Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Shahid Afridi is back ito ODI squad

Shahid Afridi is expected to play his first ODI since September last year:

Shahid Afridi has made a comeback to Pakistan's ODI squad for the series in South Africa, after being omitted for the tour of India in December last year. The selectors chose him because of his previous success as a legspinner against South Africa, despite him being out of form at present. Batsman Asad Shafiq and spinner Abdur Rehman were the other inclusions for the five-match series that begins on March 10.

The players left out from the ODI squad that went to India were Anwar Ali, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail and Zulfiqar Babar. There was only one change to the Twenty20 squad, with Wahab Riaz replacing Sohail Tanvir, who was part of the team that had travelled to India.

The inclusion of Afridi generated plenty of debate and the chief selector Iqbal Qasim had to answer a barrage of questions. Qasim said that this series was Afridi's "last chance and he has to perform."

"He [Afridi] played against Afghanistan, basically we wanted to assess his fitness and he is fully fit," Qasim said. "They [South Africa] are playing well against fast bowling and our pacers are struggling, so having variety in spin will prove beneficial. The decision to pick Afridi is based on his quality of right-arm leg spin.

"I am not saying go and play him in the XI, my mind says we have to have some variety. Our task is to select the best lot to play against South Africa and Afridi has a role to play with his variety in his bowling."

Afridi was dropped from the ODI squad last year due to his poor form both with ball and bat. In his last 12 international innings across ODIs and T20s, he averaged 7.00 with the bat. He failed to make an impact for Pakistan A and the Hyderbad-Karachi team in the recently concluded home games against an Afghanistan XI. However, he is the most successful Pakistan spinner against South Africa, with 26 wickets in 27 ODIs.

Riaz, 27, last played for Pakistan 11 months ago in the Asia Cup but is having a productive ongoing first-class season. He was selected for the recent tour of India but did not play a game. He was preferred over Aizaz Cheema and replaced Tanvir in the T20 squad because of his ability to bowl over 140 kph.

ODI squad: Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Junaid Khan, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Imran Farhat, Abdur Rehman.

Twenty20 squad: Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Amin, Zulfiqar Babar, Asad Ali, Junaid Khan.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

PSL MD resigned due to some personal reasons

PSL managing director Salman Sarwar Butt, has stepped down from his post:

A key figure of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), its managing director Salman Sarwar Butt, has stepped down from his post and will be replaced by the director general PCB Javed Miandad in the interim. The inaugural season of the Twenty20 tournament was indefinitely postponed because of logistical issues.

Butt, a banker by profession, was instrumental in setting up Pakistan's domestic T20 competition, whose first edition in 2005 was sponsored by his then employer, ABN-AMRO Bank. He is an influential figure on the Pakistan corporate circuit and was involved in setting up the PSL since 2011.

"Before joining, I had intimated the PCB of my plans and commitments beyond April 2013, which would prevent me from working on future editions of PSL," Butt said in a statement. "As the league is now most likely to be held after April, I will not be available to work further on this first edition. We have therefore mutually agreed that it would make sense to appoint a successor sooner rather than later.

"I would naturally be happy to provide all possible assistance to PCB and PSL even if I am not officially associated with the league, and would remain an ardent ambassador of PSL."

The PSL was supposed to be held between March 26 and April 7 in Pakistan but was delayed to give investors more time to submit bids and also to avoid scheduling conflicts with other cricket tournaments. It was also going to clash with the pre-poll campaigns ahead of general elections, expected to be held in May. The PCB is working on another slot for the league and no precise timeframe has been indicated.

"A committee is working full time to find available and appropriate dates and we are hopeful that the process for the sale of various rights will restart soon," said Butt. "We are constantly in touch with all parties who have shown interest in our League and we hope to announce new dates soon."

West Indies won only T20I by 27 runs

Johnson Charles was in fine form once again:

Three days ago, Johnson Charles scored his first international hundred but couldn't stop an Australian victory. This time, a brisk Charles half-century was enough to set West Indies on the way to their first win over Australia in Australia in any format for 16 years, as they showed why they are the reigning Twenty20 world champions. Australia might have swept the ODIs 5-0, but West Indies will at least fly home on a happier note.

They had not beaten Australia in this country since the Perth Test in February 1997. The only man from that contest involved in this drought-breaking match was Paul Reiffel, then a fast bowler, now an umpire. It didn't worry West Indies that Australia fielded one of the least experienced sides they have employed in many years. In international cricket, a win is a win, and this win brought relief for a group of men who have been disappointed with their own efforts over the past two weeks.

