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umi82990

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Posted: 10 April 2007 at 9:15am | IP Logged
Indian cricket: Young blood need of the hour
TIMES NEWS NETWORK / Indranil Basu
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NEW DELHI, April 9: The Indian cricket board is planning to ignore six top cricketers for the tour of Bangladesh. Sources indicated that Tendulkar and Ganguly could be rested for the tour while Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag and Ajit Agarkar "are certain to be dropped".

As for Zaheer Khan, he might just get lucky enough and catch the flight. "The selection is still some way off. We are certain that young blood is the need of the hour.

If we are to groom a good team for the future, we have to begin that process now. Some of the seniors got enough opportunities to prove themselves. We know what happened later," another official said.

Fortunately for some of the seniors, there are still supporters within the board who believe that they can perform. They feel the performance-based payments system would spur them to come up with sterling shows.

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Posted: 13 April 2007 at 6:50pm | IP Logged
New Zealand v South Africa, Super Eights, Grenada

South Africa look to avoid net run-rate hassles

The Preview by Andrew Miller in Grenada

April 13, 2007



Graeme Smith is well aware that his side needs to focus on winning the next two games to cruise into the semi-finals AFP



New Zealand's defeat on Thursday was an exercise in damage limitation. Stephen Fleming saw the writing on the wall from the moment his seamers failed to break through Sri Lanka's top-order, and applied the brakes as effectively as he could. In doing so, he turned what - in any ordinary circumstances - could have been a high-octane but heavy thumping into a game that was spun out until the 46th over by some sly manipulation of the Powerplays. Net run-rate is the spectre at this World Cup, and it is an issue about which Fleming is acutely aware.

"You're dumb if you're not [aware]," Fleming said yesterday, as he braced himself for the possibility that New Zealand's impressive start to the Super Eights could peter out into a flaccid finish. South Africa await on Saturday, followed by the tournament trendsetters, Australia, six days later. In the event of a pair of defeats, they could well find themselves tied on points with both South Africa and England, and therefore indebted to Fleming's foresight.

To judge by Graeme Smith's take on the situation, however, South Africa - the former World No. 1 who last week succumbed to the lowly-but-upwardly-mobile Bangladeshis in Guyana - are none too fussed about the permutations that could lie ahead. You'd have thought, after their run of appalling misfortune in previous World Cups, that they would seek to have every base covered ahead of their crunch encounters with New Zealand and England. Not so. Their approach is more reminiscent of an Oudsthoorn ostrich.

"I guess in our minds there is a possibility that net run-rate could play a role," said Smith, who gave the impression of a man who was doing just that - guessing. "But foremost we know it's in our control - if we win our next two games we cruise into the semi-finals. That's pretty much our focus, and if we can take care of that, it won't come down to net run-rate for us.

"And if we win those next two games our net run-rate will be good," Smith added, ignoring the fact that Sri Lanka's victory on Thursday actually brought their figures down because it was not as comprehensive as previous wins. "Those are our focuses. If it comes down to net run-rate, we've taken control and dealt with it as well as we can."

Of course, that's not strictly true. South Africa are the only team in the top five with a negative net run-rate - even England, on +0.079, are doing better than them. Smith and his side missed a massive trick against West Indies on Tuesday when, having slapped a vast total of 356 for 4, they dallied at the death and allowed a broken team to limp to 289 for 9 in their full quota of 50 overs. Smith himself was particularly culpable, bowling five overs for 56 in the closing overs as Daren Powell spanked 48 not out - a score that was exactly double his previous career total of ODI runs.

Nevertheless, Smith's head-in-the-sand attitude to the net run-rate does at least mean his team has no peripheral distractions as they prepare for their next encounter of the tournament - although their focus is so intense there is a danger of looking straight through this match and all the way to the real make-or-break fixture; their clash with England in Barbados on Tuesday. "No matter whether we win tomorrow, we still have to beat England," said Smith. "We know what we need to do."

On the other hand, John Bracewell, New Zealand's coach, was more fixated on the game at hand. "Tomorrow is a game we want to win, must win, and need to win for a number of reasons," he said, as he sized up a loss to Sri Lanka on Thursday that brought an end to their unbeaten run of nine games. "It's recognised we had quite a helpful draw, but it's tough at the business end, which is good for us," he added. "You don't want to lose your rhythm, but you've got to be realistic. Most teams will have a defeat through this tournament so it's a wake-up call going into the tough part of the tournament."

"They've controlled things pretty well and they are a good, well-balanced team with a lot of options in their set-up," said Smith. "They've been put under pressure for the first time, and it's probably a good time for it to happen. They could easily bounce back tomorrow, because a tough game often shows you what level you need to perform at."


