Virat Kohli ousts Steve Smith from top of Test batting rankings as David Warner returns to top five

By Sports Desk December 04, 2019

Virat Kohli has returned to the top of the batting list in the ICC Test Player Rankings ahead of Steve Smith, whose Australia team-mate David Warner is back in the first five.

Smith struggled for form in Australia's dominant series win over Pakistan and, having scored only 36 runs in the second Test in Adelaide, saw his points drop from 931 to 923.

Conversely, India skipper Kohli scored 136 in the day-night Test against Bangladesh and returned to the summit on 928 points.

Warner rose an impressive 12 places to fifth after making a sensational 335 against Pakistan, while fellow Aussie Marnus Labuschagne makes the top 10 for the first time in his career.

England captain Joe Root is back in the top 10 having slipped out last week. He climbs to seventh after a sublime 226 versus New Zealand in the drawn second Test.

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  • Graeme West backs Windies U19s to show their quality Graeme West backs Windies U19s to show their quality

    West Indies U19 Head Coach, Graeme West is backing the young team to show the qualities they have developed in the last year, when they bowl off their ICC U19 Cricket World Cup campaign against three-time tournament winners Australia in Zone B at the De Beers Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Saturday, January 18.

    The team is gaining confidence after wins in the two warm-up games against Canada and Scotland. All 15 players are fit and available for selection as the team begins their preparations for the opening group game against Australia.

    West provided a detailed account of the team’s work as they prepare to start the ICC U19 World Cup which West Indies famously won in 2016.

    “The two warm-up games were certainly competitive and provided all squad members with opportunities to demonstrate their skills and show that they had made the necessary adjustments to the conditions and wickets to be effective,” said West.

    “The Scotland performance was an improvement on the Canada game when Nyeem Young and Antonio Morris batted superbly to turn the game around.

    “The bowling unit was slightly below par against Canada given how well they have performed since the Tri-Series in December, but on Wednesday against Scotland we were far more controlled and disciplined.”

    West said the most pleasing aspect of the Scotland game was the contribution from the top four batters, who needed time in the middle.

    “Kevlon Anderson’s hundred was well-paced as he mixed good strike rotation with some power hitting. Captain Kimani Melius and Leonardo Julien set the tempo for the innings with run-a-ball half-centuries on a wicked that was well suited to their stroke play and positive intent,” West said.

    “We are well aware of the quality Australia and England possess  and both games will provide great opportunities for our players to demonstrate the learning that has taken place over the last year, we know we will have to produce a perfect performance to beat both sides.”

    He urged the West Indies fans to support the young team as they seek to emulate the title-winning class of 2016.

     “They know the importance of the tournament and the stage they are about to perform on and we would love to have everyone supporting and following us. The boys will be doing everything they can to make their friends, families and all the Windies Cricket fans proud,” he said.

     

  • I thought I'd clipped it for two! – Pope overjoyed by maiden century I thought I'd clipped it for two! – Pope overjoyed by maiden century

    Ollie Pope was uncertain if he had reached his maiden Test century for England, believing he had sent the shot take took him to 100 for two rather than four.

    Pope was on 96 when he tucked away a neat shot through a gap in the South African field on his leg side, propelling the 22-year-old to his first Test century on day two in Port Elizabeth.

    The Surrey batsman went on to finish on 135 not out as England declared at 499-9 before limiting South Africa to 60-2 prior to rain stopping play.

    "I thought I'd clipped it for two!" an ecstatic Pope told reporters after stumps.

    "It's quite hard to put into words. I was lucky enough to see Dom Sibley get his first hundred last week, I've seen Ben Foakes get his first hundred in Sri Lanka.

    "I've always sat there watching and been ecstatic for them and thought it must be an amazing feeling. So to actually do it was an awesome feeling."

    However, things would have been different had Pope not heeded the advice of Ben Stokes, who himself scored his ninth Test century.

    Pope was given out leg before wicket to Dane Paterson while on 74, but Stokes convinced the youngster to use a review with two seconds of the 15 remaining.

    "I thought it would be me heading back to the changing rooms to be honest," Pope added.

    "When Stokesy told me to review with two seconds left I thought it was clutching at straws a bit. When we saw the replay we saw the green and it was a pretty good feeling at that point."

    Pope missed significant time in 2019 due to a shoulder injury and says his spell out gave him extra desire to succeed when given the chance with England.

    "From a mental point, I go back to those three months, it gave me a real hunger to come back," Pope said.

    "I had no idea how close I was to the England team at the time but I came back and found a bit of form straight away so it made me that bit hungrier, I think."

  • Kohli hails Rahul and Dhawan as India fend off Australia to square series Kohli hails Rahul and Dhawan as India fend off Australia to square series

    Virat Kohli hailed KL Rahul's contribution as India beat Australia in Rajkot to level their ODI series at 1-1 and set up a decider on Sunday.

    Wicketkeeper-batsman Rahul scored a rapid 80 and had three dismissals behind the stumps as India scored a 36-run victory, defending a total of 340-6 by bowling out Australia for 304.

    Rahul moved from number three to five in the batting order, with captain Kohli nudging up to three, as India adjusted their line-up after a 10-wicket thumping in the opening game of the series.

    Kohli said: "I think it's very important to figure out what is the best team you can put on the park and when someone's batting as well as KL was batting today, it's very difficult to leave someone like that out.

    "Batting at number five and batting like that for the team, this is probably the best he's played at international level according to me. That knock showed maturity and class.

    "We know exactly what we're doing in the changing room. On the outside there's a lot of panic that we don't really focus on."

    Kohli made 78, sharing a 103-run partnership for the second wicket with Shikhar Dhawan, whose 96 helped anchor the innings.

    "Back to three was good for the team so I'm happy from that point of view that it helped the team," Kohli said.

    Paying tribute to Dhawan, Kohli added: "In ODI cricket, he's been one of our most consistent performers. When he plays well it's a good sign for the team. I'm very happy that he scored runs as well. It always augurs well when Rohit [Sharma] and Shikhar both score runs."

    Australia's ODI skipper Aaron Finch accepted his side had allowed India to put too many runs on the board.

    "Yes, probably, but they played very well," Finch said.

    "The whole way through the innings, we were probably one wicket shy of where we really needed to be to contain them at the back end and on an outfield like this with a good wicket and world-class players it can be hard to stop no matter what attack you've got."

    Steve Smith's 98 kept Australia in touch, and Marnus Labuschagne made 46 in his first ODI innings, but Australia folded in the closing overs.

    Ahead of the series decider in Bengaluru, Finch sent a message to his team, saying: "You just have to make sure that when you get in, you capitalise and you go really big.

    "That's probably the area where we were slightly off tonight with the bat, just one wicket too many down as the run rate kept going up."

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