Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pakistan:training session at Chinnaswamy

Pakistan would carry out their first training session at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Sunday (today) barely 12 hours after reaching the south Indian city for their limited-overs series opener against arch-rivals India.

Captained by Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan’s Twenty20 squad left Lahore for Bangalore via New Delhi Saturday afternoon to play a five-match series that includes two Twenty20 games and three One-day Internationals.

The tourists had a stop-over in the Indian capital before a chartered flight took them to Bangalore which would host the first Twenty20 International at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Christmas Day.

The players selected only for the three ODIs — Misbah-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Haris Sohail, Wahab Riaz, Imran Farhat and Anwar Ali — will leave for India on December 26. The ODI series begins in Chennai from December 30.

The Pakistani cricketers would be greeted with a heavy security blanket anywhere they go during the brief tour of India.

According to media reports, the Chinnaswamy Stadium has been completely barricaded and armed policemen are posted at all four corners of the main square at the stadium.

Though the series opening game is still two days away, the stadium looked like a fortress on Saturday.

But undeterred by the security cover, Pakistan are exuding confidence ahead of what is their first bilateral series against the Indians in five years.

“We are ready and prepared for the India challenge,” Hafeez told reporters at the conclusion of a training camp in Lahore last week. “We have trained so hard to get ready for the India series. India might be low at the moment [after losing to England in the Test series] but it’s a new format and they have a very balanced T20 team.

“Nobody can deny the fact that a Pakistan-India series carries intense pressure. The contest is always full of pressure and full of expectations of people of both countries. We will try to express ourselves without any pressure,” he stressed.

While Pakistan announced their team several days before the series, India would only name their squad on Sunday (today).

According to reports, Indian selectors will gather on Sunday to pick the squad for the series against Pakistan amid speculation that struggling senior batsman Sachin Tendulkar has made himself available for ODI selection.

The Indian squad is unlikely to see many changes from the one that featured against England in a T20 rubber played on Saturday night.

It is the ODI squad that would draw more attention as there are unconfirmed reports that Tendulkar has made himself available for the three-match rubber starting in Chennai.

The star cricketer had been part of the last ODI squad during the failed campaign in Bangladesh in the Asia Cup where he completed his unprecedented feat of 100 international hundreds.

Tendulkar, whose retirement has been speculated endlessly in the media and by former cricketers, has been in and out of ODIs in the last few years by choice, but with his form dipping in Tests, the 39-year-old could be eager to rediscover his successful run through the 50-over game for the upcoming four-match

Test rubber at home against Australia.

The second one-day game against Pakistan is to be held in Kolkata on January 3 followed by the last match on January 6 in Delhi.

The other focus in the selection meeting would be captaincy and as per current indications, MS Dhoni is expected to keep his job though his success record in the ODI format too, like the one in Tests, has taken a steep dip after he piloted the country to the World Cup title last year.

Zaheer Khan is another senior cricketer who is battling fitness concerns and dipping form in international cricket.

The other point of interest in the selection would be Virender Sehwag who opted out of the Twenty20 series against England. It is not known whether he has declared himself available to play in the T20 format against Pakistan. —With inputs from agencies

Sehwag sidelined for Pakistan series

The five wise men of indian cricket will have a serious challenge when they sit down today to pick india's teams for the two-match t20 series and three-match odi series against pakistan.

Since India's will play the arch-rivals, the Indian selectors know they can't get it wrong. The main points of discussion are likely to be Sachin Tendulkar's availability for the ODIs and whether Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan will be rested.

The good news for them is that according to reports Tendulkar has made himself available for selection despite a poor Test series against England. This means is not retiring just yet.

Reports also suggest India's out of form swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag could be sidelined for the 3 ODIs. But chances are his experience might help him keep his place in such a big series.

Also, India is all set to be without their pace spearhead Zaheer Khan. The southpaw has already communicated his unavailability for Pakistan's tour of India and the ODI series against England since he would like to focus on the upcoming Test series against the Australians. 

It is likely in that case that India would look at the injury prone Sreesanth or the young Parwinder Awana.

England wins thriller match

Eoin Morgan smashed a stunning six off the final delivery bowled by Ashoke Dinda as England registered a six-wicket win to level the Twenty20 series and dashed India’s hopes of taking the No. 1 ranking in this form for the first time.

Needing nine off the last over, Dinda conceded just three singles off the first three. Jos Buttler managed a two from the fourth ball before Mahendra Singh Dhoni missed a chance to run out Morgan off the next delivery.

The England captain, calm and composed despite his side needing three off the final delivery, lofted Dinda into the stands to signal victory. Earlier, chasing a stiff target of 178, the England openers laid a solid foundation with an 80-run partnership.

Michael Lumb was in aggressive form, hitting 50 off just 34 balls with six fours and two sixes. At the other end, Alex Hales, dropped by Parvinder Awana, who had a forgettable game both as a bowler and as a fielder, cashed in on the mistake to score 42 (33b, 4x4, 1x6). Only Yuvraj Singh provided some hope for India, bowling a teasing line and finishing with three wickets.

He pulled India back into the match, the way he did in the first game at Pune. The left-armer dismissed Lumb, Luke Wright and Hales as England lost its way in the middle. However, Dhoni’s decision to employ Awana and Dinda in the closing stages proved costly as the two leaked runs aplenty.

Sedate start
                After a sedate start, India posted a formidable 177 on the board. The runs flowed in the last quarter of the twenty overs after Rohit Sharma had lost his middle stump to off-spinner James Tredwell. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni joined left-hander Suresh Raina — the pair had steered the host to a convincing win in the first match at Pune two days back — in the middle.

Dhoni and Raina turned the tide, hammering three fours and as many sixes off Stuart Meaker and Jade Dernbach in the 17th and 18th overs. The duo put on a breezy 60-run stand in less than half an hour and lifted the team from 108 for five to 168.

There was evidence of extra bounce and hints of swing in the early overs. Indian openers Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane struggled to force the ball, after being put in by England captain Eoin Morgan. Gambhir looked a far cry from an experienced batsman ready to quell a challenging situation and laboured to make 17 off 27 balls in eight minutes short of an hour.

Rahane stepped out, made room and slashed into the hands of debutant Joe Root at third man. England dropped left-arm spinner Danny Briggs and took the field with four seamers and off-spinner in Tredwell, but medium pacer Luke Wright turned out to be the weak link as Kohli took heavy toll of him for twenty runs, which also was the last of the power-play. Dhoni and Raina played wonderfully well, blasting three fours and as many sixes off Meaker and Dernbach.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ganguly : will play in upcoming IPL 2013

Former India captain, Sourav Ganguly has said that he has no intentions of playing in the upcoming Indian Premier League despite holding a contract with the Sahara Pune Warriors for one more season. Ganguly has revealed that he has told his bosses at Pune that he wished to end his playing time and would not be available for selection during the 2013 season of the mega tournament. 

"I had a wonderful time playing in the IPL for five seasons. It gave me a chance to keep playing top-class cricket even after quitting international cricket. But I can't go on forever, and I have requested the franchise owners not to consider me for IPL 6," Sourav told TOI on Sunday. 

Ganguly played the first three seasons of the Indian Premier League for the Kolkata Knight Riders. He led the team as an icon player in the first edition. A poor show meant that 'Dada' as he is fondly called was stripped of his captaincy during a disastrous second edition in South Africa. Ganguly did return to the helm in the subsequent season but failed to take his team to the semi-finals. 

He then had to bear the humiliation of not being considered good enough by any of the 10 franchises during the 2011 auctions but later made a late entry into the Pune team following an injury to Ashish Nehra. He took over as the captain in the fifth edition and led his franchise to a last place finish. 

They were rumors floating along that Ganguly would not be a part of the Pune management's plans for the 6th edition of the tournament and instead would be offered a role in the team as a 'mentor'. 

Sourav Ganguly has also decided to opt out of the Ranji Trophy Team for Bengal for the upcoming season. Ganguly had retired from international cricket in 2008 but had continued to be a part of the domestic set-up. 

In Ganguly's absence, Manoj Tiwary has been named the captain. There were indications given by a senior official in the Bengal Board that 'Dada' could return later in the season. "He would not play the first two matches, but depending on our team's position we may get his services later on," Sujan Mukherjee, the secretary of the Bengal board said. "It's a youthful side but we have players with international experience, looking forward to a positive season," he added. 

