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Monday, January 31, 2011

Smarter batting needed Said Andrew Strauss

Andrew Strauss
Andrew Strauss -  blamed England's batsmen for their one-day international series defeat against Australia, claiming they "haven't been smart enough".

England conceded the series with a 51-run defeat in Brisbane, to leave them 4-1 down with two games to play. In each of their four defeats Strauss' side have been bowled out, with their latest reverse confirmed when they were dismissed for 198 after Chris Woakes' six for 45 had left them chasing an achievable 250.

"One of the improvements we have made in one-day cricket over the past 12 or 18 months was a lot of our batsmen getting bigger scores more consistently, but we've fallen into bad habits in this series," he said Strauss with the World Cup less than a month away.

"Twenties and thirties and soft dismissals, that's been plaguing us all the way through this series and ultimately that's what has lost us the series. Our decision-making has been not very good on these wickets. In one-day cricket you've got to decide when is the right time to attack, who is the right bowler to attack.

"We just haven't done that well enough. We haven't been smart enough as a batting unit. We can't hide away from it, we've got to take it on the chin, accept it and try and remedy it for these last two games and try and get some momentum heading into the World Cup."

Strauss denied that the batsmen's poor form was a result of mental fatigue at the end of a long tour of Australia, which has seen them jetting across the country since October.

"If you are mentally fatigued you probably do make poor decisions but I don't think you can just blame every poor decision on mental fatigue," he added. "There's no reason for us to be really fatigued at this stage.

"We've got a lot of cricket ahead of us. We look after ourselves well and if guys are starting to think about that then that's a dangerous place for us to be."

While England's batting problems may be attributed to mental lapses, the concern over their bowlers is physical after injuries to Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Tremlett. Shahzad suffered a hamstring injury while bowling and had to bat with a runner, while Tremlett was ruled out before the game due to a slight side strain.

"We're beginning to run out of bowlers now," Strauss said. "We will take stock and assess the injury situation this evening. If we need to call someone up we will."

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Take World Cup home Sachin

Sir Don Bradman finished with a career average of 99.94 in Test cricket, distanced from that magical triple-figure average by a second-ball naught in his last innings at The Oval in 1948. Sixty-three years later, Sir Don's mirror image - as confessed by the magician himself - will try to cap a run-loaded career with a World Cup trophy and 100 international hundreds.

Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who has shouldered the expectations of billions throughout his envious career and has been part of every World Cup since 1992, will once again have a crack at adding the elusive trophy to his shimmering cabinet.

The gentle assassin came lose to winning it for India in 1996 (losing semifinalist to Sri Lanka) and 2003 (losing finalist to Australia) but failed to finish on the right side despite being the leading scorer of the tournament with 523 runs in 1996 and 673 in 2003.

Though he is on the verge of completing a never-thought-of 100 international hundreds (51 in Tests and 46 in ODIs currently), the World Cup trophy continues to elude him but could coincide with this record to cap off a career overflowing with 17,629 runs in 444 ODIs, 14,692 in 171 Tests and 10 in the only T20 international he played before deciding to give youngsters a chance to don India colours in cricket's newest avatar.

Team India is undoubtedly loaded with match-winners with the bat but Sachin's new-found, child-like hunger for runs makes the diminutive run-machine the fire that continues to power India and will undoubtedly be central to India's chances of lifting the cup after a hiatus of 28 years.

Sachin's run-scoring never ceased, other than due to the back injury and tennis elbow that brought some relief to the bowlers world over as it either kept him away from cricket or seriously restricted his run-matting prowess.
But the man returned to register every conceivable batting record to his name, making critics look foolhardy for the comments they made while the little master was recuperating.

Sachin, though, will himself admit that while he kept knocking off records, his dream of winning India the World Cup only grew stronger. The nine-month break he took after his record-breaking 200 not out in an ODI against South Africa couldn't have been for anything but to keep himself fresh for the World Cup that is now knocking on his door.

The Mumbaikar returned in the ODI series against South Africa in the rainbow nation but almost gave a heart attack to his billions of fans when he returned in the middle of the series with a hamstring injury.
But all is well now with India's main hope, who has amassed 1,796 runs in 36 World Cup matches, punctuated by four centuries. And with the 2011 edition happening on home soil, fours and sixes are expected to flow with consummate ease.

While nobody wants to believe that Sachin's record-equalling sixth World Cup is probably going to be his last one as well, the batting legend will know that this indeed is his last chance to quench India's thirst of a second World Cup triumph after winning it in 1983 and missing narrowly in 2003.

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Live Pakistan Vs New Zealand Score Updates

New Zealand’s part it must be said that they had gone into the game without too many of their best players and did a decent job of it. Shahid Afridi gets into action with his swings and the five sixes in the last ODI has brought his tally to 285 which is the record for maximum sixes in the one day international matches. Pakistan will be announcing their decision of the Captain for the World Cup 2011 and most likely it will be Afridi and he did no harm to that with a quick fired 65 Runs of just 25 balls.

The most awaited 4th ODI match-up between Pakistan Vs New Zealand (PAK Vs NZ), which will be took place at McLean Park in Napier on Febuary 1, 2011 at 6:30 IST. This match has the standing of being friendlier to the batsmen it’s the visiting team which appears to be better placed.
The game will be played at Napier and will see a battle for gaining some confidence before the start of the World Cup. Muhammad Hafeez century meant that finaly Pakistan opners are among the runs and it will be interesting to see how they go about in fourtj ODI at naiper, Younis Khan and Misbah Haq havnt scored much runs in the ODI series and they will be eager to prove a point or two going in to the World Cup 2011. in the first game of the series,

Pakistan hadn’t batted too well but came back strongly to overcome the Kiwi bowling. New Zealand picked more specialist spinners in their side than Pakistan – Vettori returned after being rested for the third game and Nathan McCullum came in for Luke Woodcock.

The match to be held on 1st feb between NZ and Pak is the 4th ODI the two sides will be playing and the Napier ground which has the reputation of being friendlier to the batsmen it’s the visiting team which seems to be better placed. Both the Teams are struggling for form big time at the moment, and current T20 Champions wil be looking to use the Twenty20 Matches to gain some sort of form before the ODI and Test Serie which will prove to be The big aspect of the 2011 World Cup preparation. The series of Pakistan vs New Zealand ODI matches are 2-2. Where 4th ODI match of Pakistan vs New Zealand is a big point for both teams due to comfort ours team.

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Best luck wishes to Team India from Ishant

To wish the Indian cricket team 'best of luck' for the upcoming World Cup, speedster Ishant Sharma started a signature campaign on Monday by putting his signature on the 30-foot-high cricket bat installed at Sector-17 plaza.

Ishant said, "The ICC World Cup Cricket is a chance for us to celebrate cricket. It is a measure of how healthy the game of cricket is in India that we have three viable and successful formats of international cricket. I am looking forward to seeing the thrills as all best players in the world get together."

He concluded, "Although it is difficult to predict what will happen in the World Cup, I think India will be very difficult to beat. They have exciting players like Sachin, Dhoni, Yuvraj, Sehwag and Harbhajan and they also have the confidence of knowing the Asian conditions very well. It's going to be a great tournament and I know there will be other captains "not just Dhoni" who will want to get their hands on this beautiful trophy when the World Cup concludes."

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Gambhir gonna do something special for World Cup

When Gautam Gambhir was dropped from the 2007 World Cup squad, he was so disappointed that he almost quit cricket. As he makes his World Cup debut at home, one of the world's most exciting opening batsmen says he would like to do something "special" for the home crowd, "like my unbeaten 150 against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens in 2009".

The excitement of the coming tournament is palpable on Gambhir's face as also the pressure of playing at home, although the 29-year-old says he prefers to keep things simple and wants to treat the mega event like any other tournament.

"The World Cup brings with it the pressure of expectations. I want to keep things simple. Naturally, I can't wish away the fact that it's a World Cup, but I will try to keep my head clear. I would stick to what I have been doing all these years; the World Cup can't be anything different," Gambhir said in an interview.

"I am excited to play in front of the home crowd. If there is one innings I would like to play in the World Cup it would be something like my unbeaten 150 against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens in 2009. It was special as I carried my bat through during the 315-run chase."

The left-handed opener feels it is the "mental preparedness" which will reflect in a player's performance and promises to give his all.

"You can't effect changes in your technique in a month or 15 days' time. Everything depends on your mental toughness and how ready you are to take on the challenge. My attempt would be to give my 100 percent, and I should feel at the end of the day that I have given my best, not that I could have done better," he said.

After his World Cup omission, Gambhir batted with purpose in domestic cricket and the inaugural World Twenty20 the same year proved to be the turning point.

"After being ignored for the World Cup, I did not pick my bat for days. I thought I will never play in a World Cup again. But sometimes lack of options also turns out to be a blessing. Yes, I could have joined my dad's business, but I thought how I would face myself in the mirror if I leave cricket only because I was not selected in the World Cup," said Gambhir, whose father runs a successful import-export business.

"I worked hard and realised that the important thing is to score runs. I roughed it out in Ranji Trophy and felt happy scoring runs.

"Things got different after the Twenty20 World Cup. Who would have thought that I would end up as the second highest scorer?"

Since then Gambhir has nine ODI and Test centuries to his name, was the 2009 ICC Test player and even led the side in the ODI series against New Zealand at home in the absence of senior players last year.

In modern cricket, Gambhir forms an explosive opening pair with friend, mentor and another Delhi player Virender Sehwag and says he is comforted by his presence at the other end.

"Having Viru at the other end is always nice. He knows my game, knows how I mentally approach to situations in a match. We keep talking to each other when we are batting together. I know I can always go up to him and say that I am not comfortable playing a particular bowler and then we decide how to go about it. I don't think I can do that with any other batsman. We have such great understanding," said Gambhir.

The Indian team, ranked second in the ODIs, is touted as the favourites to win the Cup but Gambhir steers clear of naming any favourites.

"In World Cup, five overs can change the game. I feel a No.1 or a No.2 side won't take any opponents lightly."

Gambhir says India's performance during the New Zealand tour in 2009 gave them the confidence to beat the top sides in the world. The series was special for Gambhir, who was the highest run getter in the Test series and resolutely batted for nearly 11 hours at Napier to earn India a draw. India had won both the ODI and Test series.

"The New Zealand tour gave us the confidence that we can overpower other big sides. It proved to be the turning point as we registered victories over South Africa and Australia after that," he said.

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Cup of Legends - Boria Majumdar

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 will be a stage for the Tendulkars and Lees to make a mark on the most prestigious cricketing stage, feels Boria Majumdar.

One of the singular fairytales of the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup was the man of the series award won by the Australian legend, Glenn McGrath. Then 37, McGrath retired soon after the competition was over bringing to an end a glorious international cricketing career.

While his was a fairytale similar to that of Imran Khan’s in 1992, legends like Brian Lara or Sachin Tendulkar have not been able to make the ICC CWC stage their own.
The case of Sachin Tendulkar is most interesting. Highest scorer and man of the tournament in 2003 with 673 runs, he had to settle for the runners-up prize. In 1996 too, he was the highest scorer of the competition with 523 runs but could not save India from being ousted in the semi-finals.

