Monday, April 30, 2007

Clippings: Cricket World Cup-- farce or high farce?

By Chuck Culpepper, Los Angeles Times
LONDON — Many complain the cricket World Cup ran too long at a whopping seven weeks, but others might complain it didn't run long enough.
The average American human brain, after all, cannot absorb cricket in seven weeks.Seven months might suffice.Or, not.Australia became the first country to win the World Cup for a third straight time, cementing its dynasty with a 53-run defeat of Sri Lanka on Saturday evening, but with the use of the dreaded Duckworth-Lewis method.Cricket aficionados comprehend the Duckworth-Lewis method, but many other humans, including physicists at Ivy League universities, do not.
In matches fraught with weather delays, the Duckworth-Lewis method, devised by Englishmen Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis, gauges an outcome through a mathematical formula.Other, simpleton sports simply look at the scoreboard to see whether five innings have passed and, if not, reschedule for another day.Cricket uses math, which many people follow sports to escape, and it's unclear whether Australia won the 2007 World Cup once or twice.
That's because, after delays in stormy Barbados — and everyone can agree it's a bummer when you have a stormy Barbados — the Australians celebrated their title, then learned from umpires that it wasn't complete, so they'd have to play on.
They played on a little bit more until darkness put the clamp on the day, whereupon they celebrated again.
Reported London's Daily Telegraph, "Nothing was visible except the electronic scoreboard which did not know what was going on. Nobody could see the celebrating Australians or the closing ceremony."
A sport which produces such a chaotic climax as this is not a sport which is properly run. "
The national newspaper the Australian chimed in with the phrase "a quite ludicrous finale."
Most everyone employed the word "farce," with the BBC opting for "high farce."
Somewhere in there, one Adam Gilchrist had paced Australia, wringing a World Cup final record 149 from 104 balls, in the final match for one Glenn McGrath, retiring from a memorable career. With Gilchrist as bulwark, Australia reached 281 for four wickets in 38 overs.
Later, Sri Lanka reached 215, not enough to win under Duckworth-Lewis.
Thus did end one of history's most traumatized sporting events, stretching through seven weeks in eight Caribbean nations. Two titans, Pakistan and India, had exited early and shockingly, but that proved hauntingly mild. After Pakistan's ouster, hotel housekeepers in Kingston, Jamaica, found its globally esteemed coach, Bob Woolmer, dead in his room on March 18.
Four days after that, authorities ruled the death a homicide. The investigation continues.After a pause for reflection, play resumed, and the Australians kept winning decisively, bringing their three-quadrennium winning streak to 23 and their unbeaten streak to 29, their last loss coming early in the 1999 tournament.
They have won four of the nine cricket World Cups held since the event debuted in 1975, and their stylish Tasmanian captain, Ricky Ponting, has graced the last four finals, winning three and captaining two. That much seems legible, if the process did not.
Later Saturday night, match referee Jeff Crowe cited human error in the umpires' mistaken decision to bring Sri Lanka back on for three more overs, after the Sri Lanka batsmen had exited because of bad light and Australia had commenced celebrating.
Even sage cricket enthusiasts might not ever comprehend that.

Clippings: Australia edge out Sri Lanka to win World Cup

Australia won a record third successive World Cup on Saturday amid scenes of unprecedented confusion as night fell on Kensington Oval.
The Australians, who scored 281 for four from 38 overs, thought they had clinched the rain-reduced match when Sri Lanka needing 63 runs from three to win accepted the umpires' offer to go off for bad light.
As the Australians celebrated exuberantly while the scoreboard flashed "Congratulations Australia", umpires Steve Bucknor and Aleem Dar told the teams they needed to complete the remaining overs or return on Sunday.
Instead, as match referee Jeff Crowe admitted at a news conference later, the match was already over because Sri Lanka had completed the minimum 20 of their revised allotment of 36.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting and his Sri Lanka counterpart Mahela Jayawardene agreed that slow bowlers would bowl the remaining overs because it was so dark and the match finally ended with Sri Lanka 215 for eight and a 53-run victory to Australia.
The fiasco rounded off a trouble-strewn competition which was rocked early on by the suspected murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer and has been criticised for being over-long and over-priced for local Caribbean fans.
Australia, unbeaten in 29 World Cup matches since they lost to Pakistan in 1999, are the only team to win the tournament three times in a row. It was their fourth victory overall.
Australia coach John Buchanan, who quits his post after the tournament, said the gap between his team and the rest had been the difference "between night and day".
"Each individual strives for perfection all the time, from a coach's point of view that's a perfect team," he told a news conference.
Their win was set up by vice-captain Adam Gilchrist, who plundered a record 149 when play finally began 2-3/4 hours late.
Gilchrist broke Clive Lloyd's record for the fastest century in a World Cup final and went on to better Ponting's record individual score of 140 not out at the 2003 final. He equalled the World Cup record of eight sixes in an innings and he has also scored more than 50 in each of Australia's hat-trick of wins.
Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden (38) put on 172 for the first wicket, breaking the previous opening record of 129 in a final set by England's Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott against West Indies in 1979.
Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions, made a spirited reply with Sanath Jayasuriya (63) and Kumar Sangakkara (54) adding 116 from 106 balls for the second wicket with some delightful strokes.
After their dismissals rain again swept across the Kensington Oval, stopping play for 12 minutes, and Sri Lanka's target was reduced to 269 from 36.
The Sri Lankans continued to go for their shots in the increasing gloom but wickets fell steadily and the game finally ended in total darkness with nobody on the ground able to figure out what was going on.
Gilchrist, who scored one in each of his last two innings, recaptured the timing that makes him one of the most destructive batsman in international cricket.
He lofted the second ball of Chaminda Vaas's second over for four then hit the left-armer over long-on for six and slashed a further boundary past slip.
Dilhara Fernando replaced the expensive Vaas in the attack but the tall paceman was unable to hold on to a sharp caught-and-bowled from Gilchrist, on 31, at ankle height.
The batsman celebrated with a four and a six from the next two deliveries.
Two sixes off off-spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan and another off Fernando brought up the 100 from 102 balls.
Gilchrist reached his century in 72 balls with eight fours and six sixes, 10 balls fewer than West Indian captain Lloyd's match-winning innings in the 1975 Cup final against Australia.
Hayden was caught in the covers by Jayawardene off the impressive Lasith Malinga and Gilchrist followed one short of his 150 caught off a skier after batting for 104 balls with 13 fours and eight sixes.
"He's a brilliant batsman and today he batted really well," said Jayawardene.
Sri Lanka opener Jayasuriya took fours through extra-cover, point and over slips from a Shaun Tait over.
Glenn McGrath, playing his last match for Australia, began economically before Sangakkara ruined his figures with a six into the crowd followed by two fours.
His dismissal, a simple catch to Ponting at mid-on off Brad Hogg's left-arm spin, was the beginning of the end for Sri Lanka. Jayasuriya was bowled for 63 from 67 balls by Michael Clarke and a difficult task for the remaining batsmen was made impossible by the rain and dark.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sri Lanka vs Australia: A Just World Cup

By John Cheeran
This has been a just World Cup so far. No Argentina and Brazil have fallen by the wayside, leaving followers of the game to ponder the injustice of it all.
Two of the finest one-day teams have made it to the final. Sri Lanka, an island where blood mingles with water in a fratricidal war, and Australia, an island much bigger in size, if you want to look at it that way, have played almost flawless cricket during the big moments were far superior than the rest.
Cricket is the most objective of all sports. Scoreboard does not leave any room for ambiguity where every ball is analyzed whether it is illegitimate or not and routed to the respective bins of extras. In cricket every moment is accounted for. Even the equation injustice of a Duckworth-Lewis method has been spared in 2007.
Yes, there were small earthquakes when Bangladesh beat India and Ireland pole axed Pakistan. But that did not shake the tournament’s foundations. Those upsets only mirrored the fault lines in Indian and Pakistan cricket.
As Rahul Dravid admitted India did not deserve to be in the Super Eight. Peace prevails in India now thanks to the ambush by Bangladeshis. All credit should go to Rahul Gandhi’s grandmother.
As the curtains were lifting for the World Cup in the Caribbean all experts said this is going to be the most open World Cup of all time. By that they definitely did not mean Bangladesh or Ireland will win the World Cup but they were straining their eyes to see two new finalists to emerge as it would have been if South Africa and New Zealand had the qualified for the final waltz.
Experts and commoners were mentally prepared to accept defending champions Australians crashing out of the World Cup, possibly in the Super Eight. And not many would have bet on Sri Lankans to go so far despite having a varied bowling attack in Muralitharan, Malinga and Vaas.
Cassandras have been proved wrong by cricket.
An Australia-Sri Lanka World Cup final is a triumph of the school of thoughtful cricket. Australian’s schooled approach to the game what with their celebrated cricket academy and the nurturing of talent is in stark contrast to the band-aid solutions that generally prevails in the Indian subcontinent.
Sri Lanka has been an glorious exception to this. Sri Lanka and Australia had clashed in a World Cup final in the past too, in 1996. Even as Sri Lankans lifted the World Cup in Lahore, an Aussie hand was visible in the commotion. That was Dav Whatmore.
This time around, the largely Simhalese Sri Lankans, who have had a bitter relationship towards Aussies (think Darrell Hair and prime Minister John Howard) and especially over the Tamilian genius in their side, Muttiah Muralitharan, have made use of the celebrated Australian approach.
It is no wonder that it is school cricket that is the backbone of Sri Lankan cricket. An appropriate theatre, where the game should be taught and experimented with.
Finally a few words on tomorrow’s final.
Who will win the World Cup. I still pick Australia as winners as I did in the beginning. But I’m certain that unlike the Indians the last time, the joint front put up by the warring Simhalas and Tamilians as Mahela Jayawardena joins hands with Muralitharan, should force Ricky Ponting to the abandon well rehearsed attacking mode.And, if Lions and Tigers maul Kangaroos, guns may fall silent at least for a while.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Clippings: Australia storm into final

From Sydney Morning Herald
Australia marauded into their fourth consecutive World Cup final overnight by again embarrassing South Africa on the game's biggest stage.
Glenn McGrath re-opened old wounds and Shaun Tait made them sting painfully in setting up a seven-wicket semi-final victory.
McGrath, playing in the penultimate game of his career, took the new ball and used it to claim three crucial wickets in ageless fashion, while Tait finished with career-best figures of 4-39.
"Full credit to our bowlers ... all the bowlers have just been fantastic. All four are in the top five or six leading wicket takers in the tournament," Australian captain Ricky Ponting said.
"We are in really good shape and looking forward to Saturday coming around really quickly."
South African skipper Graeme Smith rejected suggestions that South Africa had choked on a big occasion."To me choking is when you get close to winning,'' he said. "We just didn't play well, there were one or two loose shots.
"Tait as first change as a strike bowler does make life a little difficult.''
Ponting said reducing South Africa to 27 for five in the 10th over had been a tremendous start.
"We had them under pressure from the first over of the game,'' he said."They came out really aggressive and really positive.
"Sometimes that comes off in one-day cricket, sometimes it doesn't. I must admit we wanted them to come out hard.''
The Australia captain said there was still more to come from his team, who have not once been seriously confronted for 100 overs during the past seven weeks.
"We are doing a lot of things really well at the moment,'' he said. ``Whether what we are doing is better than last World Cup, I'm not sure.
"There's no doubt that out skills in the tournament have been exceptional.''
Smith won the toss and felt his side's best hope of turning the tables on Australia was to bat first, but with McGrath on a hat trick at 5-27 the dream was in complete ruins.
South Africa were demolished for 149, the country's lowest ever total in its increasingly traumatic World Cup history.
The shell-shocked South Africans gave themselves a shot with the early wicket of Adam Gilchrist, but Australia in this brutal state of mind were never going to allow the kind of disaster that befell their opponents.
With Matthew Hayden in command, as he has been all tournament, Australia cruised to victory with 18.3 overs to spare.

Hayden made 41, and was never hurried. He will enter the World Cup final against Sri Lanka in Barbados on Saturday - a reprisal of the 1996 decider in Lahore - with a fearsome series record of 621 runs at 77.62, and a strike rate better than a run a ball.
This game was hyped as a clash of two heavyweights, and inevitably as South Africa's chance to banish forever the demons of World Cups past, including the tied semi-final of Edgbaston, 1999.
Now those demons will linger for another four years, after Nathan Bracken, McGrath and Tait combined to instigate a dramatic top order collapse.
Smith was the first casualty, bowled as he walked down the wicket at Bracken.
Jacques Kallis, criticised for his snail's innings in the group game against Australia, took a bold approach to McGrath, charging and slapping him to boundary over point.In the same over a yorker length ball toppled his off stump and he was gone for five from nine balls.
With South Africa in deep trouble, Ricky Ponting sensed a chance to go in for the kill and tossed the ball to Tait, who with his fifth ball captured the edge of AB de Villers.
South Africa had talked of being due some luck in World Cups, but there was nothing unlucky about this collapse.
Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher nibbled at consecutive, tasty deliveries from McGrath when they needed to survive. The ball that got Prince would have been a wide had he not reached for it, but the pressure closing around South Africa at Beausejour Stadium was palpable.
A couple of months ago critics were questioning the 37-year-old McGrath's place in the starting XI; now his aura is as powerful as ever and he is set to finish his fourth World Cup and his brilliant career as the tournament's outstanding bowler.
After Michael Clarke, with a smooth and unbeaten 60 from 86 balls, and Andrew Symonds sealed the win, a place in the final was greeted with handshakes rather than jubilant hugs.
It suggested the job was unfinished, and that Australia will not celebrate until an unprecedented third consecutive World Cup is in the cabinet.
Australia have beaten South Africa by seven wickets in their World Cup semi-final in St Lucia.
Shaun Tait took 4-39, while Glenn McGrath continued his excellent run of form with 3-18.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Clippings: Sri Lanka take their place in final

Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan bamboozled New Zealand on Tuesday to send the 1996 champions to the World Cup final with a 81-run victory.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene chose to bat and struck an unbeaten 115 to lead his side to a daunting 289 for five at Sabina Park.
Master spinner Muralitharan then took four for 31 as he ran through the New Zealand middle-order, picking up three wickets in six balls, with Stephen Fleming's side collapsing to 208 all out. Fleming quit as Kiwis' one-day skipper shortly afterwards.
New Zealand's semi-final jinx continued -- this was their fifth defeat at this stage of the World Cup in nine tournaments -- while Sri Lanka moved into their second final.
They will meet the winners of Wednesday's second semi between holders Australia and South Africa in St Lucia.
Jayawardene had said before the game that his side's strength lay in specialists and his superbly paced innings, along with a knock of 73 from Upul Tharanga, justified his confidence in the upper order.
Not for the first time, Lasith Malinga delivered a superb spell of pace bowling before Muralitharan's deceptive spin proved too much for the Kiwis.
New Zealand had been well poised in their reply working their way to 100-2 after 20 overs but Muralitharan turned the game, producing a spell of five wickets for just 11 runs in tandem with Sanath Jayasuriya.
Sri Lanka had suffered an early setback when Jayasuriya, his country's most prolific run scorer, was bowled by James Franklin for one.
Left-armer Franklin claimed his second victim when wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara dollied a simple catch to New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming at mid-on with the score at 67.
Tharanga and a cautious Jayawardene then put on 44 and threatened a major partnership before spinner Daniel Vettori bowled a sweeping Tharanga around his legs.
Chamara Silva was unfortunate to be given out lbw off a mis-firing Shane Bond for 21 when television replays suggested he had got bat on ball before it hit the pads.
Tillakaratne Dilshan joined Jayawardene at a crucial stage of the game with Sri Lanka 152 for four in the 35th over and the pair stepped up the pace putting on an 81-run partnership in 64 deliveries.
Jacob Oram got rid off Dilshan with another harsh lbw decision before Jayawardene, who had been dropped by Bond on 70, then took complete charge and Sri Lanka amassed 102 runs from the final 10 overs.
The response began poorly for New Zealand when Fleming was trapped lbw by Malinga -- bowling with outstanding pace and accuracy -- and Chaminda Vaas trapped Ross Taylor leg before to leave the Kiwis on 32 for two.
But Scott Styris and Peter Fulton put on a 73-run partnership which brought New Zealand back into the running before Styris (37) was caught at mid-wicket off Dilshan and the slump began.
Jacob Oram (3) was the victim of a superb caught and bowled from Muralitharan and the spinner dismissed Brendon McCallum first ball, the wicketkeeper caught by Silva after unwisely trying to sweep.
Fulton went for 46, caught by Silva off Jayasuriya, before Muralitharan struck again trapping Vettori lbw after he failed to read the 'doosra' -- the off-spinner's surprise leg-break. New Zealand were then 116-7.
Craig McMillan, who struggled throughout the game with a stomach muscle problem, provided a brief rally with a hard-hitting 25 but the damage had been done and Muralitharan's fourth victim came when he bowled Bond.
With the game all but over last-man Jeetan Patel hit a spirited 34 at the end before he holed out off Dilshan.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Simpson speak: Is Tendulkar listening??

By John Cheeran
Now the secret is out. The secret behind Sachin Tendulkar's wobbly show at the crease.
What Greg Chappell and Tendulkar himself failed to analyse or rather admit, has been made public by Bob Simpson, the legendary coach and captain of Australia.
But it however remains a mystery what prompts former cricketers to offer unsolicted consultancy.
It's all because Tendulkar is no longer watching the ball out of the bowler's hand.
"Tendulkar has fallen into what is probably the most common error in batting - not watching the ball out of the bowler's hand but watching for the ball in areas around it," Simpson writes in his column.
"Tests have shown that you can pick the ball about a metre sooner if you watch it right out of the bowler's hand. This is a huge advantage to a batsman," adds Simpson.
The BCCI bosses should be making notes as they prepare to select the successor for Chappell. Had Simpson been there to assist the Indian team in the Caribben, we would have won the World Cup.
"Sachin was a dream to coach. Almost in my first session with him, I noticed he had fallen into the error of moving back to the leg stump instead of middle and leg to cover good length. I discussed with him the disadvantages of such a method and the advantages of what I was suggesting.
"We watched a video of him batting in the nets, which confirmed my thoughts and Sachin immediately began remedying it. "For some years after this, even when I wasn't coaching India, whenever I ran into Sachin he would always ask if I had noticed anything wrong with his batting.
"If Sachin were to ask me that question today I would say, 'check the video and you will find that even with your defensive shots you are late getting into position'."
Simpson finds Chappell a bad coach. "Obviously Greg Chappell had problems with the attitude of some of the top players. I found his public declaration of his dissatisfaction over the attitude and commitment of his senior players most disappointing."
(But as far as I know Chappell never questioned the senior's attitude, at least, on the record. So I'm surprised how Simpson writes that Chappell's public declaration is most disappointing.
These are the wonders of journalism when fiction becomes fact and rumour the truth.)
Simpson does not stop there. "Chappell's lack of success with the Indian team has come as no surprise to the Australian cricket fraternity. He is admired greatly for his wonderful, graceful and successful batting and I feel he was one of the greatest slip fielders of all time, but his captaincy and coaching did not command the same respect."
"During his long tenure as captain of Queensland, they were considered the best team in Australia but didn't win a single Sheffield Shield title. In recent times, he had a long coaching stint with South Australia but with poor results."
Chappell's somewhat autocratic manner was often blamed for his lack of success, as was his perceived lack of understanding that his charges didn't have his golden touch and class as a cricketer."
Simpson recalls his stint a consultant to the Indian team in the late 1990s.
"I can only speak of the pleasures of coaching the senior Indian players, though there were some frustrations. Whether it was assisting Javagal Srinath to bowl a slower ball, Rahul Dravid to improve his slip fielding or Anil Kumble to hold his action longer to maintain his flight, I was always conscious of keeping it natural.
"India, like most countries, have their own style of playing cricket. To divert too far from that is seeking problems, and denying the natural instincts of the individual players," he said.
Simpson also criticised the tendency among somecountries to ape the Australian system even if that did not suit them. "The whole world seems hell bent upon copying the Australian way of cricket. Sticking to the very basics of cricket has always been the successful format of cricketers and teams throughout the world, not fashion, fad and theories, which seem to be the driving forces today," he adds.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Shantadevi, Tendulkar and sacrifice

By John Cheeran
P Shantadevi has nothing to do with cricket or Sachin Tendulkar. Yet I bring up her name to illustrate a point and pain.
Shantadevi is what you would call a character actress in Malayalam movie industry. Someone, who has excelled in Amma (mother) roles in the last 10 –15 years in Malayalam movies, Shantadevi has a legendary past in theatre too.
All that matters little.
I recall a television interview with Shantadevi from last year where the interviewer asked Shantadevi Amma what a sacrifice was it for her to act in the past. Especially during her theatre days.
I was struck by her honest answer. Shantadevi said “Enthu thyagam mone. Avaru vandiuym kondu varum, njan pkoum, stagilu kerum, Paisa vangum, thiruchu porum. (What sacrifice, my son.. They will come with the van. I will go and be on the stage. Take the money and come back.”
Shantadevi’s already cracked voice rams home the point. To talk about having made sacrifices as a performer whether on stage or at the wicket is bullshit. There are no sacrifices involved there. No giving of your heart and soul there.
You perform and survive. No room for claptrap.
When will Tendulkar stop talking about his sacrifices for Indian cricket.
May be Tendulkar should learn what humility is at the feet of that Amma who lost her son long ago.

The empty chair in Indian cricket

By John Cheeran
All of us are bloody keen to look ahead and find out what will happen tomorrow. Cricket, being blessed with its own quirks, is the only sport where a slot is kept for peeping into the future. It is marked as the vice-captain’s chair. In no other sport is there a space for a vice-captain. Not in football, not in rugby, not in baseball.
The long winding nature of the game itself and the cricket tour, may have prompted the BCCIs and the ICCs to stick to such bridesmaids.
Sometimes the shadow of vice-captain can put a cricket captain in the shade of self-doubt. Vice-captain is by and large is perceived as a yuvraj eager to take over the reins of the side from the reigning king.
It is a slot earmarked for grooming the next captain. And, for once, the BCCI has chosen not to name a vice-captain for a touring squad. (For home series, the BCCI never names a vice-captain what with so many counselors at hand to be pressed into service!) The Dhaka-bound Indian team is left without a vice-captain. While busy blending youth and experience, the BCCI could not find anyone suitable to warm the chair of vice-captaincy.
And to consider that Indian team’s last vice-captain, the man who was kept waiting during the Caribbean sojourn, was none other than the great Sachin Tendulkar.
If you ask me is Tendulkar going to Dhaka I will say yes and no. Both are right answers. The greatest one-day batsman ever, Tendulkar, has been dropped from the one-day side but given a chance to make runs against Bangladesh in Tests.
Since Tendulkar is resting his bat in Bandra, why did the BCCI not choose a vice-captain for the Dhaka trip?
As I pointed out earlier princes are groomed for leadership by first serving as vice-captains. All analysts and spin-doctors in the Indian media had taken pains to anoint Punjab’s Yuvraj Singh as the new vice-captain. In the immediate aftermath of the World Cup catastrophe, quite a few cricket writers had hailed Yuvraj Singh as the new Indian captain.
But better sense has prevailed at the BCCI boardrooms for a change. Sensibly, they have decided not to appoint Yuvraj Singh as vice-captain. That’s absolutely right when your candidate is someone who throws away his wicket by calling his captain for a non-extant single during a must-win chase at the World Cup theatre.
Quite a few cricketers in India have taken things for granted for a long, long time. It is heartening to see the BCCI lumbering towards its goal.

Give us the truth, Vengsarkar. It will not hurt..

By John Cheeran
Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are the prominent members of The ‘Rest’ of Indian team of the season.
Dilip Balwant Vengsarkar, chairman of national selection committee, however, has reasoned to such an extent that there is no crime and punishment involved in the recent selection despite the enormities in the World Cup.
It surprises me why Vengsarkar thought it necessary to say that Tendulkar and Ganguly were not dropped but merely rested along with Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan etc.
Oh....What else the Indian cricketers have been doing all this while after failing to make the Super Eights in the 2007 World Cup? I thought they were resting their billboard arses after such strenuous efforts in the Caribbean.
Vengsarkar said that even skipper Rahul Dravid will be rested since the Indian team has a hectic season ahead.
I recall Vengsarkar saying that the Dhaka tour was the only opportunity to rest Tendulkar and Ganguly, they being such hot potatoes in this spicy dish of disasters. May be Vengsarkar will rest skipper Dravid for England tour!
Whatever Vengsarkar pretends, it is quite plain that the BCCI wants to be seen by the Indian cricket followers that they mean business and they can mould new stars, if those current ones are on the wane.
Apparently selectors had to follow the overall philosophy of blending youth with experience. Hence giving another run for Robin Uthappas, Dinesh Karthicks and Sreesanths. That has opened the doors for Manoj Tewari, a commoner cricketer from Calcutta with no princely airs.
Well, selectors have given another chance for the truant Virender Sehwag but has punctured his pride by deleting his name from the Test teamsheet.
Greg Chappell has gone, but without the milk of runs and wickets flowing on the scoreboard, the Mafiosi of seniors will have to put the barrels of the manipulative guns to their own temples.
As always we shall watch...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Clippings: Pietersen's century sinks West Indies

West Indies captain Brian Lara's farewell to international cricket was spoilt by a run out and a thrilling one-wicket defeat by England in the final World Cup Super Eights match on Saturday.
Kevin Pietersen's superb 100 helped England to their target of 301 with one ball to spare after out-of-form Michael Vaughan (79) scored his first fifty of the campaign.
The retirement of Lara, one of the greatest batsman to have graced the sport, and England coach Duncan Fletcher's imminent departure gave the match special significance even though neither team had a chance of progressing further.
England needed 47 runs off the last five overs and a gutsy 38 from wicketkeeper Paul Nixon took them within range before Stuart Broad hit the winning runs off the penultimate delivery.
Lara's disappointment at the defeat was compounded by his own innings -- he only managed to make 18 before he was run out following a mix-up with Marlon Samuels in his final knock.
While Lara, who holds the record for the top test score (400 not out) and highest first class knock (501 not out), ended his reign as captain with another loss, the match produced just the kind of entertaining cricket the 37-year-old values so highly.
"Things didn't work out as planned but still it was a very good game of cricket, it was a fitting way to end my career, runs galore, with over 600 scored in the day," Lara said before making a lap of honour around the field, shaking hands with hundreds of fans.
Exciting though it was, the result was inconsequential as far as the tournament was concerned with both teams having already failed to make the last four -- New Zealand face Sri Lanka and holders Australia are up against South Africa in next week's semi-finals.
Lara's announcement on Thursday that he was retiring from all forms of international cricket transformed the match into an emotional farewell.
Coming in at his old position of number three, Lara received a massive standing ovation and was given a guard of honour by England as he came to the crease.
Even England supporters in the crowd would surely have been willing to Lara to show some of his array of strokes but a big innings was not to be and he left the pitch after just 39 minutes holding his bat aloft before his own team gave him another salute.
Opener Chris Gayle had at least treated the crowd to some Lara-like shots, smashing a 58-ball 79 to leave West Indies on a healthy 131 for one in the 24th over.
Devon Smith (61) looked in good touch until Paul Collingwood again produced a stunning one-handed diving catch at backward point.
Samuels partially made-up for running Lara out by hitting an entertaining 51 as West Indies made 300 for the first time in the tournament.
England made a positive start to the reply and moved briskly to 58 for one off the opening 10 overs after Andrew Strauss was caught by Smith off local boy Corey Collymore.
Vaughan was in aggressive mood hitting six fours and two sixes before he was run out with England at 154 for three in the 27th over -- Dwayne Bravo producing a direct hit as he had done earlier to dismiss Ravi Bopara for 26.
A composed and controlled knock from Pietersen kept English hopes alive as he brought up his 90 ball century with a massive six off Jerome Taylor.
He was then clean bowled next delivery and Taylor claimed his replacement Liam Plunkett in the same over to leave England 30 runs shy of victory with 3.1 overs remaining.
Nixon was still there though and his four boundaries in the 48th and 49th over took England into the final six balls needing just four to win.
The keeper was bowled by a slower delivery from Bravo with the second ball but Broad kept his cool to ensure victory.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A well-earned rest for Tendulkar and Ganguly

India selectors pitched for youth for nextmonth's tour of Bangladesh, resting batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly from the one-day team and ousting three others following the side's World Cupfailure.India, who suffered a shock exit from the first stage of the World Cup,play a three-match one-day series followed by two tests from May 10.Tendulkarand Ganguly retained their test places.
Out-of-form batsman Virender Sehwag madethe one-day team but was dropped from the test side.Off-spinner HarbhajanSingh, left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan and pacer Ajit Agarkar, all part of theWorld Cup disappointment, were dropped from both teams.
"For the Bangladesh tourwe thought we could get youngsters," chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar toldjournalists."It is only for this tour. We thought we could try players who havedone well in first-class (domestic) cricket. This was the only opportunity wehave to see and assess their talent. That's the reason we have picked them."They (the team) are playing 45 ODIs, you see, this year. It will be tough toplay all the matches. (Tendulkar and Ganguly) understand that. Everybody willtake rest."
Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwary, 21, is the lone new face in the one-day team while 18-year-old leg spinner Piyush Chawla, who has played one test, hasbeen drafted into the one-day team following Anil Kumble's retirement. A clutch of younger players have been recalled.The only debutant in the test team was Baroda left-arm spinner Rajesh Pawar.
Vengsarkar said wicketkeeper-batsmanDinesh Karthik would be considered as opener in tests along with Wasim Jaffer."We picked three spinners and four fast bowlers. We have to get the combinationright."The team leave for Bangladesh on May 7 after a five-day preparatory campin Kolkata.Former captain Ravi Shastri was named cricket manager earlier thismonth after Australian Greg Chappell resigned as coach.
Squad for one-dayinternationals: Rahul Dravid (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, VirenderSehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Manoj Tiwary,Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh, PiyushChawla, Ramesh Powar and Dinesh Mongia.
Squad for tests: Rahul Dravid (captain),Wasim Jaffer, Sachin Tendulkar, Vangipurappu Laxman, Mahendra Dhoni, SouravGanguly, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan,Vikram Rajvir Singh, Munaf Patel, Anil Kumble, Ramesh Powar and Rajesh Pawar.
Itinerary: One-day internationals: May 10 and May 12 in Mirpur, May 15 inChittagong. Tests: May 18-22 in Chittagong and May 25-29 in Mirpur.

