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.


UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni admits performances have been poor ahead of Socceroos clash

Updated 22 January 2019
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UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni admits performances have been poor ahead of Socceroos clash

  • UAE boss still under spotlight despite side reaching lasts-eight, where they will face Australia.
  • Hosts struggled to beat Kyrgyzstan in second-round after underwhelming group stage.

LONDON: Having guided your team to the last eight of the Asian Cup, it must seem strange to find yourself on the defensive. But that is the situation Alberto Zaccheroni, right, faced after leading the UAE to a second-round win over Kyrgyzstan.
The hosts were strongly fancied to see off the Central Asians in their knockout clash in Abu Dhabi, but were taken to extra time and the likely drama of penalties when Ahmed Khalil grabbed the winner in the 103rd minute.
The performance added to the impression that the Whites have made the quarterfinals through luck rather than ability. The team has looked far from impressive during the group stage and anything but possible winners overall.
They now face reigning champions Australia — and even the UAE boss admitted they will have their work cut out unless they improve. “I admit that against (Kyrgyzstan) we seemed to struggle with long ball and crosses, and we also had one or two chances to score and secure the game, but we didn’t convert those opportunities,” the Italian former coach of AC Milan and Juventus said.
“We will try to correct all the things that we believe were less positive between now and the quarterfinals. We now have three days to assess our squad and their injuries before we face a strong Australia team.”
Usually when a team reaches the later stages of a big tournament, players and coaches ignore the performance and pretend all is grand — generally with an emphatic declaration that they will win the title.
Zaccheroni’s post-match reaction was anything but bombastic, however. That is not only a pleasant change but also an appreciation that the UAE have been anything but impressive in their march — in fact, more a slow plod — to the last eight.
This is Kyrgyzstan’s first Asian Cup, and they are far from world-beaters. Playing at home with hopes of lighting the trophy on Feb. 1, the UAE should have easily beaten the Central Asian outfit.
Goals from Mirlan Murzaev and a dramatic late equalizer from substitute Tursunali Rustamov canceled out strikes by Khamis Esmaeel and Ali Mabkhouts. On top of that they hit the bar and the post. It took a controversial Khalil spot-kick to win the match, one that left the Central Asians with a bitter taste in the mouth.
“I don’t want to talk about the referee,” Kyrgyzstan coach Aleksandr Krestinin said.
“We leave the tournament with a lot of regrets — we deserved more. It’s our first Asian Cup, but I’m sure it won’t be our last and we will come back stronger.”
There is a sense the UAE cannot play much worse than they have so far, and the hope will be that they can find a good performance in the quarterfinal against the Socceroos. If they are to shock the reigning champions, they will need Khalil to find his scoring boots again.
“Ahmed Khalil is a very good striker, he is one of the best in Asia,” Zaccheroni said of the 2015 AFC Player of the Year.
“When I took over the UAE team (at the end of 2017), he was injured and had not trained for a long time. He has also been injured many times recently and did not play often for his club.
“Nevertheless, he is a very good player, and I have to say that I rely on him a lot. He does so much for the team.”