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Pakistan unsafe: Dhoni, Tendulkar tell Board

The Marriott Hotel in Islamabad after the Sept. 21 bombing. The hotel was used by international cricket teams.

DOWN: The Marriott Hotel in Islamabad after the Sept. 21 bombing. The hotel was used by international cricket teams.

Top Indian cricket players, including captain M S Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, are unwilling to tour Pakistan in January because they fear for their security.

Sources tell that senior players have expressed their concern to the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI). The team is scheduled to play three Tests and five ODIs from January 4 to February 19 tour in Pakistan.

Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh too have expressed their unwillingness to tour Pakistan. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has assured foolproof security but the Indians believe the threat during the tour would be severe.

PCB chief Ejaz Butt is scheduled to visit India soon to try and convince the BCCI but that plea is now likely to fall on deaf ears.

It is known that the Ministry of External Affairs is unlikely to permit the Indian team to tour Pakistan.

Early November, the government refused to permit the Indian junior hockey team to tour Pakistan due to security concerns.

The Associated Press reports the International Cricket Council deferred the Champions Trophy in September after five of the eight participating teams refused to compete at the biennial tournament that is considered the second most prestigious one-day event after the World Cup.

The PCB has said it would consider playing India at a neutral venue or possibly switch series as alternatives. Pakistan is due to tour India in 2010.

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November 26, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

India is the new Australia: Wasim Akram

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s leadership has changed the face of Indian cricket, according to Pakistan’s pace legend Wasim Akram who believes it is a matter of time before India upstages Australia as the number one team in the world.

Akram said Dhoni has completely transformed the team ever since he took over the mantle of captaincy and that Indian cricket was on the right track with a number of talented players in their ranks.

“Dhoni has changed the face of Indian cricket, there is no doubt about that. He leads from the front, he has charisma and players like him. You can’t ask for anything more,” Akram said in a telephonic interview.

“He has given the team the confidence. The players now believe that they can go and beat any team and it is this confidence that has helped India to bring about the desired results,” the former Pakistan captain said.

Akram, regarded as one of the finest left-arm speedsters with 414 Test and 502 ODI wickets to his credit in a career spanning nearly 17 years, said Dhoni had also brought about a refreshing change in his attitude and approach to matches.

“It does not matter whether Sachin Tendulkar is resting or some other players are injured, the Indians are so confident that they go out and do the job. It was not the case about six or seven years ago, India did not have that confidence,” he observed.

“If the captain leads from the front, half the job is done. That is what I like about Dhoni. He is cool, comes out with few quotes and gets the best out of his players,” Akram said.

“Leading the Chennai team in the upcoming Champions League will be a good challenge for him since there will be a lot of international teams,” he said.

Asked whether India would be able to topple Australia as the number one team in the near future, Akram said “India is the new Australia. I think they are on the right track to achieve that”.

Akram also lavished praise on India’s new pace sensation Ishant Sharma saying the Delhi youngster had improved by leaps and bounds in the last few months.

“Ishant has been a revelation. He has really improved in the last few months and I think he is a real asset to India,” Akram said about the paceman who emerged as the man-of-the-series in the recent Test series against Australia.

“After the Australian tour late last year, his length was slightly short. But he has now rectified that and was simply brilliant in the recent series against Australia. The way he bowled, it seemed he had been around in Test cricket for five years or so,” he said.

The cricketer-turned-commentator said Ishant will only get better with time but also cautioned that the youngster needed to be handled well to prolong his career.

“He (Ishant) will get quicker and better with time, there is no doubt about it. He just has to keep himself fit as fast bowling is hard work,” Akram pointed out.

He said the Indian bowling line-up looked quite balanced at the moment and the presence of an in-form Zaheer Khan has provided a lot more sting.

“Zaheer has been fantastic. He has bowled the reverse swing well, got the ball to swing in and out… he has become a complete bowler now. He really provides that cutting edge to the attack,” he said.

“India always had good spinners but I am happy to see these pacemen developing. They are winning matches for India”, Akram said.

The ex-pacer said Harbhajan Singh was capable enough to shoulder the responsibility in the spin department following the retirement of champion leg spinner Anil Kumble.

“Harbhajan is a good spinner. It is now upto him to take upon the responsibility in the spin department. I think he is capable of doing it and also has the experience”.

Akram also credited India’s rise as a cricketing nation to the planning done by the BCCI over the last few years.

“Credit must also go the BCCI for India’s rise in recent times. They have planned and implemented everything well. The results have started coming now,” he added.

November 24, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, India Related, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

India win the Border-Gavaskar trophy

India create history in Nagpur, as they bring home the Border-Gavaskar Trophy

The nation revelled today (Nov 10), as India, under the captaincy of MS Dhoni, created history by registering a 172 run victory in the fourth and final Test at Nagpur against world champions Australia, to bring home the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-0 series win. India now lead the overal series wins by 4-3 in the last decade.

This historic Test also saw the end of one the most celebrated Indian cricketers career — Sourav Ganguly. The classically elegant Ganguly had announced that he will play his last Test in this Orange City before hanging up his boots.

Earlier, set the daunting task of scoring an imposing 382 to win the fourth and final Test against India, Australia were tottering at 111 for three wickets at lunch on the fifth and final day in Nagpur today.

As play resumed post lunch India continued to inch closer to victory with their spinners bringing about the dismissal of the dangerous Michael Hussey and Matthew Hayden. Soon, the Australian wicketkeeper too fell prey to the spin web wound by India as he fell prey to Amit Mishra having been caught by Sachin Tendulkar at mid-on.

This catch has given the Master Blaster another berth in the record books, as he claims his 100th Test catch.  The batting maestro, who holds several batting records in Tests and ODIs, reached the milestone in his 154th Test to follow compatriots Rahul Dravid (179), Sunil Gavaskar (108), VVS Laxman and Mohd Azharuddin (105) into the record book. The world record for the most number of catches in a Test career, 181 in 128 matches, stands in the name of Mark Waugh of Australia.

Soon, Shane Watson too fell prey to the the 300 wicket taker Harbhajan Singh for nine runs. In no time, leg spinner Amit Mishra got rid of ten wicket hauler on debut Jason Krejza and Brett Lee.

Mitchel Johnson and Cameroon White looked to consolidate and defend towards the end of the innings, however, failed to save the Test as Bhajji claimed the last wicket of Johnson.

Brief scores: India: 441 and 295
Australia 355 and 209 (Matthew Hayden 77; Amit Mishra 4/64, Harbhajan Singh 3/27)

Earlier, the batsmen out in the visitors’ second innings, after they had commenced at the overnight 13 for no loss, were first innings centurion Simon Katich (16), captain Ricky Ponting (8) and his deputy Michael Clarke (22), promoted up the order in quest for quick runs despite being unwell.

Ishant Sharma, India’s most successful bowler of the four-Test rubber, was easily the pick of the attack this morning and accounted for Katich and Clarke, while Ponting was run out through a brilliant piece of fielding and throwing by Amit Mishra.

The home team should have ended the session with more Australian wickets in their clutch but for a few dropped catches and a few edges that eluded the slip cordon.

November 10, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BCCI felicitates ‘Fab Four’


VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly, and Sachin Tendulkar during a felicitation

Former captains Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly reposed faith in Mahendra Singh Dhoni and expressed hopes that under him, India would emerge as the number one team in the world.

“I know for the fact that this team under MS and (coach) Gary (Kirsten) will soon become the number one team. We have that talent,” an optimist Kumble said after he, along with Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman were felicitated by the BCCI.

Ganguly, India’s most successful captain ever, shared Kumble’s view and said, “MS and Gary are our two torch-bearers and I hope they would take Indian cricket forward.”

Ganguly, who is playing his last Test here, took the occasion to thank all and said though he didn’t endear to all, he always had the team interest in mind.

