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Feature

In Case You Missed It: Rain blights WTC final, Shakib kicks up a storm

Our best content from the week gone by

Test mace or rain stick?  •  ICC

Test mace or rain stick?  •  ICC

Could New Zealand follow up their first series win in England since 1999 with the first World Test Championship trophy? It's the weekend of the final in Southampton, two years in the making, but currently the only one winning… is rain, as the first day's play looks a wash. The weather held up a bit longer in Bristol, where England women have the upper hand in the women's Test while India's batting struggles. Dive into the best stories from a busy week of cricket in our round-up.
Fortress Edgbaston falls as England's not-so-fancy batters crash the party
England lost their first home series since 2014 as New Zealand decimated one of the weakest batting line-ups the hosts have fielded for years. George Dobell says Joe Root may have claimed responsibility, but it's the ECB's years of neglect of the County Championship that's to blame for the poor showing. Irrespective of the outcome, the Birmingham crowd made the most of post-lockdown cricket. Matt Roller intrepidly returned to the stands to sample the unlocked atmosphere.
Kagiso Rabada takes five as South Africa clinch innings win in first Test
West Indies were all out for 97 in the first innings and Roston Chase was the only batter to offer any resistance with a top score of 62 in the second.
This is us: New Zealand's climb to the top
On the eve of the World Test Championship final, Andrew Fidel Fernando traces New Zealand's journey from whingers no one liked, to opponents everyone adores. S Rajesh digs into the numbers to show how New Zealand have transformed into world beaters since 2014 - their Test stats have been remarkable over the last seven years, led by a core group of players who have provided a stability they have often lacked in the past. Among those names is also Trent Boult, who has become one of New Zealand's greats. James Borrowdale goes behind the secrets of Boult's success.
Does Ashwin hold the key to the World Test Championship final?
If it stays dry in Southampton and spins a bit, as pitches there are inclined to do, Mark Nicholas wonders if might it be India's game? It could be, says Aakash Chopra, if India follow these five simple rules.
Shakib Al Hasan won't change, because the BCB is incapable of changing him
Drama at the DPL this week where Shakib Al Hasan lost his temper at umpires twice during the same match, copping a three-match ban - and it isn't the first time he's had disciplinary issues. Mohammad Isam says the star allrounder has crossed the line many times, and it's because the Bangladesh board has bent to accommodate him.
Kate Cross: 'We all get really excited when the whites come out'
The England seamer is hoping her Test experience comes to the fore as they take on India in the first Test between the two countries in seven years. And one among the five India players donning their whites for the first time, Sneh Rana has come through personal tragedy to make a successful debut in the match.
Dinesh Karthik: 'In T20, batting at Nos. 5-7 is a specialist role'
The India batter believes there is still a specific role for him in the national team, one that his time in the IPL has helped him develop.
It's coming home. Maybe. Who cares, really?
Two years, so many matches, a pandemic in the middle - the build-up for the WTC final has been a roller coaster. Could the two WTC finalists be any more excited, wonders Alan Gardner in this month's Light Roller.
Rashid Khan playing in the PSL is a sort of homecoming
At a time when Afghanistan is in the world's political focus again, the first pan-subcontinental star offers a respite from all that heavy context, says Osman Samiuddin.
Usman Khawaja: 'There's only three spots in the top order. If you don't fit in them, it can be pretty tough'
Playing in his very first PSL, the Islamabad-born Australia batter spoke to Danyal Rasool about thriving in chaos, playing on gut feel, and trying to find a spot in the Australia T20 World Cup squad.
Why the last five years have been tougher for Test batters than the rest of this century
It's harder to get starts, home and away; the bowling is generally high-quality and more relentless; and conditions have become more difficult to combat in some places too. Himanish Ganjoo does the math.
The best teams across 145 years of Test cricket - part one
Anantha Narayanan does a comprehensive study, taking into account teams' performances over five-year blocks, relative strength of opposition, home-away record and result margin.