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June - July 2006

India Sport Scene

Cricket, Tennis, Women's Cricket

by Ramesh Seedhar, Dr C. P Dalvi & Sudhir Misra

India-England Test Series.
When it came, the end was stunningly abrupt. India had reached lunch in a reasonable shape on the final day of the third test against England at the Wankhede stadium. The score at that time was 75 runs for 3 wickets. In the next hour and a quarter it was all over. It was nightmare. For the record, India were bowled out for exactly 100 runs, the last seven wickets falling for 25 runs in 14.2 overs. India lost this game by a whopping 212 runs margin and England earned a merited 1-1 draw in the series,

At lunch, Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar were at the crease and with the score of 75 runs for three wickets and the packed stands had started to breathe a little easier. Runs had not been easy but the fluency with which Tendulkar had reached his 34 runs, had given great heart. At the other end, it was business as usual for Dravid, his nine runs coming in a little over one hour and a half. What transpired in those 40 minutes of lunch will never be explained satisfactorily. In fact, the match changed beyond recognition in the first two overs after the break. Dravid started the slide when he nicked a wide delivery from his counter part to the wicket keeper Geraint Jones. The star of Indian batting, Dravid with 309 runs in the series was out and the celebrations that followed around roaring Flintoff showed that England knew that they had breached the wall. Soon, Tendulkar offered a sharp bat pad catch to Bell at forward short leg of Shaun Udal. In trying to work the ball away to leg Tendulkar only managed to lob it of the bat and pad towards the fielder. As Yuvraj Singh watched in disbelief at the other end a procession began. Back into the pavilion first was Virendra Shewag, who needed a runner but did not use him as he fell for a 20 ball duck. Mahendra Singh Dhoni played a foolish shot to Udal lofting the ball towards long off. Monty Panesar never got hand to ball but when Dhoni tried again two balls later, Panesar clutched the ball to his chest in relief and elation. Yuvraj slashed Flintoff into the slip cordon, Harbhajan Singh and Munaf Patel lasted a combined total of 12 minutes before getting dismissed.

After losing the third test by 212 runs Indian Captain Rahul Dravid admitted that he had made a mistake when he won the toss and chose to field first. I would definitely like to change the decision. We batted poorly in the second innings after some great work done by our bowlers yesterday. We just did not deliver in this match. The wicket started turning and bouncing from the fourth day, as Indians were one up in the series they should have gone in with an extra batsman, also they did not help their cause by poor fielding In all three-test series. In the last test, India dropped 15 catches and Flintoff twice.
India Pakistan ODI.
New Delhi

Off spinner, Harbhajan Singh played a stellar role as India erased the memories of Mumbai test debacle with a convincing 39-run victory over England in the opening match of the seven match of the ODI series at Firoz Shah Kotla Stadium. Andrew Flintoff won the toss. Despite losing two early wickets to Irfan Pathan in his very first over England looked set for victory with Flintoff and Kevin Pieterson at the crease. Then Harbhajan swung the game in the favour of the hosts with his 10-2 and 31-5 as England crashed to 164 in 38.1 overs Harbhajan had turned the match on his head by bowling brilliant six over spell to prise out four wickets. A valuable support came from Yuvraj Singh, with his tight bowling, Yuvraj Singh, who filled the place of the fifth bowler took two wickets that included the danger man Pieterson. Flintoff followed, falling leg before to Harbhajan off a sweep shot. The off spinner then sent of Geraint Jones and Ian Blackwell in a spell that brought England down. Plunkett gave India some jitters during a 22 run partnership. Pathan ended the innings taking three wickets. Harbhajan who top scored with 37 in India’s unimpressive total of 203 runs was judged as the man of the match.

India’s captain Rahul Dravid admitted that he had been worried at 92-5 during India’s run chase against England in Faridabad. He said Dhoni and Suresh Raina showed cool heads under pressure after early batsman had let India down with poor shot selection. The two young boys showed us how to play. It was a brilliant parternership. It is great to see boys in their first couple of years of international cricket coming through like this. Suresh Raina insisted that he had played his natural game in hitting match-winning 81 not out against England. The 19 year old said that with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, they had chased a target like this against Sri Lanka. Riana’s innings earned him man of the match. India won by four wickets beating England score 226 runs.

