The first Test between Australia and India is delicately poised after 15 wickets fell during an eventful second day at the Adelaide Oval. 

India had resumed on 233-6 but their tail did not last too long in the opening session, the final four wickets going down for 11 runs as they were all out for 244. 

However, the tourists hit back impressively with the ball, dismissing Australia for 191 despite a battling knock of 73 not out from home captain Tim Paine.

Needing to bat a short period under the floodlights prior to stumps, opener Prithvi Shaw fell to Pat Cummins for four as the tourists ended on 9-1, Mayank Agarwal not out on five with nightwatchman Jasprit Bumrah yet to get off the mark.

With a lead of 62 runs, India holds the upper hand. Still, their advantage should be even greater in the series opener, having seen a number of opportunities go begging in the field. 

Virat Kohli's side lost two wickets in as many overs to start proceedings on Friday, Ravichandran Ashwin (15) and Wriddhiman Saha (9) departing early to Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc respectively. 

The same bowlers claimed a further wicket apiece to wrap up the innings, Starc ending with figures of 4-53 as he equalled Richie Benaud's career tally of 248 for Australia. Cummins, meanwhile, finished with 3-48. 

Australia's reply saw new opening pair Joe Burns and Matthew Wade fall cheaply – both to Bumrah – while Steve Smith managed just a single from 29 balls before he was dismissed by Ashwin. 

Travis Head and debutant Cameron Green also fell to the spinner to leave the score at 79-5, though India's failure to dismiss Marnus Labuschagne on no less than four occasions allowed the right-hander to make a welcome 47. 

Yet it was Paine who caused the most problems for the visiting attack, the wicketkeeper-batsman also dropped as he made the third-highest score of his Test career, hitting 10 boundaries in a 99-ball knock that saw him run out of support in the end. 

Starc's run out for 15 did not help the cause - he was short when attempting a risky second - before Nathan Lyon became the fourth wicket for the impressive Ashwin (4-55). 

Umesh Yadav (3-40) had Josh Hazlewood caught to wrap up the innings and, while Shaw failed to survive a difficult short session before stumps, India will be pleased with their overall position.

Jacob Duffy claimed a four-wicket haul on his international debut as New Zealand triumphed in the Twenty20 series opener against Pakistan in Auckland.

With Lockie Ferguson ruled out through injury and Trent Boult absent for the first of three T20 matches between the countries, pace bowler Duffy seized his opportunity to help restrict the tourists to 153-9.

A Pakistan top order missing talismanic captain Babar Azam – ruled out due to a broken thumb – lost four wickets for 20 runs in the opening 25 deliveries of their innings at Eden Park, a terrible start having elected to bat first after winning the toss.

Duffy claimed three of them during a one-sided powerplay, including Abdullah Shafique and Mohammad Hafeez for ducks, as he finished with 4-33. 

Shadab Khan was his final wicket after Pakistan's stand-in skipper had made a top score of 42 from 32 deliveries, while Faheem Ashraf contributed 31. Scott Kuggeleijn also impressed with the ball for New Zealand, finishing with 3-27.

New Zealand's reply saw Martin Guptill fall early, but fellow opener Tim Seifert led the chase with a well-placed 57 that included a solitary six, as well as six fours.

Glenn Phillips (23) and Mark Chapman – who made 34 from just 20 balls – helped the hosts stay on course for victory, though at 129-5 there was a glimmer of hope for Pakistan.

However, James Neesham and skipper Mitchell Santner – filling in for Kane Williamson – finished unbeaten on 15 and 12 respectively to see their team home with five wickets to spare in the penultimate over.

Williamson will be back to lead the Black Caps when the series continues in Hamilton on Sunday, with the third and final contest staged in Napier on December 22.

Jermaine Blackwood was the only West Indies batsman to emerge from the West Indies tour of New Zealand with his reputation intact in what was otherwise a disastrous tour in which some batsmen averaged less than the team’s bowlers.

The West Indies does not lack talent in cricket but a lot more is needed if the team is to rise from the doldrums to become a respected force once more.

