Travis Head cracked a rapid-fire half-century as Australia built a solid foundation on the opening day of the World Test Championship final against India.

Head arrived at the crease with his side at 76 for three and bossed an unbroken stand of 94 with Steve Smith, as Australia reached tea on 170 without further loss.

Head was at his counter-punching best, reeling off 10 boundaries in 75 balls to push the pressure back on to the Indian attack.

His lively knock altered the momentum of the afternoon session, which could have turned in India’s favour after Mohammed Shami uprooted Marnus Labuschagne’s off stump shortly after the lunch break.

It was a second well-timed breakthrough, after David Warner’s battling 43 came to end in timid fashion late in the morning’s play, Shardul Thakur brushing his glove with a short ball speared down the leg side.

India had chosen to field after winning the toss and it looked a sound decision during an awkward first hour for the Australian batters.

Mohammed Shami kept Warner honest during a fine opening burst with the new ball, working over the left-hander from round the wicket in a way that will not have escaped the attention of his old nemesis Stuart Broad.

He survived the examination, with a couple of fortuitous moments along the way, but Usman Khawaja banked a 10-ball duck when he nicked the quicker Mohammed Siraj to Srikar Bharat.

There was an early scare for Labuschagne, who dramatically dropped the bat in pain when Umesh Yadav rapped him on the left thumb with a sharp, lifting delivery.

England fans would be forgiven for having the Ashes on their minds as Labuschagne received treatment and popped a couple of painkillers, but he resumed his innings and even wore another blow to the hand to reach lunch on 26 not out.

Warner, having survived his initial trial, began to open up and took a particular liking to Yadav, at one stage lashing the seamer for four boundaries in a single over.

The 36-year-old, who recently announced his plans to retire in the new year, was growing in confidence and will have been annoyed at the manner of his dismissal, well caught by the diving Bharat after getting into a poor position against a modest ball from Thakur.

Labuschagne, who had survived a couple of close lbw appeals, did not kick on in the afternoon – emphatically missing one that was tossed up full and thumped halfway up his off stump.

Steve Smith settled in for a low-key stay, grinding out 33 off 102 balls, leaving the stage for Head (60no) to throw the bat confidently and swing the pendulum in Australia’s favour.

David Warner fell just before lunch as Australia reached 73 for two on the opening day of the World Test Championship final against India.

Warner, who has announced his plans to retire in January, battled through a tricky new-ball spell at the Kia Oval and had started to find his groove as he moved to 43.

There were flashes of the left-hander at his domineering best, not least when he piled into Umesh Yadav with four boundaries in an over, but his hopes of making a significant score came to a timid end.

All-rounder Shardul Thakur, selected ahead of the world’s number one ranked bowler Ravichandran Ashwin as India opted against a second spinner, was the man to make the breakthrough.

There was a touch of good fortune as Thakur dug one in short and down the leg-side, with Warner getting in an awkward position on the pull and brushing a glove through to the wicketkeeper.

Srikar Bharat made good ground, hurling himself to his left and snapping up the catch, to draw a rousing ovation from a crowd dominated by Indian supporters.

They had the started the day in good voice, skipper Rohit Sharma winning the toss and throwing the new ball to Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj.

The pace pair made life hard for the Australian openers, with Warner looking vulnerable as Shami worked him over from around the wicket. It was Usman Khawaja who was first to fall, banking a 10-ball duck and nicking Siraj to Bharat.

There was an early scare for new man Marnus Labuschagne, who dramatically dropped the bat in pain when Yadav rapped him on the left thumb with a sharp, lifting delivery.

England fans would be forgiven for having the Ashes on their minds as Labuschagne received treatment and popped a couple of painkillers, but he resumed his innings and even wore another blow to the hand to reach the interval on 26 not out.

Australia’s Scott Boland has been given the nod to take on India in this week’s World Test Championship, edging out Michael Neser.

Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of the showpiece at the Kia Oval with a side injury, leaving Boland and Neser fighting for the final spot in Australia’s pace attack.

