India held firm to deny Australia and secure an incredible draw in the third Test in Sydney on Monday.

Australia looked in position to take a 2-1 series lead, needing eight wickets on the final day at the SCG, but were left frustrated by a stubborn India batting line-up and costly dropped catches.

Rishabh Pant (97), Cheteshwar Pujara (77), Hanuma Vihari (23 off 161 balls) and Ravichandran Ashwin (39 off 128 balls) helped ensure India were level heading into the final Test in Brisbane starting on Friday.

The SCG pitch played few tricks on day five, and Pant even had India dreaming of an amazing win, the tourists eventually finishing at 334-5, 73 runs adrift of a victory they stopped chasing after Vihari hurt his hamstring.

Josh Hazlewood (2-39) and Nathan Lyon (2-114) made breakthroughs, but Australia were unable to do enough in a Test they looked destined to win as Tim Paine dropped three catches.

Australia landed an early blow as Lyon had Ajinkya Rahane (4) caught at short leg by Matthew Wade.

But Pant – who suffered an elbow injury on Saturday – was put down twice by Paine, on three and 56, off Lyon, and he counter-attacked superbly to put the pressure on the off-spinner.

Pujara brought up 6,000 Test runs, the 11th Indian to achieve the feat as he continued to frustrate Australia.

Pant looked capable of leading India to a shock victory before falling just short of a third Test century, caught by Pat Cummins at gully after trying to attack Lyon again.

The second new ball brought a key wicket for Australia as Hazlewood produced a wonderful delivery to bowl Pujara.

 

A pair of reviews were unable to get Ashwin, who was dropped on 15, a diving Sean Abbott – on for the injured Will Pucovski (shoulder) – unable to hold onto a tough chance.

Vihari and Ashwin, showing no intent to score, remained stoic and defended well against an increasingly desperate Australia.

Paine dropped another chance after Vihari edged a Mitchell Starc (0-66) delivery and it proved to be the final opportunity as India held on for a draw.

The fourth Test between Australia and India is set to go ahead at the Gabba as scheduled, the hosts have confirmed.

Questions were raised over the location of the Test amid reports players would be forced into a hard quarantine and after Brisbane went into a three-day lockdown.

But with restrictions easing, the Test is set to go ahead as planned, beginning on Friday.

Cricket Australia interim chief executive officer Nick Hockley told SEN on Monday: "I had a call last night from the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] secretary, very late last night, and he confirmed that we are good to travel to Brisbane on Tuesday."

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also confirmed the Test was set to be played.

"Fingers crossed, it looks like everything is going ahead," she told a news conference.

"The Gabba will be filled to half the capacity and masks are mandatory for entering and for leaving and moving around the stadium, but if you're sitting there at your seat, you will not need to wear your mask because you are outside.

"If you're going along to the cricket, take your mask, put it on, most people will be coming by public transport anyway where you'll have to wear your mask."

The news came as Australia were attempting to take a 2-1 series lead to Brisbane as they closed in on victory in Sydney.

Carlos Brathwaite took four wickets which helped Sydney Sixers pull off Brisbane Heat by three wickets at Carrara on Saturday to move to the top of the standings in Australia’s Big Bash League.

Brathwaite returned figures of 4 for 18 that included the wickets of Chris Lynn, who top-scored with 56, the dangerous Joe Burns for 7, James Bazley for a duck and Mark Steketee for 2 as Brisbane were restricted to 148 all out.

Jake Ball took 3 for 25 from his too over to provide support to the giant Barbadian. Jackson Bird also weighed in with the ball taking 2 for 22.

Chasing 149 for victory, the Sixers were struggling at 54 for 4 before Captain Daniel Hughes’ 51 helped steady the ship.  Hughes’s dismissal in the 17th   created jitters for the Sixers. Brathwaite lost his wicket six balls later for just 2 as Sydney slipped to 130 for 6, which opened the door for Brisbane.

However, Daniel Christian’s unbeaten 38-ball 61 took the Sixers home, hitting the winning boundary off the final ball of the match with his side closing on 152 for 7.

The win put the Sixers on 25 points, two points clear of second-placed Sydney Thunder while the Hobart Hurricanes are third on 19 points.

 

Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik has emerged unscathed from a car crash in Lahore.

The former Pakistan captain was involved in an accident after attending the Pakistan Super League player draft held in the city on Sunday.

Shoaib, 38, was reported to have skidded and hit a truck parked close to a restaurant near the Pakistan Cricket Board's high-performance centre where the draft was staged.

"I am perfectly all right everybody," he posted on Twitter.

"It was just a happenstance accident and Almighty has been extremely benevolent.

