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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Australia thump Pakistan

Australia completed the formalities to register a series whitewash when it defeated Pakistan in the 5th one-day international at the WACA, with the ball tampering allegations proving to add fuel to the tensed atmosphere. Australia romped home to reach the target of 213, with three balls left unused in the Australian innings. The dramatic finish witnessed the winning run come in the form of a no-ball when Ryan Harris had hit the ball in the air to mid-off, as the no-ball then got declared by the square leg umpire.

Mike Hussey, yet again played the role of a hero to perfection, with his 40 runs complied from 46 deliveries. His knock made sure that Australia completed the series with a 5-0 win. The sporting events were pushed to the backburner when investigations were initiated with respect to the ball tempering incident perpetrated by Shahid Afridi, the stand-in Pakistan captain. Caught by the camera, when he was using is teeth on the ball, the third umpire had reported the same to the officials who were on the field, which led to the ball getting replaced when Australia was 35 runs away from victory. Afridi, if found guilty, faces suspension and/or fine.

The Pakistan bowlers had unleashed good initial overs, when Brad Haddin was sent back to the pavilion when the Australian score read 21. Ponting then joined Shaun Marsh to take the Australian total to 50. Shaun Marsh then turned out to be a victim to his impatience, as he was caught by Fawad Alam at point of the bowling of Mohammad Asif. Cameroon White made his intentions clear as he lofted Afridi over mid-wicket to score a six, but perished when he became a victim to Afridi.

At 73-3, the match seemed to be evenly poised when Adam Voges and Ponting registered a fourth wicket partnership of 49 to put Australia into an advantageous position. With Ponting, who scored 55, Voges and James Hope retuning back to the pavilion at quick successions, Australia was reeling at 150-6. Mitchell Johnson then joined Mike Hussey in the hunt to take Australians to the coveted figure of 213, but didn’t last long. Mike Hussey and Hauritz put on 32 runs, as they took Australia to a 5-0 series victory.

Australia earlier had bundled Pakistan for 212, and barring the few hick-ups, Australia registered a victory to complete the 5-0 series whitewash.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Australia in for a 5-0 series victory

Pakistan has a big task ahead at it now has to play to its potentials to avoid the 5-0 whitewash, which is the second ever in their annals, to register their first victory in this grueling tour. The first of the whitewash had come under the reign of Imran’s captaincy, when the West Indies were the opponents in 1988.

Mohammad Yousuf and his men have tasted just the defeat since the test at Sydney. Though the Pakistan team was expected to bounce back in the ODIs, they haven’t done justice to the talent, despite shades of brilliant fight backs getting witnessed in all of the 4 ODIs, in which Australia has proved its dominance by trouncing the disparate Pakistan team. The batting has let the Pakistan team down, and the middle order hasn’t lived up to its expectations. The two ‘Y’s have just 145 runs scored between them which tells the story of Pakistan batting collapse in this series.

The bowling has hit a new low as the bowlers barring Mohammed Asif haven’t found their rhythm, and the final Pakistan overs were embarrassing moments for the Pakistani fans. The spinners, Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi, have gone for five runs per over, and haven’t enjoyed spells that have caused a pall of gloom over the Australian batsmen. They have been completely neutralized by the Australian batsmen. It goes to prove the delusions with which Yousuf is living at present, as he had hinted about the team’s improved performance under his stewardship earlier.

Australia on the other hand has exhibited a sparkling performance, and has made use of three new opening-bowling pairs, as all of them have a good tally of wickets in their bag. The top six Australian batsmen have come up with commendable performances, except for Ricky Ponting who has found the going tough and has only 70 runs to his credit, and has looked out of sorts in all the ODIs.

Now will he lead his team to enable a whitewash or will the Pakistan team emerge from the death bed to rattle the Australians? The game is sure to unveil a tough contest as the two teams vie for a victory, though with reasons entirely different from one another.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Seven Pakistani players storm into the subsequent IPL auction shortlist

The Indian premier league auction has now lifted the ban related to Pakistani players, and seven Pakistani players have stormed into the subsequent Indian premier League auction.

