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Thursday, Mar 21st

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India 114/2 in pursuit of 468 to avoid Innings defeat in Sydney

michael_clarkeAn unbeaten 329 from Michael Clarke was the highlight of Day 3 at the SCG as India failed to pick up a wicket allowing their gracious hosts to post a monstrous total of 659/4 declared. Michael Hussey's unbeaten effort of 150 slipped under the radar as all eyes were on Clarke as he galloped on towards his incredible achievement. When the captain finally decided he had enough runs to play with, India were left with the unenviable task of needing to score 468 runs to avoid an innings defeat. The visitors made their way to 114/2 at the close of play for the loss of Virender Sehwag (4) and Rahul Dravid (29). All eyes tomorrow will be on the legend, Sachin Tendulkar, who ended the day unbeaten on 8.

After two days of complete domination at the SCG, the hosts had mustered up an amazing 291 run first innings lead with still 6 wickets standing. With India well and truly under the cosh, the question was how many runs Australia wanted on the board before they would have another crack at an exhausted Indian unit.

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Kallis, De Villiers power South Africa to 580 in Newlands Test, Dilshan leads Lankan fightback

de_villiersSouth Africa's run-feast continued as the hosts battered the Sri Lankan bowlers into submission on Day 2 of the final Test at the beautiful Newlands stadium. Jacques Kallis (224) completed just the second double hundred of his illustrious Test career while the star of the day, AB de Villiers, spanked an unbeaten 160 to pile the misery on the Lankans. Rudolph sustained the tempo set by the deadly duo and strolled to a personally significant fifty before Grame Smith declared Proteas' first innings at 580-4. The tourists, led by a near run-a-ball 78 from Captain Dilshan fought back to end the day at 149-2. The Lankans are still 231 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on and will need to bat out of their skins to save this Test. 

The overnight pair of Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers carried on the good work to all but end Sri Lanka's flimsy chances of a fightback. It was a sense of deja vu as the Sri Lankan bowlers looked jaded and failed to penetrate their hosts' defences. The Proteas got off to a resounding start by scoring 5 fours in the first two overs of the day. The imperious Jacques Kallis drove the ball with expert timing and executed the pull shot to perfection. Although the field was spread out, runs came freely and South Africa merrily progressed to a position of ultimate strength. The fact the Sri Lanka managed only 2 maiden overs in the morning session told the tale of the South African dominance. Sri Lanka had the odd opportunity but did not make it count. Dhammika Prasad found the outside edge of Kallis' bat in the 3rd over of the day but Mahela Jayawardene spilled a dolly at second slip.

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Clarke smashes unbeaten 251 as Indians put to the sword on Day 2 in Sydney

michael_clarkeThe second day of the 2nd test between the India and Australia at Sydney saw the Indian bowlers receive a pasting at the hands of Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, whose terrific batting put Australia in an unassailable position at stumps. Resuming on 116/3, the overnight pair of Clarke (251*) and Ponting (134) added a whopping 288 runs for the 4th wicket and killed the life out of the Indian attack. Clarke and Hussey then piled on the agony and added a further 155 runs unbeaten for the fifth wicket to put Australia in the driver's seat, ahead by 291 runs after only two days, having ended the day on 482/4. The Indian bowlers looked jaded and ineffective on what was a very true pitch and 3 of the 4 main bowlers went for over a 100 runs in the innings at an alarming rate to leave the visitors with practically no chance to get back into the contest.

The overnight Aussie batsmen, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke got their team off to a steady start with a reasonably assured display in the morning session. Both batsmen made a conscious effort to get onto the front foot to smother any lateral movement off the surface and got rich rewards for their approach. Zaheer Khan looked off colour this morning as he strayed too often in line and length and allowed the batsmen to get away early. Both Clarke and Ponting got to their half centuries and beyond without much bother as they chipped away at the deficit diligently. Ishant Sharma was by far India's best bowler in the first session, hitting the right areas consistently but without much luck once again. At drinks, Australia were 154/3 with 7 wickets still standing.

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Zaheer 3-wicket burst keeps India alive in Sydney Test

zaheer_khanAnother overseas batting disaster plagued India today at the SCG. If the number of such collapses is calculated from the England Tour, it would only take a couple more to reach double figures. However, despite their batting woes, it was their bowling that was under the scanner heading into the Australian Summer. More so because of the fitness concerns surrounding pace spearhead Zaheer Khan.

When Zaheer limped off on the opening day of the first test at Lord's, it was pretty evident that India could well lose their No.1 Test ranking, which is what eventually happened. To add to the misery, India were quite literally slaughtered in England.

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Tons from Kallis, Petersen propel South Africa to massive score in Newlands

jacques_kallis_tonThe South African batting department which faced much flak for the Durban debacle came back with a bang to tame the visiting Lankans on Day 1 of the third and final test at Cape Town. Tillakaratne Dilshan's decision to field first backfired as the South Africans closed the day on top at 347-3.  The spotlight of the day was the attacking 206 run partnership between Alviro Petersen and Jacques Kallis. South Africa's batting colossus, Kallis (159*) made his 150th Test a memorable one by scoring a master-class century, his effort was aided by 21 fours and a maximum. Alviro Petersen(109), who was back into the South African line up after a year also cracked a century to enable the hosts to gain an upper-hand in the game. The Lankan bowlers lacked patience and sprayed the ball around to make run-making easier for Graeme Smith's men. It was undoubtedly a forgettable day for the feeble Sri Lankan bowling attack with only Dhammika Prasad bowling well in patches to pick up 2 wickets.

With the Sunfoil Test series tantalizingly poised on a knife edge at one all, the Sri Lankans locked horns with the hosts South Africa in the series deciding final test at Cape Town under cloudy skies. The toss of the coin went Tillakaratne Dilshan's way and the Lankan lions took the daring move to bowl first on a good batting track with a little bit of assistance for the seamers early on.

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