"Thank you to each one of you who've reached out. I am deeply grateful for all the love and care."

Shoaib has played 35 Tests, 287 one-day internationals and 75 Twenty20 games for Pakistan.

Virat Kohli called for "strict action" to be taken after India players claimed they were subjected to racial abuse by spectators during the third Test against Australia at the SCG.

Six people were ejected from the iconic Sydney venue on day four after India paceman Mohammed Siraj reported he was the target of abuse while he was fielding on the boundary.

The India team staff also reported alleged racial abuse of Jasprit Bumrah and Siraj on Saturday.

Play was halted for around 10 minutes on Sunday, with umpires and security guards holding discussions before the spectators were removed by New South Wales Police.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) strongly condemned the reported incidents and offered Cricket Australia (CA) all necessary support with an investigation.

India captain Kohli, who is back in his homeland as his wife is expecting a baby, said action must be taken as soon as possible.

He tweeted: "Racial abuse is absolutely unacceptable. Having gone through many incidents of really pathetic things said on the boundary Iines, this is the absolute peak of rowdy behaviour. It's sad to see this happen on the field.

"The incident needs to be looked at with absolute urgency and seriousness and strict action against the offenders should set things straight for once."

CA head of integrity and security Sean Carroll earlier said in a statement: "Cricket Australia condemns in the strongest terms possible all discriminatory behaviour.

"If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket. CA is awaiting the outcome of the International Cricket Council's investigation into the matter reported at the SCG on Saturday.

"Once those responsible are identified, CA will take the strongest measures possible under our anti-harassment code, including lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police.

"As series hosts, we unreservedly apologise to our friends in the Indian cricket team and assure them we will prosecute the matter to its fullest extent."

India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claimed India have experienced abuse on previous tours of Australia.

"This is my fourth tour to Australia and in Sydney, especially, we have had a few experiences even in the past," he said.

"I think one or two times even the players have reacted and got into trouble in the past, and that's not because of the player, it is actually because of the way the crowd has been speaking, especially the people close to the boundary edge.

"They have been quite nasty, they have been hurling abuse as well, but this is the time they have gone one step ahead and used racial abuse.

"There was an official complaint lodged yesterday, and the umpires also mentioned it to us that we must bring it to their notice as soon as it happens, on the field, and then they will be able to take action.

"It is definitely not acceptable in this day and age. We have seen a lot, right? We have evolved as a society. This must be definitely dealt with an iron fist. And we must make sure that it doesn't happen again."

Australia are strong favourites to take a 2-1 series lead, as India were 98-2 at stumps on the penultimate day after being set 407 to win.

Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins took crucial wickets as Australia’s bowlers closed on victory on day four of the third Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

After Hazlewood removed Shubman Gill for 31 runs, Rohit Sharma fell to Cummins for 52 as an embattled India closed on 98-2, needing 309 more runs for an unlikely win.

Australia had declared on 312-6 after Cameron Green showcased some huge hitting in the afternoon session, surging to 84 off 183 balls, including eight fours and four sixes to set up a tense final session for India.

It was a day of Test cricket once again marred by a crowd incident with play delayed for eight minutes before the tea break while six people were ejected by New South Wales police after India's Mohammed Siraj issued a complaint of alleged abuse to the umpires.

Six people have been removed from the Sydney Cricket Ground on day four of the third test between Australia and India in Sydney.

Play was suspended for eight minutes before tea on Sunday as umpires and security guards attended the boundary area before the six were ejected from the venue by New South Wales Police.

Following the incident, Cricket Australia released a statement on the alleged racist abuse of the India team by a section of the SCG crowd on Saturday.

India’s Mohammed Siraj stopped play on day three to issue a complaint while fielding on the boundary during the afternoon session.

Cricket Austrlia confirmed the incident on Sunday while issuing their statement, although it is not known whether the incident on Sunday was related to racist abuse.

"Cricket Australia condemns in the strongest terms possible all discriminatory behaviour," said Sean Carroll, Cricket Australia’s Head of Integrity and Security, in the statement.

"If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket.

"CA is awaiting the outcome of the International Cricket Council’s investigation into the matter reported at the SCG on Saturday.

"Once those responsible are identified, CA will take the strongest measures possible under our Anti-Harassment Code, including lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police.

"As series hosts, we unreservedly apologise to our friends in the Indian cricket team and assure them we will prosecute the matter to its fullest extent."

Former West Indies captain, Clive Lloyd, believes the upcoming and current generation of fast bowlers will only reach their full potential if they spend more time thinking on the pitch.

For many decades the Windies was known for producing generations of fearsome fast bowlers.  The likes of Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshal, and Michael Holding filled the hearts of countless opposition batsmen with fear for decades.

