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  1. #1
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    Daily Cricket News

    Ruthless Sangakkara helps Sri Lanka rout South Africa

    Kumar Sangakkara smashed his highest one-day score of 169 off 137 balls as Sri Lanka thrashed South Africa by 180 runs in the first one-day international in Colombo on Saturday. The veteran left-hander’s 16th one-day century steered Sri Lanka to a commanding 320-5 after the hosts were sent in to bat in the day-night game at the Premadasa stadium. South Africa were shot out for 140 in reply, the innings lasting just 31.5 overs, to leave Sri Lanka with a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

    Thirty-five-year-old Sangakkara chippped in with two catches and a stumping, earning him the man of the match award, as Rangana Herath and Thisara Perera picked up three wickets each. Sangakkara celebrated his 350th one-day match by surpassing his previous best score of 138 not out, against India in 2005, after Tillakaratne Dilshan fell cheaply in the fourth over. Sangakkara put on 70 for the second wicket with opener Upul Tharanga (43), 74 for the third with Mahela Jayawardene (42) and 123 for the fourth in which Lahiru Thirimanne’s contribution was just 17. He finally holed out in the deep in the penultimate over of the innings, after 18 boundaries and six sixes.

    Fast bowler Morne Morkel, who recovered in time from a thigh injury to play the match, was South Africa’s most impressive bowler with 2-34 from his 10 overs. But the inexperience of the depleted touring squad told in the end as the Sri Lankans batted fluently and bowled a steady line on the slow pitch. South Africa are without three frontline players – fast bowler Dale Steyn, all-rounder Jacques Kallis and former captain Graeme Smith – for the tour which also includes three Twenty20 matches. The tourists also missed premier batsman Hashim Amla, who was unavailable for the first match due to a strained neck.

    South Africa made the worst possible start when sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga bowled Colin Ingram off the first ball of the innings. Skipper AB de Villiers and Alviro Petersen added 44 for the third wicket to lift the total to 73-2 when both batsmen fell in successive overs. Wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals, leaving Petersen and Robin Peterson as the top-scorers with 29 each. The second match will be played at the same venue on Tuesday.

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    Root century overpowers hapless Australia
    Joe Root’s unbeaten 178 left Australia needing to make cricket history if they were to prevent England going 2-0 up with three to play in the Ashes. England were 333 for five in their second innings, a colossal lead of 566 runs, at stumps on the third day of the second Test at Lord’s on Saturday. Root’s century, the second of his eight-match Test career, was exactly the kind of large or ‘daddy hundred’ so beloved of England batting coach and former Test opener Graham Gooch.

    Ashes-holders England lost just two wickets in a near-ideal day for the hosts and, with so much time left in the match, the lack of a declaration from captain Alastair Cook was no surprise. Long before Saturday’s close, Australia needed to surpass the world record fourth innings winning total of 418 for seven made by the West Indies against them at St John’s in 2002/03 if they were to cause a stunning upset. Given Australia were bowled out for just 128 in their first innings, their prospects were decidedly unpromising. This was the 22-year-old Root’s first Test hundred as an opener after the Yorkshireman made 104 against New Zealand as a middle-order batsman on his Headingley home ground in May.

    That century, in a match in which then Test opener Nick Compton struggled, persuaded England to promote Root to the top of the order, where he bats for Yorkshire. The selectors’ confidence in Root’s temperament and ability was justified by an innings spanning 110 overs and nearly eight hours at the crease that was a lesson in Test-match batting to Australia’s fallible top order. Importantly, Root was not fazed by watching England collapse to 30 for three on Friday as Peter Siddle’s treble strike gave Australia a glimmer of hope.

    Together with Yorkshire colleague Tim Bresnan, who made an admirable 38 as nightwatchman, he put on 99 before sharing a fifth-wicket stand of 153 with first-innings century-maker Ian Bell (74). Jonny Bairstow, another Yorkshireman, was 11 not out at stumps after helping Root add an unbroken 51 for the sixth wicket. England, 1-0 up in the five-match series after last week’s 14-run victory at Trent Bridge, resumed Saturday on 31 for three, already 264 runs in front. Root, 18 not out overnight, eased the first ball, from Siddle, through midwicket for four. After two days of blazing sunshine, conditions were overcast for the first time and offering a hint of swing.

