Friday, October 24, 2008

Three nations plan joint IPL spin-off

Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have confirmed they are planning a multi-nation franchise-owned Twenty20 tournament based on the IPL, which they hope to launch by 2011. Although the competition is still in the planning stages, the idea is to have city-based teams and schedule it at a time that would allow Indian stars to take part.

The concept will involve two separate conferences - an eastern division based in Africa and a western division in Australasia - and the top sides from each will progress to the finals. It will not replace the existing domestic Twenty20 competitions; instead it is most likely to be held in October with each nation free to also retain their state- or provincial-based tournaments.

The organisers want the competition to feed teams into the Champions League Twenty20. The southern hemisphere-based tournament, which as yet has no name, is another indication of the growing dominance of Twenty20.

The first season of the IPL was massively popular this year in India, where there is also the unsanctioned ICL competition, while England will soon be playing for US$20 million in the Stanford Super Series. Peter Young, Cricket Australia's spokesman, conceded it will be a challenge to squeeze the new tournament in but the organisers were confident it could be achieved.

"It'll be short, sharp and very focused but the exact number of games is yet to be determined,"

Young said.

"Strategically we see that there's a finite amount of Twenty20 cricket that's likely to be ideal, with a number of major global blocks."

There is still a way to go before the finer details can be finalised, including the number of teams. There is also potential for the African conference to feature sides not based in South Africa and for the Australasian division to have teams from outside Australia and New Zealand. Domestic players are likely to feature heavily but the three boards are keen to ensure international stars, from India or England, for example, take part.

"Gathering a large number of the world's marquee players into a single competition over a compressed time-frame can capture the public imagination and create new audiences for cricket,"

Justin Vaughan, New Zealand Cricket's chief executive, said.

"The challenge for the three southern-hemisphere boards is to create the stage for that opportunity to be captured in a way which complements international cricket."

Cricket Australia has been considering a franchise-based Twenty20 system for some time. James Sutherland, the chief executive of Cricket Australia, said it had become clear that to reach a critical mass, a regional approach was needed.

"The idea developed out of blue-sky Twenty20 thinking over the past 18 months,"

Sutherland said. "Regional-level Twenty20 cricket played at the level immediately below international cricket has shown it can capture the public imagination and create new audiences for cricket.

"But as we have seen in India, it needs critical mass to generate major public excitement. The regional concept we have been charged with developing provides that critical mass."

Cricket Australia is also keen to increase the international focus of its state-based Twenty20 tournament. From 2009-10 it will encourage the six state teams to recruit star players from overseas.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shakib Al Hasan sets new Bangladesh Test innings record

Left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan recorded the best bowling figures in an innings for Bangladesh in all Test cricket when he took 7-36 against New Zealand here on Sunday.

The 21-year-old bowled 25.5 overs in an extrordinary display to help Bangladesh dismiss New Zealand for 171 in their first innings on the third day of the opening Test at the Divisional Stadium here.

Bangladesh had made 245 in their first innings.

The feat surpassed the previous best bowling figures in an innings of 7-95, also taken by a left-arm spinner, Enamul Haque, against Zimbabwe at M.A. Aziz Stadium in Chittagong in 2005.

England's off-spinner Jim Laker leads the chart of best figures in an innings since Test cricket began in 1876, with 10-53 against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester in 1956.

Here are the best innings figures for all ten Test playing countries:
(bowler's name, figures, for, against, venue, year)

J. Laker 10-53 England v Australia Manchester 1956
A. Kumble 10-74 India v Pakistan Delhi 1999
M. Muralitharan 9-51 Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe Kandy 2002
R. Hadlee 9-52 New Zealand v Australia Brisbane 1985
Abdul Qadir 9-56 Pakistan v England Lahore 1987
J. Noreiga 9-95 West Indies v India Port of Spain 1971
H. Tayfield 9-113 South Africa v England Johannesburg 1957
A. Mailey 9-121 Australia v England Melbourne 1921
P. Strang 8-109 Zimbabwe v New Zealand Bulawayo 2000
Shakib Al Hasan 7-36 Bangladesh v New Zealand Chittagong 2008.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

West Indies to host World Twenty20 in 2010

Minutes after speaking about maintaining the "primacy of test cricket", the International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat announced a World Twenty20 would be staged in the West Indies in 2010. A similar tournament will be held in England next June before the rescheduled Champions Trophy is due to start in Pakistan next September.

"There was a choice that the board had between holding a Champions Trophy or Twenty20 and it was decided it would make more sense, and get a better spread of events, for that to be a Twenty20,"

Lorgat said. After the 2009 Champions Trophy, the tournament will not be played again until at least 2012 because the World Cup is being staged in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in 2011.

