Sunday, June 29, 2008

India to strong when bat Bangladesh

Suresh Raina continued his fine Asia Cup form, scoring a second tournament century to ease India to a seven-wicket win over Bangladesh in the first super league stage match at the National Stadium in Karachi on Saturday.

Together with opener Gautam Gambhir (90), the pair put on a third wicket stand of 139 to help India to 284 for three after 43.2 overs in reply to Bangladesh's 284 for six.

The partnership overshadowed a maiden century from Bangladeshi allrounder Alok Kapali who stunned the Indians with a powerful 115 to steer Bangladesh to a fighting total.

Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh skipper described Kapali's innings as one of the best he had seen for Bangladesh but rued his side's missed chances.

"We had a good total thanks to Kapali but our fielders didn't support the bowlers. Maybe if we had got Gambhir and Raina early it could have made a difference," he said.

Raina, who notched 101 against Hong Kong and 84 against Pakistan earlier in the tournament, hit 11 fours and three sixes on his way to an undefeated 116 following scores of 101 and 84 against Hong Kong and Pakistan to spoil Kapali's day.


India started shakily as makeshift opener Robin Uthappa was beaten for two by an in-swinger from Shahadat Hossain and Rohit Sharma flicked Hossain straight to Farhad Reza after a quickfire 22 from 23 balls.

Gambhir and Raina, who were both lucky to survive dropped catches earlier in the innings, then set to their task with India reaching 100 in just 16 overs.

Gambhir eventually fell for 90 when he was caught at mid-wicket by Mashrafe Mortaza off Reza. Yuvraj Singh (36) joined man of the match Raina at the crease to see the game out.

Earlier Kapali, only in the squad because of an injury to batsman Aftab Ahmed, celebrated his lucky inclusion in the team with a superb innings.

He hit 115 from 96 balls and his record sixth wicket stand of 112 with Mahmudullah (26 not out) took Bangladesh past their previous highest total against India of 257-9, made in 2004.

India next face Pakistan in Karachi on Wednesday while Bangladesh play Sri Lanka at the same venue on Monday.

However having player three matches in four days, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhon was unhappy with the tournament's tight schedule.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sehwag runs rampage as India beat Pakistan

Virendar Sehwag punished Pakistan's bowling with an aggressive hundred to lead India to a comfortable six-wicket win in the final Group B Asia Cup match here on Thursday.

Sehwag smashed a 95-ball 119 and Suresh Raina hit a 68-ball 84 during their 198-run second wicket stand to help India overhaul Pakistan's 299-4 with 7.5 overs to spare.

Earlier, Shoaib Malik hit his first century as captain to help Pakistan post a challenging target.

However it proved a cake walk for India who were indebted to some lusty batting by Sehwag and Raina as the duo tore apart the home bowling which lost its bite after frontline paceman Umar Gul broke down with a side strain.

Without Gul, who limped off in the third over, the Pakistani bowling looked a shadow of the side which beat India by 25 runs in the final of the tri-series held in Bangladesh earlier this month.

Sehwag hit five boundaries and five towering sixes in his ninth one-day century before he holed out at long-off with just 68 runs left. Yuvraj Singh with a 47-ball 48 and Mahendra Singh Dhoni with unbeaten 26 saw the home team through in the 43rd over.

Raina was as ruthless as Sehwag, hitting 10 boundaries and three sixes during his 69-ball innings before he miscued a drive off paceman Rao Iftikhar and was caught at covers. The duo took just 149 balls for their partnership.

Raina made his maiden hundred in India's 256-run win over Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Both India and Pakistan reached the Super League stages of the tournament but India carry two points into the next stage by virtue of this win.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also qualified from Group A. The Super Leage starts from Saturday with India taking on Bangladesh.

Indian captain Dhoni said his batsmen clicked on "world's flatest track."

"It was a big total but the wicket was very placid and there was nothing for the bowlers. We were quite optimistic about chasing and Pakistan lost Gul and after that had not much to do," said Dhoni.

Malik agreed the loss of Gul was a blow.

"A target of 300 was defendable and we could have defended that but it was hard to come back after losing Gul," said Malik.

Earlier, Malik added 90 for the opening wicket with Salman Butt (35) and another 129 for the second wicket with Younus Khan (59) to propel Pakistan who won the toss and decided to bat.

Butt and Pakistan were slow off the mark, managing just 58 runs off the first 15 overs. Once Butt went, caught off leg-spinner Piyush Chawla in the 22nd over, Younus and Malik upped the tempo.

Malik reached his sixth century, third against India, in one-day internationals off 104 balls. His last one-day century came against India at Lahore two years ago.

The Indians were scrappy in the field as they let off Malik twice in one over from Yusuf Pathan, first when Chawla grassed one with the batsman on 116 and then Gautam Gambhir five runs later.

Malik finally retired hurt after suffering cramp in his leg. He hit 16 boundaries and a six during his 119-ball knock.

Younus followed him in the next over when he holed out off Yusuf in the deep. He hit five boundaries during his 60-ball knock.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pakistan drop keeper Akmal

Akmal was omitted from a list of 20 players picked to attend a short training camp, from which a 15-member squad will be named for the June 24-July 6 contest in Pakistan.

India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong are the other countries taking part.

Akmal, 26, has been axed after being ever-present since 2004 although he was rested for three one-day games last year in which the selectors tried out young keeper Sarfraz Ahmed.

"Kamran remains our number one keeper but we also wanted to give chances to others and we felt Kamran also deserved to take a well deserved rest," chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed said.

Akmal who has played in 38 Tests and 88 one-dayers, has been told to get over a extended period of inconsistent form behind the stumps.

The final squad is due to be named on June 22. The selectors had no other surprises for the tournament although pacer Mohammad Asif will not take part as he remains in detention in Dubai on suspicion of carrying illegal drugs.

Pakistan squad:

Shoaib Malik (Capt), Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Fawad Alam, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Khan, Asad Rauf, Yasir Hameed, Bazid Khan, Mansoor Amjad, Naumanullah, Saeed Ajmal.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

India Win From 140 runs

India showed how the hectic pace of Twenty20 cricket could be replicated in ODIs, pounding 330 on a sluggish pitch before their bowlers rounded off a thumping win in their opening match of the tournament. Pakistan, coming off 12 successive wins against weak opposition, crashed to their worst defeat against India and their coach Geoff Lawson, who had hoped for a 150-run win, would have been embarrassed to see the shoe on the other foot.
Their mammoth total was made possible not by one but three batsmen: Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir made the most of some sloppy catching, getting within four runs of India's highest opening stand against Pakistan, before Yuvraj Singh raised visions of a 375-plus total. They settled for 330 but that didn't matter in the final analysis. Once Pakistan crumbled to 26 for 3, it was only a case of picking up the pieces.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cricket-India in command against Pakistan in tri-series match

Half centuries by three top-order batsmen helped India to score a challenging 330 runs for eight wickets against Pakistan in a triangular series match on Tuesday. Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh scored 89, 62 and 55 runs to register their 25th, eighth and sixth ODI half centuries respectively after India won the toss and opted to bat in their first match in the tournament that also includes hosts Bangladesh. Sehwag and Gambhir beating the Pakistani pace bowlers until their partnership collapsed on 155 as Gambhir was caught behind by keeper Kamran Akmal off a delivery from Wahab Riaz, who ended 2-86.

Pace bowler Omar Gul took three wickets for 61 runs while leg spinner Shahid Afridi and pacer Sohail Tanvir ended 2-52 and 1-57 respectively.

Sehwag also got a break on 43 runs when the third umpire dismissed an appeal after Akmal caught him behind off a delivery from Iftkhar.

76 balls, hit a six and 13 boundaries while Gambhir, who faced 62 balls, hit six fours.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rajasthan Royals are first IPL Champs

Published: Monday, 2 June, 2008, 02:00 AM Doha Time

JUBILANT: Rajasthan Royals celebrate their victory over Chennai in the IPL T20 final match at DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai, yesterday
Yusuf Pathan inspired Rajasthan Royals to a three-wicket defeat of Chennai Super Kings in a thrilling Indian Premier League final here yesterday.
He took three wickets to reduce Chennai, who lost the toss and were put into bat, to 163 for five, and then smashed 56 - including four sixes and three fours - in a 39-ball innings.
Needing eight runs off the final over, Shane Warne (nine not out) and Sohail Tanvir (nine no) kept their cool to reach the target, with the latter grabbing the one run needed for victory off the final ball of the match.
Rajasthan made a shaky start as they chased down Chennai's target, losing Niraj Patel in the fourth over for just two runs off 11 balls.
He played Manpreet Gony on to his leg stump attempting a pull, but fellow opener Swapnil Asnodkar (28) looked in better touch.
He seemed to have the measure of Makhaya Ntini, hitting the South African for consecutive fours, but could not cope with the pace of Albie Morkel and slashed at a wide ball to Suresh Raina at point.
The Royals suffered a double blow as in the same over Kamran Akmal (six) went for a suicidal single after nudging to mid-on and was run out by Ntini's direct hit.
Pathan proved he was just as capable with the bat as with the ball, although he was lucky to be dropped by Raina in the 11th over on 13.
Raina's error proved costly as Pathan went on to smash Muttiah Muralitharan for back-to-back sixes.
Shane Watson chipped in with a quickfire 28 off 19 balls but succumbed when he came down the track to Muralitharan but missed and was bowled.
Needing 52 off the last five overs, Pathan launched Lakshmipathy Balaji for 12 off one over and then dished out the same treatment to Muralitharan, hoisting the spinner over midwicket to bring up his half century.
But Mohammad Kaif then lobbed Muralitharan into the hands of Mahendra Singh Dhoni at cover and Ravindra Jadeja followed the next ball when he lamely pulled Morkel straight to Kapugedera at mid-on.
Rajasthan's hopes were knocked when Pathan was run out by Raina's superb direct hit but Warne and Tanvir steered the Royals to victory.
Earlier, Chennai openers Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan and Parthiv Patel put on 39 before the former was dismissed in the sixth over. He tried to pull Pathan over deep midwicket but mistimed it and was caught by Jadeja sprinting in from the boundary.
Patel looked a touch nervy from the off and survived two decent lbw appeals, but he hit five fours in a 38-run innings off 33 balls before being caught behind by Akmal off Pathan.
Morkel attempted to accelerate the run rate and smashed two sixes before he became Pathan's third victim, top-edging behind high behind him.
Akmal backpedalled to take the catch, despite
colliding heavily with Kaif who was running in from short fine leg.
Aiming for a flurry of runs in the final few overs, Raina tried one shot too many and was caught on the long-off boundary by Jadeja off the bowling of Watson, and Chamara Kapugedera did not last long, adding just eight runs before lofting to Asnodkar at long on off Tanvir.
Dhoni smashed 29 off 17 balls, including a huge six in the last over, and Subramaniam Badrinath made six off the final two balls of the innings to reach 163 for five but it proved insufficient. (Agencies)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

IPL is over what's next now

Indian Premier League has been a nation-wide hit and there is no second opinion about that. A lot has been said about how it has given a platform to youngsters to showcase their talent and how rivals have turned friends on the field and vice-versa. Now with the culmination of the first season, it's time to see what are the side effects and after-effects of this cricket carnival. Positives are there for everyone to see. But what lies ahead for cricket as a game?

With the success of the first edition of the Indian Premier League, other cricket boards are already mulling over launching their own versions of the league. Except Dmitri Mascarenhas, no other English cricketer participated in the cricket extravaganza. So did they miss out on the big moolah? Yes! But now England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has decided to come up with their 'League' in a few years from now. Cricket Australia and Pakistan Cricket Board are also pondering over launching their leagues after witnessing the success of their players in the tournament.

And did I mention the Stanford T20 tournament in West Indies! Of course, it came into existence before the IPL. Last but not the least is the ICL (Indian Cricket League), which has become a condemned refuge for the retired players or the players who have been overlooked or damned by their national boards. But the rebel league does not bother the ICC. The problem lies ahead!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Chennai super kings

Chennai: After their eight-wicket defeat at the hands of the Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur, the Chennai Super Kings have a very good opportunity to get back to winning ways when they take on bottom-placed Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament here on Tuesday.

It is a critical game for both teams as it comes at the halfway stage in the league. The Super Kings are currently placed fourth on the leaderboard that they once led with four consecutive victories. The Chargers occupy the last spot with one win from six outings.

If anything, the Super Kings would not have to deal with another Sohail Tanvir or a Shane Warne as the Chargers are struggling to put up an effective combination that can fetch them much-needed success.

But the Super Kings' much-vaunted batting line-up has not really clicked since the departure of the two Australians, Matthew Hayden and Mike Hussey. They are also missing the big-hitting all-rounder Jacob Oram who left for New Zealand just as he was getting into a wicket-taking mode.