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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Afghan qualifies ~ Stuie Broad takes 400; Morne Morkel 300 ..

At Auckland – England had the ignominy of being bowled out for paltry 58 – yet there was something to succor .. Stuart Broad becoming the youngest fast  bowler to take 400 test wickets.  Broad achieved it at 31 years, 271 days on day one in Auckland. The previous youngest was Dale Steyn at 32 years, 33 days, when he got to the milestone against Bangladesh in 2015. Among all bowlers, only Muttiah Muralitharan and Harbhajan Singh have reached 400 at a younger age than Broad. Muralitharan, at 29 years, 270 days, is the youngest to 400 Test wickets overall. Broad is the second England bowler, after James Anderson, and the 15th  overall to take 400 wickets.

The group that he has joined is elite indeed ~ it has Muthiah Muralitharan (800 from 133 tests); Shane Warne (708/145); Anil Kumble (619/132); Glenn Mcgrath (563/124); Jimmy Anderson (526/135); Courtney Walsh (519/132); Kapil Dev Nikhanj (434/131); Richard Hadlee (431/86); Shaun Pollock (421/108); Dale Steyn (419/86); Harbajan Singh (417/103); Wasim Akram (414/104); Curtly Ambrose (405/98) and SCJ Broad (400/115).

At Auckland on day 2 - only 23.1 overs were possible as steady rain prevented no more than 90 minutes of play. New Zealand's best Test batsman Kane Williamson,  brightened up a gloomy afternoon with his 18th  Test hundred, passing Martin Crowe and Ross Taylor to become the country's leading century-maker. He eventually fell for 102 shortly after the tea break, lbw to James Anderson, England's only wicket of the day.

At South Africa – more record with Dean Elgar becoming the first man in Test history to carry his bat through an innings twice in the same year, and also joining Desmond Haynes as the only men to have carried their bat three times in a Test career. It continued with Kagiso Rabada winning a breathless mini-battle with David Warner, and progressed further with Morne Morkel becoming the fifth South African to take 300 Test wickets. And the day was capped off by a counter-attack from Lyon and Tim Paine, whose 66-run ninth-wicket stand put Australia back in the contest.

Morne Morkel became  the fifth South African bowler to 300 Test wickets, after taking three wickets on the second day of the Newlands Test against Australia. Morkel's milestone came up in his 85th Test; at tea, his tally stood at 300 at an average of 28.07, in his final series as an international cricketer.  Sadly, Morkel will retire at the end of the ongoing series, and there is no guarantee he will feature in the fourth Test which has only made reaching the landmark all the more important. He was dropped for the second Test at St George's Park after a poor start in Durban, where he took three wickets but bowled better as the match went on, and is competing with Lungi Ngidi for a place in the starting XI.

Morkel may not even have played at Newlands, but Ngidi suffered a toe injury, which allowed the lanky quick the opportunity for a farewell in the city he has called home for the last three years. Morkel moved from Pretoria to Cape Town in 2015, and though he does not play for the Cobras domestic franchise, with no fixture at SuperSport Park, Newlands is the closest he will get to a home goodbye.

Strange are the ways of people and of selectors !!!   ~ away in the WC qualifiers, Afghanistan completed a miraculous revival to secure their passage to the World Cup in England next year with a five-wicket win over Ireland in the final Super Six match of the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe. Afghanistan lost their group games to Scotland, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong and entered the Super Six with no points, but victories over West Indies, UAE and Ireland - as well as helpful results in other games - meant that their World Cup dreams came to rest on their final match against Ireland. Chasing 210 on a slow track, Mohammad Shahzad led the way with a rapid fifty before Asghar Stanikzai, who missed the group stage due to an emergency appendectomy, secured the result with an unbeaten 39.

As recently as 2010, Nepal were playing in the sixth tier of world cricket. In less than a decade, they have risen to become one of 16 teams with official ODI status. They made the final step in the World Cup Qualifier, beating Hong Kong to finish fourth in their group and then Papua New Guinea in a playoff match to guarantee an eighth-place finish and with it ODI status. They will now be an ODI team until at least 2022, and while this does not guarantee fixtures against Full Members, it is a remarkable achievement.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Mar 2018.

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