Monday, February 28, 2011

England, India tie in World Cup cricket classic

England stole the show, despite Sachin Tendulkar’s century in his home country, and Sunday’s high-profile World Cup cricket clash ended in a thrilling tie.

The sides served up one of the best World Cup matches ever as Andrew Strauss bettered Tendulkar’s sparkling innings and England matched India’s daunting 338 with a single by Graeme Swann off the final ball.

The pulsating finish was the fourth tie in World Cup history and brought the event roaring to life in front of 50,000 disbelieving fans at Chinnaswamy Stadium.

The crowd could hardly have asked for a better batting effort than Tendulkar’s sublime 120, but Strauss replied in stunning fashion with an ODI career-best 158. The England captain’s 145-ball effort inspired his team to 338-8 off 50 overs and, incredibly, a share of the spoils.

“In some ways we’re happy; in some ways we’re distraught,” Strauss said, “but a great game of cricket.”

Although it will probably do little to affect either country’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals, it will provide a timely warning to India of its bowling frailties. Here, England proved that the co-host may need more than the world’s most powerful batting lineup if it is to end a nearly 30-year wait for a World Cup triumph.

Among a host of records, Tendulkar became the first man to score five centuries at the World Cup, Strauss hit the highest World Cup score by an Englishman and the game provided the highest run aggregate — 676 — in a World Cup match, bettering the 671 runs Australia and South Africa produced in 2007.

Above all, it was World Cup cricket at its dramatic best as Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh (58) and Gautam Gambhir (51) put India well ahead before Strauss and Ian Bell (69) hit back with a 170-run stand.

The game see-sawed again when fast bowler Zaheer Khan removed both batsmen, in successive balls, before a flurry of sixes from tailenders Swann, Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad set up the chance for England to scramble a tie off the very last ball. Swann poked it to the offside and raced down to the other end.

Unaware of what the game had in store, the crowd had earlier celebrated another record in a seemingly eternal list of milestones for the 37-year-old Tendulkar, whose hundred moved him ahead of Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh and Sourav Ganguly in the list of World Cup century-makers.

Tendulkar reached three figures with an effortless flick to fine leg for four off Bresnan (5-48), then raised his bat to acknowledge 100 for the 47th time in one-day internationals — also a record.

The only achievement missing for India’s batting master, now in his sixth World Cup, is a World Cup title.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ICC raps BCCI on WC ticket sale

After facing flak from the ICC over the delay in the completion of some of the World Cup venues, the Indian cricket board is now facing heat over ticket sales.

The ICC has sent an angry letter to the BCCI over the issue after thousands of cricket fans were left in the lurch when the World Cup's official ticketing website crashing because of overload.

The official site had started selling tickets for the finals and semi-finals on Monday, but within a matter of ten minutes, the website crashed as it received hits of close to ten million. The fans are upset that there are few tickets available to the general public at a venue with a very small capacity.

In his letter David Becker, legal head of the ICC, says, "The chief executive (Haroon Lorgat) has asked me to express ICC's serious concern regarding the sale and distribution of tickets. The success of the cricket World Cup depends, to a large extent, on the orderly and efficient production and distribution of tickets. The ICC is being seriously challenged and is therefore bitterly disappointed at the state of affairs, which threatens to undermine everything."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cricket World Cup: Ricky Ponting faces ICC charge

Australia captain Ricky Ponting will be charged for allegedly damaging a television set in the dressing room after being dismissed against Zimbabwe.

Ponting, 36, was run out for 28 runs as Australia began the World Cup with a 91-run win over Zimbabwe in Ahmedabad.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) acted after receiving a report from the Indian Cricket Board.

An ICC spokesman confirmed: "Ricky Ponting is being charged... there will be a charge."

The report relating to the alleged incident was sent to the Indian Cricket Board by the Gujarat Cricket Association, which oversees the sport in Ahmedabad.

"Ponting did throw his gloves at the television. You can't see any damage from outside but when you switch it on, there is no picture on three-fourths of the screen," said Gujarat Cricket Association secretary Rajesh Patel.

"We had to replace the television set."

The ICC spokesman said the governing body would wait until the Australian team arrived in Nagpur on Wednesday for Friday's match against New Zealand before informing Ponting.