    Root, however, drove James Pattinson through the covers for four. And when Root reached 70, he became the first batsman this English season to score 1,000 first-class runs. Bresnan batted solidly for more than three hours until he pulled a Pattinson bouncer straight to Chris Rogers in front of square. In a series already full of Decision Review System controversies, there was one more added Saturday when Bell, on three, edged Ryan Harris low towards Steven Smith at gully. Smith appealed immediately for a catch but, with the umpires and Bell uncertain, the decision was passed to third umpire Tony Hill.

    As is often the case, replays were inconclusive and the verdict went Bell’s way. At tea, Root was 97 not out. But he betrayed no sign of the nervous 90s and soon after the interval cut teenage left-arm spinner Ashton Agar for his 12th four to complete a chanceless 247-ball hundred. Root, in a perfectly paced innings, then upped the tempo with a succession of stylish boundaries. Bell fell when he pulled Smith straight to Rogers at midwicket but Root put the leg-spinner in his place by pulling him for two sixes in three balls.

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    Bravo demands better batting strategy in fourth ODI today

    Regret more than relief characterises the mood of both the West Indies and Pakistan squads heading into the fourth One-Day International at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia on Sunday following the pulsating tie in the third fixture. With the series still level at 1-1 after the home side’s last-wicket pair of Jason Holder and Kemar Roach took 14 runs off the final over of the match on Friday to level the scores, the feeling in both camps is that the top-order batsman contributed to the pressure and haste at the end of each innings by failing to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

    “At this level it’s unacceptable. I didn’t see any devil in the wicket,” was West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo’s frank assessment after the match. “Yes, they’ve got some very good bowlers, but given the talent that we’ve got in our batting line-up we need to get our heads together and work out a better strategy in the middle overs.” On a pitch much more conducive to batting, both teams went scoreless for more than 50 percent of deliveries faced, so forcing the lower-order players into frenetic hitting in the final overs of both innings.

    Probably influenced by the fact that his top score of 75 occupied 112 deliveries, Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq was more sympathetic. “The pitch was a little bit challenging. The ball wasn’t coming onto the bat,” he observed. “But we were about 30 runs short. Getting to 260 would have been a good total on this pitch.” Similar surfaces are expected for the final two matches on Sunday and Wednesday, and while the Pakistanis may be looking at other bowling options at the end of the innings, especially after

    Left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz delivered that decisive final over on the way to conceding 63 runs off his ten overs, the Caribbean side will be concerned about the lack of productivity from two key big-hitters who are expected to dominate in this form of the game. Since scoring 109 against Sri Lanka in Kingston at the start of the Tri-Nation Series on June 28, opening batsman Chris Gayle has only managed to accumulate another 45 runs from the next six innings. Middle-order player Kieron Pollard has fared even worse, four ducks contributing to a meagre tally of 37 runs from his last seven innings. With the series still on the line, it’s the right time for someone on either side to stand and deliver.

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    Swann turns Ashes England’s way after Root heroics

    England thrashed Australia by 347 runs to win the second Test at Lord’s with more than a day to spare on Sunday as the Ashes-holders went 2-0 up in this five-match series. Only once in Ashes history has a team come from 2-0 down to win when Australia, inspired by Don Bradman, cricket’s greatest batsman, did just that to triumph 3-2 on home soil in 1936/37. And given batting remains this Australia side’s Achilles heel, they will do well from this position to stop England retaining the urn. Australia, set a mammoth 583 for an improbable victory, were dismissed for 235 on the fourth day.

