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Friday, September 19, 2008

Lanka ICL 'rebels' can play domestic cricket

In a move that is bound to irk the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has decided to allow players aligned with the rebel Indian Cricket League to compete in the country's domestic tournaments.
Even as the Bangladesh Cricket Board banned players for joining the ICL, the SLC interim committee decided to soften its stand on the 'rebels' at a meeting in Colombo a couple of days ago.
SLC chief Arjuna Ranatunga moved the resolution to lift the ban on players like Marvan Atapattu, Russel Arnold and Upul Chandana.
"Arjuna felt that it was unfair to keep these players out for long," SLC secretary K Mathivanan said.
"These bans have to stop somewhere," he added.
Apart from Sri Lanka, only England and New Zealand have allowed ICL players to compete in their domestic tournaments

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Australia to tour India despite bombings

Australia will go ahead with their four-Test tour of India after a security review following a series of bombings in New Delhi , Cricket Australia (CA) said on Tuesday. CA said on Sunday it would review security arrangements after five bombs went off in the Indian capital on Saturday, killing at least 20 and injuring more than 90 others.
"We have done a review of our security advice and it has not changed since last week," CA public affairs manager Peter Young said. "The safety and security advice for India is broadly speaking to exercise caution."
Young said the organisation would upgrade security for the senior team and the Australia A side which is currently in India.
"We will have security in place around the senior team, which is what we always were going to have," he added.
Young said CA had consulted with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which would also upgrade security in and around the dressing rooms and provide escorts for the team to and from the ground.
Players will still be allowed to venture outside of the team hotels "within prudent guidelines".
The Test side are due to leave Australia on Sunday and start the tour with warm-up matches in Jaipur and Hyderabad.
Both cities have been the targets of bombings within the past 13 months.
The first Test begins in Bangalore, which was also the site of a bomb attack in July, on Oct. 9.
The third Test begins in Delhi on Oct. 29.
Australia pulled out of a tour of Pakistan because of security fears and withdrew from the Champions Trophy due to be held in Pakistan this month for the same reason. The tournament has since been postponed.
Young, however, said the assessment of the security risk was different for each of the countries.
"In very broad terms the advice we have is in sharp contrast to what we had for Pakistan, which was that it was not safe to travel (in Pakistan) because the attacks there were targeting westerners," Young said.
"The problems (in India) are completely different in intensity and of a different nature."

'I will pay to watch Dhoni bat'

Adam Gilchrist knows all about winning in India.
After all, he led Australia to the historic victory in Nagpur in 2004, when the Aussies conquered the 'Final Frontier', beating India by 342 runs in the third Test to clinch their first series win on Indian soil since 1969.

