Monday, April 20, 2009

RP Singh fires Deccan to easy victory

Rudra Pratap Singh took four for 22 as Deccan Chargers crushed Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in the fourth match of the Indian Premier League in Cape Town, on Sunday.
Singh took full advantage of the bowler-friendly conditions at Newlands to help bowl out Kolkata for a lowly 101 in 19.4 overs. In reply, Gibbs top-scored with 43 from 26 deliveries and Rohit Sharma smashed 36 not out as Deccan cruised to the victory target in just 13.2 overs.
The two batsmen were involved in an unbroken stand of 69 for the third wicket as Deccan looked in complete control despite losing two early wickets. Adam Gilchrist fell for 13 when he was caught attempting a pull shot off Ashok Dinda, while VVS Laxman was run out for 10.
Earlier, Brendon McCullum's debut as Kolkata Knight Riders captain got off to the worst possible start as his batsmen came undone on a pitch that offered the bowlers some assistance.
Electing to bat, Kolkata were made to rue their decision as captain McCullum was caught down the leg side off RP Singh for 1 as early as the second over of the innings.
Chris Gayle got Kolkata's first boundary and his first runs after facing 12 deliveries when he hit Singh through the off-side in the fourth over followed by a huge six over midwicket.
But Singh has his revenge off the very next delivery as Gayle tried a similar shot but got a leading edge which was caught by Harmeet Singh at long off for 10.
21-year-old Punjab fast bowler Harmeet then ended Sourav Ganguly's misery when he got him caught behind for 1, that took him 12 deliveries.
West Indies pacer Fidel Edwards was virtually unplayable in his first spell as he resorted to fast short deliveries directed at the batsmen's body. His first spell of three overs went for just three overs and included a maiden.
The first ten overs saw Kolkata hit just three boundaries and a six as they crawled to 31 for 3 before Pragyan Ojha compounded their woes further.
Ojha deceived Akash Chopra (11) and Laxmi Ratan Shukla (8) with flighted deliveries to have them stumped leaving Kolkata reeling at 48 for five in the 13th over.
Australian Brad Hodge top-scored with 31 (4 boundaries) before Herschelle Gibbs pulled of a brilliant catch at backward point off Scott Styris. The Kiwi all-rounder then bagged his second wicket of the over when Rohit Sharma pulled off a low catch at cover to send back Moises Henriques for 6.
Rohit then produced another piece of magic on the field when he produced a full length dive at cover and ran out Ajit Agarkar (7) with a direct hit at the non-strikers end.
Singh polished off the tail by claiming the wickets of Ishant Sharma (9) and Ashok Dinda (2) in the final over to bowl out Kolkata for 101 in 19.4 overs.
The left-arm pacer was the top performer for Deccan with the ball as he claimed four for 22 in 3.4 overs. Edwards bowled his four overs, giving away six runs, including two maidens. Ojha (2 for 14) and Stryis (2 for 32) also made vital contributions, while Harmeet also gave excellent support with one for 23 in four overs.
Deccan Chargers captain Gilchrist tried to take on the bowlers despite the low target but made only 13 before he holed out against Ashok Dinda. The former Aussie wicketkeeper, who was dropped on 9, attempted a pull shot but didn't get it off the middle offering the square leg fielder a simple catch.
VVS Laxman got off the mark with a huge six over square leg off Ishant Sharma in the fourth over. However, he lost his wicket for 10 to an unnecessary run out after a misunderstanding with Herschelle Gibbs.
Kolkata were trying to keep Gibbs and Rohit Sharma quiet with some tight bowling but Ajit Agarkar gave it all away with 17 runs in his first over. Rohit Sharma took a fancy to his Mumbai team mate Ajit Agarkar as he smashed him for a straight six followed by two boundaries as Deccan reached 69 for two in 10 overs.
Both Gibbs and Sharma never seemed in any trouble and took on the bowlers at will. Gibbs launched Gayle for a big six over midwicket to bring up the 50-run partnership as Deccan made a rush for the target towards the end.
While Ojha cast a web around the Kolkata batsmen with his left-arm spinner, Murali Kartik looked totally ineffective. The introduction of part-timer Chris Gayle made little difference as Gibbs carted him for a six and boundary in his first over.
The South African opener finished off things in style when smashed Henriques over the covers for a boundary. Gibbs finished unbeaten on 43 from 26 deliveries with five boundaries and a six, while Sharma was not out on 36 from 32 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries and two sixes.
The two batsmen were involved in an unbroken stand of 69 runs as Deccan coasted to 104 for two in 13.2 overs to win by eight wickets.
Deccan Chargers finished bottom last season but if they dish out performances like today then one can be sure they can definitely go a long way. Kolkata Knight Riders have a lot of soul searching to do especially with their batting else things won't get easy for McCullum and coach John Buchanan .

