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Thursday, July 31, 2008

India collapse after Sehwag century

Virender Sehwag blasted a quickfire, unbeaten 128 as India squandered a flying start, losing four wickets in 20 balls, on a rain-truncated opening day of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Thursday.
The flamboyant Sehwag notched his 15th Test century, but India, who were cruising along comfortably at 167 for no loss, lost four wickets in quick succession before being reduced to 214 for 4 when play was called off early because of bad light.

The complexion of the game changed abruptly after play resumed following a rain interruption, as paceman Chaminda Vaas and 'mystery' spinner Ajantha Mendis ripped through the top order to help the islanders claw back brilliantly.
While Sehwag played with characteristic flair, the quick dismissals of opener Gautam Gambhir (56), Rahul Dravid (2), Sachin Tendulkar (5) and Sourav Ganguly (0) dented India's hopes of posting a big first innings total on what appeared to be a good batting strip at the Galle International stadium.
The stylish VVS Laxman (13) was giving Sehwag company at stumps. Only 44.3 overs were bowled during the day.

The visitors, who desperately need to win the match to keep themselves afloat in the three-match series, have to now bank on the last recognised pair of Sehwag and Laxman to put up a decent total.
The Indians showed signs of making amends for their Colombo debacle in the pre-lunch session as Sehwag and Gambhir plundered runs at will to score 151.
Play was held up after the lunch break because of rain, and when it resumed, the balance tilted in favour of the home team, which exploited the overcast conditions well.

The dismissal of Gambhir started the slide. The Delhi batsman was trapped leg before by Mendis. Gambhir asked for a review but it did not change his luck as the television umpire upheld the on-field umpire's decision.
Rahul Dravid, who has been struggling to find his form, again fell prey to Mendis. He failed to keep the ball on the ground and Malinda Warnapura took the catch at short leg much to the delight of his teammates.
The hosts then scalped the prized wicket of Tendulkar, who was trapped leg before by Vaas.

Sourav Ganguly did not trouble the scorers much as edged an away swinger from Vaas to Prasanna Jayawardene behind the wicket. India were reduced to a precarious 178 for four.
Sehwag and Laxman ensured that there were no further setbacks for the tourists as they took the team beyond the 200 mark.

It was a stunning exhibition of stroke-play by Sehwag, who unleashed 19 boundaries and two sixes during his unfinished knock, unaffected by wickets tumbling around him.
The way India began, it looked an altogether different ball game after the humiliating innings defeat in the first Test in Colombo. Both Sehwag and Gambhir negotiated the twin-threat of Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan confidently.

Sehwag survived a third umpire review before shaping his innings with elegance as well as aggression, albeit controlled.
Gambhir got a life when he was on 13 and ensured the he cashed in on the chance to deny Sri Lanka further opportunity.
He took 92 balls to raise his fourth Test fifty while Sehwag was in prime form, needing just 87 balls to complete his 15th Test century.
Even the magical Muralitharan was rendered ordinary as Sehwag scored boundaries off the spinner quite freely.

Earlier, Nuwan Kulasekara tested both the Indian openers with his pace, bounce, good line and length, deceiving them a number of times in his opening spell.
However, the paceman was unlucky as Sehwag and Gambhir missed the edge on many occasions and the deliveries that got the edge either did not carry or dropped in front of the fielders.
Gambhir went for a flashy shot outside the off-stump and got thin edge towards first slip, but Kumar Sangakkara could not hold on to the chance as wicketkeeper Prasnna Jayawardene blocked his view as he dived across for the catch.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Can India stop Murali and Mendis?

Spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis bowled Sri Lanka to an innings and 239-run victory in the first Test against India on Saturday.
While the Lankans registered their biggest Test win on home soil, the defeat was India's worst against the hosts.
Muralitharan and Mendis destroyed the famed Indian batting line-up on a dry spinning pitch, bowling the side out for 223 in the morning and then 138, in just 45 overs, in the second innings after Sri Lanka forced the follow-on with India trailing by 377 runs.
Muralitharan snared five for 84 from 29 overs in the first innings and then claimed a further six for 26 from 13 overs in the second innings.

Mendis, an unorthodox finger spinner, claimed four for 72 from 27.5 overs in the first innings and another four for 60 in the second innings to finish with eight for 132 on his Test debut.
In sum, the Indians were done in by the lethal combination of two spinners-- one experienced and the other playing only his first Test-- after the Sri Lanka batsmen-- four of whom got centuries -- feasted on the Indian bowling and rattled up 600 runs.

With the second Test coming up on Thursday, July 31, the Indians will have to come up with something extraordinary in bowling and batting to salvage some pride.
Tell us what India needs to do to tackle Murali and Mendis. What should our bowlers do to check the Sri Lankan run-machine?

