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Pandya, Jadeja, Thakur hand India consolation win

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Virat Kohli spoke of the “need to improve body language in the field and the bowling” going into the final One-Day International in the three-match series. India had already conceded the series 0-2 to Australia having lost the opening two ODIs. However, the Indian side heeded to their captain’s call as India fought back to finish with an eventual result of 1-2 in the one-dayers with a 13-run win on Wednesday, bowling Australia out for 289.

Chasing 303 for a whitewash at the Manuka Oval in Canberra, extra bounce from Jasprit Bumrah had stand-in opener Marnus Labuschagne on tenterhooks against the new ball as Australia struggled in the first few overs. Debutant T Natarajan put an end to Labuschagne’s edgy stay forcing an inside edge onto the stumps for his maiden ODI scalp. It was the first time in six games that India had picked a wicket in the powerplay.

Finch, meanwhile, was living a charmed life. He took his time to settle in and the game could’ve panned out differently had Shikhar Dhawan held on to a chance at slip that he spilled early on in Finch’s innings. Hardik Pandya missed a run-out chance and Bumrah missed a return catch as Finch made the most with another half-century adding to his scores of 114 and 60 in the series. He attacked in spurts, kept the scoreboard ticking and in turn, Australia in the game. In the absence of Warner, who was ruled out with a groin injury, much of the onus was on him to give Australia the start they’ve been getting in the series. With Labuschagne and Steve Smith falling cheaply, with Shardul Thakur impressive early on, Finch shook off the tentative start and soaked in the pressure to compile a well-made 75 before finally being sent back after Jadeja plucked out a sharp catch in the deep.

Debutant Cameron Green got himself a start but couldn’t capitalise on it, as was the case with Moises Henriques who was promoted to No. 4. The pair got themselves into the 20s before leaving too much for the lower-middle order. Alex Carey and Glenn Maxwell resisted the Indian attack getting the big shots in even, but a suicidal run-out broke the vital stand that added 52 with Carey departing for 38 as India sighted victory with Australia needing 92.

Maxwell brought that equation down to 36 from 34 with a brilliant half-century, his second this series, but India heaved a sigh of relief when Bumrah knocked him over for a 38-ball 59. Maxwell’s stand with Ashton Agar for the seventh wicket was instrumental in keeping them in the game, but if Australia were to pull this win out of the bag, they needed Maxwell. In the end, although Australia bat deep, they fell short.

Bumrah came into his own, getting the yorkers in, varying his pace and keeping the batsmen on their toes. He was the most economical of the lot, returning 2 for 43 while Thakur was impressive with 3-51 with spells of knuckleballs and slower ones that foxed the batsmen.

Earlier, after finally winning a toss this series, Kohli led the way with a masterclass while wickets fell around him. He played sheet anchor to perfection with textbook ODI batting. But it wasn’t until he fell that the game turned on its head with Pandya’s enterprising 92* and Ravindra Jadeja’s dynamic 66*. The pair amidst India’s highest sixth-wicket stand of 150 against Australia gave India a fighting total after a stumble in the middle overs. The pair accelerated in the final five to get as many as 76 with shots across both sides of the wicket, piercing the gaps at will as they helped India finish with 302.

It was their strong finish that handed India the momentum going into the break after Australia had done well to contain them to 192 for 5 after 40 overs. On a belter of a wicket at the Manuka Oval, Australia’s bowlers were right on the money early on despite missing their mainstays in Starc and Cummins. Sean Abbott and Agar got among the wickets to hand Australia the early advantage.

Abbott carried forward his form from the domestic season with a wicket in his first over. He bowled in good areas and got Dhawan advancing early on to end up chipping straight to cover. Kohli and Shubman Gill revived India’s innings with a solid 56-run stand as the youngster flicked, drove and used his wrists well. Once the spinners began operating, they tied him down a tad before he fell leg before to Agar, trying to sweep him, unable to convert his start.

