Virat Kohli calls on India to show character in final Test against South Africa
Virat Kohli calls on India to show character in final Test against South Africa
India, who will retain their No. 1 ranking if they avoid a third defeat, were sifting through the positives on match eve.
“Not many times in overseas Tests have we picked up 40 wickets in two games,” the team captain Virat Kohli said.
“I said before the series that whichever team bats better would win. That has been the case.
“But it’s never a bad time to start anything. The batsmen are looking forward to rectifying the mistakes made in the first two Tests. In times that have not gone our way, if we can change things around, that will build characters and individuals. That can be a milestone for a lot of guys going forward, if they can step up in this game and be the difference.”
India will ponder the idea of playing with an all-pace attack, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar coming in for Ravi Ashwin. There could also be acknowledgment that the emphasis on “current form” has not really worked, as Rohit Sharma — whose struggles outside India show no sign of ending — makes way for Ajinkya Rahane, the vice-captain.
Kohli scored 119 and 96 at this ground in 2013, in a match that India bossed for four days before AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis nearly pulled off the improbable pursuit of 458.
“We would focus on the things that worked for us last time,” Kohli said.
“Although there’s more grass, the pace and bounce would probably be similar. We would love to have another situation where we can capitalize and bring the Test match toward us rather than let it slip away.”
For Du Plessis, whose team have never swept India in a Test series before, the stress was on more of the same, especially the stranglehold the Proteas’ bowlers have had on India’s top order.
“The last Test we played here was fantastic,” he said, after expressing amazement at India not having lost a game here in four attempts.
“Their bowling is good, a very good seam attack. If you have that, you can compete. We just have to make sure we keep their batsmen quiet.”
If the grass takes Keshav Maharaj, the spinner, out of the equation, South Africa will add either the all-round skills of Andile Phehlukwayo or play Theunis de Bruyn to bolster the batting. Either way, there will be no letting up, not with a series against Australia looming.
“Once again, India will come back with a point to prove,” said Du Plessis.
“They’re a proud team, and we’re expecting a good challenge. We have to keep doing the things we’ve been doing well. Batting in partnerships, that’s a key factor in conditions like this. If you do get in, string together a partnership.”
South Africa have, and they have the series spoils to show for it.
India may only be playing for pride but ARAB NEWS picks the three things Kohli and Co. need to do to get that elusive win in South Africa.
SORT OUT THE FALSE STARTS
In four innings so far, India’s opening combination has seen off 28, 47, 57 and 47 balls. But in conditions where defying the new ball is one of the primary criteria for victory, the highest partnership has been 30. Shikhar Dhawan was dropped after Cape Town, while Murali Vijay and KL Rahul have yet to replicate their run-scoring feats of the past 12 months. If they get a start, Virat Kohli and Co. could cash in. If Kohli comes in at 30 for two, South Africa will once again have the door on its hinges, ready to be barged down.
DO NOT WASTE THE NEW BALL
At Newlands, India had South Africa 12 for three, before losing both control and discipline with the ball. At Centurion, on a flatter pitch, they were tidy without looking especially threatening. They need more wickets upfront to put South Africa under serious pressure. In 2006, when India won here, it was S Sreesanth’s superb swing bowling that set up the victory. Bringing back the accurate Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the best exponent of swing in the current side, would be a start.
CATCHES WIN MATCHES
Ravi Ashwin bowled beautifully to take five wickets at Centurion. But he also had four catches dropped off his bowling. Parthiv Patel, deputising for the injured Wriddhiman Saha, did not even go for a couple of chances that went between him and first slip. Opportunities have also been dropped in the slip cordon, whose personnel keeps changing with players entering and exiting the XI. Without grabbing their chances, India will struggle to take anything from the series.
Celtics beat Cavs in Game 5, lead NBA Eastern Conference finals 3-2
- Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and the Celtics held LeBron James to two fourth-quarter points.
- Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary.
BOSTON: LeBron James is tired. The young Boston Celtics seem to be getting stronger.
Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and Boston beat Cleveland 96-83 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
The Celtics held James to two fourth-quarter points, earning their 10th straight victory in Boston to remain perfect at home this postseason and move within one win of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2010.
“I just enjoy playing in the big moments, in the big games. That’s when I have the most fun,” said Tatum, who needs one more 20-point game to tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s rookie record of 10 in a postseason.
“I can’t say it enough: We’re one win away from being in the finals,” Tatum said. “The playoffs bring the best out of people.”
Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary. The home team has won every game so far in the series, and none has been closer than nine points.
“We’re looking forward to having an opportunity to force a Game 7,” said James, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds but also had six turnovers. “It’s up to us to see if we can come back here for one more.”
Al Horford had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and 21-year-old Jaylen Brown had 17 points for Boston. Tatum added seven rebounds, four assists and four steals one day after finishing a single vote shy of a unanimous selection to the NBA’s All-Rookie team.
“The sky’s the limit” for Tatum , Brown said. “He’s going to continue to get better. He’s my workout partner. I expect it in myself and I expect it in him.”
Kevin Love scored 14 points for the Cavaliers, who are trying to reach the finals for the fourth consecutive season. James has played to the end in seven straight seasons.
To extend that streak, he’ll need to win two in a row.
One of them will be in Boston.
“Our focus — LeBron’s focus — is to win,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s the only thing that matters.”
The Celtics opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter and nursed it the rest of the way, holding on through a four-minute scoring drought that saw Cleveland score nine straight points to cut the deficit to 83-71. But Terry Rozier hit Horford with an alley-oop to snap the skid, and that was as close as the Cavs would get.
Reserves Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart each scored 13.
James had one basket on four shots in the fourth quarter, and afterward conceded that he was worn down. He finished 1 for 6 from 3-point range in the game; the Cavaliers made just 9 of 34 attempts from beyond the arc and shot just 42 percent overall.
“I had my moments, but I think everybody at this point is tired, worn down whatever the case may be,” he said. “I was still trying to make plays, put our team in position to win.”
GOONING IT UP
Boston went on a 15-3 run in the first quarter to turn a three-point deficit into a nine-point lead. The Celtics scored nine in a row at the end of the first quarter and into the second to take a 36-19 lead, their biggest of the game.
That’s when the Cavaliers fought back .
After a hard defensive play by Morris sent Larry Nance Jr. into the first row of seats, Morris appeared to wander over and say something. Nance to jump up and body checked him; Morris responded with a one-handed shove to the face.
Aron Baynes and Brown came in to break it up, and Terry Rozier put a body on Nance. After a review, the referees called technicals on Rozier, Nance and Morris. Kyle Korver made the foul shot to make it 36-20 and Cleveland went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to eight points, 36-28.
But Morris made a long 3-pointer to stop the scoring drought, and soon hit another to cap an 8-2 run that made it a double-digit lead.
Smart said the Celtics wanted to more aggressive at home.
“At their place, they were the aggressor,” he said. “That showed and they came up with the victory. We just wanted to be that team tonight.”
Teams that win Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series win 83 percent of the time. ... James had 16 points, four rebounds and three assists at the half. Tatum had 13 points, and Horford had 10 points and seven boards at the break. ... Baynes made his first start of the series, subbing for Morris. ... It took until midway through the third quarter for a Cavs starter other than James or Love to make a basket. J.R. Smith sank a floater to make it 63-50, and George Hill followed with a jumper of his own. ... The Celtics were 10-0 in the playoffs at home in 1986. ... Horford had his 7th double-double of the postseason, matching a career high he set in 2015.