Pakistan close in on historic Test win

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Khan (l) and Masood were imperious on day four.

Shan Masood and Younis Khan compiled unbeaten centuries to keep Pakistan in the hunt for a landmark victory in the series-deciding third and final Test against Sri Lanka on Monday.

– The Ashes: A statistical review of cricket’s greatest rivalry
– #360debate: Who will claim 2015 Ashes glory?
– MCL: Khurram Khan signs up for inaugural tournament
– Cricket Xtra: Shah turns Ajmal into Pakistan’s forgotten man

Set a challenging target of 377 runs, the tourists recoverd from a shaky 13-2 to move to 230 without further loss by stumps on the rain-free fourth day in Pallekele.

Masood, the five-Test old left-hander, was unbeaten on 114, having reached his maiden century by lofting off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal for a six over long-on towards the end of play.

Younis, who made his 100th Test appearance in the second match of the series, got to his 30th century in the day’s last over. The pair have put on 217 so far for the third wicket with Younis on 101.

Pakistan will enter the final day’s play on Tuesday needing a further 147 runs with eight wickets in hand on a wearing, but easy-paced pitch at the Pallekele International Stadium.

If Pakistan win, it will be the first time a visiting team will have scored more than 300 runs in the fourth innings to win a Test on Sri Lankan soil.

Pakistan’s highest successful chase is 314 runs they made against Australia to win the Karachi Test way back in 1994.

Earlier, Sri Lanka’s captain Angelo Mathews was last man out for 122 as the hosts took their overnight score of 228-5 to 313 before they were all out at the stroke of lunch.

Pakistan, starting their second innings after the break, were dealt a blow before a run had been scored when seamer Suranga Lakmal bowled Ahmed Shehzad to claim his 50th Test wicket.

Sri Lanka struck again in the seventh over when Azhar Ali was caught down the leg-side by wicket-keeper Dinesh Chandimal off Dhammika Prasad for five.

Masood, on 79, was fortunate to survive a close shout for leg-before by Mathews, who asked for a review after on-field umpire Paul Reiffel had turned down the appeal.

Replays proved inconclusive whether the ball had hit the bat, but with both the Hot Spot and Snicko technologies not available in this series, the TV umpire gave the benefit of doubt to the batsman.

Pakistan’s fast bowler Imran Khan took all the five wickets that fell in the morning session in the space of 33 balls. Imran’s maiden five-wicket haul saw Sri Lanka lose their last five wickets for 35 runs after they were coasting at 278-5 in the first hour of play.

Mathews, who came in to bat on Sunday afternoon with his team reduced to 35-3, anchored the innings for more than six hours in which he hit 12 boundaries and a six.

Mathews reached his fifth Test century with a flick off Rahat Ali for two runs, but not before he lost two partners off consecutive balls when he was on 99.

Chandimal was trapped leg-before by Imran for 67, ending a 117-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Mathews.

Next man Prasad bagged a ‘king pair’– dismissed first ball in both innings — when he edged the next delivery from Imran to wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed.

Kaushal denied Imran a hat-trick with a defensive push, but the bowler had the last three batsmen caught behind to hasten the end of the innings.

Pakistan won the first Test in Galle by 10 wickets and Sri Lanka took the second in Colombo by seven wickets.

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The Ashes: A statistical review of cricket's greatest rivalry

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Some of the Ashes' most prolific figures.

Ahead of the start of the first Test in Cardiff on Wednesday, cricket stats guru Mohandas Menon looks at the numbers behind cricket's greatest rivalry; The Ashes.

– #360debate: Who will win the 2015 Ashes series?

– MCL: Khurram signs up for inaugural tournament

– Gallery: Top-ten greatest legends in Ashes history
– Cricket Xtra: Shah turns Ajmal into forgotten man

Match results in Ashes series          
Venue Mts Eng Aus Draw Period
In England 158 47 46 65 1884-2013
In Australia 162 56 82 24 1882-2014
Total in Ashes 320 103 128 89 1882-2014
In non-Ashes Tests 16 2 10 4 1877-1988
Overall head to head 336 105 138 93 1882-2014

Note: Since 1877, 16 Tests have been played between the two sides that are not a part of the Ashes. The last such non-Ashes Test was the one-off Bicentenary Test match at Sydney from January 29 to February 2, 1988.

Ashes series summary since 2000            
Month, Year Country Mts Eng Aus Draw Series won
July to Aug 2001 in Eng 5 1 4 0 Australia
Nov 2002 to Jan 2003 in Aus 5 1 4 0 Australia
July-Sep 2005 in Eng 5 2 1 2 England
Nov 2006 to Jan 2007 in Aus 5 0 5 0 Australia
July to Aug 2009 in Eng 5 2 1 2 England
Nov 2010 to Jan 2011 in Aus 5 3 1 1 England
July to Aug 2013 in Eng 5 3 0 2 England
Nov 2013 to Jan 2014 in Aus 5 0 5 0 Australia
Total   40 12 21 7  

Series summary: Played 8: England won 4, Australia 4, Drawn nil

Overall Ashes series results        
Venue Series Eng won Aus won Draw
In England 34 17 14 3
In Australia 34 14 18 2
Total 68 31 32 5

Notes:
** Both teams have met each other in 68 Ashes series so far, of which 34 each been played in their respective countries. Australia are just ahead, having won the series on 32 occasions compared to England’s 31, with five series drawn.
** The Australians held the urn for the longest duration, from August 22, 1934 until August 18, 1953 – nearly 19 years. This, of course, was aided by the period between 1940 and 1945, when no Tests were played because of World War II. Otherwise, the record over the longest uninterrupted period is also held by the Aussies — from 1989 to 2005 – for 16 years. Incidentally, the England team held the Ashes for the shortest period for one year and three months from September 2005 to December 2006.

Highest team totals in Ashes Tests      
England      
903-7d at The Oval Aug 1938 (Won)
658-8d at Nottingham June 1938 (Drawn)
644-10 at Sydney Jan 2011 (Won)
Australia      
729-6d at Lord’s June 1930 (Won)
701-10 at The Oval Aug 1934 (Won)
695-10 at The Oval Aug 1930 (Won)
Lowest team totals in Ashes Tests      
England      
45-10 at Sydney Jan 1887 (Won)
52-10 at The Oval Aug 1948 (Lost)
53-10 at Lord’s Jul 1888 (Lost)
Australia      
36-10 at Birmingham May 1902 (Drawn)
42-10 at Sydney Feb 1888 (Lost)
44-10 at The Oval Aug 1896 (Lost)
Total individual 100s in Ashes Tests  
Total 100s 521 (in England: 238, in Australia: 283)
By England 230 (in England: 108, in Australia: 122)
By Australia 291 (in England: 130, in Australia: 161)
Highest individual scores in Ashes Tests        
England        
364 by Len Hutton at The Oval Aug 1938 (Won)
287 by Reg Foster at Sydney Dec 1903 (Won)
256 by Ken Barrington at Manchester Jul 1964 (Drawn)
Australia        
334 by Don Bradman at Leeds Jul 1930 (Drawn)
311 by Bob Simpson at Manchester Jul 1964 (Drawn)
307 by Bob Cowper at Melbourne Feb 1966 (Drawn)
Leading run-getters in Ashes Tests    
England    
3,636 by Jack Hobbs in 41 mts 71 inns ave 54.27
3,037 by David Gower in 38 mts 69 inns ave 46.01
2,852 by Walter Hammond in 33 mts 58 inns ave 51.85
Most in England: 1,519 runs by Graham Gooch in 24 mts 44 inns ave 34.52
Australia    
5,028 by Don Bradman in 37 mts 63 inns ave 89.78
3,222 by Allan Border in 42 mts 73 inns ave 55.55
3,173 by Steve Waugh in 45 mts 72 inns ave 58.75
Most in England: 2,674 runs by Don Bradman in 19 mts 30 inns ave 102.84
Most individual 100s in Ashes Tests  
England: 12 by Jack Hobbs  (Most in England: 5 by Stanley Jackson)
Australia: 19 by Don Bradman  (Most in England: 11 by Don Bradman)
Best bowling in an innings in Ashes Tests        
England        
10/53 by Jim Laker at Manchester Jul 1956 (Won)
9/37 by Jim Laker at Manchester Jul 1956 (Won)
8/35 by George Lohmann at Sydney Feb 1887 (Won)
Australia        
9/121 by Arthur Mailey at Melbourne Feb 1921 (Won)
8/31 by Frank Laver at Manchester Jul 1909 (Drawn)
8/38 by Glenn McGrath at Lord’s Jun 1997 (Drawn)
Best bowling in a match in Ashes Tests        
England        
19/90 by Jim Laker at Manchester Jul 1956 (Won)
15/104 by Hedley Verity at Lord’s Jun 1934 (Won)
15/124 by Wilfred Rhodes at Melbourne Jan 1904 (Won)
Australia        
16/137 by Bob Massie at Lord’s Jun 1972 (Won)
13/77 by Monty Noble at Melbourne Jan 1902 (Won)
13/148 by Bruce Reid at Melbourne Dec 1990 (Won)
Leading wicket-takers in Ashes Tests  
England  
128 by Ian Botham in 32 mts ave 28.04
123 by Bob Willis in 31 mts ave 24.37
109 by Wilfred Rhodes in 41 mts ave 24.00
Most in England: 78 wickets by Ian Botham in 17 mts ave 25.61
Australia  
195 by Shane Warne in 36 mts ave 23.25
157 by Glenn McGrath in 30 mts ave 20.92
141 by Hugh Trumble in 31 mts ave 20.88
Most in England: 129 wickets by Shane Warne in 22 mts ave 21.94
Overall Test record            
England            
Venue Mts Won Lost Tie Draw %win
Home 489 200 112 0 177 40.90
Away 468 141 165 0 162 30.13
Total 957 341 277 0 339 35.63
Australia            
Venue Mts Won Lost Tie Draw %win
Home 398 226 95 1 76 56.78
Away 377 138 110 1 128 36.60
Total 775 364 205 2 204 46.97

