|An England fan congratulates England's Kevin Pietersen (centre) and Alastair Cook (left) after England won on the final day of their final test cricket match against Sri Lanka in Colombo Saturday. (REUTERS)
England held on to its No. 1 Test status in emphatic fashion in steamy Colombo Saturday.
In desperate need of victory to tie the two-match series, the visitors pulled off an eight-wicket win to retain its No. 1 spot in the rankings. A loss would see South Africa assume the top.
The temperature hovered around 42C and many of England’s 5,000 travelling Barmy Army supporters had to take cover under umbrellas.
But there was no such relief for the home team as England spinner Graeme Swann, the one with the magical fingers and a loud mouth, ripped through the lineup.
He finished with 10 wickets — four for 75 in the first innings — and six for 106 in the second.
The other England star was man-of-the-match Kevin Pietersen, who made 151 in England’s first knock of 460 and an unbeaten 42 as the visitors strolled to 97 for two for the win.
The islanders folded for 278 after making 275 in the first.
The cricketing world would have loved to see an outright winner in this highly anticipated series, leaving one to wonder what logic the International Cricket Council uses when it pens in these matches.
One team, though, that could not wait to see the end of the series were the Delhi Daredevils of the Indian Premier League, who have signed both Pietersen and Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene. Jaywardene, named man-of-the-series versus England with 354 runs in four innings, will be paid $1.4 million, while Pietersen will earn under seven figures. ... No wonder Chennai Super Kings made Ravindra Jadeja the highest paid player in the IPL by doling out $2 million for him.
He took five for 16 to rout Deccan Chargers for 119 and then slammed 48 off 29 balls in Chennai’s 193 for six.
WINDIES DIG IN
Australia versus the West Indies was the rivalry that enthralled cricket fans in the good old days.
It was the equivalent of Canada meeting Russia for hockey supremacy.
Australia and the Windies meet each other for the first time in the Caribbean in 30 years with neither holding the No. 1 spot.
Both are rebuilding and this makes for an interesting series.
When rain interrupted play on the first day of the first Test at Bridgetown’s Kensington Oval Saturday the home team had reached a comfortable 179 for three with Kraigg Braithwaite (57) and Kirk Edwards (61) weathering Australia’s potent pace attack to put on 104 for the second wicket.
CANADA FACES DEFEAT
Canada is a mere 67 runs ahead three wickets in hand at close on the third day of its ICC Intercontinental match against Namibia at Windhoek.
Canada slumped to 167 for seven after the home team posted 374 in reply to Canada’s first innings effort of 274.
Namibia’s Sorel Burger, who tormented Canada with the ball with four wickets, then whacked the bowlers by hitting 135. Durand Soraine (four for 66) and Junaid Siddiqui (three for 81) were Canada’s best bowlers.