Concerns have grown over the future of Tests with the emergence of Twenty20, which is quickly gaining in popularity. Lorgat, who attended a full ICC board meeting in Dubai this week, said the world's cricket boards "respect the primacy of test cricket" and the ICC was considering its position on a number of issues involving the abbreviated format.

The unofficial Indian Cricket League met with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the owner of the sanctioned Indian Premier League, this week but the talks failed. The ICC will wait for an official report from the BCCI before considering an application from the ICL to become an official competition.

Players in the event, which is currently being held in India, are banned from representing their home domestic and international teams.

"We are going through a process and part of that process is to wait for a report from the BCCI and we will consider that report and deal with that application,"

Lorgat said.

The ICC is also involved in "on-going discussions" over Sri Lanka's in-doubt tour of England next May after a US$70m proposal from the BCCI for Sri Lanka's players to appear in the IPL instead of the Test tour.

"What we are seeing is the challenge between the way players want to be in terms of their earnings, the potential to earn the most while they have a window in their own careers,"

Lorgat said.

"It's clear what the position of the Sri Lanka cricket board is, they want to see their team to tour England to go through. Equally the England cricket board is keen to see it go ahead."

Lorgat said a "window" for the IPL competition, which would allow players to switch between international and Twenty20 duties, had not been discussed by the ICC.

"We are waiting to see how it all unfolds,"

he said.

"This is the first occasion we have this challenge with the Sri Lanka players. When we do a complete review of the Future Tours Programme that will be up for discussion."

Crowds in Mohali for the second Test between India and Australia have been poor and Lorgat said the attendances were a worry, especially on Friday when Sachin Tendulkar became the leading run-scorer in Test cricket.

"Absolutely, all of us who came through yesterday were quite concerned at the lack of spectators,"

he said.

"It is something we will have to look at very seriously."

Lorgat also said the ICC would be more careful over its handling of the 2009 Champions Trophy following the postponement of this year's event due to safety and security concerns in Pakistan.

"We want to make sure long before the September and October dates next year that we make a final choice on the security situation,"

he said.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bangladesh recall Saleh for New Zealand Test

Bangladesh Tuesday recalled Rajin Saleh to their 13-man squad for the two-Test series against New Zealand after the middle-order batsman spent a year in the wilderness.

The 24-year-old Saleh, who last played against Sri Lanka in 2007, was regarded as one of the finest Test batsmen in the country during his 22-match Test career before he lost form.

The first Test starts here Friday. The second Test will be played at Dhaka from October 25.

Bangladesh have also included left-arm spinner Mehrab Hossain and uncapped rookie paceman Mahbubul Alam in an attempt to balance the bowling attack.

The home team lost the three-match one-day series 2-1.

Squad: Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Mashrafe Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal, Zunaed Siddique, Rajin Saleh, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehrab Hossain, Naeem Islam, Mushfiqur Rahim, Abdur Razzak, Syed Rasel, Shahadat Hossain, Mahbubul Alam.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Canada v Zimbabwe, T20 Canada, King City

Zimbabwe 135 for 9 (Taibu 37, Baidwan 3-27) tied with

Canada 135 for 7 and won bowl-out 3-1

Zimbabwe earned a win they barely deserved, claiming a 3-1 victory in a bowl-out, after scrambling to a tie against Canada as the second day of T20 Canada tournament at King City produced a thrilling game. Zimbabwe, who slumped to 61 for 5 in the 11th over, recovered through a stand of 53 between Tatenda Taibu and Elton Chigumbura, but still needed 10 off the last over. Harvir Baidwan took two wickets in two balls, but Prosper Utseya and Tawanda Mupariwa squeezed nine off the next four balls, with Utseya run out off the final delivery trying to win the match.

Under the regulations, Twenty20 matches can't be tied in tournaments so it was time for cricket's version of a penalty shoot-out. Baidwan, so nearly the match-winner, missed with his effort and so too did Sunil Dhaniram. Abdool Samad then overstepped with his delivery after Zimbabwe's bowlers hit the stumps three times. The visitors could breathe a sigh of relief, but they hardly deserved their escape route

Twenty20 again proved how it levels the playing field between teams, but Canada didn't quite have the experience or skill to hold on at the end. A few misfields came into their game and occasionally bowlers lost their nerve, but to force their way into a position where they could even contemplate victory should be a huge boost to their confidence. It also shows, once again, how far Zimbabwe have sunk. In truth they are barely the standard of a mid-ranking Associate.

