Nathan Lyon

Babar Azam (Pic Source: Twitter)
Babar Azam (Pic Source: Twitter)
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Babar Azam 4th Batter To Face More Than 400 Balls In 4th Innings Of A Test Match

Babar Azam, leading the side from the front, helped Pakistan save the second Test against Australia in Karachi. After batting the entire day on Tuesday, the Pakistan skipper was finally dismissed in the final session of Day 5 as he missed out on a well-deserved double ton. He scored 196 off 425 balls before getting out to Nathan Lyon.

Babar Azam’s knock kept Pakistan alive in the contest after Australia set them the greatest fourth-innings chase in Test cricket history. Chasing 506, Babar Azam arrived in the middle when the hosts were batting at 21/2 in 22.2 overs. He then went on to add 228 runs for the third wicket with opener Abdullah Shafique. By the time he was dismissed Pakistan had reached 392/5 with a little period of play remaining in the day.

Abdullah Shafique broke into the Pakistan Test side despite very little first-class experience AFP/Getty Images
Abdullah Shafique broke into the Pakistan Test side despite very little first-class experience AFP/Getty Images

Babar Azam Became 4th Batter To Face Over 400 Balls(425) In 4th Innings Of A Test

Babar Azam’s superb effort saw him script a new feat and he now finds himself in the elite company of Sunil Gavaskar, Michael Atherton, and Herbert Sutcliffe. He became the fourth batter to face over 400 balls in the fourth innings of a Test. Michael Atherton tops the charts with 492 balls, followed by Herbert Sutcliffe (462), and Sunil Gavaskar (443).

Babar Azam Photo Credit: (Getty Images)
Babar Azam Photo Credit: (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Pakistan produced a brilliant fightback after Australia dominated the first three days of the contest. The visitors, who opted to bat first, piled 566/9(declared) in their first innings and bundled out Pakistan for 148 to secure a commanding lead of 408 runs.

Mohammad Rizwan Too Scores An Unbeaten 104 To Deny Australia An Easy Win

The Aussies then quickly declared their second innings on 97/2, giving their bowlers two days to bundle the Pakistan line-up for the second time in the contest. However, a splendid show by Babar Azam and Abdullah Shafique, followed by another match-saving inning 104* by Mohammad Rizwan as Pakistan escaped with a draw. The hosts piled 443/7 in their second innings.

Pakistan's wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan. Photo: Mohammad Rizwan's Twitter account
Pakistan’s wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan. Photo: Mohammad Rizwan’s Twitter account

Pakistan finished their marathon second innings at 443 for 7 with Mohammad Rizwan unbeaten on 104. Needing 506 to pull off a record chase, Pakistan ended up losing 7 wickets but held their nerves to play out a riveting draw. The result was needed, especially given the backlash the PCB received after the dull stalemate in Rawalpindi.

Mohammad Rizwan’s 2nd Test century made him only the 2nd wicketkeeper batter from Pakistan to score a hundred in the fourth innings of a Test match. Previously, Moin Khan had achieved the feat in 1995. Overall, Mohammad Rizwan is the 7th to get there, along with Adam Gilchrist, Rishabh Pant, Matt Prior, Alan Knott and AB de Villiers.

Australia 556 for 9 Dec (Khawaja 160, Carey 93, Ashraf 2-55) and 97 for 2 Dec (Khawaja 44*, Labuschagne 44, Afridi 1-21) drew with Pakistan 148 (Babar 36, Starc 3-29) and 443 for 7 (Babar 196, Rizwan 104*, Lyon 4-112)

Babar Azam (Pic Source: Twitter)
Babar Azam (Pic Source: Twitter)
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Babar Azam’s 196 Highest By A Captain In The 4th Innings

Babar Azam, the Pakistan skipper scored a career-best 196 against Australia in the 2nd Test and left behind quite a few big legendary batters such as Don Bradman, Virat Kohli, Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis in an elite list.

A day after Babar Azam scored his sixth Test century after a hiatus of about 2 years, the Pakistan captain went in to convert it into his highest score. With Pakistan battling to save the Karachi Test against Australia, Babar Azam led from the front and produced a fine knock of 196 to deny the visitors what looked like a potential win.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam scored 196 (PCB)
Pakistan captain Babar Azam scored 196 (PCB)

Babar Azam Denies Australia Win; Scores 196 Which Becomes The Highest By A Skipper In The 4th Innings

Babar Azam stood in the way of Australia achieving win, and although opener Abdullah Shafique and keeper Mohammad Rizwan played their parts, the fact that Pakistan will head into the final Test with the series levelled at 0-0 is primarily because of their captain’s resistance.

When the fifth and final day commenced, Pakistan needed to pull off a record chase of 506 runs with eight wickets remaining. But Babar Azam stood tall like a wall, bringing up his first Test hundred in over two years and then doubling it in the final session.

