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    Congrats to Afghanistan, defending a very low total to win the game against Zimbabwe, very exciting team.

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    One other thing - if England do start the series well, and get a win, then you'd expect the SA press to really ramp up the pressure on the hosts after that dire 3-0 whitewash in India.
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    What are Sri Lanka playing at??! Currently 27/5. :O

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    Marsh replaced by Khawaja, with Burns remaining in the Aussies team. No great surprises there, really. I guess the selectors have opted for Smith's side to boast continuity at the top of the order, rather than shoehorn Marsh in due to his one big score.

    Delayed start at the MCG, with puddles of water on the covers. Shame.
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    Siriwardana with 66 and Kulasekara with 58 means SL recover from that total at five wickets down to be 163-7.

    They are now 173-9, with five overs remaining. Still not a good score, and nowhere near big enough to challenge NZ, but a far cry from the desperate position they were in earlier.
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    (Original post by Mackay)
    I think it's bizarre that England are being given such a strong chance, actually. Indeed, many writers in this country are labelling them as favourites. I think that's wide of the mark, but I expect a tight series. England could easily edge it, because they have that ability, but SA will be a tough proposition and I expect there to only be a Test in it.

    The worrying thing for SA would be their lack of ready-made replacements for Smith/Kallis, and Amla's captaincy being nowhere near the standard the former set.

    They've also got to contend with a Philander injury (though Anderson's absence makes that an easier pill to swallow) and the fact that Steyn's average against England is the lowest of his against any other Test nation.
    I think England are going to find it tough. Playing with an inexperienced batting line up and missing Anderson (for the first test at least), even if it is against a fairly inexperienced SA side. People seem to assume that just because they didn't play very well in India they are a beaten side, but I am sure they are going to come back strongly. I expect Amla and ABDV to be in fine form in this series, too. A lot rests on Cook and Root, like normal.

    Steyn is such a world class competitor, I honestly think he will come back strongly, especially on pitches which aid seamers.

    Going to be a close series, hopefully.
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    (Original post by moment of truth)
    Going to be a close series, hopefully.
    That's all we can hope for, really. Even Australia/NZ let me down in terms of closeness and competitiveness, largely due to Warner's form. We haven't seen a truly competitive Test series since the Ashes arguably.

    Well done NZ today, by the way. A professional performance to manage to get to that total for three wickets after dismissing SL cheaply. Guptill and B-Mac are in some form.
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    Remarkably poor from the Windies again.

    Dropped catches, poor fielding, bowling without intention or effort, and just plodding along until the end of the series (which surely can't come quick enough).

    I have sympathy for Holder, because he won the toss and I'd have opted to bowl too probably.

    Khawaja and Burns rubbished concerns over their respective selections, though. Top batting from the pair of them, with Marsh's omission looking a sensible one.
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    Not a great start by England

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    England have resumed in pretty decent style since the latest rain break, though.

    Steyn and Piedt were in great form to start with. I thought the former was exceptional in digging out the wicket of Hales. He kept making him uneasy with the short balls, before Hales' impatience led to a wild swing and it was duly caught.
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    Hope Compton and Taylor can hang around for a good while yet

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    This is a very typical Compton innings. He has been patient, unremarkable, pedestrian at times - but unshakeable in his belief and resilience. He is still only 32, which is four years younger than Rogers when he broke into the Australian side. He definitely has a Test future beyond just the short-term, if he should want it.
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    Well recovered by England. Shame about Taylor

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    Except for that last wicket, I would say it was England's day. Steyn is a beast! At one stage we were 20-2 and have recovered superbly.

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    (Original post by Angry cucumber)
    Well recovered by England. Shame about Taylor

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    (Original post by Enginerd.)
    Except for that last wicket, I would say it was England's day. Steyn is a beast! At one stage we were 20-2 and have recovered superbly.

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    Steyn was flawless today. The way he stepped back up towards the end of the day, when the play was going away from SA, and took a key wicket said it all. He is capable of those moments of brilliance. What a wonderful bowler.

    Taylor and Compton helped make it England's day, but I feel that last wicket in the final session will really come back to haunt England if they lose Stokes and the latter early on the second day.
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    (Original post by Mackay)
    Steyn was flawless today. The way he stepped back up towards the end of the day, when the play was going away from SA, and took a key wicket said it all. He is capable of those moments of brilliance. What a wonderful bowler.

    Taylor and Compton helped make it England's day, but I feel that last wicket in the final session will really come back to haunt England if they lose Stokes and the latter early on the second day.
    The lower order need to step up tomorrow and deliver. Should be looking at getting atleast 300+ to put pressure on SA, hopefully Compton can get that 100 and really cement his place, amazed he's been out for soo long.

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    (Original post by Enginerd.)
    The lower order need to step up tomorrow and deliver. Should be looking at getting atleast 300+ to put pressure on SA, hopefully Compton can get that 100 and really cement his place, amazed he's been out for soo long.

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    The anti-Compton feeling has always puzzled me. I've been longing for him to be given a shot again ever since he was unfairly bombed out. A good day for England certainly, but like you said, there's work still to be done.

    You imagine Broad and Stokes will get some purchase out of a wicket like this, and it was interesting to see SA revert to spin as soon as the latter took to the crease.

    He has had problems playing it before, and they seem to be targeting him with it in the hope that he's susceptible once again.
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    (Original post by Mackay)
    That's all we can hope for, really. Even Australia/NZ let me down in terms of closeness and competitiveness, largely due to Warner's form. We haven't seen a truly competitive Test series since the Ashes arguably.

    Well done NZ today, by the way. A professional performance to manage to get to that total for three wickets after dismissing SL cheaply. Guptill and B-Mac are in some form.
    Even the Ashes wasn't very competitive, to be fair. All the matches were fairly one-sided. This one has the chance to be competitive, but a lot will depend on how England deal with the conditions etc.

    (Original post by Mackay)
    Remarkably poor from the Windies again.

    Dropped catches, poor fielding, bowling without intention or effort, and just plodding along until the end of the series (which surely can't come quick enough).

    I have sympathy for Holder, because he won the toss and I'd have opted to bowl too probably.

    Khawaja and Burns rubbished concerns over their respective selections, though. Top batting from the pair of them, with Marsh's omission looking a sensible one.
    I'm surprised Australia allowed WI to have the boxing day test considering the history of it. The only way WI are really going to improve is against the top teams, but watching them put performances like this is just horrible to watch. If they take this to a 5th day (or even a 4th) they should be happy, to be honest.
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    (Original post by moment of truth)
    Even the Ashes wasn't very competitive, to be fair. All the matches were fairly one-sided. This one has the chance to be competitive, but a lot will depend on how England deal with the conditions etc.

    I'm surprised Australia allowed WI to have the boxing day test considering the history of it. The only way WI are really going to improve is against the top teams, but watching them put performances like this is just horrible to watch. If they take this to a 5th day (or even a 4th) they should be happy, to be honest.
    I actually think a lot of it will have to do with how SA deal with spin. You've got to say, on the face of it at least, England have the potential to cause more problems for SA than vice versa with Moeen getting some turn. This pitch looks to be a spinner's friend, too.

    Yeah, it's odd. Especially given the fact the Windies have faced Australia just a few months ago, and toured down under half a decade ago. You'd have thought that the fans would have responded better to an elongated tour against NZ, rather than Australia facing them for two Tests before heading over to their backyard before the World Twenty20.

    Windies haven't won a Test against Australia for almost a quarter of a century. Such a shame to see a great cricketing nation in dire straits.
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    Oh, and this won't reach a fifth day.
 
 
 
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