Sri Lanka thrash India in first Test

A spineless India slumped to their third heaviest Test defeat as Sri Lanka clinched the first Test by an innings and 239 runs with the spin combination of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis plotting the visitors' downfall in Colombo on Saturday.
After enforcing the follow-on, Muralitharan (6 for 26) and Mendis (4 for 60) tore through the Indian batting order to bundle out the visitors for a paltry 138 to record Sri Lanka's biggest victory at home with a day to spare, which also gave them a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
It was an abject surrender by the tourists who were dismissed for 223 in the first innings and then capitulated in an even more shocking manner in the second essay.

Only opener Gautam Gambhir (43) provided a semblance of resistance but none of the other batsmen could counter Muralitharan and Mendis who mesmerised the opposition with their guile and variety at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground.
Although the SSC track had not deteriorated too much, the Indians showed a complete lack of application with their second innings lasting barely 45 overs.

The two teams will now travel to Galle for the second Test which gets underway from July 31.
The experienced Indian batting line-up seemed to have no clue to the spinners as Virender Sehwag (13), V V S Laxman (21), Sachin Tendulkar (12), Rahul Dravid (10) and Sourav Ganguly (4) perished in quick succession to shatter any hopes of a fightback.

The ICC's experimental rule of allowing teams to review umpire's decision also came handy for the home team as Sehwag, Tendulkar and Dravid, who were initially given not out by the field-umpire, were adjudged out after viewing television replays.
Resuming their first innings at 159 for six, India required an extraordinary display of batting from skipper Anil Kumble and Laxman to avoid the follow on.
However, nothing worked as Muralitharan (5/84 )and Mendis (4/72) continued toying with the Indian batting and wrapped up the innings in the first session itself.
Laxman fought well for his 56 runs before becoming the fourth victim of mystery spinner Mendis.

Before being bowled by Mendis, Laxman and Ishant Sharma (13)did their best to delay the inevitable with a dogged 35-run partnership for the last wicket.
After enforcing the follow on, Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene opted to deploy a spin and pace combination to unsettle the jittery Indian batsmen though Gambhir and Tendulkar tried to hold their nerves.
Laxman too begun on a confident note and hammered three boundaries in his brief stay of 21.
The reintroduction of Mendis spelt disaster for India, and he broke the 28-run partnership between Gambhir and Laxman.

The southpaw combined with former captain Rahul Dravid and the duo scampered for ones and twos while trying to negotiate Muralitharan and Mendis.
The dismissal of Gambhir spelt India's doom when he was brilliantly stumped by Prasanna Jayawardene of Murali after a solid knock of 43.
Dravid was the last to go before tea caught by Warnapura of Mendis for 10. The right-hander was adjudged not out by the field umpires but the Lankans sought a referral and the third umpire ruled the Indian veteran out.

Earlier, Ganguly was caught by Tillakaratne Dilshan off Muralitharan for 4.
Tendulkar edged a Muttiah Muralitharan delivery down the leg side but the on-field umpire ruled in favour of the batsmen. The hosts then referred the decision to the third umpire, who declared the Indian out cutting short his innings at 12.
This was India's third heaviest Test defeat. Earlier, West Indies beat India by an innings and 336 runs at Kolkata in 1958, while England thumped them by an innings and 285 runs at Lord's in 1974.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sri Lanka in command after India's batsmen flop show!!

India were staring at a possible follow-on after their famed batting line-up collapsed against Muthiah Muralitharan. The spin wizard's sensational four-wicket haul put Sri Lanka firmly in command at the end of Day 3 in the first Test, in Colombo, on Friday.

Weighed down by Sri Lanka's mammoth first innings total of 600 for 6, India found themselves in total disarray because of spineless batting that left them gasping at a precarious 159 for 6 when play was called off a little early because of bad light.
The visitors still need 242 runs to avoid the ignominy of a follow-on and will have to bat out of their skins to save the game at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground, where the track has started showing signs of a gradual deterioration.

The seasoned V V S Laxman (19) and captain Anil Kumble (1) were at the crease at stumps.
With Virender Sehwag (25), Gautam Gambhir (39), Rahul Dravid (14), Sachin Tendulkar (27), Sourav Ganguly (23) and Dinesh Karthik (9) back in the pavilion, much will depend on the experienced Laxman to get India, still 441 runs behind, out of the woods.

Muralitharan accounted for four of those wickets -- Gambhir, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Karthik -- conceding 38 runs, while 'mystery' bowler Ajantha Mendis produced a gem of a delivery to get rid of Dravid..
Earlier in the day, Tillakaratne Dilshan (125 not out) became the fourth player to hit a century in Sri Lanaka's first innings.

It turned out to be another agonising day for the visitors who first allowed the hosts to pile up an imposing total and then lacked application while batting.
The 23-year-old Mendis, who created a flutter with his exploits in the Asia Cup, continued to bamboozle the Indian batsmen with his variations.
The Sri Lankans declared their first innings 40 minutes into the second session and the two Indian openers, Sehwag and Gambhir, got off to a flying start. However, their belligerence was shortlived.

Sehwag made his intentions clear as he slammed paceman Chaminda Vaas to the cover boundary in the first over. Gambhir followed it with a flowing drive to the long-off boundary off Nuwan Kulasekara in the next.
Jayawardene chose to set an attacking field to put the Indian batsmen under pressure after tiring them out on the field for over two-and-a-half days.
Taking advantage of unmanned boundaries, Sehwag went on to hammer Vaas for two consecutive fours, one through mid-on and then point.

