Around the Grounds ~ Ind vs Aus - NZ vs Eng - WI vs Zim - SA vs Pak
February 23rd 2013 15:06
Australia vs India
A classic Clarke century and fifties from Dave Warner and debutant Moises Henriques overshadowed Ravichandran Ashwin’s six-wicket haul on day 1 of the first Test in Chennai. Given Michael Clarke’s enthusiasm to bat first after winning the toss, it was easy to conclude that the Chennai track was going to be a difficult one for the batsmen. If not at the very start of the match, then definitely as the game progressed.
But for some below-par bowling from Harbhajan Singh and a strange selection from the Indian management, it did look like that was going to be the case.
Australia lost wickets in heaps – two in the very beginning, three at the start of the second session and then another couple towards the end. But it was what they did between those collapses that pushed them into a position of strength at stumps on day one.
After Dave Warner had capitalized on the life that Virender Sehwag afforded him at the slips and gone on to make another fifty, Ashwin came into his own and ran through the Aussie top-order. From a respectable 2/126, Australia collapsed to 5/153 and a below-par 250 all out looked very much on cards.
Instead Henriques showed no signs of nerves in his first Test match and joined Clarke in their effort to resurrect the innings. Ashwin’s sudden suffering of a finger injury took the momentum out of the Indian bowling at that very stage and by the time he came back on almost an hour later, Australia had dug themselves in. The pair added 151 for the sixth wicket, an effort whose importance will be known only after the game gets over. But given how the rest of the batsmen folded up on a difficult pitch, it might be a match-turning partnership. Henriques and Mitchell Starc’s dismissals late in the day allowed India to salvage something, but still left them with a fair amount to do on day 2.
Clarke returned alongside Siddle and continued where he left off. The Oz captain knows when important runs are needed and more often than not, he himself will provide them. He moved on to 130 before he was removed by Ravindra Jadeja, from here India would’ve been confident of wrapping the tail up quickly and getting into to bat nice and quickly. The final 3 had better ideas, putting on 19 runs in 13 overs to really irritate the Indian’s. I think the combined effort of the last 3 batsmen contributed to India’s early loss of wickets.
Murali Vijay looked confident when he walked to the crease alongside Virender Sehwag, but an odd looking, overly aggressive shot removed the opener in his 13th Test match. Pattinson, who was the bowler, then went on to show England what they have to worry about in this summer’s Ashes. He removed Sehwag in what were some unfortunate circumstances for the batsman who blocked the ball down into the ground, but the little red annoyance spun back and flicked the leg bail and “Viru” was gone.
Pujara and the under-pressure Sachin Tendulkar began to rebuild for India and took them up to tea without more damages. Clarke brought Pattinson back for a second spell and he quickly did for Pujara with his 3rd ‘bowled’ wicket of the innings. Tendulkar was joined by his so called ‘protégé’ Virat Kohli who looked very classy for his 50* overnight. But the best thing for India is the fact that Sachin the Great is still there and looking back to his best.
The hosts return tomorrow 198 runs behind with 7 wickets remaining. Tendulkar needs just 29 for what would be his 52nd Test century.
England vs New Zealand
If occasionally knocking over the bowler's end bails can be deemed a weakness, it is the only blemish against Steven Finn at the moment. His new, shorter, run up is designed to address that issue and it has taken none of the pace and aggression away from him, qualities which were too good for New Zealand as England comfortably won the deciding ODI. His excellence included three wickets that laid a platform for England to dominate in the field. He and James Anderson conceded just 18 in the opening 10 overs and New Zealand never recovered, being bowled out for a total nowhere near competitive on a dry, hard, flat surface.
England should have completed a rout but stuttered slightly towards the end of the chase. For the most part they played with the fluency expected on an excellent drop-in pitch. Brendon McCullum also did justice to the conditions with another fine captain's innings, his third consecutive half-century, but the rest of New Zealand's batsman were undone by England's dangerous, disciplined attack, the best of whom was Finn.
The wicket was tailor-made for him and he was often unplayable. His opening spell went for just five and created a crawl through the Powerplay. A regular fall of wickets stymied the recovery and Brendon McCullum's 79 in 68 balls was a lone hand.
Chasing such a small target against an attack with few threats, England encountered few problems. New Zealand's seamers are at least five-miles-an-hour slower than England's and provided none of the control that saw the first innings so stifled. England went at five an over in the Powerplay.
They allowed the chase to descend from overwhelming to workmanlike with some lazy strokes - Cook and Jonathan Trott both caught behind driving outside off - but it was beneficial that Eoin Morgan was able to enjoy time at the crease. He drove well off Tim Southee before lifting him over midwicket for six and striking Nathan McCullum over long-on: 39 from 24 balls was a strong reminder of Morgan's ability at a time when everyone's place is under scrutiny because of Joe Root's emergence. Root again led England home with a composed, mature innings.
The worrying thing for the Kiwi’s is that the shorter formats of the game were what they were supposed to win, and they have faltered badly. England go into the Test matches as huge favourites, and with Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior to return to the side, the XI is only getting stronger. The next few weeks are going to be tough for the hosts and with the new Rugby Union season getting underway, it is also going to Test the support that their fans offer.
England 185 for 5 (Cook 46, Morgan 39) beat New Zealand 185 (McCullum 79, Finn 3-27) by five wickets.
West Indies vs Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe won the toss, and West Indies everything following that, inflicting their heaviest defeat on the visitors in the first of three ODIs. They bludgeoned their way to a huge total after being asked to bat and then derailed the chase soon after it began. Johnson Charles led the assault with a superbly paced hundred that came on the back of his maiden century in Melbourne against Australia. West Indies had lost all five ODIs on that tour, but settled in at home against a friendly Zimbabwe attack. Kieran Powell did the early running in a mammoth opening stand with Charles and Darren Bravo rounded off a hopeless outing for Zimbabwe with serious big-hitting towards the end that gave him his maiden ODI century.
In reply, Zimbabwe never looked like getting anywhere near the W’Indies total. Roach got a couple up top and the tourists were really troubled by Sunil Narine who ended with 3-28. Zimbabwe can take scant consolation from Malcolm Waller’s 50 and the fact that managed to see through the 50 over's.
West Indies 337 for 4 (Charles 130, Darren Bravo 100*, Powell 79) beat Zimbabwe 181 for 9 (Waller 51, Narine 3-28) by 156 runs.
South Africa vs Pakistan
AB De Villiers and Hashim Amla batted superbly on a challenging pitch, to put South Africa in the driving seat after Day 1 of the Third Test at Centurion. Graeme Smith won the toss, but Pakistan’s inexperienced bowling attack managed to exert some pressure on them. Smith and Petersen went early, but the class of Hashim Amla shone through as he made a supreme 92 at a very good rate. Faf Du Plessis (29) offered some good support but it was left to AB De Villiers and the tail to push the Proteas onwards, and he did just that making a superb 98* by stumps with Vernon Philander unbeaten alongside him on 45.
For the latest score go to: www.espncricinfo.com
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