Friday, December 17, 2010

Dhoni says Kirsten 'the best thing ever' for the team

INDIAN SKIPPER Mahendra Singh Dhoni has said that having South African Gary Kirsten as his team’s coach, has been a blessing and a wonderful experience.
Describing Kirsten as the “the best thing ever” to have happened to the Indian squad ahead of the first Test against South Africa, Dhoni warned the host cricket team not to think they can force India''s batsmen into submission with a short ball war.
"We are so used to that question – about how we will handle it when we are bombarded with short balls," quoted Dhoni, as saying with a smile.
"The answer is that it won't bother us. Most of our batsmen have recently played quite a lot in South Africa and are much more familiar with conditions than was the case in the past," he added.
"That is why we don't pay attention to what history says about what happened here in the past. We don''t think too much about the statistics," he said with regard to India's Test record of one victory in nine attempts since 1996,” Dhoni said.

Pakistan’s World Cup preparations “not up to the mark”: Wasim Akram

Karachi, Dec 17 : Pakistan’s preparation for the 2011 World Cup is “not up to the mark”, and it is high time that the selectors announced the preliminary squad to give enough time to the players to prepare properly, former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram has said.
Akram’s statement came close on the heels of one-day skipper Shahid Afridi and coach Waqar Younis’ observation during the national camp in Lahore that Pakistan needed to step up their preparation for the World Cup, starting February 19.

“It is good they (Afridi and Younis) have spoken the reality because it is a fact. Even, I feel our preparations are not up to the mark,” the Daily Times quoted Akram, as saying.

“It is better not to give false hopes to people. I think the PCB has already delayed long enough the announcement of players for the World Cup,” he added.

The former Test pacer said that there was no purpose of wasting any more time, and the players “who are going to play in the World Cup should know where they stand and what are the expectations from them.”

He was of the view that the quadrennial event in the sub-continent would provide Pakistan a great opportunity to make up for all the disappointment this year.

Too early to judge India's performance: Marsh

New Delhi: India's weakness in handling pace and bounce came back to haunt them against South Africa in the Centurion Test, but former Australian opener Geoff Marsh feels it is too early to point fingers at the World's top Test team.

"Look, this Indian team has performed very consistently. Look at the way they have performed throughout the year. It is just the first innings so let us not be judgemental. The pitch at Centurion was very lively and seamy. It is too early to judge India's performance in South Africa," said Marsh, the coach of new Indian Premier League team Pune Warriors.

India were all out for 136 in the first innings in the first Test, the famed batting line-up caving in with South African pacers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel wreaking havoc on a lively surface.

Johnson puts Australia in control of third test

Sachin Tendulkar,Rahul Dravid,Suresh Raina,Mitchell Johnson
Perth: Mercurial paceman Mitchell Johnson found his inswinging form to help Australia skittle England for 187 and wrest back the initiative on a topsy-turvy second day of the third Ashes test in Perth on Friday.

Mitchell smashed through England's top order then cleaned up the tail to finish with 6-38 in a brilliant return after he was dropped for the second test in Adelaide following a wayward, wicketless display in the opener in Brisbane.

The 29-year-old Queenslander's efforts sent Australia in to bat with an 81-run lead, but England's seamers hit back with three wickets after tea to leave Australia 119-3 at stumps.

Steve Finn removed Phillip Hughes for 12, coaxing a nick from the 22-year-old opener that went straight to Paul Collingwood's safe hands at third slip.

The young paceman then had Ricky Ponting caught behind for one, the struggling Australian captain feathering a catch off his glove to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

Ponting, who has not surpassed 12 runs in his past four innings, was given not out, but England successfully appealed the decision to ensure the embattled 35-year-old receives another harsh reception in Saturday's newspapers.

Michael Clarke smashed four boundaries in an aggressive 20-run cameo but undone himself by chasing a Chris Tremlett delivery onto his stumps as Australia wobbled on 64-3.

Clarke's dismissal brought the hosts' serial rescuer Mike Hussey to the crease and the 35-year-old left-hander proved rock-solid again, adding an unbeaten 24 in a 55-run stand with opener Shane Watson (61 not out) to see Australia to a 200-run lead at stumps.

Trailing 1-0 in the five-test series and harangued by a hostile local media after being bowled out for 268 on Thursday, Australia have seven wickets in hand and every hope of building a match-winning total on day three.