Squad: Manoj Tiwary (capt), Parthasarathi Bhattacharjee, Rohan Banerjee, Jayojit Basu, Writam Porel, Anustup Majumdar, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Iresh Saxena, Ashok Dinda, Sourav Sarkar, Arnab Nandy, Veer Pratap Singh, Subhomoy Das and Aritra Chatterjee 

Cook : Challenging with India

England's new Test captain Alastair Cook said that his team was determined to defy history and win a Test series in India for the first time in 27 years. 

England last won a series on Indian soil way back in 1985 when David Gower's men came from behind after losing the first Test to win 2-1, but Cook said the upcoming four-match series will be keenly fought. 

"This is undoubtedly a huge challenge for us," Cook told reporters after the squad arrived in Mumbai for the double-leg tour which also includes two Twenty20 games and five one-day internationals. 

"History suggests it is hard to win in India. After all we have not won a series here in almost 30 years. But we have a great squad determined to do well. We are aware of the challenges and look forward to the series." 

"It is going to be a huge series because it is between two very good sides. Both sides have world-class players and whoever handles the conditions better will win." 

Cook, 27, took over as skipper after Andrew Strauss retired at the end of the last home series against South Africa, which the tourists won 2-0 to take over from England as the top-ranked Test side. 

The Essex opener has previously led England in two Tests in Bangladesh in 2010 when Strauss chose to rest, but the India series will be his first as a full-time captain. 

It was in India in 2006 that Cook made a memorable Test debut, scoring 60 and an unbeaten 104 in Nagpur after being flown in from the 'A' tour of the West Indies to replace Marcus Trescothick. 

"I have some very good memories of India," he said. "It is a great place to play cricket and there is a lot of passion for the game here." 

"I look forward to doing well here but all of us will have to contribute with both bat and ball if we are going to win." 

England will face a home team keen to make amends for the humiliating 4-0 defeat in England last year that dethroned Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men as the number one Test side. 

Cook wanted his team to prepare for the Test series, which opens in Ahmedabad on November 15, by winning the three preceding warm-up matches. 

"There is no better way to prepare than win these matches," he said. "They are not merely warm-up games, they are first-class matches. We need to get used to the conditions as early as possible." 

The first warm-up match against India 'A' starts at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday. This will be followed by another three-day fixture in Mumbai and a four-day game in Ahmedabad. 

The four back-to-back Tests will be held in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and Nagpur. 

The tourists, who will also play two Twenty20 matches after the Tests, will go home for Christmas before returning in the New Year for a five-match one-day series. 

John Wright : Sachin will bounce back

Former India and New Zealand coach, John Wright, has expressed confidence that Sachin Tendulkar will overcome his technical flaws and come roaring back into form during the forthcoming series against England. 

In an interview to the Hindu newspaper, Wright mentioned that Tendulkar has gone through these phases several times but reckons he is still good enough to come out on top. "If I recollect, Tendulkar underwent a similar period in 2002 when he was getting bowled a lot. During the West Indies series, the left-arm pacer Pedro Collins troubled him a lot. However, I think that this is not a matter of serious concern for I believe he is good enough to overcome the challenge. 

Tendulkar has endured a poor run since scoring his 100th international century in March in the Asia Cup match against Bangladesh. He has hit only one half-century in the IPL and struggled in the recently concluded CLT20. In the Test match series against New Zealand, he was bowled in all three innings when he batted, leading to questions about his technique. 

Wright expressed confidence that Tendulkar might score a century or double century in the series and added that playing against top teams like England and Australia will give him plenty of motivation. Wright's views were echoed by former Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist when he pointed out that periods of loss in form are unavoidable especially when one has a long career like Sachin Tendulkar. 

Wright stated that he was also not concerned about Virender Sehwag's poor form. "He is an exciting player. His record in the first innings of a Test match is ominous and he needs one good knock to turn the corner." 

MS Dhoni : misses first round ranji trophy

The Indian captain, MS Dhoni, will miss the first leg of the upcoming Ranji Trophy due to a cold and cough infection. The opening round of matches are scheduled to be held across various venues in the country from the 2nd to the 5th of November. 

All the marquee Indian players have decided to play for their respective Ranji sides. Not only will it give them some invaluable match practice ahead of the first Test against England starting in Ahmedabad from the 15th of November, but it would also add that extra sheen and kick off the revamped Ranji Trophy in a grand style and give the rest of the players that extra motivation for the rest of the season. 

Dhoni hasn't represented Jharkhand for the last five years. "For the last six or seven years, I have been playing for India regularly and this time the local association asked me whether I was fit or not. I told them that I have cough and cold and not to consider me for selection," Dhoni was quoted as saying at the opening of a fitness training centre in a South Delhi mall. 

Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina will be playing in the Delhi vs UP game in Ghaziabad. 

Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan will be playing for Mumbai against Railways while Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Pragyan Ojha are set to play in the game between Hyderabad and Punjab. 

Ravichandran Ashwin will be playing for Tamil Nadu in Orissa. Cheteshwar Pujara will represent Saurashtra against Gujarat while Umesh Yadav is supposed to play for Vidarbha against Haryana at Rohtak. 

Ranji Trophy (Opening Round) - Key Players: 

Mumbai vs Railways: Tendulkar, Zaheer, Rohit Sharma, Rahane 

Delhi vs UP: Sehwag, Gambhir, Ishant, Kohli, Raina 

Tamil Nadu vs Orissa: Ashwin, Mukund, Vijay 

Saurashtra vs Gujarat: Pujara 

Punjab vs Hyderabad: Harbhajan, Yuvraj, Ojha, Rahul Sharma 

Vidarbha vs Haryana: Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra 

Bengal vs Rajasthan: Manoj Tiwary, Ashok Dinda. 

Openers : Virender, Gautam out of form

Hey....! we look back at the history of the game of cricket, any team which has dominated a particular era have had one thing in common - they boasted of a very formidable opening pair. Be it Greenidge and Haynes for the West Indies in the 70s or Hayden and Langer for the Aussies in the first half of the last decade, these redoubtable opening pairs played a major role in the success of their team.

The same is true to a certain extent for the Indian opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, whose contribution was significant in the team attaining the numero uno spot in Tests last year.

After being pummelled in two away series by England and Australia, the Indian team now finds itself at number five in Test rankings. A major reason for their decline is the dismal form of the openers. Gambhir and Sehwag’s failure to perform individually and to provide decent starts to the team is best highlighted by the fact that the last time they shared a century partnership was way back in December 2010.

Indian cricket likes to live in a state of blissful oblivion where discomforting issues are camouflaged by claims of inconsequential success. The BCCI will never address the issue of a series of poor performances on foreign soil but will boast about the success of the IPL and the opportunity it provides to emerging players to compete with the best in the business. Amidst the hullabaloo over the team’s limited success in the shortest and the shorter format of the game, a few very significant issues are escaping the attention of the cricket administrators.

One issue which demands immediate thinking, planning and action is the future of Gambhir and Sehwag as openers in all three formats of the game. The Sehwag-Gambhir opening pair has failed to provide decent starts to the team in recent times. They will in all probability be retained for the home series against England. They may even manage a few decent knocks against the English attack in Indian pitches, but that will not do Indian cricket any good in the long run. Gambhir, although a very good player of spin bowling, looks vulnerable against the quality pace bowlers, especially on foreign soil.

Dhoni did take a step in the right direction by dropping Sehwag in a couple of matches in recent times but public opinion and media scrutiny compelled him to play it safe by including him in the following matches. India will need to win Tests in away series to regain the number one spot in Test cricket, something which they lost to the English team last year. Also since the next World Cup is slated to be played in Australia, it would be wiser to use the upcoming home series against England and Australia to build a team that would have the technical skills to put up a fight in foreign conditions.

The selection committee, the coach and the captain should sit together and discuss the options available and probably try somebody like Ajinkya Rahane in the home series before the tough test waiting in South Africa. Short term solutions like asking Yuvraj Singh to open will not be beneficial for Indian cricket.