    The tourists’ last-wicket pair of James Pattinson and Ryan Harris held firm for more than an hour, with England claiming the extra half hour. But with just three balls left in the day’s play, off-spinner Graeme Swann had Pattinson, who had frustrated England with the bat in their 14-run first Test win at Trent Bridge, lbw for 35 to the acclaim of a capacity and sun-drenched crowd. Swann finished with innings figures of four wickets for 78 runs for a match haul of nine for 122. The scale of Australia’s task was clear from the fact that no side have made more to win in the fourth innings of a Test than the West Indies’ 418 for seven against Australia at St John’s in 2002/03.

    Joe Root starred with both bat and ball, making 180 in England’s second innings 347 for nine declared before the occasional off-spinner took two wickets shortly before tea to spark an Australia middle-order collapse. England had resumed Sunday on 333 for five, already a lead of 566, with Root, attacked by now sidelined Australia batsman David Warner in a Birmingham bar in June, hitting the tourists where it hurt. There was no immediate declaration with Root given the chance to turn his second Test century into 200. But when he holed out off Harris, to end a 338-ball innings including 18 fours and two sixes spanning nearly eight hours, England captain Alastair Cook called a halt.

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    Pakistan's lightning assault sees off Windies
    Inclement weather, the Duckworth/Lewis method and a lightning assault by Pakistan's middle-order batsmen stole the thunder from the West Indies as the visitors snatched the rain-affected fourth one-day international by six wickets on Sunday.

    In a match already reduced to 49 overs-per-side and after Marlon Samuels blazed an unbeaten 106 in the home team's total of 261 for seven, Pakistan were set a revised target of 189 off 31 overs as a second shower of the day interrupted play when they were 68 for two off 17 overs.

    Needing a further 121 off 14 overs, half-centuries from Mohammad Hafeez and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq sped the visitors to the target with one over to spare.

    “It was like a T20 game when we came back out,” said a delighted Misbah after his key role in the victory.

    “Mohammad Hafeez and I realised that we just had to play normal cricketing shots and look for the odd boundary. It was a case of not panicking and just staying focussed on the target.”

    Following a tie in the third match two days earlier, Pakistan now have an unbeatable 2-1 lead going into the fifth and final match at the same Beausejour Stadium venue on Wednesday.

    West Indies seemed a dejected bunch when they took the field after being told by the umpires of the revised target, and Pakistan capitalised, Hafeez and Misbah crashing 54 runs off five overs before home captain Dwayne Bravo tried to get his team back into the match.

    Hafeez fell to Kemar Roach for 59, an innings decorated by five fours and two hooked sixes off fast-medium bowler Jason Holder, while Bravo himself accounted for Shahid Afridi who was promoted up the order to accelerate the Pakistani scoring.

    However, new batsman Umar Akmal (29 not out) maintained the required scoring tempo and with Misbah showing his remarkable versatility in speeding along to 53 off 43 balls at the other end to keep his team well on course, it was left to Akmal to finish off the match with three consecutive boundaries off the disheartened West Indies captain.

    “When we came back on the field after the recalculation, two of our main bowlers (Roach and Sunil Narine) had already bowled five overs so we were virtually without their services at this crucial stage,” said Bravo, who conceded 49 runs off six overs.

    Samuels returned to something like his sumptuous best, stroking four sixes and nine fours off 104 balls in a feast of batsmanship in the midday sunshine.

    He put on 95 for the fifth wicket with Lendl Simmons, who supported Samuels' classy assault with a belligerent 46 off 44 balls.

    West Indies made two significant decisions before a ball was bowled in replacing hard-hitting Kieron Pollard with Devon Smith and demoting Chris Gayle to number five in the batting order in light of his continuing struggle for runs against the new ball.

    He was back in the middle at 63 for two after Smith fell cheaply to Mohammad Irfan and Johnson Charles was trapped leg-before by Wahab Riaz, benefiting from a huge slice of luck almost instantly when put down by Hafeez off Wahab before he had scored.

    Although far from his destructive best, Gayle contributed 30 to a 57-run third-wicket stand with Samuels before failing to clear long-on off the bowling of Shahid Afridi.

