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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Extraordinary India win keeps competition for finals alive

 India 3/ 321 (36.4 ov, Kohli 133*, Gambhir 63) beat Sri Lanka 4/ 320 (50 ov, Dilshan 160*, Sangakkara 105) by seven wickets: ODI 11/12 at Hobart.
Australia 19 points/7 matches, Sri Lanka 15/7, India 15/8.

This was a match which India , to have a chance of playing in the finals, had to win and win well enough to secure a bonus point. That they did after Sri Lanka had compiled 4/320 thanks to Tillakaratne Dilshan's 160*/165b (3x6, 11x4) and Kumara Sangakkara's 105/87b (2x6, 8x4), almost beggars belief.

But it happened.  The top five all contributed at least 30 apiece and Virat Kohli  excelled with 133/86b (2x6, 16x4) which knocked the stuffing out of the Sri Lankan bowling and fielding. Despite the magnitude of the task it never seemed beyond India's reach and, sooner than seemed likely, it came within their grasp as Kohli and his team mates took advantage of a good batting wicket and sub-ordinary bowling . Their fluent strokeplay seemed to draw in the boundaries to almost the dimensions of a tennis court: what stays in mind about Kohli is how many of his strokes went along the ground, not in the air. His was a memorable innings which has handed an inconsistent India a chance, subject to Australia beating Sri Lanka on Friday (or inclement weather preventing a result), of playing in the finals.

Relive some of the action on the Fox Sports video highlights (I expect that there'll be other highlights there for the searching onYouTube).


Monday, February 27, 2012

Australia thump India and secure place in finals: ODI.

Australia 9/ 252 (50 ov, Warner 68, Wade 56, D Hussey 54, Sehwag 3/43) beat India 165 (39.3 ov, Ashwin 26) by 87 runs: ODI 10/12 at SCG.
Australia 19 pts / 7 matches, Sri Lanka 15/6, India 10/7.

A disappointing result for India, who made a poor fist of chasing a competitive Australian total.
It was a match with few standout performances, though David Warner would have been pleased with his 68/66b (7x4) and Shane Watson with his captaincy debut (and 5-2-9-2) if not his batting.

Speaking of poor fists, the controversy over David Hussey's deflection of a return and thus avoiding being run out has been debated at some length eg on Cricinfo ..


Sunday, February 26, 2012

South Australia tie with Tasmania but take ODD cup

South Australia 285 ( 49.4 ov, Klinger 81, Harris 60, Faulkner 4-75, Bird 3-39) tied with Tasmania 4/285 (50 ov, Bailey 101, Ponting 75*, Cosgrove 69, Lyon 3-86):  ODD Ryobi Cup final at Adelaide Oval.
South Australia win the Ryobi Cup by virtue of their higher points score in the minor round

The second tie in less than a fortnight in a one day match at Adelaide Oval nevertheless produced a result. Unlike the India v Sri Lanka match where both sides shared the points this match was the ODD Ryobi Cup   final which Tasmania, the lower placed minor round had to win, to take the trophy from South Australia , the minor premiers.

At the start of the last over George Bailey 101* and Ricky Ponting 74*, seemed to have the Tigers, needing 5 ro win, on target for a close but, with only 3 wickets down, convincing win. Yet Gary Putland bowled his dream (and Tasmania's nightmare) over. He conceded a single to Ponting off the first ball, then had Bailey, after a third umpire review, lbw  breaking a partnership of 174, then keeping a nervous James Faulkner at the striker's end for the last four balls, from which only two runs were scored off the bat. Ricky Ponting at the non striker's end took off his pads, but not (why not?) his helmet, for the last ball, which Faulkner missed. The pair scrambled a bye to level the scores. I wondered why Ponting didn't take the strike when Faulkner edged and took two, but after all Faulkner was number 6, not 9, 10 or  jack.

The argument for having a super over to decide the match IMO doesn't hold water. It was a very hot day (and night) - over 40 degrees  maximum - and both sides had given their all over the course of the tournament as well as the match.

It was another good advertisement for the 50 overs a sdie game, and South Australians will be pleased that the Redbacks have won a trophy of consequence (apart from last season's big bash success) after so many poor years (25 for the ODD, 16 for the Sheffield Shield) . Let's hope that this win will inspire the SA  Sheffield Shield team to lift its game and rise ooff the bottom of the table where it's languished for so long. Too late for this season, but next maybe...

Fox Sports report with link to video highlights.
Cricinfo report


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sri Lanka too good for Australia

Sri Lanka 7/ 283 (49.2 ov, Jayawardene 85, Chandimal 80, Christian 3/53) beat Australia 6/280  (50 ov, Forrest 104, Clarke 72) by three wickets: ODI 9/12 at Hobart.
Sri Lanka15 pts/ 6 matches, Australia 14/6, India 10/6.

