Hardie hammers Hurricanes as Scorchers cement first, Gill double ton sinks Kiwis, Amla quits

A commanding Aaron Hardie knock has helped Perth Scorchers reclaim top spot on the Big Bash ladder with a seven-wicket win over Hobart Hurricanes.

Hardie plundered an unbeaten 90 off 62 balls at Optus Stadium on Wednesday, ensuring the hosts reached their target of 147 with 15 balls to spare.

The young gun put on a 127-run stand with Josh Inglis (53 off 35), who anchored the innings to perfection.

Electric quick Lance Morris earlier snared two key wickets to help Perth restrict the Hurricanes to 9-146 after the visitors won the toss and elected to bat.

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With two games remaining, the Scorchers are well-placed to secure the right to host a final qualifier at their Optus Stadium fortress where they have lost just once this season.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 18: Aaron Hardie of the Scorchers bats during the Men's Big Bash League match between the Perth Scorchers and the Hobart Hurricanes at Optus Stadium, on January 18, 2023, in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Will Russell - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Aaron Hardie. (Photo by Will Russell – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Hardie hit his first ball faced for a boundary and showcased an array of shots on the way to his fourth half-century for the season. The 24-year-old has made the No.3 spot his own in the absence of the injured Mitch Marsh.

“I’m enjoying batting up the order,” Hardie said. “We certainly have a lot of trust through our batting order, which allows us to take risks a little bit earlier.”

Perth overcame a nervous start in which they lost openers Stephen Eskinazi and Cameron Bancroft within the first two overs.

Eskinazi holed out at mid-on off Riley Meredith’s bowling for a second-ball duck before Bancroft was trapped lbw by left-arm spinner Paddy Dooley, with the Hurricanes correctly reviewing the initial not out decision.

Hardie won a captivating battle with Dooley, who hurt his groin and did not field after completing his overs. Test prospect Morris (2-21) led the way with the ball for Perth, dismissing danger men Caleb Jewell – who had scored three 50s from his past five innings – and skipper Matthew Wade cheaply in his opening spell.

Wade departed for a third-ball duck, caught brilliantly by a diving Inglis after miscuing an attempted ramp shot. Perth is the best-performing fielding side this season, according to broadcaster Fox Cricket, and the hosts again held onto nearly all of their chances.

Nick Hobson almost pulled off a one-handed screamer at square leg to dismiss Zak Crawley but could only get his fingertips to the ball. Crawley built a promising 31-run stand with Tim David before they fell to successive deliveries by Ashton Agar and Jason Behrendorff.

Reduced to 5-66 halfway through their innings, the Hurricanes saved their power surge for late in the innings and tailenders Tom Andrews (27) and Nathan Ellis (24) delivered some lusty blows to improve their total.

Perth reaped the benefits of a four-man pace attack after recalling Morris and Kelly to join Behrendorff, Andrew Tye (2-30) and offspinner Agar. Fifth-placed Hobart have three games left to secure a finals berth.

“It’s still very much a tight ladder,” coach Jeff Vaughan said. “If we play some good cricket and get into the finals, we strongly believe we can get on a roll.”

Gill’s 208 tops Bracewell ton in India win

India have claimed a thrilling 12-run victory over New Zealand in the first one-day international in Hyderabad after Shubman Gill’s dazzling double century was answered by a brilliant ton from Michael Bracewell.

The 23-year-old opener Gill became the youngest batter to score an ODI double hundred, smashing 208 off 149 balls, featuring an incredible 19 fours and nine sixes, as he helped India set New Zealand a target of 350 in Wednesday’s series opener.

He became the fifth Indian batsman to score 200 in the format after Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan. But apart from Gill, the rest of India’s batting order struggled to add runs, with captain Rohit Sharma making the second-highest contribution with 34.

Big-hitting Virat Kohli could only manage eight in their formidable total of 8-349 on a slow pitch.

New Zealand opener Finn Allen made 40 but the rest of the batsmen did very little until Bracewell produced a batting masterclass after coming in at number seven.

He made 140, hitting 12 fours and 10 sixes, off 78 balls as he kept the visitors in the contest along with Mitchell Santner (57), as the pair put on 162 in only 102 balls for the seventh wicket.

Bracewell took the game until the final over, when he became the last player to be sent packing with four balls to spare. Shardul Thakur (2-54) held his nerve as his slow yorker trapped Bracewell lbw.

Bracewell’s knock was the third-fastest ODI hundred by a New Zealander, scored off only 57 balls but the visitors were eventually bowled out for 337.

“Once Mitchell and I settled we started believing. We wanted to take it deep to give us a chance. Unfortunately we fell short right at the end,” said Bracewell.

India seamer Mohammed Siraj was the pick of the bowlers with 4-46, including two late wickets at a crucial stage, while Kuldeep Yadav and Shardul Thakur also bagged two wickets each.

Gill went to his 150 off 122 balls before accelerating to strike another 58 off 27 deliveries, including five monster sixes, as he notched up the highest ODI score ever made against New Zealand.

“I wasn’t thinking of the 200 but once I hit the sixes at the end I did feel that I could get it,” said player of the match Gill. “It definitely gives me a sense of satisfaction but the game went much closer than I expected.”

The second ODI will be in Raipur on Saturday followed by the third game in Indore on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe earn last-ball win over Ireland

Wicketkeeper Clive Madande has proved Zimbabwe’s hero, hitting a four off the last ball of the game to win the first one-day international against Ireland by three wickets in a rain-shortened series opener at Harare Sports Club.

Zimbabwe made 13 off the last over to clinch the victory on Wednesday as they reached their Duckworth-Lewis target of 214 in 37 overs with seven wickets down.

Ireland were asked to bat first and made 4-288 after centuries from captain Andy Balbirnie and Harry Tector.

Balbirnie retired hurt on 121 and Tector was 101 not out to drive the Irish to a good total.

They built a partnership of 212 off 216 balls before Balbirnie top-edged a delivery into the grill of his own helmet and left the field because of concussion protocols.

Sikandar Raza returned to the Zimbabwe team after playing in overseas T20 leagues to make 43 in the rain-affected chase.

Ryan Burl’s 59 off 41 helped set up the home team’s dramatic victory but he was run out and was one of two Zimbabwe wickets to fall in that last over before Madande won the day.

Amla to retire once and for all

South African great Hashim Amla has announced his retirement from professional cricket.

The 39-year-old, who scored more than 18,000 runs for the Proteas, called time on his international career in 2019, but has continued playing for Surrey and helped bring the County Championship crown to the Oval in 2022.

Amla scored the last of his 57 first-class centuries for Surrey against Northamptonshire in September but has decided against taking part in their title defence.

Amla told Surrey’s official website: “I have great memories of the Oval ground and to finally leave it as a player fills me with immense gratitude for what has been.

“A sincere thank you to (director of cricket) Alec Stewart and the entire Surrey staff, players and members for their support.”

Hashim Amla. (Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Overton unlikely to be fit for Ashes

Jamie Overton’s hopes of forcing his way back into the England team this year for the Ashes summer have been derailed by the Surrey fast bowler suffering a stress fracture to his lower back.

Overton made his Test debut against New Zealand at Headingley last June and was an unused squad member in the England side that claimed a 3-0 series win in Pakistan before Christmas.

He has been forced to cut short a stay in the United Arab Emirates, where he was due to play for Gulf Giants in the International League T20, after being diagnosed with a lumbar stress fracture.

“Jamie, who had been in the UAE, has returned to the UK and further investigations have … revealed that he has sustained a stress fracture of the lumbar spine,” county side Surrey said in a statement. “He will now begin a period of rehabilitation.”

Struggling Bavuma keeps Proteas ODI captaincy vs England

Temba Bavuma has been retained as South Africa’s ODI captain while the Proteas have drafted in fast bowler Sisanda Magala for a crunch three-match series against England.

Bavuma admitted he would “think about” continuing as limited-overs skipper after South Africa’s shock group-stage elimination at last autumn’s T20 World Cup, but he remains in charge of the 50-over side.

With new white-ball head coach Rob Walter not officially on board until February 1 – the date of the final match against England – his Test counterpart Shukri Conrad will oversee the series.

Temba Bavuma. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

South Africa’s qualification hopes for this year’s World Cup in India are hanging by a thread as they sit 11th in an ODI Super League with only the top eight guaranteed automatic entry into the tournament.

South Africa must win three of their last five matches – they play a two-match series against the Netherlands after England – to stand a chance of leapfrogging Ireland, Sri Lanka and the West Indies and avoid a separate qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe in June.

England, who have already qualified for the 2023 World Cup, named their squad before Christmas, with Jofra Archer included and set to make his much-anticipated return from elbow and back injuries.

South Africa ODI squad to face England: T Bavuma (c), Q de Kock (wkt), R Hendricks, M Jansen, H Klaasen, S Magala, K Maharaj, J Malan, A Markram, D Miller, L Ngidi, A Nortje, W Parnell, K Rabada, T Shamsi, R van der Dussen.

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