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 ...in 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.

BCCI mulls T20 series

The Indian cricket board (BCCI) may host the two-match T20 series against Pakistan first before the three-match ODI series against the arch-rivals.
According to sources, a working committee member suggested this to the tour programme and fixture committee of the board on a day when the BCCI decided to resume cricket ties with Pakistan.
Pakistan as of now are scheduled to tour India between December 26 to January 10 (2013) in between England series, which has a 19-day window.
India will play four Test matches against England first and then will play two T20 matches against the same opposition.
So, the working committee member has cited the reason that if the T20 matches are held first against Pakistan, then there will be continuity.
Following the three-match ODI series against Pakistan, India will host England in five-match home series as well. A source said that the board hasn't taken a final decision on it. But the board has taken a note of member's suggestion!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rahul Sharma left Indian team for first ODI

NEW DELHI : Leg-spinner spinner Rahul Sharma, who tested positive for recreational drugs after being caught at a rave party, was on Saturday left out of the Indian team for the first one-dayer against Sri Lanka at Hambantota. 

Rahul, along with South African cricketer Wayne panell, was detained by police after being caught in a rave party in Mumbai during the Indian Premier League in May. 

The two were among 42 people who tested positive for drugs, the Mumbai Police said on Friday. 

With two specialised spinners R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha in the team, Rahul was not an automatic choice in the playing XI in any case. 

The BCCI will, however, take action against the young spinner only after studying the police report on the matter. 

"The police report will be studied before taking any action against Rahul Sharma," Senior BCCI official and IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla on Saturday. 

"Only after studying the report we will proceed," he added. 

The BCCI officials have sought a detailed report from the Mumbai police authorities and will take a final call on whether to withdraw Rahul from the team at a later stage. 

Mumbai Police said Rahul and Parnell were among the 42 who tested positive for drugs. The two cricketers were among the 100-odd people who were detained on that day. 

"I don't know why everyone is in a mood to execute Rahul Sharma without even going into the details," Srinivasan had said on Friday night. 

"The BCCI will first procure each and every bit of relevant information and then study them before deciding on the course of action," he added. 

The Mumbai Police received reports of blood samples of 44 out of the 90 people, who had attended the sundown party at Oakwood Premier Hotel in Juhu. 

"Of the 44, two females tested negative, while the rest are positive," Deputy Police Commissioner Pratap Dighaokar had said. 

All those who tested positive would face arrest, another police official said, adding the procedure to arrest them would start soon.

Rathnakar Shetty to inaugurate Udupi Cricket Association

MANGALORE : Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Administrative officer Rathnakar Shetty will inaugurate the Udupi District Cricket Association (UDCA) on Sunday at 6 pm.
On this occasion, Executive Committee Members of the newly formed Association will be inducted by former test player and Karnataka Cricket Academy director. They are Dr. H S Ballal (Honorary President), Dr. Krishna Prasad (President) and Prabhakar Shetty as secretary.

The move to form UDCA was initiated on November 16, 2011 at Manipal University under the leadership of Dr Ballal, Pro-Chancellor of Manipal University. As many as 35 cricket fans of Udupi District attended the discussion and gave some valuable suggestion and comments in organizing a strong and powerful cricket association at Udupi District.

Dr Krishna Prasad was unanimously nominated to take the lead and form a team of workers to promote cricket in the district. Some cricketers who were already involved in cricketing activities joined hands to draft by laws and study the feasibility of Udupi separating from the Mangalore zone. That is how Udupi District Cricket Association was formed.

UDCA is presently a registered body under the society act Government of Karnataka and the members want to activate as an official cricket body under the affiliation of Karnataka State Cricket Association Bangalore.

England Spinner Don Wilson died at 74

 LONDON : Former Yorkshire and England spinner Don Wilson has died at the age of 74, his county announced Saturday.

The left-armer was a mainstay of the Yorkshire side that dominated English cricket from the end of the 1950s through the 1960s at a time when only players born within the county boundaries were allowed to wear the White Rose.