The IPL had banned Pakistani players for the last IPL auction owing to the dastardly Mumbai terror attacks, but the Pakistani cricketers now find themselves in the thick of things as they have been allowed to be a part of the third Twenty 20 league edition, which is scheduled to be staged from March 12, which is sure to delight the cricketing world till April 25. Shahid Afridi, the Twenty 20 captain for Pakistan, Umar Akmal, a promising batsman and Mohammad Aamir, the upcoming Pakistani pace bowler are all a part of the shortlisted Pakistani cricketers as the list also includes Imran Nazir, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Razzaq and Rana Naved who have been benefactors of the Indian Premier League auction.

As it was the case of Pakistani cricketers to miss out last IPL league edition, it is now the turn of English cricketers to stay away from this IPL league auction, and as Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner had pointed out, the new conditions which were imposed by that of the ECB were instrumental for the absence of English cricketers from this Indian Premier league auction. Even the negotiations made between the Indian and English Cricket Boards hadn’t yielded the desired result of bringing the English cricketers to this IPL auction.

The IPL auction, where the franchises make the bid pertaining to players, which gets based upon annual salaries, is sure to include new cricketers to the already existing international players who take part with their multi-year contacts with respect to this IPL league cricket. The new recruits related to the IPL auction has added 11 Australian cricketers, 9 South African cricketers, 8 cricketers from West Indies, 8 cricketers from Sri Lanka, 4 cricketers from New Zealand and one cricketer from Canada, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Holland.

Players who got shortlisted in the IPL auction

Australia: Peter Siddle, Brad Haddin, Doug Bollinger, Jason Krejza, Noffke, Phillip Hughes, Ashley, Graham Manou, Damien Martyn, Ben Laughlin, Clint McKay, Adam Voges.

Sri Lanka: Thilina Kandamby, Chanaka Welegedara, Nuwan Kulasekera, Chamara Silva, Thisara Perera, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Upul Tharanga, Nuwan Zoysa.

Pakistan: Mohammad Aamir, Imran Nazir, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Rana Naved, Abdul Razzaq.

South Africa: Yusuf Abdulla, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Zander de Bruyn, Johan van der Wath, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Vernon Philander, Justin Kemp, Wayne Parnell, Rory Kleinveldt, Vaughn van Jaarsveld.

West Indies: Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Kemar Roach, Daren Ganga, Lendl Simmons, Wavell Hinds, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Kieron Pollard.

New Zealand: Grant Elliott, Shane Bond, Nathan McCullum, Lou Vincent.

Canada: Rizwan Cheema.

Netherlands: Ryan ten Doeschate

Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan.

Zimbabwe: Murray Goodwin.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Zaheer hogs the limelight

Zaheer Khan unleashed a devastating spell that was too much for the Bangladeshi batsmen, to come up with a haul of 7 for 87, which knocked the wind out of the opponents sail to enable a comfortable Indian test victory and with it an unassailable 2-0 test series victory. Bangladesh’s second innings total read 312 when Zaheer’s magic had the batsmen reeling and which triggered the inevitable collapse.

Shewag and Gambhir completed the formalities, as the two winning runs came in the form of byes and India has now inched closer to dethrone doubts of many who still aren’t able to fathom the fact pertaining to India holding on to the Number 1 ICC spot in test cricket. With the overnight score of 228 for 3, the first hour saw the Bangladeshi batsmen offer stiff resistance, as the first 13 overs yielded 50 runs. After Shahadat had made use of the long handle to a telling effect, he fell to the rush of blood as Harbajan emerged victorious by capturing his wicket. This was just the beginning as the other Bangladeshi batmen succumbed to some sensational seam bowling, before adding 22 runs to the total.

Zaheer with his reverse swing polished the tail to bag the man-of-the-match award as well as the Man-of-the-series award. Bangladesh has a long way to go before it can really make a mark to be recognized as a tough competitor.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bangladesh exhibit stiff resistance with Tamim Iqbal notching up his second test hundred.

Tamim Iqbal scored a defiant 151, choosing to take the attack to the opposition, after India declared its first innings total at 544 for eight. With an able partner in Junaid Siddiqui, who scored 55, Tamim Iqbal has helped Bangladesh wipe off 228 of the total lead of 311.

