Cape Town: India`s long winning streak in test cricket is under threat in a quick-fire three match series against South Africa this month, where their status as the top ranked nation in the format faces a stiff examination.
s side have won nine successive series to climb to the top of the International Cricket Councils rankings but most of the success has come on batting friendly wickets.
South Africa are expected to prepare
green top wickets for the tests in Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg, all squeezed into January, to hand India an unfamiliar and difficult challenge.
India have traditionally struggled against the home bowling attack with just two victories in 17 previous tests on tour in South Africa.
But while past touring sides have crumbled under the barrage of pace, this is an experienced India squad, 13 of whom have previously toured South Africa and will know what to expect.
“All I can say is the team is up for the challenge,” said India coach Ravi Shastri ahead of the first test at Newlands, which starts on Friday.
“If you asked me four years ago, I would have said no. But this team has gained in experience,” he added.
“The beauty of this team is it does not matter who opposition it is. For us every game is a home game. Even this is a home game for us at Newlands. You see the pitch, you adapt. No excuses, no complaints.
“Tomorrow you go to England and it might be seaming all over the place. You come to India it might be turning. If you want to be rated as a side, you adapt to the conditions. It`s as simple as that.”
South Africa, who are second in the ICC test rankings, are at full strength for the first time in almost two years as AB de Villiers returns from a lengthy absence from the first class game. The bowling department is also reinforced by the return from injury of Dale Steyn and his long-time new ball partner Vernon Philander.
The three test series is followed by six One Day Internationals and three Twenty20 clashes between the two countries through to the end of February.
Bengaluru FC beat FC Goa to win maiden ISL title
Mumbai: A vociferous crowd stood witness as Bengaluru FC defeated FC Goa 1-0 after 120 minutes of intense football to be crowned the 2018-19 Hero Indian Super League champions at the Mumbai Football Arena.
After no goals separated the teams at the end of normal time, Rahul Bheke (118’) headed home a corner to exorcise Bengaluru’s demons from last year’s final as they lifted the coveted trophy for the first time.
FC Goa were left to rue the red card Ahmed Jahouh picked up in the first half of extra-time as their wait for a first-ever ISL title continued.
Bengaluru came well prepared and threatened the Goa defence as early as the sixth minute. Nishu Kumar and Sunil Chhetri combined well on the left flank before the latter found Miku at the edge of the box. The Venezuelan striker shimmied his way past a crowd of defenders inside the box but a loose touch at the end of his spectacular solo run allowed goalkeeper Naveen Kumar to get to the ball.
Minutes later, Jahouh picked out Jackichand Singh’s run down the right flank with a delightful diagonal as Goa countered from their own half. The Indian wingers delivered a brilliant cross to the far post where an onrushing Ferran Corominas skied his volley wide.
Bengaluru had the better of the early exchanges as the trio of Miku, Chhetri and Udanta Singh found joy in the attacking third.
But Goa were dealt a blow before the break as Mandar Rao Dessai, in an attempt to get to a through-ball by Edu Bedia, succumbed to a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by young Saviour Gama at left-back.
After a sluggish start to the second half, FC Goa slowly took control of the game and started to boss possession.
They created chances at will and one such move saw Jackichand’s effort from a tight angle go straight into the gloves of Gurpreet Singh.
A few minutes later, Jackichand found Jahouh at the edge of the box. The Moroccan midfielder’s first-time shot, however, was saved by Gurpreet in goal. Cuadrat responded to Goa’s growing influence by making an attacking change as Luisma replaced Alejandro Barrera.
The Blues went ever so close in the 81st minute when Chhetri’s layoff inside the box was cleverly heeled into the path of Miku by Xisco Hernandez. The striker, with just the goalkeeper to beat, curled his strike onto the bar before seeing another strike blocked by Mourtada Fall in injury time.
The tempo slowed down as the game moved onto extra-time with both teams unwilling to take risks going forward. Bengaluru did, however, get their first shot on target when Xisco found space and time on the ball to hit a piledriver from outside the box.
Goa were reduced to 10 men in the 105th minute when Ahmed Jahouh retaliated to a challenge by Miku. The midfielder picked up a second yellow and had to take the lonely walk back.
That turned out to be a game-changer as Bengaluru assumed control of the game. And they got the precious goal they were looking for in the 116th minute. Dimas delivered a corner-kick into the box for Bheke who produced a spectacular looping header that Naveen Kumar could only push on to the post and inside the goal as the Bengaluru faithful went into delirium.
The Blues stood firm to prevent a 10-man Goa from snatching a late equaliser and clinched their first Hero ISL trophy.
No complacency on World Cup security: ICC
Karachi: The deadly New Zealand shootings which Bangladesh cricketers narrowly avoided meant security would remain an “absolute priority” going into the World Cup, the head of cricket’s governing body said.
Fifty people died in attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, in what is believed to be the worst assault on Muslims in a Western country.
Bangladesh’s Test cricketers were just a few minutes from being caught up in the massacre, arriving in a bus at one of the mosques as shooting began.