Charles set up the victory but Kieron Pollard was Man of the Match, for his quick 26 with the bat and 3 for 30 with the ball. In an enormous chase of 192, the Australians relied on Adam Voges with a half-century and then held out slim hopes while Brad Haddin was at the crease, but when Pollard got rid of Haddin and the debutant Ben Rohrer, the last remaining specialist batsman, as well as the dangerous James Faulkner, it was all but over.

Australia then needed 51 from three overs with only the bowlers at the crease. Not surprisingly, they didn't get close, losing by 27 runs as Sunil Narine, Pollard and Tino Best proved difficult to get away. Narine collected 2 for 19 from his four overs and was the key man with the ball for West Indies. None of Australia's batsman seemed comfortable against him and he did not concede a boundary, while also having George Bailey caught sweeping for 15.

Things hadn't started well for Australia in their chase when Aaron Finch played on to Darren Sammy for 4. Shaun Marsh (19) and Voges then put on a 74-run stand that could have put Australia in a position to push for victory, but both men were run-out within four balls of each other, costing Australia valuable momentum. Voges, who made 51 from 33 balls, had looked especially threatening and carried on the form from his maiden international hundred on Sunday.

The same could be said of Charles, who justified Sammy's decision to bat first. With the exception of the impressive James Faulkner, an inexperienced Australia attack struggled to contain the world champions, who also had useful contributions from Darren Bravo, Pollard and Darren Sammy.

Early in the innings West Indies lost Chris Gayle, who was passed fit having missed the final two one-day internationals with a side injury. On 8, Gayle miscued a pull off the debutant Josh Hazlewood and was brilliantly caught by another man in his first international, Nathan Coulter-Nile, who ran back from mid-on and claimed the catch above his head despite having to twist and turn to keep the ball in his sights.

But it was Gayle's opening partner Charles who set the tone, turning the ball behind square regularly to keep the runs ticking over and swinging hard when he had the opportunity. Charles struck seven fours and one six, a whip over midwicket off Coulter-Nile, and he brought up his half-century from 31 balls before falling for 57 from 35 when he played on off a Coulter-Nile slower delivery.

However, the 88-run partnership between he and Darren Bravo had set West Indies up well. Bravo was less adventurous and scored 32 from 27 balls before he was the victim of a terrible mix-up with Kieron Pollard when both men ended up at the same end. Pollard managed two fours and one six but he wasn't able to hang around until the end, caught at long-on off Faulkner for 26.

Faulkner was comfortably the best of Australia's bowlers, collecting 3 for 28 from his four overs, and it was only a couple of monstrous sixes clubbed by Sammy in the 19th over that prevented Faulkner's figures being even better. He stopped Sammy (20 off seven balls) doing further damage by having him caught at deep midwicket, having started his wicket-taking earlier by bowling Dwayne Bravo for 13.

Andre Russell, who hit a late 23 from 11 balls, and Narsingh Deonarine (6 not out) pushed the total into extremely worrying territory for the Australians; only four times in 302 Twenty20 internationals ever played had the team batting second chased down more to win. And at the end of the night, it had still happened only four times.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Mushtaq Ahmed contracts for Delhi Daredevils in IPL

Mushtaq Ahmed will work for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL:

Mushtaq Ahmed, the former Pakistan legspinner, is on the verge of joining the Delhi Daredevils as a spin-bowling consultant for the 2013 IPL season. Mushtaq signed the year-long contract recently, and is now waiting for the final paperwork to be delivered.

"I have been offered a one-year deal," Mushtaq. "I have accepted it but the deal is yet to be finalised and is in process as written documentation is currently being exchanged."

After retiring from the game in 2008, Mushtaq has been the spin-bowling coach with the England team. The ECB employed him on a consultancy basis so he is free to work for other organisations when not busy with England.

The Daredevils, who missed out on the finals last year after losing to Chennai Super Kings in the play-off, wanted to beef up their support staff. Before the auction, they had identified the lack of quality slow bowlers as a perceived gap in the squad. South African offspinner Johan Botha and Sri Lankan legspinner Jeevan Mendis were duly bought to join the unheralded Shahbaz Nadeem, the left-arm spinner, who was impressive last year.