During his knock, Kohli became the fastest batsman in ODIs to get to 12000 runs. Shreyas Iyer’s penchant against spin came to the fore as he got a start, but squandered it after slashing straight to backward point. India lost a wicket just when it seemed like they were building a partnership. KL Rahul fell soon after rewarding Agar for some tight bowling, sticking to his lines, bowling wicket to wicket and the premeditated sweep from the batsman had him trapped leg before – a dismissal eerily similar to that of Gill.

Pace and bounce with slight turn for Zampa and Agar helped tighten the noose in the middle overs, making the Indian batsmen work hard for their runs and forcing them to make mistakes. Kohli, however, was unperturbed, lunging forward to tackle them. It took Hazlewood, who continued to have the wood over Kohli this series, to send him back for 63 for the third time in three games after a stroke of brilliance from Finch. There was no appeal from the bowler, and a half-hearted one from Carey, but Finch reviewed it; although HotSpot showed nothing, there was a spike on snicko.

Hardik and Jadeja thereafter staged a counterattack that Australia didn’t have an answer for. They were the last recognised batting pair for India and they made the most of the opportunity to make it count. They found the gaps, kept the scoreboard ticking, cleared the fence, and put the poor balls away. Abbott, who made a good start, took a pasting in the latter half, conceding 84 in his 10 overs, leaving the question if Finch had underused Henriques and overbowled the former.

Brief scores:

India 302/5 in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 63, Hadrik Pandya 90*, Ravindra Jadeja 66*; Ashton Agar 2-44) beat Australia 289 in 49.3 overs (Aaron Finch 75, Alex Carey 38, Glenn Maxwell 59; Jasprit Bumrah 2-43, Shardul Thakur 3-51) by 13 runs. (Cricbuzz)



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Gateway win three Basketball Championships in a row

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Standing (L-R): Mr. Kevin Bennet (Coordinator), Mr. Tharindu Fernando (Head Coach), Sashein Perera, Seth Abeysekara, Yoosuf Nazih, Abhee Witharana, Samuel Tsung, Mathisha Udumalgala, Julan Senvitha, Mikyle Reza, Giyan Fernando, Mr. Fawzan Thariq (Coordinator) Seated (L-R): Usman Shafraz (Vice-Captain), Abdullah Jazeel, Aadhil Ammar, Taresh Samarasinghe, Ashain Thevarapperuma (Captain)

Gateway College Juniors comfortably beat Elizabeth Moir School 31-8 at the Semi Final and Colombo International School 19-10 to win the Under 13 Inter-International Schools’ Basketball Championship that was hosted by the Colombo International School. Earlier in the year, Gateway College secured the Under 17 and Under 19 Championships.

During the group stages, Gateway College Colombo had little resistance as they beat Wycherley International School 40-2, Lyceum International School Nugegoda 35-0, Gateway College Kandy 48-7 and the British School in Colombo 40-11.

Usman Shafraz was named as the Best Defensive Player and Ashain Thevarapperuma as the Most Valuable Player.

Gateway’s outstanding performances during the recent years include several National and International School tournaments which has set the stage for a few of it’s players to represent the country in Basketball.

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Glenn Maxwell added to Australia Test squad after Travis Head joins injury list

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Glenn Maxwell has been added to Australia’s Test squad ahead of the opening match against Sri Lanka in Galle after Travis Head joined a lengthy injury list with a hamstring strain which ruled him out of the final ODI.

It means the prospect of Maxwell playing his first Test since 2017, against Bangladesh in Chattogram, and his first first-class match since 2019 if he is included for the game next Wednesday. All seven of his Tests have come on the subcontinent with a top score of 104 against India in Ranchi.

Before the tour, national George Bailey kept the door open for Maxwell’s return. He has been in good touch during the ODIs with a match-winning unbeaten 80 in the opening game followed by 30 and 33.

“We know Glenn has had some red-ball success in these types of conditions and we’re looking forward to him getting back and playing a good block of cricket through the T20s and one-day cricket,” Bailey said. “If he shoots the lights out or anyone else does particularly well, there’s always going to be opportunities.”

