South Africa bats out for a draw in 1st Test
South Africa bats out for a draw in 1st Test
It wasn’t because ball was dominant over bat.
Clarke scored an unbeaten 259 — the highest Test score ever at the Gabba — and then declared after establishing a 115-run lead.
Graeme Smith’s top-ranked South Africans had been in a dominant position late Sunday, posting 450 on either side of a washed out second day before having Australia in deep trouble at 40-3. But the match turned on Clarke’s bat — his third 200-plus innings in seven tests in 2012 — and his partnerships of 259 with Ed Cowan (136) and Mike Hussey (100).
After resuming yesterday at 487-4, Clarke declared at 565-5 an hour before lunch, setting up an intriguing last five hours.
In the end, South Africa finished at 166-5 with AB de Villiers unbeaten on 29 and ushering them to safety after the departures of Alviro Petersen (5), Graeme Smith (23), Hashim Amla (38), Jacques Kallis (49) and Jacques Rudolph (11).
The Gabba pitch failed to generate much bounce or movement off the seam, with batsmen dominating on a benign surface for most of the test match. Five batsmen scored centuries, with Clarke and Cowan combining well under pressure and Hussey coming in late to lift the run-rate for Australia after Kallis (147) and Amla (104) joined forces to get the South Africans away to a decent start.
Clarke was impressive, scoring his sixth hundred since becoming test captain last year moving to 1,041 runs from seven tests, at an average of 115.66, in 2012.
Windies seizes control
In Dhaka, Kieran Powell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul struck centuries to push West Indies toward a big total in the first innings of the first Test against Bangladesh yesterday.
The tourists reached 361-4 at the close on the opening day with Chanderpaul unbeaten on 123 alongside Denesh Ramdin (52 not out), having completed his 26th test century.
Powell was earlier out for 117 after Bangladesh had put West Indies in a spot of trouble with three wickets in the morning session.
The left-hander, making his second century, added 125 runs with Chanderpaul for the fourth wicket as the duo batted out the second session to restore order for West Indies, who won the toss and elected to bat.
The home side opened the bowling with debutant Sohag Gazi, who was greeted by Chris Gayle with a big six over long on off his very first delivery.
Gayle hit him for another six in the fourth ball to finish the first over with 18 runs on the board but Gazi had the last laugh when he took the wicket of the left-hander in the fifth over.
Mahmudullah took the catch at long off as Gayle mistimed off a flighted delivery to depart for 24.
Gazi thought he had other opener Powell for seven but the left-hander was given a reprieve after the ball hit the helmet of the silly point fielder before heading toward Rubel Hossain, who dived to his left for a sharp catch.
Darren Bravo, however, had no such luck as the same fielder took the catch off Gazi to dismiss him on 14.
Bangladesh took the honors in the opening session when Shahadat Hossain dismissed Marlon Samuels for 16 with Gazi this time showing his skill as a fielder by taking a diving catch in the deep.
The hosts’ advantage slipped away though in the wicketless second session dominated by Powell and Chanderpaul.
Powell completed his century sweeping left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan to the fine-leg boundary to go to the break on 115 not out.
The 22-year old, however, could add only two runs to his score on the resumption after tea before he missed the line of a Gazi delivery and was clean bowled.
His 178-ball innings contained 18 fours and a six off Gazi over mid-off.
What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?
- Al-Hilal won their 15th top-flight title this season.
- Big summer for Saudi Arabia football with the Green Falcons at the World Cup.
Now the Saudi Professional League season is over for another year Arab News can look back at their title tilts and what the big four clubs have to do over the coming months ahead of the next season.
Coaching situation: Ramon Diaz was in charge for much of the season, but was fired in February after setbacks in the Champions League.
Assistant Juan Brown did Okay in the final stretch, but a top-class coach could get more out of this team.
Squad priorities: A reliable goalscorer to support Omar Khribin and with veteran defender Osama Hawsawi leaving for pastures new, a replacement center-back with leadership qualities. Welcoming back the major stars — Carlos Eduardo, Khribin, Nawaf Al-Abed and Salem Al -Dawsari — will be a major boost.
Aim next season: Win the AFC Champions League
Coaching situation: Sergiy Rebrov is out of contract at the end of June. His future is likely to depend on how the team fares against Al-Sadd in the second round of the AFC Champions League in May.
Squad priorities: There is not much wrong. The Jeddah giants were the highest scorers in the league last season and had the second best defense. Keeping star midfielder Leonardo fit will help as will a little cover in the center of defense. Star striker Omar Al-Somah fell out with the coach in a public way in the penultimate game of the season. It may be that one of them has to go. The Syrian has been player of the year for three years and has a longer contract than Rebrov.
Aim next season: Win the league. Maintain good performances in Asia.
Coaching situation: Krunoslav Jurcic arrived in January and the former Croatian national team boss produced an upswing in results. May just be a temporary appointment and it needs to be sorted quickly.
Squad priorities: Looks good with the Saudi Arabia national team keeper, a strong center-back pairing of Omar Hawsawi and Bruno Uvini and the full-back position seemingly sorted with the January signing of Saad Suhail. They probably need a defensive midfielder and have to keep Junior Kabananga. The DR Congo striker has shown enough in his few weeks at the club to suggest that he could be a real star next season, especially with Leonardo pulling the strings behind him.
Aim next season: A genuine title challenge and getting through the play-offs into the 2019 AFC Champions League.
Coaching situation: A bottom half finish is unacceptable for a team with Al-Itithad’s stature and history. Chilean coach Jose Luis Sierra may find that winning domestic cups is no substitute for challenging for the title.
Squad priorities: There is too much reliance on players such as Carlos Villanueva, a creative spark in the team, and Fahad Al-Ansari, the midfield engine, who are the wrong side of 30. The possible return of star winger Fahad Al-Muwallad will help, but an introduction of energy is needed.
Aim next season: Top three and, if the team wins the King’s Cup, a good showing in the 2019 AFC Champions League.