Cricket World Cup

Sri Lanka vs England; tourists edge out day two

England, thanks to James Anderson’s superb bowling figures of 6-40 helped the tourists keep in touch with their hosts on the second day of the second and final test against Sri Lanka. Anderson, who was rested for the first test win in Galle, rolled backed the years with a superb spell of bowling.

Anderson, the world’s leading wicket taker for seam bowlers made a mockery of his age and became the oldest player (38) to take a five wicket haul in tests. Critics had been circling the ‘Burnley Express’, saying that he wasn’t able to replicate his performances in home tests, away from home.

The Burnley Brian Lara, as he is also affectionately known by, has taken an impressive 49 wickets in just 14 tests away from home. Anderson’s brilliance was needed as spin twins Jack Leach and Dom Bess toiled. To put into context the pair send down 65 overs and conceding 195 runs.

To put that into context, their joint economy (Leach and Bess) was three runs over, which was more than double James Anderson’s (1.38 an over). Mark Wood was able to chip in with three wickets and Sam Curran one wicket as hosts Sri Lanka added another 152 runs to their total, before being dismissed for 381.

After their first innings showing in the first test, where they were shot out for just 135, hosts Sri Lanka will be delighted with their showing here. In reply to that impressive first innings total, England again fell into trouble as out of form pair of Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley both fell cheaply Lasith Embuldeniya.

Just like in the first game, England were indebted to their captain. Root, who scored a first test double century (228), followed that effort up with a counter attacking 67 off just 77 balls. That enterprising knock, helped Jonny Bairstow play a more watchful innings at the other end.

The Yorkshire man, will join his captain on 24 not out. An interesting days play, which leaves the test finely balanced.

Sri Lanka vs England, first test review

England captain Joe Root’s double century in the first innings of the first test, helped The Three Lions on their way to a seven wicket win over hosts Sri Lanka. Tourists England who had skittled the 1996 world champions out for just 135.

In reply to this paltry total, England largely thanks to Root (228) and some good support from Dan Lawrence (73) on debut, were able to pile on the runs (all 421 over them). The hosts, were now well and truly on the back foot.

After a crushing defeat by South Africa, you wouldn’t have blamed Sri Lanka for feeling a sense of ground hog day.

To the Asian side’s credit, they dug in, in the second innings. Angelo Matthews (71), Kusal Perrera (62) and emotional Lahiru Thirimanne century (111) helped the home side make 359 all out second time round.

The second innings was a much better showing by Sri Lanka. Nothing summed out their second innings better than Thirimanne’s second test ton, seven years after his first.

Despite a battling second innings showing, tourists England just needed 74 to win the first test in Galle.

What seemed a very small total, was threatening the to be a challenging one. Sibley, Crawley and Root were all back in the pavilion cheaply.

England’s scorecard read 14-3, which really raised the question of a shock win. Jonny Bairstow (35 not out) and Dan Lawrence (21 not out) saw the tourists home without any further scares.

The second and final test of this series will also be in Galle. England, will go into that test looking to extend their unbeaten nine game run in tests.

Sri Lanka, will go into the final test, no doubt looking to restore pride. The final test starts on 22nd January.

Australia vs India day one review

Marnus Labuschagne impressed again for Australia with yet another 100.

After failing to win the third test, Australia got their innings off to a solid start after the hosts made 274-5.

Tourists India, who have done well to put aside together after the injuries suffered in the drawn third test, were punished for two drop catches as Marnus Labuschagne made his fifth century.

The South African born Labuschagne who was dropped on 37 and 48, took full advantage of those reprieves and made his century off 204 balls.

The Asian side, who were without Hanuma Vihari and Ravid Jadeja, were arguably missing the presence of these two men on the field as India’s inexperienced bowling attack toiled on the first day.

The day did start well for the tourists as David Warner (5) and the recalled Marcus Harris (1) both fell cheaply. Hosts Australia were able to steady the ship through Steve Smith (36) and Matthew Wade (45).