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    ICC planning to give extra reviews
    The latest fiasco with the Decision Review System (DRS) in the Ashes has led the International Cricket Council (ICC) to re-think the increase of number of unsuccessful reviews awarded to a team per innings.

    "DRS has always been a work in progress and it's improving all the time. If we can improve the protocols with the way we use it, then I think we'll be looking at it," Dave Richardson, ICC chief executive said.

    The ICC have refused to scrap the technology despite controversy during the Ashes and continuous opposition from the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

    "Errors are always going to be made, DRS corrects most of them. We've got meetings coming up in September and October where it will probably be discussed on a more formal basis," he said.

    The ICC is planning to have a system similar to major tennis tournaments where players are awarded an extra review if the match is stretched to the tie-breaker. Richardson suggested that teams can be given extra reviews after 80 overs when the ball is due for a change.

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    Anderson 'best bowler in the world': Wasim Akram


    Pakistan great Wasim Akram believes England's James Anderson is the best bowler currently operating in world cricket.

    The 31-year-old Anderson has taken 13 wickets in the first two Ashes Tests to help England into a 2-0 lead over Australia ahead of the third Test at the Lancashire paceman's Old Trafford home ground starting Thursday.

    Anderson, whose tally of 320 Test wickets places him third on England's all-time list behind Ian Botham and Bob Willis, is currently only equal fifth with Australia's Peter Siddle in the International Cricket Council's Test bowling rankings, which are led by South Africa quick Dale Steyn.

    But Akram, arguably cricket's greatest left-arm fast bowler, who took 414 wickets in 104 Tests at a mean average of 23.62, was in no doubt of Anderson's standing amongst his peers.

    "Jimmy Anderson is leading from the front. For me he is the best bowler of this era," Akram said. "He does it consistently, with the new ball and the old ball."

    Akram and Pakistan teammate Waqar Younis formed a highly effective fast bowling partnership in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with their command of reverse swing often proving too much for even the world's best batsmen.

    In Anderson, Akram said he recognised an equally skilled exponent.

    "Jimmy is up there with me and Waqar because of the control he has," said Akram, who played for Lancashire between 1988 and 1998.

    "He was always good with the new ball, but with the old ball he is intelligent," Akram explained.

    "He bowls five away-swingers, then one inswinger and takes a wicket."

    Although Anderson's career average of 29.66 is more expensive than Steyn's 22.65, Wasim said the Englishman had the edge.

    And that was despite Steyn having 33 wickets in five Tests at just 12.56 apiece in 2013 compared to Anderson's haul for the calendar year, which currently stands at 32 in seven at 23.12.

    "I have seen Dale Steyn bowling with the old ball and he only bowls one delivery -- the inswinger to the right-hander," added Akram.

    "Steyn is one of the best in the world as well, but Jimmy is slightly ahead because he does a lot more with the old ball."

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    Clarke stirs Australia with battling ton

    Centurion Michael Clarke played a true captain’s innings as Australia shrugged off another umpiring controversy to produce an Ashes fightback and rack up 303 for three on the first day of the third Test on Thursday. The unflappable Clarke was 125 not out from 208 balls at the close after notching the tourists’ first ton of the series with a flicked single, while Steve Smith was unbeaten on 70 after a day of fluctuating fortunes which ended with Australia on top.

    England, who are 2-0 up in the five-match series and will retain the Ashes at the revamped Manchester venue with a win or a draw, were cheered on by a packed crowd and a lone trumpeter but some pizzazz was missing from their play and the atmosphere. Opener Chris Rogers, 35, fell short of his first Australia century when he was trapped lbw by a fullish ball from spinner Graeme Swann for a Test high 84 in the middle session.

    Replays showed Rogers was right to be given out, but Usman Khawaja’s dismissal before lunch was the major talking point. He was adjudged, caught behind off Swann for one but reviewed umpire Tony Hill’s decision. Third umpire Kumar Dharmasena sided with his colleague despite replays showing no obvious edge in the latest decision review system (DRS) dispute to afflict the series and Australia.