These sentiments were expressed by Head Coach Phil Simmons and White-Ball Captain Kieron Pollard in the aftermath of another losing series, this time in New Zealand where the West Indies lost the T20 series and Test series by 2-0 margins.

Since then, debate has swirled around the failings of the West Indies and what, if anything, can be done to bring about a reversal of fortunes.

Simmons and Pollard are of the view that a lot needs to be done administratively and by the players, if things are to change for the better.

“We are never, in the Caribbean, wanting for talent,” Simmons said in a video from CWI posted on Youtube on Wednesday.

“But now is a time for us to realize that all the talent we have hasn’t taken us anywhere and that there are some things that have to go with the talent. “There’s teaching, there’s understanding, there’s learning how to play different games in all different formats.

“There is a lot to be done still. We have to put together everything else in the Caribbean that goes with the talent to make it a successful unit again.”

Pollard, one of the best T20 players in the world and who has played with in some of the best T20 leagues across the globe, while agreeing with the head coach, opined that until the structures can be put in place for the West Indies to make full use of the talent, the current crop of players need to shoulder a greater share of responsibility. This, he said, would likely inspire the administrators to do more.

“We talk about fixing cricket and wanting to take it forward but I think as individuals, the hard work needs to be put in and I just believe that sometimes you look at it, it needs to start at the administration level,” Pollard said.

“In this case, I think we can be the driving force on the field, the group of guys we have at present, we can continue to show that we have the drive and the determination and desire to go forward and push forward, and also put ourselves in uncomfortable positions in order for this vehicle to go forward then it would transcend onto the administration and they will realize that we need to pull our socks up.

“When you look at it, we are not wanting for talent. Talent, pound for pound, we are always there and sometimes a lot better than we have seen around the world but what they have around the world is structure. What they have is people investing in the cricket, investing in themselves.”

Pollard believes the West Indies have remained in the doldrums for a long time because of a willingness to accept mediocrity suggesting that, unfortunately, it part of Caribbean culture.

He said with a renewed effort to move forward, hopefully the effort will attract the type of investment needed in regional cricket.

“There is still a long way to go in terms of playing in proper facilities. Pitches in the Caribbean, in all honesty, are not at a great standard. Things that we call world class, when you go away you see world class and those are the things we need to see as individuals and from an administration point of view.”

Pakistan seamer Mohammad Amir has retired from international cricket, the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed on Thursday. 

The 28-year-old initially announced his retirement from Test cricket in July 2019, citing a desire to focus on limited-overs matches.

However, he has now called time on his international career altogether. 

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) did not provide a reason for Amir's decision, but the bowler said earlier on Thursday that Pakistan management had left him feeling "mentally tortured".

"I am not going away from cricket but I am being pushed away from it," he told Samaa TV.

"The environment that has been created, I feel that I cannot play cricket under this management.

"I feel that I am leaving cricket at this time because I am being mentally tortured."

A statement from the PCB read: "PCB chief executive Wasim Khan spoke with Mohammad Amir this afternoon following reports that the fast bowler had announced his retirement from international cricket. 

"The 28-year-old confirmed to the PCB chief executive that he has no desires or intentions of playing international cricket and, as such, he should not be considered for future international matches.

"This is a personal decision of Mohammad Amir, which the PCB respects, and as such, will not make any further comment on this matter at this stage."

Amir was handed a five-year ban and jailed in 2011 for his part in a spot-fixing scandal after bowling deliberate no-balls against England, returning to international action against New Zealand in January 2016.

Amir claimed 119 wickets and scored 751 runs in his Test career, taking 6-44 in his best bowling innings against West Indies in 2017.

Virat Kohli reached a new career landmark but was left smarting after being run out as India and Australia battled out an absorbing opening day to their Test series.

India reached the close on 233-6, with Kohli making his presence felt as he reached 50 in Tests for the 50th time before being denied the chance to push on for what would have been a 28th century.

The tourists were 188-3 in the day-night contest at the Adelaide Oval when Ajinkya Rahane set off for a single but then sent Kohli, who had reached 74, back.

Captain Kohli was stranded halfway down the pitch and Josh Hazlewood's throw to the non-striker's end found Nathan Lyon waiting to end the dangerman's 180-ball stay.

