Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cook - My Greatest Ever Innings

England captain Alastair Cook felt he produced his finest ever innings after he top-scored as the hosts beat Sri Lanka by 10 wickets in the fourth one-day international at Trent Bridge.

Cook made 95 off 75 balls to lead his country to victory and his opening partner Craig Kieswetter (71 not out) also weighed in with an impressive total as England reached their revised 171 target with ease and the Essex batsman said he was enjoying his cricket and the captaincy.

"I don't always time the ball as well as that, a couple of innings dont stop criticism and I have to do that over a long period of time. Tough times are good times and when you win you enjoy it," he said. "It was outstanding, we were lucky enough to win the toss; the way we bowled was fantastic and put them under pressure and then knocking them off without losing a wicket was fantastic."

England eased to victory with only a temporary rain delay threatening to stop both Cook and Kieswetter's onslaught, but only two overs were lost to the weather as the hosts kept well ahead of their Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target to level the five-match series at 2-2.

Earlier, James Anderson tore through the Sri Lanka top order, finishing with figures of three for 24 as only Kumar Sangakkara (75) made a score of any note for the visitors and Cook was full of praise for his bowling attack.

He said: "He (Anderson) was outstanding, it didn't move that much. They all bowled well, I was really pleased for (Stuart Broad) to pick up some wickets and Jade (Dernbach) bowled well in the power play."

"We did well and I think at the end we proved it was a good wicket, Craig and I proved it was a very good wicket."

Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan felt their poor start cost them the chance of posting a competitive total but he remained confident his side could win the series at Old Trafford on Saturday.

"I think we have a good chance to win the next match and the series," he said.
"If we had batted all of the overs and past 240 it is a good total, but they ended up chasing a small total under no pressure and could bat freely."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Will Dada have the last laugh against KKR today?

Today will be one of the biggest days in Sourav Ganguly's accomplished career. He has the chance to extract revenge for the snub in this year’s IPL auction and Shah Rukh Khan’s Knight Riders led by Gautam Gambhir better watch out.

Ganguly, who now plays for the Pune Warriors, would do everything to ensure the Kolkata Knight Riders are out of contention for the IPL 4 playoffs when the two teams clash at the DY Patil Stadium on Thursday.

Will the erstwhile Knight Rider be Kolkata’s nemesis?

While Pune are already out of the tournament, their performance on Thursday might turn the tide in favour or against KKR. KKR former skipper Ganguly has had an extremely debatable comeback in the tournament for a Pune Warriors. And Thursday’s clash will be crucial for Dada as he would like to avenge the humiliation at the hands of his previous franchise during the IPL auction.

Ganguly’s late recruitment hardly has had any impact on the IPL, but come Thursday all that might change. He has the chance to make sure that Kolkata Knight Riders don’t make it to the last four for the fourth straight time.

It would be the perfect revenge for Ganguly if he manages to stun Kolkata with his blade, and put them in a tight spot in the race for the last four.

Race to last four heats up

Adam Gilchrist’s hurricane-like show against table toppers Royal Challengers Bangalore has widened the scope of permutation and combination over who makes to playoff in the IPL 4.

While Royal Challengers Bangalore have assured their playoffs/semifinal berth, Chennai with a terrific run-rate need to win just one out of the two games to advance to the next stage.

Similar is the case for hot favorites Mumbai Indians whose victory in any of the remaining two matches will see them through. However, if they lose both the games then their low run-rate might work against them and deny a spot in the last four.

Though it is almost certain that Mumbai Indians and defending Champions Chennai Super Kings will advance to the next round, mystery over the fourth team for the playoffs has deepened further after KXIP’s stunning victory over RCB on Tuesday.

And the biggest tussle remains between KXIP and Kolkata Knight Riders. Gautam Gambhir’s KKR have 14 points, the same as Punjab but with two games in hand they need to win both to avoid a run-rate clash.

Punjab, on the other hand must win their next game against Deccan Chargers and hope that KKR lose at least one game or Mumbai lose both games to sail through.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

DADA joins Pune Warriors

Sourav Ganguly, the former India captain, had been signed by Pune Warriors as a replacement for Ashish Nehra, who was ruled out for the remainder of the 2011 season with a finger injury. Ganguly's contract is for a period of one year and is an IPL lifeline to the batsman after he went unsold at the player auction in January, where his base price was $400,000.

Ganguly will be vice-captain to Yuvraj Singh and is likely to join the Pune squad ahead of their match against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on May 4. 

"We were waiting for Ashish Nehra's fitness report and ultimately the report came yesterday," Abhijit Sarkar, Pune's team director, told PTI. "I was already in talks with Ganguly and we decided that the amount of experience that Ganguly has in cricket will no doubt help the team. So we finalised DADA last night." 

