Friday, October 31, 2008

Gambhir handed one-Test ban

Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir was handed a one-Test ban by the International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee on Friday for breaching the spirit of the game in the third Test against Australia .
Gambhir, 27, was found guilty after he was charged for elbowing Australian all rounder Shane Watson while taking a run on the first day of the third Test in Delhi on Wednesday, an ICC release said.
Both players were summoned for a hearing by match referee Chris Broad on Thursday, where Gambhir pleaded guilty and Watson was fined 10 percent of his match fee.

Gambhir had faced a penalty ranging between a fine of 50 percent to his full match fee and/or a maximum ban of one Test or two one-dayers, with a right to appeal within 24 hours.
He would miss the fourth and final Test starting in Nagpur on November 6, the ICC release added.
However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India said in a statement the player would lodge an appeal against the decision.
The batsman top-scored with 206 for his second consecutive hundred following his 104 in the second Test in Mohali.
"The decision to find Gambhir guilty of a (rule C1) level 2 offence is indicative of the fact that any degree of physical contact is unacceptable," Broad said in an ICC release.
He escaped a harsher ban of a minimum of two Tests for a second offence within a year, having been fined 65 percent of his match fee for clashing with Shahid Afridi in a one-dayer against Pakistan last November.
Broad said the lightness of his contact with Watson and the provocation of the Australian player helped Gambhir's cause. He is the second Indian player to be penalised in the series which has witnessed a series of verbal exchanges between players from both teams.
Paceman Zaheer Khan was fined 80 percent of his match fee in Mohali after his verbal send-off to Australian opener Matthew Hayden was walking back to the pavilion after his dismissal.

Sehwag spoils Aussies day out

Patience pays. Perseverance has its returns. And mental fortitude is a blessing in disguise.
We are not preaching from a holy book, and neither are these phrases meant to spread the message of peace and virtuosity.
Instead, these are the attributes that helped Australia dominate the third day's play in the third Test at the Ferozshah Kotla on Friday.
This was important considering they were on the backfoot on the first two days. They added 288 runs during the day to their overnight total (50), losing just four wickets.
At stumps on Friday, the visitors were 338 for 4, still 275 runs behind the Indian total and needing 76 runs to avoid the follow-on.
On the positive side, they had achieved a mental victory over the Indians and probably did enough to ensure that they save the Test at least -- a possibility that looked remote after the first couple of days.
Michael Clarke and Shane Watson were still batting, on 21 and four respectively.
But Virender Sehwag , with figures of 3 for 66, ensured that India have a lot to look forward to on Saturday.
Morning Session: (Runs: 101, Overs: 26, Wicket: 1)
Resuming at their overnight score of 50 for no loss, the Australian openers began at a steady pace and, for once, seemed comfortable with the Indian bowling. There was a conspicuous change in the mental approach.
Instead of just trying to be defensive, the visitors kept the scoreboard ticking with cheeky singles interspersed with well-timed boundaries. The Indian bowlers were getting a taste of the medicine that their Australian counterparts had had for two successive days.
Simon Katich soon reached his tenth Test fifty, his sixth against India (in 12 Tests), with a tentative single off Anil Kumble . And his partner, Hayden, hit a huge six off Amit Mishra to bring up the 100-run partnership for the opening wicket -- the first time it happened in this series for the visitors. It came in just over two hours off 175 balls.
The duo looked set for a long haul when Katich did something that has become a characteristic feature of his batting in this series. He came charging to a tossed up delivery from Mishra, missed the flight completely and witnessed his middle stump get uprooted. Katich scored 64, which included ten hits to the fence.
The 33-year-old Australian has had starts in all the five innings in this series -- scores of 66, 34, 33 and 20 are a case in point. Only if he had the patience to build on those starts his team would have been served better.
On this occasion though a promising opening wicket stand was cut short on 123. Hayden, on the other hand, kept up the momentum and soon completed a half-century -- his seventh against India and 28th overall.
After scoring three hundreds in successive Tests -- Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide -- Hayden, who turned 37 on Tuesday was having a woeful run with the bat and had scores of 0, 13, 0 and 29 before things innings. This wasn't a vintage innings but should have done his confidence a world of good.
Post-Lunch Session: (Runs: 86, Overs: 29, Wickets: 1)
The session started with an invasion that stopped play for about four minutes. It wasn't the over-excited crowds but a swarm of bees. The players were forced to duck for cover and the shutterbugs had a whale of a time. In fact, one of them caught Sachin Tendulkar trying to use his hat to cover his face.
When play did resume, the Australian batsmen resumed their respective roles. Matthew Hayden was increasingly growing in confidence but at the same time also living dangerously.
He survived a loud appeal off Anil Kumble, when he was on 66, and it appeared that he had nicked to Rahul Dravid at first slip. However, umpire Billy Bowden thought otherwise, and the television replays suggested he was right. Soon after, Kumble himself dropped him (when on 70) at short mid-wicket off the bowling of Amit Mishra.
Hayden's drive was hard. The physio had to rush to the ground and, subsequently, Kumble left the field, handing over the reigns to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and headed straight to Apollo Hospital.
The 37-year-old batsman continued with his generosity. He nicked Virender Sehwag but the ball fell short of Dravid at first slip. For once, fortune was smiling on Hayden -- he had been unfortunate in both the innings of the opening Test in Bangalore. But then Hayden was guilty of being greedy and eventually paid.
Sehwag finally had the measure of him, trapping him plumb in front. Australia 202 for 2.
Nonetheless, it was reassuring to see Hayden back among the runs. He scored 83, inclusive of 13 hits to the fence, and one over it. More importantly, he was involved in a 79-run second-wicket partnership with Ponting.
The latter went on to complete his half century -- his sixth against India and 41st overall. More importantly, the Australian captain got himself out of the hole that he had let himself into after that majestic 123 at Bangalore and was hitting the ball with his characteristic confidence.
Final session: Runs: 101, Overs: 35, Wickets: 2
The Australian looked at consolidation with caution. Consequently, runs came in a trickle as the emphasis was more on saving wickets.
An otherwise dull session, this one was characterized by a spectacular delivery by Sehwag that accounted for Ponting (87). It was a perfect off-spinner. Sehwag tossed the ball up, induced Ponting to come forward for the drive and the ball, after pitching, generated considerable turn and hurried in viciously to castle the batsman's stumps.
Without doubt, it was the highlight of the day's play -- and we are only talking from an Indian perspective. Australia 284 for 3.
Michael Hussey went on to complete his 11th Test fifty -- a dogged innings coming off 134 deliveries and consisting seven boundaries.
The new ball was taken with seven overs left in the day. And, instead of the fast bowlers, it was Sehwag again who got the breakthrough, cleaning up Hussey (53) on this occasion. Australia 326 for 4.
The 30-year-old part-timer was India's best bowler on the day and the fact that he managed to generate so much turn was the positive factor for the hosts.
To sum up, it would suffice to say that the Australians deserve to be in the position they are in. There was a certain amount of patience in their batting, they were very much aware what their target for the day was and, more importantly, they mostly rendered ineffective the Indian bowlers, completely neutralizing the persistent attacks with a resolute defense.
On second thoughts, Sehwag was an aberration.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nielsen speaks on Ponting-Lee spat

