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Pujara, Pant hit centuries to put India in control

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Melbourne: Cheteshwar Pujara ground out a masterful 193 and Rishabh Pant smashed a magnificent unbeaten 159 as Australia’s hopes of winning the match and saving the series were washed away by a torrent of Indian runs on day two of the fourth Test in Sydney on Friday.

Virat Kohli declared on 622 for seven an hour before the close of play when Ravindra Jadeja was dismissed for 81 and Usman Khawaja (5) and Marcus Harris (19) ushered Australia to stumps on 24 without loss.

Pujara came up seven runs short of his fourth double century but there can be little doubt that his nine-hour, 373-ball knock will almost certainly deliver India’s first Test series victory in Australia.

 

After a beautifully crafted innings, Pujara went with a whimper rather than a bang before tea, scooping the ball back down the wicket to be caught and bowled by wily off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

The 30-year-old’s centuries in Adelaide and Melbourne went a long way to giving India a 2-1 series lead and there was relief as well as admiration in the standing ovation he received from the crowd when he finally headed back to the Member’s Stand.

Once he had departed, Pant and Jadeja initially maintained his circumspection before throwing off the shackles and hammering home India’s advantage with a partnership of 204.

Pant had a bit of a scare six runs short of his second test century when he was close to being run out but made his ground safely and reached the milestone off 137 balls with his eighth four – the first Indian wicketkeeper to do so in Australia.

Jadeja was soon twirling his bat in his trademark celebration of a half century, his 10th in Tests, and for while it looked like Pant would overhaul Pujara with a maiden double century.

Australia’s much vaunted pace attack were exhausted after two days’ toiling for little reward in the Sydney heat and the wicket that finally precipitated the declaration came again from Lyon (4-178).

Jadeja stepped down the wicket to try and dominate the spinner but was deceived by the flight of the ball and bowled to end a 114-ball innings featuring seven fours and a six.

The hosts had started the day with hopes of making major inroads into India’s batting order but were largely frustrated, even if Lyon removed Hanuma Vihari for 42 to break the 101-partnership with Pujara.

Pujara’s almost chanceless innings — he was dropped in the slips on 192 — featured 22 fours and took his tally over the series to 521 runs at an average of 74.42.

Pant, whose innings featured 15 boundaries and one six, blotted his copy book in the final hour by dropping Khawaja behind the wickets but nothing was going to mar another dominant day for the tourists.


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Kohli scripts history, makes clean sweep of ICC awards

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Dubai :Indian skipper Virat Kohli has become the first player in history to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the Intenational Cricket Council (ICC) Cricketer of the Year, the Men’s Test Player of the Year and the ODI Player of the Year awards following an extraordinary 2018.

Not only is Kohli the first player to win these three major ICC awards together, but he has also been named the captain of the ICC Test and ODI teams of the year for a fabulous run in the international cricket.

Kohli scored a total of 1,322 runs at an average of 55.08 in 13 Tests with five hundreds during the calendar year, while in 14 ODIs he amassed 1,202 runs at an astonishing average of 133.55 with six centuries. He also scored 211 runs in 10 T20Is.

 

The 30-year-old from Delhi, who first came into limelight when he led India to victory at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia in 2008, finished the year as the top-ranked batsman in Tests and ODIs.

The highest scorer in both forms of the game in 2018, he was one of only two batsmen to score more than 1,000 runs in Tests and only among three to do so in ODI cricket.

Kohli was the unanimous choice of the ICC Voting Academy for the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy with South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada coming in second to him for both this award and the ICC Test Player of the Year award. Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan was runner up to Kohli for the ICC ODI Player of the Year award.

Ecstatic to receive the honour, “It feels amazing. It’s a reward for all the hard work that you do throughout the calendar year. I feel really grateful and very, very happy with the team doing well at the same time myself performing. Having recognition at the global level from the ICC is something you feel proud of as a cricketer because you understand that there are many players playing the game.”

“To be rewarded in this manner from amongst all of them is obviously a very proud moment for me and something that gives you more motivation to keep repeating the same things because you have to keep the standard of cricket up and keep bringing in consistent performances. From that point of view, these awards give you that extra motivation,” he added.

Meanwhile, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson praised Kohli as well asl every cricketer who picked the award during the world body’s annual awards.

“Sincere congratulations to every one of our individual winners and those players named in our ICC Test and ODI teams of the year. Special mention must go to Virat Kohli, who becomes the first ever player to win the Sir Garfield Sobers award along with Test Player of the Year and ODI Player of the Year and be named as captain of both teams,” he said.

Richardson stressed that in order to be recognized as a true cricketing great, one need to be successful in all format of the game and Kohli has become a great ambassador for our sport.

“This is well-deserved recognition for an extraordinary talent. His regard for the game and particularly for Test cricket is also recognized and appreciated. He is passionate in his support of the longest form of the game and its continued importance,” he said.

Kohli had won the Sir Garfield Trophy and ICC ODI Player of the Year awards last year and was also the ICC ODI Player of the Year in 2012.

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‘Kohli will break all records created by Tendulkar’

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Karachi:Pakistan’s legendary batsman Zaheer Abbas joined the bandwagon of former greats terming Indian captain Virat Kohli as the best batsman in world cricket who will break all the records of Sachin Tendulkar.

Kohli currently has 39 ODI hundreds and is only 10 short of Tendulkar’s 49.

Appearing on the Gsports show on GTV News channel, Zaheer advised cricket pundits to always keep in mind the era, conditions and opposition while assessing a batsman.

 

“I think at the moment Virat is the best. He will break all the records. But not only Virat, the Indian team has other top batsmen too. If you look at Rohit Sharma, you are just delighted to watch his strokes. One can only appreciate the beauty of his strokes. The variety of strokes in possession of Indian batsmen counts a lot,” Abbas said.

It all boils down to skills, said Abbas, who was considered a batting artist during his best years.

“Obviously, the confidence will come when you have so many strokes and when you know how to stay at the wicket. These skills don’t come easily. It takes time and hard work and one needs to develop a system for this,” he said.

Zaheer, who played 78 Tests and 62 ODIs, was also candid in stating that even top Pakistani batsmen Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq had still not reached that standard.

“They are our players and I want to see our batsmen do very well. But at this stage, they have not reached that standard that I can feel proud of. They haven’t come up to world standards as yet,” he said.

Abbas said there was a time when Pakistan used to beat India regularly but in recent times the neighbouring country’s cricket structure had improved a lot and their system is producing some top quality players.

“Not only their batsmen but even their bowlers. They have improved a lot and this is because their board had the foresight to set up the MRF pace academy years back and get Dennis Lillee as their first coach to help groom their pacers,” he said.

“India at this moment is a top side. Their standards have improved a lot, especially after the IPL because they don’t allow their players to go and play anywhere else.

They are giving so much financial security to their players.”

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Pant is ICC’s Emerging Cricketer of 2018

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Dubai:India’s young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant was on Tuesday named as the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2018.

“Congratulations to @RishabPant777, the ICC Men’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2018!,” ICC tweeted.

Pant is the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a Test century in England and Australia. The youngster also equalled the record for the most catches taken in a Test, with 11 during the Adelaide Test in December.

 

Left-handed Pant produced some fine knocks during the voting period and getting off the mark in Test cricket with a six only highlighted his potential. He scored 537 runs with a century and two fifties in eight Tests during the voting period with 40 catches and two stumpings. In three ODIs, he scored 41 runs and took three catches and in eight T20Is scored 114 runs and pouched two catches.

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