Defending 135, Canada made regular inroads with local hero, Rizwan Cheema, claiming two wickets in his first over to put then on their way. Baidwan almost succeeded in the final over, but was let down by some sloppy fielding after removing Timycen Maruma and Taibu to catches at long-on. However, a crucial mistake off the penultimate ball gave Utseya a boundary and he gained one off the final ball.

After the disappointing attendances on the opening day the ground was around half full as 5000 fans, mostly waiting for the second match involving Sri Lanka and Pakistan, made their way down on a chilly autumnal morning. By the time Canada were taking out Zimbabwe's middle order there was plenty of cheering and flag-waving to keep them warm and, although the result they wanted slipped away, performances like this are what Canadian cricket needs.

In the end, though, Zimbabwe had just enough thanks to two of their more successful players. Chigumbura and Taibu hauled Zimbabwe from the brink of an embarrassing defeat by adding 53 in 5.5 overs; when Chigumbura came in his team were 61 for 5 with the game slipping away.

Cheema, to the delight of the local supporters, claimed a double-wicket maiden in his first over as Hamilton Masakadza chipped to midwicket and Chamu Chibhabha was brilliantly caught by Baidwan, who then struck with the ball to trap Stuart Matsikenyeri lbw. However, as Chigumbura and Taibu steadied the innings Zimbabwe appeared to be back in control only for Henry Osinde to remove Chigumbura.

It was down to Taibu, and when he fell to the second ball of the final the game was Canada's for the taking. But in such a tight match one slip can make the difference, and so it proved.

Canada battled impressively throughout and reached 135, a total that is proving to be about par in late-season conditions. Cheema livened the crowd going by slamming 23 off 11 balls with two sixes, one over long-on and the other over deep midwicket. As quickly as Cheema got going, though, he was gone when he edged Chigumbura. Zimbabwe clawed back the run rate when Samad was run out towards the end of the fielding restrictions.

Canada were scoring at 10 an over, but it quickly sank against the spinners with Ray Price conceding three runs off his first three overs. He also bowled Mohammad Iqbal with an arm ball and when Dhaniram was run out, Canada were floundering on 78 for 6.

However they didn't give in, far from it. Karun Jethi and Balaji Rao hit useful twenties towards the end - Rao twice managing to clear the boundary - and it was enough to give Zimbabwe a huge scare. It was the type of match the tournament needed.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, T20 Canada, King City

Sri Lanka 107 for 5 (Dilshan 33, Price 2-9) beat

Zimbabwe 106 for 8 (Taibu 45*, Mendis 3-15) by five wickets

Sri Lanka opened the T20 Canada tournament in King City with a five-wicket win against Zimbabwe, but were made to work hard chasing 107 in a match reduced to 17 overs per side by early-morning rain. Ray Price bowled a superb economical spell of left-arm spin, and a couple of run-outs increased the pressure, however Sri Lanka's middle order completed the chase with an over to spare in front of a few hundreds spectators.

Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Udawatte began briskly, adding 36 in four overs, before Udawatte was caught behind. Price caused problems from the start and debutant Jeevantha Kulatunga struggled for 20 balls - and was dropped at deep midwicket - until being bowled for 8. A mild dose of panic hit the middle order as Thilina Kandamby was run out trying for a quick single, followed next ball by captain Mahela Jayawardene who fell without facing. It's a long way to come to not face a ball.

Dilshan was playing neatly, but in the next over he became Price's second scalp and suddenly Sri Lanka's reply was far from smooth at 77 for 5. It was proving tough to score against the spinners, while there was a hint of rustiness from Sri Lanka who only arrived in Canada two days ago.

However, no one could quite match Price's effort and when he finished his four-over spell the pressure was released. Chamara Kapugedera and Farveez Maharoof both hit sixes to calm the nerves and the sixth-wicket pair finished the match with an over to spare.

Zimbabwe's efforts in the field were commendable, but their batting let them down after a delayed start due to a damp outfield. Sri Lanka's bowlers proved a tough proposition with Maharoof nipping out two with the new ball, Thilan Thushara a brace in the middle and Ajantha Mendis - on his Twenty20 debut - three at the end.

Tatenda Taibu, the former captain, offered the most prolonged resistance as he finished on 45 off 47 deliveries to push Zimbabwe into three figures. He was at the crease in the fourth over after Maharoof removed both openers and Thushara, the left-arm quick, further dented Zimbabwe's progress with a tight spell of 2 for 19.

Mendis has proved too good for far better players than Zimbabwe's lower order and he helped himself to a few easy pickings. Elton Chigumbura was caught behind and Prosper Utseya was stranded by Mendis' carrom ball, which turns away from the right-handers. Sri Lanka weren't at their best, but it was still enough to clear the first hurdle.

