Friday, December 30, 2011

Indian batting stars under fire after MCG debacle

The Indian media on Friday lashed out at the country's famed batting line-up for letting the team down in the opening Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

Chasing a 292-run target on Thursday, India failed to cope with Australia's pace attack as they were shot out for 169 despite the batting experience of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag.

"Melbourne Meltdown" said a Times of India headline after the tourists' 122-run defeat. "Those expecting India's much-vaunted batting line-up to give Australia a run for their money were disappointed when Dhoni and Co surrendered without even putting up a semblance of a fight," the paper wrote.

Australian fast bowlers James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle all struck it rich on a seamer-friendly track, grabbing 19 of the 20 Indian wickets to lead their side to a crushing victory.

"'Foreign fever' returned to grip the Indian team as Pattinson, Hilfenhaus and Siddle tormented them - much like the English bowlers had done in England - with a heady cocktail of pace, bounce and movement served with relentless consistency," said the paper.

It was India's fifth successive Test defeat away from home after a 4-0 loss in England.

"Mauled in Melbourne" the Hindustan Times said on its front page and "Bat-erred India fall apart" on its sports page.

"The chase was always going to be an uphill task, considering the recent barren run which has seen the famed batting line-up not cross the 300-run mark in the last 10 away innings," said the paper.

The Hindu newspaper also blamed the batsmen for defeat, saying the "famed batting line-up fails to deliver".

Ravi Shastri, former India all-rounder and now a noted TV commentator, said the Indian batsmen needed to show grit to bounce back in the four-Test series.

"India need runs from all their main batsmen. Now that bowlers look the part, batters have no business to let them down," he wrote in the Times of India.

"I wouldn't be surprised if this completely turns out to be a bowlers' series. If so, then every run saved or made would count. India have the skills. All they need is resolve," he wrote.

Former India paceman Javagal Srinath said the tourists could fight back.

"Saddled with the reputation of being poor starters overseas, India did precious little to rectify the anomaly in the Melbourne Test," he wrote in the Hindustan Times.

"Barring England, where nothing went right for them, India have bounced back after first-Test losses. There is no reason, given the experience and quality of the India batting, why they can't do so again in Sydney."


Monday, December 19, 2011

Bangladesh v Pakistan - second test scoreboard

Scoreboard at the close on the third day of the second and final test between Bangladesh and Pakistan on Monday.

Bangladesh first innings 338 (Shakib Al Hasan 144, Shahriar Nafees 97)

Pakistan first innings (overnight 87-1)

Mohammad Hafeez c Rahim b Nazmul Hossain 14

Taufiq Umar c Nafees b Nazmul Hossain 130

Azhar Ali c Rahim b Shakib Al Hasan 57

Younus Khan not out 48

Misbah-ul-Haq not out 26

Extras: (lb-1, nb-15) 17

Total: (three wickets; 96 overs) 292

Fall of wicket: 1-23, 2-150, 3-245

To bat: Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Aizaz Cheema.

Bowling (to date): Shahadat Hossain 13-1-63-0 (nb-6), Robiul Islam 18-3-65-0 (nb-6), Nazmul Hossain 20-4-51-2 , Mahmudullah 12-2-29-0, Shakib Al Hasan 18-5-28-1, Elias Sunny 8-0-36-0, Nasir Hossain 7-0-19-0

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cricket-Australia board hits back at 'outlandish' fixing claims

Oct 11 (Reuters) - Cricket Australia (CA) has hit back at allegations Australian players are involved in match-fixing, saying the claims made by a sports agent were "baseless and outlandish".

Sports agent Mazhar Majeed, accused of taking bribes to fix matches, had said Australian cricketers were "the biggest" culprits of fixing and they fixed "brackets", a set period of a match on which punters bet, a London court heard on Monday.

In response, CA Chief Executive James Sutherland told reporters that the allegations appeared to be "outlandish".

"The sweeping statements unfairly malign Australian cricketers," Sutherland said on Tuesday. "We haven't been able to speak to the International Cricket Council overnight ... but we will definitely make contact with them very quickly."

Sutherland said the world governing body of the sport had a very sophisticated anti-corruption unit and he would have been tipped off by the ICC if an Australian cricketer was on the radar.

"The ICC attend every single international cricket match with their anti-corruption unit and there is nothing I have heard to suggest that there are Australian players who are of interest to them," he added.

Agent Majeed, 36, told an undercover journalist that match-fixing had been going on "for centuries" and named celebrated former Pakistan fast-bowlers Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis as alleged participants, the court heard.

The CA chief said it would work with the ICC to investigate a player if any credible evidence was uncovered.

"If we charge players and we find them guilty we will have no qualms about issuing a life sentence on players who are found guilty of match fixing," he added.

Friday, September 30, 2011

New cricket rules start this weekend

Two new balls will be used by a fielding side from each end in one-day cricket when revised rules for the international game come into force on Saturday.

The changes were approved by the International Cricket Council's Executive Board in May, following proposals from its Cricket Committee.

Besides two new balls, to be used in alternate overs, there will also be a change in powerplays in ODIs.

The total number of powerplay overs will remain at 20 per innings with the first block of 10 being at the start of the innings.

"The remaining second and third block of (five) powerplay overs may not be taken so as to commence earlier than the 16th over nor be completed later than the 40th over," the ICC said Thursday in a statement.

The restrictions will not apply for reduced innings of a scheduled duration of less than 40 overs.

A runner will not be allowed for an injured player during Test, ODI or Twenty20. However, the injured or ill batsman will have the option of retiring hurt and returning to bat at the fall of ninth wicket.

In another development, if an umpire feels that a batsman, while running between the wickets, has significantly changed his direction and obstructed a fielder's attempt to run him out, the batsman should be given out for obstructing the field.

"It shall not be relevant whether the run out would have been affected or not," the ICC said, adding that "the on-field umpires are entitled to consult the third umpire in deciding whether the obstruction was willful or not."

Other changes provide extra time to complete a Test match and affect a bowler's attempt to run out a non-striker before delivery.

Umpires can decide to play 15 minutes - a minimum of four overs - of extra time at a scheduled lunch or tea interval if requested by a captain and if, "in the umpires' opinion, it would bring about a definite result in that session," the amended rule states.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

KKR hope to leave Redbacks red-faced

Is the South Australian Redbacks' ploy of playing three specialist spinners in the Champions League backfiring on them? The strategy may have worked well from them in the Big Bash competition where the matches were played on bigger grounds. But here the smaller grounds make it more difficult for the bowlers as even a mishit may go for a six.

On Sunday, against a rampaging Jon-Jon Smuts, the Redbacks were at the receiving end of his willow as the Warriors tore the spin attack to shreds. Skipper Michael Klinger and coach Darren Berry will have to give a rethink on their strategy as they take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their Group B match at the RJIC Stadium, on Tuesday night.

The way Yusuf Pathan smashed four consecutive sixes off part-time spinner Arul Suppiah will undoubtedly play on the mind of the Redbacks. The Knight Riders have a strong batting line-up and containing them will not be that easy.

Klinger admitted that his side didn't bowl well. "We gave loose deliveries too often," he said. "We normally execute very well with the kind of deliveries we want to bowl, but today they were hitting them," he said after his side suffered an embarrassing 50-run loss to the Warriors.

He, however, did not lay the entire blame on the bowlers. "They played better than us. There are no excuses. We did not execute our basic skills well and lost wickets regularly. The run rate was high and they did well to contain us," Klinger said.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

IPL franchise caught short

Dubai: It was a day of dramatic events and intrigue at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday. The BCCI's annual general body meeting in Mumbai on Monday decided to terminate the contract of the Kerala franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL) over non-payment of bank guarantees.

The Kochi Tuskers team which had never quite overcome a controversial start in the lucrative league is said to have defaulted on Rs1.56 billion (Dh117.96 million) in annual payments. The franchise had repeatedly ignored reminders from IPL authorities.

Incidentally the franchise had been bought for Rs15.50 billion and was supposed to make annual payments over a ten-year period.

New office-bearers of the BCCI were also elected during the meeting, with N. Srinivasan formally taking over as the new BCCI president after Sashank Manohar served out two terms.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Kochi Tuskers threaten BCCI with legal action

Kochi Tuskers have threatened legal action after the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise's contract was terminated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at its Annual General Meeting here on Monday.

The BCCI terminated Kochi Tuskers' contract after the franchise, despite repeated reminders, defaulted on a Rs. 156 crore annual payment it was to make as bank guarantee.

"Because of the irremedial breach committed by the Kochi franchise, the BCCI has decided to encash the bank guarantee in their possession and also terminate the franchise. We have terminated the franchise because the breach is not capable of being remedied," said new BCCI president N.Srinivasan in Mumbai.

But Kochi Tuskers director Mukesh Patel told IANS that they don't have any dues outstanding and in fact the BCCI owes them Rs. 12-15 crore next month as a share in the central revenue.

"We don't have any outstanding dues with the BCCI. The termination is illegal. We will take them (BCCI) to court. In fact, the BCCI will be paying us Rs. 12-15 crore next month as a part of our central revenue," said Patel.

The franchise was bought by a consortium, comprising some Gujarat-based businessmen, last year for a whopping Rs. 1,550 crore. According to rules, franchises have to pay the amount in 10 equal instalments.

It has been in the news right from the start due to rift between the owners, who also wanted to shift the team's base to Ahmedabad.

The BCCI in the past had also turned down Kochi Tuskers' request to cut down their franchise fees. Kochi owners were promised 18 games in the Invitation to Tender (ITT) document but it was cut down to 14 as the fourth edition was reduced to a 74-game tournament.

The IPL was earlier planned to be a 94-match tournament but due to hectic international calendar it was cut down to 74 matches.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

India vs England: Statistical highlights, fifth ODI

The Statistical highlights from the fifth and final ODI between England and India in Cardiff.

