Posts Tagged ‘ cricket ’

Tendulkar leads India past Pakistan, to World Cup final

As Reported by The Japan Times

A lucky 85 from Sachin Tendulkar was followed by a disciplined bowling effort as India beat Pakistan by 29 runs in a high-stakes semifinal Wednesday to progress to the World Cup final against Sri Lanka.

Pakistan was dismissed for 231 in the last over chasing 261, sparking wild celebrations among the 28,000 people inside the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium and across the nation of more than 1 billion people.

Pakistan had done well earlier to peg India back to 260-9 after Virender Sehwag’s flying start, with left-arm pace bowler Wahab Riaz taking a career-best 5-46.

The victory continued a streak for India, which has beaten Pakistan in all five World Cup head-to-heads dating back to 1992.

The game was touted as a duel between India’s batting lineup and Pakistan’s bowling attack, but Pakistan’s shoddy fielding was eventually the difference between the two sides.

Tendulkar was let off four times, giving him the opportunity to knit together a challenging total for India and the bowlers then ensured a third World Cup final appearance for the 1983 champion.

“Going back to Mumbai, especially for this event, is a wonderful occasion,” Tendulkar said of playing a World Cup final on his home ground. “All I want to say is, we want to be calm, focus on our job and get the job done.”

India piled the pressure on a Pakistan batting lineup which failed to produce a single century in the tournament.

Pakistan’s early promise was slowed down in the middle overs as Yuvraj made early inroads and the bowlers slowly took control, marshaled well by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. All five Indian bowlers finished with two wickets each.

The only time Pakistan looked capable of the chase was when openers Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez were at the crease.

Kamran Akmal slashed a ball from Zaheer Khan straight to Yuvraj at point after making 19, while Hafeez went for an unnecessary scoop off Munaf Patel and was caught behind for 43.

Yuvraj then dismissed Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan and Pakistan was reduced to 106-4 by the 26th over.

Umar Akmal added some interest with a 24-ball 29 and Misbah-ul-Haq made a late charge of 56, but with the ball not coming on to the bat too well later in the day, it was always going to be difficult for them.

“I want to say sorry to my nation. We tried our level best,” Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi said. “I want to congratulate the Indian cricket and all of the Indian nation for this great victory. We wish them well in the final.”

In the first innings, Riaz exposed India’s traditional weakness against left-arm seamers, striking at crucial junctures. He accounted for a dangerous looking Sehwag (38) and an in-form Yuvraj for a first-ball duck, as the famed Indian batting struggled against his swing.

Pakistan also made Tendulkar wait for his 100th international century despite dropping the world’s best batsman four times. Tendulkar also had an lbw decision overturned on referral and survived a close stumping appeal in what has to be one of his luckiest innings ever.

Tendulkar faced 115 balls and hit 11 fours even as Riaz pegged back the Indian middle order with the dismissals of Virat Kohli (nine) and Yuvraj off successive deliveries.

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How Can India Beat Pakistan?

By Will Davies for The Wall Street Journal

It’s the million dollar question that a billion people are asking: How can India beat Pakistan? Setting aside the obvious answers such as score more runs and get more wickets, there are some key areas where India can gain an advantage over its fiercest rival.

Indian and Pakistani cricket fans with a replica of the Cricket World Cup trophy. Unsettle Shahid Afridi – Pakistan’s captain has been an inspirational presence at this World Cup. He is the tournament’s leading wicket taker, with 21 scalps already to his name, comfortably ahead of the second-top bowler, India’s Zaheer Khan on 17. Afridi oozes charisma but he is prone to tantrums – it’s not uncommon seeing him shouting at teammates when things go wrong in the field, as is all too often the case with Pakistan – so India should try to frustrate him. Afridi is the nerve center of the Pakistan team, and if he is exasperated then negativity will spread to the other players.

Nullify Umar Gul – Afridi may have taken the most wickets, but Gul has been Pakistan’s most lethal pace bowler and looks on top of his game with 14 wickets (joint fifth with South Africa’s Imran Tahir in the tournament rankings). Gul has been so important to Pakistan’s campaign, particularly bearing in mind the team was stripped of two key bowling assets – Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir – ahead of the World Cup. The track at Mohali should favor pace bowlers over spin (will this mean we’ll see the Rawalpindi Express Shoaib Akhtar?), so the Pakistanis will be heavily reliant on another good showing from Gul, who has been effective with both the new and the old ball. If India’s excellent batsmen can nullify the ever aggressive Gul, Pakistan’s armory will be significantly weakened.

