Sunday, November 23, 2008

Roadblock to Indias Pak tour

India's tour of Pakistan early next year continues to draw apprehensions from the government on account of security as it is reluctant to risk the lives of its players in the nation which has seen a series of terror attacks in the last one year.

The government is apprehensive about the security of it players and the source said, ''if even a scratch comes to Sachin, what would happen to the bilateral relations.'' ''The risk is not worth running,'' they added.

With the prevailing situation in Pakistan, ''no government would take a decision which would risk the lives of its players,'' sources said.

The final decision on the tour, scheduled from January 6 to February 19, will be taken within two weeks on the basis of the assessment by a high-level team of officials that will be going to Pakistan shortly.

The source cited the recent terror attack on a national sporting event in Peshawar to cite the example of the security situation in Pakistan.

Pak coach says Shoaib crucial against India

Pakistan cricket coach Intikhab Alam feels controversial fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar still has a lot to offer and could play a crucial role when they take on arch-rival India early next year.

"He can play a very important role against India and we will be relying on him to deliver the goods with experience and pace. I don't think he is finished. If nursed properly and he takes care of himself, Shoaib can do more for Pakistan than he has done in recent times," Intikhab, who guided the team to a clean sweep in ODI series against West Indies in Abu Dhabi recently, said on Sunday.

"Shoaib is certainly not finished as an international player as yet and he still has a few years to give to Pakistan cricket," he added.

The former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Lt Gen (retd) Tauqir Zia recently advised the PCB to tell the fast bowler to go home and retire as he was finished as an international cricketer.

Intikhab, a former international cricketer, said that Shoaib had been told to follow a rigorous rehabilitation and training programme under the supervision of the team's Australian trainer David Dwyer.

Shoaib regained his berth in the national team recently and went to Abu Dhabi with the squad but didn't play in the series due to a calf strain.

"He is working very hard and doing what he has been asked to do to lose weight, become fitter and sharper and get the match fitness. He was fit for the final match (in Abu Dhabi) but we decided to not risk him on the advice of the trainer," he said. Speaking on the coming home-series against India, the coach insisted, "The series is very much on and we have to start serious preparations for it. All the players have already been given individual programs to keep themselves fit for the series as it is big for us." Intikhab also lauded Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men for their stupendous performance in the recent series against Australia and the ongoing England series.

"India has done really well in recent months and against Australia they were the better side but I think one of the reasons for their success is also the cricket balls they use in domestic cricket and against touring sides.

"The Indian players are well versed with the SG cricket balls and know how to use them well. Compared to the Kookaburra, the SG has a more prominent seam that does not die down after a few overs and is a big help for the spinners and pacers alike. It allows them to take a strong grip and use it effectively," he said.

Johnson leads clinical Australia to victory

It took Australia only 48 minutes on the fourth day to wrap up New Zealand's final four wickets and claim a 149-run win in the first Test at the Gabba. Mitchell Johnson finished with his first five-wicket haul in Tests and Stuart Clark ended up with four victims as New Zealand's collapsible tail lived up to its reputation and they were bundled out for 177.

The match finished so early - it was not yet 11am in Brisbane - that it gave the satisfied local spectators plenty of time to head off for a Sunday brunch. They had filed into the stadium knowing that a long day was improbable but the swiftness of the finish was still rather startling.

New Zealand began the day needing 184 runs for victory with six wickets down but the already unlikely scenario became completely unfeasible when they lost Daniel Vettori and Ross Taylor to Johnson for the addition of 18 runs. Vettori fell in almost identical fashion to the first innings when he drove to point and Andrew Symonds jumped to take a one-handed catch above his head.

Taylor followed in Johnson's next over when he drove at a ball that moved across him and edged behind to Brad Haddin for 75. When Clark added Iain O'Brien, who lobbed a simple chance to Michael Clarke at point, the score was 9 for 164 and the only remaining points of interest were whether Johnson would collect his fifth and Chris Martin would make his 24th Test duck.

