Friday, December 18, 2009

Dhoni Powers India to 301

After MS Dhoni had elected to bat first, Kumar Sangakkara said that on a track that looked full of runs, he'd be happy with a target of 260. At 125 for 3 after 25 overs, he had reason to feel satisfied. In the initial stages the ball did a bit, but nowhere near enough to cause concern, and India's first three wickets owed to lapses in concentration. The Sri Lankans adopted a tidier line from Rajkot and were vastly improved in the field. As the procession of brighter lights happened around him Virat Kohli got on top of the bowlers and carried the innings with his third fifty, and first in India.

When Virender Sehwag cracked the first ball of the game past point for four, visions of another run fest flickered. When he nicked a flashy cut three balls later, the healthy Nagpur crowd was silenced, and thus began an eight-over period of tidy seam bowling and mistimed shots. Angelo Mathews who took the new ball with Chanaka Welegedara bowled the first maiden of the limited-overs leg of the tour, and 11 dot balls in a row left viewers scratching their eyeballs.

But it was not a mirage, and Sri Lanka's fielders backed their tidy new-ball pair. Tendulkar was nearly run out when on seven but Mathews missed the stumps and allowed five runs. Moments later an unfortunate incident did for Gautam Gambhir, who collided with Welegedara and was caught short by a direct hit from mid-on.

A brief little contest ensued, Welegedara beating the bat repeatedly and occasionally even staring down Tendulkar. It wasn't express pace or even genuine movement, but Welegedara had an effect on Tendulkar, allowing him just 13 runs from 21 deliveries. Even when his horizontal, through-the-line shots weren't timed to perfection, the intent was evident from Tendulkar. To counter Welegedara's angle, Tendulkar hopped about his crease and looked to work the ball away to the on-side spaces. The tussle went Tendulkar's way in the ninth over when he collected two back-foot boundaries.

Kohli, coming in at No. 4, played with a calmness he has often struggled to find in his brief one-day career. He started the day with and immaculate flicks off the pads for four, and it was evident that he was in the mood for a long stay. He opened up with some pretty strokes, the best of which was a wristy straight drive off debutant Suranga Lakmal. He found the boundaries when the field was in, especially pleasing when driving off the front foot, and then settled down to nurdle the ones and occasional two effortlessly.

By now Tendulkar appeared to have got a measure of the track and settled for a combination of timing and placement, but the partnership ended in rather tame fashion. Looking to go over mid-off, Tendulkar danced down the track but was beaten in the air by an Ajantha Mendis googly to be stumped (81 for 3).

MS Dhoni edged his first ball for four and was nearly taken by a diving Welegedara at third man on 11, but settled down to help Kohli put on 44. Kohli was especially good against Lakmal, driving down the ground and pulling whenever he erred in length. At least one boundary came in each of Lakmal's first five overs, and he ended up with none for 43 from six.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

India loses first T20

India loses the first T20 against Sri Lanka here in Nagpur by 29 runs, despite a brilliant 55 off just 26 balls by Indian opener Gautam Gambhir. Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara played a splendid knock of 78 runs in just 37 balls to take Sri Lanka to a mighty 215-5 in their allotted 20 overs.

Having won the toss, Dhoni decided to bowl first, keeping in mind the dew factor, which could have played a huge role in the latter part of the game. Sri Lanka were off to a flying start, as the veteran Sanath Jayasuriya and Tilakaratne Dilshan started off brilliantly. Though Jayasuriya gave the debutant Ashok Dinda, his first international T20 wicket, he took Sri Lanka to a flyer. From there, Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara took over and started making the mockery of the Indian bowling attack. He was superb with the bat and scored 78 runs off just 37 balls with 11 fours and two sixes. He got able support from the other end in the form of Dilshan(34), Chamara Kapugedera(47) and Angelo Matthews(15 not out). The Indians on the other hand were sloppy in the fielding, as the newly appointed fielding consultant Mike Young was a mere spectator of the sloppy Indian fielders in the middle.

For India, debutants Ashish Nehra and Ashok Dinda took a wicket each. Also, Yousuf Pathan and Rohit Sharma shared a wicket apiece. Ishant Sharma, though didn’t took a wicket, but he was the most impressive Indian bowler as he gave only 22 from his 4 overs. Nehra was the most expensive who gave away 52 runs in his 4 overs.

In reply, Indian were too off to a flyer as Virender Sehwag continued his form of Test Cricket into T20 and started off in his typical style. He scored a quickfire 26 runs. Gautam Gambhir – the most consistent Indian batsmen in all the levels of cricket for India, took the toll on the Sri Lankan bowlers, especially Lasith Malinga and posted a pacy 50 off just 19 balls. He however, failed to stretch his innings and is bowled around his legs by Angelo Matthews, when he was on 55. The Indian middle order failed dramatically after the departure of the openers and Dhoni(9), Yuvraj(6), Rohit Sharma(3) and Yousuf Pathan(0) could only manage 18 runs among themselves. Only Suresh Raina tried to defy the Lankan attack with 21. The defeat could have been more shameful, if Ashish Nehra and Ashok Dinda wouldn’t have shared a useful partnership between themselves. Nehra scored 22 and Dinda scored 19.

