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Warner passes 50 in final Test as hosts set 'nasty little target' for victory, Aussies top India to reclaim top spot in world rankings

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5th January, 2024
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Dave Warner will go out in front of his home crowd in fantastic form, scoring a brilliant half-century as Australia look for a 3-0 series whitewash.

Pakistan added 47 runs to their overnight total, setting Australia an awkward 130 run chase to claim the third test in Sydney. Things looked tenuous early, with Usman Khawaja departing for a duck at the end of the first over.

Australia were warned dangers of the SCG pitch by one of the men who knows it best, former spinner turned commentator Kerry O’Keeffe.

13 wickets have fallen since 3pm yesterday afternoon in fewer than 50 overs’ worth of cricket, marking a notable change in playing conditions.

“130 is a nasty little target,” said Skull, speaking on Fox.

“Anything above that and Pakistan will fancy their chances.

“If they add 50 this morning, and it will come down to (Mohammad) Rizwan. If he can peel off boudnaries and the tail can help him add 50 plus, we’ve got such a game of cricket here.

“This pitch is playing tricks. All may fall over quickly and Australia chase under three figures, but if the Riz can play as he did in Melbourne, where he almost pinched it … he’s a key man.

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“I’m excited with anticipation about what might happen … there has been a history. Australia will be nervous.” 

Nervous, Australia was, after Uzzie’s departure. Warner managed to survive another Pakistan dropped chance in the deep, but with strong support in Marnus Labuschagne (34*), the pair have steadied the ship with 91 run partnership, surviving until the lunch break.

Upon resumption, Australia will need just 39 runs for victory.

Aussies top India to reclaim top spot in world rankings

Four of Australia’s World Cup-winning stars – Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Beth Mooney and Ash Gardner – are in line to scoop cricket’s biggest individual honours after being shortlisted for the ICC Cricketer of the Year awards.

All-conquering captain Cummins and World Cup final batting hero Head are on the four-player shortlist to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy as ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year, in competition with Indian stars Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli.

Star batter Mooney and allrounder Gardner are in contention for the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy as ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year after helping Australia win the T20 World Cup in South Africa.

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The pair are in competition with England allrounder Nat Sciver-Brunt and Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu for the top prize.

Head is also on the four-man list for ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year alongside his Australia teammate Usman Khawaja, with India’s Ravichandran Ashwin and England’s Joe Root also in the frame.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 27: Pat Cummins of Australia celebrates the wicket of Babar Azam of Pakistan during day two of the Second Test Match between Australia and Pakistan at Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 27, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Morgan Hancock - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Pat Cummins celebrates the wicket of Babar Azam. (Photo by Morgan Hancock – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

The nominations complete a fine week for Australian players with Gardner having already been shortlisted as women’s ODI player of the year, Ellyse Perry as women’s T20 player of the year and Phoebe Litchfield up for the emerging player accolade.

Head’s astonishing breakthrough year in 2023 should be rewarded after a series of dazzling performances.

The 30-year-old Adelaide star began with a match-winning ton against India in the World Test Championship final at The Oval and his year only improved with a fine Ashes series and another player-of-the-match hundred, again against India, in the 50-over World Cup final.

The allrounder amassed almost 1700 runs across all formats during the year and also claimed important wickets with the ball.

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Yet Cummins could pip him to the prize, after his own excellent bowling, key runs with the bat and leadership qualities resulted in him overseeing two global triumphs in the Test and 50-overs arenas, while also ensuring the Ashes stayed in Australian hands after the thrilling drawn series.

NAVI MUMBAI, INDIA - JANUARY 5: Beth Mooney of Australia plays a shot during game one of the women's T20I series between India and Australia at DY Patil Stadium on January 5, 2024 in Navi Mumbai, India. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

Beth Mooney. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

A former ICC Test Cricketer of the Year back in 2019, Cummins took 59 wickets in Tests and ODIs during the year and has, like Head, a good shot at being the first Australian to win the Sobers Trophy since Steve Smith in 2015.

Gardner will be a forerunner for the women’s prize, hoping to emulate Perry the last Australian winner back in 2019 and 2017.

Gardner took more wickets than any other woman in the international arena in 2023, 58 in total in Tests, ODIs and T20Is.

She was also player of the tournament in the women’s T20 World Cup and became the first player to win back-to-back player of the month accolades in June and July.

The 29-year-old Mooney was top women’s run scorer across all formats, registering 1040 runs in 2023, including a match-winning unbeaten 74 in the T20 final win over hosts South Africa.

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World champions Australia have again become the No.1 men’s team in Test cricket after India lost their place in the latest ICC rankings list.

Cummins’ side had briefly held the top spot after beating India in the World Test Championship final at The Oval in June but Rohit Sharma’s men had regained their place at the summit of the five-day game following the drawn Ashes series.

Both teams had a rating of 118 but Australia, who’ve taken the current home series against Pakistan by winning the first two Tests, have slid ahead by one point, 118-117, following the Indians’ drawn two-Test series in South Africa.

It spells the end of a remarkable triple reign for Sharma’s team, who last September became only the second international men’s outfit to be No.1 in all three formats – Tests, ODIs and T20Is.

India, rated at 121, are still No.1 in the ODI list, with Australia second (117) despite Cummins’ team having dethroned the hosts as world champions in November.

The Aussies are only fifth in the T20 rankings (250 points) with India top on 265 ahead of world champions England (256).

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In the women’s rankings, Australia remain well ahead of their pursuers in both the ODI and T20I categories.

England, who trail 130-165 in the ODI rankings and 282-297 in T20Is, are their nearest chasers. 

Tahlia McGrath remains the No.1 T20 batter in the world, ahead of her teammate Beth Mooney, while England spinner Sophie Ecclestone is the best bowler in both the white-ball categories with her teammate Nat Sciver-Brunt the leading ODI batter.

The New Year has also begun with New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, Pakistan’s Babar Azam and India’s Suryakumar Yadav as the No.1 batters in men’s Tests, ODIs and T20Is respectively.

Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin leads the Test bowling rankings, with South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj heading the ODIs’ list and England’s Adil Rashid on top in T20Is.

With AAP

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