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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Butterfingered Pakistan let India into final

India 9/260 (50 ov, Tendulkar 85, Wahab Riaz 5/46) beat Pakistan 231 (49.5 ov, Misbah-ul- Haq 56) by 29 runs: CWC 2011 semifinal #2 at Mohali. India will play Sri Lanka in final.

Sachin Tendulkar has played many better innings than his 85/115b (11x4) but few of such value to his team and country. Without it Pakistan would probably have won.

It was also a very lucky innings: dropped four times and reprieved by the Umpire Decision Review Scheme when he looked to many people, though not Hawkeye, to be lbw.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sri Lanka see off tenacious NZ to move to final

Sri Lanka 220 for 5 (47.5 ov,T Dilshan 73,K Sangakkara 54, T Southee 3/57) beat New Zealand 217 (48.5 ov, S Styris 57, A Mendis 3-35, S Malinga 3/55) by five wickets: CWC2011 Semifinal #1 at Colombo. Sri Lanka progress to final; New Zealand eliminated from tournament.

Sri Lanka deservedly won the match when their bowlers took the last 6 NZ wickets for 25 and their batters chased down, with some anxious moments but no major collapse, what looked like a below par 217. The Black Caps fought hard - better than I'd expected (I stayed up watching later than I'd intended to) - and were worthy semifinalists, but Sri Lanka's temperament carried them through.


Fox Sports video highlights: there was some cloud cover so don't expect to see one of the spectacular sunsets which have been a feature of many of the matches played in Sri Lanka.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ponting stands down as captain: tragic hero?

It must have been hard for Ricky Ponting to fall on his captain's sword as publicly and graciously as he did today . Yes, his batting form (the last innings century v India excepted) hasn't been all that flash and his captaincy has displayed some abrasiveness which, had it come from some of his predecessors, would have been excused.

At least he was only booed onto the field by opponents' supporters, not, as his presumed successor Michael Clarke was a couple of months ago, by his own team's supporters.

If Cricket Australia thinks that this change alone will be enough to revive Australian cricket I think, and I hope I'm wrong, that they need to think again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sri Lankan openers crush England bowling

Sri Lanka 0/231 (39,3 ov, T Dilshan 108*,U Tharanga 102*) beat England 6/229 (50 ov, J Trott 86, E Morgan 50) by 10 wickets: CWC 2011 quarter final#4 at Colombo. Sri Lanka qualify for semi finals, England eliminated from tournament.

After some ragged fielding and steady bowling by Sri Lanka had allowed England to post what several TV and radio commentators thought was a competitive score, Tillakaratne Dilshan 108*/115b (2x6, 10x4) and Upul Tharanga 102*/122b (1x6, 12x4) chased it down with panache and considerable disdain for the bowling.

Here is the Scorecard

And here (at least for the immediate future) the video highlights:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another South Africa CWC choke, this time against tenacious NZ

New Zealand 8/ 221 ( 50 ov, J Ryder 83, R Taylor 43, M Morkel 3/46) beat South Africa 172 (43.2 ov, J Kallis 43, J Oram 4/39, N McCullum 3/24) by 49 runs: CWC quarter final #3 at Mirpur. NZ go through to semifinals, South Africa eliminated from tournament.

What a result! A modestly credentialled New Zealand team, albeit one which was correctly selected for the conditions, ie included three spinners, posted what looked to be a modest - not bad, not good - score and then chipped away at the South African batting to run out easy winners.

The NZ heroes were Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor with the bat, Jacob Oram in the field and, with Nathan McCullum, the ball. The South African bowling looked good, though the batting crumbled in the face of better than modest bowling, an unusual dismissal (Hashim Amla caught at slip via the keeper's boot) a fine outfield catch (Oram taking Jacques Kallis) and a brain snap (by Francois dePlessis) induced run out of AB deVilliers, at which point the Proteas were 5/121.

Unlike so many other occasions when they've been surprised to find themselves in a strong position, the Kiwis didn't ease off. Oram took a couple more quick wickets, then a few overs later returned to dismiss de Plessis who'd briefly threatened to atone for his sin. The 49 run margin was impressively conclusive.

Can NZ go beyond the semi final? Great effort as it was at Mirpur it's hard to see them repeating it against Sri Lanka (if they beat England) in Colombo, but if England win today...


