Tendulkar zooms to ICC ODI third spot after historic innings

26 February 2010

DUBAI: Sachin Tendulkar on Thursday jumped three places to third in the ICC ODI batsmen rankings after his record-breaking double-century against South Africa while India are almost assured of $75,000 for ending the calendar year at number two position in the championship table.

Tendulkar (766 points), who returned undefeated on 200 in his 442nd appearance at Gwalior on Wednesday, now trails second-placed Mike Hussey (809) of Australia by 43 points with Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (827) strengthening his position at the top of the rankings after hitting a 35-ball 68 not out against South Africa in the second ODI.

It is Tendulkar's highest ranking in two years after he had reached second position following an unbeaten 117 against Australia in Sydney.

While Tendulkar has vaulted into third position, fellow opener Virender Sehwag has dropped one place to 10th position.

After missing a few matches, Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir also slipped one and two places respectively to be at 13th and 21st. A player loses one per cent of his ratings points for every match missed.

In the bowlers list headed by New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori, Harbhajan Singh is the only Indian at top 20 and the off-spinner retained his place at fifth.

In the Reliance Mobile ICC ODI Championship, India has all but cemented second position after taking an unassailable 2-0 lead against South Africa. It is now on 123 ratings points while South Africa has slipped to 115 ratings points.

The only way India can finish third at the annual cut-off date of 1 April is if it loses Saturday's match and New Zealand makes a clean sweep of the five-ODI series against Australia starting in Napier on March 3, which is highly unlikely.

In that scenario, New Zealand will jump to 123 ratings points while India will finish on 122 ratings points.

On the other side of the coin, if India wins on Saturday then irrespective of how New Zealand and Australia series pans out, India will finish second on 124 ratings points.

Australia has already sealed the number-one position with 134 ratings points and can only drop to as low as 128 ratings points if it loses all the five ODI against New Zealand.

Depleted India seek series sweep at Motera

AHMEDABAD: The series as well as the number two spot in ICC rankings in their grasp, India would aim for a rare clean sweep while South Africa have nothing but pride to play for in their third and final One-dayer on Saturday.

The home team will be without more than half a dozen key players in the dead rubber, some missing from action from the start of the series and others -- including champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar -- skipping the tie.

Tendulkar, in particular, will be missed after his awe-inspiring and phenomenal knock of 200 not out at Gwalior that shattered the Proteas dreams of winning a One-day series in India for the first time ever.

The batting great has obtained a break to recharge his batteries for the upcoming Indian Premier League after becoming the first player in the nearly four-decade-old One-day game to make a double ton at the international level with his unbeaten innings which came off just 147 balls.

Tendulkar's absence, the back problem to Virender Sehwag and the wrist injury to Gautam Gambhir, have necessitated the inclusion of the uncapped Murali Vijay of Tamil Nadu to open the batting with his state-mate Dinesh Karthik.

Vijay, who has played four Tests in his fledgling career, thus gets a chance to show his worth in the 50-over format of the game by default at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium in Motera.

The South African pace bowlers, especially Dale Steyn, who troubled Vijay in the Test series held earlier, would fancy their chance of making early inroads in the Indian line-up after the mauling they received from Tendulkar in the second match.

Karthik, who has opened in Tests, is going into the match with his confidence boosted with productive stints in the first two games, especially at Gwalior where he made 79 and got involved in a near-double century second wicket stand with Tendulkar.

The Indian middle order, in the absence of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, is full of pep and vigour but is vastly inexperienced compared to the regular one and the Proteas could not get a better opportunity to scythe through it.

Youngsters Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, and Ravindra Jadeja have been entrusted with the responsibility to shore up the middle with in-form skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan.

The Indian bowling too is depleted in the absence of not only Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, but also Praveen Kumar who is reportedly out because of a hamstring injury.

The team will also miss Sehwag as the extra slow bowling option to support Jadeja and Pathan, brightening the chances of either leg spinner Amit Mishra or uncapped off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin getting a look-in.

An enormous burden has been placed on Ashish Nehra and the inconsistent S Sreesanth to deliver the goods in the early overs and at death.

They are expected to have the backup of either Sudeep Tyagi, who has been traveling with the team without getting many chances to play, or Karnataka's young talent Abhimanyu Mithun.

While India have some deep holes to fill in their line up, the visitors have to show their ability to bounce back from the dead after the thrashing they received at Gwalior.

The Proteas batting has not fired in the two matches with skipper Jacques Kallis at Jaipur and A B de Villiers in Gwalior being the top scorers without getting much support from the rest.

Much was expected from Herschelle Gibbs at the top because of his familiarity with Indian pitches and conditions but his bat failed to boom in the first two ties and the visitors would be looking forward to a solid innings from this veteran.

Jean Paul Duminy has been the biggest flop on the entire tour with a string of one-digit scores to his credit that has weakened the middle order considerably. A final fling from this talented player would help the Proteas' bid for a consolation victory.

Duminy's off spin too has been pedestrian and this has added to the bowling woes of the South African team in containing the home team batsmen.

The absence of big guns Tendulkar and Sehwag must be a huge relief for pace spearheads Steyn and Wayne Parnell, especially the latter who did not have a clue about stopping the master batsman from executing his shots at will in the Gwalior tie.

The duo would certainly fancy its chances here with a new Indian opening pair taking strike.

India have a mixed bag of results at this ground, having won five and lost six - including the last three - of their encounters.

The home team's last victory came more than seven years ago, in November 2002 against the West Indies.

Curator Dhiraj Parsana has predicted that the wicket would not be a batting paradise like the ones at Jaipur and Gwalior and a score of 260-plus would be a good one to defend.

He also stated that dew fall has been quite heavy which could affect the team bowling second, but added that measures like sprinkling of chemicals on the outfield and usage of ropes to take away the moisture would be tried to reduce the impact.

Teams (from):

India: MS Dhoni (Capt.), M Vijay, Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Sudeep Tyagi, S Sreesanth, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Abhimanyu Mithun and Ashish Nehra.

South Africa: Jacques Kallis (Capt.), Loots Bosman, Johan Botha, Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, A B de Villiers, J P Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Charl Langeveldt, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Petersen, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Roelof van der Merwe.

Sachin Tendulkar should get Bharat Ratna: Kapil, Wadekar

NEW DELHI: Describing Sachin Tendukar as 'Kohinoor' of cricket, former captains Kapil Dev and Ajit Wadekar on Friday said the milestone man should be conferred Bharat Ratna - India's highest civilian award.

The record of highest International runs (31,041) and centuries (93) already by his name, Tendulkar on Wednesday became the first cricketer in the history of One-day cricket to score a double hundred in Gwalior.

"Sachin is the Kohinoor diamond of the game of cricket. This cricketer has unmatched talent and you can't find another Tendulkar ever. I think, he should have got the Bharat Ratna," Wadekar said.

India's only World Cup winning captain Kapil also supported Wadekar's view and said Tendulkar very much deserves the honour.

"Sachin has touched several milestones during his 20-year career in the international cricket. He certainly deserves the Bharat Ratna. We will be very happy if he gets the highest honour of the country," Kail said.

Kapil, though, said his views would be the same even if Tendulkar had not achieved the rare feat of scoring an ODI double hundred.

"Even if Sachin would have got a duck in this innings, still I would say that he deserves the honour. No decision should be taken on the basis of performance in one match, but I am keeping in mind his overall contribution," he added.

Another former captain and former selection committee chairman Dilip Vengsarkar echoed the same sentiment.

"If any player deserves the Bharat Ratna, it must be Tendulkar. He must get the award," he said.

Wadekar also hoped that Tendulkar would continue to play even after the 2011 World Cup, to be co-hosted by India Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"Sachin has proved with his fielding how fit still he is. I think, he can play for at least two more years after the World Cup next year."

Wadekar, who has also worked with Tendulkar as coach of the national team, supported the view of former England captain Nasser Hussain that Tendulkar was better than even Don Bradman, the iconic Australian batsman.

"I don't think any batsman can be better than Tendulkar, not even Bradman. Sachin has succeeded in all the three forms of cricket - Test, one-dayer and Twenty20," Wadekar said.

New Zealand, Australia chase history in Champions Trophy final

04 October 2009

Defending Australia will look to make it two in a row when they take on underdogs New Zealand in the Champions Trophy final here Monday.
New Zealand shocked everyone when they beat a strong Pakistan side by five wickets in Saturday’s semi-final. No one expected them to cross the league stage, after their five-wicket loss to South Africa in the first round. But the Black Caps went on to top their group by beating Sri Lanka and England in the next two matches.

New Zealand will now be gunning to become the first side to win the tournament twice, having won the 2000 edition, which was known as the ICC Knockout Tournament, in Kenya.