Boland held the edge having been named in the initial squad, but Neser’s strong form with Glamorgan in the LV= County Championship made him an intriguing option in English conditions.

Captain Pat Cummins did not leave the pair waiting to find out, though, confirming Boland’s selection on Tuesday morning.

The 34-year-old made a stunning introduction to international cricket during the 2021-22 Ashes series, taking six for seven in the Boxing Day Test the MCG to seal the series. He has already taken 28 wickets in seven Tests and averages a remarkable 13.42.

“Someone like Scotty, it’s just a really simple game-plan – you hit your good areas and you stay there all day and hopefully the ball will do the work for you,” Cummins told Australian reporters.

“He’s had a few bowls over here now and has looked good. But he looks good whenever he bowls. Scott is a seam bowler on a good length, but he just offers something slightly different to Joshy Hazlewood, and Starcy (Mitchell Starc). Being a left-hander is bit different.

“In the past here in England, because the ball does talk a little more, I’ve seen players get too caught up in trying to take wickets every ball because you’ve suddenly got the ball swinging and seaming.”

Australia are expected to revert to their preferred team balance after shifting the make-up of their XI in their most recent series in India.

That means five specialist batters, Cameron Green as all-rounder, Alex Carey behind the stumps, three fast bowlers and first-choice spinner Nathan Lyon.

The Sydney Cricket Ground unveiled a set of gates named after legends Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara on Monday.

According to ESPNCricinfo, April 24 was selected as the date to unveil the gates to mark Tendulkar's 50th birthday as well as the 30th anniversary of Lara's 277 at the SCG, his first Test century, though that Test was played in January 1993.

"The Sydney Cricket Ground has been my favourite ground away from India," Tendulkar said in a statement released by Cricket Australia.

"I have had some great memories at the SCG right from my first tour of Australia in 1991-92. It is a great honour to have the gates used by all visiting cricketers to access the field of play at the SCG named after me and my good friend Brian," he added.

"I'm deeply honoured to be recognised at the Sydney Cricket Ground, as I'm sure Sachin is,” Lara said.

“The ground holds many special memories for me and my family and I always enjoy visiting whenever I'm in Australia," Lara added.

That innings of 277 remained Lara's highest at the SCG. He totalled 384 runs at the ground in four Tests overall while Tendulkar had an average of 157 at the SCG, scoring 785 runs in five Tests over the years with three centuries, including a memorable 241 not out in January 2004.

The statement also outlines that the gates will be used by visiting players to access the field.

On hand to unveil the gates were SCG and Venues NSW Chairman Rod McGeoch AO, and CEO Kerrie Mather, as well as Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley.

"Sachin Tendulkar's record at the SCG is simply remarkable, while Brian Lara's maiden Test century remains one of the most celebrated innings by a visiting player," Mather said.

"Both players continue to hold a deep affection for the SCG and they remain hugely popular whenever they visit Sydney."

"As the cricketing world celebrates Sachin Tendulkar's 50th birthday, this is a fitting and timely gesture by the SCG to recognise Sachin and Brian Lara as two legends of the international game with exceptional records at the SCG,” said Hockley.

"Their feats will no doubt be an inspiration to not only visiting international teams, but all players fortunate enough to walk onto the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground, for generations to come."

 

Australia have named a 17-man squad for the upcoming ICC World Test Championship final and the first two Tests in the Ashes series in England, with David Warner backed despite his recent unconvincing form.

All-rounder Mitchell Marsh, opening batsman Marcus Harris and wicketkeeper Josh Inglis have earned recalls with few major shocks in the Australian touring party. Marsh missed most of the Australian summer due to an ankle injury.

Harris was preferred ahead of in-form opener Cameron Bancroft, despite the latter topping the 2022-23 Sheffield Shield scoring charts by almost 300 runs, with 945 runs at 59.06 including four centuries.

Peter Handscomb, Ashton Agar, Mitch Swepson and Matthew Kuhnemann miss out on selection after being called in for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India. Fast bowler Lance Morris is unavailable for selection due to a back injury.

