Monday, February 27, 2017

World's Best Test Batsman Steve Smith now 6th Best ever in Test History !


·       Steve O’Keefe, Matt Renshaw, Lokesh Rahul attain career-best rankings

Australia captain Steve Smith has reached a career-high 939 rating points after an outstanding batting effort in the opening Test against India in Pune which his team won by 333 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

Smith has not only consolidated his position at the top of the MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen but has also attained rating points which are the sixth-best ever after Don Bradman (961), Len Hutton (945), Jack Hobbs and Ricky Ponting (both 942) and Peter May (941). Gary Sobers, Viv Richards and Kumar Sangakkara all had career-high ranking points of 938.

Smith, who scored 27 and 109 in Pune to gain six points, now leads India captain Virat Kohli by 66 points while England batsman Joe Root is 91 points behind him at third place with 848 points.

Australia batsman Matt Renshaw has moved up 18 places to a career-best 34th position scoring 68 and 31 while opener Lokesh Rahul has made an 11-slot gain to reach a career-best 46th position after scores of 64 and 10 for India, which folded for only 105 and 107 in the two innings in Pune to lose in three days.

In the MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings for Test Bowlers, Australia’s left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe has rocketed up 33 slots to a career-best 29th place after figures of 12 for 70 which earned him the player of the match award. O’ Keefe’s figures are the cheapest 12-wicket haul in Test cricket, beating ICC Hall of Famer George Lohmann’s 12 for 71 against South Africa at Johannesburg in 1896.

India’s Ravichandran Ashwin remains at the top of the bowlers’ rankings with 878 points after taking seven wickets but his spin partner Ravindra Jadeja now has company at second spot as Josh Hazlewood has caught up with him at 860 points, the Australia pace bowler’s career-best. India pace bowler Umesh Yadav’s six wickets in the match have seen him gain four slots to reach 30th rank.

Meanwhile, Australia pace bowler Mitchell Starc has moved up three slots in the list of all-rounders to fourth position after his fighting knocks of 61 and 30. Starc, who is ranked 10th among bowlers, has also moved up 27 places in the list of batsmen to a career-best 61st rank.

MRF Tyres ICC Test Player Rankings (as on 26 February, after the first Test between India and Australia in Pune)

Batsmen (top 10)

Rank    (+/-)      Player              Team   Pts       Avge   Highest Rating
   1       ( - )       Steve Smith      Aus      939!     60.34   939 v Ind at Pune 2017
   2       ( - )       Virat Kohli         Ind       873      50.72   895 v Ban at Hyderabad 2017
   3       ( - )       Joe Root           Eng      848      52.80   917 v Aus at Trent Bridge 2015
   4       ( - )       K.Williamson     NZ        823      50.07   893 v Aus at Perth 2015
   5       ( - )       David Warner    Aus      805      48.70   880 v NZ at Perth 2015
   6       ( - )       Hashim Amla    SA        787      49.99   907 v Pak at Abu Dhabi 2013
   7       ( - )       Azhar Ali           Pak      779      47.07   787 v Aus at Melbourne 2016
   8       ( - )       Younus Khan    Pak      772      53.06   880 v SL at Lahore 2009
   9       (+1)      Q. de Kock       SA        760*    51.04   769 v SL at Cape Town 2017
  10      (+1)      AB de Villiers     SA        755      50.46   935 v Aus at Port Elizabeth 2014

Other selected rankings

Rank    (+/-)      Player              Team   Pts      Avge   Highest Rating
  34      (+18)    Matt Renshaw   Aus      595*!   59.14   595 v Ind at Pune 2017
  46      (+11)    Lokesh Rahul    Ind       518*!   38.30   518 v Aus at Pune 2017
  61=    (+27)    Mitchell Starc    Aus      446!     25.36   446 v Ind at Pune 2017
  94      (+3)      Mitchell Marsh   Aus      337*    22.79   340 v SL at Colombo (SSC) 2016

Bowlers (top 10)