It meant he was run out for a second time in his Test career, almost nine years after the previous occurrence – also against Australia in Adelaide.

His demise this time clearly rankled and Kohli briefly appeared to give his batting partner a glare of exasperation.

Prithvi Shaw was bowled by Mitchell Starc from the second delivery of the day, getting an inside edge into his stumps to give the paceman his 11th wicket in the first over of a Test since the beginning of 2014.

Mayank Agarwal was bowled by Pat Cummins, and at 32-2, India were just where Australia wanted them. Kohli helped to steady the innings, as he and Cheteshwar Pujara ground out a 68-run partnership.

Pujara had faced 147 balls without hitting a boundary, but he then took a pair of fours off Lyon from consecutive balls before falling for 43 in the spinner's next over, caught at backwards leg gully by a diving Marnus Labuschagne.

Pujara was given not out initially, but a DRS review showed a heavy touch close to the shoulder of the bat. It meant Pujara fell to Lyon for the 10th time in Tests – the most any player has been dismissed by the spinner.

Kohli is only with India for the opening Test of the four-match series, as he will return home after this match for the birth of his first child, and he was putting on a masterclass in patient scoring before his sorry dismissal.

The skipper and Rahane had put on 88, and the latter was 41 not out as Kohli trudged off. Rahane added only one more before he was pinned lbw by Starc (2-49), plumb in front of middle stump.

India surprisingly reviewed that decision, and it looked no better for them on a second viewing, the pink new ball on a collision course until it rapped into the batsman's pads.

As Rahane returned to the dressing room, television cameras showed Kohli shaking his head, with the dismissal before the close of Hanuma Vihari, lbw to Hazlewood, surely doing little to sweeten his mood.

Former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bradshaw believes that at the core of the failures of current West Indies team is the simple fact that they do not consistently do the “little things” well.

The 40-year-old Barbadian only took nine wickets in the five Tests he played for the West Indies between March and June 2006.

He made his debut against New Zealand in Auckland in March 2006 and played his final Test against India at Gros Islet in June that year but during his short time with the team, his passion and commitment to the team was never in question.

He is best remembered for scoring an unbeaten 34 in fading light at the Oval as he and wicketkeeper Courtney Browne mounted an unbeaten ninth-wicket partnership of 71 that lifted the West Indies from certain defeat to an unlikely victory in the 2004 Champions Cup.

Speaking on the Mason and Guest radio show in Barbados on Tuesday, Bradshaw expressed his frustration at the West Indies performance in New Zealand where they lost both Test matches by an innings and were swept by the hosts.

“Like every cricket fan I am really disappointed with the performance. We have not stood up and gave a good account of ourselves and I think that that is the most critical thing and it’s worrying the manner in which we lost the series,” he said.

“We would have seen in recent times there have been some positive steps taken in terms of our attitude and in terms of doing some of the small things better.

“I mean, you take a team like New Zealand, if we had to look at their team, maybe (they’re) not a bunch of world beaters, not the Kohli’s and the Steve Smiths that you would see dominate the headlines on other teams, but what this team has done and what we can learn so much from is that they’re doing the little things well, often and that is what we have to improve on, doing the little things well often.”

It bears noting that the West Indies only bowled New Zealand out once during the two Tests and took 17 wickets overall. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s bowlers took 38 wickets. Tim Southee was the best of the hosts’ bowlers with 12 wickets twice as many as the West Indies’ leading bowler Shannon Gabriel.

“It is not good enough that after 50 Tests or so our bowlers are not consistent enough on the first morning of a Test to be consistently putting the ball in front of the batsman,” he said.

He was equally critical of the batsmen, who failed to make any impact on the tour save for a few notable exceptions. In the second Test they also dropped seven catches, three of them off Henry Nicholls whose 174 took the match away from the visitors.

“It is not good enough that you go to New Zealand and the excuse for the batsman is that the ball is swinging. It is difficult conditions but we have been going to New Zealand for over 50 years and the conditions have not changed.

“And I appreciate the fact that New Zealand played well but I am more concerned that our performances as a professional unit was not consistent enough to merit the representation of West Indies cricket which we must hold dear.”

