India v South Africa: Host spinners get late reward as Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock lead Proteas fightback

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200 Test wickets for Ravindra Jadeja. Image credit - BCCI/Twitter.

South Africa came out battling on Day Three of the first Test against India, the visitors recovering from a poor start with the bat before ultimately giving themselves a fighting chance to avoid a potential loss.

Having started the day’s play at 39-3, the Proteas stretched their first-innings total to 385-8 after superb tons from opener Dean Elgar and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

With the visitors now trailing India by 117 runs in the first innings, it is still the hosts who hold the edge in the Test although South Africa have managed to confirm that they won’t bow out without a fight.

At the end of what was a frustrating day for the hosts on the field, we look at the key talking points from Vizag.

Defiant Elgar joins the 100 club for openers

After India openers Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal had cracked tons earlier in the match, it was the turn of their South African counterpart Dean Elgar to join in on the fun.

The left-hander had it all to do after Ishant Sharma’s dismissal of Temba Bavuma in the morning session reduced South Africa to 63-4, but he found the perfect ally in skipper Faf du Plessis to mount a terrific comeback for his side.

Despite India’s spinners getting significant purchase on the Vizag pitch, Elgar was undeterred as he took the attack to the hosts in uncharacteristic style. The southpaw forged valuable partnerships with Du Plessis and then De Kock as he marched his way to a first Test ton in India.

Getting to the three-figure landmark with a swashbuckling six, Elgar dug in for the long haul and was looking good for a double ton before his defiant knock of 160 was ended by Ravindra Jadeja in the final session of the day.

In total, the South African struck a total of four sixes and 18 boundaries in his 287-ball marathon stay with his century being the first by any Proteas batsman in India since 2010.

De Kock’s sensational tour continues

India thought they had found their much-needed opening when Ashwin ended Faf du Plessis’ 55-run knock but it wasn’t to be with Quinton de Kock coming out all guns blazing.

The South Africa wicketkeeper batsman had been the star of the preceding T20 series with two half-centuries in as many innings and he continued that golden form by slamming a rapid Test ton.

The left-hander was in no mood to be subdued by India’s spin attack as he unleashed a flurry of boundaries at Vizag to race away to his maiden Test ton in India and fifth overall. Like Elgar, De Kock too, got to his hundred with a sumptuous six as he displayed a varied range of strokes on the off-side in a stellar innings.

The 32-year-old was instrumental in the visitors avoiding the follow-on and he was batting at a strike-rate of nearly 70 before he was undone by a straighter delivery from Ashwin which sneaked past his defence.

While the Proteas man will be disappointed to not have held fort for longer, his superb counter-attack relieved much of the pressure on his side and has provided them with a glimmer of hope.

Jadeja brings up 200 Test wickets in a day of toil for India’s spinners

After India’s spin duo of Ravi Ashwin and Jadeja snared three wickets fairly early towards the end of Day Two, the hosts would have expected them to run through the South African batting card in a jiffy on Friday.

However, that proved not to be the case with Elgar and De Kock resisting them in fine style. It wasn’t due to a lack of trying though, with the two spinners making the ball spit and jump at the batsmen with venom with remarkable frequency.

While Ashwin’s perseverance was rewarded with the important scalp of Du Plessis, Jadeja got his due reward late in the day when he got Elgar to miscue a sweep into the hands of Cheteshwar Pujara.

It was the 200th Test dismissal for the India man and it came in only his 44th Test appearance. With that breakthrough, Jadeja has now become the quickest of all left-armed bowlers in history to bring up 200 Test wickets.

It turned out to be an important breakthrough for India  as well in the end with Ashwin adding the late scalps of De Kock and Vernon Philander to bring up his five-wicket haul.

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Andy Moles appointed as Afghanistan's director of cricket and chief selector

Waseem Ahmed 4/10/2019
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New role for Andy Moles. Image credit - ACB/Twitter.

England’s Andy Moles has been appointed as Afghanistan’s director of cricket as well as the new chief selector.

The former Warwickshire batsman had previously served as the head coach for Afghanistan in 2014-15 while he also took charge of the team on an interim basis following the exit of Phil Simmons after the 2019 World Cup.

With former South Africa all-rounder Lance Klusner having been appointed as the new head coach of the men’s team until the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) have opted to move Moles up in the hierarchy.

Following Afghanistan’s dismal campaign in the World Cup in England where they lost all nine of their matches, Moles was appointed the head coach on an interim basis. The Englishman took charge of the team for their recent tour of Bangladesh where they registered their second Test win with a 224-run victory over the hosts at Chattogram.

Under Moles’ stewardship, the Afghans also qualified for the final of the T20I tri-series in Bangladesh where they ultimately shared the trophy with the hosts after a washed-out final.

In his extensive coaching career, Moles has been at the helm for Hong Kong, Kenya, Scotland and most recently with New Zealand in 2009. He was in charge of the Afghanistan team for their 2015 World Cup campaign in Australia-New Zealand where their sole victory came against his former team Scotland.

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Joe Root hoping Test cricket takes priority as England's hunt for new coach nears end

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England skipper Joe Root.

Joe Root is eager to begin working alongside a new England coach, with Gary Kirsten still the firm favourite to succeed Trevor Bayliss.

Kirsten was initially thought to be out of the picture due to the touring demands of the job and his recently-agreed role with Welsh Fire in the Hundred, but the England and Wales Cricket Board have been willing to remove both hurdles.

England are open to allowing assistant coaches to take an expanded role to allow the top man a less prohibitive schedule and the ECB may be tempted to use a vacancy in the Hundred to appoint an aspiring English coach such as Marcus Trescothick.

Kirsten, who had a fine track record with South Africa and India, could be appointed as early as next week if talks continue to go smoothly, while two members of Bayliss’ backroom team – Chris Silverwood and Graham Thorpe – have shown interest in stepping up to the top job.

The experienced Graham Ford has also been linked, but reports suggest former England captain and current Surrey chief Alec Stewart has now withdrawn.

Coach Kirsten helped in forging two world beating teams.

Coach Kirsten helped in forging two world beating teams.

As Test captain, Root is not directly involved in the process, with director of cricket Ashley Giles in charge of making the appointment, but he has run the rule over the candidates and likes what he has seen.

“I’ve been made aware of who has been going in for interview and some of those candidates are really exciting. You look at the list and I’m thrilled with the names involved,” he said.

“There’s a lot of noise around certain individuals but the group have all done special things and could bring good things to English cricket. Ashley has got an exciting but difficult decision to make. That’s not my pay grade.

“The sooner the better but ultimately I think Ash is just desperate to make the right decision.

“One thing you always want from a new coach is a bit of energy and a slightly different way of going about things. Trevor did a brilliant job managing English cricket but I’m sure whoever comes in will want to put their stamp on it quite early.

“Personally I’m looking forward to Test cricket being slightly more of a priority than it has been for the past few years.”

Provided by Press Association Sports

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