Opening is a specialist position and specialists should be deployed to guard the fortress and lead the attack against the opposition. A perfect example would be Aakash Chopra who was brought in to the side to counter the then mighty Aussie attack in 2003-2004. Although he did not manage to score big runs he did the job of seeing off the new ball to perfection. Technical prowess is a must for an opener to survive and succeed especially in foreign conditions. Our very own Sunil Gavaskar would be a perfect example of this characteristic.

Indian batsmen have always been susceptible to short balls in the pacey and bouncy wickets of Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand. However the irritating part is that they have not improved on this aspect of their game and this weakness is exploited by every team even to this day. A champion team needs to compete and triumph in all parts of the world and not just in their own backyard. The Indian team was thrashed 4-0 in their last two series in England and Australia and it is high time that remedial measures be taken to avoid such embarrassments in the future.

There are no shortcuts to success in the Test arena and India would do best to bring about some drastic changes in the way the game is managed in the country. Preparing some fast and bouncy wickets at home would be a better option than primitive methods like practising with a tennis ball. The board could also encourage promising players to participate in foreign domestic leagues rather than asking them to play the IPL which destroys all the characteristics required for success in Tests.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pietersen: waits T20 decision

Eventually, Pietersen admitted on Wednesday: "I did send what you might call provocative texts to my close friends in the South African team.
"The texts were meant as banter between close friends. I need to rein myself in sometimes. I apologise to Straussy and the team for the inappropriate remarks at the press conference and for the texts.
"I truly didn't mean to cause upset or tension particularly with important games at stake."
Throughout his tenure as captain, Strauss, for whom Thursday's match represents his 100th Test and 50th as captain, has tried to keep Pietersen, his predecessor as skipper, on board.
So it was no surprise to hear Strauss say on Wednesday that he felt "let down" by Pietersen.
"I feel a little bit let down by Kevin, if I'm honest," said Strauss.
"But this isn't an issue between me and Kevin. It's a broader issue than that and it's very important that I act in the best interests of England cricket team.
"It's not a personal thing. I've always got on very well with Kevin, which is why some of the stuff has been quite surprising to me."
Strauss acknowledged Pietersen's apology by saying: "It's a step forward, it's a step in the right direction. But this issue hasn't just been about the text messages.
"There's been a bit more of a broader issue about trust and mutual respect, and that issue I'm very keen to resolve.
"If we're going to resolve those issues we need to do it face to face, away from the media spotlight and away from PR companies and press releases.
"That's not helping any of us at this stage."
Strauss no longer plays Twenty20 cricket and Pietersen will also have to mend some fences with England Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad.
The allrounder said he'd no role in a parody Twitter account for Pietersen. The account - KP Genius - was set up by a friend of Broad, Richard Bailey, and had been thought to have contributed to the strained relations Pietersen felt within the England dressing room amid suggestions some of his team-mates were involved.
But Broad insisted: "I would like to confirm that I had no involvement in this whatsoever.
"As has been widely reported Mr Bailey is a friend of mine, but we had no conversations regarding this issue at all and I am pleased that he has now decided to close the parody account down."
England batsman Kevin Pietersen will discover by Saturday if his apology for sending "provocative texts" to South African players has come in time to salvage his hopes of playing in the World Twenty20.
Throughout months of escalating tension with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) hierarchy, Pietersen has always expressed the wish to help England defend the trophy they won in the Caribbean two years ago when he was named man of the tournament.
Saturday is the International Cricket Council deadline for teams to name their final squads for this year's edition, in Sri Lanka starting in September.
Pietersen's apology, issued Wednesday, came too late to save his place in the team for the third and final Test against his native South Africa at Lord's starting on Thursday.
Last weekend England dramatically dropped Pietersen from their squad for Lord's, even though he scored a brilliant 149 in the drawn second Test in Leeds.
Pietersen was axed for failing to reveal the contents of those text messages, some of which were said to contain criticisms of England captain Andrew Strauss.