Friday, October 10, 2008

India v Australia, 1st Test, Bangalore, 2nd day

India 68 for 0 (Sehwag 43*, Gambhir 20*) trail

Australia 430 (Hussey 146, Ponting 123, Katich 66, Zaheer 5-91, Ishant 4-77) by 362 runs

There is a wall in Bangalore that celebrates Rahul Dravid's immovability at the crease. In the city's Chinnaswamy Stadium, Michael Hussey built an impenetrable barrier of his own with a supremely focused innings of 146 that ensured an impressive total for Australia on the second day. By the close, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had made the visitors' 430 look a little less daunting and with a solid construction of their own reduced the deficit to 362.

It was a promising start from the openers, particularly the confident Sehwag, but the challenge will come on the third day. India will need to make certain their own wall is reinforced and on a pitch that has held up but is threatening to crack like a dry river bed they could also some putty to fill the widening gaps. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma did what they could to make use of the variable surface but there is no doubt Australia had the best of the conditions by batting first.

Still, the visitors needed to put their plans into action on the field. After Ponting had led the way on the first day, Hussey followed on the second with his ninth Test century, an innings of intense concentration. It ended a record streak of low scores for Hussey, who entered the game fresh from five Test innings without a half-century, the longest such spell in his remarkable career.

He has spent the past few months insisting he was unhappy with some minor aspects of his technique but any deficiencies must have been ironed out during the Australian winter. Perhaps his least convincing shot was the one that brought him to triple figures from 188 balls, an inside-edge off Ishant that flew past the stumps for four. Hussey's landmark was a bad sign for India; Australia have won every Test in which Hussey has made a century.

His judgement was excellent. A pair of drives sailed through the off side off consecutive deliveries when Zaheer overpitched and a perfectly placed drive against Anil Kumble bisected the mid-off and extra cover, who weren't that far apart. He faced 189 dot balls, patiently waiting for chances to find gaps or hit over the top, like when he launched a safe six over midwicket off Harbhajan Singh.

He had some assistance from India's fieldsmen - another four came when his drive went through the legs of a sluggish Sourav Ganguly at mid-off. That was the most conspicuous fielding error but just as maddening for India was the ease with which Hussey and Brad Haddin turned the strike over during an important 91-run partnership, repeatedly pinching singles to fielders who were either flat-footed, placed too deep, or both.

The sixth-wicket stand between Hussey and Haddin came at a critical time; Ishant had just picked up Shane Watson cheaply in the fourth over of the day and at 259 for 5 there was a risk Australia would waste Ponting's strong start. Haddin hasn't struck a fifty in his short Test career but five times in his four Tests he has helped steady the lower middle-order with half-century partnerships.

The personal milestone again eluded Haddin, who had 33 when he fell for Ishant's slower ball. Haddin was so surprised by the offspin-style delivery from Ishant, who had not used it so far during the day, that he shaped to drive, hesitated, and then went through with the shot, which lobbed to VVS Laxman at short cover. Ishant decided that he was on a good thing and lured the debutant Cameron White (6) into a similarly fatal prod to cover from a near identical ball.

For most of the first two sessions Ishant looked by far the most dangerous bowler. He steamed in enthusiastically and moved the ball subtly both ways, sometimes dug in a short one and at other times used the interesting surface to keep balls low. He ended up with 4 for 77 but it was Zaheer who finished with the best figures, 5 for 91, after an unexpectedly vivid spell of reverse-swing bowling just after tea.

Zaheer had not been particularly threatening until he suddenly started moving the ball about following the break and he crashed into the stumps of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and finally Hussey within the space of seven balls. The wickets had to come from Ishant and Zaheer as the two spinners struggled for impact despite probing for the footmarks. Kumble returned 0 for 129, the second time this year he has conceded a triple-figure tally without a wicket, while Harbhajan could not add to his first-day removal of Ponting.

That the innings ended with a couple of hours to play was a blessing for India, whose openers enjoyed the time to settle in against a pace attack that was taking time to find its rhythm. The third day will provide an intriguing test for the Fab Four, including Sachin Tendulkar, who needs 77 runs to break Brian Lara's all-time Test record. On a pitch likely to become more difficult the main thing could be to ensure that Dravid is at his most wall-ey.

BCCI’s 10-year agreement for $70 million with Sri Lankan board

Getting the benefit of the weakness of the Sri Lankan cricket board facing financial crisis nowadays, the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) has finalized a 10-year agreement with the Sri Lankan board for an amount of $70 million.

Under this agreement, the Sri Lankan players are bound to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Champions Trophy.

