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Dec 30, 2010

India won Durban Test to set up series decider

Dale Steyn hit the first two boundaries of the day before he edged Khan to gully after making 10.

Ashwell Prince made 39 not out and there was a gusty innings of 20 by Morne Morkel, before South Africa's resistance was ended when last man Lonwaba Tsotsobe was run out by a sharp return from short leg fielder Cheteshwar Pujara. It was Sreesanth's third wicket of the innings and came during a fine spell of one for seven in five overs from the start of play.

South Africa's hopes were well snuffed out by two debatable leg before wicket decisions in the space of three overs.

De Villiers, who had looked solid in making 33, was struck on the pad when he pushed forward to off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.

He appeared dismayed when he was given out by umpire Asad Rauf and replays suggested the ball would have gone over the top of the stumps by several centimetres. But India's bowlers shot out South Africa for 131 to take control of the match and an innings of 96 by man of the match VVS Laxman meant that South Africa had to score by far the highest total of the match to snatch victory.

The win ensures that India will retain their No. 1 ranking in Test cricket, irrespective of the result in the 3rd and final Test.

Second-placed South Africa wanted to win the series 3-0 to displace the tourists at the top of the rankings.

Shanthakumaran Sreesanth struck the first, crucial blow of the day when he produced a vicious bouncer that star batsman Kallis could only fend off his glove to Virender Sehwag at gully.

Kallis was out for 17 after he and De Villiers had added 12 runs in half an hour to the overnight total of 111 for three. India completed an 87-run win on the fourth day of the second Test against South Africa at Kingsmead on Wednesday to set up a series decider in the final match in Cape Town.

Set a target of 303, South Africa were bowled out for 215.

The match finished an hour after lunch but South Africa's hopes were effectively ended when overnight batsmen Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers were dismissed in the first hour of the day.

It was a remarkable fightback by India, who lost the first Test in Centurion by an innings and 25 runs and whose chances seemed to have nosedived when they were sent in at Kingsmead and bowled out for 205.

England won by an innings and 157 runs to retain Ashes

England won by an innings and 157 runs in the fourth test on Wednesday to retain the Ashes on Australian soil for the 1st time in 24 years.

The victory, sealed before lunch on the 4th day, gave holders England a 2-1 lead in the Ashes series, which will be completed with the 5th and final test in Sydney next week.

The England players embraced and pumped their fists in the air upon the final wicket as deafening cheers rang out from England's "Barmy Army" of supporters who had sung happily throughout the morning at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Australia had resumed on 169-6, still facing a 246-run shortfall to make England bat again but lost their remaining wickets soon before lunch to be all out for 258.

Chris Tremlett removed Mitchell Johnson for six in the 2nd over of the morning, the Australian Faster pushing half-heartedly at a fuller delivery that took an inside edge before crashing into off-stump.

Peter Siddle defiantly slogged his way to 40 before belting a lofted drive off Graeme Swann straight to Kevin Pietersen at long on.

The injured Ryan Harris did not take his place leaving Ben Hilfenhaus to take the crease. The paceman was out to Tim Bresnan for a fourth-ball duck, caught behind to wicketkeeper Matt Prior to complete the innings.

Brad Haddin enjoyed a blustering partnership with Siddle, striking four boundaries and a six off Graeme Swann, but was left stranded on 55 not out.

Dec 21, 2010

South Africa wrap up victory over India

Fast bowlers Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn took a wicket respectively as South Africa completed victory by an innings and 25 runs on the 5th day of the first Test Match against India at SuperSport Park on Monday.

Sachin Tendulkar was left stranded on 111 not out as India were bowled out for 459, losing their last two wickets for five runs in 26 minutes and 35 balls.

Morkel had Sreesanth caught at 3rd slip before Steyn had last man Jaidev Unadkat caught at gully to give South Africa a 1-0 lead in the three-match Test series against the team ranked number one in Test cricket.

South Africa were always in control after winning the toss and sending India in to bat after rain delayed the start on the first day.

Morkel and Steyn had ripped through India's batting on a lively pitch, dismissing the visitors for 136 in their 1st innings. Taking full advantage of improved batting conditions, South Africa piled up 620 for four declared, with Jacques Kallis hitting a maiden Test double century and AB de Villiers racing to South Africa's fastest Test century.

