Kumar takes four wickets to give India early ascendancy in first Test against South Africa

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Bhuvneshwar Kumar took four wickets including three in his first three overs as India’s bowlers gained the ascendancy on the first day of the first Test against South Africa at Newlands on Friday.

South Africa were struggling at 230 for seven at tea despite half-centuries from AB de Villiers and captain Faf du Plessis. Kumar had figures of four for 68.

Du Plessis said batting first on a well-grassed pitch was a tricky decision and a disastrous start must have reinforced his misgivings.

Kumar gained appreciable movement off a well-grassed pitch to plunge the South African innings into disarray at 12 for three.

After some spirited batting by South Africa, Kumar took another wicket shortly before tea to put the world’s top-ranked Test team in a strong position against their second-placed opponents.

De Villiers and Du Plessis put on 114 for the fourth wicket, with De Villiers in sparkling form as he hit 65 off 84 balls with 11 fours.

He showed intent from the start of his innings, hitting four fours off Kumar?s fifth over to launch a South African counter-attack.

De Villiers missed a drive against new cap Jasprit Bumrah and was bowled. Du Plessis went on to make 62 off 104 balls with 12 fours before he was caught behind off Hardik Pandya.

Quinton de Kock (43) and Vernon Philander (23) put on a rapid 60 for the sixth wicket before De Kock was caught behind by Kumar and Philander was bowled by Mohammed Shami.

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Steve Smith and David Warner set to earn more in the IPL than for Australia

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The two have seen their IPL salaries doubled by their retention.

The announcement of the Indian Premier League retained players’ list has turned out to be a bonanza for Australia’s Test captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner.

Both the batsmen were the top retentions for their respective franchises when the announcements were made on Thursday.

David Warner was Sunrisers Hyderabad’s top-pick after leading the side to the title in 2016. The southpaw is the highest-scoring overseas player in the decade long competition with over 4,000 runs under his belt.

Smith was the only player to be retained by the Rajasthan Royals who return to the fray after serving their two-year suspension. He had plied his trade for the Rising Pune Super Giants during their absence.

Both the Aussies are now set to pocket a handsome $2.4million each courtesy of being the top retentions for their teams. This is twice the salary they had received in the previous edition as is now more than what they earn through their central contracts with Cricket Australia.

Warner had led Sunrisers Hyderabad to the IPL title in 2016.

Warner had led Sunrisers Hyderabad to the IPL title in 2016.

Smith and Warner are currently on $2m and $1.4m base retainers respectively for their national team. The due now become the highest paid Aussies in the history of the competition.

With the retained players now announced, all eyes will now be on the IPL auction set to take place on the January 27 and 28 where the rest of the lineups for the 10 franchises will be completed.

The likes of England star Ben Stokes, Glenn Maxwell, Chris Gayle and Colin Munro will all be among the attractions in the auctions.

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Steve Smith notches another milestone and other Ashes talking points

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The Australian skipper notched up 6,000 Test runs.

Seven wickets fell on day two of the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) with Australia well placed at 193-2 when stumps were called.

England had earlier managed to add 113 runs from their overnight score before being bowled out for 346 runs at the stroke of lunch on Friday.

Steve Smith was once again looking in tormenting form for the tourists as he finished the day unbeaten on 44 with Usman Khawaja, who was batting on 91, for company.

Here, we look at the key talking points from another eventful day.

USMAN KHAWAJA ARRIVES TO THE PARTY

The Ashes series is an important one for Khawaja who has been in and out of the Australian side in 2017. The left-hander hasn’t exactly flourished in the series despite two scores of fifty with an aggregate total of 162 runs in his six innings prior to Sydney.

The left-hander was in his element on Friday and was particularly effective against England’s spinners. His unbeaten 91 is his highest Test score in more than a year since his 97 against Pakistan in the Boxing Day Test of 2016.

He is on course for his sixth Test century and first since his 145 against South Africa in November 2016.

Khawaja is on course for his sixth Test century.

Khawaja is on course for his sixth Test century.

ENGLAND GET THEIR TAIL WAGGING

After Dawid Malan fell early to a stunning catch by Smith at slip in the morning, the writing seemed to be on the wall for the tourists with six wickets down.

With Moeen Ali woefully out of form, Australia would have expected to bundle out England fairly cheaply.

However, Ali dug in to put together a handy 30 runs before gloving behind to Pat Cummins. Tom Curran was scratchy and survived some close calls but put together a spirited innings of 39 crucial runs before being dismissed by another Cummins bouncer.

Stuart Broad, who had scored a fighting and entertaining half-century at Melbourne, once again brought out his pulls and hooks as the Aussies peppered him with the short-stuff.

He smashed two sixes in almost a run-a-ball 31 before falling to Nathan Lyon but England’s tail had showed impressive fight to add just under 100 runs after the dismissal of Malan.

Tom Curran dug in with a spirited innings.

Tom Curran dug in with a spirited innings.

STEVE SMITH NOTCHES ANOTHER MILESTONE

All throughout the Australian summer, Smith has put together insane numbers with the bat breaking several records in the process.

On Friday, he notched another feather in his cap when he completed 6,000 Test runs with a single to take his individual score to 26. The 111 innings taken by the Australian skipper is the joint second quickest in history along with Sir Garfield Sobers and behind only Sir Don Bradman who got there in just 68 innings.

To be in the company of the likes of Bradman and Sobers shows that the 28-year-old is as elite as they come in modern-day cricket and Smith could very well end up as one the greatest to have played the game if he keeps up this incredible hunger for runs.

Smith finds himself in elite company.

Smith finds himself in elite company.

CAMERON BANCROFT’S STRUGGLES CONTINUE

Bancroft showed a lot of promise on his Test debut in the Ashes opener at Brisbane with his unbeaten knock of 82 but since then, the opener has struggled to convert his starts.

He has failed to cross the 30-run mark since the Brisbane Test and the pressure would have been mounting on his shoulders when he came out to bat on Friday. Things did not go to plan for the right-hander though as he was dismissed for a duck to becomes Broad’s 399th Test victim.

He exposed an enormous gap between his bat and pads while attempting a drive but could only inside edge Broad’s in-swinging delivery onto his middle stump.

Bancroft's technique was all over the place as he was bowled for a duck.

Bancroft’s technique was all over the place as he was bowled for a duck.

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