India vs Australia, 4th Test, Day 3, Dharamsala Cricket Photos

Jadeja got a caught behind decision overturned off the first ball of the day
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Acrimonious series ends with strained relationships

OFF FIELD DRAMA

Acrimonious series ends with strained relationships

Vishaal Loganathan • Last updated on Tue, 28 Mar, 2017, 03:58 PM

The series might have ended but the hostility remains © BCCI

It’s been a series of two extremes. While India and Australia were involved in some of the greatest cricket seen in recent times, there have been numerous instances that have threatened to do a version of ‘S**t hit the fan’ and take the focus away from the game. It has been a series of controversies as much as it has been a series of great cricket. And for everyone who wondered how the batting battle between rival captain Steve Smith and Virat Kohli would go, it turned out to be a damp squib. But the battles otherwise were fodder that even people not involved in cricket would’ve happily lapped up.

India won the series 2-1, coming back strong after their defeat in Pune, but the series was overshadowed by many off- and on-field controveries, some of which Kohli and Smith were directly involved in. The second Test at Bengaluru was played with great intensity, with many players involved in verbal duels, but it soon descended to mayhem when Steve Smith, in the second innings, looked to the dressing room for help for an LBW review. In the post match press conference, Smith admitted to his mistake, calling it a brain fade and apologising for the same. In response, Virat Kohli said that it wasn’t the only time he saw the opposition do that, and added that he saw them doing it atleast two other times, and said he could vouch for it. He just stopped short of calling the Australians ‘cheats’.

Both Cricket Australia and BCCI resolved to sweep the matter under the carpet, but the captains in their post-match showed the issue was far from settled. The ICC too turned a blind eye, and that perhaps inadvertently pushed the series into dangerous territory. Kohli still stuck by his words, while Smith said ‘it was complete rubbish’. Both camps were convinced they were right, and in such a scenario only vitriol and arguments ensue.

In Ranchi, Kohli injured his shoulder while diving to stop a ball and did not return to the field until it was his turn to bat. Glenn Maxwell, after putting in a dive at the boundary, held his shoulder and mocked Kohli’s injury. The Indian captain was out off the very next ball, and fans and the media were divided in their reactions to Maxwell’s taunting.

This time, Kohli said some of the Australians had taken Patrick Farhart’s, India’s physio, name and were disrespectful. Smith responded by saying they didn’t do any such thing, and if anything they only had respect for Farhart.

The final Test in Dharamsala was bereft of any controvery until the third day, when Steve Smith was caught on camera saying ‘F***ing Cheat’ when Murali Vijay had claimed a catch that on replay showed had also brushed the ground. In the press conference, Smith apologised for letting his emotions get the better of him

“I set myself high standards and I wanted to lead from the front with my performances. I have sort of been very intense in my own little bubble and at times I have let my emotions and actions just falter a little bit throughout this series and I apologise for that. That’s a big stride for me moving forward and something I can really learn from and continue to grow as an individual and as a leader,” he said.

While Smith was happy to apologise for his own mistakes, he too had reason to be miffed with the opposition. When a video of an on-field conversation between Matthew Wade and Ravindra Jadeja went up on air, Smith was not too pleased.

“Yeah, I was a little bit disappointed that the BCCI sieved through the archive to find a conversation out on the field that was happening between Matty and Jadeja. It’s happened between both sides throughout this series, so the fact they’ve done that to us is a little bit disappointing. Usually what’s said on the field should stay on the field. It’s been a hard-fought series and guys are going to say things here and there, their emotions are going to be high. And so they should be in such a big series. so I was a little bit disappointed by the fact the BCCI did bring that out,” he said.

Virat Kohli, who fronted the press after Smith’s PC, was asked whether his views about the Australians had changed. Kohli had said at the start of the series that despite the previous verbal duels and the heights of intensity, he and many of the Australians were good friends off the field.

This time, Kohli said: “No, it has changed. I thought that was the case, but it has changed for sure. As I said, in the heat of the battle you want to be competitive but I’ve been proven wrong. The thing I said before the first Test, that has certainly changed and you won’t hear me say that ever again.”

He was also asked about the amount of criticism he has come under, especially from the Australian press, with some sections calling for ICC to sanction him for not playing in the spirit of the game and for falsely accusing the Australian captain of cheating. He was also likened to American President Donald Trump by a daily.

“As I’ve said before, it’s not in my control. I’ve heard a very wise person tell me that when a person is down, the weak come out and speak about him. It takes courage to speak about someone when they are on top,” he added.