After Mark Gillespie's ineffectual return to the side against Sri Lanka, New Zealand look set to return to their second spinner, Jeetan Patel, particularly in light of South Africa's well-documented failings against slow bowlers. Smith, however, was unfazed. "We're well prepared," he said. "We're the only team to beat Sri Lanka and that was in Guyana. That defeat against Bangladesh has hopefully woken us up for the rest of the games to come.

"Most of our guys are in very good nick at the moment, so it's about going out there to perform," Smith added, as he brushed aside any lingering injury doubts surrounding his top-order trio of Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers. "We're not taking anything for granted." Well, maybe not on the field, at any rate. In the points-table calculations, however, South Africa could be cruising. Not - as Smith might hope - into the semi-finals, but for another 2003-style bruising.

New Zealand (probable) 1 Stephen Fleming (capt), 2 Peter Fulton, 3 Ross Taylor, 4 Craig McMillan, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Jacob Oram, 7 Brendon McCullum (wk), 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 James Franklin, 10 Jeetan Patel, 11 Shane Bond.

South Africa (probable) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 AB de Villiers, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 Herschelle Gibbs, 5 Ashwell Prince, 6 Loots Bosman, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Shaun Pollock, 9 Andrew Hall, 10 Andre Nel, 11 Makhaya Ntini

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Posted: 13 April 2007 at 6:51pm | IP Logged
New Zealand v South Africa, Super Eights, Grenada

An evenly-matched battle

Dileep V

April 13, 2007



Daniel Vettori's wickets have come at a hefty price against South Africa Getty Images




We're approaching the business end of the Super Eights as New Zealand and South Africa gear up for a crucial match at Grenada on Saturday. A victory for either side will virtually seal a spot in the semi-finals.

Even if New Zealand lose, they still have a good shot at qualifying for the semis because they already have eight points in the bag. However, a loss for South Africa will put them in a tricky situation and give their match against England immense importance.


South Africa hold the advantage in the overall head-to-head record, winning 27 and losing only 15 of the 46 one-day internationals against New Zealand. However, New Zealand have had the better of South Africa in recent times, winning five and losing four of their last 10 matches.

Their record against each other in World Cups is an even 2-2 but New Zealand beat South Africa the last time the two teams met during the 2006 Champions Trophy in Mumbai.


Jacques Kallis could prove to be the key for South Africa. He has scored 1270 runs against New Zealand at an average of nearly 46.

South African batsmen v New Zealand Batsman Innings Runs Dismissals Average Balls Strike Rate
Justin Kemp 7 149 2 74.50 160 93
Jacques Kallis 36 1270 28 45.35 1773 72
Ashwell Prince 7 189 5 37.80 287 66
Graeme Smith 13 482 13 37.7 629 77
Herschelle Gibbs 26 863 25 34.52 1145 75


Stephen Fleming, with 1230 runs, is the only other player from either team to score more than 1000 runs in South Africa v New Zealand clashes. Apart from Fleming and, to an extent, Scott Styris the rest have struggled against South Africa.


New Zealand batsmen v South Africa Batsman Innings Runs Dismissals Average Balls Strike Rate
Stephen Fleming 36 1230 35 35.14 1734 71
Scott Styris 15 411 13 31.61 512 80
Brendon McCullum 11 232 9 25.77 319 72
Craig McMillan 30 599 28 21.39 854 70
Jacob Oram 7 116 7 16.57 197 59


Predictably Shaun Pollock is No 1 in the wicket-taking stakes. He has taken 47 wickets in 39 matches at 25.63 apiece and an economy of 3.87. Makhaya Ntini has 35 wickets from 22 matches at 21.57 while Kallis's 34 wickets have cost him 28.20 each at 4.88 an over.

Though Daniel Vettori has taken the most wickets for New Zealand against South Africa, his 18 scalps have cost nearly 50 each while going for 4.51 runs per over. Jacob Oram's 13 wickets have come at a healthier 23.23 apiece. New Zealand could be better off playing two spinners in this match given South Africa's susceptibility against spin and Jeetan Patel's impressive performance of 3 for 11 against them in the 2006 Champions Trophy.


Both New Zealand and South Africa have had success while chasing large totals in recent times especially against Australia. Since January 2002, South Africa have scored at 7.15 an over against New Zealand during the slog overs.

South African batsmen v New Zealand during the slog overs Batsman Innings Runs Dismissals Average Balls Strike Rate
Shaun Pollock 10 186 4 46.50 134 139
Justin Kemp 5 77 2 38.50 65 118
Mark Boucher 10 208 7 29.71 171 122
Herschelle Gibbs 3 49 3 16.33 28 175


Since January 2002 New Zealand have scored at 6.26 an over against South Africa during the final overs.

New Zealand batsmen v South Africa during the slog overs Batsman Innings Runs Dismissals Average Balls Strike Rate
Craig McMillan 4 41 1 41.00 38 108
Brendon McCullum 4 64 3 21.33 60 107
Scott Styris 3 53 3 17.66 40 133


Pollock has been off colour against New Zealand in recent times. Though he has been economical, he hasn't taken many wickets against them. Since January 2002 Pollock has only 13 wickets at 42.38 in 18 matches and most of the wickets have been of lower order batsmen.

Pollock v New Zealand since Jan 2002 Batsman Innings Runs Dismissals Average Balls Strike Rate
Stephen Fleming 17 134 1 134 217 62
Craig McMillan 7 47 1 47 52 90
Hamish Marshall 5 31 0 - 49 63
Brendon McCullum 5 21 0 - 49 43


Shane Bond also has an unimpressive record against South Africa whose top-order batsmen have dealt with him effectively.

Bond v South Africa since Jan 2002 Batsman Innings Runs Dismissals Average Balls Strike Rate
Graeme Smith 6 87 1 87 83 105
Jacques Kallis 8 42 1 42 61 69
Hershelle Gibbs 8 80 2 40 116 69
AB de Villiers 3 18 1 18 31 58

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Australia v Ireland, Super Eights, Barbados

An inevitable and ruthless display

Dileep Premachandran in Barbados

April 13, 2007



Job done: Glenn McGrath terrorised the Ireland batsmen Getty Images



On the eve of this game, Ricky Ponting had referred to complacency as a media term, and his team emphasised that with a performance so ruthless and clinical that you wished a referee was around to stop the mismatch. Even if Ireland had played their very best, it would probably have been nowhere near enough, but once they lost the toss on a lively pitch, you flinched in anticipation of the Coke-can-and-speeding-locomotive act that would soon follow.

The first four Irish batsmen managed two between them, and if not for a gritty 23 from John Mooney, the embarrassment would have been all the more acute. For Australia, who took just 42.2 overs in all to seal a place in the semi-finals, it was no sort of preparations for their two toughest assignments - Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

"I don't know if it's good preparation," Ponting said with a shrug. "We were just trying to win as well as we could." He didn't, however, go so far as to question Ireland's presence in the Super Eights. "They won their way there," he said. "They won more games than India and Pakistan did [they won the same number, but also tied another]. Sure, India and Pakistan might have put up a bit more of a fight, but they had their chance to be here and didn't take it."

Ponting accepted that the game had been a one-sided stroll - "I thought they might get 150 or so" - but said there had been no temptation to bat first. "We wanted to look after the run-rate and that was the main reason [for bowling]," he said. "There was a little bit in the wicket, and we bowled really well with the new ball."

With Nathan Bracken rested, Glenn McGrath was handed the new ball and he responded with the sort of spell that would have been too much for better sides, leave alone Ireland. He bowled only seven overs, but figures of 3 for 17 were enough to take him top of the tournament's wicket-taking charts and also clinch Man-of-the-Match honours.

"It was good to just get used to the wicket," McGrath said when asked if this brief outing would give Australia any idea of what to expect if they make it back for the final. "It had a lot more bounce than the others we've played on. There was good carry, though a few kept a bit low.

"When I came here in 1995, the wicket had good pace, carry and bounce. It was pretty much the same in '99. But in 2003, the wicket was one of the slowest I've played on. To me, this is what West Indies cricket is about. I grew up watching four fast bowlers on fast, bouncy wickets."

Over the past decade, he's joined those legends in the cricketing pantheon, and his display against outclassed opposition highlighted many of the qualities that have made him the game's greatest pace bowler. Jeremy Bray was done in by a swinging yorker, Eoin Morgan nibbled at one that angled across and Andrew White was stitched up with a slower ball.

At the end of it all, there was a trace of sympathy for the Irish. "When we play well, not many teams in the world can beat us," McGrath said before brushing off suggestions that his strong showing in the Caribbean might prompt a rethink on retirement. "If all goes well, I'll get four more matches and then hang the boots up."

The first of those four is on Monday, against a Sri Lankan side that appear to be peaking at the right time. In Grenada, McGrath will renew acquaintance with another of the game's veteran warriors. "He's still a class player and a destructive batsman," he said, when asked about Sanath Jayasuriya. "From what we've seen, the pitch in Grenada is slower and takes some turn. It will be a big test for us, and probably suit Sri Lanka. As for Jayasuriya, we'd like to get on top of him early and knock him over."

It's a game that they can afford to lose, but you sense that such thoughts are alien to the Australian mind. "The next two weeks are a showcase time for us," Ponting said. "The senior players have been there before and this is when you'll see them stand up." If they do so in concerted fashion, the rest of the world may as well pack up and head home.