With Australia managing to pick up two more wickets in the day and reducing Pakistan to 277/4, it seemed as if another batting collapse was inevitable. But Babar Azam batted splendidly to deny Australia and produced a fighting knock in the fourth innings of a Test match.

Babar Azam may have missed out on a maiden Test double, he went to the top of an elusive list. His knock is now the highest by a captain in the fourth innings of a Test match. In the process, Babar Azam left behind the likes of Don Bradman, Virat Kohli and Ricky Ponting, whose best while batting in the fourth innings were 173 not out, 156 and 141 respectively.

Abdullah Shafique broke into the Pakistan Test side despite very little first-class experience AFP/Getty Images
Abdullah Shafique broke into the Pakistan Test side despite very little first-class experience AFP/Getty Images

Babar Azam also leaves behind the legendary Brian Lara, whose highest score in the fourth innings of a Test match is an unbeaten 153. Not many gave Pakistan a chance when Day 5 got underway, especially how they crumbled in the first innings, losing eight for 88 to be eventually bowled out for 148.

In the second innings, however, Babar Azam gutted it out, first with Abdullah Shafique, who built on his phenomenal form in the series to score 96. Abdullah Shafique missed out on a hundred with Australia captain Pat Cummins picking up his wicket to give the team a breakthrough.

Mohammad Rizwan Also Scored A Ton

As Pat Cummins then knocked over Fawad Alam, it allowed Australia to put their foot inside the door but, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan produced a century partnership. Babar Azam’s marathon knock ended when he edged Nathan Lyon to Marnus Labuschagne at first slip, much to the dismay of the crowd that had come in to see their captain breach the 200-run mark.

Pakistan's wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan. Photo: Mohammad Rizwan's Twitter account
Pakistan’s wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan. Photo: Mohammad Rizwan’s Twitter account

Babar Azam looked like joining the likes of Pakistan greats Javed Miandad and Younis Khan in another elusive list but it wasn’t to be. Babar Azam’s wicket was followed by Faheem Ashraf’s dismissal the next ball.

Sajid Khan struck a couple of boundaries but once Nathan Lyon removed him to leave Pakistan on 414/7 with eight overs left, things looked bleak for the home team. But, Mohammad Rizwan held one end with Nauman Ali and deservingly scored a century to help Pakistan to a draw. Against all the odds, the hosts batted through 171.4 overs, finishing 63 short of the target.

Pakistan finished their marathon second innings at 443 for 7 with Mohammad Rizwan unbeaten on 104 and Nauman Ali on 0 off 18 balls.

Australia 556 for 9 dec (Khawaja 160, Carey 93, Ashraf 2-55) and 97 for 2 dec (Khawaja 44*, Labuschagne 44, Afridi 1-21) drew with Pakistan 148 (Babar 36, Starc 3-29) and 443 for 7 (Babar 196, Rizwan 104*, Lyon 4-112)

Mitchell Swepson. Getty Images.
Mitchell Swepson. Getty Images.
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Mitchell Swepson Will Make His Long Awaited Test Debut In 2nd Test Against Pakistan

Mitchell Swepson, Australia’s leg-spinner will make his long-awaited Test debut against Pakistan on Saturday, with skipper Pat Cummins confirming Australia’s XI for the second Test of the three-match series.

With the surface in Karachi expected to aid spin, Pat Cummins announced that Mitchell Swepson will play his first Test match, with fast bowler Josh Hazlewood the man to miss out.

Josh Hazlewood (Pic Source: Twitter)
Josh Hazlewood (Pic Source: Twitter)

Mitchell Swepson Will Make His Long-Awaited Test Debut In 2nd Test Against Pakistan Confirms Skipper Pat Cummins

Mitchell Swepson first toured with Australia’s Test side five years ago and has consistently been Nathan Lyon’s spin deputy in the past few years, but has not been able to make the final XI. The Queenslander will be the first frontline leg-spinner to debut in Tests for Australia’s men’s team since Bryce McGain in 2009.

“He’s pumped and to be honest, we’re all pumped for ‘Swepo’,” Cummins said.

“It’s been a long time running drinks over the last couple of years, but he’s absolutely ready. He’s been a huge part of the squad, even though he hasn’t been playing. So we’re really excited to see him get a chance. The wicket here is a little bit drier and historically a bit friendlier for the spinners.”

Mitchell Swepson. © Cricket Australia
Mitchell Swepson. © Cricket Australia

Mitchell Swepson has played 7 T20Is and has picked 11 wickets averaging 15.72 with a best of 3/12. He has also played 51 first class games picking 151 scalps at 34.55. He has also picked 28 scalps in 33 List A games and 64 scalps in 61 T20s.

Mitchell Swepson Indebted To Late Shane Warne For Passing On Tactical And Technical Tips

The drought-breaking inclusion of a leg-spinner comes less than a week after the man many consider the greatest slow leg-spin bowler of all time, Shane Warne, died suddenly in Thailand. The spin legend mentored Mitchell Swepson at various points through his career, passing on tactical and technical tips, perhaps most notably during the 2017-18 summer when Shane Warne advised him to slow his approach to the crease.

“Never got to properly thank this man for his influence on my cricket career,” Swepson posted in a social media tribute following Warne’s death on Friday. “He has made me push myself day in and day out without ever knowing it. Truly the greatest cricketer I’ve ever seen play the game.”

Shane Warne - Getty Images
Shane Warne – Getty Images

Australia trialled a handful of wrist-spinners in the aftermath of Shane Warne’s Test retirement in 2007 but, until off-spinner Nathan Lyon’s emergence, struggled to come to terms with the gaping hole left by arguably cricket’s greatest bowler.

Stuart MacGill played just four of his 44 Tests after Shane Warne hung up the boots before injuries curtailed his career, while Brad Hogg (three post-Shane Warne Tests), Beau Casson (one Test in 2008 against West Indies) and Bryce McGain (one in 2009) were all tried and discarded.

Australia’s last Test victory in Pakistan in 1998 had come in Rawalpindi, with an off-spinner and a leg-spinner in their attack. Leg-spinner Stuart MacGill claimed nine wickets for the match and Colin Miller took three, although Colin Miller, who was on debut, bowled both seam up and offspin.

Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Swepson

Mitchell Swepson. © Cricket Australia
Mitchell Swepson. © Cricket Australia
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Australia Likely To Field 2 Spinners In 2nd Test With Mitchell Swepson Making His Debut

Australia are likely to play two spinners as they go in search of a win in Saturday’s second Test in Karachi after Pakistan batted their seamers into the ground in the draw at Rawalpindi.

The historic occasion — Australia’s first Test in Pakistan since 1998 — was marred by a pitch described as “dead” by vice-captain Steve Smith as Pakistan piled up 728 runs combined in both innings for the loss of just four wickets, and one of those was a run out.

Australia's bowlers bowled 239 overs in Rawalpindi and took just four wickets AFP/Getty Images
Australia’s bowlers bowled 239 overs in Rawalpindi and took just four wickets AFP/Getty Images

Australian Pacer And Skipper Pat Cummins Hinted At Fielding 2 Spinners including Debutant Mitchell Swepson In The 2nd Test

Openers Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique both made maiden Test hundreds — Imam-ul-Haq scoring one in each innings — while senior batsman Azhar Ali also passed three figures during five attritional days. The series now moves to Karachi’s National Stadium, a favourite hunting ground for Pakistan, who have won 23 of the 43 Tests they have played there while losing only twice.

Australia have never won in Karachi in eight attempts, losing five and drawing three. With conditions sultry, the pitch is likely to help the slow bowlers, prompting Australia to rest at least one of their famed pace trio of captain Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

“From our intel in Karachi and Lahore, a second spinner is probably the way to go but we’ll have a look,” said Cummins, hinting that leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson, 28, could make his Test debut alongside veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

Mitchell Swepson. Getty Images.
Mitchell Swepson. Getty Images.

“Just about everyone got into the series,” said Cummins, whose side made 459 in their only innings in Rawalpindi without anyone making a century. All the batters got some runs. We’re still feeling relatively fresh going into the game.”

Pace bowler Hasan Ali, who missed the first Test through injury, is likely to replace Naseem Shah for the hosts. But Faheem Ashraf, who missed the first Test through injury, has now been sidelined with Covid-19.

Mitchell Swepson is in line to make his Test debut for Australia with Pat Cummins conceding after the Rawalpindi draw against Pakistan that two spinners is “probably the way to go”. Conditions in Karachi, where the second Test starts, are expected to be more conducive to spin, further strengthening the case for Mitchell Swepson to debut, Pat Cummins said after the first Test.

Mitchell Swepson would be the first specialist leg-spinner to earn his Test debut for Australia since Bryce McGain in Cape Town in 2009. The 28-year-old has taken 154 first class wickets at 34.55.

Babar Azam Praised Effort Of Pakistan Batsmen And Nauman Ali While Ramiz Raja defended The Flat Pitch

Left-arm spinner Nauman Ali, who took a career best 6-107 in Rawalpindi, was Pakistan’s match-winner in Karachi last year on debut against South Africa with seven wickets.

“The way our batters played and how Nauman bowled in difficult conditions was good,” said Pakistan captain Babar Azam of his side’s performance in the first Test of the three-match series.

“There were some positives to take for us. We have some of our fast bowlers available for the second Test so we should be stronger in that department.”

