Monday, March 28, 2011

More than a game as India, Pakistan clash

Anyone who believes cricket is just a game is likely to have their opinion altered when India and Pakistan meet for a World Cup semifinal in the border state of Punjab on Wednesday.

Fixtures between the two nations always engender huge passion amongst both sets of supporters.

With the prize of a place in the World Cup final at stake, a fever-pitch mood is expected with the 30,000 capacity Punjab Cricket Assoiation (PCA) Stadium sold out days ago for the crunch clash.

The match will be a clash between Pakistan's well-balanced bowling attack and India's star-studded top order, including opener Sachin Tendulkar who needs just one more century for a hundred international hundreds.

"We believe we have the strongest bowling attack in the world," said Pakistan opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez, who took the new ball with his off-spin in the quarterfinal win over the West Indies. "That's the key."

Pakistan's Umar Gul is arguably the best reverse-swing bowler at this tournament while Saaed Ajmal's off-spin a potent weapon.

And then there is the leg-spin of Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi who is the tournament's top bowler with 21 wickets at an average of just 10.71 apiece.

Meanwhile fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who will retire after the World Cup, waits in the wings.

Akhtar has played just three games at this tournament but the suspicion remains that India's batsmen can be troubled by high-class fast bowling.

India did manage to overcome champions Australia's three-pronged pace attack in a five-wicket quarterfinal win in Ahmedabad but that was on a pitch favouring spin.

Even then, India collapsed to 187 for five chasing 261 for victory, and it needed a composed 57 not out from the in-form Yuvraj Singh, now back on his home ground, to see the co-hosts to victory.

Traditionally, the Mohali pitch has always offered plenty of pace and bounce and that could yet see Pakistan give Akhtar one last shot at India.

"I always enjoy my bowling especially against India. I'm in my peak form. I hope that when Shoaib plays it will be very good for me," said Gul.

Pakistan's ability to make early inroads into a top order featuring Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir could be decisive.

"I think definitely the first three wickets are crucial, the top order. I'm looking for these three batsmen," added Gul.

India's bowlers, notably left-arm quick Zaheer Khan and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, did a good containing job against Australia.

India will look for similar results in a bid to book a place in the April 2 Mumbai final against either Sri Lanka or New Zealand.

The hosts were giving little away ahead of a match that has witnessed "cricket diplomacy" with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani accepting an invitation from India counterpart Manmohan Singh to attend the game.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is set to be the lone home player to address the media on Tuesday.

A jovial Yuvraj, speaking after his Man-of-the-Match effort against Australia, said: "I'm sure whatever plans we have for Pakistan, MS will tell you at the next press conference."

Pakistan, who've yet to register an individual hundred at this event, have lost all four of their World Cup matches against India but go into the semifinal buoyed by a 10-wicket mauling of West Indies in the quarterfinal.

But Hafeez countered: "Pakistan has not defeated India in the World Cup but in the last 12 years, Australia also had not lost a single World Cup game. But then they lost to us (by four wickets) and to India.

"There is no point thinking about the past. We think about the day; whoever the opponent is, we try to win the day."

Friday, March 25, 2011

India knocks Aussies out of WC

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting said he is devastated as India ended Australia's remarkable 12-year reign as World Cup champions with a five-wicket win in the quarterfinals in Gujarat on Thursday.

Addressing a post-match news conference in Ahmedabad, Ponting said that he had great expectations from his side. Chasing 261 for victory, India fumbled and faltered but half-centuries from Sachin Tendulkar (53), Gautam Gambhir (50) and Yuvraj Singh (57 not out) eventually helped them to overwhelm the target with 14 balls to spare and set up a much-awaited semi-final with Pakistan.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ind vs Aus: Australia elect to bat against India

Australian captain Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat first against India in their World Cup quarterfinal match at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera.

India will have to tighten their game, and the batting in particular, if they harbour any hopes of avenging their 2003 final loss to the defending champions.

The one area the four-time champions score over the 1983 champions is in the fielding - the Aussies can convert ones into twos and cutoff the possibilities of the Indians taking a second run. It is one for the throw when Australia are batting and none when they are fielding.

The one big psychological factor in India's favour is that they had beaten Australia in the only game played in last year's three-match series, the other two being rained off.

Australia's 34-match unbeaten run in the World Cup ended last week when Pakistan beat them and the news that the Australian cricket establishment is divided over Ricky Ponting's continuance as skipper after the World Cup has not helped matters. Ponting, however, cleared the air saying he is not retiring and is looking forward to the "toughest challenge of his career as an Australian captain".