But Nuwan Kulasekara provided the breakthrough for the islanders by getting rid of Sehwag, whose pulled shot went straight to Samaraweera in the square leg region.
Muralitharan then consolidated the position, dismissing Gambhir, while Mendis foxed Dravid with a vicious delivery to dislodge his off-stump. The Indians were reduced to a precarious 79 for 3. Tendulkar and Ganguly tried to rebuild the innings before Murali again struck by scalping the prized wicket of Tendulkar, who looked quite comfortable during his brief stay at the crease.
Ganguly was the next to return to the pavilion, he too falling prey to Muralitharan, Kulasekara taking a well-judged catch.

Tottering at 138 for five, Dinesh Karthik, who dropped two catches during the Sri Lankan innings, played an irresponsible shot and became Murali's fourth victim.
Earlier, resuming at the overnight score of 422 for four, the hosts continued to pile up the misery and Dilshan notched his fifth Test ton.
India scalped two wickets in an otherwise frustrating opening session, one of them being centurion Thilan Samaraweera (127), who handed a straight forward catch to Laxman at second slip off Zaheer Khan .

Wicketkeeper Prasana Jayawardene was the next to go, trying to smack Harbhajan but holing out to Ishant Sharma at extra cover. He scored 30 runs.
India could have got Dilshan early on when the right-hander failed to keep the ball down and it went past a diving Laxman in second slip.
But for that, the 32-year-old was always well in command en route to his century.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Warnapura lights up gloomy opening day

India captured two early wickets before opener Malinda Warnapura lit up a rain-truncated opening day with a sparkling unbeaten half century to guide Sri Lanka to 85 for 2 wickets in the first cricket Test in Colombo on Wednesday.
The left-handed Warnapura was unbeaten on 50, his third Test half century, as the hosts played cautiously to share the day's honours.

Only 22 overs were possible as play started nearly four hours late due to rain and soggy ground conditions at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground.
Electing to bat, the hosts lost opener Michael Vandort (3) and Kumar Sangakkara (12) cheaply, but Warnapura held the innings together with a solid effort.
Captain Mahela Jayawardene (16 not out) was giving Warnapura company when play was called off early because of bad light.

The Indians, seeking to achieve the rare feat of winning a series against the islanders in their own bacikyard, fired the first salvo when the lanky Ishant Sharma got rid of Vandort with a rising delivery.
The left-handed Vadort went on the front foot but only edged the outgoing delivery to Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps, much to the delight of his teammates. Sri Lanka were 7 for 1.
Zaheer Khan then struck, dismissing Sangakkara with a gem of a delivery that saw Rahul Dravid taking a smart catch at first slip.

After Vandort's dismissal, Warnapura went on the offensive, hammering Ishant for three boundaries in one over. He first whipped the ball to the third man region, then to long-off and the next through fine leg.
Sangakkara looked a bit subdued and played second fiddle to the young Warnapura. He struck a boundary through deep mid-on off Zaheer to break the shackles but perished soon after.
Captain Mahela Jayawardene, who joined the action after Sangakkara returned to the pavilion, began confidently and soon settled down by driving a Sourav Ganguly delivery to the cover boundary.

India captain Anil Kumble persisted with the pace bowlers, taking advantage of the overcast conditions and introduced Ganguly to give Ishant a break.
Zaheer, who is back after a lay-off due to injuries, worked up a fair bit of pace but experienced no-ball problems, bowling three in his first spell.

He was replaced by Ishant from the press box end. Ishant, who troubled the batsmen, gave away just 20 runs off five overs in his first spell.
Warnapura was lucky not to have got an edge off Ishant on a couple of occasions.
It was at the fag end of the day that Kumble brought on off-spinner Harbhajan Singh but he could not make much of an impression in the only over he bowled, giving away seven runs.
Warnapura slammed six boundaries during his unbeaten knock, which came in 107 minutes and off 74 balls.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Spin guru Jenner points out chink in Mendis' armour

Ajantha Mendis might have created flutter in cricketing circles with his stupendous performance in the Asia Cup, but the Sri Lankan mystery bowler has failed to impress spin guru Terry Jenner, who has pointed out at chinks in his armour.

Jenner, who is credited with grooming Australian spin legend Shane Warne , is surprised to learn that the freaky Sri Lankan spinner does not have a stock ball in his kitty.

"Mendis needs to develop the stock ball which is very essential for leg break bowlers. When I heard that he doesn't have stock ball, I was amazed," said the Australian great, who is in New Delhi to oversee a bowlers' camp.

"World's best spinners have great stock ball. Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan] was one of them. As a coach, we need to teach basics not magic deliveries," he added.
Jenner feels Mendis lacks variety and still has a long way to go to prove his mettle in the international circuit.

"What he is doing has been done before by bowlers like John Gleeson. He is a good bowler but I am doubtful about his success in Australian and South African pitches. He does not have variety in his bowling," Jenner said.