"We need to talk to him... because we don't know what he's going to say to it," added the spokesman.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sangakkara, Malinga Star In World Cup Warm-Up Win

Kumar Sangakkara with the bat and Lasith Malinga with the ball played key roles in Sri Lanka's four-wicket victory over the West Indies in an ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 warm-up match in Colombo.

Batting first, the West Indies reached 281 for nine with both Malinga and Rangana Herath taking three wickets and Sri Lanka - tournament co-hosts along with Bangladesh and India - then reached 282 for six in 47.3 overs to complete victory.

Left-hander Sangakkara stroked 71 in 89 balls, hitting three fours and a six, joining forces with Tillakratne Dilshan, who hammered 62 in 50 balls, being particularly brutal on Darren Sammy when he opened the bowling.

Dilshan had added 67 with Upul Tharanga (18) for the first wicket and Sri Lanka's charge was continued by Thilan Samaraweera, who made 55 in 56 balls.

Despite left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn picking up three for 40, Sri Lanka got home with 15 balls to spare, Chamara Kapugedera sealing the win by hitting a quickfire unbeaten 18 in 14 balls.

Earlier, Chris Gayle (58 in 38 balls) and Darren Bravo (54 in 78 balls) hit entertaining half-centuries to set up West Indies' innings - Gayle hitting eight fours and a six.

After Ramnaresh Sarwan made 39, their innings faded somewhat as fast bowler Malinga and left-arm spinner Herath pegged them back while Ajantha Mendis also took two wickets.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul (16), Dwayne Bravo (20), Sammy (19) and Carlton Baugh (29) all made starts but were unable to go on and set the Sri Lankans a stiffer target.

Sri Lanka are now 4/1 second favourites to win the World Cup with bet365, while the West Indies are available at 20/1.

Monday, February 21, 2011

India's Tendulkar in injury scare

Batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar handed India a World Cup injury scare when he underwent scans of his left knee, barely two days after the start of the tournament.

Tendulkar, 37, had only recently recovered from a hamstring strain which forced him to miss three games of the recent five-match one-day series against South Africa.

He made 28 in India's opening World Cup match against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Saturday which the visitors went on to win by 87 runs.

"The MRI scan is clear. There is no problem," the Press Trust of India quoted sources at the hospital as saying.

The scan was done as a precautionary measure after the batsman complained of discomfort in the knee.

Tendulkar is slated to fly to Bangalore Monday evening to join the rest of the squad ahead of their Group B clash against England on February 27.

The opening batsman is the leading run-getter in both Test (14,692) and one-dayers (17,657).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

ICC World Cup 2011 highlights: Sri Lanka vs Canada

Following are the statistical highlights of the World Cup match against Sri Lanka and Canada in Hambantota on Sunday.

# Sri Lanka's 210-run triumph is their second biggest by runs margin in the history of the World Cup. Overall, the said win is the seventh largest in terms of runs in the World Cup.

# Sri Lanka (332/7) have posted their second highest total in ODIs in Sri Lanka - their highest being 398 for five against Kenya at Kandy on March 6, 1996. These are Sri Lanka's top two totals in the World Cup as well.

# Tillakaratne Dilshan has completed his 5,000 runs in ODIs - 5006 (ave.35.25) in 195 matches. His run-aggregate includes 8 centuries and 21 fifties.

# Dilshan is the eighth Sri Lankan to aggregate 5,000 runs or more in ODIs, joining Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Vilva, Mahela Jayawardene, Marvan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakara, Arjuna Ranatunga and Roshan Mahanama.

# Dilshan (50 off 59 balls) has recorded his second fifty in the World Cup. His highest is 58 against South Africa at Providence on March 28, 2007.

# Dilshan has become the only player since January 2009 to aggregate 2000 runs apart from maintaining a batting average of 50 in ODIs - 2012 in 43 innings at an average of 51.58, including seven centuries and seven fifties.

# Dilshan's seven centuries during the above period is the highest. Four other batsmen have recorded five or more hundreds - South Africa's Hashim Amla and Abraham de Villiers - six hundreds each and India's Virender Sehwag and Hashim Amla - five centuries each.

# Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga were involved in stand of 63 - Sri Lanka's highest for the first wicket against Canada, eclipsing the 23 between Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya at Paarl on February 19, 2003

# Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have recorded the first century stand for any wicket for Sri Lanka
against Canada.

# Tharanga's record in the World Cup is not at all impressive, aggregating 317 in twelve games at an average of 26.41, including three fifties. He has recorded one fifty each against New Zealand, India and England.

# Mahela Jayawardene (100 off 81 balls) has registered his second century in the World Cup - his 13th in ODIs. He had first recorded a world cup hundred against New Zealand - 115 not out off 109 balls at Kingston on April 24, 2007.

# Jayawardene took 80 balls to reach his hundred - the fastest by a Sri Lankan in the World Cup, obliterating Sanath Jayasuriya's 85-ball hundred (109 off 87 balls)
against Bangladesh at Port of Spain on March 21, 2007

# Jayawardene's 80-ball hundred is the fourth fastest in the history of the World Cup, next only to Matthew Hayden (66 balls for Australia against South Africa at Basseterre on March 24, 2007), John Davison (67 balls for Canada against West Indies at Centurion on February 23, 2003 and Adam Gilchrist (72 for Australia against Sri Lanka at Bridgetown on April 28, 2007). Kapil's 72-ball hundred against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells in 1983 is wrongly mentioned in most of the publications and websites.

# Jayawardene has become the second player to post a world cup hundred in Sri Lanka. Aravinda de Silva was the first to do so - 145 off 115 balls against Kenya at Kandy on March 6, 1996.

# Jayawardene has completed his 3,000 runs in Sri Lanka during his century knock - 3014 (ave.36.75) in 108 matches, including four centuries and 20 fifties. He is the second batsman to do so in Sri Lanka in ODIs, next only to Sanath Jayasuriya - 3880 (ave.33.73) in 128 matches.

# Kumar Sangakkara's 92 off 87 balls is the highest by a captain in a world cup game in Sri Lanka, eclipsing the 75 not out by Arjuna Ranatunga against Kenya at Kandy on March 6, 1996.

# Sangakkara's above knock is his highest as captain in ODIs, eclipsing the 90 against India at Rajkot on December 15, 2009,

# Sangakkara's 60th fifty in ODIs is his 12th as captain in 36 innings.

# Sangakkara's 92 is also his highest in the World Cup, bettering the 76 off 83 balls against Bermuda at Port of Spain on March 15, 2007.

# Sangakkara has been dismissed in the nervous nineties twice - both times as captain.

# Sangakkara and Jayawardene put on 179 for the third wicket, Sri Lanka's third best in the World Cup. The top two stands have also been recorded for the third wicket for Sri Lanka - 183 between Aravinda de Silva and Asanka Gurusinha against Kenya at Kandy on March 6, 1996 and 183 between Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene against West Indies at Providence on April 1,2007.

# The 179-run stand is the highest by any pair against Canada in a world cup game, obliterating the 142 for the first wicket between Stephen Fleming and Lou Vincent for New Zealand at Gros Islet on March 22, 2007.

# The above partnership is the highest by any pair for the third wicket in ODIs against Canada.

# Jayawardene has been adjudged the Man of the Match for the16th time - his first against Canada.

# Jayawardene has received three MOM awards in the World Cup - one each against New Zealand, Bermuda and Canada.

# Sangakkara, for the third time, has effected four dismissals in a World Cup innings.

# Thisara Perera (3/24) has recorded his third best bowling performance in ODIs - his best in the World Cup.

# Canada (122) have recorded their highest total against Sri Lanka in ODIs, surpassing the 36 at Paarl on February 19, 2003.

# Rizwan Cheema's 37 off 35 balls is the highest individual score for Canada against Sri Lanka in ODIs.

# Nuwan Kulasekara (3/16) has recorded his best bowling performance in the World Cup. In the 2007 World Cup, he had failed to take a single wicket against Australia and Ireland.

# Sangakkara has completed his 350 dismissals - 279 catches and 71 stumpings. His tally includes 260 catches as a wicketkeeper and 19 as a fielder.

# Muttiah Muralitharan (19.67 in 32 matches) has emulated Wasim Akram's world cup tally of 55 at 23.83 runs apiece in 38 matches. Only Glenn McGrath (71 at 18.19 in 39 matches) has claimed more wickets than Akram and Muralitharan in the World Cup.

Friday, February 18, 2011

World Cup: City off to crackling start

The World Cup 2011 fever has gripped the city, with residents thronging markets to buy anything and everything associated with cricket.

Various stores, like Lifestyle and Nike, among others, are offering related merchandise, including jerseys and caps, to cater to the rising demand. Randhir, store manager of Nike at MBD Mall, said, ''Nike being the sponsor of official jerseys of Indian cricket team, people are eager to buy these as well as caps.