Tamim Iqbal handled both the pace bowlers as well as the spinners tactfully, as he hooked and drove when the pace bowlers were operating, and used his feet to the spinners to find the gaps on both sides of the wicket. Tamim Iqbal and Junaid Siddiqui added 200 runs before Zaheer Khan dismissed both of them. The crowd loved the fighting spirit exhibited by both the left hand batsmen as the spin bowlers Harbajan and Pragyan Ojha weren’t allowed to settle down. With the second fastest of centuries by a Bangladeshi batsmen, Tanim Iqbal was in full flow as he played some enchanting strokes to delight the crowd at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.

Earlier India resuming its first innings in the morning found skipper Dhoni take the lead with the company of tailenders. Dhoni scoring 89 was a mix of caution and aggression as he found an able partner in Ishant Sharma to add 51 valuable runs for the seventh wicket partnership. Dhoni playing some unconventional strokes was more effective, but, missed his ton by a whisker. India then declared the innings only to be offered stiff resistance from Tamim Iqbal.

The fourth day awaits a strong contest between the bat and ball as the Indian bowlers will be looking to get the early breakthrough to run into the Bangladesh batting before the batsmen could put up a challenge. On the other hand, Bangladeshi batsmen would be fighting it out to avoid what seems to be an inevitable victory for the Indians.

Monday, January 25, 2010

India riding piggy back on Tendulkar’s 45th ton and Dravid’s 29th test hundred

Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul David eclipsed Ponting-Hayden and Greenidge-Haynes alliance’s record for 100-run partnerships, as they registered the 17th 100-run partnership at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium on the second day of the second test match between India and Bangladesh. Taking advantage of the early reprieves, the duo flayed the Bangladeshi attack to take India to a commanding total of 459 for five, with a sizeable lead of 226 to India’s credit.

Though accolades lavishing praise on the two master craftsmen have poured from all quarters, the only concerning factor has come in the form of an injury to Rahul Dravid, when a delivery from Shahadat Hossain pounded him on the helmet causing him to retire back into the pavilion. Tendulkar taking his time to set in pierced the infield with some resplendent strokes, a whip off the bowling of Rubel being the pick of the lot. Rahul Dravid making use of his feet played some lovely inside-out drives as the partnership flourished to a tally of 222 when Dravid had to return back to the pavilion owing to the injury.

The left-arm spinner Shakib resorted to negative line and the pace battery combination of the two Hossains, who preferred two gullies over the slip cordon, failed to create the sort of magic needed to upset the two masters who were cruising at a steady rate. Earlier the openers Shewag and Gambhir had provided a solid start when both fell to bouncers employed by the Bangladeshi pace bowlers. Murli Vijay and Harbajan didn’t last long as Dhoni was at the crease during the close of play with India clearly ahead in the driver’s seat to register another win, and a 2-0 series victory.

Gambhir riding with the purple patch of his carrier got his name placed alongside the legendary Viv Richards when he notched up his 11th consecutive test fifty, but failed in another, as when he failed to register the sixth consecutive test century to find his name alongside the great Sir Donald Bradman. Rahul Dravid replaced Gambhir by staying alongside Bradman with his 29th test hundred. The batting genius Sachin Tendulkar with his back to back hundreds seems to have gained a stronger appetite for runs as age doesn’t wither him nor does the tongue lashing to deprive him of the masterly batting qualities that have delighted spectators for more than two decades.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

India fails to capitalize on the early advantage

India was 69 for no loss at the end of the first day of the second test after fiery Virender Shewag and determined Gambhir knocked runs at a rapid pace. Earlier, Zaheer khan and Ishant Sharma reduced Bangladesh to 51 for 5, but, India failed to wrap up the tail as the gritty Mahamudullah remaining unconquered on 96 n.o. offered staunch resistance to guide his team to a respectable if not a match winning total of 233.

Having won the toss, skipper Shakib Al Hasan elected to bat first, and was soon to occupy the center stage when his team was reeling at 44 for four. Imrul Kayes, a victim of a bad decision and Tamim Iqbal were back in the pavilion, both openers out for a blob. Raqibul Hasan and Junaid Siddique were soon exhibiting loose stroke play and paid the penalty too. A defiant 39 from the middle-order batsman Mohammad Asraful who had earlier found a place in the XI amid protests from various quarters had given a glimmer of hope for Bangladesh, before Mohammad Asraful fell a victim to indiscretion when he stepped out to Pragyan Ojha to heave wildly for Dhoni to do the rest.

