Monday, November 28, 2011

Pointing ambitious to win for australia

Ricky Ponting has fired a warning shot to New Zealand ahead of next Thursday's first Test in Brisbane, insisting that a big score is just around the corner.
The 36-year-old showed glimpses that his best is not far away in a gritty 62 that helped Australia chase down 310 in the second Test against South Africa in Johannesburg last week.
Although that was his first half-century in 14 Test match innings, Ponting - who has scored 12,557 Test runs - is positive that his hard work will pay off sooner rather than later.
"Someone's going to pay at some stage," said Ponting.
"I'm working too hard for someone not to pay. That's the way I'm looking at it. I honestly believe in my own heart that I have still got what it takes to be one of the best players in world cricket.
"I'm searching high and low to find the answers to get me back to where I want to be. I saw glimpses of some really positive stuff through the South African tour. Obviously to get some runs in the last innings of the last Test was satisfying as well knowing how hard I had worked."
Ponting denied suggestions he would need to be tapped on the shoulder when it was time to retire with the Tasmanian adamant that he still had the drive and desire to play at the highest level for his country.
"I totally understand why I'm being asked the questions I'm being asked (about his future) but, at the same token, I believe I'm good enough to be in the team and that I'm good enough to win games for Australia," he said.
"If I keep doing the work that I'm doing and not getting the results, then maybe it's time but, at the moment, I don't feel that time is here just yet. I feel there's enough there to want to keep working hard.
"Having spoken to a lot of the other guys that have retired in the last few years, I was captain when (Justin) Langer, (Adam) Gilchrist, (Shane) Warne and all those guys stood down, so I know the things that were going through their minds.
"What they said about it was they just didn't have the drive or desire to work as hard as they needed to work to get their games back on track again. With me, there's no doubting that at all."
With Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and teenage sensation Pat Cummins all ruled out of the Gabba Test, talk on Ponting's future has cooled, with the focus turning to just who will be called up for the opening Test of the Australian summer.
Ponting offered a glowing endorsement of Victorian quick James Pattinson and New South Welshman David Warner, with the pair likely to be two of a possible three Test debutants in Brisbane.
"James is a terrific young bloke and a very good bowler. His record for Victoria is getting better and better. He is one that has been around our group for a while. (He was) probably a little bit unlucky not to be in the Test squad on our last trip to South Africa, but he made room for Patty (Cummins) and we know what Patty has done over the last couple of weeks.
"He (Warner) is the sort of guy who is going to be able to step up to the next level.
"His last (Sheffield) Shield games ... he's scored a lot of runs and whenever he has played for Australia in Twenty20s or one-dayers he has generally done a pretty good job. He's been in pretty rare form of late as well. So we are all excited to see him play."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ind vs WI play a thrilling draw

India looked firm favourites heading into the final two overs of the match as they needed six runs to reach their victory target of 243, with three wickets in hand and first-innings centurion Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma at the crease.
However, West Indies pacemen Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards limited the home side to just five runs to help earn their side a draw as scores finished level.

During those two tension-filled overs Rampaul bowled Sharma for 10 and then, off the final ball of the match, Ashwin was run out for 14 going for a second run that would have won India the match, the hosts finishing on 242 for nine.

A draw looked the most likely outcome at the start of the final day, but few could have predicted the manner in which it came about - with all four results still possible even up until the last over as the match ebbed one way and then the other.

India appeared to have put themselves in control after spinners Pragyan Ojha and Ashwin had ripped through the tourists' batting line-up in the morning session.

Ojha finished with a career-best six for 47 while Ashwin snared the other four as the West Indies, having scored 590 in their first innings, lost eight wickets for 43 in a 60-minute spell before lunch to crash to 134 all out.

That stunning collapse set India a victory target of 243 off 64 overs and opener Virender Sehwag gave his side a flying start with a typically aggressive half-century, although he also rode his luck in the process.

The big-hitting opener survived three dropped catches as he powered his way to 60 at almost a run-a-ball, a knock that included eight boundaries, before he fell just after India had brought up their 100.

Sehwag's dismissal brought Sachin Tendulkar to the wicket but the home favourite, still chasing that elusive 100th international ton, could only make three before he was also sent back.

When West Indies made their third big breakthrough in quick succession as Rahul Dravid was sent back for 33, the match looked to be swinging back towards the tourists as India found themselves 113 for four.

Darren Sammy's men continued to plug away and the dismissals of VVS Laxman (31) and home captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (13) saw India reduced to 189 for six.

Still any result was possible at that stage, but Virat Kohli looked to have put India back in charge as he guided his side to within 19 runs of victory with four wickets remaining.

However, his exit for 63 then put the match back in the balance and although India still looked the likeliest winners in the closing stages, they could not get over the finishing line as the West Indies - particularly Rampaul (three for 56) and Edwards (one for 28) - kept their cool.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Praveen kumar ruled out of ODI series against WI

Praveen Kumar has been ruled out of the Barabati ODI as India eye domination over West Indies in the five-match ODI series starting on Tuesday.
"Praveen Kumar has a niggle so he is not available for first ODI. We expect him to join the squad tomorrow and be fit for the second match," Sehwag- the stand-in-captain said ahead of the match.

India, who are a dominant force in the 50-over format and the world champions, will be aiming for nothing less than a 5-0 whitewash, a winning margin they recently inflicted on a strong England side

With Mahendra Singh Dhoni getting some much-needed rest ahead of the gruelling tour of Australia, Virender Sehwag will lead the side. Sehwag has not seen any action in this format since the memorable ICC Cricket World Cup win on April 2.

Having missed out on the One-day series in England because of a hearing problem, Sehwag returned in recently concluded Test series against the Windies with his sparkling form intact even though a big score eluded him.

The 33-year-old Delhi player has led the side in seven matches, winning four of them, though he is yet to get a half-century as a captain with 44 as his best score.

When Sehwag last captained India in place of Dhoni, the side had chased down Sri Lanka's 316 in Kolkata in 2009.

Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma will form the three pillars of the Indian middle order and with the trio in fine form; the hosts can be assured of a good show from them.

Raina, who turned 25 on Sunday, scored his personal best of unbeaten 204 against Punjab in a Ranji Trophy match recently.

The stylish southpaw who has centuries in all the three formats will look to make it count with an in-form Kohli.

Fresh from his 175 against Railways and 100 vs Rajasthan in the recent Ranji Trophy matches, Rohit is also back in the one-day fold after missing out on England tour due to injury.

