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Wednesday, Jan 24th

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Test Cricket

What to expect from the Don's backyard?

The first thing that comes to mind on the mention of Adelaide Oval is vivid images of Sir Donald Bradman. The breeding ground of the greatest soul to grace the game, the Adelaide Oval arguably packs more nostalgia than the historical venues of MCG, SCG or Lord's. While that maybe a slight exaggeration, bordering on hyperbole, one cannot disagree to the fact that the Don put Adelaide on the cricket map. But for Bradman, the quaint region would be known solely for its splendid vineyards.

The 22 yards at this historical ground does invoke images of the sub-continent. The high rise buildings awning the capital "D" shaped ground add to the beauty. The high rise buildings do resemble south Bombay or central Delhi barring the fact that they are a little orderly kept.

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Bowlers set up emphatic 10 wicket win for Pakistan in Dubai Test

trott_kpThe Pakistani bowlers ruled the roost for the second time in a row against the clueless English batsmen as they a set up a thumping win for the underdogs against the world No.1 test side. Pakistan, resuming the 3rd day with a healthy lead of 96 runs and still 3 wickets in the bag, extended the lead to a sizeable 146 thanks to an innovative 61 from rookie wicket keeper batsman Adnan Akmal. The 26 year old keeper played an adventurous knock filled with some pre-meditated reverse sweeps and flashy drives to get Pakistan to a handy 338 despite wickets tumbling at the other end. England's reply was shoddy yet again as they faltered against pace and spin alike, unable to come to grips with a versatile Pakistani attack. Apart from Jonathan Trott (49), none of the top 6 six made a significant contribution in a team score of 160 all out on a flat pitch owing to a some fine bowling from Umar Gul (4/63) that broke the back of the England batting line up. Pakistan needing just 15 runs to complete a thumping victory, did so in fine style without the loss of a wicket and took a 1-0 lead in the 3 match series.

The first session marked considerable progress for the victors as Adnan Akmal and the tail frustrated the English bolwers and snatched 50 runs from the last 3 standing wickets. Though Stuart Broad struck early, dismissing Umar Gul for nought, Saeed Ajmal (12) coming in at no.10 added a useful 30 runs with Akmal before he was controversially dismissed caught at short-leg as the Hot-Spot was unavailable due to technical difficulties meaning the review from Ajmal went in vain despite the replays showing that the ball might have missed the glove on its way to Alastair Cook. Adnan Akmal's was the last wicket to fall after playing a fine knock as he was stumped down the leg-side off Graeme Swann, bringing the Pak innings to a close.

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England fight back on Day 2 of Dubai Test, but Pakistan still on top

james_anderson3The second day of the 1st cricket test between Pakistan and England being played at the Dubai International stadium belonged to the Poms as they stuck at it with great diligence and grit, restricting Pakistan to a manageable 288/7 at stumps. England had collapsed for just 192 runs in their first innings on the opening day, and the hosts had wiped off 42 runs for no loss at stumps. A collective effort from England's bowlers today saw Pakistan's scoring rate dip drastically after the first session as the Pakistanis managed just 246 runs in the entire day on what looked like a very flat wicket.

Pakistan started the day very brightly as Mohammed Hafeez (88) and Taufeeq Umar(58) looked at ease against the English bowlers, putting up 114 runs for the opening wicket. England clawed their way back into the match with two splendid strikes from Stuart Broad before lunch, including the one of the well set Taufeeq Umar. He dismissed Taufeeq with a peach of a delivery that pitched on and hit off stump from round the wicket. Azhar Ali, Pakistan's No.3, was also dismissed a few overs later courtesy another beauty from the lanky fast bowler, one that just moved enough off the seam from outside to catch the outside edge. Pakistan went into lunch still in a strong position, courtesy that opening stand, at a 138/2.

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Ajmal takes 7 wickets to rip England to shreds on Opening Day of Dubai Test

matt_priorSaeed Ajmal and his bowling mates put Pakistan firmly in the driver's seat on the opening day of the 1st between Pakistan and England in Dubai on Tuesday. The off-spinner bamboozled the England batsmen with his variations on his way to a career best haul of 7/55 including an impressive 3 wickets in the first session. At stumps on day 1, Pakistan were sitting pretty on 42 without loss after bowling out England for just 192. Apart from wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who made a fighting unbeaten 70, the rest of the English batsmen looked all at sea against a spin heavy attack.

The first session belonged solely to Pakistan after the England captain Andrew Strauss won the toss and chose to bat. Pakistan brought on off-spinner Mohammed Hafeez as early as the 6th over of the match due to his extra ordinary success against left hand batsmen last year. Hafeez's reputation did not desert him as he struck instantly, removing Alastair Cook caught behind with a slippery delivery. The part time spinner's success prompted the Pakistan captain Misbah-Ul-Haq to bring on his frontline spinner and trump card Saeed Ajmal very early in the game, a decision that paid rich dividends later in the match. Jonathan Trott, who came in at No 3 looked good in his brief stay, before he was dismissed for 17, caught down the leg side off fast bowler Aizaz Cheema.

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India's Tour of Australia: It can only get better from here

There are many ways to look at a devastating loss in sport. It can be taken as the end of the world or it can be identified as a way to move forward with a view that things can only get better from here. There is a famous saying – “Realism is a dream Killer”. That doesn't necessarily mean that there is no space for rationality or practicality, but a fine balance of both worlds is the way to go.

India's current tour down under will be a collection of all such anomalies. There is bound to be a lot of emotional reactions to say the least as far as the mauling India has received is concerned. Emotions to a particular point are alright but at the end of the day, they are the biggest obstacles when it comes to devising future plans. So, a perfect blend of those two aforementioned ingredients is something we are looking at to resurrect Indian Test Cricket. For that to happen though some tough but thoughtful decisions will be the dish Krish Srikkanth & Co. need to prepare and the recipe needs to stay forever.

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