Irfan pathan: Enjoys success

His impressive show during the recently concluded limited overs cricket series in Sri Lanka has taught Irfan Pathan to "enjoy each and every small moment of success" that comes his way.
"After being out for two years due to injury, this is one thing I have learnt. I need to enjoy each and every small bit of success that comes my way. I have to seize happiness from each and every moment on cricket field," Pathan toldPTI in an interview on Thursday
"I have realized that whatever has happened in the past is history and I can't afford to look too ahead towards future. But I can control my present and work hard to make things happen. That is exactly what I am trying to do. Grab each and every moment," the 27-year-old, who won two Man-of-the-Match awards said.
"A good delivery like the one that swung into Dilshan and I got him bowled in the T20 match is certainly satisfying but at the same time my innings of 34 not out is also equally significant as it was very important in the context of the match. These are little successes that I have started enjoying. It lifts your morale."
The Lankan series has by far been the best one for Irfan where he got a five-for in one of the ODIs, had couple of cameos as well as a match-winning performance in the one-off T20.
On whether he has now cemented a place in the Indian team, he said, "You can never say you belong to a certain place. I believe that only if I perform, I will be a part of that dressing room. I will have to keep contributing in whatever little way I can."
Having tasted the flavour of Test cricket, he wants to get back into white flannels in near future. "I have my own set of dreams and playing Test cricket is certainly on top of that list. I want to perform well in the limited overs version so that when Test cricket comes calling, I am up and ready for it," the all-rounder said.
Having played at the Premadasa Stadium during the ODIs, Pathan is confident that Team India will do well during the upcoming World T20 Champiopnship starting from September 18.
"We now have a fair idea about the Premadasa strip. It's a good batting wicket but obviously dew will be factor during the evening matches," Pathan assessed.
The cricketer, who is taking a short break, plans to travel to Bangalore to train at the NCA provided the weather in Baroda is not conducive for outdoor practice.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Americans like cricket, if India, Pakistan play

Americans don't understand cricket, but they like it, particularly of the diplomatic variety between friend India and ally Pakistan.
"We're for cricket. We don't understand it, but we like it," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters amid laughter Monday when asked to comment on resumption of India-Pakistan cricketing ties.

"We share the interest of people in India, (and) people in Pakistan seeing these two countries continuing to improve their relationship," she said reiterating US support for a continued dialogue between the two South Asian neighbours.

Welcoming the "considerable progress on the economic side," Nuland said, the US "encouraged them to do better on issues like sharing counterterrorism information and dealing with threats to both countries," but it was up to New Delhi and Islamabad how they move forward.

"We have been supportive in all of our diplomatic encounters at every level with the Indian side, with the Pakistani side in some of the progress that they've made," she said.

"They've made considerable progress on the economic side," Nuland said. "We are encouraging them to do better on issues like sharing counterterrorism information, dealing with threats to both countries, moving forward to work on trust and political issues."

"So we will continue (to) support dialogue between them at every level, but it's obviously up to Indians and Pakistanis to continue to work on this," she said. The issue of dealing with the aftermath of the Mumbai bombings and bringing people to justice, Nuland said, comes up in all of US discussions with Indians and with Pakistanis.

"And we'll continue to advocate for full justice being served, not least because Americans lost their lives as well."

South Africa salutes Hashim Amla

Surprise British Open champion Ernie Els had to settle for second place behind triple centurion Hashim Amla on the front pages of South African newspapers on Monday.

"South Africa's day of champions" read the headline across the top of The New Age with pictures of Els holding the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham in northwest England and Amla acknowledging the crowd at The Oval in London.

"Els wins British Open; Proteas on verge of victory against England" said the sub-headline as the youngest Johannesburg-published daily devoted its front page to the sporting achievements.

Els snatched a one-stroke victory over Australian Adam Scott, who imploded over the closing holes and bogeyed the last four as the wind turned the links course into a treacherous test.

Amla became the first South African to hit a triple ton, scoring 311 not out as South Africa declared on 637-2 at tea on the fourth day and then took four England wickets before the close.

A picture of fellow centurion Jacques Kallis congratulating Amla after his extraordinary feat dominated the front page of The Star above the headline "Mighty Hash lauded after feat".

"Hashim Amla is known as the 'Mighty Hash' on social media websites like Twitter, but yesterday he became the Incredible Hash when he scored the first triple century by a South Africa," the newspaper said.

The Star's golf correspondent at Royal Lytham wrote: "It was, when measured up against 152 years of Open Championship history, one of the greatest comebacks ever."