The wicket-keeper batsman will not be around this time to guide his team from the massive stare a tour to India is subjected to, nor the unpredictable conditions they will play under. Most of the players, who scripted that victory, have stepped into retirement, but Gilchrist is hopeful that the Aussie greenhorns can still do some damage.
"This is the most inexperienced (Australian) side to tour India," the former captain said, of the upcoming series, in Mumbai on Tuesday, on the sidelines of a promotional event for the University of Wollongong.
"And they will be taking on probably the most experienced team in world cricket.
"The Australian players are new in international cricket, but it doesn't mean they haven't played in these conditions before. The cricket board has over the years sent them to the sub-continent to educate our players of the conditions here and the team will draw that experience."
Gilchrist, who led the team in the first three Tests on the 2004 tour due to the absence of Ricky Ponting , said that the Aussies will again have to rely on their fast-bowling firepower to unsettle the Indian batsman.
"I don't think the perceived lack of a spinner is a big deal. Even in 2004 the fast bowlers did a fantastic job and were ably supported by Shane Warne .
"Brett Lee is our bowling spearhead and we will expect him to get some wickets. But Mitchell Johnson is also going to be a crucial player, especially when the ball is old and starts reversing. A lot will depend on (Ricky) Ponting and his determination.
"Shane Watson is just the sort of batting all-rounder we were looking for. He had a great IPL (Indian Premier League ), and when you have done so well in these conditions it automatically gives you confidence."
While saying that the India-Australia series will be "hard-fought", Gilchrist added he doesn't expect any more acrimony among the players.
"I don't think the events in Sydney or after that did any permanent damage to the relations between the two countries. The IPL came at the right time, and mended any differences that might have cropped up. I don't expect any more fireworks in this series, than any other.
"Sure for Australians, historically the Ashes have been the most important, but the India-Australia series has also grown and gained an iconic status.
"It had become very important to us prior to 2004, and I guess that's why we lost our focus a bit in the 2005 Ashes series. We were unable to realign our focus to the Ashes and were exposed badly."
The 37-year-old, who retired from international cricket early this year but found an ally in the IPL to keep his passion for the game going, heaped praise on Mahendra Singh Dhoni ,saying he would "pay to see Dhoni bat."
"As a player, the biggest compliment for me is when people say they pay to see me bat. I would like to say the same for Dhoni.
"In India, you talk about the big four, but I think with Dhoni it's becoming the big five! He is an exciting cricketer and what's amazing is that he has been able to match his batting stats with his wicket-keeping.
"He has the calmness and has a galvanizing effect on the team. He is a very good ODI captain and I'm sure down the track, it is inevitable that he will take over as the Test captain too."
As part of the group that saw a mass exodus in the Australian team, Gilchirst said India has to be prepared for a "generational change" too and the exclusion of Sourav Ganguly from the Rest of India squad for the Irani Trophy could only be the beginning.
"We thought Ganguly was finished about eight months ago also before he made a superb comeback.
"I think the players know best whether they still have the passion to come back and continue for the team. I can't comment on that, but all I can say is there are a lot of youngsters waiting to be picked.
"Like Australia, India is going to experience a generational change, it's going to happen. But I have been exposed to the talent here, during the IPL, and am very impressed by the youngsters. They are ready to fill in the void and we should encourage them."
Gilchrist, who has also been voicing his support for cricket at the Olympics, said the Twenty20 version was a "perfect fit" for the competition and wouldn't burden the already crammed international schedule.
"For the longevity of cricket, I think it is important that it should become an Olympic sport," the Australian said. "There are so many countries who don't even know what the game is about and the Olympics will be a great platform for them to get involved.
"It's also a two-way street. India got one gold medal at this Games; it's a number that suggests that the Olympics are not important. The Olympic movement could gain importance here, and what better vehicle than cricket!"
Gilchrist had traveled around India as the brand ambassador for the University, and if he ever gets tired of the IPL, he reminded everyone again that he can be a great spokesperson for cricket.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dhoni named ODI Player of the Year, Yuvi best T20 player

On a night of mixed fortunes for Indian cricket, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was named the ODI Player of the Year, Yuvraj Singh won the Twenty20 International Performance of the Year Award but pacer Ishant Sharma failed to win the Emerging Player honour at the annual ICC awards function in Dubai.
West Indies' 'Mr. Dependable' Shivnarine Chanderpaul was adjudged Cricketer of the Year following a fine performance in Tests as well limited overs' cricket while South African fast bowler Dale Steyn earned the Test Cricketer of the Year award.