Clippings: Australia wreck New Zealand

From Daily Telegraph, Australia
AUSTRALIA on Friday crushed New Zealand with a thumping 215-run victory in the cricket World Cup super eights with century scoring Matthew Hayden man of match.
While World Cup rivals are playing mind games around them, Australia are striving to squeeze the life out of any opposition they can find. Australian captain Ricky Ponting is confident their philosophy gives them a great chance to claim a record third consecutive World Cup title, whatever New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming says.
The Black Caps rested opening bowler Shane Bond (upset stomach) and all-rounder Jacob Oram (bruised heel) today as Australia scored a ninth win from nine outings in the Caribbean tournament, thrashing their fellow semi-finalists by 215 runs in their Super Eights clash.
Man-of-the-match Matthew Hayden blasted 103 from 100 balls, a record-equalling third hundred in a single World Cup tournament, in Australia's 6-348. Spinner Brad Hogg (4-29) and paceman Shaun Tait (3-32) combined to bowl Fleming's side out for just 133 in 25.5 overs.Australia scored the biggest win in World Cup history in matches between Test-playing nations.
The Grenada victory came just four days after another semi-final team Sri Lanka also fielded a depleted line-up, resting their three top bowlers including Muttiah Muralitharan and losing to Australia by seven wickets.Sri Lanka and New Zealand have both finished on 10 points and will meet in Tuesday's semi-final in Jamaica while Australia (14pts) take on arch rivals South Africa in St Lucia on Wednesday.
Fleming was adamant today his side could bounce back for the semi-final and the final, stating Australia would be vulnerable if they had an off day or even one bad 10-over period.``With nothing being on this game, it took a little bit of edge off us,'' Fleming said.
``It was probably one of our worst performances.``We've had one eye on the game against Sri Lanka.''Asked about the benefit to Australia of winning today then possibly meeting the Kiwis eight days later in the Barbados final, Fleming said: ``No. None. I can confidently say that.''
Ponting, however, was having none of it and was clearly angry at Fleming's attempt to downplay the significance of today's win.``I'd rather be in our room than theirs,'' Ponting said.``They'll be having all sorts of meetings over the next few days to talk about today's game. We'll be having a beer tonight.``If they don't think that's going to affect them at all, then how is any psychological edge ever gained in any game of cricket?``If we don't take something out of today's game, then no one ever can. We've just beaten New Zealand by 215 runs in a World Cup game, so they've got a lot of thinking to do.'
'Fleming said Australia had the most talented side but that wasn't enough to win a World Cup.``We beat Australia recently. If there's a bit of bounce and seam movement and it goes our way then pressure can be created,'' he said. ``The pressure of expectation can also be very high.``Australia are playing great cricket but I guess they are playing such good cricket, are they going to have a bad day?''
Hayden, who has already won one World Cup in 2003, warned Australia's rivals that their best was yet to come.``It all comes down to the next two games. All that we have achieved until now means if we can't go all the way,'' he said. ``More than anything, I think the side loves big games and big occasions.''Ponting made 66 today and Shane Watson smashed 65 not out from 32 balls after missing three games with a calf-muscle strain.Hayden, who is the tournament's leading runscorer with 580 at 108, joined Australian Mark Waugh and India's Saurav Ganguly as the only players with three centuries in a single World Cup tournament.
The Queenslander's 10th one-day international century included 10 fours and two sixes and followed his 101 against South Africa and 158 against West Indies.It is Hayden's fifth century in 21 innings since being dumped for the Champions Trophy in October.Hayden, 35, only came back into the side for the tri-series against England and New Zealand in January because of Watson's hamstring injury.
Ponting and Hayden added 137 for the second wicket to set up the big total, with Watson doing the rest late in the innings after good contributions in the middle order from Mike Hussey (37) and the consistent Michael Clarke (49).Australia have won 21 consecutive World Cup games since their 1999 semi-final tie against South Africa.``We haven't talked about this consecutive run of games. We are just talking about winning each game as it comes along,'' Ponting said.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Lara finally lets it go..runs and dollars

West Indies captain Brian Lara announced his retirement from international cricket on Thursday, ending a record-breaking career of one of the sport's greatest ever batsmen.
Lara, said his last match for West Indies would be Saturday's World Cup match against England at the Kensington Oval.
"I've given this extensive consideration and on Saturday I will be bidding farewell to international cricket as a player," Lara told a news conference after West Indies beat Bangladesh by 99 runs in a Super Eights match on Thursday.
"I've already spoken to the board and to my players."
The 37-year-old Trinidadian holds the record for the highest test score (400 not out) and in the first-class game (501 not out). He is also the leading run scorer in tests with 11,953 from 131 matches. In one-day internationals he amassed 10,387 runs from 298 games.
Lara had already announced he was quitting one day internationals at the end of the World Cup but had been expected to lead the side in a test series against England which begins in May.
During the press conference, where an emotional Lara reflected on his career, he indicated that he had been frustrated as captain during the team's disappointing World Cup campaign.
Lara is expected to be replaced by Ramnaresh Sarwan as skipper and asked if he felt that would be the right choice he said: "Whoever takes over the team, I think it is important that they get the support, what you see on the surface isn't everything.
"You have got to get the support from the very beginning and a wholehearted support from the board, from the selectors, from the team from everyone, for the captain to feel comfortable in the position."
When asked if he felt he had not received such wholehearted support, Lara replied: "It is not the time for that sort of criticism, it is done and gone and spilt milk. We have just got to move on and focus on Saturday and West Indies cricket in the future."
Before making his surprise announcement Lara had been asked to reflect on how he would like to be remembered as a player.
"I just want to be remembered as someone who went out there and tried to entertain -- it is a sport where people pay to come through the turnstiles and watch you and it is most important that someone can leave and say they have enjoyed watching Brian Lara play and enjoyed watching West Indies play.
"Another thing I am really proud of myself for is that I have been knocked down so many times as a player, as a person, and it is that strength, that I suppose comes from my parents, to be able to pick myself up each time and go out there in the face of adversity.
"That is something that I didn't read in a book or wake up in the morning with, it is deep down and it is a part of my family trait."

Clippings: A win for Windies!

World Cup hosts West Indies finally picked up their first win in the Super Eights stage with a 99-run victory over Bangladesh on Thursday in a game between two already eliminated sides.
Ramnaresh Sarwan struck an unbeaten 91 as West Indies recovered from the loss of two early wickets to make a total of 230 for five and then paceman Daren Powell claimed three wickets as Bangladesh were dismissed for 131 in the 44th over.

Brian Lara's side, who had lost to all four of their previous second-round games, were struggling at eight for two following the loss of openers Chris Gayle and Devon Smith.
But solid knocks from Marlon Samuels (31), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (50) and a lively partnership between Sarwan and Lara (33) helped them to a reasonable total.
A healthy crowd at a sun-drenched Kensington Oval had groaned when Smith was clean bowled by Mashrafe Mortaza and then Gayle, after surviving a strong appeal for caught behind, was trapped lbw by Syed Rasel.
Mortaza and Rasel produced movement and change of pace, as well as nagging accuracy and they restricted West Indies to 17 for two after 10 overs.
Under pressure, Samuels and Chanderpaul then got their heads down and made progress, albeit slowly, putting on a 47 partnership in nearly 19 overs up before Samuels went with a frustrated shot as he was caught behind off the spin of Saqibul Hasan.
Chanderpaul was joined by fellow Guyanese batsman Sarwan, widely tipped to replace Lara as the one-day captain, and they continued the building work, putting on 81 in 16.1 overs.
But from the ball after he brought up his half-century Chanderpaul was bowled attempting to hit across the line to Aftab Ahmed.
In came Lara, in his penultimate one-day international before he retires from the format, and along with the well settled Sarwan the skipper helped step up the pace.
Lara hit a six over mid-wicket and then another over point as he made a lively 33 in 27 balls before he was caught at cover off Abdur Razzak.
The hosts racked up 84 runs off the last 10 overs and they gained a total which put the pressure on Bangladesh.
The reply got off to a bad start when opener Tamim Iqbal, who had been dropped by Lara, was run out following a mix-up with Javed Omar.
Local boy Corey Collymore, getting some bounce out of the wicket, then claimed two vital wickets with Aftab Ahmed caught behind by Denesh Ramdin off a ball that left him and then it was 23 for three when Saqibul Hasan failed to deal with a steeply rising delivery and Ramdin snaffled up a simple catch.
Powell's second spell finished off any realistic chance of a revival from Bangladesh with Omar caught by Gayle and then had captain Habibul Bashar caught by Dwayne Bravo at third slip to leave the score at 52 for six.
Mortaza provided some resistance with a gutsy 37 before he was yorked by Bravo who then got rid of Razzak.
Gayle picked up the wicket of Rasel to close the innings and give the home support something to smile about at last.
They finish their campaign against England in Bridgetown on Saturday. West Indies will begin a tour of England next month.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Clippings: Sri Lanka teach Ireland a lesson or two