It was his 65 against the turning ball that was India’s only ray of hope at the Eden Gardens on that fateful day in March in 1996 in a game that eventually threatened to deprive Eden of its status as an international cricketing venue. Burning stands, broken galleries and a tearful Vinod Kambli are the enduring memories from that encounter.

93 international centuries, 47 in Tests and 46 in ODI’s, 25 more than second ranked Ricky Ponting’s combined tally, and instantly the debate about who’s the greatest ever is put to rest. Yet, he has never won the ICC CWC. 2011, it is well known, is his last chance. Having scored almost 2000 runs in ICC CWC and having brought India perilously close to winning the silverware in 2003, Sachin, the patriot that he is, will want to taste ultimate glory at the refurbished Wankhede in front of his home crowd.

And what is of significance is that Sachin, in 2011, has the team to have a real crack at the silverware. A team with considerable batting and bowling depth and with the extra incentive of winning it for their legendary teammate, chances are India might witness a cardinal cricketing romance come true on April 2, 2011.

To push the fantasy a bit more: With Sachin on 97 international hundreds, it may well be that he gets his 100th hundred at the world cup. An ICC Cricket World Cup win to go with his 100th hundred, Indian fans can sacrifice their last dollar if this dream comes true.

Just like Sachin, Kallis, Ponting, Murali and Gayle, each of them legends of the game in their own right, will also be eyeing the silverware. While Ponting will be defending his title won in 2003 and 2007, he has never been under as much pressure as now. Having lost the Ashes and with calls all over asking for his sacking as captain, Ponting wants to win the Cup more than ever before to sign out on a high.

Murali, who has already declared that the ICC CWC 2011 will be his last international engagement, will want to end a legendary career with one last flourish. The 1996 ICC CWC in many ways saw the making of Sri Lankan cricket.

The performance graph will turn full circle if they accomplish a podium finish in 2011.

And for Kallis, perhaps in the form of his life, this is his final chance to win a major competition. South Africa has for over a decade been the team to beat in the ICC CWC and yet they have stumbled when it mattered the most. With perhaps the best fast bowling attack in the world and a number of batsmen in form, the pressure on Kallis too is less than it has been in the past. This coupled with the fact that he had a great IPL 3 in 2010 should give him the extra confidence for the ICC CWC.

Others like Shahid Afridi, Brett Lee, Chris Gayle and Mahela Jayawardene are also playing their last tournament adding to the romance of ICC CWC 2011. Despite cricket being a team game, it is well known that it is also the most individualistic of all team sports and without the legends mentioned above the story of the ICC CWC will not be half as interesting. So much so that an India-Australia match can well become a clash between Tendulkar and Lee or Harbhajan Singh and Ricky Ponting. Such individual duels turn into elements of fantasy, resulting in the creation of the much needed hype surrounding the tournament.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

World Records of Cricket World Cup Never Checked Yet

There have been several world records on and off field of the cricket ground but there have been some during the cricket World Cup that have not yet been broken as of yet. Let's have a look at some of them which have not been broken as of yet and will be challenging for the new comers to break them:

This record is for maximum runs scored in World Cups that's held by none other than Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin has made 1796 runs in 36 matches playing 35 innings with an average of 57.93. He has stood not out 4 times.

This record is also held by Sachin Tendulkar who has made 673 runs during the World Cup in South Africa. Sachin made these runs in 11 matches that he played.

It's the highest score made by any team during the World Cup. It was made by India against Bermuda on 19th March 2007. India lost 5 wickets in the match.

It's the highest score made by any batsmen in one inning in a World Cup Series. This one belongs to the current Indian coach Gary Kirsten who made 188 not out against UAE on 16th February 1996.
Australia's legendary pace bowler Glenn McGrath holds the record for picking up most wickets in all the world cups that he has played. He has taken 71 wickets in 39 matches giving away 1292 runs.

This is unique record for umpiring in most World Cup matches that's held by England's David Shepherd who has stood 46 times as an umpire during the World Cups since 1983 till 2003.

It's the smallest team total made by any team during the World Cup. Canada were all out for just 36 in 18.4 overs against Srilanka on February 19th 2003.

This is a World Record for maximum wickets in one World Cup series held by Glenn McGrath who took 26 wickets in 11 matches that he played at an average 13.73 in 2007 WC.

It's a record of maximum catches that belongs to Australia's Ricky Ponting who held 25 catches in 39 matches as of yet.

It's a World Record of Maximum wickets in an innings that was made by Glenn McGrath against Namibia in 2003. McGrath took 7 wickets giving away just 15 runs in 7 overs.

New Zealand's Nathan Astle and Pakistan’s Aijaz Ahmad hold the records of maximum ducks (zeros) in the World Cups. Both have been dismissed on 0 five times.

Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Mark Waugh, and Ricky Ponting together hold the records for 4 centuries each in the World Cups.

Will these be broken in the 10th edition of the World Cup that’s coming this February, let's see….!

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Harbhajan Says "World Cup will be our gift to Sachin"

Indian  spinner Harbhajan Singh believes Team India has got what it takes to win the World Cup. And, like most of his colleagues, the 30-year old off-spinner too has a childhood dream to hold on to the most cherished trophy in One-Day cricket. In an exclusive chat with TOI, Bhajji feels India has got what it takes to become champions. Excerpts:

This will be your third World Cup, but the first one at home. What's the feeling like?

I'm really excited and just like the entire country I am also looking forward to it. It is always great to play and perform before the home crowd. Already, the World Cup fever is catching up with each passing day. The atmosphere will be great and there will be a lot of support for us. I hope we play good, consistent cricket and jell as a team.
With the big stage comes the burden of expectations and the pressure to perform . . .

But, as a professional, after playing international cricket for 12 years, you learn to deal with things. Handling pressure and performing well in big games is what every good cricketer looks forward to and it's the same for me. It is natural for the people to expect us to win every game, but we have got to stay focused, be relaxed and take it one game at a time. Having said that, I believe we've got the team to beat any opposition any day.

Do you reckon slow pitches will come handy for Indian spinners at home?

I won't say handy, but yes, we have the edge in home conditions. Don't forget One-Day cricket is a batsman's game. Also, the small grounds means small boundaries and that will be a handicap. Besides, wickets in Bangalore and Nagpur are known to have good bounce for the pacers. As a matter of fact, good bowlers will do well in any conditions. At the end of the day it's about a bowler's skill and the variations he can come up with to take on the batters. Take 'PK' (Praveen Kumar) for example. He is a street-smart cricketer and he thrives in most conditions because of his ability to move the ball.

You are a key player in the Indian line-up. Are you nervous?

Not nervous. You can say there are some butterflies in the stomach. That's because you are keen to do well for your team and for your country. The key is to stay relaxed. This is my third World Cup and I have gone through the grind before. There will be pressure to perform and no one denies that. As a player, and as a team, we have a mission to accomplish. We've got to keep our cool and work hard in every game. It will be extremely important for us to stay in the moment. We need not get ahead of ourselves.

Recently you have played some match-defining innings for India. Do you now fancy playing the big shots?

It is great fun to play the big shots and provide the necessary fireworks. But it doesn't make sense to play to the gallery every time. As a senior player, it is important to play as per the demands of the situation. If I have to stay put and rotate the strike, I am happy to do that. If needed, I relish using the long handle as well. What is important is to finish the game and be on the right side of the result.

This may well be Tendulkar's last World Cup. Do you share his dream of winning it and give him a parting gift?

Yes, of course! It's not just Sachin or me or Dhoni. It is a nation's dream. We have a great side with plenty of match-winners. We have the skill, passion and desire to go all the way. We just need to work hard, stay cool, and, as I said earlier, stay in the moment. As for Sachin, the entire country knows his contribution towards the game. So, winning the World Cup will not only mean fulfilling everyone's dream but that will also be Team India's biggest gift to Sachin Tendulkar.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Through to finals Hong Kong

Hong Kong beat table-toppers Papua New Guinea by 93 runs at the Hong King Cricket Club to qualify for Friday's final in the ICC World Cricket League Division Three, where they will play PNG again. Hong Kong's win also mean they are guaranteed promotion to WCL Div. 2.

PNG, who chose to field, had Hong Kong in trouble early on as Rarva Dikana and Hitolo Areni picked up three wickets to reduce Hong Kong to 39 for 3 in the 11th over. However, Hussain Butt, who top-scored with 68 was involved in two crucial 40-plus stands with Irfan Ahmed (25) and Nizakat Khan (36) to take Hong Kong past 100. Areni struck to dismiss Nizakat and Waqas Barkat in quick succession but Butt and captain Najeeb Amar put on 53 runs in just under 10 overs to get the Hong Kong innings back on track. Butt was dismissed with the score on 196 but Nadeem Ahmed hit some big shots to take Hong King to 221 before they were bowled out.

Hong Kong's bowlers then defended the total, bowling PNG out cheaply. Tony Ura and Kila Pala were the only two batsmen who managed to get past 20, as PNG failed to string together any substantial partnerships and kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Nadeem picked up three wickets as PNG were bowled out for 128 in just under 48 overs.

Two aggressive half-centuries from Hemin Desai and Vaibhav Wategaonkar carried Oman to a commanding four-wicket win over Denmark at the Kowloon Cricket Club, but it was not enough to allow Oman to qualify for the final.

Denmark were sent in to bat and got off to a shaky start, losing their openers with just 38 runs on the board. Carsten Pedersen and Rizwan Mahmood steadied the innings with a 66-run partnership but once Mahmood was dismissed with the score on 104, Denmark suffered a collapse. Rajesh Kumar and Khalid Rashid picked up three wickets apiece as Denmark slumped from 104 for 3 to 181 all out in just under 48 overs.

Oman needed to knock the runs off quickly if they were to keep their hopes of qualifying for the final alive. Desai and Zeeshan Siddiqui got them off to a rapid start, adding 34 runs in 2 overs before Siddiqui was dismissed. Desai and Wategaonkar then blasted 41 runs in 17 balls. Desai fell for 51 off just 17 balls with five fours and five sixes. Wategaonkar added another rapid 22 with Adnan Ilyas before Bashir Shah had Ilyas stumped. Oman seemed to lose momentum after his dismissal. Though they reached their target in just under 25 overs with Wategaonkar unbeaten on 54, Hong Kong went ahead of their run-rate by beating PNG to destroy Oman's hopes of qualifying for the final.

USA's hopes of qualifying for WCL Div. 2 were ended by Italy, who beat them by four wickets at the Mission Road Ground. Italy will now go on to play Oman in the third-place playoff while USA will play for fifth place against Denmark.

Italy got off to a shaky start in their chase of 223, slumping to 52 for 4, but a 102-run partnership between Peter Petricola and wicketkeeper Hayden Patrizi got them back into the game. After Patrizi was out for 50, Michael Raso came in and smashed 38 off 29 deliveries, and Italy got home with 18 balls to spare. Petricola was unbeaten on 69.