Matthew Renshaw has retained his spot after scoring two centuries for Australia A against New Zealand A earlier this month, while 35-year-old Warner will return after a fractured elbow sustained during the India series.

Warner's selection will raise eyebrows, having scored just one Test century in his past 32 innings, albeit a gritty 200 in the recent Boxing Day Test against South Africa.

The veteran opener averaged only 9.5 across 10 innings in that last Ashes in England in 2019, with Stuart Broad dismissing him seven times.

Australia will take on India in the World Test Championship final from June 7 at The Oval in London, followed by the five-Test Ashes series from June 16 at Edgbaston. The selectors have clarified they will revisit the squad after the first two Ashes Tests.

"The UK is a very different assignment from our most recent tour of India and some of the changes are based upon the conditions we are anticipating," National Selection Panel Chair of Selectors George Bailey said.

"Marcus, Josh and Mitch return to the squad and provide valuable depth and flexibility within their respective skillsets.  

"We see value in revisiting the squad following the second Ashes Test given the short turnaround between the WTC final and the first Ashes Test, along with the length of the tour."

Australia won the 2021-22 Ashes on home soil 4-0, while the 2019 series in England ended 2-2. The Australians will compete in the World Test Championship final for the first time with New Zealand beating India to the inaugural crown in 2021.

Squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, David Warner

Former India captain and coach Ravi Shastri has called the rate of injuries suffered by their fast bowlers "ridiculous".

India have suffered with maintaining the health of their pace options over the past few years, with players struggling to complete full tours.

Deepak Chahar is the latest India seamer to be sidelined, after suffering a left hamstring injury during the Indian Premier League game between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.

Players are rehabilitated at the BCCI's National Cricket Academy, but Shastri has now questioned just how effective the team's recovery methods are, given their high turnover of problems.

"Let's put it this way: there are quite a few in the last three or four years who are permanent residents of the NCA," Shastri told ESPN's T20 Time:Out.

"Soon, they'll get a resident permit there to walk in any time they want, which is not a good thing at all. It's unreal.

"You're not playing that much cricket to be injured again and again. If you are going to come back, make sure you get fit and come once and for all because it's frustrating not just for the team, the players, the BCCI, the captains of the various franchises.

"I can understand a serious injury, but every four games when someone touches his hamstring or someone touches his groin, you start thinking what are these guys training. Some of them don't play any other cricket. It's ridiculous.

Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Sen, Mohsin Khan and Yash Dayal are among the other pace options India have seen injured to varying degrees in recent months.

Bumrah, in particular, attempted an unsuccessful comeback before conceding the need for surgery in March.

The Mumbai Indians are champions of the inaugural season of the Tata Women’s Premier League after a seven-wicket win over the Delhi Capitals at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.

The Capitals, who advanced to the final after finishing top-of-the-table in the league phase, made 131-9 off their 20 overs after winning the toss and batting first.

Captain Meg Lanning led the way with 35 while Shikha Pandey and Radha Yadav each made 27*.

Hayley Matthews was magnificent with the ball for Mumbai, picking up three wickets in her four overs while conceding only five runs. Issy Wong also continued her wicket-taking form with 3-42 from her spell.

The successful Mumbai chase took 19.3 overs and was anchored by Nat Sciver-Brunt, who finished not out on 60 off 55 balls including seven fours. Captain Harmanpreet Kaur made a 39-ball 37 in support as the Indians reached 134-3.

Sciver-Brunt was named player of the match while Matthews, who ended the season with 271 runs and 16 wickets, was named player of the tournament.

Her run total placed her fifth overall behind Lanning (345), Sciver-Brunt (332), Talia McGrath (302) and Kaur (281) while her 16 wickets were joint-most alongside Sophie Ecclestone.

 

Nat Sciver-Brunt scored an unbeaten 72 to lead the Mumbai Indians to the final of the inaugural Women’s Premier League after a 72-run win over the UP Warriorz in the eliminator at the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy in Mumbai on Friday.