Sri Lanka’s ministry of sports has directed the cricket board to release the players for participating in the IPL and the reason is the attractive $70 million deal offered by the BCCI to the Sri Lankan board.

Sri Lankan board agreed to sign this deal due to its monetary crisis but this deal has left the question mark regarding its international cricket.

Sri Lanka has to tour England from May 21 to 30 for an two-Test series but now it seems impossible according to an official of the Sri Lankan board.

The English Cricket Board (ECB) has not given any indication for Sri Lanka’s playing with its junior team.

However, Sri Lankan board has offered the ECB to hold three One-day matches after May 25.

Bangladesh v New Zealand, 1st ODI, Mirpur

Bangladesh 202 for 3 (Junaid 85, Ashraful 60*) beat

New Zealand 201 for 9 (Oram 57, Mortaza 4-44) by seven wickets

A determined Bangladesh recorded their first-ever win over New Zealand in emphatic manner on Thursday, making light of their player exodus to the ICL. The loss was a huge blow for New Zealand, who needed a clean sweep to take second spot in the rankings. Junaid Siddique, along with Mohammad Ashraful, ensured Bangladesh capitalise on the momentum given by Mashrafe Mortaza's bowling which helped restrict New Zealand to a modest target.

It was a significant victory for the hosts given the circumstances leading into the series but the challenge seemed to have inspired Ashraful and his team, who played sensibly with both bat and ball.

Junaid remained calm despite the fall of Tamim Iqbal, his fellow opener, in the fifth over. Even if Bangladesh's run-rate - the runs coming mainly in singles - was similar to New Zealand's after 15 overs (New Zealand were 62 while Bangladesh were 55) the hosts had lost one wicket compared to New Zealand's four. Junaid found good support in Mushfiqur Rahim, who brought up the team's 50 with a six over long-on off Tim Southee. Mushfiqur scored a useful 30 before going for another big hit, this time failing to clear deep midwicket.

During the New Zealand tour earlier this year Junaid had failed to consistently get off to good starts but today he showed he'd learned from past mistakes. He got lucky, too, on 46, when Scott Styris failed to collect a return catch. He went on to finish his half-century with a single and grew in confidence especially in the company of his captain. In the process he scored more runs than he had in his career: before this match, his ninth, his tally was 62.

Ashraful had been condemned for both his leadership and below-par batting form on the recent tour of Australia. Today he displayed a grim attitude and bolstered the good start provided by his young partner. When Daniel Vettori brought himself on in the third Powerplay - taken by Bangladesh under the new rules - in the 39th over, Ashraful immediately pulled him for a four past square leg and then stepped out for a six over long-on. Bangladesh had reached the 100-mark after 28 overs; ten overs later, they had piled up 60 more. The 109-run partnership was the highest of the day and overshadowed Jacob Oram's hard labour in the morning.

Oram had taken New Zealand to safety after they found themselves in a dangerous position at 79 for 6. Though he took a while to adapt to the low bounce and slow pace of the wicket, he managed to steadily regain the momentum. He had help from Vettori and their partnership of 70 for the seventh wicket rescued New Zealand.

For Bangladesh, Mortaza led from the front, pitching it accurately and taking advantage of the early movement after Ashraful had opted to field. Sensing the opposition batsmen's rustiness, since their only warm-up game was washed out, Mortaza hardly gave the batsmen any room in his unbroken spell of eight overs that fetched him three wickets.

New Zealand failed to benefit from any of the fielding restrictions or from the new Powerplay rule - they managed 55 in the first and then slumped in the second when they lost three wickets for seven runs. The final Powerplay, to be decided by the batting side, was taken in the 38th over but only 26 runs resulted off that.

Bangladesh had beaten New Zealand in the warm-up game during the 2007 World Cup, after which they recorded their best showing in the shorter version with four victories in the tournament. Today's win could be the start of another new chapter.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

India v Australia, 1st Test, Bangalore, 1st day

Australia 254 for 4 (Ponting 123, Katich 66, Zaheer 2-39) v India

Ricky Ponting erased 12 years of doubt over his record in India by striking a defiant century that gave Australia a marginal edge on the opening day in Bangalore. However, a late pair of wickets - Ponting departed for 123 and Zaheer Khan removed Michael Clarke in the final over - brought India back into the contest on what had until then been a frustrating day for the hosts. At the close Australia had reached 254 for 4 with Michael Hussey unbeaten on 46.

Zaheer's final strike - he trapped Clarke plumb lbw for 11 - gave India's fans cause to cheer on the first day of Test cricket in the country since the frenetic and colourful IPL. The contrast between the game's longest and shortest formats was stark as Australia's batsmen spent most of the day grinding down the India bowlers.