Faced with a first innings defict of 484, India put up a much-improved performance in the 2nd innings to give them heart going into the remaining two matches of the series, in Durban and Cape Town.

Openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag both made half-centuries before Tendulkar and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni put on 172 for the 7th wicket to ensure that the match would extend into a 5th day.

Tendulkar went on to record his 50th test century.

India resumed at 454 for eight, still trailing by 30 runs.

Morkel struck with the 21st ball of the day when Sreesanth edged a lifting delivery to de Villiers at third slip.

Unadkat could only find a lifting ball from Steyn to gully where Ashwell Prince completed a simple catch.

The second Test starts in Durban on Sunday.

Dec 14, 2010

Zaheer Khan's fitness remains a concern

The head of the Indian bowling attack, Zaheer Khan picked to not go through a full practice session with the Indian squad, raising concerns about his injury. Zaheer Khan only went through fitness drills with Paul Chapman, the team physio while the rest of the Indian team were going through their first full practice session in South Africa.

Reportedly, the move was to make sure that Zaheer does not aggravate the injury as scans failed to pin point what the problem was.

A team source said "As of now he is not fit, there are still 3 days to go to the Test, so we didn't want to take any risks." The Indian team was seen at the Supersport Park in Centurion, but Zaheer was going through light fitness drills with Chapman and was frequently holding on to the groin area.

The injury could be results of Zaheer suffering niggle in the 4th ODI against New Zealand at Bangalore. Zaheer was seen holding on to the groin area after bowling the 49th over.

Zaheer had missed the 3rd Test and the first two ODIs against New Zealand with a groin injury. He also didn't play in the 5th ODI in Chennai.

Zaheer has missed out on quite a lot of cricket this year due to injuries. He missed the tour of Sri Lanka with a shoulder injury. He played some T20 cricket in the Champions League Twenty20 following that up with a good performance in the Test series against the Aussies, but got injured again.

India have Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat to choose from in case Zaheer is ruled out with injury.

Warne never in the mix for Perth Test: Chappell

Former Australian skipper and current national team selector Greg Chappell has sought to put the lid on Shane Warne's comeback rumors by stating the famous leg-spinner was never in conflict for the Perth Test starting on December 16.

There have been strong calls for Warne's comeback since Australia was whipping by an innings and 71 at Adelaide to go 0-1 down in the five-Test Ashes series against England. In fact, a group of businessmen have offered Warne $ 1 million to come out of retirement and save Australia in the remainder of the series.

Chappell said he was smiling by the sudden hype surrounding Warne, especially considering, the latter has only played Twenty20 cricket since his retirement four years back. "Warne's been a great bowler but he's 41 years of age, or near enough to 41," Chappell was quoted by the Telegraph as telling his brother Ian in an interview for the Sunday Herald.

Australia has tried out nine spinners since Warne's retirement, and the latest incumbent in that role, Xavier Doherty has been axed from the Ashes squad after a disappointing performance in Adelaide. Australian selectors have now turned to rookie Michael Beer to fill in the spinner's position for the Perth Test.

Chappell also said he wasn't sure if Warne's comeback was the way to take Australian cricket forward. "I'm sure he could still land a few but I don't know that that's going to take Australian cricket forward. We haven't really given a lot of thought about it other than that," Chappell added.

Dec 11, 2010

No thought of quitting despite Ashes pains: Ricky Ponting

Ricky Ponting may be just one Test defeat away from becoming the 1st Australian skipper in 120 years to lose three Ashes series but he is not entertaining any retirement thoughts.

Ricky PontingRicky Ponting, who turns 36 on December 19, has not been at the top of his form with the bat while his team trail England 1-0 in the five-match series with 3 Tests remaining.

"My absolute focus is on all the things within my control, preparing the team and myself to perform at our very best in Perth, Melbourne and then Sydney over the next three tests," Ponting wrote in the Australian newspaper on Saturday.

"I have not stopped for one moment to consider retirement. The question of my future as skipper is ultimately a decision for Cricket Australia and categorically the future of Australian cricket must come first."

"I have every confidence in my ability to score runs and be the experienced batsman and leader that my teammates can rely on."

"As captain, I am accountable for the performance of my team and I accept that our most recent results mean that I am being assessed more seriously than at other times in my career as skipper."

"The team is my priority, not my own ego or the status that comes with being the captain of the Australian cricket team."

Ponting accepted England had dominated the series so far.

"We've been ordinary, we've played poorly. I haven't played the way I would like to have played, especially in Adelaide, but I don't think I'm that far away."

"I've got to keep trusting the way I prepare and play and keep working hard. If anything I might have worked a bit too hard on my batting over the last couple of weeks."


Dec 8, 2010

England crush Australia by an innings and 71 runs

Australia suffered a massive blow with the loss of key batsman Michael Clarke in the final over Monday to leave them facing an uphill battle to salvage the second Ashes Test against England.

Clarke looked set to go to stumps leading a fighting rearguard action at the Adelaide Oval only to fall to a catch close to the wicket off part-time spinner Kevin Pietersen, with only four balls left of the fourth day.

Clarke had appeared to have recaptured his best form after cheap dismissals in Brisbane and the Adelaide first innings before he was out for 80.

At stumps Australia, chasing 375 runs to make England bat again, were 238 for four with Mike Hussey the not out batsman on 44.

Clarke was initially given not out and refused to walk off until England called for a referral and replays showed that the ball had come off his bat to Alastair Cook fielding close in.

"Just want to apologise for not walking off the ground tonight when I hit the ball. I was just so disappointed, my emotions got best of me," Clarke said via Twitter after play.

England spinner Graeme Swann, who looms as his team's major weapon on Tuesday's final day, said it was a significant wicket for the tourists.

"It's a massive bonus for us. It was tough going for us in the last session, their two best players against spin at crease, both playing well," he said.

"Sometimes you need a bit of inspiration and who else but Pietersen to come on and give you it."

Hussey said it was a "kick in the guts" to lose Clarke. England amassed their fifth highest innings in Ashes Tests and their second best in Australia, only surpassed by a 636 scored in Sydney in 1928.

Captain Strauss finally called a halt to the run onslaught at 620 for five with Ian Bell unbeaten on 68 and wicketkeeper Matt Prior not out 27.

The tourists lost only the wicket of Pietersen for his Test best score of 227 in the 40 minutes of free scoring, in which they added 69 off nine overs.

Pietersen smashed beleaguered spinner Xavier Doherty's first ball of the day through midwicket for four but went for a lusty swing at the next ball which turned sharply out of the rough to Katich at slip.

Pietersen amassed his haul off 308 balls with 34 fours and a six and he shared in a 116-run partnership with Bell in 125 minutes.

His previous best Test score was 226 against the West Indies in May 2007.

On Sunday Pietersen became only the fifth Englishman to score a double century in Australia with his first century in 28 Test innings since his 102 against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain in March last year.

Dominant England have amassed 1,137 runs runs for six wickets in their last two innings in this series.

England paceman Stuart Broad strained stomach muscles during his second bowling spell but returned to the field after the rain break. "We?re going to have to keep fighting hard and I thought we fought pretty hard today. It was a bit of a kick in the guts to lose that one in the last over."

Clarke, the Australian vice-captain, went to the crease under pressure following scores of nine and two and his team needing him to produce a long match-saving innings against dominant England, who are chasing their first win in Adelaide since 1995.

Rain might yet assist Australia's rearguard after a storm suspended play for an hour after tea and with more bad weather forecast for Tuesday's final day.

Top-rated spinner Swann proved the major threat with his sharp turn out of the footmarks and he captured the key wickets of Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting.

Katich's painful resistance ended in the 30th over, when he pushed forward to Swann and got a touch for wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

The stoic left-hander battled a painful Achilles injury and hobbled for his 43 off 85 balls to help build an opening stand of 84.

Katich later went to hospital to have scans of his injury with the results expected on Tuesday.

Swann got Ponting's prized wicket when the Aussie skipper came forward and edged to slip, where Paul Collingwood snapped up a great low two-handed catch.

It was a huge setback for the Australians, with Ponting lasting only 21 minutes for his nine when occupation was more important than runs.

Opener Shane Watson again failed to go on after a good start when he nicked Steven Finn to Andrew Strauss at first slip for 57.