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Monday, September 24, 2007


CRICKET Twenty20 India - 0
Thousands of sub-continental cricket fanatics were on the high veld here with all their flag-waving, jingoism and obsession for the game.

In the end, skipper MS Dhoni's men triumphed over Pakistan in a nerve-shredding match by five runs.

Master blaster Yuvraj Singh did not hit a single six as opener Gautam Gambhir provided the ballast to India's total of 157-5 with 75 including one six that crashed into the electronic scoreboard.

In reply Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals with none of their middle-order big guns making a telling contribution.

Their demise was complete when Misbah- ul-Haq's attempt to flick Johinder Sharma over fine leg was caught by Sri Sreesanth.

This event has been an unqualified success in contrast to the poor format and meaningless matches during the 50-over World Cup this year. Dhoni said: "I will treasure this for the rest of my life."

India crushed all the preconceived ideas about Twenty20 — they had played just one match in the format before this event.

Dhoni won the toss but only Gambhir looked fluent against Pakistan's attack.

Yuvraj struggled with an elbow problem and his 14 runs came from a pedestrian 19 balls.

But Rohit Sharma caned 30 runs from 16 deliveries at the end of India's innings.

In Pakistan's reply, Imran Nazir belted 21 from Sreesanth's opening over before RP Singh took two important early wickets. Then match-of-the-match Irfan Pathan grabbed three more.

But Misbah whacked Harbhajan Singh for two sixes and No 9 Tanvir Sohail twice deposited Sreesanth over the boundary.

Misbah hit another six early in Sharma's final over before perishing. Cue the most manic celebrations imaginable.


India ran out winners by 5 runs in the finals of the Twenty20 World Cup, in a game which belied the adage that "youth knows no fear". As the match progressed, it was increasingly dominated by one player after another wilting under pressure. Shahid Afridi might be the sole exception, for his dismissal was not down to fear or pressure, but to Afridi. He will have the tournament's Most Valuable Player award to show for his effort in South Africa - albeit a Pyrrhic MVP if such a thing is possible. In a career built on spurts of crazy talent and crazed brainwaves, this was yet another celebrated episode.

It was cricket as it was meant to be played, I guess - on the village green. Batsmen getting out caught at mid off and in the deep of medium pacers and bowlers bowling it all over the place. And in the end, India were left standing, mainly because Pakistan shot themselves in the foot too many times to give them any chance of ending up on two feet. Misbah Ul Haq was the lone exception, and he seemed to be the only batsman with any sense of perspective. After Shanthakumaran Sreesanth had yet another mercurial bout (they should invent a 'Sreesanthometer' to measure his blow-hot-blow-cold efforts) and delivered unmitigated rubbish in his first over, to basically hand the match to Pakistan (after that 20 run over, all they needed was 7.5 an over for 18 overs with 10 wickets in hand, something which an ODI side of today would be disappointed to fail at), the Pakistan batsmen outdid him. Imran Nazir showed why he hasn't made his career in the more serious forms of the game. Younis Khan played a disappointing shot - you would expect a batsman of his quality to not lose his head in that fashion.

India for their part, Sreesanth apart, were admirably restrained. Accurate medium pace, bowled deliberately (read - where they wanted to land it), reminiscent of Kapil's devils of 1983 seemed to be the order of the day. In the end, they delivered fewer bad balls. Irfan Pathan showed why he is so highly thought of with a cerebral display of control in the big game. With the bat, India had what Pakistan didn't - one batsman batting through and ensuring a total on the board.

All in all, it was a game which revealed Twenty20 for what it is - if you ignore the contest between bat and ball, which in Twenty20 is pretty random, things happen quite fast - fast enough to suit the impatience of the television viewer. The pace is just right to ensure that there are very few lulls between bouts of "excitement". Even a ball which is played normally for a single or for no runs invites a response. It is like watching just the slog overs of an ODI game, or the last session of an exciting Test match. It is like watching Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, waiting with bated breath for the next melodramatic moment, except, unlike that shocking waste of everything, you don't know what the next week's story will be.