India ODI captain Dhoni beat off tough competition from team-mate Sachin Tendulkar , Australian fast bowler Nathan Bracken and Pakistan stalwart Mohammad Yousuf to take the prestigious award.
Yuvraj was deservedly honoured for his stupendous six sixes in an over off Englishman Stuart Broad in the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa last year.
Ishant lost out to Sri Lankan mystery spinner Ajantha Medis, who took the Emerging Player of the Year Award.
During the voting period, Dhoni played 39 ODIs and scored 1,298 runs at an average of 49.92 and at a rate of 82.46 runs per 100 balls faced. In that time, he hit a century and nine fifties making sure he led his team from the front.
Dhoni also effected 62 dismissals (46 catches and 16 stumpings) as wicketkeeper, which is almost twice as many as the next best, albeit having played more matches than any other keeper.
He is currently ranked number one in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for ODI batsmen.
Tendulkar, however, found a place in the 12-man World ODI Team of the Year for the second year running, along with his captain, Dhoni.
Tendulkar was chosen along with Herschelle Gibbs of South Africa for the openers' slot in the team, led by Australia's Ricky Ponting , who got the leadership position for second year in a row and named in the team for third year running.
The 12-man squad was chosen by a specially-appointed selection panel, chaired by West Indian batting legend Clive Lloyd .
Virender Sehwag is the only Indian included in the 12-man World Test Team of the Year, led by South African Graeme Smith .
In other awards, Simon Taufel of Australia won the Umpire of the Year for the fifth year in a row, the Netherlands' Ryan ten Doeschate was declared Associate Player of the Year, England captain Charlotte Edwards was chosen Women's Player of the Year while the Spirit of Cricket Award went to Sri Lanka .
Yuvraj beat off tough competition from his captain Dhoni, Chris Gayle of the West Indies and Australia's Brett Lee , who became the first bowler to take a hat-trick in the World Twenty20 Championship in South Africa.
On 19 September last during a Twenty20 World Championship match against England in Durban, Yuvraj smashed every delivery of the 19th over off England's Stuart Broad beyond the boundary rope, in the process registering a 12-ball half-century and putting his team on course for victory.
It was the first time a player had hit six sixes in a single Twenty20 International over. Herschelle Gibbs did it in an ODI during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 in the West Indies while Garry Sobers became the first batsman to achieve the feat during a first-class match back in 1968.
For the best cricketer award, Chanderpaul had to fight off tough competition from Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardena as well as South Africans Graeme Smith and Dale Steyn to become the fifth player to win the coveted Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy.
The West Indian crisis man follows in the footsteps of India's Rahul Dravid (2004), Andrew Flintoff of England and South Africa's Jacques Kallis (joint winners in 2005) and Ricky Ponting of Australia (2006, 2007) to take the top award.
During the voting period, the left-hander from Guyana played eight Test matches, scoring 819 runs at an average of 91.00, including three centuries and six fifties, all of which were against the top seven teams in the world.
He also played 13 ODIs during that time, finishing top of the averages with 74.75 having scored 598 runs, a haul that included a century and five fifties.
He is currently ranked number one in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen and is sixth in the rankings for ODI batsmen.
For the Test Player of the Year, Steyn beat off Chanderpaul, Jayawardene and Proteas team-mate Jacques Kallis to win the first ICC award of his career.
During the 12-month voting period, Steyn put in some remarkable performances, taking 86 wickets at an average of just 18.10 in the 14 Test matches. He was the only bowler to earn an average less than 21.50 (of those who played more than three matches).
The 25-year-old had the best strike-rate with a wicket every 31.9 deliveries and he boasted two 10-wicket matches and six five-wicket innings.
List of winners:
Cricketer of the Year Award: Shivnarine Chanderpaul (WI)Test Player of the Year Award: Dale Steyn (SA)ODI Player of the Year: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Ind)Women's Cricketer of the Year: Charlotte Edwards (Eng)Emerging Player of the Year: Ajantha Mendis (SL)Associate ODI Player of the Year: Ryan ten Doeschate (NL)Twenty20 International Performance of Year: Yuvraj Singh (Ind)
Spirit of Cricket Award: Sri Lanka
Umpire of the Year Award: Simon Taufel
World Test Team of the Year (in batting order): Graeme Smith (SA, captain); Virender Sehwag (Ind); Mahela Jayawardena (SL); Shivnarine Chanderpaul (WI); Kevin Pietersen (Eng); Jacques Kallis (SA); Kumar Sangakkara (SL, wk); Brett Lee (Aus); Ryan Sidebottom (Eng); Dale Steyn (SA); Muttiah Muralitharan (SL); 12th man: Stuart Clark (Aus)

ICC World ODI Team of the Year (in batting order): Herschelle Gibbs (SA); Sachin Tendulkar (Ind); Ricky Ponting (Aus, captain); Yunus Khan (Pak); Andrew Symonds (Aus); Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Ind, wk); Farveez Maharoof (SL); Daniel Vettori (NZ); Brett Lee (Aus); Mitchell Johnson (Aus); Nathan Bracken (Aus); 12th man: Salman Butt (Pak).


BCCI says no to Champions Trophy in October 2009

The Indian Cricket Board on Wednesday rejected the holding of the Champions in October 2009 becuase of clash of date with the home ODI series against Australia .
According to the cricinfo, the BCCI made their opposition to the Champions Trophy dates in the ICC's Chief Executives meeting today and the matter will be discussed in the ICC Board meeting on Thursday.
"We have said that the Champions Trophy in October will not be possible for us since we are hosting Australia at that time," BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah was quoted as saying by the website.
"The one-day series against Australia is a very important fixture for us. It has been scheduled and we can't do anything about it. All the boards will have to find another solution or window for the Champions Trophy."
The BCCI is tentatively planning to hold the first match of the seven-match ODI series against Australia on October 13, three days after the conclusion of the Champions Twenty20 League, which it is organising along with Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa (CSA).
The ICC Board had, on August 24, decided to postpone the Champions Trophy that was originally scheduled to be held in Pakistan from September 12 after five of the eight participating nations expressed security concerns about the host country.

