Cummins hits back at Elgar’s pitch ploy, Sehwag slams Aussie hypocrisy, Finch finds form, Brook tons up again

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The Gabba pitch is set to come under the ICC microscope after Australia’s first Test against South Africa finished inside two days.

Australia went 1-0 up in the three-Test series on Sunday as 34 wickets tumbled in six sessions of play.

South Africa captain Dean Elgar slammed the pitch as dangerous and said he asked the umpires how much longer the match should go until it was deemed unsafe but that ploy was given short shrift by opposing skipper Pat Cummins.

“I don’t think it was a very good Test wicket,” Elgar said.

“I did ask the umpires when KG got (Travis) Head out down leg. I said, ‘How long does it go on for until it potentially is unsafe?’ Nortje was bowling those short ones that were flying over our heads.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 18: Rassie van der Dussen of South Africa is clean bowled by Mitchell Starc of Australia who celebrates taking his 300th Test Wicket during day two of the First Test match between Australia and South Africa at The Gabba on December 18, 2022 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Rassie van der Dussen is bowled by Mitchell Starc. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“I know the game was dead and buried. It was never to try and change (the result) or to put a halt to the game.”

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Cummins was bemused with Elgar’s assessment.

“If you’re going to lose the match, you’d probably try anything, wouldn’t you?” Cummins said. “It was fine. There was some sideways movement, a little bit of up and down bounce but … there’s no balls jumping off a length or anything like that.

“It was certainly tricky. I don’t think the toss had a big factor in the win because everything happened so quickly. Two days probably isn’t ideal.”

The last time Australia won a Test in less than two days was in 2002 when Steve Waugh’s team dismissed Pakistan for 59 and 53 in Sharjah.

Pat Cummins of Australia celebrates taking the wicket of Anrich Nortje of South Africa.

Pat Cummins of Australia celebrates taking the wicket of Anrich Nortje of South Africa. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The only previous two-day Test played in Australia was in 1931 when the hosts beat the West Indies by an innings in Melbourne.

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The Gabba pitch is certain to come under a thorough review from the International Cricket Council. 

However, an India-England Test in Ahmedabad last year that also lasted only two days was investigated by the ICC without any sanction being handed down.

Former Indian opener Virender Sehwag blasted the “mind-boggling hypocrisy” of India being constantly criticised for the standard of its pitches when the Brisbane green demon dished up a two-day Test.

He took to social media, posting to his 23 million followers, that it would have been labelled the “end of test cricket” if it had happened in his homeland.

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“142 overs and not even lasting 2 days and they have the audacity to lecture on what kind of pitches are needed. Had it happened in India, it would have been labelled end of test cricket, ruining test cricket and what not. The Hypocrisy is mind-boggling.”

Finch finds long-lost form for Renegades

Aaron Finch returned to the form that deserted him during the T20 World Cup as Melbourne Renegades scored a four-wicket victory over the Sydney Thunder in the BBL, steering them to their 175-run target with a vintage half-century.

The Renegades looked in control for much of the chase but it took an assured finish from Finch for them to reach 6-175 and claim the win at Marvel Stadium.

The hosts needed 11 runs off the final over but the Thunder’s hopes were boosted when pace bowler Gurinder Sandhu (2-51) had Akeal Hosein caught from a skied slog.

The Renegades still needed 10 runs off four balls when Finch (71 off 43 balls) took strike but the Australia T20 skipper plundered a six then kept his cool with two runs from each of the next two deliveries to finish the job with a ball to spare.

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Finch helped set up the highest successful chase so far in BBL 12 alongside Renegades captain Nic Maddinson (39 off 28), while Jake Fraser-McGurk (24 off 18) also impressed early.

Daniel Sams (3-33) was the pick of the Thunder bowlers and almost turned the contest in their favour just as the Renegades looked set to cruise home.

The Thunder (1-2) won the toss and elected to bat as they looked to bounce back from a horror show in their last outing when they were all out for only 15.