India won though. After the early exit from the World Cup and all the rubbish the ensued, all of India's cricketers have shamed the Indian cricketing public by going about their business in exemplary fashion. First, the first choice team beat South Africa in England, and then beat England in England. The Natwest result was a disappointing reverse, and the players will know that they lost a series they should have won. Now, the man whose house (under construction) was vandalized on television after that World Cup, has taken on the leadership of the side, and led well. They won a tournament beating the best teams in the world. It is why our cricketers are special. I feel culpable and guilty about the way India's cricketers were treated after the World Cup. I had no part in what happened, and I wrote about it a great deal then, but I still feel culpable. Here are excellent sportsmen, who have worked exceedingly hard all their lives to achieve a level of excellence which enables them to compete on equal terms with the best in the world, and all they find at the end of it all is the fickle interest of an ignorant, inadequate mass - consisting not just of poor people who's only pleasure is to watch a game of cricket at the end of a hard days back breaking labour, but of educated professionals and businessmen - middle class people like you and me - who love nothing more than to win our victories off the backs of young sportsmen. We abuse them for earning good money, and we abuse them if they don't win.

In a tournament where the cricket was completely random, fate has handed India's young players a just reward. In my view, we owe them an apology, not our congratulations. Dhoni doesn't need his home rebuilt, but the absolute assurance that it will never happen again. If he cannot be assured of this, then fast forward two years from now, and Dhoni in 2010 will be today's Dravid
CRICKET Twenty20 India - 0

Friday, March 30, 2007

England win over ireland

Joyce defends England World Cup tactics
Not very often does one see a player choke with emotion while answering mundane questions on the eve of the game against England. Irish vice-captain Kyle McCallan was asked a leading question about too many non-Irish performers in the team, hinting that they were mercenaries recruited to do a job for Ireland.

Though England went on to make 266/7 from 50 overs, the show put up by Ireland justified the answer the vice-captain gave.

McCallan, who is a school teacher by profession and has just been given a leave extension by his head mistress, wasn't rude, but his answer had the righteous tone of someone who felt under-valued in the collective effort of a unit that has three Aussie-born and one with South African roots. He felt the team effort was being underplayed.

Referring to the lost group game against the West Indies, where their Australian-born captain Trent Johnston sat out, he said: "We did miss him as, say, England would have missed Kevin Pietersen if he was injured. There is no difference in that."

The reference to Pietersen wasn't just because he happened to be the key player in the England squad, but also to the fact that Pietermaritzburg wasn't anywhere in Britain.

He wasn't finished yet, as he added: "When we beat Pakistan square and fair and there was Niall O'Brien who made 70 and Boyd Rankin who took three wickets. Both of them are Irish born and bred boys. Besides, Trent has an Irish wife and kids, Jeremy Bray has lived in Ireland as long as I know him. These guys are not mercenaries flown in for the World Cup, they have contributed a lot to Irish cricket and their children too might represent Ireland one day."

Today he walked the talk as he led a total Irish show on field. Till the 43.3 over, when Johnston had Andrew Flintoff clean bowled the scoreboard had a total true blue Irish feel to it as England were at one stage tottering for 113/4.

Londonderry boy Boyd Rankin, who was among the ground staff at Middlesex but never got a look-in and just recently got a contract with Derbyshire, showed the effectiveness of 6 feet 7 inches with a perfect action. By dismissing Ed Joyce from his first ball of the day the sentimental umbilical cord was cut and later when he had English skipper Michael Vaughan caught behind, Rankin just showed his rivals what they were missing by ignoring him.

The brothers from Dublin — wicket-keeper Niall and pacer Kevin — plotted Ian Bell's dismissal, but McCallan put the cherry on the cake by dismissing the dangerous looking Pietersen. The catcher being another Londonderry boy William Porterfield, and that just stressed the point that McCallan had made: the Irish too can play cricket.

In the hindsight if one looks at the scoreboard the worst bowling performance of the day came from the 'outsiders'. Johnston going for 70 in his 10 overs while Botha gave away 56 runs from 10 overs.


