Thursday, 31 January 2013

India's great victory against West Indies

India's openers Thirush Kamini and Poonam Raut put on 175:

Hosts India made a rousing start to their Women's World Cup campaign with a demolition of West Indies, a show that deserved more than half a stand watching at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai. Their opener Thirush Kamini, playing her first international game in three years, pushed on from a steady start to make the first World Cup century by an India woman. Kamini also added 175 with fellow opener Poonam Raut - the highest such partnership for India in the Women's World Cup and also their highest against a Full Member team.

Asked to bat, India collected 109 in the 13 overs left after Raut fell for 72, with unrestrained hitting from the promoted Jhulan Goswami and the vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur leading them to their highest Women's World Cup total. Had West Indies not thrown themselves around the field all afternoon, India could have gone past 300.

The Indian seamers Jhulan Goswami, Amita Sharma and Nagarajan Niranjana moved the ball both ways under lights in the stadium separated by a road from the Arabian Sea. West Indies never recovered from 38 for 3, which included a run-out second ball of the chase, courtesy a direct hit from Kaur.

The afternoon belonged to Kamini and Raut. The captain Mithali Raj had said before the game that India had lacked a quality opening pair going into previous World Cups, but this time it was different. Kamini and Raut, fresh from productive stands in the two warm-up games, backed their captain's words with a superbly paced partnership.

The diminutive Raut took the lead at the start. Always on the lookout for singles, Raut also hit several scoop shots over the wicketkeeper and short fine leg. Three of her seven boundaries came that way but the standout aspect was the way she turned the strike over.

Kamini, slower between the wickets than Raut, took 93 deliveries to get to her fifty compared to Raut's 71. Her next fifty came at close to run a ball as she overtook Raut with a flurry of powerful strokes that flew into gaps. Till then, Kamini had been stepping out to the army of spinners employed by West Indies and had been driving crisply, only to find the fielders. Now she skipped out and lofted one over deep midwicket for the first six of the tournament.

She also started using the sweep more often now, and it was such a shot to short fine leg that brought up the landmark and an emotional, jumping, fist-pumping celebration that ended in an embrace from Goswami. A few overs earlier, Raut had gone leg-before on an attempted sweep.

India sent in the fast bowler Goswami at No. 3. Goswami, the second-most successful bowler in women's ODIs, used her long reach to telling effect to slam 36 off 21. She made some room outside leg stump and lofted the medium-pacers over extra cover, or launched them over midwicket.

After a tired Kamini failed to make her ground the ball after reaching her century, young Kaur walked in and showed why she is so highly rated by the team management. A furious, swift connection of a slog-sweep brought her six over deep square leg. She proceeded to display a range of strokes in her 22-ball 36. There was a charge and a drive past mid-on, a late cut to third man, and also a straight six. Raj, India's best batsman, came in as late as No. 8 in the last over but her top order had already ensured an imposing total.

Defending 284, Kaur sent back Kycia Knight second ball with a sprint from midwicket and a direct hit at the non-striker's end, despite a team-mate almost being in her way and just one stump to aim at. It was the start of a refreshingly sharp performance on the field by the hosts.

Stefanie Taylor, West Indies' best batsman, was kept subdued by the movement generated by the India seamers and the bounce from Goswami. She survived a caught-behind appeal off Goswami - replays indicated an inside edge - but walked when Sharma appealed for a catch to the keeper in the sixth over, with the third umpire confirming the ball had carried.

When Shemaine Campbelle walked across to Nagarajan Niranjana to lose her leg stump in the 15th over, West Indies were struggling at 38 for 3. In walked Deandra Dottin, holder of the record for the fastest century in Twenty20 internationals across men's and women's games. For about 20 minutes, the sparse but noisy crowd, which had been screaming out the India players' names dutifully, was treated to fearsome power-hitting as Dottin surged to 39 off 15. Niranjana was the one to suffer the most, with Dottin taking her for three fours and two sixes in seven balls.

Dottin dispatched her first delivery violently past point and lofted the next over mid-on. Two straight sixes against the spin of Gouher Sultana followed, after which she set about Niranjana again. A pull landed in the stands over deep midwicket. Three balls later, the advertising boards at wide long-on took punishment with a flat six.

Niranjana's fifth delivery of the over was a slower one and Dottin played across the line to be trapped lbw. That sent Niranjana on a long celebratory run through the off side, and at 84 for 4, it all but ended West Indies' chances.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

South Africa won from last ball's six

South Africa won after a tough fight:

South Africa nearly messed up another run chase, but Ryan McLaren's six off the final ball ensured they avoided their first limited-overs whitewash on home soil by securing a gripping one-wicket victory in Potchefstroom. Graeme Smith's tenth ODI hundred was guiding the innings only for another uncertain display from the middle and lower order to mean the game was never dead and it came down to needing three off the last ball.

James Franklin, who the ball before had Dale Steyn caught at deep midwicket, tried to bowl wide of off stump and McLaren responded by scooping him over fine leg. Still, while the crowd went wild, South Africa's celebrations, after the initial relief, were muted as they had still come second best in this series and, barring Smith, their batting performance was again one to raise concerns.

New Zealand never gave up and deserve immense credit for how they turned their fortunes around during this one-day series. For a side that fielded outstandingly, though, they will regret one moment when McLaren, on 6, was dropped at deep midwicket by Jimmy Neesham who approached the catch far too casually.

While Smith was at the crease the chase, while never simple, was under control. He had brought up his hundred with consecutive boundaries off Kane Williamson but attempting to loft the same bowler down the ground picked out long-on with 32 still needed from 26 balls. Rory Kleinveldt and Aaron Phangiso then both fell swinging across the line at Mitchell McClenaghan to set up the grandstand final over where eight were needed with two wickets in hand.

But Smith's innings deserved to be a matchwinner. During the course of his 130-ball stay he moved second in the list of all-time run-scorers for South Africa in ODIs, now just behind Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs. Early on he was given plenty on the pads to pick off, but the cover drive, not often a shot associated with Smith, twice made an appearance.

His opening stand of 83 with Quinton de Kock laid the ideal base to chase 260 but after de Kock misjudged his pull against Franklin the innings stalled as New Zealand applied pressure. Nathan McCullum's offspin was hard to score off and when South Africa called for the Powerplay in the 27th over Colin Ingram pulled the first ball of it to midwicket.

More loose shots followed, with Smith watching on from the other end. Faf du Plessis also picked out midwicket against Kyle Mills, Farhaan Behardien chipped a catch back to Williamson who did well to hold on while colliding with Smith and David Miller played a hot-headed hoick across the line shortly after Smith had reached his hundred. At 205 for 5 in the 42nd over New Zealand were back in contention and when they removed Smith the whitewash was on the cards, but McLaren managed to keep his cool.

New Zealand had earlier recovered impressively to reach 260, after familiar problems at the top of the order left them 68 for 4, with Grant Elliott, Colin Munro and Franklin hitting half-centuries. South Africa will again be concerned about how they could not finish off an innings with the ball as well as they had started.

Elliott, who played an important innings in Kimberley, began binding the innings together. Munro grew as his stay progressed and at one stage lofted Steyn for six having already taken debutant Phangiso for three boundaries in an over during a maiden international fifty. He had been given lbw against McLaren when he had 2 but he correctly reviewed as the ball had pitched outside leg and also took an inside edge.

Eventually, however, both batsmen fell to Lonwabo Tsotsobe who had made the early breakthroughs with the new ball. Elliott was the second wicket of the innings to be caught at third man and Munro edged a slower ball. New Zealand, though, benefited from their deep batting order which has been key throughout this series. South Africa, who were again slow with their overs but escaped punishment from match referee David Boon, also gave a helping hand by conceded 17 wides.

Losing regular wickets meant Franklin could not cut loose, but he took the innings as deep as he could with some smart batting. He managed to keep the strike after the ninth wicket fell in the 48th over and the final 11 balls of the innings brought 26 runs, including a six off the penultimate delivery to reach his fifty. It was enough to set up an engrossing finish.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Pakistan ready to attack on South Africa

Pakistan will need Younis Khan to use all his experience on lively South African pitches:

There are some places Pakistan have not played cricket in for even longer than their home country. South Africa is one of them.

Having last played a Test here in 2007, India is the only other place Pakistan have not featured in whites for the last six years although they played a one-day series in India recently. South Africa remains an uncharted territory for much of the squad. It has been so infrequently visited that none of the current Test bowling attack have played a Test in the country.

They have missed out. Known for their pace and bounce, South African surfaces are among the favourites of quicks the world over and Pakistan's pack cannot wait to get stuck in. "Junaid Khan would love to bowl in these conditions and Mohammed Irfan will do well if he can put the ball in the right areas," Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, said after arriving in Johannesburg.