“It’s fine, I was targeted individually and I hadn’t done well in the series. So opportunities galore for everyone to come out and speak about me. When I’ve done well in the past, people have spoken about me. When I haven’t done well, I obviously expect them to come out and say all sorts of things. It’s obviously very easy to sit at home and write a blog or speak behind the mic. I think that’s easier than coming out and competing on the field. That’s all I have to say about that,” he summed up.

It was a sad way for a fantastic series to end, but Kohli was only being honest when a question was directed at him. The series has ended, but the hostility and negativity remain.

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New Zealand vs South Africa, 3rd Test, Day 4, Hamilton Cricket Photos

Kane Williamson’s fine innings came to an end on 178. He was the first New Zealand batsman to depart on the penultimate day
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NZ in command as South Africa’s top order crumbles

SOUTH AFRICA TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND 2017

NZ in command as South Africa’s top order crumbles

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Tue, 28 Mar, 2017, 12:09 PM

In the post-Tea session, New Zealand’s bowlers kept picking up wickets at regular intervals. © AFP

New Zealand’s bowlers ran through South Africa’s top order after taking a 175-run lead in the first innings to put the hosts in a solid position in the third Test in Hamilton. Unlike what was predicted, there was no rain interruption through the day, enabling a smooth passage of play, which included half an hour of an early start and another half an hour extension in the final session on Tuesday March 28).

Resuming Day 4 on 321 for 4, a lead of seven runs, New Zealand began cautiously. The overnight duo of Kane Williamson and Mitchell Santner played out the first couple of hours, extending their partnership to 88 runs before the skipper got out while pulling Morne Morkel to Vernon Philander at long leg, ending a fine innings on 178.

The hosts managed to add only 76 runs in the first session, where Santner and BJ Watling refused to attack the bowlers. However, with the former departing at the stroke of Lunch and the latter getting out soon after the first session break, Colin de Grandhomme decided to take on the bowling.

Even as the lower order didn’t add too much to the scoreboard, they hung around for a decent time to allow Grandhomme to do the damage. The all-rounder hit JP Duminy twice into the stands in successive overs and raced to his half-century. He was the last batsman to be dismissed when he gloved a pull off Morkel to the wickekeeper. Even as Morkel and Kagiso Rabada bagged four wickets each, they had conceded over 100 runs each and allowed New Zealand to post 489 in the first innings.

Coming into bat again in the post-Tea session, New Zealand’s bowlers kept picking up wickets at regular intervals. Dean Elgar was the first to depart when he poked at a delivery that nipped off the seam and gave the wicketkeeper an easy catch. His opening partner Theunis de Bryun did manage to register his first run in Test cricket, but departed soon after. He and Hashim Amla got into a mid-pitch collision with both the batsmen looking at the fielder. While Amla fell on the ground, de Bryun was stranded and eventually run out.

The veteran duo of Amla and JP Duminy looked to consolidate the innings, but both fell in quick succession after putting on a 24-run stand. To complicate matters, Temba Bavuma too didn’t last long as he looked to go for an ambitious drive off Matt Henry off his 11th ball only to edge it to the wicketkeeper, and reduce South Africa to 59 for 5.

Faf du Plessis and Quinton De Kock added 21 runs before Stumps were called, and the deficit was reduced to 95.

With only a day’s play left, and if weather permits a full day’s play, South Africa need a major turnaround. Du Plessis has been in similar situations several times in the past and bailed his team out successfully. De Kock is no stranger to changing fortunes of his side after a top order collapse. The lower order too has enough credentials with the bat. An exciting day of play awaits at the Seddon Park as the hosts look to square the series and end their home summer on a high.

Brief Scores: South Africa 314 & 80/5 (Hashim Amla 19; Jeetan Patel 2-22) trail New Zealand 489 (Kane Williamson 170, Jeet Raval 88; Morne Morkel 4-100, Kagiso Rabada 4-122) by 95 runs.

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An epilogue to a controversy-marred series?

AUSTRALIA TOUR OF INDIA 2017

An epilogue to a controversy-marred series?

Anand Vasu • Last updated on Tue, 28 Mar, 2017, 04:15 AM

Steve Smith and DRS… not a merry tale © BCCI

There is no thing easier than being moral when it’s convenient to you. It’s also relatively easy to be gracious when everything is going your way, when you are on top of the world, and every decision you take bears fruit. Under pressure, when it seems like the world is against you, when nothing you do works out, is when a person’s true nature reveals itself.

