South Africa grinds down Australia, leads final test by 401

Australia's batsman Pat Cummins, right, avoids a run out as teammates Tim Paine, left, watches on during day three of the fourth match between South Africa and Australia at the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, April 1, 2018. (AP)
Updated 01 April 2018
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South Africa grinds down Australia, leads final test by 401

JOHANNESBURG: Tim Paine was in agony. Australian cricket in torment.
Both showed some guts on Day 3 of the fourth and final test in South Africa on Sunday, but it likely wasn’t going to be enough to avoid a big defeat and a first series loss in South Africa in nearly 50 years.
New captain Paine made 62 with Australia struggling in the series decider and played through the pain of a fractured thumb sustained while he was wicket-keeping the day before.
But despite Paine’s fighting half-century — and another one from bowler Pat Cummins — South Africa bowled Australia out for 221 in its first innings and extended its lead to 401 runs by the end of the day.
South Africa ground its way toward a series win with an unbeaten 40-run partnership between Dean Elgar (39 not out) and skipper Faf du Plessis (34 not out). Those two opted to be resolute and give away nothing.
Elgar made just 5 runs in 61 balls in that unbeaten stand to take South Africa to stumps on 134-3.
South Africa leads 2-1 and was edging toward a first series win over Australia at home since 1970.
That history might have been lost on an Australia team worried, instead, for its future after the ball-tampering scandal from the last match in Cape Town led to long-term bans for captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft, and thrust Paine into the top job.
Tasked with putting the shattered morale of the team back together, he led from the front, combining with Cummins for a 99-run partnership at the start of Sunday after Australia was in danger of collapsing at 96-6 on Day 2.
After being diagnosed with the fractured thumb on Saturday, Paine stayed on as wicketkeeper while Australia was in the field and also took his place in the batting lineup. He was 5 not out overnight and hit seven fours and two sixes in all to give Australia’s first innings a little respectability despite it still being way behind South Africa’s.
Paine was last man out to a running, diving catch by Elgar, which gave the innings a gripping finish. Fast bowlers Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada and spinner Keshav Maharaj all picked up three wickets each for South Africa.
Cummins made 50 and also removed Aiden Markram and AB de Villiers early in South Africa’s second innings for his sixth and seventh wickets of the game. Cummins has maybe the biggest claim to be Australia’s best player on one of its worst tours considering the stunning fallout from the cheating scandal.
While Paine battled it out, South Africa also had an injury complication, with retiring fast bowler Morne Morkel picking up a left side strain. He departed the field in the first session to get treatment and some strapping, but returned and would try and “push on” for the rest of his farewell game, the South Africa team said. South Africa wasn’t yet sure if he’d be able to bowl during the last two days of his test career.
Du Plessis was also struck a painful blow on the right index finger, a finger he’s broken and had problems with already this season.
When du Plessis was hit and reeled away, dropping his bat, Paine came over and appeared to show some concern for his opposite number.
That was one of a few examples of a good spirit between the teams — bowlers and batsmen chatted and smiled a couple of times — as one of the most ill-tempered cricket series in recent memory mellowed for the final few days.
As du Plessis and Paine stood together, the Bob Marley song “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” played on the stadium speakers.


Afghanistan can beat any Test side in the world, claims all-rounder Mohammad Nabi

Updated 18 March 2019
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Afghanistan can beat any Test side in the world, claims all-rounder Mohammad Nabi

  • Maiden Test win give Afghans confidence they can take on anyone.
  • Mohammad Nabi praises spin kings after win over the Irish.

LONDON: Mohammad Nabi has claimed that on their day Afghanistan can beat any Test side in the world.
The veteran all-rounder was speaking after helping his side claim their first Test win — a seven-wicket victory over Ireland — in just their second ever Test. Afghanistan, who lost the debut Test to India in just two days last year, joined an elite list of cricketing nations after winning their second five-day game.
Australia won their debut Test in 1877 and England and Pakistan won in their second Test outing.
That has Nabi dreaming that this is just the start for Afghanistan, s long as the batsmen give the bowling attack enough runs to defend on a consistent basis.
“It’s a very historic day for whole of Afghanistan,” the 34-year-old said. “Especially for those guys who bring cricket from zero to the Test cricket. We played two games and we won one.
“When you win then teams will tell you to come and play with them. Nobody plays a weak team. They might think that Afghanistan is weak but not so much that we can’t fight them.
“We have the world’s best spinners and we try to concentrate on our batting line-up. If we can put up a good score on board then we are confident of beating any team in the world.”
While a case of being able to beat any team in the world might be tough to make, it is hard to overstate the significance of the win against Ireland. As with the Irish Nabi’s team only achieved Test status two years ago, they only played their first ODI in 2009 and the confidence and class is clearly oozing throughout the squad.
Rahmat Shah top-scored with 76 and Ihsanullah Janat hit an unbeaten 65 to lead Afghanistan’s successful chase of 147 in the opening session of day four against Ireland in Dehradun in India.
Shah, who hit his second fifty of the match after making 98 in Afghanistan’s first innings score of 314, and Janat put on a match-winning stand of 139 for the second wicket.
Star leg-spinner Rashid Khan also played a key role in his team’s historic triumph after returning career-best figures of five for 82 to bowl out Ireland for 288 in their second innings.
Khan along with fellow spinners Nabi and Waqar Salamkheil accounted for 14 of the 20 Irish wickets to fall during the one-off match between the minnows.
Since overcoming the odds to compete in the 2010 World T20 in England, the Afghan team has managed to qualify for all the major international tournaments and they now await their second appearance in the upcoming 50-over World Cup.
But Nabi insisted a Test win is always special.
“Every format is different. Test has a different flavour to it. We played a lot of T20 and one-day matches and won but Test win was first,” Nabi said.”The way our guys performed in batting and bowling, the kind of comebacks that we did.... It shows we are ready for Test cricket.”