Harbajan Singh bowled to good line and length, but, claimed only one wicket. Zaheer and Ishant Sharma struck up a good combination, but failed to capitalize on the early success. Though Shakib, scoring 34 runs and Mushfiqur Rahim, his deputy, with 30 runs to his credit, seemed to ignite the hopes in the Bangladesh camp, they were back in the pavilion leaving the gutsy Mahamudullah to play the role of savior to perfection.

India catapulted to the No 1 spot in the ICC ranking has a long way to go in justifying its capabilities as the No 1 test nation. It failed to tighten the noose when the Bangladeshi batsmen were finding it difficult to harness a big partnership, and let the opponents reach a respectable total owing to the lack of sting on the part of the bowlers, who failed to finish the job quickly and assiduously.

Bangladesh still can’t be written off as the second day might unveil tensed moments as both the teams fight to grab the advantage, and to emerge victorious in the second test.

Twenty –twenty cricket – Do we hear the death knell?

The IPL twenty 20 cricket 2010 is round the corner with the bidding spewing venomous exchanges between arch rivals India and Pakistan, as the battle for the championship begins with a bloodied warrior style of bidding, and is sure to witness more of such politically entwined unwarranted issues ruling the roost with cricket paling into insignificance.

Has cricket lost the sheen, has it lost the gentlemanly characteristic so inherent of the game? Is Twenty 20 cricket the real savior to inject life back into the game of cricket? Dailies and other forms of newsprint have been filled to the gunwales with the eminent columnists propounding their views on the Twenty 20 cricket as well as about the role of this format in today’s cricket. But doubts still linger in the minds of many who have chosen to go with Imran Khan’s formula of ‘Temperament, Talent and Technique’ as being the surefire formula to test a batsman’s success, and the testing platform unarguably being test cricket. For such individuals, the dying embers of the game aren’t emitting sparks to infuse further development, but have only resulted in setting forth a train of incidents which have all been a comedy of errors.

With flashy girls churning out all sorts of movements as while the twenty-twenty cricket match gets underway only suggests desperate moves perpetrated on the part of desperate minds seeking to bring the glory back into the game. Quantity rather than the quality has cast a spell on batsmen around the globe, and as a result, today’s cricketers make more of willow dancers than being recognized as master craftsmen of the art, and lack the grace and charm exhibited by their predecessors.

Memories down the lane take us back to the days of the charismatic arrogance of Viv Richards, flamboyant Barry Richards, graceful Gower, naturally talented Ian Botham, on drive perfectionist, Greg Chappell, lazy elegance of Zaheer Abbas, the workhorse all-rounder Kapil Dev, the deadly pace quartet of Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Malcom Marshal and the Big Bird Joel Garner, legendary Richard Hadlee, crafty G.R. Vishvanath and of course the gutsy Border who turned things to work in favor of Australia’s way like a ship-wrecked mariner taking the vessel back to shore amid death rattling situations, and many more of the stalwarts who not only had ignited the passion of cricket but served as gentlemanly ambassadors who did a world of good to glorify the game.

Fast-paced life, dead as doornail wickets, cricketers walking into a match like a salesman on his daily call and as frequently so, fame and name poisoning the real love of the game, cricket matches turning out into blood shedding battlefields, and above all cricket trying to attract spectators as a brand manager in an organization, who tries to find ways to enhance the brand image through various cross-product promos, have all tarnished the image of the game as well as that of the five day test cricket.

Left in tatters, cricket has found mediums thought to be innovative and has disappointed genuine fans who look deep into the game to relish the artistic display of the performers. Pragmatic approach rather than innovative measures is the need of the hour to revive test cricket and to pave way for the art to blossom in a world of swift happenings. Let Twenty 20 cricket entertain enthusiasts, but, let it not take away the charm of five day cricket with its slog over strategy from the very beginning of a twenty 20 match.