India enjoyed a series of top class performance from the young brigade. Led by Yuvraj Singh India raced to a 49-run win over England at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Goa. The victory also gave India a 3 nil lead in the seven match series. Man of the match, Yuvraj Singh cracked a 70 runs and added an invaluable 142 runs for the fifth wicket with the Faridabad match hero Suresh Raina. Suresh Raina scored 61 runs once again showing great maturity. The pace sensation Pathan took 4 wickets for 51 runs to help India beat the jinx of not winning a single match in Goa. Sehwag who is going through a bad phase was once again out for an unimpressive score of 15runs. Dravid was again was solid with 46 runs and added 73 runs for the second wicket with Irfan Pathan. Middle order batsman Mohammed Kaif once again failed and was out for a duck for the fourth time in five matches. England, who were all out for 245 runs could not stop India from chasing this total with ease.

India cantered to an emphatic four-wicket win to take an unassailable lead of 4-0 over England in TVS Cup. India’s eight successive win equalled the previous record the team has achieved twice in 1985-86 and then again in the world cup on 2003. The winning streak that started from 5th September 2005 in Harare reached 15 when India won in Kochi. India’s well-ordered chase was fashioned by skipper Rahul Dravid who opened the innings yet again because five bowlers were picked. The first wicket stand of 54 runs was sufficient towards laying the foundation for the chase. In the company of Pathan, Dravid took the wind out of England sails. Pathan contributed a priceless 46 runs. The skipper had a great day with the bat with scoring 65 runs. Yuvraj and Raina, in their stand of 72 runs took India to the threshold of victory. The repeated failures of Shewag and Kaif did not upset Dravid; Viru got two wickets and played his part. Kevin Pieterson had led England with a stroke filled 77 runs in 82 balls. England to bat on a wicket that was conducive to stroke play. Yuvraj came up with an acrobatic return catch to dismiss Collingwood.

A wet outfield and ugly incidents marred the fifth ODI between India and England at the Nehru Stadium in Guwahati. It was the only game of the series that had to be called-off without a single ball being bowled. The Umpire’s decision put an abrupt end to the prospect of India’s first ever-clean sweep in an ODI series. The field Umpire said that they had left it to the captains whether they wanted to go ahead. Virendra Shewag passed the onus back to the Umpires. England too were not willing to play despite the fact that the outfield had dried. Some of the younger ones like R.P.Singh, Munaf Patel and Robin Uthappa would have felt hard done by the weather.

India might not fret a great deal about the loss in the sixth one dayer. Heat was terrible and there were far too many replacements including a new set of medium pacers.

India did in Indore what they had done all through the summer. Uthappa hit 84 runs in 96 balls and forged a 166run opening stand with the skipper Rahul Dravid to lay the foundation of India’s win by seven wickets. Dravid was all stylish, Uthappa blunt power. However, for the calamitous run out, Uthappa might have celebrated his debut century.

In the British media, The Independent said that 5-1 series result was affair reflection of the gulf in class between the two teams.

The youngsters called up by India showed their maturity and calibre. Robin Uthappa was a transformation. The likes of Shreesanth and Suresh Raina have the halo of veterans. India did not miss Shewag, Kaif, Tendulkar, Harbhajan, Dhoni or Ajit Agarkar. They fancy themselves for the 2007 World Cup citing the success of debutante opener RobinmUthappa.

The British media said that India had used the loss of key players as an opportunity while England made it as an excuse for their flop show. In the recent one-day series, England’s leading bowler Matthew Hoggard described India as the best one-day side in the world. Matthew Hoggard said that their world record of registering 15 wins on the trot while chasing proved it. An indignant British media lashed out at England’s series defeat to India describing it as horribly embarrassing and the worst yet among their many one day misadventures, Daily Telegraph said that England have had many miserable one day tours in their time but this Indian misadventure is shaping up to be the worst yet. It said that Aussies must have been looking on again this week half amused and half bemused that ashes winner has gone to pieces so spectalurly England probably have a dreaded wish right now to jump on the next plane back to Heathrow. Rahul Dravid played a significant part in India’s victory, it said.