Ramiz Raja. (Credits: Twitter)
Ramiz Raja. (Credits: Twitter)

Ramiz Raja, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, defended the flat pitch in Rawalpindi.

“I understand the frustration of the fans but there is a lot of cricket still remaining to be played,” said Raja.

“Just for the heck of it, we can’t prepare a fast pitch or a bouncy pitch and put the game in Australia’s lap.”

Ramiz Raja has conceded that the drawn Rawalpindi Test was not a good advertisement for Test cricket. He reiterated the claim he made when he first took over the post that Pakistan needed a complete overhaul of its pitches but said the process could only begin after the end of the 2021-22 season.

Ramiz Raja more or less confirmed the suspicion that the Rawalpindi pitch had been prepared to nullify Australia’s pace strength as well as cover for Pakistan’s weakened resources, with fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf, the opener Abid Ali, and the leg-spinner Yasir Shah all out injured. The third and final Test takes place in Lahore from March 21-25.

Wasim Jaffer (Credits: Twitter)
Wasim Jaffer (Credits: Twitter)
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Wasim Jaffer Upset With Lifeless Pitch In The 1st Test Between Australia And Pakistan

Wasim Jaffer, a former Indian opener is upset with the ongoing Test between Pakistan and Australia as he feels it is a bad advertisement for the format.

The former Punjab Kings batting coach Wasim Jaffer believes instead of over rates, lifeless pitches are a threat to Test cricket.

Wasim Jaffer. Image Credits: Twitter
Wasim Jaffer. Image Credits: Twitter

Imam-ul-Haq Scores Ton In Both Innings In The Drawn 1st Test

The visitors Australia’s bowling line-up toiled for 162 overs after losing the toss as Pakistan accumulated 476-4, batting for two days. Azhar Ali top-scored with 185 and shared a mammoth stand of 208 with Imam-ul-Haq, who made his maiden Test hundred.

In reply, Australia received a brilliant start as Usman Khawaja and David Warner put together an opening stand of 185. However, the top four, including Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, and Steve Smith missed out on well-deserving centuries.

Imam-ul-Haq @ AFP
Imam-ul-Haq @ AFP

Australia’s innings was wrapped up in the first four overs of the day when it was all out for 459 after resuming on 449-7. Left-arm spinner Nauman Ali took a career-best 6-107 on the grassless pitch to give Pakistan a 17-run, first-innings lead.

Imam-ul-Haq followed his 157 in the first innings total of 476-4 declared with an unbeaten 111 in his first test since November 2019. Imam-ul-Haq’s opening partner, Abdullah Shafique, also prospered to record his maiden test hundred and was unbeaten on 136 when Pakistan finished the fifth and final day on 252-0 in its second innings, leading by 269 runs.

Wasim Jaffer Reckons Biggest Threat To Tests Are Dead Pitches

Wasim Jaffer, an active former cricketer on social media, took a dig at the Test by saying it is surprising to see teams lose points in the World Test Championship cycle due to over rates despite most Tests finishing in four days. Instead, the 44-year old tweeted that such high-scoring games are unhealthy for the format.

“I find it amusing when Test matches get over inside four days yet teams lose WTC points for overrate. The biggest threat to Test cricket is not overrate. Tests rarely go to day 5 anyway nowadays. The biggest threat to Test cricket is dead pitches. Dead pitch = Dead game,” Wasim Jaffer wrote on Twitter.

Pat Cummins Credit: AAP
Pat Cummins Credit: AAP

It is fair to say that Australia and Pakistan – two teams with gun bowling line-ups, will want to forget this Test. Skipper Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon and Marnus Labuschagne picked up a wicket each in the first innings. As for the home side, left-arm spinner Nauman Ali picked 6 scalps.

Australia are touring Pakistan for the first time in 24 years and are into the first segment of the visit. Last time out, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh led the triumphant Australians in 1998 in Tests and ODIs, respectively.

The Test ended 21 overs early after both teams agreed to mercifully put this match out of its misery. Pakistan racked up an astounding 728 for 4 for the entire match, as Australia unsuccessfully resorted to using nine bowlers, including rarely tried Usman Khawaja with the last over of the match.
Pakistan 476 for 4 dec (Azhar 185, Imam 157, Shafique 44, Cummins 1-62, Lyon 1-161) and 252 for 0 (Shafique 136*, Imam 111*) drew with Australia 459 (Khawaja 97, Labuschagne 90, Smith 78, Nauman 6-107)
Shane Watson World Cup 2015. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Shane Watson World Cup 2015. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
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Shane Watson Super Excited And Can’t Wait To See Australia-Pakistan Test Series Starting From March 4

Shane Watson, the former Australian allrounder can’t wait to see his old side Australia break a 24-year hiatus and return to Pakistan to play Test cricket next month and is predicting a thrilling series between two of the best teams in the world.