The closest Junaid has got to South Africa is its neighbour, Zimbabwe, where he made his debut in September 2011. He played second fiddle to Aizaz Cheema in that match but has since overtaken Cheema with three five-wicket hauls from eight matches. Being a left-armer he may have half an eye on Graeme Smith with the South Africa captain having been susceptible to many southpaws over the years.

At 7' 1", Irfan had caught the eye of the South African media well before Pakistan's arrival in the country. Knowing the kind of bounce Morne Morkel can extract from surfaces, the hype around what someone eight inches taller may be able to do has grown.

So has the expectation over how South Africa's batsmen will deal with Saeed Ajmal. They have seen him once before, in a Test in 2010 in Dubai when he took three wickets but he has since developed into the magician that ran circles around the then No.1 ranked England. Facing Ajmal will be South Africa's first significant test against spin since becoming the No. 1 team.

Misbah suspects that Ajmal will also enjoy what South Africa has to offer. "Saeed Ajmal is the world's top spinner and in these conditions you get turn and bounce especially on the fourth and fifth days," he said.

While the bowlers are looking forward to assistance, the batsmen are readying themselves for a much sterner examination. South Africa is regarded as one of the toughest places to score runs, especially for the top-order. Of Pakistan's line-up, Taufeeq Umar, Misbah, Younis Khan and Mohammed Hafeez have all batted in South Africa before but the younger players such as Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali and Nasir Jamshed will have their first taste of these conditions.

The pace of the pitches will take some getting used to. Shafiq has played in New Zealand, West Indies and the subcontinent while Jamshed, who starred in the one-dayers against India, has yet to make his Test debut. With limited touring opportunities because of their schedule, Misbah conceded that preparations have not been ideal although they have made the best of what they have.

"We have to bat well. Whenever we go abroad, we try to practice against bounce and pace. We use different tactics for that and we make sure we get ready before the Test matches," he said. "It's really difficult when you are not playing a format on a regular basis. You really have to work hard. But that's how it is. We are not playing more Test matches. But we have to adjust because we are professionals."

Dav Whatmore, Pakistan's coach, suggested batting could be rewarding for those who employ some patience. "It can be difficult, because of the general consistency of the slightly higher bounce and the pace might be more than normal," he said. "But if you get over that they're pretty good batting conditions as well, a bit like Australia. Our young guys who get through that will be in for good times."

Pakistan will play a three-day warm-up match against a fairly strong South African Invitation XI in East London where the surface is traditionally sluggish. That could be South Africa's way of softening the batsman up especially as historically the hosts have prepared seamer-friendly pitches against subcontinent sides and tried to scare their batsmen out. They may be wary of trying the same thing this time because Pakistan have a good attack of their own.

While pre-series talk will rage about how competitive a less "unpredictable," as Smith called them, Pakistan will be against South Africa, there is also an undercurrent of a campaign running through the visitors' camp. It is both a drive to show off their consistency and resolve and to talk openly about promoting the return of cricket to their home.

"Every stadium was full at the T20 tournament in Pakistan. There were no concerns and everyone enjoyed the game," Misbah said. "Ten of the players in the current Test side played in the final and there were no issues. Pakistan is such a big cricketing nation and the world really has to think about bringing cricket back there. Stadiums are full and nothing is happening."

The former ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, who is a South African, has been doing some consultative work for the PCB on the matter as well.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

New Zealand won a lost match

Franklin's incredible innings steers New Zealand unlucky win:

After seven days of the most one-side Test cricket you could witness the first one-day international produced a thriller as James Franklin proved New Zealand's hero to secure a one-wicket victory with an unbeaten 47.

Chasing an undemanding 208 the game had appeared to have gone when they were eight down still needing 69, but Kyle Mills helped add 47 for the ninth wicket before Mitchell McClenaghan survived six deliveries to allow Franklin to pick off the remaining 22 runs.

Until the final moments it always felt as though South Africa had their noses in front and there was a chance for them to win the match when Franklin, taking a risk in Dale Steyn's final over, edged just wide of Quinton de Kock, the debutant keeper, who went with two hands when one might have given him a better chance.

Franklin managed to keep the strike to face Ryan McLaren, another who had an impressive match, and ramped a short ball brilliantly over the keeper before carving the winning boundary through the off side. There was plenty of emotion in New Zealand's celebrations.