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#360debate: Will Australia beat England and win the 2015 Ashes?

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Ahead of this week’s first Test in Cardiff, Sport360’s Assistant Editor Jaideep Marar and Assistant News Editor Ajit Vijaykumar debate whether Australia can retain the Ashes on English soil.

– #360LIVE: Ball-by-ball updates of Sri Lanka vs Pakistan
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Join in the discussion and have your say by using #360debate on social media or commenting below.

YES – Jaideep Marar

Everything is going swimmingly for Australia in the build-up to the Ashes. They won a Test series in the West Indies weeks before they landed in England and then went on to record back-to-back victories in the tour games to set themselves up nicely ahead of the first Test in Cardiff.

On current form, they are easily the favourites and in best shape to register their first Ashes win in England after 14 years.

The only setback they have suffered has been in the form of Ryan Harris, who retired following a knee injury. Otherwise, it’s all systems go for Clarke & Co.

Australia also steal a march over their arch-rivals in terms of experience and overall strength. Look at the battle for places in the Aussie camp: Chris Rogers and Shaun Marsh for the opening slot, Mitchell Marsh and Shane Watson for the all-rounder’s spot, Peter Siddle and the young pacers.

Such competition not only motivates the players to give their best but it also presents the selectors and captain with a lot of options.

The regulars are also primed for action beginning with opener David Warner, their best batsman and World No1 Steven Smith, captain Michael Clarke and fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

In comparison, England are still in rebuild mode. There is too much attention on new coach Trevor Bayliss, an Aussie, as if he has some magical powers to cure all ills ailing the team. Bayliss can only lead the horse to the water but eventually it is the players who have to step up.

An unsettled opening combination and a wobbly middle order will be easy pickings for Clarke’s army.

Past results on English soil over the last decade may not have gone in Australia’s favour, with seven defeats and just two wins in 15 Tests, but this bunch looks set to improve upon that.

There appears to be no apparent weakness in the squad. Even the Dad’s Army jibe has taken a beating with the 22-year-old Pat Cummins replacing the 35-year-old Harris.

Of course, Harris’ indomitable spirit and fighting qualities will be sorely missed but Australia still have a formidable workforce to tame the Englishmen.

NO – Ajit Vijaykumar

The Ashes is ultimately a bowlers series with the better bowling attack largely ensuring their team comes out on top in the five-match series.

During the last battle Down Under, the Aussies clean swept the series and a big credit for that went to Mitchell Johnson for the fear that he spread among the English camp. But crucial wickets were being taken at the other end, more often that not, with the unrelenting Ryan Harris the star of the show.

While Johnson struck the physical blows, it was Harris and spinner Nathan Lyon who did the crucial clean up. England did not have a similar arsenal and were duly blown away, but the situation is different this time around.

Harris has announced his retirement after his troublesome knee again gave way and as one of the most effective bowlers of the past decade, Australia will miss him.

Secondly, Johnson of 2015 is not the Johnson of late 2013 and early 2014. Also, Lyon has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders but the series has not started well for him, having been thrashed for 200 runs in 34 overs in a warm-up game against Essex.

That leaves the Aussies with left-arm quick Mitchell Starc, greenhorn Josh Hazlewood and and ageing Peter Siddle who has lost more than a couple yards of pace and zip.

It means James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Ben Stokes can match the Aussies in bowling firepower. If it that happens, they can pull the rug from underneath the much-fancied Aussies.

Australia have some concerns in the batting department with elder statesmen Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke expected to face a tough time.

England, meanwhile, have turned over a new leaf since their World Cup woes with a refreshingly attacking display in the series against New Zealand.

The Englishmen have a proud record at home and have beaten the Aussies in the last three series in their own backyard.

With their positive intent and an opponent with a few chinks in the armour, England should fancy their chances.

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