Australia will travel to the south Asian country for the first time since 1998 to play a three-match Test series against Pakistan and Shane Watson is expecting an action-packed series with valuable ICC World Test Championship points up for grabs.

Shane Watson (Image Credit: Twitter)
Shane Watson (Image Credit: Twitter)

Shane Watson Excited For Australia- Pakistan Series As He Knows Pakistan People Have Been Deprived Of Cricket

Shane Watson represented Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. Shane Watson amassed 1490 runs in 140 IPL games averaging 22.57 and took 153 scalps averaging 24.81. He retired from all forms of the game after the conclusion of IPL 2020. Shane Watson played 59 Tests, 190 ODIs, and 58 T20Is for Australia before retiring in 2016 from international cricket after debuting in 2002.

“I am super excited as I know how much the Pakistan people have been starved of cricket,” Watson said on the latest episode of The ICC Review.

Australia last toured to Pakistan in 1998 when it won the test series 1-0 while also winning all the matches in the limited-overs series. Pakistan has struggled to attract visiting sides since a fatal terrorist attack on the visiting Sri Lanka team’s bus in 2009, and Australia pulled out of a tour five years earlier after a suicide blast at a Lahore church.

“They are so cricket obsessed and love nothing more than watching Pakistan play and especially live cricket at home. I was fortunate to play a few Pakistan Super League’s over there and it was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in my life.

“It is brilliant that Cricket Australia have gone to great lengths to make sure they have got all the information they need to make sure the players’ minds are at ease around the security side of things, so it is going to be a brilliant series.”

Australia has named an 18-player squad for the Test series, with untried quick Mark Steketee recently drafted into the squad to replace the injured Michael Neser and uncapped paceman Brendan Doggett remains on standby should any further injury occur.

The Australians have also included three spinners in their touring party, with leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson and left-arm spinner Ashton Agar making the trip to support experienced off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

Shane Watson: It’s Going To Be An Exceptional Challenge For Visitors Australia To Adapt To Pakistan’s Conditions

But Shane Watson has warned Australia against fiddling too much with their already potent bowling attack as he doesn’t expect the pitches in Pakistan to offer too much to either bowling line-up.

“From my experience playing the Pakistan Super League, the (pitches in Pakistan) are great batting wickets,” Watson noted.

“The ball doesn’t really turn a lot and certainly not as much as it did when Pakistan played in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I think it is going to be an exceptional challenge for the Australian team to try and adapt to the Pakistan conditions when they haven’t been there for so long and how they will try to develop their game plan.

“But for world cricket, it is going to be great to get a big tour back to Pakistan and I know Pakistan people are so excited and the fans will be coming out in their droves to watch.”

Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali | AFP
Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali | AFP

But despite having allegiances to both camps, Shane Watson is remaining loyal to his country of birth when asked to pick who will prevail in the series.

“I would be surprised if Australia don’t get up, just knowing the Australian bowlers and how well they bowled (against England) during the Ashes,” he said.

“It was relentless fast bowling across the board and everyone really complemented each other really well and Pakistan are going to need to bat out of their skins just to stay in the game. My gut is telling me Australia will win the series if they score enough runs, as I believe their bowlers will be good enough to put the Pakistan batters under a lot of pressure.”

The first of three WTC Tests commences in Rawalpindi on March 4, with three ODIs and one T20I to follow. Pakistan’s experienced all-rounder Faheem Ashraf and pacer Hasan Ali were on Sunday ruled out of the first Test against Australia, beginning on Friday, due to fitness issues.

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Shane Warne Backs Ravichandran Ashwin And Nathan Lyon To Take 1000 Test Wickets

Legendary spinner Shane Warne believes that Ravichandran Ashwin and Nathan Lyon have the ability to take their Test wickets tally to 1000. Currently, Sri Lanka‘s off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is leading the chart with 800 Test wickets while Warne himself sits at no.2 with 708 scalps in Test cricket.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Nathan Lyon, who have 430 and 415 Test wickets in their kitty respectively, are leading spinners in the longest format. Warne stated that they could reach the four-figure mark, it would be fantastic for the game.

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Ashwin picked 430 wickets in 84 Test matches

Speaking to Hindustan Times when Shane Warne was asked if the duo can surpass the tally of Muralitharan, he said, “I hope both Ashwin and Lyon do, because the more we see quality spin bowlers bowling, it makes for more interesting cricket. I think when you watch a pace bowler bowl real fast and a batter trying to take them on and then you see a really good spinner and that battle between him and a spinner.”

“And you see that battle evolve. If you can see those two things in Test cricket, I think it becomes more entertaining. So if we can have that, then I hope Ashwin takes 1000 Test wickets, Lyon takes 1000 Test wickets. That would be fantastic.” he added further.