The answers were yes and no. Martin managed to squeeze a single off Clark - and then watched as Tim Southee pounded a pair of sixes straight down the ground - but his bat returned to near hologram status when he was bowled from the first straight ball he received from Johnson. The stumps rattled, Australia celebrated and it left Johnson with 5 for 39, match figures of 9 for 69, and the Man-of-the-Match award.

He was perhaps fortunate to receive the honour ahead of Simon Katich, whose unbeaten 131 was a matchwinning effort on a pitch where only two other batsmen posted half-centuries. Johnson was Australia's leading wicket-taker on the tour of India but he was still pleased to return to more familiar and friendly conditions after the lifeless surfaces he had encountered recently.

"It is good to get back on a bouncy fast track," Johnson said after the match. "I felt pretty good over in India. I just try and hit the deck as hard as I can and that's what I did out here, so I'm feeling pretty good about my bowling at the moment."

The challenge for the fast bowlers will be greater on a flatter pitch at the Adelaide Oval, where the final match of the two-Test series begins on Friday. Australia will likely squeeze the offspinner Jason Krejza into the side while New Zealand have serious questions over their batting and could bolster the line-up by including Peter Fulton.

England struggle to build momentum

Virender Sehwag slammed a stroke-filled 57-balls 69 to take India to 166 for four in 22 overs in the rain-curtailed fourth One-Day International against England, setting the tourists a tough task of getting 198 runs for victory (on Duckworth-Lewis Method) at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.

Sehwag, who hit a superb half-century, was in terrific form and treated the English bowlers with disdain slamming nine fours and three sixes before being caught by James Anderson on the long-on boundary off spinner Graeme Swann.

The dashing Delhi opener added 79 runs off 62 balls for the second wicket with Gautam Gambhir, who was dropped down to number three to accommodate Sachin Tendulkar to open the batting with Sehwag.

After the game was reduced to a 22-overs-a-side contest due to rain interruption twice, India resumed play at 106-1 in 17 overs. Hence with the overs running out for the hosts, Sehwag and Gambhir went for runs. But soon both fell while trying to accelerate.

Gambhir held out to Anderson at long-on off Swann for 40, which came off 37 balls with seven hits to the fence.

Man-in-form Yuvraj Singh and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni then resorted to some lusty hitting to try and take India to a fighting total before the later was bowled by Samit Patel for nine.

Yuvraj remained not out on 25 off 11 balls with three sixes while Yusuf Pathan hit the only ball he faced off Patel for a six to post a competitive total.

Friday, October 31, 2008

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Raman appointed CEO of Champions League

The Governing Council of the Champions League Twenty20 has appointed Sundar Raman, the Chief Executive Officer, and Dhiraj Malhotra, the Tournament Director, for the inaugural tournament to be held from December 3 to 10.

Champions League Governing Council also appointed the entire management team with the best of talent from across the founding member boards, a release said here on Tuesday.

Australian Dean Kino, was appointed Director Legal and Business Affairs and Michael Brown, General Manager Cricket Operations and South African Brian Bassson, Cricket Programming and Logistics.

Other appointments include Radhika Moolraj, Assistant to the Chairman, Poorna Patel, Manager Hospitality, Leila Mallya, Public Relations Manager, Nidhi Chaudhary, Operations Director and Venue Manager, and Preeti Mehta and Russell Adams, both venue managers, the release added.

Lalit Modi, Chairman of the Champions League Twenty20, while making the announcements said, "It gives me great pleasure to make the appointments to these important positions for the Champions League Twenty20.

"The organisational infrastructure for the Champions League Twenty20 has taken shape. They constitute a highly resourceful and talented team and have done a wonderful job managing cricket for the respective boards. I am confident that they will bring to bear all their experience to make the Champions League Twenty20 a huge success," he added.

Sundar Raman, is currently the Chief Operating Officer of the Indian Premier League and played a crucial role in the highly successful organisation of the IPL earlier this year. He has been working on Champions League ever since IPL inaugural edition concluded. He will take on this responsibility in addition to his role with IPL.

