Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting formally inducted into ICC's Hall of Fame

Sport360 staff 26/12/2018
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Another feather in Ricky Ponting's cap.

Former skipper Ricky Ponting became the 25th Australia cricketer to be inducted into ICC’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday during the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne.

Ponting was formally inducted into the prestigious Hall of Fame during the tea interval on day one of the third Test between Australia and India.

The 44-year-old was earlier been named in the Hall of Fame alongside former India batsman Rahul Dravid and England women’s Claire Taylor during the ICC Annual Conference at Dublin in July this year.

Ponting was presented with his commemorative plaque by his former Australia team-mate and pacer Glenn McGrath during the short ceremony at the MCG.

One of the only two captains in cricket history to lead their respective teams to two separate World Cup crowns, Ponting expressed his delight in receiving the plaque from McGrath.

“I have lots of great memories with Glenn. I went to the cricket academy with Glenn in about 1990, so I have known Glenn for a long time. It’s a really cool thing that they do to have a fellow inductee actually hand over your cap and induct you in, so to have someone like Glenn do it, with whom I’m working with now and have played with for 10 or 12 years, makes the whole thing a little bit better,” the Aussie stated upon receiving the honour.

Ponting remains one the greatest batsmen ever produced by Australia with 13,378 runs to his name from 168 Tests and has 41 tons to his credit. He had an equally stellar record in the ODI format where he garnered 13,704 runs from 375 matches with the help of 30 centuries.

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Cricket Australia officials to reportedly visit Pakistan to review security arrangements

Waseem Ahmed 26/12/2018
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The two teams could play a couple of ODIs in Pakistan in 2019.

Pakistan’s hopes of holding ODI matches against Australia on its own soil received a boost with Cricket Australia officials reportedly set to visit the country in the near future to review security arrangements.

International cricket in Pakistan has been on a hiatus since 2009 following the terrorist attacks on the Sri Lanka team bus and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has been putting on the moves in recent times to change that scenario.

Incoming PCB managing director Wasim Khan has stated in several interviews that he is determined to bring back international cricket to Pakistan in a big way. With the Men in Green set to face Australia in an ODI series in the UAE just ahead of the 2019 World Cup, the board has reached out to their Aussie counterparts in a bid to hold some of the matches on Pakistan soil.

The approach had been received positively by Cricket Australia (CA) who have kept the option of the national team touring Pakistan open.

“We are in ongoing discussions with the PCB about the one-day tour in March next year. We recognise the PCB and the Pakistan government are taking every step to improve the security for touring cricket teams and we’ll continue discussions with the PCB, with the safety and security of Australian players and support staff being our number one priority,” a CA official had told Sydney Morning Herald recently.

International cricket remains at a crossroads in Pakistan.

International cricket remains at a crossroads in Pakistan.

Now, according to a report by The News International, a team of CA officials will visit the country during the 2019 edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) to gauge the levels of security.

“Yes, indications are very bright about Australia team’s plan to play a part of forthcoming One-Day series in Pakistan. They have planned to play at least two of the scheduled five matches in Pakistan. Rest is to be held in UAE,” the report quoted a PCB official as saying.

“Realistically speaking CA wants to play part of the series in Pakistan. The security officials would also call on Australian High Commissioner who would be invited to watch the PSL matches. They would also meet Pakistan security experts and government officials to know as what kind of arrangements are there,” added the official.

The fourth edition of the PSL gets underway in the UAE on February with as many as eight matches to take place on Pakistan soil. Pakistan and Australia are scheduled to play five ODI matches in the UAE before the two teams depart to England for the ICC 50-over World Cup.

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Babar Azam's rescue act and other takeaways from Boxing Day opener at Centurion

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A fine 71-run knock from Pakistan's Babar Azam.

The Test series between South Africa and Pakistan got off to a rollicking start at Centurion on Boxing Day with not much to separate the two sides at the end of play.

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to bat first before his side were bowled out for 181 runs in their first innings. In response, the Proteas had reached 127-5 when stumps were drawn on day one.

At the end of an eventful day which saw a total of 15 wickets fall, we look at the key talking points.

OLIVIER BREAKS PAKISTAN’S BACK AS STEYN CREATES HISTORY

When Pakistan’s batsmen took the field at Centurion, they would have identified South Africa’s pacers Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn as their biggest threat. They were not wrong with the Proteas’ new-ball duo removing both openers early as Steyn leapfrogged Shaun Pollock to become his country’s all-time leading wicket-taker in Test cricket.

However, it was the unheralded Duanne Olivier who proved to be Pakistan’s undoing on day one with the seamer picking up a career-best 6-37.

The 26-year-old was fortuitous in picking up the scalps of Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq in the first session but there was no luck involved in his dismissals of Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, Azhar Ali and Mohammad Amir as he notched up his maiden five-for in Test cricket.

The seamer kept pitching the ball in the right zones throughout the day and the six dismissals was just reward for his persistence and consistency. To upstage the likes of Rabada and Steyn is no mean feat and Olivier deserves all the recognition he gets after his six-wicket blitz.

BABAR RESCUES PAKISTAN WITH COUNTER-ATTACKING SALVO

When Olivier picked up his fifth wicket, Pakistan had slumped to 96-7 and were in real danger of folding around the 100-run mark. That is when Babar Azam took matters into his own hands with the Pakistan batsman turning the tide with a counter-attacking half-century.

The 24-year-old looked extremely fluent while batting with the Pakistan tail as he took the attack to South Africa’s pacers. Dealing primarily in boundaries, Babar struck as many as 15 of them in his 79-ball stay at the crease which yielded 71 runs.

The right-hander forged a 67-run stand with Hasan Ali for the ninth wicket as he raced away to a brisk fifty on a difficult surface. His late assault on Steyn was a joy to watch for the neutrals with Babar smashing four boundaries in a single over to slightly blemish a record-breaking day for the veteran pacer.

By the time he fell for 71, Babar had ensured Pakistan reached a respectable total on a pitch which made batting look like hard work.

PACERS KEEP PAKISTAN IN THE HUNT

With just 181 runs on the board to play with, Pakistan’s bowlers had their work cut out in the final session of the day at Centurion.

Despite a brisk 69-run stand for the fifth wicket, the visitors kept themselves in contention with their bowlers chipping away with regular wickets.

It was Hasan Ali who provided the initial breakthrough with a terrific delivery to dismiss Aiden Markram before Mohammad Amir ensured Hashim Amla’s wretched 2018 continued unabated.

Pakistan teenager Shaheen Afridi then picked up two scalps in as many deliveries as the hosts lost three quick wickets on the score of 43 without the addition of a single run.

Theunis de Bruyn and Temba Bavuma then forged together a half-century stand in quick-time to put South Africa back in front but Amir struck late in the day to keep Pakistan’s hopes intact as he got the better of the former.

With the Proteas still trailing in the first innings by 54 runs, Sarfraz and his men will believe they still have a chance of a positive result in the Test.

Amir and Co have kept Pakistan's hopes afloat.

Amir and Co have kept Pakistan’s hopes afloat.

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