Test Cricket round up with looking back at 2020 Boxing Day matches to finish a difficult year in positive note

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Most of the Boxing Day test matches have finished 4 days out of 5. Everyone thought India would lose without Virat Kohli. But they proved it wrong. And tied 1-1 with Australia after they sealed the 2nd Test.

The Australian selectors announced a change a while ago. They placed more than enough faith on Joe Burns. He did not produce the consistent form throughout this summer. Predominately with the single digit scores. And chose to axe him for the rest of this test series.

They did mention the return of Dave Warner. He successfully recovered from a groin strain earlier this month. And just got back batting in the nets. Dave will no doubt add heat to the Indian bowlers.

So would Will Pucovski. The talent is there from the young man. But he has a string of heavy hits to the head. Australia would want these two forming an opening stand next week. While dropping Matthew Wade back to his usual role at No.5. That would axing Travis Head from this starting XI.

South Africa also thought the strong Sri Lanka batting unit will haunt them. But benefited from their injury niggles in the treatment room. And they rallied from behind to take home a comfortable win.

There will be a 4 day turnaround when the 2nd Test begins this Sunday. This time at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. And see if South Africa can clean sweep the series 2-0. No doubt this XI will be robust & balanced. Thanks to the Kagiso Rabada who just recovered from a groin strain.

It also remains to be seen if SA can take advantage of a weakened SL squad. That side is without their best players through injury. You still have the skipper in Dimuth Karunathe. So does Kusal Perera & Kusal Mendis. As well as Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka & Wanindu Hasaranga. They have a strong batting & all-rounder flavour for sure.

It remains to be seen if their bowling can match the batting. I mean the dedicated/frontline ones. All it matters is grit and faith to level the series 1-1. Nothing else to show for bar hard work. That would be the mantra to keep their coaching & physio staff happy. Sri Lanka are still a tough side to face. They successfully chase down the target in Durban two years ago. Followed by another win in Johannesburg to clean sweep the 2-0 series. One win here would deny South Africa the series they deserve.

Now I would like to talk about the New Zealand v Pakistan series. Again two Test games as usual. The home team already have the first two v West Indies earlier this month. I did not have the chance to watch this series unfortunately. I had to focus on covering the other two test matches here.

That match was interesting a close notch throughout the five days. And the outcome came to an exciting close. When New Zealand bowled Pakistan out for 271 with just 101 runs left to finish. New Zealand got off well with the bat despite losing the toss. Pakistan did not enjoy their first half in response. And the Kiwis thought they would just leave it under 200. Thinking it is easier to close it down.

But Pakistan did not let themselves getting bullied without a fight. The response is there. Especially with the 35 year old scoring a ton in Fawad Alam. He and Mo Rizwan kept their natural game simple to halt their victory process. But the tall bloke in Kyle Jamison snipped this partnership in half. And it gave his seamers a reprieve to chase down Fawad.

They turned their attention to the tail enders. Not long after Fawad had to go for 102. Nasheem Shah & Shaheen Afridi has a Plan B to stop this victory party. It would be to settle for a draw. Nasheem unable to hold on. Thanks to the caught & bowled play from Mitch Santner. Even with the one hand screamer too. And the Kiwis roared with him to dance that close win.

Me witnessing these test matches from start to finish is incredible. Sports like cricket breathe those moments. And the traditional game like the Tests should stay forever. What a way to cap off 2020!!

The start impacted very bad thanks to the COVID. But I applaud the cricketing bodies to working together to resume. So to ensure that the play is still on with stricter guidelines. And have everybody safe. We will go into 2021. This time we should bowl this pandemic out for a duck. And whack them away in return via raining boundaries.

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