Fortunately, India is blessed with a good pool of players. It can now cover up for injuries like that of Tendulkar or the poor forms as the ones of Shewag and Kaif. Uthappa eased himself into the pool without fuss. So many young players have come and instantly made their presence felt that one cannot help but admire the passion talent and the structure, which is producing finished articles for India.

However, it needs a reassurance on its top order. India is not willing to let go on Shewag or Kaif or for that matter Sachin Tendulkar. However, time is running out for them Ideally, India would love to have all these men in 2007 World cup, but it also needs time to think of alternatives between now and the Caribbean carnival.

Abu Dhabi

Shoaib Malik grabbed three wickets to boost Pakistan’s chances of ending a dismal run against India as they restricted their arch rival to 197 in the first one dayer. Pakistan’s fielders backed their bowlers remarkably well, bringing out four run outs. India’s problem began when skipper Rahul Dravid who had scored 20 runs and Irfan Pathan who had scored 26 runs were caught short of the crease in quick succession.

Pakistan won the match by six wickets.

Virendra Shewag announced his return to form with a typical cavalier knock of 73 runs as the Indian batsman came into their own to post a challenging 269 runs for the loss 5 wickets in their 50 overs in the second one-day match against Pakistan. Indian batsman who looked pedestrian in the first ODI turned it around to put up a worthy performance. Rahul Dravid led from the front with 92 runs in 116 balls. Mahendra Singh Dhoni chipped in with 59 runs to give their supporters at the Zayed Stadium a lot to cheer about. Yuvraj Singh provided a late flourish with a cameo 24 runs of 10 balls. Pakistan was bowled out for 218 runs. Only Inzamam who got 74 runs had scored good runs for Pakistan. Inzamam Haq who was not given out lbw twice was also dropped when an easy catch was missed. He was lucky in scoring runs. India won by 52 runs and equalling the series.
Rahul Dravid, having proven himself in his new role as an opener said that the team has now various opening options at its disposal and it could even think of sending Shewag down the batting order.

The selectors retained the 15-member team that took on Pakistan in the two one day international match played at Abu Dhabi for the tour of West Indies. Sachin Tendulkar who is still unfit was left out while out of form Mohammed Kaif kept his place after the selectors decided to back him.

Dhoni on Top
Riding on amazing stream of consistent performances India’s wicket keeper bats man Mahendra Singh Dhoni has moved to the top of the LG ICC player rankings for batsman in one-day internationals. Irfan Pathan remains India’s top ranked bowler in ODI rankings and has moved up one spot to third in the list with only Shaun Pollock of South Africa and Australia’s Glen McGrath. Pathan stays third in the rankings for the ODI all rounder. The other players in the bowling top are the spinner Harbhajan Singh.

ODI batting rankings
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Ricky Ponting
Kevin Peterson
Rahul Dravid
Yuvraj Singh
ODI Championship points

1 Australia 132 points
2 South Africa 119 punts
3 India 116 points
4 Pakistan 114 points

India is third in test rankings while Rahul Dravid isin top three in test batting.
Fleming’s double lifts him back into top 20 of LG ICC Player.
Johannesburg Test to decide fifth place in LG ICC Test Championship table New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming, whose 262 was one of the major highlights of the drawn second Test against South Africa in Cape Town, has moved back into the top 20 of the ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen.

The Black Caps captain, who batted for more than nine-and-a-half hours to compile the score, has jumped ten places to 14th in the list, his highest placing since 1997, the year he took charge of the team. Fleming is not the only New Zealand batsman making progress up the batting list as James Franklin, who made his maiden Test hundred in Cape Town, is up 18 places to 101st position. Like New Zealand, South Africa has just one player among the top 20 batsmen, Jacques Kallis. He remains in second position behind Australia captain Ricky Ponting but retains his spot at the top of the LG ICC

Player Rankings for Test all-rounders.
Ashwell Prince, who made his fourth Test hundred during the Newlands match, is up 18 places to 41st while Hashim Amla, whose 149 was his first three-figure score at the highest level, rises 64 places to 104th. With the ball, Franklin is also climbing, rising two places to 17th in the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers, but his team-mate Daniel Vettori drops two spots and is now in joint 23rd position, alongside the West Indies’ Corey Collymore.