Australia, on the other hand, have not lost a match in the tournament and will become the first country to defend the Champions Trophy if they win Monday at the SuperSport Park.

They were clinical in defeating England in the semi-final and will be the favoured side to win the final contest. They will be fresh and raring to go after a two-day break, having played the first semi-final Friday.

New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori said hjis side would have liked to have a day’s rest, but insists the thrilling win against Pakistan has fired up his men.

“I wish we had another day before the final, to be honest,” Vettori said. “It was exhausting to get through the late game, but I think once Monday turns up the adrenalin will take over and everyone will be pretty excited about playing in a final.”

“I think you probably have achieved what you set out to achieve. But once you reach that level, you realise there is an immense desire to go all the way and I think there’s no relief in the camp,” he said.

Ponting says their side will have to be at their best against the Black Caps.

“The Kiwis have probably upset a few along the way,” said Ponting. “We know they are always a competitive team and few gave them a chance against Pakistan but they were obviously the better team.”

“It’s the first time in a few years we have not been ranked the number one team coming into a tournament like this. But we are happy with the way we have played one-day cricket over the last three to four weeks,” he said.

Final ODI called off, India win series 2-1

05 July 2009

St Kitts:India made amends for their World Twenty20 debacle, winning the one-day international series against West Indies 2-1 after torrential rains washed out the fourth and final ODI at the Beausejour Stadium here on Sunday.

The match started an hour late following heavy rains just after India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to field, forcing the umpires to reduce it to a 49-over-a-side affair.

West Indies were 27 for one when rain interrupted play for the second time after they had lost the crucial wicket of skipper Chris Gayle for a duck.

Runako Morton (12 not out) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (12 not out) were at the crease when play was called off.

With this victory, India registered only their second bilateral series triumph in the Caribbean. Last time they won a series in West Indies was in 2002 under Sourav Ganguly's captaincy.

India had earlier won the first match of the series by 20 runs, while West Indies cameback strongly in the second, hammering the Dhoni-led side by eight wickets.

However riding on Dhoni's brilliance, India took the unassailable 2-1 lead, winning the third ODI by six wickets with a ball to spare.

Electing to field, Ishant Sharma gave India the dream start, picking up the vital wicket of Gayle in the second ball of the innings, caught behind by Dhoni with the hosts failing to open their account.

From there on, the West Indian batsmen found runs hard to come by against the accurate bowling of Ishant and Ashish Nehra. The hosts' struggle can be gauged from the fact they failed to struck a single boundary in the 7.4 overs they faced.

Yousuf guides Pakistan to 50-run lead against Lanka

GALLE: Mohammad Yousuf hit a fluent century on his return to big-time cricket to put Pakistan ahead in the first Test against Sri Lanka on Sunday.

Yousuf made 112 and Misbah-ul Haq chipped in with 56 as Pakistan, replying to Sri Lanka's 292, recovered from 80-4 to post 342 in their first innings on the second day at the Galle International Stadium.

Sri Lanka, trailing by 50 runs, failed to score from the one over bowled by Mohammad Aamer in their second knock before stumps were drawn for the day.

Pakistan's lead left the match evenly poised on a wicket that appeared to have eased out after helping the seamers with bounce and movement on the first day.

Yousuf, who turns 35 next month, was playing his first Test match since December 2007 after being banned by the Pakistan board for his involvement with the unauthorised Indian Cricket League.

But the prolific right-hander was rehabilitated with a call-up for the current tour after breaking links with the rebel body and repaid the selectors' faith with his 24th Test century.

The bearded 80-Test veteran hit 11 boundaries en route to his first Test hundred against Sri Lanka when he was run out in the final session attempting a cheeky single.

Sri Lanka were convinced Yousuf should have departed on 57 when he edged left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and the ball carried off the batsman's bat and pad to makeshift wicket-keeper Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Television replays showed Yousuf was out but Australian umpire Daryl Harper turned down the confident appeal from the bowler and close-in fielders.

Pakistan, who began the day at 15-2, lost two quick wickets before Yousuf and Misbah resurrected the innings by adding 139 for the fifth wicket.

When Misbah fell shortly before tea, caught in the slips off Herath, former captain Shoaib Malik (38) helped Yousuf put on 75 for the sixth wicket.

Kamran Akmal hit 31, but Pakistan lost their last five wickets for 48 runs.