The third Test between Bangladesh and New Zealand which was due to start in Wellington on Saturday was cancelled and the team returned home.
Speaking on the sidelines of Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Karachi, International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson said security had to remain “an absolute priority”.
“I don’t think security is anything new, obviously something happening in New Zealand probably took a lot of people by surprise and it emphasised the need not to be complacent, especially going into the World Cup,” Richardson said.
The England and Wales Cricket Board will host the World Cup from May 30 to July 14. “I know the work has already been done by the security director together with all the security agencies in the UK and they are leaving no stone unturned,” he added.
Richardson said Pakistan had taken “a great step forward” in safely hosting the PSL matches, a decade on from an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore which has seen foreign teams refuse to play in the country over security fears.
Pakistan has gradually tried to revive international cricket at home, having hosted the finals of Pakistan Super League for the last two years and played matches against a World XI, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
This year, eight PSL matches were hosted in Karachi without incident and Richardson, a former South African player, said it was helping to change the image of Pakistan.
“The perception outside of Pakistan was that it was quite a dangerous place to visit in the past and that perception slowly but surely has been changed,” he said.
He said a recent tour by 43 foreign players, including former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson and current New Zealand opener Colin Munro, reflected the changes Pakistan has made.
Trust over security has “increased tremendously”, he added. However, last month Cricket Australia acted on their government’s advice not to tour Pakistan, where no Australian senior team has played since 1998.
Quetta Gladiators win first Pakistan Super League title
Karachi: Quetta Gladiators fought their way to ultimate victory against Peshawar Zalmi in the title match of the Pakistan Super League 2019 at the National Stadium in Karachi.
The occasion marks the side’s first victory after having reached the final on two previous occasions.
Zalmi had set a lower-than-expected target of 139 runs, which the Gladiators chased down effectively in 17.5 overs.
The Gladiators had won the toss and decided to field first against Zalmi.
Zalmi skipper Darren Sammy had expressed hopes after the toss that the side would be able to put up a target of 180 runs or more but they fell much shorter than that owing to the constant onslaught of the Gladiators’ bowlers who restricted them beautifully.
The first wicket to go was that of Imamul Haq who went down courtesy Mohammad Hasnain for 3 runs off 4 balls at 1.3 overs.
Kamran Akmal soon followed when he was dismissed off Mohammad Nawaz’s delivery at the end of the 4th over. He put up 21 runs off 15 balls.
Shoaib Maqsood was the third man down, caught at long off by Rossouw owing to a witty slower delivery by Bravo. He scored an even 20 runs off 20 balls.
Umer Amin was next, caught out by Sohail Tanvir off Mohammad Hasnain’s delivery at deep mid-wicket. He put up 38 runs off 33 balls and was the top scorer for the side.
Nabi Gul was caught out at 14.4 overs attempting to score a big one by Ahmed Shehzad at deep mid-wicket. Fawad Ahmed claimed this one. Gul made 9 runs off 12 balls.
It was then up to Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy to rescue the side. Unfortunately, Pollard did not stick around for much longer as he was edged out to the keeper by Mohammad Hasnain, who with this wicket had claimed his third.
Pollard scored a disappointing 7 runs off 12 balls.
Sammy and Wahab Riaz were in a desperate attempt to add runs in the last three overs.
Sammy hit a four to mercifully send the scoreboard ticking at 18.3 overs and again sent the ball smashing for another four at the end of the over, managing to score 13 runs off the 19 over.
The last over saw the fall of Riaz at the second last ball when he was run out by Mohammad Nawaz. He put up 2 runs off 18 balls.
Sammy was the last man to go, fighting until the very end. He hit a full toss down to long on and was caught out by Mohammad Nawaz off Bravo’s delivery.
Shehzad scored a brilliant half-century, the only player to have done so in the match. Though his 50 came up at 15.1 overs with a single shot to mid-off, his innings was marked by explosive boundaries throughout and paved the way to victory for the Gladiators.
The previous partnership of Shehzad and Ahsan Ali (47 runs) did an admirable job in chasing the target with multiple boundaries to their credit.
Shane Watson was the first man to go down from the Gladiators’ side after he was run out by Umar Amin at 2.4 overs. He scored 7 runs off 6 balls.
Despite losing Watson early, the side managed to score 57 runs in the first six overs.
Ali was out next at 7.4 overs on Riaz’s quick delivery. He hit the bat down to short midwicket where Sammy was ready to catch it. He added 25 runs off 18 balls to the total including three 4s and a 6.
“We will bowl first. The pitch seems suited to bowling first as seen in the last few matches, so we have decided to do just that,” said Sarfaraz Ahmed who lead the Gladiators.
“The match is starting late today and there might be a dew factor so we have decided to bowl first and try to restrict the total to as less as possible.”
When asked what total Darren Sammy, the skipper for Zalmi, had in mind, he replied: “Anything above 180 is going to be a good score. With that said, it is good to be in another final with a good side. We have to play our best cricket today.”
“If someone beats me three times, then in the final I am still presented with a newfound opportunity; that’s the best time to beat them. So maybe we are keeping our best performance against them today which is the most important one.”
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