For Sri Lanka, Kulasekara, Dilshan and debutant Pushpakumara took a wicket apiece, but the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka was the veteran Sanath Jayasuriya, who took 2 wickets for just 19 runs in his quota of 4 overs.

Gautam Gambhir became the first batsmen to complete 6 half centuries in T20 internationals. There were four debutants (two from each side) in the game. For India, Ashish Nehra and Ashok Dinda made their debuts and For Sri Lanka, Chinthaka Jayasinghe and Muthumudalige made their debuts in T20.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pakistan Tottering in First Innings

Pakistan was tottering at 165-6 in the first innings of the second Test. The first day of the second Test match was truncated due to rain and bad weather. Umar Akmal, though tried to play a match saving knock, but he was dismissed for 46. Daniel Vettori took 3 wickets and the pacers did excellent job, as all the major Pakistani batsmen fell cheaply. When the day’s play was called off, Pakistan was in trouble, as they were reduced to 165 for the loss of 6 wickets. Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Aamer were at the crease, when the play was called off.

Sehwag Mauls Sri Lanka

Virender Sehwag hit the second fastest double century to send Sri Lanka into complete disarray, as India take a lead of 50 runs in the third Test match against Sri Lanka here in Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai.

Earlier, in the morning Sri Lanka resumed their first innings and was all out for 393. Young all rounder Angelo Matthews missed what could have been his first hundred in Test Cricket. He was run out when he was on 99, thanks to a brilliant throw from Sachin Tendulkar. Harbhajan Singh finished with 4 wickets; Pragyan Ojha took 3, whereas pacers Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth took a wicket each.

India began their innings in style; thanks to a brilliant innings from Virender Sehwag and replacement opener Murli Vijay. The usual roles get reversed, as Vijay started to hammer the Sri Lankan pacers, whereas Sehwag started off cautiously. Soon Sehwag came out of his skin and started to dominate the bowlers with cuts, pulls, drives, hooks, inside-out shots and every other shot mentioned in the book. Vijay was also elegant with his timing and the shots he played were simply exquisite. Vijay got out when he was trying to play a sweep shot against Rangana Herath. He made 87 off 122 balls with XX and 1 six off Muttiah Muralitharan. Rahul Dravid then joined Sehwag. But the dismissal of Vijay didn’t seem to disturb Sehwag, as he continued to play shots all over the park. Soon he completed his hundred and rose to 150 in no time. Rahul Dravid continued to play good shots as well and never seem to give a chance to the Lankans. Sehwag then completed his 6th double century. He became the 1st Indian to hit 6 double centuries. As soon as his double hundred came, he became crazy and started to play amazing shots. There was no respite for any Sri Lankan bowler. It can be seen from the economy rate of all the bowlers; the lowest being 4.56 of Welegedara. The Indian run rate was 5.61 at the end of the day’s play. Be it Muralitharan, or Herath, Matthews, Welegedara or ODIs best bowler Nuwan Kulasekara; there was no respite for any bowler.

India finished the day at 443-1 off just 79 overs. It would be very interesting to see, whether or not Virender Sehwag would be able to complete his third triple hundred or not. If he does so, he would not only be the first Indian in the world to do so, but the first batsmen in the world as well.

Records that were either broken or are on the verge of it:

• Sehwag’s 200 off just 168 balls is the second fastest double century in Test Cricket, behind New Zealander Nathan Astle off 153 balls.
• Sehwag is the first Indian to register six double centuries, outstripping Rahul Dravid’s five. Only Sir Don Bradman (12), Brian Lara (9) and Wally Hammond (7) have more.
• 284 is the 3rd most runs scored in a single day, behind Bradman’s 309 in 1930 and Wally Hammond’s 295 in 1933.
• First Indian to post four 250-plus innings. Only Sir Don Bradman (5) has more.
• Sehwag has made 200 runs in a day thrice. No other Indian has done it even once.
• Reached 6,000 runs from 123 innings, the 3rd fastest Indian after Sunil Gavaskar (117) and Sachin Tendulkar (120)
• Sehwag has a strike rate of 80.48, the best among the batsmen with over 6,000 Test runs. Viv Richards has the next best strike rate of 69.28
• India’s 443-1 is the most they’ve ever got in a single Test-day. Add Lanka’s 27 and an amazing 470 runs were scored on Thursday.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Shane Bond out of Test Series

New Zealand fast bowler and Man of the Match in the first test against Pakistan, Shane Bond is ruled out of the ongoing Test series due to a torn abdominal muscle. Shane Bond took 8 wickets against Pakistan in the first test at Dunedin. Bond suffered minor abdominal discomfort following the first test & scans on Tuesday revealed a one-centimetre tear in an abdominal muscle.

Kiwi team manager David Curry said that Bond will be 'rested' for the second and third test as a precaution. It is been said that he is expected to recover in time for New Zealand home series against Bangladesh early next year. Meanwhile, Kiwi selectors would be naming the replacement for Bond by Wednesday for the remaining Test Matches.