Stadium: Dubai Stadium
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Pakistan could be without both their regular openers when the second Test against New Zealand starts today, but captain Misbah-ul Haq is confident his side can keep up the winning momentum despite the setback.
Already ahead in the three-Test match series after winning the first Test in Abu Dhabi, Pakistan will be the overwhelming favourites to make it 2-0 at Dubai International Stadium, but they will have to plan for the absence of Ahmed Shehzad as well as Mohammad Hafeez.
Shehzad, who made 176 in Abu Dhabi, has been sent home after sustaining a minor skull fracture when hit by a Corey Anderson bouncer, while Hafeez strained his hamstring while batting in the second innings when he made an unbeaten 101. The two had put together 178 for the opening wicket.
There was still a chance that Hafeez might be fit to play, what’s sure is that he won’t be able to bowl his off-spinners after being reported for a suspect bowling action during the first Test, and that he’d have a new opening partner in the form of Taufeeq Umar, or Shan Masood.
The 33-year-old Umar would be the preferred choice, having the experience of 43 Test matches compared to Masood’s two.
“Obviously, there is a difference on the opposition as well as us, especially psychologically, when any in-form player is missing a match,” said Misbah, who became Pakistan’s most successful captain by winning his 15th Test match in Abu Dhabi..
“There is a bit of pressure on the other team because of your form players, and that is an advantage you lose when such a player gets injured.
“But I am very confident that the other players we have, they are good enough and they also understand these conditions well. I am sure these new guys can also give us a good start. It is a good chance for them to prove their talent.
“We are concerned about Hafeez’s injury, although we haven’t taken any final decision on him. He pulled his hamstring while batting in the second innings in Abu Dhabi, but he is much better now and we will have to wait for what our physio says tomorrow,” he added.
One big factor in Pakistan’s dominance in the recent Test matches – they also beat Australia 2-0 prior to this series – is that Misbah has been very lucky with the coin and has won the toss in all previous matches.
That has helped them bat in the most favourable conditions in the first two days, and bowl in the fourth innings after the pitch had deteriorated.
While New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum felt the toss would once again play a crucial role, Misbah was confident his batsmen would put up a good total even if they had to bat second.
“Sometimes it is an advantage but obviously it’s out of our control. The good thing is that we are batting well in the second innings as well when the wicket gets slower.
“In terms of our batting we are confident and we will be ready even if we lose the toss,” Misbah said.
McCullum added: “I spoke to someone the other day who said it is going to be a juicy wicket and when I asked if it was juicy for seam, he said it is juicy for spin. It does not surprise me. You have to expect this when you come to this part of the world. We have made some improvements from our last match. I am confident my guys will step up and make some adjustments and put in a good performance.
“The toss is very crucial in terms of allowing us a chance to win the game but it does not mean that is the end of it,” he said.
Rival captains Virat Kohli and Angelo Mathews both scored 139 not out, but it was India who emerged winners over Sri Lanka by three wickets in Ranchi to clinch the one-day international series 5-0.
Sri Lanka made 286 for eight batting first with Mathews smashing 10 sixes and six fours in his power-packed 116-ball knock – his maiden ODI century – and he also grabbed two early wickets.
India were left struggling when Ajantha Mendis (four for 73) reduced the hosts to 231 for seven in reply, but Kohli stayed firm throughout the innings to see his side home with eight balls left.
Sri Lanka’s batting had survived 50 overs just once this series before this match, but Tillakaratne Dilshan cared little, milking Dhawal Kulkarni for three boundaries in the first over of the day.
It was a false dawn, though, as debutant Niroshan Dickwella went cheaply to Kulkarni while Dilshan (35) hit two fours off Stuart Binny in the sixth over but was bowled two balls later.
Dinesh Chandimal (five) and Mahela Jayawardene (32) fell in quick succession to Akshar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin respectively, before Thirimanne and Mathews hit back.
Sri Lanka laboured to 100 in 24 overs, and it took a further 13 overs for the next 50.
Mathews brought up his fifty in the 40th over with Sri Lanka’s first six, with Thirimanne happy to survive three lbw appeals in his 52.
The duo’s second-straight century stand was broken when Thirimanne was caught slogging off Ashwin, soon followed by Patel’s dismissal of Thisara Perera.