The Indians batted first after losing the toss and posted 182-5 in their 20 overs.

Sciver-Brunt’s knock 72* lasted only 38 deliveries and included nine fours and two sixes.

Amelia Kerr and Hayley Matthews also made valuable contributions with 29 and 26, respectively, against 2-39 from Sophie Ecclestone.

The Warriorz reply was a tame one as Kiran Navgire, with 43, was the only meaningful contributor as they were bowled out for 110 in only 17.4 overs.

Issy Wong led the way with the ball for the Indians with 4-15, including a hat trick, while Saika Ishaque took 2-24 from 2.4 overs.

The Mumbai Indians will now play the Delhi Capitals in the final at the Brabourne Stadium on Sunday.

India captain Rohit Sharma backed Suryakumar Yadav after he suffered a hat-trick of golden ducks in the ODI series loss to Australia.

A 21-run Australia victory on Wednesday saw the tourists leapfrog India at the top of the 50-over rankings, with the series defeat India's first at home since 2019.

Suryakumar's display highlighted the hosts woes, facing just three balls over the course of the series without getting his bat to any of them.

He was trapped lbw by Mitchell Starc both in India's opening win and Australia's dominant subsequent response in the second match.

There was therefore immense pressure on Suryakumar ahead of the decider in Chennai, and he was bowled by Ashton Agar.

But the batter retained the support of skipper Rohit.

"He played only three balls in the series. I don't know how much you can look into it. He got three good balls," Rohit said after the match.

"Today [Wednesday] I didn't think it was that great a ball. He just chose the wrong shot. He should have, maybe, come forward. He knows best.

"He plays spin so well, which is why we wanted to hold him back and give him that role of last 15 to 20 overs.

"But it's really unfortunate that he could only play three balls in the series. That can happen to anyone. The potential, the quality is always there. He's just going through that phase right now."

Steve Smith's gamble to bat first in Chennai paid off as Australia's 21-run victory over India clinched their ODI series and the number one ranking.

Australia headed into Wednesday's third and final match with the series level at 1-1, looking to end India's best ever seven-series winning streak at home.

Brave captaincy from Smith was required to do that, with Australia batting first on a dry and soft surface and scoring 269.

No touring batsman was able to build on a strong start, but the same was then true of the India line-up – Virat Kohli leading the way on 54 but out cheaply – as their target proved just beyond them.

The two innings followed similar patterns, with Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh combining for 68 before the former was caught for 33 three balls after being dropped.

Marsh went on to score 47, but Smith was unable to contribute as he departed for a duck, while each of the next five batters passed 20 but did not reach 40.

It left Australia with a competitive score but one India would have been confident of matching after their own opening stand of 65.

Even after a pair of wickets, the home side rallied to 146-2 with Kohli in fine form.

But Adam Zampa (4-45) and Ashton Agar (2-41) worked through the middle order, meaning Kohli's surprise departure to the latter – picking out David Warner at long-off – represented a blow that ultimately cost India.

Australia bookend India's winning run

Australia's win in the second ODI had snapped India's nine-match winning run in home ODIs, and another sequence was ended on Wednesday.

This was India's first defeat in a multi-game ODI series at home since Australia beat them 3-2 back in March 2019.

Kohli's needless departure

After sharing a 69-run partnership with KL Rahul that set India back on track after two wickets, Kohli looked set to play a part in another strong stand for the fifth wicket.

But after combining for 34 with Hardik Pandya – who scored 28 of those runs off 20 balls – the great batsman gave Warner a simple, vital catch.

Australia's Josh Hazlewood has moved to the top of the ICC's ODI bowler rankings for the first time in his career after Mohammed Siraj slipped to third. 

Siraj conceded 37 runs off just three overs in India's 10-wicket loss to Australia on Sunday, which caused the paceman to slump behind Hazlewood and New Zealand's Trent Boult.

Mitchell Stark took 5-53 in that rout, equalling the record number of five-wicket ODI hauls by an Australian bowler.

Hazlewood's rise to the top of the rankings comes despite the 32-year-old having not played in an ODI since November, while his last appearance in any format came in January.

However, he is expected to be back playing for this year's Ashes series in England, which commences on June 16 at Edgbaston.

Meanwhile, Kane Williamson has moved up four spots to second in the Test batting rankings behind Marnus Labuschagne. 

Williamson scored a remarkable 215 runs in New Zealand's victory over Sri Lanka in their two-match series, which the Black Caps won 2-0.

The Delhi Capitals have advanced to the final of the inaugural Tata Women’s Premier League after a five-wicket win over the UP Warriorz at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday.

The Warriorz made 138-6 off their 20 overs after being put in to bat by the Capitals. Talia McGrath made 58* and captain Alyssa Healy made 36 against 3-26 off four overs from off-spinner Alice Capsey.

Meg Lanning (39), Capsey (34) and Marizanne Kapp (34*) then led a successful Delhi chase as the finalists needed just 17.5 overs to reach 142-5.

Pacer Shabnim Ismail took two wickets for the Warriorz.

With the league phase of the tournament now complete with all teams having played eight games, the Capitals, after finishing top-of-the-table with 12 points, are automatically into the final.

The Warriorz will have an opportunity to meet them there when they take on the Mumbai Indians, who finished as runners-up in the league phase, in the eliminator on Friday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mumbai also finished the league phase with 12 points after a four-wicket win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Sr DY Patil Sports Academy in Mumbai.

RCB made 125-9 from their 20 overs after losing the toss. Ellyse Perry and Richa Ghosh both made 29 for RCB as Amelia Kerr continued her good form with the ball with 3-22 from her four overs for Mumbai. Nat Sciver-Brunt and Issy Wong also took two wickets each.

Kerr then completed a fine all-round performance with an unbeaten 31 while Yastika Bhatia made 30 and Hayley Matthews 24 as the Indians reached 129-6 in 16.3 overs.

The eliminator will be held at the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy on Friday while the final will take place at the Brabourne Stadium on March 26.

 

 

Steve Smith brushed off the personal plaudits and hailed the efforts of Mitchell Starc and Australia's openers after a 10-wicket trouncing of India on Sunday.

The tourists dominated in Visakhapatnam to level their three-match ODI series at 1-1, bowling out India for 117 in 26 overs before taking just 11 overs to pick off their target.

Victory at YS Raja Reddy Cricket Stadium sets up a decider in Chennai on Wednesday, with India's nine-match winning run in home ODIs having been brought to a halt.

Australia pace spearhead Starc took 5-53 in a dazzling display, before Mitchell Marsh (66 not out) and Travis Head (51 not out) made it a rout.

Smith made a stunning catch to dismiss Hardik Pandya midway through India's innings, diving away to his right at first slip to give Sean Abbott (3-23) a wicket.

That prompted Smith to be asked about whether it could be considered a "catch of the century", but he appeared slightly bemused by the suggestion.

"I don't know about catch of the century," he said at the post-match presentation. "It was nice I held on today.

"I had a couple of opportunities in the last game that were quite similar and they were just out of reach. I couldn't get my hand quite around it, but I was fortunate I was able to do that today.

"It was a big wicket, Hardik's an unbelievable player, so it was nice to hang on to it."

This match rapidly got away from India, who had won the series opener by five wickets.

"It was a quick one – 37 overs for the game, you don't see that too often," Smith said. "I thought our bowlers were outstanding this afternoon. Mitchell Starc in particular with that new ball swinging it back down the line and putting them under early pressure.

"He complemented really well with the rest of our bowling group and it was a nice start to the day. It was one of those days when every time they nicked it, it went to hand. Fortunately we were on the right side of it."

The batting went well too.

"The way that Heady and Mitch went out and went after against the bowlers, put them under pressure early. When you're chasing 118 you can break the back of it pretty quickly," Smith said. "It was a really good day, and I'm really proud we managed to bounce back after the last game."