Head sustained his injury late in the fourth match and has just six days to recover before the first Test in Galle. GPS data showed that Head had run 26km in the field across the third and fourth matches of the series. The strain is said to be on the minor side, but if he is not available for the opening game next Wednesday, it would require Australia to rejig their middle order.

Maxwell has been called up ahead of any of the Australia A batters who have been taking part in the four-day matches against Sri Lanka which includes Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw and Nic Maddinson.

However, three spinners from the A squad – Jon Holland, Matthew Kuhnemann and Todd Murphy – will remain in Sri Lanka with the Test squad to assist with preparations and to further their development. Kuhnemann has already been part of the ODI squad following Ashton Agar’s side injury and if Australia opt for three spinners during the Tests there could be further chance for promotion. (Cricinfo)

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Dickwella; brilliant with keeping, hopeless with batting

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Niroshan Dickwella pulled off a stunning stumping of David Warner on Tuesday as Sri Lanka secured a series win against Australia with a game to spare

by Rex Clementine

One of the game’s modern day greats Ricky Ponting used to be a riot in his early days. Late night brawls at pubs left him with bloody nose and sanctions from Cricket Australia. It was Steve Waugh who took him to a side and told him to get his act together. Ponting went onto play a record 168 Test matches, won two World Cups as captain and today he is a successful cricket coach.

Similarly, with Virat Kohli there were lots of hope when he came onto the big stage having captained India to the ICC Under-19 World Cup title. But he was overweight and underperforming with India’s senior side. One Sachin Tendulkar mentored him and today Kohli is in a different league. It’s such a pity that none of our greats have done the same with Niroshan Dickwella.

When Sampath Perera, one of the country’s most successful school cricket coaches, took on a bigger responsibility we asked him which young player we should keep an eye for. He told this newspaper to watch out for Niroshan Dickwella. This was some talent that will take Sri Lankan cricket places, Perera suggested. But he also warned us. He feared that Dickwella will get into trouble due to his off the field antics.

After nearly a decade in Sri Lankan colours, Dickwella has rarely delivered. While wicketkeepers like Quinton de Kock and Rishab Pant have gone places winning games to their sides, Dickwella is struggling to hold onto his place. He has been just average. Anywhere else in the world if you had not scored a hundred after 50 Tests, you’d be kicked out. He’s been tolerated with the hope that the prodigal son will finally deliver.

There was proof of what Sampath Perera was trying to tell us during the fourth ODI at RPS.  Dickwella pulled off a stunning stumping with David Warner on 99. Until that moment, the Aussies were on cruise mode to square the five match series. Dickwella turned the game and the series in Sri Lanka’s favour in a flash with the stumping of the year.

Sri Lanka have often backed batsmen who could do the job behind the stumps. In the process, they have turned a blind eye towards their best keeper who is Dickwella. Tuesday we saw why Dickwella should be backed as he is the team’s best keeper. Players of the caliber of Warner are going to give you just a half chance and you need to grab them like Dickwella did.

While Dickwella’s keeping is flawless, the problem is with his batting. There’s no consistency and worse, most of the time his ways of getting out are irritating.

Despite the excellent Warner stumping, the selectors have sent a strong message that unless he shows application with the bat, he is not going to be tolerated as he was dropped for the next game. They seem to want him to take more responsibility. At least this will bring the best out of him.

The other area that Dickwella has not made any improvement is his reviewing. True that the ultimate choice of reviews rests with the captain but the manner in which Dickwella urges the skipper leaves him with little choice. Dimuth Karunaratne, the Test captain, seem to be taking Dickwella’s inputs on reviews with a pinch of salt. White ball captain Dasun Shanaka seem to be still trusting his keeper but it’s only a matter of time before he too loses faith.

Reviews sum up Dickwella – impulsive, immature and even incorrigible. That’s seen in his overall cricket too. Fans will be hoping that the day comes where Dickwella is spoken of in the same breath as Pant and de Kock.

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