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Australia v Ireland, Super Eights, Barbados

Ireland can push Bangladesh - Ponting

Dileep Premachandran in Barbados

April 13, 2007



The Irish batsmen were no match for Australia's precision fast bowling Getty Images




It was over in 42.4 overs, quarter of an hour before the scheduled lunch break, and Michael Hussey's hefty hit into the stands at midwicket amply illustrated the huge chasm that separates the world's best team from a motley crew striving to enhance the game's visibility in a country where it's hardly the overriding sporting passion.


"We came here to put Ireland cricket on the world map," Trent Johnston, the Australian-born captain, said. "People watching us in Ireland would have been disappointed. They'd think that we're not good enough but they'd also realise that we were playing a huge game. Another couple of matches like this, and we may get closer."


There were a few words of comfort from Ricky Ponting, whose decision to bowl first on a lively pitch killed this contest even before the first ball was hurled in anger. "The Irish would have been a bit nervous, playing against all these guys that they've probably watched on TV," he said. "It can be a bit unnerving. And with [Shaun] Tait and [Glenn] McGrath bowling like that with the new ball, it could've happened to any team. But we wanted to go in there with guns blazing rather than let them hang around and be a nuisance."


Johnston, who scored 17 and took a wicket, was at the crease long before he would have expected, with Tait and McGrath ensuring that the top of the scorecard read like binary code. "I knew it was going be tough," he said. "They're not two-time world champions and going for a third for nothing. We wanted to be competitive but it didn't turn out that way.


"We don't play that type of bowling [McGrath and Tait]. Our top four couldn't get runs. This was the first time they've failed, so they'll learn from it."


Adrian Birrell, the Ireland coach, had said on the day before the game that Australia would look to "annihilate" his side, and his worst fears were confirmed in the morning. "We really struggled to bat against their bowlers," he said, before adding that the Australians were a notch above the other teams that Ireland had come up against.


"We survived against others but couldn't survive against them," he said. "They seem to be in a different class. Every time we come up against a team, it's better than the last. McGrath has been a world-class bowler for a long time, and we struggled against him."


Ponting's post-match assessment was possibly the most accurate though. "I don't know much about Irish cricket, but they need to be congratulated on being here today," he said. "They'll be able to push Bangladesh."


After this ordeal, that April 15 game, which many had expected to be a marquee match-up between India and Pakistan, is an opportunity to reprise the heroics of the first round. And with Andrew White wearing one flush on the helmet from McGrath, the Irish will also be thankful that they won't have to fret too much about grievous bodily harm.

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Batsman 'still under considerable mental strain'

Younis turns down Pakistan captaincy

Cricinfo staff

April 13, 2007



'I am still hurt and upset at the sort of hostile reception we have got since returning from the World Cup' - Younis AFP



Younis Khan has officially declined the captaincy of Pakistan, citing continuing mental strain after the traumatic events of recent weeks as the main factor in his decision.

Younis has been Pakistan's vice-captain for two years and was widely expected to take over following the resignation of Inzamam-ul-Haq in the wake of Pakistan's first-round ouster at the World Cup. But after a fortnight of speculation in which it emerged that he was reluctant to take over, he confirmed his decision to the Urdu daily, Express in an interview.

"They offered me the captaincy with full powers," Younis said. "The PCB said they would also be appointing a strong selection committee to back me up. But I refused after thanking them for their offer."

Privately, PCB officials had already resigned themselves to the fact that Younis would not take over though it is thought Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the board, was a keen supporter and was willing to try and sway Younis's decision.

Younis admitted that widespread criticism of the national side since their shock exit had been tough to digest, and affected his decision. "I am still hurt and upset at the sort of hostile reception we have got since returning from the World Cup. I have always given 100 percent for my country. But when your family gets threatening calls and our effigies are burnt and our pictures put on donkeys, then I can't lead the team in such circumstances."

He also denied rumours that he had asked the board for enhanced powers or that he called for certain players to be dropped, before hinting that he may also retire from ODIs. "I made no such demand. I think Test matches are real cricket and I will decide soon if I should continue to play ODIs."

This is the second time that Younis has walked away from the captaincy of Pakistan; last October, just before the Champions Trophy in India, he announced in a press conference that he refused to be a 'dummy captain' and walked off, only to be reinstated under a new board administration two days later.

Younis, who was one of the players who improved most under Bob Woolmer's coaching tenure and was particularly close to him, described the week after Woolmer's death as the worst of his life. "At one stage I got so angry with the way we were being treated I told the Jamaican authorities we are international cricketers not criminals," he said. "I told them why are you suspecting us of murdering Woolmer. In him we have lost a father figure."

The decision ensures that Pakistan, looking to start afresh after a traumatic few months, will be unable to do any such thing soon. They are now faced with a particularly tricky dilemma as they look at alternative options. Shoaib Malik, touted by some including Woolmer as a future captain, is among the front-runners, though there has also been talk of Salman Butt and Mohammad Yousuf.

In either case, the decision is expected to be made on or before the board's next ad-hoc committee meeting on May 7.

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