"South African domination" was the bold headline across the main sport page of The Star and beneath were pictures of a clenched-fisted Els after a birdie and Amla hitting out against England.

Business Day pictured Amla celebrating his feat, as did The Times below the headline "Hashim the Magnificent" while the Sowetan focused on the likely move of national team captain Steven Pienaar back to Everton from Tottenham.

"Amla hits triple ton" was the main Times sport-page headline, detailing Amla's tribute to batting partners Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis for helping him become the first South African to pass 300 runs in an innings.

"Big day for our Big Easy" was the headline above a British Open report that began: "It took a decade, but Ernie Els captured his fourth major and his second British Open in dramatic fashion".

Completing a wonderful weekend for South Africa was the 30-17 away triumph of Coastal Sharks over title holders Queensland Reds of Australia in a Super 15 play-off which earned them a semi-final showdown at Western Stormers. (AFP)

Gayle returns Windies buzzing

West Indies captain Darren Sammy admits the return of Chris Gayle to the Test side has given the whole squad a boost.
Gayle has recently returned to international action after resolving his dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board.

He spent 15 months away from the limelight but continued to ply his trade with various Twenty20 franchises around the world.

His impact in both T20 and 50-over cricket for the Windies has been immense following his return and he has transferred his incredible form from the IPL straight back into international cricket.

The Jamaican star has not played a Test since December 2010 but will take his place at the top of the order when the men from the Caribbean host New Zealand in Antigua on Wednesday.

And Sammy admits that the return of the hard-hitting 32-year-old has got everyone connected with the team buzzing.

"It's very exciting. I know he's looking forward to being back in white clothes as well," he said. "Not just Chris but the entire team is looking forward to the Test series and hopefully we can continue the form we showed in the T20 and one-day series."

West Indies have struggled in recent years but have shown signs of a resurgence in the past few months with players such as Marlon Samuels, Kemar Roach, Sunil Narine and the evergreen Shivnarine Chanderpaul making them competitive once again.

They lost 2-0 to England earlier in the summer, with Andrew Strauss's attack making early inroads into the batting line-up in both matches.

And Sammy hopes that the return of the mercurial opener will help to solidify the top six and help the youngsters express themselves later in the innings.

"Our opening position has been a spot of bother for us, but with the experience back there hopefully we can see off the new ball and put a good total on the board," he added. "The new ball we have struggled for the last year or so. His experience, he can pass it on to the younger players."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Akhtar joins digita, social media

KARACHIPakistan’s former bowler Shoaib Akhtar has embraced the digital and social media. The Rawalpindi Express recently launched his official website and created a twitter account along with a YouTube channel to connect with his diverse fans from all around the world.

“My fans are my source of encouragement and support. I am truly thankful to all my fans across the globe that have constantly stood by me, backed me, and inspired me to play the game that I truly love. It is because of them I launched my official website,” said the 36-year old former Pakistani cricketer.

“Having a global fan following, the best medium to interact and reconnect with one’s fan is through social and digital media as it has the capacity to transcend spatial boundaries,” he added.
Shoaib Akhtar is one of the world’s fastest bowlers and the most controversial figures of the cricketing world. He recently took retirement from international cricket during the World Cup 2011.

Bret lee: a true australian

Rawalpindi express Shoaib Akhtar lauded the Australian pacer Brett Lee and said the Australian speedster was a fierce competitor' who announced his retirement last week.
Though the two pacers have been rivals as they were considered to be the pace sensation of the era, Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar was named Rawalpindi express while the Australian became an identity for express bowling.
"Lee was a fierce competitor and became an identity for express bowling with his passion and love for the game and for fast bowling," Akhtar, who retired last year after a career plagued by injury and controversy, told AFP.
Talking about the speedster's retirement, Akhtar said that he was disappointed with Lee's retirement and called it a sad day for international cricket.
"Friday was a sad day for international cricket because a bowler with express pace has retired, someone who was loved by the fans around the world, and he will be missed," said Akhtar.
Akhtar further added that Lee was very dedicated and was a true Australian, as he was fierce.
"Lee gave everything to cricket and was a true Australian: fierce and battle-hardened. He was always willing to bowl and willing to bowl fast and like all the fast bowlers had injuries, which is part and parcel of fast bowling."

"Cricket had very few express pace bowlers and now after the retirement of Lee we don't have any bowler who can bowl 99 mph and the terror on the batsmen will be less," said Akhtar. Sharing his best moments with Lee, Akhtar said, "I had very good friendship with Lee and spent some good days with him in Sydney and he was always warm and cordial whenever we met, so I wish him all the best in his future," said Akhtar.
Lee had bowled the second-fastest delivery on record at 99.9 miles per hour (160.8 kph) at Napier in New Zealand, which was surpassed by Akhtar who hit the 100-mile barrier on two occasions, first in 2002 and then in 2003.
With Lee retiring from international cricket, the void created by him and Shoaib Akhtar cannot be filled as there is a dearth for quality pace bowlers.

Amla triple century makes South Africa top

Hashim Amla hit the highest test score by a South African with an unbeaten 311 to put his side within sight of a crushing victory over England on the fourth day of the first test at the Oval on Sunday.
At the close England were 102 for four in their second innings, trailing by 150 runs.
Jacques Kallis stroked an unbeaten 182, his 43rd test century, as South Africa reached a commanding 637 for two before declaring at tea. Amla surpassed the previous record of 278 by team mate AB de Villiers.
“I’m happy, surprised and really excited that I have done something that’s never been done before by a South African,” Amla told reporters. “But the biggest pleasure is that we are in a really strong position to win this test match. That’s my biggest joy.”
The batsmen’s marathon efforts were then supported by the bowlers as England lost Alastair Cook (0), Jonathan Trott (10), Kevin Pietersen (16) and Andrew Strauss (27) before the close.
Cook edged a probing ball on off stump from Vernon Philander to wicketkeeper de Villiers, Trott fell in similar fashion to Dale Steyn, while Pietersen was bowled by a straight delivery from Morne Morkel and Strauss top-edged a sweep to square leg off Imran Tahir.
South Africa, who will leapfrog England at the top of the world rankings if they win the three-match series, now have an excellent chance of taking a 1-0 lead going to Headingley for the second test on August 2. Their skipper Graeme Smith set the tone on Saturday with 131 in his 100th test match.
“When you’ve played quite a bit of test cricket you accept not every game is going to go for you and at the moment South Africa are in a dominant position,” England batting coach Graham Gooch said. “That’s stating the obvious.
“But the game’s not over yet, you have to believe you can still get out of the game with a draw. If England do that, it will be a great performance.”
Amla came to the crease on Friday at 1507 local time and was still there at 1540 two days later. He combined in a partnership of 377 with Kallis which was the highest-ever stand for the third wicket in a test in England.
England wilted in the bright sunshine as their bowlers toiled on a lifeless pitch that was still good to bat on and showed scant evidence of deterioration. They were unable to apply any pressure on the Proteas’ batsmen for the third day running, after their innings began on Friday afternoon.
Amla went past his previous career best of 253 against India before lunch. The pace of his innings never changed as he continued to thwart England with a solid defence, attacking only when the ball merited an offensive stroke.
He became only the third overseas player to score a test triple century in England after Australians Donald Bradman, who twice achieved the feat, and Bobby Simpson. Amla reached the 300 with a lofted cover drive for four (his 33rd) off Tim Bresnan to go to 303.
It was the first test triple century in England for 22 years, since Graham Gooch hit 333 against India at Lord’s in 1990.
Amla was embraced by Kallis and applauded warmly by the capacity crowd and his team mates on the players’ balcony. Former England captain Michael Vaughan joked on Twitter that his signature beard had grown a centimetre since he came into bat.
Kallis was equally untroubled throughout his innings and he sought to raise the tempo only once he had passed his 150, striking off spinner Graeme Swann over mid-wicket for the first six of the innings.
Only India’s Sachin Tendulkar (51) has scored more test centuries than the South African all-rounder.
Kallis celebrated his century before lunch by pointing to his eyes, a show of solidarity for wicketkeeper and best friend Mark Boucher, who was forced to retire from international cricket after suffering a serious eye injury before the series started.