Australia confident of levelling series against India ahead of crunch final day in Perth

The Aussies celebrate another wicket as they closed in on victory in Perth. (AFP)
Updated 17 December 2018

Australia confident of levelling series against India ahead of crunch final day in Perth

  • Baggy Greens pace ace Hazlewood feeling in a bullish mood heading into the last day.
  • Skippers Virat Kohli and Tim Paine exchange heated words out in the middle.

LONDON: Australia are backing themselves to square the series against India when the fifth day of the second Test resumes this morning.
The hosts need five more wickets to level the four-match contest 1-1 in Perth, with the tourists needing another 175 runs — a tall order on a pitch that is showing more signs of wear and tear with every hour.
Set 287 to win on an unpredictable pitch, India were reduced to 112 for five at stumps on the fourth day, to give the Baggy Greens a lot of hope that they can win their first match since beating South Africa in March.
Australian paceman Josh Hazlewood, right, said the home team were excited by the chance of an overdue victory on the fifth day.
“It has been a bit of a long time between wins,” he said.
“We’re pretty excited to come back tomorrow. There is still a bit of work to be done, there is obviously enough there in the wicket and we just have to hit the right areas.”
It is fair to say that the day ended far better for the Aussies than it started. The hosts were bowled out for 243 after they lost their last six wickets for just 51 runs. Mohammed Shami claimed a career-best six for 56 to give Virat Kohli’s side not just all the momentum but a lot of hope as well that they could get the required runs for the 2-0 series lead.
But India started the runs-chase as badly as Australia had finished their second innings.
Opener KL Rahul did not survive long, falling to the fourth ball of the innings from Mitchell Starc for a duck.
Rahul attempted to pull the bat away and only succeeded in getting an inside edge onto his stumps.
Cheteshwar Pujara then feathered a short delivery from Josh Hazlewood on four, as India slumped to 13 for two.
Across the two teams, eight wickets fell for 68 runs between lunch and tea, as batting appeared to become very difficult due to variable bounce.
Australian No. 8 Pat Cummins was the chief victim of the pitch gremlins after lunch, when he was clean bowled for one by a Jasprit Bumrah delivery that kept very low off the wicket.
Things got worse when the Aussies took the prized wicket of Kohli, Nathan Lyon having him caught at slip by Usman Khawaja for 17. It was the seventh time the off-spinner has taken the India skipper’s wicket — two more than any other bowler.
Kohli was unable to repeat the heroics of his first innings century, the ball catching the outside edge as he probed forward defensively.
His departure was the cause of great delight for Australia captain Tim Paine, after the pair had exchanged words at the conclusion of the third day.
The Australian wicketkeeper, looking for his first win as skipper since taking over from the disgraced Steve Smith, celebrated the dismissal with a cheeky comment to batsman Murali Vijay.
“Murali, I know he’s your captain, but you can’t seriously like him as a bloke,” Paine said, in comments picked up by microphone.
Just two overs later Vijay was also on his way back to the pavilion, bowled off an inside edge by Lyon, who took two for 30.
At stumps Hanuma Vihari was 24 not out and Rishabh Pant was on nine.

Diriyah Tennis Cup serves up top-class fare

Updated 13 December 2019

Diriyah Tennis Cup serves up top-class fare

  • Day one of the three-day tournament saw Fognini, Monfils, Medvedev and Goffin through to the semi-finals

RIYADH: A new chapter was written today in Saudi Arabia’s sporting history as the first international tennis matches took place as part of the epic month of Diriyah Season.

The Diriyah Tennis Cup presented by Saudi Aramco will certainly go down in history as eight of the world’s best tennis stars met in the Diriyah Arena for the first-ever international tournament played in the Kingdom. 

The event also goes down in tennis history as not only the first in Saudi Arabia, but also one of the first to use Hawk-Eye Live technology. Replacing the need for line judges and providing more accuracy, Hawk-Eye Live sends visual and audio cues to the chair umpire and off-court monitors within a tenth of a second of a ball bouncing, to show faults and out of bounds shots without relying on the naked eye.

The first day as part of a three-day tournament saw all eight players in action in the opening matches. First up on court was Italian and world number 12 Fabio Fognini taking on American John Isner world number 19 and holder of the third fastest serve of all time in Men’s Tennis. Although both players will be written into the Kingdom’s history books, it was Fognini who was the record breaker as he delivered the first international serve and match win ever recorded, 7-6 6-4. 

Speaking after his win, Fabio Fognini said: “I won the first game of the competition, it’s nice. It’s something I will remember for sure and the people will remember as it is the first year we play here. I know they want to do something more [grassroots tennis], especially to improve tennis in this country so I’m happy.”

Commenting after the historic match, John Isner also added: “Very unique to be here and be part of this. I never thought I’d be here playing in Saudi Arabia. Very grateful and happy to be here. The ball kids did great tonight, fantastic job.”

Second up on the Diriyah Arena court was Swiss Stan Wawrinka, the world’s number 16, against Frenchman Gael Monfils the world’s number 10. Monfils took the win in straight sets 6-3 6-3. Monfils rallied the crowd by encouraging them to cheer and danced after some of his winning shots.

“So far it’s great. The offering they have here for us to perform is incredible. The court is one of the best…it’s quite nice. The people are very nice. I feel very good.” said Monfils.

Daniil Medvedev of Russia and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany met in the third match of the evening. Medvedev made light work of Struff to take the win 6-3 6-1 and advance to the semi-finals.

Speaking after his win, Medvedev commented: “Was a great match. It’s never easy like this, after the end of the season, holidays and in the middle of pre-season to know how you are playing at this moment – are you strong or not? Today was a great match, beating Jan so easy is a great achievement because he’s a great player so I am really happy. The atmosphere was also really good and warm.”

In the final match of the night, Belgian’s David Goffin rallied with Lucas Pouille of France. Goffin took the final place in tomorrow night’s semi-finals beating Pouille 6-2 6-4.

After the match, Goffin commented: “Super organisation – the stadium is very nice. First time for me playing in Saudi, it’s a great atmosphere. I think for the people tonight it was something to see, professional tennis matches here. I think it was great for us and them as well. It’s a nice court and stadium – it could be a very nice center court in a big tournament.”

Today’s results will see Fognini of Italy meet Monfils of France in semi-final 1 and Medvedev of Russia will take on Goffin of Belgium on Friday 13th December. The remaining four players will still continue to play as part of the Consolation Bracket. The Diriyah Tennis Cup will conclude with the final on Saturday 14th December.