The response of Ludhianvis is overwhelming. Usually multi-brand stores have the franchise to sell the merchandise, but in the city, there is no such outlet.''

Jatin, sales executive, Nike, Westend Mall, said, ''We have jerseys of Indian cricket team in two colours ' blue and grey. Grey jersey is worn during the practice time and when players are taking rest. Demand for jerseys is more than caps'.''

Rajan, customer representative officer, Puma, MBD Mall, said, ''Our showroom will have jerseys by February 22, though demand has already started pouring in.'' Gurinder Singh, a resident of Model Town, said, ''I usually go to resto-bars to enjoy the World Cup, wearing the Indian cricket team jersey.''

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

World Cup fever: No threat for entertainment channels

The World Cup begins on Saturday but entertainment channels are not fretting about losing too many viewers or advertising. They are safely banking on their dedicated female viewership that is hooked on to their daily dose of soaps and cricket lovers who would only be watching select matches this year.

Channels' spokespersons say that the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, which starts Saturday, won't affect their business much because cricket has become an all-year phenomenon, and Indians at large watch only selected matches involving the home team.

"Cricket is now a 365-day phenomenon and so there is no point in planning life around the cricket calendar. Also during the World Cup it's primarily the India matches that get the high ratings. Otherwise the loyal GEC (general entertainment channel) audiences pretty much stay with us - cricket or no cricket," Nikhil Madhok, senior director (Marketing and Communication) with Imagine TV, told IANS.

Madhok asserted that cricket affects ratings of GECs by "only 10-15 percent in prime time".

"Usually genres like news, movies, regional and cable are affected much more than GECs," he added.

A Zee TV spokesperson said: "Some India matches may affect ratings but good storylines and loyal viewership to fiction shows stand their own stead."

That holds true as many women find their daily dose of drama only through cranky soaps, comedy or reality shows.

"My husband and son are crazy about cricket, but there are very few times when they have their way with the remote. So I watch the TV shows I love uninterrupted," said Madhavi Mishra, a 45-year-old housewife.

It is thanks to such dedicated audiences that the viewership chart doesn't skew too much even during World Cup.

According to a presentation by TAM Media Research, during World Cup 2007, female viewership of GECs declined by just six percent.

The advertising expenditure on entertainment channels also remains unaffected to an extent, said Ajit Thakur, business head, Sony Entertainment Television.

"Advertisers invest on GECs for 12 months, so it's not in the best of their interest to withdraw their money temporarily for the sake of spending it on a niche genre like sports," said Thakur.

Industry estimates indicate that channels like STAR Plus, Colors, Zee TV and Sony charge anything around Rs.150,000 for a 10-second advertisement to be aired during prime time.

For sports channels, an ad has varied costs depending on the scale of the sports event. During the T20 cricket tournament, an ad could cost Rs.200,000-Rs.250,000 for 10 seconds.

During the upcoming World Cup, ad rates on sports channels are expected to be around Rs.225,000-Rs.250,000, which might escalate to Rs.350,000-Rs.400,000 towards the finals.

This time the World Cup is returning to India after 15 years. So, many cricket aficionados will be catching the action live.

But ESPN STAR Sports, the broadcaster for the World Cup, is confident of good viewership.

"There is nothing bigger in the world of cricket than the ICC Cricket World Cup and an event as big as this, especially when it is held in the subcontinent, evokes passion and excitement like none other," said Manu Sawhney, managing director, ESPN STAR Sports.

"We are committed to bringing alive this passion for the game to fans all across the globe in the most engaging manner. We are therefore launching many first of its kind initiatives during this edition, including a special Hindi feed for select matches, HD production and live match coverage through 3G mobile streaming," he added.

The ESPN STAR Sports' bouquet of networks, including ESPN, STAR Sports and STAR Cricket, will telecast 49 matches of the World Cup and in addition, 37 matches will be simultaneously telecast in Hindi on STAR Sports.

Entertainment channels like Colors, Star Plus, Imagine and Sony have also recently launched new reality as well as fiction shows to grab eyeballs.

Imagine TV, in fact, will launch its big ticket show "Shaadi 3 Crore Ki" during the World Cup, while Zee TV plans to offer high points in its shows.