Captain Tim Paine (38) and Cameron Green (28) put on 61 for the sixth wicket, as the world champions looked to press home their advantage. India’s inexperienced bowling attack toiled, even opener Rohit Sharma sent down one over.

On the flip side, should the visitors get an early breakthrough, they’re right back in this test match. It’s well documented that, the tourists have a depleted bowling attack, but they still have a very solid top order.

Tomorrow’s first session will be very important, one thing is for sure is that this test promises to be a classic.

New Zealand vs Pakistan 2nd test; tourists well beaten

New Zealand, kept their World Test Championship campaign, with a resounding 2-0 test series win against former world number one side Pakistan. The kiwi’s who were brilliant in the first test, were just as good in the second.

On reflection of the game, some might argue that tourists Pakistan were poor more than The Black Caps, being good. Kane Williamson (238), Henry Nicholls (157) and a maiden ton from all-rounder Daryl Mitchell (102), really put the tourists’ attack to the sword, but to rub salt in the wounds, Pakistan dropped Williamson three times and Mitchell too.

Those errors proved costly. Opener Shaan Masood, capped off a very poor game, with a pair and three dropped catches in the New Zealand innings, which will naturally put pressure on the left-hander come the upcoming South Africa series which starts at the end of the month.

The easy thing to do, would be to carry out the post mortem , straight after the game and have a knee jerk reaction. But, these two defeats for Pakistan have been more damaging, especially with the poor performances with the bat.

Fawad Alam, did make an emotional century in the second innings of the first test, and Faheem Ashraf made 91 in the first innings, but there hasn’t been too much to shout about. Azhar Ali in the first innings of this test made 93, but there’s not been a sizeable contribution from any Pakistan batsmen.

This maybe a tad harsh, especially since Williamson, wouldn’t have gone to make the scores he did, if the Pakistani’s would have taken their chances. Credit, must be given to New Zealand who are lead brilliantly by Kane Williamson, who in this test became just the third person to reach 7,000 test runs for New Zealand.

For Pakistan, it’s evident they have some soul searching to do in preparation for their upcoming series against South Africa. New Zealand on the other hand, they now look forward to a series of limited over and T20 games against arch-rivals Australia.

Australia vs India 2nd test; India level series

After the embarrassment of falling to 36 all out in the first test, where they ended up being beaten by eight wickets , India’s cricketers restored pride in the second test with an eight wicket win over their own.

For India, they had to contend with out their talismanic captain Virat Kohli, who was attending the birth of his first child.

Deputising for Kohli, was Ajinkya Rahane. The 32- year old Rahane took to the challenge of captaining his country like a duck to water.

Batting first, Australia could only muster 195 all out. It could have in fact been worse for the hosts if wasn’t for Marnus Labuschagne (48) and Travis Head (38).

In response to that disappointing total, India fresh off that infamous 36 all out, atoned for the 2nd innings failings in the first test by finishing on 326 all out.

Shubman Gill on debut (45), Ravi Jadeja (57), and a quite brilliant innings from stand in captain Rahane (112), put India in the ascendancy.

Having conceded a 131 runs lead in the first innings, hosts Australia having dominated the first test, were up against it in the 2nd.

Unfortunately from the Australian point of view, they crumbled badly in the 2nd innings too by Scoring 200 all out.

Matthew Wade made a start (40) as did Cameron Green (45) , but there wasn’t too much else to shout about as the tourists were left with just 70 needed to win the second test.

Despite a couple of early wickets, India achieved their target with relative ease, duly winning the match by eight wickets.

India is that you?

After World Cup wins in 2007 (World T20) and in 2011 (50 over one day international tournament and a 2013 victory in the Champions Trophy, India towards the latter years of the start of the decade, and the early years of the last decade, established themselves as a cricketing world super power.

The success of the India team, wasn’t just restricted to the limited overs format. The Indian’s even managed to achieve the lofty status of being World number one in tests too.