"His carrom ball is not unique, what is unique is his pace. His sudden rise in popularity is because of the fact that most of the world's best spinners have either finished their career or in the twilight of their career.

"In Mendis, people are trying to find out Warne, [Anil] Kumble, Muralitharan but by doing so they are putting too much pressure on him," Jenner said.
Jenner said young Indian spinner Piyush Chawla has a great potential to be the "next best thing in the world of spin" if he develops leg-break.

"Don't write off Chawla. He can be the next best thing in the world of spin bowling but the same issue, he too lacks variety. His wrong ones are very deceptive but he can't bowl two to three wrong ones in an over in Test cricket," he asserted.

"He [Chawla] needs to develop his leg break to be successful in Test cricket."
The Australian also said India Test skipper Kumble has come of age since he first met him in 2003.

"He [Kumble] has done really well in the last couple of years. There's a lot of difference between now and when I met him first in 2003. That time, his job was to contain batsmen, but now he is bowling with the aim of picking wickets.

"I had advised him to change the sequence of his deliveries as he has only three to four balls in his armour and it helped him a lot.

"Both Warne and Kumble's heart are bigger than their bodies."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My bowling is a gift of God: Mendis

After wrecking the famed Indian batting line-up in the Asia Cup final, Sri Lanka's new spin sensation Ajantha Mendis now harbours dream of scalping the prize wicket of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar in the upcoming three-match Test series starting July 23.

Mendis created ripples during the Asia Cup in Pakistan early this month with his 'carrom ball' delivery, picking up 17 wickets in the continental tournament.

He single-handedly won the trophy for Sri Lanka by pocketing six Indian wickets in the final.
"It will be dream come true for me to get the wicket of Tendulkar, especially when he is on the threshold of surpassing Brian Lara'a world record of highest Test runs," said Mendis.
Tendulkar, who has 11782 runs from 147 Tests so far, is just 171 short of equaling the West Indian legend's 11953 runs.

Mendis, a Sri Lankan army officer, said that he is pumped up to show his potential against the famous batting quartet of Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, who were not there in India's Asia Cup squad.

"Laxman, Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly are among the best batsmen in the world and I am eagerly looking forward to bowl against them.
"I will be happy to get the scalps of many other Indian batsmen," he said.
The young bowler also revealed that apart from the 'carrom ball', he has developed a new delivery to unsettle the Indians.
However, when asked to elaborate on his new delivery, he said, "Come and see for yourself in the match."
"I will continue with the same tactics in Tests which I employed in ODIs. I don't intend to change much.
"My bowling is a gift of God. I am also grateful to my school coach from whom I learnt immensely."

Asked whether he would be bowling long spells in the upcoming Test series, he said, "It is up to the captain to decide whether to give me long spells or not, but if given I am prepared to bowl."
On being compared in the cricketing circles with spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan, Mendis said he has still long way to go to fill in the veteran's shoe.

"Muralitharan is my idol and it is a privilege for me to bowl alongside him. He has been advising me continuously and told me to approach him any time for suggestions."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gautam Gambhir Out early after Bowlers restricts SL XI to 224 !

In their first tour match on Sri Lanka tour against SL Board XI Indian Team played with their full strength. Indian Bowlling attack in which include Zahir Khan Ishant Sharma, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, out which 3 of them playing after a break due to injury or some other reason, and they started very well get 3 SriLankan wickets just for 30 runs , only Kandamby and Silva resist the attack and added 100 runs for 5th wicket, but Anil Kumble finish the tale with his trademark style of finnishing the tale early, Harbhajan also got two wickest.

Zahir Khan who has not played for india since the australian tour last year due to ankle injury and struck twice with the new ball, Harbhajan also returning after facing 5 match ban also bowled well and got 2 Wickets. India Test Team Captain Anil Kumble also hit thrice and return with a figure of 3 for 30. Ishant Sharma dn Munaf Patel also got 1 wicket each. Dinesh Karthik who is keeping wickets in the absence of Dhoni got 3 Catches behind the stumps.

The Sri Lanks Board XI top order struggled down to 82 for 4 after choose to bat after winning the toss. Upal Tharanga who has not played test matches since dec last year again failed to impress the Sri Lankan selectors and miss this opportunity and trapped leg before for 6 by Zaheer Khan.

But Thilina Kandamby who played last international match for Sri Lanka in october 2004 saved his team to collapse and hit 84 runs with the help of 11 4's nad also added 100 runs with chamar silva before he was caught by karthik off Munaf Patel silva got out by Harabhajn Singh when the socore was 214 after that wicket SriLankans inning folded by Anil Kumble swiftly thereafter for 224.

Then indian opener Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir cam to the crease and they have to negotiate a very short period remaining in the end of the day's play, but Gautam Gambhi failed in that and He was caught by Jehan Mubarak off the bowlling of Dilhara Fernando for just 4 runs.

