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.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Nov 22, 2008 denied rift with selectors on dropping of Rudra Pratap Singh and preferring all-rounder Irfan Pathan for the remaining part of the on-going One-Day series against England.
“I don’t know who is spreading this kind of rumors. Whoever is leaking confidential matters to the press is not doing any good for the well being of cricket. I don’t want to deny or admit what transpires during the meeting because it is supposed to be confidential. If someone has leaked confidential matters to the press it is just not done. I want to know who the source was. As far as I am concerned there was no rift with the selectors on any issue,” Dhoni told reporters on the eve of the fourth One-Day match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
“It is unfortunate that such rumors are being spread when the team is doing so well and we are on the threshold of achieving yet another series victory. I should admit this kind of distractions are not good for the game in general and for the team in particular. The selection matters should always remain inside the four walls and moreover it is the selectors job to pick the best possible team,” he added.
It is understood that one of the selectors leaked about Dhoni’s threat to quit as captain of the Indian team if Irfan Pathan was preferred ahead of R P Singh during the selection meeting in Kanpur after the hosts beat England by 16 runs on Duckworth-Lewis Method.
However, Dhoni, who first denied the rift vehemently but later on softened his stance and wanted to know who was leaking out confidential matters to the press wanted to know the name of the person responsible when a scribe tried to grill him on this matter.
“if you (scribe) got the news over phone from someone, why don’t you name that person. By naming that person, you will be doing a great service to the team as what transpires in a meeting is not supposed to be leaked by anyone,” he thundered.
“Thankfully, our team is very united and both R P and Irfan understand that the best 16 boys get to play for the country. Luckily I don’t have to explain to RP or Irfan about anything as they trust me fully. In fact the whole team trusts each other and I should say that it has been a very short but fruitful journey as a player and captain so far. Though this unwanted event (rumors of rift) has turned out to be an eventful journey as well,” he added.
GUNNED DOWN: Dhoni enjoys ‘Z’ category security and has a non-prohibited gun license.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been asked by the Ranchi District Arms Magistrate to produce a character certificate for getting a license to keep a 9mm pistol.
The Magistrate recently wrote to Dhoni that he should furnish a Swachchhata Praman Patra (character certificate) if he wished to procure the weapon in view of the increasing criminal activities in Jharkhand, police said on Wednesday.
The certificate could be obtained from SP (Special Branch), SP (Vigilance) and SP (CID), said the letter, in the first official communication after the cricketer applied for the weapon in September.
Annoyed over the requirement of ‘character certificate’ from their hero, a group of Dhoni fans on Wednesday demonstrated at the Elbert Ekka Chowk.
Dhoni enjoys ‘Z’ category security and has a non-prohibited gun license.
Arguably the most successful Indian skipper ever, Sourav Ganguly says he sees a lot of himself in Dhoni
Arguably the most successful Indian skipper ever, Sourav Ganguly says he sees a lot of himself in
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and reckons that the charismatic new captain will go on to better his record and further enhance India’s stature in international cricket.
“He has done fantastically well. Captaincy is a task, it’s not just about being a good player. He will be tested when India plays abroad and if the boys do well under him then it will be great. I am sure he will take Indian cricket forward,” said Ganguly, whose last Test saw India clinching the Border-Gavaskar Trophy by winning the fourth and final match.
“I did what I felt was right. I’m a captain who did not believe in the drawing board but react to what happens on the field of play. I see a lot of myself in Dhoni. He also doesn’t like meetings. In fact he sees things better than me. He has also had a bit of luck that a captain needs,” he added.
Ganguly said a captain is only as good as his team but he did have a huge role to play in enhancing India’s reputation. “Most important thing is that a captain is as good as a player. Raising India’s image in world cricket especially as a touring side is my legacy in Indian cricket. We, at present, are a formidable side both home and away,” he said.
Ganguly said he would not be missing the Indian dressing room as he was leaving with happy memories of being part of a team that beat the world’s best side 2-0 in the series. “I don’t think I would miss the dressing room. I have had a good innings and it’s time to leave. I am leaving with happy memories that it ended with a win for India. A 2-0 win over the world’s best team was the best that could have happened after all the doubts arising after the Sri Lanka series (where India lost)”, Ganguly said.
“I have played well and the team has played outstandingly well. To win the series 2-0 was very satisfying. We had dominated (the proceedings) after the first Test (at Bangalore),” said the former captain. Ganguly, who was asked to lead the team on the field for a brief while when India was close to winning the fourth and final Test against Australia before being chaired off the ground after India’s 172-run win, said he would forever cherish the moments that he lived today.
“In terms of team performance the way this Test has finished was one of the best ever. I want to cherish it for long. Everyone has chipped in throughout the series. Somehow we manage to pick up when we play against Australia,” said the veteran of 113 Tests. “I enjoyed my last few days and the last few hours. I was
asked to lead for five overs, did it for three overs and then told Dhoni that it was not my job,” he said.
The stylish left-hander side-stepped queries on past controversies like his public spat with former coach Greg Chappell. “Let’s keep the controversies aside. It’s a happy day for Indian cricket. The past is past, let’s not talk about it,” he said.
Ganguly said the first-ball duck in the second innings didn’t disappoint him as much as missing a hundred by 15 runs in the first innings. “I am not disappointed with the first-ball duck, getting out on 85 in the first innings was more disappointing as I was so close to a hundred. I don’t think the last duck has made it (my career) any more dramatic, it’s been dramatic anyway,” he put it succinctly.
Ganguly said he rated the 100 on debut at Lord’s against England in 1996 as his most cherished innings. He said the blazing century he made against Australia as captain in the 2004 series at Brisbane was also close to his heart. “The first Test hundred at Lord’s is always special to me. The 2001 series against Australia here and the 2004 series against them in Australia are my best series. We have won in Pakistan and England but to win against Australia is always special,” he said.
Ask any purist and he would tell you what a sight it is when Sourav Ganguly dances down the track to loft a spinner over his head. The frequency of those humongous sixes has diminished over time, but in his final Test match, the southpaw put the sublime on display as he moved to 80 not out in perhaps his penultimate innings in Test cricket. Not just did he dance down the pitch but threaded the offside with the timing people now associate him with his retirement.
The Indians had made their intentions clear on the opening day of the final Test itself, and Ganguly kept it going as Jason Krejza was dismissed over long-on for a six, and then repeated the act for a boundary after completing his half-century. India saw off the first session to be 404-5 at lunch on a day when Australia’s bowlers not only looked flat but pedestrian. Along with Dhoni, the sixth wicket stood on an unbeaten 101 runs.
Australia started the second day with Jason Krejza despite operating with the second new ball. Brett Lee took the ball from the other end, but it was more than a tactical error. Mitchell Johnson, the pick of Australian bowlers this series, has been off-colour in the final Test, often spraying wide of off-stump and far too full.
India’s first day total of 311-5 was more or less identical to that of Mohali, where the hosts established a 1-0 series lead with a 320-run victory. The turn of events were also similar, with a mini-collapse followed by a resolute stand before losing Sachin Tendulkar towards the end of day’s play.
Even the start to the second day was similar, with Ganguly and Dhoni putting on 56 in the first hour of play. The only difference was the role reversal between the batsmen, with Ganguly taking the attack to the bowlers while Dhoni’s knock was comparatively reserved to his whirlwind 92 in Mohali.
There couldn’t have been more perfect a beginning to international cricket at the VCA Jamtha Stadium here. Sourav Ganguly’s farewell and VVS Laxman’s 100th Test had already built up the stakes, before Sachin Tendulkar made it consummate with a magnificent 40th Test hundred.
India closed the opening day of the fourth and final Test against Australia on 311-5 with the retiring Sourav Ganguly batting on 27 and captain MS Dhoni four not out, after Dhoni’s decision to bat first on a batting paradise nearly backfired. But Laxman’s calm 64 and Tendulkar’s classy 109 steadied India with their 146-run fifth wicket stand before both fell in the final session of play.
A freak two-wicket burst from debutant Jason Krejza before lunch after being hammered around the park was not enough to slow down Tendulkar, whose latest milestone became his 10th century against the Australians.
The Australians have a reputation of giving it back to their opponents on the field. Michael Clarke was helped on to his century in the previous Test in Delhi by three dropped chances. Australia returned the favour to Tendulkar through Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee, who grassed sitters when the batsman was on 85 and 96 respectively.
Australia seemed to have lost the initiative as getting rid of Tendulkar on the back of Laxman’s wicket would have put on added pressure. However, Johnson’s strike towards the end of day’s play still keeps the game intriguingly poised.
It could have been worse for the Australians had a belligerent Virender Sehwag not thrown away his wicket for 66. The opener tore into Lee and Johnson, who went for five runs an over in their respective opening spells, which also gave a significant boost to debutant Murali Vijay at the other end.
Anil Kumble has announced his retirement from cricket, saying the finger injury he sustained on the third day of the Test helped him make his decision. The news was made public minutes after the tea break on the final day; Kumble then bowled four overs before the match was called off as a draw.
“The body was asking questions every day,” he said. “It was not easy to keep bowling the way I have been bowling the last 18 years, to keep going. The injury I had on the third day probably helped me make the decision.”
The captaincy now passes on to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who already leads India in the shorter forms of the game.
Kumble made the formal announcement at the post-match press conference, at which he received a standing ovation from the journalists crowded into the room. He doffed his cap and sat down to speak to the media one last time as an India player and captain. He stayed composed throughout the conference, which took place minutes after the emotional farewell he had received on the field.
Kumble had decided to quit last night but took his time in letting his team-mates know, lest it took their focus off the match. “I did inform my team-mates, who I have played with all these years, one by one during the day,” Kumble said. “Then I informed the chairman of the selection committee just after lunch. I did inform the board as well.”
It took a “nasty injury” to finally push Kumble into retirement. He has had a shoulder injury before, and has been troubled by it, but at 38, the “pretty deep” cut proved too much. “You could see the flesh. There are 11 stitches,” Kumble said. “The doctor said I had to undergo the procedure under general anesthesia. I told him, ‘If you give me general anesthesia I’ll lose time, I’d like to go there and bowl.’ He said ‘Look, it’s a medical decision, not a cricketing decision.”
“The stitches will come out only on November 8, which is the third day of the Nagpur Test. I don’t think it was easy for me to bat or field. I wouldn’t have been 100% and I didn’t want to let the team down. Anyway I had more or less decided this would be my last series.”
Kumble has never given the team less than 100% and he said wanted to be remembered most for that. “I definitely put the team above self, right through my career,” Kumble said. “I believe Indian cricket has certainly gone further from the time when I started, in terms of results, not just in India but also abroad.
“And I am confident that with this young team, with a few of the experienced senior players still being a part of the team, we have an opportunity to dominate world cricket and be No. 1 in all forms of the game. In one-day cricket we’re pretty close to the top, in Twenty20 we’re No. 1, I don’t think we are that far behind in Tests as well and it will be great to see that happen.”
An important part of that surge towards Test leadership would be a series win against Australia. Kumble said he will there in Nagpur to see whether the team can do that. “Ideally I would have liked to finish in Nagpur,” Kumble said. “At this moment, I don’t think I will be traveling with the team, but I will certainly go to Nagpur. I want to see Sourav’s last Test match, and also wish Laxman on his 100th. And win the series. That is the ultimate goal for all of us. I would like to be a part of that.”
It has been a long road for Kumble – 18 years – on which he has come across many highs and lows. “I had to go through a lot of things in the early part of my career,” Kumble said. “People questioning my ability, my fitness, my form, my bowling and the effectiveness of my bowling. I had to go through that then, now right at the end of my career, and even in the middle.
In that sense, after the shoulder surgery [in 2001], I’ve done exceptionally well to have played eight years. To have bowled so many overs and to have got so many wickets, the second phase was certainly more satisfying. We had a lot more victories, not just in India but also abroad: especially the Australia series in 2004, the Pakistan series after that, West Indies and England where we won. All of them were a challenge and to come out triumphant was special.”
The retirement decision, in the end, came easy for Kumble. “The body tells you how far you can go,” he said. “I kept challenging – as a cricketer you are always competitive, always saying, ‘I can do it’. Whether you can or not only time will tell. I kept getting responses from the body saying that you can’t. I fought that, I took various painkillers and tried all sorts of things, but ultimately one injury to the hand said ‘enough now’. I was also not bowling at my best and you want to keep performing at a level that you are satisfied with. That was not happening so I thought this was the right time to move on.”
For a moment as emotional as this, Kumble ended on a humorous note. “At this moment I would like to thank my family, my parents, who gave me all the encouragement, supported me and asked me to bowl legspin. Although I am still trying to find out how I can bowl legspin.
“Thank you all for all the support I have received right through my career. I’ve built some great friendships and met some fantastic people along the way. You’ll probably start calling me from tomorrow for quotes about somebody else. Give me a break for a couple of days and I’ll certainly take all your calls.” Like he has unfailingly answered the Indian team’s calls for the last 18 years.
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