Breaking his silence on the on-field clash between Australia skipper Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee , coach Tim Nielsen said a poor over-rate wasn't the main reason the strike bowler was not used in the first session on the fourth day of the second Test in Mohali.
Lee argued with Ponting on a morning when part-time medium pacer Michael Hussey, debutant Peter Siddle, regular Mitchell Johnson and spinner Cameron White were all preferred over him.
Ponting and Michael Clarke both justified the decision by saying the team was about five overs behind the required rate -- they also wanted to slow the speed of the ball down -- but Nielsen said they were only three behind. It's not a level that would cause any player to fear a fine.
''We made a decision to take pace off the ball,'' Nielsen said.
''You don't see Hussey bowl too often. We changed things around because things weren't working for us. The over-rate wasn't crazily out of control: three down at the time. In the end it was a tactical decision.''
The team believes the incident, which featured heavily in Australian papers, was blown out of proportion and Ponting and Nielsen said there was no lingering resentment between the players.
However, Nielsen's explanation shows how worried Ponting was over the form of his main bowler, who he did not want to risk when India resumed their target setting at 100 for 1.
''When you're losing Tests, there's a lot of things being made of little issues,'' Nielsen said. ''When you're winning, that's not the case.''
Nielsen said Lee was ''frustrated'' but was fine mentally after a difficult off-season, which included separating from his wife.
''He's come from a 15-month period where he's had real impact every time he's been required,'' he said. ''In some regards, we've built this series up, it's got a bigger status than normal.
''Brett was keen to have a real impact and when that happens it is easy to get impatient and search for results. He's working hard, he's come off a break from his personal issues and has had a break from not playing in Darwin. All those things have added up to him being a little bit off the boil.''
Nielsen felt the bowlers were too impatient in Mohali, where India's batsmen worked the side into a position to set Australia 516 runs for victory.
''We were searching for results quickly because we felt like we were under pressure,'' he said. ''These conditions are unrelenting; if you're not quite right with your skills you get shown out.''

Delhi curator to gift Kumble spinning track

The Ferozshah Kotla, India Test captain Anil Kumble's lucky ground, is host to the third Test between India and Australia , and its curator, Radhey Shyam Sharma, says he will prepare a track that will suit 'Jumbo's' bowling style.
Kumble has an outstanding record at the Kotla: in six Tests there, he has picked 55 wickets, including all ten in an innings against Pakistan, at an average of 15.42.
Sharma has prepared pitches at the Kotla since 1996 and the wicket for the upcoming match will be the last he will prepare for a Test.
In his final Test in-charge of the pitch, he wants to give Kumble the kind of pitch he relishes bowling on.
"This will be my parting gift to Kumble. Even though he has risen to great heights as a cricketer, Kumble is a lovely human being at heart. Whenever he comes to Delhi , he always takes time out to sit and chat with me.
"I've always made wickets that suit Kumble, and this time it won't be any different," he added.
Speaking about the wicket for the forthcoming Test, Sharma said, "This wicket against Australia will give some assistance to seamers initially but the spinners can come into play as early as on third morning. There will be no dust on the wicket but the ball will tend to grip the pitch and get more turn. There'll be a bit of uneven bounce with the wear and tear."
The 73-year-old also warned all those who questioned Kumble's ability saying, "There's no way he will miss the match. This venue is very special to him and he'll play, come what may. In fact, for all those people who believe that Kumble is now a spent force, he will bounce back here in Delhi."
The Kotla has been a favourite hunting ground for the Indian team too; they won seven consecutive Tests at the Kotla. The last time they were beaten there was more than two decades ago, in 1987.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

India complete final rites in Mohali

In Indian conditions, they say, if you win the toss half the battle is won.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni ensured that at the outset in the Mohali Test. The other half was a team effort.
To give the home team their due, Indian outplayed Australia in every department of the game. India dismissed Australia for 195 runs on the fifth morning to register thumping 320-run victory. It was one of the heaviest defeats for the world champions and the biggest win for the hosts (not including innings wins).
The visitors never remotely looked like the world's best team, a pedestal they have been perched at for eternity.
The thrashing they received at Mohali was suggestive of the fact that they are no longer the dominant side they used to be.
The point we are making is that Australian cricket is now entering a new phase (a rebuilding phase) and it will take at least a few more years for them to reassert their supremacy. Other teams can seize this opportunity for sure.
Morning Session: 54 runs, 5 wickets, 18.4 overs
The script had been written on day four and it was bound one (no scope for last minute changes).
The first two hours of the movie (read last session on Day 4) was over and only the climax remained.
Resuming at 141 for six, the Australians suffered a jolt on the last ball of the day's opening over when Zaheer Khan had a length ball that move in to rip the stumps of Brad Haddin (37). The batsman was yet to add to his overnight score.
Khan was even more destructive in his next over-- Tuesday's third.
The second ball found Cameron White's outside edge and the third cleaned up Brett Lee . Australia 144 for eight, having lost three quick wickets early on the fifth day with the addition of the just three runs.
Michael Clarke (69) went on to complete his half century-- his fifth against India and his ninth in Tests.
The 27-year-old relishes playing against India and this innings was yet another proof of that. However, on this occasion even he was aware that only the last rites remain and time could not be an impediment.
On their part, Clarke and Mitchell Johnson (26) prolonged the end, delivering competent performances-- a 50-run partnership for the ninth wicket. But it only ensured ennui, the viewer's were not keen on any more histrionics but only wanted to see the end credits roll.
Johnson's character understood the audience plight and offered a soft return catch to Amit Mishra. Peter Siddle proved to just a sidekick and Clarke, the last man standing, perished at last, caught by Sehwag of Mishra.
India, on the other hand, was celebrating the one of the biggest blockbuster in their box office history.
India lead the four-match series 1-0. The first Test in Bangalore ended in a draw.

Monday, October 20, 2008

India Won Mohali Test with Record margin!!!

India Won the Mohali test match with with record margin of 320 runs. This is India's Highest Ever win in terms of run, previous was 280 runs against South Africa in Kanpur...
Details will come soon1!!!!

BCCI said close ICL, then talk: Kapil

"BCCI told us to first close down Indian Cricket League and then only they (BCCI) shall talk to us," said an agitated Kapil Dev , explaining why the ICL's meeting with the Indian cricket board failed.
"There was hardly any meeting. They told us to close down ICL first before they begin talks," the former India skipper, currently chief of the ICL, told mediapersons in Ahmedabad .
The ICL had applied to the International Cricket Council for recognition but a decision on the issue was deferred during its Board meeting. Instead, the ICC asked BCCI president Shashank Manohar to meet ICL representatives and submit a report on the discussions.

Following ICC's directive, both parties met in New Delhi last week but failed to make any headway on the contentious issue.
"We have again applied to the ICC, as we have hopes from the world body. They have asked us to wait for 21 days. We shall wait for their decision," Kapil said.
Asked if he plans to take legal action against the BCCI, Dev replied, "Of course, but it will be the ultimate step."
Dev drew comparison between the South African cricket team during the apartheid period and BCCI, saying the latter is acting like the former.
"During the apartheid period we were ready to play with South Africa , but they refused to play with us. The same thing is being done by BCCI with ICL. We are ready to play, but they are not," Kapil, captain of India's 1983 World Cup-winning team, said.
"How can you restrict somebody from playing cricket. Cricket is for all. There are hundreds of young and talented boys who want to play cricket for India. It is wrong to stop anybody from playing according to his will," he said.
He asked, Should there be only one government school in the country? What if some private schools come up and provide education to few more?
"Playing cricket is like education. Young players need more platforms to show their talent, and restricting them is awfully wrong. We have not restricted any of our players. They are free to play anywhere," Kapil added.
Asked about his impression of Ahmedabad as a venue for ICL matches, Kapil said he is satisfied with the response and also plans to reschedule the final of ICL's second season to Ahmedabad.

Australia heading for destination defeat

Disastrous! That's how Australia's performance in the Mohali Test can be described in one word.
With winning the match ceasing to be an option after India set them a mammoth 516, the least they could have done was play sensibly to ensure a draw, which would have given their otherwise vapid performance in the match a semblance of respectability. But therein lay their failure as a team.
Before you jump the gun, it is imperative here to state that the visitors are yet to lose the Test, but defeat is the destination they are heading towards, albeit the pace has slackened a bit after the initial acceleration.
An aggressive, and to an extent reckless start, was followed by a shocking collapse that witnessed Australia slump from 49 without loss to 58 for 5. Half the battle won for Team India. The other half has been extended to the final day of the Test -- thanks to an 83-run sixth wicket stand between Michael Clarke (42 not out) and Brad Haddin (37 not out). Both batsmen hit six boundaries apiece.
At stumps on Monday, Australia was 141 for 5, still 375 runs adrift of the Indian target, and, to put it bluntly, staring defeat, with the fifth day's play being a mere formality.
Morning Session (26 overs, 130 runs, 2 wickets)
Resuming at the overnight score of 100, Sehwag (90) dropped anchor and allowed Gambhir (104) to let loose.
The southpaw soon completed his eighth Test half century and then hit Cameron White for a huge six to long on, the ball making its way straight into the gutter.
Gambhir was certainly enjoying the role of the aggressive partner, but it was not for long that Sehwag, who turned 30 on Monday, could curb his natural instincts. He soon cut loose and that essentially spelt double trouble for the visitors.
The 150 of the Indian innings came in just 145 minutes, off only 31.5 overs. The duo continued to pile on runs and put on 182 runs for the opening wicket before Sehwag edged a Peter Siddle delivery to Brad Haddin for 90.
It was a disappointing end for Sehwag, as he definitely deserved a birthday gift (read century). Nonetheless, his aggressive 122-ball knock was punctuated with eight hits to the fence.
The dismissal prompted skipper Dhoni to promote himself up the order palpably with an eye on scoring at a faster rate.
And his Australian counterpart, perhaps frustrated at the non-performance of his regular bowlers, handed Michael Hussey the ball. Not that it did much but it was certainly easy to witness a part-time bowler struggling than the regular bets.
Gambhir soon completed his second Test century with a boundary off White -- he had earlier scored 139 against Bangladesh at Chittagong in December 2004 -- to go with his 67 in the first innings. His knock was laced with seven hits to the fence and one over it.
He was dismissed in the same over, caught at mid-off by Hussey. India 224 for 2.
Post-lunch session: (India: 16 overs, 84 runs, 1 wicket; Australia: 8 overs, 50 runs, 2 wickets)
Matthew Hayden (29) and Simon Katich (20) put on 49 runs for the opening wicket before Harbhajan Singh trapped the former plumb in front.
Hayden's 20-ball knock comprised four strokeful boundaries and was his most confident innings on this tour. In fact, it wouldn't be wrong to say that he paid the price for over confidence.
A run later, Katich paid the price for being over ambitious, hitting a wide delivery off Harbhajan and Sachin Tendulkar taking a brilliant catch at short point. Katich's 26-ball 20 included four hits to the fence. That ball happened to be the last before tea.
Earlier, India declared their second innings at 314 for three, setting Australia a target of 516 runs to win the Test.
Captain Dhoni (68 not out) and Tendulkar (10 not out) were at the crease when the innings was declared.
Dhoni's 84-ball knock contained three boundaries and a six and was his second half century of the match, following his 92 in the first innings.
Sourav Ganguly was the lone Indian wicket to fall in the post-lunch session. He was caught by Michael Clarke of Brett Lee for 27. India played 16 overs after lunch and put on 84 runs in that period.
Post-tea session: (38 overs, 91 runs, 3 wickets)
After the twin strikes, those of Hayden and Katich just before tea, the Indian bowlers rocked the Australian boat again immediately after it, taking two more wickets.
Harbhajan took his third wicket of the innings in the shape of the in-form Michael Hussey (1), the latter paying the price for playing a rash, and rather unnecessary shot. Harbhajan is now just one short of 300 Test wickets.
Ricky Ponting's woeful record against Ishant Sharma continued when the latter cleaned him up with a beautiful incoming delivery for just two runs. Australia's captain has now been dismissed on five occasions by the 20-year-old Indian speedster this year, and thrice in his last three innings.
More importantly, the Aussies had seen four of their frontline batsmen fall for the addition of just three runs and despite an aggressive start, the visitors were forced to retreat to a defensive cocoon -- statistically speaking, from 49 for no loss to 52 for 4.
There was no relief coming their way. Just six runs had been added to the total when Shane Watson (2) was adjudged leg before off Ishant. Australia 58 for 5.
But when disaster strikes preventive measures are bound to follow. Clarke and Haddin employed themselves to continue with the disaster management. And it is because of them that Australia were able to avert an impending defeat by a day and extend the game into the fifth day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Congratulate Sachin Tendulkar

The long wait is over. Sachin Tendulkar is now Test cricket's highest run scorer.
At 1431 IST, on a sunny Friday afternoon in Mohali, the Mumbai batsman scripted his name in cricketing history, bettering Brian Lara's record of 11,953 runs, in his 152nd Test, before a small but appreciative crowd that applauded every run that took him closer to the landmark.