Australia's 6/280 looked a competitive, if not insurmountable, score on a good Bellerive wicket, but Mahela Jayawardene's belligerent 85/81b (1x6, 6x4)  (inc 44 of a 55/48b first wicket partnership) got Sri Lanka out of the blocks against some short Australian quick bowling. They weren't able to maintain this rate but paced themselves well enough to get home in the last over as most of the top six got a start while the impressive Dinesh Chandimal 80/100b ( 7x4) provided the backbone for the second half of the chase.

For Australia Peter Forrest 104/138b (2x6, 10x4), his first ODI century,  and Michael Clarke 72/79b  (2x6, 5x4)  added 154 for the third wicket in 31.5 overs: far and away the best by either team, though in hindsight it would have helped if they'd scored at more than 5 an over.  At the time it looked good, though,  and the Hussey brothers' quickfire late innings, Mike's 21/14b (2x6) and David's 40*/28b (1x6, 2x4) reinforced that view.

Yet Sri Lanka's cracking start and subsequent persistence saw them home
and move ahead of Australia to the top of the points table.

Australia's recent form hasn't been that good, but India now looking down the barrel of missing the finals.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Tri series final preview?

India, after Sri Lanka; beat them by 51 runs this week,  are now at the bottom of the points table with 10/6 matches, propping up Sri Lanka 11/5 and Australia 14/5.

Today Australia play Sri Lanka at Hobart, so no matter who wins India will still be bottom. After then each team will play the other once more.  Australia look safe for a finals place (as the marketers wanted) while Sri Lanka look the likelier of the other contenders to face off (which may not be what the marketers wanted).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ponting dropped from Australian ODI team

Captain one day, dropped the next. Ricky Ponting has been omitted from the Australian ODI team . Yes, his recent ODI form has been poor, but his recent Test performances have been impeccable. Not to mention that he's been a stalwart of Australian cricket for almost two decades.

He will, though, continue to play Test and domestic one- and four-day cricket (his next appearance may be here in Adelaide on Saturday in the final of the Ryobi ODD Cup) but, coming after the selection panel's prevarication about Brad Haddin ("rested" meaning "dropped"), it doesn't give me much confidence in the panel's ability to manage change. They have done a good job identifying and promoting new talent but it would be good to know that they, or at least some of them, are able to talk frankly and constructively to all players about their performance before, and to the media and public when, important decisions are taken.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Australian bowlers show up Indian shortcomings in ODI#7

Australia 5/288 (50 ov, M Hussey 59, Forrest 52, Wade 45, Warner 43,  Pathan 3/52) beat India 178 (43.3 ov, Dhoni 56, Hilfenhaus 5/33, Lee 3/49) by 110 runs: ODI 7/12 at the Gabba.
Points: Australia 14 pts/ 5 matches, India 10/5, Sri Lanka 7/4.

A form reversal by most of the Australian batters saw the team gradually accelerate throughout the innings and cut loose at the end to the tune of 53 from the last four overs.

Everyone except for Ricky Ponting  (his fifth consecutive single figure score in the same number of innings this series) contributed at least twenty. The first wicket didn't fall until the 13th over and 70 runs were on the board and Mike Hussey 59/52b (6x4) and Peter Forrest  52/ 71b (3x4) added 100 after the third wicket fell at 117. David Hussey 26*/ 20b (1x6, 1x4) and Dan Christian 30*/18b (5x4) added an unbroken 65 from the last 6 overs to put the game almost certainly beyond India's reach.

And so it turned out. As first Brett Lee 10-0-49-3, bowling much better than in the previous match, then Ben Hilfenhaus 9.3-1-33-5 , bowling much better than he'd ever done in an ODI, cut through India. It wasn't long before the only issue at stake was whether India could prevent Australia from gaining a bonus point. Despite M S Dhoni's 56/84b (1x6, 2x4) they couldn't.

So Australia have regrouped and India slipped again. Dhoni has been suspended for the next match v Sri Lanka because of his team's slow over rates (which goes with the territory if you play four quick bowlers).  This will leave a big hole in India's batting. In normal circumstances Sachin Tendulkar would be expected to fill some of it but, like Ponting, he is out of form. Interesting that they, two of the greatest batsmen in world cricket (admittedly both getting on in years), are passengers in what has been an otherwise good quality ODI series.


Fox Sports video highlights

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rampant Sri Lanka maul Australia in ODI.

Sri Lanka 2/152 (24.1 ov, Jayawardene 61*, Dilshan 45, Sangakkara 30) beat Australia 158 (40.5 ov,  D Hussey 58) by 8 wickets with 16.5 overs in hand (D/L method): ODI 6/12 at SCG.
 Each team has played 4  matches: India 10 pts, Australia 9, Sri Lanka 7.

Sri Lanka won a rain affected and hence Duckworth- Lewis method-adjudicated match easily against a frail Australia, for whom only David Hussey 58/64b (6x4) provided any batting backbone against a tight Sri Lankan attack and fielding which was able to compensate for some bloopers (eg Dan Christian dropped twice in making 6!).