Nathan Lyon
Nathan Lyon

Warne lauded Ashwin for his constant evolvement as the off-spinner keeps adding new variations in his arsenal. However, Warne expects that he would raise his game more in overseas conditions. Notable that Ashwin played a big role when India won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia in 2020-21 as he took 12 wickets in 3 Test matches which included some key wickets.

“I am a big fan of Ashwin, the way he bowls. I think he is always trying to develop and explore different deliveries,” Warne said.

Ashwin is getting better and better. He has been fantastic. A true test of any cricketer is how they go away from home. Over a long period of time when you go to different countries and see how you perform overseas and then you end up having a record – both home and overseas, it gives you an idea as to how far you’ve come as a player.” he added.

Warne also doesn’t believe that the combo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav has declined. Notable that at one time the duo was a key figure in India’s white-ball success but things have changed dramatically in the last one or two years. Warne stated that it’s difficult to break into the squad when the likes of Ashwin and Jadeja are already there.

“I’m not sure they have declined. When you have Ashwin and Jadeja, two wonderful bowlers, it’s very hard to get into the team. Kuldeep is a wonderful wrist-spinner, so is Chahal. But it’s tough to get into the team when you’ve got Ashwin and Jadeja. So I don’t think they’ve had a downfall or anything like that, or drop in form. I just think the other two are doing really well,” he stated.

Also read Rohit Sharma Returns, Ravi Bishnoi And Deepak Hooda Gets Call-Up For West Indies Series

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo Source: Twitter)
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Shane Warne Hopes Ravichandran Ashwin Picks 1000 Test Wickets

Shane Warne is highly impressed with Indian off-spin bowler Ravichandran Ashwin’s work acumen and hopes he goes on to pick up 1000 Test wickets for his team. Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan- the two greatest spinners of all time sit atop in the list of the world’s leading wicket-taker with 709 and 800 Test scalps respectively.

The possibility of breaching that mark seems unlikely but two spinners Nathan Lyon and Ravichandran Ashwin’s excellent performances in recent Tests mean the records may be broken after all. Pacer Jimmy Anderson, with 640 wickets and the third-highest wicket-taker, is on the final leg of a long international career. His teammate England’s Stuart Broad isn’t far behind.

The only two active players in the top 15 are spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Nathan Lyon with 430 and 415 wickets, and although both are in their mid-30s, this duo is the only one that stands a chance to come close to Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan’s magnanimous feats.

Shane Warne - Getty Images
Shane Warne – Getty Images

Shane Warne Hopes Both Ravichandran Ashwin And Nathan Lyon Break Records Of Most Career Test Scalps

The battle of two modern-day greats is a phrase that has often been used to describe many a rivalry, but mostly for batsmen. Today, however, individual battles have transcended beyond batsmanship.  However, off the field, it’s a different story altogether. Both the aforementioned spinners are high on praise for their counterparts. Having said that, no amount of mutual respect can douse the competitive fire residing in their bellies.

It is because of this very intensity that fans, time and again, can’t help but debate as to who between the two of Nathan Lyon and Ravichandran Ashwin would be the first to surpass either Shane Warne or Muttiah Muralitharan. The comparison is surely understated and doesn’t get the attention it deserves, and weighing in on the same, the legendary Shane Warne states that there is nothing he would want more than to see both reach the pinnacle.

“I hope both Ashwin and Lyon do (break Warne and Muralitharan’s record), because the more we see quality spin bowlers bowling, it makes for more interesting cricket. I think when you watch a pace bowler bowl real fast and a batter trying to take them on and then you see a really good spinner and that battle between him and a spinner.”

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

“And you see that battle evolve. If you can see those two things in Test cricket, I think it becomes more entertaining. So if we can have that, then I hope Ashwin takes 1000 Test wickets, Lyon takes 1000 Test wickets. That would be fantastic,” Shane Warne said in an interview arranged by BookMyShow stream, the platform which premiers the Australian great’s much-awaited documentary film ‘Shane’.

In terms of their performances overseas, Ravichandran Ashwin holds the edge over his Aussie counterpart. During last year’s Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Ravichandran Ashwin grabbed 12 wickets and had the wood over Steve Smith. At present, the 35-year-old Ravichandran Ashwin has 430 Test wickets under his belt in 84 matches including 30 fifers and seven 10-wicket hauls.

He may not have gotten a single game in England last year, and might have perhaps sat out the South Africa Tests as well had Ravindra Jadeja been fit, but that hasn’t stopped Shane Warne’s admiration towards the efforts and hard yards Ravichandran Ashwin puts in.

“Ashwin is getting better and better. He has been fantastic. A true test of any cricketer is how they go away from home. Over a long period of time when you go to different countries and see how you perform overseas and then you end up having a record – both home and overseas, it gives you an idea as to how far you’ve come as a player. I am a big fan of Ashwin, the way he bowls. I think he is always trying to develop and explore different deliveries,” he mentioned.