Following a double century and century in two matches, Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary too retains the place alongside Ajinkya Rahane, even though the duo may not get a chance to figure in the XI till India seal the series.

In the absence of Dhoni, Parthiv Patel will be the man in charge behind the stumps while the middle order will also miss another star player in Yuvraj Singh who is battling a non-malignant tumor in his lung.

But even without the star powers of Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj and Dhoni, the Indian batting will remain India's main strength.

In fact, India have the prowess to bat as deep as number nine with all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and off-spinner R Ashwin giving ample show of their talent with the bat.

Fresh from a century and a five-for in the same Test match, Ashwin will add that sting to the exciting batting line-up, while the Indians will not be short on bowling ammunition either.

The just concluded Test series saw the emergence of young Indian bowlers with the spin duo of Pragyan Ojha and Ashwin leading the attack remarkably well, taking 42 of the 60 West Indies wickets.

In the pace line-up, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron too looked hungry for success as they played a perfect fiddle to pace spearhead Ishant Sharma.

With Ojha and Sharma not figuring in the one-day scheme of things, Ashwin will lead the spin front while leg-spinner Rahul Sharma will hope to make his ODI debut.

West Indies in their last one-day appearance were skittled out for a mere 61 against minnows Bangladesh and Indian spinners will once again look to stifle the spin-weary visitors.

Dew being a factor in the second innings, India will hope to win the toss and elect to field to chase a total, something they had done successfully in their last two outings in Cuttack.

"We will take all the precautionary measures like spraying and mopping, but dew cannot be ruled out," curator Pankaj Pattanaik said, predicting a total of around 300.

For West Indies, who lacked experience in the Test series, one-day format presents them a good chance to return home with some pride.

Windies defeated Bangladesh 2-1 in the ODI series before coming to India and barring the last match hiccup in Chittagong where they werer bundled out for 61 they showed fine mettle, something they can take confidence from before taking on heavyweights India.

The return of opener Lendl Simmons, who missed out the last ODI against Bangladesh and then India Test series due to an injury, will bolster the side.

Simmons, who totalled 177 from five ODIs against India in June at an average of 35.40, will look to give Windies a fine start along with Adrian Barath who too is in fine knick.

The middle-order will bank on the brilliance of Darren Bravo who sparkled with two centuries in three matches against India in the Test series, while Marlon Samuels experience will come in handy in the subcontinent conditions.

Presence of allrounders in Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and skipper Darren Sammy will add susbstance to their side.

Pacers Ravi Rampaul and Kemar Roach may share the new ball while off-spinner Sunil Narine and leggie Anthony Martin will be the spin options for the Windies.

Narine impressed for Trinidad and Tobago in the Champions League here and thereafter won the Curtly Ambrose Trophy for topping the Super50 bowling as he would look to get a debut.

Unlike the Test series, India will enjoy the home crowd support with all the tickets sold out at the revamped 45,000-capacity Barabati stadium.

Teams (from):

India: Virender Sehwag (c), Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Parthiv Patel (wk), R Ashwin, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary and Rahul Sharma.

West Indies: Darren Sammy (c), Lendl Simmons, Adrian Barath, Danza Hyatt, Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Anthony Martin, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kieran Powell, Ravi Rampaul and Kemar Roach.

Field umpires: Tony Hill (NZC), Shavir Tarapore

Sunday, November 20, 2011

sachin helps me improve -- OJHA

India's new spin hero Pragyan Ojha on Sunday revealed that he gained heavily from the tips of Sachin Tendulkar, who helped him out with some finer points.
"Sachin always gives you that energy on the field. He advises me all the finer points like how to deceive a batsman. How to deceive in flight. His tips have helped me in getting at least 10-15 Test wickets," Ojha who is considered as a Test specialist told PTI.

"I remembered one sentence by Sachin Tendulkar who would tell me if you love the game, you don't need anything to motivate you. I always wanted to play and that kept me going," Ojha said.

"It was a very important series and a great comeback for me. The important thing was I could contribute to the team's win and played a major role. I knew it would be a very important series for me in a crucial phase of my career," he said after the hugely successful series against West Indies at home.

Ojha along with senior statemate VVS Laxman will be playing for Hyderabad in a Plate League match starting from November 29 as he is not playing ODIs.

"I did not play international cricket for about one year. But I never had that negative feeling. I always stayed positive which resulted in this performance."

He termed his county stint as something that changed him as a bowler.

"Even when I was not with the team and played county in England, I would practice with the Indian team touring at that point of time. In fact, Anilbhai played a key role in me getting a chance to play for Surrey. They were looking for an Indian spinner and Alec Stewart had got in touch with Anilbhai (Kumble), who had recommended my name. I'm really thankful to him," he recalled how his association with Surrey started.

Ojha credited his performance to hard work and perseverance and support from family.

Playing alongside Ravichandran Ashwin since his U-16 days has helped him a lot and that has reflected in their brilliant performance as they have taken 42 out of the 60 West Indies wickets even in the absence of Harbhajan Singh.

"I know him since my under-16 days. We have played a couple of matches together for the South Zone. So there is this element of understanding between us. We knew what we were supposed to do and just stuck to the plans. I try to keep things very simple.

"But I've to keep performing. My coach (Vijay Paul) has told me that never take your place for granted. You have to keep working hard every single day," the left-arm spinner seemed to be rooted to the reality.

About the tough Australia series beginning on Boxing Day, Ojha said: "Australia series would be a big one. I have never played there and have no idea about the conditions there. I just want to go there and give my 100 percent."

In the final Test, Ojha led the way to force a dramatic Windies collapse taking three wickets (Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels) which made the final day interesting.

"Yesterday morning, My mind was blank but I was positive. We had a feeling that they may attack us, so it was important to stick to our plans. Thankfully, it worked."

Ojha hoped that it will be a 5-0 'whitewash' in favour of Virender Sehwag and his boys in the upcoming ODI series against the West Indies.

"I pray that it will be a 5-0 whitewash. But this West Indies side cannot be taken for granted. They are a good side and we should not underestimate their potential."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ashwin the magical man with awards

Virender Sehwag has hoped that Ravichandran Ashwin India's best cricketer in the Test series against the West Indies will continue to perform well and get more awards in future.
The BCCI had announced Aswin's name for Dilip Sardesai Award after his series winning performance against the Windies.

