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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Aussie enforce draw at Ranchi mudbowl; TN wins Vijay Hazare

At Ranchi, appearance of MS Dhoni was something to cheer ~ otherwise the Indian fan was disappointed.  A good few minutes to lunch,  Peter Handscomb joined Shaun Marsh amid a Ranchi tumult. Their captain Steven Smith had just shouldered arms to let Ravindra Jadeja bowl him, symptomatic of a tired mind, the over after Matt Renshaw had also fallen.  Sanjay Manjrekar called it brainfade again ! - Australia were still 89 runs short of making India bat again; the eternally optimistic Indian fan was hoping for early conclusion.

At close of play, Handscomb was still there and Marsh not long departed. The Test match was drawn, and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy bout remained locked at 1-1. Through batting of commendable calm and sure-footed technique, the Australian duo had thwarted India in a manner that will be a source of enormous satisfaction to the tourists. While Kohli felt that he had Aussies in a corner, Steven Smith believes "momentum" is with Australia and India would be "hurting" after a day-five resistance mission in Ranchi kept the series level at 1-1.

Australia refused to crumble on the final day - just like the pitch, despite some dire pre-Test predictions - and their great escape was made possible chiefly by a fighting 124-run partnership between Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh. The pair had come together at a precarious time for Australia, at 64 for 3 after Matt Renshaw and Smith had fallen in the space of four balls towards the end of a morning session. "I'm very proud. They had magnificent plans," Smith said. "They backed their defence for a long period of time and to see the game out for as long as they did, it was an outstanding performance. I'm really proud of the way they did that.

But if only the pitch can sue or voice ! – it for sure would ask those who doomed it as a mudbowl and that a match will not last 4 days !!! – where are the pundits ?

For those of us following, Dinesh Karthik struck his 10th List A century as Tamil Nadu secured the Vijay Hazare title with a 37-run win over Bengal at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. It was Tamil Nadu's fifth one-day title, and their first in seven years since their dual triumph in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Karthik's 112 helped Tamil Nadu recover to 217 after they were dented by Bengal's fast-bowling duo of Ashok Dinda and Mohammed Shami, who took four wickets in his second match back from knee injury. He hit speeds north of 140kph and also impressed with slower offcutters. Tamil Nadu's bowlers, however, fought back and dismissed Bengal for 180. Seamer Aswin Crist took 2 for 23 and finished as this season's highest wicket-taker with 20 scalps.  Manoj Tiwary was to blame the slow start given by his openers.

The win capped a dominant three weeks for Tamil Nadu, whose 22-run defeat to Maharashtra in a Group B clash in Cuttack was the lone blip. That despite them missing several key players, with regular captain Abhinav Mukund, M Vijay and R Ashwin engaged with the Indian Test team, and their new-ball duo of T Natrajan and K Vignesh having sat out with injuries.

In neighbouring Pak, plans for an international recall for former Pakistan captain Salman Butt have been shelved for now, in light of the continuing fallout from the recent corruption allegations emanating from the PSL. Butt has no connection to the PSL corruption issue, but his role in the spot-fixing scandal in England in 2010, for which he was banned, has forced a selection rethink ahead of Pakistan's tour of the West Indies. The PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan had publicly cleared Butt's potential selection earlier this year, but it appears he will have to wait longer for a comeback.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st Mar 2017

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