with new-found confidence after snapping a miserable six-match losing streak.

"In the last two games we have shown great signs of fight," Du Plessis said.

"The [first] SRH game we got to 260 [pursuing a big target], then the KKR game as well, just one run [short]. It was almost a record chase. 

"We have been close for a while, but you need to win matches to get confidence back in the group. 

"It is a massive relief. No matter where we are, when you are not winning it does affect you, it does affect you mentally, it does affect your confidence. 

"I will sleep a bit easier. For the first half of the tournament only it was only Virat contributing. It is important as a batting line-up to contribute together because we have seen the scores are so big, it's never going to be just one guy scoring the runs."

Kohli still impressed against SRH, with his 51 – along with a rapid 50 off 20 balls from Rajat Patidar – helping RCB to score 206-7 after opting to bat first.

There was also a strong outing from Australia all-rounder Cameron Green, who scored 37 not out before taking 2-12 from two overs with the ball and grabbing a huge catch to dismiss SRH dangerman Heinrich Klaasen for just seven.

Du Plessis added: "The last week and a half we have been working hard to make sure we get better at our own game. 

"You can see the last game; there is some confidence in our batting. We have got more guys scoring runs now. Rajat playing two really good innings back-to-back, Greeny getting runs. It is massive for him just to get that load off his shoulders. 

"You can't speak confidence into the group, you can't fake confidence into the group. The only thing that gives confidence is performance. 

"First half of the competition we certainly felt like we weren't near our full potential. And when you're playing at 50% or 60%, obviously, you try 100%, but you don't get the confidence in your group. 

"The competition is so strong, the teams are so strong that you'll get hurt [if you are not at 100%]."

Green thought Du Plessis had taken a risk by choosing to bat first, but it was a decision that paid off.

He said: "It was [a brave call]. I definitely wasn't in agreement with [batting first] so credit to the captain and coach. SRH have been batting beautifully when they bat first - that was the main reason.

"We always have to celebrate little wins and we feel pretty good now. Always nice to be back to winning ways."

Asked about his catch to dismiss Klaasen, he added: "I think the whole time I kept thinking 'Klaasen, Klaasen' in my head!

"It was up there for a while, happy I hung on to it."

RCB are away to the Titans on Sunday, before playing at home against Shubman Gill's side on May 4.

Defending champions Chennai Super Kings began the 2024 Indian Premier League with a comfortable six-wicket win over the Royal Challengers Bengaluru at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk on Friday.

RCB first posted 173-6 from their 20 overs after winning the toss.

Wicket-keeper/batsman Anuj Rawat top scored with a 25-ball 48 while Dinesh Karthik and captain Faf Du Plessis provided good support with 38 and 35, respectively.

Mustafizur Rahman was excellent with the ball for the Super Kings with 4-29 from his four overs.

CSK then used contributions from all their batsmen to easily reach 176-4 with eight balls to spare.

Debutant Rachin Ravindra led the way with 37 while Shivam Dube (34*), Ajinkya Rahane (27) and Ravindra Jadeja (25*) also played well.

Cameron Green took 2-27 from his three overs for RCB.

Full Scores: Royal Challengers Bengaluru 173-6 off 20 overs (Anuj Rawat 48, Dinesh Karthik 38*, Mustafizur Rahman 4-29)

Chennai Super Kings 176-4 off 18.4 overs (Rachin Ravindra 37, Shivam Dube 34*, Ajinkya Rahane 27, Ravindra Jadeja 25*, Cameron Green 2-27)

Akeal Hosein's sensational 5 for 6 in two overs dismantled Samp Army as New York Strikers posted a 41-run win in Qualifier 1 to storm into the Abu Dhabi T10 final at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Defending 121, the Strikers' left-arm spinner picked up a hat-trick in the first over of the innings, dismissing Andries Gous, Dewald Brevis and Ibrahim Zadran, to leave Samp Army reeling at 1 for 3.

In his second over, he removed the opposition captain Faf du Plessis and Najibullah Zadran in space of three balls to further rattle Samp Army.

Jason Holder's 22 of 11 and Qais Ahmad's unbeaten 31 off 13 at No.10 meant Samp Army huffed and puffed to 80 for 9.

Earlier, opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz's blazing 56 off 28 set the tone for Strikers to post a competitive 121 for 5. His knock included four fours and five sixes.

In the end, Asif Ali smashed three fours in his unbeaten seven-ball knock of 17 to further lift Strikers.

Samp Army will have a second chance to make the final when they play the winner of the Eliminator between Bangla Tigers and Deccan Gladiators in Qualifier 2 later today.

At the time of publishing, the Tigers were 78-4 off seven overs batting first.

 

Saint Lucia Kings bounced back from opening day defeat to get their tournament underway with a comprehensive 54-run victory over the Barbados Royals in the Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Thursday night.

The Kings won the toss and opted to bat first and they filled their boots with a barnstorming innings that saw them post the highest total of the season thus far with a fantastic 201-6.

Healthy contributions from all members of the batting order negated a brilliant spell of bowling from Jason Holder and ensured the Royals would have to produce something very special to win.

The Royals failed to get going in their reply, losing five wickets in the PowerPlay to all but end the chase but a spirited 48 from Nyeem Young ensured the Royals added some late respectability to proceedings.

Earlier on the Kings had posted 201-6, led by a blistering show by the opening pair of Johnson Charles and Faf Du Plessis, the Kings raced to 61 but two wickets in Jason Holder’s first over brought things back. Charles and Shadrack Descarte falling in quick succession to give the Royals something to work with.

However, that joy proved to be short-lived as first Sean Williams and Du Plessis, then Williams and Sikandar Raza made light work of the Royals bowling to put the Kings into a commanding position heading into the final five overs.

But that platform failed to be fully exploited as Qais Ahmad and Jason Holder pulled the momentum back by dismissing Williams and Raza respectively.

Holder was to finish the match with 4-38 adding Roston Chase to his list of scalps but the lack of consistent support elsewhere ensured the Kings were still able to post an imposing total for the Royals to chase.

Chasing 202 to win was always a tall order for the Royals to chase but the reply was over before it began, following a run out for Rahkeem Cornwall, Matthew Forde was destructor in chief removing the Royals top order to leave the innings in trouble at 21-4.

Kyle Mayers briefly threaten to counter attack before Alzarri Joseph had him caught on the third man boundary for 16.

From there the Kings took the game away with wickets falling at regular intervals to dismiss the Royals for 147 to chalk up their first win of the tournament.

Scores: Saint Lucia Kings 201-6 (Williams 47, Du Plessis 46; Holder 4-38, Qais 2-35) beat Barbados Royals 147 all out (Young 48, Ferreira 19; Forde 3-12, Raza 1-21) by 54 runs

 

 

Jamaica Tallawahs captain Brandon King said it will be important for his side to play with passion and execute efficiently, both individually and collectively, if the reigning champions are to retain their Republic Bank Caribbean Premier League (CPL) title.

His remarks come, as Jamaica Tallawahs are set to begin their title defence against St Lucia Kings in the tournament opener in Gros Islet, St Lucia on Wednesday at 6:00pm Jamaica time.

King, who was instrumental in leading the Jamaican franchise to their third tile –first since 2016 –by defeating Barbados Royals in last year’s final at Guyana’s National Stadium, is confident that they can once again stamp their class on the tournament, starting with tomorrow’s assignment.  

“The Jamaica Tallawahs are excited for the 2023 season to begin,” the inform batsman, who scored a career-best unbeaten half-century last Sunday to help West Indies clinch a series win over India in Florida, declared.

