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.
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.
TWO LEGENDS: Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly smile after India defeated Australia in the second Test in Mohali.
Sourav Ganguly, one of India’s most charismatic cricketers, will be seen for the last time as an international player on Monday. Ganguly is retiring from international cricket after nearly 16 years.
Sachin Tendulkar says the entire country will miss the elegant left-hand batsman, who has often been described as the ‘God of off-side’.
“Everyone will miss Sourav. He is not only my teammate but is a very special player and has contributed a lot to the team and country. He has had a fantastic career and when a player like him retires not only the team but the entire country will miss him,” Tendulkar said.
Ironically, Ganguly’s last Test innings, just like Sir Don Bradman, ended in a duck on Sunday. He was caught and bowled by Jason Krejza in the second innings of the Nagpur Test against Australia off the first ball that he faced.
A bit disappointing for Ganguly, but his fans will look back on his international career with great pride. He started with a century on debut and made a sublime 85 in the first innings of the Nagpur Test against Australia; although he had to end with a golden duck.
So was Ganguly pleased with how his career turned out?
A few days a go in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN’s Sanjeeb Mukherjee, Ganguly had said he would have liked a few more Test runs under against his name.
Sanjeeb Mukherjea: Talking about Sourav Ganguly — the batsman, do you think you neglected your batting?
Sourav Ganguly: No, I didn’t. In terms of my One-Day performance, I think it’s been outstanding. In terms of my Test cricket, I would have loved to have a few more runs but I also batted at No. 5 and No. 6 and although it is not an excuse but I thought that although I have more that 7,000 runs in test cricket, a few more would have been happy to go with.
Sanjeeb Mukherjea: What were the reactions of Sachin, Dravid, Anil and Sehwag, when you broke the news to them?
Sourav Ganguly: I’m sure they knew that at some stage it had to come. It’s going to come for them as well. They were not surprised, they expected it. Everybody has to go in sports. It’s my turn today and it will be their turn sometime.
Sanjeeb Mukherjea: It must have been an emotional moment for you also?
Sourav Ganguly: It wasn’t that emotional buy obviously we would miss it. Initially, you will miss the competitiveness because the pleasure you got by scoring a Test hundred or an One-Day hundred, it cannot be valued by anything else. Every time you get a hundred, you feel ‘this is what I wanted to do and I am still good at it’. That satisfaction will not come from anything else. Financially, when you play for 13-14 years in modern cricket, you are far past well-off. That’s not an issue.
Ganguly made his One-Day debut against the West Indies during the 1991/92 Benson and Hedges World Series Cup at Brisbane Cricket Ground, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, in Australia while his first Test match was against England at Lord’s in 1996.
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.
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 — they added 142 for the fifth wicket — 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 — both edged to the wicketkeeper down the leg side — 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.
Sachin Tendulkar broke Brian Lara’s record for most Test runs in the final session of day one in Mohali when he hit Peter Siddle to third man for two runs. The record stood for nearly two years after Lara played his final Test and it was inevitable that Tendulkar would eventually break it. Incidentally, he is also one-day cricket’s leading run-scorer with 16,631 runs.
Tendulkar was expected to attain the feat in Sri Lanka recently but he endured a poor series with the bat, scoring just 95 runs in three Tests. It was only fitting, though, that he achieved the record against Australia, a team he has tormented several times in the past.
Coincidentally, Lara too achieved the world record against Australia, when he went past Allan Border’s tally of 11,174 runs during the Adelaide Test in 2005. They remain the only three players to cross the 11,000-run mark in Tests. Though it is uncertain how long Tendulkar will prolong his Test career – which has lasted 19 years – the two players who stand the best chance of beating his eventual tally are Rahul Dravid (10,341) and Ricky Ponting (10,239).
One down, four to go. The clock is ticking, and after Sourav Ganguly decided to hang up his boot, it is ticking at a rapid speed for the rest of India’s ‘senior’ players. Anil Kumble has already hinted that he might go the Ganguly way and call it a day after the Australia series. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, all on the wrong side of 30, will be now facing the heat.
It is just a matter of time before the other pillars of Indian cricket decide or are told that it is time for them to go too. So, what next for the men who have lived with the bat and the ball as constant companions?
Sourav Ganguly: In an international career that has spanned over 16 years, Ganguly has paid keen interest to his off-field businesses. A chain of restaurants are only an add-on to the publishing business his family has owned for decades. ‘Dada’ also has a stake in a multi national sports management company.
Considering his demi-god status in West Bengal, if he considers politics as a career option, it can be safe to say that unlike the Indian selectors, political parties will go all out to have him in their ‘team’.
Sachin Tendulkar: Cricket has always been his life and India’s master batsman will surely have a tough time when he decides to live life after cricket. But he has a thriving business in the form of a restaurant called ‘Tendulkar’s’ in the heart of Mumbai.
Commentary might not be a great idea for Tendulkar for obvious reasons but a cricket academy in his name will surely rake in admissions nineteen to a dozen with the hopes of parents across the nation to breed the ‘next Sachin Tendulkar’.
Anil Kumble: India’s Test captain, Anil Kumble is a qualified mechanical engineer and along with his brother Dinesh, promotes a software company called ‘StumpVision’ which has spinned several softwares for cricket lovers.
With his deep baritone, the eloquent Kumble might be already on the radar of several sports channels to hire him as a TV commentator.
Rahul Dravid: ‘The Wall’ of Indian cricket has had his focus just on the game so far and when he decides to quit, he will need a different thinking hat to consider his options. With his orthodox defence and copybook shotmaking ability, Dravid might do well as a batting coach.
He is also said to be one of the most good looking men to have played the game and a career in movies, can mean India finally gets its first cricketer-turned-filmstar, though he might have to work a tad on his emoting skills.
VVS Laxman: Born in a family of doctors, Laxman made the bat his instrument and with almost surgical precision cut the lethal Aussies in several pieces more than once.
He left his MBBS course midway to take up cricket as a full-time profession. Now that the time to bid adieu to the game is not far, the Hyderabad batsman might like to hit the medical books instead of cricket balls a la Main hoon na.
New Delhi: Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, the two most celebrated peers of Sourav Ganguly, on Wednesday paid tributes to the retiring member of the ‘Fab Four’, saying the Bengal stalwart had been a fount of inspiration for his team-mates during his glorious international career.
“He just had a way with people and inspired others with his performances,” Tendulkar told cricketnirvana.
“He’s had a brilliant career and I for one have thoroughly enjoyed playing with him. There have been some memorable moments that he has given to the game and also the immense joy he has given to the team,” said Tendulkar, who had tipped Ganguly as captain when he stepped down from the hot seat in 2000.
Dravid said Ganguly has achieved everything that any cricketer could possibly want in his career.
“What more could he have asked for? He’s seen it all. Played some fascinating knocks in one-dayers; batted well in Tests at home and away; won Tests abroad and led India to a World Cup final,” Dravid said.
“It’s been special to have been part of a middle-order alongside him. I hope I learnt something from him and added something to his cricket,” he added.
Both, however, admitted they were taken by surprise when Ganguly informed of his decision to retire after the series against Australia.
“It came as a surprise as he told us in the dressing room that he was quitting. It was towards the end of practice and I was surprised. I could not even talk to him since he had to rush to the press conference,” revealed Tendulkar.
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