“It was a long journey with lots of ups and downs, victory and loss but it was wonderful. Sharing the dressing room with the likes of Anil, Sachin, Rahul (Dravid) and Laxman has been an honour and privilege.

“During the journey, I made both friends and enemies but it was all for the good of Indian cricket,” said the left-hander.

Kumble individually thanked almost each and every teammate even though Tendulkar came in for special praise. “When he first came into the international scene, whole India said ‘you’d break every batting record’ and he had the talents to prove all right…

“With Rahul, I have shared a special bond, he was my Karnataka teammate as well. We have had some fantastic moments and I say ‘you have been the backbone of Indian cricket. All the success we had came because of your contribution’,” Kumble said.

Kumble was equally effusive in his praise for Ganguly and said, “Under you, we’ve learnt how to win Tests abroad. Besides, we have always cherished your batting.”

On Laxman, who is playing his 100th Test here, Kumble felt the right hander didn’t get his dues despite bailing out the team from difficult situations.

For his spin partner Harbhajan Singh, Kumble said, “I will miss bowling with you from the other end. From now onwards, you’d lead the (spin) attack. You are close to a personal landmark (of 300 Test wickets) and I’m sure one day you’ll become the highest wicket-taker for India.”

On Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan, Kumble said, “I have played lot with both Veeru and Zak. Veeru is a very special talent and both he and Zak would lead the Indian batting and bowling.

“To all other members of the team, I wish you a great career ahead. Before this Test series against Australia, we sat and decided in Bangalore that we have to win this series. We are very close to that and I hope you guys will win it.”

Talking about Kumble and Ganguly, Tendulkar paid a rich tribute to both and said, “Sourav had lots of ups and downs in his career but has shown great determination and delivered tremendous performance. We’ve opened in lot of ODIs and know each other’s game very well.

“Anil too showed 100 percent determination. He broke his jaw in West Indies but returned with a plastered jaw and removed Brian Lara,” Tendulkar said.

“We’ll miss Sourav and Anil, as will the entire country,” he added.

November 7, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

After battling draw, it’s the war of words

Australian captain Ricky Ponting greets Sourav Ganguly after the first cricket Test ended in draw in Bangalore.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting greets Sourav Ganguly after the first cricket Test ended in draw in Bangalore.

As soon as the on-field battle ended in a draw, the war of words kicked off. While collecting his Man of the Match award, Indian pacer Zaheer Khan said that the Aussies hadn’t been aggressive enough. And that triggered an exchange of words between the two camps.
Since there have been quite a few on-field scraps between the rival players during this hotly-contested Test, and in most contests between these countries in the recent past, should mean an entertaining few days between Tests.

Zaheer’s comments were in context of Australia’s run rate — which stayed under three — in both the innings, as well as the defensive fields set by Ricky Ponting, who employed a sweeper on both sides of the wicket for most parts.

But Ponting, who addressed the media after the match, said that the Indian pacer didn’t know what he was talking about. “We were the only ones here trying to take the game forward. We played aggressive cricket. I’m not sure what he means by that (statement). He can have a little bit of a chuckle to himself on the inside, that’s what I have to say to him. I don’t think it means too much to us,” he said. Later he added that it was the Indian team that was known to play for draws.

And once Ponting was done, Zaheer walked in from the Indian camp, ensuring that the issue simmered. “They generally play at four runs an over, but that was not the case here,” he said. After that he went on to comment about the Australian bowling attack. “Look, they (Aussies) couldn’t get us out twice, they couldn’t pick up 20 wickets… they couldn’t even get me and Bhajji out so what are they talking about?” he said.The Indian pacer also commented on the Australian spin-department. “On this fifth day pitch the spinners looked a long way from getting a wicket. Not just that even their seamers didn’t get many,” said Zaheer.

Ponting did admit though that his side missed a quality spinner. “A quality spinner might have made things a little different today. We’ve got a couple of days to recover from this game now and we hope to play hard Cricket in Mohali as well,” he said.

October 14, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment