Sunday, April 01, 2007

Clippings: Australia whip Bangladesh

Bridgetown, April 1
Glenn McGrath set a World Cup record and Australia brushed aside Bangladesh by 10 wickets on Saturday to add more proof that it's the best cricket team on the planet.
Paceman McGrath, in the twilight of his career at age 37, captured three wickets and passed former Pakistan great Wasim Akram for the most World Cup victims. He has 57 to Akram's 55.
``When you're playing long enough, you're going to get a record here or there but Wasim Akram to me is one of the best bowlers of all time. To go past him is something pretty special,'' said McGrath, who has been at the top for 14 years and will call it a day after this World Cup is over.
After McGrath's 3-16 had helped Australia restrict Bangladesh to 104 for six in a match reduced to 22 overs because of rain, his batsmen showed how easy this game can be.
Adam Gilchrist scored 59 and Matthew Hayden (47) launched two sixes in the final over to finish the match with more than eight of the 22 overs remaining.
A game reduced to 22 overs a side is almost like cricket's version of soccer's penalty shootout.
That gave Bangladesh a chance of an upset because both teams have to play risky cricket, although Australia captain Ricky Ponting was never worried.
``More often than not, the better team is going to win regardless of how long the game is,'' Ponting said. ``I didn't feel that because the game was shorter today that gave Bangladesh any more of a chance.''
He made it easier for his team after he won the toss and put the pressure on Bangladesh by asking it to bat first.
After Nathan Bracken removed Tamim Iqbal with only four runs on the board, McGrath tied Akram's record of 55 World Cup records by bowling Shahriar Nafees for one at 8-2.
Although Bangladesh hit 4, 3 and 6 in successive balls from Shaun Tait, Australia kept the pressure on. In his next over, McGrath made the record his own when Bracken stretched his arms to take a great catch at mid-on to dismiss Aftab Ahmed at 25-3 in the sixth over
McGrath also snapped up the fourth at 37 before Saqibul Hasan and Habibul Bashar halted the wickets charge with a fifth-wicket partnership of 28.
Gilchrist survived a chance in the second over when he edged a catch past wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim and Bangladesh also squandered a chance to capture Hayden early.
But there was never any doubt who would win and the Australians, who scored more than 300 in each of their previous four games, cantered to another lopsided victory.
Chasing an unprecedented three World Cup titles in a row, they have won 16 consecutive matches in the sport's premier one-day championship.
Ponting's team has six points from three games at the top of the Super 8s standings, with New Zealand on four but with a game in hand. Sri Lanka, England, South Africa and West Indies have two and Ireland and Bangladesh none.
After the round-robin series, four teams advance to the semifinal with the final in Barbados on April 28.
Meanwhile, a team of four British detectives joined the murder inquiry into the death of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, who Jamaican police say was strangled in his hotel room in Kingston March 18.
London's Scotland Yard said Saturday that a senior detective from the Homicide and Serious Crime command, two detectives and a specialist scenes of crime officer will arrive in Jamaica next week.
Woolmer, a former England test batsman who also coached South Africa, was found dead the day after his Pakistan team was upset by Ireland in a World Cup group game.
The murder inquiry has overshadowed what should be a festival of cricket in the Caribbean, with speculation he was killed by an angry Pakistan fan or could have been about to expose match-fixing. After almost two weeks, however, Jamaican police are yet to name a suspect.
While Woolmer's body remains in Jamaica, a memorial service is being staged in Lahore, Pakistan, on Sunday with another scheduled in Cape Town, South Africa, on Wednesday.
The loss to Ireland meant that Pakistan, one of the pre-tournament favorites, was eliminated in the first round and the players went home in disgrace.
The Pakistan Cricket Board suspended all players' contracts on Saturday in the aftermath of the team's World Cup flop and PCB chairman Naseem Ashraf offered to quit, which was rejected.
``It's not the time to panic and overreact,'' Ashraf said Saturday. ``I know people are angry and disgusted with the performance of the national team, but let me assure you that cricket is not going to die down in this country of 160 million.''
Pakistan is also planning to hire a baseball coach from the United States to improve the national team's fielding.
``The coach will be not be for three months or four months, we will hire him for at least one year,'' Ashraf said.

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