India still trailing by 220 runs with 9 wickets in Hand at the end of the play.
SriLanka Board XI - 224 (Kandamby 84, Chamara Silva 68, Kumble 3-30, Z Khan-2-35)
India-4 for 1

Chawla, Laxman not allowed to play for their counties teams

The Indian Cricket Board has advised leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and stylish batsman VVS Laxman not to play for English counties that have players from rebel Indian Cricket League.
BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah said that both Chawla and Laxman have been asked to avoid playing for Hampshire and Nottinghamshire respectively.
"Piyush Chawla will not be going because there are a few ICL players in that team. Even Laxman will be asked not to go to Nottinghamshire," Shah said.
BCCI has taken a tough stand against the ICL ever since the Twenty20 league was started by the S Chandra owned Essel Group.
The Indian Cricket Board first launched their own competition, Indian Premier League, and even went to the extent of asking England Cricket Board to not allow its counties to field players connected with ICL.
It threatened that it will not allow English counties to appear in Champions Twenty20 League, even if they are eligible to appear in the competition, which will have two top domestic teams from India, England, Australia and South Africa competing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cricket Premier League in 2010

A new English Premier League (EPL) cricket competition involving all 18 counties, two overseas teams and international players will start in 2010, the and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Wednesday.

The proposed EPL, which will be staged in June, follows the multi-million dollar launch of the Indian Premier League which started in April.

There will also be a new Twenty20 League played on Friday and Saturday nights in July and August to replace the current Pro40 competition played on a Sunday.
The new domestic Twenty20 competition will only comprise the 18 counties and not feature any additional overseas players but will serve as the qualifying competition for cricket's Champions League involving top teams from around the world.

Board chairman Giles Clarke told Sky Sports News that it had not yet been decided which overseas teams would be involved, but that it was unlikely they would be either Indian or Pakistani teams as they compete in the Indian Premier League.
"We do not expect the other teams to be Indian or Pakistani. They could be Australia, New Zealand , Sri Lanka , West Indies , who knows?

"The important thing is, it's going to be a very high standard competition, a very exciting competition.
"There is no doubt from all the detailed, exhaustive research we have done, we will provide what the spectators want, when they want it.
"We have sat down with broadcasters around the world to see what they would pay the most money for. We have looked at the right thing for our game in this country and we move forward on that basis."

In a statement, the ECB said the timetable and the format of the competition had been agreed by the board after detailed market research which clearly "demonstrated a spectator desire to watch more Twenty20 cricket in July and August.
"The EPL will be staged in June with the Twenty20 League being played in July, August and September and involving five home matches for each team."

Although the ECB rejected a controversial plan by Surrey county chairman David Stewart and Marylebone Cricket Club chairman Keith Bradshaw to have a competition which did not include all the counties, it did incorporate some of their funding proposals.
Stewart said in the ECB statement: "These are extremely exciting and satisfying proposals for the future of domestic cricket in England and Wales. I am delighted to support them.
The board also agreed the 2010 season would include a 50-over competition and 16 County Championship matches in a two-division structure

Murali bigger threat than Mendis: Harbhajan

Harbhajan Singh does not doubt mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis' potentials but the star off-spinner believes it is old trickster Muttiah Muralitharan who would pose bigger threat for the Indian batsmen in the forthcoming Test series.
Harbhajan heaps praise on Mendis, who ran through India's batting order in the Asia Cup final in Karachi, and said it was an extraordinary display of quality spin bowling.
"It was a treat to watch Mendis bowl during the Asia Cup final," Harbhajan told ESPN.

"The deliveries with which he got Yuvraj Singh , Rohit Sharma and even RP Singh were outstanding. I have seen people doing this with a tennis ball but it is incredible that he is doing it with a cricket ball. There is so much to learn from Mendis," said Harbhajan.
But still it is too early to compare Mendis with Murali and the old warhorse would create more problem for the Indian side, believes Harbhajan.
"It will be Muralitharan who will pose a bigger challenge and do well in the series and not Mendis. You cannot compare Mendis and Murali. Oh, come on, Murali has been doing it for so many years whereas Mendis has just started," he reasoned.
The aggressive offie himself would have to live up to the expectation in the series, to prove that he remains the same potent force despite spending the last three months in the wilderness following the slap-gate episode.
"I am ready for it. In fact to sit on the sidelines has made me hungrier and I am willing to play any role that the team wants me to," said Harbhajan, who was out of action since slapping India team mate S Sreesanth after an Indian Premier League match.
One after another controversy has stalked Harbhajan but the offie says he now wants people to remember him for all the right reasons.
"I committed a mistake and I admitted it. I think we all need to move on from there and look ahead. From now on, people should remember me for all the right reasons and not controversies," he said.
Looking back at the slap-gate issue and its aftermath, Harbhajan said, "That period was really tough for me and I didn't know where I was heading. I think God helped me come out of that. He's been very kind."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kumble confident top order will tame Mendis

India Test captain Anil Kumble is confident his experienced top order would cope with Sri Lanka's new spin sensation Ajantha Mendis.

Mendis, 23, destroyed India's top order in the Asia Cup final earlier this month, claiming 6 for 13, but Kumble backed his strong Test line-up to cope better than the one-day team.

"He is something we need to watch out for, although we respect every bowler we face," Kumble said at a media briefing after the team's arrival in Colombo for a three-Test series.

"Test cricket is different and we have the quality.

"Our middle order has more than 30,000 Test runs and four of them have played more than 100 Tests.

"In Tests you get more time to figure out the bowler. It will be challenging, but I am sure our batsmen will cope."

A confident Kumble is also pleased to have a full-strength bowling line-up for what he expects to be a tough series.

"We have Zaheer Khan back in the team and his experience bowling in subcontinent conditions will be useful," said Kumble.

"There is also Ishant Sharma who has really progressed well as a seamer and we have Harbhajan Singh back as well.

"We have had a good combination and in the last one year or so we have been really consistent with our performances, that's something which we will take forward."

"Whenever we tour Sri Lanka it's always been tough. It will be a lot of hard work and we are ready for that."

India begin their tour with a three-day practice match against a Sri Lanka Board XI starting on Friday, July 18.

The first Test starts on July 23 at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo.

Tendulkar stays 13th in Test rankings

Sachin Tendulkar remains the highest-ranked Indian batsman at joint-13th, even as Rahul Dravid , Virender Sehwag , Sourav Ganguly and V V S Laxman slipped a rung each, in the ICC Test rankings issued on Tuesday.

Tendulkar, however, shares his place with England right-hand batsman Ian bell , who scored a career-best 199 in the drawn first Test against South Africa at Lord's.

The knock helped Bell rise nine places.

However, the other Indians in the top-20 slipped, with Dravid going down a place to 15th. Same was the case with Sehwag, Ganguly and Laxman, who dropped a spot to 18, 19 and 20 respectively.

Meanwhile, Kevin Pietersen three places to seven, his highest ranking this year.

The batting list is still headed by Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka . He is followed by the West Indies' Shivnarine Chanderpaul , Mike Hussey of Australia and his captain Ricky Ponting , along with Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan, the latter two sharing fourth place.

In the bowling list, Anil Kumble is the highest-placed Indian at eight followed by Zaheer Khan at joint-14th. Controversial off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is 18th.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Asif tested positive, confirms IPL

Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif is the player who has tested positive for a banned substance during the Twenty20 Indian Premier League, organisers of the inaugural tournament revealed on Monday.
"The Indian Premier League compared the result from the WADA-approved laboratory in Switzerland with the data collected by IDTM, the Sweden-based independent agency which organised the anti-doping testing in accordance with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) standards, to confirm the player in violation is Mr Mohammad Asif," the IPL said in a statement.
"A note in writing has been sent to the fast bowler, the Pakistan Cricket Board and Asif's franchisee, Delhi Daredevils on the findings," the statement added.
The organisers also announced that former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar will be a part of the three-member IPL Drugs Tribunal that will decide the fate of Asif.
Gavaskar, along with former Maharashtra University of Health Sciences Chancellor Dr Ravi Bapat and lawyer Shirish Gupte, will take up the matter in case Asif's B sample is found to be positive.
The tribunal will take a decision in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Agency code to which the IPL is a signatory.
Interestingly, Asif was detained at the Dubai International airport last month for allegedly carrying contraband drugs in his luggage on his way back home from India after playing in the IPL. He was kept in detention for 19 days for allegedly carrying 0.24 grams of opium in his wallet during transit through Dubai en route to Pakistan from India.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has already constituted a three-man committee to investigate Asif's detention in Dubai on allegations of possessing an illegal substance.
Asif and fellow-Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar had tested positive during the last edition of the Champions Trophy, held in India in 2006.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Ganguly denies plans of retiring from ODIs

Former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly on Thursday denied rumors of taking retirement from ODIs. Ganguly made this announcement on the sidelines of an awards function in Kolkata.
He also hoped to make his way back into the ODI team again by his performance. Ganguly was recently presented with best Asian batsman of the year award.
Meanwhile, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Kartik and Zaheer Khan got together in Mumbai to felicitate their mothers and wives in a programme sponsored by a detergent brand.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Testing time ahead for senior players

