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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sangakkara salutes youngsters

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara hailed his team's fighting spirit following their victory over India in the triangular one-day series final in Dhaka.

Fast bowlers Nuwan Kulasekara and Chanaka Welegedara shared seven between them as Sri Lanka bowled India out for 245.

India's bowlers fought back in the field, but half-centuries from Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene and a good knock from Tillakaratne Dilshan helped Sri Lanka clinch a four-wicket victory with nine deliveries to spare.

Sri Lanka went into the final having lost a number of close matches against India in the recent past, but Sangakkara was pleased with the way his young team held their nerve.

"The chat in the dressing room at the interval today was something we always talk about - assess the conditions, get a good steady start, try and score runs and build partnerships. That has been our mantra," he said.

"It is unfortunate that Upul Tharanga got out, but we managed to build partnerships and the experience in the middle really helped us.

"I'm very happy with the way the guys reacted under pressure, held their nerve at crucial times, but most of all I'm pleased with the way the young guys have held themselves together as team.

"They have really gelled well and that is what is going to hold us in good stead going forward."

Sangakkara praised his bowlers for paving the way for victory and was pleased with the improvements in his team's fielding.

"I've always believed we have match-winners in our side and when it mattered today in the final, every one of them fired," he said.

"The bowling unit was fantastic upfront, they gave us a great start and Mahela Jayawardene finished it off brilliantly.

"The bowlers have been through the mill in the recent series in India and in some of the games here, but all credit for them because they never lost faith.

"They have tried really hard and although we could have been a little tighter in the middle in this game, it's great to win.

"The fielding is something we have always spoken about especially in the last few months where we haven't been at the greatest with our fielding.

"But slowly, with some of the new blood coming in, they have really improved."

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni believed Ashish Nehra's injury in his second over hampered his team's chances, but also admitted his side's batting was not up to scratch.

"The shot selection by our batsmen wasn't really great," he said.

"In this series we have had good batting pitches so far, but this was one of those tracks which had offered some bounce.

"We should have been careful, but we were not, though at the end of the day we had a decent total.

"I think if Nehra hadn't gone out with that injury, we would have fancied our chances.

"There was no dew today, there was reverse swing for the fast bowlers and turn for the spinners, so we could have really made it hard for the opposition if we had Nehra around."

Dhoni was pleased with the performance of his bowlers.

"The bowlers are getting back into form and that's a huge positive for us," he said.

"We are a side that relies a lot on our batting, but it's good to see the bowlers perform."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Icc Ranking of 2009

ICC Ranking for Top 10 Cricket Team in ODI:
Rank Team Rating
1 Australia 128
2 India 124
3 South Africa 121
4 New Zealand 110
5 Pakistan 109
6 England 106
7 Sri Lanka 106
8 West Indies 76
9 Bangladesh 54
10 Zimbabwe 28
11 Ireland 25
12 Kenya 2

ICC Ranking for Top 10 Batsman in ODI:
Rank Name Country Rating
1 M.S.Dhoni India 843
2 M.Hussey Australia 792
3 Yuvraj Singh India 773
4 G.Smith South Africa 763
5 A.B.Devilliers South Africa 761
6 S.Chanderpaul West Indies 747
7 C.Gayle West Indies 744
8 R.Ponting Australia 734
9 S.Tendulkar India 704
10 J.Kallis South Africa 701

ICC Ranking for Top 10 Bowlers in ODI:
Rank Name Country Rating
1 K.Mills New Zealand 710
2 N.Kulaskara Sri Lanka 700
3 D.Vettori New Zealand 698
4 Shakibal Hasan Bangladesh 681
5 S.Bond New Zealand 666
6 A.Mendis Sri Lanka 652
7 M.Muralitharan Sri Lanka 645
8 D.Styen South Africa 645
9 N.Bracken Australia 639
10 S.Afridi Pakistan 638

ICC Ranking for Top 10 Cricket Team in Test Cricket:
Rank Team Rating
1 South Africa 122
2 Sri Lanka 120
3 India 119
4 Australia 116
5 England 105
6 Pakistan 84
7 New Zealand 80
8 West Indies 76
9 Bangladesh 13

ICC Ranking for Top 10 Batsman in Test cricket:
Rank Name Country Rating
1 K.Sangakara Sri Lanka 859
2 G.Gambhir India 847
3 D.Jayawardne Sri Lanka 830
4 S.Chanderpaul West Indies 821
5 Md. Yusuf Pakistan 818
6 M.Clark Australia 808
7 Yonus Khan Pakistan 801
8 G.Smith South Africa 782
9 R.Ponting Australia 779
10 J.Kallis South Africa 755

ICC Ranking for Top 10 Bowlers in Test cricket:
Rank Name Country Rating
1 D.Styen South Africa 844
2 M. Muralidaran Sri Lanka 824
3 M.Johnson Australia 786
4 M.Nitini South Africa 741
5 H. Singh India 735
6 S.Clark Australia 710
7 P.Harris South Africa 669
8 Zaheer Khan India 650
9 J.Anderson England 645
10 G.Swann England 634

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kotla was too dangerous to play

"Kotla was too dangerous to play"
Kumar Sangakkara said the Kotla track did not look "normal" soon after the first five overs and was too dangerous to continue playing.

"Even after 6-10 overs, we could feel that the pitch was not normal. But the Match Referee (Alan Hurst) said 'I cannot do anything. It was a call for the on-field umpires to take'.

"We spoke to the fourth umpire as well. We cannot, from outside, make a request to the umpire. The two on-field batsmen had to make a request," Sangakkara said after his team returned from India losing both the Test and ODI series.

"The umpires were also waiting to see whether the pitch would improve. By the 23rd over, they knew that it did not even out. Then (Muthumudalige) Pushpakumara got hit and (Thilina) Kandamby nearly got hit," he told reporters here.

"Kandamby spoke to the umpire who said they were also waiting for the pitch to improve but that it had not. So, it was a dangerous batting pitch to play on," he added.

After 23-odd overs, the match was abandoned as odd balls reared up alarmingly.

As a fallout, Kotla now faces an international ban even though the Delhi and District Cricket Association officials alleged that the Lankans "chickened out" of the match fearing defeat.

Looking back at the disappointing tour, Sangakkara said among the few positives was the way some youngsters performed.

"We saw how the young players Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera and Suraj Randiv performed. Young players are starting to realise it's anybody's game now and we are going to see them pushing everyone for places, not just for the World Cup but for other tours as well. It's a great step forward in Sri Lanka cricket," he said last evening.

Chairman of Sri Lankan selectors Ashantha de Mel also felt that despite the poor results, the performance of the team was not all that bad.

"I don't think our performance was that bad. We play quite a lot of cricket. The main thing we need to improve is bench strength for people who got injured. There were 10 people who got injured when we were in India. We had five debutants in the ODI series alone. Despite all that we showed lot of character," De Mel said.

Sangakkara said the fielding was one area where the Lankans need to improve.

"These days the matches are won or lost by two, three, four or five runs," he added.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What type of cricket is it?