He achieved this landmark when he hit Peter Siddle to third man for two runs, erasing Lara's record that stood for nearly two years since the West Indian great played his final Test.
Fireworks, congratulations from every member of the Australian team, a hug from fellow-batsman Sourav Ganguly and a long look into the sky by the ace batsman, and the moment had come, and gone.
Tendulkar is also one-day cricket's leading run-scorer, with 16,631 runs.
The master blaster was expected to attain the feat in Sri Lanka recently, but he had a poor series there, scoring just 95 runs in three Tests.
However, it was befitting, that he achieved the record against World champions Australia .
Lara too achieved the world record against Australia, when he went past Allan Border's tally of 11,174 runs during the Adelaide Test in 2005.
They are the only three players to cross the 11,000-run mark in Tests. Now two players stand the best chance of bettering Tendulkar's record. They are Rahul Dravid (10,341 runs) and Ricky Ponting (10,239).
Fifteen runs was Tendulkar's first target when he came out to bat on Friday afternoon after the fall of Rahul Dravid's wicket, in the second Test against Australia, and each of them was counted down.
A single, a steered brace, a flick to leg, a straight push, a cover-driven four that upped the glacial pace of scoring and then a flicked two brought him within a stroke of Lara's aggregate.
Another single to square carried the batsman into double figures. Three runs later, it was time for the tea break.
The suspense thereafter was swift to end; a steered three off debutant Siddle took Tendulkar from 11,951 to 11,954, and gave him sole ownership of the title of Test cricket's highest run-scorer.
This was Tendulkar's 152nd Test, and 247th innings, which includes a highest of 248 not out.
Against this, Lara got his runs in 131 matches (232 innings) with a Test best of 400 not out. Tendulkar's average now is 54.02 against Lara's career mean of 52.88. What a record!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tendulkar drops to 24th in ICC Test rankings

He is on the verge of becoming the highest run-accumulator in Test cricket, but Sachin Tendulkar continues to fall in the ICC rankings for batsmen, dropping a spot to 24th in the latest list released on Tuesday.
Tendulkar is just 15 runs shy of breaking West Indian legend Brian Lara's record of amassing the most Test runs.
Meanwhile, VVS Laxman (14th) was the lone Indian batsman to move up the ladder in the ICC rankings, which also saw Virender Sehwag (11th) and Rahul Dravid (18th) drop down.
Australia's Michael Hussey has returned to the top of the rankings after he scored 177 runs in the drawn Bangalore Test against India, including a 146-run knock in the first innings.
Hussey was placed third before this match, just behind Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka and the ICC Cricketer of the Year 2008 Shivnarine Chanderpaul of the West Indies .

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting stays in fourth spot in the rankings despite scoring his maiden Test century in India.
Australian opener Matthew Hayden, has however, slipped two places. Hayden now lies in ninth spot with Aussie vice-captain Michael Clarke further back in 15th position.
In the bowling charts, Bangalore Test's man of the match Zaheer Khan gained seven places and now sits 11th spot in the rankings.

Indian skipper Anil Kumble ,nursing a shoulder injury, was not so fortunate as he lost eight places, plummeting from 10th position to 18th. The India captain bowled 51 overs in the match without picking up a wicket.
India pacer Ishant Sharma gained a place to be 40th. Among the all-rounders, Brett Lee has moved up one place to seventh.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tendulkar misses Lara's mark as India force a draw