Ravichandran Ashwin finished the calendar year as the leading wicket-taker. The Indian off-spinner picked 52 wickets in 9 Tests with an average of 16.94 which included 3 fifers. Ravichandran Ashwin also made a comeback for T20Is after 4 long years and he returned with figures of 9 wickets in 5 games as he played in T20 World Cup and a home T20I series against New Zealand.

Shane Warne Reckons It’s Very Hard For Kuldeep Yadav To Get Into Team As Ravichandran Ashwin And Ravindra Jadeja Are Doing Well

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja aren’t the only two Indian spinners Shane Warne touched upon. The once-threatening but currently fading duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav is a topic the Australian legend shared his insights on.

About four years ago, ‘Kul-Cha’ had sidelined Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja out of the XI as India’s two most prolific spinners in limited-overs internationals. In fact, when India had famously beaten South Africa 5-1 four years ago, the duo had accounted for 33 wickets.

Yuzvendra Chahal & Kuldeep Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Yuzvendra Chahal & Kuldeep Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Today, both find themselves at the crossroads of their careers. While Kuldeep Yadav has kind of vanished entirely, Yuzvendra Chahal is lacking the same spark.

And funnily enough, Ravichandran Ashwin has made a comeback into the limited-over fold, while Ravindra Jadeja has emerged to become arguably the world’s best all-rounder after Ben Stokes. Ravichandran Ashwin played the first two ODI games in the recently concluded series against Proteas and looked very ineffective. He returned with figures of 1/53 and 0/68 in his comeback ODI series.

But the decline of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal is a notion Shane Warne doesn’t buy.

“I’m not sure they have declined. When you have Ashwin and Jadeja, two wonderful bowlers, it’s very hard to get into the team. Kuldeep is a wonderful wrist-spinner, so is Chahal. But it’s tough to get into the team when you’ve got Ashwin and Jadeja. So I don’t think they’ve had a downfall or anything like that, or drop in form. I just think the other two are doing really well,” explained Warne.

The former leg-spinner reckons ‘Kul-Cha’s’ return into contention has gotten tougher because Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja haven’t given selectors reasons to leave them out.

Both Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were dropped from India’s squad for the 2021 T20I World Cup last year. While Chahal did make a return to the team after the tournament, Kuldeep Yadav has not played for India since the white-ball series against England last year at home.

Yuzvendra Chahal currently played the ODI series against South Africa. He picked just 2 wickets in the series playing all 3 ODIs. Kuldeep Yadav is the only Indian bowler to take two ODI hat-tricks and his T20I record isn’t bad either with 41 wickets in 23 games with an economy of 7.15. In ODIs, he has 107 scalps besides his name in 65 games averaging 28.34.

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Ricky Ponting. Image- Twitter
Ricky Ponting. Image- Twitter
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Ben Stokes Only Person Who Can Take Over As England Test Skipper After Ashes 2021/22 Series Loss – Ricky Ponting

Ben Stokes, England’s all-rounder is the only player who can replace Joe Root as Test captain and turn their fortunes around following the team’s meek surrender in the Ashes 2021/22 series, former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting said on Saturday.

Joe Root has come under intense pressure since England lost the third Test last week as Australia took an unassailable 3-0 Ashes lead. The visitors managed to save the fourth Test by a whisker with 1 wicket remaining, needing to chase a target of 388 on the final day in Sydney.

Ben Stokes, Joe Root ECB Twitter
Ben Stokes, Joe Root ECB Twitter

Ben Stokes Only Person Who Can Take Over As England Test Skipper From Joe Root: Australia Ex-Skipper Ricky Ponting

Ben Stokes is the only man who can be the captain of England’s Test side, believes former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting. He added that Ben Stokes could improve his own game with the leadership thrust to him. With England’s Test fortunes crumbling under current captain Joe Root, questions have been asked on whether a change in captaincy will revive the team in the longest format of the game.

“The only person that can take over is Ben Stokes,” Ricky Ponting told Cricket Australia’s website.

“I think Stokes would actually grow as a player if he was the captain of that side. I think with a bit of extra responsibility, he might become an even better player and that might have a good impact on the rest of the team.”

Ricky Ponting (Image Credit: Twitter)
Ricky Ponting (Image Credit: Twitter)

“I don’t know Stokes that well, but if I was trying to change the face of English cricket and trying to give a bit more of a heartbeat and a bit more soul, then I think he’d be the one that I’d be looking at to lead the team.”

