Category: _author:—

De Villiers Wicket Was Catalyst for Turnaround…

Cape Town: Pat Cummins proved the catalyst for an huge change in fortunes for Australia as he halted a South African charge and left the hosts reeling at the close on the opening day of the third test on Thursday.

South Africa were cruising at 220 for two just after tea when Cummins returned to the attack for a magnificent spell of bowling during which he picked up four wickets for 12 runs in eight overs, including the key scalp of AB de Villiers (64), to trigger a South African collapse.

The home side ended the day on 266 for eight after dominating the first two sessions.

“I felt like I was pretty ordinary in my first 10 overs and I was worried I was going to be a passenger out there,” Cummins told reporters. “But the ball started swinging and we felt if we could get one wicket, two or three would follow.

"I bowled a half-volley that AB hit to mid-off and after that I felt I had my rhythm. Wickets always make the legs feel a little bit fresher.

"The AB wicket was the big one, once he was out a new batsman starting his innings against a reversing ball … it’s pretty hard. It got us right into the game.”

Cummins, who ended the day with 4-64 in 21 overs, believes the touring side are now on top in the game as they seek to take the lead in the four-match series which is poised at 1-1.

“It was a brilliant last session, to have them eight down and only 260-odd … it all depends on us getting those last two wickets in the morning but at this stage we are really happy.”

Opener Dean Elgar struck an excellent unbeaten 121 for South Africa and he will resume in the morning with Kagiso Rabada on six.

“That’s the nature of test cricket, for four hours a team can be dominant and for two hours the other team can bounce back and also be dominant and put the test in the balance,” Elgar said.

“The wicket is by no means flat, it might have looked like it when AB was batting, but he does that. They (Australia) identified areas they could exploit. The older ball, which was reversing, makes batting trickier.”

Elgar revealed that the chatter from the Australian fielders was not unusual in an acrimonious series in which five players have been sanctioned by the International Cricket Council.

“It was stock-standard, just noise, which we know is going to happen,” Elgar said.

“It was quite humorous actually, I enjoyed it today. You are always going to have that competitive edge, there are a lot of guys with a big egos out there.”

3rd Test: Elgar Slams Ton But Cummins Makes it…

Cape Town: Dean Elgar scored an unbeaten century but an excellent spell of bowling from Australia seamer Pat Cummins restricted South Africa to 266 for eight at the close of play on the opening day of the third test at Newlands on Thursday.

South Africa had been cruising to a big first-innings total at 220 for two as Elgar and AB de Villiers put on 128 for the third wicket.

Yet the return of Cummins (4-64) to the attack saw the seamer take 4-12 in eight overs, starting with the wicket of De Villiers (64), to rip through the home side’s middle order.

South Africa lost six wickets for 37 runs as fortunes swung in favour of the visitors in the final session.

Elgar (121 not out) will resume his innings with Kagiso Rabada (6) on Friday, seeking to push South Africa past 300 in their first innings, which should be a minimum on a slow wicket that has bounce but not much in the way of lateral movement.

The tempestuous four-game series is poised at 1-1 with South Africa’s hopes of a decent first-innings total resting largely on the shoulders of Elgar, who was dropped on 54 off a simple chance for Nathan Lyon at point.

The home side won the toss and elected to bat, losing opener Aiden Markram early for a duck as he edged Josh Hazlewood (2-37) to a diving Steve Smith at second slip with the score on six.

Elgar and Hashim Amla (31) added a patient 86 for the second wicket before the latter attempted a hook off Hazlewood, but top-edged the stroke to Cummins at fine leg.

Elgar and De Villiers turned the tide in South Africa’s favour with some excellent stroke-play, but when De Villiers miss-timed a drive to David Warner at mid-off, it set off a collapse that has put Australia in pole position.

Home captain Faf du Plessis (5) and the recalled Temba Bavuma (1) were both caught by Smith off Cummins, before Quinton de Kock (3) got an under-edge to the Australian paceman and was caught by wicketkeeper Tim Paine.

Mitchell Marsh (1-26) accounted for Vernon Philander (8), also caught by Paine, while Keshav Maharaj (3) lofted a drive to Cameron Bancroft off the bowling of Mitchell Starc (1-81).

