Monday, January 19, 2009

Jadeja to go for lankan tour

Consistent performance in the Ranji Trophy saw Saurashtra's Ravinder Jadeja getting a maiden call to India's one-day side while Uttar Pradesh medium pacer Praveen Kumar also comes back in the side for the five-match series in Sri Lanka.

The selectors, who met here Sunday, made just two changes in the squad that played the fourth and the fifth one-day matches against England. Jadeja and Praveen replaced Harbhajan Singh, who is out with a hamstring injury, and batsman Virat Kohli.

Jadeja was member of India's World Cup-winning Under-19 squad and also in IPL champions Rajasthan Royals team last year. He made his case strong with his Ranji Trophy performances for Saurashtra this season.

Selectors also decided to go in with a five-prong pace attack and Irfan Pathan, whose selection ahead of R.P. Singh had caused a stir during the England series, managed to retain his place. Pathan along with Praveen, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel will bolster the pace attack.

Sreesanth, who is fit again after a prolonged side-strain problem, failed to find a place.

With injury keeping Harbhajan out of action, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha was also lucky to retain his place. Had Harbhajan been fit, Ojha would have been replaced by Jadeja.

Rohit Sharma with his two-match winning centuries in the Ranji Trophy final for Mumbai against Uttar Pradesh impressed the selectors and retained his place.

The trip to Sri Lanka, which begins Jan 28, comprises five ODIs and a Twenty20 international. The team arrives in Colombo Jan 26.

Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicketkeeper), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Pragyan Ojha

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sachin trips on ranking disorder

NOT FOR the first time, Sachin Tendulkar's absence from a list of rankings has caused a controversy. The ICC, who employed statistician David Kendix to come up with a system that quantified performances, has found itself in the midst of a media storm.

But two things should be made clear. Firstly, these rankings are not new; they are at least five years old and were only highlighted recently as Matthew Hayden, who is in the Top 20, announced his retirement. Secondly, these rankings do not aim to assess a player's overall career. So, no, the rankings do not say that Hayden's presence in the Top 20 mean he is a better player than Tendulkar.

So what do these rankings do? "The rankings give an indication of how players peaked during their careers but do not give a full picture of those players' level of consistency or longevity in the game," said an ICC spokesperson.

The rankings simply measure the peaks in a player's career. "For example, a batsman or a bowler who averages 700 ratings points for most of his career, apart from a purple patch where he shoots up to 900, before dropping again may be ranked higher on the all-time ratings," explained the ICC.

"But that does not mean he should necessarily be considered better than a player who hovered around the 850-point mark for his entire career." When the likes of Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Wally Hammond and Greg Chappell do not make the cut, all it means is that they did not have as purple a patch as those in the top 20.

As the ICC themselves put it: "The 'best-ever ratings' are effectively snapshots of greatness. When it comes to judging a player's greatness over his career, one has to look at his entire graph." In other words, don't take them too seriously. They're good for some idle discussion, some vacant arguments about who's better than whom but not when it comes to actually valuing a player's worth.

If Tendulkar does not figure in the Top 20, it's not so much a reflection on his place in cricket's pantheon. No-one can take away 28,851 international runs and 83 centuries.

Dhoni No.1 In ICC Ranking

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has maintained his top position in the International Cricket Council's (ICC) one-day rankings with Michael Hussey of Australia and South Africa’s Graeme Smith close on his heels.

Dhoni, who regained the numero uno position from Smith in August, has 779 points and is just three points ahead of Hussey who has 776 points while Smith has 760 points.

Yuvraj Singh (744) is the only other Indian batsmen in the top 10 at sixth position.

In the ICC player rankings for ODI bowlers, Australian Nathan Bracken (775) is perched at the top followed by New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori (733)and Sri Lanka's Muttiah Murlitharan (717). No Indian bowler figures among top 10, even though Zaheer Khan(660) is at the 11th position, two points behind England's Andrew Flintoff (662) who is at 10th.

New Zealand's Jacob Oram (383) is at the front among the all-rounders in one-dayers followed by Flintoff (366), with West Indian Chris Gayle and Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik tied (342) at the third place.

Australia is still the best one-day team, followed by South Africa and India.

South Africa beat Australia

Melbourne, Jan 16 (IANS) SOuth Africa recovered in time from a middle-order collapse to pull off a stunning three-wicket victory in the final over in the first One-Day International cricket against Australia here Friday.

Chasing 272 to win, South Africa needed 50 from 30 balls with just three wickets in hand, but Albie Morkel blasted 40 off 18 balls to see the team through with three wickets in hand and three balls to spare.

South Africa were three for 90 in the 19th over before Jean Paul Duminy (71) and Neil Mckenzie (63) shared a 123-run stand. The fall of Duminy triggered a mini collapse as Australia strongly came back sniffing victory only to be thwarted by Morkel's blitzkrieg.