England: E Joyce b Rankin 1, M Vaughan c NJ O'Brien b Rankin 6, I Bell c NJ O'Brien b KJ O'Brien 31,K Pietersen c Porterfield b McCallan 48, P Collingwood run out (White/Johnston) 90, A Flintoff b Johnston 43, P Nixon c Morgan b Botha 19, R Bopara not out 10, S Mahmood not out 0

Extras (lb 2, w 13, nb 3) 18;

Total (for 7 wickets) 266

Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-23, 3-89, 4-113, 5-194, 6-245, 7-258

Bowling: D Langford-Smith 7-0-38-0, W Rankin 7-1-28-2, D Johnston 10-0-70-1, A Botha 10-1-56-1, K O'Brien 4- 0-26-1, W McCallan 10-0-38-1, A White 2-0-8-0

Anil Kumble quits one-day cricket

In a cricketing career spanning 17 years till date, Anil Kumble has made it a habit to be part of the playing XI for Team India. His outstanding performances have ensured that he has played a pivotal role for the team. But finally a day came when Kumble had to warm the benches, more recently in the 2007 World Cup. That is when Kumble decided to retire from ODIs.

"I have always wanted to be a part of the team once I was chosen and, as days passed, it became a habit. But it did not happen in the previous World Cup in 2003. I was a bit hurt and at that time I wanted to call it a day, but a few of my well-wishers advised me to stay on since they felt that I still had a lot of cricket in me. So I hung on.

In this World Cup, which was really a special one, I found no place in the team and then I decided to make way for youngsters. But I shall be still open to selection for Tests," said Kumble, whose brother Dinesh, mother Saroja, wife Chetna, daughters Aaruni, Svasti and son Mayas were present on the occasion.

After the 2003 World Cup, Kumble did not figure in the ODI team regularly and played only 19 matches before he was picked for the World Cup team. But it was disappointing for him that he featured in only one match against minnows Bermuda, with Harbhajan Singh playing the other two matches.

Asked whether he was hurt by being overlooked for the World Cup matches, the 37-year-old said: "Certainly not, every player has to deserve a place in the team. The team management had a certain strategy and we can't complain if we don't fit into it.

Harbhajan has been bowling very well. He is in fact a great bowler who is young and learning with experience. Since the plan was to play three seamers and one spinner, Harbhajan was the only choice."

The ace leg-spinner said that he would have loved to have ended his career on a high but that did not happen. "We had a great chance as this was the best 15 for the World Cup. We thought we could make it.

But it did not happen and things went horribly wrong. It has been a long journey and it is always nice to finish on a high note but everybody cannot have a fairy-tale ending every time," he said.

Kumble added: "I have great memories, like that partnership with Srinath, or the World Cup quarters against Pak in Bangalore."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

south africa wins

South Africa eked out a one-wicket win over Sri Lanka yesterday despite Lasith Malinga's unprecedented four wickets in four balls late in a Cricket World Cup Super 8 match.

The South Africans were one stroke from victory at 206 for six, chasing Sri Lanka's modest 209, before Malinga struck. He became the first bowler to take wickets with four consecutive balls in a limited-overs international.

Australia defeated West Indies by 103 runs in a match completed yesterday after rain delays Tuesday.

Sri Lanka's Malinga removed Shaun Pollock (13) and Andrew Hall (0) on the last two balls of his eighth over -- the 45th -- and Jacques Kallis (86) caught behind and Makhaya Ntini bowled on the first two balls of his ninth.

That left South Africa needing three runs from 21 balls.

Robin Peterson edged Malinga for four down to third man to take South Africa to 212-9 with 10 balls to spare. Peterson jumped jubilantly as he ran down the pitch in celebration and then smashed the stumps at the non-striker's end with his bat.

Malinga returned 4-54 from 9.2 overs and Muttiah Muralitharan, who had a loud shout for a hat trick, turned down earlier in the innings, finished with 3-34.

The win ensured South Africa of top spot in the season-ending international limited-overs rankings come April 1, regardless of whatever else happens in the World Cup.

Despite the close shave, the win was a confidence boost for the South Africans, and a slight come down for Sri Lanka after its 3-0 sweep in Group B included wins over India and Bangladesh.

Charl Langeveldt did the early damage with a career-best 5-39 to restrict the Sri Lankans to their lowest total of the Cup after Mahela Jayawardene had won the toss and elected to bat. Langeveldt took three wickets in his last over as Sri Lanka lost its last four wickets for one run in seven balls. He'll start South Africa's next match on a hat trick.

