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Friday, December 28, 2012

Sri Lanka implode as Australia keep pressure on: T2D3

Australia 460 (Clarke 106, Johnson 92*, Watson 83, Warner 62, Prasad 3/106, Eranga 3/109) def Sri Lanka 156 (Sangakkara 58, Johnson 4/63) and 103 (24.2 ov, Mathews 35, Sangakkara 27 ret hurt,  2 others absent injured) by an innings and 201 runs. T2/3 D3/5 at MCG. Australia lead series 2-0.

After presevering in the field and with the ball yesterday, albeit without really getting back into the match, today Sri Lanka fell apart today in the face of hostile Australian bowling and sharp fielding and their own feeble self-belief. On a good batting wicket 1/1 (a foolish run out) became 2/1, 3/3, 4/13. When Kumar Sangakkara retired hurt it was effectively 5/62. As it turned out it was really 7/62, as two other players were already injured. A further 8 overs was all that was necessary to conclude proceedings.

Matches as one sided as this are not a good advertisement for Test or Sri Lankan cricket. While there were many good things to commend about Australia the recent loss to South Africa and the looming Test tours to India and, especially, England don't give a clear guide to our prospects. More about this later.,


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day: round the clock cricket

A long day of cricket watching, and it's still not over yet, if (which is unlikely) I decide to stay up for the third (and deciding) South Africa- New Zealand T20.

I've spent much of the day on the couch watching, in turn, highlights of a href
=""> close India - Pakistan T20 won by Pakistan then day 1 live of the href="> second Australia - Sri Lanka Test followed by the Sydney Sixers- Hobart Hurricanes BBL match at the SCG  which  href="">the visitors won , thanks to 63*/52b from Ricky Ponting.
Of course the Test is my primary interest (I would say that wouldn't I?). Yet with Australia 3/150 (39ov, Warner 62) almost ahead of Sri Lanka's paltry 156 (43.4 ov, Sangakkara 58 -taking him past 10,000 runs in Tests, Johnson 4/63, the other frontliners 2 apiece) the match looks over already. I know I implied the same after D1 of the Adelaide Test , but Sri Lanka look to have too many gaps in all three departments of the game which they've not been able to plug. Bad as the batting (with Kumar Sangakkara excepted) was the fielding fell apart in the last session as both captain Clarke 20* and vice captain Watson 13* were let off, Clarke twice.

Tomorrow Australia should be able to build a substantial lead, albeit in front of a much smaller crowd than today's 65,000 or so.

=""> Test scorecard

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Australia concede Test, series so South Africa keep #1 Test ranking: T3D4

South Africa 225 & 569 def Australia 163 & 322 (82.5 ov,, Starc 68*, Cowan 53, Clarke 44, Steyn 3/72, Petertson 3/127) by 309 runs: T3/3 D4/5 at WACA Ground Perth. South Africa win series 1-0 and retain #1 Test ranking.

Not a good day for the home team.There were some periods of resistance as several players  got a start but none was able to stay or combine long enough in a partnership to loosen the South African grip on the match. Had Mitchell Starc 68*/43b (2x6, 9x4) and Nathan Lyon 31/43b (6x4) not added 87 - the largest Australian partnership of the match.- for the last wicket the margin would have been even greater.

 It was Ricky Ponting's last Test innings: 8/23b (2x4). Far from his best, though I and many others will recall his great years and his great strokeplay - especially his signature pull shot.

Replacing Ponting will be only one of the problems facing the selectors before the looming  Sri Lanka Tests, which will be followed in quick succession by series away against India and England. Just over a week ago (before T2D5 to be precise) the outlook, even without Ponting, didn't look too bad but after the Proteas's fighting draw in Adelaide and their overwhelming (and well deserved) victory in this Test, Australia's weaknesses in both batting and bowling (which had been concealed by some excellent individual performances) have been exposed like a rabbit caught in a spotlight.


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Two days to play, one possible result T3D3

Australia 163 & 0/40 (13 ov) need 592 runs with 10 2nd inns wickets in hand to beat South Africa 225 & 569 (111.5 ov, Amla 196, deVilliers 169, Smith 84, Starc 6/154, Johnson 4/110) T3/3 D3/5 at WACA Ground Perth.

Two top quality innings: Hashim Amla's elegantly aggressive 196/221b (21x4) and AB deVilliers's pugnacious, short form influenced 169/184b (3x6, 21x4), saw South Africa cruise to 569 and set Australia an unlkely impossible 632 to win, albeit on a wicket which is holding up well.

The two Mitchells took all the wickets: Starc 6/154 (including mopping up the tail) and Johnson a more impressive (all recognised batters) 4/110. But for much of the day the Australian bowlers and supporters must have wondered where the next wicket was coming from.

David Warner and Ed Cowan kept the Proreas at bay for 13 overs, but with two hot, with no rain forecast, days and at least 180 overs to survive it doesn't require more than a rudimentary knowledge of cricket to see that Australia has Buckley's chance of winning or holding out for a draw.


South Africa holds whip hand after Australia collapses: T3D2

South Africa 225 & 2/230 (38 ov, Amla 99*; Smith 84) lead Australia 163 (53.1 ov, Wade 68, Steyn 4/40, R Peterson 3/44) by 292runs with 8 second inns wickets in hand.. T3/3 D2/5 at WACA Ground, Perth.

After only two days' play the Test and the series, not to mention the no1 Test nation ranking, have been decided.

South Africa at last played up to their pre-series form with both ball and bat. Australia just fell to pieces, losing 4/12 (including David Warner to a windy woof, Ricky Ponting plumb lbw - confirmed by DRS - and Michael Clarke caught behind) at the start of play to impressively hostile bowling from Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.

From the depths of 6/45 Matthew Wade 68/102 (3x6, 7x4) hit out while Mike Hussey did his (on this occasion below par). best to support him. Wade, John Hastings, a handy 32, and Mitchell Johnson all lent some respectability to Robin Peterson's figures by not choosing the right ball to hit, so the Australian revival was less significant than the South African one had been.

163 was a feeble response and South Africa knew it. Expected consequence: positive batting; unexpected consequences: (1) weak Australian bowling and (2) South African lead of 292 with three days to play.

Take nothing away from Hashim Amla 99*/84b (10x4) and Graeme Smith 84/100b (13x4). They have rubbed salt into the wounds inflicted by their bowlers and turned the match and series on its head.

A black day for Australian cricket.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Fresh bowling legs sharpen Australia T3D1

Australia 2/33 (11 ov) trail South Africa 225 (74ov, Plessis 78*. Lyon 3/41)  by 192 runs with 8 first inns wkts in hand: T3/3 D1/5 at Perth. South Africa won toss and chose to bat,

Australia's decision to rely on the support staff's opinion and omit (? questionabIy) Peter Siddle and (?understandably)Ben  Hilfenhaus looked wrong when medium pacer John Hastings on debut opened the bowling into the WACA breeze after Graeme Smith won the toss and  (no surprise) opted no bat.

The new, or in Mitchell Johnson's case, repurposed (read into that what you will) home attack took a while to settle in. But once Mitchell Starc found his line and length, Hastings (who was billed as an accurate bowler) his and Johnson his dimly remembered zest, Australia hammered back into the match, reducing the Proteas on either side of lunch from 1/61 t0 6/75.  Good bowling after a lacklustre (read inaccurate) start.

Once again (OK, in his second Test) Faf du Plessis 78* (12x4) mustered the lower-middle order and the visitors made batting look easier as they advanced to 225: a modest score, but much better than looked likely for much of the innings.

Australia's reply was tentative, to say the least: Ed Cowan caught ar slip for a first ball duck and Shane Watson given out lbw by the DRS.But David Warner and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon dug in to allow Australia (and Ricky Ponting in his final Test) to fight another day.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Long day's journey into nought

Australia 550 & 8/267 dec drew with South Africa 388 & 8/248 (148 ov, duPlessis 110*, Kallis 46, Siddle 4/65, Lyon 3/49) T2/3 D5/5 at Adelaide. Series level 0-0 with one Test to play.

Faf duPlessis 110*/376b (14x4), supported chiefly by AB deVilliers 33/220b ( 0 boundaries) and Jacques Kallis 46/110b (6x4,) batted with grit, determination and a straight bat to reprieve South Africa from what looked at 4/77 overnight  to be a likely (probable?) defeat. He was deservedly named Player of the Match. Michael Clarke's double century may have put Australia on course for a win but duPlessis's last day heroics together with his first innings 78 kept the Proteas in with a chance of securing a draw.

I went to the Oval but left at lunch to watch the rest of game (and  England's win over India) on TV  with South Africa 4/126, having scored 49 from 35 overs without loss in the session. Even then, despite a couple of DRS reviews which favoured the Proteas, the ball seemed to be hitting the middle of the bat regularly. The pitch, which didn't help the bowlers as much as the script (and previous Adelaide Tests) said it should, played some part, but the impressive mental and technical skills of duPlessis and, at that point, deVilliers pointed to a long hot afternoon (and evening for the bowlers.

When Peter Siddle bowled deVilliers shortly after lunch 5/134,  Australia had a glimmer, perhaps more,  of hope.  But Jacques Kallis and du Plessis dispelled this with more stonewalling (less so in the injured Kallis's case). The three specialist Australian bowlers persisted,iwith the occasional near miss until Nathan Lyon, whose 50-31-49-3, snared Kallis: 6/233. Then, with the tail exposed at one end,  Peter Siddle roused himself for a final effort, taking two more wickets before Morne Morkel played out the last - his 22nd and the team's 98th of the day - leaving South Africa exultant and Australia, not least Siddle after his33-15-65-4,deflated.

South Africa will regard this non-result as a victory and Australia as a defeat. Both are wrong, but with T3 starting in a few days the side which regroups the quickest and which is able to replace its casualties and failures effectively will start the Perth Test on the front foot. But, as this match showed, over five days things change.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Australia on course to go one up T2D4

South Africa 388 & 4/77 (50 ov)  need 353 runs with six 2nd innings wickets in hand to defeat Australia 550 & 8/267 dec (Hussey 54, Warner 41, Morkel 3/50, Kleinveldt 3/65): T2/3 D4/5 at Adelaide Oval.

