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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Further tales of two Tests#4

At Durban Australia 352 and 5/331 dec (94.4 ov ov, P Hughes 160, R Ponting 81) v South Africa
138 and 2/244 (80 ov, J Kallis 84*, AB de Villiers 68*) Test #2 D4

At Port of Spain England 6/546 dec and 3/80 (15 ov) v West Indies 544 (178.4 ov, S Chanderpaul 147*, B Nash 109 ,C Gayle 102 , S Broad 3/67, G Swann 3/131) Test #5 D4

South Africa need another 302 runs with 8 wickets in hand to bring off an unlikely victory at Durban. The likelihood of them doing so, or at least holding out for a draw, has increased since they began to chase 546.

Australia batted on for a short time today, during which Phillip Hughes advanced to 160/323b (15x4, 3x6) before being dismissed.

Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla provided a reasonable foundation for the South African chase, but the really impressive work was done by Jacques Kallis 84*/161b (11x4) and AB deVilliers 68*/166b (7x4). The Australian frontline pace bowlers are tiring, Andrew McDonald has looked ordinary, and while Marcus North has bowled economically he hasn't looked like taking a wicket. Some of Simon Katich's left arm wrist spinners were more hittable but others looked threatening on the increasingly benign pitch.

Durban has a tradition of pitches holding up over a long time: it is now 70 years to the day(s) of the 1939 South Africa - England test which was left drawn on the ninth scheduled (eighth actual playing) day so that the England team could catch their ship home.

Australia may regret dropping Kallis at slip from the first ball he faced, and it won't be a surprise to see Graeme Smith come to the crease if he feels that circumstances warrant.


At Port of Spain a draw looks likely after the West Indies took their first innings total to within two of England's.

Brendan Nash's 109/257b (17x4 - most of them on the off side) was his maiden Test century. He agonised on 99 for what must have been more than half an hour. Shivnarine Chanderpaul accelerated today to compile an impressive 147*/361b (13x4,1x6). Stuart Broad bowled well in the later stages but the others found the pitch didn't give them the fourth day assistance they'd wished for.

England are only 78 ahead: it's hard to see ten Windies wickets falling on day 5, even if England rocket ahead in the first session before declaring.

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