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Sri Lanka Gets Jonathan Lewis in Coaching Reva…

Jonathan Lewis was Thursday named Sri Lanka’s new batting coach, with the former England player to be tasked with preparing the national team for next year’s World Cup.

His appointment by Sri Lanka Cricket comes just days after Australia’s Steve Rixon was brought on as fielding coach.

Lewis, 43, was head coach of the Durham County Cricket Club before accepting the post.

He played 13 ODIs for England and one Test, the latter against Sri Lanka in 2006 in which he scored 27 runs.

Lewis will join Rixon, 64, later this month for Sri Lanka’s tour of New Zealand, where the visitors will play two Tests, three ODIs and one Twenty20 match.

They are also scheduled for two Tests in Australia from January 24.

Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva said both Lewis and Rixon will coach the national team until the end of the World Cup, which wraps up in July 2019.

Sri Lanka have struggled for form recently, losing the home ODI and Test series to England, and have been plagued by crisis off-field.

Bowling coach Nuwan Zoysa was suspended by the International Cricket Council in October after he was accused of match-fixing and other “corrupt conduct”.

Earlier that month, ex-chief selector and former captain Sanath Jayasuriya was charged for failing to cooperate with a match-fixing probe and concealing information.

The country recently sought help from neighbouring India to draft laws to combat cheating in the game.

Sarfraz Ahmed Wants Pakistan to Play ‘Without …

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed on Thursday urged his fellow teammates to play “without fear” during their tour of South Africa – a country where they have won only two Tests during their past five tours.

The Pakistani side is en route to South Africa to play three Tests, five one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals, with the first Test starting in Centurion on December 26.

Pakistan head into the series after losing 2-1 to New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates last week. In the wake of the tough loss, Sarfraz said he still had high hopes of earning a good result against the Proteas.

“Conditions in South Africa are tough with bouncy and seaming pitches so anyone who plays without fear and with a big heart will succeed,” Sarfraz told AFP.

Pakistan’s two wins out of 12 Tests in South Africa came in 1998 and 2007, having lost nine with just one draw.

On their last tour in 2013, Pakistan were routed 3-0 and bowled out for their lowest Test score of 49 in the first Test in Johannesburg, with both senior batsmen Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq in the line-up.

Now without the two stalwarts, Pakistan will look to Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq to help guide the squad.

“We need big innings from both Azhar and Shafiq and they are capable of doing that, so if we put good totals on board we have a good bowling attack to win the match,” said Sarfraz, who also singled out recalled paceman Mohammad Amir as key to any success.

“Amir is back after a good performance at the domestic level so we hope he gets us key wickets in Tests,” said Sarfraz of Amir, who was dropped from the series against Australia and New Zealand due to poor form.

Pakistan open the tour with a three-day game against Cricket South Africa Invitation XI at Benoni from December 19.

The second Test is in Cape Town from January 3-7 and the third in Johannesburg from January 11-15.

India vs Australia | Paine Defends Under-fire …

Perth: Australia skipper Tim Paine came to the defence of under-fire Mitchell Starc and Aaron Finch as they were included in an unchanged team for the second India Test despite below-par performances in the defeat in Adelaide.

The home side are gunning to level the four-Test series at the new Perth Stadium from Friday after losing a hard-fought opening Test earlier this week by 31 runs.

Once again Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins will shoulder the bowling load on an expected pacey wicket, with Nathan Lyon the spin option.

There had been speculation that Peter Siddle could replace Starc who had some wayward spells at Adelaide, including a string of costly byes in India’s second innings.

Paine, who has recovered after a delivery in Adelaide smashed into a right finger that has required several operations in the past, said the criticism of Starc was over the top.

“The criticism he has come under this week has been pretty unfair to be honest. I think barring two or three overs in Adelaide where he got his radar a little bit wrong, I thought he bowled really well,” he said.

“I think his best and his worst are getting closer together. I think we’re getting really close to his best and the conditions here are going to suit him down to the ground.”

He added that Starc took the comments personally, and it had fired him up.

“One thing I know about Starcy is that if he cops a bit of criticism he takes it personally and that sometimes gets the best out of him. So I’m pretty pumped to see him go tomorrow or the next day and see what he can produce.”

The selectors also retained Finch to face the new ball alongside rookie Marcus Harris despite his first Test failures and talk that he could move down the order with Usman Khawaja bumped up to opener.

‘Sniff of something special’

Finch, Australia’s one-day and Twenty20 captain, spent time with former skipper Ricky Ponting at training on Thursday, and Paine backed him to find form.

“We encourage all our players to back their strengths and Finchy has been successful at international cricket,” he said.

“He’s like no other player and he just needs that one score to, I suppose, just get that little bit more self-belief that we know he’s got at international one-day and T20 cricket.

"You’re not going to succeed at international cricket unless you stick to your strengths and Finchy knows the best way he goes about his batting and he’ll make sure he keeps trying to do that and if he does he’ll come good for us.”

India have their tails up after a tense win on the fifth day in Adelaide for their first victory on Australian soil in a decade. They now have sights firmly set on a first-ever series win in Australia.

Paine said he had no doubt Virat Kohli’s men would be “coming really hard” in Perth, but Australia would be ready for them.

“They’ve got a sniff of something special, something they’re never done before in Australia so we know it’s going to be another hard-fought, highly-competitive Test,” he said.

“It’s going to be a huge test for our whole group, not just out batters or our bowlers. It’s going to take all eleven of us.”

Australia: Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Peter Handscomb, Tim Paine (capt), Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc

Green Grass Welcomes Southee & Co Home at Well…

Wellington: A green Basin Reserve wicket was welcomed by New Zealand’s Tim Southee after his recent exertions against Pakistan on dry, low and slow pitches in the United Arab Emirates, but the paceman was quick to point out that looks can often be deceiving.

New Zealand open their home Test season against Sri Lanka on Saturday and were greeted by a verdant strip at the country’s most historic ground, where sides that win the toss tend to try and exploit the seamer-friendly conditions.

However, Neil Wagner used a short-pitched barrage to set up the hosts’ victory against West Indies last December, while South African spinners JP Duminy and Keshav Maharaj ran through New Zealand in the first innings in March 2017.

Two months earlier against Bangladesh, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson won the toss and opted to field, but watched his bowlers toil for almost two days before Mushfiqur Rahim declared his side’s innings closed at 595 for eight.

“It’s nice to be back in conditions we’re used to,” Southee told reporters. “We’ve come from a place that wasn’t easy for pace bowlers, so there was a bit of a spring in the step of the fast bowlers anyway.

"It’s nice to see some grass on the wicket but… we don’t know what it’s going to play like until we get out there. You can get in and it can be a batting paradise as well.”

New Zealand enter the two-match series, their first at home under new coach Gary Stead, flying high after they beat Pakistan in an away series for the first time in almost 50 years.

The 2-1 triumph came courtesy of the turn and bounce achieved by spinners Ajaz Patel and Will Somerville, as well as Williamson’s batting in the decider, but Southee said they had already moved on and were focused on Dinesh Chandimal’s side.

“It’s something the group is very proud of,” he said of the victory. “A lot of good sides have gone to the UAE and haven’t been able to tip Pakistan up.

"We know we can’t let that overhang into our home summer and start afresh in different conditions.”

India vs Australia: India Might Win the Series…

Mumbai: A Test series victory over Australia would remove any doubt about India’s status as the best side in the world but it is unlikely to be a cakewalk, according to former England opener Mark Butcher.

Virat Kohli’s side have not lost a home series since late 2012 but have struggled outside the sub-continent, beaten 2-1 in South Africa and 4-1 in England this year alone.

The four-Test series in Australia will be the last chance in 2018 for India to match their formidable home form with success abroad and show why they are the world’s top-ranked side in the longest format of the game.

The touring side have already taken a firm step towards what would be their first series triumph in Australia by winning the opening Test in Adelaide by 31 runs.

“India are already the number one side in the world and the one thing that they still have to prove to everybody is that they can win away from home,” Butcher said.

“They had a chance to do it in South Africa, couldn’t manage it. The scoreline in England perhaps was a little bit flattering to England but still they lost 4-1.

"They still have to get that monkey off their back of not being able to win away from home, outside of the subcontinent. This would be absolutely huge and they will be undisputedly the best side in the world if they do it.”

Winning a Test series in Australia is still among the toughest tasks in cricket and India have returned empty-handed from their previous 11 attempts over the last 70 years, winning just six Down Under.

They will however, fancy their chances of breaking the duck against an Australian team yet to recover from a ball-tampering scandal that led to bans for former captain Steve Smith, opener David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft.

Butcher, who is a panellist for broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks, thinks there is no doubt of the impact that loss has had on Australia’s batting.


“They got four very, very good bowlers in their side. It’s a fabulous bowling attack but at the moment they are struggling with batting,” Butcher said.

“You put in Steve Smith and David Warner in that team and they are a bloody good side again.

"But certainly this team at the moment isn’t a patch on the teams I have played against in the 90s and the early 2000s. That’s the way it is sometimes.

"You take Kohli and Pujara out of the Indian side, they are not going to find things quite so easy.”

The second Test begins on Friday at the new Perth Stadium, which has a drop-in pitch and succeeded the WACA as the city’s premier venue for internationals.

Butcher, who was twice a losing Ashes tourist during his 71-test career, said the toss would be crucial with the Perth Stadium head groundsman Brett Sipthorpe keen to produce a fast, bouncy wicket.

“It’s not going to be a cakewalk. India might win the series but it’s not going to be easy,” Butcher added.

“The toss on Friday is going to be hugely important. On this pitch they have never played a test match before.

"I have seen in the one-day internationals there’s lot of pace and lot of bounce.

"Both quick bowling attacks will enjoy bowling on it. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a fabulous series.

"India are a very, very good side. They do, indeed, stand their best chance of winning in Australia ever.

"But there will be a backlash in Perth and if the pitch turns up to be a fruity one, whoever scores the most runs in the first innings will probably win the game again.”

Glenn Maxwell to Skip IPL in Pursuit of Test B…

All-rounder Glenn Maxwell has said he will turn his back on the lucrative Indian Premier League next year and play a full season of English county cricket in a bid to regain his spot in the Australian test side.

The hard-hitting 30-year-old played the last of his seven tests against Bangladesh in September 2017 and missed out on a spot in the squad for the ongoing four-match series against India.

Maxwell will join up with former Australia test opener Joe Burns and his former World Cup-winning team mate James Faulkner at Lancashire, and play all three formats with the county side.

“This is a pretty clear sign I still want to play test cricket,” Maxwell told Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper on Wednesday.

“To knock back a chance to play IPL was a big decision, and a tough decision. It’s not something you make lightly, but the thought of playing test cricket again still burns deep.

"I desperately want to get back out there and I still think I have a lot to offer the Australian test team.”

Maxwell has reaped millions of dollars playing in the IPL but had a poor tournament with Delhi Daredevils this year and was released by the franchise last month.

He was controversially overlooked for the tour squad to play Pakistan in United Arab Emirates in October, beaten out by four uncapped players.

Tim Paine’s Australia are 1-0 down in the four-test series against India after losing by 31 runs in Adelaide on Monday. The second test starts in Perth on Friday.

India vs Australia: You Don’t Have to Talk Rub…

Australian captain Tim Paine says he’s proud of the way his team not only fought hard against India but played in the right spirit as they put on a friendlier face after the ball-tampering scandal.

The opening Test in Adelaide was the first at home for Australia since the cheating row blew up in South Africa last March, leading to bans for then skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner.

A scathing review into the scandal criticised Australian cricketers for “playing the mongrel” against opponents and in response the team produced a players’ pact vowing to tone down their infamous abrasive attitude.

Both teams shook hands before and after the match as a mark of respect and Paine said his team showed you didn’t have to “carry on like a pork chop” to be competitive in a match that went to the wire.

India eventually won by 31 runs on the fifth day to take momentum into the next Test in Perth starting Friday.

“We played in good spirits. I don’t know about the Indians, we didn’t pay attention to them and we won’t be for the whole series,” he said Monday.

“We can only concentrate on the brand and the style of cricket that we want to play.

"From a cricket point of view, we have some areas to tighten up and I thought today was a nice snapshot of how we want to go about it.

"We fought really hard and never gave up, and you don’t have to talk rubbish and carry on a like a pork chop to prove that.”

No Niggles

The Australians came face-to-face in Adelaide with famously combative Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who thrives on the verbal banter and has never been shy of riling the opposition.

But while he celebrated wickets enthusiastically, there were few, if any, niggles between the teams during the highly competitive game.

Paine pointed to the experienced foursome of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon as showing the type of never-say-die, but fair, commitment he wants in the team.

They all bowled consistently and for long periods, and added valuable runs on Monday in the improbable chase of a winning target of 323, eventually going down by 31 runs.

“Our whole bowling attack, your see those four together and you can see how much it means to them playing for Australia, whether they’ve got the bat, ball or in the field,” he said.

“You can’t question their commitment. They have a red hot crack every single ball.

"That’s what we’re building to, that’s the style of cricket we want to play.

"They’re obviously some of our more experienced players and I think the more they do that the more it will rub off on the rest of the group. I couldn’t question any of those guys.”

India vs Australia: Kohli Savours ‘Very Specia…

Virat Kohli said on Monday it was “very special” to captain India to their first Test win in Australia for a decade and gave his side crucial momentum in their bid for a maiden series victory.

The visitors won a tightly-contested opening Test in Adelaide by 31 runs on the fifth day after setting Australia a target of 323, which would have been a record run chase at the ground.

It was a big breakthrough for Kohli’s men, with their last triumph on Australian soil at the WACA Ground in Perth in 2008. In Adelaide, their sole previous win was in 2003.

“Obviously it’s a great feeling. We’ve never taken a lead in a series in Australia, something that for us is a huge boost,” he said.

“And it’s given us the right momentum that we needed to play a big series like this and it’s something that we’ve had to work hard for.

"Any Test victory is special because you work hard over five days, and then the physical and the mental toil and the emotion of it all comes together in a result is a very special feeling.”

Kohli, who has long led India’s batting charge with admirable consistency across all three formats but failed to fire in Adelaide, said he believed his team collectively were better than Australia and deserved to win.

The victory was built on Cheteshwar Pujara’s first innings 123 and his second innings 71, while wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant took a world record-equalling 11 catches.

“It was priceless from Pujara, we were down and out at lunch on day one. His grit and determination brought us back in it,” said Kohli.

“We always knew that runs on the board would make the home side tentative. Any lead was gold and we got 15. In the second innings again, he and Rahane batted well.”

Asked if thought 323 would be enough to win, Kohli said his middle and lower order could have done better after a 5-25 collapse at the end of the second innings.

“We could have added another 30-35 runs more which could have taken the game totally beyond Australia,” he said.

“So these are things that we have to think about going to Perth, but if someone had told me before the series that I would be 1-0 up as soon we started the series, I would have taken it with both hands.”

The second Test starts on Friday in Perth, with Melbourne and Sydney to follow.

India vs Australia: Injured Prithvi Shaw Resum…

Young Indian batting phenomenon Prithvi Shaw resumed running Monday in his battle to be fit for the second Test against Australia after a nasty ligament injury sidelined him late last month.

The 19-year-old, who scored a sparkling debut century against the West Indies in October and has been compared to Sachin Tendulkar, landed awkwardly attempting a catch in a Sydney warm-up match, ruling him out of the opening Test.

His left ankle was heavily strapped as he limped around the Adelaide Oval late last week.

But on Monday he was spotted jogging around the sidelines, although still wearing a protective brace.

The Indian camp still rate him an unlikely starter for the second Test in Perth starting on Friday, with a return in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne more likely.

“With youth on his side there might just be a case where he might recover quicker,” Indian coach Ravi Shastri said last week.

“We’ll make a call as and when we get closer to Perth.”

Shaw was set to open the batting alongside either KL Rahul or Murali Vijay in Adelaide. In his absence, those two were paired together. Rahul made 2 and 44 while Vijay could only manage 11 and 18.

New Zealand’s Ajaz Patel Wins Battle For Spinn…

Wellington: New Zealand left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel’s form against Pakistan in the UAE has earned him the chance to impress in local conditions after selectors on Monday named him as the only slow bowler in the squad for two Tests against Sri Lanka.

The 30-year-old produced a Man-of-the-Match performance on debut in their four-run win over Pakistan in the first test in Abu Dhabi last month. He also finished with 13 wickets in the series, the most by a New Zealand bowler.

Despite his impressive performances, he had been in competition with off-spinner Will Somerville and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi for the one slow bowling position in the squad with New Zealand returning to play on pitches less conducive to turn.

Coach Gary Stead had said on the team’s return home on Sunday that he would need to drop two of the spinners as they resorted to a three-pronged pace attack for the first test starting on Saturday at the Basin Reserve.

“Ajaz certainly grabbed his opportunity on the UAE tour and he’s a proven performer in New Zealand conditions,” team selector Gavin Larsen said.

“There’s a real swell of support for the Test team following their efforts in the UAE, so were hoping to transition that momentum into a big home summer.”

Somerville, who took seven wickets on debut in the third Test victory in Abu Dhabi, and Sodhi were released to play first-class cricket.

“Will Somerville was an obvious stand-out on debut in the Abu Dhabi decider and its great to know we’ve got quality spin bowlers who can create competition for places,” Larsen added.

Uncapped batsman Will Young has also been added to the squad as batting cover after strong performances in domestic cricket and for the New Zealand ‘A’ side.

He has scored 664 runs, including three centuries and a half century, at an average of 60.36 in 12 innings across all forms of cricket for the ‘A’ side in the last six weeks, including a century in their one-day clash with India ‘A’ on Sunday.

“I’m over the moon to be part of the Test squad but nothing changes,” Young said. “I’m just keep enjoying my cricket and hopefully the chance will come.

"I’ve had a few ‘A’ chances before and it didn’t go to plan … but I have managed to put together some performances and the selectors have taken notice of that.”

Squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Jeet Raval, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young.