Petricola had also been Italy's most successful bowler, taking four wickets as Italy restricted USA to 222 for 8. USA captain Steve Massiah scored 52 and opener Sushil Nadkarni scored 47, but USA didn't get to a big enough total.

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Field Grange to get returning winners title

Grange will field three of the side which last year won the Scottish indoor cricket six-a-side title representing a Martin Currie Select when the competition continues at the National Academy, Ravelston, tonight.

Gregor Maiden, Stuart Davidson and Nick Peat revert back to club colours and are joined by Sanjay Patel and Henry Edwards, with Iain Worth expected to complete the line-up which faces East League reps Murrayfield/DAFS and a young East Academy side in the preliminary group.

The latest round of ties saw SMRH show resilience to bounce back from an opening defeat and maintain their hopes with a runaway victory over Freuchie.

In opening their bid, SMRH had suffered four run-outs while being dismissed for 42 on the way to a heavy defeat by Stenhousemuir.

However, with skipper Greg Bissett and Jon Brock both scoring 26 runs, SMRH hit back to post a total of 114-5 that proved too much for Freuchie (76 all out).

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To reconsider Eden call asks by BCCI

BCCI have asked the ICC to reconsider their decision to strip the Eden Gardens of their match between India and England.

"We have written a letter to the ICC to reconsider its decision. Now it is up to the ICC to decide, but we are confident that the stadium can host the crucial India-England match," Ratnakar Shetty, tournament director and chief administrative officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said.

Former ICC boss and Cricket Association of Bengal President, Jagmohan Dalmiya, had appealed to the BCCI to ask the ICC to reconsider their decision.

Dalimiya had based his argument on Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium and three other venues getting an extension of 14 days- the former BCCI president suggested CAB will be able to get the Eden Gardens ready in the next 10 days and hand over a finished ground on February 7.

An ICC inspection team determined the Eden Gardens, which had hosted an ICC Cricket World Cup final and semi-final would not be ready to host the fixture on February 27.

The Group B match - England's second of the tournament - against the co-hosts in the 100,000-capacity stadium in Kolkata was set to be one of the highlights of the campaign for Andy Flower's side, who must now wait to hear where the February 27 fixture will be moved to.

Besides the India-England encounter, Eden Gardens is scheduled to host three other games -- South Africa vs Ireland (March 15), the Netherlands vs Ireland (March 18), and Zimbabwe vs Kenya (March 20).

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For World Cup Ricky Ponting likely to be fit

AUSTRALIA'S World Cup campaign has received a huge boost after skipper Ricky Ponting was yesterday handed an encouraging report on his broken finger.

As Nathan Hauritz (shoulder), Shaun Tait (muscle strain) and Michael Hussey (hamstring) race the clock to be fit for the Cup, Australia's inspirational leader learnt he could be back in the nets batting within 10 days.

Sidelined since the Boxing Day Test, Ponting was assessed by Melbourne specialist Greg Hoy on Thursday.

He is expected to have his splint removed over the weekend, with Dr Hoy advising Cricket Australia physiotherapist Alex Kountouris to now step up Ponting's rehabilitation.

The 36-year-old may still miss two World Cup warm-up matches to safeguard his finger, but his positive progress will buoy Australia's spirits ahead of the showpiece tournament.

"We saw the specialist yesterday and he was reasonably happy with how Ricky is going. It's an encouraging sign," Kountouris said.

"We'll see what happens in the next week or two.

"Until he picks up the bat again you don't know his hand will respond. He might do it and be fantastic or it might blow up and we'll have to slow his recovery down.

"We've let the bone heal, now we'll see how he responds to it."

Kountouris is confident Ponting will be fit forthe World Cup opener against Zimbabwe on February 21.

"There is no guarantee with any player who is coming back from injury. You're always a bit nervous because things happen, but so far it's OK," he said.

"Ricky's finger looks good. Once he starts batting he'll be fine, but we need to get there first."

Meanwhile, one of Ponting's favourite rising stars, Phil Hughes, is in cricketing limbo after being axed yesterday from NSW's Twenty20 squad.

The 22-year-old played in the fifth Test just three weeks ago but was overlooked by the Blues, who must beat Queensland tonight in the Big Bash to ensure qualification for the $6 million Champions League cash grab.

Hughes' 41-run tally at 10 and slow strike rate of 78 this season, was a far cry from his anchor role in the Blues' triumph during the inaugural 2009 Champions League Twenty20 in India.

Hughes was instrumental in NSW's $2.5 million title win, topping the team averages with 202 runs at 40 ahead of opening partner David Warner who cracked 207 at 34.

Hughes makes way for former Test opener Phil Jaques. It caps a nightmare summer for the pint-sized left-hander, who now faces a long climb back to the baggy green summit.

Floodgates to open at the Gabba
In Brisbane, the Australian team cheered up flood-hit primary school kids in Moorooka and Goodna before mingling with a buzzing throng in Ipswich Mall.

"Trying to put smiles on the kids' faces and just being here to show our support is a little piece amongst what everyone is doing," said Johnson, who is tipped to return for tomorrow's big day-nighter against England at the Gabba.

The Australian team will donate their match fees en masse to the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal as part of a $190,000 contribution from the Australian Cricketers' Association.

Queensland Cricket has stepped up and will donate $5 for every fan who comes through the gates as part of cricket's overall aim to raise $3.75 million-plus.

The pacy Johnson is over a throat infection and is eager to get into the one-day groove at the Gabba leading into the World Cup starting next month.

"I want to play as much as I can going into a big World Cup. I haven't been at my best but I'm not far away," Johnson said.

Allrounder Shane Watson presented Ipswich Lord Mayor Paul Pisasale with a bundle of signed shirts and bats to aid fundraising in his home town.

