Sydney:Australia ruthlessly extinguished England’s resistance to claim an innings victory in the fifth Ashes Test and complete a 4-0 series rout on the final day in Sydney on Monday.
The beleaguered tourists, with skipper Joe Root weakened by a stomach bug and unable to continue batting, dissolved after lunch, losing their last four wickets for their fourth comprehensive defeat of the series.
“It has been a great couple of months. The cricket that we have played in the last couple of months has been outstanding,” Australia skipper Steve Smith said.
“We have just been able to get on top and win those key moments and not let them back in the game which is crucial.”
Pat Cummins led the Australian offensive in Sydney with four wickets for 39 to finish man-of-the-match and the leading wicket taker in the series with 23.
“To get through the five Tests and end the series here at home. I couldn’t asked for much more,” said an ecstatic Cummins.
England finished at 180 for nine off 88.1 overs as Australia won by an innings and 123 runs.
It followed comprehensive losses on the troubled five- Test tour in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The fourth Test was drawn in Melbourne.
Stricken Root did not come out to bat after lunch as he continued to experience discomfort after his overnight stomach bug.
“He is asleep. He has a gastro bug and he has not been too well through the night and the heat yesterday didn’t help.
He is asleep in the dressing-room trying to recover,” said vice-captain Jimmy Anderson, deputising for Root at the post- match presentations.
“To be honest we have been outplayed in the key moments of each game,” he added.
“We have been in the games to an extent but just not been able to capitalise on any opportunities. Australia have played great in this series.”
Cummins struck twice in three balls after lunch, trapping Jonny Bairstow leg before wicket for 38 and having Stuart Broad caught behind off a brutish bouncer for four.
Mason Crane got another Cummins bouncer which he gloved to wicketkeeper Tim Paine for two and Anderson was caught behind off Josh Hazlewood for two to end the innings.
Root went to hospital overnight with England Cricket initially saying he had “severe dehydration” after fielding and batting in intense heat on Sunday.
But team officials corrected earlier statements and said Root was instead weakened by the effects of a gastroenteritis bug.
He came out to bat on the dismissal of Moeen Ali for 13 an hour into the final day’s play and reached his fifth half-century of the series, but was unable to convert any of them to a century.
England’s remote chances of saving the Test disappeared when Root failed to appear at the crease after lunch.
Spinner Nathan Lyon claimed Moeen’s wicket for the seventh time in the series when he trapped him leg before in the morning session, which Moeen did not review.
Lyon took three wickets for 54 off 35 overs.
The Australians took a grip on the final Test with a massive 303-run innings lead and then reduced the battle-weary tourists to 93 for four at the close on the fourth day.
All five Tests went into the fifth day.
Most football associations support 48-team WC in Qatar:FIFA
London: FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said, “Most soccer associations in the world back increasing the size of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams from 32, with some matches to be played in neighbouring countries.”
Infantino told in a news conference that the Qataris were open to the larger format.
“FIFA would make a decision no later than June, once a feasibility study is over,” he added.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar in June 2017 that has complicated the prospect of sharing the tournament.
The countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, which it denies.
Speaking on it, Infantino said, “We are doing football not politics.”
FIFA voted in 2017 to increase the size of the tournament to 48 teams starting from 2026 but, since then, Infantino has been considering the possibility of bringing the change forward to 2022.
“Most football associations across the globe hope for opening up the World Cup to more teams,” he said, lamenting that continental champions such as Cameroon, Chile and the United States were absent from last year’s World Cup after failing to qualify.
“If it is possible to organise a 48-team World Cup in Qatar with some games in neighbouring countries, that will be great,” he further said.
Infantino also quoted that it was “premature” to speak of a planned joint bid from Spain, Portugal and Morocco for the 2030 World Cup, which would be the first time countries from different continents had applied to stage the tournament.
“I welcome all bids. The more the better,” he said.
Infantino was speaking following a FIFA executive summit in Marrakech which brought together some 60 football associations.
Ready to bat anywhere:Dhoni
Mumbai: Wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni, expressed his willingness to bat at any position in the Indian batting order, following a match-winning knock in the series-decider against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
The veteran, who was named as the man of the series following consistent performances in the ODI clashes, stepped up with a quality knock yet again following an early dismissal for the openers and skipper Virat Kohli.
The 37-year-old cricketer scored 87 runs in 114 deliveries, stitching an unbeaten 121 run stand off 115 balls with Kedar Jadhav, as India chased down a target of 231 with four balls to spare.
“I am happy to bat at any number. The important thing is where the team needs me,” said Dhoni.
“Whether I play at 4 or 6, we need to see if the team balance can be retained. I’m happy to bat lower down at 6. I can’t say I can’t bat at No. 6 after playing 14 years,” he added.
The cricketer was full of praise for Kedar Jadhav, who he credited for providing valuable support at the other end, on a slow wicket.
“It was a slow wicket, so it was difficult to hit whenever you wanted to. No point going after the bowlers who were bowling well, so we wanted to take it deep and that was the plan,” said Dhoni.
“Of course supported brilliantly by Kedar, who plays unorthodox shots. He did a great job in executing,” concluded the cricketer.
Pakistan seek first win on SA tour as ODI battle begins
PORT ELIZABETH: Pakistan will be looking to chalk up the first win of their South African tour when they face the Proteas in the first of five One-day Internationals in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s team, swept 3-0 in the preceding Test series, enjoy playing at St George’s Park, winning two of their three ODIs at the venue, with the other washed out.
Pakistan beat South Africa by 182 runs in 2002 when Abdul Razzaq and Saleem Elahi hit hundreds, and then by one run in 2013 in a game reduced to 45-overs-a-side due to rain.
South Africa hold an edge over Pakistan in ODIs as far as their head-to-head record is concerned.
So far, the Proteas have faced Pakistan in 73 ODIs, winning 47, losing 25 while one match ended in no result. Pakistan do not hold an impressive record (matches 29, wins 10, losses 18, one no result) in their matches staged against South Africa at the latter’s home venues).
Interestingly however, Pakistan on their last tour to the African country in 2013 when Misbah-ul-Haq the led tourists, clinched the three-match ODI series 2-1, the country’s maiden ODI series triumph on South African soil.
The tourists currently playing in South Africa have been dealt a boost with the news that Dale Steyn and Quinton de Kock have been rested for the first two ODIs in the series — Saturday’s fixture and Tuesday’s match in Durban.
However, they will have to contend with fast bowler Duanne Olivier, who bagged 24 wickets at 14.70 during South Africa’s win in the Test series and now looks nailed to make his ODI debut.
Rassie van der Dussen should also make his ODI bow having finished as top-run scorer in the recently-concluded Mzansi Super League, South Africa’s new T20 competition.
The 28-year-old hit 469 runs in 11 innings, including four fifties, for champions Jozi Stars and should join Heinrich Klaasen — De Kock’s deputy as wicketkeeper-batsman — in South Africa’s middle order.
Left-handed Shan Masood could open the batting for Pakistan having impressed in the Tests while pacer Mohammad Amir is back in the visitors’ ODI squad for the first time since the Asia Cup staged in the UAE last September.