ST GEORGE'S, Grenada
Sri Lanka romped to an eight-wicket victory over Ireland in their final World Cup Super Eights match on Wednesday after dismissing their opponents for the lowest score of the tournament.
Ireland made only 77 from their 27.4 overs, one fewer than Bermuda managed against the same opponents in the group stages, after reaching 28 without loss.
Paceman Farveez Maharoof, who took three wickets in four balls in his opening over, and off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who captured two from his first four deliveries, finished with four for 25 and four for 19 respectively.
Maharoof started the rout for the 1996 champions, who have already qualified for the semi-finals, when he came on in the eighth over.
After conceding two fours from his first two balls to opener Jeremy Bray he switched to bowling around the wicket and the left-hander was caught for 20 at short-cover by Russel Arnold.
Andre Botha defended the next ball but then edged a straight-forward catch to wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara.
Eoin Morgan followed next ball to an acrobatic effort from Sangakkara, who changed direction to fling himself to his left and take the ball one-handed.
Maharoof missed an opportunity to take a fourth wicket with the first ball of his fifth over when he dropped a caught-and-bowled chance off Niall O'Brien on two.
In his next over opener William Porterfield, who had scored 17 from 51 deliveries, lofted a simple catch to Sanath Jayasuriya at mid-on.
Muralitharan, coming on to bowl in the 19th over, dismissed O'Brien caught behind for four then bowled Kenny Carroll, playing his first game of the tournament, for a second-ball duck.
Maharoof ran out Ireland captain Trent Johnston (0) with a brilliant piece of fielding in the next over. Johnston moved out of his crease as he pushed the ball back to the bowler who threw down the stumps at the batsman's end with a one-handed pickup and throw.
Kevin O'Brien (2) fell to a second catch by Jayasuriya from the first ball of Muralitharan's next over before Dave Langford-Smith brought up the 50 with a bold clump over mid-on for four.
Langford-Smith was given a life in Muralitharan's next over when Maharoof dropped a catch running in from square-leg. The batsmen crossed for one and Kyle McCallan was lbw next ball for a duck padding up.
A hooked six by Langford-Smith off Maharoof followed and Boyd Rankin drove Muralitharan for a four in a breezy last-wicket partnership before Chaminda Vaas returned to dismiss Langford-Smith lbw for 18 with a low full-toss.
Sri Lanka lost Upul Tharanga for a duck and Sangakkara caught for 10 but Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene was in no mood to delay the finish.
He scored an unbeaten 39 from 27 balls with six fours and a six to seal victory after 10 overs and little more than three hours' play.

Clippings: South Africa thrash England to reach semis

South Africa whipped England to take their place in the World Cup semi-finals after a nine-wicket victory in their Super Eights game on Tuesday at the Kensington Oval.
The defeat ended England's hopes of making the last four and the South Africans now join Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka in the semi-finals.
Andrew Hall took a career-best five for 18 as England slumped to 154 all out and then skipper Graeme Smith made an unbeaten 89 as South Africa ruthlessly knocked off the target with more than 30 overs to spare.
England, who were booed off the field by their large travelling support, now have a meaningless final match of the tournament against hosts West Indies on Saturday in Barbados with both teams now eliminated from the competition.
Hall's intelligent seam bowling was the decisive element in the game, prompting a middle-order batting collapse, with five English wickets going for just 10 runs.
But after England's bowling was so ruthlessly dealt with it was easy to speculate whether a higher score would have made much difference.
England captain Michael Vaughan won the toss and opted to bat first on a wicket that has proven lively in the morning sessions, hoping to take advantage of the quicker pace on the track.
But Vaughan, opening with Ian Bell, made a slow start and England only managed five runs off the first five overs.
Seamers Shaun Pollock and Charl Langeveldt kept England pegged back and Langeveldt then claimed the wicket of a frustrated Bell who skied an attempted pull shot to Ashwell Prince.
The impressive Andre Nel then trapped Vaughan leg before for 17 to leave England at 37 for two in the 13th over.
The pressure was on England's South African-born batsman Kevin Pietersen who faced some hostility -- with bowling and staring -- from Nel.
It was not long before the seamer had his victim with Pietersen (3) spooning a catch to mid-off as he got himself tangled up on a drive.
Another South African-born batsman, Andrew Strauss, got his head down with Paul Collingwood and the pair produced England's best partnership by putting on 58 before Strauss went for 46.
Collingwood followed shortly afterwards for 30, lbw to Hall who then dealt with England's last real threat, Andrew Flintoff (5), removing the all-rounder's middle stump with a ball that cut back off the seam and through a huge gap between bat and pad.
Hall then took Paul Nixon and Sajid Mahmood with successive deliveries and only an unbeaten cameo innings of 27 from Ravi Bopara gave England's attack something to bowl at.
Hall picked up his fifth wicket with his final ball, dismissing James Anderson leg before as England's innings ended with two overs remaining.
Any hopes England had of putting their opponents under early pressure were swept aside in the opening overs as South Africa's opening pair of AB de Villiers and Smith raced to 44 in the opening five overs -- Sajid Mahmood going for 28 off his opening two overs.
De Villiers finally went, caught behind off Flintoff for 42, with South Africa at 85 for one in the 10th over.
Jacques Kallis then came in to see things through alongside the impressive Smith who needed just 58 balls for his 89 not out to crown what was his side's best display of the tournament so far. Smith's knock included 13 boundaries.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Clippings: Aussies whip Sri Lanka

AUSTRALIA captain Ricky Ponting scored an unbeaten 66 as the champions stretched their unbeaten run at the World Cup to 26 games and 20 consecutive wins with a seven-wicket Super Eights victory against an under-strength Sri Lanka here Monday.
Australia had a minor wobble when occasional off-spinner Russel Arnold took two wickets in five balls to leave them 79 for two. But Ponting and Andrew Symonds (63 not out) saw Australia, chasing 227 to win, to 232 for three with an unbroken stand of 106 in a win achieved with 44 balls to spare when the captain hit leg-spinner Malinga Bandara for six.
However, Sri Lanka's attack was missing fast bowler Lasith Malinga (ankle ligaments) and the rested duo of left-arm quick Chaminda Vaas and off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.
Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene said subsequently Murali was nursing a groin problem and Vaas needed a break. Between them the Sri Lankan trio had taken 41 wickets at this tournament, Vaas and Murali bagging three apiece in the six-wicket win against New Zealand last time out which Malinga also missed through injury. Both sides had already qualified for the semi-finals and Sri Lanka's decision to omit 1996 World Cup winners Vaas and Murali denied Australia's batsmen fresh experience against the pair ahead of a possible final clash - the teams are set to avoid one another in the last four. Ponting's fifty came off 67 balls with three boundaries while Symonds, in typical hard-hitting form, reached the landmark in 56 balls with two sixes and three fours.
However, it needed a key double strike from left-arm wrist spinner Brad Hogg to spark a collapse as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 226. Sri Lanka, after slumping to 27 for three, saw Jayawardene (72) and Chamara Silva (64) put on 120 for the fourth wicket before both batsmen fell in quick succession to Hogg, who took two wickets for 35 runs from his 10 overs.
Left-arm quick Nathan Bracken did a superb job at both ends of the innings in a miserly return of four for 19 from 9.4 overs. Sri Lanka, from 167 for three, lost their last seven wickets for 59 runs. Their attack then needed every chance to go to hand. But Arnold, fielding close in at short cover, put down a tough head-high catch when Adam Gilchrist was on 10, off Dilhara Fernando. Matthew Hayden, characteristically aggressive, drove Farveez Maharoof for six. But a partnership worth 76 in under 12 overs was broken when Hayden, on 41, dragged Arnold's fifth ball to Tillakaratne Dilshan at mid-wicket.
And 76 for one became 79 for two when left-hander Gilchrist missed Arnold's quicker ball and was lbw for 30. Even when Michael Clarke (23) fell to Bandara, Australia were in charge at 126 for three in the 24th over. Sri Lanka had to face Australia's first-choice attack and, after Jayawardene won the toss, they lost three wickets lost for one run in 14 balls. Veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya was lbw for 12 to Bracken.
Then Glenn McGrath needed just three balls to strike when Kumar Sangakkara fell lbw for nought. Jayawardene countered, hooking fast bowler Shaun Tait for a six that brought up his fifty in 64 balls, and a century stand with Silva, whose half-century came in 91 deliveries. But Hogg ended the partnership when Silva top-edged a sweep to Clarke at short fine-leg.
Then 167 for four became 174 for five when Jayawardene was stumped off Hogg by wicket-keeper Gilchrist as he played for turn. Sri Lanka's last Super Eights match is against surprise package Ireland here Wednesday while Australia's second round programme ends at the National Stadium on Friday against fellow semi-finalists New Zealand.