ICC WC Qualifier: Zimbabwe Loss Opens Door for…

Harare: Zimbabwe lost a World Cup qualifying thriller by just three runs to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, allowing Afghanistan and Ireland to clash in a winner-takes-all tie for a place in the 2019 finals.

Chasing a rain-affected target of 230 off 40 overs, Zimbabwe needed six off the last ball to win the Super Six match and join already-qualified West Indies in the 2019 showpiece.

But Craig Ervine was only able to take two off man-of-the-match Mohammad Naveed and the home side’s hopes were dashed.

The UAE, who had no chance of qualifying for the finals, made 235-7 off 47.5 overs with Rameez Shazhad hitting a top score of 59.

After a delay for rain at the Harare Sports Club, Zimbabwe were set a DLS target of 230 off 40 overs but despite a run-a-ball 80 from Sean Williams, the home side never recovered from a poor start which saw them slip to 45-3 at one stage.

On Friday, Afghanistan and Ireland will meet at the same venue with the winner guaranteed a place in the 2019 finals in England and Wales.

Eoin Morgan to Lead ICC World XI Against West …

New Delhi: The International Cricket Council (ICC) have announced that England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan will lead an ICC World XI in a T20I against the Windies at Lord’s on 31 May 2018. The game will raise funds for two stadia in the Caribbean that were damaged following Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year.

Defending ICC World T20 Champions, the Windies will face what is expected to be a very strong World XI side with Morgan at the helm and the England captain is relishing the prospect: “I am delighted to captain the ICC World XI at Lord’s in May against the West Indies,” said Morgan.

"The cricket family always comes together to support worthwhile causes and this one-off T20I, featuring some of the best players in the world will be a great spectacle at the home of cricket.

"I am sure the sporting public will come out in force and help raise money and awareness towards restoring parts of the Caribbean hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September last year, which ripped through many communities in this beautiful part of the world.”

Giles Clarke, the ECB President and ICC Director is leading the coordination of the match, supported by the ICC, ECB and MCC in partnership with Cricket West Indies. He said: “Two category 5 hurricanes in two weeks last year devastated parts of the Caribbean and the world of cricket was keen to show support with a fundraising initiative. What better way to do that than staging a world-class game at the Home of Cricket!

“Eoin Morgan as captain is a wonderful first name on the ICC World XI team sheet and in due course we’ll have more players from around the world lending their support to what I’m sure will be a highly entertaining and competitive day of cricket at Lord’s in May.”

England Coach ‘Embarrassed’ at Shocking Collap…

England coach Trevor Bayliss admitted he was “embarrassed” on Thursday after a collapse to 58 all out against New Zealand which left him struggling for answers.

“It was a very poor effort today, it just simply wasn’t good enough,” Bayliss said, at the end of one of the worst days in England Test history.

It was their sixth lowest Test score and only an heroic 33 not out by number nine batsman Craig Overton ensured they passed the world record lowest innings of 26 set by New Zealand in 1955.

At stumps the Black Caps, seemingly untroubled by the conditions in the first day-night Test in New Zealand, were firmly in command at 175 for three, a lead of 117 runs with seven wickets in hand.

“We’ve got the best team from England we can pick here,” Bayliss said, admitting he was “hurt” by the performance.

“We’ve got to sit down and have a good chat about it. Is it a mental approach? Is it something in our preparation? Are we good enough at working out how to actually play when we do lose one or two early wickets?” the coach added.

“Embarrassed? Certainly, and I probably wasn’t the only one in our change room. It’s certainly not good enough.”

New Zealand only needed two bowlers, Trent Boult – who finished with a career best six for 32 – and Tim Southee, who took four for 25, in an innings that lasted just 20.4 overs.

But Bayliss said that while New Zealand performed well with the ball, he believed the problem lay with the England batsmen.

“I thought the New Zealand bowlers bowled extremely well and we batted equally as badly,” he said.

“I thought we made a lot of mistakes with our footwork. The ball was swinging a little bit but when the ball’s pitched up it’s as simple as it gets and a lot of our guys were out today playing from behind the crease to fairly full balls.”

Apart from Overton, opener Mark Stoneman’s 11 was the only other England score in double figures, while captain Joe Root led a parade of five players out for a duck.

New Zealand’s batting was far more solid with Kane Williamson not out 91 at stumps while Tom Latham, Ross Taylor and Henry Nicholls all made it into the twenties.

Kane Williamson Stands Tall as England Hit Emb…

Captain Kane Williamson’s unbeaten 91 set New Zealand up for a commanding lead after England were skittled for one of the lowest scores in their history in the first Test in Auckland on Thursday.

At stumps on day one in the first day-night Test in New Zealand, the Black Caps were 175 for three and 117 runs ahead with seven wickets in hand.

England were left red-faced when they failed to cope with a swing bowling masterclass by Trent Boult and Tim Southee to be all out for just 58 after a mere 20.4 overs in Auckland.

They were flirting with the world-record low of 26, set by New Zealand on the same ground against England in 1955, until number nine batsman Craig Overton spared their blushes with an unbeaten 33 at the end.

Apart from Stuart Broad taking his 400th Test wicket it was a bleak day for the tourists, who registered the sixth lowest total in Tests.

But for New Zealand, Williamson commanded the Test from the moment he won the toss and opted to bowl.

He featured in the field with a superb diving catch in the gully to remove Broad, and ended the day closing in on a new record for New Zealand Test centuries.

He currently shares the record of 17 centuries with Ross Taylor and the late Martin Crowe.

Williamson went to the middle after the early dismissal of Jeet Raval, when New Zealand were one for eight, and put on 84 with Tom Latham for the second wicket.

Latham had made a patient 26 off 112 deliveries but when play entered the difficult daylight-to-twilight zone he was gone in the first over after dinner to give Broad his milestone scalp.

Stream of English Batsmen

Williamson had a nervous moment on 64 when Chris Woakes claimed a straight drive from Taylor had deflected off his hand to the stumps, with Williamson backing up out of his crease.

But replays proved inconclusive and the third umpire ruled in favour of the batsman.

Taylor never looked completely at ease and on 20 he was caught at mid-wicket by Woakes to give England’s most successful Test bowler, James Anderson, his 525th career dismissal.

Henry Nicholls joined Williamson and was unbeaten on 24 at stumps with the pair putting on 52 for the fourth wicket.

Boult, who finished the England innings with a career-best six for 32, started their downfall when he had Alastair Cook out for five in the fifth over.

There followed a steady stream of batsmen going to and from the crease, five of them departing with a duck and only Mark Stoneman (11) able to join Overton with double figures.

After Cook, Boult claimed Joe Root for a six-ball duck, Dawid Malan for two, Ben Stokes – who faced eight deliveries on his return to Test cricket – for a duck, Chris Woakes (5) and James Anderson (1).

Southee, who finished with four for 25, kept up the carnage with the wickets of Stoneman, plus Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad, who were each dismissed without scoring.

Live Cricket Updates, ICC World Cup Qualifiers…

PREVIEW: Zimbabwe’s loss against Windies on Monday didn’t just snap the home side’s unbeaten streak in the tournament. It also put them in a dangerous position going into their final Super Sixes match of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018. Win against United Arab Emirates, and they’ll be travelling to England next year. Lose, and they’re out, their impressive tournament so far amounting to nothing. Brendan Taylor put it quite succinctly after the Windies game: “For us, it’s basically a final.”

Zimbabwe were below par against Windies. Their batsmen collapsed early, and though Taylor’s century pushed them to a position of strength, a flurry of wickets late in the death meant they were restricted to 299, when something in excess of 320 had seemed possible. With the ball as well, Zimbabwe, by Taylor’s own admission, weren’t “sharp enough”.

Despite that, the home side will look to take the positives. Taylor’s second century of the tournament certainly qualifies. As does the fact that they reached within four wickets and six balls of securing victory, despite a poor performance. They have that one sub-par display out of the way now, at minimal cost, and their fate rests in their own hands.


Zimbabwe: Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Graeme Cremer, Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani.

UAE: Rohan Mustafa, Ashfaq Ahmed, Ghulam Shabber, Rameez Shahzad, Shaiman Anwar, Mohammad Usman, Adnan Mufti, Ahmed Raza, Mohammad Naveed, Amir Hayat, Qadeer Ahmed.

Feeling Like a Million Bucks: Jaydev Unadkat o…

He isn’t well known on the international stage, but fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat has been thrust into the cricketing limelight after being handed a bumper payday by the Indian Premier League.

Heads turned when the Rajasthan Royals paid $1.8 million dollars for the left-arm seamer, making him the most expensive Indian player at this year’s IPL auction.

Even Unadkat said he was surprised at the price tag, which will earn him more than $100,000 per game when the competition starts next month.

The 26-year-old was second only to England all-rounder Ben Stokes at the auction, despite a stop-start international career so far.

Since his international debut in 2010, Unadkat has played one Test, seven ODIs and 10 Twenty20s for India, and had a mixed outing at last week’s tri-series in Sri Lanka.

However, hopes are high that the “Prince of Porbandar” – nicknamed after his home city in Gujarat – could be about to become a fixture in India’s T20 team.

“He is a very promising bowler and will only get better with the more matches he plays. I like him,” former India captain Sunil Gavaskar told AFP in Sri Lanka.

Unadkat was just 19 when he made his one and, so far, only Test appearance against South Africa at Centurion in 2010.

It was a debut to forget, however. He failed to take a wicket in 26 overs, gave away 101 runs, and was promptly dropped.

Unadkat then spent three years in the international wilderness before playing all seven of his one-day international appearances so far in 2013.

He missed much of the following two years through injury, and it wasn’t until June 2016 that he made his T20 debut for India.

But his limited-overs international career received a shot in the arm late last year when he shone in a series against Sri Lanka.

‘Next Level’

Unadkat finished with four wickets in three matches at an economy rate of 4.88, the lowest on either side.

“He takes his cricket to the next level when he has to. He has got a few gears and I like now the change up in his action as well,” former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee told AFP in Colombo.

“And that’s what you need to find in T20 cricket, it’s not all about running in and bowling flat out in T20.

"You still need that skill set – yorkers, slow bouncers and that type of things,” added the cricketer-turned-commentator who was part of the same Kolkata Knight Riders squad as Unadkat in 2011.

Unadkat picked up seven wickets in four games as India lifted the tri-series trophy in Sri Lanka after edging out Bangladesh in a thrilling final on Sunday.

They came at a cost though, with Unadkat giving away close to 10 runs an over. But India’s stand-in captain Rohit Sharma insisted the bowler would be a key part of future Indian T20 teams.

“He’s someone we can rely on going forward. He understands his bowling really well,” said the batsman.

Breaking into India’s formidable Test side will be more difficult though, according to veteran sports journalist Ayaz Memon.

“The fact that he is a left-arm bowler adds that variety to the Indian attack, because all the bowlers are right-arm. Also he is not a rookie and has experience,” Memon told AFP.

“However, there is a clamour for places. He will have to get past (Mohammed) Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and (Jasprit) Bumrah who were so impressive in South Africa (recently).”

Unadkat wasn’t the only unheralded Indian player to command a high price at the IPL auction: the Royals spent almost $1 million on uncapped off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham, and Krunal Pandya went to Mumbai Indians for $1.38 million.

“If we look at the history of IPL, teams which had a strong core group of Indian players have done well consistently,” former India opener Wasim Jaffer wrote in The Times of India.

Akmal’s Heroics Gives Peshawar Zalmi Win Again…

Former Pakistan opener Kamran Akmal knocked a quickfire half century to take defending champions Peshawar Zalmi into the Pakistan Super League final with a 13-run victory over Karachi Kings in Lahore on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old scored a 27-ball 77 studded with eight well timed sixes and five boundaries to lift his team to 170-7 in 16-over-a-side game following a rain delay at a packed Gaddafi stadium.

Joe Denly scored an unbeaten 46-ball 79 and Babar Azam a 45-ball 63 but they were behind the required run rate as Karachi Kings finished at 157-2.

