Cool Travis Head keeps Australia in touch of India in first Test

Head proved to be stubborn obstacle for the India bowlers on day two of the first Test. (AP)
Updated 07 December 2018
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Cool Travis Head keeps Australia in touch of India in first Test

  • First Test finely poised after day two in Adelaide.
  • Head scores a stubborn half-century to keep Baggy Greens in touch of India's first-innings total of 250.

ADELAIDE: Travis Head hit a stubborn half-century to keep Australia in the hunt on Friday after their top order slumped under sustained pressure from India’s bowlers, leaving the first Test in Adelaide finely poised.
Batting on his home ground, Head kept his cool in the humid conditions to be 61 not out at stumps on day two, with Mitchell Starc unbeaten on eight.
His efforts helped steer Australia to 191 for seven in reply to India’s 250.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin bowled beautifully to take three wickets, while Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah grabbed two each.
It was Head’s second 50 in his third Test, with the Adelaide-born 24-year-old playing the sort of gutsy innings that his more experienced teammates couldn’t match.
All of Australia’s top four were back in the pavilion without passing 30, with Aaron Finch (nought) and Shaun Marsh (two) notable failures.
It once again reinforced how much Australia are missing Steve Smith and David Warner, who remain banned over their part in the South Africa ball-tampering affair.
“It was nice to do a job for the team and it will be an exciting day tomorrow,” said Head.
“We hung in there. India bowled exceptionally well. It was (a) fantastic little fightback in the end and it will be an important first hour tomorrow. Every run will valuable.”
Debutant Marcus Harris, who made 26, added: “It was a tough day, it wasn’t easy to score. I think we’re in a decent position.”
Ashwin agreed that the Test match for there for the taking.
“I see it as neck and neck as far as the game goes right now,” he said.
India resumed on 250 for nine, but they were unable to add to the total with tailender Mohammed Shami out for six on the first ball of the day, caught behind by Tim Paine off Josh Hazlewood, leaving Bumrah unbeaten on nought.
Hazlewood finished with three for 52. Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon all took two wickets each.

HORROR START

In reply, Australia got off to a horror start with Finch’s credentials as an opener again called into question after he was spectacularly bowled without scoring on only the third ball he faced.
A lovely delivery from Sharma took out his middle and off stumps after getting an inside edge as Finch attempted a drive.
Harris looked in good nick and unruffled by the occasion, hitting three fours in his solid 26.
But he was undone by a drifting ball from Ashwin, getting an edge to Murali Vijay at silly mid-off and ending a 45-run partnership with a slimmed-down Usman Khawaja who was back after knee surgery.
Ashwin’s off spin was causing problems and Marsh needlessly slashed at a wide delivery in the first over after lunch, dragging it onto his wicket.
The woeful shot extended his dire recent Test form and left Australia in trouble at 59-3. Marsh has now slumped to six consecutive single-figure scores, failing to step up in the absence of Smith and Warner.
Khawaja, whose Test preparations were disrupted after the shock arrest of his brother this week for allegedly framing a love-rival with a fake terror plot, was Ashwin’s next victim.
Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant took an excellent catch after a turning ball flicked off Khawaja’s glove. He was out for 28 on a review decision.
A gritty knock from Peter Handscomb, brought into the side for all-rounder Mitch Marsh, ended on 34 soon after tea with Bumrah breaking what was shaping as a handy partnership with Head.
It brought Paine to the crease, but he was unable to stop the rot and added only five runs before becoming Sharma’s second scalp.
Cummins joined Head and they began to find gaps in the field as India tired, putting on a 50-run stand before Cummins lbw to Bumrah for 10 late in the day.


Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”