It was a game low on batting quality but high on tension in the closing stages. The required rate was never out of hand for New Zealand, which enabled Franklin and Mills to just take whatever runs were on offer and protect their wickets. When McLaren took out three middle-order wickets he seemed to have decided the match but Mills showed up some of the top-order batting and Franklin offered a riposte to those who feel he should not be playing.

McLaren's fourth, to give him a career-best haul to follow his useful 33 with the bat, swung the game back South Africa's way but McClenaghan kept his cool and kept in line to ensure his figures of 4 for 20, the best by a New Zealand bowler on ODI debut, contributed to a victory rather than a consolation.

That had not appeared likely after another stuttering display from the top order. Martin Guptill was run out without facing after AB de Villiers, having passed away the keeping gloves, swooped at cover. Lonwabo Tsotsobe struck twice, having Rob Nicol taken at slip and Kane Williamson at point to leave New Zealand 21 for 3. A familiar collapse was on the cards.

BJ Watling and Brendon McCullum gave the innings some foundation with a stand of 52 before another slip. Rory Kleinveldt trapped McCullum lbw in curious fashion; a power outage had struck the ground which meant no DRS was available and McCullum had wanted to review the decision. Kleinveldt, another of the debutants in the game, claimed a second when Grant Elliott flashed to slip to hand Graeme Smith his 100th ODI catch.

When McLaren struck twice in three balls - Watling dragging on and Jimmy Neesham lbw - New Zealand were 105 for 7 but Nathan McCullum offered hope with a punchy innings and that mood was carried forward. South Africa will reflect that they were not at their best, conceding 15 wides and three no-balls.

Their innings was a curious display, perhaps with a hint of complacency after their dominance in the Tests, with the tone set by Hashim Amla's ugly shot across the line. When de Villiers was lbw to the impressive McClenaghan they were 37 for 3 and forced to rebuild, but each time a partnership started to form New Zealand broke though. McCleanaghan later returned to add two more scalps, including a beauty from round the wicket to take Steyn's off stump.

Williamson was the surprise package with the ball, claiming a career-best 4 for 22 with his part-time offspin after New Zealand filled their side with allrounders. His first three scalps were all set batsmen: Colin Ingram, brilliantly caught off a top-edged sweep, McLaren who probably did not get an edge and the key figure of du Plessis taken at deep midwicket.

Du Plessis and McLaren formed the best stand of the innings, adding 59 for the sixth wicket, which included taking 41 off the Powerplay but South Africa felt a frontline batsman light as they did in the one-day series against England last year. The stand had given them hope of pushing towards 250 but Williamson derailed those ambitions with wickets in consecutive overs, although HotSpot supported McLaren's frustration at his dismissal. That was nothing compared to the frustration he felt a few hours later.

India beat England in 3rd ODI by 7 wickets

India leads ODI series by 2-1:

MS Dhoni has not had too much to smile about in recent months, as his India side suffered unexpected home defeats in Test and ODI cricket, but he was able to pack away the defensive frown and wary gaze and enjoy the occasion in Ranchi, as India strolled to a seven-wicket victory in the first international match ever to be staged in his hometown. Dhoni was even out in the middle to hit the winning runs and soak up the atmosphere as England, who appeared as eager as the crowd to give him a day to remember, slipped 2-1 down in the five-match series.

All of India's bowlers contributed in a concerted display, aided by a touch of early movement and a middle-order collapse against spin of familiar proportions. Dhoni also claimed three catches, including a diving take to dismiss England's top-scorer, Joe Root, and a sharp chance at the wicket off Ian Bell, as England were once again spooked by the ghosts of their recent past in 50-over cricket in India, mustering a paltry 155.

India's innings proved that the pitch was a good one - the curator had predicted a score of 350 for the side batting first but he was obviously banking on that side being India. Although Steven Finn cleaned up Ajinkya Rahane again, bowled through the gate for the second time in as many matches, and James Tredwell claimed his sixth and seventh wickets of the series, Virat Kohli made sure England were the only ones doing any chasing. Kohli twice hammered Tredwell over the ropes, to go with a further nine fours in an unbeaten 77, his return to form yet another fillip for his captain.

England's total was their second-lowest batting first against India (in full matches), as they subsided from an initially promising 68 for 1. Although there was an element of luck about the second breakthrough, as the sound of Kevin Pietersen's bat on pad seemed to deceive the umpire into awarding a caught behind, India did not owe their victory to fortune. The early dismissals of Alastair Cook, Pietersen and Bell left the middle order exposed and despite another promising display of character from Root, who put on 47 with Tim Bresnan, India were always in control.

Smart stats
India won the match with 131 balls to spare, which is their largest margin of win in ODIs against England (in terms of balls remaining). The previous highest was 123, in Jaipur in 2006.
England's highest score in their innings was 39, which is the sixth-lowest top-score for them in a completed ODI against India.
England's total of 155 is their third-lowest all-out score in an ODI against India.
Virat Kohli has become the second-fastest cricketer to 4000 ODI runs, in terms of innings batted. Viv Richards achieved the landmark in 88 innings, while Kohli reached there in his 93rd.
For the second match in a row, three England batsmen were dismissed without scoring. Before the Kochi game, this had only happened four times for England in ODIs against India.
Ranchi became the 42nd Indian venue, and the 182nd venue in the world, to host a one-day international.

The gods had already smiled on Dhoni at the toss, as he was given the option and chose to insert an England side still apparently winded from their emphatic, 127-run defeat in Kochi on Tuesday. Although the pitch looked hard and flat, there was a light covering of grass and just enough moisture to aid the bowlers, further justifying Dhoni's decision, made ostensibly in view of the possibility of evening dew making the ball difficult to grip. By the time the sun set, however, it was the match that had slipped out of England's hands.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed bowled impressive opening spells and although Cook christened the ground with its first international boundary, in the second over, England's captain was soon undone by swing. The fans at the newly constructed 39,000-capacity Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium had come to see only one inspirational leader among the two sides, and the cheer that went up when he moved across his stumps to be hit in front by a Shami delivery that curved back at him confirmed it was not Cook.

Pietersen is an England player capable of whipping up an Indian crowd but they were even more delighted by his downfall. Having added 44 in 41 balls with Bell, both batsmen fell in consecutive overs, Pietersen given out after again briefly threatening despite there being no apparent edge. Pietersen was visibly reluctant to drag himself away after fencing at a length ball from Ishant Sharma that rose sharply, the awkwardness of his stroke forcing the bat into the flap of his front pad. If there was doubt about that dismissal, there was none three balls later as Dhoni collected a scrape off the toe of Bell's bat while standing up to Bhuvneshwar.

England were never able to feel at home on the Ranchi surface and India's hold on the match was further strengthened as Morgan tamely lobbed the ball to short-third man. Morgan laboured for 10 off 30 balls in a manner reminiscent of his poor form in the UAE last year, playing and missing against the quicks before getting out attempting a premeditated reverse-swipe through point against R Ashwin. Ravindra Jadeja then burst one through a loose defensive shot from Craig Kieswetter and pinned Samit Patel lbw pushing half forward as three wickets fell for one run in nine balls to send the crowd into further raptures.

Root again dropped anchor, displaying familiar circumspection and timing a handful of boundaries. He and the returning Bresnan - the one change on either side - formed a Yorkshire coalition in an attempt to heave England towards a respectable total but a loose drive from Root gave Ishant his second wicket and the spinners quickly cleaned up the tail.

Before the start, there was already a palpable sense of anticipation in the ground at the return of Dhoni, India's captain and their standard-bearer during a testing recent run in ODI cricket. A light aircraft trailed a message in coloured smoke across the milky blue sky as Dhoni was interviewed at the toss. "It's a big moment for me but it's important to be focused," he said.

Dhoni also suggested that he may have played cricket with "at least 15,000" of the crowd, during his tennis-ball days as a youngster in Jharkhand, but his ten team-mates on the pitch were more than enough to rout a dismal England.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Australia faced upset defeat

Sri Lamka crush Australia in 3rd ODI:

A fearsome spell of inswing bowling from Nuwan Kulasekara was the definitive performance in a bizarre third ODI at the Gabba, where both captains would have batted first, but 100 may have been a winning total. Kulasekara took a career-best 5 for 22 as he damned Australia to 74 all out, with the aid of Lasith Malinga, who tore down the tail.

Sri Lanka's run chase shaped as a straightforward one, but they lost six wickets before they reached their target, meaning 16 wickets had been lost in the day for 149 runs. Had Australia held early chances off Tillakaratne Dilshan and Lahiru Thirimanne, they may have won early the momentum to spark a heavier collapse, but instead the visitors limped home in the 20th over, with their last recognised batting pair at the crease.

Having rested several key players for the first two matches, Australia returned to near-full strength at Brisbane, with Michael Clarke, David Warner and Matthew Wade arriving to bolster the batting, but none of them could make it to double figures. In fact, only the last pair of Mitchell Starc and Xavier Doherty did.