Appreciating the Indian Cricket Board's decision to award Ashwin with Rs 5 lakh prize money, India's stand-in-skipper Sehwag said Ashwin was going in the right direction.

"It's really good for him. I am really happy for Ashwin because he has performed really well. It's good that his performance is appreciated by the BCCI," said Sehwag.

"May he get more awards in future. When you get award from the government that's the biggest achievement. Getting a national award like Arjuna or Padma awards is the biggest achievement for a sportsperson.

"I hope in coming years he performs well. I am sure that Ashwin will get those also," he added.

Ashwin picked 22 wickets in his debut Test series, besides scoring a century in three matches against the West Indies and picked up two man of the match awards en route to being adjudged the player of the series.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dhoni requires better pitches at india

An incredible 17 wickets fell on Day Five at the Wankhede track and a baffled MS Dhoni is clueless, saying it offered nothing to spinners till the 4th day.
West Indies lost eight wickets in their second innings to collapse to 134 and India lost nine batsmen in pursuit of a victory target of 243 to eventually fall short by just one run on Saturday.
"Frankly, I don't know what happened. It started to turn in the morning. Till Saturday evening, everything was fine. It was among the flattest wickets. I'm seriously saying, I am not joking, something happened in the morning and it started to turn. Most of us thought it will be a draw, but somehow it turned into a tie. It was a close game, as the scorebook suggests," Dhoni said after winning the series 2-0.
The India captain said it became extremely difficult to play strokes as the ball was not coming on to the bat.
"There was a bit of bounce for the spinners and for the fast bowlers the ball was stopping a bit. Once you look to play a shot, you had to be careful that you are at the pitch of the ball. If you are not, you saw batsmen getting caught at mid-wicket or covers."
Dhoni said their strategy was to run as hard as possible to keep the scoreboard ticking over, as boundaries were hard to come by.
"It was quite easy to stay on the wicket but difficult to score runs. A few of us thought if we can rotate and get singles, it would become a bit easy as the game progresses. No one dismissal was the turning point, but it was a good game of cricket in the end."
Asked about Virat Kohli, who is scoring fifties but not converting those into big knocks, Dhoni said the Delhi youngster would learn with the time. Kohli scored 52 and 63 in the third Test.
"It's a learning phase for everyone, not only him. Next game he is in the same situation, he may bat in a different way. Even the most experienced players tend to make these kinds of mistakes, so nothing to worry."
Dhoni was also effusive in his praise of the spin duo of R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha, who finished with 22 and 20 wickets in the series respectively.
"The first two wickets he (Ashwin) took on the first day (Adrian Barath and Kraigg Brathwaite) were really good ones. After that he had to work hard. Both spinners did a very good job for us. Not to forget that our over rate in all three games for the first time ever was plus 15, plus 19 and some big number. Hope it carries on."
Dhoni, however, said it was not right to compare them with Anil Kumble or Harbhajan Singh at this stage of their careers.
"Ashwin has played three Tests, Ojha has played more and it's not right to compare them with Anil or Harbhajan. They bowled well and were able to put pressure. When nothing was there, they did not let the opposition to score. Overall, I am very happy with the kind of bowling they did throughout the series."
On Ashwin's maiden Test century, Dhoni said, "Let him take wickets, that's the priority. If he scores runs, that's a bonus for us."
The India captain, who has been rested for the five-match ODI series prior to the long tour of Australia, was also satisfied with the performance of Ishant Sharma.
"I think in this series, Ishant bowled consistently well. He was up in the pace area. And he was bowling in the right areas. Overall, I am very happy with the kind of bowling he did throughout the series," Dhoni said.
Dhoni did not hide his disappointment about the wickets used for the series and suggested that spin-friendly tracks should be prepared for home advantage.
"What we played on the fifth day wicket, I want the wickets to turn like that from the first day, that's when you send a bit of panic to the opposition dressing room. At the same time, you are under pressure to perform, which makes it interesting. I don't know when was the last time we really played on a wicket that was really turning square. The last time we played at the CCI (against Sri Lanka in 2009), maybe it was turning. I am hoping we will stick to our kind of wickets and it will turn from the very first day, so that the toss does not become important."
Asked about the team picked for Australia, Dhoni seemed happy with the players he had got.
"It looks like a very good side. From what we have seen of Umesh (Yadav) and Varun (Aaron) in the last three games, they can bowl quick. They must have learnt a lot from these games. Spinners have done well. Our batting order is at full strength. Looks like a good side and hopefully we will do well."
Dhoni also hoped that Zaheer Khan will be fit to spearhead the pace attack.
"Zak is giving his 100 percent, whenever he had to do some kind of rehab. We are hoping he's 100 percent fit for the Australia series. Once he goes and plays in a first-class game, that will help him judge to some extent how he feels. We had seen in the practice stint that he was quite fit, and I hope nothing happens in the next game he plays."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Let sachin make his 100 in his own way

Does anyone know how Sachin Tendulkar’s name appeared for the first time in a newspaper? I did not till the master himself told me the story at his Taj Bengal room during the Eden Test match. Here goes what happened:

The first time Sachin Tendulkar’s name appeared in the papers was courtesy the scorer in a local match in Mumbai. The rule was a player’s name will appear provided he scored 30. Tendulkar was not out on 24 but there were many extras in his teams’ innings including wides, leg byes and no balls. The scorer decided to credit six extras to Tendulkar’s personal tally increasing his score to 30 without changing the overall score. His conscience was clear- he hadn’t tampered with the overall score. How does it matter if there were six extras less and six runs credited to Tendulkar’s score? Next morning, Sachin’s name appeared for the first time in a Mumbai paper.