Dhiraj Malhotra an ex army officer was also the Tournament Director for IPL and has been with the International Cricket Council for the last 3 years. He has worked on the inaugural T20 world cup in South. Africa and also the world cup in West Indies. In addition he has worked on various Champion Trophies and under-19 world cups

Eight teams, consisting of the reigning winners and runners-up from the domestic Twenty20 competitions in India, Australia and South Africa, plus the reigning Twenty20 champion Sailkot from Pakistan, and the reigning Twenty20 Cup champion from England, Middlesex, have been invited to contest the 2008 Champions Twenty20 League.

The tournament offers teams US$6 million of prize money, the biggest prize money in the world for cricket at a domestic competition level. The prize money, including US$3 million for the winning team, will be shared equally between the teams and their players.

The Governing Council of the event and its founding cricket boards believe the significant prize money to be paid to teams and players will ensure that the benefits of the event will foster cricket’s development by injecting new funding into domestic-level cricket and at the same time will handsomely reward domestic-level cricketers and provide a unique opportunity for a higher public profile for players at the level below international cricket.

Vettori made the difference

Bangladesh came close to clinching their first Test victory against New Zealand but, despite being in control for the majority of the match, the hosts slipped to defeat by three wickets in Chittagong. Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh captain, said that his team played "really well" but added that New Zealand's ability to avoid their first-innings mistakes made the difference during their chase of 317.

"We had a pretty good chance of winning and, on an individual level, I thought Shakib Al Hasan bowled and batted wonderfully well, Mushfiqur Rahim made runs in both innings and Tamim Iqbal got starts in both innings," Ashraful said. "The difference between the two sides was Daniel Vettori who was brilliant with the bat and ball. Also they [New Zealand] planned their second innings really well and did not repeat the mistakes they did in the first innings."

Unlike his counterpart Vettori, who took nine wickets and scored two vital half-centuries, Ashraful had a poor match, scoring 2 and 0, and fell to Vettori in both innings. "I have played match-winning knocks in most of Bangladesh's big wins in one-day cricket but it hasn't happened for me in Tests yet. I tried my best but wasn't successful," Ashraful said. "There is another Test in this series and I will continue to try and hopefully it will happen in the future.

New Zealand began the day needing 172 to win with eight wickets in hand. At one stage they needed 101 with only five wickets remaining but Vettori steered his team home with a calm 76. Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, felt that the visitors had "learned their lessons pretty well" after being dismissed for 171 in the first innings.

"They [New Zealand] planned well, didn't play any unnecessary shots and made us [work] for every wicket," Siddons said. "They batted with discipline and didn't give us any chances. Hopefully our guys can learn a bit from that, especially our top-order.

"Having outbatted them and bowled so well in the first innings makes me happy. Everything's looking good with young guys like Mehrab [Hossain jr] and Shakib, and we'll get Ashraful and Zunaed (Siddique) to play well. I need all the guys to play well in the one game but at the moment we are a little inconsistent."

Siddons praised left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak's performance in the second innings. Razzak bowled 50 overs and took 3 for 93. "He tied up an end beautifully for us and bowled at two an over," Siddons said. "He stretched the game out which you have to do when you have 300 on the board. He made them work very hard for their runs. He got a couple of wickets but we didn't quite get enough from the other end."

Siddons hoped that his team would be able to catch New Zealand "on the hop" in Dhaka where the pitch "stays low and plays tricks". The second Test begins on October 25 at the Shere-e-Bangla Stadium.

Harbhajan apologises for Ravana act

Under attack for taking part in a TV reality show dressed as mythological character Ravan, cricketer Harbhajan Singh apologised and vowed “never to do anything that could hurt religious sentiments of any community”.

"I apologise if my actions have hurt anybody. It was not my intention to hurt sentiments of anyone which includes members of my own community," the off-spinner told reporters in Chandigarh.

"It will be my sincere endeavour not to repeat such things in future," said Singh, currently playing in the first Test match against Australia at Mohali.