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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.

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

Disgusted Dhoni denies rift with selectors

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.

November 22, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dhoni asked for character certificate to get gun license

Dhoni enjoys \'Z\' category security and has a non-prohibited gun license.

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.

November 13, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ganguly: I won’t miss cricket

Goodbye Dada!

Sourav Ganguly, who returned home to Kolkata to a rousing welcome from fans Tuesday said he would not miss cricket.

The former India skipper also said like to meet the soccer legend Diego Maradona when he comes to Kolkata.

“I just want to see him,” Ganguly said referring to the Argentine footballer.

Having returned to his home town after playing his last Test at Nagpur, Ganguly said that he would, however, miss the company of his teammates.

At his Behala residence Ganguly told reporters: “We share a good camaraderie among ourselves. We make fun and crack jokes together. I don’t think I will miss cricket but will miss the companions.” Reiterating that he will not change his retirement decision, Ganguly said: “In sports, you have to retire one day. It’s about physical ability. Once you start playing, you have to call it quits some day. It’s like when you are born you have to die … All great players like Maradona, Pele, Sampras and Gavaskar retired…” Ganguly picked his Lord’s debut Test, his first captaincy and the recent series win as his Big Three moments.

About his future plans, Ganguly ruled out commentary as an option.

“There are a lot of opportunities coming in. But, at present, there is no such plan to do commentary … It needs lot of travelling.” Ganguly added that he is yet to decide on his future plans.

“You have to wait and see … I have not thought about it yet. IPL is in April there’s a long way to go … But I will definitely do something that will contribute to the game.”

On the 2-0 series win to clinch the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Ganguly said, “We outplayed them in all the departments … We celebrated a lot. It was fantastic. We had lot of drinks as we never done in life. We had great fun … Anil and I were there present and celebrated our win till 1 in the night.” Praising Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he added, “He (Dhoni) has done well as captain in his last one year tenure and I am sure, he will take India cricket forward. There’s a lot of talented players it depends how they transform them into performance.” Earlier, there was chaos at the airport as large number of fans gathered to welcome him.

His car was mobbed and halted before he was escorted by the pilot vehicles from the VVIP exit of the airport.

Police had to resort to mild baton charge to calm down the situation as Ganguly’s black SUV with his wife Dona and daughter Sana on board made way to their Behala residence.

There were chants of “Dada Dada … Ami tumake bhulchhi na, bhulbo na… (Dada we are not going to forget you).” Some waved the Tricolour while others carried Ganguly’s posters.

The CAB will organise a grand function at the Eden Gardens on December 7 to felicitate Sourav in a befitting manner.

November 12, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ganguly: I see a lot of myself in Dhoni

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.

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

Sourav Ganguly misses century; Five for Jason Krejza

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.

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

Tendulkar ton, poor fielding deny Aussies the edge

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.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anil Kumble retires from cricket

It was only fitting that Anil Kumble announced his retirement in Delhi, the scene of his greatest bowling effort, at the end of which he was carried off the field by teammates in an emotional farewell © AFP

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.”

Anil Kumble: “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’.” © Getty Images

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.

November 4, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment