International Cricket round up of the week.

Pakistan Cricket

With Pakistan looking to draw level in the ODI series against South Africa & West Indies taking on India in the 1st Test at Kolkatta, fans rejoiced.

Dale Steyn brings the pain for Misbah’s men!

South Africa 266 for 5 (de Kock 112, Junaid 2-42) defeated Pakistan 238 (Misbah 65, Maqsood 56, Steyn 5-25) by 28 runs

Pakistan threatened to level the ODI series 2:2 before the No.1 speedster in world cricket dashed all hopes with a magnificent display of fast bowling. South Africa thus won the series 3:1 with the remaining dead rubber being played on Monday.

“Here comes the pain!!!!” was a famous line in arguably the best opening sequence of cinematic history from my favourite Nicholas Cage film, snake eyes. The line was a trigger for a planned assassination of a politician in the film. Dale Steyn carried out cricketing assassinations of his own, taking out 5 Pakistani batsmen yesterday, bringing considerable pain to their fans across the globe. His ruthless bowling in a late spell almost single handedly turned the contest in South Africa’s favour. The ICC rankings don’t even have Steyn in the top ten ODI bowlers in the world at the moment. On the basis of yesterday’s performance in which he took career best figures of 5-25, It’s clear that the ranking system doesn’t always accurately reflect the state of current cricketing affairs. But, ask any cricket observer and they’ll tell you, Steyn is currently the best fast bowler in world cricket in any format. Some may argue for James Anderson’s case in Tests. Indeed an on song Jimmy playing in home conditions is formidable, but an on song Dale Steyn is much more. A year younger than Anderson, the Saffers quick has 11 more Test wickets (340) having played 10 less games, a much better average (22.65 compared to Jimmy’s 30.11) and has taken a staggering 21 five wicket hauls (compared to Jimmy’s 15). That’s more than some of the greats like Fred Trueman (17), Allan Donald (20) and Shaun Pollock (16). Added to the fact he’s one of the quickest bowlers around, constantly pushing the 90mph barrier and it’s tough to argue against his dominance in the cricketing hemisphere.

Windies fold in Kolkatta heat!

India 453 [Rohit 177, Ashwin 124, Shillingford 6-167] defeated West Indies 234 (Samuels 65, Shami 4-71) and 168 (Shami 5-47) by an innings & 51 runs

India wrapped up an innings and 51 run victory inside 3 days in Kolkatta for the first Test against the touring West Indies. After the match Darren Sammy conceded that his side weren’t mentally strong enough and didn’t graft hard in the Test match.

Having won the toss and deciding to bat, Windies scored a below par 234 in their first innings but their bowlers then reduced India to 83-5 before lunch on day 2. Shilingford removed 4 of the Indian 5 top order batsmen and bowled magnificently. That however was as good as it got for the tourists. India recovered with Rohit Sharma scoring 177 on debut and Ravi Ashwin helped out with a career best 124, leaving ending on an imposing total of 453 runs. In reply only 4 West Indian batsmen reached double figures as they folded tamely for 168. Sharma was rightly named man of the match and a glittering career also lies ahead for India’s other debutant Mohammad Shami, who took impressive debut figures of 9-118. As for the Windies, off spinner Shane Shillingford was the one bright spark in the game for them. In the punishing heat of Eden garden he bowled, without complaint a back breaking 55 overs and was deserving of his 6 fer. Chris Gayle and his fellow batsmen have to pull up their respective sleeves and muster a score higher than 250+ in their next match if they're to stand a chance of competing.

On a side note, the man who every fan came to watch in this test match, Sachin Tendulkar was cheered every time he touched the ball in the field. The legendary run machine was harshly given out LBW in India's innings and will be hoping retire on a high next week, in his last game ever.

Comedy Moment of the week - Carberry does Viv!

Whilst the Australian players in contention for Test selection were playing tough shield cricket in preparation for the Ashes. The England boys were left twiddling their thumbs watching the rain fall in their dressing room during their warm up game at Hobart. Michael Carberry decided to entertain his team mates with a hilarious impression of Viv Richards. What makes the clip funnier however is the cringeworthy nature of the laughter in the bakcground, listening to which one can't quite decide whether they're laughing with him or at him. What's certain however, is that the invisible culprit behind those high pitch shrieks/laughs, (which can be heard in the background) is unlikely to be named any time soon.

image: © mashfiq13