For India, too, it doesn't look all hunky dory. Their bowling has not been able to bowl top sides out and the middle and lower-order batsmen have failed to cash in on the good starts.

The availability of Virender Sehwag, who sat out the last match with a troublesome knee, is still unsure.

Overall, Australia have an impressive record against India in the World Cup. They have won their last five games against India - one each in 1992, 1996, 1999 and twice in 2003, including the battering they gave the Indians in the final.

Ponting knows India will be tough to beat at home and said his boys will be treating the tie as a "mini grand final". He believes his pace battery led by Brett Lee has the ability to stop the Indian top-order.

Tendulkar, Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh have set the platform for the middle-order to dominate. Powerplay has been India's major problem. Yuvraj, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli have shown their individual brilliance, but it is time the Indians put up a collective performance with the bat.

All eyes will be on Tendulkar as fans are eagerly waiting for him to get his 100th international century.

Teams (from): India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wicket-keeper), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, S Sreesanth, Piyush Chawla, R Ashwin, Ashish Nehra.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Cameron White, Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Jason Krejza, Shaun Tait, Callum Ferguson, Tim Paine, David Hussey, John Hastings

Umpires: Marais Erasmus (South Africa) and Ian Gould (England)

Third umpire: Richard Kettleborough (England)

Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle ( Sri Lanka)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

West Indies win toss, elect to bat vs Pakistan

West Indies captain Darren Sammy won the toss and elected to bat against Pakistan in their World Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.

Pakistan made one change to the team who beat Australia last weekend, bringing in off-spinner Saeed Ajmal for left-armer Abdur Rehman. Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who will be retiring after the World Cup, was again left out.

West Indies made three changes to the side who were beaten by India on Sunday. Opener Chris Gayle, fast bowler Kemar Roach and batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul were recalled. Kirk Edwards, Sulieman Benn and Andre Russell were left out.

The winners will face either India or Australia in the semi-finals.


Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Younus Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi (captain), Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Saeed Ajmal

Monday, March 21, 2011

India should play three spinners against Australia, feels Akram

Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram feels that India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni should use three specialist spinners in the quarterfinal against Australia in order to exploit the weakness of Ricky Ponting's men against slow bowlers.

"If the wicket in Ahmedabad offers turn, then MS Dhoni should definitely opt for three spinners since the Aussies don't play spin that well," Akram told said in an interview.

Sri Lanka had adopted a similar strategy during their clash against the Aussies on a turning track at the Premadasa stadium in Colombo on March 5. However the Lankan spin-trio of Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath did not get a chance to showcase their skills as the match got washed out.

However, Akram added that in case the pitch at Ahmedabad is a flat one, then the ploy to stack the side with spinners may backfire on India.

"Playing so many spinners on a batting track may spell doom for India since the slower bowlers will not get much assistance from the surface," Akram said.

India have played with two specialist spinners in four out of the six league games in this tournament. However they haven't played a single match yet with all three spinners ( Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin and Piyush Chawla) in the eleven.

One major worry for Team India, going ahead into the knockout stages, will be the back-to-back batting collapses against South Africa and the West Indies. While they lost nine wickets for only 29 runs against the Proteas in Nagpur, Dhoni and company performed marginally better on Sunday losing their last seven wickets for the addition of only 51 runs.

Akram mentioned that despite this recklessness by the most-famed batting line-up in the world, there is not much reason to worry for the fans.

"Yes, the India batting has collapsed badly twice. But I don't think there is any major reason to worry as these things happen by chance. At the same time, you have to plan your innings and cannot afford to slog every delivery. I am quite sure the experienced Indian middle-order will learn a lot out of their mistakes," concluded Akram.

Friday, March 18, 2011

England wait to learn World Cup fate

England face a nervous weekend sweating on their World Cup fate after dramatically keeping their hopes alive as Sri Lanka and New Zealand, already qualified, jostle Friday for Group A finishing spots.

The Ashes victors, facing a must-win match against the West Indies in Chennai on Thursday, looked to be heading home when the Caribbean side were 222 for six chasing 244 for victory.

But off-spinner James Tredwell, man-of-the-match with 4-48, had all-rounder Andre Russell lbw for 49 to spark a collapse that saw the West Indies lose their last four wickets for three runs as they were bowled out for 225.

It was yet another nail-biting finish in England's rollercoaster campaign, which has seen them tie with India, lose to both Ireland and Bangladesh but beat the Netherlands and powerful South Africa.

However, England still have to rely on other results going their way in Group B to seal their place in the last eight.

"I was buoyed by the thought we had one more opportunity to show what we could actually do in this World Cup," Strauss said.

"None of us wanted to go home tomorrow morning, and we were very motivated to not let that happen."

