Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Aus win 3rd Test; stay on top

Australia won the Sydney Test by 103 runs, not only extending their stay at the top of Test rankings, but also avoided the ignominy of suffering a first ever series white-wash at home. Graeme Smith was the last man dismissed, falling to Mitchell Johnson, with just 10 balls left fore the close of play.
Peter Siddle, for his 8 wickets at Sydney Test, and Smith, for 326 runs in the series, were named the Men of the Match and Series respectively. South Africa won the series 2-1.
The visitors needed to beat Australia to dislodge them from top spot in the ICC official Test rankings but their hopes of an improbable win disappeared in the morning session.
Needing a further 314 for victory with nine wickets remaining, the tourists saw Neil McKenzie (27), Jacques Kallis (4) and Hashim Amla (59) depart before lunch.
Australia scented a consolation victory after maulings in Perth and Melbourne and winkled out JP Duminy (16), Mark Boucher (4) and AB de Villiers for a battling 56 in the afternoon session. Taking tea at 193 for seven, South Africa looked set to surrender tamely when Paul Harris was trapped leg before wicket by paceman Peter Siddle.
But tailenders Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini held out for over 17 overs, adding another 50 runs before Steyn was lbw to Andrew McDonald for 28.
That brought in the courageous Smith, who had been ruled out for at least six weeks with a broken finger and injured left elbow.
He survived for nearly half an hour and looked set to complete his task until Johnson achieved the final breakthrough with a swinging delivery.
Siddle, with match figures of eight for 113, was named man of the match with Smith awarded the man-of-the-series trophy.
In other cricket action on Wednesday, New Zealand beat West Indies by seven wickets to level their one-day international series at 1-1.
Captain Daniel Vettori took four wickets for 20 runs as the West Indies were bowled out for 128 in Wellington.
Ross Taylor then made an unbeaten 51 off 50 balls to see the Kiwis home.
brief score:
Australia 445 (M J Clarke 138, M G Johnson 64) & 257-4 dec (S M Katich 61, R T Ponting 53)
South Africa 327 (M V Boucher 89, H M Amla 51, P M Siddle 5-59) & 272 (H M Amla 59, A B de Villiers 56).
India in line
for top spot
With India very much in the ascendency, there are now just eight points separating first place from third with all three teams very much in contention for the right to be called the number-one Test side in the world.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka strengthened its hold on fourth place in the rankings following its 2-0 series win in Bangladesh.
After it had been pushed very hard in the first Test in Dhaka, Mahela Jayawardena’s team proved far too strong the second time around and finally ran out winners by 465 runs in Chittagong.
That win gave Sri Lanka another ratings point to put it within 10 of India and six ahead of England, which recently lost an away series 1-0 to India.
Pakistan is another three points further back in sixth place while the West Indies is still just ahead of New Zealand by a fraction of a point following the recent drawn series in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

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