The man most responsible for the tough contest was Ponting, who in the lead-up declared that it was up to him to set the batting standard for Australia despite his disappointing average of 12.28 in his eight previous Tests in India. Australia's two most unflappable batsmen, Simon Katich and Michael Hussey, gave Ponting exactly the support he needed as he began to master his long-time tormentor Harbhajan Singh and his newer nemesis Ishant Sharma.

The two men bowled admirably and created opportunities but the pitch offered them little assistance. When Harbhajan finally picked up Ponting, lbw attempting to sweep a ball that might have missed leg stump, it came as a major relief to India, who had seen a few doses of luck go the other way throughout the day.

Katich and Hussey both prodded within centimetres of short leg against the spinners. Hussey got a thick outside edge off Kumble that Mahendra Singh Dhoni could not get his gloves to in time. Ponting survived a couple of tight lbw calls early and, after he had reached triple figures, was reprieved when replays suggested he was caught and bowled by Kumble off a delivery that was adjudged to be a bump ball.

But nothing should take away from Ponting's brilliance. Rarely can a 33-year-old veteran of more than 100 Tests claim to make a genuine career breakthrough, but Ponting's history in India was so poor that his century was exactly that.

The 2008-09 version of Ponting was more patient and less tentative than on his earlier trips. Until this innings, Harbhajan had an undeniable hold over Ponting and had dismissed him eight times in Tests. But Ponting watched the ball more closely this time and eliminated his bad habit of lunging outside off stump, a custom that had brought so many edges to Harbhajan over the years.

Instead, he trusted his judgement. He left the ball where appropriate and picked the right deliveries to hit; he twice lofted Harbhajan over wide midwicket for four. He also survived his mini-battles with Ishant, whose steepling bounce and tendency to jag the ball in had troubled Ponting earlier this year.

A couple of cracking back-foot drives through extra cover off Ishant were particularly impressive, as was the slap through cover off Zaheer that brought up his half-century. When the hundred arrived with a cut through point off Kumble, Ponting refused to smile, instead willing himself to go on with the innings.

The burden on Ponting would have increased considerably had he been regularly losing partners. Katich's determination was therefore a godsend for the captain. Katich was also under pressure to justify his selection after he was preferred over the incumbent Phil Jaques as Matthew Hayden's opening partner.

His experience and composure provided a calming influence on Ponting, who had joined him in the first over of the match following Hayden's early departure. Katich handled the first 15 deliveries from Harbhajan, which allowed Ponting time to get a look at his major danger without having to face up.

Katich was scratchy in the opening hour but as his confidence grew he worked easy runs through the leg side via his habit of walking across the stumps. His half-century came from 122 deliveries with a boundary forward of point off Harbhajan and it was the sort of watchful innings that made it hard to believe he had scored 184 in a single first-class session for New South Wales last season.

His stand with Ponting was worth 166 when Katich's concentration finally waned on 66 as he edged behind when Ishant seamed the ball away. It was a well-deserved reward for Ishant, who tried valiantly to extract anything from the benign surface. Nearly two full sessions had passed since India had had any reason to celebrate after Zaheer struck with the third ball of the match.

Hayden was given out caught behind off a Zaheer outswinger, although the ball appeared to miss the outside edge as bat hit pad. It was the perfect start for India, who had lost the toss and were staring at a long Australia batting order with the debutant and powerful striker Cameron White listed at No. 8.

The rest of the wickets did not come as swiftly. But India can be happy with their fightback after Ponting and Katich threatened to bat them into the ground. The first day has set up an intriguing battle; the second day could well be one of the most decisive of the series.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ganguly to retire after Australia series

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly said Tuesday he would retire from international cricket at the end of the upcoming four-Test series against Australia.

"This will be my last series,"
Ganguly, 36, told reporters after a training session ahead of the first Test starting in Bangalore on Thursday.

"Before coming here, I spoke to my team-mates and hopefully I will go out with a winning knock."

Ganguly was a surprise inclusion for the first two Tests after being ignored for the five-day domestic Irani Cup tie last month, regarded as a trial match for the series.

There was media speculation that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had struck a deal with Ganguly to give him a graceful exit, provided he agreed to quit after the series.

Ganguly denied the charge, but admitted he was disapointed at being left out for the Irani Cup, and surprised when the selectors picked him for the Tests.

"The speculation about my future has been going on for a long time, but I categorically deny any talk of a 'voluntary retirement scheme', which is what the media is calling it,"
he said.

"Such things do not happ?augh's world champion Australian side at home in 2001.

All seemed lost for India when Waugh's men wrapped up the first Test in Mumbai in three days and made the hosts follow on 274 runs behind in the second match in Kolkata's Eden Gardens.