"We've been through some pretty tough times together this winter as a group - and we didn't want to be leaving the World Cup at this stage," Strauss added, saying the team needed to improve.

West Indies coach Ottis Gibson was upbeat despite the shattering defeat.

"We are starting to show the resilience we are going to need to beat teams like England and India on Sunday and the big boys."

West Indies will be into the last eight if South Africa beat Bangladesh on Saturday, even if they lose their final Group B match against co-hosts India on Sunday.

Should the Tigers pull off an upset win, West Indies would still go through to the knockout stages if they beat India.

All four teams in Group A - Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Pakistan - are already assured of quarter-final berths but the battle is on for positions which could be crucial as it determines opponents in the knockout round.

New Zealand were without captain Daniel Vettori and key fast bowler Kyle Mills, both ruled out through injury.

The Black Caps have emerged as the tournament's dark horses, winning their past three matches, including an emphatic 110-run victory against the talent-packed but unpredictable Pakistan.

Sri Lanka vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene said his team could not take the Kiwis lightly despite the loss of two key players for the day-night clash at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

"Those two guys (Vettori and Kyle) probably are the senior-most bowlers in their line-up," said Jayawardene. "But we can't take things lightly. What I have seen of New Zealand is that they always play as a unit."

New Zealand stand-in captain Ross Taylor tried to play down the absences.

"It's disappointing not to have them for the match but their absence gives an opportunity for someone else to step up and perform their role," said Taylor.

In the early match on Friday, Ryan ten Doeschate cracked a second World Cup century as the Netherlands recovered from early setbacks to post a challenging 306 against Ireland in Kolkata.

The Dutch were struggling at 53-3 after being put in to bat, but the South Africa-born ten Doeschate helped his side record their highest total of the tournament with 106 in 108 balls, with one six and 13 fours.

Ireland's left-arm spinner George Dockrell dislocated his shoulder while fielding off his own bowling and went to hospital for a check-up.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shoaib Akhtar career timeline

Shoaib Akhtar's career timeline after the Pakistan pace bowler on Thursday announced his retirement from international cricket after the World Cup.

1996: Removed from the team for the Sahara Cup against India in Canada on grounds of indiscipline.

1997: Akhtar makes his Test debut against the West Indies in November at his home ground in Rawalpindi, taking two wickets.

February 1999: Akhtar dismisses Indian greats Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid off successive deliveries in the Calcutta Test, which Pakistan win to lift the Asian Test championship. Earns nickname of " Rawalpindi Express"

December 1999: Akhtar's action called for the first time, but the International Cricket Council (ICC) allows him to carry as only his bouncer causes concerns.

March 2000: Banned for one ODI and fined for reaching team hotel late in Pakistan

2001: Akhtar's action called for second time after taking five wickets in New Zealand.

November 2001: Action called for third time in Sharjah, after which Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) carries out examination at University of Western Australia which concludes his action is result of "unique physical characteristics" which form basis of him being cleared to continue.

November 2002: Reprimanded for ball-tampering and banned for one ODI after throwing water bottle at a spectator in Zimbabwe.

May 2003: Banned for two ODIs and fined 75 percent of match fee for ball-tampering during a tri-series in Sri Lanka

March 2003: Akhtar bowled at 100mph in Pakistan's match against England at Cape Town, becoming the first bowler in the history of the game to break the 100mph barrier.

October 2003: Banned for one Test and two ODIs for abusing Paul Adams in the first Test against South Africa, after taking eight wickets in the match to help Pakistan win. In second Test against New Zealand, helps Pakistan win with seven-wicket burst (11 in the match).

March 2004: Akhtar accused of feigning injury after Pakistan lost Test series to archrivals India 2-1.

October 2006: Akhtar and Mohammad Asif test positive for banned steroid nandrolone. Akhtar banned for two years and Asif for one year, bans which were lifted on appeal.

September 2007: Akhtar hits Asif with a bat, two days before the World Twenty20 in South Africa. A month later the PCB fine and ban him for 13 one-day matches

January 2008: Excluded from list of central contracts. A fuming Akhtar criticises the PCB. A disciplinary committee bans him for five years. Punishment reduced to 18 months on appeal, but fine imposed

May 2009: PCB drop him from World Twenty20 squad.

January 2011: Selected in Pakistan's World Cup squad, despite coach Waqar Younis saying he is not 100 percent fit.