 

 

New Zealand and Pakistan will have to do without their talismanic captains Kane Williamson and Babar Azam when the Twenty20 International series gets under way on Friday.

Black Caps skipper Williamson sits out the first of three T20s following the birth of his first child, but will be available for the remainder of the series.

Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson and Daryl Mitchell also miss the opener at Eden Park, so soon after New Zealand sealed a crushing Test series whitewash of West Indies this week.

Mitchell Santner captains New Zealand for the first match of the series, which Lockie Ferguson misses with a partial stress fracture in his lumbar spine, in Auckland.

A fractured thumb keeps Babar out of the series, so Shadab Khan - who has been struggling with a groin injury - steps up to lead his country.

Seamer Jacob Duffy is set to make his New Zealand debut and will be looking to give another demonstration of the Black Caps' strength in depth ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup next year.

"It's amazing how many people reach out when you sort of get the call-up," Southlander Duffy, Otago's white-ball skipper, said. "No, it's pretty exciting, especially for a small community like that.

"I've really enjoyed growing up there, playing all my cricket there, and a little bit of Hawke Cup cricket and stuff. People down there are really fizzed. I remember they were fizzed up when I first played for Otago, so this is another step-up and it's really cool."

 

MORE FIREWORKS FROM PHILLIPS AND CONWAY?

Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway unsurprisingly retain their place in the New Zealand squad after their heroics in a T20 series-clinching drubbing of the Windies.

Phillips smashed a 46-ball century - the quickest by a New Zealander in T20Is - and Conway blasted 65 not out in 72-run hammering in Mount Maunganui at the end of last month.

Their brutal 183-run stand was a world record for the third wicket in the shortest format at international level.

Phillips also took two catches and affected a run out after making 108 off just 51 balls - hitting eight sixes and 10 boundaries in a devastating knock.

The in-form 24-year-old has since made 136 opening for New Zealand A in a four-day match against their Windies counterparts, so Pakistan's bowlers will not be queueing up to bowl at him

 

PAKISTAN MUST SHOW THEY CAN COPE WITHOUT BABAR 

The absence of Babar is a massive blow for Pakistan, who sealed a T20I whitewash of Zimbabwe last month.

Babar, second in the T20I batting rankings behind England's Dawid Malan, has delivered time again for his country but the tourists will have to show they can cope without him against high-class opposition.

Pakistan fast bowler Haris Rauf knows he will have to offer more than just sheer pace to do damage against the Black Caps.

"I have a clear mindset with my pace and 140+ [kph] is my average speed. But with Waqar Younis [Pakistan bowling coach], I think he is all in for pace, [and he] keeps on empathising [with me] while making me work on my line and length.

"There are so many things I am learning from him, like bowling yorkers using the crease, and he was best at it. I understand these days [with] the kind of cricket being played, I can't be predictable with my pace. You obviously have to keep on evolving with the other stocks. Bowling with pace is okay, but bowling slower ones with different lines are the points of discussion with Waqar. I am learning in practice and applying in games."

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Pakistan have won their last two bilateral T20I series against New Zealand. they are yet to win more consecutive series against the Black Caps in this format
- New Zealand had lost four consecutive T20I matches at Eden Park before beating West Indies in November.
- Pakistan are winless in their last three bilateral series away from home, losing two and drawing one. They had won seven in a row prior to that.
- Martin Guptill has scored 463 runs in T20Is between New Zealand and Pakistan, the most by any player, including four half-centuries – his joint-most against any side in the format (England being the other).
- Mohammad Hafeez has scored 412 runs against New Zealand in T20I cricket, the most by a Pakistan player against any country.

Johnson Charles and the Jaffna Stallions are the 2020 champions of the Lankan Premier League following their emphatic 53-run victory over the Galle Gladiators at Hambantota today.

Australia and India begin their four-Test series in Adelaide on Thursday, with opening batsmen for both teams in the spotlight ahead of the day-night contest. 

Already without the injured David Warner, Australia were seemingly set to hand an international debut to Will Pucovski until the 22-year-old was ruled out due to concussion. 