Clippings: Ireland beat Bangladesh

Bridgetown, April 16
The battle of attrition between the giant-killers in the cricket World Cup befittingly witnessed a reversal of sorts as Ireland registered a comprehensive 74-run victory over Bangladesh in a Super Eight encounter at the Kensington Oval here.
After handing out a shock defeat to Pakistan in the first round, Ireland beat Bangladesh in all departments of the game to record one more memorable victory in the mega event over another Test playing nation.
The impressive Sunday crowd, most of whom had purchased tickets much in advance to see a mouthwatering India-Pakistan clash, did not have to return home disappointed as the meeting of the minnows treated them with a hard-fought contest.
The Irishmen put up a challenging 243 for 7 on the board after electing to bat and overpowered Bangladesh for 169 in 41.2 overs.
Ireland bowlers put up an improved performance today and brought the Bangladesh batsmen under pressure by capturing wickets at regular intervals, which applied brakes on their scoring rate also.
With Tamim Iqbal (29 off 59 balls) and Mohammad Ashraful at the crease, Bangladesh had a brief chance for revival as both of them added 45 runs for the fourth wicket. But once Tamim was cleaned up by Irish skipper Trent Johnston, the Asian team never looked like heading for a win.
Ashraful (35 off 36 balls) was the best batsman for Bangladesh as he took on the challenge of Irish bowlers and played some entertaining shots, that contained some classy stuff as well as a few improvised strokes. The pint-sized batsman hit five boundaries and a big six before perishing to an unwarranted shot off Boyd Rankin to the fine-leg.
Bangladesh skipper Habibul Bashar never looked convincing in his approach and was responsible for several terrible mix-ups with Ashraful and Mushfiqur Rahim.
Bashar, who also got a life, was a shadow of his own self and struggled to a 57-ball 32 before surrendering as the last man of his side.
Earlier, a patient 85 by opener William Porterfield and some late fireworks by the middle order guided Ireland to a competitive total.
Ireland stuck to their strategy of batting through the 50 overs and their openers laid a solid foundation by putting up a 92-run partnership.
Porterfield was the major architect of the Ireland innings as he stayed at the crease upto the 42nd over to ensure a sound scope for a respectable total.
His 136-ball 85, which contained only three fours, was a tale of patience and determination as he batted for nearly three hours to contribute two crucial partnerships.
Apart from the opening stand with Jeremy Bray (31 off 70 balls), his 48-run partnership with Kevin O'Brien provided a boost to the following batters to go after the Bangladesh bowlers in the slog overs.
After the departure of Porterfield, who was caught by Mohammad Rafique at fine-leg while trying to play an improvised shot off Musharafe Mortaza, Kevin (48 off 44 balls with two fours and two sixes) and Ireland skipper Trent Johnston (30 off 23 balls with two fours and a six) switched gears to gather some quick runs and give their bowlers a decent total to defend.
Lightening Bangladeshi fieldsmen and a prompt wicketkeeper in Mushfiqur Rahim put up an exciting exhibition of ground fielding that restricted Ireland from reaching the 250-run mark.
Bangladesh fielders, who effected four run outs, drew the first blood for the team in the 26th over. Left-arm spinner Sakibul Hasan dived to his right to gather a shot from Porterfield and in a flash threw it to Rahim, who dislodged the bails and sent Bray back to the pavillion.
Two overs later, Eoin Morgan played a shot to the midwicket and tried to steal a couple of runs. But an accurate and fast throw from the deep by Shahadat Hossain and Rahim's brilliant glovework saw the second Irish dismissal.
The third wicket fell sooner than later as Neil O'Brien (10) was claimed by Sakibul.
But that could not deter Ireland from posting a tough target for their opponents and ultimately come up trumps.
In their last Super Eight encounter, Ireland meet Sri Lanka in Grenada on April 18 while Bangladesh take on hosts the West Indies here on April 19.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Clippings: Fleming and Styris slay South Africa

ST GEORGE'S, Grenada
New Zealand exploited favourable early bowling conditions on Saturday to defeat South Africa by five wickets and follow defending champions Australia into the World Cup semi-finals.
Sri Lanka have also now qualified for the final four as South Africa and England, who meet in Barbados on Tuesday, cannot both reach eight points.
On an overcast morning with a hint of rain in the air, Shane Bond and James Franklin took a wicket each in the first three overs and Craig McMillan picked up three cheap wickets near the end to restrict South Africa to 193 for seven.
The sun then came out, the pitch eased and New Zealand reached their target thanks to half-centuries from captain Stephen Fleming (50) and the prolific Scott Styris (56) with 10 balls remaining.
The 10 points New Zealand have now gathered qualifies them for the semi-finals on April 24 and 25. South Africa, the world's top-ranked side before the tournament began, must beat England in their final Super Eights match to reach the semis.
After Fleming had won the toss and asked South Africa to bat, skipper Graeme Smith could make little of Bond's opening over, the second of the day.
He played and missed four in a row, including a no-ball, before pushing the fifth to Jacob Oram at cover diving forward after scoring only a single.
Left-armer Franklin, a transformed bowler when given some assistance from the elements, jagged the final delivery of his second over back into AB de Villiers's pads and won an lbw decision before the opener had scored. It was de Villier's fourth duck of the tournament.
Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs, although beaten repeatedly outside their off-stumps, resurrected the innings. Both struck Oram over his head for sixes and they took the total to 52 when Kallis (22) mishit Daniel Vettori to Bond at mid-off.
Jeetan Patel, recalled in place of Mark Gillespie to partner Vettori, bowled a highly impressive spell of off-spin, varying his flight and pace cleverly in an initial spell of eight overs for 19 runs.
A subdued Gibbs reached his eighth World Cup half-century but was then out for 60 from 100 balls when he played McMillan's medium pace on to his stumps and the remaining batsmen got starts but failed to capitalise.
New Zealand lost Peter Fulton caught at slip off Makhaya Ntini for 16 and then Ross Taylor lbw to Andre Nel for 10 with the total on 42.
Fleming, dropped on 24 and 36, and Styris, let off on four, took the score to 120 before the Kiwi captain was out to the next ball after completing his half-century from 83 balls with six fours, edging Shaun Pollock to Mark Boucher standing up to the stumps.
Styris, who averaged over a hundred before Saturday, knocked the ball into the gaps to reach his fifth score in excess of 50 in the tournament from 77 balls before he was caught by Gibbs off left-arm spinner Robin Peterson.
McMillan (38 not out) scored freely at the end, striking Peterson for a mighty six and hitting Ntini over his head for four.
"I think it's frustrating that conditions should play such a big part in a game," South Africa vice-captain Kallis told a news conference. "The toss was vital."
Fleming praised the performance of his bowlers, including Patel who he said should have played in the last game against Sri Lanka which New Zealand lost by six wickets.
"There was good assistance in the first 10 to 15 overs and then the slow bowlers came on," he said. "We knew there was going to be assistance from the pitch."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sachin Tendulkar and the 'heat of the moment'

By John Cheeran
Guys, what's the heat of the moment?
I thought heat of the moment referred to something that's instinctive.
May be I'm wrong.
I feel so, especially after reading the news that Sachin Tendulkar has explained his tirade against former Indian coach Greg Chappell as that happened in the "heat of the moment."
India's most celebrated batsman is hiding behind semantics after the BCCI slapped a show-cause notice on him.
Tendulkar has written to the BCCI President Sharad Pawar that his interview to The Times of India was done in the heat of moment.
"It was done in the heat of moment and I wouldn't do it again," Tendulkar has written to Pawar.
May I ask Tendulkar what was the heat of the moment when he spoke to a seasoned cricket writer based in Nagpur?
There was no heat of the moment. Heat of the moment happens when two individuals come face to face and confornt each other. Here Tendulkar was not confronting Chappell. A reporter was sought out and his thoughts were passed on to public consumption.
Tendulkar's tirade was a classic case of manipulation against coach Chappell. It is interesting that he did not talk to any of the reporters either in Mumbai or Delhi.
And to consider that Tendulkar was reacting to rumours. What is the heat of the moment when one is reacting to rumours?
Tendulkar, of course, had an axe to grind when he spoke to the Times of India.
You cannot justify Tendulkar's action even as self-defence when Chappell's report did not question the player's attitude.
It is, however, certain that Tendulkar is facing the heat of the scoreboard.
God save his endorsements that his Ferrari keeps rattling the Mumbai's roads.

Sachin Tendulkar in national flag controversy

INDORE: A case was filed against cricketer Sachin Tendulkar on Wednesday at a court here for allegedly dishonouring the national flag.
The case was filed by Bhartiya Janshakti (BJS) leader Rajesh Bidkar under the Prevention of Insult to the National Honour Act of 1971 in the court of Judicial Magistrate Uday Singh Marahwi.
The court, after taking cognizance of the complaint, fixed April 13 for recording statements in the case, Bidkar's advocate Rajendra Sharma told reporters.
In footage beamed on TV news channels and photographs carried in newspapers, Tendulkar was reportedly shown cutting a cake with the national tricolor. The copy of the reports and news footage were submitted by Bidkar in support of his complaint.
A legal notice was sent to Tendulkar on Tuesday demanding an unconditional apology for dishonouring the flag.A complaint has been also been filed with Delhi Police against Tendulkar.
Subodh Jain, a social activist based in East Delhi, filed the complaint with Manasarovar police station in North East Delhi on Tuesday, but no case has been registered in this regard so far.
The Delhi Police is seeking legal advice whether they can proceed on a complaint filed by a social activist here for an "offence" allegedly committed outside the country.
"We will seek legal advice from the public prosecutor. The case pertains to an Indian act. We have to see whether we have the jurisdiction to act on this complaint," Deputy Commissioner of Police (North-East) Jaspal Singh said.
The controversy erupted after a TV channel showed a photograph of Tendulkar with a knife about to cut the cake in the presence of Indian High Commissioner to Jamaica K L Agrawal at a function there.
Jain has also named Team India and officials of the Indian High Commission in Jamaica where Sachin allegedly cut a cake in the colours of the national flag.
"I am disturbed that a person of Tendulkar's stature dishonouring the tricolour. He should be a role model and by cutting a cake with tri-colour he disgraced both the nation and the national flag," Jain said.
BCCI Vice President Rajeev Shukla on Tuesday said that Tendulkar told him that the function was organised by the India High Commission and "with so many people around he did not realise the colour of the cake when he was suddenly asked to cut it."