March 2011: Akhtar announces he will retire after the World Cup

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

England in must-win match to avert early World Cup exit

Their morale low after a shock loss to Bangladesh, an injury-hit England take on the West Indies in a crucial Group B match on Thursday requiring an outright win to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

England have endured a roller-coaster World Cup so far having won two games, including the humdinger against South Africa, holding India to a tie but their loss to minnows Ireland and Bangladesh have made this one a must-win bout even to be able to think of quarterfinal qualification.

Presently they are in the fifth position with just five points.

With four teams competing for the three quarterfinal places from the group after South Africa booked their berth with a clinical win over the Ireland on Tuesday, even a win will not suffice for England and they have to await the results of the match between India and West Indies and then pray South Africa defeat Bangladesh.

India, with seven points, are in the second place while the West Indies and Bangladesh have six points apiece.

But English cricketers are insisting that the team always brings out the best in crunch games and can still win the World Cup.

Coming into the tournament as underdogs, the West Indies, led by Darren Sammy, have a slight edge having won all their last three games after the loss to South Africa, but they have not yet been fully tested in the ties having played against lowly-ranked opponents.

They have their last big match against India here on Sunday.

Inconsistency has been the hallmark of England's campaign so far as is evident from their bouncy journey and their woes have only compounded with doubts over the fitness of Strauss and key strike bowler Graeme Swann, who kept away from practice yesterday after recovering from a stomach bug.

Batsman Jonathan Trott, however, has expressed hope that they will be fit for the vital match tomorrow. Any setback on that front will badly hit the English as the side has already suffered two pull outs (hernia-hit Kevin Pieterson and Stuart Broad) midway.

Though the English players, including Strauss, have been discounting fatigue of a long season as a reason for their inconsistency so far, but it does seem to have impacted them.

The current World Twenty20 champions' hopes to lift the elusive ODI World Cup suffered a severe a jolt when they lost to Bangladesh in a closely-fought encounter in Chittagong.

The humiliating defeat came after England showed remarkable resilience to bounce back from the jaws of defeat against South Africa in a thrilling match here, which also raised questions about the team's ability to tackle slow tracks where the ball does not come on to the bat.

This was clearly evident in their last match against South Africa here when Robin Peterson opened the attack for the Proteas and England were reduced to 3 for 15.

But, Broad and Anderson, who have otherwise had a horrendous outing in the tournament, came to the rescue to bowl out South Africa in the low-scoring tie.

The West Indies have in their ranks three spinners including Sulieman Benn, who shares the second spot in the highest wicket-takers list with 12 scalps, and he could torment the English batsmen on the Chepauk wicket.

Their second left-arm spinner Nikita Miller and all-rounder Chris Gayle, who bowls off-breaks and is said to be fit for tomorrow's tie, add more zing to their spin attack.

However, the England batsmen have done well in other matches with Strauss and Trott, who has four half centuries in five games, leading from the front.

Eoin Morgan, who replaced Pieterson, has straightaway found his form hitting a fluent 63 against Bangladesh bringing intensity in the middle order.

Bowling has been a major worry for Strauss as the team has conceded 1,351 runs, second-highest after Canada's 1,370 in its five matches, with James Anderson bearing the brunt.

Tim Bresnan shone against India, but the English have to be more accurate to stop the likes of big-hitting Kieron Pollard and Gayle.

England might be tempted to go with two spinners and drop Anderson, who has given away 282 runs in 43 overs for an uneconomical 6.55, taking just four wickets at an average of 70.50 in the five games.

However, the composition of the playing eleven on the morrow would depend on fitness of Strauss and Swann.

The West Indies also have an advantage with Ottis Gibson, a former bowling coach for England, joining their side as the head coach and Pollard has said it was for the players to expose the weaknesses of Englishmen.

But England can take some heart from their head-to-head record against West Indies with the Caribbeans just managing to win once in their five World Cup encounters so far.

The solitary success came way back in 1979 at Lords when the Clive Loyd men scored a 92-run win. With the pitch is said to be assisting spin as the match progresses, it would be a daunting task for the team that bats second.

Teams (from):

England: Andrew Strauss (capt), Eoin Morgan, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Matt Prior, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Michael Yardy, Ajmal Shahzad, James Tredwell, Luke Wright, Chris Tremlett.

West Indies: Darren Sammy (capt), Chris Gayle, Devon Smith, Darren Bravo, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kieron Pollard, Devon Thomas, Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller, Kemar Roach, Kirk Edwards, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Devendra Bishoo.

Umpires: Asoka de Silva (SRI) and Steve Davis (AUS)
TV umpire: Shavir Tarapore (IND)
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (SRI)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

South Africa snatches victory from India

South Africa stunned India to win a thrilling World Cup match played at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Jamtha, Nagpur, (VCA) on March 12. VCA was transformed into a virtual coliseum as thousands of home fans and a host of celebrities urged their men on to pluck their archrivals, the Proteas, off their guts.

The crowd got their money worth, or so they thought, until the last over of match when Robin Peterson punished Ashish Nehra to guide the South Africans home, after surpassing the required 13 runs off the last over by three runs with two balls remaining. The crowd was heartbroken but the two South African men at the crease were ecstatic. They had every reason to rejoice after pulling off a dramatic win, a win that started taking shape when India moved from 267-1 in 39.3 overs to 296 all out in 48.4 overs.

India had a great start. After winning the toss and opting to bat first, the openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar treated the crowd to a runs carnivore. The two raced to 87 runs in the mandatory powerplays of the first 10 overs. South Africa was desperate for a wicket after trying all tricks but having to watch the ball run past the covers now and then. They were relieved in the eighteenth over when Faf du Plesis castled the dangerous Sehwag (73).

The Proteas thought the situation could change with the coming of the new man Gautam Gambhir but runs frenzy continued. And Indians couldn't have asked for more especially after reaching 267-1 with more than 10 overs to go. With their hitting squad still flexing their muscles in the dressing room, a score close to 400 was in cards. The situation just right, and India opted to go for batting powerplay. That's when hell broke loose.

The master blaster departed a few balls into the powerplay when he attempted to get a maximum from Morne Morkel's delivery but it ran out of power at point where J.P. Duminy accepted a precious catch. In the following over, Gambhir perished, caught by Jacques Kallis, bowled by Steyn. And that was the beginning of Indian collapse and Steyn's bonanza. Out of nowhere, Steyn went on to get a 5 wicket haul, his other victims being Yusuf Pathan (0), Harbhajan Singh (3), Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel, both who departed for ducks.

The crowd watched in disbelief as Indian inning folded in a heap with captain M. S. Dhoni holed up at non strikers end. But chasing 297 was still a massive challenge and it was up to South Africa to try and wrestle the initiative.

Their chase was rather shaky. Their run rate was on the slow side and suffered a blow when Smith (16) was dismissed in the ninth over. Hashim Amla and Kallis then embarked on pace setting, both adding 86 runs for the second wicket until Amla was caught behind by Dhoni off Harbhajan in the twenty-eight over. AB de Villiers then joined Kallis at the crease when the run rate was steadily climbing and India holding the key to the match. Kallis was run out in the thirty-sixth over thanks to a great piece of work from Dhoni.

De Villiers lasted only 39 balls but he made a valuable 52 before. His successors JP Duminy (23) and Morne van Wyk (5) didn't last as long as South Africa could have wished. Duminy had a tough time dealing with Harbhajan's spin, and he was Harbhajan's third wicket of the day.

India were still in command especially after Johan (25) perished in the forty-eighth over but it was Peterson who held his nerve to get two valuable boundaries off the last over and give his team a sensational victory.

Brief Scores: South Africa 300-8 (Kallis 69, Amla 61, De Villiers 52, Harbhajan 3-53) beat India 296 all-out in 48.4 overs (Tendulkar 111, Sehwag 73, Gambhir 69, Steyn 5-50) by three wickets with two balls remaining.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ban vs Eng: England three down, Bangladesh on top

Mohammad Mahmudullah gave Bangladesh their third breakthrough when he had Ian Bell caught by Naeem Islam at mid-wicket in their World Cup clash at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium in Chittagong on Friday.


England got off to a poor start as they lost Matt Prior and captain Andrew Strauss early.

England lost their makeshift opener Matt Prior in the eighth over as he was stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim off Abdur Razzak.

Naeem Islam then struck to have Strauss caught by Junaid Siddique in the slips to place England at 39/2 in 10.3 overs.

Earlier, Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan won the toss and chose to bowl.

For England, Paul Collingwood, Ajmal Shahzad and Eoin Morgan come in place of Michael Yardy, Stuart Broad and Kevin Pietersen.

For Bangladesh, Mohammad Mahmudullah replaces Mohammad Ashraful.

It is a typical sub-continent wicket, good for batting but will get slower as the game progresses. Dew might play a factor later on in the evening.

The sun is beating down at Chittagong with the temperature hovering around 30 degrees Celsius and humidity is in the mid-40s.

England were floored by the departure of star batsman Kevin Pietersen and fast bowler Stuart Broad on successive days due to injuries as they prepared for the Bangladesh game.

Pietersen flew home on Monday for hernia surgery, while Broad was ruled out for the rest of the tournament on Tuesday due to a side strain suffered during the six-run win over South Africa.