Tendulkar is most prized wicket: Mendis

Sri Lanka's unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis has said that during his meteoric rise in international cricket, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar was the most prized wicket, while Virender Sehwag the toughest to bowl to.
Mendis, who notched up from just three Tests wsith 26 wickets apart from pocketing 33 wickets from 13 One-dayers, is one of the nominees for the International Cricket Council Emerging Player of the Year award.
Asked whose wicket does he cherished the most, Mendis said ''Sachin Tendulkar's wicket is the best among all. I could not get his wicket in the first two matches and felt I might not be able to get him out. Finally, I got him in the second innings of the last Test and thus, stopped him from making a world record.''
In his opinion, the master blaster was however, not the toughest batsman to bowl to. Instead, he rates Sehwag the toughest among all the Indians, who are generally good players against spin.
''Sehwag tried to take too many chances against me and I had to bowl at good areas to contain him,'' he told the Gulf News.
He added that the series against India added to his confidence.
''Before the series, everyone told me that Indians are the best players of spin. So, it turned out to be a big challenge for me.
When I got the Indian batsmen out, it added to my confidence.
''My goal now is to try and work hard and go on to do well against all countries,'' he added


Monday, September 8, 2008

Ganguly left out of Rest of India team for Irani Trophy

Sourav Ganguly was not included in the Rest of India squad for the Irani Trophy match against Ranji Trophy champions Delhi, to be played in Baroda, from September 24-28.
Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma were also left out of the 14-man squad, announced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in Mumbai on Monday.
Sachin Tendulkar , who has recovered from an elbow injury, was included in the squad along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni . Parthiv Patel, who is the second wicketkeeper in the squad may be handed an opener's slot, while Dinesh Karthik was also left out after a poor showing in Sri Lanka .
Ganguly struggled in the three-Test series in Sri Lanka, where he scored just 96 runs in the three outings, at an average of 16. His omission from the Rest of India squad is a clear indication that the national selectors are unhappy with the former India captain's recent showing and considering other options for the four-Test series against Australia next month.
Rahul Dravid and Tendulkar will also be hoping to get back among the runs after a below-par performance against Sri Lanka.
Mohammad Kaif and Wasim Jaffer have been given another chance to impress the selectors ahead of the Test series against Australia.
Meanwhile, 24-year-old Bengal pacer Ashok Dinda is a surprise inclusion in the squad.
Delhi will field a strong side, featuring the likes of Virender Sehwag , Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma.
The season-opening domestic fixture has assumed importance following a poor showing of some senior batsmen on the just-concluded tour of Sri Lanka, which saw India lose the Test series 1-2.
Rest of India squad: Anil Kumble (captain), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (vice-captain & w/k), Sachin Tendulkar, V V S Laxman , Rahul Dravid, Wasim Jaffer, Mohammad Kaif, Harbhajan Singh , Zaheer Khan , Munaf Patel , Parthiv Patel (w/k), R P Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Ashok Dinda.

Monday, September 1, 2008

India sign off with humiliating defeat

A spineless batting display provided an anticlimax to a historic series win, as India suffered a humiliating 112-run loss to Sri Lanka the Duckworth-Lewis method, in a rain-affected fifth and final One-Day International, in Colombo, on Friday.

Though India won the five-match Idea Cup series 3-2, Friday's defeat was their heaviest in Sri Lanka

Chasing a revised target of 216 from 44 overs after rain interrupted the match for 90 minutes when India were wobbling at 70 for 3 in the 15th over, the visitors were skittled out for just 103 in 26.3 overs, their lowest score in Sri Lanka, after the hosts had put up 227 for 6 in 50 overs.

None of the Indian batsmen offered resistance to Lankan bowlers Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis , who shared eight wickets between themselves.

Virat Kohli top-scored with 31 as seven batsmen were out for just 33 runs in 12.1 overs.

Kulasekara ran through the Indian top order, claiming four for 40 from nine overs, including the scalps of openers Gautam Gambhir , Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, while Mendis claimed another four for 10 from 4.3 overs. Dilahara Fernando chipped two wickets for 24 runs.

The Indians began on a cautious note, with openers Gambhir and Kohli scoring just three runs after three overs, the first and third overs bowled by Kulasekara being maidens.