"There is going to be so much emotion around the Gabba," Watson said.

"From when the floods first happened, this game was always earmarked as a really big day to raise as many funds as we can.

"It's been great that I've been able to score runs in this period. Hopefully it has given kids something to think about other than being badly affected by the floods."

Bulls and Queensland Fire players will collect donations today and take part in the Prime Minister's free BBQ in Woolloongabba Place from 11.30am.

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Yusuf Pathan Says "I Am Fortunate To Have Got Guidance From Kirsten"

Yusuf Pathan, the explosive Indian all-rounder hailed the guidance of India’s coach, Gary Kirsten, saying that he is fortunate to have been coached by him.

“I have been fortunate to have guidance from someone like Kirsten”, Yusuf told the media.

Yusuf was filled with admiration for the former South African opener, adding that he gave extra attention to each player.
“He is a coach who will always have time for having one-on-one sessions after regular training”, Yusuf said before adding that even after his regular net session, the coach would be ready to give him extra practice.

Kirsten has expressed his desire of spending more time with his family. Media reports had been speculating over Kirsten’s desire to take up a job closer to home and the reports were confirmed earlier this week when a BCCI senior official said that Kirsten had asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to not extend his coaching contract that expires after the World Cup 2011.

Media reports suggested that he might take up the job of coaching South Africa, who will also be without a coach after the World Cup. The speculations reached full throttle when the Cricket South Africa (CSA) extended its deadline for submitting applications for the post from 7 January to 18 February.

However, Yusuf Pathan refused to indulge in speculations saying that the team needs to focus on the challenge ahead, rather than the future.

“He is with us right now, that is important...don’t want to think about what will happen later”, Yusuf replied.

Kirsten and Indian captain MS Dhoni have formed a formidable partnership that saw India dominating in the year 2010 and have helped the side to rise to number one in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings.

He is considered to be the most successful amongst the three foreign coaches of India, including current New Zealand’s coach, John Wright, and Greg Chappell.

Dhoni had earlier stated that the team will respect Kirsten’s decision, saying that he has devoted three years to the Indian team and he has hardly given any time to be with his family.

Yusuf echoed Dhoni’s feelings saying that family comes first before the money aspect, a situation that Yusuf knows best.

His brother, Irfan Pathan failed to find a place in the preliminary 30-man squad for the World Cup due to his indifferent form in recent times. However, Yusuf stated that his brother always had the confidence in Yusuf’s success.

“The confidence was there, thanks to my brother...he stood by me even when I was in and out of the Indian team”, he admitted.

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This week Afridi captain of Pakistan

The hottest issue of the new captain of Pakistan cricket team for the upcoming world cup seems to be over as Ijaz Butt is now ready to retain Shahid Afridi as captain.

When everybody is favouring Misbah-ul-Haq as new skipper and even Pakistan Cricket Board officials also tipping Misbah as Pakistan skipper in the world cup, source in the PCB told The Sports Encounter scribe here that despite of all the negativity, Ijaz Butt is not ready to change the skipper for the huge tournament like world cup.

PCB chairman Ijaz Butt is in New Zealand these days with Pakistan cricket team and during the course he has held meetings with team officials, management and players and discussed the issue of captaincy.

Former skipper Younus Khan also cast his vote in favour of Misbah-ul-Haq for captaincy but other senior players like Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul and Shoaib Akhtar put their faith in Afridi to continue as skipper of Pakistan.

Ijaz Butt is not happy with performance and attitude of Shahid Afridi for his repeated violation of the board’s instructions but the PCB chairman is not willing to take any chances for the world cup and will announce the name of the captain this week.

PCB also facing stiff pressure from the sponsors who already invested heavy amount on the Pakistani team as they took Afridi in their ad campaigns for the world cup and late announcement of the skipper may cost those companies millions of rupees.

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Kolkata Ready for World Cup

The bosses of Kolkata's Eden Gardens insisted Friday they could be ready to host next month's India-England World Cup clash after the venue was ruled out because of unfinished renovation work.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) sparked a logistical nightmare for organisers on Thursday by asking for an alternative stadium for the February 27 match because of concerns about unfinished facilities at the famous ground.

The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), which runs the stadium, asked the the ICC to reconsider its controversial ruling, which raised further questions about India's ability to host major sporting events.

CAB chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, a former ICC president and himself a construction company owner, wrote to the Indian cricket board on Friday to convince the governing body to stick to the original schedule.

"(The ICC's decision) comes as a shock because when their inspection team was in Kolkata, we were given to understand that they were happy with the progress of the work and had suggested only a few minor modifications," said the letter, seen by AFP.

CAB chiefs promised they would hand over a completed Eden Gardens to the ICC on February 7, "provided we are given an extension."

"Finally, we also state that we will address the bulk of the ICC concerns by January 31, 2011 itself and the remaining little, if any, in another seven days," the letter said.

World Cup organisers were struggling to find a different venue and organise travel, ticketing and security.
"It's a challenge for sure, but we are working on solving the issue at the earliest," tournament director Ratnakar Shetty told reporters at the World Cup headquarters in Mumbai.

The ICC was concerned about work in the renovated stands of Eden Gardens, as well as corporate boxes, the media centre and the location of the radio commentary boxes.

The problems echoed similar trouble before the Delhi Commonwealth Games in October that were marred by severe delays in construction work and shoddy finishing.

Tour operators said they hoped the matter would be resolved soon with the tournament looming.
"England v India is the biggest of all the group games," Shirley Rattray of Cricket Logistics, the ICC's official travel partner, told the Cricinfo website.

