Sri Lanka off to a solid start

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Colombo – Sri Lanka made a steady start in reply to Australia's 316 in the third and final Test in Colombo on Saturday, reaching 86 for one by tea on the second day.
The hosts, seeking a series-levelling win, began slowly as the left-handed opening pair of Tharanga Paranavitana and Lahiru Thirimanne took 25 overs to put on 56 on the board.
Thirimanne, a 22-year-old playing only his second Test, scored a watchful 28 off 80 balls when he was bowled by seamer Peter Siddle just before tea.
Tharanga Paranavitana was unbeaten on 40 and Kumar Sangakkara, making his 100th Test appearance, was on 18 as the pair added 30
runs for the second wicket.
Michael Hussey, meanwhile, continued his prolific form in the current series with a second successive century to lift the tourists to 316 before they were all out 30 minutes before lunch.
Left-handed Hussey followed a match-winning 95 in the first Test in Galle and 142 in the drawn second game at Pallekele with a fluent 118 studded with 12 boundaries and two sixes.
The 36-year-old West Australian, playing his 62nd Test, passed 5,000 Test runs on way to his 15th century Ä the fourth against Sri Lanka.
Hussey was last man out, bowled by debutant seamer Shaminda Eranga, who finished with four for 65 after taking a wicket with his first delivery in Test cricket on Friday.
Left-arm seamer Chanaka Welegedara claimed three for 75, while new-ball partner Suranga Lakmal took 2-60.
Brad Haddin put on 75 for the sixth wicket with Hussey when Australia resumed the day at 235-5 before he was the first batsman to be removed in the morning session, caught behind off Eranga.
Hussey reached the 5,000-run mark with two consecutive boundaries off Welegedara that took his score to 99.
Hussey then watched from the other end as Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle were dismissed off successive balls by Welegedera, but Trent Copeland denied the seamer a hat-trick.
Hussey reached his century with a flick off Rangana Herath for a single, earning himself warm applause from his team-mates in the dressing room and 2,000 fans at the ground.
Welegedara picked up his third wicket when he had Copeland caught at second slip by Mahela Jayawardene as the Aussies slipped from 293-6 to 295-9.
Hussey scored 18 in a last-wicket stand of 21 with Nathan Lyon, including a reverse sweep off Herath to the third man fence after Sri Lanka had placed seven fielders on the leg-side.
Australia had been reduced to 22-2 in the ninth over on Friday after being sent in to bat by Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Smashing win for England

Debutant Jonathan Bairstow smashed 41 not out off 21 balls as England completed a 3-0 NatWest series win over India with a six-wicket victory in a rain-affected final game in Cardiff.
Bairstow joined Ravi Bopara in the middle in the 26th over with England floundering at 166-4 in pursuit of a 241 in 34 overs - a target that had been twice revised by rain delays.
What followed was a remarkable display of controlled hitting from both batsmen as an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 75 saw England home with 10 balls to spare.
Bopara, whose dismissal on 96 in the previous match at Lord's last Sunday meant the match ended in a tie on the Duckworth-Lewis method, this time saw the job through with 37 from 22 deliveries.
But he was overshadowed by the clean striking of Yorkshire's 21-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Bairstow, who hit three huge sixes in his quickfire contribution.
Virat Kohli (107) and Rahul Dravid (69) - the latter in his 344th and final one-day international - had earlier powered India to a total of 304-6, which also owed much to Mahendra Singh Dhoni's late hitting in a 26-ball, unbeaten 50.


Opener Craig Kieswetter had contributed initial momentum to England's run chase against the new ball, before going lbw for 21 to a Vinay Kumar delivery which appeared to be heading past leg-stump.
Jonathan Trott, whose first straight six off Kumar was his maiden maximum in a 34-match ODI career to date - had a huge slice of luck on 16 when he drilled Munaf Patel for a catch straight to mid-off only to be reprieved by a no-ball call.
On an increasingly greasy outfield, Munaf slipped and injured his leg - an incident which caused a 10-minute delay before the seamer limped off and out of the remainder of the match.
Trott and Alastair Cook's stand of 79 ended when, the very next ball after Dravid dropped a straightforward catch at short fine-leg, Kohli bowled the left-hander for 50 with a skilful variation leg-cutter.
As Trott moved past a half-century of his own at better than a run-a-ball, Ian Bell (26) helped to bag three sixes in one Ravindra Jadeja over as England took on the short straight boundary, only to then fail to clear when he tried again off RP Singh.
Dhoni gambled by recalling Jadeja before Bopara had settled, and Trott (63) tried to engineer a boundary into the off-side and chipped a catch to point.
Bairstow was pitched into mission improbable yet marked his debut by slog sweeping his fifth ball in international cricket for six in a Jadeja over which conceded 15 - and after he and Bopara had plundered 42 in a three-over powerplay, they only had to keep their nerve, which they did admirably.
Earlier, Kohli's sixth hundred at this level and his stand of 170 with Dravid had transformed India's innings after an uncertain start.
Ajinkya Rahane ought to have fallen to Steven Finn for only eight but was reprieved by Samit Patel's fallible catching, at third man, after Cook won his fifth successive toss.
The tall seamer nonetheless made sure England's, and especially his frustration did not last when - also at third-man - he made good ground to lunge in and take a fine catch after Rahane somehow managed to flick an attempted swipe to leg off Jade Dernbach in his direction.
Rahane's departure brought Dravid to the crease - and a large contingent of India support duly voiced their loud appreciation for one of their country's finest batsmen.
Patel was unable to keep him company for long, holing out to mid-on in Graeme Swann's first over of off-spin.
But that meant Kohli was in the match, and he and Dravid immediately found a fluency previously lacking. Their placement and timing helped them find handy boundaries - and with 10 overs remaining, India had the perfect platform for a total in excess of 300.
Dravid's only moment of fortune came when Dernbach was unable to hold a sharp return catch away to his left, on 51, and Kohli needed no luck until he was already past his hundred from only 87 balls.
Dravid fell to the very next delivery, after his 22-year-old partner had gone to three figures, losing his off bail advancing and trying to heave Swann to leg after a 79-ball innings which contained just four fours.
Kohli had nine fours - and a straight six off Patel - when he went shortly afterwards, again just dislodging a bail as his foot slipped in the crease, to go hit wicket off Swann (3-34).
The double breakthrough gave England some respite. But Dhoni then clubbed five fours and two sixes - the second to bring up the 300.

Bairstow - Dream come true

Jonny Bairstow described his England debut as a "dream come true" after his 41 off 21 balls set up a six-wicket victory over India in Cardiff.
The 21-year-old Yorkshireman smashed three sixes, two of them out of the ground, in an eye-catching performance that carried England to their revised target of 241 after rain had interrupted their innings.
"I got a call on Thursday and then to start off like this is a dream come true," Bairstow told Sky Sportsafter receiving his England cap from Geoffrey Boycott.
"He just said relax and enjoy it and that's all I tried to do. It's a positive outcome for the side and obviously they've played really well in this series.
"I wanted to enjoy the experience and hopefully we can go from here."
The result means England have completed a 3-0 series win over India, following on from their 4-0 Test series win, and they leapfrog India to go fourth in the ICC ODI Championship standings.
Captain Alistair Cook admits the team have exceeded their own expectations.
"Yes, we have," he said. "To stay unbeaten in this one-day series is a huge credit to our side and a fantastic effort from the lads.
"It's all about developing young players and giving them a chance, there are really encouraging signs for the future."


The Test series victory saw England go to number one in the world rankings but Cook admitted: "We're a long way off that but it's the start of a journey. But we know how hungry the lads are. It could have been easy after a few days off, we've already won the series, but to come and chase down that target is very satisfying."
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni collected the player of the series award for his own individual performances despite the problems his team suffered.
The weather hardly helped them but it is injuries that have blighted them throughout, with Munaf Patel hurt in this game.
"We can control the weather," Dhoni said. "Losing Munaf when he still had four overs left hurt us, he's a main bowler and it was a big blow to lose him.
"Definitely we need to manage our injuries, that's a big thing for us. We've lost nine or 10 players, every game we lost enough player, and that's a big blow for us."

Marsh impresses again

Shaun Marsh compiled another impressive innings on Friday as Australia hit back after a shaky start in the third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Marsh, who hit 141 on debut in the previous match, held the tourists' innings together with a confident 81 after openers Phillip Hughes and Shane Watson were both dismissed early.
The newcomer's efforts - together with those of Mike Hussey, who remained unbeaten on 63 when bad light brought play to a premature close - enabled Australia to reach 235 for five at the close on day one.
Sri Lanka, who need a win at the SSG to level the series, will be pleased with their efforts but slightly frustrated by their failure to make further inroads after the departures of Hughes and Watson left Australia teetering on 22 for two.
Marsh, surprisingly named at three in the batting order, and former skipper Ricky Ponting, back in the side after missing the Kandy Test to attend the birth of his child, steadied the ship before Hussey punished a tiring attack towards the close.
Suranga Lakmal was the pick of the bowlers with two for 39 while Shaminda Eranga claimed two for 52.


Watson looked uncertain from the off. He survived a leg before wicket appeal from Chanaka Welegedara from the second ball of the morning due to an inside edge but failed to keep out Eranga's first ball in Test cricket.
It was little more than a loosener but Watson pushed sloppily at it and presented Tillakaratne Dilshan a simple catch at backward point.
Hughes had already departed by then, the under-pressure youngster chopping on to his stumps to hand Lakmal the breakthrough.
Ponting took a while to get going and had only six to his name from 26 balls when Sri Lanka unsuccessfully reviewed a not out decision for caught behind off Welegedara.
The veteran hit 10 runs, including successive fours, off the left-armer's next over and there was no more danger as he and Marsh progressed steadily up to lunch as Australia reached 63 for two.
Sri Lanka wasted their second review trying to remove Ponting in the first over after the restart, but Australia started to get on top thereafter - picking up fours at a steady rate.
Lakmal widened his line as Ponting approached a half-century and the Tasmanian eventually took the bait, edging an attempted drive to Prasanna Jayawardene having made 48.
No surprise
Michael Clarke got off the mark after 12 balls but, one glanced boundary off Welegedara aside, the tourists' skipper was far from fluent.
It was no surprise when he eventually departed, to muted celebrations, having made six in 24 balls.
By then Marsh had moved serenely to 50 with a commanding stroke into the onside.
He looked set for successive tons when, having just made it into the 80s, he played for the spin to Rangana Herath and the ball went straight on, knocking back his off stump.
Brad Haddin joined Hussey and looked in good touch as he progressed to 21 not out by stumps.

Hafeez stars in Pakistan win


An impressive all-round performance from Mohammad Hafeez saw Pakistan canter to an 85-run victory over Zimbabwe in the first Twenty20 international at Harare Sports Club.
Hafeez plundered 71 off 48 balls to lead the tourists to an imposing total of 198-4.
He then starred with the ball as well, claiming 4-10 in 2.2 overs as Zimbabwe were skittled out for 113.
Pakistan were asked to bat after Brendan Taylor won the toss, but the Zimbabwe captain must have been questioning his decision when Hafeez struck the second and third balls of the game for four.
Things got worse for the bowler, Chris Mpofu, when Asad Shafiq hit four successive boundaries in his next over.
Elton Chigumbura came in for similar treatment with two fours and a six hit in his first over, which cost 15, while the home bowlers were not helping themselves as they contributed a total of 15 runs through wides.
Ray Price was the chief offender, but he saw Shafiq run out for 38 off 23 balls in his next over with the score on 74.


The blow did not slow Hafeez down though, as he whipped a four and a six of Hamilton Masakadza's first over, and was then gifted another maximum off the same bowler when Mpofu pushed the ball over the boundary.
Hafeez finally perished with the score on 147, but debutant Rameez Raja and Umar Akmal both got past 20, while Sohail Tanvir hammered an unbeaten 17 from five balls.
Sohail Khan dismissed Vusi Sibanda and Cephas Zhuwao in the second over of Zimbabwe's reply and when Sohail Tanvir got rid of Taylor with the score on 37, Pakistan were well on their way to victory.
Hafeez then took over with three quick wickets and, fittingly, returned to finish the game off by bowling Price.
Only Charles Coventry (30 off 13) and Chamu Chibhabha (28 off 26) made meaningful contributions for Zimbabwe, who will try again at the same venue on Sunday.

Big Bash tempts Warne

Shane Warne has said he is ready to return from retirement to take part in Australia's Twenty20 competition the Big Bash.
The 42-year-old announced he had played his final professional game after leading the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League earlier this year. However, Warne has now said he wants to have a swansong in his home nation.
The leg-spinner, who appears in better physical condition now than at the end of his international career in 2007, suggested he would be prepared to turn out for one of the two Melbourne-based franchises in the domestic T20 league in an interview on Australian television.
He subsequently used Twitter to confirm his ambitions.
Warne wrote: "Re Big Bash - yes keen to be with a team, play a few games - help off field and help the younger players learn the game - could be fun!!!!!
"My number one priority is my children and everything works around that. But if all things fall into place re scheduling etc big bash - yes!"

