Marsh, Handscomb help Australia draw Ranchi Test

Australia's Shaun Marsh, right, and Peter Handscomb run between the wickets during the fifth day of their third Test match against in Ranchi on Monday. (AP)
Updated 20 March 2017
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Marsh, Handscomb help Australia draw Ranchi Test

RANCHI: Gritty half-centuries from Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh enabled Australia to hold out for a draw in the third Test against India Monday, leaving the four-match series tantalisingly poised at 1-1.
Australia, who began their second innings 152 runs adrift of the hosts, were in deep trouble after being reduced to 63-4 in Ranchi before Handscomb (72 not out) and Marsh (53) put on 124 for the fifth wicket.
The tourists eventually reached 204 for 6 at stumps on the fifth and final day, after the hosts made a mammoth 603-9 declared in their first innings.
India’s Ravindra Jadeja claimed four wickets to return overall match figures of 9-178 at India’s newest Test venue.
But it was Cheteshwar Pujara (202) and Wriddhiman Saha (117) who were the main stars of the match for India after their 199-run seventh-wicket stand on Sunday.
The left-right batting combine of Handscomb and Marsh outmanoeuvered the Indian bowlers during their 232-minute resistance, which was broken only late in the final session.
Jadeja dismissed Marsh and his fellow spinner Ravichandran Ashwin then claimed the wicket of first innings centurion Glenn Maxwell for two, giving India brief hope of a dramatic final twist in the tale.
But a composed Handscomb played out the remaining few overs with Wade for company as Australia avoided defeat in their 800th Test.
“I’m proud with the way the boys were able to stick it out today,” said Australia skipper Steve Smith.
“The way Marsh and Handscomb batted today was fantastic. I thought they played beautifully. They did not look like they were getting out for a while. I’m really proud of them.
“It was a pretty nice wicket so it was important to score big first innings. India batted beautifully. It was nice to be among the runs.”
Jadeja, who claimed the prized scalp of Smith for 21, caused problems for all the Australian batsmen after the tourists resumed the day on 23-2.
Fast bowler Ishant Sharma trapped Matt Renshaw lbw for 15 in the morning session after an altercation between the two players seemed to have affected the left-handed batsman’s concentration.
But it was Smith’s wicket that brought a raucous home crowd to its feet after a quiet first hour of play.
Smith, who scored an unbeaten 178 in the first innings, tried to pad away a vicious turning delivery from Jadeja but it spun from outside leg to rattle the right-hander’s off stump.
Australia’s comeback paceman Pat Cummins claimed four wickets, including that of Virat Kohli (6) who has managed just 46 runs in the series.
Kohli, who injured his shoulder while fielding on the opening day, did not take the field for the rest of Australia’s innings but batted at his usual number four position.
Speaking after the match, Kohli said the hosts had given it their all and the series was now set for a riveting finale, with Test cricket’s two top-ranked teams due to resume battle in Dharamsala next Saturday.
“We’ve played some really great cricket. We want to continue the same. We’ve given out 120 percent in this game, and that’s what matters,” said Kohli.
“As long as we keep doing that, I’m sure we’re going to be in good positions in Test cricket. Another game in Dharamsala to go, and we’re ready for it.”
Constant run-ins between the players of the two top sides continued to enliven the intense rivalry that reached boiling point in the previous game when Kohli accused Smith of abusing the decision review system.

SCOREBOARD

Australia (first innings): 451
India (first innings): 603-9 decl.
Australia (second innings):
D. Warner b Jadeja 14
M. Renshaw lbw Sharma 15
N. Lyon b Jadeja 2
S. Smith b Jadeja 21
S. Marsh c Vijay b Jadeja 53
P. Handscomb not out 72
G. Maxwell c Vijay b Ashwin 2
M. Wade not out 9
Extras: 16
Total: (for 6 wkts) 204
Fall of wkts: 1-17, 2-23, 3-59, 4-63, 5-187, 6-190.
Bowling: Ashwin 30-10-71-1, Jadeja 44-18-54-4, Yadav 15-2-36-0, Sharma 11-0-30-1 (3nb).