"We will schedule high points and recaps of shows in such a manner that audiences don't miss out on their favourite shows. We believe fiction rules among television households in India. During weekends, good movie titles and events will be placed to counter it (the World Cup)," said a Zee TV spokesperson.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bangladesh catch World Cup ticket cheats

Bangladesh's elite security force has jailed four people for two years each for printing fake tickets for the cricket World Cup, an official said on Tuesday.

The Rapid Action Battalion raided a printing press in Dhaka late Monday and caught the four printing fake tickets for Thursday's opening ceremony, RAB spokesman Commander Mohammad Sohail told AFP.

"All four were handed out two-year jail terms by a magistrate who accompanied us in the raid," he said. "The printing press and computers attached to it have been sealed and will be auctioned."

Sohail said the culprits had mastered the art of printing fake tickets for special events like concerts and football and cricket matches.

"They have a sophisticated machine and software," he said. "We have also seized a genuine ticket for the opening ceremony from which they copied the fakes."

The fake tickets were priced at 1,000 taka (14 dollars) each, according to Sohail.

Bangladesh has been gripped by cricket fever in the run-up to the World Cup which it co-hosts for the first time with India and Sri Lanka.

After Thursday's opening ceremony, Bangladesh will host eight matches including two quarter-finals.

Bangladesh is due to meet India in the tournament's opening match in Dhaka on Saturday.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Warm Up Match : India Vs Australia – The Spin Win

Team India won their first warm-up match against Australia by 38 runs. It was very tough situation for Indians when their on paper strong batting line-up was struggling in front of strong fast bowling attack by Australians.

India lost their first wicket when the score was 12 runs and everybody who was expecting Gautam Gambhir to perform well in WC disappoint due his early departure.

After winning the toss captain cool Dhoni choose to bat first which once again showed the much more reliance and faith on batting side which proved wrong atleast in the warm up game.

It was a bad condition when India scored 138 runs and lost their 8 wickets. Except from Sehwag and Pathan other batsman failed to play their natural game.

Pathan who played his game with patience and combination of techniques took India towards the total of 214 runs. But still it was low scoring match despite of favorable conditions.

But thanks to our bowlers who put their efforts and played the major role in the 38 runs victory over the Australians.

Initially pacers were struggling and opening pair from Australia took the advantage of the situation and capitalized on it. Due to this scenario Dhoni introduced spin bowling in the 9th over itself to reduce the damage. This decision turns the situation. Australians who were playing good cricket against fast bowlers failed to do same against spinners.

Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh played the crucial role. Chawla took 4 wickets and Harbhajan took 3 wickets. Other bowlers played good supportive role which gave chance to India to win the match.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cricket's wicked turn

'For once it has shown b**ls,' a former player I met at a promotional event last week in Mumbai said of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) decision to ban Pakistan's tainted trio of Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Aamer. Allowing for the mild profanity, the statement expresses the anguish over the malaise of match-fixing.

Whether the ICC's current tough stance is a deterrent to cheats, however, is open to question. Its Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) has been largely perfunctory, if not ceremonial. Moreover, as a loose federal structure, the ICC is often at odds with some of the more powerful cricket boards, and fails to be truly effective in its governance, especially in matters of corruption.

Indeed, major detection of match-fixing in cricket has come either fortuitously — Hansie Cronje was trapped in 2000 when the Delhi police were tapping the phone of a bookie — or through media vigilantism, as in the sting operation carried out by News of The World in the case of Butt, Asif and Aamer last year.

Incidentally, the aforementioned promotional event was a corporate initiative, deploying six former World Cup winning captains — Clive Lloyd, Allan Border, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Arjuna Ranatunga and Steve Waugh — with 'Keep Cricket Clean' as its charter. This was laudable, but Imran Khan was candid enough to confess that spot-fixing is almost impossible to control, if not self-willed.

"Even I cannot say whether a player is up to any hanky-panky," said Khan. If those who have played the game at the highest level are so befuddled, if the ACU, usually headed by a former top sleuth from Scotland Yard remains clueless, what is the scope for anybody else?

The need for an integrated approach in which detection is facilitated and punishment swiftly delivered is becoming cricket's biggest challenge, more so in these vexing times of spot-fixing. The best way would seem that the systems of detection are efficiently structured and operational at the glocal — global and local — rather than just global level.

Local and junior levels become crucial in this endeavour. It is now evident that the malaise of fixing and spot-betting in Pakistan cricket is perhaps institutionalised, even at the domestic level. The namby-pamby governance of the Pakistan board for several years has only aggravated matters.

However, it is also well-known that this problem is not peculiar to any one team or country. It is also true that corruption at the highest level is helped by bad practices that go unchecked at the formative stages. It could be as harmless as fudging age, which is commonplace in the subcontinent.

Cheating in sport is hardly new and can find various expressions, but always with greed — for fame, glory or money — at its core. It is an extravagant rationalisation to believe that only those from underprivileged backgrounds are susceptible to corruption, as has been said in the (weak) defence of Mohammed Aamer.

Last year, John Higgins, the world's top snooker player and a multi-millionaire, was alleged to have agreed to fix a game in a World Series event in Ukraine for a relatively paltry sum of £261,000. Cronje, who became the face of match-fixing in cricket, belonged to the upper-middle class and from a strong religious background.

Sport today is big business and integrates the good and evil of other businesses. The corporate world is replete with stories of millionaire promoters and executives who will risk everything for a few dollars more for themselves or their corporations by breaking laws. So sport must be treated similarly where checks, balances, detection and punishment of mala fide action is concerned. It might seem alarmist but robust vigilantism from federations, coaches, the media, watchdog bodies — indeed all quarters — are needed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

India must ignore Sachin and coach speculation

Speculation over the future of master batsman Sachin Tendulkar and coach Gary Kirsten are more distractions India will have to ignore if they are to lift the World Cup on home soil, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Thursday.

The Feb. 19-April 2 showpiece event represents, in all probability, Indian batting maestro Tendulkar's last World Cup, and it has hogged a major share of the limelight in the build-up to the event.

Local media reports have also claimed that India's highly successful South African coach Kirsten will not renew his contract at the end of the tournament for personal reasons.

"The feeling is the same (in the team). What is important for the team is to concentrate more on the process and the preparation rather than think about all the other things," Dhoni told reporters.

"There are plenty of issues that always surround the Indian cricket team. We are quite good at distracting ourselves from all the issues.

"But the fact remains that it will be the last World Cup for Sachin and most likely it will be the last tournament for Gary Kirsten as India's coach."

The wicket-keeper batsman rued the absence of paceman Praveen Kumar due to injury and said India will miss the "street-smart" cricketer.

"It is unfortunate that Praveen had to miss the World Cup. He has featured consistently in the ODI format for us," Dhoni said.

"He has done very well for us in all formats. We will miss him. He has been a street-smart cricketer for us.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Praveen’s injury won’t hurt India’s chances: Bedi

India’s pace attack might have weakened a bit after losing seamer Praveen Kumar due to injury, but former spinner Bishen Singh Bedi feels it would not have any negative impact on India’s campaign at the soon—to—start cricket World Cup.

Praveen failed to recover from an elbow injury and was replaced by S Sreesanth in the 15—man Indian squad.

“One person cannot affect a team’s chances. In fact, it is good that Praveen has been replaced before the start of the World Cup because rather than having played in just a couple of games and then spending rest of the tournament on bench, it is always better to have a fit player becoming a part of the team from the very first match,” Bedi said.

The former India cricketer was speaking at the launch of book - Women’s Cricket World, co-authored by former India captain Anjum Chopra along with cricket writer Sunil Kalra.

When the 64-year-old was asked what was the weakest point of the Indian team going into the World Cup, starting from February 19, Bedi replied ‘the huge burden of expectations’.

“Don’t make the expectations too high. It seems the expectations could prove the only hindrance in India’s path to lifting the Cup,” warned the former bowler.

He also emphasised that Sachin Tendulkar will have to play a crucial role if India wish to win its second trophy.

“Everybody wants India to win the World Cup and so do I.

I want it more so because this would be Sachin’s last World Cup and I hope India win it. And I am sure Sachin will lead the team to that final victory,” Bedi said.

The former cricketer added that all these talks may put extra pressure on Tendulkar but expressed confidence that the Mumbaikar would handle it with ease.

“All these might mean a lot of pressure on Sachin but it is nothing new for him. He has been handling pressure for the last 21 years so I don’t think it would affect him at all. In fact, his game is beyond such trivialities.”

Comparing the 1983 World Cup winning side with that of the 2011 World Cup squad, he said the Kapil Dev—led team had nothing to lose, but the current unit has.

“In 1975 and 1979 editions of the World Cups, India were just participating in the mega-event with no hopes attached to it. But after the 1983 triumph, we actually started to compete at the international arena. And since then the expectations only mounted,” said Bedi.

He further explained that when 1987 World Cup was co-hosted by India and Pakistan, people had great hopes that India, being the defending champions, would bag the Cup again.

“Ever since, the expectations have been only growing and now it has almost reached its peak. I feel we have a peculiar tendency of either putting the team on a pedestal or throw it to ground, which is not good,” said Bedi.

Besides the weight of expectations, the former spinner also raised concerns about the bowling department of the Indian team, saying that it was not up to the mark.

“India’s bowling is not as penetrating as it is required to win the matches on its own. The bowling would require a brilliant fielding effort. Moreover, even batsmen will have to score at least 50 more runs than an expected good total to give some margin to the bowlers,” said Bedi.

He also criticised the inclusion of three spinners in the 15-member squad, saying, “We have an extra spinner in our side. I feel two would have been enough on these sub-continent pitches. Instead, I think Rohit Sharma should have been included in the team.”

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Bryan Adams to open ICC Cricket World Cup

The biggest event of the year, the ICC Cricket World Cup, is bound to get bigger, this time around. Pop icon Bryan Adams who is scheduled to tour India around the same time will perform at the opening ceremony on February 17, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Says Sunil D’Sa, vice president marketing, Universal Music India, “Bryan Adams was always going to be part of the opening ceremony of the Cricket World Cup. The decision hadn’t been confirmed because of his dates and busy schedule. Since he had other commitments, his performance hadn’t fallen in place all this while. But it’s finally confirmed that the Canadian singer will perform at the opening ceremony.”

Though Adams is likely to perform three songs along with his band, D’Sa wasn’t forthcoming on the setlist. “We would like to keep the three songs he will play as a surprise. I don’t want to ruin the surprise. He knows how popular Summer of ’69… is in India and the rest of the subcontinent. He and his management have been very clear about not disclosing any names, but he will surely play his three most popular songs. So you know what to expect,” he hints.

His first time It’s also been revealed that on the following day, February 18, Adams will host his first-ever concert in the Bangladeshi capital. “Adams has also lined up an hour-long acoustic concert where he will promote his Bare Bones album,” says D’Sa.

This year, Adams’s home country Canada is also part of the World Cup. “Adams is aware that his country is part of the tournament. I am assuming he will cheer for Canada, but since he’s on the road so much, I don’t know how much time he will get to watch the World Cup,” he adds.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Afridi retained as Pakistan captain for World Cup

Ending weeks of speculations, Pakistan on Friday named experienced all-rounder, Shahid Afridi as the captain of the national team for the ICC cricket World Cup to begin in Dhaka on February 19.

The Pakistan Cricket Board said that Afridi would lead the team while Test captain and another front-runner for the job, Misbah-ul-Haq would be his deputy in the mega-event to be jointly co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"The board has retained Afridi as captain for the World Cup. Waqar Younis and Aaqib Javed will also continue as head coach and bowling consultant in the competition," PCB media manager Nadeem Sarwar said.

The PCB also appointed a security advisor, Wasim Ahmed to accompany the team in the World Cup after the post was lying vacant following the resignation of Khawaja Naeem.

The PCB also announced that vice-captain Misbah would be part of the tour selection committee for the World Cup, which also includes manager (Intikhan Alam), coach and the captain.

Interestingly, the board has named Alam as the chairman of the tour selection committee.

Afridi's appointment as World Cup captain was a formality after he led Pakistan to its first ODI series win since 2008, when it defeated New Zealand in the fifth one-day international in Hamilton yesterday.

Former captain Moin Khan hailed Afridi's reinstatement as Pakistan skipper but said PCB created an "unnecessary controversy" by delaying the captaincy announcement.

"It was logical to retain Afridi as captain for this big event after the way he inspired the team to its first ODI series win in New Zealand in 17 years," Moin said.

"I think the board only created unnecessary controversy and speculations by delaying the decision. The World Cup team was already announced last month and it was high time, the board announced the captain. Afridi is a good choice," he added.

He pointed out that Afridi had been leading Pakistan in ODIs and Twenty20 matches since last year and so far did a good job.

"This talk about Misbah being considered as a captaincy candidate for the World Cup started because of the board's indecision," Moin noted.