Had those fateful six runs been credited to his score at the Wankhede he would have reached his 100th international ton. India would be celebrating and 117 crore people would have had their dream fulfilled. It wasn’t to be for ‘what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?’
Everton Weekes, the legendary West Indian, once told me, “Had I not got out for 90 in the sixth innings against India in 1948-49 after getting five consecutive hundreds, people would not have romanticised the feat. A sixth hundred would have meant I had six centuries on the trot. A 90 meant people would always say: ‘Weekes couldn’t get 10 more runs!’” The ‘could have been’ stories are as much part of cricket lore as its records, statistics and standout performances. The Wankhede 94 has now been added to this list.
It all seemed to go according to script. A rejuvenated Sachin not out on 67 made known his intent in the first over itself against Ravi Rampaul. A beautiful flick for four and he had reached the 70s. Then came a trademark off drive followed by the shot of the innings, a six over third man of Fidel Edwards. It was better than the six hit of the same bowler on Day 3. He had literally raced to the 90s. Just as it seemed it was going to happen did disaster strike. A flash outside off stump and Darren Sammy doing the rest at second slip. Ravi Rampaul’s exaggerated celebration said it all. The West Indians had spoilt an Indian party, not just of the team or that of the master but of a billion plus waiting to erupt in celebration.
As he began the long walk back to the pavilion in his home ground, so did the applause. The 15,000- present on the day, having taken a few seconds to come to terms with the shock, were on their feet again. It was hard to believe that this was a trudge back to the pavilion in agony. It was a classic case of so near yet so far. Forgotten was the fact that he had failed to get the hundred and that India could still follow on. That heartfelt, yet forlorn, ovation from his home crowd was in fact homage to an extraordinary career, not for an innings that hadn’t granted them a last wish.
The hundred will come. Sooner than later. But what his getting out for 94 tells us is even the greatest ultimately fall prey to the whims of the game. That’s why we love it so much. The unpredictability, the impossibility of trying to predict what will happen next. He got out for 91 at the Oval. Wankhede was 3 better. The game can be really cruel at times and who better than Sachin to tell you so. He has got it all. Yet he missed out on a lot at the Wankhede. His home ground could not become part of history despite him wanting to script it for them.
We have waited for 8 long months for the 100th 100. Perhaps, we have to wait a bit more. When we think what Sachin has done for the game for a long 23 years, the wait isn’t a long one. It is our time to back our icon, the man who has given us more joy than anyone else for over two decades.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dhoni Says We are Ready to face things

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is confident his team would handle the burden better in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
"We take pressure as an added responsibility. We will stick to the basics and prepare well. We have the potential to do well in the tournament. For a change we will not be the underdogs," said Dhoni at a promotional event.

The Ranchi-born wicket-keeper batsman, however, refused to predict whether India will go on and regain the coveted crown after a gap of 28 years.

"I never predict what will happen in cricket. We believe in each other and we believe in the process. We will take each game in the right frame of mind," said Dhoni ahead of India's campaign in the February 19-April 2 showpiece event.

Dhoni brushed aside concerns about India's opening match against co-hosts Bangladesh in Dhaka after what had happened in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies when the Rahul Dravid-led side got knocked out following a shock defeat at the hands of their eastern neighbours.

"The past is past. I am more optimistic than you," he said referring to the lung-opener against Bangladesh on February 19. Dhoni refused to agree with England batsman Kevin Pietersen, who criticised the World Cup schedule for long gaps between matches and preferred to look at it as an opportunity to recover from niggles and relax.
"I don't know about other sports but we criticise a lot in cricket. When we have tight schedule we say there's too much cricket and when there are gaps we say there's too little. It's difficult to prepare a perfect schedule," Dhoni said.

"We would utilise these breaks to relax and get over whatever niggles we have," he added.

India will play their second match in Group B, against England at Bangalore, eight days after they kick off the mega-event in Dhaka against Bangladesh.

Later on, Dhoni and his men play three matches in close succession -- against Ireland, the Netherlands and South Africa -- between March 6 and 12 and in different centres, all at home.

Pietersen had criticised the scheduling of the tournament in the British media.

"How can the England team play once and then in six days' time play again, and then in six days' time play again. It's ridiculous but there's nothing we can do about the schedules," the England player was quoted as having said.

Dhoni also did not agree to the view reportedly expressed by 1983 World Cup-winning team member Mohinder Amarnath that the Indian squad should have had a frontline left-arm spin bowler.

"It’s difficult to accommodate everyone. One can say there is no second wicket-keeper too. For me the 15 players selected would have an impact on the World Cup," the Indian captain retorted.

Monday, January 31, 2011

India Are the Favourite To Win the World Cup

"We have an extremely well-balanced team and the best part is everyone seems to be in form," Kirmani told PTI.

"We are playing in the sub-continent and in our own environment so it would not be too difficult to bring in a replacement wicket-keeper immediately in case of a casualty. So, probably taking this fact into consideration, the selection committee did not go in for a second wicket-keeper," he said.

Stating that the current Indian squad is one of the favourites to lift the ICC Cricket World Cup, the 61-year-old said he has been hoping and praying for the last 28 years for the country to bring back the glory.

"We have a very good chance this time as our side is a very competent one. They are equally competent, if not more, than some of the other teams. We have been hoping and praying for the last 28 years for India to lift the Cup again and it seems that this team has it in them to fulfil the wish," said the former India Test cricketer.

Kirmani admitted that the four-time World champions Australia will be a weaker side compared to India, South Africa and England in the upcoming mega-event but cautioned that the Kangaroos can never be taken for granted.

"You never know, Australia can come back any time. You can never count them out. Obviously, the experienced players, who won the Cup thrice for the country are not there anymore but Aussies are in a process of re-establishing themselves.

"The youngsters will certainly take some time to reach that level. So, as a team they definitely look a little weaker at the moment as compared to some of the stronger sides like India, South Africa, England," he opined.

"But again if you look at the ongoing ODI series between England and Australia, the latter are doing well and the English, who thought it would be a cake-walk for them after their 3-1 Ashes victory, are finding it tough," added Kirmani.

Kirmani, who played 88 Tests, predicted that India, South Africa, England and Sri Lanka would make it to the semi-finals of the mega-event, starting February 19 in Dhaka but warned that there could be a few surprises as well.

"The New Zealanders, Pakistanis and Australians could never be underestimated. Just like Australia, Pakistan also has some talented young players who can spring up surprises," Kirmani said.

Asked to compare the current Indian side with that of the 1983 World Cup winning team, he said, "Unlike ours, which was a weaker unit and were given a tag of the underdogs, this team is very strong."

"We never thought we would lift the Cup. We were the most inexperienced team in the competition. We just aimed at qualifying for the knockout stage. That was the only thing on our minds. In fact, no body even expected us to reach the knock-out round also," recollected Kirmani, who was awarded the best wicket-keeper in the 1983 World Cup.

"But we gained confidence when we won our opening match against then reigning world champions West Indies by 34 runs. After that game, we thought if we could beat the Windies in the very first encounter, why should we look back?"

