Flabbergasted. Speechless. Astonished. These three words could all but describe New Zealand after a brutal first day of the 3rd Test against Pakistan at Sharjah.
However, it wasn’t the usual searing heat that was messing with their heads, instead it was a masterclass from Mohammad Hafeez who showed his best efforts to punish New Zealand’s bowling and take it to them with force.
Even the long-awaited return of Daniel Vettori couldn’t help the Kiwis, as Hafeez smashed all bowlers around the park and made them look rather foolish.
After winning another toss, Pakistan elected to bat, and needed a big score up their sleeve. New Zealand thought they were good after their performance in the 2nd Test, but Pakistan gave them a good, hard and savage reality check.
Mohammad Hafeez had been in pretty good nick for the last few Tests. After not playing the 2nd Test due to injury, he hit 96 and 101* in the first Test match. So really, he was in brilliant form.
But, New Zealand weren’t looking to go down because they were riding high on confidence from the first Test. After dismissing Shan Masood early-ish for 12, they were pretty happy.
And Azhar Ali went a while later for 39, so they weren’t doing horrible. But Mohammad Hafeez took it to them, and made them chase almost too many balls, taking Mark Craig total of sixes conceded in 2014 to 29!
Hafeez played an array of punishing strokes, that looked beautiful off the willow flying away to the boundary in front of the typically small UAE crowd. All New Zealand had left in the tank, was a good old scratch of the head.
Everything went glum for the Kiwis, especially when Mohammed Hafeez finished the day on a gargantuan 178 not out. New Zealand are in for a battering now, if they haven’t copped it enough already!
However, Daniel Vettori did manage to spark the Kiwis, taking a wicket to dismiss Younis Khan for 5, his lowest Test score in over a year.
With New Zealand’s situation was already pretty bad mid-way through the day, Hafeez’s colourful performance simply added fuel to the fire. Pakistan sit at 281/3 after day one, which is their highest score after one day from their last 5 Tests (including this one).
It was a glum day for New Zealand, and Azhar Ali of Pakistan has said that “Our target is at least 500.” Brendon McCullum will be thinking: “Oh, great!”
A cracker of a first day, tune in tomorrow for a full report on the happenings during the second day of this so far one-sided Test match. New Zealand are down to their knees in quick sand, and they can’t do much from here.
In other cricket, Sri Lanka have managed to come out on top of England in the 1st ODI between the two sides, hosted by the Sri Lankans at Colombo.
Sri Lanka batted first, and compiled a massive 317 runs. Tillakaratne Dilshan whacked 88, while Mahela Jayawardene managed 55 and Kusal Perera hit 59.
Moeen Ali of England hit a sparkling 119, accompanied by a brilliant 65 from Ravi Bopara. However, these knocks went down in vain as the middle, lower and top order all struggled mercilessly, bar Ali and Bopara.
England were bowled out 25 runs short of Sri Lanka’s total, but it was a really good contest and a fairly close match in my opinion. That’s all we have time for today, so make sure to tune in tomorrow!
The cricket world has united for Australian Test match batsman Phillip Hughes, who is unfortunately in an induced coma, after he was struck by a fierce bouncer during the first day of a Sheffield Shield clash between South Australia and New South Wales at the SCG.
Hughes was the very likely replacement for injured skipper Michael Clarke, but at the moment that seems dangerously close to impossible after what happened yesterday.
His big day had come, he was finally getting some runs and was batting really well on 63 not out when a vicious Shane Abbott bouncer rocketed flush into his helmet after he misjudged a pull shot. 2 seconds later, everyone knew what had happened.
Hughes kept his feet, seeing stars and looking really dazed, and then he started swaying a bit and fell straight onto the pitch face first, with no heartbeat at the time. David Warner, former teammate of Hughes, was so urgent in his call, as he sprinted off the field bellowing for an ambulance to come.
The doctors came out rushing, because they knew something terrible was about to hit them hard. Ambulances were quick to arrive on the scene, both aerial and on the roads. Hughes was still lying on the pitch, and there was an extremely bitter feeling about the day.