New Zealand’s highest-placed bowler in the list is Shane Bond in 10th. The paceman is missing from the series because of a knee injury. South Africa still have three bowlers in the top 20 with Makhaya Ntini retaining second position behind Muttiah Muralidaran of Sri Lanka while Shaun Pollock remains 12th and Andre Nel is joint 13th, down two spots and sharing that place with Danish Kaneria of Pakistan. Vettori has dropped one spot in the all-rounder’s table, allowing Irfan Pathan of India to move up to third position behind Kallis and England’s Andrew Flintoff. Pollock remains in fifth place.

The final Test of the series, beginning in Johannesburg on Friday, will have huge significance and not only because, with South Africa 1-0 up after winning the first Test at Centurion, it will decide the series. The match at The Wanderers will also decide fifth and sixth places in the LG ICC Test Championship table with a South Africa win or a draw enough to see the home side jump over their opponents and into the higher position. New Zealand has to win to retain that fifth spot.

Womens Cricket World Cup.

World Cups will take women’s cricket to a new level says ICC President ICC President Ehsan Mani. He believes that the next two Women’s World Cups, in Australia in 2009 and in India four years later, will take the sport to a new level. The World Cups will be the first to be played under the ICC’s auspices after it merged with the International Women’s Cricket Council last year. Mr Mani stated that this is an exciting time for the women’s game and the fact the venues for the next two World Cup have now been decided is a further illustration of that fact. Both tournaments will benefit from the increased financial and logistical support that ICC can offer as the worldwide governing body. On top of that, there will be the extra exposure and the profile that comes with being an ICC Event. Those factors will combine to make both tournaments the best ever in the history of women’s cricket and ensure that the game is taken to a new level.

Australia and India are both powerhouses of the women’s game. Last year they contested the final of the World Cup in South Africa, a match won by Australia by 98 runs. Players and administrators from both countries expressed their pleasure and excitement at the prospect of hosting the next two tournaments. “We will be looking to showcase the women’s game to the world in 2009,” said Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland. “The tournament is a good platform to keep driving the growth of the game and increasing participation and interest among females, which is a priority for Australian cricket over the next few years.” Australia captain Karen Rolton added: “We are honoured to be hosting the event in 2009 and the Australian team is certainly looking forward to be playing in front of our home crowd as we try to defend the World Cup title. I was only 14 years old when Australia hosted the 1988 World Cup, but I have heard about how that was a source of inspiration for young girls in the country to start playing cricket. Hopefully we can generate a similar result over the coming years”.

Having played World Cups in India, New Zealand and South Africa, it is great that we have the chance to now play on home soil and also get some certainty with where the (next two) tournaments will be staged.

The women’s World Cup will return to India in 2013 after a gap of 16 years and captain Mithali Raj was ecstatic at the prospect of the tournament taking place in her homeland.

“It’s fantastic that the Women’s World Cup will be held in India,” she said. “Having the World Cup here will be very beneficial as it will create an even greater awareness of women’s cricket than already exists.” The media are a great support to women’s cricket in India and coverage of the World Cup will take the game to every corner of the country. As a result of the exposure the tournament will provide, we are extremely hopeful that it will lead to a significant increase in women playing the game in India,” she added”.

The Women’s World Cup has been running for longer than the men’s version and was first played in England in 1973. It was won by the hosts England who beat Australia by 118 runs in the final at Edgbaston.

Since then there have been a further seven tournaments with Australia winning five of them (1978, 1982, 1988, 1997 & 2005), England winning once more (in 1993) and New Zealand triumphing in 2000. The tournament has been staged twice each in England (1973 and 1993),India (1978 and 1997) and New Zealand (1982 and 2000) as well as Australia (1988) and South Africa (2005)

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