Attributing Indian team's success in the 1983 Cricket World Cup to their positive approach, consistency and complacency of other teams, he said, "Whosoever we played they thought that we were a very weak side and took us lightly. But they were under a wrong impression. They failed to realise that on a particular day we were the better players."

Looking back at his own most memorable contribution to the team's success in the 83' World Cup, Kirmani said the match where captain Kapil Dev scored unbeaten 175 against Zimbabwe to turn the tide in India's favour, had him as a silent contributor at the other end.

"One of our most important matches of the tournament was against Zimbabwe when India found itself reeling at 17 for five with Kapil Dev trying to pull us out of trouble single-handedly. At 140 for eight, I joined Kapil who was playing at some 50 plus score with another 30-35 overs more to go in a 60-over match.

"I walked in very boldly, as usual, without losing my concentration and before I took the stance I just went to Kapil and told him 'don't worry, you just play your natural game and I will be at my best at the other end, giving you the maximum support and maximum strike. I will just take a single and leave the deliveries for you to face'," narrated Kirmani.

"From there on it was one of the most fabulous knocks of Kapil that I have seen -- perhaps the most devastating one -- and I gave him the strength and we remained not out till 60 overs. He scored 175 and I scored somewhere between 23 to 30."

Kirmani, who remained not out on 24 till the end of 60 overs, shared a crucial unbeaten 126-run stand for the ninth wicket -- a record in itself -- with Kapil, to help India reach 266 for eight and set Zimbabwe a competitive target.

Zimbabwe, in their chase, faltered and were all out for 235 in 57 overs to hand over India a 31-run victory.

"This victory put us in the semi-finals where we beat England comprehensively and then went on to create history by defeating West Indies in the final, which is needless to say, is one of the most memorable moments of my career and life," concluded Kirmani.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

We will go beyond 2003 World Cup- Harbajan

Senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh believes that the team's impressive performance in South Africa will be of little consequence at the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup.
"From my personal experience, I can tell you that our good show in South Africa may give us a bit of confidence but that's about it. Doing well in bouncy pitches in South Africa and playing in the Cricket World Cup is a different ball game altogether," Harbhajan told PTI in an exclusive interview.

To elaborate his view he gave example of India's tour to New Zealand in 2002 before the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa.

"If you remember, we had a disastrous tour of New Zealand where we lost in both Test and ODI series. But when we played in the Cricket World Cup, it was a different story. In fact, we completely dominated while we beat New Zealand and played in the finals. That's why I feel that a bilateral series can never be an indicator to a team's performance in a big event," the feisty off-spinner said.

Talking about Cricket World Cups and Harbhajan, who will be playing in his third, still fondly recollects the memories of the 2003 edition when the team reached the finals under Sourav Ganguly's captaincy.

"I sincerely hope that we can emulate our 2003 feat and even do one better by winning the Cricket World Cup. It will be a great gift for millions of fans. On our part, we can assure our supporters that we will give more than 100 percent when we get out there," he said.

When asked what was special about that 'Class of 2003', who looked unstoppable till Ricky Ponting singlehandedly took the final away from them, he said, "Have a look at the squad of 2003, you will find guys like myself, Zak (Zaheer Khan), Ashish (Nehra) and Viru (Sehwag) were all young having only played couple of seasons in international cricket.

"We were fearless and never believed that we would cow down under any sort of pressure. If you enjoy playing in pressure situations, you tend to give your best. That's what happened. Also we had seniors like Sachin (Tendulkar), Sourav (Ganguly) guiding us."

A veteran of 93 Tests and 217 ODIs, Harbhajan, who is now second in the list of seniormost cricketers after Sachin Tendulkar, feels like 2003, this time also India's Cricket World Cup campaign will depend a lot on how the likes of Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Yusuf Pathan handle pressure situations.

"As a senior player, I have loads of expectations from guys like Virat, Yusuf and Raina. Just like we (Sehwag, Nehra, Zaheer, Kaif) were the youngest lot in 2003. These youngsters will be eager to show how well they can manage to hold their nerves on big stage.

"They have had enough exposure in international cricket and I am really hopeful that they would come up trumps."

On personal front, Harbhajan, nicknamed 'Turbunator', is happy that he is in a good frame of mind going into the big event.

"If you are an Indian cricketer, then you become adept at handling pressure. I have played long enough to not let pressure affect my game in crunch situations. It has come with years of experience at the international level," said the spinner from Jalandhar, who has 393 Test and 246 ODI wickets to his name.

His batting has been a revelation of late and one gets a feeling that his perspective towards batting has changed.

"My mantra is simple. If the ball is in my area, I will hit it. Earlier, the approach used to be a slam bang one and I would try to hit any delivery out of sight. Now I try to get my eye in first and then go for attack. Also, if I am batting with the batsman, I try to rotate and give the specialist as much strike as possible," Harbhajan said.

On various captains that he has played under in international cricket, Harbhajan terms Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ganguly as the two who always back their bowlers.

"Both Sourav and Dhoni have been able to get the best of out of me. The reason being both are good bowlers' captain. It is essential for a captain and his bowlers to strike a good rapport. In case of Sourav, he exactly knew what to expect from a Javagal Srinath, a Zaheer Khan or a Harbhajan Singh.

The same is for Dhoni.

"Another aspect is their faith in bowlers to let them set their own field. Both Sourav and Dhoni would allow me to set my own field which means the skipper has faith on my thought process," he added.

Asked whether figured out any difference between the two, Harbhajan said, "Yes, Dhoni can remain very calm in the most trying circumstances but Sourav was more expressive in his body language."

When the topic of Eden Gardens was broached, he became a touch sad.

"It is sad that we won't be playing in front of a packed Eden Gardens crowd which always behind you. It's one of my favourite grounds but there are things which are not under my control. What I can control is that, whenever I play at the Eden next, I would like to ensure the crowd that they will have smile on their faces," he concluded.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Australia must have descent pace attack to win

Allan Border advised the selectors to pick an "out and out" pace attack if Australia are to win the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Border does not subscribe to the view that a team will have to rely on spin in the subcontinent and gave the example of the lethal pace attack of the West Indies who did well in the 80's.

"We can win the World Cup, especially if our quick bowling stocks hit their straps. That's what it is about, two, three or four guys peaking at the right time. Everybody says, 'It's India, you need spin', but that's not necessarily the case," Border said.