Except for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's shock pull-out, there are no major surprises in the 16-man Indian squad for the forthcoming three-Test series against Sri Lanka .
The Indian selectors had no choice but to bring back the 'Fab Four' -- Sachin Tendulkar , Rahul Dravid Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. But, except for Tendulkar, the rest have been dumped from the limited-overs' side and many believe it won't be long before they are phased out from the Test side too.
However, for now, they continue to survive, fully aware that a failed series could virtually signal the end of their international careers.
After all the hype and thrills of the IPL, and the charisma of the young Indian team, it is back to the more traditional format. The seniors are back, the whites are back, the red cherry will finally be back from hibernation and so will be five days of non-stop cricket. It is interesting to see how the sub-continent fans take up to Test cricket after the IPL. The one-dayers in Bangladesh and Asia Cup in Pakistan did not generate much interest and it remains to be seen whether Twenty20 has also made a dent on Test cricket.
Making the selectors' intent clear was the inclusion of Mumbai youngster Rohit Sharma. The 21-year-old struggled in the last two ODI series (Bangladesh tri-series and Asia Cup), scoring just one half-century in nine innings, but showed enough promise to be worthy of a place in the Test side. Should there be an injury or two to the seniors, Sharma will no doubt be looking to make most of this opportunity. Getting picked ahead of Yuvraj Singh should be a huge confidence-booster for the right-hander.
Gautam Gambhir also makes a comeback to the Test side after a string of impressive performances in ODI and Twenty20 matches for India. The left-hander was the leading run-scorer in the CB tri-series in Australia, with 440 runs, and then took charge in the IPL, aggregating 534 runs and finishing second behind Australia's Shaun Marsh He is the highest run-scorer in one-dayers in 2008, with 908 runs in 19 matches, and it was only fair that he was picked ahead of the inconsistent Wasim Jaffer.
Talking of the seniors, Ganguly will again not only need to prove his worth in the side but also his fitness. He hit two half-centuries in his last two Tests, against South Africa, but an inconsistent run before that will not make it easy for him. But, like all the other Indian batsmen, he will be looking forward to feasting on the batting beauties you mostly encounter in Sri Lanka.
Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh will, as usual, chore up the spin department. But an interesting selection here is the addition of uncapped Hyderabad left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who impressed during the Asia Cup with encouraging performances. The 21-year-old played three matches in Pakistan, claiming three wickets with an economy rate of 4.53, despite bowling on the flat wickets in Karachi. His selection means there is no room for Piyush Chawla who for a couple of years now had been groomed as a replacement for Kumble.
Dhoni's absence means that Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel have got another lifeline in international cricket. Karthik played against Pakistan in Bangalore last year, but Parthiv's last match was four years ago, against Australia in Nagpur in October 2004.
Parthiv was revelation with the bat for Gujarat, as he hit 615 runs in seven Ranji Trophy Plate division matches in the 2007-08 season to help his team win the title. He followed it up with another good showing for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, amassing 302 runs in 13 matches.
Karthik, on the other hand, had a quiet time in the IPL with Delhi Daredevils scoring just 145 runs in 13 matches. However, the Tamil Nadu batsman will be the first choice to fill in for Dhoni since Parthiv's glove work is still to convince many.
Munaf Patel is also another player on the comeback trail. He played a stellar role in Rajasthan Royals' victory in the IPL, but despite that was not picked for the tri-series in Bangladesh and Asia Cup. However, better sense seems to have prevailed finally as he makes it to the squad ahead of Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan
Munaf's fitness will be under the scanner and it remains to be seen whether he can go through a full series without any breakdowns.
Similar will be the case for Zaheer Khan with the left-armer making a comeback to the Test squad after missing international cricket due to injuries since last November.
Virender Sehwag's appointment as vice-captain is hugely debatable. With seniors like Tendulkar and Laxman in the side and willing up to take up responsibilities it would have made more sense to give them the role.
Overall, it a good all-round team comprising seven batsmen, four fast bowlers, three spinners and two wicketkeepers. India last toured the island nation in 2001, and ended up 2-1 losers. This time, no doubt, they are keen for revenge.
Batsmen: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Rohit Sharma.
Bowlers: Anil Kumble (captain), Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha.
Wicketkeepers: Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

India Innings Highlights vs Sri Lanka - Asia Cup 2008 Final!!

Sri Lanka win Asia Cup

Ajantha Mendis broke India's back with a mesmerising six-wicket haul as Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup cricket tournament with a facile 100-run victory in Karachi on Sunday night.
Chasing 274, India's much-vaunted batting attack was bamboozled by Mendis' bag of tricks and the mystery spinner emerged as the wrecker-in-chief to bundle out India for 173 in just 39.3 overs.
Mendis' bowling figures read an impressive 8-1-13-6 and this was the first six-wicket haul in the Asia Cup history.
India's ploy of having an additional batsman did not pay dividend and only Virender Sehwag (60 off 36) and captain Mahendra Singh (49) managed to salvage their reputation.
The Indian batsmen thus let down their bowling colleagues, who had earlier done a decent job by bowling out Sri Lanka for 273 in 49.5 overs, a total built around Sanath Jayasuriya's 125-run knock off just 114 balls.
Chaminda Vaas started the rot by removing Gautam Gambhir (6) in the fifth over before Mendis took over.
In his first over, Mendis foxed an onrushing Sehwag with a 'flicker' to get him stumped and two balls later, he flicked another through Yuvraj Singh's gates to castle him for a duck.
In his third over, Mendis disturbed Suresh Raina's (16) timbers before trapping Rohit Sharma (3) plumb in front four runs later. In the 32nd over again, he scalped Irfan Pathan and RP Singh off success deliveries to complete his six-wicket haul.
Earlier, Jayasuriya looked unstoppable in a brilliant 125 runs from 114 balls that included nine fours and five sixes as he put on a face-saving 131 runs stand for the fifth wicket with Tillekaratne Dilshan who made 56.
India started well as Ishant Sharma rocked the top order with three wickets while RP Singh cleaned up the tail with as many as Sri Lanka struggled to make 57 in the last 10 overs.
Jayasuriya's 27th career hundred rescued Sri Lanka from a precarious 66 for four in 12 overs after India, in a brave decision, opted to field first.
RP Singh suffered badly in the 16th over when a blitz from Jayasuriya produced 26 runs from six balls taking him from 61 to 87.
He blasted Singh over the long off area for two sixes and then drove him for two fours over covers with the final ball being dispatched over mid-wicket for another six.
His partnership with Dilshan, who made his fifty from 68 balls, came at a time when the Lankans were rattled by Sharma.
After Kumar Sangakkara was run out for just four in the second over after a tragic mix-up with Jayasuriya, Sharma struck thrice.
He had Mahela Jayawardene (11) caught at point cutting straight to Rohit Sharma and then in his sixth over, he first had Chamara Kapugedera (5) caught off a miscued pull shot and bowled Chamara Silva for a first ball duck.
India fought back through their spinners Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma and Virender Sehwag and so tight were the Indians in their bowling and fielding that despite Jayasuriya's hundred, Sri Lanka were not able to get a boundary between the 22nd and 40th over.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Pakistan court lifts ban on Shoaib Akhtar