Delhi thrash Punjab by 10 wickets

Consider that it takes 20 overs to constitute a game in a conventional ODI interrupted by weather, and the ridiculousness of a shortened Twenty20 game becomes apparent: the rules say five overs is enough to make a game.Judging by the events of the Delhi Daredevils versus Kings XI Punjab game, a far more viable option would be, in the event of rain, to toss for the result.In the event, the game was first reduced to 14 overs a side, and then to 12 following a further rain delay � all this during the first innings. Another rain delay when Delhi began its chase of a less than imposing target shortened the game further, to just six overs for the chasing side � and Delhi openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir needed just 4.5 of those to knock off the 54 runs Duckworth-Lewis had prescribed as their target.Helping Delhi's cause further � not that the likes of Sehwag and Gambhir needed much help against a fairly ordinary attack � was the fact that the boundaries were shortened even further to exclude sections of the outfield that were wet; this meant that the two openers could go across, or over, the ropes with even half-hearted wafts.The result could have been considerably different had Kings XI managed to play the middle part of their innings with the same elan their openers showed. Sehwag used his four faster bowlers, Dirk Nannes, Avishkar Salvi, Pradeep Sangwan and Yo Mahesh, in one-over bursts at the start. None of the quartet managed the right lines and lengths; Kings XI openers Ravi Bopara and Karan Goel powered to 41/0 by the time the four seamers had finished an over each, and to 67/1 when the 'strategy break' was taken after six overs.It was classic power-hitting, with Goel being particularly outstanding, smashing Yo Mahesh for three sixes while Bopara hoisted two off Sangwan. Mahesh made amends of sorts when he kept the last ball of the sixth over full and straight, forcing Goel to miscue a loft over mid off and picking out Daniel Vettori to end an innings of 38/21 that put the wind in Punjab's sails.At the halfway stage, Punjab looked in a commanding position, with a run rate of 11.06 per over � and then the wheels came off. Immediately after the break, Sehwag gave Vettori the ball, and the experienced Kiwi struck with his first ball when a tossed up in-dipper beat Ravi Bopara's (22/16) defensive push and trapped him plumb. On over later, Vettori's tight line and the consequent dip in run rate forced Kumar Sangakkara (8/11) to take chances; the attempt to pull a short, quicker delivery however ended up as a skier that Nannes, at short fine leg, judged to a nicety.With overs running out, Punjab skipper Yuvraj Singh began finding the power and range of his shots, hoisting Nannes for a six over long on off the last ball of the 10th over, and then slog-sweeping Vettori over deep midwicket. A badly judged attempt to steal a single ended Yuvraj's flurry off the very next ball, when keeper Dinesh Karthik's throw to Vettori caught Yuvraj (16/11) well short. Vettori then tossed one up at Mahela Jayawardene (6/6), inviting the lofted shot, but held it back just enough to force the batsman to miscue the hit and hole out to Tillekeratne Dilshan at long on. Vettori's match-turning spell ended with another wicket, off the very next ball, when Piyush Chawla (0/) called for a single that just wasn't there, and was caught a mile short of his crease.Punjab's over progression tells a story: 67/1 after 6; 68/2 in 7; 78/3 in 9; 98/6 in 11. Irfan Pathan (6/7) managed a couple of braces off the last over, but holed out to Dilshan off Salvi to end Punjab's allotted 12 overs on 104/7 � an asking rate of 8.7 that by T20 standards was a walk in the park. Sehwag's seamers had let him down, being collectively guilty of being too short too often especially in the early overs when the fuller length could have produced swing and seam, but Vettori's 3/15 in 3 overs (the maximum any one bowler could bowl per the rules for the shortened game) turned the game on its head.Punjab tried to make something of it, with Kumar Sangakkarra standing up to the wicket for the very first over, from Pathan � a ploy to stop Gambhir from walking down the wicket in his patented fashion. The ploy worked for three deliveries, one of them a wide, when Pathan pitched it up and got the ball to swerve. The next ball was short, Gambhir got under it and elevated it over cover for four, and from that point on there was only one side in the game.Gambhir ended the over with a chipped four over midwicket; Sehwag began the next one, by Yusuf Abdullah, with a flicked six over backward square leg followed by a crashing drive through mid on and a trademark slash over point for boundaries. The rains came down again; when the umpires deemed that play was fit to resume, the game had been further reduced to a total of 6 overs for the chasing team, with Duckworth-Lewis decreeing 54 as the target. Yuvraj tried Vikramjeet Malik for the first over after resumption, Sehwag responded by smashing a six and a four, and completed the formality by hoisting Piyush Chawla high into the stands over long on to seal the win and secure maximum points for his side.Gautam Gambhir gave Delhi an ideal start by driving Irfan Pathan over cover and flicking through midwicket for boundaries. Thereafter, however, it was all Sehwag. He flicked his first ball, from Yusuf Abdulla, over fine leg for six and lofted his second to the long-on boundary. The drizzle that had been around from the half-way point of Punjab's innings grew stronger and forced the players off with Delhi on 24 for 0 after 1.5 overs. When play resumed, Delhi needed only 31 more off 25 balls. Sehwag (38 not out/16) drove the first ball after the resumption firmly to the long-off boundary and effectively ended any slim hopes of a Punjab victory.'I told Gautam (Gambir, 15 not out from 13) to bat out the overs and I'll go after the bowling,' Sehwag said after the match in his characteristic style. More telling was Vettori's comment: 'It is nice to have Sehwag and Gambhir on the same side, after bowling to them in the recent series.' Both teams have problems with the bowling: Delhi's quartet of seamers appeared fairly ordinary, and pitched short too often for comfort; Punjab's four pacers seemed lacklustre even granting they didn't get to bowl more than an over apiece. The two strong batting sides, thus, have to work on their ground game as the competition hots up.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tendulkar dedicates 42nd ton to tiger conservation

Sachin Tendulkar dedicated his 42nd Test hundred, which put India in command against New Zealand in the first Test, to the cause of tiger conservation.
"I would very much like to dedicate this hundred to tiger conservation, because that is what, right from the start of this tour, the whole team had decided. I have given couple of messages as well in this regard. So I would dedicate this one to tiger conservation," said Tendulkar, who scored a sublime 160 in India's first innings total of 520 at the Seddon Park on Friday.
On the eve of the first Test, Tendulkar had supported the cause, expressing concern about the dwindling numbers of tigers in India.
"At the start of the century, there were nearly 40,000 tigers in India. Today that number has shrunk to 1,700 and we are losing at least one tiger a month. The rate at which the tiger is being hunted down is alarming," Tendulkar had said.
Concerned about the steep fall in tiger numbers, he said, "When I was growing up, I was told there was an animal called a dinosaur. Tomorrow, we would probably be talking about the tiger in a similar way to our future generations. Something needs to be done soon to stop the tiger from vanishing from our forests."
Tendulkar, who holds the record for the most number of centuries scored by a batsman in Tests (42) and one-day internationals (43), said, "Though I am no expert in this field, I feel the tiger should be allowed to live without disturbance in the forests. As we have our own homes and territories, the tiger has its territory. We should not disturb its habitat. That would be the best way to ensure that this magnificent survives in our forests."
Interestingly, the entire Indian team has come out in support of the tiger, which is being driven to extinction. A banner 'Extinction is Forever' has been displayed at the team marquee.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pathan brothers lead India to win