Pucovski was struck by a bouncer while playing for Australia A in the first of two warm-up fixtures against India, forcing the hosts to think again over their options at the top of the order.

Captain Tim Paine confirmed on the eve of the game that a decision has been made on the final XI, though he would not reveal it. Joe Burns – who managed just five runs in the tour games when playing for Australia's second string – is expected to keep his place.

Matthew Wade could be promoted to fill the other opening spot. In the middle order, Australia are hopeful Steve Smith will be fit to play. Hampered by a bad back in the build-up, the former skipper did practise on Wednesday.

Coach Justin Langer backed Wade to produce as an opener prior to the series, calling him Australia's "Mr Fix It" as he told the media: "He can definitely do it. We've just got to work out what the best makeup of our team is going to be."

Cameron Green is set to play in his first Test having been a doubt himself due to concussion. The 21-year-old – who has scored 363 runs at an average of 72.6 in the Sheffield Shield this season – is "pretty good to go", according to Paine.

India - holders of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy who will aim to seize on any vulnerability in the home side - have announced their line-up.

Mayank Agarwal, who scored 177 runs in his two Test appearances in the triumphant 2018-19 series on Australian soil, will open along with Prithvi Shaw, meaning no place for Shubman Gill. 

Virat Kohli is captain, of course, but this will be his only Test outing on the tour. The talismanic batsman is to return home after the pink-ball game to be present at the birth of his first child, with Ajinkya Rahane set to take over in charge of the team for the remainder of the trip.

Kohli will hope to depart on a winning note, and for that to happen India's pace bowlers will be key. Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are the trio selected, while Wriddhiman Saha is the wicketkeeper ahead of Rishabh Pant.

 

DAY-NIGHT CLASSIC IN STORE?

Australia and India will be playing against each other in a day-night Test for the first time. They are the only two sides with a 100 per cent winning record in such fixtures, albeit the visitors have played in just one - and that was on home soil - compared to seven for Australia.

India's second game with Australia A was played under floodlights in Sydney, with Rahane noticing a difference to how the pink ball behaves during the switch from natural to artificial light.

"Batting in twilight, those 40-50 minutes is the key. If you bat well in that period, it becomes really good," India's vice-captain said, according to ESPNCricinfo.

KOHLI AIMS TO LEAVE LASTING IMPRESSION

Kohli has scored six hundreds in 12 Tests on Australian soil, four of which came in a sensational tour in 2014-15 that saw him finish with an outstanding average of 86.5.

However, India's captain will only get one game to make an impact on this series. His departure will leave a huge hole in the batting line-up, though that does also offer an opportunity for someone else to step in and fill the void.

They will at least still have Cheteshwar Pujara, the star performer in Australia two years ago when averaging 74.42 to be named player of the series, helping India record a famous 2-1 triumph.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- India secured their first Test series triumph away in Australia when they last visited (2-1 result in 2018-19) ending a drought of 11 series (D3, L8) without success.
- Australia have won 10 of their last 12 series at home (L2). As well as India, the other team to prevail there were South Africa, by a 2-1 scoreline in 2016.
- Nathan Lyon (50) needs six more wickets to equal Shane Warne (56) for the most in Tests at the Adelaide Oval. His best match figures at the ground came against India (12-286).
- Marnus Labuschagne has a Test batting average of 85.4 on Australian soil. Only two players (with a minimum of 10 innings) have managed better: Donald Bradman (98.2) and Adam Voges (86.3).

Tim Paine does not believe Joe Burns is lacking confidence amid reports the out-of-form opener will keep his Australia place against India.

Burns, 31, has been in dreadful form since the Sheffield Shield season started in October.

The right-hander scored 57 runs in five innings for Queensland before making five runs in four innings for Australia A in tour matches against India.

But with David Warner (adductor) and Will Pucovski (concussion) unavailable, Burns will reportedly play in the first Test starting in Adelaide on Thursday, with Matthew Wade to join him in opening.

Australia captain Paine backed Burns, who averages 38.3 in 21 Tests.