"I know the West Indies did well in India during the 80's. If you've got good quality fast bowling, you're the side to beat. If you start getting reverse swing and out and out pace, there are not a lot of people who enjoy facing that sort of bowling," he was quoted as saying by 'Sunday Telegraph'.

Border said Australia can triumph in the 50-over tournament if pace spearhead Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson can fire on all cylinders.

"Brett Lee is bowling with good pace and getting back into some good rhythm, and he has the experience alone. I want to see Mitch and Taity, if they're anywhere near their best, that's a formidable attack. Throw in some part-timers and spinners, and that's a good side."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sehwag and Sangakkara Join Together

Virender Sehwag and Kumar Sangakkara have joined together to star in a new Think Wise campaign for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
The players feature in a public service announcement, encouraging young people to ‘get the facts, protect yourself’, as part of the ICC’s Think Wise partnership with UNAIDS and UNICEF promoting HIV prevention.

The campaign will encourage young people to be informed, take appropriate action to prevent HIV infection and stand together against the stigma and discrimination often facing people living with HIV. Although UNAIDS announced that new HIV infections had fallen by 20 per cent between 2001 and 2009, more than 7,000 people were infected each day in 2009 and one out of every three of these was a young person aged between 15 and 24 years.
“The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 provides an opportunity to use our profile as cricketers to deliver important social messages to the hundreds of millions of supporters who will be watching the tournament across the world,” said Virender Sehwag.

He added: “I hope this public service announcement can encourage young people to get the facts and protect themselves from HIV. While my main focus for this tournament is on helping India win the World Cup, I hope that a legacy of the event will be that more young people feel comfortable talking about their relationships and understand how to protect themselves against HIV.”

The colourful promos, that are 30 and 45 seconds in duration, are set to a lively theme tune of “let’s talk” and aim to encourage young people across the globe to discuss HIV prevention. As part of the script, Sangakkara encourages fans to “wait, stick to one partner, or use a condom”, before Sehwag calls on young adults to “get the facts, protect yourself against HIV”.

Sehwag and Sangakkara, who are both Think Wise champions, have been active supporters of the partnership since it was formed in 2003, visiting projects at ICC events and promoting global HIV prevention and stigma reduction messages. Other active supporters in the partnership include Graeme Smith (South Africa), Shakib-Al-Hasan (Bangladesh) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (West Indies).

“As a Think Wise champion and cricketer, I want to help educate young people on how to protect themselves from HIV. It is important that young people around the world have access to the right information to help them make informed decisions and break down stigma and discrimination. Through this public service announcement, I want to help stop the spread of HIV and encourage young people to get the facts, talk openly, and protect themselves from HIV,” said Sangakkara.

A number of other Think Wise activities are planned during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Players will have a series of interactions with local community groups supported by UNAIDS and UNICEF throughout the three host countries, teams will wear red ribbons on their shirts in key matches during the competition and HIV prevention messages will be promoted at venues on all match days, including during the national anthem ceremonies.
Young adults taking part in the ICC CWC schools programme in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka have already received HIV education sessions as part of the Think Wise programme.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

India Are Favorites To Win the World Cup : Smith

South Africa captain Graeme Smith believes India are the team to beat at the forthcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India are co-hosting the event alongside counterparts from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's star-studded squad are already the bookmakers' pick for the trophy.
Smith guided the Proteas to a 3-2 ODI series win over India in their recent series in South Africa but he accepts that India will be an even tougher proposition on their own turf.
"I think the home teams will be right up there when it comes to the World Cup," Smith told the ICC Cricket World Radio Show.
"I think in the sub-continental conditions they'll be very crafty, knowing how to read conditions while other teams need to find ways to be successful there.
"I think for us we need to be versatile and I think India will come in as favourites."
Despite picking India as the best-placed team prior to the event, which begins on February 19, Smith sees plenty of potential victors.
"Personally I think there are five or six teams that could win this World Cup which is probably going to make it a very exciting one," he added.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Martin Guptill Ready to play at Any Position

New Zealand batsman Martin Guptill has said that he is ready to bat at any position in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
Guptill has successfully opened the innings for the Kiwis in all formats of the game..

"It's what I'm comfortable with, so at the moment I'm happy with where I'm batting, but I would also be happy to bat at No 3. I don't find there's too much difference. I'll bat anywhere for New Zealand," Guptill said.

He was not picked for the tour of Bangladesh, where his team was whitewashed in the limited overs series. However, he was included in the team for the Indian tour, where he participated in the second Test match, scoring 85 on his return.

However, his record against Pakistan in the just-concluded Test series is impressive. He amassed 163 runs at an impressive average of 40.

In the first one-dayer against Pakistan, Guptill opened the innings, scoring an unbeaten 40 in the chase of a paltry 125-run total, steering his team to victory by nine wickets.

Currently, the home side is leading the six-match series by 1-0 with four more games to play. Only four overs were possible in the second encounter, as rain washed out the whole day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

West Indies Will reach Semi-Finals Of the WC: Predicts Coach

West Indies coach Ottis Gibson believes his team can defy the odds and reach the ICC Cricket World Cup semi-finals stage.
The West Indies tackle Sri Lanka in three ODIs from Monday, a crucial opportunity for the Caribbean side to get used to the South Asia conditions ahead of the ICC CWC which takes place from February 19 to April 2.

"I think we have a team that can win the trophy. We'll go there with the expectation of doing very well and putting ourselves in a position that we can reach the semi-finals, which is a very realistic possibility," said Gibson.

"We would love to win and we will try to win. The aim is to reach the semi finals and put ourselves in a position to capitalise from there."

"This is one of the biggest stages in international sport and we want to make sure we feature during the tournament. We are not listed among the favourites and that could work in our favour."

The West Indies haven't reached the semi-finals since 1996 when they lost to Australia by just five runs in an agonising loss.

Gibson was speaking before the squad left for Sri Lanka where the West Indies played to a 0-0 draw in the three-match Test series in December.

The ODI series was to be played in December but was rescheduled due to bad weather.

"It is a good opportunity to put some of the plans in place that we are going to take into the mega event," said the coach.

"When we went for the Test series we did really well as a team and we made progress. We also had a chance to get used to the conditions. Now we are heading back to Sri Lanka for these three ODIs and we will be looking to put in place the plans that we will be taking into the sub-continent for the event.

"The players are fresh out of the Caribbean Twenty20 and all the players are ready for what we have coming up."

