If you’re anything like us, you will captivated by the thrilling, intensively competitive one-day series currently going on in India. However we also keep one eye on the other series underway, involving all the Test nations. That’s one eye on all series, not one eye per series, we’re not Opabinia.
In a long-awaited return to the international fold (in the period that they have not played, England must have played India at least 42 times), South Africa played Australia in two T20 internationals. These were both fairly close affairs; Shane Watson hit 52 in the first to chase down the home team’s 146/7 (JP Duminy 67*); in the second, Australia scored 147/8 and looked comfortably on top when South Africa were 48/4 and 84/7, but Rusty Theron (30* off 16 balls) and Wayne Parnell (29* off 11) smashed the home side to victory.
Three One Day Internationals now follow (the first is tomorrow), before two Tests. Of course, Australia are a shadow of their former selves, but for these teams to be contesting a series of only two matches is a huge disappointment and something that questions the supposed primacy of Test cricket in the international calendar.
Meanwhile, another African-Antipodean series recently commenced in Harare, where Zimbabwe are hosting New Zealand (the latter’s first international cricket since the world cup, and Ross Taylor’s first games as captain). The two T20s have been lopsided affairs, with Brendon McCullum (81*) leading the visitors to a 10-wicket win in the first match, reaching the target of 123 in only 13.3 overs. In the second, McCullum and Martin Guptill scored 120 runs in their opening partnership, setting the foundation for them to reach 187/3. Despite Chamu Chibhabha’s 65 off 39 balls, Zimbabwe were always struggling and they lost by 34 runs in a rain-affected finish. The teams now compete in three ODIs, followed by a solitary Test at Bulawayo.
Two other teams at the bottom end of the rankings are West Indies and Bangladesh. And guess what? They’re only bloody playing each other! At Mirpur, Bangladesh won the T20 (and thus the series) in a close finish: the visitors posted 132/8 (Marlon Samuels 58), but a collective effort anchored by new captain Mushfiqur Rahim (41*) enabled Bangaldesh to win by three wickets with a ball to spare.
The ODI series finished today. In the first match, Lendl Simmons served, smashed and volleyed his way to 122 as West Indies posted 298/4; Bangladesh stuttered to 258/7 in reply. In the second, the home side recovered from 1/3 (and that’s not the Australian scoring method) to reach 220ao, Rahim again leading the way. However Simmons (80) and Samuels (88*) saw their team home comfortably by eight wickets. But it was the third and final match that really opened one of our metaphorical eyes: Shakib Al Hasan (much admired around our way) took 4-16 as West Indies plummeted to 61ao from 22 overs. This time, it was the home side who delivered the thrashing, knocking off the runs for the loss of two wickets with thirty overs to spare. Two Test matches now follow, the first commencing on Friday.
And finally, to the United Arab Emirates, where the first Test match of three between Pakistan and Sri Lanka started today. Junaid Khan took 5/38 as Sri Lanka collapsed from 51/1 to 114/7 and 197ao (Angelo Mathews the only player to score more than 40); Pakistan are 27/0 at the close of play. In a weird scheduling arrangement that the ECB would be proud of, five ODIs follow the Tests, with a single T20 as the climax.
We will endeavour to keep you updated as these series progress, but the chances are we’ll be too busy printing out new pictures of Samit Patel and Jade Dernbach to pin on our dartboard.
That’s a joke by the way. We don’t use pictures of Dernbach. Yet.