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Tuesday, Nov 19th

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Test Cricket

Yet Another Sydney Disaster for Team India

Time may have moved on four years, but India is standing still. The touring Indians are exactly where they were in January 2008, losing the Sydney Test to go 2 – 0 down in the four match series, except of course for the infamous "Monkey Gate" incident which one hopes never resurfaces again. In such a situatuin, it is only natural to perform the post-mortem of the defeat. Fans and critics alike will harbour their own views on the reasons for the debacle, and their are already cries in large sections of the media calling for the head of India's World Cup winning captain. Amidst the cries for changes in personnel and need for tactical amendments, the reality is that the core issue surrounding overseas disasters requires more than a layman's perspective.

Winding back the clock four mornings, one can't help but wonder if MS Dhoni made the right call on winning the toss. Had India survived the early juice offered by a fresh pitch by playing out the first session, it could well have been a flat deck feast for India. But the ghosts surrounding the England horror returned. Losing four wickets in the first session with only Tendulkar looking the part gave a feeling that the 1990s were back. 

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Australia go 2-0 up in Test series with Innings win at Sydney

sachin_tendulkarAustralia crushed India by an innings and 68 runs in the second test at the SCG, thereby taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 4 match series. In what is threatening to become a repeat of the whitewash India suffered at the hands of England last summer, the visitors would be harbouring worries of losing their second straight overseas series 4-0, especially considering the SCG was widely considered their best hope of producing a result on this tour. That being said, India did produce a much better batting performance in their second innings, posting a decent total of 400. However, given how much Australia got, it just wasn't good enough on this flat deck. Ben Hilfenhaus was the pick of the Aussie bowlers, finishing with 5/106 in the second innings, the second straight match where he has picked up a 5-fer. India saw half-centuries from Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and R Ashwin today, but really needed one of the big two to go on and make a big hundred to try and force this match into a fifth day.

India, coming into day 4 at the SCG on 114/2 still 354 runs adrift from the Aussie 1st innings, would have had little hope of salvaging anything from this match, taking into account the way the game progressed over the last couple of days.

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Philander strangulation puts Proteas on victory path

South Africa took 12 wickets in the day to put themselves within reach of a series-clinching victory on the third day of the third Sunfoil Test match against Sri Lanka at Sahara Park Newlands on Thursday. It was an impressive all-round bowling performance in which the wickets were shared by the five-man attack and supported by some fine catches from Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis among others. At the close of play Sri Lanka were 138/4 in their follow on innings and still need a further 203 to make the Proteas bat again.

The Proteas will also be encouraged by the fact that the second new ball will become available in 27 overs' time.

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Sri Lanka bundled out for 239, in danger of innings defeat at Cape Town

The Cape Town test continued to show only signs of one winner, as day 3 also belonged completely to the South Africans. Resuming on 149-2, the visiting Sri Lankans crumbled to 239 all out in their first innings. Dinesh Chandimal's counter-attacking 35 was the lone bright spot for Dilshan's men. The potent South African attack set up a blistering display of seam and swing to dismantle the islanders. The pacers hunted in packs and shared the spoils. The relentless Vernon Philander was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3-46. Following on, Sri Lanka's second innings story was no different as they lost wickets at regular intervals to end the day at 138-4, staring at a huge innings defeat. The Lankan lions still require 203 runs to make the World Number 3 team bat again in this series deciding test.

The Sri Lankans, who displayed a lot of character after tea yesterday, began Day 3 on a dismal note. The World Number 1 batsman, Kumar Sangakkara (35), got carried away by a tempting delivery pitched outside the off-stump to hand Dale Steyn his first wicket of the match in the opening over of the day. Hashim Amla stationed at backward- point grasped the air borne square drive from Sangakkara to leave Sri Lanka in a difficult predicament.

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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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