Seamer Nuwan Kulasekera finished with 4-71, but mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis went wicketless from 25 overs in which he conceded 89 runs.

Abdur Rauf, who took two wickets on his Test debut on Saturday, proved his batting worth as a nightwatchman by scoring 31 of Pakistan's first 40 runs in the morning session.

Rauf put on 50 for the third wicket with skipper Younus Khan when he fell to Kulasekera, caught by Dilshan just before the drinks break.

Dilshan was forced to don the gloves because first choice Prasanna Jayawardene was unavailable due to injury and skipper Kumar Sangakkara, the One-day 'keeper, preferred to guide the bowlers from the outfield.

Dilshan took his second catch four overs later when debutant Angelo Mathews struck in his first over to remove a tentative Younus for 25.

The three-match series is the first between the two nations since armed gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in the Pakistani city of Lahore on March 3 while the squad was en route to resume a Test match.

The attack injured seven Sri Lankan players and killed eight local security men.

The two teams recently contested the World Twenty20 final in England where Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by eight wickets.

Bodyline, the series that rocked cricket

SYDNEY: There have been plenty of flashpoints in cricket in the more than 75 years since an England team led by Douglas Jardine and under the auspices of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), arrived in Australia.

Even so, few have been as controversial as the 1932/33 Bodyline series where Jardine's despised tactics not only threatened the future of Test cricket but undermined the bonds of the British Empire.

Jardine, a cold, calculating product of Winchester and Oxford, devised a strategy of dangerously short-pitched bowling using his two fast bowlers, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, to combat Don Bradman, Australia's sporting hero of the Depression-ravaged times.

"The Don" had been rewriting cricket's record books since his Test debut in 1928 and when the Australians won the five-Test series 2-1 in England in 1930, Bradman amassed 974 runs at a batting average of 139.14, an aggregate record that stands to this day.

Jardine's theory of directing his bowlers to bowl at leg stump and make the ball rear into the batsman's body became known as "Bodyline.'

When Jardine was appointed England captain for the Australian tour, one of his former Winchester schoolmasters, Rockley Wilson, is said to have warned he might win the Ashes but he would lose a dominion in the process.

Passions became so inflamed that during the third Test at the Adelaide Oval in January 1933, seething spectators threatened to jump the fence as anti-English feelings soared.

Bill Woodfull, Australia's gentlemanly captain, was twice struck by bumpers and wicket-keeper Bert Oldfield edged a ferocious delivery from Larwood on to his temple, collapsed beside the pitch and was carried from the field unconscious.

It produced one of the immortal quotes in Test cricket when Woodfull told the English management: "There are two teams out there, and only one of them is playing cricket."

Behind the scenes there were frantic political negotiations to save the tour and restore frayed diplomatic relations between Britain and Australia.

The British coalition government's Dominion Secretary JH Thomas later described Bodyline as the most troublesome affair of his ministerial career.

England's emphatic 4-1 series victory brought both opprobrium and praise for Jardine.

The campaign curbed Bradman's batting average to 56.57. He scored just one century in his four Tests with a series aggregate of 396 runs.

Without the Bodyline series, Bradman would have finished his career with a Test average of 104.76 instead of 99.94.

Larwood, the former Nottinghamshire coalminer, claimed a series-high 33 wickets at 19.51 but events soured him. The 28-year-old paceman never played for England again.

Larwood later migrated to Australia with his wife Lois, and his five daughters and lived in Sydney until his death in 1995, at the age of 90.

Jack Fingleton, who played in three of the Bodyline Tests, echoed the feelings of others in the Australian team when he later wrote: "I do not think there was one single batsman who played in most of those Bodyline games who ever afterwards recaptured his love for cricket."

It says much for the series that Bodyline remains the only chapter in cricket's history that film-makers have thought worth dramatising, with a television mini-series first broadcast in Australia in 1984.

Jardine resigned as England captain before Australia's 1934 Ashes tour and retired from first-class cricket aged 33.

That same year MCC outlawed systematic bowling of fast and short-pitched balls at batsmen standing clear of their wicket.

Bradman, once lauded as the greatest living Australian, died in Adelaide on February 25 2001 aged 92, while Jardine died from lung cancer aged 57, in Montreux, Switzerland, in June 1958.

Captaincy is like facing an oncoming train: Pietersen

04 July 2009

London: Captaincy had bogged down fiery English batsman Kevin Pietersen to such an extent that he now equates the job to facing an oncoming train and says it gets worse when the team performs badly.

