A 3-0 series whitewash is in the sights of India as the Men in Blue get ready to lock horns with West Indies in the third and final T20I in Guyana on Tuesday.
Virat Kohli and his men have already captured the series after taking an unassailable 2-0 lead with two victories in the United States.
Carlos Brathwaite and his men, on the other hand, are looking to avert a series clean sweep as they return to home comforts for the final clash.
Lacklustre Windies look for consolation win
The hosts will be desperate to come up with a win in the final T20 after what has been a disappointing last couple of months for the limited-overs outfit.
While they will be keen to avoid a series whitewash at the hands of the tourists, Brathwaite and his men will also want to take a morale-boosting win ahead of the three-match ODI series as well as the two Tests.
The hosts have been decent with the ball in hand with Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas leading the line, but they have been largely disappointing with the bat in hand.
Evin Lewis has failed in both attempts while the hugely talented Nichols Pooran has been unable to make it count despite getting good starts in both games. The defending world T20 champions will hope that their mercurial batsmen can click for once on Tuesday and hand them a pick-me-up before the start of the ODI series.
Changes on the cards for India
With the series already in the bag, Kohli has hinted that changes could be in store for India when they take the field in the final T20.
“Winning is always going to be a priority. But sealing the series gives the chance to bring a few guys in,” the India skipper had stated after the team’s 22-run win in the second T20.
“The idea is always going to be to win first. But winning the first two games gives the cushion.”
Shreyas Iyer, Rahul Chahar, KL Rahul and Deepak Chahar are among the players who are yet to game in the series and they could all come into play in Tuesday’s clash.
Focus remains on India’s middle-order
While India have won both matches on the tour so far, they are yet to look truly convincing with the bat with Rohit Sharma the sole batsman to register a half-century.
Among the biggest disappointment has been the form of Rishabh Pant with the young wicketkeeper batsman mustering just four runs in two innings while throwing away his wicket in a rash fashion.
It continues an extensively bad run in the limited-overs formats for Pant who is yet to translate his success in Test cricket to white-ball cricket. It will be interesting to see if the young left-hander is given another opportunity on Tuesday given the fact that India’s team management is trying to groom him as MS Dhoni’s long-term successor.
One man who is definitely facing the axe for the final T20 is Manish Pandey with the middle-order batsman flattering to deceive in both innings so far on his international return for India.
West Indies: Evin Lewis, John Campbell, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Kieron Pollard, Carlos Brathwaite (c), Sunil Narine, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Navdeep Saini.
South Africa veteran pacer Dale Steyn has announced his retirement from Test cricket with immediate effect in a bid to prolong his white-ball career.
The 36-year-old decision brings to a close a glittering Test career that saw him overtake Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s all-time leading wicket-taker in the five-day format. Overall in his Test career, Steyn bagged 439 wickets in 93 appearances at an average of less than 23.
The right-armed modern-day great had been hampered by a spate of injuries over the past three years beginning with a fractured shoulder in South Africa’s 2016 tour of Australia. His recent World Cup in England for the Proteas also came to a sad end with the pacer being ruled out of the tournament without playing a single game.
“Today I walk away from a format of the game I love so much. In my opinion Test cricket is the best version of this game,” Steyn said on his Test retirement.
#CSAnews #BreakingNews @DaleSteyn62 has brought down the curtain on one of the great fast bowling Test careers of the modern era when he announced his retirement from red-ball cricket with immediate effect. pic.twitter.com/L3HmWXKRwV— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) August 5, 2019
“It tests you mentally, physically, emotionally. It’s terrible to consider never playing another Test again but what’s more terrifying is the thought of never playing again at all.
“So, I will be focusing on ODIs and T20s for the rest of my career to maximise my full potential and ensure my longevity in this sport. I’d like to thank everyone in cricket, no one specific, because everyone has been a part of my journey. And I look forward to continuing to play for the Proteas in the shorter formats.”
Steyn retires as the fifth-highest Test wicket-taker among pacers in the all-time list with only James Anderson, Glenn McGrath, Courtney Walsh and Stuart Broad ahead of him.
Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe hailed Steyn’s contributions to Proteas cricket following his decision to retire from Test cricket.
“Dale is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats of cricket. From the time he made his Test debut against England in 2004 and dismissed their captain, Michael Vaughan, with a superb delivery, he has been one of the standout fast bowlers in world cricket,” the CSA chief executive stated.
“He has led the South African attack brilliantly and has set the standard for our future generations to follow. More than that he has been a wonderful mentor to our next generation of speedsters.
“We were saddened to hear of his decision, but it is one that management has to accept, and we thank him for his significant contribution to the sport and to the nation and wish him everything of the very best for the future.”
England’s fortress at Edgbaston was breached for the first time in over a decade as Australia completed a crushing 251-run victory over the hosts on the final day to take a 1-0 lead in the Ashes series.
Chasing a stiff target of 385 runs on the final day at Birmingham, England collapsed for just 146 inside two sessions under some relentless bowling from the visitors.
Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins were the chief architects of Australia’s dominant display on Monday with the off-spinner capturing six wickets while the pacer chipped in with four dismissals.
The Aussies were given the perfect start on day five with Cummins dismissing first-innings centurion Rory Burns with a mean bouncer. Jason Roy and skipper Joe Root mustered some resistance with a brief stand but they were both blown away by an inspired Lyon spell just before lunch.
The Aussie off-spinner deceived the advancing Roy with flight and turn to castle his stumps before Cameron Bancroft completed two excellent catches at short-leg to send back Root and Joe Denly off his bowling.
Those three Lyon wickets meant England went into lunch at 85-4 and matters were only compounded for the hosts post the interval. Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow fell to Cummins’ pace while Lyon dismissed Ben Stokes to bag his fourth wicket of the day as England slid to 97-7.
Lyon completed his five-wicket haul by snaring Moeen Ali once again before dismissing Stuart Broad off the very next delivery. Cummins completed the job for the visitors with the final wicket of Chris Woakes as England’s long spell of dominance at Edgbaston came to an end.
The Edgbaston Test will no doubt go down as Steve Smith’s redemption song with the former Australia skipper registering a ton in each innings to mark a triumphant return to the five-day game after more than a year out.
More than the remarkable feat of registering twin tons, it was the manner in which Smith attained those runs that will serve as a timely reminder of his prowess as arguably the best Test batsman of his generation.
The right-hander rescued Australia from a perilous position of 122-8 in the first innings to ultimately help them post a challenging 284. The visitors were in a spot of bother in the second innings as well after conceding a 90-run lead before Smith resurrected them again with a fine 142.
It took Smith’s Ashes tally of tons to 10 and he is now only behind Jack Hobbs (12) and Don Bradman (19) in that regard. For him to do it while being taunted with boos throughout the match makes his heroics all the more remarkable.
Jonny Bairstow’s horror run continues
While none of England’s batsmen covered themselves in glory in the second innings, another failure with the bat for Jonny Bairstow means that the wicketkeeper’s torrid run has continued.
On Monday, Bairstow gloved a Cummins’ short delivery towards the slip cordon after adding just six runs to the scoreboard. He is now averaging just 13.8 with the bat in nine red-ball innings in 2019 while his last five knocks have yielded just 16 runs.
The right-hander’s troubles go all the way back to the summer of 2018 with his average in the last 23 Test innings standing at a mere 22.91. His place in the playing XI is under threat with a talented wicketkeeper in Ben Foakes waiting in the wings and another wicketkeeping option in Jos Buttler also available.
Jonny Bairstow now averaging 22.91 since the start of the 2018 summer in 23 innings.— Tim (@timwig) August 5, 2019
Australia breach fortress Edgbaston
It was the first win for Australia at Edgbaston since their 2001 Ashes win over England and it ended a run of 11 consecutive win across formats at the venue for the hosts.
It was also England’s first Test loss at the venue since their defeat to South Africa over 11 years ago in 2008. The hosts had lost only three Tests previously to Australia at Edgbaston in 14 attempts and only once in the last 26 years.