7000 miles apart two different formats of cricket delighted spectators worldwide.
In the southern hemisphere, Australian skipper Aaron Finch smashed 79 off 55 balls before the bowlers put on an all-round show to help Australia seal a comfortable 50-run win over New Zealand in the fourth T20I on Friday.
It was a clinical performance from Australia in a must-win match as they bowled out New Zealand for 106 to set up a series decider on Sunday. While Finch led from the front and took Australia to a competitive 156/6 almost single-handedly, it was an all-around performance from the visitors’ bowlers as Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, and Glenn Maxwell all picked wickets.
Chasing a decent 157, New Zealand suffered an early jolt as Agar removed the in-form Martin Guptill in the fifth over with just 21 runs on board.
Wickets kept falling at regular intervals as New Zealand struggled to get a partnership going. Tim Seifert, skipper Kane Williamson, and Glenn Phillips all went cheaply as hosts scored just 41 runs in the first 10 overs.
It seemed like New Zealand was never really interested in the chase as they lost James Neesham and Mitchell Santner in the next two overs. With seven down for 64 runs, the chase was almost over as New Zealand required more than 90 runs in the last six.
Kyle Jamieson scored 30 off 18 balls but it wasn’t enough to repair the damage as the Kiwis were bundled out for 106 in the 19th over.
Earlier, opting to bat first, Australia got off to a bad start as Mitchell Santner struck in the first over. Opener Matthew Wade after hitting a four and six cut the ball into the hands of Ish Sodhi at short third man.
Josh Philippe then joined skipper Aaron Finch and played a sluggish inning while Finch continued to score at a run a ball. Philippe survived a close LBW call in the sixth over as Australia scored 37/1 after the completion of powerplay.
But Philippe wasn’t able to make the most of reprieve as he was sent back to the dugout in the next over by Sodhi. Last match’s hero Glenn Maxwell was looking dangerous but he too went back after Trent Boult ended his cameo.
Marcus Stoinis and Finch stitched a 25-run stand but Kane Williamson’s sensational catch ended the all-rounder’s innings in the 13th over. Boult in the next over dismissed Ashton Agar as Australia was reduced to 97/5 with skipper Finch looking for a company.
Wickets kept falling at one end while Finch continued scoring at a brisk rate. Australia was 130 for the loss of six wickets after the 19th over and Finch switched gear in the final five balls and whacked four sixes off Kyle Jamieson.
Brief Scores: Australia 156/6 (Aaron Finch 79*; Ish Sodhi 3-32); New Zealand 106 (Kyle Jamieson 30; Kane Richardson 3-19)
On the other hand in the northern hemisphere, Reverse sweeping James Anderson to pick a boundary on the second day of a Test match perfectly summed up Rishabh Pant’s belligerent knock at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday.
The swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman single-handedly put India in command on the second day of the fourth Test against England with his third century in Test cricket. Having started cautiously, Pant took the English bowlers to the cleaners in the final session to take the game away from the visitors and put the hosts in the driver’s seat. At stumps, India’s score read 294/7 with Washington Sundar (60) and Axar Patel (11) at the crease — leading the visitors by 89 runs in the first innings. India scored 141 runs in 32 overs in the final session of the second day.
With wickets tumbling around him, Pant took 82 balls to reach his first fifty runs. But the next 50 came off just 33 balls as he decided to send the English bowlers on a leather hunt. The second new ball turned to be a blessing in disguise for the batsman as the ball started coming onto the bat beautifully and he was more than happy to bring out the unorthodox shots from the kitty.
He found a perfect company in Sundar as the bowling all-rounder held one end up and gave Pant the freedom to wield the willow. To reverse sweep Anderson is audacious, to say the least, and to think the legend was bowling with the new ball makes it even braver.
Batting risk-free in the second session, Pant put on his dancing shoes post-tea and creamed a flurry of boundaries post the drinks break. A top-quality knock from Pant saw him receiving a standing ovation from the Ahmedabad crowd.
While Pant looked in sublime form as he smashed two consecutive boundaries off Anderson’s over just after the drinks break, Washington joined the party as he first hit a superb backfoot drive and then flashed hard at the ball for a four.
Having lost six wickets in the first two sessions, Pant and Washington started the final session cautiously but the wicket-keeper batsman soon changed gears. Minutes into the final session, Pant completed his seventh half-century in the longest format of the game. There was no looking back after that. In fact, the wicket-keeper brought up his third Test century with a six as he kept swatting the ball.
But Anderson broke the deadlock as Pant departed soon after his ton. Washinton continued his fine form and completed a well-made fifty with Axar Patel giving him company.
In the second session, Pant and Washington had taken India to 153/6 after losing Rohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin. A disciplined effort from the English bowlers saw the visitors taking the honors in the session. Rohit and Pant had started well in the post-lunch session as they looked to defend the good balls and score of the rare bad deliveries. But just when the two started to look good, Stokes sent back Rohit, one short of a much-deserved fifty
Ashwin joined Pant in the middle and tried to accumulate runs to reduce the deficit. The duo had a brief 25-run partnership for the sixth wicket until Jack Leach sent Ashwin (13) back in the concluding minutes of the session.
In the first session, Anderson had claimed the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane at the stroke of lunch as England bowlers led the fightback for the visitors. Going into the morning session with the score of 24/1 and with Rohit and Pujara at the crease, the hosts would have liked to get closer to the visitors’ total without losing a wicket. But it wasn’t to be as Leach struck first to send back Pujara, leg before.
Virat Kohli too failed to leave a mark as Stokes produced a nothing shot to a ball that got big on the India skipper and ended up giving keeper Foakes an easy catch. India went to lunch with a scorecard of 80/4.
Brief Scores: England 205; India 294/7 (Rishabh Pant 101, Washington Sundar 60*; James Anderson 3-40)