Silence Younis Khan – The big-hitting middle-order batsman has had a relatively quiet World Cup by his standards, scoring 172 runs in six innings, though that includes a 72 against a very fine Sri Lanka. He often saves his best for India so the co-hosts should be on guard if or when he comes to the crease. Out of his six career centuries, three have been made against India, including one at Mohali, the venue for Wednesday’s semifinal. India will do well to keep him contained.

Bat to Potential – India has a wonderful batting lineup but there’s a nagging feeling we haven’t seen the best of it at this World Cup. Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh are among the tournament’s top 10 run scorers, but India’s other batsmen haven’t consistently backed up the trio’s good work. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hasn’t done much at all with the bat – his top score so far is 34 – though he has often come to the crease when his only option was to have a bit of a slog. All the batsmen in this star-studded lineup will need to play at least one great innings if India is to beat Pakistan and go on to win the World Cup final in Mumbai on April 2.

Support Zaheer Khan – India’s bowling was seen as a weakness at the start of this World Cup and it remains a concern. Zaheer Khan has been a revelation but the other pace bowlers need to give him better support. Munaf Patel was targeted by the Australians, particularly Brad Haddin, and it will be interesting to see if India’s coach Gary Kirsten selects him for the semifinal. Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Ashish Nehra could get a call-up, but both have had their problems this tournament. Left-armer Nehra was hurt in the match against South Africa when he failed to defend 13 runs in the final over, while Sreesanth hasn’t featured since the opening match against Bangladesh when he returned disappointing figures of 0 for 53 from just five overs.

Kamran Akmal – It’s harsh to single out the Pakistani wicket-keeper, but he is prone to lapses that make him look like he has smeared his gloves in butter. Akmal put in a much improved performance in the quarterfinal against the West Indies, but India will be hoping he has another bad day at the office and gives the hosts a few reprieves.

Ignore the hype – Ok, that’s like telling a skydiver to relax and enjoy the view after his parachute has failed, but India must try to focus on the task at hand and not get carried away by the enormity of this match and the weight of expectation from a billion or so fans.

And how can Pakistan beat India?

Hide Sachin Tendulkar’s bat.

Also, Pakistan needs to silence the home crowd. The stadium in Mohali is small, with capacity for only 27,500 spectators, but they’ll be so loud it’ll seem like there are 10 times that many people. If Pakistan gets some early wickets or an early batting partnership, the home crowd will become restless and that will put India under pressure. Pakistan has the quality and talent to beat the best in the world, but it’s the kind of side that needs momentum and confidence. That will come if the team unsettles India early in the match.

Still, hiding Tendulkar’s bat wouldn’t be a bad tactic. And while they’re at it, they should probably take Sehwag’s and Yuvraj’s too.

Can Pakistan Tame Australia?

By Will Davies for The Wall Street Journal

Saturday’s Group A match between Pakistan and Australia is a tough one to predict, as is generally the case when Pakistan plays. One team – Australia – epitomizes consistency and solidity, while the other – Pakistan – is about as well-adjusted and reliable as a moody teenager.

On its day, Pakistan is one of the best sides at this World Cup, but on other occasions the team looks disorganized and uninterested. That’s one of the reasons why Pakistan is such a fascinating team to watch – you never quite know what you’re going to get.

This unpredictability can work in its favor as opponents struggle to form and stick to a game plan. Of all the sides at the World Cup, Australia is the most capable of dealing with Pakistan’s maverick approach, but it will have to tread carefully and blow off the rust that has tinged its performances thus far.

If the likes of Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar – two players who are such fun to watch – perform well, then Pakistan is in with a chance of upsetting Australia in Colombo and ending its incredible 34-match unbeaten run in World Cup cricket.

Australia has been prowling quietly but menacingly on the verges of this tournament, snapping up victims, while other teams – particularly in Group B – struggle to gain momentum and avoid upsets. But the Australians aren’t the threat they once were, and their World Cup record looks more vulnerable than in previous tournaments when the team boasted superstars like the Waugh brothers, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.

Australia’s captain Ricky Ponting is out of sorts with the bat and angry in the field. It looked like he was ready to thump Steven Smith when his teammate bumped into him as he took a catch in Wednesday’s match against Canada.

