Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Younis century secures fighting draw

Stumps Pakistan 248 and 343 for 3 (Younis 131*, Misbah 76*) drew with South Africa 380 and 318 for 2 dec (Amla 118*, Kallis 135*)
Younis Khan defied South Africa to guide Pakistan safely to a draw in the first Test at Dubai, cracking an unbeaten 130 - his 17th Test hundred and his third fourth innings century in his last three Tests against the South Africans. Pakistan's top order resisted everything South Africa's bowlers could hurl at them and, befitting the occasion on the first day of Eid, passed a number of records in a feast of runscoring.Younis was ably assisted by Azhar Ali, who contributed a brave 63, and captain Misbah-ul-Haq, with whom he added an unbeaten 186 for the fourth wicket - Pakistan's highest partnership in Tests against South Africa. The match was called off shortly after entering the final hour of the day as Pakistan reached 343 for 3, their highest fourth innings total in Tests.South Africa were left ruing three clear chances that went down as Younis was dropped by Mark Boucher on 16 and Jacques Kallis when he had reached 70, while Hashim Amla couldn't quite cling on to a tough chance off Misbah at short leg minutes before lunch. Younis, who had experience of just this sort of situation having scored fourth-innings hundreds against South Africa at Lahore and Karachi in 2007, took full toll as he and Azhar took the honours in the first hour this morning, compiling an 82-run partnership, though not without some luck.Younis had started tentatively, fencing outside off stump and getting a thin edge to a Steyn outswinger that dropped short of Boucher in the second over of the day. In Steyn's next over he slashed wildly outside off stump to send a chance flying to the right of a diving Boucher, but the ball spilled out of the wicketkeeper's gloves as he hit the ground. With a panicked Younis stranded mid-pitch, a shy at the stumps went wide to give him yet another life.At other end, Azhar was still visibly battling with the effects of the blow to the hand he received on the fourth afternoon but quickly settled into a defensive groove, and as the batsmen eased to Pakistan's highest third-wicket partnership of 2010 - beating the 65 this same pair put on in the first innings - Smith turned Johan Botha's offspin and Jacques Kallis's reliable seamers.While Botha kept things tight, finding a reasonable amount of turn and variable bounce, Kallis tested Azhar's mettle with a series of short-pitched deliveries with fielders circling close in at midwicket, cover and short leg. The first thumped painfully off his hand and into his ribs, but Azhar quickly waved the medical staff off the field and counter-attacked in fine style, thumping the next ball - another bouncer - to the midwicket boundary.The partnership had reached 80, Azhar reaching a third Test half-century, when Paul Harris joined the attack with almost immediate results. Coming round the wicket, he spun the final ball of his first over of the day past the outer half of Azhar's bat and onto the off stump. South Africa celebrated the dismissal with due enthusiasm, and Misbah entered a testing cauldron as the spinners operated in tandem with men all around the bat and the appearance of renewed life in the pitch.Botha created another chance as, just before lunch, the ball exploded out of the rough and bounced off Misbah's glove towards Amla under the helmet at short leg. Misbah was out in identical circumstances in the first innnings, but Amla couldn't quite grasp onto the chance today, the ball bobbling out of his hands as his shoulder hit the turf.
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McCullum Double ton draws 2nd test