Resolute batting by Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, coupled with fading light, helped India escape with a draw against Australia in the first Test, at the M Chinnaswamy stadium, in Bangalore, on Monday.
Chasing a challenging target of 299 in a minimum 83 overs, India amassed 177 for 4 in 73 overs before the batsmen accepted the offer of bad light.
Laxman was unbeaten on 42 and Sourav Ganguly not out on 26. They two were involved in an unbroken stand of 39 for the fifth wicket that guided the team to safety.
Tendulkar fell 15 runs short of eclipsing Brian Lara's world record aggregate of 11,953 runs in Test cricket when he was dismissed for 49. He, however, helped rescue India after the early loss of Virender Sehwag (6) and Rahul Dravid (5).
Tendulkar (11,939) brought all his experience into play to thwart the Aussie bowlers. He stitched a 53-run partnership for the third wicket with Gautam Gambhir (29), followed by another of 61 runs for the fourth wicket with Laxman.
Earlier, Australia batted for 32 minutes on the fifth and final day, adding 35 runs in five overs, before declaring their second innings on 228 for 6 in 73 overs.
The second Test begins in Mohali on Friday, October 17.
Morning session: (76 runs, 3 wickets, 22 overs)
Anil Kumble started proceedings for India and could have had a wicket immediately, but he dropped a return off the first ball. Haddin mistimed a drive that went straight back to him, but he floored it and also injured his finger in the process.
Shane Watson then showed his intent with a couple of boundaries off Kumble and Ishant Sharma before he was dismissed by the latter. The Aussie all-rounder, who scored 41 from 72 deliveries, tried to hit Ishant across the line but got an inside edge, which crashed into his stumps.
Cameron White also looked to attack the moment he came in. He drove Ishant for a boundary through the off-side, as Australia looked for some quick runs in the morning with India spreading the field.
The visitors batted for 32 minutes on the fifth and final day, adding 35 runs in five overs, before declaring their second innings on 228 for 6 in 73 overs.
Brad Haddin was unbeaten on 35 off 61 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries, while Cameron White was not out on 18 from 14 deliveries, including two boundaries.
Harbhajan Singh took two for 76 in 27 overs, while Zaheer Khan claimed one for 46 in 17.
Anil Kumble disappointed in his last Test on home ground, finishing wicketless in both innings, conceding 160 runs in 51 overs.
(India innings)
This was a real chance for India to score an unlikely victory after Australia opted for a sporting declaration. All depended on the start they would get, because once the ball gets old it is very difficult to get the scoreboard moving on slow pitches like this one.
Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir looked to get on with things early as both started with boundaries. Sehwag (5) got a lifeline early when wicketkeeper Hadding dropped him while diving to the right after the batsman got a regulation edge off Brett Lee.
However, he could not make the most of it as he fell in the next over for 6. He tried to play Stuart Clark on the leg side in the sixth over of the innings, but the ball swung enough to beat the shot, take the back of the bat and travel to first slip .
Dravid got off the mark with a classical straight drive off Lee in the seventh over of the innings. But he did not stay on for long, falling to Lee after scoring just five.
The right-hander tried to flick Lee on the leg side, but was caught brilliantly by Ponting, who dived to his right at short midwicket. India were in trouble at 24 for 2 in the ninth over.
Gambhir survived a close stumping chance off Clark, but the third umpire ruled in favour of the batsman in a very close decision.
Tendulkar made a cautious start but then looked to raise the tempo with a couple of boundaries in Mitchell Johnson's first over.
India's hopes now depended on veteran Tendulkar, who also has the chance to break Brian Lara's world record for most Test runs.
Tendulkar is currently 48 runs short of Brian Lara's aggregate of 11953 runs.
At this venue, only two teams out of nine have successfully chased down a target in the fourth innings, the highest being 195 for 2 by Australia in 1998.
Post-lunch session: (89 runs, 1 wicket, 31 overs)
India played out a few quiet overs after the break till Gambhir broke the shackles with boundaries in consecutive overs off Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke .
Johnson had his revenge soon after when he shattered Gambhir's stumps with a fast yorker.
The left-hander's long vigil at the crease ended for 29; it included four boundaries off 81 deliveries.
Debutant leg spinner Cameron White came on to bowl in the 36th over to replace part-timer Clarke, who was not making much of an impact. He immediately forced Tendulkar to drive at a wide one, which was edged, but, fortunately, went over the slip region.
Tendulkar seemed to have learnt from that mistake and after that just concentrated on playing it safe.
VVS Laxman also weathered the initial storm from the pacers before looking at ease against the spinners. He loosened up before the tea break as he creamed a few boundaries off the two spinners. He hit White for two boundaries in the final over before tea to bring up the 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Tendulkar.
Tendulkar showed great maturity to keep the bowlers at bay as he reached 47 not out, inclusive of four boundaries in 111 deliveries. Laxman also looked quite comfortable, having reached 28 from 75 deliveries, picking four boundaries in the process.
The hosts need 169 runs in a minimum 35 overs with seven wickets in hand, but it seems unlikely they will go for the target.
Australia still have time in their hand and a few quick wickets after tea could work in their favour.
Post-tea session: (47 runs, 1 wicket, 25 overs)
The final session of the Test seemed to be all about Tendulkar, with the crowd waiting in anticipation of his world record. But he could only add two runs to his tally before he was caught in the covers for 49. Debutant White's first wicket in Tests could not have been bigger as tempted India's best batsman into a drive that went straight to Clarke.
Tendulkar added 61 runs for the fourth wicket with Laxman, but the match was still not completely safe. Australia had a minimum of 30 overs in their hands, light permitting, in which they had to take six Indian wickets.
Sourav Ganguly's first boundary was a cracking pull shot off White, in the 55th over, and he looked to be positive from the start.
India reached 148 for 4 in 58 overs before the batsmen accepted the offer of bad light by the umpires.
Almost 40 minutes of play were lost before umpires called the teams back after the light improved slightly, which meant that Australia could only use spinners if the light stayed the same.
India reached 158 for 4 in 63 overs before Australia introduced medium pacer Clark to see if he could make a breakthrough. But the fading light ensured that only nine more overs could be bowled before the batsmen took the offer of lights again.
This time only 22 minutes were lost before play resumed with India at 165 for 4 in 67 overs.
Clark and White bowled another six overs between them before both teams agreed for a draw.
India finished on 177 for 4 in 73 overs, holding on for a deserved draw late in the final day.
Laxman kept it simple and treated the bowling on merit to finish unbeaten on 41 from 142 deliveries, inclusive of five boundaries, while Ganguly was not out on 26 from 68 deliveries.
Only 47 overs were possible in the last session during which Australia could only get the wicket of Tendulkar. But Laxman and Ganguly held fort for an unbeaten stand of 39 runs in 20.4 overs on a slow pitch that surprisingly held no terrors at all for the batsmen on the final day.
Australia will be ruing that they could not enforce a result in the Test despite posting 430 in their first innings and then reducing India 155 for five.
It was man of the match Zaheer Khan, who played a major part in keeping India afloat in the contest with his five-wicket haul in the first innings followed by his unbeaten 57 with the bat.
India looked a bowler short as they went in with just four bowlers in the match and may well decide to address that limitation in the next Test at Mohali, beginning Thursday.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ganguly to quit after Aus Test series

This was a decision everyone knew was coming, but no one expected it to come when it eventually did.
Sourav Ganguly sent shockwaves throughout the country when he announced his decision to call it quits after the upcoming four-Test series against Australia
The decision, which comes just two days ahead of the high-profile series against Australia, beginning on Thursday, caught everyone by surprise.
"This is going to be my last series, I have decided to quit," he told reporters in Bangalore on Thursday.
"I have told my team mates before coming here that this four-Test series would be my last. I thank everyone for the support they have given me. I hope I will end my career on a winning note," the former India captain added.
Ganguly was a surprise inclusion in the squad for the Australia series after being left out of the Rest of India team for the Irani Trophy match against Delhi .
"Honestly, I didn't expect to be picked for this series," said the left-hand batsman, who aggregated less than 100 runs in the recent series against Sri Lanka .

The 36-year-old Bengal stalwart, who staged a spectacular entry into Tests with a debut ton at Lord's in 1996, made a storming return to the five-day game in South Africa in late 2006 after losing his place earlier that year.
He amassed over 1100 runs, with 239 his career-best score against Pakistan in Bangalore in late 2007, at a fantastic average of 61.44 last year, which compares very favourably with his career average of 41.74 in 109 Tests.
He was unable to maintain that high in the current year, though he came up with important knocks, like the 87 against the visiting South Africans at Kanpur, that helped India level the three-Test rubber in April.
This, however, was followed by his poor run in Sri Lanka, where his best score was 35 in six innings.
Ganguly is among the few Indians who have played over 100 Tests but has a poor record against Australia, especially at home, where he averages only 27.35 in nine matches, with a best innings of 66.

'The Wall' erected to honour Dravid

When you walk into the M Chinnaswamy Stadium next time, a major landmark of Bangalore, you will certainly not miss 'The Wall'.
Made of 10,000 bricks, this 27 feet high and 15 feet wide structure, erected just a few steps into the stadium, is a unique tribute to home-born cricketer Rahul Dravid , who made it big in world cricket.
The structure was unveiled on Monday by master batsman Sachin Tendulkar at a brief ceremony in Bangalore.
But why 10,000 blocks?
Simple. The number represents Dravid's 10,000-plus runs in both Test matches and one-dayers.
The highlight of the structure is a large metal statue of Dravid playing his trademark cover-drive. There is a live electronic unit at the right-hand top corner, which displays Dravid's current score in Test cricket, even as he keeps the scoreboards ticking.
The structure, with the words 'Commitment, Consistency, Class' engraved on it, has been built by the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) along with city-based builder Skyline Group, of which Dravid is the Brand Ambassador.
"I am honoured and humbled by that" is what Dravid had to say.
Among others Test skipper Anil Kumble , former cricketers Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad, E A S Prasanna and B S Chandrasekhar were present on the occasion.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fab four burdened by own expectations: Dhoni

More than the expectations of fans and scrutiny by the experts of the game, Indian cricket's 'Fab Four' are burdened by their own high expectations which puts them under pressure every time they step on the field, feels India one-day skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Asserting that senior batsmen -- Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid -- still have a lot to offer, Dhoni said the quartet deserves a graceful exit as and when they decide to call it a day.
"There is more pressure on them because of their own expectation level and the fear of performance because they have set the benchmark so high that to be there always... there is more pressure that comes from within.
"I don't think you can really write them off, they have plenty in them. But at the same time you have to look into the future. It's all about transition, making a respectful last few years in their international career," Dhoni said.
Dhoni, who has impressed the game experts with his cool head and mindful strategies, also defended seniors place in the Test side.
"Do we have an option? We definitely have players who are talented and can make it big, but at the same time, it's not really about talent, their adaptability and preparation matter," Dhoni told NDTV in an interview.
Speaking about the four-Test series against the Australians, Dhoni said the hosts are well prepared to take on the World champions.
"Preparation wise, I think, we could not have done an inch more than what we have done. It's all about execution of plans and hopefully, the team will adapt and play better cricket," he said.
Dhoni also predicted tough times for the Australians if the pitches for the four-Test series favour spinners.
"If it is a normal Indian wicket that starts to turn may be from the tea session, then it will be tough for them. They will have to apply themselves to get the runs."
Dhoni, however, insists India are not depending on just its spin to trouble Australians and said the hosts have an equally potent pace-attack raring to go.
"It's not that we do not have quality fast bowlers. They have taken up the responsibility, they have pulled up their socks. We have quality spinners as well. We do not need to say anything about Harbhajan Singh or Anil Kumble .
"We are comfortable playing on any surface whether it is a spinner-friendly surface or a seamer-friendly surface," he said.
Dhoni said becoming only the second cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar to receive the country's highest sporting honour -- the Khel Ratna -- is a 'special' feeling but it has also put him under pressure to perform at the same level next year.
"Khel Ratna is very special. That's the biggest sports award that I have got till now and nothing comes next to it. So it's real pleasure to get the Khel Ratna award.
"But the tough part to it, is to play cricket well again in the next year and try to get the award. But at the back of the mind, it's not about getting an award -- it's about playing some good cricket and helping the team to win," he said.