Dravid wants winning send-off

Rahul Dravid is more concerned with helping India beat England for the first time this summer rather than his final ODI appearance.
The 38-year-old admits this summer has been a "bitter-sweet" experience, as he has continued to churn out runs in vain while India first of all lost their number one Test status to England in an unexpected 4-0 series romp for the hosts, then were second best in a one-off Twenty20 and are 2-0 down with only one to play in the NatWest Series.
He has decided to call time on his 50-over career and could be playing his last game in Britain in Cardiff on Friday.
"I would like to sign off with a win. It would be lovely for India," he said.
"We have had a tough tour, and it would be lovely to finish with a win - irrespective of what I get."


Dravid, famously nicknamed 'The Wall' for his determination and watertight technique in Test cricket, adapted his game effectively to the 50-over format.
The results have been laudable, and he will leave the ODI stage rightly at ease that he has been such a high achiever.
"It does not feel like I am finishing, or retirement, or the end, because I will be playing Test cricket.
"But it is a nice time to reflect on what I think was a pretty pleasing and satisfying one-day career.
"I don't think there is going to be anything different in my life from tomorrow onwards.
"My wife did mention there were some very nice things written about me during the Test series, back in India.
"It was a bit bitter-sweet in the sense there was a lot of satisfaction personally against a tough attack and scoring runs, but it has been a disappointing tour for us.
"I am still truly humbled by some of the nice things said about me in the last few weeks."
With characteristic modesty, Dravid cites an event in which he himself played no part as perhaps the proudest moment of his cricketing life.
He was not selected in the squad which this year won India's second World Cup, on home ground, yet he took more pleasure in that collective success than in any of his own personal glories.
He added: "I'm not dreading quitting.
"You just recognise that the time has got to come at some stage when you have got to move on.
"I am happy and I am comfortable with that.
"I have had some highs and lows in both forms of the game.
"That is life, that is cricket - and it has taught me a lot about myself as a person and how to deal with a lot of things.
"I have absolutely no regrets.

England send for Bairstow, Buttler

England have called Jonathan Bairstow and Jos Buttler into their NatWest Series squad after Ben Stokes suffered a recurrence of a finger injury.
Durham batsman Stokes has played in each of England's four matches so far against India.
England are already 2-0 up, after a no-result at Chester-le-Street and then a tie at Lord's on Sunday, but have been disrupted by two other injuries already, which reduced them to 12 fit men to choose from - before Stokes was hit during batting drills on Thursday.
Eoin Morgan and Stuart Broad both succumbed to shoulder problems, and Stokes took a blow to the right index finger he broke earlier this year and which has prevented him bowling since.
Uncapped Yorkshireman Bairstow is thought to be the most likely to replace Stokes, if necessary - while Buttler, who was playing in the final day of Somerset's match against Lancashire at Taunton on Thursday, is called in as more general cover.

England aiming for whitewash

Friday, 16 September 2011

London – England captain Alastair Cook is hoping to complete a miserable tour for India on Friday by wrapping up a 3-0 one-day series victory over the tourists.
India are yet to taste victory over England this summer, having been whitewashed 4-0 in the Test series and trailing 2-0 ahead of Friday's final one-dayer in Cardiff.
However India came agonisingly close to pipping England at Lord's last weekend, and Cook remains wary of the threat posed by the wounded tourists heading into the match.
“The last two games have been very close, and have shown what a talented side India are,” Cook said.
“We're going to have to play at the top of our game to try to win, and finish the summer on a high as a one-day team.”
Cook however is satisfied with England's form in his first season in charge as skipper of the limited overs side, which also included a 3-2 series win over Sri Lanka.
“It's been a good start, and I'm very happy with the way the lads have taken to me as captain and bought into the ideas,” Cook said.
“I'm very happy with winning both series. We know how tough it's going to be in the next two months or so (in a return series in India), but this side has always responded well to challenges.”
Cook also believes England's one-day squad can improve.
“We are a very young side trying to make progress,” he said. “The exciting thing is I don't think we've played as well as we can.
“We have been put under pressure in this series, but have still won the games. That is very encouraging.
Meanwhile Cook paid tribute to India batsman Rahul Dravid, who will be playing his 344th and final one-day game.
“He's scored 10,000 runs in both forms of the game. He's managed to adapt his game to every surface,” Cook said. “He is an all-time great.”

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