Ratings - 1st January 2012
Russell Degnan

Recent Results

1st TestBangladeshvPakistan
Expected MarginPakistan by 182 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 7 wickets
Series rating536.361129.45

A match Bangladesh ought to have drawn, given the fading light, and their relative efforts, but didn't, having repeatedly failed to capitalise on opportunities and, if not strong, at least not dire positions. Shakib continues to display the quality needed throughout the side, but he is not the player to single-handedly win matches. Their batting displayed better cntrol than most games recently, led by Nafees and Shakib. But when the all-rounder was torched by Mushfiqur on 144, who compounded the error by getting out next ball, Bangladesh collapsed from 5/305 to 338 all out after lunch on day 2.

6/82 off 41 overs wasn't enough from Shakib to earn anything but a sizable deficit, though Taufeeq Umar again batted well, as Pakistan ground out the required runs. Some decent fight early on day 5 from Nasir Hossain and Mushfiqur left open the possibility of forcing a draw, but they fell away quickly after lunch and Pakistan quickly met the target.

1st/2nd TestSouth AfricavSri Lanka
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 121 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by an innings and 81 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by 208 runs

Two contrasting tests. Steyn and Philander destroyed Sri Lanka in the first test. Sri Lanka scored quickly, but irresponsibly and even South Africa's modest first innings total was more than enough. In the second test, South Africa might have been expected to miss Philander, but de Lange added to the list of brilliant debuts in 2011, taking 7/81. Sri Lanka's total was no better than par, but Welegadara, with a lot of South African help ripped through the top order, taking 5/52. At 5/141, only still just over 300 in front, South Africa had an outside chance of coming back, but Sangakarra and Chandimal put he game beyond reach and Herath spun them to a famous victory on day four.

South Africa have looked the stronger side, and ought to win the final test, but their inability to go on and make big scores is again haunting them, along with the woeful form of the top order: Smith, Rudolph and Kaliis. Sri Lanka got valuable runs from Samaraweera and Sangakarra in the second test, and they'll need to fire again, as Jayawardene looks in dreadful form, and the rest only good for a fifty. In a low scoring series, one decent partnership could suffice to

4 TestsAustraliavIndia
Expected MarginAustralia by 64 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 122 runs

In the review I started but didn't complete before Boxing Day I asserted that this series was interesting primarily because it was so unpredictable. Nothing that happened in Melbourne changes that assessment. Australia won because they displayed a greater willingness to grind out the runs; Cowan's watchful innings on the first morning was the most obvious manifestation of this, but the key difference were the runs from the bowlers after two predictable top order failures.

The bowling from both sides was good, and India will only be stronger as Zaheer and Ishant regain match fitness, and Yadav finds the consistency he will need to complement his pace. The question is whether the Indian batting can adapt and conquer the Australian attack. In the past they have, but the past year has seen a series of collapses starting at the top.

In Sydney, they will probably face less sideways movement and lower and more consistent bounce, both conducive to a big total. If they can put on the runs, nothing in the last two years suggests the Australians can match or even draw a big total. Even in Melbourne a greater willingness to attack the tail and better application would have been sufficient. Australia will do well to escape Sydney with a series lead.

Rankings at 1st January 2012
2.South Africa1174.43
6.Sri Lanka1035.17
7.West Indies923.80
8.New Zealand879.42

22.Hong Kong148.65
23.Cayman Is134.24

Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 2nd January, 2012 22:49:02   [#]