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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

Sourav Ganguly completes 7,000 Test runs

Sourav Ganguly reached a personal landmark on Friday when he became the fourth Indian batsman to cross 7,000 runs during the first day’s play of the second cricket Test against Australia at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium here.

Ganguly’s feat came just an hour after Tendulkar surpassed the record of West Indian Brian Lara as the highest scorer in Test cricket.

The Prince of Kolkata, who will retire from international cricket after the four-Test series, crossed the milestone while on 40 after gliding a Johnson delivery to sweeper cover for a double.

Tendulkar and Ganguly stitched a crucial partnership after India lost four wickets with 163 runs. The reached the duo in the post-tea session of the first day’s play here.

Ganguly took 111 Tests to achieve the feat, in his 12-year illustrious career.

The other three in the 7,000-run category are Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid. Ganguly is the 33rd batsman in world cricket to cross the 7,000-run mark in Tests.

October 20, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

India ride high of Dada’s ton

India were all out for 469 on the second day of the second cricket Test against Australia today (Oct 18). While Sourav Ganguly scored his 16th century (100 of 219 balls) in the longer version of the game, skipper MS Dhoni was unlucky to miss out on a much-deserved ton, when he was declared LBW to Siddle for 92. Earlier, Ganguly, playing in his farewell series, added more than 100 runs with the stand-in captain to frustrate the Australian bowlers on an unresponsive pitch. The former skipper batted for more than five hours, hitting nine fours after adding 142 runs for the fifth wicket with Tendulkar on Friday to rescue India from 163 for four.

Resuming on 311 for five, India lost night-watchman Ishant Sharma (9) in the fourth over of the day and much of the credit goes to Australian captain Ricky Ponting who plotted the dismissal with a field setting that was spot on. Peter Siddle banged one short which Ishant fended and Simon Katich took the looping dolly at leg gully, completing the cycle.

Dhoni announced his arrival by hitting the first ball, from Brett Lee, to the ropes and then whacked Siddle over fine leg ropes for the first six of the match. Siddle was again worked past point and Shane Watson thumped through covers as Dhoni decided to impose himself on the Australian attack.

All along, Ganguly was quiet, dealing only in singles and twos. Playing his last series and with a century in sight, the left-hander was content grafting it at one end. Not for once, he went for the aerial route and even Cameron White could not draw him out of the crease as Ganguly nudged along and pushed more than he drove. He pulled Brett Lee for his first four of the day early this morning before retreating into a cocoon. Little before the lunch break, he flicked Mitchell Johnson and on-drove White for two more boundaries to get into the 90s.

Earlier on Day One, India finished day one at 311 for five wickets, which involved couple of partnerships. Openers Gautam Gambhir (67) put up a 70-run partnership with Virender Sehwag (35) and later Tendulkar(88) and Ganguly (batting 54) propped up India with a 142-run stand.

October 18, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

President congratulates Tendulkar

President Pratibha Patil on Friday congratulated Sachin Tendulkar for becoming the highest Test run-getter in the world.

“You have given joy to countless Indians with your batting,” the President said in her congratulatory message to the master batsman.

Tendulkar surpassed former West Indian captain Brian Lara’s record of 11,953 runs on the opening day of the second cricket Test against Australia in Mohali.

October 17, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General, Politics, 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 — 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.

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

Tendulkar breaks Lara’s record

Sachin Tendulkar went past Brian Lara’s tally of 11,953 Test runs © AFP

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).

October 17, 2008 Posted by | Cricket, General | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

Life after Cricket for India’s ‘Seniors’

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.

October 9, 2008 Posted by | Cricket | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tendulkar, Dravid salute ‘Inspirational’ Dada

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.

October 9, 2008 Posted by | Cricket | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment