As in the previous game, a couple of good sessions were the difference between the sides, but rain had the final say. Over three rain-effected days A double century stand between Peterson (156) and Duminy (103) propelled South Africa to 474 from which only one side could win. Gillespie was the main wicket-taker ending the series with 22 wickets at 22.8. The remainder of the match consisted primarily of squandered opportunities for South Africa and a fighting rear-guard from New Zealand. The follow-on was avoided with Martin at the crease; Philander again taking 6 wickets to end with 21 wickets at 15.5. South Africa rightly scored quickly to give themselves a chance of victory, but might have declared sooner still, given Taylor was out with a broken arm.
In any case, they had their chances to take nine wickets, bowling superbly in partnerships, and catching quite poorly, such that only Morkel 6/23 (16.4) actually took wickets. The chase was never on, but Williamson showed his class and temperament, making 102 not out to see New Zealand to a draw - a 1-0 loss they'd probably be pleased with, given they were largely outplayed. South Africa's inability to close out games continues to haunt them, and is reflected in a middling ranking that could be much higher. They'll need to take those chances to succeed in England.
England stormed to number last year, not through outstanding brilliance, but through outstanding consistency; their bowlers gave away no loose boundaries, no no-balls, no easy runs; their fieldsmen caught their chances; their batsmen played few loose shots and gave no easy wickets. It was excellent cricket, and they have stopped playing it. By rights, they ought to have won here; they gave away an astonishing 268 runs to the last four wickets. Quite a bit of that to Jayawardene, whose 180 was the decisive knock, but it was far from chanceless. The dropped catches, the no-ball dismissal of Prasanna Jayawardene and the needless and soft dismissals to pre-meditated sweeps and attempts to loft the ball more than made up the eventual deficit.
As against Pakistan, it is their playing of spin that is the problem. Herath 12/171 and Randiv 6/100 are neither very dangerous nor particularly accurate, but they extracted turn. The English batsmen, accustomed to smothering the spin with neither guile nor skill, have now become so paranoid about LBW dismissals that they've forgotten to simply defend when in danger. Bell, in the first innings, and Trott, in the second, demonstrated that both runs and survival were possible. The English have the superior pace attack and probably the superior spin attack; but they lost to a Sri Lankan side that in the fundamentals played better cricket; exactly the same cricket England were not long ago so good at.
As usual with I-Cup games, treat the ratings with a certain scepticism. Netherlands have strangely underperformed in this competition; regularly missing players doesn't help, and this game is no different on that score. Afghanistan are not immune to that problem either though, suffering several injuries in the recent WT20 qualifiers, although except for Hamid Hassan the rest seem to have recovered. Nevertheless, they are probably more closely matched than in recent games. Afghanistan came out on top in their WT20Q meeting, but the Netherlands revenged that with a thrashing in the first ODI match, the second being a closer victory to the Asian side. Afghanistan ought to prevail; their bowling resources remain deep which tells in four day games, but by less than the rankings suggest.
A bottom of the table clash, both starting with two difficult fixtures. Canada were deeply uncompetitive in their first two games, struggled through the WT20 qualifiers, and are suffering as they try to rebuild their young squad. Namibia, who have a young squad, and a talented one, will be disappointed with their collapses when it mattered in Dubai, and looking to make amends at home. The ratings, in this case, seem fairly accurate, and it will be a surprise if Canada can match the Namibian totals, or bowl them out for a decent score. If they can force a draw, that would be something, but expect Namibia to win relatively comfortably.
Australia's tours to the West Indies are a good guide to the changes in international cricket; once a brutal four test examination, it was first shifted to accomodate the World Cup, shortened, and now secondary to the IPL for many potential participants. Australia had an up and down summer at home; the domination of India tempered by a split series with New Zealand. Their form in the T20 and ODIs are probably reflective of very little, given the changing squads; as for that matter is the West Indies respectable efforts.
Likewise, the West Indies test form over the past year is difficult to gauge. They have played only India and Bangladesh in that period, and only a split series against enigmatic Pakistan and Sri Lanka in a rain-damaged series in the year before that. They seem to be playing better than in the past, particularly at home. Certainly they shouldn't be written off; their batting is potentially brilliant, but prone to daft dismissals; their bowling seems unthreatening, but finds ways to get wickets - particularly Sammy. Australia's fast bowling - injuries notwithstanding - ought to be the decisive factor, but a West Indies victory is not as unlikely as the recent past.
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 April, 2012 09:00:18 [#]
Ratings - 1st April 2012
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