# England's 3-0 series triumph is their biggest in a bilateral series against India without losing a single game.

# England have won 33 and lost 38 out of the 76 matches contested against India - winning % 46.57 (NR 3 and Tied 2).

# India (304/6) have recorded their fifth total of 300 or more against England in England in ODIs.

# India have registered their highest total in international games against England in 2011, eclipsing their 300 in The Oval Test.

# Alastair Cook became the first England skipper to win all five tosses in a bilateral series and the second English captain overall. Alec Stewart had won all five tosses as England skipper in the 1999 World Cup.

# Virat Kohli (107) has become the second Indian player to register a hundred against England in England.

# Kohli's innings is the highest by an Indian batsman against England in England, bettering Sachin Tendulkar's 105 not out off 108 balls at Chester-le-Street on July 4, 2002.

# Kohli has become the sixth Indian after Sachin Tendulkar (three), Rahul Dravid (twice), Sourav Ganguly, Ajay Jadeja and Kapil Dev to register a hundred in ODIs in England.

# Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli were involved in a stand of 170 - India's highest against England in England for the third wicket, oovertaking the 104 between Dravid and Sourav Ganguly at Birmingham on August 27, 2007.

# The aforesaid partnership is India's second highest for the third wicket against England, next only to the 175 between Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mohammad Azharuddin at Gwalior on March 4, 1993.

# The above stand is the highest for any wicket at Sophia Gardens, surpassing the 154 for the first wicket between Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith for South Africa against Zimbabwe on July 5, 2003.

# The 170-run stand is the highest put on by Dravid against England for any wicket, obliterating the 169-run partnership for the fourth wicket at Chester-le-Street on July 4, 2002.

# Virat Kohli (107) has posted his highest innings against England, obliterating the 55 at Chester-le-Street on September 3, 2011.

# Kohli's aforesaid innings is his (highest away from home) joint second highest in ODIs - his highest being 118 against Australia at Visakhapatnam on October 20, 2010.

# Kohli has registered six centuries in ODIs - two against Bangladesh and one each against England, New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka.

# Kohli has recorded three hundreds each in India and away from home.

# Kohli's strike rate of 115.05 is his second highest amongst his centuries in ODIs, next only to the 100 not out off 83 balls (SR 120.48) against Bangladesh at Dhaka on February 19, 2011.

# Rahul Dravid (648 at an average of 38.11 in 20 matches) has become the leading Indian run-getter against England in England, overtaking Sachin Tendulkar's tally of 639 at an average of 39.93 in 17 matches.

# Mahendra Singh Dhoni (236 at an average of 78.66 in five matches) has equalled an Indian record as captain in a bilateral series against England. Sourav Ganguly had the same tally - 236 in five matches at an average of 47.20 in 2001-02.

# Dhoni has recorded three fifties in succession for the first time against England - 69 at The Oval, 78 not out at Lord's and 50 not out at Cardiff.

# Dhoni has recorded a strike rate of 192.30 while posting a fifty - 50 not out off 26 balls - the highest by an Indian against England in ODIs (minimum 50), surpassing Yuvraj Singh's 176.92 at Rajkot on November 14, 2008 during his innings of 138 not out off 78 balls.

# Ravindra Jadeja has recorded his fourth duck in ODIs - his first against England.

# Virat Kohli is the leading run-scorer for India in ODIs in 2011 - 868 at an average of 39.45 in 24 matches.

# Kohli's 107 is the highest individual innings at Cardiff, obliterating the 100 by Mohammad Ashraful against Australia on June 18, 2005.

# Dhoni's sixth fifty against England is his 41st in ODIs.

# Among the captains with 1500 runs or more as captain in ODIs, Dhoni's average of 53.63 (3808 runs in 107 matches) is the highest.

# Rahul Dravid has signed off his ODI career with an excellent innings - 69 off 79 balls.

# Dravid's 83rd fifty in ODIs is his eleventh against England.

# Dravid has completed his 1,000 runs against England in ODIs - 1012 (ave.38.92) in 30 matches. He has become the fourth Indian to do so against England, joining Tendulkar (1455), Yuvraj (1187) and Virender Sehwag (1008).


Friday, September 16, 2011

IPL to get new chairman at BCCI AGM

The BCCI is set to elect a new chairman for the cash-rich Indian Premier League at its 82nd Annual General Meeting scheduled here on September 19.

The need to elect a new person to head the IPL arose after incumbent Chirayu Amin expressed his desire to step down from the post.

"Chirayu Amin wants to step down from the chairmanship of IPL because of his commitments. So a new chairman would have to be elected at the AGM. This is one of the items listed on the agenda of the meeting," sources said.

Amin took over the reins when the IPL was rocked by the Lalit Modi fracas that saw the then prime mover of the league being sacked at the end of the third season in 2010.

The indications are that Rajiv Shukla, currently vice president from the Central Zone, would become the new chief of this important sub-committee of the BCCI.

Sources, however, said that the appointment of a CEO, as speculated in the media, to run the Board's affairs is not a listed item on the agenda of the meeting which would pass the annual accounts and annual report of the secretary.

President-elect N Srinivasan, who would complete his term as the Secretary of the Board, is poised to take over as the new chief from incumbent Shashank Manohar who would step down after the completion of his term at the helm.

The appointment of the new selection committees including the senior panel, is also one of the important items on the agenda of the meeting along with the election of various office bearers.

Among the senior panel members, North Zone's Yashpal Sharma has completed his tenure and would be replaced but it is still not clear whether there would be other changes, including that of the Chairman -- a post currently occupied by Krishnamachari Srikkanth.

The selectors were under fire from various quarters outside the Board for the poor display of the Indian team in England so soon after winning the coveted World Cup on April 2.

The team was whitewashed 0-4 in the Test rubber, clearly outplayed in all departments and beset by a spate of injuries to several key players, to lose its top ranking in the most important format of the game.

Later it was beaten in the ODI series too by hosts England who are not among the top teams in the 50-over format for quite some time.

There are also clear indications Orissa Cricket Association Chief, Ranjib Biswal could become the new secretary as he, apparently, has the backing of both Manohar and Srinivasan.

Former Joint Secretary and incumbent treasurer M P Pandove's name is also doing the rounds.

But it remains to be seen whether he has sufficient support among the members as he is the secretary of the Punjab Cricket Association headed by I S Bindra who is close to the Board's persona non grata, Modi.

Things would become clear on September 18 evening when the nominations for the various posts are filed and the withdrawals too, if necessary, are gone through on the same day.

Friday, September 09, 2011

More trouble heading BCCI's way

Major trouble seems to be heading the Board of Cricket Control in India's way with the Parliament Standing Committee slamming the cricketing body. Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken is sure to use the revelations from the Standing Committee to push for greater government control over cricket.

The committee had said, "Cricket & IPL's economic & financial wrong-doings must be examined. The game's image must not be tarnished due to off-field events."

The Parliament Standing Committee investigating the tax exemptions given to the BCCI also stated that the Indian board needs to get its house in order.

The report also adds that BCCI President elect N Srinivasan admitted that the board cannot shift all blame on the exiled Former Chairman Lalit Modi.

The Committee has noted that the Board had been enjoying questionable tax benefits having got exemption to the tune of Rs 225 cr before 2007 & having submitted only Rs 92 crore out of the Rs 118 crore that was demanded in 2007.

Moreover out of the Rs 375 crore Tax that that was demanded in 2 years from 2007 to 09, the BCCI has paid only Rs 249 crore.

The Committee said it's astonished that the Income Tax Department could not finalise the assessment of income of BCCI for the last three years.

The IPL finances have been severely critised. The BCCI & IPL have paid only Rs 5 crore as service tax out of the demanded Rs 160 crore payable from franchisee fees & sale of advertisement space etc.

With the tax evasion net now exposed, the committee maintains that current BCCI bosses cannot pass the buck on one person.

Committee would like the investigating agencies to look into all matters relating to breach of law and identify and punish all those persons responsible for the same without further loss of time.

Parliamentary committee has now asked the investigating agencies to look into matters relating to breach of law, & punish those responsible, without any further loss of time.

The investigations are to be completed in 6 months and top BCCI bosses seem to have a tough road ahead.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

When Ponting urged Dravid not to retire

Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting claims that he persuaded Rahul Dravid against retiring when the Indian batsman was written off after a string of low scores last year. Ponting also said that Dravid reciprocated the support by inspiring him during his lean patch.

Dravid, the lone Indian batsman to perform well in the team’s recent 0-4 Test whitewash at the hands of England with 461 runs, was woefully out of form last year and Ponting said he encouraged the veteran right-hander to carry on despite the criticism.

“I remember after our last series in India there was a lot of talk and speculation about Dravid being finished,” Ponting told ‘ESPNcricinfo’. “I actually went and found him at the end of the series and said ‘don’t you even think about retiring’ because I just saw some stuff in a few of his innings that suggested he was still a very, very good player.

“I just said ‘don’t let them wear you down, don’t let them get you down’. I received a similar text message before and after the Ashes from him as well,” he added.

The 36-year-old Ponting has not scored a Test century since January last year but he is confident of regaining his touch and he is looking upto Dravid for inspiration.

“There are a few (who provide an inspiration for batsmen of advancing years). Sachin (Tendulkar) and (Jacques) Kallis both had a great last year; Dravid is doing well now.

“It’s not only good for guys of my age to see guys doing that, it’s good for the younger blokes to see it as well; to know that if you keep doing the right things and working hard, and if you’ve got talent, then age is not a barrier in our game,” he said.

Speaking about the state of the game in general, Ponting said he is worried about the impact of Twenty20 on youngsters. “The big worry I’ve had about Twenty20 cricket and even other shorter forms of the game being played at really developmental times in kids’ careers is that it won’t teach them the art of concentration.

“Cricket for me when I was growing up meant batting until someone got me out, and if that took them a week then that’s how long it took them,” he said.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cricket: KP wants victory after record stand

KEVIN Pietersen and Ian Bell ground India down at The Oval – but their record triple-century stand will take on extra significance only if it underpins a fourth successive npower Test victory.

Pietersen at least felt that way as he assessed his 175 – and Bell’s unbeaten 181 – in a stumps total of 457 for three.

England are in position to bat India further out of this fourth Test today, and then hope to bowl them out twice on a very good pitch in pursuit of a 4-0 whitewash at some point over the next three days.

Pietersen recalls from his own experience, as a 2006-07 Ashes tourist, the misery of a whitewash.

Asked if he takes extra pleasure in demoralising opposition, he said: “As long as we make that count and win the Test match, then yes.

“If we don’t win the Test match, then no.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of a whitewash, but it’s not for us to worry about what’s happening in the Indian rooms; it’s for us to make sure we win the first hour tomorrow and over the next three days we get the 20 Indian wickets.”

While Bell can hope for a maiden double-century in the morning, Pietersen has 19 Test hundreds – alongside team-mates Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, and just three short of England’s all-time best.

He said: “It would be nice to get a record, but I think there are a lot of players in this team who are going to get more than 22 hundreds.

“They will do.

“It’s be amazing to be part of a team where you’ve got guys who are hitting hundreds like this.

“It’s not a competition; it’s not a race. It’s just a case of winning games for England, getting us into position where we can win games.”

He fell short of a second double-hundred in this series, but added: “Nicking my first two balls for four this morning off (Shantha) Sreesanth, if somebody had said to me ‘you can have 175 and that’s it’ I would have said ’thank you, goodbye.’”

The former skipper could still reflect on his fourth hundred at a venue where he memorably made his first to help England clinch the 2005 Ashes, and which is now his home ground as a Surrey batsman.

Of his other Oval centuries, he said: “South Africa in 2008 was special, because it was the first Test of only three or four I captained.

“Getting Test hundreds is something you dream about when you’re a kid and then trying to make a profession as a cricketer – so any Test hundred is amazing.

“To score four here now is pretty cool.”

Sreesanth was one of four frontline India bowlers to suffer against Pietersen and Bell.

But he was happy to voice his admiration for England’s third-wicket pair.

“After lunch they took charge again, and credit to them,” he said. “It was not really bad bowling, but they took charge and just kept going.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

India batsmen collapse in England cricket Test

Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan inflicted fresh misery upon India as the tourists collapsed to 75 for four at lunch on the first day of the third Test at Edgbaston here on Wednesday.

The recalled Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar managed just one run between them while Rahul Dravid was out for 22 to what turned out to be the last ball before lunch.

It all left England, already 2-0 up, in command of a match where a victory would not only see them win this four-match series but also replace India at the top of the ICC's Test Championship table.

Bresnan, who starred with both bat and ball in England's crushing 319-run second Test win at Trent Bridge, had lunch figures of two for 13 in 7.2 overs, including a spell of two for five in 10 balls.

Meanwhile Broad, who took a hat-trick on his Nottinghamshire home ground last time out and scored valuable runs, had two for 32 in nine overs.

England, who saw captain Andrew Strauss elect to field after winning the toss in overcast, seam-bowler friendly conditions saw Broad strike first ball to remove Sehwag for a golden duck.

Sehwag, playing his first match of the series after shoulder surgery and one of the world's most dynamic opening batsman, tried to sway out of the way of a short ball from Broad but gloved through to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

Steve Davis initially said not out but England immediately asked for a review and third umpire Rod Tucker, Davis's fellow Australian, correctly ruled in their favour.

Dravid, back in his familar number three spot after making a century while opening in Gambhir's injury absence at Trent Bridge, drove Broad for two fours in successive balls.

But first-change Bresnan ended a stand worth 51 when left-hander Gambhir inside-edged onto his stumps for a 38 featuring seven boundaries.

Gambhir's exit brought in Tendulkar who, as he has done all series, received a standing ovation as he walked to the crease in pursuit of an unprecedented 100th international hundred.

But Tendulkar made just one who before he was lured into playing a Broad delivery outside off-stump he might have left and edged to third slip Anderson.

Dravid, nicknamed 'the Wall' for his resilience was then bowled off-stump by a superb Bresnan delivery, having hit eight fours.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cricket Australia likely to send their players to SLPL

Cricket Australia (CA) is likely to allow its players to participate in next month's inaugural Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) Twenty20 tournament.

CA's stand is in stark contrast to the one of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which banned its players from taking part in SLPL, leaving the island nation "surprised and hurt".

BCCI said the involvement of the Singapore-based private firm Somerset Entertainment Ventures in the running of SLPL was the reason for it denying permission to play for Indian cricketers.

CA acting chief executive Michael Brown said he would discuss details of the tournament, which runs from July 19 to Aug 4, with Sri Lanka Cricket officials at the International Cricket Council's annual conference in Hong Kong next week, but indicated it had CA's "in principle" support.

"We've got a number of CA camps during July, so our players will be training in preparation for the tour (of Sri Lanka) two days after the SLPL finishes - they'll be locked into camps," Brown was quoted as saying in The Telegraph. "For the other guys, we just need to find out what the comp is, who's involved.

"We want to support Sri Lanka Cricket, like we want them to support us. We want their players to play in our Big Bash."

The SLPL will be played in Colombo and feature seven teams, each with up to five international players.

The fact that Australia's tour of Sri Lanka begins with limited-overs matches should preclude any CA-contracted players from participating.

But some state players, such as Victoria's Brad Hodge and Dirk Nannes, and South Australia's Aiden Blizzard and Daniel Christian, are already confirmed participants.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bhopal to have international cricket stadium

With Bhopal fast emerging as a major sports centre in the country, the city will soon get a state-of-the-art cricket stadium as announced by the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

"As per the announcement by the chief minister we have identified land at four places near Bhopal for the construction of the international level cricket stadium," Bhopal Collector, Nikunj Shrivastava told PTI.

"We have identified nearly 50 acre of land each at Mugalia Chaap, Mugalia Kot, Barkheda Nathu and Fatehpur Dogra villages for the construction of the stadium and a proposal in this regard has been sent to the Sports Directorate for selecting the suitable land at any of the above places," the Collector said.

"Once they identify the suitable land, the district administration will allot it to the concerned agency for the development of the international level cricket stadium," he said.

After India's World Cup final victory over Sri Lanka in April this year, Chouhan had announced to build a world class cricket stadium in Bhopal soon.

At present, international level cricket matches in the state are held at Indore and Gwalior.

Bhopal also boasts of having National Sailing School at the famous Upper Lake where national level sailing and other water sports have become a regular feature.

Sports Authority of India's (SAI) Uddhav Das Mehta Central Regional Centre is also located in the city at Gora Bishankhedi village, spread across 100 acres.

The Centre has world-class sports infrastructure and hosts the conditioning camp for national men's and women's hockey teams.

Bhopal is also known as the nursery of hockey in the country and the city regularly holds Obaidullah Khan Gold Cup tournament.

MP's sports director, Sanjay Choudhry told PTI that keeping in mind the state's sports potential, the government has raised the sports budget to Rs 32 crore which is six crore more than the previous year.

Not only Bhopal, but Indore and Gwalior too have emerged as major sports centres in the state.

Indore not only hosts international level cricket tournaments, but also national and international level tennis, basketball, table tennis and shooting championships.

Gwalior also boasts of major sports facilities which included Captain Roop Singh Stadium for cricket matches and Laxmibai National University of Physical Education.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

India aim to strengthen hold, WI aim revival

It was not the most comprehensive of wins but having taken a morale-boosting 1-0 lead in the series, India would look to press home the advantage against a nervy West Indies in the second one-dayer, on Wednesday.

The four-wicket win in the first one-dayer came after a wobbly start and the second-string Indian team would be aiming to plug the loopholes as the series progresses.

Missing key players Sachin Tendulkar and regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the young team led by Suresh Raina benefited from the West Indians' follies in the lung-opener.

The Caribbeans, on the other hand, would hope to tilt the scale in their favour by picking up on the few positives they gained from the four-wicket loss at the Queen's Park Oval here on Monday night.

The hosts might have lost the first game by four wickets but they were probably 30 runs and a wicket away from walking away as winners.

Even though the pitch was sluggish, West Indies could have tested India with a score of 250-plus. That score was a possibility till key men Ramnaresh Sarwan (56) and Marlon Samuels (55), after an 82-run fourth wicket stand, departed in the final overs.

And when the Indians batted, another wicket around the midway stage with the visitors struggling at 104 for 4, could have brought them to their knees.

None of it happened and West Indies went down with five overs to spare.

Encouragingly for the hosts though, experienced batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan showed signs of returning to his best and there was much heart to be drawn in the performance of young spinners Devendra Bishoo and Anthony Martin.

West Indies could do with a little more firepower at their command in the second match and it wouldn't be a surprise if Kieron Pollard figures in the starting XI.

The all-rounder, without a fail, is an asset on the field and on his day, can win a game for the side with either bat or ball.

Pollard was left out of the game probably as a slap on his wrist for not preferring regional competition over the Indian Premier League (IPL). Now that the point has been made, he could be asked to bolster the side.

West Indies would also be encouraged by the lack of firepower at the Indians' command.

Even though the visiting spinners are difficult to get away, they are more economical than destructive in their spells.

Only if West Indies could rotate the strike - they played no less than 29.2 overs as dot balls on Monday - they could yet push Indians into disarray.

For Indians, the worry is the apparent lack of class among openers. Parthiv Patel and Shikhar Dhawan have been pitch-forked to fill in for the injured duo of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir and their start was not too impressive.

But India's strength lies in its middle-order which has a talented bunch of batsmen including Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. In fact, both of them came good in the opening match with half-centuries.

Only if West Indies could get into India's middle order quickly and strike one or two fortuitous blows, they could still get the Indians in a spot.

Even though spinners are a strength for the Indians and the hosts are playing into their hands, the visitors would be happy if openers could inspire faith and there is more firepower in their bowling attack.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra, preferred ahead of R Ashwin, was impressive and so was Harbhajan Singh but there was little to suggest the visitors have the necessary edge to their attack.

The pace department is missing Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel would have to produce a special effort to prove himself a worthy replacement.

But given that the West Indians are desperately missing a certain Chris Gayle, the odds still favour the Suresh Raina and his men.

West Indies: Darren Sammy (Captain), Lendl Simmons, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Carlton Baugh (wk), Andre Russell, Anthony Martin, Devendra Bishoo, Ravi Rampaul.

India: Suresh Raina (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, Subramaniam Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ramachandran Ashwin, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Ganguly hopeful of playing in IPL 2012

After an ordinary showing in the fourth season of the Indian Premier League, former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly Thursday said he hoped to feature in the next season of the cash-rich league as well.

"A lot of players moved in to new teams. I have moved to Pune Warriors in the late stage of the tournament. Hopefully, I will feature in the next season as well," Ganguly said.

The 38-year-old, who was not picked by his old IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders this season, failed to find a team when the players went under the hammer for the tourney in January.

However, the window to the IPL opened for the charismatic left hander when he was included in the Pune Warriors side in the later stages of the tournament, replacing an injured Ashish Nehra.

However, Ganguly could score only 50 runs in three innings at an average of 25.00.

Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of a programme, Ganguly predicted that the Indian team would win the West Indies series.

"India will surely win the West Indies tour. I am also backing them against England but beating them would be tough," he said.

India take on West Indies in June followed by a long tour of England in July.

The man regarded as one of the best Indian captains ever was all praise for the incumbent skipper M.S. Dhoni. "He is the main man. He has won us the World Cup and straight after that he led his team to IPL glory. He is a wonderful captain and a player."

Asked about India going into the tour without seasoned campaigners like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir, Ganguly replied: "It's a very good chance for youngsters."

He said youngsters like Wriddhiman Saha should make the best of any opportunity.

"For me, what's more important is opportunity. So if Parthiv (Patel) is there, I don't know how many chances he (Saha) will get. He should make the best of any opportunity," he added.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Indian cricket team arrives in West Indies

A depleted Indian cricket team, sans Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, arrived here for a one-off T-20 and an ODI series against the West Indies, starting on Saturday.

Smartly dressed in a tee and trousers, the Indian players landed at around 20.30 Hrs (local time) on Wednesday at the Piarco International Airport here and were received by officials of Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) and sponsors Digicel.

The Suresh Raina-led Indian side looked tired and exhausted after their long flight from Mumbai via London and Barbados.

Stand-in skipper Raina’s eyes were blood-shot from lack of sleep and a few team members looked dishevelled from the exertions of a long, trans-Atlantic flight.

Even though he looked tired and sleepless, Raina exuded confidence that his young team will do whatever it takes to win the lone T-20 game and the five-match ODI series against the Caribbeans.

“It’s a young side. The players want to do well for the country and themselves. They are extremely motivated,” said Raina after arriving here last evening.

Vice-captain Harbhajan Singh too opined that the starless Indian team would not be short of motivation in the upcoming series, irrespective of their relentless cricket schedule.

“These are young boys who are looking to build a career for itself. I don’t think tiredness or fatigue would be a factor,” said the off-spinner.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sachin laughs off 'emphatic 100th ton' theory

Sachin Tendulkar stated the reason for him opting out of June-July's three-Test series in the West Indies.

"I just want to spend some time with my family. I have not had time with my children. If I don't spend time with them now (during their school holidays), I would have to wait for one more year to do so. The kids (daughter Sara and son Arjun) are very thrilled because we hadn't discussed this with them, so they didn't know anything. It was a surprise for them," he said on Monday. (Also Read: Durani tells Sachin to go for 400 )

"I could make out that they wanted me to be with them because of their school holidays coinciding."

Tendulkar was rested for the one-day series against the West Indies, but when it came to the Test series, he requested the Board to leave him out. He will be available for the tour of England involving four Tests and a one-day series.

No one can stop the theories though. The batting genius laughed at one about him not going to the West Indies because he wants to get his 100th international century at Lord's, a venue that will host the 100th India vs England Test (July 21-25) and the 2000th game in the history of Test cricket. "How can you plan such things?" he asked.

Respected West Indies writer Fazeer Mohammed connected Tendulkar's Caribbean absence to the state of the game in the region. "But there was obviously something missing that made India's batting maestro determine that a month in the Caribbean and the prospect of a couple really big innings was worth passing up. Maybe it was the challenge. Maybe it was the sense of occasion. Maybe it was both.

"To put it bluntly: milking our bowlers on the way to a 100th senior international hundred in a near-empty stadium would have been the equivalent of Barcelona defeating Manchester United on a Sunday morning at the Aranjuez Savannah with ten men and two dogs in attendance and two vagrants sleeping at the back of the pavilion," Mohammed wrote in the Trinidad Express.

Earlier, Tendulkar stated: "As I have been playing continuous cricket over the last 10 months which started during the Sri Lankan series in July 2010, I had requested the Cricket Board to allow me to spend some quality time with the family as it coincides with my children's holidays and hence will not be available for the series in the West Indies. I would appreciate everyone's understanding of my decision and look forward to be back shortly post the series."

Post 2000, Tendulkar has been part of Test series wins in England, Pakistan and New Zealand but when it came to the 2005-06 Test series victory in the West Indies, he was injured. So, in all probability, he will end his career without experiencing a Test series triumph in the Caribbean.

That could be a regret, but only just, considering what he said a few years ago: "Getting married and having kids nothing matches that."

Friday, May 27, 2011

England vs Sri Lanka (Eng vs Sl) 1st Test Live Highlights

Sri Lanka vs England Live Cricket Highlights: The first test match between England Vs Sri Lanka scheduled will be happen on 26th,Thursday-May-2011, and kickoff time at 14:30 G.M.T, 20:00 I.S.T.

England vs Sri Lanka first Test match cricket is exciting, because they face each other at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff today.

It is thought that this England team is one of the best English cricket teams of all time. Over the next three months we'll see where they stand as they face Sri Lanka and then India.

In this test series in England, may find it difficult dislodge the powerful batting lineup of Sri Lanka which includes Sangakarra, Jayawardene, Dilshan, Samaweera, and Paranavitana.

Head-to-head: England has won 8 matches and Sri Lanka won 6 matches out of 21, while the remaining 7 matches were draws.

England vs Sri Lanks 1st Teams:

England 1st Test Team: AJ Strauss (c), AN Cook, IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, IR Bell, EJG Morgan, MJ Prior (wk), SC Broad, GP Swann, JM Anderson, CT Tremlett.

Sri Lanka 1st Test Team: T Dilshan (c), NT Paranavitana, KC Sangakkara, DPMD Jayawardene, TT Samareewa, HAPW Jayawardene (wk), MF Maharoof, NLTC Perera, HMRKB Herath, UWMBCA Welegedara, CRD Fernando.

Umpires: BR Doctrove (West Indies) and Aleem Dar (Pakistan). Third umpire: RJ Tucker (Australia). Fourth umpire: DJ Millns (England).

Sri Lanka vs England Live Match Details:

Fight Against: England Vs Sri Lanka,

Date: 26th, Thursday-May-2011,

Time: 14:30 G.M.T, 20:00 I.S.T,

Venue: Sophia Gardens at Cardiff, Wales.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chennai back in IPL final with a bang

Super batting by Suresh Raina (73, 50b; 4x4, 6x6) and Albie Morkel (28, 10b; 1x4, 3x6) helped Chennai Super Kings beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by six wickets in the 1st qualifier at Wankhede stadium and enter the IPL final for the second successive year on Tuesday. Chasing 176 for victory, CSK were in a spot of bother when skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was out in the 17th over but Raina and Morkel changed the script with an undefeated 46-run stand off 18 balls.

The turning point of the match came in the 19th over when Morkel clobbered Sreenath Aravind for two successive sixes and Raina hit the third over mid-wicket. The left arm seamer conceded 21 runs and the fifth wicket pair completed the formalities by knocking off the required 12 in the 20th over. Morkel signalled CSK’s stunning win by hitting left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori over mid-wicket for a six. It was billed as Super Kings versus Super Gayle. But the law of averages caught up with the big-hitting Gayle. However, Virat Kohli resurrected RCB with a 44-ball 70 (5x4, 3x6) to take them to a formidable 175 for 4 in 20 overs.

When CSK began their chase, the asking rate was a little over eight but they lost the first two wickets in the first two overs. Zaheer Khan dismissed Mike Hussey with his sixth delivery having the Aussie plumb in front and in the next over Aravind removed Murali Vijay in similar fashion as CSK stuttered to 7-2. S Badrinath (34) and Raina added 63 off 58 balls to weather the early storm. But Badrinath’s attempt to hit Abhimanyu Mithun over extra-cover failed and was caught by a running Aravind. But Raina kept CSK in the hunt with amazing shots. He hit Mithun for 23 runs in his third over, which included two sixes and one four.

But Gayle’s fastish off-spin and the guile of skipper Vettori put the brakes on Raina’s aggressive batting ploy to leave CSK gasping for breath. The run-rate mounted to over 13. Raina slammed his fourth sixth to reach his 50 off 41 balls and Dhoni, too, joined the party. He hoisted Zaheer for a six but was out the next ball. However, Raina hit Zaheer over mid-wicket for a six, as the bowler leaked as many as 20 runs. Although Dhoni departed, man of the match Raina and Morkel destroyed RCB’s hopes. Earlier, the near empty stadium saw the early departure of Gayle as the left-hander’s run-spree came to a halt. He lasted only nine deliveries. Off-spinner Ravinchandran Ashwin had the big opener trapped in front with his third delivery. Going for a sweep shot, Gayle missed and umpire Simon Taufel had no hesitation in declaring him out. Gayle had struck Ashwin for a six in the previous delivery.

RCB had the best period of batting when Kohli and left-hander Luke Pomersbach (18-ball 29) were involved in a 48-run fourth-wicket partnership off 29 balls. It gave some momentum to the faltering RCB innings. Pomersbach slammed two fours and one six in Bravo’s third over. This partnership changed the course of RCB’s innings.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sakshi Dhoni enjoys cricket, not attention

So what exactly does it mean to be Indian cricket's first lady? Ask Sakshi Dhoni and she'd perhaps be unaware.

Sakshi and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's love story that began in March 2008 was India's best-kept secret for two years before the duo tied the knot last July. Just like Dhoni's personal life has been aloof since his onset eight years back, his wife appears to be just as guarded.

Sakshi was spotted at P2 Pavilion here at Chinnaswamy Stadium during Sunday's game. She was sitting by herself, enjoying the cricket, not the types who grab attention. There was a bodyguard of sorts who was with her the whole time, but Sakshi seemed to be totally unaware of his presence. Even when she went to serve herself dinner during the mid-innings break, Sakshi was uncomfortable having a bodyguard around her, and may have gestured that she needn't be followed around.

Hailing from a typical middle-class household, Sakshi is said to be a simple girl who happened to floor the Indian skipper during their meeting at Taj Bengal in December 2007. A hotel management student, she was interning at the hotel where India and Pakistan were put up ahead of their clash at Eden Gardens.

When MiD DAY asked her how she was enjoying travelling with the Chennai Super Kings this IPL season, Sakshi said: "I am really sorry, I don't mean to be rude. But, I am not comfortable talking to any media at the moment."

That reaction from the Dehradun girl summed up her approach towards fame, and everything associated with being the wife of perhaps the most influential Indian cricketer of this generation.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Warne ends polarising career as a loser

Unusual in his soap opera existence, there will be no fairytale finish when Shane Warne draws the closing curtain.

Warne will end one of cricket's most successful and controversial playing careers as a loser.

The legspinner bows out in Mumbai early Saturday (NZT) when his Rajasthan Royals play their final match of the 2011 Indian Premier League (IPL).

The Royals can't make the IPL finals, so it's the end for Warne - more than four years after quitting Test cricket and nearly four years since his last first-class outing.

Aged 41, Warne completes a playing road with bumps, twists and turns beyond the imagination of the most fanciful Hollywood script writer. Or Hollywood starlet.

Warne, who once described his life as a soap opera, farewells as an undisputed genius of his sport, his influence on Australian cricket second only to Sir Donald Bradman.

But he also farewells as among the most polarising of sportsmen.

His mastery of the difficult craft of legspin returned 708 Test wickets. Toss in 293 one-day international victims, and more than 1300 first-class scalps.

Even the largesse of such figures somehow don't do justice to the guile of Warne, who was revered for his `cricket brain'.

Some say the magnitude of his `cricket brain' left little grey matter for other purposes.

Think extra-marital affairs. Saucy text messages. Saucy baked beans. Diuretics. Crass celebrations. Sledging. Smoking.

Warne was a gifted bowler, but also a wrong'un.

English sportswriter and senior university lecturer Rob Steen succinctly summed him up.

"To some he's been the Messiah of spin, a rebel with a hell of a cause - the personification of competitive artistry," Steen wrote on cricket website, Cricinfo.

"Others, especially older Australians, see a larrikin, a beach bum, a source of embarrassment and even disgust, the very embodiment of insufferable cockiness."

The cross-over nowadays between Warne the flamboyant cricketer and Warne the flamboyant celebrity is minimal.

Warne was paid some $US1.8 million for his last stint as a player in this year's IPL.

He opened the tournament denying he had a facelift, and was frequently pictured canoodling with British model and actress Elizabeth Hurley.

On the field, Warne's powers waned.

He started well enough, initially foxing batsmen with customary turn and flight.

But gradually Warne lost rhythm and even inexperienced youngsters began hitting him for sixes with regular ease.

His returns from the tournament have been unimpressive - 12 wickets from as many games, while conceding 267 runs, for an average of 22.25.

Warne once always wanted the ball, believing he could conjure sporting miracles. And often he did.

But he didn't even bowl himself in the Royals' last start loss, a sign of a dwindling competitive fire.

Indeed, Warne was more fiery off-field when he berated the secretary of the Rajasthan Cricket Association over the choice of pitches.

Warne was fined $US50,000 for the row, destined to become a final footnote of an amazing career.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chennai aim for perfect home run, take on Kochi

Out of reckoning for the playoffs, IPL debutants Kochi Tuskers Kerala would aim to sign off on a positive note but that looks easier said than done as they take on the unbeaten-at-home defending champions Chennai Super Kings in an IPL match in Chennai on Wednesday.

It is an unequal battle given the fine form Chennai are in but Kochi have sprung a few surprises in the event.

Chennai have kept a clean slate at home, winning all the six matches in their backyard. Placed second in the league table, Chennai have won eight matches out of the 12 they have played.

Kochi have no chance of making the qualifiers as they don't just have to win big against Chennai, they also have to pray that Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab lose their remaining two matches.

This is Tuskers last league outing, while Chennai have their last match against Royal Challengers slated for May 22 in Bangalore.

Interestingly, Kochi had beaten Chennai in their earlier match through the Duckworth-Lewis method after rain reduced the game to a 17-overs-a-side affair.

Things have turned around dramatically for Chennai after that but the same cannot be said about Kochi as they have not shown consistency in the tournament so far.

Kochi's regular captain Mahela Jayawardene would not be at the helm for the team's final IPL game this season as he has left for England to join the Sri Lankan national team for an upcoming Test series.

In his absence, Parthiv Patel, who has been selected for next month's tour of the West Indies, is expected to lead the side.

The problem with Kochi has been the lack of consistent performance from the team's star players such as Brendon McCullum, Brad Hodge and Owais Shah. Hodge, however, did come good in their previous match against the Rajasthan Royals.

Even with such inconsistent performances, Jayawardene had brought about victories against top three teams on the points table - Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders.

Considering their knack for upsets, Kochi cannot be completely counted out of Wednesday's contest.

Kochi's bowling lacks in many respects as Rudra Pratap Singh, the wily left-arm seamer, has been a letdown and the temperamental Sreesanth has been more of his usual tantrum-throwing self rather than a disciplined performer.

As for Chennai, revenge would be high on the agenda. Apart from the home advantage, Chennai players have gelled very well on the field and the bowlers have won quite a few matches for them besides the already strong batting line up.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nasa, JPL, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Galileo mission

Cricket Victoria are trying to rope in Australian spin wizard Shane Warne as the brand ambassador for the two Victoria-based teams of the Twenty20 Big Bash competition.

Warne, who will be retiring from professional cricket after the ongoing fourth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), would be involved in creating the membership bases for the two new franchises, Melbourne Renegades, which will play out of Docklands, and the Melbourne Stars, which will be based at the MCG.

The Herald Sun reported that Warne, who is leading Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, would play an active role in marketing the competition, if available.

Cricket Victoria chairman Geoff Tamblyn confirmed that they are trying to lure Warne for the competition.

"We certainly will be looking to have Shane becoming involved, provided he is available. He would drive interest in the new competition, where one of the initial main tasks is to drive membership, which begins at zero," Tamblyn was quoted as saying by the daily.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Royals now say no issues with the pitch

The Rajasthan Royals have finally taken what appears as a conciliatory tone in the pitch debacle issue that erupted after their loss against the Chennai Super Kings at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium on Monday.

In a statement released to the press on Wednesday, it was clarified that the management and the players have no complaints either against the ground-staff or the playing conditions at the stadium in Jaipur. "RR are happy with the quality of the conditions we play under in Jaipur and at all other grounds we have visited in the IPL. At no time have we attributed our results to the conditions of the pitch at any ground."

The Royals' skipper Shane Warne had earlier ridiculed the 'instruction' given for a new pitch for the tie against Chennai. Read the report here.

Wednesday's statement though contradicts the report and clarifies that the players have constantly admitted that they were beaten by a better side. "On Monday, our captain and players have consistently stated that we were outplayed by a very strong CSK side and credit must go to them for their performance."

Meanwhile, the Board of Control for Cricket in India also took a grim view of the comments made by Warne against the pitch conditions. Read the report on BCCI's reaction here.

Friday, May 06, 2011

I will always back Zaheer, says Vettori

Zaheer Khan has been Royal Challengers Bangalore's leading wicket-taker (seven wickets) in this Indian Premier League (IPL) season, but at a price. The left-arm seamer has conceded 8.64 runs per over, when compared to skipper Daniel Vettori's 5.82. (Also Read: Bangalore keen to improve position with win over Punjab)

In seven games thus far, Zaheer has finished his quota of four overs on all occasions, but has been too expensive.

There is an opinion among the local cricket community that Zaheer hasn't given his 100 per cent probably due to fatigue.

However, Vettori rebutted the charges, and said that Zaheer would remain his 'go-to man' during the competition.

Asked if he was contemplating resting Zaheer for Friday's game against Kings XI Punjab, Vettori said: "I don't think so. He might have been expensive, but his bowling has been crucial in our last two wins, especially in the game against Delhi.

"He took the important wicket of (David) Warner. And during the win against Pune, he got the crucial wicket of Yuvraj (Singh). He bowls during the hardest times the start of the innings and the death overs. Hence, there are more chances that he will go for runs. But, I still look to him every time I want a wicket. That won't change for the rest of the IPL."

The hosts go into the contest on the back of three consecutive wins, and look to be in a good position to seal a spot in the play-offs. However, Kings XI Punjab are on the opposite end of the spectrum, lying low at ninth place in the points table, and that's the reason Vettori is wary of of Punjab, who are in a must-win scenario.

"They (Punjab) have an explosive top five batting line-up with (Paul) Valthaty, (Adam) Gilchrist, (Dinesh) Karthik, (David) Hussey and (Shaun) Marsh and we are wary of that," he said.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Mumbai, Kochi register impressive wins in IPL

Mumbai Indians beat Kings XI Punjab by 23 runs to return to the top of the IPL table yesterday; and Kochi Tuskers thrashed Delhi Daredevils by seven wickets.

Mumbai captain Sachin Tendulkar and in-form batsman Ambati Rayudu each scored 51 in the team's total of 159-5 at Wankhede Stadium. A combined bowling effort then helped restrict Punjab to 136-8.

The win took Mumbai to 12 points from eight games, ahead of the Shane Warne-led Rajasthan Royals, with 11 points from nine matches. Punjab remained on six from seven.

SCORES: Mumbai Indians 159-5 in 20 overs (Sachin Tendulkar 51, Ambati Rayudu 51; Ryan Harris 2-33), def. Kings XI Punjab 136-8 in 20 overs (Shaun Marsh 61; Munaf Patel 2-18, Lasith Malinga 2-19).

At New Delhi, Delhi Daredevils' 140-6 was overhauled with ease by Kochi, which made 141-3 in only 15 overs.

Kochi reached eight points from nine games, while Delhi remained on six from nine.

Monday, May 02, 2011

ICC refuses to act on PCB complaint against Sutherland

The ICC has refused to act on a PCB complaint against Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland for stating that Pakistan was not doing enough to curb corruption in cricket, saying that it was matter between the two boards.

Last week, a PCB official said it was still waiting for a reply from the ICC on the letter it had sent to them asking them to inquire into the statement made by Sutherland recently.

But sources said the ICC had, on April 27, sent a letter to PCB Chairman, Ijaz Butt informing him the ICC could not interfere in the matter.

“The ICC, in its reply, has said that this is a matter between the Pakistan and Australian cricket boards,” a source said.

“It has advised the PCB to take up their grievances directly with Cricket Australia,” he added.

Sutherland, in a recent interview to the ‘Age’, said that he didn’t believe that the PCB had done enough to implement the recommendations of the Justice Malik Qayyum report into match-fixing that was given in 2000.

Sutherland said if the PCB had done enough, the spot-fixing scandal involving Salman Butt, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Aamir could have been avoided.

The source said the ICC had told the PCB it could not become a party in this case as it was an issue that needed to be dealt with by the two boards.

The source said the PCB was now likely to take up the matter directly from cricket Australia and ask for a response from them.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Cost of Watching Cricket in Comfort

During the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, television cameras zoomed in to capture the rare-but-fleeting expressions of Reliance Industries' Chairman Mukesh Ambani and his companions, including actor Aamir Khan, cheering from corporate boxes.

As images of Bollywood stars and CEOs of India's business houses become common during cricket matches, their comfortable perches have become a prized commodity for India's top-tier cricket stadiums and owners of league cricket franchises, selling for as much as $1.25 million per corporate box for a 10-year period.

These boxes or luxury suites carve out an enclosure with spacious and comfortable seating for those willing to pay a hefty premium. Typically, companies pick up a box, which has a dozen or more seats, and consider it a cost of doing business. Companies use the boxes to wine and dine clients and reward top-performing employees.

In India, the trend is taking off just now as India Inc. deepens its bonds with cricket via sponsorship of local teams and cricket matches, and contracts with players who become brand ambassadors.

An Indian asset-management company, for example, which asked not to be named, used box seats as a reward for top distributors of their products. Investment banks find it a great way to network. Several banks took at least one box, and some several boxes, at the recent cricket World Cup final in Mumbai that the Indian team won.

"Indian cricket is really the only thing that's gone well this year when you think about it," said one investment banker, reflecting on a year marred by volatile capital markets.

Cricket stadiums, including the famous Eden Gardens in Kolkata and Mumbai's Wankhede stadiums, have recently renovated these boxes into suites and swanky seating areas in a bid to cash in on the demand. For a long time, stadiums didn't have the infrastructure to accommodate many corporate boxes and the facilities to support them. These done-up boxes now offer everything from fine dining to a special welcome.

Eden Gardens -- the home ground of the Indian Premier League team Kolkata Knight Riders – recently, more than doubled its corporate boxes to 32 from 12, previously.

The Cricket Association of Bengal, which owns the stadium, auctioned 10-year leases on the boxes for national and international cricket tournaments. The cost can go up to seven million rupees ($158,445) per box for the entire period.

Some stadiums like Mumbai's Wankhede, which hosted the cricket World Cup final, charge a lot more. Each of the 57 boxes at that stadium were auctioned for up to 55 million rupees ($1.25 million) for a 10-year contract, the price of 24 of these boxes included that of the annual league games.

Companies, stadiums and team owners were unwilling to talk about who buys these corporate boxes.

But income for the stadiums doesn't stop there. The cricket league, which is playing its fourth season in April and May, has been a big draw to businesses, offering them a chance to get even more directly and closely linked to cricket as team owners and sponsors. Local franchises also pay the cricket associations, which own these stadiums, lease for the home ground during the season. In turn, the franchise owners sell stadium tickets and boxes to fans.

The Kolkata Knight Riders, for instance, sells passes for the Knights Pavilion, their special seating section, at prices starting from 200,000 rupees ($4,498) per box of 16 seats for a match to 1.8 million rupees ($40,743) for the entire season at its Platinum Lounge. The seats at the high-end Platinum Lounge, the owners claim, offer the best view and a visit from the team's owners, Hollywood actors Shah Ruche Khan and Judi Chula.

"We are getting a great response for these corporate boxes," said Joy Bhattacharya, a spokesman for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

The details of the pricing and process of buying tickets for corporate boxes at various stadiums differ, depending on how the state cricket associations decide to sell these seats during cricket tournaments. However, during the league matches, the owners of the franchises decide how the seats are sold in their respective home grounds. Each franchise prices tickets based on local demand.

A Rajasthan Royals league team official confirmed that corporate boxes are an important source of revenue and strategically benefits them as a business. The Delhi Daredevils, the local team of the National Capital Region, says corporate box sales make up 15% of their total revenue.

Other teams like the Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils have expanded the idea to include luxury suites for corporations willing to spare the extra dime. These boxes cost more than two times the regular corporate boxes. The Rajasthan Royals offers, as part of its package, passes for exclusive after parties that the players may attend.

The Delhi Daredevils prices its uber-hospitality areas up at 25,000 rupees ($564) per seat for a match. Each box can hold between 23 and 57 seats.

Banks, other financial institutions, consumer goods makers, and auto manufacturers have bought corporate boxes and super hospitality areas at Feroz Shah Kotla cricket stadium for this league season, said P. Phaneendra, general manager of marketing for the Delhi Daredevils, who didn't want to disclose any names.

"While there is no way to definitely know what is discussed inside the corporate boxes, we know people do talk beyond cricket, sometimes it is business, politics or something else," he said.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pune in dire need of a win against Chennai

Pune Warriors India would need to lift themselves up when they clash with Chennai Super Kings at their home venue, the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, on Wednesday, less than 48 hours after being beaten by them at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

The Warriors, led by Yuvraj Singh, began their debut season on a high with back-to-back victories over Kings XI Punjab and Kochi Tuskers Kerala earlier this month, both at the DY Patil Stadium.

But the defeat against Delhi Daredevils at home, despite scoring an imposing 187 for five started the Warriors' slide and they lost successive ties to the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium, and to the Super Kings.

On a sluggish pitch, Warriors allowed the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Super Kings to score 140-plus on Monday through less-than-perfect work on the field and their batsmen failed to get going in the run- chase.

Two big defeats in the space of five days would be a dampener and the task in front of Warriors is to put the past behind and regroup as a winning combination in home conditions which suit their style of play.

In fact, their home track has so far brought out the best in them as it helps the pacers get movement and allows batsmen like Yuvraj, Jesse Ryder and Robin Uthappa to play shots more freely because the ball comes on to the bat nicely.

The return to the DY Patil Stadium could result in a call-up for Wayne Parnell at the cost of Nathan McCullum, who played in Chennai. With Jerome Taylor performing very well, the new ball bowling looks meatier, but the same cannot be said about the slow bowling as Murali Kartik has been below par.

The Super Kings, on the other hand, would be happy to get their title hunt firmly back on track.

They have won all their three matches at home but are yet to win an away game.

Michael Hussey's form at the top of the order must be a very pleasing aspect for the team's think tank and though Murali Vijay has not converted his starts to big scores, he has done his bit.

But the indifferent form of key batsman Suresh Raina, who flopped in their last two games, must be a cause for some concern as he is an impact player for the defending champions with his flamboyant batting, outstanding fielding and effective bowling in this format.

Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming said his team's brilliant fielding performance made all the difference in Monday's win and the side would look to replicate the effort in the coming matches as well.

"We would look to replicate this standard of fielding in our coming matches.

Today, we were desperate to win. This kind of fielding helps the bowler to be a bit more confident and gives the skipper much more confidence to dictate the game. We need to keep improving in that area. We were embarrassed with our fielding in the last game and we were desperate to make the difference," Fleming said.

The former New Zealand captain is reportedly the leading contender to replace Gary Kirsten as India coach, but he did not want to discuss the prospect.

"I enjoy my relationship with all the Indian players and Dhoni is a special player I am involved with.

He is a captain with free space. I have been working with Suresh Raina and others as well. Just about time that I do not want to be talked about as a potential Indian coach," Fleming said.

Yuvraj's Warriors have lost three games in a row, including a defeat to Dhoni's Super Kings in Chennai on Monday, and need to build momentum to keep their hopes alive

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Daredevils keen to fire again

This season, things could have been better for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils. Though the RCB has played one more game, the teams have just two wins to show ahead of their battle at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Tuesday.

RCB, parading one of the strongest batting line-ups in the Indian Premier League, is yet to play to its potential.

It started with an impressive win over Kochi Tuskers Kerala, lost three matches on the trot, managed a point from the rain-forced washout against Rajasthan Royals before riding on Chris Gayle's century to get past Kolkata Knight Riders.

Likewise, Daredevils, too, won its last outing after losing thrice in the previous four games.

Going by the league-performances in the last three seasons, a team needs a minimum of seven victories from 14 matches to be in contention for a place in the semifinals.

Last year, RCB and Daredevils tied at 14 points but the Bangalore team, based on superior net run-rate, was placed fourth, one above Delhi, after four teams finished with seven wins each.

If the past is any pointer to the future, at present, both the teams can afford to drop only a couple of games but win more.

RCB's quality comes from the presence of skipper Daniel Vettori, Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers — all ex-Daredevils — apart from Delhi-based Virat Kohli and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan. They are all capable of turning the match on their own.

With Gayle marking his arrival with a bang, the RCB assumes the look of a team difficult to deal with. In fact, after Tuesday's match, RCB will be keen to make a statement through three successive home games — against Pune, Punjab and Kochi — and improve its prospects of making the semifinals.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cricket fraternity wish Sachin happy birthday

The cricket fraternity saluted Sachin Tendulkar, who turned 38 on Sunday, for the joy and happiness he gave to the countrymen with his achievements and wished him a long innings in his career and life.

His national teammates, colleagues from different IPL sides and former cricketers paid tribute to his longetivity and the passion for the game.

"As a kid, I have always looked up to him. I have grown up watching him play cricket. He is a great player and great human being. He always helps his teammates with his vast knowledge of the game. I want to wish him a very very happy birthday and hope he plays for a long long time to come," said Team India member Virat Kohli.

"You are the very very very best ... keep going strong paaji ... we all love u ... happy birthday ... may God be with u and ur family ... love always," tweeted fast bowler S Sreesanth, another Team India team-mate and member of the IPL franchise Kochi Tuskers Kerala.

Left-handed batsman Saurabh Tiwary, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, said, "I just hope that Sachin gets the Bharat Ratan award for all the hard work he has done for the country. I think an award should be named after him so that every young player gets it whenever he achieves some cricketing excellence."

Hard-hitting Australian and Tendulkar's Mumbai Indians teammate Andrew Symonds said, "I wish him a very happy birthday and all the success in future."

Kolkata Knight Riders' pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji wished the champion batsman achieve many more glorious fates in his career.

"Sachin Bhai, I wish you a very happy birthday and we are all proud of you for whatever you did for the country so far. It's magnanimous. You will definitely play for many many years to come," he said.

KKR's wicketkeeper-batsman Manvinder Bisla said, "He is an inspirational figure to me and I respect him a lot. He is a great player. I wish him all luck in the future."

Describing Tendulkar as legend, former India batsman Navjot Singh Sidhu said, "He has given so much to the country with the World Cup triumph being the most memorable high. Look at the piles of runs he has scored in both Tests and ODI cricket. He is a legend."

Tendulkar, who is leading Mumbai Indians against Deccan Chargers in an IPL match here on Sunday, did not celebrate his birthday because of the death of the spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba, of whom the champion batsman is a devotee.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lankan players to participate in IPL till May 18

The Sri Lankan Cricket (SLC) Board on Thursday relented to the request made by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and gave the nod to its players to participate in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament till May 18.

The Lankan players will now leave for London from here on May 18.

The BCCI earlier on Thursday termed the decision of the SLC Board to recall its players from the ongoing IPL tournament as inappropriate, saying it is making all attempts to sort out the crisis.

"England tour, most probably is going to start from May 28 or 29, so what we have suggested that even if you (Sri Lankan players) go on May 21, you can easily attend your England tour, but they are reluctant. So, we are trying to find out a solution and resolve the issue," said BCCI Vice President Rajiv Shukla.

"This matter needs a policy change. This matter can only be discussed at a governing council," he added.

Monday, April 18, 2011

SRK to show abs if KKR reaches IPL final

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan says he will take off his shirt, a'la Sourav Ganguly, to show his six-pack abs if his Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team reaches the Indian Premier League (IPL) final this year.

"If we reach the final at Chennai, I will take off my shirt, fluff it in the air, and show off my six pack abs... or may be eight pack abs," Shah Rukh said at the Eden Gardens on Sunday, after KKR won their third match on the trot with an eight-wicket decimation of Rajasthan Royals.

The final is slated to be played at the Chepauk Ground in Chennai.

In 2002, after winning the Natwest Trophy final against England, then Indian skipper Ganguly had celebrated by taking off his shirt and waving it in the air from the Lords balcony.

Ganguly was criticised by the English, but he retorted saying he was only returning the same act performed by English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff during a series in India.

Ganguly, who has featured in the KKR side in all the past three editions of IPL, was not considered for the team this year.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

We are playing IPL not to compete, but to win

Kolkata Knight Riders ( KKR )) skipper Gautam Gambhir has said that his team is playing in the IPL to win matches with the combination of world-class players.

After beating Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the ongoing Indian Premier League , Gambhir said that the nine wicket win over the RR had been a moral boost up for the team and has brought a lot of positivity in the players.

"Look we are not here to compete, we are her to win. Honestly speaking we have got some world class players and once we are there we want to finish it off on a higher note and this kind of win only gives us more confidence.

"I think we will be high on confidence but hopefully we are not over confident and we want to take a lot of positive out of this win and then the mistakes which we made in this game I think we don't want to repeat that and hopefully we can learn a lot of things from this game and we can take a lot of confidence as well in the next one," he said.

Gambhir, who shared a blistering 152-run second wicket stand with teammate Jacques Kallis , praised the bowlers for their effort in restricting RR to 159 runs.

"I think we did a very good job by containing them to 160 and the bowlers bowled really well. They stuck to their task and we always that one good partnership and we can chase down this total. The wicket was pretty similar in both the innings because I don't think a lot changes in the 40 overs," added Gambhir.

Shane Warne , captain of the Rajasthan Royals team, said the team needed to work hard and was gearing up for the next match.

"20-20 as I say you can play well and still get beaten. I think we quite didn't quite get a couple of things right. We improve in those areas and in next game we can beat them in Eden Gardens," said Warne.

It was Rajasthan's first loss in three matches and KKR's second win in the three matches in the ongoing tournament.

Gambhir was named as the man of the match for his unbeaten 75 runs off 44 balls.

Friday, April 15, 2011

CSK, RCB keen to get back to winning ways

Defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will like to shrug off their disappointing loss against the Kings XI Punjab as they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their third IPL match.

After winning a thriller against Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening encounter of IPL by two runs, the CSK were in for a rude shock after having scored 188 when little known KXIP opener Paul Valthaty single-handedly guided his team to a six-wicket in Mohali last Wednesday.

Even their opponents RCB who started their campaign with convincing victory over Kochi Tuskers Kerala have somewhat lost the plot with back-to-back defeats against Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers respectively. Both teams will be desperate to get back on winning track in the match that will be played at the Chepauk.

While batting isn't concern for CSK as most of the top-order batsmen barring Suresh Raina have had one decent knock in the last two games, it's the bowling that will be a concern for the defending champions.

Skipper Dhoni will surely find it as a relief that Australian seamer Doug Bollinger who was nursing an ankle injury is back in the competitive circuit and is available for selection.

Bollinger's left-arm seamers have been one of the primary reason for CSK's success in the IPL. The fact that Dhoni missed a potent weapon at the death during the KXIP match makes Bollinger's case even stronger.

The addition of Michael Hussey who has joined the team after a successful ODI series in Bangladesh will be a bog boost for the 'Men in Yellow'.

Ravichandran Ashwin, inarguably CSK's best bowler in the shortest format was punished during the initial overs. The CSK team had a gruelling three-hour session at the Chepauk today.

The RCB on the otherhand have some catching upto do in both departments of the game. Against Mumbai Indians, there batsmen failed to up the ante even in the slog overs while against Chargers, their bowlers were taken to the cleaners by Bharath Chipli. Skipper Daniel Vettori will have to think seriously about their batting combination.

Their decision to promote Zaheer Khan up the order backfired badly against the Chargers and one would expect that the RCB team management doesn't take any frivolous decision against a formidable side like the CSK.

However it is Zaheer's bowling that has been a concern for the RCB during the first three matches as India's highest wicket-taker in the World Cup looks tired. Also the rhythm bowler that he is, Zaheer has been punished a bit by the likes Ambati Rayudu and Davy Jacobs.

India's pace spearhead will certainly be itching to get back with bang. It is still not clear whether Australian speedster Dirk Nannes, who missed the last match due to injury will be making a comeback for this tie.

RCB's biggest problem has been two of their star players in this format, Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers haven't yet fired as they are expected to.

One thing is for sure though. Cameron White is all but certain to get a look-in as RCB will surely need someone who provides them a bit of momentum while batting. Virat Kohli's form however has been reassuring as the youngster scored 71 in the last match against Chargers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Here come the Australian reinforcements

Australia's limited-overs tour of Bangladesh deprived the IPL of a handful of its brightest stars at the start of the tournament. However now most franchises will receive valuable reinforcements, two matches into the competition. Some, like Shane Watson, have brought themselves to peak explosiveness during the week in Dhaka. Others, like Cameron White, will hope the change of colours brings a change of fortunes.

Shane Watson (Rajasthan Royals): If Rajasthan needed any more reminders of Watson's value, a record tally of 15 sixes in an ODI duly arrived in boldface type during the Bangladesh series. Having been as much a part of Rajasthan's development as Shane Warne, Watson enthuses over the IPL as much as any Australia player, and seemed to use the preceding ODI series as a chance to find his range with the bat.

Brad Haddin (Kolkata Knight Riders): A debutant in the IPL, Haddin's recent knack for flashy starts will be useful if he is squeezed into the Kolkata top order. Less attractive are his two low scores against Bangladesh and a wicketkeeping technique that has seldom adapted well to the subcontinent's low bounce, meaning Haddin has a task ahead of him to provide genuine allrounder value to his franchise.

Michael Hussey (Chennai Super Kings): Having been a key player in Chennai's success in 2010 (both in the IPL and Champions League), Hussey was nonetheless miffed about being forced to stay with his franchise until the conclusion of the Champions League, rather than preparing for a Test series in India. With a pair of handy scores against Bangladesh to his name, Hussey appears in decent touch, and has avoided a relapse of the hamstring tear that almost kept him out of the World Cup.

Callum Ferguson (Pune Warriors): Ferguson has visited India numerous times, most recently as the reserve batsman in the Australia World Cup squad. His two most recent innings, in a World Cup warm-up against India and the third limited-overs match against Bangladesh, did not suggest subcontinental comfort however. He will need to find the right mindset for his time in the middle, after countless hours in the nets in between.

Cameron White (Deccan Chargers): A six-month struggle with the bat in the Australia ODI side eventually saw White left out of the XI after the first match against Bangladesh. And coach Tim Nielsen's view that he was not hitting the ball as hard as he should, would not make for pleasant reading at Deccan. However the time constraints of Twenty20 may be White's best path back to his big-hitting best, removing the mental barrier often created by having balls to spare.

Tim Paine (Pune): A neat batsman and tidy gloveman, Paine is among the most technically correct of Australia's young crop, and showcased his fierce determination during the 2010 Test series in India. He has gradually developed an ability to switch between the power-hitting mode of T20 and the poise required for longer formats, a quality that will aid his performance as much as blond locks push his marketability.

Shakib Al Hasan (Kolkata): Shakib bowled tightly against a rampant Australia batting line-up but found momentum less easy to come by with the bat, while juggling the captaincy of a team that looked a little lost after the World Cup. Still ranked the world's leading limited-overs allrounder - at least until Watson overtook him with his stunning efforts in Dhaka - Shakib's spin should prove awkward to manoeuvre at Eden Gardens.

Steven Smith (Kochi Tuskers Kerala): Smith did not make the most of a batting promotion in the third ODI against Bangladesh, but bowled some of his best deliveries in quite some time - including a sharp legbreak to bowl Shakib between bat and pad - in the second match. His unorthodox technique still needs work if he is to prosper in Tests, but it should be good enough to contribute handily for Kochi if his confidence and fitness are satisfactory.

John Hastings (Kochi): A hat-trick in Australia's warm-up match at Fatullah was perhaps the highlight of Hastings' tour of Bangladesh. He was frugal in the ODIs, but without the same success. A modest batting record for Australia does not quite convey the skill and hitting-power contained within his 6'5'' frame.

Brett Lee (Kolkata): Lee's best moments on a cricket field in India arrived during the Champions League in 2009, when he guided New South Wales to victory and was named Player of the Tournament. He will hope to be similarly influential with the consistently under-performing Kolkata, needing to mentor a bowling attack that lags behind the franchise's batting in both experience and accomplishment.

James Pattinson (Kolkata): Likened to Peter Siddle, but with a little more swing and subtlety, Pattinson made his international debut in the third match against Bangladesh. He likely to form a decent pace partnership with Lee, and can prosper if he maintains spotless lengths and lines.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

IPL 2011 Match Preview: Rajasthan Royals vs Kolkata Knight Riders

On 15 April, 2011 two teams with three years of contrasting IPL history will collide. While the Kolkatta Knight Riders entered the Indian Premier League's inaugural season as one of the favourites to go all the way, the Rajashthan Royals entered as one of the weakest teams in the tournament on paper. All the hype, all the sponsors seemed to be surrounding KKR, while RR could not earn even a fraction of the pie.

But gradually as the tournament progressed and results arrived, a drastic change in fortunes was witnessed with KKR not qualifying for the knock-out rounds and Rajastan Royals crowned champions. For the next two years the Royals have been battling the demon of exceeding expections and with the bar set so ridiculously high, they have struggled to keep up with themselves. Kolkata on the other hand is controversy's favourite child and has managed to continue to shy away from results and stay attracted to everything that is wrong with the IPL.

The Royals have started the season on a winning note picking up 2 straight wins to go top of the table where they are tied on points with the powerful Mumbai Indians. Kolkata on the other hand suffered a narrow defeat to defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the tournament opener, but have since bounced back to defeat the Deccan Chargers. The match between KKR and the Royals will take place in Sawai Mansingh stadium, Jaipur. Rajasthan enjoy a near flawless home record here and with the fan support behind them, it’ll be an uphill task for Kolkata.

Rajashtan Royals

The Royals made a fabulous start to their campaign by defeating the Chargers comfortably. Their batting looked solid but seemed to lack the firepower until Ross Taylor walked out in the middle. They kept the same batting unit for game 2 against the Delhi Daredevils and recorded a similar win with Rahul Dravid and Johan Botha playing steady hands while the rest of the strokemakers went in search of quick runs. The dilemma facing Shane Warne is who to drop in order to accomodate powerful Aussie allrounder Shane Watson. Ross Taylor is vital to the middle order, while Warne himself has been in spectacular bowling form. That leaves him the option of either axeing the expensive Shaun Tait or the man who has been winning him the matches Johan Botha. Tait's pace and ability to take wickets with the new ball should see him prevail, though Warne could well toss the new ball to Watson too and reward Botha for his performances with a place in the side.

The Indian talent has excelled for the Royals with both bat and ball. The young willow-wielders have not been scared to have a dash, while the bowling unit has been a revelation. In fact the meticulous planning that goes into knowing exactly where to bowl to each batsman has been a hallmark of the Shane Warne's leadership right through the IPL. It seems as if the very presence of Shane Warne in their ranks instigates bowlers like Siddharth Trivedi and Amit Singh to give their 100%. And when they do that, the success is theirs to reap as was evident in the first match when their 8 overs fetched 6 wickets at the expense of just 50 runs. Shane Warne has been the leading wicket taker for the Royals having picked up a total of 27 wickets in the last two seasons. And the veteran leggie, Trivedi and Singh with 4 wickets each are leading the wicket-taking charts at this early stage of the tournament.

Kolkatta Knight Riders

On paper, KKR is one of the strongest batting outfits in the IPL. If it weren’t for two disastrous run-outs in the match against Chennai, KKR was well on its way to victory. Jacques Kallis is in terrific form having hit superbly paced 50’s in the last two matches. Bisla has played a respectable helping hand, though his strike rate and his place will be under scrutiny with the arrival of Brad Haddin. Gambhir who would want to stay at no. 3 , might also give a thought to coming lower down the order if Warne starts his spell late. Pathan's form has been a worry, coming into this tournament, but someone with his brute force is always one hit away from a quick 30 or 40. Manoj Tiwary has outdone his image of a calm and composed campaigner, with the last two knocks at strike rates of 180 and 142. And even though Morgan hasn’t had too many opportunities to showcase his skills, he should retain his place in the team.

The bowling squad comprising largely of Indian players should feature the same faces. The only change will be the arrival of Brett Lee into the playing XI. He should replace Ryan ten Doeschate, thus giving a huge boost to the bowling line up of KKR. In their last match, Jaidev Unadkat bowled a superb final over to seal the victory for KKR, hence he should retain his place. Among the other bowlers, Iqbal Abdullah made good use of the conditions to once again become the standout bowler for his team with an economy rate hovering close to six in both the matches. Balaji has also maintained a decent economy rate with good spells with the new ball.

Having played only three foreigners in the last game, Kolkata could well bring in Brett Lee without toppling the applecart. Logically speaking though Brad Haddin should also replace Bisla at the top of the order despite the wicketkeeper batsman forging two half-century partnerships with Kallis and that could well mean some time on the bench for Dutch allrounder Ryan ten Doeschate.

Head to Head: Rajasthan Royals 4 – 2 Kolkata Knight Riders

May 1, 2008: Rajasthan won by 45 runs.
May 20, 2008: Rajasthan won by 6 wickets.
Apr 23, 2009: Rajasthan won in the superover.
May 20, 2009: Kolkata won by 4 wickets.
Mar 20, 2010: Rajasthan won by 34 runs.
Apr 17, 2010: Kolkata won by 8 wickets.

Playing XI:

Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson, AG Paunikar(wk), R Dravid, AL Menaria, LRPL Taylor, AM Rahane, AS Raut, SK Warne(c), A Singh, SK Trivedi, SW Tait

Kolkata Knight Riders: B Haddin (wk), JH Kallis, G Gambhir(c), MK Tiwary, EJG Morgan, YK Pathan, Iqbal Abdulla, R Bhatia, Brett Lee, L Balaji, JD Unadkat

Watch out for

Shane Watson - An enthralling contest is in store for cricket fans when an in-form Watson will take on Brett Lee. After clobbering 15 sixes against Bangladesh early in the week, the Royals' will be salivating at the prospect of their favourite Australian son being unleashed on a semi-suspecting Kolkata attack.

Yusuf Pathan - In most matches, Pathan seems in a state of comatose; he’ll start slowly, hit an occasional six to justify his price and then depart. However, once in every three to four matches, he gets going and then it is a treat to watch him. The stage is set for him to prove his loyalty to his new team and he might have the support of the local fans too, having played for the Royals for 3 years. He’ll be aware of the weakness of bowlers like Trivedi and Singh and will be looking to exploit them to the fullest.

Prediction: The match should be a close affair with the better mentally prepared side emerging victorious. Both sides have their list of match winners with Kolkatta having an edge in this department. The higher scorer between Watson and Pathan may well turn the tide in his side’s favour. With the crowd support behind them and a shrewd leader like Warne backing his players, the Royals might just keep their unbeaten start to the season intact.