New Zealand 350 (McIntosh 102, Guptill 85, Zaheer 4-69) and 448 for 8 decl. (McCullum 225, Williamson 69) drew with India 472 (Harbhajan 111, Sehwag 96, Vettori 5-135) and 68 for 0 (Sehwag 54*)
Brendon McCullum reaped rewards for his hard work on day four, milking a tired bowling unit to get to the third-highest score in second innings in Tests in India. The game was headed for a draw the moment Zaheer Khan left the field again - he had been out of action for a good part of the fourth day due to an abdominal strain - after bowling just three overs in the morning session.
New Zealand, the No. 8 side in the world, have now held India, the No. 1 side, to four consecutive draws; in two of those India have done the surviving. India, who seemed to have given up surprisingly early in the morning, have now conceded 400 or more in at least one innings of their last seven Tests.There were two outside chances for the game to come to life, but both were duly thwarted. Cheteshwar Pujara dropped McCullum at forward short leg when the batsman was 148, and the lead 185. That was the only chance Harbhajan Singh had created in 26 overs until then.The next time Harbhajan created an opportunity, some excitement was manufactured, with Kane Williamson given out lbw erroneously to an offbreak certain to miss the leg stump. Williamson was on his way to becoming only the seventh man to begin his Test career with back-to-back centuries. He had survived the tense moments last evening, started the day with three boundaries in the first over, and then settled in for an innings full of his trademark back-foot punches.When he got out, though, New Zealand were 223 ahead, and there were 57 overs to go. For those who hope or fear too much, a collapse could still direct the game towards a result. McCullum and Daniel Vettori, though, took 20 runs off the next four overs to disappoint the hopeful and the fearful.It may have seemed like milking because of the ease with which McCullum got his runs, but he did it with some style and nonchalance. India tried to pack the leg side and bowled round the wicket, only to see him casually reverse-sweep them for boundaries. They were not exactly reverse-sweeps, he was so confident he just bent the knees half way and guided them past point. His maiden double-hundred he brought up with the "McScoop", having scored his last 24 runs off 19 balls. That spell of hitting also included a six over long-off off Pragyan Ojha and two reverse-swept fours off Suresh Raina.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Leading to another draw!!!!

New Zealand 350 and 237 for 4 (McCullum 124*) lead India 472 (Harbhajan 111*, Sehwag 96, Laxman 74, Vettori 5-135) by 115 runs
At the end of the fourth day, New Zealand needed to bat out one-and-a-half to two sessions to achieve consecutive draws against India, and they had six wickets in hand. Brendon McCullum led their quest for safety with his third century in five Tests this year, but was also looking for a man to stand with him for long enough, after India kept their chances of a win alive with three wickets in the long final session.
McCullum used his dazzling stroke-play to spread the fields, an area where India were happy to oblige, and then defended resolutely. However, a mix of an ordinary umpiring decision, a careless shot, and a beauty from Suresh Raina less than half an hour from stumps left New Zealand and McCullum on the edge. Raina's sharp offbreak to get Jesse Ryder out for 20 was a completion of role-reversal after Harbhajan Singh achieved the unique feat of getting consecutive centuries from No. 8 but went wicketless for 23 overs.When New Zealand started their innings inside the first hour, trailing by 122, it was obvious they were the only team that could lose.India kept the pressure up, though, with timely wickets. Three of the four dismissals involved some umpiring drama. Tim McIntosh, one short of getting a century and a fifty in the Test immediately after he bagged a pair, was given caught bat-pad when he didn't seem to have touched the ball. Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor had to wait by the boundary rope as the umpires checked the legality of those deliveries, only to rule in favour of the bowlers, Pragyan Ojha and Sreesanth, on both occasions.McCullum, though, didn't give the umpires any chance to adjudicate, except for signalling xx fours and xx sixes. His calculated approach of attacking the new bowlers early made the job easier for McIntosh, who - like in first innings - didn't mind staying inconspicuous.McCullum's plan worked the best against Sreesanth, whom he cover-drove and upper-cut for boundaries in his first two overs, posting the first double-digit opening stand for New Zealand in five attempts. In Sreesanth's third over, he top-edged a pull from outside off, but it landed safe, the closest India came to dismissing him. Sreesanth began trying too hard, bowling three no-balls in the first spell of four overs, cutting the side crease once. Both openers then negotiated him with ease.
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Laxman and Bajji stood once again on day3

India 436 for 9 (Harbhajan 85*, Laxman 74, Vettori 4-123) lead New Zealand 350 by 86 runs
India's lower-order batsman Harbhajan Singh produced a gritty knock of 85 not out Sunday to frustrate the New Zealand bowling attack and help India take an 86-run first innings lead in the second test with a wicket still in hand.
India was 436-9 at close on the third day in reply to New Zealand's 350 as Harbhajan Singh produced a third consecutive test score of above fifty.He has struck seven fours and five sixes off just 82 deliveries and added 69 runs with last-man Shantakumaran Sreesanth (14 not out).Harbhajan Singh carried on the good form with the bat, which earned him the man-of-the-match award in the first test for scores of 69 and 115. He once smashed Vettori for two consecutive sixes over long-on and retained most of the strike when batting with Sreesanth.If Harbhajan Singh played in the company of tail-enders, V.V.S. Laxman held together the middle-order despite little support from others.Laxman, who looked good for a century in his first test on home ground, was trapped lbw by Chris Martin immediately after tea for a well-compiled 74.Laxman struck 11 fours off 160 balls even as India was made to struggle hard for runs by the visiting side. He was involved in useful half-century stands with Rahul Dravid (45) and Suresh Raina (20) as India made slow progress in the first two sessions.Laxman and Dravid added 79 for the fourth wicket to bring the innings back on track after India had lost three wickets in the space of 24 runs starting from the second day when openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir fell in quick succession following a 160-run stand.
Laxman and Dravid were cautious after Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal and India scored only 59 runs before lunch. They were unable to get the ball away in the face of disciplined bowling by the Kiwis, who were successful in building pressure despite the pitch looking conducive for stroke-play.Dravid did not carry the confidence of having scored a century in the previous match, consuming 144 deliveries for his watchful 45. He hit only four boundaries before being trapped lbw by seamer Tim Southee a little after lunch as he played tentatively.Tendulkar was out early, looking off-color in the 10 deliveries he faced. He jumped out to Vettori, only to get a thick edge that went to the right of Ross Taylor at slip.Vettori bowled an immaculate line, forcing batsmen to take their chances against him. After opener Virender Sehwag perished to him on Saturday, Tendulkar and Suresh Raina played injudicious strokes in the first session Sunday, while Mahendra Singh Dhoni gave a catch at cover in trying to work the ball for a single.
Vettori got good support from Tim Southee, whose three-wicket haul included the important wicket of Rahul Dravid.
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Bowlers, openers put India in safe position on day2

India 178 for 2 (Sehwag 96, Gambhir 54) trail New Zealand 350 (Ryder 70, Zaheer 4-69, Harbhajan 4-76) by 172 runs
India found a happy medium between defence and attack, threw in some good fortune, and got themselves into a position to take charge of the Hyderabad Test. Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh attacked batsmen other than Jesse Ryder, against whom they limited the damage through in-and-out fields, and took out the last seven wickets for just 97 runs. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir respected the swinging ball before repairing a scoring-rate - that had Sehwag at 2 off 23 balls - through a 160-run stand.However, like India did with the ball, New Zealand hung in even as Sehwag took 94 off the next 97 balls he faced. About half an hour before stumps, they removed both the openers to get some sort of handhold during their fall. Gambhir scored his first half-century in 10 months, the kind of scratchy innings that often marks return to form for big batsmen.The day couldn't accommodate the full quota of 90 overs, but had enough drama and turns. Zaheer, who had kept India in with two timely strikes on the first day, continued pulling New Zealand back. Bowling with the second new ball, he used the swing and the angles well, getting both his wickets lbw from round the wicket. He troubled Gareth Hopkins and Kane Williamson with swing from over the wicket, and then went round to deliver the finishing touches. Hopkins left alone the third ball he faced from the new angle, but it swung back, and would have hit the stumps but for the pad in the way. Williamson, though, had only himself to blame as he played across the line to a straight delivery.Ryder, struggling with the calf strain he carried from the first Test, added 48 runs off 56 balls to his overnight 22. However, India did well to dry up the runs elsewhere: the rest could manage only 25 while he was there. Seemingly not in a physical condition to run hard and manoeuvre strike, Ryder couldn't quite take charge with the lower order.Harbhajan provided the breakthroughs, getting Daniel Vettori lbw on the sweep, and Ryder with perhaps the best ball he has bowled in the series. With about 15 minutes to go to lunch, Harbhajan angled on in from round the stumps, and got it to turn away from middle and leg. The edge was lapped up by VVS Laxman at first slip, and five overs after the break, the innings duly ended, but not New Zealand's fight.
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