A money spinner or a threat to pure cricket? Whatever may be the case IPL Season Two was no less entertaining than the first one.
Adam Gilchrist slashes at a wide one from Dale Steyn and is caught at third man boundary by Ross Taylor, leading to an eruption of the capacity crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Only the Indian Premier League can provide that kind of high-octane spectacle. Also, the excitement that foreign players bring to the league is unparalleled, to be sure.
The second edition of the Indian Premier League in South Africa belonged to the oldies of world cricket. Be it the inspirational tournament-winning leadership of Adam Gilchrist, the merciless hitting by burly Matthew Hayden or the near unplayable bowling of Bangalore skipper Anil Kumble.
To all of these legends, who have retired from international cricket, IPL 2009 provided a new lease of life. Where skipper Gilchrist led the Deccan team from the front with both bat and gloves, Chennai opener Hayden notched up some breathtaking numbers, piling 572 runs in just 12 Twenty20 games and the old war-horse Kumble almost single-handedly fetched his non-fancied team the runners-up tag. The event, where stroke-makers called the shots, also saw players like Herschelle Gibbs (Hyderabad), AB de Villiers (Delhi), Tillakaratne Dilshan (Delhi), JP Duminy (Mumbai), Jacques Kallis (Bangalore) and Ross Taylor (Bangalore) become mainstays of the batting order of their respective sides.
The IPL got the best out of swashbuckling Sri Lankan opening batsman Dilshan. Due to lack of form and injury to Sehwag, Delhi's opening combination could not come up with the goods. Thanks to Dilshan's carefree batting, Sehwag was never missed at the top of the order. Not to forget his trademark stroke - the Dilscoop - which became very popular as Dilshan was hell-bent on going after the bowling in the first 6 overs. The highest run-getter for Delhi in 2009 season was AB de Villiers who took it upon himself to bat till the end of the innings, thereby ensuring that the Daredevils had more than a challenging score to defend almost every time they went out to bat.
The biggest plus for the Delhi team was the performance of 34-year-old Victorian Dirk Nannes. Very much unknown prior to the IPL, Nannes bamboozled the opposition opening batsmen with his bounce and pace and was no less than a fire-breathing dragon.
For Bangalore, Jacques Kallis was a reliable and dependable option at the opening position, while Ross Taylor in the middle-order made sure that runs came thick and fast in the slog overs. He played the fastest knock of the tournament when he blasted a whirlwind 81 off 33 balls including 7 fours and 5 sixes against the Kolkata Knight Riders to help his side chase down 173 at Centurion. Not to forget the role rookie South African all-rounder Roelof van der Merwe played with both bat and ball.
The impact of the foreign players was more than visible on the Deccan Chargers team. Although Gilchrist was the trump card at the top of the order, his opening partner Gibbs never allowed the bowlers to settle down even after losing his skipper early. The middle-order saw big-hitters Andrew Symonds and West Indian Dwayne Smith attack the bowling and get boundaries in the middle and final stages. Towards the later part of the tournament even Queenslander Ryan Harris raised his game to get the crucial wickets in the opening spell and bowl tight overs at the death.
The top-10 run getters in the 54-match event saw only three Indians in the list - Suresh Raina (4th), Sachin Tendulkar (9th) and Rohit Sharma (10th). On the contrary, the top-10 bowling chart was overwhelmingly dominated by the Indians - RP Singh (1st), Kumble (2nd), Ashish Nehra (3rd), Pragyan Ojha (5th), Irfan Pathan (6th), Munaf Patel (7th) and Pradeep Sangwan (8th).
What the IPL 2009 gave Indian cricket was first viewing of previously lesser-known players, where some were able to grab the chance with both hands and some flattered to deceive. The find of the tournament was 19-year old Karnataka batsman Manish Pandey who played a pivotal role in taking the Royal Challengers into the final stages of the competition. Pandey, the only Indian so far to score a century in the T20 League, recorded 168 runs in just 5 games at an average of 64 at a strike rate of 142.37. His best score was 114 against Deccan Chargers.
Few months later he scored 194 in a Ranji match to remove all doubts, if there any were, that his IPL innings was a flash in the pan. Other unheard-of domestic batsman like Tirumalasetti Suman (Deccan) and Ajinkya Rahane (Mumbai) too played match-winning hands for their teams, though were not as consistent as Pandey.
The bowling department saw unearthing of a new left-arm spinner in Pragyan Ojha who took 18 wickets in the tournament for the champions Deccan Chargers. Although a prolific performer in the domestic circuit for the last two seasons, Ojha needed a platform like the IPL to showcase his world class talent and his performance there went a long way towards getting him a Test berth against Sri Lanka in November. He claimed 4 wickets in his maiden Test that India won by an innings and 144 runs at Green Park in Kanpur. Another orthodox left-arm spinner who impressed in more than a couple of games was Goa-born Chennai bowler Shadab Jakati, who took 13 wickets from 9 games.
The 2009 event in the Rainbow Nation provided a new breath of life for 30-year-old left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra, who ended up as third most successful bowler with 19 wickets. His good show in the IPL for the Delhi Daredevils handed him a ticket to revive his limited overs career as he was recalled into the Indian ODI team before long. Since his return to the team he has picked up 25 wickets in 16 ODIs, second most for an Indian this year after Ishant Sharma (27).
A surprising fact in the IPL this year was the performance of the ‘icon' players. Though they were amongst the runs but on the whole their display was far from iconic. Not captaining the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2009, Sourav Ganguly had a miserable run and it had a direct impact on team's performance: the Kolkatans ended up being at the bottom of the table. Out of the 13 games, Ganguly could manage only 189 runs at a pathetically low average of 17.18.
Although master blaster Sachin Tendulkar started the tournament on a high but his 364 runs from 13 games were not enough to fetch a semi-final place for Mumbai Indians. Yuvraj Singh (340 runs and 6 wickets), right throughout the tournament looked like the only performer for Kings XI Punjab. But he failed to get support from the rest of his batsmen except Kumar Sangakkara (332 runs in 14 games). Bangalore Royal Challengers' Rahul Dravid's average performance (271 runs in 12innings at 22.58) in the tournament was camouflaged by the fact that his team ended up reaching the final.
Many stellar cricket pundits have opined that the league is a threat to Test cricket. Also, many Indian cricketers, intoxicated by money and glamour - IPL's by-products - publicly spoke about their preference of the league over the time-honoured Ranji Trophy. Clearly something is amiss! The debate is still on! It remains to be seen whether the IPL is a breeding ground for top-notch players or merely a money-spinning endeavour, threatening to shred the sacred fabric of the game.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sachin rested for Bangla tri series