    Shane Watson earlier got away with several loose shots through the slips, over gully and just short of point but was caught at slip by Alastair Cook off paceman Tim Bresnan for 19. Clarke and Rogers, obeying the message from on high to knuckle down and build an innings after repeated Australian carelessness with the bat this series, were watchful but pounced on any loose bowling as the pacemen struggled with foot holes.

    Warner back: Clarke was impressive in his 24th Test ton if not at his very fluent best having been troubled by spectators above the pavilion sightscreen when taking on Swann, who took two for 82. Smith survived another minor DRS controversy when England reviewed a not-out lbw decision against Swann and Hawk-Eye said just less than half the ball would have hit leg stump, thus reverting to the umpire’s call. The hosts later wasted their second and last review on Smith when DRS showed he had not edged James Anderson behind. He was then plum in front to Stuart Broad on 24 but Hill said not out.

    Australia had lost the toss at Trent Bridge and Lord’s, when England batted first both times on their way to victory, and the relief on Clarke’s face was visible as the coin landed his way. The tourists, who risk losing a seventh Test in a row and a third straight Ashes series, brought in David Warner at six after the aggressive left-hander returned from his banishment to the A squad as punishment for punching England’s Joe Root in a bar in June. He replaced the ineffective Phil Hughes, while off-spinner Nathan Lyon came in for left-armer Ashton Agar and paceman Mitchell Starc replaced the injured James Pattinson. England were unchanged with Kevin Pietersen fit to play.

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    India thump Zimbabwe to go 4-0 up in ODI series
    India romped to a nine-wicket win in the fourth one-day international against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on Thursday to underline their superiority in the five-match series. The tourists raced to the modest target of 145 with nearly 20 overs to spare after skittling the Zimbabwe top order and bowling out the home side for 144 at Queens Sports Club. Only an unbeaten half-century from Elton Chigumbura saved Zimbabwe from a more emphatic defeat. India have won all four ODIs in the series by a comfortable margin.

    Suresh Raina scored 65 not out and Robin Sharma an unbeaten 64 as India chased down the target in 30.5 overs for the loss of only debutant Cheteshwar Pujara. “There was something in the wicket early on and we sought to extract that, and the bowlers did that to good effect,” India captain Virat Kohli said. Debutant Mohit Sharma took the first wicket in the seventh over and there was a steady procession of batsmen back to the pavilion thereafter as Zimbabwe slumped to 47 for five in just the 16th over.

    Chigumbura and Malcolm Waller restored some pride, though at a pedestrian pace, with their 80-run partnership taking more than 20 overs. Waller was eventually caught behind off Mohit Sharma for 35 but Chigumbura went on to reach 50 just before the last wicket fell. In reply India began sluggishly, but once Pujara departed Raina and Robin Sharma sought to finish off proceedings early. “It was all about giving the guys who haven’t had a decent bat time in the middle and a chance to give it a go,” Kohli said.

    A fourth successive hammering albeit from the world champions, left Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor perplexed. “It’s frustrating on a pretty good batting wicket (not to make runs),” he said at the post-match presentation. “We can’t find the answers. We’ve done the hard work in practice but come up short again. It’s got to be the mental side weighing us down.” The final match of the series is at the same venue on Saturday.

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    Mohit becomes second Indian to win MOM award on ODI debut
    On Thursday at the Queens Sports Club, India’s Mohit Sharma was named the Man of the Match for his figures of 2 for 26 which helped set up India’s nine-wicket win over Zimbabwe. It marked only the second instance that an Indian cricketer had won the match award on ODI debut, and the 55th player overall. The previous India player to be named Man of the Match on ODI debut was Sandeep Patil in 1980, for his 70-ball 64 and one wicket against Australia at the MCG. Mohit, who made his Ranji Trophy debut for Haryana in the 2011-12 season, was called up into India’s ODI squad with key pacers Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar rested for the five ODIs in Zimbabwe. His performance in Zimbabwe may open more doors for him as India’s selectors search for a pace bowlers beyond the main three who have done the job in recent times.

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