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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sikandar Raza, Chigumbura guide Zimbabwe to 228/7

Raza top-scored with a patient 82 while Elton Chigumbura hit a quickfire 34-ball 43 as Zimbabwe posted a modest 228 for seven in the first ODI of the five-match series against India in Harare on Wednesday.

Put in to bat, Zimbabwe seemed to have lost track after a cautious start, before Chigumbura’s unbeaten knock gave them the much-needed boost at the Harare Sports Club.

Leg spinner Amit Mishra was the most successful Indian bowler with three for 43, while there was a wicket apiece for Vinay Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jaydev Unadkat, and Suresh Raina.

Vinay Kumar proved to be the most expensive with 57 runs coming off his nine overs.

Pakistan-origin player Raza hit six fours and two sixes while Chigumbura smashed six boundaries and a six during his breezy knock.

Openers Vusi Sibanda and Raza took their time to settle down, hitting just two boundaries in the first ten overs.

Leaving out medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar did not help India’s cause initially, and though debutant Unadkat, Vinay Kumar and Shami bowled to a disciplined line and length, they failed to take early wickets.

But once the spinners were introduced, Zimbabwe found it difficult to get going and India could have had a wicket in their kitty first up. But Virat Kohli dropped a straight forward catch of Raza at first slip off Ravindra Jadeja’s bowling when he was batting on 27.

However, a couple of overs later, Mishra, in his first ODI in more than two years, gave India their first breakthrough trapping Sibanda lbw for 34 off 72 balls. The opening pair put up a 72-run stand in 21.5 overs.

Zimbabwe continued to crawl and brought up their 100 in the 29th over. It was however followed by two quick wickets.

Even as Sean Williams got off the mark straightaway with a reverse-swept boundary, his stay at the wicket was cut short by Suresh Raina for 15 runs, while new batsman Hamilton Masakadza (11) hit two fours before Mishra saw him off.

Raza, meanwhile, having completed his half century, started to play freely.

He stole a four, followed by a six over deep midwicket off a Vinay Kumar over, but wickets kept falling at the other end and the hosts managed to reach 167 for five in 41 overs.

It was Mishra who finally dismissed Raza whose 82 came off 112 balls.

In the end it was Chigumbura’s cameo that enabled Zimbabwe cross the 225-run mark.

Scoreboard

Zimbabwe innings

V Sibanda lbw Mishra 34

S Raza b Mishra 82

S Williams b Raina 15

H Masakadza b Mishra 11

B Taylor c Raina b Unadkat 12

M Waller b Shami 2

E Chigumbura not out 43

T Mutombodzi c Dhawan b Kumar 8

P Utseya not out 8

Extras (b—2, lb—7, w—4) 13

Total (For 7 wickets; 50 overs) 228

Fall of wickets: 1—72, 2—105, 3—119, 4—162, 5—166, 6—176, 7—205.

Bowling: Kumar 9—1—57—1, Shami 10—1—45—1, Unadkat 10—1—39—1, Jadeja 10—3—33—0, Mishra 10—1—43—3, Raina 1—0—2—1

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Ashes: England v Australia

England, leading by a whopping 566 runs, have their foot firmly lodged on Australia's throat and the question now is when to apply the killer blow. Clearly, with two days to win this second Test, that time is probably now, though you have to admire the ingrained pessimism of those versed in all things English cricket; sometimes it seems like they could be 1000 runs up and there'd still be someone, somewhere, wondering whether it couldn't hurt to add another 100 or so, just to be on the safe side. Can't be too careful. The feeling is that they might bat until Joe Cute Root, currently on 178, reaches 200. It's all much of a muchness, though. They could declare now and in overcast conditions, now could be the perfect time to unleash Graeme Swann on the floundering Australia top order. Couldn't hurt to add another 200 runs, mind you. Just for peace of mind.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Indian Captain MS Dhoni is the best: Say's Kapil Dev

India's first World Cup winning skipper Kapil Dev Saturday termed M.S. Dhoni the country's best cricket captain, and said the recent Champions Trophy triumph showed the next generation of players have "arrived".

"I don't have to say that he is the best... everybody knows that... statistics, records speak for him. He has done a wonderful job. If you are asking me a question on this, you have a doubt, but I don't," Kapil told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

Kapil, who led India to the World Cup title in 1983, refused to take a question on Virat Kohli's performance as stand-in-skipper in the West Indies tri-nation tourney. "As long as Dhoni is there, we should not be talking about others. We have to respect Dhoni as captain," he said.
He said during the recent ICC Champions Trophy in England, he saw the youngsters from close range. "They did not have Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir or Virender Sehwag. There were no experienced players. Despite the absence of big names, we did not miss them. The next generation has arrived. They have played so well," he said.
Kapil Dev was speaking on the sidelines of the annual awards ceremony of the Cricket Association of Bengal.

Asked whether the Champions Trophy team should be retained for national duty during the 2015 World Cup, Kapil said: "I don't know how many of them will fit into the team. But I know we have enough young boys to go to the World Cup and win it."
Lavishing praise on Ravindra Jadeja, the former dashing all-rounder said the youngster has made a difference after he came to the side.

"He is a champion all-rounder. He has made a difference after he came in. He has raised the standards where fielding is concerned. Hats off to him! Great to have someone like him."
Kapil, however, said he did not feel that Indian coach Duncan Fletcher had done "extremely well".
"When India was not doing well, I was not harsh. I didn't say he did a horrible job when he lost to England and Australia. Now also I won't say he has done extremely well."
Kapil said sidelined senior pro Virender Sehwag should take up the challenge and try to make a comeback.