Much of the credit will go to their enigmatic paceman Johnson, who ignited the Australian attack in the morning session with a fierce spell of swing bowling.

After England raced to 78 without loss, Johnson caused Alastair Cook to miscue a drive straight to Hussey at gully, then trapped Jonathan Trott for four and Kevin Pietersen lbw for a duck.


Johnson grabbed his third lbw by dismissing Collingwood for five then celebrated his fifth and sixth wickets by bowling pacemen Tremlett for two and having James Anderson caught for a duck.

Johnson's withering spell had his fellow seamers bouncing and paceman Ryan Harris finished with 3-59 after dismissing England captain Andrew Strauss for 52, Ian Bell (53) and spinner Swann for 11.

Peter Siddle toiled in a fruitless morning session but was rewarded after lunch with a wicket when he bowled Prior for 12.

Australia are battling to level the five-test series and prevent the tourists from becoming the first English team to take the Ashes home in 24 years.

Mitchell's spell will rank high up in Ashes: Marsh

Australian seamer Mitchell Johnson, who rejuvetaned their Ashes campaign with a six-wicket-haul against England at Perth Friday, has bowled one of the best Ashes spells, feels former Test opener Geoff Marsh.

Marsh was all praise for Johnson, who Friday roared back to form taking six wickets for 38 runs, which gave Australia a lead of 81 runs. The left-handed seamer gave a lesson in the art of swinging the ball as he broke the back of England batting in a brilliant morning spell that read 9-3-20-4, and then returned to mop up the tail.

"Mitchell's spell was outstanding and it certainly ranks high up among the best Ashes spells bowled by an Australian," said Marsh, the former Australian Test player, who is the coach of new Indian Premier League
(IPL) team Pune Warriors.

"Mitchell is our strike bowler and he was not in form in the first Test, which could happen. He was a vital cog of the Australian side and his not performing affected the side's performance in the first two Test. Someone had to stand up for the team at Perth and he bowled a brilliant spell today."

Bombay High Court stays Kings XI Punjab's termination from IPL

THE BOARD of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) suffered yet another legal setback for the second consecutive day on Wednesday with a division bench of the Bombay High Court dismissing its appeal against the court's order staying the termination of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Kings XI Punjab.
The bench comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Anoop Mohata permitted Kings XI Punjab to continue being part of the tournament following which they can now participate in next month's player auction for the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament.
“It is abundantly clear that BCCI wanted to terminate the contract on the basis of what was factually incorrect. Termination was anything but fair and was wholly arbitrary,” the court said. Ecstatic after a favourable decision, Bollywood actress and co-owner of Kings XI Punjab team Preity Zinta thanked her fans and supporters of the team.
“Well, we are very-very happy for all the judgments. Thank you to our lawyers, most importantly thank you to our fans, to all the supporters of Kings Eleven Punjab, wherever they are across the globe, in
India, in Punjab, in Himachal. Thank you very-very much for supporting us. We got a pretty good judgment,” said Zinta.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hong Kong title as good as being number one: Saina

Hyderabad:  Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal is in no hurry to become the World number one and said winning the prestigious Hong Kong Super Series title in Wanchai was as good as achieving the numero uno status as she had beaten some top players en route to her victory.

On Sunday, Saina capped a dream year with her fourth Super Series title when she won the Hong Kong Open but that is unlikely to push her to the number one ranking.

"I will be happy if I finish the year with number one ranking. I don't know yet what is the system and how it is going to happen. I think this year I will be remaining at world number three or four but winning this tournament is like becoming world number one for me. So it's ok," Saina told reporters here.

"I will achieve it this year or next year. I mean, all players want to become world number one and I have the same dream. Lets us see when I will achieve it," she added.

India set sights on last frontier in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG: Boosted by its No. 1 ranking, India embark on its fifth attempt to win a Test cricket series in South Africa this week.

Having lost all four contests since South Africa's readmission to international cricket in 1992, India begins its latest attempt on Thursday at Centurion's SuperSport Park - where it has never played a Test and where the hosts have won 11 of 15 matches.

The three-match series is viewed as the final frontier for the sport's current dominant team in the five-day format.

India has won seven of nine series, drawing the other two, to top the rankings. However, only one of those wins _ against New Zealand in 2008-09 _ was outside the Asian subcontinent and away from India's preferred slow and batter-friendly pitches

Nadal, Wozniacki win ITF World Champion awards

London:  Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki have been named ITF World Champions for 2010.