He took 1,189 first-class wickets at 21.00 in 422 first-class matches and helped Yorkshire win seven County Championship titles.

He took 100 wickets in three of those seasons and five times in total.

Wilson also played in six Tests for England, although these were spread over a seven-year period, with five coming away to India in 1964 before his final appearance against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1971.

In all, he took 11 Test wickets.

Wilson also played twice for England against the Rest of the World in 1970, matches later stripped of Test status by the International Cricket Council

He was also Yorkshire Players' Association president in 2008.

A Yorkshire statement said: "Sad news has reached the club this (Saturday) afternoon of the death of Don Wilson, aged 74.

"Don died in York Hospital at 1pm (1200GMT) this afternoon.

Smith hails Proteas

Captain Graeme Smith hailed "an outstanding day" for South Africa as they took control of the first Test against England.
Centuries for Smith, who made 131 in his 100th Test, and Hashim Amla took the Proteas to 403 for two and a lead of 18 at the Oval. Amla ended the third day 183 not out and will resume on Sunday morning in an unbroken partnership of 143 with Jacques Kallis (82no) as the tourists look to drive home their advantage.
And Smith told Sky Sports News: "It was an outstanding day, we knew we had to make a few plays and we've done that. Now there are two big days left in the Test match."
South Africa have fought back well after Alastair Cook's hundred helped England take the upper hand on day one and Smith continued: "We're a mature unit and we know when we need to step it up.
"It wasn't a terrible day one but there weren't many highlights for us. At 260 for three it would be easy to let the game slide and give England dominance."

England bowling coach David Saker watched his charges struggle against Smith and Amla for virtually the whole day but said: "They're quite upbeat considering what's happened today.
"The bowlers toiled really well, I couldn't have asked much more of them, and the fielders worked hard but the day belonged to South Africa.
"We just couldn't get the ball off the straight. Against class players you need some lateral movement and we couldn't do that, and the batters were really classy."

Ind-Pak Cricket series to be held in England

NEW DELHI :  The reciprocal India-Pakistan cricket series, to be hosted by the neighbour, may be played in England as the island nation is emerging as the most suitable venue given the Indian board's reluctance to send a team to Pakistan.
Deliberations between Indian and Pakistani cricket officials have seen several options being considered, including the series being played in India and the venues being leased to the Pakistani board. This proposal gets around the problem of visiting Pakistan but might have run into domestic opposition.
Similarly, the possibility of playing in Dubai did not find favour with the Indian board which feels the Gulf destination's reputation as the capital of illegal betting can result in the cricket team attracting unwelcome attention. A betting scandal is the last thing the board wants.
The England option seems the most attractive as grounds can be hired, television proceeds can be worked out and security is not as daunting a task as it might be elsewhere. An India-Pakistan series is a sure shot full draw and England's cricketing establishment can profit by providing the venues.
The winter's three ODI and two T20 engagement has broken the ice and - with the quiet urging of the Indian government - the Board of Control for Cricket in India is looking to restart the stalled cricketing ties in full earnest. The small window in December, when the visiting English team takes a break to return home for Christmas and the new year, provides an opportunity to fit in the engagement.
BCCI sources said the board is bound to follow the government's lead in scheduling a cricket series with Pakistan and there has been a push in this direction since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met former Pakistani PM Yousuf Gilani during an India-Pakistan match at the 2011 World Cup.
Bilateral ties with Pakistan are unlikely to make much progress in the remainder of UPA-2 with Pakistan heading towards polls and increasingly occupied with its own affairs. As tougher, long standing aspects of the relationship will be hard to tackle, confidence building measures like sporting contacts are seen by the government as doable.
Singh had then spoken to former BCCI chief Shashank Manohar and later, foreign minister SM Krishna and national security advisor Shivshankar Menon took up the matter with the board office-bearers. The board is keen to keep south Asian cricketing bodies in good humour as their votes count in the International Cricket Council politics where India currently holds the upper hand.

Sangakkara’s goes in vain

India survived some jittery moments in the fag end before snatching a thrilling 21-run win over Sri Lanka in the first cricket One-dayer of the five-match series, on Saturday.
Virat Kohli cracked a superb 106 and Virender Sehwag scored 96 runs as their 173-run stand for the second wicket laid the foundation for India’s imposing 314 for six after electing to bat.
Diminutive left-hander Suresh Raina (50 off 45) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (35 off 29) added valuable runs towards the end to take the side past 300-run mark.
India then restricted the hosts to 293 for nine to take a 1-0 lead in the series, which it needs to win by a 5-0 margin to reclaim the number one position in ODIs.
The hosts’ resistance was built around Sangakkara’s fighting 133 but he fell short of partners from the other end until he was joined by Thisara Perera, who scored a quick-fire 44 off just 28 balls.
Sangakkara’s knock, his 14th ODI hundred and fifth against India, came off 151 balls and included 12 boundaries.
Sangakkara and Perera rattled up a 78-run stand for the seventh wicket, giving some anxious moments to India but their effort only reduced the defeat margin.
Sri Lanka’s fight ended when Sangakkara was bowled by Umesh Yadav in 48th over and Perera was dismissed by Irfan Pathan in the penultimate over.
Pathan (2/37), R Ashwin (2/46) and Yadav (2/76) took two wickets each for India.
Kohli carried his good form of the last season into the match as he scored his fourth hundred in his last five innings. The 23-year-old Kohli blasted nine boundaries in his 113-ball innings.
Sehwag, who was given reprieve by Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second over, had 10 boundaries in his 97-ball innings.
Both the teams will now travel to Colombo for the second match, scheduled for Tuesday.
Dilshan (6) in the second over. He was trapped by Pathan with his second ball.
Sangakkara and Upul Tharanga (28) somehow redeemed the innings with a 77-run stand but India never let the duo bat freely, resulting in mounting the required run-rate.
The two players had to work hard for runs as the wicket was two-paced and the outfield too was very slow. They managed to take Sri Lanka to 68 for one in 15 overs as the pace trio of Zaheer Khan, Pathan and Yadav kept things tight.
Spinner Aswhin started troubling the batsmen right from the word go and soon broke the second wicket stand by having Tharanga caught in the slip cordon.
Dinesh Chandimal (13) departed without contributing much, leaving Sangakkara and Mahela Jaywardene to score at an asking rate of eight runs in the remaining 21 overs.
The last thing, Sri Lanka needed at that stage was losing another wicket but left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha struck a deadly blow to the host by trapping skipper Jayawardene (12).
Sangakkara cut loose, smashing Zaheer Khan and Ashiwn for boundaries to move quickly into 80s.
Sri Lanka required 144 runs from the last 15 overs and the pressure of scoring almost 10 runs per over got to Angelo Mathews, whose half-hearted strike ended in the hands of Gautam Gambhir in the cover region.
Sangakkara kept going strong from the other end and completed his century with a single off Aswin in the last ball of the 39th over.
Perera hit a mighty 98-metre hit off Ojha and Sangakkara too started finding quick boundaries, turning the heat on India and making it a contest.
Brief Scores:
India: 314 for six in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 106, Virender Sehwag 96, Suresh Raina 50; Thisara Perera 3/70).
Sri Lanka: 293 for nine in 50 overs (Kumar Sangakkara 133, Thisara Perera 44; R Aswhin 2/46, Irfan Pathan 2/37).

