Aussie skipper off to winning start

India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni attempts to reach a ball during the first one-day international match...

India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni attempts to reach a ball during the first one-day international match in England on Saturday. (Reuters)

Norman Da Costa, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:43 PM ET

Michael Clark started his reign as Australia’s new Test captain on a winning note. He led the visiting Aussies to a superb 125-run victory over Sri Lanka in the first Test Saturday — the country’s first win on the subcontinent since 2006 when it defeated Bangladesh.

It was a significant victory for a new-look Aussie team that included off-spinner Nathan Lyon and seamer Trent Copeland making their debuts as well as Usman Khawaja, who was playing in his second Test. In a low-scoring match Australia made 273 and 210 and Sri Lanka could only muster 105 and 253.

Lyon’s five wickets for 34 in the first innings was greeted with fanfare by all Aussie fans who have been looking for a top-flight spinner since Shane Warne retired a few seasons back. Can Lyon pick up where Warne left off? The next two Tests in Sri Lanka will answer that question.

While Sri Lanka was set a huge target of 379 for an unlikely victory, the Aussies were made to sweat by Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews. With the two at the crease, Sri Lanka harboured thoughts of win until Jayawardene fell for 105 after combining with Mathews for a 142-run sixth-wicket stand. After his departure at 210 for six, the only other point of interest was whether Mathews would finally get his first Test 100, surpassing the 99 he made against India in 2009. But it wasn’t to be as he had his off-stump uprooted by Shane Watson when on 95 going for a six. Seamer Ryan Harris was the pick of the Aussie bowlers in the second winnings with five for 62 ... Pakistan hit back to finish 55 runs behind Zimbabwe after three days of play in the one-off Test at Bulawayo Saturday. Pakistan finished the day on 357 for five in reply to Zimbabwe’s 412, thanks to opener Tino Mawoyo’s 163. Mohammad Hafeez led Pakistan with 119 with three other superb knocks from Azhar Ali (75), Younis Khan (61) and captain Misbah-ul-Haq (66).

INDIA-ENGLAND WASHOUT

World Cup champion India showed it’s still a force when it comes to one-day internationals when it put up an impressive 275 for seven in the first international at Chester-le-Street Saturday. Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane, both in the team because of injuries to regulars Gautham Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, put on 82 for the first wicket, something India wasn’t able to do during the four-Test drubbing by England. Patel stroked a career-best 95 and Rahane hit 40 off 44 balls. Praveen Kumar then took both wickets to fall as England struggled to 27 for two before the skies opened up and rained on what should have been India’s day ... Sachin Tendulkar is the latest Indian player to hobble off. He missed Saturday’s ODI because of “inflammation to the bone in his big toe on the right foot.” The star batsman will visit a surgeon in Southampton Monday.

HUSSAIN STIRS UP A STORM

Naseer Hussain landed a job as a commentator after his playing days were over. For some reason former England captains are considered a cut above the rest even though most of them bordered on mediocrity. Hussain was no different. He is now at the centre of a storm for his “donkey” jibe at some of India’s players. He made the comment in last week’s Twenty20 international between England and India after Parthiv Patel misjudged a Kevin Pietersen catch off Munaf Patel’s bowling. “I would say the difference between the two sides is the fielding. England are an all-round good fielding side. I do believe that India have few ... three or four very good fielders and one or two donkeys in the field still,” Hussain said.

Former Test players were outraged by the comment and asked Hussain be removed as a commentator. The Indian cricket board has promised to look into the matter. Former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad said: “Hussain should be removed from the commentary panel immediately. It should be made sure that he doesn’t commentate in any more games involving India.’’ A couple of former Pakistan captains also threw their support behind the Indians.

Amir Sohail said: “Isn’t Nasser (Hussain) himself an Indian by origin? Using the word ‘donkey’ is absolutely wrong. As a commentator one has to be neutral. At times, you need to be critical, but mostly you need to be objective in your assessment and not get vindictive.”

Zaheer Abbas, too, asked the BCCI to lodge a complaint against Hussain. “You can’t call anybody a donkey. The BCCI should complain to the channel and he should be warned,” Abbas said.

QUICK WICKETS

Scratch Ricky Ponting from Australia’s lineup for the second Test that starts in Kandy Thursday. The former captain grabbed the first available flight Saturday to be alongside his wife Rianna, who is expecting the couple’s second child. Ponting is confident he will be back for the third Test that begins in Colombo Sept. 16 ... After years of ongoing problems involving contracts with its players, Cricket Kenya has finally put its foot down. The players have been told in no uncertain terms to sign on the dotted line or take a hike. Eight of the country’s leading players, including Nehemiah Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Maurice Ouma, Nelson Odhiambo and Alfred Luseno have been dropped. ... Former Pakistan international Intikhab Alam and now chairman of a committee formed to look for a new coach, says it may be time for a foreigner to take over once Waqar Younis quits following the current tour of Zimbabwe. Younis is stepping down because of health issues and will undergo treatment in his newly adopted hometown of Sydney ... Elvis Reifer, one of three brothers who represented Barbados, passed away last week at the relatively young age of 50. No details were released.


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