The West Indies have been drawn in Group B alongside South Africa, Netherlands, India, Bangladesh, England and Ireland.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Akram Feels it is tough to replace Kristen

Wasim Akram says the former South Africa batsman has been one of the best coaches in the world.

India have enjoyed great success under coach Gary Kirsten, but it’s time to bid him goodbye. Wasim Akram feels it will be “a big loss” for Indian cricket. Speaking to Mobile ESPN from Karachi on Tuesday, Akram said: "Gary has done wonders for Team India. He is one of the best coaches that I have seen in international cricket. He has a quiet personality and does his job without much fuss.”

Akram added: “He (Kirsten) plays a good part behind the scenes. He has always been a much organised cricketer and we saw that aspect in his coaching as well."

Kirsten’s two-year contract with BCCI expires at the end of the World Cup. During his tenure, Team India won the Border-Gavaskar series 2-0. The former South Africa batsman also coached India to their first ODI series victory in New Zealand after 40 years.

"His qualities as a player and as a person rubbed on Team India as they performed well. MS Dhoni and his men will surely miss him in the dressing room. The management will also have a tough time in trying to find his replacement. But I feel India should concentrate on the World Cup rather than Kirsten. As they say, all good things must come to an end," said Akram.

While India go ga-ga over Yusuf Pathan’s 105 off 70 deliveries in the fifth and final ODI versus South Africa in Centurion on Sunday, Akram had a few words of caution.

"I hope that India do not start relying too much on Yusuf as it can be suicidal. He certainly has stood out with his fantastic showing in the last game. He is a clean hitter and has the temperament of a big-match player," said Akram.

Akram pointed out that apart from Yusuf, Virat Kohli was also a consistent performer in South Africa. Yusuf, who scored 166 in three matches, was definitely a standout, according to the former Pakistan star.

"Yusuf was the only consistent performer. The team surely missed the services of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar but Pathan tried hard to propel India despite their absence. The key was to stay on the wicket in South Africa and Yusuf did just that," said Akram.

Even though India lost the ODI series 2-3, Akram feels it will not have any impact on the World Cup. "I think India will do well once the seniors are back. And it’s always a different feeling to play in your home ground with home fans shouting for you. It definitely gives you a high," concluded Akram.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yusuf Pathan : Feels India Is under Pressure

Yusuf Pathan said that India would be under pressure in the ICC Cricket World Cup but they will need to avoid thinking about it.
"You don't go into a tournament thinking about the pressure involved with it. We will be playing the ICC CWC at home and it's natural that people will expect us to do well", he said.

"We have prepared well and played some good cricket in the past few months and we are hopeful of carrying the good form in the event (starting February 19)," Pathan told PTI in an interview from Vadodara.

The 28-year-old player has been in red-hot form and has clobbered the best in the business with minimum fuss.

"I am happy that I have been able to contribute to the team's cause. I have been assigned a specific role and I try to perform that to the best of my abilities," he answered.

Talk about outgoing coach Gary Kirsten and Yusuf's voice is filled with admiration for the former South African opener - perhaps the most popular among the three foreigners (John Wright, Greg Chappell being the other two) who have coached India.

"I have been fortunate to have received guidance from someone like Kirsten. He is a coach who will always have time for having one-on-one sessions after regular training. Even after my regular net session, Kirsten would be ready to give me extra practice.

"His (Kirsten) process of coaching and the manner in which he is able to iron out the flaws is amazing. I have improved a lot as a player due to him," he said.

Asked if he will miss Kirsten as he won't be coaching India after World Cup, Yusuf replied, "He is with us right now. That is important. Don't want to think about what will happen later."

He may surprise one and all with his ability to play risky shots like reverse sweeping a spinner for six but off it he wouldn't like to get into comparisons about his on-field efforts.

Asked which one of his two centuries (123 not out (96 balls) against New Zealand or 105 (70 balls) against South Africa at Centurion) is a better effort according to him, Yusuf said he would not pick between knocks which proved important for his team in different circumstances.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sreesanth is Confident to make it up to Next World Cup

Left out of the current edition, India's Sreesanth is confident of playing in the next two ICC Cricket World Cup tournaments.
"I'm only 27 and have ten good years ahead of me. I have a good chance of playing in the next two ICC CWC and I will come back," the Kerala bowler said at a promotional event on Friday.
Sreesanth said he was happy about the backing he received from former Test skipper Sourav Ganguly after he was left out of the Cup squad.
"I respect Dada's praise for me. I am still at the learning curve and there is a lot to learn," he said.
He added that the best thing for him now was to leave the past behind and move ahead by performing well.

"I will be playing soon in April (in IPL for Kochi) and am looking forward to the next two editions." he added

Friday, January 21, 2011

Yusuf Pathan Rocked The Final ODI Match

South Africa clinched a thrilling 33-run win against India at the Centurion to win the five-match series 3-2.

Yusuf Pathan bludgeoned a whirlwind century for India but it was not enough as they slumped to a 33-run Duckworth/Lewis defeat and a 3-2 one-day series loss to South Africa in Pretoria.
The big-hitting all-rounder smashed 105 from 70 balls after his side had slumped to 119 for eight in pursuit of a revised 268 victory target.
They looked out of the game when he walked to the crease thanks to some ruthless bowling from Morne Morkel, who picked up four wickets for 52, and Dale Steyn (two for 32) aided by some poor shot-making from the tourists.
But a century stand with Zaheer Khan (24) raised hope, before the wicket of Pathan killed off the tourists.
Earlier, Hashim Amla carried his bat in an unbeaten 116 to see the hosts reach 250 for nine in 46 overs.
With rain still in the air when India's chase got under way, the openers came out in attacking mode, but were jolted when Lonwabo Tsotsobe bowled Rohit Sharma (five) via an inside edge onto the stumps.
Virat Kohli (two), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (five), Parthiv Patel (38), Yuvraj Singh (eight) and Suresh Raina (11) all fell quickly, leaving India on 74 for six inside 14 overs.
Harbhajan Singh (13) stopped the freefall by lasting more than five overs before he fell to Johan Botha.
But Pathan then found some good support in Zaheer, who could have been out when he had just come in and his partner was still on 41 after Morkel had him caught off a no-ball.
They came together at 119 for eight, and after Pathan reached 50 in 47 balls, it took him only 21 more deliveries to reach his ton.
His innings, which included eight fours and eight sixes, was eventually ended with a top-edge off Morkel that was caught by Faf du Plessis inside the circle.
Fifty runs were still required from 64 balls, but by then too many wickets had fallen and Zaheer was last man out, handing the hosts the series.
At the start, India decided to go into the game with an extra spinner - Piyush Chawla included ahead of Ashish Nehra - while the South Africans were unchanged.
The tourists made a bold move after winning the toss with Dhoni electing to field under the cloud cover hovering around Centurion.
His decision looked a good one first up with Zaheer sending Graeme Smith (seven) on his way in the third over when the left-hander hung his bat out and edged behind to Pathan at first slip.
But Morne van Wyk, one of the form players from the domestic season, and Amla got together and shared in a 97-run partnership to put their side back on top.
The former passed his 50 from 53 balls along the way, but was then excellently caught one-handed by Yuvraj (two for 45) off his own bowling with the score on 113.
The part-timer accounted for AB de Villiers (11) four overs later - the wicketkeeper stumped for a second successive game - before Amla was handed a lifeline on 70 after substitute Ravichandran Ashwin, fielding at square leg, seemed to spot a pull shot late and fluffed a chance off Sharma.
Amla reached his century from 113 balls, but rain then halted play for more than an hour with South Africa in the ascendancy after 42 overs played.
With the revised playing conditions in effect after the resumption, JP Duminy (35), who shared a 101-run stand with Amla, fell quickly.
Munaf Patel grabbed three for 50 in a late-order collapse when just 24 were added for the loss of six wickets as the home sided ended on 250 for nine