But two fours by Gambhir off Thilan Thushara and a huge six by Kohli off Kulasekara eased off the pressure and India were 20 after the fifth over and the run-rate of four was maintained till Gambhir was out to the last ball of the ninth over after scoring a mere 11 from 16 balls, which included two fours.

The senior of the Delhi openers edged a Kulasekara delivery while playing away from the body and Kumar Sangakkara did the rest behind the wicket to reduce India to 38 for one.

Kohli paid the price for playing across for too many and was LBW nine balls after Gambhir's departure though after making a useful 31 off 46 balls which included three fours and a six.

India were in a spot of bother at 45 for 2 but Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina began the repair work with some lusty blows.

Raina, however, was to be blamed for getting out to a poor shot. The Uttar Pradesh youngster tried to play a pull shot off Kulasekara to a ball which was not short enough only to hole out at mid-off to Dilhara Fernando for 10 (13 balls; 2x4).

Rohit Sharma, who came after the 90-minute rain interruption, did not last long and was out LBW to Kulasekara for 3 though he was unlucky to have got the verdict as the ball was outside the line at the point of impact.

Nine balls later mystery bowler Ajantha Medis claimed Yuvaraj's wicket with his first ball which hit the stumps after having an inside edge and India were looking down the barrel at 79 for 5 then.

Any hopes of fightback went up in smoke after Dhoni was out for one in the 20th over with Fernando cleaning up the Indian captain's stumps for just one off seven deliveries to reduce the visitors to 85 for six.

Pathan (7), Zaheer Khan (3) and R P Singh (4) and Pragyan Ojha (5) went back to the pavilion in quick succession.

Earlier, gritty unbeaten knocks by Thilan Thushara (54) and Jehan Mubarak (47) down the order helped Sri Lanka post a respectable 227 for 6.

Sri Lanka were gasping at 133 for 6, but the pair combined to maul the Indian attack and post an unbeaten 94-run stand, off just 78 balls, that lent respectability to the total.

Relieved to have finally won the toss, Mahela Jayawardene did not hesitate to bat, but the home side suffered a jolt in the second over when run-machine Sanath Jayasuriya (1) perished, much to the dismay of the crowd at the Premadasa Stadium.

The 39-year old slashed at a Zaheer Khan delivery only to see the top edge flying to Pragyan Ojha at third man.

Malinda Warnapura (30) and the new-man Mahela Udawatte (43) then tried hard to consolidate the innings but runs proved hard to come by. In fact, the first 10 overs produced only 28 runs and the pressure started mounting on the batsmen.

Warnapura was lucky to be dropped by Rohit Sharma at cover point from a tough chance, while Udawatte gained in confidence as he smashed a Zaheer delivery through the cover.

Despite their best efforts, Sri Lanka's 50 runs came off 79 balls before both decided to up the tempo.

Zaheer gave away 33 runs in his first spell of seven overs while Munaf Patel was more economical, conceding just 15 runs in his six-over spell.

The Indians then fought back as Irfan Pathan induced a top edge from Warnapura and Gautam Gambhir ran back from cover to take a well-judged catch.

The Baroda bowler struck again, trapping the well-settled Udawatte.

R P Singh then joined the party, as Kumar Sangakkara (1) again flopped with the bat and perished at first slip, when Gambhir took his second catch of the match.

Jayawardene (12) got a life of sorts when Pragyan Ojha failed to catch him off his own bowling. But he could not make the most of it as the Indian spinner had the last laugh.

Jayawardene turned his bat to a dipping delivery from Ojha and ended up lobbing the ball tamely towards cover, where an agile Yuvraj Singh took the sitter.

Chamara Kapugedera (26) and Mubarak then pushed for singles as Sri Lanka reached 126 for five in 35 overs. Kapugedera's heroics, however, came to an end in the 37th over when he holed out to R P Singh off Ojha.

Sri Lanka averaged less than four at 143 for 6 even after 40 overs, suggesting the effectiveness of the Indian bowlers.

Thushara, however, had other ideas. After edging Pathan to the third man boundary, he launched the left-arm seamer into the gap at deep cover boundary much to the delight of the flag-waving spectators.

Jehan Mubarak, on a comeback trail, also chipped in with the odd boundary as the two toiled and took the islanders to a meaningful total.

R P Singh came in for some beating as both the batsmen swatted him for boundaries in the 44th over. But, by then, it was too late. The batsmen were unable to take Sri Lanka near the 250-run mark.