Rank    (+/-)      Player              Team   Pts      Avge    Highest Rating
   1       ( - )       R. Ashwin         Ind       878      25.07    904 v Eng at Mumbai 2016
   2=     ( - )       R.Jadeja           Ind       860      24.25    879 v Eng at Chennai 2016
            (+1)      J. Hazlewood    Aus      860!     24.72    860 v Ind at Pune 2017
   4       ( - )       R. Herath          SL        827      28.31    867 v Zim at Harare 2016
   5       ( - )       K. Rabada        SA        821*!   21.76   821 v SL at Johannesburg 2017
   6       ( - )       Dale Steyn        SA        819      22.30   909 v WI at Centurion 2014
   7       ( - )       J. Anderson      Eng      810      28.50   884 v SL at Durham 2016
   8       ( - )       Stuart Broad     Eng      803      28.54   880 v SA at Johannesburg 2016
   9       ( - )       V. Philander      SA        798      21.40   912 v Ind at Johannesburg 2013
  10      ( - )       Mitchell Starc    Aus      777      28.16   805 v Pak at Brisbane 2016

Other selected rankings

Rank    (+/-)      Player              Team   Pts      Avge    Highest Rating
  29      (+33)    Steve O'Keefe   Aus      507*!   20.34   507 v Ind at Pune 2017
  30      (+4)      Umesh Yadav   Ind       501*    36.83   509 v WI at Antigua 2016

All-rounders (top five)

Rank    (+/-)      Player              Team   Pts      Highest Rating
   1       ( - )       R. Ashwin         Ind       448      493 v Eng at Mohali 2016
   2       ( - )       S. Al Hasan       Ban      441      443 v NZ at Christchurch 2017
   3       ( - )       R. Jadeja          Ind       372      407 v Ban at Hyderabad 2017
   4       (+3)      Mitchell Starc    Aus      347!     347 v Ind at Pune 2017
   5       (-1)       Ben Stokes       Eng      327 /*  351 v Ind at Mohali 2016

*indicates provisional rating; a batsman qualifies for a full rating after playing 40 Test innings; a bowler qualifies for a full rating when he reaches 100 Test wickets.
!indicates career-highest rating

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Last Ball Thrilling win gives India the Trophy - ICC WOMEN’S WORLD CUP QUALIFIER 2017


Stand-in captain Harmanpreet Kaur lifted India to a thrilling last-ball victory over South Africa in the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 at the P. Sara Stadium on Tuesday.

Set to chase 245, India had all but lost its way after a flurry of wickets but Kaur kept her cool to score the nine runs required off the last over from pace bowler Marcia Letsoala.

With just one wicket in hand and only one run scored off the first four deliveries, India did not have much going for it but Kaur heaved a six over the mid-wicket fence off the penultimate delivery and then a lofted shot towards long on brought the two runs required off the last ball. Rajeshwari Gayakwad scampered home to complete the double as other Indian players ran on to the ground in celebration of a memorable win.

India stand-in captain Harmanpreet Kaur: “To be honest, I was waiting for that ball because that is my strong area. I know like we needed nine runs in the final over and I was going to hit the ball. If we run then we will go for two runs. My partner also did a great job and ran two runs. It was a totally team effort from our side.”

Earlier, India’s reply had started slowly and it was 20 for one in 7.3 overs before opener Mona Meshram and left-hander Deepti Sharma added 124 runs in the next 25 overs to raise the team’s hopes. Meshram struck 59 off 82 balls with seven fours and one six while Sharma knocked up 71 off 89 balls with eight fours.

However, their departure in successive overs put India behind in the chase once again. Veda Krishnamurthy chipped in with 31 but India was losing wickets regularly before Kaur turned the tables with her run-a-ball 41 in which she hit two fours and the decisive six.

It was a creditable win because India was without captain and star batter Mithali Raj due to a hamstring pull suffered during the previous match against Pakistan, while already missing pace bowler Jhulan Goswami and opener Smriti Mandhana due to injuries ahead of the tournament.

India had gone into the match with a slight edge as it had beaten South Africa by 49 runs in a Super Six match and possessed a battery of slow bowlers who had looked capable of bothering the opposition but South Africa had seized the initiative early on with some fine batting.

South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk had said on the eve of the match that her team would play positively against the spinners and just about each of the team’s batter did that, showing fine footwork to negate India’s spin dependence and with only one pace bowler in Shikha Pandey in the playing eleven.

Openers Lizelle Lee (37) and Laura Wolvaardt (21) added 51 runs in 10 overs to put South Africa on road to a big total even as the Indian bowlers struggled to slow the flow of runs. Lee was quick to despatch anything loose over the infield, smashing three fours and three sixes off 31 balls.Mignon du Preez (40), van Niekerk (37) and Sune Luus (35) all found ways to counter the Ekta Bisht-led spin attack.

