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England ties Test cricket series 1-1


Ben Stokes has time and again proved that he is indispensable for England.

He was instrumental in leading England to its first World Cup in 2019, and in Cape Town on Tuesday the New Zealand-born all-rounder grabbed the headlines yet again.

In the last hour of a gripping finish, Stokes produced an inspired spell of fast, hostile bowling to help England to a dramatic 189-run win on the fifth and final day to level the four-Test series at 1-1.

England needed five wickets in the final two hours of the day, and Stokes got the ball rolling by snagging Dwaine Pretorius and Anrich Nortje off successive deliveries and then getting the last wicket of Vernon Philander with just 8.2 overs left.

Joe Root, who came under fire for his leadership after that first Test defeat, was all smiles on Tuesday and heaped lavish praise on his star performer. Root described Stokes as a “golden nugget” and he was right on in his assessment of his all-rounder, who it appears lives for the big moment.

“He’s just a fantastic specimen,” Root told AFP.

Stokes, of course, was named man of the match for his two knocks of 47 and 72 and three wickets for 35 in the second innings.

England made 269 and 391 for eight in the second innings, thanks to a solid unbeaten knock of 133 by opening batsman Dominic Sibley and Stokes’ 72. South Africa struggled to 223 and 248 and skipper Faf du Plessis will be under the gun as he failed with the bat yet again. Pace-man Jimmy Anderson was England’s hero in the first innings with a haul of five for 40.

England still needed five wickets after tea. “We knew there would be partnerships but we never stopped believing,” said Root. Quinton de Kock (50) and Rassie van der Dussen (17) stayed together for two hours before ending the resistance.

AUSSIES EYE INDIA

Kane Williamson’s New Zealand was expected to give Australia a fight to the bitter end. Instead it returns home today as the only Black Caps team to be blanked 3-0, much to the chagrin of their diehard fans.

A dominant Australia ended each Test inside four days and, instead of celebrating this first sweep of the home Test summer since that Ashes whitewash of 2013/2014, skipper Tim Paine has set his sights on its next opponent next summer.

Paine and the rest of the cricket world will have their eyes set on the blockbuster match-up against the world’s No. 1 Test nation, India.

A year ago India created history on the Australian shores by finally returning home with a Test series victory.

India does realize this Australian squad under Paine has bounced back following that sandpaper caper in South Africa. Under Paine’s leadership the Aussies retained the Ashes in England last year and showed no mercy to New Zealand thanks to returning superstars David Warner and Steve Smith, who both served a year’s ban for their involvement in the ball-tampering incident.

The Aussies also discovered a batting gem in Marnus Labuschagne. Since taking guard against Pakistan in Perth in November, runs have flowed from his bat. After scoring 215 in Australia’s 454 in the third Test against New Zealand, the 25-year-old tally has compiled a mind-boggling 896 runs, just nine runs short of Wally Hammond’s mark over five Tests.

Next comes India. With the addition of Labuschagne, Australia parades the world’s most terrifying pace attack that includes Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Josh Hazelwood, and master-spinner Nathan Lyon.

It’s going to be an awesome series,’’ Paine said of the clash versus India. “They showed last year they have a pace battery that is every bit as threatening as ours. It’s going to be one to watch.”

In the final Test versus New Zealand, Australia posted 454 and 217 for two with Warner scoring an unbeaten 111 and the Kiwis managing 251 and 136 (Colin De Grandhomme 52, Lyon five for 50).

Meanwhile Ross Taylor became New Zealand’s leading Test run scorer by making 22 to move to 7,174 career runs and overhaul Stephen Fleming in this match that the Aussies won by 279 runs.

ONLY IN INDIA?

The richest cricket board became the laughing stock of the world after a brief spell of rain forced the abandonment of the first T20 between India and Sri Lanka on Sunday at Guwahati. The outfield was bone-dry but some water seeped onto the pitch because of a leak in the covers. It’s almost unbelievable that there was a leak in the covers as this was an international encounter, not a schoolboys encounter.

But what happened next must have embarrassed the Indian Board no end as twitter went into overdrive. The ground staff brought in steam irons, hair dryers and vacuum cleaners to dry the pitch! Twitter carried pictures of steam irons and hair dryers making the rounds. How embarrassing is that?

In the second T20 encounter played in Indore on Tuesday, India beat the visitors by seven wickets. Sri Lanka managed 142 for nine and India overhauled this total by posting 144 for three in 17.3 overs with K.L. Rahul making 45.



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