The Lahore High Court on Friday lifted an 18-month ban on Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar for indiscipline. Although the court lifted the suspension, it did not remove the seven million rupees ($101,000) fine imposed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appellate tribunal last month. The PCB handed the volatile fast bowler a five-year ban in April for several instances of indiscipline and violating the conditions of a two-year probation. The tribunal later reduced the suspension to 18 months with a fine.

India seal Asia Cup final berth

India exhibited their batting prowess to perfection with their top order firing in unison to score an easy 6-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in their must-win Asia Cup Super Four match and set up a summit clash against the same opponents on Sunday.
India chased down the target of 309 with 19 balls to spare and after losing four wickets, thanks to a half century each by Gautam Gambhir (68), captain M S Dhoni (67) and Suresh Raina (54) and a valuable 42 from Virender Sehwag after Sri Lanka, electing to bat, had made 308 for 8.
Yuvraj Singh (36 not out) and Rohit Sharma (22 not out) romped him with an unfinished 57-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Thursday's result extinguished Pakistan's any hopes of making it to the final and rendered Friday's last Super Four match between the hosts and Bangladesh in Karachi inconsequential.
India made a blazing start with the opening duo of Sehwag and Gambhir carrying their solid batting form from their match against Pakistan on Wednesday, putting on 92 runs from 70 balls.
The duo drove, pulled and cut the Lankan opening bowlers without taking much risks, hitting boundaries in regular intervals and keeping the asking rate always lower than the required rate of 6.18 per over.
Sehwag played second fiddle to his junior partner but did not shy away from hitting odd balls for boundaries including a huge six off Nuwan Kulasekara
Earlier, shrugging off the disappointment of Wednesday night's defeat to Pakistan, India fought hard but could only restrict Sri Lanka to 308 for 8.
Chamara Kapugedera (75), captain Mahela Jayawardene (50) and Chamara Silva (50) scored half-centuries, but the Indian bowlers did well to peg back the Lankans on another good batting track after captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni lost the toss.
Playing before a sparse crowd, Sri Lanka were in control for most part of the innings but lost wickets at regular intervals after reaching 217 for three.
In the final 10 overs they lost four wickets but scored 74 runs.
Sri Lanka have already qualified for the final while India must win the game to book the other spot in the summit clash and put the hosts out of the reckoning.
After losing Kumar Sangakkara in the fourth over for just seven runs -- he was caught down the leg side off Ishant Sharma -- Sanath Jayasuriya ] went about the task in his usual fashion.
Dropped on four by Yuvraj Singh, who attempted a difficult catch running in from mid-off, Jayasuriya breezed his way to 43 from 37 balls, before he was caught by Dhoni on the leg side, giving Sharma his second wicket.
Jayawardene, who scored his 47th career fifty, and Kapugedera put Sri Lanka in the driving seat with a 78-run stand off 89 balls, to put the pressure on India.
Jayawardene fell just one ball after completing his half century off 62 balls. He was caught by Gautam Gambhir at long off after dancing down the wicket and attempting to hit Pragyan Ojha out of the ground.
Kapugedera teamed up with Silva to put on another 68 off 66 balls for the fourth wicket. Both the youngsters batted with freedom as Ojha went for runs.
Kapugedera raced to his fifth half century from 55 balls, inclusive of fours, before Praveen Kumar trapped him leg before at 217 in the 38th over.
Five overs later, Tillakeratne Dilshan also pulled Irfan down to R P Singh at fine leg after scoring 15 off 19 balls.
Silva's run-out, after reaching his 50 in the 46th over, at the total of 263 put Sri Lanka back in their effort to score quick runs in the final overs and post a big total.
Irfan Pathan was the most expensive bowler, conceding 80 in his 10 overs, his final over conceding 14 runs.