Joe Root-led England has performed terribly and has already lost the 5-match Ashes series by losing the first three games. England lost the first match by 9 wickets at the Gabba, the second game by 275 runs at Adelaide Oval, and the third game by an innings and 14 runs at Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Ben Stokes States He Has No Ambition To Be England Captain

Ben Stokes, who scored 66 runs in the first innings of the fourth Test as he battled through a left side strain, has also been considered a viable option to replace Joe Root by former England skipper Mike Atherton. However, Ben Stokes said before the fourth Test that he has no ambition to be captain and backed Joe Root to remain in the England role despite calls for the Yorkshireman to stand down.

Ben Stokes, England all-rounder
Ben Stokes, England all-rounder (Photo | AP)

Australia, 3-0 up, having dominated the game, had their dreams of a whitewash shattered as England finally salvaged something from the wreck of this Ashes tour with Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, and James Anderson surviving 64 balls under floodlights to secure a thrilling draw at the SCG.

Jack Leach and Stuart Broad faced 52 of them, most of which were against Pat Cummins, Scott Boland, and Mitchell Starc before bad light forced Australia to turn to Steve Smith and he almost became a hero with the ball. He prized out Jack Leach, his first Test scalp since 2016, caught at slip after England’s spinner had battled well for 34 balls without error.

Stuart Broad and James Anderson survived six balls each from Nathan Lyon and Steve Smith respectively and England’s veterans held on. It was only the second time in Ashes history a team had saved a game nine-down in the fourth innings, the first being the famous 2005 draw at Manchester.

High-quality half-centuries from Zak Crawley and Ben Stokes and a brave 105-ball 41 from Jonny Bairstow had earlier put England in a position to save the Test.

England 294 (Bairstow 113, Stokes 66, Boland 4-36) and 9 for 270 (Crawley 77, Stokes 60, Boland 3-30) drew with Australia 8 for 416 dec (Khawaja 137, Smith 67, Broad 5-101) and 6 for 265 declared (Khawaja 101*, Green 74, Leach 4-84)

Michael Vaughan. (Image Credits: Getty)
Michael Vaughan. (Image Credits: Getty)
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Michael Vaughan In Favour Of Zak Crawley Being Given A Longer Run In Tests After His Impressive 77 In 2nd Innings Of 4th Test

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain on Sunday said that opening batter Zak Crawley can seriously play and he needs to be given a consistent run in the Three Lions squad.

Michael Vaughan’s remarks came as Zak Crawley impressed one and all with his 77-run knock in the second innings of the ongoing fourth Ashes Test here at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Michael Vaughan (Image Credit: Twitter)
Michael Vaughan (Image Credit: Twitter)

Michael Vaughan: Zak Crawley Needs To Be Given A Long Run In England’s Test Team

Opener Zak Crawley replaced Rory Burns in the English Test team after the poor batting technique and performance of the latter in the first few Ashes games. Meanwhile, Zak Crawley scored just 18 runs in the first innings of the Sydney Cricket Ground Ashes Test, however, in the second innings he looked amazing and smashed brilliant 77 runs off 100 balls including 13 boundaries.

Zak Crawley made a promising start to his career with a stellar 267 against Pakistan at Southampton. Although he averaged 52.73 amassing 580 runs in 7 Tests in 2020, his average dipped to a low in 2021, where he averaged a mere 10.81 managing only 173 runs in 8 Tests. He will want to silence his critics in 2022.

“Zak Crawley can seriously play … Not many positives from this Tour but he is certainly one who needs to be given a long run in this Test team,” tweeted Michael Vaughan.

Zak Crawley-Twitter
Zak Crawley-Twitter

Former Australia all-rounder Tom Moody replied to Michael Vaughan’s tweet and stated that young talent needs to be given an opportunity to grow in Test cricket. He also mentioned the name of Ollie Pope and opined he needs to be given more opportunities.

To this tweet, former Australia all-rounder Tom Moody replied: “I’d agree with you, once you identify the young talent they need the opportunity to grow into test cricket, Ollie Pope is the other.”

Defending a target of 388, Australia is only two wickets away from beating England in the ongoing fourth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday. Zak Crawley scored a fine 77 while Ben Stokes also scored a fighting fifty.

Scott Boland has taken 3 scalps while Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon have taken two wickets each and Cameron Green also bagged a wicket, so far.  England is presently 247/8 chasing a stiff 388. England needs a further 141 runs to win with 2 wickets remaining.

Usman Khawaja Scored Centuries In Both Innings

Usman Khawaja scored his second century of the match to place Australia in a commanding position. The Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja has been in imperious form in his comeback from a 30-month Test exile, hitting 137 in the first innings before adding an unbeaten 101 to break English hearts.

Usman Khawaja celebrates making 100 runs against England during the fourth day of their Ashes cricket test match in Sydney.(AP)
Usman Khawaja celebrates making 100 runs against England during the fourth day of their Ashes cricket test match in Sydney. (AP) 

His domineering 179-run partnership with youngster Cameron Green set up a late declaration and left a beleaguered England having to defy history with a formidable target of 388.

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