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Posts Tagged ‘makhaya ntini’

South Africa and Australia certainly know how to get cricket fans on the edge of their seats. Just as the First Test was beginning to organise itself into a contest where victory for the hosts looked improbable if not impossible, things swung right back around, Jacques Kallis taking 3-22 (the 3 in question being Ponting, Hussey and North) and Ntini 3-52 as Australia’s second innings was brought to an end with just 207 added to their lead.

The tourists still enjoyed a lead of 454 at this point, but recent events Down Under (and before that, during England’s tour of India) have moved the goalposts, so to speak, for fourth-innings run chases. 276 from 98 overs tomorrow is now well within the realm of the possible.

If Ricky Ponting has a nagging feeling of deja vu, it’s most likely due to what happened in Perth last December, where South Africa overcame a first-innings deficit to claim victory with a ridiculous 414/4 in the fourth innings. Whilst the Saffers have a lot more left to do on the final day this time around, stranger things have happened (and many of them in the last twelve months).

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The series may be won and lost, many players involved may already have found their thoughts drifting towards next week’s IPL auction, but there is plenty to play for when Australia take on South Africa tomorrow in Perth. There’s pride, of course, and individuals will want to stake their claims for continued inclusion, but there’s another factor – if South Africa win, they will topple Australia from the top of the ODI world rankings.

We’ve been here before, of course, with the Test series – Australia managed a win in Syndey to hold onto top spot on that occasion. South Africa look likely to rest the likes of Steyn and Kallis, whilst Ntini has flown home following a family car accident, so the home side may be more motivated than the tourist. Whatever happens, the return series in South Africa is only a month away, so any relative cessation of hostilities will be brief.

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The first day of the long-awaited series between Australia and South Africa promised drama, and on that score it didn’t disappoint. The home side, having won the toss, found themselves languishing at 15/3, but Simon Katich and Michael Clarke, and then Andrew Symonds and Brad Haddin, battled back to leave the Aussies on a decent 341/9 at the close of play.

South Africa’s bowling attack has been much praised in the build-up to this Test, and it seems to have delivered for most of the day. Ntini in particular gave the Australians all sorts of trouble, and it will be interesting to see how Australia’s less than experienced bowlers fare when they get their chance on day two.

If every day’s play is like this, we’re in for a fantastic couple of weeks.

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After the run-fest of the last two days, the casual observer might have thought that South Africa would settle in today for a long hard tilt at a big total.

The causal observer would have been wrong. Where Steyn and Ntini stuggled, Anderson, Broad and Sidebottom struck. And that was before Monty took 4-74 to leave South Africa 146 short of saving the follow-on. The ultimate embarrassment for Graeme Smith’s men? The last wicket taker, who then opened the second innings bowling owing to dodgy light in the evening gloom.

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English batsmen should be scared. South Africa’s bowlers look menacing. Morne Morkel is picking up form at the right time, Andre ‘King of Frustration‘ Nel is as angry as ever (he has much to be angry about), and Bat-breaker Ntini could soon be yelping like a demented puppy. Oh, and there’s Dale Steyn, too.

Gulp.

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After what seems like about a thousand games of cricket, the Indian Premier League has now reached the Semi-Final stage. Here’s a brief roundup of the teams still involved

  • Dehli Daredevils: Having Glenn McGrath in the side has obviously helped, but the Daredevils still had to wait on other results to make the final four after losing to Punjab. Dehli probably won’t be many people’s tip to win the whole thing.
  • Chennai Super Kings: After a strong start, the Super Kings suffered when all their Australians left part-way through the season to tour the West Indies. With Stephen Fleming also unavailable for the rest of the season, Chennai will struggle to replicate the explosive form of April, but they still have enough quality (especially in their bowling, with Ntini, Muralitharan and Balaji) to win.
  • Kings XI Punjab: Punjab should be strong on confidence after beating Rajasthan by 41 runs on Wednesday, and Luke Pomersbach is tailor-made for twenty20. With the likes of Pomersbach and Kumar Sangakkara (who’s made five 50s in 18 innings of twenty20), as well as plenty of young Indian talent, the Kings XI are serious contenders.

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Dale Steyn has now drawn level with The Mighty Murali as the best Test bowler in the world. Makhaya Ntini is at number 5 in the list, meaning that statistically South Africa’s Test bowling attack is much better than India’s.  Which, on current form, is pretty obvious, really.

In the batting rankings, too, South Africans feature prominently, with Kinky Kallis at number 2, much higher than India’s highest entry at number 12.

Does this mean South Africa are officially better than India? At Test cricket, probably, especially now some of the Indian players might be a little distracted by the large piles of money on offer in the IPL.

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