India hold on for draw in final test as Australia retain trophy

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Entertaining series: Australian captain Steve Smith holds the Border-Gavskar trophy aloft after winning the series during day five of the Fourth Test match against India.

India clung on for a tense draw with three wickets left to deny Australia their third victory of the series in the fourth Sydney Test on Saturday.

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The Australians, with nine fielders crowding around the bat towards the final stages, pushed for victory but could not dislodge Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar as the gritty tourists batted it out at 252 for seven.

Rahane was unbeaten on 38 and Kumar was 20 not out when the game was called off with one ball left.

The Australians kept pushing throughout the final session and looked headed for victory once they removed batting mainstays Murali Vijay and skipper Virat Kohli, but the tail end resisted.

Australian skipper Steve Smith was named the player of the series after scoring four centuries for the winning side.

“I thought we were going to get there in the end but India hung on well,” Smith said.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t quite get there but I’m really proud of all the boys’ efforts for this Test match and for the series as well.”

The Australians declared at their overnight total of 251 for six, leaving the tourists to hunt down 349 runs to win off 90 overs on the fifth day.

Australia grabbed the vital wicket of Kohli for 46 in the 67th over as he sparred with Mitchell Starc, and Shane Watson took a catch low down at slip.

It completed a magnificent series for the new skipper, with a series aggregate of 692 runs at 86.50, the most by an Indian batsman in a series against Australia.

“The guys stood there, dug it out and pulled out a draw which is satisfying,” Kohli said.

“We took them to the end on three occasions, two Tests were draws and one was a loss that could have gone either way.

“I’m really proud of the way the guys have played in this series.

“We certainly do have negatives we want to improve on, especially seeing the way the Australians bowl.

“If we can improve on that we’re going to be a very strong test team moving forward.”

Pair of ducks

 Vijay was out in the fourth over after tea when he slashed at Josh Hazlewood outside off-stump to be taken by Brad Haddin for 80.

The opener passed fifty for the fifth time in the series and batted for 255 minutes off 165 balls with seven fours and two sixes.

Vijay’s series aggregate of 482 at an average of 60.25 was the most by an Indian opener in Australia, eclipsing 464 by Virender Sehwag.

Australia’s hopes soared when the hapless Suresh Raina went for a pair of ducks, this time he lasted three balls before he was leg before wicket by Starc.

Wriddhiman Saha also went for a duck, trapped leg before wicket by Lyon as India’s innings began to quickly fall apart.

Hazlewood got another leg before wicket decision, this time on Ravichandran Ashwin for one and India were three wickets away from defeat with 11.4 overs left. Yet that was as close as the Australians got at the end.

The highest successful run chase in the fourth innings of a Sydney Test remains Australia’s 288 for two against South Africa nine years ago.

Vijay gave a few chances before his dismissal, offering a tough chance to Shaun Marsh at short cover on 42 off Ryan Harris in 37th over.

Marsh had two grabs at the ball before it went to ground.

It was Australia’s 17th missed fielding opportunity in the series.

But Rohit Sharma was out for 39 in the next over when Steve Smith took a brilliant flying right-handed catch at second slip off Watson.

First innings centurion Lokesh Rahul was the only wicket to fall in the morning session.

He advanced down the wicket only to glove Lyon to David Warner at leg-slip for 16 in the 14th over.

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#360View: West Indies’ World Cup chances will take a big hit if Bravo is kept out

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Huge hit: Dwayne Bravo was stripped of his captaincy and excluded from the squad for the ODIs against South Africa.

West Indies cricket is in a mess. That statement has popped up with regularity over the years and it comes as no surprise that we are facing a similar situation with a month to go for the World Cup.

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The breakdown in relations between the West Indies players and their cricket board resulted in the players abandoning their tour of India midway. Not only are the Windies board facing a huge financial crisis with their Indian counterparts demanding compensation, their image has taken a huge hit. It therefore didn’t come as a surprise when the player at the forefront of the protest over wages – Dwayne Bravo – was stripped of his captaincy and excluded from the squad for the ODIs against South Africa.

Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy were part of the original World Cup squad but found themselves out of the mix for the South Africa ODIs at the time.

Now it seems both Bravo and Pollard will not be a part of the final World Cup squad, with Sammy already reinstated following a U-turn by the board.

If Pollard is indeed on his way out, there can be some justification for it. The big-hitting Trinidadian has failed to bring his T20 prowess in ODIs, scoring just 322 runs from 17 games at 21.46 in 2013 and 173 from six games last year.

Those stats are indeed poor and his bowling isn’t the best in the world either.

But it’s the case of Bravo which is staggering. Last year, he amassed 415 runs from 13 games at an average of 46.11 and also took 20 wickets at an economy of 5.55. For one-dayers those are excellent results, especially since he was the captain as well.

For the West Indies board to contemplate keeping such an outstanding all-rounder out of the side, leave alone taking away his captaincy, is a tragedy.

All Bravo did was fight for the rights of the West Indies and take a stand when he felt the players had been cornered. Leaving a series midway was not the smartest of moves but at least it got the attention of those who matter.

If Bravo does miss the World Cup, as it seems at the moment, it will be a massive setback for West Indies. There is every chance that players like Bravo and Pollard will retire from international cricket and become freelance players, taking their talents to the various T20 leagues across the world and stop dealing with the West Indies board.

In between all this, it’s the team that will end up losing the most.

Their chances at the World Cup, which were slim to start with, will simply evaporate with players clueless about the way forward. And the West Indies board will have to take responsibility for allowing things to reach such a stage.

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Tauqir named UAE captain for ICC World Cup

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Mohammed Tauquir has a decade-long history with UAE Cricket at both domestic and international levels.

The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has announced the UAE’s 15-man squad for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup, with veteran Emirati Mohammed Tauqir named captain.

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Tauqir, 43, will lead the side in Australia and New Zealand next month, with fellow veteran Khurram Khan his vice captain.

“A solid middle-order batsman and a right-arm offspinner, Tauqir has been an outstanding performer in the UAE’s World Cup preparations, showing positive development in both skill and fitness,” a statement from the ECB said.

“The ECB sees Tauqir’s appointment as a great opportunity to promote and showcase Emirati leadership and playing skills on the international sporting stage, and at the same time aims to raise the profile of the sport within the Emirati community.

“The decision also intends to highlight that indigenous players are integral to the future sustainability of the sport.”

Tauqir has a decade-long history with UAE Cricket at both domestic and international levels and has been a previous captain of the national team. He has represented the UAE in 50 international matches, including 5 ODI’s; against Afghanistan (1), Bangladesh (1), India (1) and Sri Lanka (2). On his ODI debut, in the 2004 Asia Cup against India (at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium) he scored a strong 55 runs off 73 balls (SR 75.34), and took 1 wicket for 46 runs from his allotted 10-overs.

The UAE begin their ICC Cricket World Cup campaign against Zimbabwe in Nelson on February 19, before taking on Ireland, India, Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies in their other group fixtures.

UAE squad to compete at ICC CWC:

Mohammed Tauqir (Captain)
Khurram Khan (Vice Captain)
Swapnil Patil
Saqlain Haider
Amjad Javed
Shaiman Anwar
Amjad Ali
Nasir Aziz
Rohan Mustafa
Manjula Guruge
Andri Raffaelo Berenger
Fahad Al Hashmi
Muhammad Naveed
Kamran Shahzad
K Karate

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