Mushtaq will pair up with Eric Simmons, the former South Africa bowler, who is the head coach at the Daredevils. He will also be the second Pakistan player to be involved in a coaching role in the IPL; Wasim Akram has been working with the Kolkata Knight Riders as a fast-bowling consultant since 2009.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Australia sets target of 275 for West Indies to win

Adam Voges smashed 112 unbeatable against West Indies:

Adam Voges scored his maiden international century to push Australia to a very competitive total of 5 for 274 as they aimed to complete a 5-0 series clean-sweep in the fifth ODI against West Indies in Melbourne. Tino Best rattled Australia with two wickets in the first three overs of the game and later the Australians were wobbling at 4 for 82 but a century partnership between Voges and Brad Haddin launched the recovery before James Faulkner joined Voges for some quick late runs.

Voges finished unbeaten on 112 and Faulkner on 31 and during their partnership the wheels really fell off for West Indies, who leaked 100 runs in the final ten overs. Singles and twos were far too easy and Voges was also finding the boundary, including with a crunching six over long-on against Best in the 50th over. Voges had brought up his ton from his 97th delivery with a hastily-run two and he celebrated like a man who thought the moment would never come.

That would be understandable, for Voges made his one-day international debut nearly six years ago and since then has been almost permanently on the fringes of the national side, playing 17 ODIs but never more than three in a row. He made West Indies pay for giving him a life on 7, when he was put down at slip by Darren Sammy off the spin of Sunil Narine, and given the way Australia were struggling at the time it might prove to be the defining moment.

Voges found the gaps well and showed the form that he had displayed for Western Australia recently, prompting the selectors to give him one more chance at international level. His half-century came from 64 balls and he had good support from Haddin during a 111-run fifth-wicket stand that prevented West Indies capitalising on their impressive start. Eventually Haddin was caught at deep midwicket top-edging a swivelled pull off Kemar Roach but by then Australia were well set.

The match had started so well for West Indies as Best made Sammy's decision to send Australia in look good from the very first ball, which resulted in the wicket of Australia's captain Shane Watson. Best banged the ball in short and Watson tried to leave it alone but was surprised by the amount of bounce, and the ball ricocheted down from his bat onto the stumps.

In Best's next over he got rid of Aaron Finch for 1 with another bouncer, which was pulled straight to Narine right on the boundary at fine leg. Australia were 2 for 2 and it took a steadying 61-run stand between Phillip Hughes and Shaun Marsh to avoid a collapse. Hughes took until his 19th ball to get off the mark and finished with 29 from 61 balls when he was sharply caught by Kieron Pollard at point.

Hughes slashed hard at Dwayne Bravo and Pollard thrust his hand up and knocked the ball up in the air, allowing him to complete the take comfortably on the second grab. Another fine catch ended the innings of Marsh, who was playing his first ODI for nearly a year and a half. On 40, Marsh edged Bravo and was well caught by the wicketkeeper Devon Thomas, diving in front of first slip.

It was the 150th ODI wicket for Bravo, who was the third-quickest West Indian to the milestone, even faster than the great Courtney Walsh. But West Indies didn't have much more to celebrate after that.

England cruise New Zealand by 40 runs

Broad's bowling attacks cause a big victory:

It was the sort of night that batsmen dream of. The drop-in pitch at Eden Park was hard and true, the straight boundaries were of dimensions more normally associated with the village green, and there was havoc to wreak. England did just that, registering their highest Twenty20 total as one batsman after another played with total freedom.

A target of 215 was all too much for New Zealand, even on a warm and bountiful night when batsmen could have hit straight sixes with a stick of rhubarb, if it was stringy enough. They fell 40 runs short to go one down in a three-match series which now moves on to Hamilton on Tuesday.

Stuart Broad, England's captain, looked fit and happy again in his first international outing for two-and-a-half months and, if his best T20 figures of 4 for 24 and the fact that he is now England's leading T20 wicket-taker will gain most attention, his renewed ability to clock more than 140kph will have brought him equal satisfaction.

England's total not only surpassed their 202 for 6 against South Africa in Johannesburg three years ago, it also equalled the highest score at Eden Park.

Australia made 214 for 5 here in the first T20 international in 2005, a rum affair complete with retro clothing and false moustaches and proud, insecure players insisting that they were not taking it very seriously. It is all very different now, the revelry in the crowd combined with a determination by the players to succeed in cricket's most chaotic, unmanageable format.

New Zealand, normally so reliable in the field, handicapped themselves by dropping five catches. The fifth of them, in the penultimate over, would have required a neat lay-off by James Franklin at long-on to a fielding colleague as he ran tight to the boundary - for New Zealand, it was not a night for such achievements.

"You can't afford to drop five catches, especially with the power England have got," said Brendon McCullum, New Zealand's captain. "We were badly exposed, we let England hit to the short boundaries a lot and we have to work out some better strategies."