South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk: “Even though they had a partnership going, we always knew they were in fours and at one stage they needed even six an over. We were in the driving seat, but India are a quality team and the experience of Harmanpreet Kaur coming in….. they showed it today.

“It was a really good score and we were really happy. But if we had somebody who went on like Deepti to score 70-odd, would have made life a lot easier and probably an extra 20 runs to work with.”

India and South Africa, along with Sri Lanka and Pakistan, have qualified for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 in which they will join Australia, England, New Zealand and the West Indies. The four top teams from the tournament also made the ICC Women’s Championship while the top six – Ireland and Bangladesh being the other two teams – are assured of ODI status for the next four-year cycle.

Scores in brief:
India beat South Africa by one run
South Africa 244 all out in 49.4 overs (Mignon du Preez 40, Lizelle Lee 37, Dane van Niekerk 37, Sune  Luus 35, Rajeshwari Gayakwad 3-51, Shikha Pandey 2-41).
India 245-9 in 50 overs (Deepti Sharma 71, Mona Meshram 59, Harmanpreet Kaur 41 not out, Veda Krishnamurthy 31, Marizanne Kapp 2-36, Aiyabonga Khaka 2-55).

Monday, February 20, 2017



India and South Africa will play the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 on Tuesday, in what will be an opportunity for their players to perform freely on the big stage.

These two teams were assured of places in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 with a round to go in the Super Six stage of the tournament. They were a few notches above other teams in the 10-team tournament that not only took the top four teams to the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 but also got them places in the ICC Women’s Championship.

Sri Lanka and Pakistan are the other teams to have qualified from this tournament to join Australia, England, New Zealand and the West Indies, who booked places in the pinnacle event by finishing in the top four in the ICC Women’s Championship. Bangladesh and Ireland retained their ODI status for the next four years by entering the Super Six stage of the tournament.

Both India and South Africa reached the final on a high, India defeating Pakistan by seven wickets and South Africa beating Ireland by 36 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method in a rain-reduced match. India is the only unbeaten team in the tournament while South Africa’s only loss so far has been against India.

South Africa beat India in a practice match ahead of this tournament but India prevailed in their fixture in the tournament proper, winning by 49 runs in the Super Six stage. India defended a total of 205 with ease at the P. Sara Stadium, which is also the venue for the final, which will be live-streamed at

India captain Mithali Raj, who heads the list of run-scorers with 207 runs in ODIs in this tournament (matches against teams without ODI status do not classify as ODIs), had led her side’s charge with a fluent 64. But India would also take confidence from the fact that both pace and spin did the trick in defending the target. New-ball bowler Shikha Pandey took four wickets while left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht grabbed three wickets in that match.

India captain Mithali Raj: “Our bowling looks good, especially the spin attack. But in batting our concern is the opening partnership, especially in the first 10 overs - whether we bat or field, we need a good start from the openers… is also imperative that the middle-order batters be among the runs.

“Spinners will be effective on these pitches but if the fast bowlers are very disciplined and bowl in the corridor, it is difficult to convert them into runs, that is what we have seen in this tournament. These wickets test a batter’s skill of playing turn and it’s also about building that momentum.”

For South Africa, 17-year-old opener Laura Wolvaardt and Chloe Tryon have come up with crucial performances while the leg-spin pair of captain Dane van Niekerk and Sune Luus have had consistent success. Pace bowlers Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp too have been effective.

But South Africa’s challenge will be taking on India spinners Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav and Deepti Sharma. Captain Dane van Niekerk understands this.

South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk: “We have to be a bit more aggressive against the spinners. We have spoken to the batters, I think it’s just a shift in mind-set that is needed. Ours is a quality team but at the end of the day we have to have a go at the opposition. I also feel it is very important to have a good start (to the innings) in the sub-continent.”

“It’s really good to be in the final, I think the body is all a bit sore - it has been a long tournament…it’s not easy touring the sub-continent and I’m proud of the girls with the way they have stuck around.”

The squads:

India: Mithali Raj (captain), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Mansi Joshi, Harmanpreet Kaur, MD Thirush  Kamini, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Shikha Pandey, Deepti Sharma, Sushma Verma,  Devika Vaidya, Poonam Yadav, Soni Yadav.
South Africa: Dane van Niekerk (captain), Trisha Chetty, Moseline Daniels, Yolani Fourie, Lara Goodall, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Marcia Letsoalo, Lizelle Lee, Sunne Luus, Mignon du Preez, Chloe Tyron, Laura Wolvaardt.
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