Boucher in positive mood

Former South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher is "a bit sore" but optimistic after his recent eye surgery.
The 35-year-old was forced to bring forward his international retirement, which was scheduled for after his country's current tour of England, after being struck in the eye by a bail during a warm-up match. He underwent a second operation on Thursday, as the first Test was getting under way, and posted news of his condition on his Twitter page on Saturday.
Boucher wrote: "News on my eye.A bit sore,but expected after a 5hr op.Doc is happy,so I am happy.Long rd to recovery starts.Thnks for all the concern again!"
He also offered his opinion on Saturday's play at the Kia Oval, where centuries from captain Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla and an unbeaten 82 from Jacques Kallis put the Proteas in control of the match at 403 for two.
"Good day for Proteas!Loads of patience and skill showed!Well batted @amlahash @GraemeSmith49 @jacqueskallis75 .Big 2 days ahead!" he wrote.

India wins opener with Sri Lanka

Hambantota : Kumar Sangakkara made a thrilling 133 for Sri Lanka but India held their nerve.
  • Chasing 315 to win after Virat Kohli's brilliant 106, Sri Lanka appeared to have little hope of starting the five-match series with a win. Sangakarra almost made it happen, though, with just a lack of support from elsewhere letting him down as Sri Lanka closed on 293 for nine.
  • Thisara Perera offered some lower-order cheer with a breezy 44, but the lack of runs at the top of the order - Sangakarra apart - proved costly. India had no such troubles, with Kohli and Virender Sehwag's second-wicket stand of 173 putting then on course for a total of 314 for six.
  • With Sehwag making 96 and other key contributors including Suresh Raina (50) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (35), Sri Lanka struggled against a side who were playing their first game in four months.
  • That did not show, however, as Kohli in particular impressed, posting his third successive century against Sri Lanka and an Indian record-equalling fifth consecutive score of 50 or more. He had plenty of time in which to compile it too, coming to the crease after just 14 balls when opener Gautam Gambhir was cleaned up by Nuwan Kulasekara for three.
  • Kohli and Sehwag then went on to take Sri Lanka's bowling on, although neither were without good fortune, with Sehwag being put down by both Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kulasekara while Perera shelled Kohli. They were made the best of their escapes and they brought up their fifties in 60 and 62 balls respectively.
  • Perera slightly made up for his earlier error by running out Sehwag on 96 but by the time he had Kohli caught, the batsman had already passed his 100 in 106 balls. In between times, Angelo Matthews had snared Rohit Sharma for five, meaning that despite the good work of Sehwag and Kohli, Raina and Dhoni still had work to do.
  • They did, it, though, adding 79 runs in 55 balls as India finished strongly.
  • The same could not be said of Sri Lanka's start as Tillakaratne Dilshan slipped away for just six before Sangakkara started to up the ante. Upul Tharanga stuck with him to make 28 before he chipped R Ashwin to Sehwag and when Dinesh Chandimal nicked Umesh Yadav behind, Sri Lanka were 117 for three.
  • They were never really in control of their chase, despite Sangakkara's efforts, and when Pragyan Ojha cleaned up Mahela Jayawardene for 12, the game was almost up. Perera offered his resistence but, once he was gone, India were home and hosed, in spite of Sangakkara's 151-ball vigil which was eventually ended by Yadav.