For two days, the final India-Australia Test match has been played in the best possible spirit. With Virat Kohli out of the game, and the “chilled out” Ajinkya Rahane leading India, this was always going to be a less contentious contest than the ones that went before. It was Steven Smith, in Bangalore, who derailed what was a peaceful outing, given the history of bad blood between these teams, attempting to take unfair advantage and help from his dressing-room over a DRS call. Smith was contrite enough after, explaining away his actions as a “brain fade.”

At first, it seemed that he had made an honest mistake in the heat of the moment. After all, if the attempt was to cheat – a word Virat Kohli never used but has been an undercurrent of all interactions ever since he suggested that the public moment was not the first time this had happened – Smith might have attempted more subterfuge. But, with all the shenanigans that unfolded off the field, involving bosses from cricket boards, former and current players, journalists writing about each other and fans slugging it out on social media, the last thing this series needed was a fresh infusion of spite and pettiness.

Unfortunately, that was exactly what Smith provided, his behaviour reverting to the stereotype that gave rise to the term ugly Australian, in cricketing circles. When M Vijay caught Josh Hazlewood, at slip off R Ashwin, and the batsman began his walk back to the pavilion, the catcher began his sprint back to the dressing-room, to get padded up to open the innings, the umpires decided they wanted a closer look at the catch.

The third umpire, Chris Gaffaney, looked at videos over and over and decided that the ball had brushed the turf before getting under Vijay’s fingers. It is not unusual for catches taken close to the turf to be ruled bump balls even when the fielder has fingers under the ball, thanks to a phenomenon known as foreshortening. When looking at two-dimensional visuals of a three-dimensional event, as is the case with television replays, an element of doubt creeps in, and in the case of low catches this always goes in the batsman’s favour.

Could Vijay have known that the ball had gone from edge straight to hand? Should he have realised that the catch may not have been a clean one? Could he have immediately suggested that he did not know for sure if the dismissal was straightforward? These intangible questions will never be satisfactorily answered, but anyone who has played even a basic level of cricket will know that it is entirely possible for a close-in fielder not to know for sure whether he has caught a ball cleanly, in that split second when the action happens. A fielder’s natural instinct is to appeal, which is all Vijay did.

Why Smith, sitting in the viewing area outside the dressing room, assumed that Vijay knew he had not caught it cleanly and yet claimed the catch, made evident by his most eloquent outburst caught cleanly by television cameras: “F***ing cheat”, is anyone’s guess. Smith, who has been caught doing something the wider world will agree, falls closer to the cheating end of the spectrum than the brain fade, may well claim that he said “F***ing shit” rather than the more offensive version, should it come to that.

Graeme Hick, Australia’s batting coach, fronted the media on the day and did his best to defuse the situation, saying he knew nothing of what Smith might or might not have said. When pressed, Hick, a quality slip fielder himself, said: “Close to the bat, sometimes you’re not 100% sure. He would’ve felt it go into his fingers and felt that it was a clean catch.”

Smith, clearly did not believe in giving Vijay, the benefit of doubt. Why he then expects anyone to extend the same courtesy to him, for his alleged brain fade, is anyone’s guess.

Smith may not have heard of Laurence Sterne, the Irish novelist and clergyman, but he will do well to ponder one simple line on the long flight back to Australia: “Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.”

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India’s awesome threesome emerges as the difference

AUSTRALIA TOUR OF INDIA, 2017

India’s awesome threesome emerges as the difference

• Last updated on Tue, 28 Mar, 2017, 12:31 AM Vishaal Loganathan in Dharamsala

Umesh has married his pace with great control to emerge into a potent strike force. © BCCI

It was an Indian attack that was showing Australia how things are done on a pitch that was distinctly Australian.

The Dharamsala surface, since the start of the Test, had been hailed – by players and coaches alike – as the best wicket in the series thus far. In fact, there was so much purchase off the wicket for the quicks, that people even compared it to the famous WACA surface in Perth.

On such a pitch, you would have expected Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon to be more of a threat thanks to the extra bounce. However, it turned out to be Umesh Yadav, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja who ran riot.

The Indian attack is slowing starting to show that it has the weapons to become a threat in any conditions.

“[They] Found a little bit of extra bounce or whatever it may be in the wicket, and put us under pressure. It’s Test cricket, India played very well today and really challenged us,” was how Graeme Hick summarised India’s bowling performance.

For long, bounce was considered to be India’s biggest enemy. In Dharamsala, they made it their best friend. In Ranchi, on an otherwise dead pitch, the made full use of a rough to make life tough. In Bengaluru, variable bounce in the wicket helped them level the series.

This has become a constant feature with the current Indian team. Umesh, Mohammed Shami, Ashwin and Jadeja have all been the pillars of the bowling attack, but the likes of Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jayant Yadav and now, Kuldeep Yadav have also done well when the others haven’t stepped up.