Peshawar Zalmi will now meet former champions Islamabad United in the final in Karachi on Sunday.

Earlier, Kamran smashed the Karachi Kings bowlers at will to take Peshawar to a solid total after they were put into bat by Karachi Kings skipper Mohammad Amir.

Karachi were forced to appoint Amir – banned for five years in a spot fixing scandal in 2010 – after their regular skipper Imad Wasim and key player Shahid Afridi could not recover in time from injury.

Kamran samshed two sixes and three boundaries in one over from Usman Shinwari but other than him only opener Andre Fletcher was amongst runs, making 34.

Kamran is the highest run-getter in this year’s PSL with 424 runs in 12 matches.

‘Decisions Cost Us’: Scotland’s Coetzer Bemoan…

Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer was left to rue a controversial lbw decision as his side narrowly missed out on a World Cup place with defeat by the West Indies on Wednesday.

Scotland lost by five runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method after rain arrived in Harare with them 125 for five chasing 199 to win.

The West Indies secured the penultimate spot for the 2019 World Cup, with Scotland knocked out of contention.

Richie Berrington was given out lbw for 33 to a delivery from off-spinner Ashley Nurse which clearly seemed to be missing leg stump.

With the ICC opting not to provide DRS for the qualifiers, that wicket left Scotland behind the par DLS score when the match was called off with 14.4 overs remaining.

“Clearly that lbw decision is not sitting very well with us right now,” said Coetzer. “It’s not the first one in this tournament. In a competition like this, it comes down to a big game like that.

"Two critical moments in two critical games have potentially cost us. So we’re not feeling too flash right now.”

Scotland opted to bowl first and were given a major boost by the first-ball dismissal of star batsman Chris Gayle, caught behind for a golden duck off the bowling of Safyaan Sharif.

Sharif struck again in his second over to leave West Indies reeling at 2 for 2, but a 121-run partnership between Evin Lewis and Marlon Samuels helped to steady the innings.

“Our boys bowled extremely well up front and picked up early wickets,” said Coetzer. “Credit to the two West Indian batsmen who came in and played brilliantly to see them through that rough period.”

Former Scotland captains Craig Wright and Preston Mommsen lashed out at the ICC after the match on Twitter, highlighting the decision to cut the 2019 World Cup to only 10 teams.

“Feel absolutely sick for everyone @CricketScotland, players, support staff, administration & supporters,” wrote Wright.

“It’s all been said before, but this tournament has highlighted (again) so much that is wrong with the management, structure & priorities of world cricket @ICC #notgoodenough.”

Mommsen pointed out the ICC’s ‘value’ of “commitment to the global game”, saying: “@ICC I think you need to re-address your ‘values’ below, particularly your final point. Your actions as a governing body are so misaligned with this it’s frightening.”

Partnerships between Calum MacLeod and Berrington, and then Berrington and George Munsey, helped to keep Scotland’s chase ticking over, but Berrington’s controversial dismissal just before the rain arrived proved to be the turning point.

“We feel pretty rough right now. There’s a bit of emotion going around,” said Coetzer.

“The guys are absolutely gutted. They’re sat upstairs right now, and finding it pretty tough at the moment.”

‘World Wanted us to Win’

Despite his disappointment, Coetzer was full of praise for his team, whose only defeats in the tournament came to Ireland and West Indies.

“I couldn’t say any more for our guys. They have been absolutely outstanding. There’s obviously been a lot of pressure on them.

"There was extreme pressure today, with pretty much the whole world barring the West Indies wanting us to turn them over. That was what we feel is for the good of the game. Try and make a scene and get us into that World Cup. But it wasn’t to be today.”

For Windies skipper Jason Holder, the win brought the relief of knowing that he would not be in charge of the first West Indies team to miss out on World Cup qualification.

“Definitely relieved,” said Holder. “Coming into this tournament, being here for the first time in a qualifier, we knew what was at stake.

"And I was really pleased with how the guys responded. We really came together as a squad and everyone put their heads together and tried to do what’s best for West Indies cricket and what’s best for ourselves.”

Zimbabwe will claim the final place at the reduced 10-team World Cup if they beat the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.