But Mathews added nine more sixes to his tally in a superb finish for the Lankans, even though Kulkarni grabbed two late wickets.
Mathews then turned wicket-taker as India suffered a poor start to their chase, the visiting skipper bowling Ajinkya Rahane (two) and Thursday’s double-centurion Rohit Sharma (nine) in successive overs.
However, from 14 for two, Kohli and Ambati Rayudu (59) launched a superb fightback to turn the tables back in India’s favour with a 136-run partnership.
Kohli had little trouble getting to his third successive fifty and neither did Rayudu seven overs later, but a horrible mix-up had the latter run-out with India on 150.
— Punjab Update (@Punjabupdate) November 16, 2014
Kohli also passed 1,000 runs for 2014, joined earlier in that club by Mathews, who took a brilliant diving catch to dismiss Robin Uthappa (19) as India were reduced to 180 for four.
The hosts still looked favourites at that stage, but Mendis then produced a brilliant spell to bowl debutant Kedar Jadhav (20), before getting rid of Binny and Ashwin in successive deliveries in the 44th over.
With India suddenly wobbling, needing 47 runs off the final five overs with only three wickets left, the pressure was on Kohli, who duly responded with boundary shots helped along by Patel’s cameo of 17 in a 57-run stand.
It gave the initiative back to India and Kohli fittingly helped finish things off with two sixes off Mendis in the 49th over. Kohli also struck one other maximum and 12 fours off 126 balls as he recorded his 21st ODI hundred – leaving him joint fifth in the all-time list and top among those still active.
South Africa struck back with a vengeance in the second One-Day International against Australia at the WACA Ground in Perth on Sunday, levelling the series with a three-wicket win.
Proteas skipper AB de Villiers had vowed his side would be seeking redemption after being beaten by 32 runs in the series opener on Friday.
His team backed those words with a superb bowling display as the home side were dismissed for just 154 in 41.4 overs on what appeared a good batting wicket.
South Africa overcame some anxious moments and reckless batting to edge to the victory target, reaching 157 for seven in just 27.4 overs.
Paceman Josh Hazlewood was one bright light for the Australians, with career-best figures of 5-31.
Towering paceman Morne Morkel led the way for South Africa with 5-21, his second five-wicket haul in One-Day Internationals and career-best figures in a man-of-the-match performance.
Morkel said the South Africans were much better with the ball on Sunday, after conceding 300 runs on Friday. “We put them under pressure more today,” he said.
“On this wicket you need to go a touch fuller. It’s always nice when the ball is carrying and the keeper is catching it head high, but you are actually just wasting energy.
“For us it was important to find the right length, which on the WACA wicket we found was a bit fuller.” By contrast, stand-in Australian captain George Bailey was less than impressed with his side’s batting.
“There were probably not that many dismissals where guys would say that ball was too good, but it was a culmination of South Africa building pressure and our batters exploding a bit,” Bailey said.
The South Africans made an impact with the ball from the outset, destroying the Australian top order to have the home side in deep trouble at 34-4.
I like to finish games, so I was a bit angry with myself for getting out like that but I’m very happy with the win today. – AB #ProteaFire
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) November 16, 2014
It was Morkel who struck the first blow with David Warner caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock for a duck.
Warner was initially given not out, but replays showed clear contact with the glove and Nigel Llong overturned the initial decision.
Bailey and emerging all-rounder Mitchell Marsh raised Australian hopes briefly when they added 58 for the fifth wicket before Bailey was brilliantly caught by a diving du Plessis from the bowling of Vernon Philander (1-16) for 25.
Bailey was captaining Australia in the absence of Michael Clarke, who was ruled out of the remainder of the series with a recurrence of a left hamstring problem during his team’s opening victory.
Marsh was the only Australian batsman to offer significant resistance, compiling 67 from 88 balls. A contentious third umpire decision helped swing the game firmly back South Africa’s way as Australia’s middle order tried to rally after the poor start.
Australia were 125-5 when Matthew Wade was given not out caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock from the bowling of Morkel, but after lengthy deliberation the decision was overturned.
Morkel struck again without addition of the score, bowling Glenn Maxwell for a duck.
The giant South African quick then removed Mitchell Johnson, caught behind for three, to claim his fifth scalp for the innings as Australia slumped to 129-8.