The sky was the limit, what could go wrong? Well a lot actually. A disappointing semi-final defeat to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final and a defeat at the same stage in the World T20 semi-final to now two-time winners West Indies.

To rub further salt in the wounds, a chastening defeat to arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2017 Champions trophy was just another example of some disappointments in Indian cricket.

Being a British born Pakistani, some might think I am revelling, seeing Kohli’s men in their current plight.

As a fan, yeah a little bit (I can’t lie, being a Pakistan fan and all). But the cricket purist side of me, says it’s tough to watch.

That kind of score is reminiscent of my school cricket team. It’s difficult to watch seeing a talented side like India being skittled out for 42, which broke a 48 year-old record.

Surely India haven’t sunk that low, but to see the former world champions be humbled like that (eventually going on to lose the match by eight wickets) was quite something.

The next test between the sides will be resuming on the night of the 25th December, for India that can’t come quick enough.

Unfortunately for them, they will have to manage in this game and for the rest of the series without their captain supreme, Virat Kohli.

The RCB captain, will be returning home for the birth of his first child. India will be hoping for a change of fortunes this time out.

This tour for India will make a man out of one their batsmen and bowlers. Let’s see who’s man enough then?

Knight In Shining Armour

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England’s women get their new era off to the best possible start with a series win over Pakistan’s women.

 

England’s women made their highest one-day total and secured the series against Pakistan with an emphatic 212-run win at New Road.

The English women hit 39 fours and 11 sixes in 378-5, with 132 made in the final 10 overs.
Openers Lauren Winfield and Tammy Beaumont scored maiden ODI centuries in a stand of 235 and Natalie Sciver struck six sixes in a 33-ball 80, in the process of their record-breaking knock. A mixture of calm batting and unfortunately poor fielding helped hosts England to a routine win in the end.

Anya Shrubsole took 4-19 as Pakistan were bowled out for 166 in the 48th over, despite some form of resistance from Bismah Maroof who scored a very well played 61. Sadly for Pakistan’s women besides Javeria Khan and skipper Sana Mir, no other batsmen was ever able to threaten the English bowling attack or at least make them ponder.

The Pakistani women were a bit too slow in their approach, as a result, there were far too many dot balls in their innings which resulted in the emphatic loss. A good start to life under new captain Heather Knights reign, but I am sure there are more difficult assignments to come such as the  upcoming world cup on home soil.

England, who won the first one-day international by seven wickets at Grace Road on Tuesday after having endured the frustration of the match being delayed a day, will attempt to complete a series whitewash in the final match at Taunton on Monday .The three-match Twenty20 series starts at Bristol on 3rd July.

The A Team

Australia's players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Australia’s players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Four time champions Australia reached a new level of supremacy with a convincing seven wicket win over arch rivals New Zealand, in the cricket world cup final. The success on home soil for Australia means that they have won cricket’s top prize on five separate occasions.

The fitting tribute for the Australian captain Michael Clarke some may say, Clarke a few days earlier stated that this tournament will be his last as he is set to retire. Another factor which makes the world cup win all that more special for the Aussies is that of the sad passing of Phil Hughes earlier this year.

Hughes the 26 year old who rose to stardom by hitting successive centuries earlier in his career, sadly lost his life after never regaining consciousness after being hit by a bouncer in Sydney – many of Australia’s players have said that they want to win the world cup in his honour .

Emotionally there was something riding on this game for New Zealand and Daniel Vettori. Thirty six year old Vettori who has been a brilliant servant for the New Zealand game is rumoured to be retiring from one day internationals, after the world cup – so Vettori will no doubt be wanting to go out on a high note. The left arm spinner was captain of the national side from 2007-2011 – and would have looking to be a leader in the bowling department for New Zealand here.

This eagerly anticipated clash between the two Tasman rivals saw New Zealand play away from home for the first time in the tournament. The Kiwis who have won all their games in their run to the final, included Matt Henry for the injured Adam Milne.

Australia came into this one unchanged – and with the run they’re on why change?

In the build up to this match much was made of winning the toss and batting first. The visitors New Zealand won the toss and batted first – but that decision very quickly seemed to be the wrong one.

The Kiwis were no doubt looking to put runs on the board to defend like they did in the quarter final against West Indies, however in this game the Black Caps were blown away.

Brendan McCullum so often the slayer of attacks this time departed for a three ball duck, the New Zealand captain sadly wasn’t able to produce the innings which blew the South African attack away in the semi- finals.

If the quarter final against West Indies is to go by, that didn’t matter – but unfortunately for the Kiwis Kane Williamson and Martin Guptil departed soon after their captain did. Those dismissals brought semi final hero Grant Elliott and the experienced Ross Taylor to the crease.

Elliott and Taylor after the early carnage were charged with rebuilding the New Zealand innings – and that they did, all be it in painstaking fashion. The fourth wicket pair put on 111 – and the platform looked set for the Kiwis’ power hitters such as Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi.

Sadly though for New Zealand the end of that fourth wicket partnership sparked a massive collapse as seven wickets fell for 33 runs. The Kiwis after that batting collapse crumbled to 183 all out.

Before the game the Melbourne pitch was adjudged to be a batters paradise – but in the end the MCG was anything but. The pace and bounce was just to much for the Black Caps to deal with as Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner took three wickets apiece.

Australia's players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Australia’s players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Any hopes of the rematch of the two Tasman rivals being a low scoring thriller like the match in the group stages were dashed very quickly. Although New Zealand’s bowler of the tournament – and maybe the bowler of the tournament Trent Boult had Aaron Finch caught and bowled for two, you felt the Aussies had enough quality in their batting to knock the runs off.

Finch’s opening partner David Warner was able to make a near run a ball 45 – but even when Warner was second out with the score on 63, the winning line seemed near. The dismissal of the Aussie opener brought Australia’s captain Michael Clarke and maybe the person to replace him as captain – Steven Smith.

Although they may have started off slowly Smith and Clarke improved their scoring. In particular Michael Clarke seized upon on anything short and with some brilliant drives and lovely cut shots – the stage seemed set for Australia’s captain to guide them home.

However there was time for New Zealand to take one more wicket – and it was that of Michael Clarke. The Australian captain was bowled by Matt Henry with just nine needed, that wicket was prolonging the inevitable -and the inevitable duly came as Steven Smith who hit a record fifth consecutive fifty, pulled Henry to hit the winning runs.

Pak To Their Best?

Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed raise his bat aloft after helping Pakistan to a seven wicket win. over Ireland. The win against Ireland means they will now play hosts Australia in the quarter final.

Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed raise his bat aloft after helping Pakistan to a seven wicket win. over Ireland. The win against Ireland means they will now play hosts Australia in the quarter final.

1992 World Champions Pakistan overcame the brave challenge of Ireland to earn the right to face Australia in next weeks quarter final with a seven wicket win over the associate nation.

In a highly anticipated game which would have seen the winner progress to the quarter final stage – and the loser eliminated, it was Ireland who won the toss in this crucial match and opted to bat first.

The Irish came into this with all their key players available ( Both Openers and the explosive Kevin O’Brien). As for Pakistan who triumphed in 1992 when the tournament was last in Australia their team showed two changes, Harris Sohail returns after injury in place of Younus Khan and Ehsan Adil replaces Mohammed Irfan to make his first appearance of this world cup.

Ireland who can say they have beaten Pakistan in the past, would have every right to have been optimistic here- but the initial optimism decreased as Paul Stirling was dismissed by Adil with just 11 on the board. The worst possible start for the associate nation who knew that there was a lot riding on this game.

That early dismissal brought former England batsmen Ed Joyce to the crease – and at first it looked like the Sussex captain and Ireland’s captain William Porterfield had helped their side recover from the initial loss of Sterling. Sadly though Joyce was second out after being caught by Umar Akmal who would go on to take four catches in the game.

Through out Ireland’s innings players made ‘starts’ but could never truly cash in. Despite Portefield’s brilliant hundred which was the highest score by an associate nation’s captain, Ireland were all out for 237. After the Irish skippers heroics the next highest scorer was wicketkeeper Gary Wilson who scored 29. Ireland were at least 30 runs short we felt – but Pakistan’s disciplined attack never allowed Ireland’s score to get out of their control.

With the 1992 world champions just needing 237 to win to secure their place in the quarter finals, the Pakistan openers combined to put on their best opening stand in this tournament, by some distance. Ahmed Shehzhad and Sarfraz Ahmed who hit a superb 49 against South Africa, put on 120 for the first wicket. Even when Shehzhad was dismissed off the bowling of Stuart Thompson for a well played 63, Pakistan always seemed in control of this one.

However there was time for some late drama, or so Ireland thought.The recalled Harris Sohail was dismissed six runs later after a horrible mix up with Sarfraz Ahmed which lead to the run out of Sohail. If Ireland thought that dismissal was a chance for them to seize a potential advantage, sadly they were mistaken. Pakistan captain Misbah Ul-Haq was in next – and that was just what Pakistan needed as their captain effectively ended this one as a contest with a breezy 39 0ff just 46 balls which included two big sixes.

When Misbah was out for 39 after treading on his stumps, there was only 30 runs needed, so it was fair to say the game was effectively over. Pakistan eventually did secure the win with a four down the ground from Umar Akmal.

So Pakistan secured their place in the quarter finals after winning this game by seven wickets. The main reason for this win was a well disciplined bowling display and a very patient maiden century from wicket keeper batsmen Sarfraz Ahmed who anchored the run chase. Although Pakistan only closed the game out in the 47th over, they were never really troubled in this one.

Pakistan will now face Australia in the quarter final which will be on Friday 13th March. As for Ireland although they are eliminated they can go home proud of their achievements.

The Three Musketeers Help Boost Pakistan World Cup Hopes

Mohammed Irfan celebrates taking a wicket in Pakistan's 29 run win over South Africa.

Mohammed Irfan celebrates taking a wicket in Pakistan’s 29 run win over South Africa.

Pakistan produced a brilliant performance to win against all the odds against one of the pre tournament favourites South Africa. Pakistan in typical Pakistan fashion insisted on doing it the hard way – but this win by 29 runs via the Duckworth Lewis method sees the 1992 world champions on course for the quarter finals.

The 2009 and T20 World champions came into this match showing two changes, one was enforced and was tactical. Nasser Jamshed who has excelled for Pakistan at the top of the order in the past, has sadly struggled in this tournament, wicket keeper batsmen Sarfraz Ahmed took his place at the top of the order.

The other change sees the injured Harris Sohail miss out, with veteran Younus Khan back in the side and at number three in the batting order.

As for South Africa they just showed the one change, Farhaan Behardien makes way for the returning JP Duminy who was injured in the last match.

It was South Africa who won the toss and unsurprisingly opted to out Pakistan into bat. Proteas captain AB Devilliers appeared to have made the right choice, as this was the pitch which produced the low scoring thriller between the two hosts New Zealand and Australia.

Pakistan who have evidently struggled in the first 10 overs this tournament, seemed much more determined to bat better than what they have done in the first 10 overs of previous matches. The Green shirts as they are also known, Pakistan were very circumspect in the first 10 .

To their credit, Pakistan were batting really well and there was no need to panic as far as Pakistan are concerned. Sarfraz Ahmed in particularly was playing with purpose as the 27 year old was playing out of his crease at any given opportunity, maybe to just look to unsettle the South African attack.

South Africa though were on the whole very well disciplined – but didn’t bowl many short balls considering this pitch did have extra bounce in it. Pakistan and more in particular Ahmed Shehzhad after weathering the initial storm if you will but began to play more expansive .