Rilee Rossouw ensured the Thunder put that humiliating performance behind them with a powerful 53 off 38 balls after successfully reviewing an lbw decision when he was on 31.

Alex Ross (39 off 23) and Oliver Davies (33* off 18) put together an important 42-run partnership late in the Thunder’s innings to set the Renegades a tricky target until Finch stepped in.

Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein (1-22) again opened the bowling for the Renegades and ensured the under-fire Thunder made a nervy start with a tight line in the powerplay.

England opener Alex Hales lifted the run rate when he smashed Hosein over the boundary to take the Thunder to the 15-run mark this time without loss, although Matthew Gilkes fell one run later.

While it was a much-improved performance from the Thunder, they will be sweating on the fitness of skipper Jason Sangha after he went to ground heavily while fielding and injured a shoulder.

The Renegades’ victory was their first over the Thunder in their past five clashes and lifts them to a 2-0 record after earning the wooden spoon in the past three seasons.

Brook’s third straight ton gives England upper hand

Harry Brook has smashed his third successive Test century before England’s tailenders frustrated Pakistan and grafted a 50-run first innings lead in the third and final Test.

Brook followed his centuries in England’s victories at Rawalpindi and Multan with 111 off 150 balls as the visitors were bowled out for 354 in the final session on Sunday’s second day.

Wicketkeeper-batter Ben Foakes, playing his first Test on tour, made a resilient 64 while Mark Wood (35) and Ollie Robinson (29) played late cameos to edge England ahead of Pakistan’s total of 304.

Pakistan opening pair of Abdullah Shafique (14no) and Shan Masood (3no) then played out nine overs of spin to reach 0-21 at stumps.

“I said to one of my mates I’d like to get two (centuries) before I got here, so it feels very nice to go one better,” Brook said.

Left-arm spinner Nauman Ali (4-120), one of the four changes Pakistan made for the final Test, and spinner Abrar Ahmed (4-150) picked up the bulk of the wickets but Brook and Foakes blunted both spinners with a splendid 117-run stand.

Abrar had grabbed an 11-wicket haul in his debut Test at Multan before England recorded a stunning 26-run win inside four days. England also won the first Test at Rawalpindi by 74 runs in dimming light on the last day.

Pakistan had made inroads and reduced England to 5-145 soon after lunch when Ben Stokes (26) was run out while going for a needless third run. 

Stokes and Brook both ended up at the striker’s end when Stokes called for a third run after Brook drove through mid-wicket.

“Probably my fault, the run out,” Brook said. “There was probably three (runs), slightly lazy with my running. I was a bit tired, but it was my fault, I’ll take all the blame.”

The 23-year-old Brook raised his runs tally in England’s first Test tour to Pakistan in 17 years to 468 and bettered his countryman David Gower’s record of 449 runs in Pakistan during the 1983-84 tour.

Brook, a 23-year-old Yorkshireman, raised his century off 133 balls before tea with a backfoot driven boundary through covers against spinner Abrar before debutant Mohammad Wasim had him pinned leg before wicket after tea for his first Test wicket.

Foakes was unable to play in the first Test due to a viral infection but combined well with Brook. He successfully overturned on-field umpire Joel Wilson’s decision when he was ruled out caught close to the wicket on nine and went on to complete his fifty off 100 balls.

Nauman finally ended Foakes’ solid knock when he swiped at the leftarm spinner and was caught at mid-on.

Earlier, England’s top order slipped against spinners on a wicket that had plenty of variable bounce in the first session and reached 4-140 at lunch after resuming from an overnight 1-7.

Nauman grabbed the wickets of Ben Duckett and Joe Root off successive deliveries and Abrar had Ollie Pope (51) clean bowled soon after he completed his half-century.

Brook survived an lbw television referral against Abrar early in his fluent knock, but dominated the legspinner by smashing three sixes against him before raising his half century off 73 balls.

Earlier, Pope had completed his half-century off 63 balls with a boundary over cover point against Nauman but was undone by Abrar’s sharp delivery that spun enough to hit the top of off stump.

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