Sachin Tendulkar was rested while Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar were dropped from India's squad for next month's tri-series in Bangladesh.
Temperamental speedster S Sreesanth, who missed the ODI series against Sri Lanka because of swine flu, and Bengal pacer Ashok Dinda were included in the ODI squad for the Tri-series announced by the BCCI Secretary N Srinivasan after a selection committee meeting here.
Ishant, who has been in poor form in recent times, was not only axed from the Tri-series squad but was also not included in the team for the fifth and final ODI against Sri Lanka here on Sunday.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha was also left out of the Tri-series squad with the national selectors preferring leg spinner Amit Mishra to share the spin bowling responsibilities with Harbhajan Singh.
Dashing left-hander Yuvraj Singh, who only played one match in the ODI series against Sri Lanka, has been named in the Tri-series squad which has no new face.
"Sachin Tendulkar desired to be rested for the Tri-series at Bangladesh. He will play the Tests against Bangladesh," Srinivasan said in a BCCI press release issued on Friday.
Virender Sehwag, who led India when Mahendra Singh Dhoni was unavailable following the two-match suspension for slow over-rate, has been named vice-captain of the Tri-series squad.
Rohit Sharma, who figured in India's Twenty20 squad, has also been recalled for the Tri-series in Dhaka from January 4-13. Apart from India, hosts Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are the two other teams.
The Tri-series will be followed by a two-match Test series in Chittagong (Jan 17-21) and Dhaka (Jan 24-28).
The team to be captained by Dhoni has six specialist batsmen, two specialist spinners and five pacemen. It has one all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja who has been quite effective as left-arm spinner and two wicketkeepers in captain Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik.

In the absence of Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir is likely to open the innings with his Delhi teammate Sehwag while it will be interesting to see who bats at the crucial number three position.

Zaheer Khan will spearhead the pace attack which also has Ashish Nehra and Sreesanth besides the two rookies Sudip Tyagi and Ashok Dinda.

Squad for the fifth ODI against Sri Lanka: M S Dhoni (Captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Sudeep Tyagi, Dinesh Karthik, S Sreesanth, Ashok Dinda, Pragyan Ojha.

Sqaud for the Tri-series: M S Dhoni (Captain), Virender Sehwag (Vice-Captain), Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Yuvraj Singh, Sudeep Tyagi, Dinesh Karthik, S Sreesanth, Ashok Dinda, Amit Mishra.

‘Zaheer missing a partner’

The home series against South Africa in February will be a test for Dhoni’s boys and the skipper admits the bowling has to get sharper.
It may sound clich├ęd but one can’t deny reality after all. Winning a Test series against Sri Lanka at home and becoming world No. 1 is great indeed, but how does one protect this heavy tag? Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is surely thinking. Call it Vision 2010!
Given the quality of fielding and fast bowling one got to see in recent matches, Dhoni agrees that both aspects are creasing his forehead for sure. The real test is of course in a five-day game and Dhoni feels, the fielding has been relatively better in the longer variety.
“The fielding in the Test matches has been good. We have some slow fielders in the side, but I don’t think it is an area of concern for us in Tests. The close-in catchers have done a good job. Even the fielding and the catching in the out-field has been satisfactory,” said Dhoni, but reminding “in Tests”.
Winning matches is all about taking 22 wickets. Most teams come to India trying to sort out the spinners on tracks that could turn as early as Day 1. But India’s concern has been the new ball attack and Dhoni laments Zaheer Khan is missing a consistent partner.
Dhoni said, “Fast bowling is bit of a concern for us. Ishant has been going through a temporary drop in form but his talent cannot be questioned. He is going through a transition phase. The talent just needs to come of age.” The question is when?
A better-late-than-never BCCI has realized the fact that India need to play more Test matches and Dhoni is happy. That Test cricket can provide adequate entertainment has been proved the world across and BCCI has already sought a change in itinerary with the South Africans, who are scheduled to tour early next year.
“I am of course looking forward to more Test matches in 2010 and not just the scheduled two against Bangladesh. There have been a few Test matches that have been proposed and the BCCI and ICC are looking in to it. I am hopeful that this proposal will materialize,” Dhoni said.
ICC Chief Executive Officer Haroon Lorgat clarified: “Look it’s not up to the ICC to decide how many matches a country plays in a year. It’s for the home boards to take a call on that front. There is a four or six-year cycle in which a team has to play ‘n’ number Tests and then it is left for the home boards to decide,” adding he will be happy to see India and South Africa playing a two-Test series in February-March. BCCI will, hopefully, get its priorities right.

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