Kiwis smell victory as Southee, Bracewell strike

Updated 28 November 2012
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Kiwis smell victory as Southee, Bracewell strike

COLOMBO: Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell rocked Sri Lanka with two wickets apiece to boost New Zealand’s chances of posting a series-levelling win in the second and final Test yesterday.
The hosts, needing 363 to win, were struggling at 47-4 in their second innings at stumps on the penultimate day when 17 wickets fell at the P. Sara Oval in Colombo.
Fast bowler Southee, who took five wickets in the first innings, continued to trouble the Sri Lankan batsmen as he removed openers Tharanga Paranavitana and Tillakaratne Dilshan in his lively opening spell.
Paceman Bracewell then grabbed two big wickets when he bowled Kumar Sangakkara (16) and had skipper Mahela Jayawardene (five) caught behind.
New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor, who scored a hundred in the first innings, top-scored with 74 after his team had lost three wickets for one run off four balls.
New Zealand, leading by 168 runs, declared their second innings at 194-9 to set a challenging target for the hosts, who lead the series 1-0 following their 10-wicket win in the opening Test.
The tourists slipped from 74-2 to 75-5 before Taylor and debutant Todd Astle (35) steadied the innings with a 97-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Paceman Nuwan Kulasekara had Kane Williamson (18) caught by Paranavitana in the slips and then trapped Daniel Flynn leg-before with the last two balls of his eighth over.
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath then struck with the second delivery of the next over, having Kruger van Wyk caught by Paranavitana at leg-slip for a duck.
“Southee, Trent Boult and Bracewell again bowled excellent spells for us. They’re getting anything and everything out of the wicket,” said New Zealand coach Mike Hesson.
“We’ve been able to string four good days together and tomorrow is a huge day for us. It’s nice to get three of the big boys (Jayawardene, Dilshan and Sangakkara) tonight.
“We know we are going to have to work for every one of those six wickets (on Thursday).”
Taylor played a responsible knock and reached his half-century with just one four when he fluently drove off-spinner Suraj Randiv through the covers, while Astle provided valuable support.
Astle was unlucky to be caught after the tea-break as his attempted sweep off Randiv hit the boot of a close-in fielder before going to Dilshan at short mid-wicket.
Southee earlier finished with 5-62 for his third five-wicket haul in a Test innings and left-arm paceman Boult with 4-42 as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 244 in their first innings in reply to New Zealand’s 412.
New Zealand needed just 7.4 overs of pace in the morning to claim the last four wickets for 19 after the hosts had resumed at 225-6, with Boult taking three and Southee one.
Thilan Samaraweera fell at his overnight score of 76 while Randiv (39) made just five in the morning. The pair added 97 for the seventh wicket.


Ahmed defends Pakistan squad as ‘best of the best’

Updated 6 min 30 sec ago
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Ahmed defends Pakistan squad as ‘best of the best’

  • Fawad Alam is a seasoned player, but the players we selected are also equally good and have been scoring continuously as well, says Pakistani skipper
  • Former test opener Ramiz Raja claims there are flaws in Alam’s batting technique

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has defended the 16-man national squad for tours of Ireland and England as the “best of the best” despite criticism over the omission of batsman Fawad Alam.
“It’s not like I voted him (Alam) out,” Ahmed said on the last day of Pakistan’s training camp in Lahore on Saturday, adding that “I would have picked all the 25 ... but we had to pick the best of the best 16 players.”
Wasim Akram was among several former Pakistan test players who have criticized selectors for ignoring Alam in the middle order — especially since Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have now retired.
Alam was among 25 players called up for the camp after scoring consistently on the domestic circuit, but he failed to make the final squad.
Former test opener Ramiz Raja claimed there were flaws in Alam’s batting technique and that he would not have considered the left-hander, considering the tough conditions in England.
Ahmed played down the dispute.
“People can make as much reasons to talk, but there is nothing like flaws in anyone’s batting technique,” Ahmed said. “If you look back, Fawad had played a test in 2009 and he is a seasoned player ... (but) the players we selected are also equally good and have been scoring continuously as well.”
Ahmed said it had been a “unanimous decision” by coach, captain and selectors.
Pakistan has included uncapped batsmen Usman Salahuddin and Saad Ali in the final 16, as well as Fakhar Zaman, who has done well in limited-overs cricket but is yet to play a test match.
Misbah and Younis will be missed on a tour of England where Misbah scored a century at Lord’s in 2016 and Younis made 218 at The Oval in the fourth test to draw the series 2-2.
Pakistan has two four-day matches against Kent and Northamptonshire before meeting Ireland in a one-off test at Dublin, starting May 11. It plays two tests against England, starting May 24.
Pakistan will also play Scotland on June 12-13 in two Twenty20 Internationals.
Pakistan faced a major blow when its premier legspinner Yasir Shah was ruled out due to injury. However, Ahmed said he wasn’t sure that Shadab Khan, who has played just one test match, would make it to the final team with the English conditions more suitable for pace.
“The weather will be much cooler and I am not even sure if we are going to play a spinner,” Ahmed said.