Clippings: Australia outplay Ireland

Defending champions Australia stormed into the World Cup semifinal with another thumping win on Friday, pushing Ireland aside by nine wickets after bowling the mainly amateur side out for 91.
Having comfortably beaten better sides than the last place Irish in the Super 8s, Ponting's team could have taken it easy against an emerging team which has reached this stage in cricket's premier one-day competition for the first time.
But that's not the Australian way.
Within a few minutes of the opening delivery at Kensington Oval, the Irish were reeling at three wickets down for two runs. Soon it became four wickets for 12 and only some token defiance by Kevin O'Brien (16 runs), team captain Trent Johnston (17) and John Mooney (23) stopped the Irish heading for the record books as championship low scorers _ Canada scored 36 all out against Sri Lanka in 2003.
Though wayward with 11 wides, Shaun Tait took 3-39 and almost had a hat-trick in his second over while the dependable Glenn McGrath finished 3-17.
With only 92 runs to get, Ponting gave out-of-touch Michael Hussey time in the middle by promoting him to opener and he and Adam Gilchrist raced to 62 inside nine overs before the only Australian wicket fell.
Gilchrist was out for 34, beaten by a standout delivery from Johnston that nipped back to strike middle stump and the Australian-born Irish captain danced a jig of delight.
Andrew Symonds was also pushed up the order to score 15 off nine balls and Hussey went on to make 30 not out, finishing the match with a six over midwicket.
The seventh victory in a row - including four in the Super 8s second round - meant that Ricky Ponting's team has 10 points which puts it out of reach of fifth place England. That guarantees it a top four finish in the Super 8s, which still has two rounds of games to go, and all Australia wants to know is who it will face in the semifinal.
``I think we've got a good record over the years of stringing together consecutive wins, whether it be test matches or one-day cricket,'' said Ponting, whose team has won 19 World Cup games in a row going back to the 1999 final.
``We've got a very good run going at the moment. I couldn't be happier with where a lot of the guys are at with their one-day skills,'' Ponting said. ``It's just about our attitude being right for the rest of the tournament. I think you're going to see us play some very good cricket.''
The semifinals are in Jamaica (April 24) and St. Lucia (April 25) with the final in Barbados (April 28).
While it will be a surprise if Sri Lanka, New Zealand and South Africa don't join the Aussies in the semifinals, England still has an outside chance but needs to win both its final games against South Africa and host West Indies.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Clippings: Sri Lanka clip Kiwi wings

ST GEORGE'S, Grenada
Sri Lanka ended New Zealand's unbeaten World Cup run with an untroubled six-wicket win in their Super Eights match at the Grenada National Stadium on Thursday.
The 1996 champions are now equal with New Zealand and holders Australia, who have a game in hand, on eight points.
Australia, the only unbeaten team left in the tournament, top the second-round table on run rate ahead of Sri Lanka and New Zealand, whose nine-match one-day unbeaten run came to an abrupt halt.
Sri Lanka, who took the field without their injured strike bowler Lasith Malinga, restricted New Zealand to 219 for seven despite a battling, unbeaten 111 by Scott Styris. Sri Lanka reached their modest target with 29 balls to spare.
Man-of-the-match Chaminda Vaas dismissed captain Stephen Fleming and Ross Taylor for ducks and Muttiah Muralitharan took three for 32 to move equal top on the wicket-takers' table with 15 alongside Malinga and Australia's Glenn McGrath.
Sanath Jayasuriya (64) and Kumar Sangakkara (69 not out) shared a second-wicket partnership of 100, stroking the ball comfortably around the field with wristy cuts, pushes and drives.
Left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori took two for 35 to become the third New Zealander to capture 200 one-day international wickets.
After coming to the crease with New Zealand reeling at four for two, Styris took 20 balls to get off the mark, opening his account by driving Vaas off the back foot to the cover boundary.
He lofted Farveez Maharoof for a boundary then cut the next ball for four.
He lost Peter Fulton with the score on 71, caught by Chamara Silva off Vaas for 28. Silva took his second catch when Craig McMillan (1) top-edged a sweep off Muralitharan.
Styris scored his fourth half-century of the tournament from 82 balls with six fours and set about restoring the innings in partnership with Jacob Oram (31).
They took the total to 141 when Oram decided it was time to take control. He hit Tillakaratne Dilshan for a six over long-on, the first boundary for 19 overs, but was well held by Maharoof trying for a repeat off the next ball.
James Franklin (25 not out) and Styris shared a bright unbeaten eighth-wicket partnership of 64 from 9.1 overs to take their team past the 200 mark.
Styris reached his second World Cup century from 152 balls with a pull shot for four and the pair took 17 off the 50th over bowled by Vaas.
The Sri Lankans got away to a flying start helped by three dropped catches.
Fleming floored Upul Tharanga on eight and McMillan spilled Jayasuriya on 30. McMillan, at mid-on, got his fingertips only to a chance from Sangakkara when the Sri Lankan wicketkeeper had made nine.
Tharanga made only three more runs before he was caught on the third-man boundary by Shane Bond off Franklin.
Jayasuriya greeted Mark Gillespie's first ball of the tournament by hooking it for six and the second for four. The over cost 17 runs.
He brought up his 63rd one-day international half-century from 65 balls with three fours and a six, falling finally when he was caught behind off Oram by Brendon McCullum standing up to the stumps.
Sangakkara completed his 39th one-day century from 56 balls with one boundary and ended the match with a four off Gillespie.

A code of conduct for bloggers...

BY DANIEL HENNINGER in Opinion Journal
Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal'seditorial page. His column appears Thursdays in the Journal and
And so it came to pass in the year 2007 that a little platoon came forth to say unto the world: Enough is enough.
Two leading citizens of the Web, Tim O'Reilly and JimmyWales, have proposed a "Bloggers Code of Conduct."
The reason for this code isthe phenomenon of people posting extremely nasty verbal comments about otherpeople on Web sites devoted to political and social commentary.
For Mr. O'Reilly, a publisher and activist for open Web standards, the last blogospheric straw involved a friend whose suggestion that it was OK to delete offensive comments from Web sites earned her a backlash of vitriol on several sites, with one posting a photo of her alongside a drawing of a noose.
It is appropriate that this line should be drawn in the ether of the World Wide Web, who secontrolling ethos up to now has been that speech and expression should remain free, unfettered and--the totemic word that ends all argument--"democratic."
As it developed, too many of the Web's democrats, for reasons that have provided much new work for clinical psychologists, tend to write in a vocabulary of rage and aggression.
Take politics. In the House of Representatives, Members by tradition address each other as the "gentleman" or "gentlewoman." These salutations often drip with irony but exist nonetheless to temper the bitterness beneath much political combat.
The democrats around the Web regard any such modulating habits as hypocritical. Unlike the fogies in politics or tradition-hampered media, they describe their opponents as what they believe they are: morons, idiots, fools, sellouts, traitors, liars (perhaps the most used word on the politicized Web), crooks and various other expressions that the touchingly termed "family" newspapers still won't print.
The admission of need for something called a Bloggers Code of Conduct is about more than just the Web. The deeper import of what may be happening here should be evident in Mr. O'Reilly's remark, which was the final sentence in a long New York Times article on the subject last Sunday: "Free speech is enhanced by civility."
It isdifficult for me to imagine a more revolutionary sentence. One might call it"subversive." "Free speech is enhanced by civility."
The revolution comes at the end of that sentence. Free speech we know about. Civility we have forgotten. Ask Don Imus. Subsets of civility would include courtesy, respect, politeness and deference.
Civility is a public virtue. Like oil or wheat, it is a necessary social commodity that allows society to function. That said, it would be overreaching to lay the blame for civility's fall on the World Wide Web. The erosion of our stores of civility occurred over the past 40 years, undermined by torrents of political rage and self-assertion.
In 1968, Abbie Hoffman, theYippie saint and a founding father of anti-civility, wrote a book whose title alone still stands as the best summary of the new game: "Revolution for the Hell of It."
The Web democrats, the public hecklers, the loudmouths are Abbie's children. They know it and are proud of it. No limits. Don't like it? Get over it.
If you object, they will, like characters in a Dick Tracy cartoon, scream,"I demand my constitutional rights!" With the Bloggers Code of Conduct comesthe counterrevolution. Some excerpts: From the Wiki site, put up by JimmyWales, co-founder of the remarkable and controversial Web-based encyclopedia,Wikipedia: "We take responsibility for our own words and reserve the right torestrict comments on our blog that do not conform to basic civility standards."This is a shift from an early precept of the Web known by the acronym YOYOW, or "you own your own words."
In the world of YOYOW, one is responsible only to thedrummer keeping the beat in one's head. From Mr. O'Reilly's Web site: "If youknow someone who is behaving badly, tell them so."
Which is to say, we aresurrounded now by people who have no clue that they are behaving badly, or don'tbelieve that they are, or who argue that behaving badly is their "right."
Are they wrong?
Psychologists commenting on the phenomenon of Web-based verbalabuse or aggressive public heckling often talk about society's expanded notions of personal entitlement and the failure of baby-boomer parents to set norms of behavior for their infallible children. We have ratified a lot of over-the-line behavior. College administrators held the door open for four decades.
The question at the center of oral arguments in the Supreme Court's "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case last month was: Who runs the schools, the kids or the adults? People behaving badly have simply taken the norms their elders gave them to a logicalending point on the Web. On one level, the idea of a code of conduct forlanguage on the Web marks the overdue restoration of adulthood in American life. But there is a harder side to this tension.
After news spread of the O'Reilly-Wales proposal, an (needless to say) angry battalion of bloggerscounterattacked, crying "censorship." Now we're beyond the merely obnoxiousculture of chin-dribble. Now we're talking politics and power. So the cry goesup: You can't tell us how to talk. That's "censorship." The censorship claimis often made by political Web players who want to be "free" to use whatevermeans will achieve the end of driving their opponents over the cliff.
Consider the Congressional Black Caucus. Its affiliation with Fox News to conductpresidential debates was fire-bombed recently on "progressive" Web sites. Example: "Guess it takes a whole lot of grease to fry CBC's chicken." Scared, the three major Democratic presidential candidates pulled out.
Censorship? Try doublespeak.
The strategy of deploying charged and hyper-aggressive language isnow evident: First intimidate one's targets, then coerce them--into conformityor silence.
And do it always under the banner of free speech and democracy. There is no evident political coloration to the broader concern that's arisenabout conduct on the Web. The anti-civility trolls are in restaurants, stadiums,theaters, planes, church, the airwaves, in dreams.
This is merely a recognition that rules of the road can indeed enhance, not suppress, the flow of truly freeexpression and minimize the already ample frictions of daily life.
Better late than never.