The captains shared the opinion that the pitch was full of runs at the toss, but both men seem to have underestimated the effect of Brisbane's humidity. It was in the air that Kulasekara won the battle, not off the pitch. Few batsmen are equipped to negate the amount of movement he achieved, particularly in the middle of his spell, but the lateness of Kulasekara's inswing made him almost unplayable, and Australia will perhaps feel there is little they could have done better to counter bowling of that quality.

The deliveries that bowled Clarke and Moises Henriques began about a metre outside off stump, and only began to move around halfway down the pitch, when the batsmen were already committed to the stroke. Both men played for big inswing, but as the ball swerved hard at the stumps like a snake suddenly smelling prey, they still had their inside edges passed and their woodwork rattled. George Bailey had made a similar mistake first ball, only he had offered no stroke to a delivery he believed to be passing safely outside off stump, and it struck him flush on the front pad and would have hit middle and off.

Sri Lanka's bowlers only mustered modest swing to begin with, but Angelo Mathews used a little extra bounce to dismiss Warner, who holed out to mid on playing a cross-batted stroke that was ill-judged in any case. Warner had been among the runs during the Test leg of the tour, and the manner of his dismissal in Brisbane may add heat to the debate about Australia's rotation policy, and whether batsmen are being done a disservice by being rested when they are in form.

Kulasekara worked himself into a honeyed rhythm after that dismissal, and by the 12th over, had embarrassed Australia's first-choice team. His first two scalps were the result of fine catching as well as great bowling, as Jayawardene held on to a tough chance off Phillip Hughes' bat at third slip, before wicketkeeper Kushal Perera dove to his left to snaffle David Hussey's inside edge.

Malinga also found movement in the air when he came into the attack at 6 for 30, and removed Mitchell Johnson with an outswinging yorker in his second over, before taking a wicket in each of his two next overs.

Doherty was circumspect at the crease to begin with, leaving the strokemaking to Starc, who was intent on making the best of a bad situation, and the pair rode their luck for eight overs, before Shaminda Eranga ended the innings with a slower ball. Had they survived five more overs together, it may have been their side that took the series lead.

Dilshan's innings of 22 was populated almost exclusively by booming drives, most of which failed to make contact - many by quite a distance. Faced with a small target and difficult conditions, Sri Lanka's batsmen appeared to have opted for a hyper-aggressive approach, reasoning that if just one of them came off, victory would come easy.

However at 4 for 37, that strategy had only delivered them jitters and handed the opposition momentum. Kushal Perera and Upul Tharanga chose then to reserve their belligerence only for the poor deliveries, and in a match where even minuscule contributions with the bat were invaluable, two wicketless overs before the tea break eased Sri Lanka's nerves, and three quick boundaries after resumptions hurtled them close to safety. Starc picked up two more scalps before Sri Lanka reached their target, but with so few to get, neither breakthrough gave rise to real hope of a famous win.

The action moves to the SCG now, where Sri Lanka have flourished in ODIs, and the visitors will hope to wrap up the series there, and maintain their dominance of Australia in their own conditions in recent years.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

BPL to go but without Pakistan players

 No Pakistani players participation in BPL season II:

None of the 27 Pakistan players auctioned in this season's Bangladesh Premier League will take part in the Twenty20 competition after the PCB refused to issue No Objection Certificates (NOCs).

The seven franchises will now have to hastily replace the cricketers in less than two days as the tournament begins on January 18. But the PCB's stance is seen here as a backhanded victory for the BCB who now have a justification not to tour Pakistan, a tour they originally cancelled on December 31 due to security concerns, as this was used as the main cause of disagreement between the two boards.

"A little while ago, we received a phone call from their COO Subhan Ahmed saying that if we don't send the Bangladesh team on tour to Pakistan, they won't give NOCs to their players to participate in the BPL," the BCB's media committee chairman Jalal Yunus said. "We will hold the tournament without their participation and it will start as per schedule, the opening ceremony on January 17 and the matches beginning on January 18."

The BCB president Nazmul Hassan said that the PCB knowingly waited till the last minute to inform them of the decision. "I couldn't imagine that they could deliberately wait for so long, a day before the opening ceremony, to inform us that they won't give the NOCs.

"There are many Pakistani cricketers who were bought in the auction so to have all of them pull out at the last minute is a problem for us."

Hassan said that the action by the PCB has given the BCB free reign on deciding to tour Pakistan, which they will not do without a second trip by a security team.

Absent Names:

Barisal Burners: Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Kamran Akmal and Hammad Azam
Sylhet Royals: Azeem Ghumman, Zulfiqur Babar, Babar Azam and Sohel Ahmed
Duronto Rajshahi: Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Sami, Shahzaib Hasan and Khalid Latif
Rangpur Riders: Sharjil Khan, Anwar Ali and Raja Ali Dar
Dhaka Gladiators: Shahid Afridi
Khulna Royal Bengal: Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Awaiz Zia, Umar Amin, Ahmed Shehzad, Haris Sohail and Bilawal Bhatti
Chittagong Kings: Imran Nazir, Wahab Riaz and Saeed Anwar jnr

"We are no longer in a hurry. We were under tremendous pressure, so now we have some breathing space. Just before the start of a tournament, they have taken such a tough stance without any prior notice knowing that it would throw the organisation into jeopardy.

"We will now decide on the sort of response regarding Bangladesh's tour to Pakistan. It is not possible for us to commit to a tour without an inspection, and we will not be cowed down by any preconditions."

The franchises were informed on Tuesday evening of the situation, but the official word on the matter was only confirmed late on Wednesday afternoon after a final phone call from the PCB. Khulna will be the most severely hit as they have to replace Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Awais Zia, Umar Amin, Ahmed Shehzad, Haris Sohail and Bilawal Bhatti and they have already begun the process. The other six franchises have also been hit with Dhaka Gladiators being the least affected as they only lost Shahid Afridi.

Yunus explained that each team will put forward names to replace their Pakistan players and will be helped by the BPL governing council to contact them and seek NOCs. In the event of a dispute if a player is sought by more than one franchise, it will be decided on a first-come-first-serve basis.

"The teams are giving us names and we are giving approvals," he said. "Clause 4.4 says that if a player doesn't get an NOC he can be replaced. This replacement can be from within the list of unsold players from the auction or even from outside, for example we are talking to Kieron Pollard. We are trying to bring players from four or five other countries.

"Except for one or two players, most of the replacements are at a par with the Pakistan players. It is troublesome for the franchises, but we are taking it as a challenge. We are ready to face it."

Monday, 14 January 2013

PCB has to convince other nations for Pakistan,Richardson

"Security is not something that is taken lightly by anybody," ICC's CEO Richardson:

Dave Richardson, the ICC CEO, has said the ICC has a limited role to play in the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan and it will be down to the PCB to convince other nations that it is safe to play cricket in the country.

"Security is not something that is taken lightly by anybody," Richardson, who was in Pakistan for the PCB awards ceremony, said. "Making a decision as to whether it's safe or not involves a serious assessment of the risk. The ICC is not in a position to do [security assessment]. It's up to the member countries to decide. They have to take advice from their own security advisors and make decisions themselves.

"The bottom line is that the ICC views Pakistan as a very important part of international cricket," he said. "Pakistan is going through difficult times through no fault of the PCB. It's our role to support Pakistan in its efforts to make sure that international cricket returns to Pakistan. As soon as possible is what everyone would like, but it's difficult to say exactly when and I think that's about as much as far as we can go at this stage."

Pakistan has remained a no-go country for international teams since the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009. In the past three years, Pakistan have played their 'home' series mostly in the UAE but reciprocal series at the junior level are on hold.Though the PCB has been desperate to revive international cricket, the efforts so far haven't yielded any positive results.

The PCB relies heavily on the government to arrange security for the visiting teams, but last year it sanctioned the purchase of bulletproof buses. Apart from working on security protocols, the PCB has been working on identifying potential new venues across the country and upgrading them to international standards. The board is also lobbying hard to win back the confidence of the teams.

"Coming from a country [South Africa] which was out of international cricket for a very large period of my career, I know that if you concentrate on your domestic cricket and you make sure you encourage people to play the game even if it's at first-class level you can reap tremendous rewards and in fact negative can turn into a positive and at the end of it all you might find that Pakistan cricket is much stronger than it was even before these difficult times."

Richardson also visited the National Cricket Academy where he was briefed about the developments in Pakistan cricket and PCB's plans with regards to promotion and management of the game in the country.

"The initiatives that PCB has put in place over the last 12 months or so I think it's the correct way to go," Richardson said and added that the recent "revival of ties with India" is a step in the right direction as the ties between the two countries are critical for world cricket.

"The announcement of the Twenty20 competition [PSL] where foreign players will be entitled to come and play if available, again that is, I think, an initiative on the right path because what you've got to do is to regain the confidence of cricketing world and I think that's a very sensible step in the right direction."

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Sri Lanka vs Australia 2nd ODI match

Sri Lanka won 2nd ODI at Adelaide by 8 wickets:

Sri Lanka's coach Graham Ford expected far better from his men after an abject display in the first ODI, and in Adelaide they duly delivered. A highly disciplined bowling ensemble laid bare Australian frailty against the seaming ball before Lahiru Thirimanne anchored a comfortable chase on a tacky pitch in the second match of the series at Adelaide Oval.

The visitors lost Upul Tharanga in the first over of their chase but were largely untroubled thereafter, as the surface eased after earlier offering helpful seam movement for Sri Lanka's bowlers. Thirimanne reached a deserved century by cutting Xavier Doherty backward of point for the winning runs with eight wickets and 59 balls to spare, having been accompanied for much of the pursuit by an uncharacteristically reserved Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Particular praise was also due to Nuwan Kulasekara and Angelo Mathews, who took the new balls and set Australia on the defensive by moving the ball just enough through the air and off the seam, while keeping the runs down. Lasith Malinga and Thisara Perera then followed up with wickets of their own. Named in place of the injured Dinesh Chandimal, the debut gloveman Kushal Perera kept wicket neatly and held four catches.

Besides their problems with seam friendly conditions reminiscent of England, Australia were discomforted further by Brad Haddin's struggles with an apparent hamstring strain, which began to affect him during the latter stages of a rearguard innings of 50 and then forced a regular dialogue with the team physio Alex Kountouris in the early overs of the evening session.

Eventually Haddin surrendered to the injury, leaving Phillip Hughes to take up duties as Australia's makeshift gloveman for the second time this summer. The hosts can expect their team to be significantly reinforced when the national selector John Inverarity names the squad for the next two matches of the series, having started well in Melbourne but fallen away badly in Adelaide.

After Tharanga's early departure to a Clint McKay delivery angled across him, Dilshan and Thirimanne played with good sense and shot selection. Dilshan had one LBW appeal by Doherty referred to the third umpire, but the television evidence proved too marginal for an overturned verdict.

They were not to be separated until only a further 34 runs were required. By that point Australia had lost Haddin and also the bowling of the debutant Kane Richardson, who followed up a first ball duck with the bat by suffering the ignominy of being drummed out of the bowling attack for repeatedly running on the pitch in his follow through. It is a problem that will require some technical work to correct.

The first indication that Australia were not at their sharpest came in the opening over when Aaron Finch clipped the ball straight to square leg and set off for a single - Phillip Hughes would have been out by yards had the ball found stumps or wicketkeeper. Fortunate there, Finch was to be out for his second low score in as many matches and again fell to a tentative stroke, pushing Mathews to short cover after he had nudged Ajantha Mendis into the wicketkeeper's gloves at the MCG.

Hughes struggled to find the fluency he had managed while making a century on debut, and was pinned in front of the stumps by Kulasekara, wasting Australia's only review on a ball that pitched in line and would have taken middle and off. David Hussey and George Bailey briefly steadied the innings in a stand of 39, but the stand-in captain's fortunate stay, punctuated by numerous edges, was ended when he pulled Malinga to midwicket where Thirimanne held a decent catch.

Steve Smith, brought in for Usman Khawaja, hinted at fluency during his brief stay but drove loosely at a Perera delivery that seamed back into him and was taken behind. To this point Hussey had looked the most composed of the batsmen, but his run out in another mix-up and a neat Mathews leg cutter to remove Glenn Maxwell, put Australia in deep trouble.

Cutting and Haddin resisted for 15 overs and 57 runs, the former showing glimpses of the batting skill he had demonstrated for Queensland over the past two summers. Eventually Malinga's pace and unique angle drew an edge from Cutting, and next ball his fellow debutant Richardson was flummoxed by a dipping slower ball and pinned LBW.

Clint McKay averted the hat-trick but then fell victim to a decision overturned for reasons known only to the third umpire Richard Kettleborough, for replays showed no solid evidence of an edge behind from Perera's bowling, and HotSpot was no more revealing.

The last man Doherty's arrival moved Haddin to swing a mighty six into the Members Stand. He picked out midwicket when trying to repeat the shot from Mendis, leaving the hosts with a sorry total that would quickly prove to be inadequate.