‘Boks’ fail to impress and the Black juggernaut rolls on
by Rajitha Ratwatte
The current “world champions” trying to save face after the two-point defeat last week, took on the resurgent Wallabies in front of over 35,000 fans at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Great playing condition with the temperature in the mid-twenties and dry conditions underfoot. Michael Hooper the Australian skipper captaining for the 60th time! Dave Rennie the Kiwi-born and raised coach of the Australian side, had made a few changes and among them not playing Hunter Paisamy at no12 and replacing him with Len Ikitau, the “human cannonball”, hooker Taniela Taupo also got a start. The change in the center was justified with Len Ikitau forcing his way over the line in the 12th minute to score mid-left and Quade Cooper sullied his impeccable record by hitting the upright with his attempted conversion. 5–0 to the Wallabies. Handre Pollard got three points back for the Springboks with a penalty converted from 35 meters out and mid-right. 5–3 was the score until Taniela Taupo displayed his great strength and low center of gravity by making good ground and allowing Ikitau to ground his second try. This time QC made no mistake 12–3. Pollard did his thing again literarily shaving the right upright and in the 25th minute, the score read 12–6. The Wallabies reliable full-back Tom Banks suffered what is now thought to be a broken hand and was replaced by Reece Hodge 30 minutes into the game. Quade Cooper slotted another penalty taking the Wallaby lead to 15–6 until another ludicrous TMO intervention resulted in a yellow card for the Australian no 6 Lachlan Swinton. The Boks could only manage two penalties during the period in which they had numerical superiority taking the score along to 15–12 at halftime.
The South Africans were the first to score in the second half with their playmaker and nov9 Faf De Clerk kicking ahead to allow their no13 Lukhanyo Am to score far right. Pollard was unable to convert 15–17 and the Boks ahead for the first time in the game. Quade Cooper rectified matters converting a penalty from right in front of the posts and putting the wallabies back into the lead 18–17. Marika Korombeiti decided that it was time to show his skills, dotting down twice in quick succession once off a great pass from his skipper Hooper which QC converted, and then from a great turnover by Reece Hodge which Cooper couldn’t add the extra points to. 30–17 and the Wallabies convincing in their dominance of the World Champions who definitely seem to be fortunate to have the title. This win takes Australia to number three in the world ranking the computation of which seems to be understood only by the mandarins of the IRB and also gaining the Nelson Mandela trophy.
The crowd had swelled further for the second game of this week’s doubleheader. The Argentineans playing the NZ All Blacks for the second time inside seven days. Quinn Tupea wearing the no 12 black jersey for the first time due to injuries and Reiko Ioane very much a makeshift no 13 were the only perceptible areas of weakness in the NZ Line up. Santiango Carreras coming in at no10 for the Pumas was expected to make a difference. Ethan Blackadder at no 6 and Hoskins Sututu at no 8 showing the depth of selection available to the All Blacks. Damian Mackenzie starting at no 10 for only the second time in his All-Black career. That too probably due to Beauden Barret nursing a calf injury. Patrick Tuapoletu the Auckland Blues skipper playing in the second row led the way with the first seven pointer of the game in the fifth minute and the Pumas pulled one back three minutes later converting a penalty from right in front of the posts when Ethan Blackadder was pinged for being offside, 7-3. The ABs gave Jordie Barret the ball as he was doing the kicking for this game in the 11th minute to add further three points off a “gimme” penalty right in front of the posts, 10–3. In the 16th minute, Jordie Barret went over the line but was denied a score due to a forward pass, this was one of four occasions on which the ABs went over the line and were denied for infringements. The New Zealanders scored two more tries in the first half once off no 9 T.J. Peranara and again when a chip ahead created by Ardie Savea was picked up by Hoskins Sututu who passed to Topu Vaa’I in the no 5 jersey. Jordie Barret completed an impeccable first half of kicking duties with a penalty taking the score to 24–3 at halftime.
The Pumas came back roaring in the second half and scored first through a penalty 40 meters out but right in front. 24–6 Ethan Blackadder continued his hard unrelenting Mahi (Maori word for work) showing great handling skills, combining with Will Jordan, and sending Samisoni Taukeiaho over the line. Jordie Barret struck the left upright with his attempted conversion from the right touchline. 29–6 until Emiliano Boffelli in the no 11 jersey for the Pumas broke a three game drought of tries against the All Blacks and scored off a perfectly weighted cross-kick by their no 10 Santiago Carreras. This seven pointer took the score to 29–13. The All-Black bench came on and it must be said the Finlay Christie the Auckland no 9 looked a little out of his depth but the Canterbury Crusader no 8 Luke Jacobsen who had scored twice in the last game fitted right in. The Argentines’ found another gear and attacked relentlessly retaining 70% of possession but the NZ defence stood firm. The Black forwards began dominating the scrums and Taupo Vaa’i got his second from a great offload by Scott Barret his fellow second-rower. The conversion took the score to 36–13 where it remained until full time.
This completes nine wins in a row from the New Zealand All Blacks and unless the algorithms and permutations used in calculating the IRB world rankings have another unfathomable calculation, should result in the All Blacks regaining their well-deserved place at the top of the rankings.
Rajapaksa, Arshdeep deliver winning start for PBKS
A power-packed, collective performance with the bat set the platform for Punjab Kings’ winning start as they downed Kolkata Knight Riders by seven runs (DLS method) at the PCA stadium in Mohali on Saturday (April 1). Bhanuka Rajapaksa (50 off 32) registered his maiden IPL fifty while Shikhar Dhawan struck a 29-ball 40, and along with useful contributions from the rest of the batters, PBKS posted a formidable 191/5. Andre Russell top-scored for KKR but they lost wickets at regular intervals and eventually fell short of the DLS par score as they finished with 146/7 in 16 overs when rain forced the players off the field.
Punjab Kings 191/5 in 20 overs (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 50, Shikhar Dhawan 40; Tim Southee 2-54) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 146/7 in 16 overs (Andre Russell 35; Venkatesh Iyer 34; Arshdeep Singh 3-19) by 7 runs (DLS method).
Ruturaj 92 in vain as Titans win opening game
A brilliant 92 from Ruturaj Gaikwad went in vain as defending champions Gujarat Titans beat Chennai Super Kings in Ahmedabad on Friday (March 31) in the tournament opener. Gaikwad’s innings was nullified to an extent initially by Shubman Gill before a few vital blows towards the end of the game from the Titans middle order got the job done for them with four balls to spare.
Chennai Super Kings 178/7 in 20 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 92; Rashid Khan 2/26, Mohammed Shami 2/29) lost to Gujarat Titans182/5 in 19.2 overs (Shubman Gill 63; Rajvardhan Hangargekar 3/36) by 5 wickets
Bowlers, Stirling lead Ireland to their first win in Bangladesh in any format
Ireland finally notched a win on their tour of Bangladesh by scoring a seven-wicket win in the final T20I in Chattogram on Friday. Mark Adair led the bowling charge with three wickets as Bangladesh were bowled out for 124, and Paul Stirling, later named Player of the Match, was at his inventive best as he struck a 41-ball 77 to headline the chase. It was Ireland’s first T20I win over Bangladesh since 2009 and their first win in any format in the country.
Bangladesh had already taken the series after winning the first two games earlier in the week, and made two changes, perhaps to try out alternatives. Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Mustafizur Rahman went out; Rishad Hossain was handed a debut and Shoriful Islam made a comeback. It was the batting that came unstuck, though.
After opting to bat, Bangladesh were 61 for 7 in nine-and-a-half overs. Shamim Hossain, however, scored his first international half-century, making 51 off 42 balls with five fours and two sixes to give them a competitive 124. One of those sixes was a particularly eye-catching shot, when he reverse-whipped Curtis Campher hit over backward point for six.
But with Stirling in blistering form, and playing a few inventive shots of his own, the chase was done and dusted in 14 overs.Bangladesh’s slide started in the second over. Litton Das’ slash towards deep point against a wide Adair delivery landed in George Dockrell’s lap. It was the first time Bangladesh had lost a wicket in the powerplay after three matches.
Najmul Hossain Shanto was next to go, hitting a slog-sweep off Harry Tector straight to deep midwicket. Campher juggled the catch but clung on. In the next over, Campher himself got a wicket, when Rony Talukdar holed out at deep midwicket.
Towhid Hridoy and Shakib Al Hasan, however, went for their shots in keeping with Bangladesh’s new approach, and hit a couple of big ones, but both were gone in the space of three balls. Shakib was caught at short midwicket mistiming a pull off Adair, while Hridoy holed out off Ben White in the seventh over
Matthew Humphreys had two wicketless ODIs in Sylhet, but the left-arm spinner had a better start to his T20I career. He took a wicket off his first ball when he yorked Rishad for 8.
That made him the first Ireland bowler to take a wicket with his first ball in T20Is. This was, however, not the first time a debutant had done this against Bangladesh. Previously, Rory Kleinveldt, Pragyan Ojha, Lockie Ferguson and Cole McConchie have all achieved the feat.
Humphreys added his second off his third ball, when Taskin Ahmed was caught at deep midwicket for a duck.Shamim and Nasum Ahmed added 33 runs for the eighth wicket before Nasum was caught in the covers off Gareth Delany’s legspin. Adair took his third when he removed Shoriful, before Fionn Hand took Shamim’s wicket in the final over.
Stirling didn’t get going at the start, as there were two early wickets, of Ross Adair and Lorcan Tucker, but once he was set, there was no stopping him. He cut and swept Shakib for fours to kickstart the chase, and then deposited Hasan Mahmud’s half-tracker for his first six next over. No bowler escaped his wrath, or his inventiveness, as he hit ten fours and four sixes in his 41-ball innings.
Many of those came in one Shoriful over, the 11th of the innings, when he pulled a six and hit three fours to take 20 runs. Rishad put an end to the mayhem when he had Stirling caught at long-on in the 13th over – it was Stirling’s 22nd half-century in T20Is and Rishad’s first international wicket – but Campher closed out the chase with a four and a six off Taskin.
Ireland 126 for 3 (Stirling 77, Campher 16*, Tector 14*, Rishad 1-19) beat Bangladesh 124 (Shamim 51, Adair 3-25, Humphreys 2-10) by seven wickets
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