Coming in when AB de Villiers was bowled by Chaminda Vaas in the first over, Kallis scored 86 and shared a 94-run stand with Graeme Smith (59) that set up South Africa's chase.

His 110-ball innings contained four boundaries.

Muralitharan caused a wobble in the middle when he dismissed Herschelle Gibbs (31) and Mark Boucher on consecutive balls to make it 160-4. The Sri Lankan spinner missed a hat trick when his next ball just missed the edge and bounced off Justin Kemp's pad into the hands of a close-in fielder. Kemp scored five before he was stumped off Jayasuriya's bowling with the total at 182, giving Kumar Sangakkara his second stumping -- he combined with Muralitharan to remove Smith in the 18th over.

Kallis anchored the innings, scoring 70 runs between two reprieves: a tough chance at first slip put down by Jayawardene on six and another sharp return catch put down by Malinga.

Smith scored his fourth consecutive half-century, facing 65 balls and hitting seven boundaries and a six to continue a run of good form.

Tillekaratne Dilshan (58) and Russel Arnold (50) shared a 97-run sixth-wicket to bolster the Sri Lanka innings after Ntini and Langeveldt had them struggling at 98-5. Ntini had Upul Tharanga (12) caught at slip with the total at 13.

Sanath Jayasuriya took a liking to Pollock's bowling, however, hitting 26 from 27 balls before he was undone by a change in the attack.

South Africa plays Ireland next Tuesday, three days after Sri Lanka plays host West Indies in Guyana.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hero to zero: Cricketers under threat

FAN FURY: Sachin's residence and family members are under security cover after India's Cup debacle.
New Delhi, March 24 Even as the nation was drowned in sorrow today, cricket-crazy fans gave vent to their ire against the national team over their disgraceful performance against Sri Lanka by burning the effigies of star cricketers whom they virtually worshipped all these years.

The humiliating defeat at the hands of the islanders, which has virtually ended India's disastrous campaign in the World Cup in the West Indies, shocked the cricket administrators as well with the BCCI promising to take drastic measures to overhaul the game.

Angry fans in several cities burnt effigies of cricket idols Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, skipper Rahul Dravid and other senior players and also Indian team coach Greg Chappell. At several places, 'funeral' processions of the team were taken out.

Security men were immediately rushed to the homes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Sehwag, wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, spinner Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh soon after India surrendered meekly to the Sri Lankans in the do-or-die tie at Trinidad.

India crashed to the second defeat in three games after minnows Bangladesh shocked them in their first league encounter of Group B last week.

In captain Dravid's hometown Bangalore, people thronged the busy thoroughfares shouting slogans and burning posters, besides demanding Dravid to step down from captaincy.

Kolkata wore a deserted look with torn posters of Indian stars in every nook and corner of the city, bearing witness to silent frustrations that brewed within the city.

Former national selector and Test cricketer Sambaran Banerjee told UNI, "It is a black day for Indian cricket. The fact that we did not qualify for the Super Eight is simply unexpectable."

Even the Railway Minister and Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) president, Mr Lalu Prasad joined in to lash out at all the members of the team, saying they should 'compulsorily retire' in favour of young talents.

"The defeat has underlined the fact that seniors in the team failed to deliver and that too in the most ignominious manner, and it is high time they were replaced by young talent," Mr Prasad told reporters on the sidelines of a railway function here.

Mr Prasad said India could learn a lesson or two from Bangladesh which had blooded young talent in the team and the results were there for everyone to see.

"Instead of concentrating on their game, Indian players are more concerned about making money through advertisements," he said, adding that it was adversely impacting their performance.

In New Delhi, the BJP today offered a bit of advice to India's cricket team after their near-exit from the World Cup, saying they were required to be a bit more serious in their game.

Cricketer Zahir Khan's restaurant in Kondawa area, in Pune, was attacked by an angry mob this morning following the dismal performance of the Indian team against Sri Lanka in the World Cup match last night.

The cricketing buffs attacked "ZK" restaurant in the posh Kondawa area by throwing stones to express their anger and dismay against the Indian paceman for his unsatisfactory performance in the World Cup. However, the restaurant was not damaged much except for the breaking of some glass windows.

The police took immediate step to control the irate mob and saved the restaurant from further damage.