BP XI gains moral victory in drawn match

The domineering Board President's XI punctured Australia's usual aura of invincibility in the drawn warm-up match, exposing numerous chinks in the visitors' armour ahead of the four-match cricket Test series.
Yuvraj Singh (113) lit up the morning session with his batting pyrotechnics, while Wasim Jaffer (93) was distinctly unlucky to miss his ton as Board President's XI declared their second essay at 292 for four, some 47 minutes after lunch.
Chasing an improbable target of 434, Australia finished at 127 for two wickets in 38 overs, with a serious question mark against their perceived invulnerability.
Ricky Ponting (58 not out) and Michael Clarke (36 not out) did get some runs under the belt and Australia certainly did a better job in their second innings but they were not convincing against the spinners, something that might hurt them in the Test series.
Ponting signalled his positive intent with three successive fours off Manpreet Gony but Chawla would often tease and torment him with his bag of tricks.

Among his teammates, Simon Katich (5) came a cropper again, while Matthew Hayden (14), returning from Achilles injury, could not dust the rust.
Meanwhile, both individually and collectively, the local outfit achieved what they came for. Their spinners mauled the Aussies, sowing the seed of doubt in their mind, ensuring they go into the series with lot of pressure on their shoulder.
The Board President's XI batsmen also exposed what Australia tried to hide that they are not the same bowling force in absence of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.
The final day's play didn't see any change in the script and after Piyush Chawla and Pragyan Ojha had exposed Australia's laden-footed top order's frailties against anything that turns, Yuvraj and Jaffer took the onus on themselves to prove that their attack lacked venom.
Barring Stuart Clark, the Australian bowlers cut a sorry figure as Yuvraj and Jaffer added 200 runs in 44.3 overs, their free-scoring rate revealing the respect -- rather lack of it -- they had for the bowlers.
Off-spinner Jason Krejza copped it most and Yuvraj was simply merciless against the rookie off-spinner, milking 47 runs off his 26 balls that also included some morale-shattering hits over the ropes.
Resuming on 110 for two, Yuvraj smote Krejza for a massive six to bring up his fifty and unleashed him on both the offie and Michael Clarke whose left-arm spin proved equally ineffective.
With Yuvraj on song, it rained sixes and fours as the left-hander overtook Jaffer and his century came in when he hoicked Clarke over deep mid-wicket.
Yuvraj soon fell to Clark but the damage was done by then and the left-hander had plundered 113 runs that came off 143 balls and was studded with seven boundaries and as many sixes.

Jaffer, at the other end, remained his usual self, poised and confident. Occasionally, Yuvraj's aggression rubbed off in him as well and the Mumbaikar reverse swept Krejza and also stepped out to find the fence on a couple of occasions.
Seven runs from a well-deserved ton, Jaffer fell to Clarke, rapped in front of the wicket and that was the end of his 159-ball vigil, during which he hit 12 boundaries.
First innings centurions Rohit Sharma (29) and Virat Kohli (16) showed the same nonchalance and looked in punishing mood when declaration was announced.

Team up to Kumble-Bhajji challenge, says Ponting

It is obvious that the Australians are helpless against spin bowling, but skipper Ricky Ponting refuses to panic. In fact, he asserts that his team is up to the challenge of facing Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh in the upcoming Test series.
Nine Australian batsmen surrendered to either Piyush Chawla , Pragyan Ojha or Yuvraj Singh in the first innings of the warm-up match in Hyderabad. In the second, only two wickets fell and that included Matthew Hayden -- perceived as one of the better players against spin bowling -- who was trapped by Chawla.
Ponting said it is not a case of surrendering before the opponent's spin might.
"When spinners bowl 75 per cent of the total overs, chances are more that you would lose wickets to them," he said, as matter of fact.
"No doubt they (Chawla and Ojha) bowled well and we disappointed in the first innings. But I think it was a good opportunity for all players to get some good practice (against spin bowling) before we reach Bangalore (for the first Test)," Ponting explained.
"Not everyone can be among runs in every game," he added.
Ponting, however, admitted that facing Kumble and Harbhajan would be the real challenge for the batsmen.
"Look both Kumble and Harbhajan are world class spinners, especially Kumble. He has been around for quite a long time and that's talking about the challenge that lies ahead. We have to play well against these guys," he said.
Australia's thin spin resource was also exposed in the four-day warm-up match, with lone specialist spinner Jason Krejza taking quite a battering, especially by Yuvraj.
Ponting, however, sees it as the learning curve for the rookie offie.
"I think he started well, used angles and tried things. But Yuvraj was very aggressive this morning and was in a hurry top pile up before declaring.
"Anyway, it's all part of learning. He is young, has the skill and talent. He would have to work hard on field placement and other things. He did not have much exposure as well," Ponting said in defence of the youngster.
With Victorian all-rounder Cameron White set to join the team in Bangalore as replacement for injured spinner Bryce McGain, the Australian skipper believes it would lend balance to the side.
"He's an all-rounder who can come as a batter as well. He has toured with Australia A and have done well on ODIs. McGain's return is definitely a setback for the team but I think it's also an opportunity for these guys (White and Krejza) to put their hands up and be counted," Ponting said


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