Virat Kohli's growing appreciation for South Africa batsman Aiden Markram

Sudhir Gupta 31/03/2018
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Virat Kohli with Aiden Markram in Centurion.

India captain Virat Kohli has taken a special liking to South Africa batsman Aiden Markram. Last week Kohli had praised Markram on Twitter after the opener hit 84 in the third Test against Australia in Cape Town.

And then on Friday, Kohli again took to social media to show his appreciation for the 23-year-old batsman after he hit 152 against the Aussies in Johannesburg.

While Kohli’s earlier tweet said “Aiden Markram is a delight to watch!”, his latest message was simply a couple of emojis next to Markram’s name.

Understandably, the South African is delighted to receive such praise for one of the finest batsmen of his generation.

“It’s quite a special feeling. There are a lot of players that I look up to who are a bit older than me and he (Kohli) is one of them,” Markram said. “His competitiveness is something to admire and his motivation to keep scoring runs is something I’ve tried to take on board.”

Earlier in the year, Markram had thanked Kohli for appreciating his knock of 94 against India in the Centurion Test.

“He came across and said, ‘Well played, you were unlucky to get out.’ It was a great touch from him. He is a massive competitor as everyone sees on the TV, but it’s great to see that he has got good values that people off the field might not see. It was a great gesture and it meant a lot,” Markram had said.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan, ex-India player Deep Dasgupta and commentator Harsha Bhogle also joined Kohli in applauding the South African.

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Stuart Broad takes four wickets but New Zealand fight back against England

David Clough 31/03/2018
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Stuart Broad (left) was in fine form for England

Stuart Broad earned England a tenuous advantage in a fluctuating second Test despite New Zealand‘s fightback in Christchurch.

Broad (four for 38) and James Anderson put the home reply to 307 all out in big trouble on 36 for five early on the second afternoon, only for Colin de Grandhomme (72) and BJ Watling (77no) to reprise the resistance led 24 hours earlier by England’s centurion Jonny Bairstow.

Their record stand of 142 helped New Zealand to 192 for six by stumps – and whatever the remaining twists and turns, they had already ensured no one-way traffic here as they bid for a famous series win and England try to avoid ending their conspicuously unsuccessful winter on another low note.

The tourists’ new-ball pair threatened to consign New Zealand to the same dire straits they had chartered themselves on day one of this series in Auckland last week.

Broad struck with just his third delivery, Tom Latham edging an attempted drive to Bairstow for a duck, and the Kiwis were minus both openers when Jeet Raval fell in similar fashion to Anderson.

By the end of the 10th over, it was 17 for four, with Broad apparently kickstarting one of the hot streaks for which he used to be famed.

He had Ross Taylor edging another attempted drive to Alastair Cook at slip, and then overturned an initial not-out verdict against
Henry Nicholls – who fell for a duck on his home ground.

Kane Williamson had already had the closest of calls against Anderson when he survived a review for lbw on nine, but he could not make it count after lunch as England’s all-time leading wicket-taker got him anyway – with Bairstow’s help, catching down the leg-side this time.

That, though, was the high point of the tourists’ fortunes before De Grandhomme and Watling shut out everyone for 50 overs – including three from Ben Stokes, his first in a Test since last September thanks to his stiff back of late – in their country’s highest sixth-wicket stand against England.

De Grandhomme almost immediately served notice of his intent to counter-attack, as he quickly climbed into three leg-side fours in four balls off Mark Wood – who, unlike his pace colleagues, religiously followed an apparent gameplan to bowl short and fast.

It resulted in one alarming clunk on the head for Watling, on 10, but little else of note other than an occasional mis-hook which missed the field.

As on day one, batting became a relatively serene pursuit against an older ball – and as the Kiwi pair cashed in, de Grandhomme deposited a 75-ball 50.

Watling followed at a more studied tempo from 125, albeit with a slog-swept six off debutant spinner Jack Leach to reach the milestone.

It took the evening return of Broad to at last bring a breakthrough when with only the second delivery of his new spell he had De
Grandhomme edging behind as he moved above Curtly Ambrose into 14th in the all-time Test list with 406 wickets.

England’s final two wickets had occupied only 6.5 more overs on the morning resumption, in which Bairstow (101) added the three runs he needed for his fifth Test hundred and one more too before he was last out upper-cutting Trent Boult (four for 87) to third-man.

Leach departed two balls later, caught-behind off Tim Southee (six for 62), to end a stand of 48.

England might have hoped to add a few more, but their own recovery from 94 for five was still enough to give them a mid-match edge.

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Former Australia Test vice-captain David Warner takes 'full responsibility' for ball-tampering scandal

David Cooper 31/03/2018
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Former Australia vice-captain David Warner apologised in tears Saturday for his role in ball-tampering but said he may appeal his 12-month ban in the latest emotional public appearance over the scandal.

A sobbing Warner said he realised he may never play for his country again. But he stonewalled questions about who was aware of the plot and whether it was the first such incident within the team.

Warner, 31, told a media conference in Sydney: “I can honestly say I have only wanted to bring glory to my country through playing cricket.

“In striving to do so I have made the decision which has had the opposite effect and it’s one that I will regret for as long as I live.”

Warner’s appearance comes after similar heartfelt apologies by opening batsman Cameron Bancroft and captain Steve Smith, who broke down when he faced the media on Thursday.

Coach Darren Lehmann, convinced to step down after seeing the apologies from Bancroft and Smith, was also tearful as he announced his resignation.

Smith and Warner were banned from international and domestic cricket for a year and Bancroft was suspended for nine months after the incident during the third Test in Cape Town.

Bancroft was caught on camera trying to use yellow sandpaper to alter the ball, an offence which triggered an outpouring of criticism against the hard-nosed Australian team.

Warner, a dynamic batsman but a divisive figure in the game, was charged by Cricket Australia with developing the plot and telling Bancroft to carry it out.

When questioned about a possible appeal, Warner said: “That’s something that I will continue to sit down with my family and weigh up all my considerations before I make any decisions.”

A report Saturday said Bancroft was set to lodge an appeal and had sought legal advice ahead of Thursday’s appeals deadline.

Warner, who struggled to control his emotions during his 10-minute media conference, apologised to both teams, their fans, Cricket Australia and his family, including his wife Candice who was also crying as she watched from the media seats.

But when asked for further details of the plot, such as whether it was his idea, who else was aware and whether it had happened before, he avoided the question.

“I am here today to accept my responsibility for my part and my involvement for what happened in Cape Town,” Warner said.

“It’s inexcusable, I am deeply sorry. I will do everything I can to earn back the respect of the Australian public.”

Warner, who has played 74 Test since his debut in 2011, said he would be seeking ways to make character changes. Warner, who has been described as the team’s “attack dog”, was also banned in 2013 after punching England’s Joe Root in a bar.

“I suppose there is a tiny ray of hope that I may one day be given the privilege of playing for my country again, but I am resigned to the fact that may never happen,” he said.

“But in the coming weeks and months I am going to look at what has happened and who I am as a man.

“To be honest, I am not sure right now how I will do this, I will seek out advice and expertise to make serious changes.”

Warner called it a “horrible” decision, adding: “I failed in my responsibilities as vice-captain of the Australian cricket team.”

The fallout from the crisis has seen Warner dumped by sponsors ASICS and LG. Along with Smith, he has also been ejected from this year’s Indian Premier League, losing contracts worth nearly US$2 million each.

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