Nadal, who won the French Open, Wimbledon and the U S Open, won the award given by the International Tennis Federation for the second time.

Wozniacki, a Dane who won six tour titles this year to take the No 1 ranking but failed to reach a Grand Slam final, won for the first time.

Nadal, who completed a career Grand Slam by winning in New York, says "after a difficult year in 2009, it was an amazing feeling to regain the No 1 ranking and finally win the U S Open."

In doubles, Bob and Mike Bryan won the men's award while Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta won the women's.

Tremlett, Bresnan vie for vacant England bowling spot

Perth: Standby England fast bowlers Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan are vying to snare injured fast bowler Stuart Broad’s spot in the first eleven for the Perth Ashes Test, which begins from Thursday.

Broad has been sent back home with a side strain, and both Tremlett and Bresnan failed to impress during the three-day friendly against Victoria last week.

However, the wholehearted seam and useful batting of Tim Bresnan is also highly regarded by the English hierarchy. It is significant that Bresnan has played a greater role in the recent development of a strong team ethos for England than Tremlett has, and this may play a role in enhancing his chances, according to reports.
Bresnan``s bustling approach to the task on hand is felt to be better suited for the WACA ground.

Tremlett, on the other hand, has a massive advantage with his height, feels Jimmy Anderson.

"Bresnan is a very skillful bowler who can bat as well and he has made some valuable contributions with the bat in our one-day side," he added.

Anderson spent some of his commute back from England thinking about how the tour had progressed so far, and it is difficult imagining any of his conclusions being negative.

"I feel like it``s part of my job as a bowler and I see myself as the leader of the attack here, so it``s important I think about what went right for us in the last two games and what we can improve on for this game," he said.
"I did plenty of that, as did the guys who were still here. They``ve thought about things we can improve on, and we``ve spoken about it already."

One man who will need to raise his game somewhat in the absence of Broad is the young quick Steve Finn, who has made valuable contributions in the first two Tests without ever quite bowling at his best.

"He``s a confident young guy and he has improved every time he``s bowled with each spell on this trip," Anderson said.

"He believes he can do the job and everyone else believes he``s got the attributes and the mental game to be able to step up to the plate.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

‘Harbhajan batted brilliantly'

HYDERABAD: “We need to get more runs to put more pressure. There is plenty of time left in this Test and it is too early to think about the declaration,” Rahul Dravid said at end of the third day's play in the second Test between India and New Zealand here on Sunday.

“We are slightly ahead but need to really increase the lead as much as possible. Hopefully, Bhajji (Harbhajan) will hit a century again and mind you Sree is really batting well,” he said.

“Anything can happen on the last two days of a Test and especially here. We have to really bowl well and take our catches to put the Kiwis under pressure in the second innings,” Dravid said.

“Definitely batting in the last innings should be a very difficult proposition even though the pitch is still really a good one now,” he added.

“This is a beautiful ground with a lovely outfield. You can see how exceptional the New Zealand fielding had been today,” he said.

Hyderabad wicket not helping bowlers: Laxman

VVS Laxman feels the presence of a famed batting line-up and the pitch at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium should work to India's advantage even if New Zealand manage to set the hosts a competitive fourth-innings target on the fifth and final day of the second Test here.

"The target is to keep the lead under 225. Even if the required rate is five, there should not be a problem as we have got a very strong batting line-up and the nature of the wicket will help us," Laxman said after New Zealand finished the day at 237 for four to acquire a lead of 115 runs.

Asked about the team's plans for on Tuesday, Laxman said, "We will look to get two early wickets and then get into the tail."

On the nature of the wicket, he said, "The wicket is not doing enough for bowlers. There is bounce but no turn and that's why I think our bowlers have done a very good job today."

Harbhajan, McCullum hit tons in second Test

HYDERABAD: New Zealand opener Brendon McCullum struck a superb 124 not out to defy India on the fourth day of the second Test on Monday.

McCullum, 29, hit 11 fours and three sixes in his 177-ball knock as the visitors reached 237/4 at close in reply to India's first-innings 472, built around a record century by tailender Harbhajan Singh.

New Zealand, who made 350 in their first essay, lead by 115 runs with six wickets in hand.

Kane Williamson (12) was the other not out batsman at the crease when stumps were called for the day.

McCullum dominated India's bowlers, hitting paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth for a six over long-off and a four off the next ball before racing to his sixth Test century with another boundary.