"It is the most popular because Eden Gardens is such an iconic venue to watch cricket. A match there is regarded as one of the sporting things to do before you die.

"So it's a big shame that the game has had to be moved."

Rattray said tickets needed to be relocated and fresh flights and hotels booked.

"It's never easy when things like this happen, but it will get done. That's the way things work in India, things can be turned around at the last minute very quickly."

Eden Gardens, which hosted the World Cup final in 1987 and a semi-final in 1996, is due to host three other matches. A decision on whether they will go ahead will be taken by the ICC at a later date.

The three games are South Africa v Ireland on March 15, Ireland v the Netherlands on March 18 and Zimbabwe v Kenya on March 20.

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Yusuf Pathan Said "Can't go into World Cup thinking about pressure"

Explosive all-rounder Yusuf Pathan concedes that Indian cricketers would be under immense pressure during next month's cricket World Cup in the sub-continent but they will have to avoid thinking about the expectations to come good at the event.

"You don't go into a tournament thinking about the pressure involved with it. We will be playing the World Cup at home and it's natural that people will expect us do well", he said.

"We have prepared well and played some good cricket in the past few months and we are hopeful of carrying the good form in the event (starting February 19)," Pathan said.

The 28-year-old player has been in red-hot form and has clobbered the best in the business with minimum fuss.

"I am happy that I have been able to contribute to the team's cause. I have been assigned a specific role and I try to perform that to the best of my abilities," he answered.

Talk about outgoing coach Gary Kirsten and Yusuf's voice is filled with admiration for the former South African opener --- perhaps the most popular among the three foreigners ( John Wright, Greg Chappell being the other two) who have coached India.

"I have been fortunate to have got guidance from someone like Kirsten. He is a coach who will always have time for having one-on-one sessions after regular training. Even after my regular net session, Kirsten would be ready to give me extra practice.

"His (Kirsten) process of coaching and the manner in which he is able to iron out the flaws is amazing. I have improved a lot as a player due to him," he said.

Asked if he will miss Kirsten as he won't be coaching India after World Cup, Yusuf replied, "He is with us right now. That is important. Don't want to think about what will happen later."

He may surprise one and all with his ability to play risky shots like reverse sweeping a spinner for six but off it he wouldn't like to get into comparisons about his on-field efforts.

Asked which one of his two centuries (123 not out (96 balls) against New Zealand or 105 (70 balls) against South Africa at Centurion) is a better effort according to him, Yusuf said would not pick between knocks which proved important for
his team in different circumstances.

"You can't compare two innings which were played in two entirely different conditions. If you talk about satisfaction, it's bound to be there if you can perform for your country", Yusuf said.

"It's not that there was more pressure on me when I was playing against South Africa and any lesser pressure when I played against New Zealand at home. Both were tough situations in their own rights and I was fortunate that I scored in both," he quipped.

There are a lot of batsmen who use lighter bats when they play on bouncy tracks just to get the horizontal shots better but Yusuf doesn't have any such preferences.

"I play with the same bat whether it's in India or abroad. More than the weight of the bat, it's trying to adapt to the conditions that matters most," said Yusuf who boasts of a strike-rate of above 115 in ODIs.

Not only his explosive batting but his tidy off-breaks and penchant for being a partnership breaker will be important on the slow sub-continent pitches and Pathan said he is working hard to deliver with the ball as well.

"I have always taken my bowling seriously and spent time on fine-tuning my skills at the nets. It's the hours of hard work that I have put in that are paying dividends," said Yusuf who has taken 30 wickets from 45 ODIs.

As the discussion veered towards the Indian Premier League, he admitted that he would miss being part of Rajasthan Royals having represented the franchise in three previous seasons.

"I will miss the fans that I had in Rajasthan. I had a great time playing here and it was like family. But having said that I am really excited about playing in Kolkata which will give me an opportunity to play in front of packed Eden Gardens crowd. It will definitely be a different experience which I will cherish," Yusuf signed off.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

For Ten Cricket channel Show-cause notice

Ten Cricket has been asked to explain the violation of the Indian government's advertising codes during its coverage of the recently concluded series between India and South Africa. Acting on complaints received by consumers, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry of India sent a show-cause notice to the channel regarding the intrusive advertisements during live telecast.

The channel, according to the government, has breached the advertising code which stipulates that the advertisement should be easily distinguishable from, and not interfere with, the programme.

"A show-cause notice has been sent to Ten Cricket channel regarding the violation of Rule 7 (10) of the Advertising Code as prescribed in the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994 which provides 'all advertisement should be clearly distinguishable from the programme and should not in any manner interfere with the programme viz, use of lower part of screen to carry captions, static or moving alongside the programme,'" Raghu Menon, the secretary of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry which formulates rules for broadcasting and advertising in the country, told ESPNcricinfo. "The ministry has received complaints about the advertisements interfering with the live telecast by using the sides, central and lower parts of the screen to carry the advertisements, thus reducing the visual frame of the main live telecast.

"The channel has been asked to show cause within seven days of the notice as to why action in accordance with the provision of the Uplinking Guidelines and Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 should not be taken against it."

Ten Cricket - a 24-hour cricket channel - is owned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) and was launched in August 2010. Among its recent cricket telecasts was Pakistan's Test and limited-overs series in the UAE against South Africa and India's full tour there which concluded earlier this month.

When asked by Harsha Bhogle, during ESPNcricinfo's fortnightly audio show Time Out, if the high prices of broadcasting rights were driving broadcasters to resort to intrusive advertising, Menon said: "Nobody's really stopping a channel from advertising at the end of an over. When you have advertising exploding out of the ground in the middle of an over, that is terribly intrusive and I don't think any viewer will appreciate that. That's really carrying it a bit too far.