South Africa did enough to make the match go into the final day when, with six wickets in hand and 353 runs to get, they'll require a superhuman effort (and perhaps a little assistance from the weather) to hang on for a draw against a tight Australian attack.

Once Michael Clarke 38/61b (1x6, 3x4) and Mike Hussey 54/95b (7x4) had kept the Proteas attack at bay and taken the lead .beyond 300, Australia looked pretty safe.Further runs from the tail enabled Clarke to declare with a lead of 430.

The wicket was still playing reasonably well for an Adelaide fourth day one, yet even with James Pattinson unable to bowl (for the rest of the Test season we are told) 430 looked beyond South Africa. Only a big innings or two from Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and, perhaps, AB deVilliers,  with some lower order support from the injured Jacques Kallis and the others, would give them a very slim chance of victory.

As it turned out both Smith and Amla fell cheaply, as did Alviro Petersen and Jacques Rudolph. At 4/45 de Villiers and Faf du Plessis dug in, adding 32 from the day's last 29 overs. They took no risks whatsoever and, it must be said blunted, the hitherto sharp edge of the Australian bowling. Whether they'll be able to keep this up for another day looks highly unlikely...but South Africa have done unlikely things against Australia before.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bowlers keep South Africa in with a (slight) chance T2D3

Australia 550 & 5/111 (32 ov, Warner 41, Kleinveldt 3/14) lead South Africa 388 (124.3 ov, Smith 122, du Plessis 78, Kallis 58, Petersen 54, Hilfenhaus 3/49) by 273 runs with five 2nd inns wkts in hand: T2/3 D3/5 at Adelaide

While Graeme Smith 122/ 244b (14x4) didn't add much to his overnight score,  Faf du Plessis 78/159b (1x6, 13x4) on debut and, coming in at no9, the injured Jacques Kallis 58/93b (1x6, 10x4) kept the tenacious Australian attack at bay long enough to post what was, after 7/250 at one point, a respectable but, after the overnight expectations of 2/217, a disappointing score.

Ed Cowan and David Warner's 77 opening stand looked to be taking the game beyond the Proteas, but then Rory Kleinveldt 6-1-14-3 struck against the brittle top order, leaving Michael Clarke 9* and Mike Hussey * to attempt yet again to give Australia a goodish (read 350+) lead. After an unconvincing 16, Ricky Ponting's tenure in the side will be questioned again  (and even I am wondering whether his place can be justified) .

On paper Australia are still in the better position. They have runs on the board and South Africa have to bat last on a wearing Adelaide Oval wicket.

While both sides are a bowler short, with two days left to play a draw seems the least likely outcome and an Australian win the most.

Scorecard .

Friday, November 23, 2012

South Africa fight back with ball and bat: T2D2

South Africa 2/217 (67 ov, Smith 111*, Petersen 54) trail Australia 550 (107.2 ov, Clarke 230, Warner 119, M Hussey 103, Pattinson 42, Morkel 7/148) by 333 runs on first innings: T2/3 D2/5 at Adelaide.

Nobody would have expected a repeat of the first day's pyrotechnics yet few would have expected South Africa to regroup as emphatically as they did today. First Morne Morkel led a refocused Protea pace attack to take the last five home wickets for 68, 46 of which came from the last wicket partnership. To the disappointment of those like me who hoped to see if  Michael Clarke could reach 300, he added only six before Morkel uprooted his middle stump. Still 230/257b (1x6, 40x4) was a considerable achievement.

South Africa were batting for four overs before lunch, which Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen  survived. After the interval they batted on mostly comfortably against an Australian attack which, while never as ragged as the South African one was at times on D1, was more steady than menacing on a wicket which is still playing well (though Nathan Lyon was able to extract some bounce and spin). It wasn't too much of a surprise when the first wicket, Petersen's for 54/112b (7x4), came from a run out, though it was when the second, Hashim Amla's for 11, came from a stumping off David Warner's spin.

Through these incidents and beyond Smith batted solidly towards a century, which he duly (and deservedly) achieved. His 111* /220b (12x4) may not have been in the aggressive Clarke-Warner-Hussey mould, but it has, with Morkel's bowling in the first session, both saved South Africa's face and kept them in the match.

 Today was low 30s hot, and tomorrow is expected to be even hotter. Smith, who has been on the field for the entire match so far, will needless to say have to stay at the crease as long as possible  to marshal the rest of his team's batting (including Jacques Kallis, who cannot, because of a bizarre rule for injured players, bat higher than number 7). There's still plenty of time left to obtain a result, though another good day for the visitors will increase the likelihood of a draw.

Scorecard <'a>

Australia's batting juggernaut hammers weak South African attack: T2D1

Australia 5/482 (86.5 ov, Clarke 224*, Warner 119, Hussey 103) v South Africa; T2/2 D1/5 at Adelaide.
A very good (and typical).Adelaide cricket season day, sunny and temperature in upper 20s.

The Oval surrounds are, because of redevelopment construction, far from typical, though the playing area, notwithstanding some downsizing as part of the redevelopment, looked (and turned out to be) its usual billiard table self.

So when Michael Clarke won the toss it followed that Australia would bat. And bat rhey did, recovering aggressively from the loss of three early wickets and taking advantage of South Africa's bowling injury woes (Vernon Philander, out before the toss, and Jacques Kallis,  2/19 before he was sidelined in the first session) and ineptitude to post a huge 5/482.
David Warner 119/112b (4x6, 16x4) made the early running with a characteristic innings, then Clarke 224*/ 243b (1x6, 39x4) and Mike Hussey 103/ 137b (4x6, 9x4) kept the ball rolling to all parts of the ground.

3/55 became 3/102 at lunch before some hard to fathom bowling changes (none involving Dale Steyn) helped open the floodgates: 108 runs from 12.2 overs in the first hour, 178 from 26 for the session. And then another 202 from 35.5 in the long final session.

So much for the stats. While each of the three century makers had a little bit of good fortune in addition to the weakened opposition attack, their batting was superb. Each of us who were present would have some special memories of the many to choose from. For me it was Clarke hitting five fours from one Morne Morkel over: most of them beautifully and classically driven along the ground.

For supporters of  Australia and cricket lovers in general, a day to remember. For South African supporters, a day, if not to forget, at least to hope that there is no repetition, or anything approaching it, for the rest of this brief series (and beyond).



Monday, April 30, 2012

Soccer interlude: good weekend for the English blue teams

Now that there's a brief lull in the serious ie Test and (perhaps) ODI TV coverage   (the IPL isn't being shown here and I'm not missing it a bit) I've watched a bit of EPL soccer to help me readjust from Caribbean to local time...

Over the weekend it was great to see Wigan, the eternal battlers (who I saw lose 2-0 to Fulham at Craven Cottage in 2010), score 4 goals in the first half to give Newcastle a reality check (that was the final result). Then Chelsea, that much maligned but mercurial team, put the bunch of whingers (and those who follow the game closely will read between my lines)  QPR to the sword in similar fashion with 4 goals in the wet first half  before easing off to a 6-1 floor wipe.

Both Wigan and Chelsea home colours are  light/ royal  blue, as are Sheffield Wednesday's who weren't on TV (but who I did see beat Colchester 2-0 at home last October) . The Owls have somehow managed to steal a march on their crosstown rival Sheffield United and look likely (if they can hold their nerve and beat cellar dwellers Wycombe Wanderers at home this weekend) to gain automatic promotion from League 1.

But before all this,overnight (or at sparrowfart) there's what many eg are puffing as the best EPL match ever: the two Manchesters, top of the table.

One team's home colours are red and white, t'other blue and white (a lighter - duck egg - blue than the aforementioned teams but still blue)

A 0500 kickoff here but tempting fo get up (if only for the second half), eh?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sammy's hitting in vain as Australia complete 2-0 series win .

 Australia 328 & 259 beat West Indies 218 & 294 (96.3 ov, Chanderpaul 69, Sammy 61, Clarke 5/86, Lyon 3/87) by 75 runs: T3/3 D5/5 at Dominica. Australia win series 2-0 and retain Frank Worrell Trophy.

Michael Clarke and Nathan Lyon worked their way through the remaining West Indies batters to give Australia a comfortable, though not emphatic, win in this Test and the series.

Once the third umpire decided, after much deliberation, that Clarke had caught and bowled Narsingh Deonarine for 13 the West Indies were 6/180, still less than halfway to their target on a pitch which was offering considerable bounce and turn to the spinners without ever being unplayable.  Darren Sammy  had other ideas and he played a go-down-with -all-guns-blazing innings of 61/51b (3x6, 4x4) which took his team close enough to Australia to make them lament the missed opportunities, especially of the top order batting.

I never expected the West Indies to be as competitive as they turned out to be (Australia 3-0 was my private prediction) so there was enough to keep me interested, though the time difference between the Caribbean and here persuaded me to follow much of the play via the daily 2-3 hours of Fox Sports highlights.

Australia, have since last September played 14 Tests, including series (or two match encounters) against Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand, India and West Indies, and have moved up the world Test rankings to no 3, supplanting India.The team, or squad, despite some injuries and unanswered questions about the batting is looking in better shape than it did a year ago.

West Indies have to regroup and play England in three early season Tests. Most of the players will be match hardened, though how they'll adjust to the quick bowler friendly conditions in England after the spinning pitches of home is a moot point. They've chosen their   squad , omitting Kraigg Brathwaite and Carlton Baugh from the eleven which played this Test. The selectors have also not considered  Brendan Nash, who is playing county cricket with Kent and doing very well with the bat. He may not be in the same class (or quite as old) as the Player of the Series Shivnarine Chanderpaul , but he's been a solid performer in Tests until he lost form a year ago.

Less than three weeks to go (and slightly more congenial viewing hours).