"All day every day, it's like facing an oncoming train.It absolutely hammers you," Pietersen told The Daily Telegraph.

"Then if you're not playing well, like we weren't in India, it's just negative press conference after negative press conference and eventually it affects the way you play.It just weighs you down," he added.

Pietersen's was a controversy-ridden stint during which he had a public spat with coach Peter Moores before both were asked to step down.

Looking back, the South African-born batsman said he wasn't as politically correct as was required of him.

"The fact is, some guys obviously do it better than others. Some guys are more politically correct than others.For me it was a great chapter in my life that I enjoyed. But you know, it's a tough, tough job. I promise you now, the moment I became captain, my mobile phone did not stop.

Pietersen said he also got tired of the various off-field duties of a captain which included attending innumerable meetings.

"The stuff you have to sort out for the team, things for the England and Wales Cricket Board, you have functions to go to, you have to pop into a captain's meeting, you have to have the captain's picture taken with the trophies before a match," he said.

Talking about next week's Ashes, Pietersen said the bigger the stage, the better geared up he is to perform.

"The bigger the occasion, the greater the pressure, the more I love it," he said.

"I'm not worried. No way. I can't wait. Bring it on. It's going to be huge. And that's what I love."

Pietersen said he has realised the importance of being part of the national team and would do all he can to remain in the side.

"I'd carry the water for England. We're in such a privileged position to play international sport that for us to go negative is ridiculous.

"I made some comments three years ago about being tired and wanting a break, and I regret that now, it was silly. I put my head down after that. I made the decision to play as hard as I can for as long as I can. Just live the dream."

Pakistan likely to recall Asif for Champions Trophy

Karachi : Pakistan is seriously considering recalling Mohammad Asif in the 30-member preliminary squad for this September's ICC Champions Trophy after the International Cricket Council (ICC) said it would not raise any objection against the pacer's inclusion once he completes his doping ban.

An ICC spokesman has said that once Asif completes his one-year ban on Sep 22 this year, he will be eligible to take part in any international event including the ICC Champions Trophy to be held in South Africa. The biennial tournament is scheduled to get underway Sep 24.

A senior Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official said that the board is seriously considering the idea of clearing Asif for the 30-man provisional squad for the Champions Trophy. Pakistan is planning to announce the preliminary squad on July 23.

Saleem Altaf, PCB's chief operating officer, said the board will soon take a decision about Asif's inclusion in the national team.

The 26-year-old Asif was banned last year after he tested positive for banned anabolic steroid nandrolone while featuring in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Earlier this week, the decks were cleared for Asif to return to national duty when the PCB fined him Rs.1 million for a 19-day detention in Dubai over possession of a small quantity of opium.

The PCB also announced that the fast bowler will be eligible for national duty after his one-year ban for doping expires.

It was comforting to have Dhoni at the crease: Kirsten

Gros Islet : As nervousness gripped him during India's thrilling chase in the third one-dayer against West Indies, coach Gary Kirsten said he drew comfort from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's presence at the crease.

"Someone like MS Dhoni can hit the ball out of the ground at any time so it was comforting knowing that we had him at the crease controlling the game," said Kirsten.

Man of the match Dhoni, hit an unbeaten 46-run knock to take India through in the rain-truncated third ODI and take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series.

The wicketkeeper batsman hit a six in the last over when the team was needing 11 runs to win.

"He's had a magnificent series and he's played some really good one-day cricket for us. When it comes down to the wire it can go either way, the most important thing is that you have game breakers and match-winners in at that situation," said Kirsten.

Kirsten said the chasing in a rain-truncated match helped India's cause.

"It definitely helps a team batting second in this type of set up. It did suit us to be batting second because you can dictate the game a little better when the overs are shortening in terms of what you need," he said.

"It became a Twenty20 game and you know that when you are chasing more than a run a ball and (the required run rate) is up at eight and nine and you have one bad over, you're behind a little bit," Kirsten added.

The electronic scoreboard on the ground had stopped functioning towards the end of the match but Kirsten said he ensured that the batsmen in the middle were well aware of the target, that was revised twice over.

"It was mind-blowing to be honest, but the umpires were giving them notice every over so they knew what was going on," he said.

"They were fully aware from us what the Duckworth-Lewis totals were so we were pretty much in control of that," he added.