Thursday, January 20, 2011

England Players Disappointed About The Change In Venue

England players said they are unhappy that their ICC Cricket World Cup match against India has been moved from Eden Gardens.
The ICC announced on Thursday that the iconic 100,000-capacity stadium would not be ready to host the Group B match, due to be played on February 27, because of concerns over "cricket operations, media, broadcast and sponsorship facilities".
England's match against India had set to be the flagship match at the ground during the group stage, with the new venue yet to be confirmed.
Fast bowler Stuart Broad admitted his disappointment on his Twitter page on Friday, writing: "Shame Eden Gardens not ready for the game, our game vs India there would have been special with 100,000-plus crowd".
Fellow quick Chris Tremlett said the venue switch was not an ideal situation, and while he did not expect it would unduly affect the team's preparations he felt sympathy for those fans who have already paid to fly out and attend the match.
"Obviously it's not ideal," said Tremlett, who is not part of England's squad.
"I think in a few big tournaments there seems to be things that are left to the last minute.
"I'm sure that they'll find ways around it, but it is a shame because I'm sure a lot of people have booked plane tickets and supporters have paid a lot of money to go out there.
"I hope they can sort it out and hopefully it won't affect the team as well.
"Hopefully they can sort that out."
England are currently preparing for Sunday's fifth one-day international against Australia in Brisbane, a match that itself was under threat due to the floods that decimated south Queensland two weeks ago.
A change of venue had been mooted then and Tremlett said with a month to go until the India fixture he expected England would be able to rearrange their plans without disturbing preparations.
"If you expected to be in certain places then possibly it could distract you in some way, but unexpected things happen. Look at the floods that have happened here - this game might not have happened," he added.
"As an international player, surprises come along and you just have to deal with it. There are certain distractions but it is just one of those things.
"Whatever is thrown at us we'll take it and wherever we play we'll be there."
Whether the 29-year-old makes the trip to the sub-continent relies most likely on Bresnan's fitness after the Yorkshire all-rounder returned home this week due to a calf complaint.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BCCI Pleads ICC to reconsider its Decision

BCCI have asked the ICC to reconsider their decision to strip the Eden Gardens of their match between India and England.
"We have written a letter to the ICC to reconsider its decision. Now it is up to the ICC to decide, but we are confident that the stadium can host the crucial India-England match," Ratnakar Shetty, tournament director and chief administrative officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), said.

Former ICC boss and Cricket Association of Bengal President, Jagmohan Dalmiya, had appealed to the BCCI to ask the ICC to reconsider their decision.

Dalimiya had based his argument on Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium and three other venues getting an extension of 14 days- the former BCCI president suggested CAB will be able to get the Eden Gardens ready in the next 10 days and hand over a finished ground on February 7.

An ICC inspection team determined the Eden Gardens, which had hosted an ICC Cricket World Cup final and semi-final would not be ready to host the fixture on February 27.

The Group B match - England's second of the tournament - against the co-hosts in the 100,000-capacity stadium in Kolkata was set to be one of the highlights of the campaign for Andy Flower's side, who must now wait to hear where the February 27 fixture will be moved to.

Besides the India-England encounter, Eden Gardens is scheduled to host three other games -- South Africa vs Ireland (March 15), the Netherlands vs Ireland (March 18), and Zimbabwe vs Kenya (March 20).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Eden Garden Dropped From World Cup Venue

ICC's decision to drop Eden Gardens as the venue for the India-England game has been greeted with utter dismay in India.
Eden Gardens could not deliver on time, failing to meet the deadlines for renovations to the stadium. It hardly went down well with the ICC inspectors, who declared a venue change for the February 27 match between India and England.

"We were all looking forward to this match. We were dying to see a renovated Eden Gardens which was already looking so beautiful," former India batsman Arun Lal, now a commentator, said.

"Every cricket fan, every Kolkatan will be devastated by this."

Nearly 100,000 people screaming at the top of their voices make Eden Gardens one of the most atmospheric cricket grounds in the world.

"Is there no chance of this decision being reversed? I am just hoping that they can reconcile," Lal said.

Former India opening batsman Chetan Chauhan shared the view.

"I would suggest to the ICC and the Indian board that the Eden Gardens should be given another opportunity," Chauhan said.

"They should be given about 7-10 days. The game is on Feb 27 and there is still a lot of time.

"If they don't give them one more chance, I think they will deny a great centre and cricket-loving people the opportunity of watching a high-profile ICC Cricket World Cup match."

Eden Gardens, which hosted the 1987 World Cup final, will stage three other matches on March 15, 18 and 20, none of which feature the home side.

A furious Madan Lal, a member of India's 1983 World Cup-winning team, said the organisers should be taken to task.

"One question is why was the stadium not ready?," he said.

"Once a deadline was given, they should have completed the work before that deadline.

"It's not about the venue but about the people who have lost everything now."

Former ICC chief Jagmohan Dalmiya heads the Cricket Association of Bengal, which is based at Eden Gardens.