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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kings XI Punjab blown away by Gayle

Kolkata Knight Riders rode on a hurricane knock from opener Chris Gayle to get the better of Kings XI Punjab by 11 runs (D/L method) in a rain-curtailed Indian Premier League match in Durban on Tuesday.
Chasing 159 to win, Knight Riders were 78 for 1 after 9.2 overs when the heavens opened.
For the record, they required 80 runs of 64 balls, with nine of their wickets intact. And Gayle was unbeaten on 44, making most of his dual luck.
Knight Riders made a sedate start, the presence of two of the most explosive openers (Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle) in their ranks notwithstanding.
Just nine runs came of the first two overs and, more importantly, Gayle (while on 2) offered a straightforward chance but survived - Karan Goel flooring a sitter at midwicket (of Yusuf Abdulla).
The blemish cost Kings XI dear as Kingsmead was soon hit by a 'Gayle' storm, the West Indies captain breaking free with a massive swing of Irfan Pathan that crossed the cover point boundary.
Two more sixes followed in Abdulla's second over -- one each from the blades of Gayle and McCullum. And by the time Irfan's third over commenced, the 'Gayle'storm had intensified.
The result: two boundaries and a six (over long-on) in the first three balls and 17 runs overall.
McCullum joined the party; smashing Vikramjeet Malik for a four and six of successive balls, the first shot bringing about the 50-run partnership.
However, Malik had the last laugh. McCullum in his attempt to cut loose, played a loose cut straight to Kumara Sangakkara's gloves.
The Kolkata skipper made 21 (of 16 balls, 1x4, 2x6) and his dismissal left his side at 57 for one.
Kings XI captain, in an attempt to cash in on the initial breakthrough, introduced Piyush Chawla into the attack.
And the UP spinner almost doubled the breakthrough with only his second ball, deceiving Gayle (on 32 then) with a googly and getting an outside edge. Sangakkara spilled the opportunity.
Nonetheless the introduction of Chawla put brakes on Knight Riders' scoring rate. The only significant shot in the next three-four overs was yet another maximum from Gayle (of Malik).
However, with Knight Riders' innings interestingly poised on 78 for one after 9.2 overs, the heavens opened again.
As the rain came down heavily and chances of play resuming hung in balance, there was some succour for Knight Riders, they were 11 runs ahead on Duckworth Lewis method.
Kings XI rally after early setbacks
Earlier, having come up second best in their opening matches, the teams did not tinker much with their respective line-ups, the Kolkata side making a lone change by bringing in Yashpal Singh in place of Ajit Agarkar .
While for Kings XI, it was partly owing to the lack of options, for Knight Riders, it meant keeping out the likes of Mashrafe Mortaza and Ajantha Mendis , the latter being a crucial omission, considering spinners have had considerable success so far in the tournament.
However, Knight Riders seemed to have their plans in place, as their lone spinner, Murali Kartik , came in to bowl as late as the 17th over.
The Kolkata side secured an early advantage, winning the toss and opting to field. McCullum made the right decision considering the overcast conditions in Durban. And he got an instant reward.
Ishant Sharma , who got considerable movement from his first ball, struck in his second over, getting Goel to edge one to Gayle at first slip.
Goel, who was so impressive in Kings XI's opening match against Delhi , failed to open his account this time. And that happened despite him facing as many as seven balls.
Yuvraj took a gamble by sending Irfan Pathan in at number three, even if that meant he had to drop down the order. Irfan smashed the first ball he faced to point boundary. And when he took 13 runs off five balls in Ishant's third over -- inclusive of a six to deep mid-wicket and a four at mid-wicket -- and dispatched Moises Henriques to the fence twice, Yuvraj's decision seemed vindicated.
Well, almost. For Irfan's innings was ephemeral. The introduction of Sourav Ganguly signaled the departure of the all-rounder. Irfan mis-timed the first ball he faced from Ganguly and Kartik made no mistake at deep midwicket boundary. Irfan scored off just 17 balls (5x4, 1x6).
Two balls later, Ganguly struck again, getting a thin edge off Ravi Bopara's bat and McCullum took a sharp catch.
Amid continuous talk (read criticism) of coach John Buchanan's multi-captain theory, Ganguly, the Knight Riders captain in the inaugural year, had given the incumbent (McCullum) reason to smile.
Bopara (15/15) again got a good start, as he did against Delhi, but failed to capitalize yet again.
The Punjab team had been reduced to 48 for three after seven overs and their captain made his way to the crease.
Yuvraj was sluggish to begin with. And almost gave away his wicket when he pulled a short delivery from Laxmi Ratan Shukla to deep square leg. Yashpal made a splendid effort to catch it but grounded the ball as he landed. And Yuvraj survived.
Even as the teams came in for a 'strategy break,' with Punjab at 67 for three, the heavens opened, albeit for a brief period.
The break seemed to have worked wonders for Kings XI in general, and their captain in particular. 14 runs came off the Ganguly over, the first after the break, with Yuvraj hoisting one beyond deep-midwicket boundary for the maximum.
The over helped the Kings XI innings get the momentum it needed and from then on it was consolidation -- a 56-run fourth-wicket partnership between Yuvraj and Sangakkara that came of just 45 deliveries.
But just as the partnership looked threatening, yet another chink in the Kings XI armour was visible -- the lack of understanding between the players.
On this occasion it was Sangakkara who paid the price, with Yuvraj not responding his call for a run.
The Sri Lankan made 26 of 24 balls, inclusive of a couple of hits to the fence.
Yuvraj vented his frustration on Shukla, hitting him for a boundary and a six of successive balls in the same over.
However, he didn't last long enough to make amends. A wild heave of Henriques went towards deep midwicket and on this occasion Yashpal made no mistake.
The Kings XI captain scored 38 of 28 balls (3x4, 2x6) but, more importantly, gave his wicket away when he was required to hang on.
Taruwar Kohli (1/4) went back to pavilion sooner than he had taken to come out of it, top-edging an Ashok Dinda delivery (and McCullum accepting it sans any gratitude).
Some lusty blows from Mahela Jayawardene's (31/19, 3x4 1x6) blade gave the Kings XI total -- a semblance of respectability.

