Cricket

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.

India secure battling draw in third test against Australia

India managed to survive the last day and secure a thrilling draw in their third test against Australia in Sydney.

The tourists India battled against the odds and were indebted to Rishabh Pant (97) and Chasteshwar Pujara (77) for helping them have an improved showing with the bat.

When both men fell in quick succession, Hanuma Vihari and Ravi Ashwin came together to show further defiance to frustrate the hosts Australia.

What made the draw all the impressive, was that Vihari suffered a hamstring injury, his 23 was scored off 161 balls.

The Sunrisers Hyderabad man is almost certain to miss the fourth test in Brisbane.

Fellow spinner Ravi Jadeja is also likely to be absent for the fourth test after the 32-year old all-rounder suffered a fractured thumb. As impressive as this spirited draw has been, it seems to have come at a cost for India.

As for the hosts Australia, their usually potent bowling attack was blunted by India’s rearguard. Three drop catches by Aussie skipper Tim Paine, didn’t help their cause.

What the world champions can take from this performance is that debutant Will Puckovski scored a debut 50 and looks like he belongs at this level, and Steve Smith returned to form after a barren scoring run in this series.

So as disappointing as this draw was there were some positives for sure. Australia produced a brilliant battling display to come back from the disappointment of the second test.

As entertaining as the third test was, there was an incident of apparent racism. India players reported that members of the crowd. This is an allegation at this point, one would hope this isn’t the case.

Australia, have hosted a brilliant test series, and the last thing we want is for this test to be remembered for matters off the pitch. The fourth test between the two sides starts on 15th January.

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; third test preview

After battling back, to win the second test, India have had to make some enforced changes coming into this one. Natarajan, who impressed for Sunrisers Hyderabad in this years IPL, comes in for the injured Umesh Yadav, who injured his calf during the second test victory.

The build-up to this test has been marred by an apparent breach of Covid protocols, where five Indian players (Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Navdeep and Pritvi Shaw) were seen in a video circulated over social media where the quintet were seen outdoors eating in a Sydney restaurant.

Despite this breach, it’s believed there hasn’t been any travel restrictions on the five, and they will be able to travel with the rest of the squad for the third test. This match, with the series squared at 1-1 will be crucial. At the top of the order has been a problem for India with Mayank Agarwal and Pritvi Shaw both struggling.

The return of Mumbai Indians skipper Sharma, will give the tourists some much strength needed up top, it will be hoped Rohit Sharma’s return, will take some pressure and the scoring burden off stand-in skipper Ajinkja Rahane, Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari in the middle.

Australia, who were well beaten in the second test have dropped Joe Burns, who has had indifferent series. Burns has been replaced by the returning David Warner, who has shaken off his groin injury. Will Pucovski, has impressed in the Sheffield Shield, but concussion issues have plagued the 22-year old. Selector Trevor Hohns has confirmed that Pucovski has been symptom free for sometime.

Fast bowler and all-rounder Sean Abbott who has recovered for a calf strain, has been recalled. The third test, which begins at 23:30, will be played at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney.

Opinion, why five batters are better than six

Hello and good afternoon, my name is Ayyaz Malik, sportswriter and sports broadcaster for six years now. Through my blog, I hope you the reader, have been able to digest and feast your self on some very good reading.

Some of the pieces I have written of late have been designed to provoke some thoughts of all sports fans. What I want to talk about today, is an issue in the world of cricket, and offer my thoughts on the debate too.

The issue I am referring to is the issue of, should a team have five batsmen or six? In the modern game, a lot of bowlers are able to bat, as are batsmen are able to bowl.

But what I want to talk about is the team line-up more for test matches. Traditionally, in limited over matches, teams tend to field, five bowlers and five batsmen. In the test format, it differs pending on the team.

Misbah Ul-Haq’s Pakistan team, in my humble opinion, were notorious for fielding six batsmen and four bowlers (three seamers and one spinner). There are two ways to look at this argument.

With having the six batsmen, like that Pakistan team did where Asad Shafiq became one of the best in the world. The 2009 T20 champions, simply were outscoring their opponents, especially at their adopted home of Abu Dhabi.

The flipside of this Pakistani side was that as good as they were with bat and arguably the ball due to the brilliance of Yasir Shah, if a team would play sensible test cricket, four bowlers could get worn out quicker, compared to the five.

I am trying to argue that, in tests most likely a lot of overs will be bowled. To be able to get through the overs, I argue that five bowlers are better to keep a bowling attack fresh.

In this test series, current Pakistan test captain, Mohammed Rizwan has opted for five bowlers.

I feel for test series against New Zealand, where they have players like Williamson at their disposal, one would think there would be a lot of overs bowled. So that’s my opinion cricket fans, what do you think?

New Zealand over come Pakistan in thriller

In what turned out to be a great advertisement for test Cricket, New Zealand over came tourists Pakistan with a thrilling 101 run win in the first test, of their two game test series.

The win, which sees The Kiwis top the test rankings for the first time in their history, was achieved off the back of a brilliant 129 from captain Kane Williamson.

Ross Taylor (70) and Henry Nichols (56) did offer support to their captain, which helped the home side post a mammoth 431 all out.

In reply, Pakistan’s innings was below par as they fell to 239 all out. This total could have been worse, if it wasn’t for captain Mohammed Rizwan (71) and Faheem Ashraf (91).

The Pakistani all-rounder falling agonisingly short of a maiden century. New Zealand were in the ascendancy at this point, and in their 2nd innings posted 180-5.

Fifties from openers Tom Latham (53) and Tom Blundell (64) helps The Black Caps to set a tricky target of 372 for Pakistan to win the first test.

At 37-3 and then 75-4, Pakistan were staring at a humbling defeat. The tourists, though managed to draw up some of their resilience and doggedness of old.

Mohammed Rizwan, one of the top scorers in the first innings, was joined by Fawad Alam who would go on to make an emotional century (104).

The 34-year old Fawad’s brilliant 100 was his first ton after 11 years. The all-rounder has only just returned to the test side after an 11- year absence.

Alam and his captain Rizwan (60) combined in a 160 run fifth wicket partnership to frustrate the hosts and Maybe help secure an unlikely win.

When tall paceman Kyle Jamieson, had Mohammed Rizwan trapped lbw for 60, Pakistan’s resistance crumbled with the last five wickets falling for 31 runs.

An unfortunate end to a brilliant game of test cricket between the two sides. As the cliche goes, there can only be one winner.

Home side New Zealand deserved the win, but new captain Mohammed Rizwan will be encouraged with what he saw in parts of this game.

The second test, will be contested in Christchurch, if it’s anything like the first test we are in for a real treat!

The second test between the two sides starts on 2nd January and potentially ends on 6th January.

Captain Marvel, Ajinkja tames Aussie attack on day two of Australia vs India

After enduring a humiliating defeat in the first test, India went some way to restoring some pride to on day two of the second test of the four match series against Australia.

The tourists, at the end of day one were on 36-1 with debutant Shubman Gill going nicely.

A clutter of wickets would fall, KKR batsmen Gill for a well crafted 45 and Pujara for 17, who fell victim to a brilliant catch by wicket-keeper Tim Paine.

The Aussies were no doubt sensing a first innings lead, despite their low total. Scores from Hanuma Vihari (21), Rishab Pant (29), Ravi Jadeja, (40 not out) and a brilliant unbeaten 104 from stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane helped India have some much needed cheer in this test series.

Rahane, was indeed dropped twice, but the sheer determination of the 32-year old Rahane, helped the Delhi Captials batsmen get to three figures.

So India finished on 277-5 for the day, a massive improvement on the first test. Australia already seem to be facing an uphill task to save the game at this early stage of game.

New Zealand vs Pakistan test preview

After serving up an entertaining T20 series, New Zealand and Pakistan now go head to head in a two-game test series.

The hosts go into this one, with plenty of talent at their disposal in the form of captain Supreme Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tim Southee and Trent Boult.

The supporting cast isn’t too bad either, and on home soil, will be a tough opponent for the visitors Pakistan.

The Black Caps, who valiantly lost in the 2019 World Cup final to England have a very settled test squad and an experience leader in the 30-year old Kane Williamson.

In contrast, tourists Pakistan have a new captain in the form of wicketkeeper batsmen Mohammed Rizwan.

Rizwan, since coming into the team has been excellent. Polished with the gloves, and assured with the bat, the 28-year old does have some captaincy experience.

With the greatest respect to be at a level of Wasim Akram or Imran Khan will take some time, if it’s afforded to him.

Rizwan, will have a very talented bowling line up at his disposal, in the form of star spinner Yasir Shah, left-armed Shaheen Afridi, teenage sensation Naseem Shah and of course the quite brilliant Mohammed Abbas.

The bowling looks to be well stocked, and with the addition of all-rounder Faheem Ashraf also included, that crucial fifth bowler looks to be a master stroke.

Or is it? Shaan Masood, Abid Ali, former captain Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam and Harris Sohail make up the top order.

Bar former captain Ali, this top order although talented is arguably inexperienced. This could play into the Kiwi’s hands.

So, with that in mind, it’s crucial for Pakistan’s bowlers to try help Pakistan’s potentially weak batting line-up.

Will this be the case? We will have to wait to see, the first test starts on Boxing Day with the conclusion of the test series on 2nd January.

Australia vs India day one; visitors on top after day one

After the disappointment of losing the first test convincingly by eight wickets, India’s cricketers started the second test in positive fashion. In the first test, the 2011 World Cup winners were well beaten and were skittled out for just 36 in the second innings.

That effort in the second innings for India, was their lowest score in their proud test match history. The lowest score before their effort in the first test, was a paltry 42 against England in 1978. India, were coming into this test, very much looking to restore their pride.

This task was made all the more difficult after regular captain and star-batsmen Virat Kohli played his last test match of the tour (attending the birth of his first child). If trying to get back into a series on Australian attack against an Australian attack that includes Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon and the brilliant Josh Hazelwood wasn’t tough enough.

The hosts Australia, after an initial wobble at 38-3, were able to recover with a fourth wicket stand of 88, but the partnership between Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head would be broken by the irreplaceable Jasprit Bumrah, who had the latter caught by stand-in test captain Ajinkja Rahane for 38.

At that stage the score was 124-4, and there appeared to be no reason for any panic stations. What unfold would be what can only be described as utter chaos as six wickets would fall for just 71. So, after a brilliant bowling performance where Ravi Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, helped restrict the hosts, India got their innings off to the worst start.

Mayank Agarwal, who impressed in the Indian IPL, has struggled in the test series so far, being dismissed for a duck. Any hopes of India repeating their 36 all out, look to have been dispelled with Shubman Gill, who also impressed in the IPL, scoring 28 on debut.

For all matters sports, be sure to visit ayyazmalik.com! Have a lovely morning.

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?