A win on Friday should be enough for England to advance to the knock-out rounds as they have five points from four Group B matches.

Bangladesh, facing an early exit from the tournament after just one win in three games, will look to resurrect their campaign.

Bangladesh must not only beat England, but also defeat the Netherlands and South Africa to cement a place in the quarterfinals.

Two more wins could also see them through, provided other results go in their favour.

Andrew Strauss' men will be buoyed by their impressive run against Bangladesh, having lost just one of their 14 one-day internationals so far.

Significantly, England have also won all their six contests on Bangladeshi soil, the last three in March, 2010.

Bangladesh have been let down by their inconsistent batsmen, who began the tournament well by making 283/9 while chasing India's mammoth 370/4.

The Tigers were shot out for 205 by Ireland, fought back to restrict the non-Test nation for 178, before hitting a new low against the West Indies.

Opener Tamim Iqbal and skipper Shakib Al Hasan are the only batsmen to score half-centuries in the tournament, both against India. The next best is Raqibul Hasan's 38 against Ireland.

Spin spearhead Abdur Razzak has managed just one wicket in three games at a cost of 112 runs. Shakib has three wickets with his left-arm spin and off-break bowler Naeem Islam two.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cricket's hands-on man

Never one to shy away when trouble looms, Srinath, a JP Nagar resident, faced the recent ticket controversy with panache

Javagal Srinath has always remained true to his inner self. He loved to bowl fast and did not hesitate to speak his mind. The former Indian spearhead, who adroitly led the Indian pace attack in the post-Kapil Dev phase and also proved to be an able mentor to Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra has now made a smooth transition to administration without any sweat.

Besides being on the International Cricket Council's panel of match referees, Srinath is also the secretary of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA), a post that virtually turned into a hot seat following the unruly scenes outside the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium ahead of the match between India and England on February 27.

Never the one to shy away when trouble looms, Srinath recently said: “As a youngster in 1987, I stood in queue outside the ticket counter for five hours, yet failed to get a ticket. The system has not changed. I apologise to the fans who were injured recently, but we tried our best to give as much as we could to the public.” Srinath, then, with all humility added: “If any of you have any suggestions on how to improve the ticketing system, please let me know. I want the common man to gain access, but the demand far outstrips supply.”

Though Srinath and KSCA president Anil Kumble have had to counter innumerable barbs in the past fortnight, it is a fact that the two former cricketers have been hands on at the KSCA. “There is no tokenism involved here and we are not merely lending our names,” Srinath had said prior to the KSCA elections, and in a sense he has lived up to his word. “Improving the cricketing structure in the State remains our primary goal.”

The flurry of World Cup matches and the resultant scrutiny may have extracted a toll on his time and energy, but Srinath is keen to help Karnataka grow as a cricketing power.

Sadly, the Indian World Cup team has no player from the State and he is aware of this. But right now, he has to satiate the appetite for match tickets, and as he said, “It is not easy to satisfy everyone.”

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ind vs Ned: Piyush Chawla gives India first breakthrough

Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla dismissed Eric Szwarczynski (28) to give India their first breakthrough against the Netherlands in their World Cup clash at the Ferozeshah Kotla in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Szwarczynski hit four boundaries in his patient 42 balls inning and put on 56-run opening stand with Wesley Barresi for the Netherlands. He was foxed by Chawla's wrong one and was clean bowled in the 16th over.

Even though the runs were hard to come by for the Dutch, both Szwarczynski and Barresi negotiated the hosts' bowlers well as the Indian captain MS Dhoni tried as many as four bowlers in the first ten overs without success.

Earlier, Netherlands captain Peter Borren won the toss and chose to bat.

India have rested Munaf Patel and brought in Ashish Nehra.

Indian captain MS Dhoni said they would have batted first as the track is expected to go slow. But quickly added it is nice to get exposure for chasing runs. Regarding team change, he informed Nehra is back in the side in place of Munaf. Further he said that they would look to improve on their fielding and also added that they have to bowl well initially and in the Powerplay overs.

Dutch skipper Borren said that chasing has not been good for them and they will try to do the same thing that they did against England. Added they need to be disciplined in their bowling against the powerful Indian batting.

This match affords India just about the last chance to hammer out strategies and gameplans before big battles become the order of the day. After this tie, India play South Africa and West Indies, two formidable opponents, in their final group matches before the knock-outs begin.

India, who have eyes firmly fixed on the quarterfinal spot, would like to finish on top of the group to facilitate an 'easy' outing in the last eight. A victory over the Dutch, the underdogs, will serve that purpose nicely.

India are the only team who have yet to taste defeat in their group and that record is unlikely to be broken against the under-performing Dutch who have still to register a win.

A strong performance against the Dutch will not only give India a strong net run rate but also pave their way to the knockout round.

The only weak link for the Indians has been their bowling which has been exposed time and again.

India's frontline bowlers failed to find much success against a spirited Ireland and had it not been for a five-wicket haul by part-time spinner Yuvraj Singh, they could have been in trouble.

The home side are unlikely to be tested against the Netherlands, who ran England close in their opener, thanks to a sparkling 119 from Ryan ten Doeschate, but have since struggled.

The Dutch scored an impressive 292 against England but slumped to a huge 215-run defeat to the West Indies and lost by 231 runs against South Africa.


India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt.), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra.

Netherlands: Peter Borren (Capt.), Eric Szwarczynski, Wesley Barresi, Tom Cooper, Ryan ten Doeschate, Alexei Kervezee, Bas Zuiderent, Tom de Grooth, Bradley Kruger, Mudassar Bukhari, Pieter Seelaar.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Cricket World Cup 2011: India v Ireland report

India v Ireland report
India (210-5 in 46 overs) beat Ireland (207 in 47.5 overs) by five wickets in World Cup Group B match in Bangalore.

The jolly green giant-killers of Ireland went searching for a second major scalp on Sunday at the Chinnaswamy Stadium – the venue of their astonishing three-wicket win over England last Wednesday.

Sadly for the romantics, India were ungenerous hosts. They wobbled a couple of times, but still turned in a far more professional performance than Andrew Strauss and company managed on this ground. Complacency, after what happened last week, was not an option.

Even so, Irish optimists will note that Sunday’s match was far from being a landslide, and that their team continues to resemble a full nation more than an associate one.

With the West Indies and Holland yet to come, Ireland still have it in them to snatch the two further wins they need to qualify for the quarter-finals.

In a reversal of the pattern against England, Ireland were well-placed at the halfway point of each innings, only to fade away in the later stages.

Their captain, William Porterfield, gave them a positive start with his punchy 75, scoring heavily from Yusuf Pathan’s part-time off spin. The six he swept off Piyush Chawla was the 100th of the tournament to date.

Porterfield’s partnership with Niall O’Brien carried the score 122 for three in the 27th over, before they were separated by a wasteful run out.

The erosion continued when Andrew White edged a catch behind, and then Kevin O’Brien, Wednesday’s hero, strode to the crease.

With India fielding only four specialist bowlers, the stage was set for another almighty assault. But after one lusty thump through the offside, O’Brien mistimed a drive at a ball from Yuvraj Singh, and offered an easy catch back to the bowler.

The cricket gods rarely allow one man to dominate two matches in succession.

Yuvraj turned out to be India’s matchwinner with both bat and ball. His innocuous-looking left-arm spinners found some turn in a dusty surface – enough turn, in fact, to bring him figures of five for 31, the best in any one-day international on this ground.

When India batted, Trent Johnston, the evergreen 36-year-old, kept things interesting by ripping out Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in the space of six overs.

The home side were then 24 for two and found it difficult to gain momentum under the close examination of Ireland’s spin attack.

Sachin Tendulkar soon found himself undone by 18-year-old slow left-armer George Dockrell, aiming a huge hoick across the line.

Even Dockrell, normally a model of restraint, couldn’t resist a fist pump as he claimed the most famous victim of what promises to be a stellar career.

Then Yuvraj committed his one howler of the match, selling Virat Kohli short on a possible single to third man. That made it 100 for four, and brought a touch of suspense to what had been a pretty straightforward equation.

Now Yuvraj needed to make his error good. He did so with an innings of total poise. Mahendra Singh Dhoni offered steady support as these two noted hitters tapped the singles and ran the twos.

If any further evidence were needed of Ireland’s resourcefulness and razor-sharp outcricket, it was written here, in the respectful manner of this partnership.

Dockrell did eventually snare Dhoni with another stone-dead lbw, leaving himself with a second celebrated name in his scrapbook.

But the new batsman, Pathan, had an entirely different approach to the run-chase, crashing 16 runs from the remainder of that same over.

By finishing on an unbeaten 50, Yuvraj became only the 13th man – and the first in a World Cup – to combine a half-century and a five-wicket haul in the same match.

He has the capacity to be a dangerous force in this tournament. But then so do Ireland, notwithstanding the disappointment of this result.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Cricket-Sri Lanka elect to bat v Australia

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and opted to bat first against Australia in their World Cup Group A match at on Saturday.

Holders Australia, who have not lost a World Cup match since 1999, are seeking their third straight win in the tournament but the co-hosts Sri Lanka are aiming for their third victory in four matches.