The Pakistani opener played some beautiful straight drives as he looked to move through the gears – but Shehzhad’s innings would come to an end due to a brilliant catch from one of the South African players you would least expect.

Dale Steyn who is famed for his bowling took a quite brilliant catch to remove Pakistan’s opener. Ahmed Shezhad who was starting to gain a bit of confidence after those drives, decided to take on Kyle Abbot – but managed to only find Dale Steyn who quite brilliantly dived backwards to catch a ball in midair.

After that setback Shehzhad’s opening partner Sarfraz Ahmed exploded and hit 23 of a JP Duminy over which included three massive sixes. Ahmed seemed well set to get a 50 – but rather needlessly ran him self out when trying to chase two runs for his 50, it was poor judgement from Pakistan’s wicket keeper who tried to take on one of South Africa’s better fielders in David Miller.

After Pakistan lost their second just before the 100 came up, Younus Khan and captain Misbah Ul-Haq looked to regroup and consolidate their ascendancy. The Pakistani’s plan at that point was working – but when Younus Khan unforgivably lost his wicket for 37 playing a nothing shot off the part time bowling of De Villiers, Pakistan were again on the back foot at 132-3.

In came Sohaib Maqsood, a very capable middle order batsmen – but just like Khan, Maqsood also played a careless shot, South Africa at that point were looking to turn the screw. When Umar Akmal came in, a player who has performed reasonably well this world cup, the Green Shirts must have thought that any threat of a middle order collapse were dispelled.

Sadly however just like the other batsmen before him, Umar Akmal played a needless shot which De Villers gladly caught with out knowing to much about it due to the bad light. Soon after that dismissal the rain came and the players had to go off – but thankfully there was no detriment on the game, which made Akmal’s dismissal all the more unnecessary.

After being in a position of utter dominance, Pakistan contributed to their own down fall. When the players did come back out, the Pakistani’s crumbled from being 175-5 after Akmal’s dismissal, Pakistan were all out for 222.

The 1992 world champions in a game they could do with winning looked to have made a score which was at least 25 runs short of a par score.

South Africa in a match which was made to 47 overs a side due to rain interruptions, came out to bat knowing that if they successfully chase this total down, they’re all but through to the quarter finals – and that’s when the drama unfolded.

The Proteas couldn’t have got off to a worse start, Quinton De Kock who is struggling for form with the bat, also struggled for runs today. De Kock departed for a duck to leave South Africa in deep trouble at 0-1.

It was left to the experienced pair of Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis to rebuild the innings, and that they did superbly. Amla and Du Plessis put on 67 for the second wicket – but when Du Plessis was caught behind by Sarfraz Ahmed off the bowling Rahat Ali, Pakistan’s left arm seam trio of Mohammed Irfan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz got to work and essentially blew South Africa away.

Hashim Amla soon followed Du Plessis. Riley Rossouw who has impressed in South Africa’s last two games where they have scored 400, sadly for South African fans failed to make a big contribution as the RCB player just made six.

Rossouw wasn’t the only player to get a low score as Duminy and Miller were both dismissed cheaply, the latter being dismissed for a duck. In fact in South Africa’s lower order it was Dale Steyn who got the highest score with 16.

South Africa after doing brilliantly to restrict Pakistan, looked like they had quite clearly pressed self destruct as the Proteas managed to slump to 172-8. The South African’s hadn’t done just yet – and still had AB De Villiers at the other end of the ensuing carnage
When De Villiers was ninth man out for a well played 72, you knew the game was up for South Africa. The game did duly end when Imran Tahir was demised two runs later to hand Pakistan a 29 run win via Duckworth Lewis method.

Pakistan with this win have most definitely reigned their hopes of a quarter final place. As for South Africa despite losing today their superior run rate gives them an edge of their rivals. Group B draws to a climax on Thursday 12th and Sunday 15th March.