'Now every six I hit means a smile'

Adam Gilchrist's sixes at the Indian Premier League will not only enthrall the fans this season, but 25 of his lofty hits will also help fund modified bikes for children with disabilities.
Every time the skipper of last season's laggards Hyderabad Deccan Chargers, sends the ball over the ropes, a child with disabilities will receive a modified bike through Amways Freedom Wheels programme.
Amway runs the programme in partnership with the Technical Aid to the Disabled (TAD).
"Every bike is modified to suit the individual child. This allows children with disabilities to enjoy riding a bike - often for the first time in their lives," Amway said in a statement.
Gilchrist said being a father he could relate to a child's joy at getting a bike and would try his best to hit as many shots over the fence.
"As a father of three kids, I know how much fun riding a bike can be for a child. Now, every six I hit means a smile on a childs face," the retired Australian wicketkeeper said.
"I want to clear the boundary as often as I can." TAD and Amway spokesperson Michial Coldwell said, "We are delighted to partner with Adam Gilchrist. Adam is one of Australia's greatest cricketers and a great guy as well. His support for Freedom Wheels and charities in general is highly commendable."

Friday, March 20, 2009

IPL seeks 80 bullet-proof vehicles

The Indian Premier League is looking for 80 bullet-proof cars and buses to transport players in a bid to secure government clearance for their Twenty20 tournament, local media reported on Friday.
The tournament, scheduled to take place from April 10 to May 24, has yet to be given the home ministry's approval after security concerns escalated in the wake of the attack on the Sri Lankan team in neighbouring Pakistan.
The Indian Express reported that the IPL has said they need 64 bullet-proof cars and 16 buses and wanted them within 15 days, while the Times of India reported the IPL's South African security consultants had approached an Indian company.
"This is a recommendation that has been given to us. We're looking into it and we're hoping we will manage it," the Indian Express quoted an unnamed league official as saying.
When contacted by Reuters, an IPL official said they had no comment to make on the reports.
A number of foreign players feature in the lucrative league and are looking for extra safety assurances but the Indian company approached felt there is not enough time to prepare such a large order.
"The IPL management approached us last week for this order," Sanchit Sobti, a director of Laggar Industries, told the Express.
"We have not accepted it yet as they're giving us too little time to execute this project.
"It takes at least two months to armour a vehicle, and they want us to bullet-proof 64 cars and 16 buses in a fortnight," he said. "We need some five months to execute that kind of order.
"A hurried, shoddy job is neither our sort of work, nor is it desirable since it is a sensitive issue and would hit our credibility in case of a security lapse."
The IPL organisers are also trying to hire bullet-proof vehicles, but they are mainly used by politicians, who have their own security concerns in the thick of campaigning for the general election, which starts on April 16.
Six Sri Lankan players were injured and seven Pakistanis killed when gunmen ambushed the team bus in Lahore earlier this month.

Tendulkar ton as India build healthy lead

Sachin Tendulkar scored a masterly 160, his 42 Test hundred, as India took a healthy 241-run first innings lead on Day 3 of the first Test against New Zealand in Hamilton on Friday.
Resuming at their overnight 278 for four, in reply to New Zealand's 279, the Indian innings folded at 520, when tea was called.
Thanks to an industrious 115-run sixth-wicket partnership between Tendulkar and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (47), and a quick-fire unbeaten 51 not out by Zaheer Khan , India established a sizeable lead.
The visitors have reached a position from where they can entertain hopes of winning their first Test in New Zealand since 1976.
Tendulkar was on top of his game, beginning the day with an exquisite cover drive off Chris Martin that set the tempo for the rest of the first session. The little genius was in an aggressive mode as boundaries oozed out of his willow. A backfoot cover drive off Martin bore the class. An elegant whip of the pads and a back cut off Lain O'Brien were followed by a brace of boundaries -- an on-drive and a square drive -- off Jesse Ryder .
The Kiwis merely watched in awe as the master batsman moved into top gear, working the ball delightfully off the square.
The 35-year-old run-machine, who notched his third hundred in four Tests since the 109 at Nagpur last November, pulled farther away from Ricky Ponting's 37 hundreds from 129 Tests.
Having recorded his 19th score over 150, Tendulkar eventually fell to a short ball from a bumper-happy Iain O'Brien, Ross Taylor pouching the lobbed cherry at first slip.
Fast bowler Zaheer then took India past 500-run mark with his 46-ball cameo. He cashed on a dropped chance to notch up his third Test fifty, which was studded with eight fours. He and last-man out Munaf Patel (9) put up 28 runs for the 10th wicket.
Earlier in the day, India lost Yuvraj Singh in dramatic fashion. Venturing to shoulder arms to a break-back from Martin, the left-hander sheepishly had his off-peg rattled. He made 22 before starting his walk back to the hut.