Fox Sports report and link to video highlights

Friday, April 27, 2012

Late WI wickets keep Australia on track for T3 win

West Indies 218 & 5/173 (67.1 ov Chanderpaul 69, Bravo 45, Clarke 3/34) need 197 more runs with 5 wickets in hand to beat Australia 328 & 259 (85 ov, Ponting 57, Cowan 55, Shillingford 4/100, Roach 3/40, Deonarine 3/45) T3/3 D4/5 at Dominica.

The scorecard pretty well says it all: West Indies, with one top order batsman left (and Narsingh Deonarine, with all due respect, is not the person who immediately comes to mind if you try to think of a potential, against the considerable odds, matchwinner) aren't even halfway to their target.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo retrieved a grim looking 3/45, adding 110 before, in the closing overs of the day, first Bravo 45/148b (5x4) well caught by keeper Wade of Shane Watson then Chanderpaul 69/122b (6x4) was Michael Clarke's third victim (while Nathan Lyon remained wicketless).  West Indies desperately needed Chanderpaul at least and preferably both to fight another day, but wasn't to be and, barring rain, the last rites of the match and series will be played out, quite likely early, on D5.

West Indies have fought hard (most of the time) and haven't had the best of luck (or the onfield and DRS decisions) and a 0-2 loss will not be a fair reflection of the difference between the two teams.


Fox Sports report and link to video highlights


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Australia consolidate as West Indies struggle to rebuild after poor first innings: T3D3

Australia 6/200 (65 ov, Ponting 57, Cowan 55) & 328 lead West Indies 218 (87.2ov, Chanderpaul 68, Lyon 4/69) by 310 runs with 4 second innings wickets in hand. T3/3 D3/5 at Dominica.

It was not West Indies' day. After the remaining batters, including Shivnarine Chanderpaul  who doubled his overnight score to 68/164b (3x4),  couldn't produce the massive revival which was required to haul the team back into any sort of contention, Australia built on its first innings lead of 110 solidly and was in a very strong position at stumps.

There wasn't much scintillating cricket - certainly not enough to keep me awake even until lunch - but from the highlights it appeared that Australia put in a workmanlike day, exemplified by Nathan Lyon 33-7-69-4 continuing his persistent bowling while Ricky Ponting 57/130b (4x4) and Ed Cowan 55/123b (5x4) found some batting form.
The West Indies didn't give up in the field, but despite chipping away at the Australians haven't brought themselves right back into the game.There have been some unexpected reversals of form in this series but nothing approaching the miracle which will be needed if West Indies are to win this match.


Fox Sports report with link to video highlights

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Australia turn tables on West Indies T3 D2

 West Indies 8/165 (65 ov, Powell 40, Lyon 3/49) trail Australia 328 (114.5 ov, Wade 106, Warner 50, Watson 41, Shillingord 6/119) by 163 runs with 2 first innings wickets in hand: T3/3 D2/5 at Dominica.

Matt Wade stepped on the accelerator adding 82 runs in 74 balls to his overnight 22/72b, propelling Australia from a rickety overnight 7/212 to a much more comfortable 328. Then Australia's seven bowlers (thoughful captaincy again from Michael Clarke) chipped away at the West Indies) reducing them to a dismal 8/120 before ...yes, you guessed it, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 34*/110b (2x4) dug in while Ravi Rampaul 24*/33b (4x4) did his bit to see that their team's score at the close of play was a little less dismal.

  Wade and Michell Starc were Australia's great hopes when play resumed . Starc struck a few blows before being narrowly but foolishly run out for 35. Wade was dropped from a return catch to Kemar Roach early on but he, with Ben Hilfenhaus playing a low key supporting role, regrouped and struck out at the bowlers.

His 106/146b (3x6, 10x4) swung the match in Australia's favour. The Australian bowlers, aided by some poor batting, eg Kraigg Brathwaite caught at slip for his third consecutive duck and, perhaps, by a touch of good fortune (eg Kieran Powell dragging an ordinary looking delivery  from Nathan Lyon onto his wicket) worked their work through the order.

It's hard to see West Indies winning or, in the absence of rain, even drawing from here. Sure Chanderpaul is still there, but well as Rampaul might continue to support him, it's hard to see West Indies, even if things go well for them on D3, getting close enough to Australia's first innings score to make a game of it. 


Fox Sports report with link to video highlights


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Australia continue struggle against WI attack: T3D1

Australia 7/212 (90 ov, Warner 50, Shillingford 4/77) v West Indies T3/3 D1/5 at Dominica.

David Warner's 50 in an uncharacteristically snail-like 136b (6x4) which was nevertheless the top score reflected how difficult the Australian batting found the West Indies attack on a wicket which was not exactly batsman-friendly.

Only Ed Cowan of the top seven failed to make double figures, though Shane Watson's  41/120b (3x4) was the next highest to Warner, with whom he added 83 for the second wicket. Four others, including the two not out battters Matt Wade and Mitchell Starc made twenties.

Not a good day for the visitors though the West Indies kept up the pressure in the field after an early lapse gave Warner a life off Ravi Rampaul.  On his home ground Shane Shillingford's bounce and turn yielded 34-8-77-4. Apart from being an unusually long number of overs for a spinner to bowl in a day, let alone the first day of a Test, it has given the West Indies, not for the first time in the series, the upper hand. Without Warner's let off and Wade and Starc's unbroken eighth wicket partnership of 43, that upper hand would be more like a firm grip.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Always going to be a draw but West Indies have better of short D5: T2

Australia 311 & 8/160 dec (61.5 ov, Ponting 41, Roach 5/41)  drew with West Indies 257 & 2/53 (11ov): T2/3 D5/5 at Port of Spain. Australia lead series 1-0 (and retain Frank Worrell Trophy)

Australia struggled against the West Indies attack, to which all the frontline bowlers contributed, with Kemar Roach the standout with 18-5-41-5, which gave him 10 for the match and the Player of the Match award

But a word of praise for Fidel Edwards whose one wicket was the prize one, Ricky Ponting, caught at deep square mistiming his trademark pull shot early in the day's play for 41/85b (3x4).

When Michael Clarke was sharply caught and bowled by his opposite number Darren Sammy for 15 Australia were 5/95 and looking a little shaky (and giving me cause to think whether my prediction of a draw was a little rash). But Michael Hussey and Matthew Wade steadied things, adding 50 before a late flurry of wickets preceded a declaration setting West Indies 215 to win from a possible 59 overs.

As it turned out only 11 of those 59 could be bowled, during which Sammy, promoting himself to no 3 played a T20 style cameo of 30*/26 b (1x6, 4x4) which made victory seem at least possible (even though Ben Hilfenhaus had both openers - Kieran Powell  as he'd done in the first innings opting not to review a decision which may have saved - out cheaply).

While Australia looked to be in control for most of the match West Indies kept in there and wouldn't have found some positives about their performance. But as their coach, Ottis Gibson, said (stating the obvious) they are prone to some very poor periods of play, often an hour or so. Australia are far from on top of their game: the bowling has been OK (though both Peter Siddle and James Pattinson are injured and will miss the final Test), but the batting (stating the obvious) lacks the strength it showed in the home series v India.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rain in Port of Spain sends Test down the drain: T2 D4

 Australia 3/73 (30 ov, Roach 3/27) & 311 lead West Indies 257 (104.4 ov) by 127 runs with 7 second innings wickets in hand: T2/3 D4/5 at Port of Spain Trinidad.

The West Indies innings lasted four more balls before Michael Beer ended it with his second wicket of the match (and the third of his Test career).

Australia batted, Ed Cowan was missed at slip off a sitter from Fidel Edwards, but he, David Warner and Shane Watson all succumbed to Kemar Roach either side of a rain interruption. Ricky Ponting started watchfully (and was technically dropped from a sharp chance at short leg from Shane Shillingford's off spin) but grew in confidence to the tune of  32*/ 57b (2x4) before the rain returned, consigning the Test, barring exceptional circumstances, to a draw. Which will please the West Indies.

I'll stay up tonight and see what happens, but I'm not expecting much (though a confidence boosting few more runs to Ponting would make it worthwhile). . 

That's really all I can say.for now.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

West Indies thereabouts but not there as Lyon claws back: T2 D3

West Indies 9/252 (104 ov, Chanderpaul 93, Deonarine 55, Lyon 5/68) trail Australia 311 by 59 runs with 1 first inns wicket in hand: T2/3 D3/5 at Port of Spain.

Another short day, truncated by a power cut which disabled the review technology for 20 minutes before play began, and a lengthier rain delay with West Indies handily placed at 4/188.

When play resumed Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Narsingh Deonarine took the total to 230 and their partnership to 130 before Nathan Lyon struck twice in short orde.  First  Deonarine, trying to hit him off his length, was stumped for 55/139b (1x6, 7x4); then having looked certain to reach a ton, Chanderpaul followed soon after, lbw for 94/217b (1x6, 10x4). After D2's obdurate 1/26b his 93/191b today was much more fluent, perhaps as fluent as anyone could expect given the conditions.

At 5/231 a home team regroup was required, but it didn't eventuate:  Darren Sammy was caught at long on from a most uncaptainlike biffed drive, and with the field in, Lyon  and exposed the the shortcomings of  the tailenders twice more.

 West Indies went from a promising (and threatening enough for Michael Clarke to use eight bowlers in his bid for a breakthrough) 4/230 to a a disappointing and no doubt to them dispiriting 9/252. Lyon's conversion of 20-5-52-0 to 29-9-68-5 has given Australia the clear upper hand. With two days to play, the wicket continuing its slow decline and the West Indies to bat last, Australia are well placed to strive for a win.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

West Indies falter with bat after steady bowlers confine Australia to par score: T2 D2

West Indies 3/49 (25.3 ov) trail Australia 311 (135 ov, Hussey 73, Watson 56, Roach 5/105, Shillingford 3/93) by 262 runs with 7 first innings wickets in hand. T2/3 D2/5 at Port of Spain

Another slow day's cricket, this time with a rain interruption, during which I fell asleep and didn't wake up until near the end of the day's play.