India, however, conjured up a remarkable fightback on the back of Laxman's extraordinary 281 to win the Kolkata Test by 171 runs and then clinched the series with a two-wicket humdinger in Chennai.

Ganguly also captained India to the World Cup final in South Africa in 2003, where they lost to Australia.

High Court ruling leaves world's richest match in doubt

Plans to stage the world's richest cricket match in Antigua next month were thrown into disarray on Tuesday when the West Indies Cricket Board lost a dispute with sponsors Digicel in London's High Court.

As a result of the defeat, the WICB was been told it will have to withdraw its sanction for the 20-million-dollar Twenty/20 match between the Stanford Superstars XI and England on November 1.

That could mean that either the match will have to be called off or that the Stanford Superstars side will be weakened by the withdrawal of most of the leading West Indian players.

The WICB had previously agreed to make all their players available to play for Texan billionaire Allen Stanford's select side.

But Digicel went to the High Court in a bid to establish that, as the contracted official sponsor of the WICB until 2012, it enjoyed commercial rights associated with a game that was, in effect, a West Indies XI v England.

The High Court upheld that argument and ruled that the Board would be in breach of its contract with Digicel if it sanctioned the match without granting commercial rights to its sponsor. The WICB was also ordered to pay costs.

WICB chief executive Dr Donald Peters confirmed the court defeat.

"We understand the arbitrator has ruled against the West Indies Cricket Board and at this point we are trying to evaluate what the terms of the ruling are before we make any statement,"
Peters told Britain's Press Association.

He added:
"As soon as my board has been informed there will be a statement."

The WICB and Digicel began arbitration proceedings under the auspices of the High Court last Friday but were unable to agree a negotiated resolution of the dispute.

In return for putting up the money for the match, Stanford 20/20 had wanted to find their own sponsors for the match, bypassing Digicel.

The fate of the match and several warm-up encounters involving Middlesex and Trinidad and Tobago, now depends on the outcome of negotiations between Digicel and Stanford over the next few days.

Sky Television, which is planning to broadcast the matches, said it was confident that a solution would be worked out to allow them to go ahead.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Indian batting power has been vanished: Boycott

Geoff Boycott said that if the English team would go to India next month considering that it can only draw the series there then it would be in fools paradise.

He said that if the English team enters into the ground it would put India in trouble.

In his newspaper column, Boycott further wrote that many front-ranking Indian batsmen have passed through their prime and now they have no power like earlier.

The way in which Sri Lankan spinners Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis demolished Indian batting line shows that the batting power of India has been vanished and the series against Australia may be the last series for many Indian stalwarts.

Boycott wrote that Steve Harmisson and Flintoff would be main weapons of England team on the tour of India. Though Indian wickets are not more helpful to fast bowlers but the bowlers keeping line and length would certainly be successful.

Friday, October 3, 2008

ICC Confirm Rule Changes

The International Cricket Council have confirmed that a series of amendments to playing conditions will take effect from tomorrow.

The ICC chief executives' committee ratified a number of proposals when they met at the end of June and all future Tests and one-day internationals will now be played under the revised laws.

The practice of players leaving the field for 'comfort breaks' to be replaced by substitute fielders has been legislated against, with clause two of the game's playing conditions explicitly stating that such reasons do not represent "wholly acceptable" justification.

Additionally, all catches can now be referred to the third umpire when the on-field officials are unsure as to the validity of an appeal.

The amended wording on disputed catches now reads:

"Should both umpires be unable to make a decision, they may consult by two-way radio with the third umpire as to whether there is any definitive evidence as to whether the catch was taken cleanly or not. Following such consultation, the final decision will be made and given by the bowler's-end umpire."

One-day captains have been handed another tactical decision to make, with one of the two options power-plays - periods of five overs when fielding restrictions are applied - to be picked by the batting side.

Current rules have a 10-over enforced power-play, with the fielding captain choosing the timing of the next two.

Another change that was brought about at the ICC meeting involved handing the umpires the chance to reduce the interval between innings when the game has been delayed or interrupted was introduced with immediate effect in June.

An ICC statement read:

"These amendments, which were unanimously approved by all 10 full members and the three associate member representatives on the CEC at its meeting at the end of June, are designed to improve the game for players, umpires and spectators."

Underwood The New President At MCC

Derek Underwood takes over as president of Marylebone Cricket Club on Wednesday.

The former England star takes the reins from Mike Brearley and will preside over what is set to be the busiest year in the MCC's 221-year history.

Among the highlights will be Lord's staging an Ashes Test and much of the world Twenty20 tournament.