 A new generation of Windies bowlers, led by Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel along with youngster Alzarri Joseph has shown some promise, in recent times, but are yet to scale the heights reached by the golden generation.  Lloyd, who captained and played alongside many of the region’s top fast bowlers, has insisted the players had more than just pace.

“The thing with our fast bowlers is that they all did something different, it wasn’t just inswingers or outswingers.  They bowled different things.  So, when you came to bat against our players, you had to be at the top of your game and that’s why they were successful,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest program.

“There was no let-up.  We didn’t just have fast bowlers; we had thinking fast bowlers.  They were not calypso cricketers,” he added.    

 

West Indies captain for the Bangladesh series, Kraigg Brathwaite, is confident the second-string team will give a good account of itself, despite facing a difficult task.

The regional team, who are off to the third overseas tour since the sport was impacted by the pandemic, will be missing 12 first-team players.  Team captains Jason Holder, Kieron Pollard, and Test vice-captain Roston Chase are among the players that opted out of the tour for health and safety concerns.

Brathwaite will be joined by in-form batsman Jermaine Blackwood and bowlers, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, and Alzarri Joseph as some of the available first-team players on the tour, but for the most part, the team will consist of fringe players and a few debutants.  The stand-in captain, however, insists the Windies are up for the challenge.

“We are all up for the challenge… it will be a tough series in Bangladesh but we have confidence and we have belief that we will do very well,” Brathwaite said.

“We have some members of the squad who will be playing there for the first time so it will be something new to them, but they know they have the talent and are capable of performing at this level.”

The tour will comprise of two Test matches, as part of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) World Test Championship, and three One-Day Internationals (ODI) as part of the ICC’s Cricket World Cup Super League. The ODIs present the first opportunity for the West Indies to earn Super League points which count towards the pre-qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2023.

 

Legendary West Indies captain, Clive Lloyd, insists the current crop of players must learn to play in all conditions if the team is to eventually emerge from the doldrums of world cricket.

In the aftermath of the recent squad selection for the West Indies tour of Bangladesh, plenty of eyebrows were raised not only due to the absence of 12 first team players but following the non-selection of promising young fast bowler Chemar Holder for the Test cricket squad.

The team has the typical fast-bowling trio of Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, and Alzarri Joseph but with captain Jason Holder opting out of the tour, many thought Chemar would have been a natural replacement, particularly after a promising debut in difficult circumstances last month.

Cricket West Indies chief of selectors Clive Lloyd, however, explained that the panel had chosen to include more spinners at the expense of Holder, due to the nature of spin-friendly surfaces in Bangladesh.  Lloyd believes the decision could cost the young bowler valuable experience.

“These guys need to play in those countries where it’s not that helpful and you learn to bowl a better line and length,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“On the dead pitches, someone like (Collin) Croft would still be disconcerting.  He would be getting it up into your neck.  The point is that our fast bowlers bowled well on any kind of wicket,” he added.

“Our bowlers were not deterred by slow pitches and that is what our youngsters have to learn, to bowl on pitches that are not responsive.  Dennis Lille, when he realized the pitch was not helping, he would cut down his run and bowl a different kind of delivery, cutters, and so on and make you think about your cricket.  So did Richard Hadlee, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, all these guys would have learned to bowl on wickets that are not responsive.  If we are just going to rest people because the wickets are not responsive then something is wrong.”  

 

Twenty-Four West Indies Women cricketers will gather in Antigua from this weekend at the Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG) for a three-week high-performance training programme.

President of the Nevis Cricket Association, Carlisle Powell, has called for a level playing field when it comes to the selection of players for the West Indies cricket team.

The administrator has taken exception with what he believes is the unfair treatment meted out to opening batsman Kieron Powell, who is also his son.  With 12 first team members opting not to go on the upcoming tour of Bangladesh, Powell, the top runs scorer during last season’s Super50 competition, was left out of a hastily assembled second-string team.

According to Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief of selectors Roger Harper, the player had failed to meet the team’s fitness standards.  The senior Powell, however, insists that was not quite true as while representing the Leeward Islands Kieron had passed the Yoyo fitness test more than once.  He insists that the issue stems from the fact that the player has not being given another opportunity to prove his fitness by the regional governing body.  By comparison, he claims that Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmeyer, who both failed the test at the same time as Powell, were quickly afforded opportunities to prove their improved fitness level.

“The West Indies Cricket Board has repeatedly said as recently as Roger Harper on the 29th…that Powell was left out because he has not yet met the fitness standard, which is absolutely inaccurate in that he has more than once met and passed the fitness test as administered by the Leeward Islands,” Powell told Television Jamaica.