Both Omar Khribin and Al-Hilal at a crossroads after a year of ups and downs

Updated 9 min 33 sec ago
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Both Omar Khribin and Al-Hilal at a crossroads after a year of ups and downs

  • Asian player of the year just back from injury could follow path walked by Mohamed Salah
  • Despite winning the title Al-Hilal season has been a mixture of good and so-so

DUBAI: In the end, Omar Khribin returned in triumph. But not before a season of ups and downs.
The Syrian forward was named Asia’s best player last November, but there was always the sense that he was not appreciated beyond the Saudi Professional League were he plays for newly crowned champions Al Hilal.
For club and player, this has been a defining season.
Before the league title was wrapped up with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Al-Fateh, thanks to Khribin’s hat-trick, there was a traumatic AFC Champions League campaign to endure. Having reached the final of the continent’s premier competition as recently as November, an exit from the 2018 edition in the group stage has been hard to stomach for supporters dreaming of a third title.
It has been a curious season for the champions, one that saddled contrasting AFC Champions League campaigns, seen a Saudi Arabia World Cup qualification and of course a managerial departure.
Al-Hilal dispensed of the service of Ramon Diaz on February 20, a day after a 1-0 loss to Esteghlal in the AFC Champions League, a seemingly harsh move considering his previous achievements in the competition not to mention a league title last year.
In truth, performances had dipped below what Al-Hilal’s supporters and, crucially, board expect. There was also an exit from the King’s Cup at the hands of Al-Qadisiyah; the loss to Esteghlal in their second Group D fixture (having drawn the first 1-1 at home to Al-Ain) was the final straw.
The incoming interim manager Juan Brown had to do without his side’s most potent weapon, and it is not stretching a point say that Khribin’s absence for three months through injury played a major role in Al-Hilal’s inconsistencies.
The 24-year-old had played a pivotal role in the club reaching the ultimately disappointing final against Urawa Red Diamonds last year, and his leadership and goals have been missed this time around.
In 2017, his 10 goals were a competition high, helping cement his reputation as one of Asia’s most feared strikers and, along with his contribution to Syria’s gallant stab at World Cup qualification, earned him the Asian Player of the Year award.
Suddenly, Khribin was the continent’s hottest property, less than a year after joining Al-Hilal from the UAE’s Al-Dhafra.
So where do Al Hilal and Khribin go from here?
Mohamed Salah’s astonishing first season at Liverpool has rocketed him into the bracket of world’s best players, and is now being held up as an example for other Middle Eastern players.
Khribin, at only 24, is one of the select few who can potentially carve out a career abroad should he choose to. While others like Omar Abdulrahman and Ali Mabkhout have so far shunned interest from foreign clubs, could Khribin be the next Arab to make a big move to one of Europe’s elite leagues?
So far there has been no indication that the player wants a move, and Al-Hilal will certainly be doing all they can to keep hold of their prized possession as they look to maintain their domestic dominance and reassert their continental credentials in 2019.
First order of business would be to confirm a full time manager, and barring injuries the new man will still be working with the best squad in Saudi Arabia, and one of the strongest in Asia.
The Moroccan Achraf Bencharki has been a successful addition to the ranks of foreign players that include Ali Al-Habsi, the Argentine Ezequiel Cerutti and the Uruguayan Nicolas Milesi, as well as the injured and much-missed Brazilian Carlos Eduardo.
Captain and Hilal stalwart Yasser Al-Qahtani may have announced his retirement after last week’s title triumph, but the club remains home to some of the best local talent around, many of whom will represent their country at the World Cup in Russia.
No doubt more ingoing and outgoing transfers will be conducted during the summer.
The title win has eased the pain of the Champions League exit, and if Al-Hilal can hold on to their best players, above all Khribin, even better things can be expected next season.