Smith, Amla hit centuries

Graeme Smith scored a century in his 100th test and Hashim Amla was 183 not out as South Africa took control of the first test against England at stumps on the third day on Saturday.
South Africa closed on 403 for two for a first innings lead of 18 runs at The Oval.
Smith stroked 131 before he played on, via his pad, to Tim Bresnan after lunch but Amla continued the tourists' dominance supported by Jacques Kallis, who was 82 not out at the close.
It was Smith's 25th test century and he became the seventh player to achieve the feat of scoring a hundred in his hundredth test after Colin Cowdrey, Gordon Greenidge, Javed Miandad, Alec Stewart, Inzamam-ul Haq and Ricky Ponting.
"I don't think it has sunk in yet," Smith, who flies home on Monday night for the birth of his first child, told reporters.
"It's pretty surreal. When I got to 100 a lot of emotions went through my head. While I was pleased to get there I knew in the back of my mind that there was still a job to be done.
"I don't want us to get too far ahead of ourselves. We have to respect the opposition as England are the number one team in the world and are capable of coming back.
"And we have two guys close to milestones so we just want to set the game up for ourselves."
Amla notched his 15th test century while Kallis is eyeing an incredible 43rd.
England are seeking to hold on to their top ranking while the Proteas can leapfrog them if they win the three-match series.
On current form, the tourists have an excellent chance to go 1-0 up but a placid batting surface could make it difficult to dismiss England a second time, cheaply.
"I don't think we bowled badly," England's bowling coach David Saker said."I thought our guys toiled away pretty well. We just couldn't get the ball to move off the straight.
"It's by far my toughest day as bowling coach. But I was proud at how the guys kept on toiling away.
"We still hope to win the game. With a few quick wickets and with Graeme Swann bowling at their left-handers, the game can change quickly."
Smith and Amla cashed in while the sun shone and England no doubt rued the dropped chance that skipper Andrew Strauss made at first slip the previous evening when Amla was on 40.
Amla has otherwise been faultless and the ease with which his runs came said much about his ability to penetrate the field against quality bowling as much as the conditions.
His innings has so far spanned 369 balls in nine hours. But, because of the occasion, Smith's six-hour innings will be remembered more, while he shared in a potentially match-defining partnership of 259 with the right-handed Amla.
Smith reached a special century with a back cut for four to the third man boundary off Bresnan shortly before lunch.
His innings was a tale of two 50s. His first was the slowest of his career, reaching the milestone in 160 painstaking deliveries as he was especially tested by off-spinner Graeme Swann on a turning pitch.
He faced just 41 deliveries to go from 50-100, however, eventually turning the pressure back on to Swann, who conceded 21 runs off the final two overs of his first spell.
Kallis, the fourth-highest run scorer in tests, was probably not the sight England's fielders wanted to see at 260 for two and he duly added further misery to England's day with an innings of authority that included ten boundaries.
AB de Villiers, Jacques Rudolph and JP Duminy are still to bat.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sachin Passion of Cricket

There has been a raging debate whether the next crop of Indian youngsters are passionate enough about playing Test cricket but Sachin Tendulkar reckons that players cannot be forced into liking the longer format.
“To make someone like Test cricket, it has to come from within. There is no set formula that you have to do certain things and then you start liking Test cricket. I grew up dreaming about playing for India — that was the biggest thing I wanted to achieve: to play Test cricket for India and to do well,” Tendulkar said.
“Every practice session I went out, I was prepared to work as hard as any of my coaches wanted me to; the only thing I wanted was an India cap. Yes, maybe there are individuals around who feel, ‘If I don’t play Test cricket I don’t miss much.’ You need not force them into something they don’t want to be,” he toldESPN’s Sports Centre programme.

“If someone wants to be in Test cricket, then he will find his way, will be ready to push himself as hard as anyone to realise his dreams. I don’t like to push someone to like Test cricket and make him like Test cricket forcibly. I would just keep those two individuals separate,” Tendulkar said.
Having played top flight cricket for 23 years now, Tendulkar has forged successful on-field partnerships with the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and now the next generation of players.
Asked how he has managed to bond with the players, he replied, “It’s important to know each other’s nature, each other’s personality, how they react to various situations... I have played with the current lot for some time, and there was one stage, when I was already a part of the Indian team for six years when Rahul and Sourav joined me.

“So in every generation this process has to take place. I can say that I have played with all of them, so that understanding is very much there,” he added.
The iconic batsman also said that he has never felt the need to prove anything to anyone.
“I never wanted to prove anything to anyone ever. Not that it is only post-World Cup, because that would send wrong signals. I never thought I am out here to prove anything to anyone, but yes, one big target was winning the World Cup.

“Other than that my only aim was to enjoy the game of cricket. I have grown up playing cricket. I haven’t done anything else in my life from a professional point of view. Cricket has been my life, my passion. I just want that to continue.”