Smith is looking increasingly at ease in the Australian squad, but he’d do well to tread a little carefully, particularly when near Ponting’s toes. The Sydney-born youngster is a player of great promise and is now a regular in the Australian team, but he is yet to really shine. He needs a big performance, otherwise he risks slipping into nearly-man territory.

Pakistan has had its ups and downs this World Cup, from the heights of beating Sri Lanka to the lows of collapsing against New Zealand and a Ross Taylor batting onslaught. Australia beat New Zealand convincingly, while the match against Sri Lanka was cut short by a huge thunderstorm, an unfortunate outcome as the game was shaping up nicely and Australia, for once, looked like it had a tough opponent to deal with.

The weather forecast for tomorrow isn’t promising, but hopefully the rain will stay away from Colombo as matches between teams like Australia and Pakistan are the big occasions that make the World Cup so special.

Bangladesh Stun England in Chittagong Thriller

By Azad Majumdar for Reuters News Agency

Two unheralded Bangladeshi tail-enders with ice in their veins played the innings of their lives to subject England to yet another giant-killing act on Friday.

Shafiul Islam (24) and Mahmudullah (21) defied the nerve-jangling pressure to forge an unbeaten 58-run ninth wicket stand to complete a two-wicket Group B victory that even their captain did not think they could pull off.

“I never believed they can win it for us. It’s only after hitting the winning run that I believed they have done this,” said Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan, whose house was stoned by irate fans after the team’s defeat by West Indies last week.

At 169-8, Bangladesh’s chase for a 226-run victory target on a tricky track looked so doomed that even some of their ardent followers exited the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium shaking their heads, not realising the drama that was about to unfold.

Aided by England’s profligate bowlers who conceded 33 extras, including 23 wides, in the see-saw contest, both the tail-enders kept going before Mahmudullah drove Tim Bresnan through covers to seal the match with one over to spare and trigger wild celebrations.

Tamim Iqbal (38), Imrul Kayes (60) and Shakib (32) chipped in with useful cameos but Shafiul and Mahmudullah were the toast of the nation.

Wary of the dew factor, Shakib won a good toss and opted to field and he had reasons to feel vindicated when the English bowlers struggled to grip the wet ball in the evening.

England’s batting was also inconsistent and if it had not been for the knocks by Jonathan Trott (67) and Eoin Morgan (63), they might not have even scored 225 all out.

They looked completely shackled by the home team bowlers, managing just four boundaries in the first 20 overs.

Once again, they could not make the most of their batting powerplay either, managing just 33 runs and losing two wickets.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY
Defending a below-par total, English bowlers seemed to have turned the table on their hosts before being thwarted by Bangladesh’s spectacular rearguard resistance.

“We are very disappointed, it was a missed opportunity for us,” rued England skipper Andrew Strauss, admitting problems both in the batting and bowling departments.

Consistency has been a real problem for the team which narrowly escaped an upset against the Netherlands, tied with India, went down to Ireland before losing to Bangladesh here.

“These defeats hurt, there’s no doubt about it,” said Strauss, whose side could have sealed a place in the last eight if they had won Friday’s match.

“But you’ve got to channel that frustration and make sure you channel it the right way and come out and beat the next side you’re playing against. It’s a big game for us (against the West Indies) and we’re going to have to win it.”

England now need to win their final match against the West Indies on March 17 to be sure of a quarter-final place while Bangladesh next face Netherlands on Monday and then South Africa on March 19. Wins would take them through.

Afridi Tells Pakistan to Learn New Zealand Lessons

As Reported by Agence France-Presse

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi on Wednesday urged his team to learn the lessons of the 110-run defeat against New Zealand.

The Black Caps rode on a brilliant unbeaten 131 by Ross Taylor to post a challenging 302-7 before Tim Southee removed the top order with a burst of three early wickets to bowl Pakistan out for 192.

“There were quite a few lessons to be learned from the defeat, especially those chances we gave to Taylor and when you give such chances to a player like him he makes you pay,” said Afridi.

Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal let Taylor off twice in the same Shoaib Akhtar over – once when the batsman was on nought and then on eight – allowing two straightforward chances to slip past him.

Afridi said his bowlers were poor in the death overs when New Zealand plundered 139 runs off the last 10 overs.

“I think the way we started with the ball was good, but then the missed chances maybe demoralised the bowlers and they were very poor in the end,” said Afridi.

Afridi hoped his top order batsmen will show improvement in the next game, against Zimbabwe on Monday.

“Our top order did not work well although we have given them the time to settle down and this was the first time we were chasing. We need to learn how to bat while chasing,” said Afridi.

“Taylor took the game away from us although the bowlers had reverse swing. But the way he played was brilliant and he took the game away from us,” said the Pakistan captain.

Pakistan now have six points from four matches, second in Group A behind New Zealand who also have six points but a better net run-rate.

Co-hosts Sri Lanka (five points from four) and Australia (five from three) are third and fourth respectively.

Pakistan plan to spread the grief

As reported by Agence France-Presse

Pakistan are still reeling from the cricket corruption scandal that has dogged the side since last summer, but Shoaib Akhtar has warned that he and his teammates plan to take out their frustrations over the affair on their World Cup opponents.

Salman Butt, Pakistan’s then Test captain, and the bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last month, after being found guilty of spot-fixing, which depleted Pakistan’s bowling options just two weeks before the start of the World Cup.

But Akhtar said the loss of the trio has helped unite the squad and galvanised them to push for a second World Cup victory to replicate their 1992 success.

“We are a hurt side so we are here to hurt others,” Akhtar said yesterday. “It’s better that it happened to us because every time a controversy happens it gathers us together and what better situation than before a World Cup?”

Pakistan beat co-hosts Sri Lanka by 11 runs in their last match after seeing off Kenya by 205 runs in their opening game.

Akhtar, 35, admitted he was missing Aamer and Asif but said others have stepped up.

“Obviously without Aamer and Asif we have suffered badly, they were the best with the new ball, it’s unfortunate what happened to them. Had they been with us it would have been the most lethal bowling attack,” he said.

“But the way [Umar] Gul and [Abdul] Razzaq have been bowling, the way [Wahab] Riaz is bowling, we can still do a much better job as we have variety in our attack.”

Akhtar, who has taken 246 wickets in 162 one-day internationals, said he had changed his bowling style to maintain his fitness, concentrating on accuracy rather than the pure pace that in the past regularly saw him bowl in excess of 100mph.

“I left this race of bowling at 100mph a long time ago,” he said. “I am nearing 36 now and am more mature, so I am focusing more on getting wickets now than bowling fast. But I crossed 98mph the other day.”

He said he is enjoying the chance to perform on the world stage after injury and discipline problems left him sidelined four years ago.

But he warned his teammates – who next face Canada in Colombo on Thursday – not to be over confident after beating Sri Lanka. “We have to move on and we shouldn’t get complacent,” he said.

The Cup That May Brighten Up Pakistan

By Nilankur Das for The Hindustan Times
For others winning this World Cup could be a matter of pride and glory for the country. For Pakistan, which has won a World Cup and hosted a final, a lot more is at stake. A terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009 had put an end to Pakistan playing international matches at home an

d also taken away its rights to host World Cup ties. The country shredded by blasts and violence is now forced to host its international matches in Dubai.

Play to prove
Winning this World Cup, coach Waqar Younis feels, could change all that and pave the way to bring international cricket back to the country.

“It is unfortunate that we are not hosting. Yes, we are missing World Cup matches at home. But if we play as a unit, which we are at the moment and go on to win, I believe it will definitely help get international matches back to Pakistan,” Waqar said after Pakistan began their campaign with a win in a warm-up match against Bangladesh.

“Everyone back home is disappointed that the World Cup is not happening in Pakistan. But we are looking forward. Violence has taken international cricket away from the country but I am sure our cricket will bring cricket back,” Intikhab Alam, Pakistan’s first one-day captain who is the manager of the team here, told HT.

Ccricket Buzz
Back in Pakistan which is celebrating Id-e- Milad-un-Nabi, the birthday of Prophet Mohammad, cricket, it was learnt, is the buzz now.

“I think the people of Pakistan have already come to terms with the World Cup not happening here. Tuesday’s match was not on TV and so very few people could follow it. But people are keeping track and everywhere I went I heard cricket being discussed,” spokesperson of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Nadeem Sarwar told HT from Lahore.

“What Waqar said is right. But it will not happen overnight. Winning the World Cup will surely have a unifying effect on the country and if that means law and order is restored, the other boards too will not have problems sending their teams to Pakistan.

“We are making progress in this regard. The Afghanistan team was here. And now the Nepal women’s team is playing a T20 and one-day series here,” Sarwar said.

It’s still early days but a motto like this can definitely keep the team together. But sport has its share of such instances. When Spain, with a majority of Catalan players led by a man from Real Madrid, went on to win the football World Cup, a month-long euphoria blurred all differences.

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