Australia,thanks to a 79 run 8th wicket partnership between Mike Hussey 73/207b (1x6, 4x4) and James Pattinson 32/119b (5x4), approached 300.  Then the last four wickets fell cheaply, two of them to Kemar Roach who finished with 27-5-105-5, with one apiece to the persevering spinners Shane Shillingford 49-17-92-3 and Narsingh Deonarine 20-6-32-2, leaving Australia with 311, a total they'd have been satisified, though far from overjoyed, with.

But the West Indies batting faltered in the face of a varied attack. Captain Clarke astutely opened the bowling with spinner Michael Beer and Ben Hilfenhaus, each of whom took a wicket, as did James Pattinson later. At stumps Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul were hanging on for dear life (exemplified by the latter's 1 run from 26b).

Australia's 311 now looks a commanding total,though not yet one beyond the reach of the West Indies. But the two incumbents will need to perform well, and be well supported by the lower order if the home team is to take the significant lead which they'll surely need to insure against the pitfalls of batting last on a deteriorating wicket.


Fox Sports report with link to video highlights

A taste of the subcontinent as Australia graft in Port of Spain T2D1

Australia 5/208 (90ov, Watson 56, Clarke 45) v West Indies: T2/3 D1/5 at Port of Spain, Trinidad.

208 runs in a full day? This was another, like some of those in T1, redolent of 1950s Ashes matches or more recent subcontinental contests.

The team selection reflected each side's expectations of the wicket. Australia omitted Peter Siddle (minor injury) and, surprisingly (and unwisely?) Ryan Harris the T1 player of the match. In came James Pattinson and Michael Beer.  West Indies dropped Devendra Bishoo for Shane Shillingford and replaced the injured Kirk Edwards with Kieran Powell.

Michael Clarke won the toss, Australia batted and began breezily enough, adding 53 for the first wicket while the ball was new and the bowlers quick. But once the spinners came on the ball gripped and the scoring rate dropped. Wickets fell, not as frequently as the West Indies would have wished, thanks to decision reviews (Michael Clarke very fortunate to escape an lbw) and some poor catching.

Shane Watson's patient 56/172b (7x4) underpinned the innings after a slight wobble to 3/84 (including another Ricky Ponting failure). He added 84 for the fourth wicket with Clarke, who seemed to have ridden his luck before being caught pulling a Narsinghe Deonarine long hop for 45/99b (8x4). Watson followed shortly afterwards caught at short leg off Shillingford whose 32-11-56-2 attest to both his accuracy and the demons stirring in the pitch.

5/178 wasn't good but at least Mike Hussey, who was also missed in the field,26*/83b (2x4) and Matt Wade 11*/47b (1x4) hauled the total beyond 200. It doesn't look enough, especially with no Harris (or Siddle) in the lower order, but it's too early to call. Australia will be pleased with 300: West Indies must try to keep plugging away and get over their umpiring disappointments and fielding lapses.

Fox Sports report with link to video highlights

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another vindication of Test cricket as Australia scrape home T1 D5

Australia 9/406 dec & 7/192 (47 ov, Watson 52, Deonarine 4/53) beat West Indies 9/449 dec & 148 (66.4 ov, Hilfenhaus 4/27, Harris 3/31) by three wickets to lead series 1-0 with two matches to play: T1 D5 at Bridgetown.

 A cracking day's Test cricket. It  kept me me glued to the box for the West Indies innings and intermittently awake for much of Australia's second innings and wide awake for the last few overs.

West Indies, after wilting on D4, regrouped and kept harrying Australia in all departments, though they couldn't do quite enough to pull off a win. Australia's lower order batting and Michael Clarke's declaration kept the match alive and, while the middle and lower order West Indians made some amends for the disastrous opening they didn't do quite enough against Ben Hilfenhaus 17-7-27-4 and Ryan Harris 8.4-2-31-3 to set Australia a really challenging target. Or so it seemed at the time.

Even so the visitors struggled against a mixed bag of an attack: Fidel Edwards, Kemar Roach and Darren Sammy bowled well, and often sharply, while  Narsingh Deonarine's 11-1-53-4 reflected both a fifth day wicket assisting spin and the occasional lapses of a part time bowler;  Devendra Bishoo was expensive. (To be fair to Deonarine he did dismiss both Ricky Ponting for 14 and Michael Clarke for 6, something which not too many, if any, other bowlers would have done in such quick succession).

Shane Watson 52/57b (1x6,4x4), Ed Cowan a by many accounts (I dozed off during his dig) scratchy 34/100b (1x4) and Mike Hussey 32/26b (2x6, 2x4) took Australia slowly forward before Harris and Hilfenhaus nervously took Australia in fading light over the line to a deserved and hard fought victory. Yet the West Indies showed that they, even without Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo,  are no easybeats, and the rest of the series will be worth watching (if not live through the wee small hours then and the extended highlights).


Fox Sports report with link to video highlights

Australian players rated by Fox Sports

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fortunes turn as Australia seize initiative: T1 D4

West Indies 9/449 dec & 5/71 (38 ov, Hilfenhaus 3/17) lead Australia 9/406 dec (145 ov, Clarke 73, Harris 68, Hussey 48, Warner 42, Lyon 40*, Roach 3/72) by 114 runs with 5 second inns wickets in hand: T1/3 D4/5 at Bridgetown.

After Mike Hussey and Peter Siddle were dismissed in quick succession at the start of play Australia were 7/250, 199 behind the West Indies first innings  and seemingly beyond hope of any more than a draw.

I stayed up to watch what I thought might be the last rites, nodded off as Matt Wade, Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus improved the Australia's position, then woke up to find that Michael Clarke had declared 43 runs behind after Harris 68*/123b (7x4)  and Lyon 40*/(89b (6x4) had added an unbroken 77 for the last wicket. Harris had begun impressively and, I assume, continued in that vein while I was asleep.

As I rubbed my eyes I began to see that ithe declarationwas a good move: not enough time to force a victory but enough, in the right circumstances, to claim a few psychological points. So I went back to sleep, waking only to the surprising news that the West Indies had collapsed to 5/71, with their top five batters all out: 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 4/17, 5/67.

I can't say more until I've watched the Foxtel highlights of the day's play, except that the last day's play is set up to be a cracker: not necessarily in strokeplay, but certainly in the increasing tension which is a feature of the best Test cricket.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Now Australia's batting struggles against tenacious West Indies: T1D3

Australia 5/248 (95 ov, Clarke 73, Hussey 47*, Warner 42) trail West Indies 9/449 dec by 201 runs on first innings with 5 wickets in hand : T1/5 D3/5 at Bridgetown. 

Last evening's positive batting by David Warner and Ed Cowan turned today into a defensive crawl which saw  Australia add only 204 runs from 85.1 overs for the loss of five wickets.

First Cowan, then Warner were caught in the slips off Darren Sammy (yes, the same whose bowling ability I've questioned), then Ricky Ponting was needlessly run out for 4 (the only single figure score in the match so far) in a mixup with Shane Watson: 3/84.  A presumably contrite Watson dug in adding 49 with Michael Clarke before he was caught behind off a flashy shot for 39/80b ( 1x6, 5x4). 

Clarke and Mike Hussey then continued the fight back (or struggle) until the captain, having batted solidly and sensibly holed out to the deep off the persevering legspinner Devendra Bishoo (who'd previously had him adjudged caught behind only for the decision to be overturned, on evidence which wasn't clear to me, by the third umpire on review). 73/173b (1x6, 4x4) was a captain's innings of a different kind to the fluent and dominating ones  which he'd played in the Tests against India earlier this year.

At the end of the day (when bad light once again intervened) Hussey 47*/156b (6x4) has hanging on grimly in partnership with an equally grim Matthew Wade 19*/53b (2x4).

From what I saw  (a combination of live action and highlights) the pitch was livelier than on the first two days, or were the West Indies bowlers able to get that little bit extra out of it? Certainly Sammy's two wickets put Australia on notice, while Bishoo, after some inital prodigality, settled down and bowled more accurately, and with some spin..

I wouldn't wish every Test to be played out at this pace but it's fascinating to see the  unexpectedly tenacious West Indies, who for so long have relied on a few individuals (some of whom have opted to play in the IPL), take the game right up to, and probably away from, Australia.  A draw nevertheless  looks the likeliest result, but it's by no means certain.


FoxSports report and link to video highlights

Monday, April 09, 2012

Solid West Indies batting minimises risk of defeat as Australian attack struggles: T1D2

Australia 0/44 (9.5 ov) trail West Indies 9/449 dec (153 ov, Chanderpaul 103*, K Edwards 61, Brathwaite 57, Bravo 51, Sammy 41) by 405 runs with 10 first innings wickets in hand: T1/3 D2/5 at Bridgetown, Barbados.

For most of  D2 West Indies seemed content to build a total which would shut Australia out of the match.  And who can blame them given their underdog status?

Shivnarine Chanderpaul's methodical 103*/248b (1x6, 9x4) was the highlight on the scorecard, even if many spectators and viewers might remember Darren Sammy's swashbuckling  41/36b (3x6, 4x4) longer.

Chanderpaul has played a similar role many times in previous Tests though rarely would he have contributed just 37% of the runs (103 of 282) added while he was at the crease. In fairness to him had he gone cheaply, say for less than 50, Australia would almost certainly have been batting much sooner. As it was the pitch continued to play well and the bowling was, as on D1, steady without being consistently menacing: ie ideal conditions for the methodical acquisition of runs.

Surprisingly, and from an Australian perspective worringly, David Warner had the best figures with 2/45 from 10 overs (and  by far the highest economy rate of all the eight bowlers used). He did bowl some challenging deliveries but his wicket taking balls (the Edwards namesakes) weren't among them, perhaps underlining the old adage that only ten good balls are bowled every innings. Alas, Australia couldn't meet even this criterion as the home eleven, each of whom reached double figures, lost only 9 wickets (including a run out) before Sammy declared.

Warner and Ed Cowan's reply,  0/44 in a ball shy of 10 overs, was a positive note for Australia on another tightly contested, but undeniably West Indies', day. Yet there's a long way to go to build the first innings lead which will be needed for Australia to win or maybe to just to save the match.

For the West Indies a draw will be a moral victory, for Australia the prelude to some strong questions. The home attack, which, with Sammy as one of the four main bowlers, looks a bit limited, may struggle to bowl Australia out twice: but I may be eating my words this time tomorrow.


Fox Sports video highlights

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Reality check for Australia v West Indies T1D1

West Indies 3/179 (73ov, Edwards 61, Brathwaite 57) v Australia: T1/3 D1/5 at Bridgetown Barbados

Despite the shared honours in the preceding ODI and T20 contests I didn't expect the West Indies, still minus Chris Gayle, to put up a strong showing against Australia in the Test series. Yet on the admittedly thin evidence of a first day shortened by rain there was cause for West Indian satisfaction in a hardscrabble batting display as well as for Australian concern at the lack of penetration of the attack.

I watched the live TV relay until lunch (approaching 2am in these parts) when the West Indies were 1/60 from 29 overs.

They didn't improve much upon this rate for the rest of the day. Kraigg Brathwaite anchored the innings with 57/199b (4x4) while Kirk Edwards was more positive with 61/107b (1x6, 10x4). Brathwaite batted in the style of the English sides of the 1950 and 60s, middling if not always sweetly timing most deliveries.

The pitch played well yet the Australian attack didn't seem to have the sharpness it had showed in the recent series against India. Most balls from the quick bowlers went through without deviating much so, even if few might have predicted it before the start of play, it wasn't surprising to see Nathan Lyon bowl the twelfth over of the day.  Three missed chances also blotted Australia's copybook and while not letting the home team off the hook the score indicates that the West Indies had slightly the better of the day, though the weather and their circumspect batting means that they are far from dominant.
Fox Sports highlights


Friday, March 09, 2012

Australia wins tournament as quick bowlers cramp Sri Lanka's style

Australia 231 (49.3 ov, Wade 49, Warner 48, Herath 3/36, Maharoof 3/40, Kulasekera 2/40) beat Sri Lanka 215 (48.5 ov, Tharanga 71, McKay 5/28, Lee 3/59, Watson 2/13) by 15 runs with 7 balls left. ODI triseries final #3 at Adelaide Oval. Australia win series 2-1.

After Australia could only, after being sent in, manage a modest 231 with the bat its recently maligned pace bowlers combined to bowl out Sri Lanka  for an even more modest 215 to win, against my expectations, the tri-series  deciding final.

David Warner 48/45b (1x6, 5x4) and a visibly unwell Matthew Wade 49/74b (3x4) got Australia going with a 75 run opening partnership but the other top order batters fell cheaply to a combination of poor shot selection, tight bowling and good 6/151 and 7/177  it looked no contest but Clint McKay with a belligerent 28/32b (1x6, 3x4)  and Brett Lee a surprisingly more measured 32/54b (2x4) took the total beyond 200 and thus offered Australia a smidgin of hope ("something to bowl at" as other cxommentators might say).

Once again Sri Lanka only used five bowlers ( to whom would they have turned if one or two of them had hit out of the attack?). Lasith Malinga  was well below his best but Rangana Herath 3/36, Farveez Maharoof 3/40, Tillekeratne Dilshan (opening bowling and batting again ) 1/41 and Nuwan Kulasekera 2/40 , kept the runs down and the wickets coming every time Australia looked to be getting on top.

Notwithstanding the Lee- McKay ninth wicket stand of 40 and allowing for some deterioration in the wicket (the same as had been used in Tuesday's second final) 231 looked inadequate.

But the Australian quicks struck back with penetration from Lee, accuiracy from Shane Watson and Dan Christian and both from Clint McKay.

Each of the Sri Lankan big (top) four looked briefly menacing but none settled in and all were out with only 53 on the board, two apiece to Lee and McKay . This time it was Lahiru Thirmanne and especially the experienced (and, to be fair, one of the big/ top five)  Upal Tharanga  who (sort of) pulled things round adding 60 for the fifth wicket before Thirimanne edged Shane Watson to Wade.

From then - 5/113 - the storyline was brief Sri Lankan revivals underpinned by Tharanga interspersed with brakes applied by McKay, Watson (generally a steady and perceptive hand as captain though he could have bowled himself more) and Dan Christian. Sri Lanka nevertheless moved beyond 200 and thus within striking range but when Thuranga fell to Watson for 71/122b (1x6,4x4) it was 8/204 and only the genuine tailenders left to support a competent looking Maharoof .

Re-enter McKay, who bowled the last two, leaving Sri Lanka 15 short, Australia victorious in match and series and McKay with the well deserved analysis of 9.5-1-28-5.

So ended the very competitive tri series (which I hope will remain on the calendar) and a long Australian summer of international cricket (made to appear longer by the gap for the Big Bash League). Australia did well to win the tri series but both India and Sri Lanka extended them at times and it wouldn't have surprised me if SL had won. Indeed the issue wasn't decided until, contrary to my early opinion, the Adelaide Oval lights had kicked in and the full moon had risen over the about to be demolished Chappell stands.

Fox Sports video highlights


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Sri Lanka batting top order storms to victory to level ODI series

Sri Lanka 2 /274 (44.2 ov, Dilshan 106, Jayawardene 80, Sangakkara 51*) beat Australia 6 for 271 (50 ov,  Clarke 117, Warner 100, Malinga 3/40) by 8 wickets with 34 balls in hand: ODI final #2 at Adelaide Oval. 
Series level 1-1 with one match to play.

In ideal (mid 20s, a little cloud)  conditions in Adelaide Michael Clarke 117/91b (4x6, 5x4) and David Warner 100/140b (1x6, 4x4) added 184 for the third wicket which allowed Australia to reach a healthy looking 6/271. But then Tillekeratne Dilshan 106/119b (10x4) and Mahela Jayawardene 80/76b (1x6, 8x4) put Sri Lanka well on the way to victory with an opening partnership on 179 from 27.1 overs.

Clarke's innings was the most accomplished of the high four, the more so as it was amassed under the physical handicaps of a bad back and a dodgy hamstring. Warner, in doubt before the match, batted for the most part in relatively restrained mode: in hindsight he'd have done better to give more elbow room to the middle order hitters.

Australia bowled untidily- the influence of the bowling coach was hard to discern - especially in the first three overs from which 30 runs (many of them extras) were taken and a catch behind disallowed because the bowler had overstepped the line.

While the fielding was better than Sri Lanka's (who spilled several catches) it couldn't compensate for some wayward length and direction and, above all, a lot of daring (and some fortunate) strokeplay.

So a third final is necessary to decide the tournament. Sri Lanka will start favourite, especially as Clarke is likely to miss the match (and perhaps others). Australia's bowlers could learn a thing or two from Lasith Malinga 10-1-40-3, who bowled a great spell at the death, and Dilshan, who opened the bowling as well as the batting.


Monday, March 05, 2012

Australia almost snatch defeat from jaws of victory: ODI final #1

Australia 6/321 (50ov, Warner 163, Wade 64) beat Sri Lanka 306 (49.2 ov, Kulasekara 73, Tharanga 60, D Hussey 4/43, Watson 3/33, Lee 3/59) by 15 runs: ODI triseries final #1 at the Gabba. Australia lead best of three series 1-0.

Rarely can one side,  after dominating most of a 50 overs match, have only scraped home in the face of a bold lower order revival from their opponents. Yet this is what happened at the Gabba on a day when, with rain threatening and briefly stopping play,  Australia posted what looked to be a comfortable 6/321, then had Sri Lanka, 6/144 from 30.1 overs, only for them to recover to the verge of an unlikely win.

David Warner 163/157b (2x6, 13x4), his highest score in his 19 ODI career, was the standout, and decisive, innings of the match. It was overdue, though not really unexpected, unlike Nuwan Kulasekara's 73/43b (3x6, 7x4), by far his highest score in his112 ODIs. Whereas Warner batted right through the innings - he was dismissed off its last ball - and made half his team's total, Matthew Wade's 64/72b (1x6, 4x4) being the only other substantial score,   Kulasekara seemed to be for much of his knock batting in a lost, not just losing, cause. He came in at 5/125 and left 93 balls later at 7/248, whenat which point  it looked as if Sri Lanka were going down, albeit with all remaining guns blazing.

So it proved, but not after a few more tense moments as Dhammika Prasad, another with no reputation as a hitter (or batter), biffed his highest ODI score 31*/21b (1x6, 2x4) and Upul Tharanga 60/67b (3x4) bestirred himself. They and the rest of the team kept the game alive until almost the last over, from which an improbable 16 were required with the last pair at the crease.

Australia were the better side and deserved to win, but they should have bowled more tightly, especially when they had Sri Lanka at their mercy. Even their best bowler David Hussey's 8-0-43-4 included two Kulasekera sixes off consecutive balls (though he did get him off the next one).

So now to Adelaide for what should be another tighly contested match.There'll be several players on both sides keen to restore their reptations.


Saturday, March 03, 2012

Sri Lanka just keep Australia at bay: win match and place in tri series finals:

Sri Lanka 238 (50ov, Chandimal 75, Sangakkara 64, Thirimanne 51, Christain 5/31, Pattinson 4/51) def Australia 229 (49.1 ov,D Hussey 74, Watson 65, Malinga 4/49) by 9 runs. ODI 12/12 at MCG. 
Sri Lanka 8 matches/19pts, Australia 8/19, India 8/15. Sri Lanka and Australia to contest best of three finals.

Another fascinating ODI to complete the minor round of what has been a most interesting and even series. Dinesh Chandimal 75/84b (2x6, 3x4) and Kumar Sangakkara 64/93b (3x4) regrouped after Sri Lanka lost two early wickets  and, with Lahiru Thirimanne chipping in 51/59b (2x4), appeared to be in a position to launch a final slog. But Dan Christian (9-0-31-5 inc hat trick) pegged them back to a relatively modest yet competitive 238.

In reply Australia lost 3/26 before acting captain Shane Watson 65/83b (5x4) supported by the Hussey brothers kept the match alive. The Sri Lankan bowlers covered for the injury to Thisara Perera and kept plugging (Lasith Malinga blasting) away. There was no collapse but wickets fell regularly enough to increase the pressure on David Hussey who, with 10 needed from the last over, was caught in the deep off its first ball for a high quality 74/74b (1x6,4x4). [Should he have played Tests?]

So Sri Lanka, whose supporters at the MCG seemed vastly to outnumber Australia's, have secured a place in the finals and India, despite some good performances (in the shorter form matches that is), must go home.

Michael Clarke is expected to be back for the first final in Brisbane, so Australia, despite having lost their last three matches against Sri Lanka in this series, will expect to win, especially as they are playing at home - if not in front of a home crowd.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Extraordinary India win keeps competition for finals alive

 India 3/ 321 (36.4 ov, Kohli 133*, Gambhir 63) beat Sri Lanka 4/ 320 (50 ov, Dilshan 160*, Sangakkara 105) by seven wickets: ODI 11/12 at Hobart.
Australia 19 points/7 matches, Sri Lanka 15/7, India 15/8.

This was a match which India , to have a chance of playing in the finals, had to win and win well enough to secure a bonus point. That they did after Sri Lanka had compiled 4/320 thanks to Tillakaratne Dilshan's 160*/165b (3x6, 11x4) and Kumara Sangakkara's 105/87b (2x6, 8x4), almost beggars belief.

But it happened.  The top five all contributed at least 30 apiece and Virat Kohli  excelled with 133/86b (2x6, 16x4) which knocked the stuffing out of the Sri Lankan bowling and fielding. Despite the magnitude of the task it never seemed beyond India's reach and, sooner than seemed likely, it came within their grasp as Kohli and his team mates took advantage of a good batting wicket and sub-ordinary bowling . Their fluent strokeplay seemed to draw in the boundaries to almost the dimensions of a tennis court: what stays in mind about Kohli is how many of his strokes went along the ground, not in the air. His was a memorable innings which has handed an inconsistent India a chance, subject to Australia beating Sri Lanka on Friday (or inclement weather preventing a result), of playing in the finals.

Relive some of the action on the Fox Sports video highlights (I expect that there'll be other highlights there for the searching onYouTube).


Monday, February 27, 2012

Australia thump India and secure place in finals: ODI.

Australia 9/ 252 (50 ov, Warner 68, Wade 56, D Hussey 54, Sehwag 3/43) beat India 165 (39.3 ov, Ashwin 26) by 87 runs: ODI 10/12 at SCG.
Australia 19 pts / 7 matches, Sri Lanka 15/6, India 10/7.

A disappointing result for India, who made a poor fist of chasing a competitive Australian total.
It was a match with few standout performances, though David Warner would have been pleased with his 68/66b (7x4) and Shane Watson with his captaincy debut (and 5-2-9-2) if not his batting.

Speaking of poor fists, the controversy over David Hussey's deflection of a return and thus avoiding being run out has been debated at some length eg on Cricinfo ..


Sunday, February 26, 2012

South Australia tie with Tasmania but take ODD cup

South Australia 285 ( 49.4 ov, Klinger 81, Harris 60, Faulkner 4-75, Bird 3-39) tied with Tasmania 4/285 (50 ov, Bailey 101, Ponting 75*, Cosgrove 69, Lyon 3-86):  ODD Ryobi Cup final at Adelaide Oval.
South Australia win the Ryobi Cup by virtue of their higher points score in the minor round

The second tie in less than a fortnight in a one day match at Adelaide Oval nevertheless produced a result. Unlike the India v Sri Lanka match where both sides shared the points this match was the ODD Ryobi Cup   final which Tasmania, the lower placed minor round had to win, to take the trophy from South Australia , the minor premiers.

At the start of the last over George Bailey 101* and Ricky Ponting 74*, seemed to have the Tigers, needing 5 ro win, on target for a close but, with only 3 wickets down, convincing win. Yet Gary Putland bowled his dream (and Tasmania's nightmare) over. He conceded a single to Ponting off the first ball, then had Bailey, after a third umpire review, lbw  breaking a partnership of 174, then keeping a nervous James Faulkner at the striker's end for the last four balls, from which only two runs were scored off the bat. Ricky Ponting at the non striker's end took off his pads, but not (why not?) his helmet, for the last ball, which Faulkner missed. The pair scrambled a bye to level the scores. I wondered why Ponting didn't take the strike when Faulkner edged and took two, but after all Faulkner was number 6, not 9, 10 or  jack.

The argument for having a super over to decide the match IMO doesn't hold water. It was a very hot day (and night) - over 40 degrees  maximum - and both sides had given their all over the course of the tournament as well as the match.

It was another good advertisement for the 50 overs a sdie game, and South Australians will be pleased that the Redbacks have won a trophy of consequence (apart from last season's big bash success) after so many poor years (25 for the ODD, 16 for the Sheffield Shield) . Let's hope that this win will inspire the SA  Sheffield Shield team to lift its game and rise ooff the bottom of the table where it's languished for so long. Too late for this season, but next maybe...

Fox Sports report with link to video highlights.
Cricinfo report


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sri Lanka too good for Australia

Sri Lanka 7/ 283 (49.2 ov, Jayawardene 85, Chandimal 80, Christian 3/53) beat Australia 6/280  (50 ov, Forrest 104, Clarke 72) by three wickets: ODI 9/12 at Hobart.
Sri Lanka15 pts/ 6 matches, Australia 14/6, India 10/6.

Australia's 6/280 looked a competitive, if not insurmountable, score on a good Bellerive wicket, but Mahela Jayawardene's belligerent 85/81b (1x6, 6x4)  (inc 44 of a 55/48b first wicket partnership) got Sri Lanka out of the blocks against some short Australian quick bowling. They weren't able to maintain this rate but paced themselves well enough to get home in the last over as most of the top six got a start while the impressive Dinesh Chandimal 80/100b ( 7x4) provided the backbone for the second half of the chase.

For Australia Peter Forrest 104/138b (2x6, 10x4), his first ODI century,  and Michael Clarke 72/79b  (2x6, 5x4)  added 154 for the third wicket in 31.5 overs: far and away the best by either team, though in hindsight it would have helped if they'd scored at more than 5 an over.  At the time it looked good, though,  and the Hussey brothers' quickfire late innings, Mike's 21/14b (2x6) and David's 40*/28b (1x6, 2x4) reinforced that view.

Yet Sri Lanka's cracking start and subsequent persistence saw them home
and move ahead of Australia to the top of the points table.

Australia's recent form hasn't been that good, but India now looking down the barrel of missing the finals.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Tri series final preview?

India, after Sri Lanka; beat them by 51 runs this week,  are now at the bottom of the points table with 10/6 matches, propping up Sri Lanka 11/5 and Australia 14/5.

Today Australia play Sri Lanka at Hobart, so no matter who wins India will still be bottom. After then each team will play the other once more.  Australia look safe for a finals place (as the marketers wanted) while Sri Lanka look the likelier of the other contenders to face off (which may not be what the marketers wanted).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ponting dropped from Australian ODI team

Captain one day, dropped the next. Ricky Ponting has been omitted from the Australian ODI team . Yes, his recent ODI form has been poor, but his recent Test performances have been impeccable. Not to mention that he's been a stalwart of Australian cricket for almost two decades.

He will, though, continue to play Test and domestic one- and four-day cricket (his next appearance may be here in Adelaide on Saturday in the final of the Ryobi ODD Cup) but, coming after the selection panel's prevarication about Brad Haddin ("rested" meaning "dropped"), it doesn't give me much confidence in the panel's ability to manage change. They have done a good job identifying and promoting new talent but it would be good to know that they, or at least some of them, are able to talk frankly and constructively to all players about their performance before, and to the media and public when, important decisions are taken.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Australian bowlers show up Indian shortcomings in ODI#7

Australia 5/288 (50 ov, M Hussey 59, Forrest 52, Wade 45, Warner 43,  Pathan 3/52) beat India 178 (43.3 ov, Dhoni 56, Hilfenhaus 5/33, Lee 3/49) by 110 runs: ODI 7/12 at the Gabba.
Points: Australia 14 pts/ 5 matches, India 10/5, Sri Lanka 7/4.

A form reversal by most of the Australian batters saw the team gradually accelerate throughout the innings and cut loose at the end to the tune of 53 from the last four overs.

Everyone except for Ricky Ponting  (his fifth consecutive single figure score in the same number of innings this series) contributed at least twenty. The first wicket didn't fall until the 13th over and 70 runs were on the board and Mike Hussey 59/52b (6x4) and Peter Forrest  52/ 71b (3x4) added 100 after the third wicket fell at 117. David Hussey 26*/ 20b (1x6, 1x4) and Dan Christian 30*/18b (5x4) added an unbroken 65 from the last 6 overs to put the game almost certainly beyond India's reach.

And so it turned out. As first Brett Lee 10-0-49-3, bowling much better than in the previous match, then Ben Hilfenhaus 9.3-1-33-5 , bowling much better than he'd ever done in an ODI, cut through India. It wasn't long before the only issue at stake was whether India could prevent Australia from gaining a bonus point. Despite M S Dhoni's 56/84b (1x6, 2x4) they couldn't.

So Australia have regrouped and India slipped again. Dhoni has been suspended for the next match v Sri Lanka because of his team's slow over rates (which goes with the territory if you play four quick bowlers).  This will leave a big hole in India's batting. In normal circumstances Sachin Tendulkar would be expected to fill some of it but, like Ponting, he is out of form. Interesting that they, two of the greatest batsmen in world cricket (admittedly both getting on in years), are passengers in what has been an otherwise good quality ODI series.


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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rampant Sri Lanka maul Australia in ODI.

Sri Lanka 2/152 (24.1 ov, Jayawardene 61*, Dilshan 45, Sangakkara 30) beat Australia 158 (40.5 ov,  D Hussey 58) by 8 wickets with 16.5 overs in hand (D/L method): ODI 6/12 at SCG.
 Each team has played 4  matches: India 10 pts, Australia 9, Sri Lanka 7.

Sri Lanka won a rain affected and hence Duckworth- Lewis method-adjudicated match easily against a frail Australia, for whom only David Hussey 58/64b (6x4) provided any batting backbone against a tight Sri Lankan attack and fielding which was able to compensate for some bloopers (eg Dan Christian dropped twice in making 6!).

Disappointing as it was, 158 all out represented a modest considerable recovery from 8/104, and even, as the conditions appeared to favour the bowlers, may have raised cautious hopes among Australian supporters of a victory. But the experienced top order batters Tillekaratne Dilshan 45/41b, 1x6, 4x4), Mahela Jayawardene 61*/67, 5x4) and Kumar Sangakkara, who passed 10,000 ODI runs in his aggressive cameo 30/29b (1x6, 4x4) saw Sri Lanka home easily for their first win (and a bonus point).

The series is now alive.. If any of the three teams needs to regroup quickly it is Australia, who 've lost their last two games and whose weaknesses - chiefly top order batting though the bowling, as this match showed, is none too flash - are being exposed by their opponents. It looks as though Michael Clarke will miss tomorrow's match against India, so it's time for Ricky Ponting to, as he did in the recent Test series, put his run of poor scores behind him and play the big innings many hope and I believe he has in him.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another ODI cliffhanger - this time India & Sri Lanka tie

Sri Lanka 9/ 236  (50 ov, Chandimal 81, Jayawardene 43, Vinay Kumar 3-46, Ashwin 2-30) tied with India 9/236  (50 ov, Gambhir 91, Dhoni 58*, Thisara 2-45); Tri series match 5/12 at Adelaide Oval; Points India 10, Australia 9, Sri Lanka 2.

Two cracking ODIs  in three days! I thought that Sunday's Indian wafer thin victory over Australia would be hard if not impossible to beat, but once again I was wrong as India and Sri Lanka played out a tie.

Sri Lanka lost an early wicket, then regrouped then failed to capitalise. on some moderate Indian bowling.

236 never looked enough but when India lost wickets: the first three batters, including Sachin Tendulkar, each made 15. It was left, as it was on Sunday, to Gautam Gambhir to anchor the innings and M S Dohni to try to finish it. Gambhir succeeded to the tune of 91/106b (6x4) before he was run out by Dhoni, who was a little more positive than on Sunday with 58*/69b (1x6, 3x4) but couldn't hit the boundary required off the last ball  to win. He ran three, levelling the scores and sharing the points. 

Both sides would have been disappointed that they couldn't have scored one more run or, in Sri Lanka's case , taken one more wicket. The match, played in warm but otherwise ideal conditions, was a good advert for ODIs and deserved a bigger attendance than the 5,700 or so who turned up (and made enough noise for a crowd two or three times larger).


Fox Sports report 7 link to video highlights

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dhoni keeps his best until last over to hit India to ODI win over Australia

India 6/270 (49.4 ov, Gambhir 92, Dhoni 44*) def Australia 6/269 (50ov Hussey 72, Forrest 66) by 4 wickets with 2 balls remaining: TriSeries match 4/12 at Adelaide Oval. Australia has 9 points, India 8, Sri Lanka 0.

M S Dhoni's backfoot drive for 6 off Clint McKay was as remarkable a stroke as I can remember, not only for its execution but for the context in which it was made.

It cleared the long straight Adelaide Oval boundary (Channel 9's technology measured it at 112m) and it brought India, needing 12 off the last four balls of the match, back with a chance of grasping a victory. Which Dhoni did in two further deliveries: an above waist no ball from which he was caught on the boundary after running 2 (+1 for the noball), followed by a slower one which he pulled to leg for 3.

You can see the six on the Fox Sports highlightsand on You Tube (where it should remain for a long, long time).

What was also amazing was that this blow was Dhoni's only boundary in his 44*/58b:  his strike rate was the second slowest of the top seven in the order, each of whom reached double figures. As the asking rate ballooned out in the final overs it seemed that Dhoni was was either supremely confident, or foolish. I thought the latter until the onslaught.

Yes, there were 99 other overs bowled in the match. Australia won the toss and batted in ideal conditions: mid 20s, blue sky. For some reason Ricky Ponting opened the batting instead of Matthew Wade, whose name was on the scoreboard (and who IMO should have done the job). Ponting went cheaply (though a straight drive for 4 showed a glimpse of his class), Michael Clarke 38/43b (5x4) breezily outscored David Warner until  the latter was run out in a mixup, then Clarke himself was bowled stepping away and playing on: 3/81.

Peter Forrest, 66/83b (2x6 , 5x4) on ODI debut, and David Hussey 72/76b (5x4) restored the situation by adding 98 together, then Dan Christian biffed 39/36b (2x4) before being run out, but the lower order were kept in check by tight Indian bowling and fielding, so that the 300 which at one point looked possible and the 280 which looked likely didn't eventuate.

When India, who rested Sachin Tendulkar, batted it was Gautam Gambhir's fluent 92/111b (7x4) which for 34 overs and 178 runs put India on the road to victory,. Then Dhoni joined Suresh Raina and moved steadily, too steadily it seemed, towards a possible win. Australia were often lacklustre in the field, though there were some good catches and saves, and after Xavier Doherty, who I was surprised to see bowling at the death,  conceded only 4 in the 49th over it looked all over for India.

Then came that over...and that six...


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Clean sweep to Australia:T4D5

Australia 7/604 dec & 5/167 dec def India 272 & 201 (69,4 ov, Sehwag 62, Lyon 4/63, Harris 3/41) by 298 runs: T4D5 at Adelaide Oval. Australia, having regained Border-Gavaskar Trophy,  win series 4-0

With the writing plainly on the wall after India's second innings collapse yesterday, it would have surprised few (though a very good crowd  - 10,000+ in my estimation - took advantage of the free admission)  that it only took an hour for Australia to complete a commanding victory and secure a 4-0 clean sweep.

The temperature was, as it had been on the preceding four days, well into the 30s when Nathan Lyon took the last wicket, giving each of the four main bowlers a wicket apiece today, a reflection of their potency as individuals and of their ability to work in concert for the team's good. While Lyon finished with 4/63 and Ryan Harris 3/41 it was Peter Siddle who was made Player of the Match for his first innings 5/49 ahead of the double century makers Michael Clarke, who was named Player of the Series, and Ricky Ponting.

This is a good Australian team, but one which still has some areas of weakness or room for improvement. As for India, I was surprised at how uncompetitive they were. The close contests i was expecting didn't eventuate. India had their moments but they were only moments compared to Australia's long periods of sustained supremacy. I hope that because of this and other recent Test drubbings India doesn't make a strategic withdrawal from Test cricket. More of this later.

As I write  the heavens have opened, as they did after last summer's Ashes Test. I must open the house to try to cool it down and return to the couch to see if England can complete a win over Pakistan in the UAE and level the three Test series.


Fox Sports video highlights

Friday, January 27, 2012

India's muddle continues as Australia's victory draws nigh: T4D4

India 272 & 6/166 (56 ov, Sehwag 62, Lyon 3/57) need 344 runs with 4 wickets in hand to beat Australia 7/604 dec & 5/167 dec (46 ov, Ponting 60*): T4D4 at Adelaide Oval.

One moment from today's play encapsulated the gulf between the teams: Virat Kohli attempted a quick single to keep the strike from Ishant Sharma, who'd been sent in as nightwatchman (to protect no 7!), but was caught short of his ground when Ben Hilfenhaus, not everybody's (least of all my) idea of a swiftfooted and sharpthrowing fielder hit the stumps from not too far off square on.

That must have snuffed out any faint hope India might have had of saving the Test: hot day, ungainly looking fielder (though a different kettle of fish as a bowler)  throwing down the stumps from about 25 degrees. Add in Nathan Lyon's three top order wickets - Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman - and it's hard not to have a sense of a revitalised Australian cricket team sounding the death knell for a great Indian batting side.

For further details see the Scorecard and watch the Fox Sports video highlights

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kohli century and another Australian top order wobble provide crumbs of comfort (but little more) for India T4 D3 for India

Australia 7/604 dec & 3/50 (14 ov)  lead India 272 (95.1 ov,  Kohli 116, Siddle 5/49, Hilfenhaus 3/62) by 382 runs with 7 second innings wickets in hand: T4/4 D3/5 at Adelaide Oval.

Virat Kohli's resolute 116/213b (1x6, 11x4) saved India's face, to a degree anyway, after the big four (or five if you include Gautam Gambhir) failed to stiffen his team's batting backbone.

On another hot day, though at 32 degrees max the heat, unlike on Ds 1&2,  was more baking than grilling, India failed to build on their overnight 2/61 and collapsed to 5/111 before Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha added a partly redemptive yet far from match-saving,  let alone -winning, 114 for the 6th wicket.

Saha had looked good - solid in defence and occasionally (1x6, 1x4 in 35/94b) hitting out - until in the last over before tea he misjudged the line of a Ryan Harris ball which took his off stump. So India couldn't bat through a session without losing a wicket.

The Australian bowlers all, even Harris whose recent figures have understated his effectiveness, bowled tightly though Peter Siddle's 15-2-49-5 was what ripped the heart - read his brilliant reflex c & b of Virender Sehwag yesterday, and his first session today dismissals of a solid looking Gautam Gambhir and a fluent Saching Tendulkar for 34 & 35 respectively - out of India.