On Day three of the fourth Test, three such pillars stood up to form a powerful bowling combination that wiped out the opposition and left them staring at defeat. And each had their own primary trait that made them so threatening.

Umesh’s pace was always his great strength, but he’s added a discipline and execution that has taken his game to a whole new level this season. When the pitch has little to offer, he still proves to be a thorn. As he had mentioned in a press conference earlier, there was initially a lot of talk of Umesh letting the pressure slip with a ball down leg or wide of off after a few good ones. But Umesh this season is like a bowling machine who only bowls to his plans. He has players in trouble with the new ball, but also wreaks havoc when reverse swing comes into play.

He had left David Warner and Matt Renshaw wondering if they had been magically transported back to a green WACA wicket. Having softened them up, he bowled the perfect outswingers to have them both caught by the keeper. And when the tail was just about beginning to wag, he came back with the old ball to break through.

After Umesh is done, Ashwin and Jadeja take over. Even when the pitch is not in their favour or when the batsmen have the upperhand, the spin duo is able to maintain a degree of control over proceedings. Jadeja was the pupil, but this season he has shown that he can be the master, too. So much so that many experts feel he’s the most valuable member of the Indian Test team.

“It feels good that people that I am one of the responsible players of this team. Someone, who can perform in any situation across all departments of the game. If someone works hard, it is with an aim to become a valuable player. My biggest achievement more than any Man of the Match or Man of the Series award is contributing in a winning cause.”

While Ashwin has been India’s big trump card, Jadeja’s consistency has pushed him into pole position slowly. His economy, combined with the ability to extract whatever little the pitch has to offer, makes him the kind of bowler to have on any kind of track.

Here, he picked up three wickets for just twenty four runs, but each of those wickets was planned well. Shaun Marsh stood upright and stiff due to his bad back. Jadeja got one to spin sharply past him and had him caught at forward short leg. For Pat Cummins, an attacking batsman, he knew his rewards lay in how much patience he had. He stayed put and after a long time offered a juicy volley outside off. Cummins drive, and Rahane took the edge at slip. The extra bounce in the pitch accounted for Steve O’Keefe.

Jadeja and Umesh Yadav turned in a stellar performance, and had the usually reliable Ashwin to lead from the front too. Ashwin has had a relatively lean spell this series. But such has been his impact this year, that even a match winning performance just two Tests prior to this performance puts the focus on him. However, he is never far away from a match-changing show. If Jadeja or Umesh are doing the trick, he is happy to play back up. If no one’s picking wickets, Ashwin somehow comes up with something up his sleeve.

On Monday, the three stood tall to leave Australia in dire straits. Back then, it was always India’s batsmen against the opposition’s bowlers. How things have changed now.

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New Zealand vs South Africa, Hamilton – Day 3 Cricket Photos

Kagiso Rabada bagged two wickets – Neil Broom and Henry Nicholls – in quick succession late in the day to help South Africa recover
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Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh, 2nd ODI, Dambulla Cricket Photos

Upul Tharang pacified nerves with a well-stroked fifty, the 31st of his career, in his 200th ODI.
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Chris Read to retire at end of upcoming county season

CALLING IT A DAY

Chris Read to retire at end of upcoming county season

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Tue, 28 Mar, 2017, 03:39 PM

Read also played 15 Tests and 36 One-Day Internationals for England. © Getty

Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper and Club captain Chris Read has announced on Tuesday (March 28) that he will retire at the end of the forthcoming county season. Read, who is beginning his 20th season as a professional, will take up a job as Director of Cricket at Uppingham School from September.

Renowned as one of the finest glovemen England has ever produced, Read, 38, has made 677 appearances for Nottinghamshire to date, clocking-up 1,329 dismissals behind the stumps and scoring over 20,000 runs in all formats.

Read also played 15 Tests and 36 One-Day Internationals for England. Although he never hit the heights with the bat in the same way he did at first-class level, averaging under 20 in both formats, Read managed an impressive 91 international dismissals with the gloves.

“I feel very content with my career,” said Read. “It’s my 20th season at Trent Bridge and it’s been a wonderful experience. All good things must come to an end. After this season, it’s time for me to move on and start the next phase of my career with a fantastic opportunity at Uppingham School.

“I’m going to really enjoy this last six months of my playing career. I’ve set myself high standards throughout my career and this season is no different. I’ll be putting everything into Nottinghamshire, into driving us forward and making sure that, when I do leave at the end of September, the Club is in the best possible position.”

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