Sri Lanka opted to play all three front-line spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath. They made one change from the team that beat Kenya by nine wickets on Tuesday as Mendis replaced fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara.

Australia named an unchanged side from that which beat New Zealand by seven wickets in their last match played eight days ago.


Sri Lanka - Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath.

Australia - Ricky Ponting (captain), Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Michael Clarke, David Hussey, Cameron White, Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Shaun Tait, Jason Krejza.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Cricket World Cup: New Zealand thrash sorry Zimbabw

New Zealand recorded their second 10-wicket triumph of the World Cup with an emphatic victory over Zimbabwe.

Opener Brendan Taylor top-scored with 44 for Zimbabwe but when he was out, they were in trouble at 86-6.

Prosper Utseya (36) and Graeme Cremer (22) added useful runs but Tim Southee, who finished with 3-29, bowled Utseya to close the innings on 162.

Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum both hit half centuries as New Zealand cantered home with 99 balls to spare.

The Africans chose to bat first in the Group A match at the Sardar Patel Stadium and were quickly in trouble when Hamish Bennett ran out Charles Coventry for a duck with a direct hit in the second over.

Tatenda Taibu (eight) was dropped at cover by New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori but he fell next delivery, trapped leg before by Southee.

Vettori made amends by removing Elton Chigumbura (one) and Regis Chakabva (nought) in his first over as Zimbabwe slumped to 46-5.

Taylor added 40 for the sixth wicket with Greg Lamb before he was adjudged lbw to Scott Styris six short of his half century.

And Greg Lamb followed soon after, run out by Guptill for 18 to leave the score 89-7.

Utseya and Cremer's resistance took Zimbabwe past 100 but Kyle Mills ended their 33-run partnership with his second wicket of the match before Southee cleaned up Ray Price (11) and Utseya.

Guptill began New Zealand's reply in explosive fashion, hitting two boundaries and a six in the first over.

The duo's partnership was New Zealand's highest opening stand in World Cup matches and the highest of any team in this tournament, with Guptill contributing 86 runs and McCullum 76.

They shared four sixes and hit 13 boundaries between them as they swatted Zimbabwe's bowlers to all corners of the pitch.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

England elect to bat against Ireland in World Cup

England captain Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bat in their World Cup Group B match against Ireland at M Chinnaswamy stadium here today.

England have replaced Ajmal Shahzad with Stuart Broad, who had to sit out of the pulsating encounter against India due to an upset stomach.

Ireland made two changes in the team. Andre Botha, who bowled well against Bangladesh, was dropped at the last moment as he injured his groin during the pre-match practice. Gary Wilson has replaced him in the side, while Alex Cusack replaced Andrew White.


England: Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior, Michael Yardy, Tim Bresnan, Greame Swann, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.

Ireland: William Porterfield, Paul Stirling, Ed Joyce, Niall O'Brien, Alex Cusack, Kevin O'Brien, Gary Wilson, John Mooney, Trent Johnston, George Dockrell, Boyd Rankin.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Tuesday's Cricket World Cup gossip

England's Ian Bell has hailed the influence of batting coach Graham Gooch, saying he'd wished he'd worked with the former Test opener earlier in his career. "He is just an incredible guy who adds a lot of experience and knowledge into our group and the way he played in World Cups in the past in the sub-continent, the experience he passes on to us is really important," said Bell.

Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan - Test cricket's record wicket taker - has pulled out of plans to mentor young spin bowlers in Australia. The 38-year-old had been due to coach at the Brisbane-based Australia Centre of Excellence in June but has now decided to play Twenty20 cricket in India and England.

Ireland's World Cup cricketers have agreed to undergo a charity makeover ahead of tomorrow's group B match with England. Members of the Irish squad will take part in 'Shave or Dye 2011', a campaign in aid of Irish Cancer Society which is bidding to raise one million euros through a number of similar events in the coming weeks. Players can choose to either shave their head or dye their hair green.

The Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) may have its critics but Bangladesh players say it helps in winning mind games even if the appeal is rejected. "You can always make the batsman nervous," said seam bowler Shafiul Islam.

Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar says the "hurt" suffered by his side during the last year due to the spot-fixing controversy can spur them on in the World Cup. "We are a hurt side," said Shoaib. "Now, we are here to hurt others."

West Indies bowler Kemar Roach - who took a hat-trick in the 215-run win over the Netherlands on Monday - says his side have nothing to fear when they face Bangladesh on Friday, despite the Tigers being above them in the current one-day rankings. "We'll go there on a high," said Roach. "Bangladesh are an improving team but we are better than them."