"Every cricketer should feel they can make a comeback. If not, then they are not fighters. They should take up the challenge," he said.

Pakistani Teams try for lead in 4th ODI

Unable to separate themselves in the third match, West Indies and Pakistan will try for separation and the series lead today when the fourth game of their One-day International series gets going at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia.

On Friday, a game Pakistan seemed on course to win up to the final over with the West Indies last pair of Jason Holder and Kemar Roach requiring 15 for victory, ended in an unlikely tie, with Holder escaping what seemed a regulation run out chance to wicketkeeper Umar Akmal.
However, while grateful to not lose and for the spirited effort of the lower order, West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo was not happy that he and his more senior batsmen laboured towards the relatively easy target of 230. It has been series so far in which the bowlers have outshone the batsmen on both sides, but Bravo and his Pakistan counterpart Misbah-ul-Haq will be anxious for their batsmen to make bigger contributions.

The Pakistanis have got starts and five of them--Misbah, Shahid Afridi, Mohammed Hafeez, Umar Akmal and Nasir Jamshed--have scored half centuries, yet they not managed a total higher than 229. In contrast, only Darren Bravo in the second game and Lendl Simmons in Friday’s tie have got 50s for the home side.

The continued lack of runs for Chris Gayle in the opening slot and captain Bravo and Kieron Pollard in the middle order must be a big concern for coach Ottis Gibson. But the West Indies’ inability to keep the runs ticking over against Pakistan’s formidable combination of seamers and spinners must be as big a worry. 
On Friday, Marlon Samuels made his highest score of the home series of ODIs thus far with 46, but took 106 balls to get it. 

Samuels’ partnership of 91 for the fourth wicket with Simmons, was spread over 22 overs. It almost proved a pace too slow, despite Simmons carrying on for his joint Man-of-the-Match 75.
“I’m a bit disappointed that I was not able to carry on and win it for the team,” Simmons said after the game. “I was playing really well but got out at a crucial stage in the run chase. But credit to Sunil (Narine) and Jason for the way they played in a pressure situation.”

On Friday, things went the West Indies’ way, umpire Joel Wilson’s erroneous call of one short against Akmal proving to be a crucial factor in the final outcome. Skipper Bravo will prefer that today his bowlers stay disciplined and his batsmen give the St Lucian crowd the runs they crave, so that victory can be without doubt.

Zimbabwe-bound Indian squad is strong, says Indian Batsman Virat Kohli

The Indian team for the upcoming ODI series in Zimbabwe is missing some key players, including inspirational captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who have been rested, but skipper for the tour Virat Kohli today described the squad as a strong one.

"I don't think experience matters, especially in limited overs game. You need 11 players, who are hungry for success, who are hardworking and whose vision is team victory. All 15 players are strong and it is a strong unit, which is good," said Kohli at a promotional event here for Mattel Toys.

India are to play against Zimbabwe in a five-match series from July 24 to August 3. The squad is without Dhoni, R Ashwin, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.

Kohli said if the team performs in a manner similar to its display over the last month-and-a-half, then it will be good for Indian cricket.

"I can't guarantee. If we continue this way, it will be a good time for Indian cricket. A lot of things that would make people happy," he said.

The team, led by Dhoni, first lifted the ICC Champions Trophy in England and then clinched the tri-series in the West Indies, in which Sri Lanka was the third outfit.

The 24-year-old, who has played 108 ODIs and also featured in the 2011 World Cup winning squad led by Dhoni, said he liked to lead from the front and set an example to others.

"I always like to lead from the front and set an example for whoever is playing with me or around me. I like taking responsibilities. That is a natural thing for me," he said.

Kohli, who has been made the face of superhero toy Max Steel, said he aimed to be fearless.

"The best quality is to not be afraid of anything. Even if you have seniors or players with lot more experience in your team, you need to have confidence in your ability and think you can lead them. It is important you set an example with your performance quickly and then you gain respect.

"If the respect is mutual between players and captain then the side is successful. It comes from performance and when you win matches for the team, that inspiration spreads in the team," he said.

We bowled badly against tail-enders: Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq

Pakistani Captain Misbah-ul-Haq was understandably disappointed with his bowlers after West Indies managed to tie the third ODI on Friday with last-over heroics from fast bowler Jason Holder.
Holder hit 14 runs in the final over to take West Indies to 229 for 9, level with Pakistan's 229 for 6, but Misbah feels his bowlers delivered too many full-length balls to the West Indies tail-enders. "It is really disappointing. We were really in a good position but Holder took the game away.
"In the last over, we bowled too many full deliveries to the tail-enders. But hats off to them for the way they played in the last few overs. We did well in the start by taking early wickets. Then the pressure shifted back on us and we didn't respond well," said the Pakistan skipper.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Pakistan team beat the West Indian cricket team at Guyana

Before two days, the touring Pakistan team beat the West Indian cricket team at Guyana in the first One Day International cricket match. I searched your paper on Monday morning for any report on the match, there was none. Although the match finished around mid-night Bahrain time, thinking that it might be slightly late for your sports reporter, I was waiting for the report in the Tuesday edition. I am sorry to write that there was no report there either. There was, however, a small mention on page 30, "Pakistan to exploit Windies batting woes".

Shahid Afridi turned one of the greatest if not the greatest all-round performances to flatten West Indies in his comeback match taking second best ever bowling performance - seven wickets for 12 runs in nine overs and scoring 76 in 55 balls earlier in the match.

Do you not think he deserved a mention in your esteemed sports columns? You splash banner headlines for IPL (not even international) matches, dedicate half the page for friendly football matches, 'City Fall to South Africans' and yet fail to even mention such outstanding performance as that of Afridi.