“I firmly believe that our success in the upcoming tournament lies not just in our individual skills, but in our ability to unite as a team, play with passion, and embrace every challenge that comes our way. I’m excited for the new season and can’t wait to get on the field to defend our title,” King added.

Though they will be without last year’s winning captain Rovman Powell, who head to Barbados Royals, King’s Tallawahs outfit will feature most of the talent from the triumphant season, including out-of-favour West Indies all-rounder Fabian Allen, Test vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood and the classy Shamarh Brooks, along with overseas players Imad Wasim, Chris Green, Mohammed Amir and the hard-hitting Alex Hales.

Meanwhile, St Lucia Kings, who are hunting their maiden CPL title, having twice made the final in 2020 and 2021 where they came up short against Trinbago Knight Riders and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots respectively.

With that in mind, Head coach Darren Sammy believes it is only fitting that they begin their charge and, by extension, come out strong on home soil.

Sammy’s side will be led by the West Indies trio of Alzarri Joseph, Roston Chase and Johnson Charles, while South African star Faf du Plessis, again headlines the overseas players.

“The Saint Lucia Kings are delighted to be getting their 2023 campaign under way at our home ground,” said Sammy, who is also West Indies white-ball Head coach.

“We are sure that the Lucian public will come out in big numbers to support us as we push to make the playoffs and then go on and claim our first CPL title.  We have a very strong team full of exciting young talent and experienced local and overseas players and we are well placed heading into the tournament,” he noted.

Following the completion of games in St Lucia, the tournament will then visit St Kitts & Nevis, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana, with the latter again set to host the September 24 final in Providence.

Royal Challengers Bangalore subjected Rajasthan Royals to a humiliating 112-run thrashing in Jaipur on Sunday, despite brief resistance from Shimron Hetmyer.

The Guyanese batsman made a 19-ball 35 that included a four and four sixes as he tried to get Royals back into the game after crashing to 31-6 after seven overs, chasing RCB’s 171-5. Former England captain Joe Root, who made 10 was the only other batter in double figures for Royals, who were skittled out for 59 in 10.3 overs.

Wayne Parnell was responsible for much of the destruction taking 3-10 from three overs. Michael Bracewell, 2-16, Karn Sharma 2-19 and Glen Maxwell 1-3 provided useful support in the rout.

Earlier, Maxwell scored 54 and Faf du Plessis 55 and Anuj Rawat provided the bulk of the scoring for RCB, who were recording their second win in their last five matches to be fifth in the league table.

Adam Zampa 2-25 and KM Asif 2-42 were the primary wicket-takers for Royals, who were losing their fourth in their last five matches.

Harshal Patel showed composure at the death as Royal Challengers Bangalore sealed a nerve-jangling seven-run win against Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.

The experienced seamer was handed the ball for the final over as Rajasthan needed 20 runs for victory, and despite conceding 10 runs from the first three deliveries, Harshal then applied the brakes, dismissing Ravichandran Ashwin on the way to completing figures of 3-32.

RCB lost Virat Kohli to a first-ball duck as the match began, pinned lbw by Trent Boult, but it got better for them. They totted up 189-9 to set a testing target, with their innings propped up by the twin pillars of Faf du Plessis (62) and Glenn Maxwell (77). Du Plessis and Maxwell collaborated for the highest third-wicket partnership for RCB in the IPL, putting on 127 runs.

Both thrashed the ball around with gusto, probably wondering why nobody else was following suit as Dinesh Karthik, who made 16, was the only other home player to reach double figures.

Mohammed Siraj then bowled Jos Buttler for a duck in the first over of Rajasthan's reply. A second-wicket stand of 98 between Yashasvi Jaiswal (47) and Devdutt Padikkal (52) looked to have tilted the match Rajasthan's way, but the end of that alliance heralded a slowing of the run rate.

Captain Sanju Samson fell for 22 and Rajasthan needed 61 from the final four overs, with their task made all the more difficult when Shimron Hetmyer was brilliantly run out by Suyash Prabhudessai.

Dhruv Jurel (34no) went on the attack and the Royals required 20 from the last set of six, which soon became 10 runs from three balls, but then Ashwin holed out to deep midwicket to give Harshal his third wicket, and a pair of singles from the next two balls left Rajasthan short.

Royals rolled over

This defeat at M Chinnaswamy Stadium means Rajasthan, who led the IPL at the start of the day, have followed a run of three wins with back-to-back defeats, having also lost last time out against Lucknow Super Giants. Home hero Harshal was introduced to this contest as an impact substitute for Du Plessis, having been unable to bat because of a finger injury, and he made his mark in grand style by removing Jaiswal and Samson before completing the job.

Maxwell and Du Plessis dominate

Maxwell's third fifty-plus score of this IPL season was the pivotal performance, with his 77 runs coming in just 44 balls. His previous two fifties came in losing causes, so this will have come as sweet relief. Du Plessis is enjoying a stunning campaign and showed his pedigree again, extending his lead in the list of the IPL's top run-scorers with his fifth half-century of the 2023 tournament, moving to 405 from seven innings.

An impressive knock from Faf du Plessis was followed by a strong performance with the ball from Mohammed Siraj as Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Punjab Kings by 24 runs in the Indian Premier League.

An opening partnership of 137 from the first 16 overs between Virat Kohli (59) and Du Plessis (84) put RCB on their way to setting a target of 175.

Kohli was dropped by Jitesh Sharma on 58, but the wicketkeeper made amends in the next over as he superbly reached the ball to his left after an attempted sweep from Kohli nicked a delivery from Harpreet Brar.

With one came two as Glenn Maxwell hit Brar straight to Atharva Taide for a golden duck, before Du Plessis was finally removed when he followed up a six with another big hit against Nathan Ellis, only to leave it short for Sam Curran to catch.

It was an eventful start to the reply, with Atharva clipping Siraj for four from the first ball, before Siraj trapped him lbw with the second after a successful review.

Matthew Short (7) came in and smashed a big six before being bowled by Wanindu Hasaranga, and Siraj again claimed an lbw after a review, removing Liam Livingstone (2).

Siraj was leading the charge, also superbly running out Harpreet Singh Bhatia (13), while Hasaranga managed to do the same to Curran (10) as the Kings sat on 77-5 at the halfway point.

Prabhsimran Singh was at least putting up a fight for his team before he was bowled by Wayne Parnell having hit 46 from 30 balls, while Jitesh was also not willing to give up as he came in and hit 41 from 27.

Siraj bowled Brar (13) and Ellis (1) to halt that momentum though, and Harshal Patel wrapped things up by claiming Jitesh in the final over as the Kings were all out for 150.

No Faf from Du Plessis

It was a big effort from Du Plessis, with the South African smashing five fours and five sixes, with Kohli (one) the only other RCB batter to hit a maximum.

Du Plessis struck a season-high 84 runs from 56 balls, which was his fourth score of 50 or more in this year's competition, the joint-most by any batter along with team-mate Kohli). This was also his ninth 50+ score against the Kings, second to only David Warner (12) in the competition's history.

Stunning Siraj

If Kohli and Du Plessis had laid the table, Siraj cleared it up with 4-21 from his four overs – his best ever IPL figures – including 13 dot balls and wickets in key moments, with Brar arguably the most significant as he and Jitesh threatened to make a late flurry.

He logged a bowling strike rate of 6.0, the joint-best such rate by any bowler in an innings in this season's IPL, as well as producing the brilliant run-out of Bhatia.

Nicholas Pooran smashed the joint-third fastest 50 in Indian Premier League history to help the Lucknow Super Giants to a stunning one-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday.

Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell all made half-centuries at the Mangalam Chinnaswamy Stadium as Bangalore set Lucknow a seemingly daunting target of 213, but Pooran's incredible 62 off 19 deliveries led the Super Giants to an improbable win.

Lucknow won the toss and put RCB in to bat first, before openers Kohli (61 from 44) and Du Plessis put up 96 for no loss until the former was dismissed with the third ball of the 11th over.

Maxwell came in for Kohli, and he (59 off 29) and Du Plessis (79 not out) went on to plunder 115 from just 50 balls before Mark Wood (1-32) took the Australian batsman's leg stump out of the ground with the penultimate ball of the innings, as Royal Challengers finished with a formidable 212-2.

The Super Giants' chase took a huge blow within three balls as in-form danger man Kyle Mayers was dismissed by Mohammed Siraj without a run on the board, and Wayne Parnell (3-41) took the wickets of both Deepak Hooda and Krunal Pandya in the fourth over to leave Lucknow's hopes seemingly hanging by a thread.

However, Marcus Stoinis gave them a chance with his 65 off 30 and Pooran made the fastest half-century in this season's IPL before he was finally caught by Shahbaz Ahmed off Siraj's (3-22) bowling.

Lucknow would go on to win in remarkable fashion, needing one off the final delivery of the innings when Harshal Patel missed the stumps while trying to mankad the non-striker.

Harshal would eventually bowl the last ball, and though his delivery beat Avesh Khan, wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik fumbled as the Super Giants batsmen completed the run to secure an extraordinary victory.

Bangalore's big three all fire in defeat

The Royal Challengers' top three batsmen all played excellent knocks with Kohli, Du Plessis and Maxwell accounting for all but one of their team's runs, excluding extras.

It was only the fifth time in IPL history that each of a team's top three all made half-centuries and the first time Bangalore had achieved that feat. However, their efforts were still not enough to get their team over the line.

Pooran innings changes the game

The Super Giants' hopes looked slim after Stoinis and KL Rahul fell within three balls of each other, but Pooran's introduction swung the match back in their favour.

He went at a strike rate of 326.31, smashing four fours and seven maximums to set up his team-mates to go on and win the game.

A superb opening stand from Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis ensured Royal Challengers Bangalore cruised to an eight-wicket win over Mumbai Indians in their Indian Premier League opener.

Having fallen just short of the IPL final last year, RCB got their 2023 campaign off to a terrific start, dominating their opponents on both sides of the ball at The Mangalam Chinnaswamy Stadium.

RCB made a fast start with the ball, with Harshal Patel well-placed to claim an outside edge from Ishan Kishan (10) before Reece Topley bowled Cameron Green (5), though a bizarre collision between Dinesh Karthik and Mohammed Siraj saw the latter inexplicably drop Rohit Sharma.

Rohit was less fortunate when he handed Karthik a catch for just one run three balls later, though his exit allowed Tilak Varma to step up with a quickfire 84 off 46 balls, carrying Mumbai to 171-7.

That outstanding effort proved to be in vain, however, with Du Plessis (73) and Kohli (82 not out) putting on a strong opening stand of 148, both bringing up half-centuries by the end of the 12th over.

While skipper Du Plessis walked with five overs remaining, lofting through to Tim David for a simple catch, Mumbai never looked likely to break the momentum of RCB, who recorded a statement win.

Varma wastes no time

In dragging Mumbai to a respectable tally with his knock of 84, Varma averaged a boundary every 3.5 deliveries.

Only Jos Buttler – who struck a boundary every 2.2 balls in the Rajasthan Royals' win over Sunrisers Hyderabad – has posted a better such rate in the early stages of the IPL this season, with Varma hitting nine fours and four sixes from the 46 balls he faced.

Unfortunately for the 20-year-old, RCB's top-order batsmen were in similar form as Mumbai failed to build any momentum with the ball.

Fifty up for Kohli

RCB never looked likely to fall short in their chase of 172, with Kohli taking centre-stage to bring up a personal IPL landmark.  

With his knock of 82 runs from 49 balls, Kohli recorded his 50th score of 50 runs or more in the IPL. Only David Warner (60) has more half-centuries in the competition's history.

Australian duo Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Starc insist the side has moved on from the 2018 sandpaper scandal that rocked the team last time they met South Africa in a Test series.

Australia and the Proteas will lock horns for the first time since the fateful 2018 tour of South Africa in a three-game Test series starting on Saturday at the Gabba in Brisbane.

The 2018 scandal rocked Australian cricket, leading to Steve Smith and David Warner's 12-month bans, along with the loss of their leadership positions. Head coach Darren Lehmann stepped aside, with Justin Langer instilled in the aftermath to restore the team's reputation.

Khawaja was part of the side for the third Test in Cape Town in 2018 when the ball tampering saga emerged but said those ghosts had been banished.

"It honestly hasn't been and I'm being genuine," Khawaja told reporters on Thursday when asked if the sandpaper scandal had been discussed internally. "It's because time heals all wounds.

"The guys have come so far from there, both as individual players, but also as a team.

"Everyone's got so many different things going on in their life from where they were four years ago. That actually gave guys a lot of perspective.

"Australian cricket, both as a whole and as individual as players, we were probably at rock bottom right there."

Starc was also part of that Australian side in Cape Town, but echoed Khawaja's sentiments.

"I think both teams have probably evolved since," Starc said. "It's been an evolution of our group across the formats.

"We're very happy, chilled, relaxed, [in an] enjoyable environment and hopefully it's going to show in our cricket and result in a positive performance in these three Tests."

Faf du Plessis, who was the South Africa captain during the 2018 series, fueled the flames ahead of the series with an extract in his newly released book, accusing Smith of "milking" physical contact with Kagiso Rabada in the first Test of that tour.

The 2018 series was full of intensity, with the Smith-Rabada clash one of many heated incidents leading up to the fateful sandpaper scandal.

"This episode has almost been forgotten against the backdrop of what the series still had up its sleeve, or more accurately, down its trousers," Du Plessis wrote.

"They brushed shoulders during one of KG’s overs but Smith milked it like a football player. We knew that KG was one demerit point away from a suspension."

Johnson Charles of the St Lucia Kings and Kyle Mayers of the Barbados Royals were among the 12-man 2022 Hero CPL Team of the Tournament released on Friday. Noticeably absent, however, is Brandon King of the Jamaica Tallawahs, who is the second highest run-scorer in the tournament and one of only three men who have scored hundreds in this year’s tournament.

The team that was picked by the Hero CPL commentary team – Ian Bishop, Samuel Badree, Daren Ganga, Simon Doull and Danny Morrison, also includes South Africa’s Faf Du Plessis, who captained the Kings and Tallawahs’ captain Rovman Powell.

 In fact, players from the Kings and Tallawahs dominated the selection with only Sunil  Narine of four-time champions Trinbago Knight Riders among the selectees while other than Mayers, only Jason Holder was selected among the 11 from the Barbados Royals.

 However, the selection panel picked the Royals’ Ramon Simmonds as the 12th man as a result of his impressive performances throughout the tournament.

 Simmonds is one of the 12 emerging players in the Hero CPL squads and has been an important part of the Barbados Royals team in 2022. 

 The 2022 Hero CPL Team of the Tournament: Johnson Charles (Saint Lucia Kings), Kyle Mayers (Barbados Royals), Faf Du Plessis (Saint Lucia Kings), Rovman Powell (Jamaica Tallawahs), Raymon Reifer (Jamaica Tallawahs), Imad Wasim (Jamaica Tallawahs), Jason Holder (Barbados Royals), David Wiese (Saint Lucia Kings), Alzarri Joseph (Saint Lucia Kings), Mohammad Amir (Jamaica Tallawahs) Sunil Narine (Trinbago Knight Riders) and 12th man – Ramon Simmonds (Barbados Royals).

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