Love your enemy: the Dravid Way

After spoiling India's party in the cricket World Cup, young Bangladeshi opener Tamim Iqbal treasures the good words showered on him by rivalskipper Rahul Dravid.
Dravid, despite being devastated by India's loss to Bangladesh on March 17, gave a good account of his sportsmanship. Once back inhis hotel in Port of Spain, Dravid asked Tamim if he could see him in his room. Tamim, not knowing what to expect, knocked at Dravid's door with a littletrepidation.
And to his surprise, he saw Dravid waxing eloquent platitudes onhis brilliant batting on the day. Tamim had scored a half-century in stirringfashion after his side had been set a target of 192 in the afternoon.
The 17-year-old left-hander had gone after Indian medium-fast bowlers with gusto andeven hoisted Zaheer Khan deep into the second tier of the mid-wicket stands.
Stirring moment By the time he was out, Bangladesh was well on its way toscript one of the most stirring moments of his nation's cricket history. Dravid, in that evening, not only praised Tamim but also presented him with abat as a token of his appreciation.
Tamim was overwhelmed but his happinessknew no bounds when the Indian captain gave him another bat to be given to youngwicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim. Mushfiqur too had proved a big thorn inIndia's flesh that day when he scored an important half-century for Bangladeshand anchored its innings to safety. Mushfiqur, promoted to one-drop, hadbatted sedately and opened out only towards the end to rush his team to victory. Number of admirers ``I am overwhelmed. For him to do so after India's chancesin the World Cup had taken a knock shows the spirit in which Dravid plays hiscricket. We have a number of admirers for the Indian captain in our dressingroom,'' he said. Dravid is known for his gestures in international cricket.Periodically he offers advice to a number of young cricketers from Bangladeshand Sri Lanka on how to improve their cricket.
A number of Bangladeshcricketers benefited from his insight and advice on the game when India lasttoured the neighbouring country in 2004. Batting tips Pakistan's YounisKhan had also acknowledged how Dravid's advice turned around his career in 2004. It was in the 2004 Champions Trophy in England when Younis had requested Dravidfor batting tips.
``I talked with Dravid who gave me some tips about battingand about life. After that everything has changed so I have just followed hisinstructions and the results are there,'' he had said. The results were sogood for Younis that he, at one stage of his career, had hit four centuries infour Tests against India.

A battle from the past: Srikkanth vs Dungarpur

Indian cricket team's former captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth alleged in a column published in Hindustan Times on Tuesday, that an attempt was made in 1989 to divide the team over graded payments, but Raj Singh Dungarpur rubbished the charge.
Srikkanth wrote in Hindustan Times that Dungarpur told him the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would back him if 'I abandoned my senior colleagues' in the team following some players' demand for graded payments. Srikkanth was then the captain and Dungarpur the BCCI chief.
'Most senior cricketers had threatened not to go to Pakistan (in 1989) unless the board accepted their terms and conditions. Interestingly, I would not have been particularly affected by the graded system as despite being captain, I was neither very senior nor very junior, and would not have benefited too much orlost too much,' wrote Srikkanth in the Hindustan Times.
Contacted at his Pune residence, Dungarpur told IANS that Srikkanth was only a 'stand-in captain' for that tour and was hence replaced. According to Srikkanth, Dungarpur, the then'powerful chairman of selectors', was staying in the same Taj Palace hotel in New Delhi and called him (Srikkanth) to his (Dungarpur's) room.
'He told me in no uncertain terms that if I abandoned my senior colleagues, he would give me abrand new team, a second XI of sorts made up totally of youngsters, for the Pakistan tour. He said I would have BCCI's complete backing. I refused,' claimed Srikkanth.
When told that Srikkanth has alleged that he was sacked as captain after that tour because he refused to toe the line of the chairman of selectors,Dungarpur said: 'Kindly see his scores on that tour.'Srikkanth tallied 97 runsin seven innings of four Tests at 13.85. His highest was 36. On the entire tour,the opening batsman managed 119 runs in eight innings of five Tests at 14.87.'Since I refused, Dungarpur was extremely upset but eventually the regularplayers went to Pakistan under protest, after announcing we would forfeit thetour fees. There, while I did not make many runs myself, we did very well as ateam, not losing a series in Pakistan for the first time ever - a greatachievement for India,' he wrote of the drawn series.'On my return, even as Iwas preparing to go to New Zealand in a week's time, came the news of my beingdropped not just from the captaincy but also the team. I realised that Raj Singhwas very unhappy with me. That was literally the beginning of the end of mycareer,' he added.Mohammed Azharuddin replaced Srikkanth on the tour of NewZealand.Dungarpur said he would issue a rebuttal in a column that he wouldwrite on reaching Mumbai. 'It is below my dignity to respond to this. I havebeen a strong man. Nobody can challenge it,' he said over telephone.'He(Srikkanth) was sent as a stand-in captain,' pointed out Dungarpur, who iscurrently president of the Cricket Club of India.The Srikkanth-Dungarpur war ofwords is a consequence of India's debacle at the World Cup in the West Indies.India crashed out in the first round.The BCCI called for a series of meetingsin Mumbai last week, including one of former captains, to discuss the disaster.At these meetings, Srikkanth and Dungarpur were present.One outcome of themeeting was that the board scrapped the players' three-tier graded payment,replacing it with an incentive-based system. The details are yet to beannounced.Srikkanth wrote the Tuesday article in the context of the gradedpayment system, which senior players in the 1989 team like Kapil Dev and RaviShastri and he himself had sought.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Clippings: England quell Bangladesh uprising

Bridgetown (Barbados), April 12
England survived quite a few anxious moments, before quelling Bangladesh by four wickets and to keep their semifinal hopes alive in a low-scoring World Cup Super Eights match here.
Requiring 144 runs for victory, England made a mess of the run-chase but an unbeaten stand by Paul Collingwood (23) and Paul Nixon (20) thwarted Bangladesh's another sensational turnaround.
Nixon hit a four off Mortaza with five overs still to go and brought relief to England dressing room.
England next plays South Africa and West Indies and will have to win both to fancy any chances of a semifinal berth. Bangladesh's dream World Cup performance might not take them to the last four stage anymore but nevertheless, they have done themselves proud with their achievements.
Earlier, England invited Bangladesh to bat on a track that was a refreshing change from the slow and low pitches so far. The Kensington Oval, hosting its first World Cup match was fast and bouncy and England did not think twice in giving their pacers the first chance.
James Anderson (2-30) and Sajid Mahmood(3-27) lapped up the conditions on offer before Monty Panesar (3-25) joined the party. Bangladesh batsmen surrendered in just 37.2 overs with Saquibul Hasan (57 not out) hitting a gritty half-century but ran out of partners at the other end.
But the never-say-die attitude of the young Bangladeshi side brought them right into the match. They played with a big heart and looked like the dictating team in the middle. Their dismal performance with the bat had no bearing as they bowled and fielded like tigers.
Bangladesh's army of left arm-spinners were upto the task again, choking the English batsmen whose over cautious approach in chasing a small total could have cost them dearly.
Abdur Razzak (2-30) and Mohammad Rafique (2-33) tightened the noose around England after Syed Rasel's tidy spell fetched two wickets.
England scored just 30 runs in their first 10 overs, losing the wicket of Ian Bell. Syed Rasel completed his quota on-the-trot and kept things tight for England with his gentle and nagging seam bowling.
Rasel first took the wicket of Bell (0) whose tentative push went into the hands of Aftab Ahmed. After the lunch break, Rasel got Strauss leg before. Strauss (23 off 37 balls) and Skipper Michael Vaughan took time to settle down but never really looked comfortable.
Vaughan chose the occasion to come back to form and took his time out in the middle only to leave England in a tricky position. Vaughan, who took 59 balls to score 30, mistimed a sweep and lobbed an easy catch to Habibul Bashar.
The hard hitting Peietersen was also caught in the spinning web, scoring 10 off 25 balls. He charged Razzak to break the shackles but found the fielder at mid-wicket. England 79 for four and looking in deep trouble.
Andrew Flintoff tried to hit his way out and looked to finish things in a hurry. His 23 runs came in 21 balls which included three boundaries and one six.
Rafique bowled a beauty to rattle Flintoff's stumps and then got Ravi Bopara inside edge to his wicket with almost a similar delivery. Two wickets in Rafique's one over (32nd) gave Bangladesh a real chance of causing a turnaround.
With just 34 runs to win, Collingwood and Nixon, though edgy, stuck to the crease and score through pushes and nudges.
Bangladesh stepped up the attack and Rafique looked dangerous with every ball but the total was too small to defend at the end.
Earlier, England pace attack thrived on lively conditions to bundle out Bangladesh for a meager 143 runs in 37.2 overs.
Bangladesh were struggling at a pathetic 65 for six and faced with the humiliation of being bundled out without hundred runs on the board. Saqibul Hasan (57) and Mashrafe Mortaza (13) put in a stand of 47 runs to save the blushes.
More than the pace, it was the bounce of the track that unsettled the batsmen. Mahmood got the wicket of promising opener Tamim Iqbal before Skipper Habibul Bashar's was out in slightly strange fashion.
Shahriar Nafees flicked Mahmood over mid-on only to find skipper Michael Vaughan, who dropped a sitter but his throw at the strikers' end caught Bashar napping. Bashar was so sure that his partner would be caught that he stood at the halfway dejected without completing the run.
Nafees could not make the most the Vaughan lifeline and edged Mahmood behind stumps which was taken by Strauss in third slip as it came off Nixon's gloves.
The solid defence of Mushfiqur Rahim was crashed through by a Flintoff delivery. Anderson got rid of danger-man Mohammad Ashraful and Aftab Ahmed.
Saqibul and Moratza then came together to do the rescue act. The duo added 47 runs before Panesar broke the stand.
Panesar's teasing tossed-up delivery was too tempting for a bowler to resist and Mortaza's big heave landed nowhere. His stumps were, however, rattled. Saqibul, who hit six fours and one six in his half century knock that came in 82 balls, ran out of partners.
John Cheeran at Blogged