Australia confident they can win Perth Test to level series against Virat Kohli’s India

Aussie spin king Lyon is upbeat heading into the fourth day of the second Test against India. (AFP)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Australia confident they can win Perth Test to level series against Virat Kohli’s India

  • Nathan Lyon bullish about the Baggy Greens chances of levelling the series.
  • Another Virat Kohli masterclass not enough to get India on level terms with hosts after the first innings.

PERTH: Australia are confident they can overcome a deteriorating pitch to build a match-winning lead in the second Test in Perth.
At stumps on the third day, Australia were 132 for four, with Usman Khawaja on 41 and Tim Paine on eight, an overall advantage of 175 after leading by 43 runs on the first innings despite a stellar Virat Kohli century.
Although they still had six wickets in hand, opener Aaron Finch was taken to hospital for scans after retiring hurt with an injured right hand on 25.
Australian coach Justin Langer said Finch had been cleared of serious damage, but was uncertain if he would return to the crease.
The cracks in the pitch were starting to become a significant factor, with Finch’s opening partner, Marcus Harris, also struck flush on the helmet by a rising delivery in making 20.
Australian spinner Nathan Lyon, who claimed five wickets in the Indian first innings to move into the top 25 of Test wicket-takers, conceded the pitch was getting harder to bat on, and claimed Australia were set to post a total its attack could defend to level the series.
“The wicket is starting to play a few more tricks,” he said.
“We know we have the bowlers to make sure we can defend what we have to.
“Whatever we get to is just going to have to be enough.”
Indian paceman Jasprit Bumrah (one for 25), who was almost unplayable at times, said India’s batsmen would not be deterred by a tough fourth-innings chase.
“We want early wickets tomorrow to reduce the total,” he said.
“I am confident our team is capable of chasing any total but we will try to minimize it as much as possible.
“No one has really got out to the crack, it is just there, but it doesn’t do a lot but it is only in the mindset.”
The Australians found batting extremely challenging in their second innings, playing and missing time and again as they battled to extend their lead.
Shaun Marsh (five) and Peter Handscomb (13) again fell cheaply, doing little to ease the pressure on their pair to retain their spots in the side.
Marsh played a loose shot to a short ball from Mohammed Shami (two for 23) and was caught behind, while Handscomb’s shaky defense was highlighted when he was trapped lbw by Ishant Sharma (one for 33).
The struggles of the Australian batsmen were a far cry from the command of Kohli as he anchored his team’s first innings until a contentious dismissal.
In reply to Australia’s 326 after winning the toss and batting, India were bowled out for 283 despite Kohli’s 123.
In reaching triple figures, Kohli became the second-fastest player to reach 25 Test centuries in terms of innings with 127, behind only Don Bradman (68) and ahead of his countryman Tendulkar (130).
He also joined Tendulkar as the only Indian batsmen to have scored six Test centuries in Australia, and became the first Test centurion at the new venue.
The Indian captain’s innings came to a controversial end when he was caught at second slip by a diving Handscomb from the bowling of Pat Cummins.
Kohli was given out by the on-field umpires but clearly believed it had not carried.
However, the decision stood after it was reviewed by third umpire Nigel Llong.
Bumrah said the Indians were “a little surprised” by the on-field decision, while Lyon said the Australians believed it was a “great catch.”
The Indians lost their last five wickets for just 35 runs to hand Australia a small but valuable lead.


Kane Williamson leads New Zealand to dramatic, last-over win against South Africa at Edgbaston

Updated 4 min 33 sec ago
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Kane Williamson leads New Zealand to dramatic, last-over win against South Africa at Edgbaston

BIRMINGHAM: Kane Williamson hit a six in the last over to reach his century and followed it up with a boundary to give New Zealand a four-wicket victory over South Africa with three balls to spare Wednesday, in the closest finish of the Cricket World Cup so far.
New Zealand went into the last over at 234-6 and chasing 242 for victory. Andile Phehlukwayo’s first ball was sent for a single by Mitchell Santner, sensibly giving Williamson the strike, and the New Zealand captain immediately took his chance with a powerful six.
Williamson finished 106 not out off 138 balls as New Zealand reached 245-6 in a match reduced to 49 overs each innings.
He called it “a great game of cricket on a surface that was tough for both sides.”
The win moved New Zealand atop the standings and effectively put an end to South Africa’s chances of reaching the playoffs.
“I’m feeling five years older. My body is really sore after that,” South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said. “We left everything out there, and that’s all I can ask for as a captain, that the guys fought.”
So did Williamson, who was brilliantly supported and occasionally overshadowed by Colin de Grandhomme, who smashed a 47-ball 60, with five fours and two sixes. He impatiently holed out to du Plessis at long-off to a delivery from Lungi Ngidi at the start of the penultimate over — the 48th — while going for his third six.
Williamson and de Grandhomme joined with the total at 137-5 in reply to South Africa’s 241-6 off 49 overs, and their partnership was crucial in guiding New Zealand to its fourth win of the tournament.
The Black Caps now have nine points, one clear of top-ranked England and defending champion Australia. At the other end of the table, South Africa is almost certainly out of contention — in the first major shock of the 2019 edition — with only three points from six games.
The New Zealanders appeared content with the run chase ahead of them but the wicket was trickier than it appeared, and the chase far harder. Except for Williamson.
The Black Caps had kept an unchanged XI from its last completed match against Afghanistan on June 8. Fast bowler Lungi Ngidi (1-47) returned from a hamstring injury in South Africa’s only change from its nine-wicket win over Afghanistan last Saturday.
Williamson won everything on Wednesday, including the toss. And while New Zealand failed to bowl out a team for the first time at the tournament, South Africa’s total appeared too little to test the Black Caps. Yet the result was in the balance until the end.
“Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed. Cricket means a lot to me, and the performance of this team means a lot to me,” du Plessis said.
Hashim Amla reached a personal landmark as the second-quickest batsman with 8,000 runs in ODIs, but the 36-year-old opener again took his time with an 83-ball 55 before falling to Santner’s spin.
Amla shared a 50-run second-wicket partnership with du Plessis (23) and a 52-run third-wicket stand with Aiden Markram (38). But it was mostly slow going.
Rassie van der Dussen provided some late-innings impetus with an unbeaten 67 off 64 balls, with two fours and three sixes. David Miller scored a lively 36 from 37. The pair shared a partnership of 72.
Miller swung and hit intimidating quick Ferguson for a four to bring up the 200 at the start of the 45th over and clipped the pacer away for another boundary right after. Ferguson had the last laugh in the same over when Miller top edged deep to Trent Boult at third man.
Boult had bowled Quinton de Kock for 5 to win an early battle but finished on 1-63.
Ferguson did the most damage with 3-59 while Matt Henry bowled tightly, with two maidens, ending on 0-34.
Martin Guptill became the first New Zealander to be dismissed by hitting his own wicket in any Cricket World Cup tournament, dating back as far as 1975. In the end it didn’t matter.