“The West Indies Cricket Board should amend their statement to say that they have failed to give him a fitness test since he failed the test in December of 2019,” he added.

“By the same token others who failed the fitness test at the same time, Hetmeyer and Lewis, fitness tests were arranged for them by the board.  We’re saying this is absolutely wrong there must be a level playing field for all the persons.”

 

 

 

Nicholas Pooran believes the West Indies’ low ranking in T20 cricket is due mainly to the fact that it hasn’t been able to put its best players on the field of play often enough.

The West Indies are currently ranked 10th in the ICC T20 rankings despite having some of the best players in the world in their talent pool. However, Pooran anticipates that the team could show its full potential at the next world cup.

“I just believe that most of the series West Indies play, they don't play with their strongest team. And by strongest I mean Chris Gayle, Pollard, Russell, Narine, Bravo in the team together,” the talented Trinidadian said in a recent interview with ESPNCricinfo.

“In the last couple of years, we haven't witnessed these players together. Either most of them weren't selected, some were unavailable ... but definitely a case around that.

“We couldn't play as a team after the last T20 World Cup. This, I am saying from a player's and a fan's point of view. Not seeing some of my favourite players represent West Indies might be one of the reasons.”

Notwithstanding the disappointment that comes with that reality, Pooran said he is looking forward to the coming T20 World Cup where he expects to be a better player holding his own amongst the best players from the region.

“Personally, I am looking forward to the T20 World Cup. As a team, our strength is T20s. For the last couple of years, we've been doing good in World Cups, but as a team where we are ranked [10th], it doesn't show how good our team actually is,” he said, indicating that believes that situation could change in the near future.

“Most of the senior guys are coming back to the West Indies team ... like Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine are all coming back eventually.

“As a player, I am especially excited because I want to do good for the West Indies people and put a smile on their faces. My record for West Indies in T20s isn't that good and I want to improve that for the next couple of months.”

 

 

Former West Indies batting coach, Toby Radford, has questioned the conventional wisdom of selecting so many spinners for the team's upcoming tour of Bangladesh.

The omission of promising pace bowler Chemar Holder raised more than a few eyebrows when the squad was named last week, especially on the back of a promising debut in New Zealand.  The Test squad at current features four spinners in Rahkeem Cornwall, Kavem Hodge, Veerasammy Permaul, and Jomel Warrican along with the regular fast bowling trio of Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph.

  Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief of selectors, Roger Harper, went on to explain that Holder’s exclusion for additional spin bowling was based on the fact that the team was eager to take advantage of Bangladesh’s spin-friendly pitches.

Radford, who was part of a successful tour of the region in 2012, is unsure if that was the best approach.

“I’ve been listening to what people have been saying.  We have gone heavy with a lot of spin.  You expect the pitches to be slow and turn out there.  Whether they need as many spinners as they are taking, I’m not too sure,” Radford told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“In fact, when we won in 2012 it was done with good batting, posting big scores and having pace, actually, guys who could get it down in the high 80s, 90 miles and hour, not just assuming that because it’s slow pitches spinners are going to do the work.  I’m actually working for Bangladesh at the moment, I spent 6 weeks out there, they play spin very well, they’re brought up playing that kind of bowling.”

Legendary Windies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose is hopeful a few of the players selected for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh will be able to take full use of the opportunity to represent the team, despite being surprise selections.

Twelve players, including West Indies captain Jason Holder, vice-captain Roston Chase and T20 captain Kieron Pollard opted not make themselves available for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh this month.  The players cited health and safety reasons in their decision to reject the tour.

The absence of the team’s first-string players will see Kraigg Brathwaite, lead the Test squad with Jermaine Blackwood as vice-captain. Former West Indies A team captain, Jason Mohammed, will lead the ODI team with Sunil Ambris as vice-captain.

There will be first-time call-ups for Kavem Hodge to the Test squad and left-handed opener Shayne Moseley and all-rounder Kyle Mayers touring in the Test squad for the first time, after being part of the reserve team to England and New Zealand.

Two players earned first call-ups to the ODI squad - Akeal Hosein, a left-arm spinner allrounder, and Kjorn Ottley, a left-handed top-order batsman.  Despite expecting difficult conditions for the tour, Ambrose hopes some of the players will use the opportunity to challenge for regular places.

“I think it’s the perfect opportunity for some of these youngsters who have been knocking on the door for some time now to show the selectors and the rest of the cricket people that they are ready for this kind of cricket,” Ambrose told the Good Morning Jojo radio show.

“I am hoping these guys do very well with Bangladesh.  Whether we win the series, draw the series, or even lose the series, I hope they do extremely well so that when they get back home lead selector Roger Harper and company will have some headaches to decide who to select.”

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