Agitated cricket fans today set ablaze the effigy of Indian wicket-keeper and batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Ranchi.

The people were especially enraged by Dhoni's poor performance and burnt his effigies at the different locations in Ranchi including Albert Ekka Chowk and Rajendra Chowk.

Dhoni was not able to make a single run against Sri Lanka yesterday.

In Ahmedabad, cricket fans in the city today burnt effigies and conducted mock-funeral of the Indian players.

A group of cricket enthusiasts protested at the Lotus School in Isanpur locality, at the way the Indian cricketers put up a spineless batting display against the Sri Lankans yesterday.

They carried posters which criticised the cricketers for not concentrating on the game and minting money through advertisements.

They raised slogans against the BCCI president,

Mr Sharad Pawar and coach Greg Chappell. Members of the group slapped the posters of cricketing icons with slippers and burnt them.

Meanwhile, another group of youths in the city conducted a mock-funeral of the cricket team.

The youths who had gathered at Gujarat college took out a mock funeral procession and thereafter burnt the effigy of the team.


News Agency IANS on Friday revealed that the suspense over the contents of the book, which is widely believed to have led to the murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer in the West Indies, is over: it is a coaching manual with a difference.

A report appearing on, mentions IANS as its source of revelation that Bob's book was just a coaching manual.

This also lays to rest reports that the manuscript of the book - 'Discovering Cricket: The Art and Science of the Game' - was missing from Woolmer's hotel room in Kingston where he was murdered Sunday.

The former England cricketer was Pakistan's coach in the ongoing World Cup. Pakistan crashed out of the tournament after two successive defeats.

An e-mail to IANS from Woolmer's official website said on Friday that a 'Bob Woolmer Trust Fund' has also been created, with the late player's wife Gill, their sons Dale and Russell, former South Africa players Jonty Rhodes, Barry Richards and sports scientist and professor Tim Noakes are members of the trust.

The mail, however, does not say about the second book, his autobiography, that Woolmer was supposedly writing in association with English journalist Ivo Tennant.

It was perhaps in preparation of writing his autobiography that Woolmer had even met Delhi Police Commissioner K.K. Paul to seek details of the Hansie Cronje match-fixing case of 2001.

He was the coach of the South African team when Delhi police taped captain Cronje talking to a bookie over telephone to allegedly fix a one-day international during the tour of India.

Paul confirmed Monday that Woolmer, who was found dead in his hotel room in Kingston, West Indies, had a meeting with him on April 18, 2005, when he was in India as Pakistani team coach.

'He had come to me to discuss the various details of the match-fixing case, and he was given those. He was quite a nice, matter-of-fact and forthcoming person," Paul told IANS on Monday.

The e-mail said that 'Discovering Cricket: The Art and Science of the Game' is a book that has been written over the last five years by Woolmer and Noakes and will become the 'definitive manual on playing and coaching' cricket.

"It is first time that a cricket coach and a sports scientist have combined their experience, insights and wisdom to create the most comprehensive and holistic book on playing and coaching cricket ever,"it said.

"It has a global focus - suitable for players, coaches and cricket fans throughout the world, and especially in developing countries."

The scientific, biomechanical and medical aspects of the game are discussed in detail in the unpublished book, enabling a fuller understanding of the 'how' and 'why' of the game.

"It is user-friendly, lively and accessible, with summaries, plentiful illustrations (photos and diagrams), anecdotes and handy tips from some of the game's greatest players and characters," said the mail.

"The book contains the latest cutting-edge research on the science and medicine of cricket."

The Woolmer fund has been established "to ensure that his legacy is preserved".

One of its aims is: 'To ensure that his legacy and teachings live on through the creation of the Bob Woolmer Cricket Academy (BWCA) that is going to be built outside Nelspruit in the South African Lowveld.'

Another objective is to ensure that the book is published. It confirms that the manuscript is with one of the members of the trust.

The academy will be a non-profit organisation.

One feature of the BWCA is that children from underprivileged communities in South Africa would benefit in both a sporting and academic way.

A right-handed batsman and medium pacer, Kanpur-born Bob Woolmer played 19 Tests and six One-Day Internationals for England in 1970s.

The Jamaica Police is now looking for the man who killed Woolmer.

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