South Africa thus registered their sixth win from six ODIs against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground here.

Australia, electing to bat, rode on some luck and poor fielding by South Africa to put on a challenging target. Opener Shaun Marsh hit 79 off 97 balls with four fours and one six. Skipper Ricky Ponting scored 46 while David Hussey contributed 52.

South Africa's chase started poorly when Shaun Tait rattled Hashim Amla's stumps in the second over with only four runs on the board. Herschelle Gibbs (22) and Jacques Kallis (41) made starts but could not carry on.

Duminy, who has been the find of the tournament for South Africa, once again came for the team's rescue. He showed amazing control as he compiled 71 without a single boundary. Mckenzine hit six fours in his 80-ball 60.

Duminy finally fell to Nathan Bracken while McKenzie was dismissed by Ben Hilfenhaus, leaving the final task for the tailenders.

South Africa lost four wickets in a space of eight runs and were reduced to 221 for seven as the match looked like slipping out of their grasp. The last powerplay which South Africa took in the 45th over, however, did the trick. Morkel went after the bowling freely as Johan Botha (12) gave him company at the other end.

Morkel hit Hilfenhaus for four fours and a six as South Africa picked up 51 from the powerplay at a frenetic pace to go one-up in the five-match series.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Swann too reluctant to tour India

After Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff, England spinner Graeme Swann too has developed cold feet and is reluctant to tour India following the terror strikes in Mumbai.

Swann said though he has full faith on security adviser Reg Dickason, who is yet to give a go-ahead to the tour, he was not particularly keen on returning to India for the two-match Test series.

"I wouldn`t be 100 per cent happy with going back, you know," the off-spinner said.

"There`s a security report being compiled and I have every faith in Reg Dickason, if he comes back saying, `Look guys, it`s safe, we can go back there, we can do some good and get playing sport` then I would go. But until that report comes back, certainly at the minute, I`m not that keen, to be honest," the player told reporters.

Incidentally, pacer James Anderson is also likely to stay back to be with his pregnant wife.

Swann admitted, for a spinner trying to cement his place in the side, skipping the India tour might jeopardise his prospect but said cricket lost its importance to him after the Mumbai terror strikes.

"Obviously it`s tricky for people like myself who are trying to forge a regular place in the team. It comes down to thinking, `If I don`t go will I miss out on future selection` and stuff like that, which sort of clouds the issue a little bit. It`s certainly not an easy decision to make and not one that anyone will be enjoying.”

"You could potentially do some good, but you`ve got to weigh that up against and factor in, if it is still dangerous, what good are you going to do if you`re just providing another target," said the Nottinghamshire spinner.

"It (cricket) didn`t feel very important to me personally in the past few days. As I said the scenes we were watching were just harrowing and, you know, the last thing on your mind was playing cricket. The Test match was due to start in 10-14 days and that`s a long time in anything, so we`ll see how the dust is going to settle. Personally, to me, it seems pretty volatile over there at the moment," said Swann.

Harmison had earlier made it clear that he would not return to India and also questioned those urging the team to go ahead with the tour.

"The idea of being asked to go back out there is the last thing on my mind," Harmison said.

"It`s all very well for people back home to say we should carry on with the tour, but none of what has happened has anything to do with cricket. How anyone can say we should be carrying on with the tour in these circumstances is beyond me," he said.

England to return on Dec 3; first Test match at Chennai

England’s cricket tour of India resumed again when it was confirmed on Monday that the squad would come back to play the Test match series. The team would return on 3rd December.

The schedule of venues would be changed due to revised security guidelines. The first Test would be held at Chennai instead of Ahmedabad while the venue of the second Test would be shifted from Mumbai to Mohali.

BCCI Secretary N Srinivasan said in a media release that England have agreed to resume their tour of India that was halted after the first five ODIs were completed following the terror attack in Mumbai.

However, the final word on the tour would be given only after the England and Wales Cricket Board send their security consultant for discussions with the authorities in India.

England were originally scheduled to play the Test matches at Ahmedabad and Mumbai before the Mumbai terror attack.

The three-day tour match scheduled prior to the commencement of the two-match rubber has been cancelled, he added.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prince of Pretoria helps South Africa romp to series win

South Africa won the second Test against Bangladesh by an innings and 48 runs on Friday after three middle-order run outs contributed to the visitors’ feeble second innings of 131 all out.

Ashwell Prince was named Man-of-the-Match and the series after scoring a Test best 162 not out in South Africa’s 429, a score that gave the home side a platform to complete a second innings victory in the two-Test series.

Bangladesh, trailing by 179 runs in the first innings, lost the key wickets of Mohammad Ashraful (21), Mehrab Hossain (0) and Raqibul Hasan (28) to direct hits from Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla and Prince respectively.

Earlier, wicketkeeper Mark Boucher too slammed a fluent century as the hosts reached 429 in reply to Bangla’s 250.