Former captain and wicket-keeper Rashid Latif, who is in Dubai these days with the Afghanistan team, also agreed with Moin.

"Afridi was always the logical choice because he has been leading the team since last year and now the players are also responding to him. He also understand his captaincy style well now. The biggest thing is that Afridi has shown lot of commitment for his job," Latif said.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Cricket World Cup organisers ask government to reduce security fees

The home department is considering International Cricket Council’s (ICC) demand for concession in charges levied for security provided by the state police for the upcoming World Cup cricket matches. The government has assured the organisers that it will not treat these matches on a par with IPL games.

In a meeting held at Mantralaya on Wednesday to discuss security measures during the World Cup matches scheduled to be played in Mumbai and Nagpur, ICC officials requested home minister RR Patil to reduce the fees for security provided inside the stadium. They requested the department to not charge for bandobast along the approach roads.

Mumbai Police had billed Rs11 lakh to Mumbai Cricket Association for a one-day match held at Wankhede stadium two years ago, before it was closed for a makeover. With revised rates, the charges are expected to go up for security provided within the stadium, prompting ICC to make the request. “World Cup matches cannot be treated on a par with the other one-day matches played with commercial interests in mind. We have requested the government for concessions,” said Ratnakar Shetty, tournament director, ICC.

The other major issue discussed at the meeting was the shortage of parking space near Wankhede.

The home department has suggested making an alternative arrangement at Azad Maidan or of using the parking lots at Inox theatre and other places in Nariman Point. Since parking is banned on the main road parallel to Queen’s Necklace after beautification of the coastal promenade, the other option being thought of is parking on the service roads attached to the gymkhanas on Marine Drive. More than 5,000 vehicles are expected to be driven to the stadium by spectators.

Three matches are scheduled to be played at Wankhede, including the final match on April 2, while Vidarbha Cricket Association is hosting four matches at its stadium in Nagpur.

Minister of state for home Satej Patil said, “International matches are a matter of pride for the state. We can provide adequate security, and there will be no need of deputing central forces.”

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Cricket lovers support Afridi as captain for the WC

The die-heart cricket lovers of Rawalpindi, Islamabad have also joined the debate of who will be Pakistan cricket team captain for the World Cup supporting Shahid Afridi as there all time favourite as the best contender for the mega event.

Pakistan squad for the mega event includes Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Muhammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Umer Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Abdul Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Umer Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir and Ahmad Shehzad.

In a causal talk with APP, a local taxi driver, Jahan Sher said, “I just cannot understand why the Pakistan Cricket Board has delayed to announce the captain on February 4. By not announcing the captain, the board has split the players into Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul Haq groups. In such circumstances I believe Afridi is the best possible choice to lead the team for the world cup.”

A local traveler at the bus stop, Rahim Khan said that “If PCB chairman Ijaz Butt is waiting till February 4 to see how Afridi performs as captain in the one-day series in New Zealand then I don’t think that it is a wise move because this is not the time to change the captain. For the World Cup they should continue with Afridi.
A government employee, Mir Shah said, “The team selected is good but I am stunned to understand the reason naming a captain has been delayed so much. No team in the world of cricket is named without a captain.”

A private telecom company employee, Yasir Ali Khan said that I don’t know about who will be the captain but Pakistan will surely miss Muhammad Yousuf. He said that our team’s chances of reaching even the quarter-finals are dull.

A government employee, Faisal Shah said, “I am happy they did not include Muhammad Yousuf this time. We need young blood. You can’t bet on the same horse to win your races for 20 years.” “Wishing good luck to Pakistani team, he said, “even if they lose, I hope they will put a fight till the end because you cannot win every match but you can put up a fight and at least try to win. I think the team is quite capable to give a tough time to any opponent.”

An optics shopkeeper at Aabpara, Salman Hadyat, said Pakistan cricket’s team is over confident and they lack respect towards the opponents’ abilities. I just wish that a miracle happens and Muhammed Aamir get clears on February 5 from the International Cricket Council and gets included in the squad.

An employee in a marketing company, Khurram Qasim told APP, “I think Afridi should be kept as team captain for this event. This is a mega event and we all know that he the best possible choice for the event.”

A commuter at the zero point bus stop, Ali Zahid said, “I support the squad, as it is the best possible we can have in the given circumstances. No doubt Misbah’s recent form makes him contender for the captainship.”