India captain Rohit Sharma said his team let themselves down.

"We always knew that was not enough runs on the board," Rohit said. "Obviously it was not a 117 pitch at all. By no means. We just didn't apply ourselves and kept losing wickets. That didn't allow us to get the runs we wanted."

Australia hammered India by 10 wickets with 39 overs to spare in Visakhapatnam to level their three-match ODI series at 1-1.

The Baggy Greens lost badly in the opening match, being bowled all out for 188 runs, but they cruised to victory at YS Raja Reddy Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

India were bowled out for just 117 runs off 26 balls after being sent out to bat first, with Mitchell Starc (5-53) claiming a five-wicket haul in a truly dominant display from the tourists.

Australia's opening batters Mitchell Marsh (66 not out) and Travis Head (51 not out) remained unbeaten to confirm victory inside four hours.

The sides will reconvene in Chennai on Wednesday for the deciding match.

India had lost only one of their nine ODIs at this venue prior to Sunday, but Shubman Gill was sent packing for a duck off the third ball to set the tone for what was to come.

Returning skipper Rohit Sharma (13) started well with a couple of boundaries, but he did not last much longer and India never found any real rhythm.

Only four players reached double figures, with Virat Kohli (31), Ravindra Jadeja (16) and Axar Patel (29 not out) struggling to cause Australia any real problems.

Starc starred with the ball, responsible for the wickets of Mohammed Siraj (0), KL Rahul (9), Suryakumar Yadav (0), Shubman Gill (0) and Rohit.

India's target of 118 for victory was never going to trouble Australia, and so it proved as the explosive pair of Head and Marsh made light work of the hosts' bowlers.

Head smashed Siraj for four successive boundaries in a 50-run stand with Marsh for the first wicket, with the Aussies sealing an emphatic win in just 11 overs.


Marsh and Head blitz completes the job

The best India could hope for after a rather embarrassing batting effort was prolonging this second ODI for as long as possible for the paying spectators.

Marsh and Head clearly had other ideas as they put up an unbeaten partnership of 121 from 66 balls.

That strike rate of 183.33 is the highest for any opening stand in an ODI in India from a minimum of 10 balls.

Sensational Starc leads the way

Take nothing away from Marsh and Head, but the foundations for this incredible victory were laid by Starc, who got five wickets in an ODI for the ninth time.

The defeat was India's first in 10 ODI matches on home soil, ending what was the second-longest active winning streak of any nation in the format.

The UP Warriorz secured a five-wicket win over the Mumbai Indians in the Women’s Premier League on Saturday.

The Warriorz won the toss and elected to field first at the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy in Mumbai.

West Indies captain Hayley Matthews led the way with 35 while Issy Wong scored 32 and Mumbai Indians skipper Harmanpreet Kaur 25 as the Indians were bowled out for 127 in their 20 overs.

Sophie Ecclestone led the way with the ball for the Warriorz, taking 3-15 from her four overs while Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Deepti Sharma took 2-16 and 2-35 from their respective four over spells.

The successful chase was then led by Grace Harris’ 28-ball 39 while Talia McGrath got 38 as the Warriorz reached 129-5 in 19.3 overs to secure their third win out of six games to move to third in the table behind Mumbai, who lead the table only having one loss in six games, and Delhi who have two losses in their six outings.

Amelia Kerr was the best Mumbai bowler on the day with 2-22 from her four overs while Hayley Matthews, Nat Sciver-Brunt and Issy Wong all took a wicket each.

Scores: Mumbai Indians 127 off 20 overs (Hayley Matthews 35, Issy Wong 32, Harmanpreet Kaur 25, Sophie Ecclestone 3-15, Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2-16, Deepti Sharma 2-35)

UP Warriorz 129-5 off 19.3 overs (Grace Harris 39, Talia McGrath 38, Sophie Ecclestone 16*, Deepti Sharma 13*, Amelia Kerr 2-22).

 

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