Underwood said: "It is indeed a great honour to become president of MCC, especially to have been invited by Mike Brearley, for whom I have always had the utmost respect and admiration. I look forward immensely to the year ahead.

"It is an exciting era for the sport with Twenty20 cricket opening up so many possibilities for the game worldwide. It is important for all those who work in cricket to embrace that change whilst protecting the game's rich heritage.

"MCC is ideally placed to be at the heart of much of this change. With its development of the Masterplan project at Lord's, its independent voice of the MCC World Cricket committee and its playing remit to develop the game worldwide, the club has the passion, stature and desire to ensure the best for our wonderful game in the years ahead."

John Barclay, Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, Peter Leaver and Peter Carroll all join the MCC committee. They replace David Faber, Matthew Fleming, former Prime Minister Sir John Major and Nick Pocock.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ganguly retained for first two Tests

India's selectors have picked Sourav Ganguly in a 15-man squad for the first two Tests against Australia. He is expected to join India A in Chennai for a Test against New Zealand A beginning on October 3 because he isn't part of the ongoing camp in Bangalore. There were also call-ups for Tamil Nadu batsman S Badrinath and Haryana legspinner Amit Mishra, who played three one-day internationals in 2003.

The squad consists of seven batsmen, one wicketkeeper, four fast bowlers and three spinners. The six batting slots are filled by Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly and VVS Laxman, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni as wicketkeeper. The two wicketkeepers used in Sri Lanka after Dhoni opted out, Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel, have been excluded.

Despite the intense speculation on Ganguly's future leading up to the selection meeting, the new selectors apparently felt that he had the three qualities essential for a series against Australia.

"[He has] experience, character and resilience,"

said a national selector.

"Besides, whatever his scores may have been in Sri Lanka, we could not ignore the fact that he has scored in the last 10 Tests."

Ganguly had reportedly considered quitting cricket after being overlooked for the Irani Cup match between the Rest of India and Delhi but India's new selection panel, headed by Kris Srikkanth, has valued his experience over youngsters like Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif.

Ganguly has struggled against Australia, averaging just 31.73 in 20 Tests compared to an overall average of 41.74 in 109 Tests. Since his recall in December 2006 and till the end of the home series against South Africa earlier this year, Ganguly scored 1571 runs at 50.67, including a maiden double-century. However, he managed only 96 runs in six innings during India's 2-1 series defeat in Sri Lanka this summer.

After being called in as a substitute fielder during the home series against Pakistan late last year, Badrinath had a spell in the cold till he was named as Tendulkar's replacement for the Sri Lanka ODIs, and played three games. Dhoni, his captain for the ODIs, publicly expressed his satisfaction at Badrinath's attitude during the series. He managed only 92 runs in the recent A team series against Australia and New Zealand and had a poor Irani Cup but the selectors have clearly indicated that he is the future.

"I am really happy to be selected to play against Australia,"

Badrinath said.

"I was expecting this call. I will take tomorrow's match as serious practice. It will give me some experience against them."

Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma will lead the bowling attack along with Munaf Patel and RP Singh. Anil Kumble, India's captain, Harbhajan Singh and Mishra, 25, make up the spin quotient. Mishra, who has 289 first-class wickets at 25.21, had a fine domestic season (38 wickets in the Ranji Trophy) and has also staked a claim through his good IPL performances (11 wickets at 12.55).

Mishra, a neat and organised spinner, was included in India's Test squad to face West Indies in 2002 but did not get a game then. He subsequently made his ODI debut against South Africa in Dhaka in 2003 but fell out of national reckoning since. He has now pipped left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who was in the Test side for Sri Lanka and played in the ODI series. Piyush Chawla, the Uttar Pradesh legspinner, was the other name doing the rounds but he too has been overlooked.

Mishra said his stint with the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL - during which he claimed a hat-trick against Deccan Chargers - transformed his career.

"It all started from the IPL. It gave me the platform to interact with greats like Shane Warne,"

Mishra said.

"I specifically worked on my loop and top spin. I am very happy after hearing the news. I feel great as I've been expecting the call over the last year."

Before the selection meeting, the selectors were "briefed" by Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president. Manohar, apparently, delivered a "convincing and forceful talk" on the need to plan for the team's future, given that the senior players are on the last leg of their careers. He also reminded the selectors of the board's guidelines for the committee, including curbs on media assignments.

The first Test starts in Bangalore on October 9. The second is in Mohali from October 17-21. The squad for the remaining fixtures, in Delhi and Nagpur, will be named after the second Test.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Eid Mubarak to all Muslim Ummah

Eid Mubarak to all Muslim Ummah, from S. M. Faisal (Owner of Cricket Cafe)