Ganguly played for Kolkata Knight Riders in the first three seasons of the IPL and lead the team in two of them, while Brendon McCullum was captain for the other. Kolkata fared poorly in those years and are the only franchise not to make the semi-finals. Kolkata did not bid for Ganguly in January despite his name coming up for sale twice, as they revamped their squad entirely, and the batsman later refused a mentoring role with the franchise. 

Pune Warriors are bottom of the ten-team league at present, having lost six consecutive matches after winning their first two. Ganguly has an average IPL record - 1031 runs at an average of 28 and strike-rate of 110 - and could strengthen an under-performing and short batting order.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Coaching World champs India a challenge for Fletcher: Eric Simons

India's bowling coach Eric Simons is keenly looking forward to working with Duncan Fletcher and says that for the former Zimbabwe captain, coaching the World champions will be a big challenge for him.

The 49-year-old South African, whose contract was extended by the Indian board on Wednesday, said that he expected Fletcher to bring in fresh ideas like the way he did when he was in charge of the England team. Fletcher coached England for eight years (1999-2007) and also led them to an Ashes victory after 15 years in 2005.

Eric will now be in charge of the Indian team for next month's tour of the West Indies as the 62-year-old Fletcher, now a British citizen, will join the team only after the series due to prior commitments.

"I have never worked with Duncan, so I am looking forward to working with him. I am sure he will bring in some fresh ideas to the team like he did during his English stint. But I think coaching the No.1 team in the world will be a real challenge for Fletcher," said Simons, who was appointed the bowling coach in January 2010.

Simons and his compatriot Gary Kirsten, the former India coach, forged a successful partnership that saw India becoming the No.1 Test team and winning the 2011 World Cup after 28 years. Simmons also played a key role in India's success in South Africa, where they drew the Test series for the first time.

On his extension, Simons said: "I had agreed in principle to continue as the bowling coach. Now that they have accept to give me an extension, I have to sit down with them and discuss the nature of the contract and the tenure."

Simons admitted that looking at India's stature in world cricket, his job will only get tougher.

"These are exciting and tough times for me. The last one year has been great for me and now the job has become tougher. The challenge will be to keep the team on top. The expectations are always high from World champions and living up to them will be a challenge for this Indian team," said Simons, who coached the South African team for two years (2002-04).

Simons, however, is concerned about the form of the fast bowlers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) ahead of a hectic international calendar that also involves a tour to England for four Test matches in July-August.

"Conditions are tough for Indian bowlers on pitches which heavily favour batsman. I think we have to ensure that we have enough bench strength ahead of the two series so that we can rotate our bowlers. In the modern era, you always need a group of bowlers since you can't always rely on your main bowlers to be fit," said Simmons.

Asked if his bowlers need to cut down on the amount of cricket they play to stay fit, Simons said: "That is a personal choice, I can't say much about it. My job is to give them confidence. When you're confident you can run in and bowl quickly in good areas, they can play as much as they want."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

India beat Sri Lanka to won ICC World Cup 2011

An inspired India on Saturday night achieved the coveted World Cup after 28 years as they suppressed Sri Lankawith a six-wicket victory in a nerve-wrecking final to script a glorious newchapter in their cricketing history.

Chasing 275 for a historic win, theIndians held their nerves as they rode on Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir's 97 and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's unbeaten 91 to overhaul the target with 10 balls to spare and send the cricket-crazy nation into a frenzy.

The vociferous, jam-packed crowd at the Wankhede stadium erupted in wild celebrations as Dhoni hit the winning six runs to give India their biggest cricketing moment and crown themselves the ODI world champions, in addition to being the number one Test team.

The World Cup title triumph, coming as it did after more than two decades, was doubly special for Sachin Tendulkar since it was the only silverware missing from his collection.

It was also a fitting farewell to coach Gary Kirsten, for whom it was the last day in office as the Indian team coach.

It was a momentous Saturday night marked by highemotion and poignant scenes as India, for long the game's financial power,stamped their supremacy on the field as well, eight years after Sourav Ganguly's team had made an abortive attempt to scale the pinnacle.

The players, many of them with tears in their eyes, rushed to the ground to hug each other as Dhoni finished it off in style by hitting a six, as fire crackers lit up the evening sky to mark the moment.

The highlight of the Lankan innings was Mahela Jayawardene's rollicking 103 as Sri Lanka capitalised on the batting powerplay to post a decent 274 for six.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, Jayawardene used his vast experience to good effect and supported the Lankan innings together.

The islanders, desperate toregain the coveted cup after nearly 15 years, lost wickets at regular intervals against the Indians, who were spurred on by a vociferous jam-packed crowd.

The Indian bowlers were disciplined in the first half of the innings but conceded as many as 63 runs in the batting powerplay to undo all the goodwork.

