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Friday, Dec 06th

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South Africa’s AB de Villiers has overtaken teammate Hashim Amla at the top of the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen to regain the number-one spot that he last held in April 2012 in the latest Reliance ICC Player Rankings for Tests, which were released on Sunday.

The latest rankings were released after South Africa beat Pakistan by an innings and 92 runs in the second and final Test in Dubai on Saturday to level the series 1-1.

De Villiers, who came into the Dubai Test on 882 ratings points, earned 27 ratings points for his knock of 164 to finish at a career-best 909 to thereby become only the 28th batsman in the history of the game to break the 900-rating points barrier, a benchmark for top batsmen.

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South Africa swept all three sessions on day 1 to take complete control of the 2nd Test match against Pakistan at Dubai on Wednesday. The Proteas, needing to win this match to square the series, were given a boost before the start of play when Dale Steyn was declared fit to play and, although Pakistan won what looked like a good toss, the fast bowler set the pattern for the rest of the day when he dismissed Pakistan’s batting hero from the first Test, Khurram Manzoor, with the second ball of the match.

For the rest of the day there was little holding the Proteas back as they dismissed Pakistan for 99 inside 37 overs and then replied with 128/3 by the close with their captain, Graeme Smith, showing a welcome sign of form (67 not out off 138 balls, 4 fours).

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Henry Davids led The Unlimited Titans from the front to secure an eight-wicket victory over the Sunrisers Hyderabad at Ranchi on Saturday to keep their destiny very much in their own hands at the Champions League T20 competition, the same cannot be said about the Sunrisers who slumped to their second defeat in three games and are now staring at elimination even if they win their last game. The Titans meanwhile have now won two out of three matches and have a positive net run rate to go with it.

Although Davids was named Man of the Match for his cracking innings of 64 off 42 balls (four sixes and seven fours) backed up by a tidy spell of spin bowling that earned him figures of 1/18 in his four overs, this was very much a team performance and was undoubtedly the best by a South African franchise against Indian Premier League opposition on the Indian sub-continent since the inception of this competition.

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The Chennai Super Kings squeezed out a narrow 12 run win against their fellow IPL team, the Sunrisers Hyderabad, to go top of Group B in the Champions League T20 at the midway stage of the tournament. It was raining sixes at the JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi as local boy MS Dhoni entertained his home town fans by smashing an unbeaten 63 from just 19 balls to power Chennai to an imposing total of 202-4 in their 20 overs.

The foundation for Chennai's innings had been laid by Suresh Raina, who produced another good innings, ending with 84 from 57 balls before he was brilliantly caught at long on by a leaping Thisara Perera off Dale Steyn. Despite all the carnage, the South Africa duo of Steyn and JP Duminy returned figures of 4-50 between them from 8 overs, while an under bowled Amit Mishra conceded just 13 runs from his 2 overs with rookie skipper Shikhar Dhawan once again missing a trick. Dhoni's explosion came late in the innings as he carted Thisara Perera for 5 sixes in an over which went for 34, which in the end might have determined the outcome of the game.

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Jannie du Plessis and Morné Steyn will reach the special milestone of playing in their 50th Tests for South Africa against Australia at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday, as Adriaan Strauss and Fourie du Preez have been promoted to the Springbok starting line-up.

It will be the second time in Springbok history that two players will earn their 50th caps in the same Test – on 1 August 2009 Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana, now the two most experienced members of the squad, reached this special milestone together against New Zealand in Durban.

Du Plessis and Steyn will become the 25th and 26th Springboks to play in 50 Tests for South Africa. Steyn also needs two points to move to 600 Test points for the Boks – he is currently on 598 in his 49 Tests to date.

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Amid fears that the controversy surrounding three players had dampened the enthusiasm of fans for Pepsi IPL 2013, a packed house at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium saw the Sunrisers rise, sink and then rise again when it really mattered the most to beat the Knights by 5 wickets - a result ensured Sunrisers' qualification to the Play-offs besides exiting the spirited RCB, who were glued to this fourth Play-offs berth deciding battle, after out-batting Chennai yesterday night . At 89/0, in pursuit of 131, it was Sunrisers' game to lose. They almost lost the plot, slumping to 112-5 before Darren Sammy sealed the deal in typical Caribbean style!

Hyderabad enjoyed a rollicking start to the chase thanks to a flurry of fours. The diminutive Parthiv Patel, sporting the 'chief-aggressor tag', gave Yusuf Pathan a taste of his own medicine with full-blooded cuts. Soon after, Shikhar Dhawan stole the tag with breathtaking stroke-play- the one that stood out was the majestic six off Jacques Kallis over cover with both feet up in the air, reminiscent of Sanath Jayasuriya.

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A lot can change in a year. Rewind to 2012, and the Delhi Daredevils were the team to beat in the early stages of the IPL, blowing teams to bits with their spectacular top order batting and four pronged pace attack, they looked like they had the goods to go all the way. Return to the present, and Delhi simply can't win a game.

The Daredevils played host to a Sunrisers Hyderabad side, who 12 months ago were exactly where Delhi are today, competing for the wooden spoon. Delhi's luck though refused to change today as they succumbed to their fourth straight defeat of the tournament, despite the return of charismatic opener Virender Sehwag.

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