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Friday, Oct 22nd

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Half centuries from Ed Cowan (86), David Warner (71) and Steve Smith (58*) could not prevent India from taking the honours on the second day of the Mohali Test. India battled back after a 139-run stand for the opening wicket between Cowan and Warner to restrict Australia to 273-7 at the close of play. Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma were the pick of the bowlers for India taking 3 and 2 wickets respectively.

The rain that had prevented any play whatsoever on the opening day of the third test between India and Australia at Mohali was long gone as beautiful sunshine greeted the players as they made their way over to the PCA Stadium for an early start on Friday morning.

The flip of the coin went Australia's way for the third straight game and Skipper Michael Clarke once again opted to make fresh use of what looked like the flattest deck we've had all series. There were changes along expected lines for both sides as Australia brought in Brad Haddin, Steve Smith, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc, while India handed a test debut to Shikhar Dhawan, and quite surprisingly dropped Harbhajan Singh at his home ground in favour of left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha. Bhajji's selection ahead of Ojha in the opening test of the series was surprising, but now that the Turbanator was finally finding some form, his axing made little sense.

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India continued to enjoy home comforts against the visiting Australians, reducing them to 237-9 in their first innings before a surprise declaration from Aussie skipper Michael Clarke resulted in the Indian openers having to face the music for a short 3 over burst late on Day 1 in Hyderabad. Clarke top scored for the Aussies, making 91, and sharing in a crucial 145 run stand with Matthew Wade (62) to rescue Australia from 63-4 to what appeared to be a fighting total at Tea time. However, India came back well in the final session to limit the Aussie total to setup this match very nicely. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja were the stars for India with the ball, taking 3-wickets apiece.

Australia's luck with the coin continued for the second straight game as the visitors won the toss once again and just like in Chennai, opted to make first use of a fresh pitch in Hyderabad. India unsurprisingly opted to name an unchanged side for this game with the unfortunate Pragyan Ojha sitting out once again, this time sadly on home turf. Australia meanwhile made two changes to their side with fast bowler Mitchell Starc making way for batting allrounder Glenn Maxwell, and Nathan Lyon surprisingly axed from the squad to give Xavier Doherty a chance to impress. Doherty's inclusion was expected, but Lyon being dropped was not.

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The fourth ODI of the series between Australia and Sri Lanka was abandoned after a little over an innings when rains lashed the Sydney Cricket Ground just moments after the Lankans started their innings. The decision was a hugely unpopular one with the fans and players a little perplexed as to what went wrong with the drainage system that allowed the ground to become unplayable after just an hour of rain. While no official explanation has been offered by the ICC or the local officials yet, the decision was seemingly taken by the on-field umpires, who deemed the outfield too wet to play on.

Earlier in the day, two contrasting half-centuries from left-handers at opposite ends of the batting order allowed Australia to post a competitive 222-9 in their 50 overs on another tough wicket at Sydney.

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Australia are on the verge of a comfortable series win, having taken control of the second test against Sri Lanka on the opening day itself by bowling out their visitors for a paltry first innings score of 156 runs. Sri Lanka were knocked over even before the sides went off for tea after which Australia practically erased that total, posting 150 runs by the end of the day. Mitchell Johnson was the pick of the Australian bowlers as he took 4 wickets, with Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, and debutant Jackson Bird also picking up two wickets apiece.

The toss seemed to be the only thing that went in Sri Lanka's favour, with the visitors deciding to bat first. Dimuth Karunaratne and Tillakaratne Dilshan seemed to start off quite comfortably, but Jackson Bird soon struck for Australia with the new ball, making Karunaratne his first victim in international cricket. The Lankan opener caught an outside edge, and was caught behind by Matthew Wade for just 5 runs. Mitchell Johnson struck a few overs later, as he bowled the in-form Dilshan for 11. The batsman caught an inside edge that went on to hit the stumps.

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Australia dominated the opening day of the 1st test against Sri Lanka in Hobart, posting a solid 299-4 on the back of half-centuries from the returning Phillip Hughes (86), David Warner (57) and skipper Mike Hussey (70*). Sri Lanka would be more than a little disappointed with their efforts on the day as they failed to make full use of a green pitch, with their medium pacers with the exception of Chanaka Welegedara (3-99) going wicketless.

Australia won the toss and elected to bat first, despite the green tinge on the wicket at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. That decision threatened to backfire when they lost opener Ed Cowan for 4, caught at mid-on off Welegedara as an attempted pull went awry. 

Phillip Hughes and David Warner came together with the score at 18-1 and saw out the bulk of the first session. Warner hit 8 fours in his 89-ball effort worth 57, a slightly more restrained effort than usual. The Lankan bowlers though posed no genuine threat as they failed to bend their backs and extract anything special from the wicket.

Sri Lanka though picked up a bonus wicket against the run of play as Warner was run out on the stroke of lunch, a poor decision attempting to steal a single to Angelo Mathews at cover.

Hughes was joined at the crease by Shane Watson, batting perhaps a spot or two higher than he should considering the form of Clarke and Mike Hussey to follow. The duo though continued to build an innings, adding 86 for the third wicket before Watson fell for 30, brilliantly caught by Mahela Jayawardene in the slips.

Hughes and Clarke needed to survive a tough little period before tea and Australia went into the break at 193-3 with the former unbeaten on 82.

Sadly for Hughes, he failed to convert his start into a three digit score, falling shortly after tea to that man Welegedara once again, edging a ball back onto his stumps after adding just 4 more runs to his score.

At 198-4, the day's honours were still very much in the balance, with Sri Lanka knowing that a couple more wickets would put them firmly in the driver's seat, however, like they have all summer, Clarke and Hussey proved to be impossible to remove.

Clarke brought up his half-century in 109 balls and accelerated thereafter, finishing unbeaten on 70. Should Sri Lanka fail to remove him early tomorrow, he could well make another big one. Hussey meanwhile was a lot more cautious in his approach, striking just one boundary on his was to an unbeaten 37.

Nearly 300 runs in a day's play may be a little under par for course considering the kind of plundering form the Aussie batsmen have been off late against South Africa, but given the sluggish conditions in Hobart, it seemed a good day's work. Sri Lanka will need to up the ante on day 2 else risk finding themselves batted out of the game.

Teams:

Australia: David Warner, Ed Cowan, Michael Clarke (c), Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, Matthew Wade (wk), Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon.

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene (c), Angelo Mathews, Thilan Samaraweera, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Tharanga Paranavitana, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Chanaka Welegedera.

Mini Scorecard:

Australia 299-4 (90 overs, 3.32rpo)

P Hughes 87 (166) C Welegedara 3-99

M Clarke 70 (136)

 

Vernon Philander and Jacques Kallis both went for MRI scans after picking up injuries on day one of the second Test against Australia in Adelaide. Philander was withdrawn from the playing XI after waking up with a stiff lower back, and Kallis left the field in the 17th over with a hamstring injury.

Proteas Team Manager, Dr Mohammed Moosajee commented on the results: “ Vernon's scan reveals nothing more than a lower lumbar muscle strain as initially suspected. He will receive treatment and undergo rehabilitation during the course of the current Test match and we are hopeful he will be fit for the final Test in Perth.

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