It was understandable to some degree that Michael Clarke didn't enforce the follow on when India were all out 272, 334 runs in arrears. Yes, the Australians had bowled 95 overs in the heat, and the weather forecast indicates much of the same for the next few days, but already three wickets - the same three as fell cheaply in the first innings - are down. One of them is Sean Marsh, lbw for a duck in what must surely be his last Test innings. Did it occur to Clarke to drop him, at least on this occasion, down the order to help rebuild his confidence? I'm not say this would have wrought a miracle, but it may have offered him a chance for a face saving, and perhaps team strengthening innings.

As things stand Clarke and Ricky Ponting (whowas deservedly been honoured  in the Australia Day awards are left to build on Australia's lead and eventually set India an even more massive target than the follow on. Even though the wicket, as R Ashwin showed when, opening the bowling in the second innings, he dismissed both openers, is playing less truly, the match now looks certain to go into a fifth day. If  two or three of the Indian top order can emulate Kohli, they may even be able to salvage a draw.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

India lose two wickets chasing huge Australian total underpinned by Ponting & Clarke double centuries: T4D2

India 2/61 (21 ov) trail Australia 7/604 dec (157ov, Ponting 221, Clarke 210, Haddin 42*, Ashwin 3/194) by 543 runs om first innings with 8 wickets in hand: T4/4 D2/5 at Adelaide Oval.

Another hot - almost 36 degree - day in Adelaide saw Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting continue from where they left off yesterday.  Both posted double centuries and both batted through to lunch, adding 134 from 30 overs. It came as a surprise to those who were back in their seats after lunch (I was but many other spectators weren't) when Clarke was bowled by Umesh Yadav from the first ball he faced after the interval. It was also surprising to see Yadav bowl such a good ball, which moved back sharply to clip off stump. Clarke and Ponting had added 386 for the 4th wicket from 94.4 overs, of which the captain's share was 210/275b (1x6, 26x4). an innings of great fluency and quality strokeplay with only one, very difficult, chance offered late yesterday.

Ponting, as yesterday, was more measured, though by no means stodgy. He  drove well and continued to play that pull shot which defines his style, though a combination of defensive field placings and a slower than usual outfield at the Adelaide Oval (though not as slow as on the first day) meant that he didn't always get full value for his strokes.He was dropped twice, the first time at 186, but batted on adding 50 with a positive  Mike Hussey, who was sharply run out by Gautam Gambhir stepping out of his crease. Then he played a lofted pull off Zaheer Khan and was well caught on the boundary by Sachin Tendulkar for a memorable 221/404b (21x4).

For further evidence of Clarke and Ponting's  class check out their wagon wheels .

Peter Siddle fell cheaply but Brad Haddin 42* and Ryan Harris 35* added  a breezy unbroken 71, taking the score beyonfd 600, at which point Clarke declared.

So far India have batted positively against some variable Australian bowling but have lost two good wickets - Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid - cheaply. Tendulkar and Gambhir are still there, but it's a huge ask to expect them and the rest of their team mates to avoid the follow on, let alone approach Australia's first innings total.

The weather is unlikely to save India as more heat is forecast for the coming days. Only a massive batting recovery operation will secure a draw. Only a miracle will secure a win.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ponting & Clarke hammer India after 3 Australian wickets fall cheaply: T4D1

Australia 3/335 (90 ov, Clarke 140*, Ponting 137*) v India: T4/4 D1/5 at Adelaide.

Virender Sehwag, India's standin captain while MS Dhoni serves his one match suspension for his team's slow over rates, for a while made the best of a bad job after losing the toss and having to field, but he lost focus and his team gradually wilted under a 37 degree Adelaide sun and another huge partnership between Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke.

Umesh Yadav began with a wayward over which conceded 12 runs and led to his replacement, not by  Ishant Sharma but by R Ashwin, the offspinner who'd been restored after being omitted in Perth. Ashwin bowled tidily and, after Zaheer Khan had David Warner lbw for 8, bowled Shaun Marsh between bat and pad: an elementary technical deificiency exposed. Ricky Ponting joined Ed Cowan and moved the score along while Cowan played sheet anchor in a 53 run partnership. Just as Cowan looked to be settling in he was well caught by VVS Laxman at short extra cover off Ashwin for a solid, if not place cementing 30.

3/84 became 3/98 at lunch  : still India's session, despite Ponting's assured 43*.

But the rest of the day belonged to Australians. Ponting and Clarke exerted their control and then dominance over the Indian bowlers, fielders and mindset. (The heat may have also had something to do with it: Harsha Bogle on ABC Radio said that 37 degrees in Adelaide seemed much hotter than the more common 37 degrees in India - just where in India he didn't say).

The essentials: Ponting is 137*/254b (13x4), Clarke, who started later, is 140*/188 (1x6, 19 x4). Ponting looked in good nick, playing his signature pull shots and drives with panache, while Clarke was elegantly, and just occasionally riskily, aggressive. Ponting gave no chance, Clarke one which went to hand, a difficult one to Laxman in the slips late in the day. Had Sehwag's fieldplacing been more astute (there was no first slip for much of the day and the boundary was generously patrolled if not always well defended) another chance or two may have been offered.

After lunch the wheels fell off Ashwin, as his good first session 9-3-20-2 turned into 26-4-81-2 at stumps,  and never came back on to Umesh Yadav after his 12 run first over. Zaheer Khan lost zip, Ishant Sharma persevered , while Sehwag bowled some unthreatening overs, including an overlong spell either side of tea.

Australia's day, yes, but the wicket is playing well, so the match isn't over yet. IMO a draw isn't out of the question, but India must regroup mentally if they are not to succumb to the defeatism which  has infected them throughout the series.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Australia 369 def India 161 & 171 (63.2 ov, Kohli 75, Dravid 47, Hilfenhaus 4/54, Siddle 3/43)  by an innings & 37 runs: T3/4 D3/5 at WACA, Perth. Australia lead series 3-0 and regain Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

For a while, when Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli were together, it looked as if the Test might last more than a couple of sessions, but the Australian bowlers chipped away, then swept the tail aside disdainfully immediately after lunch.

Dravid was not at his assured best but he hung on until Ryan Harris bowled him for 47/114b (8x4). From 5/135 the born again quicks Ben Hilfenhaus 4/54 and Petrer Siddle took 3/43 over and made short work of the rest, except for Kohli who was last out for a defiant 75/136b (9x4).

It goes without saying that India, especially several big names, have performed well below par. To make matters worse M S Dhoni  has been banned from the Fourth Test because of his team's slow over rate (which few would have noticed when Australia was piling on the runs and I don't recall seeing the umpires chivvying him about it onfield).

What more is there to say? For someone who'd predicted an Indian series victory, not much.


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Warner bats on but other wickets fall...on both sides: T3D2

India 161 & 4/88 (32ov) trail Australia 369 (76.2 ov, Warner 180, Cowan 74, Yadav 5/93) by 120 runs with 6 second innings wickets in hand  T3/4 D2/5 at WACA, Perth.

A more modest day's play today as India reached for the towel it threw in on D1, bowled Australia out for only 369, then dropped it again as the top batting folded once more to the tenacious home attack.

So much has happened in only two days, though not much of it has benefited India. Only Umesh Yadav's almost run a ball 5/93 and some combative overs from Zaheer Khan which disposed of Australia's middle order cheaply gave India a still far away glimmer of hope. But it was no more than that as the first wicket, Ed Cowan's, fell at 214. His 74/120b (10x4) seemed a side dish to David Warner's masterly 180/159b (5x6, 20x4) yet it turned out to be by far. The second highest score of the innings, well ahead of Peter Siddle's 30, the next best.

Even so, this Test must surely end tomorrow, with Australia 3-0 up and only a dead rubber to play in the oddly scheduled (Tuesday - Saturday) Adelaide fixture.


Fox Sports video highlights .

Friday, January 13, 2012

Warner's quickfire ton leaves India bleeding runs & bereft: T3D1

Australia 0/149 (23 ov Warner 104*, Cowan 40*) trail India 161 (60.2 ov, Kohli 44, Hilfenhaus 4/43, Siddle 3/42) by 12 runs with all first innings wickets intact. T3/4 D1/5 at WACA, Perth.

This would have to be, given the reputations (and records) of the adversaries, one of the most onesided day's play in Test cricket history. Each team looked at the wicket and opted for an all pace frontline attack. Michael Clarke won the toss and despite the high 30s temperature, asked India to bat.

The Australian quicks, notably Ben Hilfenhaus, who swung the ball in a banana like trajectory, removed Virender Sehwag for a duck, then the other yesterday's  (actually last year's) man Peter Siddle bowled Rahul Dravid for 9. When Ryan Harris, back after injury,  snaffled Sachin Tendulkar lbw for 15 and Hilfenhaus had Gautam Gambhir caught behind for 31, India were in trouble at 4/63. VVS Laxman and Virat Kohli effected a modest revival, but both fell to Siddle just as they looked to be settling in: but 31 and 44 respectively were still below par scores. Once they went...5/131, 6/138 .. the rest followed meekly, or so it seemed, but this underrates the quality of the Australian bowling eg Hilfenhaus 18-5-43-4 and Siddle 12-3-42-3 not to mention Harris's miserly 18-6-33-1.

161 didn't look a good score but if the Indian quicks could strike back early there still seemed half (or a quarter) of a chance that they could bring their team  back into the match.

It didn't happen, though few followers of any persuasion would have, bearing in mind the rickety 3/37 Australia struggled to at Sydney before the Clarke- Ponting- Hussey big guns blazed, expected what followed.

David Warner blazed his way to a rapid 69 ball century - at stumps he was 104*/80b (3x6, 13x4) - exposing the shortcomings of the Indian attack and fielding. It was a T20 innings played in a Test match context: small target, good batting conditions and an attack including one debutant the ineffectual medium fast trundler R Vinay Kumar,  which wilted then melted down in the face of his onslaught. Oh, by the way Warner was well supported by Ed Cowan whose 40*/58b (6x4) would in most other situations have earned more than this footnote.

Great as the Australian performance was the Test has been decided after the first day, which is not as most cricket followers would wish.

India are going from bad to worse: can we expect a reversal? It's surely too much to hope for in this match.


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