Two catches were spurned by Ross Taylor, of all people, who was acclaimed by a crowd of 24,000 on his return from his self-imposed international exile, but who had a nightmarish return, as if the Gods were inclined to poke more fun at him than an overwhelmingly supportive New Zealand public.

He dropped two within four balls and, if the first was difficult as Luke Wright drove Nathan McCullum to cover, his failure to cling onto Michael Lumb's skier was suitably embarrassing. In the interests of reintegration, Taylor grinned in a who-would-have-believed-it sort of way and received pointed expressions of sympathy from nearby team-mates.

Friday, 8 February 2013

West Indies lost 4th ODI by five wickets

Pollard smashed Australia but in vain :

Shane Watson's life without bowling is so far turning out to be a life without worries - for him, and for Australia. Another fluent innings from Watson set the hosts on the path to a leisurely five-wicket victory over the West Indies at the SCG, thus extending the series ledger to 4-0 in favour of Michael Clarke's team as they begin to be fragmented by departures for the imminent tour of India.

Forming important early stands with Aaron Finch and Phillip Hughes, Watson showed there was little bowling joy to be found in a pitch on which the visitors earlier slipped to 6 for 55. Kieron Pollard's admirable rearguard had dragged the visitors' tally to 220 and at least ensured the lights would be required before 18,161 spectators watched Australia strolling home with 31 balls to spare.

Watson played handsome strokes all around the ground, while also absorbing a teasing spell from Sunil Narine, but was given a major helping of good fortune on 32 when wicketkeeper Devon Thomas dropped the sort of chance any gloveman would have been embarrassed to turf. The West Indies were again their own worst enemies when Narsingh Deonarine spurned a chance to run out Hughes, taking the ball but disturbing the stumps with his arm as he did so.

Pollard's century notwithstanding, Australia's target had been kept well within reach by Mitchell Johnson, who had done his best impression of the rested Mitchell Starc to zip through the visitors' batting. None of the West Indian top four reached double figures, leaving Pollard attempting to cobble some kind of total together in a match rendered dead by Australia's completion of an unassailable 3-0 margin on Wednesday night in Canberra.

Supported by Ben Cutting, Clint McKay and a tidy Glenn Maxwell, Johnson grabbed three early wickets to turn the West Indies innings into a salvage operation for Pollard after their captain Darren Sammy had little hesitation batting first on a dry, hard surface that offered bounce.

Finch and Watson began the chase with good sense, striding to a second half-century opening stand in as many innings before Finch was pinned lbw by Narine. Reviewing the decision, Finch discovered the ball was straight enough and clipping the top of the stumps, sending him on his way for another total that indicated more promise than substance.

Hughes was soon playing in Watson's slipstream, the target steadily reduced, but he did not exploit the missed run out, gloving an attempted paddle sweep to slip after struggling to deal with Narine's spin, which from the outset of the innings had seemed West Indies' lone hope of inducing a rush of wickets.

Watson prevented this however, and had left the middle order a task far from taxing by the time Thomas did hang onto a chance, a swift delivery from Tino Best taking bat handle or glove. The remainder of the chase was more comfortable than memorable, though Matthew Wade roused the crowd by hoicking his first ball - a free-hit from Andrew Russell - into the Members Stand, and the win was momentarily delayed when Clarke gloved Best behind with only one run required.

It had seemed a useful toss for Sammy to win on a pristine afternoon, but Johnson found enough new ball swing to bring back the tourists' repressed memories of being shot down for 70 at the WACA ground. In the fourth over Johnson Charles was utterly defeated by a delivery bending back late to pluck out his off stump. McKay was giving nothing away at the other end, allowing Johnson to attack, and Kieran Powell fell victim to another swinging ball before Darren Bravo failed to ride the bounce.

Dwayne Bravo was given lbw on referral when Maxwell straightened an off break into him, then Cutting extracted useful bounce on his arrival to the bowling crease that accounted for Deonarine and Thomas, the latter sent on his way after the third umpire reviewed Finch's low catch.

At that point another pre-dinner finish beckoned, but Pollard provided a reminder of the batting skill that drove him to a century against the same opponents in St Lucia last year. He did so with greater restraint than has usually been characteristic in forming stands of 35 with Andre Russell and 64 with Narine.

Pollard waited until his 115th delivery to swing for the fences, crashing James Faulkner's slower ball over wide long-on, and he added another off McKay before jumping for joy upon reaching three figures. Well as he played, the final tally was never likely to be enough. Watson's authority made that certain.