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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.

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

India thump World Champs Australia by 320 runs

India drubbed Australia by 320 runs at Mohali to take a 1-0 lead in the Border-Gavaskar series. This is India’s biggest ever Test win (excluding innings victories).

India dominated this match with everybody chipping in significantly. Debutant Amit Mishra had a 7-wicket match haul, while Sourav Ganguly and Gautam Gambhir slammed centuries in first and second innings respectively. Sachin Tendulkar scored 88. But the ‘Man of the Match’ was the captain himself. MS Dhoni was given the award for his knocks of 92 and 68*.

Scorecard

Congratulate Team India

Earlier, Australia, who resumed the play on Tuesday with their overnight score of 141/5, were bundled before the lunch in reply to India’s 515 runs on the last day of the second Test.

Zaheer Khan fastened India’s winning bid as he took three quick wickets of Brad Haddin, Cameron White and Brett Lee while Amit Mishra wrapped up the proceedings by claiming Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke.

Zaheer struck in the very first over of the fifth day and dismissed Haddin for 37 runs after he added 84 runs with Clarke for the sixth wicket. A good length ball from Zaheer came back to beat Haddin and crash into the middle and off-stump.

In his next over, he got White come forward for the drive. The ball took an outside edge and Dhoni took a good catch behind the wicket. Lee didn’t even last a ball. Zaheer pitched a short stuff that beat Lee and uprooted the off-stump.

After Lee fell, India hoped to finish it quickly but a 50-run partnership between Johnson and Clarke frustrated the hosts. Mishra then foxed Johnson with his flight caught him off his own bowling. Clarke, who slammed a fighting 69, fell as the last wicket as he pulled a good length ball from Mishra and Sehwag at midwicket pouched it safely.

Australian coach Tim Nielsen had confessed after the close of fourth day’s play that team played for a win but the gameplan backfired. Of course, with 515 runs to chase in four sessions on a spinning track can never be easy and playing aggressively cost Australian heavily.

4th innings score in India by visiting team

Inn4 Score Result Margin M Season Venue Target
WI 276-5 W 5 wickets 1 1987-88 Delhi (Feroz SK) 276
NZ 272-6 D drawn 1 2003-04 Ahmedabad (GS) 370
WI 270-7 D drawn 3 1966-67 Chepauk 322
WI 266 L 96 runs 1 1994-95 Wankhede 363
NZ 252-2 D drawn 3 1999-00 Ahmedabad (GS) 424
Aus 212 L 171 runs 2 2000-01 Calcutta 384

October 21, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tendulkar, Ganguly power India on day of milestones

Sachin Tendulkar acknowledges the crowd after becoming Test cricket's highest run-scorer.

Milestones took centre stage as India closed the first day of the second Test on 311-5 against Australia in Mohali on Friday.

Sachin Tendulkar eclipsed Brian Lara to become the leading run-getter in Test cricket, followed it up with a half-century, and added eight more runs to become the first batsman to score 12000 Test runs before falling short of his 40th Test hundred just before stumps. His partner at the other end, Sourav Ganguly secured one of his own by reaching 7000 runs in the longer version of the game.

Ganguly was batting on 54 and nightwatchman Ishant Sharma was unbeaten on two when stumps were called, after India seemed to throw away a near perfect start to their innings after stand-in captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat in the absence of Anil Kumble, who ruled himself out the game.

India would have more tick marks in the honours board, but the wicket of Tendulkar towards the end of day’s play means Australia had removed half of India’s batting order, and the iffy form of Dhoni would surely keep them interested.

After a run-riot in the first session in which India raced to 104-1 in 25 overs, Australia fought back with three quick wickets to leave the hosts on 174-4 at the end of the second session with two new batsmen at the crease, having added just 70 runs in the afternoon session.

Old Pros Shine

This is why Tendulkar and Ganguly’s partnership β€” they added 142 for the fifth wicket β€” became all the more crucial. The hard Mohali surface allowed the batsmen to play their strokes, but had to be wary of further damage to their innings. But it was just the kind of wicket where it’s foolish for a batsman to throw it away after getting a start. Tendulkar could tell, having fallen for 88 to give debutant Peter Siddle his first Test wicket.

Dravid and Laxman had already fallen prey to soft dismissals β€” both edged to the wicketkeeper down the leg side β€” while Sehwag too fell to an edge. At four wickets down and virtually no momentum propelling the score, the duo had to wait for their scoring opportunities.

They came, and they came in plenty. Both Tendulkar and Ganguly were aided by a pitch they could trust, and the occasional loose delivery was promptly dispatched to the boundary, much like Gautam Gambhir did in the morning.

October 17, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment