Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 25th 2013 Contents A45
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CAPE TOWN---South Africa put up one of the
boldest fightbacks in Test cricket and then shied
away from a chance at history at the end. India
enjoyed supremacy over the top team in the world
for four out of five days and still nearly fell to
a hurtful defeat.
Who takes more from the complicated first-
Test draw at the Wanderers? Both teams say they
do, because they didn t lose.
The top-ranked South Africans and No 2-ranked
Indians both claimed the advantage ahead of the
second and final match in Durban starting tomor-
South Africa s unbeaten run through 13 series
is still on the line against an Indian team that
removed doubts about its ability on fast wickets
by dominating the Proteas for much of the opening
test on a green Johannesburg track.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith said his
team showed "the mental strength and ability to
find a way to get something out of this Test match.
I think we have done extremely well."
Yet, India batsman Virat Kohli maintained the
tourists were the ones who showed "character."
"Give us any situation and we will look for a
way to come out of it," he said.
Both teams also left the Wanderers relieved.
They displayed frailty in places.
South Africa s fast bowlers wilted during
Cheteshwar Pujara s 153 in the second innings and
his double-century partnership with Kohli. South
Africa then turned down a fairly gettable 16 from
18 balls at the climax of the Test that would have
delivered a world-record win.
India couldn t convert a massive 458-run lead
in the final innings into victory with over a day
to bowl out the South Africans, who were also a
man down because of tailender Morne Morkel s
ankle injury. A shaky India was ultimately grateful
to three late wickets and a miserly last couple of
overs to save it from an embarrassing and famous
Escaping defeat and the weaknesses of the oppo-
sition are the memories that stick most for both
camps as they head to the steamy east coast city
for the decisive game with just a three-day break.
The Indians, and the majority of South Africa s
cricket news coverage and social media commentary,
have focused on the South Africans decision to
defend at the end and play for a draw.
"I d rather go down going for a win than draw!"
former South Africa batsman Herschelle Gibbs
wrote on Twitter, encapsulating the feelings of
That kind of reaction has clearly hurt the home
"Dale (Steyn) was really upset, he struggled to
handle it," De Villiers said yesterday in Durban.
On Sunday, skipper Smith also snapped at reporters
questioning the tactics.
Now to Durban, where the winner will take all.
LONDON---Through financial turmoil,
court battles and humbling setbacks in
recent years, Liverpool has risen to the
top this season and reached a noteworthy
milestone in England.
Ahead of Arsenal on goal difference, the
Reds lead the Premier League heading into
the traditional Boxing Day games tomor-
"It is a nostalgic time and people always
want to know where the team is at around
Christmas Day," Liverpool manager Bren-
dan Rodgers said yesterday. "It is brilliant
for supporters. I am not going to deny
them a dream."
The last four Christmas Day leaders
went on to lift the trophy in May. The last
not to was Liverpool in the 2008-09 sea-
son under Rafa Benitez.
So much has changed since then.
"It has been a hard period in this club
for four or five years and (being top) was
probably a distant thought," Rodgers said.
"They have to enjoy it."
Staring into the financial abyss in 2010,
bankruptcy was looming until the owners
were ousted in court and new American
investors, headed by John Henry, rescued
But the Reds still seemed to be a team
in decline. A return to the lucrative Cham-
pions League by finishing in the top four
seemed unlikely, let alone a 19th English
title---and the first since 1990.
Even after former great Kenny Dalglish
was replaced as manager by Brendan
Rodgers in 2012, Henry s heavy investment
in the squad didn t seem to be paying off.
Rodgers first season ended in May with
Liverpool 28 points behind champion Man-
chester United and 12 points adrift of
Since then, Luis Suarez was denied a
move to Arsenal, and has scored 19 goals
in 12 matches since missing the opening
five games while completing a biting ban.
The Uruguay striker has been devas-
tating up front in December---with no new
disciplinary problems. Four goals against
Norwich were followed by doubles against
West Ham, Tottenham and Cardiff as the
team scored 17 while rattling off four wins.
Only 2012 champion Manchester City
can match such lethalness, with a league-
leading 51 goals.
Tomorrow, Liverpool visits Man City,
which is in third place and has won three
of its last four league games by scoring 14
The game at the Etihad Stadium should
show how ready Liverpool is to retain its
place among the elite.
Players once dismissed as Anfield misfits
have come to the fore, and now expensive
flops including Andy Carroll have been
Captain Steven Gerrard being sidelined
could previously have derailed the team.
Now Jordan Henderson, who seemed to
be burdened by a huge price tag after arriv-
ing from Sunderland in 2011, is providing
the dynamism and assured touches in mid-
Raheem Sterling is another young Eng-
lish player establishing himself as a regular
starter, with the winger scoring three times
in the last four games.
"He has shown he is back to that level
where he is really aggressive and direct,"
The ownership puts the team s re-emer-
gence down to Rodgers, who became an
easy target for derision during the club s
potentially misguided foray into reality
television last year but whose man-man-
agement skills are being lauded once again.
"He has great communication skills,"
Liverpool chairman Tom Werner said.
"He s very articulate in his strategy and
the players have responded to him."
There are, however, 19 games to go and
the most open title race the Premier League
has seen since its inception in 1992.
Even though the Arsenal-Chelsea derby
proved to be a 0-0 outcome on Monday,
there is little to separate them in the stand-
ings from Liverpool.
Liverpool and Arsenal are the only teams
in the top five with the same managers as
last season, with Manuel Pellegrini now
at City, Jose Mourinho back at Chelsea
and Roberto Martinez in charge at neighbor
"It is a transition period for a lot of
teams so maybe we have the extra year on
a few and the way things are going at the
moment...we can be dangerous," Liverpool
defender Glen Johnson said.
And, as for the reigning champions?
Manchester United is in eighth place
nearly a half season into the post-Alex
Ferguson era. But the Red Devils are only
eight points behind Liverpool, and the
standings could look very different at the
start of 2014 with nine points up for grabs
over the next week or so. (AP)
Following the first truly one-sided result
in the tour on Sunday, Pakistan seem to
have secured a marked edge in what had
previously been an evenly-matched
encounter. Their new advantage is down
mainly to the arrival of one man.
On Sunday, Umar Gul returned from a
nine-month injury layoff to provide the
menace that Pakistan had lacked with the
new ball, as well as control and experience
with the slightly older one. Gul was not
required to bowl in the death overs, but
given the pace and accuracy he had
achieved early on, he would likely have
helped ease Pakistan's woes later in the
innings as well.
Beyond Gul's own contribution, his early
breakthroughs put Pakistan so far ahead
of the game that Misbah-ul-Haq could
reserve his best spinners until later in the
innings. Saeed Ajmal didn't bowl until the
25th over and Mohammad Hafeez didn't
take the ball until the 28th. This ensured a
lower-order revival would be almost
impossible, even for a team that bats as
deep as Sri Lanka do now. Both attacks
had been mediocre in the first two
matches but suddenly Pakistan have
discovered dynamism there. With the top
order drenched in form, all parts of their
ODI engine have begun to hum nicely.
Liverpool rises to
the top of the league
Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring a goal during the English Premier League
football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at the White Hart Lane stadium
in London on December 15. AP PHOTO
India vs SA...
Who earns more
from the draw?
Buoyant Pakistan aim for series win
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