"When a license is given to a broadcaster, for downlinking or uplinking or showing any programme, they are required to sign an agreement with the government and part of the agreement is that they will follow the program and advertising codes," Menon said. "To that extent, they are walking into the business with their eyes open and they are required to follow it, otherwise it amounts to a violation of the laws of the land."

When contacted by ESPNcricinfo, Atul Pande, the CEO of Sports Business, ZEEL, said he would respond once he'd received the show-cause notice, but added there was a lot of pressure on TV channels to generate revenue through ad sales due to the high cost of broadcasting rights.

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To win Cup India need to display form shown in SA

India can win next month's cricket World Cup if the team maintains the extraordinary spirit and form that it exhibited in the recent series in South Africa, opener Gautam Gambhir said on Thursday.

"The Indian team performed well in difficult conditions there. Till now we didn't do well in South Africa. This is the first time we have performed well," Gambhir, who was here to announce the field of drivers for the MRF Formula 1600 Championship 2011 as its Brand Ambassador, said.

"Whether it is a Test match or one dayer, we performed well there this time. We levelled the Test series and played well in the one dayers, beside winning the only twenty20 match.

"If the team plays in the same spirit and form, we will do well and India can wish to win the World Cup," said Gambhir, who had to return home midway from South Africa because of a soft tissue injury.

The 29-year-old said he was "fit and feeling excited" and hoped to recover fully before the quadrennial event starts from February 19 in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"I am recovering well. I will be 100 per cent fit before the World Cup," he said.

"Now I am much better and in a day or two I will be batting and will be fit before the preparatory camp and the warm up matches to get ready to play Bangladesh in the first match," he added.

Gambhir said spinners would play a decisive role in the coming World Cup as the pitches in the sub-continent, especially India, would favour spin.

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Nepal Loss by 10 wickets against Bangladesh

Nepal U-19 cricket squad, preparing for ACC U-19 Elite Cup scheduled to be held in Thailand from February 1 to 10, suffered a sloppy loss in their first one-day match against Bangladesh U-19 on Wednesday. Bangladesh thrashed Nepal by 10 wickets in the first match of the three-match series.

Captains before the match.
Nepal U-19 won the toss and elected to bat on the Sylhet Divisional Stadium. Bangladesh bundled out Nepal for 70 runs in 33.2 overs and crossed the target in 11 overs with 74 runs on the board.
Faizlur Rahman (Faizal Khan) and Subash Khakurel put up 19 runs within four overs and gave a good start to the team. Nepal were 55/3 in the completion of 21 overs but Naresh Budhayer, Pradeep Airee and Rahul BK, who were expected to play blistering innings, got out cheaply as Nepal added just 15 runs for the loss of the last seven wickets.

Airee, Vice-captain BK, Krishna Karki and Avinash Karn were out for ducks during the proceeding. Airee was caught at the point in an attempt to hit a ball out side the off stump while BK, Karki and Karna were caught at the slip.

After losing eight wickets within the 30 overs mark, Nepal adopted batting power play in an expectation to resurrect the innings but lost the wicket off Sagar Pun in the very first ball of the power play. Last hope for Nepali side Pun was bowled out as ball took the inside edge of the bat. He scored 19 runs, which was the highest contribution in the team. Pun played 50 balls and struck only one boundary.

Nepali innings came to an end as Bhuwan Karki got LBW out for two runs.

Earlier, opener Khan contributed 16 runs while Khakurel struck 13 runs. Abdur Rashid took three wickets while man of the match Nyim Islam bowled skipper Prithu Baskota for three runs to start Nepal´s demolition. Islam bowled eight overs and gave away seven runs keeping three maiden overs and claimed other two wickets of Airee and BK. Leg-spinner Jobber Hussein also took three wickets.

In the run chase, Saddam Hussein (unbeaten 25 runs) and Jahed Jabbed (unbeaten 44 runs) sealed the victory. Jabbed played 27 balls and struck seven boundaries and two sixes.

Nepali coach Jagat Tamata said that the match turned to be one-sided as his chief batsmen failed one after another. Tamata´s counterpart Jafarul Ishan said that Nepali players were found exhausted since they reached Sylhet just a day before the match.

As the match did not last even for 50 overs, Nepal U-19 and Bangladesh U-19 played an unofficial Twenty20 match upon the request of Nepali side. In the T20 match, Bangladesh put up 141/6. In rpely, Nepal scored 117 runs in the allotted 20 overs losing eight wickets.

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India v England match cannot host - ICC

* BCCI must decide on an alternative venue

* Mumbai's Wankhede and Sri Lanka venues approved (adds details)

The International Cricket Council has ruled out Kolkata's Eden Gardens hosting next month's World Cup match between India and England due to delays in renovation work, the ruling body said in a statement on Thursday.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) must decide on an alternative venue for the Feb. 27 match.

"We will work with the new venue, the tour operators and the ticket distributors to manage the logistical challenges that will surely arise," tournament director Ratnakar Shetty said.

A committee report approved three Sri Lanka venues, Colombo, Hambantota and Pallekele, and Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, the venue for the final, subject to minor finishing work being completed.

The report, however, said Eden Gardens would not be ready within an acceptable time frame to host the match between India and England.

"Of particular concern was the fact that host venue obligations in relation to cricket operations, media, broadcast and sponsorship facilities were not finalised and/or confirmed by the venue," the ICC said.

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India 2011 World Cup Team

India's 2011 World Cup Team

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World Cup 2011 Teams

Group A Teams

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Group B Teams

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