Apart from Jayawardene's 88-ball knock, captain KumarSangakkara (48) Tillakaratne Dilshan (33) and Nuwan Kulasekara (32) were theother notable performers.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Learn from Tendulkar: Akram tolds Pakistan openers

Former pakistan captain Wasim Akram has called on the Pakistani openers to seek inspiration and learn from the exploits of Indian master batsman Sachin Tendulkar. Wasim, who is in Sri Lanka commentating on the World Cup matches, also expressed his frustration over Pakistan's performance against Zimbabwe yesterday.The former fast bowler called on openers, Muhammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shahzad to learn the art of batting and building an innings from Tendulkar.

The two openers had failed to provide a single decent start to the Pakistan team in five matches of the World Cup and Wasim felt both needed to rethink their approach to batting. 

Master Blaster

"They should learn from Tendulkar, look at him he is 38 plus and yet he is still going strong. He just plays normal cricket in the first ten overs and does not gift his wicket," Akram said. 

"Tendulkar is a role model for cricketers and the Pakistani openers should learn from him how to build an innings and how to tackle dicey conditions. Look at Shahzad he is immensely talented but the moment the ball does a little movement he either starts shuffling across the line or moving in his crease and is gifting his wicket. Hafeez is also getting out constantly shuffling across," he explained.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekend sports wrap- Wanderers won the game thriller

Wanderers says its team is fit and strong enough to beat St Marys in this weekend's NTFL grand final.The Eagles booked their place in the decider with a thrilling two-point victory over the Tiwi Bombers at Marrara Stadium on Saturday night. Wanderers held off a late fight back to triumph 9.11. (67) to the Bombers' 9.11.(65).

Coach Paul Motlop concedes his side was exhausted after the match, but says the players will be ready for the grand final."It was a very tough game, no question. We had a good recovery session and all the players are going to lift," Motlop said.

"There aren't many matches bigger than a final. We will be ready."The Tiwi Bombers went into the preliminary final as favourites.They were chasing a second consecutive grand final berth and a crack at a maiden premierships, but an intense pre-match downpour hampered the Bombers' usually flawless handling skills.

They lacked discipline and gave away several costly penalties, including a 100-metre penalty, which ended in a Wanderers goal.The Bombers were devastated after the final siren.

"Everyone was in tears after the match. It was there for us to win," Bombers chairman Allan McGill said."It was just so deflating to lose the game, especially when we could have and should have won. We just have to learn from it for next year. We have already begun preparing".

Meanwhile, Palmerston has won its first women's NTFL flag, upsetting reigning premiers St Marys on Saturday.It was a physical encounter and close until the end, but the Magpies were more desperate for the ball, winning 6.5.(41) to 4.7.(31).Palmerston player Natasha Medbury says it was an amazing win, considering the side finished bottom of the ladder last season.
she said,"It's the first time St Marys have lost in about 4 years, so it is just awesome".

"I just can't believe we have done it. It's just amazing".The Saints were playing for their fourth consecutive premiership and their sixth in the past seven seasons.Tensions boiled over at the Under 18's preliminary football final on Saturday afternoon.Players from Palmerston and Waratah were involved in a scuffle moments after the final siren, and a spectator shoved a referee.
AFL Northern Territory says that melee was unacceptable and the players and spectator could face tough punishments.

"The incident will be fully investigated. We are very upset it happened," AFL Northern Territory's Anthony Venes said."No one was seriously injured and we don't think anyone is pressing charges."Palmerston have re-signed Russell Jeffrey as coach for next season.The Magpies failed to make the finals this year and there was speculation Jeffrey would move to another club.
But Palmerston's board decided to renew Jeffrey's contract for another year and he signed on Friday.

Jeffrey said,"I had a meeting with Gary Pollock, the club president, in regards to my position. He told me the coaching job was mine"."I can safely say that once my time at the Magpies is over my coaching career will be over because I don't really need to go and start another club at my age."In other sports news, Football Federation Australia says it is looking at holding an A-League game in Darwin next season.Football Northern Territory has put forward a proposal to hold games in the Top End.

The Government says it wants to hold a top level game in the Territory.The other big sporting news from the Territory this week was that Darwin hockey player Lizzy Duguid has been picked to play for Australia.The 18-year-old goalkeeper is training with the Hockeyroo's squad in Perth and will make her debut in April against Argentina.Duguid was surprised to be selected and says she hopes to play for Australia at the Olympics.

Duguid said,"From a very young age I wanted to represent my country, so it's a massive honour and I'm really looking forward to it".But she doesn't have to rely solely on her sporting prowess. Duguid got the highest year 12 mark in the Territory in 2009 and is now studying engineering.