The NSW doctor rushed to Hughes’ side, and immediately went through with CPR, while waiting for the ambulance, due to the non-existent heartbeat from Hughes.
Everything was looking grim, but all the players, from both sides, did their best to comfort Hughes and help the situation. Hughes was then rushed to hospital with the danger of “brain bleeding”- Nine News Sydney.
He underwent surgery and was then placed in an induced coma for the night. Play for Day 1 was abandoned, and Hughes has been bombarded with social media comments and other apparatus about people expressing their best wishes and hoping that he recovers ASAP.
It is such a horrible thing to happen, let alone to a man who is about to be picked for the Australian team. No-one really cares about that now, just make sure he survives and recovers comfortably. Cricket is secondary to serious injuries like this.
I have never seen this on a cricket field, not once. Sure batsmen get hit by bouncers just about every match, but I haven’t seen someone collapse face first, or collapse on it’s own.
This incident has brought the whole world together, and has highlighted the dangers of cricket, in reality. It was inevitable, to happen at one point in time.
We have seen it, and we know how dangerous this sport can really be. My best wishes go out to Phil Hughes, and I hope he can recover will full comfort, and just ease his way back into life.
He could retire now if he needed to, and I am sure everyone would give him praise, for being so courageous during that moment, without having anything he could do to stop it.
It was a tragedy, and everyone needs to get behind him, or even start up a fund to make his life better from here, or to raise money for his cause.
Australia have survived a late collapse in the 5th and final ODI against South Africa in Sydney, in order to win the series 4-1 and become the no.1 ranked ODI team in the world.
It was a polished performance from the Aussies, but during the dying stages of the match, they lost 4 wickets for 21 runs chasing down a decent total from South Africa.
It was an unpleasantly hot day in Sydney, but at the SCG they got the better weather. In Western Sydney temperatures climbed to 45 degrees Celsius, however in Moore Park it was a cool 31 degrees.
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat, with Hashim Amla captaining the side due to a cracked rib from superstar AB de Villiers.
With power in their stride, South Africa looked to get off to a good start. Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla opened the batting with confidence, and flourished like the beautiful flowers of spring. Amla was in great touch, but had to go for 18 caught behind magnificently from Aussie keeper Matthew Wade.
Rilee Rossouw strutted out to the crease and made his intentions clear. Whacking the ball around, Rossouw joined forces with de Kock to put on a good-looking 107 run partnership, before Rossouw had to go for a beautiful 51 that included an array of marvellous strokes.
Watching his team-mates go down, Quinton de Kock stayed in, and another wicket fell quickly, but the 21 year old kept his focus. He brought up a prodigious 6th ODI century for South Africa, which included 14 boundaries.
But, it only took a little feather to the keeper to send him packing, and he was walking for a well-played 107. With many runs to get, Farhaan Behardien made up for his previous failures but whacking an explosive yet classy 63.
This innings driven out of sheer excellence from Farhaan, saw the Proteas through to 280, which seemed a decent score on the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Australia had some work to do, but Aaron Finch and Dave Warner got them off to a flyer. Warner was whacking Morne Morkel around the park, while Finch was getting his cover drive perfectly timed against all bowlers.
But, Warner had to go, playing a silly shot straight up into the air to be caught well for 21. Shane Watson was brought to the crease, and was due for some runs.
He combined magnificently with Finch and was in really good touch. A rain break soon after halted play for about 20 minutes though. Australia’s target was now 275 and they had 48 overs.
Finch wasn’t looking to get out though and kept persisting. His beautiful strokeplay saw him score 76, before he was caught very well on the boundary off the bowling off Robin Peterson.
Shane Watson, on the other hand, stayed in and hit a polished 82, as he fell late. Steve Smith was in good nick too, hitting 67 and scoring runs again, despite having a couple of easy chances.
When we all though the game was over, needing about 11 off 26 balls, a late collapse came from South Africa, with Robin Peterson taking 4 great wickets. But, James Faulkner came to the rescue, hitting a four to win in the last over.
So, Australia had a little scare but survived in the end, to win 4-1 and become the 1st ranked ODI team on Earth. Steve Smith picked up man of the series, and will be riding high on confidence.
It was a great performance by Australia in this series, and they will definitely be in good touch for the Test series v India, as the squad is scheduled to be announced today!
The small crowd that rallied together to watch Australia take on South Africa in the 4th ODI on Friday, were given a treat, when the maestro in Steve Smith compiled 104 of his best ever runs to get Australia over the line in a thriller.
To be honest, Australia stole the victory from South Africa and they probably didn’t deserve to win the match when they were 5 wickets down for just 98 runs, chasing down 267 from South Africa. Not only, that, but Nathan Coulter-Nile did his hamstring when bowling, so Australia only had 10 batsmen.
This all came after South Africa batted first, and put on 267, which was an okay total on the MCG. However, late wickets robbed them of what should have been 300+.
AB de Villiers was once again in sublime touch for a magnificent 91, while Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla both lurked around the 20 run mark before being dismissed. David Miller was the second to join AB in a great partnership that rebuilt South Africa’s innings after being 3-77.
Miller eventually went for 45 and Faf du Plessis managed another start, but couldn’t convert into a big one. A few handy runs from the tail helped the Proteas get to the score of 267.
Australia went in and lost too many wickets early, with David Warner going for 4 and Shane Watson chasing a wide one for 19. Aaron Finch was hitting them well, but he had to go for 22.
Glenn Maxwell arrived at the crease, and broke his bat after facing one Dale Steyn ball! It was snapped, but the funny thing was, he didn’t even ht it hard, it was just a chip to short midwicket.
Maxwell went straight after that for 2 off 5 balls, while George Bailey had yet another failure. The Aussies were reeling at 5-98 and had nowhere to turn, but in came Steve Smith and Matthew Wade.
It was the guts and passion that was shown by Smith and Wade during a gutsy 121 run partnership that defied South Africa, which took Australia to victory. Matthew Wade was smoking ‘em, while Steve Smith just left everyone speechless.
Steve Smith’s ability to get a single of virtually every ball and punish the poorly bowled deliveries, was just sensational. He is just such a smart batsman and he showed off another array of breathtaking strokes, like a tennis slap over mid-off for 4.
Matthew Wade, on the other hand, found his timing really nicely and ran between the wickets really well. He smashed 52 before he had to go, but it was a marvellous knock nonetheless.
James Faulkner joined Steve Smith late at the crease, when Australia were 6-219. They needed to up the ante and the game was definitely going down to the wire.
James Faulkner came in and punished some poor death bowling. He smacked the bowlers everywhere, and picked up 6 boundaries during his quick-fire knock of 34 not out (from just 19 balls), that had the MCG crowd cheering on their feet.
But, in the end, Steve Smith had to go after a century that left everyone speechless. With the scores level, Smith went for a big windy whoof and was bowled for 104. Angry with himself, Smith earned a man of the match award, and deserved to hit the winning runs.
Not to worry though, because Pat Cummins came in and hit a single first ball, despite nearly being caught by David Miller at mid-on with just one hand. But, in the end, Australia got home, and stole a victory from the Proteas.
It was all cheering, smiles and laughter from the Aussies, but some stern words would have gone down in the South African rooms after having Australia at the position that they were.
At the end of the day, there is nothing you can do about it, and hats off to Smith and Wade, who arguably won the match for Australia, setting it up for Faulkner to go typically all out.
It was a very well earned win for Australia, and that means they have won the series. But, one match remains tomorrow at the Sydney Cricket Ground, so make sure to tune in on Monday for a full report!
In other cricket, Pakistan have just made it through for a draw against New Zealand. They recovered well batting on day five of the 2nd Test at Dubai.
New Zealand hit 250-9 with a polished Ross Taylor hundred, before putting Pakistan in to hit 262. They were 75-4, but managed to scrape through at 196-5, to go into the 3rd match still 1-0 up.
That’s it for today! It was a great day in cricket, and I hope you enjoy your day, wherever you are reading this around the globe!