Disappointing as it was, 158 all out represented a modest considerable recovery from 8/104, and even, as the conditions appeared to favour the bowlers, may have raised cautious hopes among Australian supporters of a victory. But the experienced top order batters Tillekaratne Dilshan 45/41b, 1x6, 4x4), Mahela Jayawardene 61*/67, 5x4) and Kumar Sangakkara, who passed 10,000 ODI runs in his aggressive cameo 30/29b (1x6, 4x4) saw Sri Lanka home easily for their first win (and a bonus point).

The series is now alive.. If any of the three teams needs to regroup quickly it is Australia, who 've lost their last two games and whose weaknesses - chiefly top order batting though the bowling, as this match showed, is none too flash - are being exposed by their opponents. It looks as though Michael Clarke will miss tomorrow's match against India, so it's time for Ricky Ponting to, as he did in the recent Test series, put his run of poor scores behind him and play the big innings many hope and I believe he has in him.

Fox Sports video highlights


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another ODI cliffhanger - this time India & Sri Lanka tie

Sri Lanka 9/ 236  (50 ov, Chandimal 81, Jayawardene 43, Vinay Kumar 3-46, Ashwin 2-30) tied with India 9/236  (50 ov, Gambhir 91, Dhoni 58*, Thisara 2-45); Tri series match 5/12 at Adelaide Oval; Points India 10, Australia 9, Sri Lanka 2.

Two cracking ODIs  in three days! I thought that Sunday's Indian wafer thin victory over Australia would be hard if not impossible to beat, but once again I was wrong as India and Sri Lanka played out a tie.

Sri Lanka lost an early wicket, then regrouped then failed to capitalise. on some moderate Indian bowling.

236 never looked enough but when India lost wickets: the first three batters, including Sachin Tendulkar, each made 15. It was left, as it was on Sunday, to Gautam Gambhir to anchor the innings and M S Dohni to try to finish it. Gambhir succeeded to the tune of 91/106b (6x4) before he was run out by Dhoni, who was a little more positive than on Sunday with 58*/69b (1x6, 3x4) but couldn't hit the boundary required off the last ball  to win. He ran three, levelling the scores and sharing the points. 

Both sides would have been disappointed that they couldn't have scored one more run or, in Sri Lanka's case , taken one more wicket. The match, played in warm but otherwise ideal conditions, was a good advert for ODIs and deserved a bigger attendance than the 5,700 or so who turned up (and made enough noise for a crowd two or three times larger).


Fox Sports report 7 link to video highlights

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dhoni keeps his best until last over to hit India to ODI win over Australia

India 6/270 (49.4 ov, Gambhir 92, Dhoni 44*) def Australia 6/269 (50ov Hussey 72, Forrest 66) by 4 wickets with 2 balls remaining: TriSeries match 4/12 at Adelaide Oval. Australia has 9 points, India 8, Sri Lanka 0.

M S Dhoni's backfoot drive for 6 off Clint McKay was as remarkable a stroke as I can remember, not only for its execution but for the context in which it was made.

It cleared the long straight Adelaide Oval boundary (Channel 9's technology measured it at 112m) and it brought India, needing 12 off the last four balls of the match, back with a chance of grasping a victory. Which Dhoni did in two further deliveries: an above waist no ball from which he was caught on the boundary after running 2 (+1 for the noball), followed by a slower one which he pulled to leg for 3.

You can see the six on the Fox Sports highlightsand on You Tube (where it should remain for a long, long time).

What was also amazing was that this blow was Dhoni's only boundary in his 44*/58b:  his strike rate was the second slowest of the top seven in the order, each of whom reached double figures. As the asking rate ballooned out in the final overs it seemed that Dhoni was was either supremely confident, or foolish. I thought the latter until the onslaught.

Yes, there were 99 other overs bowled in the match. Australia won the toss and batted in ideal conditions: mid 20s, blue sky. For some reason Ricky Ponting opened the batting instead of Matthew Wade, whose name was on the scoreboard (and who IMO should have done the job). Ponting went cheaply (though a straight drive for 4 showed a glimpse of his class), Michael Clarke 38/43b (5x4) breezily outscored David Warner until  the latter was run out in a mixup, then Clarke himself was bowled stepping away and playing on: 3/81.

Peter Forrest, 66/83b (2x6 , 5x4) on ODI debut, and David Hussey 72/76b (5x4) restored the situation by adding 98 together, then Dan Christian biffed 39/36b (2x4) before being run out, but the lower order were kept in check by tight Indian bowling and fielding, so that the 300 which at one point looked possible and the 280 which looked likely didn't eventuate.

When India, who rested Sachin Tendulkar, batted it was Gautam Gambhir's fluent 92/111b (7x4) which for 34 overs and 178 runs put India on the road to victory,. Then Dhoni joined Suresh Raina and moved steadily, too steadily it seemed, towards a possible win. Australia were often lacklustre in the field, though there were some good catches and saves, and after Xavier Doherty, who I was surprised to see bowling at the death,  conceded only 4 in the 49th over it looked all over for India.

Then came that over...and that six...