World champions India relied on a late blitzkrieg by Pathan brothers Yusuf and Irfan to snatch a thrilling three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the one-off Twenty20 International in Colombo on Tuesday night.
Chasing a stiff target of 172, Irfan (33 not out) and Yusuf (22 not out) scored 59 runs from 25 balls in the tense final moments to steer India home in a pulsating floodlit contest at the Premadasa Stadium.
Suresh Raina (35) and Yuvraj Singh (32) were the other notable performers for the visitors as India capped their brief tour of Sri Lanka with a stunning victory in the Twenty20 game in addition to their 4-1 ODI series triumph.
Earlier, captain Tillekaratne Dilshan led from the front, smashing his maiden half century to guide Sri Lanka to a competitive 171 for four.
Electing to bat at the Premadasa Stadium here, Sri Lanka made a rollicking start with openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakeratne Dilshan scoring more than 10 runs per over in the first five overs.
But once Jayasuriya was out for 33 in the sixth over off Irfan Pathan , Sri Lankan wickets fell at regular intervals and some intelligent bowling by the Indians saw the home team slowing down the pace to just cross the 170-run mark.
Captain Dilshan (61) survived a close call in the very first ball of the innings off Zaheer Khan and five deliveries later he was dropped by Irfan when on zero.
Ishant Sharma was shown scant respect by Jayasuriya who hit the young fast bowler for one four and two huge sixes to take 18 runs in the fourth over.
The young Delhi fast bowler conceded 26 runs from his first two overs and was replaced by Irfan.
Sri Lanka were on the top after reaching their fifty in the fifth over with Jayasuriya being the main contributor before the Indians applied the brakes.

India has edge over depleted Lanka

On a high after demolishing Sri Lanka 4-1 in the just-concluded ODI series, world champions India will have a distinct edge over the depleted hosts when the sides lock horn in the first Twenty20 international on Lankan soil.
Sri Lanka will hope to carry forward some of the confidence regained after winning the fifth and final match but Sunday's defeat was just a blip on the Indian team's radar after Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men dictated terms for the most part of the series.
With Sri Lanka deciding to rest key players, including regular captain Mahela Jayawardene , deputy Kumar Sangakkara and the spin twins of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis , Tillakaratne Dilshan will have an unenviable task at hand when he walks out for the toss on Tuesday.
Having achieved the primary target of clinching the ODI series, the Indian team would be in a relaxed state of mind and Tuesday's match would be an ideal opportunity for the stroke players to light up the stadium with batting pyrotechnics.
A victim of serial umpiring blunders, Sachin Tendulkar has already returned home but going by the kind of form Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are in, the Lankans bowlers will have tough time taming the Delhi duo.
Containing someone like Yuvraj Singh is no mean task either, as the Lankan bowlers realised on Sunday.
Arguably the cleanest striker of the ball, Yuvraj simply relishes this format and once he keeps going, he can win the match on his own.
Not that Dhoni himself is a dud with the bat.
Even though the Indian captain has evolved his batting and moulded himself as a finisher, he remains essentially a swashbuckler who prefers to deal in fours and sixes.
The likes of Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma can improvise at will, while Yusuf Pathan's six-hitting ability is beyond any doubt.
Even though the Indian team does not have Harbhajan Singh in its ranks and Zaheer Khan is likely to be rested, the bowling unit is quite effective.
Ishant Sharma has proved time and again that his mastery of the craft is enough to trouble the best of the batsmen, while Praveen Kumar too is eager to prove his worth.
No more an automatic choice in the ODI squad, Irfan Pathan too would not be low on motivation, while comeback man L Balaji , if given a chance, would be eager to prove that he can more than make up for his lack of pace with guile and variation. In contrast, the new look Sri Lankan squad under Dilshan would have their task cut out against India.
The absence of Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Nuwan Kulasekara , Muralitharan and Mendis does provide the fringe players an opportunity to impress the selectors but at the same time, it also renders the side low on experience.
Lasith Malinga returns to the Twenty20 side after a knee injury kept him out of action for nearly a year and the maverick pacer would have to prove that he has not gathered rust all these months.
The side also includes 35-year-old Indika de Saram, who would be standing behind the stumps.
India: M S Dhoni (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma and L Balaji.
Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan (captain), Sanath Jayasuriya , Jehan Mubarak, Chamara Kapugedera , Chamara Silva, Indika de Saram, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Farveez Maharoof, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Malinga Bandara, Jeevantha Kulatunga, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Mahela Udawatte, Thilan Thushara.