Fox Sports highlights

Friday, March 25, 2011

India knock Australia out of CWC despite Ponting century

India 5/261 (47.4 ov, Yuvraj Singh 57*, S Tendulkar 53, G Gambhir 50) beat Australia 6/260 (50ov, R Ponting 104, B Haddin 53) by 5 wickets: CWC2011 quarterfinal #2 at Ahmedabad. India qualify for semi-finals, Australia eliminated from tournament.

A good match which had moments of greatness.

It fluctuated intriguingly until India's maligned middle order batting regrouped to see off the increasingly ragged and defanged Australian attack and win deservedly (and, by ODI standards, quite comfortably).

Ricky Ponting won the toss and predictably chose in to bat in 40deg C+ heat. Brad Haddin and Shane Watson added 40 for the first wicket before Ponting came to the crease. He was watchful, more so than usual, early on and, it wouldn't have surprised me, on the evidence of his last six months' form, if he'd offered a chance.

But he didn't. Haddin went, well caught by Suresh Raina, who with Virat Kohli, lifted India's fielding performance, for 53/62b (1x6, 6x4). But none of the next three stayed long enough with Ponting, who became more assertive as the brittleness of his team's middle order was once again exposed: 3/140 , 4/150, 5/190. The seven Indian bowlers used trundled away with occasional effective bursts (or balls) and the fielding continued keen, despite the heat, and deprived the Australians, whose running between wickets wasn't always as fleetfooted as I've known, of several extra runs.

Fortunately David Hussey with a breezy 38/26b (1x6, 3x4) supported Ponting who went to a century before being caught off a reverse pull (has anyone ever see him play this shot before?) for a pugnacious 104/118b (1x6, 7x4), his first century for 13 months. Apart from the value to the team it reminded people of what a great player he is (some, but not me, would say, was).

The Australian defence of 260 required, among other things, the pace attack to both take wickets and to rein in their prodigal tendencies. But this didn't happen in the required proportions.

After Shane Watson removed Virender Sehwag for 15, Shaun Tait did get Sachin Tendulkar caught behind for an assured 53/68b (7x4) but leaked too many runs, both off the bat and via wides and noballs. Jason Krejza induced a false stroke or two, but the fielders weren't where the ball landed, and he bowled too many poor balls to keep the pressure on.

Yet David Hussey had Virat Kohli caught off a full toss, as India wobbled. Gautam Gambhir was foolishly run out for 50/64b (2x4) while Brett Lee had M S Dhoni well caught by Michael Clarke for 7 (another batting failure for India's captain).

At 5/187 the match was either side's to win. Unlike other occasions in the tournament, this time India regrouped. Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina pulled themselves together after some poor running between the wickets, Australia, with Lee bowling an expensive over, couldn't peg them back and they steered, and then biffed their team to victory without further loss: Yuvraj 57*/65b (8x4), Raina 34/28b (1x6, 2x4). Despite Ponting's century, Yuvraj who'd also taken 2/44 (Haddin and Clarke) from 10 overs, was named, not undeservedly, Player of the Match.

Where to for Australia, and Ricky Ponting, and a few others? Perhaps the selectors should let the dust of defeat in this tournament settle before they decide what steps to take next.


Fox Sports video

Thursday, March 24, 2011

CWC 2011

Well, the CWC aka Cricket World Cup 2011 has at last, after a measured progression through the preliminary round, reached the quarter final stage.

As expected, the minnows, aka the non-Test playing nations, were eliminated though some, notably Ireland , had a few overs of fame. Enough of the contests, particularly the India- England tie were close enough to refresh interest in the 50 overs a side ODI format.
As usual Cricinfo has very detailed coverage.

Last night Pakistan, for whom Shahid Afridi has bowled very well, trounced the West Indies by 10 wickets.

Tonight India will start favourites against Australia in the second quarter final, which has been billed in parts of the media as a Sachin Tendulkar v Ricky Ponting or, according to The Australian's South Asia correspondent an "angel of light v prince of darkness"
contest. It will almost certainly be more than this and should be much less onesided than last night's encounter, though both sides have shown weaknesses: both middle orders have underperformed, India's fielding and Australia's spin bowling have not always delivered.

The match deserves to be shown here on free to air TV, but apparently (unless I've not read the schedules properly) won't be.

Update/ correction 7.20pm CST

Apparently Channel 9 are showing the match from 11pm.