"Speaking to Joe, I don't think he is [lacking confidence], he's been looking forward to this Test match. Obviously, his build up in terms of runs hasn't been great," he told a news conference.

"But again, if you look at the work he's done solely in Test cricket for this team, it's been very good. He averages just over 40 I think in Test cricket. 

"If Joe walks out to bat tomorrow, we've got full confidence in him doing the job, there's no doubt about that. Obviously, there's always going to be a lot of noise externally about the first Test and what team we're picking. Internally we've been pretty clear for a while. 

"Things have changed a little bit with injury but as I said, I think tomorrow you'll see a pretty similar side walk out that finished the summer last year here in Australia."

Wade will reportedly open alongside Burns, and it would mark the first time he has done so in Test cricket.

Paine said Australia had plenty of options, including Wade – whose Test average if 31.3 in 32 matches.

"He [Wade] is certainly an option to open the batting, no doubt about that," Paine said. 

"I think we've got a number of guys who are willing to open the batting, but with 'Wadey' in particular, I think we saw last year against New Zealand in that short-ball stuff he's willing to put his body on the line for the team. 

"We know he's as tough as nails and we know he'll do a job no matter where he bats for us. Obviously, we have got a scenario where we could have a different opener.

"As I said, we've had a number of guys in this group put their hand up if that's the best thing for the team, which is a great thing for us as a side." 

Australia batsman Steve Smith is expected to face India despite concerns over a back injury, while Cameron Green is set for a Test debut.

A back concern for Smith gave injury-hit Australia another worry ahead of the day-night first Test starting in Adelaide on Thursday.

David Warner (adductor) and Will Pucovski (concussion) have already been ruled out, and Smith's absence would have been a major blow.

But captain Tim Paine said on Wednesday he expected Smith to be available.

"He's played all the one-dayers. Once we got to Adelaide he batted literally for four days straight so his preparation has been very good," he told a news conference.

"He's been out in the middle of the Adelaide Oval batting under lights. We expect him to play. He's had a stiff back before, yesterday was more precautionary obviously, he's in to train today so we'll see how he goes.

"But come tomorrow I think whether he's a bit sore in the back or stiff in the back, I think he normally gets up and gets through it and finds a way to score runs like he always does."

The talented Green, who scored an unbeaten century for Australia A against India in a tour match earlier this month, has also been under an injury cloud due to a concussion.

Green has scored 363 runs at an average of 72.6 to begin the Sheffield Shield season.

Most impressively, Green has a false shot rate of just 6.1 per cent, which is the second lowest of any player who has scored at least 50 runs in the Shield this season. Only former Australia batsman Callum Ferguson (5.9 per cent) has a better rate, and he has 177 runs in six innings

The 21-year-old has been guaranteed a Test debut if he is fit – and Paine believes he will be ready to go.

"I think he's pretty good to go," Paine said.

"He obviously trained really well with us yesterday, reports are he's pulled up really well this morning, intends to train again today so all things going well Cam Green will make his Test debut tomorrow which is great news for him, great news for us and great news for Australian cricket fans."

Paine said Australia had a team picked for the Test, but he gave nothing away amid uncertainty over who will open with Joe Burns in poor form.

The Board of Directors of Cricket West Indies (CWI) has approved in principle a three-ODI- two-Test tour of Bangladesh set to begin in January 2021.

Cameron Green will make his Test debut if Australia's young all-rounder is passed fit to face India in the opening day-night clash on Thursday.

Green is poised to earn his maiden Baggy Green cap, according to head coach Justin Langer, but the promising 21-year-old must first come through Cricket Australia's (CA) concussion protocol.

He was diagnosed with a mild concussion after being struck by a straight drive by Jasprit Bumrah while bowling during Australia A's match against India at the SCG last week.

The Western Australian will train with the Australia squad on Tuesday and Wednesday before the medical team make their final assessment ahead of Thursday's series opener in Adelaide.

The four-Test series begins at Adelaide Oval and Langer has no doubt the in-form youngster is ready to make his Test bow.

"If he's passed fit he'll definitely play," Langer said on Tuesday, with Australia already missing David Warner (adductor), Will Pucovski (concussion) and Sean Abbott (calf).

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