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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Watch England vs India, 2nd ODI Live Streaming

Injured India still seeking elusive win


September 5, 2011

Match facts


James Anderson warms up for an England net session, Rose Bowl, September 5 2011
James Anderson does the hard yards in training at The Rose Bowl

September 6, Rose Bowl
Start time 1400 (1300 GMT)

Big Picture

At Chester-le-Street on Saturday, and at the sixth time of asking, India's cricketers finally enjoyed the better of one of this season's international tussles with England. However, with England on the ropes at 27 for 2, chasing 275, the victory that MS Dhoni's men were surely anticipating was thwarted by the onset of grim autumnal weather, and the match finished as a dispiriting wash-out.

Now, 48 hours later, the squads have relocated from the country's northern-most venue to its most southerly, Hampshire's Rose Bowl, where the series resumes in earnest at 0-0 with four to play. India's resolve in the Durham opener was a timely reminder of the class they still exude in limited-overs cricket, even with an injury-ravaged squad that now includes Rohit Sharma, whose finger was broken by Stuart Broad on Saturday, and Sachin Tendulkar, who missed the match with a foot injury, and is flying home from the tour.

However, England will recognise the errors that they made in that opening contest, and besides, their captain, Alastair Cook did not accept the widely-held view that his team would have lost had the match been played to a conclusion. Certainly, after the start that they enjoyed, in which England's short-pitched approach was found out in a solid 82-run opening stand from Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane, India might have hoped to get closer to 300. However Tim Bresnan and the ever-improving Jade Dernbach regained a decent measure of control at the death.

It is with the bat that England have rather more to prove. Cook's own failure can be mitigated by the glut of runs he racked up in the ODI series against Sri Lanka earlier in the year, but it is his opening partner, Craig Kieswetter, who is looking more of a problem. His stiff-armed technique was mercilessly probed by the swing of Praveen Kumar, and a return of 6 from 19 balls was not what England required from such a devastating striker of a cricket ball.

A flatter track at the Rose Bowl could aid him in that respect, but with Kevin Pietersen rested for this series, and the youngster Ben Stokes still awaiting his first significant international innings, there's a shortage of proven power-hitting to bolster England's ambitions. If they want to be taken seriously as an ODI outfit - and that is one of Andy Flower's stated aims since reaching the Test No.1 status - then the opportunity to get one over the 50-over World Champions is not something that England will want to pass up.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

England NWWWL
India NLLWW

In the spotlight


Eoin Morgan's one-day pedigree is not exactly in doubt, but as England start to build towards the 2015 World Cup, it is increasingly clear how central to their plans he is going to be. This season began with the quiet confirmation of his vice-captaincy role in the Twenty20 team, and continued in Dublin last week with his first experience of leadership - a hard-fought victory in which his 59 earned the Man of the Match award. As for the coming contest, no England batsman is more at home at the Rose Bowl. In three appearances, he's never made less than 43, and against Australia and Pakistan last summer, he bossed the games with a brace of brilliant unbeaten hundreds.

Praveen Kumar's joie de vivre was one of India's few redeeming features in the Test series, but in the 50-over format, his hard-to-handle swing bowling looks like adding another degree of menace, particularly in English conditions. He bowled four of India's 7.2 overs at Chester-le-Street, in which time he delivered 20 dot-balls and two key wickets, as neither Cook or Kieswetter found a viable method to negotiate him. With little pace on the ball, and substantial lateral movement to thwart any attempts at aggression, he has the ability to thrive in the Powerplay overs, so long as his impeccable line and length does not waver.

Team news


Graeme Swann ought to be fit for selection after fighting a virus at Chester-le-Street. Ben Stokes, who dropped a catch at gully in his only meaningful contribution to that match, is likely to be given another chance to stake his claim in the middle order.

England (possible) 1 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alastair Cook (capt), 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Graeme Swann, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 James Anderson, 11 Jade Dernbach

Rohit Sharma's broken finger necessitates yet another middle-order rejig, although neither of the two batting replacements, Ravindra Jadeja nor Manoj Tiwary, have yet linked up with the squad, which means Amit Mishra - who impressed with the bat in the Test series - could feature. Tiwary could, at a pinch, be thrown into the game straight off his plane on Wednesday. Tendulkar's absence means Rahane stays at the top of the order

India (possible) 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Parthiv Patel, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 7 Amit Mishra, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Munaf Patel, 11 R Vinay Kumar

Pitch and conditions


Clear skies for the preview day, but there's yet more rain forecast for the match itself. The pitch is hard and true, and potentially loaded with extra bounce, if the Sri Lanka Test is anything to go by.

Stats and trivia

  • India have played two previous internationals at The Rose Bowl ... and the first came against Kenya in the Champions Trophy in 2004, when Rahul Dravid - the only survivor from that fixture - made 30 not out from 16 balls in a 98-run win

  • England have played in six of the 12 ODIs at the venue, and have won four of them, including each of their last two games against Pakistan and Australia.

Quotes


"There is no point me trying to become something I'm not. I have to play to my strengths. I have to pick the gap like I do in Test cricket."
Ian Bell wants to play his one-day cricket with the same poise that he has shown in Tests in recent months.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Watch Sri Lanka vs Australia, 4th ODI Live Streaming

Revitalised Sri Lanka look to even series

August 19, 2011

Match facts


August 20, Colombo
Start time 1430 (0900 GMT)


Lasith Malinga ran through Australia, Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd ODI, Hambantota, August 16, 2011
Lasith Malinga took five wickets in Sri Lanka's comfortable win in the 3rd ODI

Big Picture


A lot has changed in Australian cricket over the past 24 hours but one thing remains the same: the team is in Sri Lanka trying to win a one-day series. The players have been briefed on the Argus report, which has resulted in Andrew Hilditch and Greg Chappell being removed from the selection panel, and the captain and coach being made selectors. Chappell remains in Sri Lanka with the side, and will pick the team for Saturday's match. It might be difficult for the players to retain their focus amid such turmoil, but given how impressive Sri Lanka were in the third match, they will need to shut out all distractions.

Tillakaratne Dilshan and his men found a spark to keep the series alive in Hambantota, and victory in Saturday's game in Colombo will level the series. The teams met at this venue during the World Cup but the match was washed out. The pitch had offered plenty of spin on that occasion, which should give the hosts some confidence.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

Sri Lanka WLLWL
Australia LWWWW

In the spotlight


Lasith Malinga's five-wicket haul in Tuesday's victory was overshadowed by Upul Tharanga's century, but it was just as impressive. At his best, Malinga is fast, accurate, and gets late swing that means a batsman cannot afford to play the wrong line. He will be a key weapon throughout the rest of the series.

Doug Bollinger has been in excellent form for Australia so far in this series, having taken taking eight wickets at 13.87, yet he's not part of the squad for the Test matches coming up after the one-dayers. He has used his pace, bounce and angle to great effect in the first three games, and was easily Australia's best bowler in the loss in the third match. Bollinger might not exactly be able to bowl himself into the Test squad, but if he keeps his form up, he'll have every chance of being the first backup if any of the bowlers break down in the longer format.

Team news


Sri Lanka might have won the third ODI, but not all members of their team have pulled their weight, and three men have been dropped from the squad. Of those, Dinesh Chandimal was the only one who played in the victory, and his axing should mean Chamara Silva retains his spot. The uncapped legspinner Seekkuge Prasanna has been rushed home from England, where he was playing for Sri Lanka A.

In Hambantota, Sri Lanka played just the one specialist spinner, Ajantha Mendis, with Jeevan Mendis playing a supporting role. But with the action shifting to Colombo Dilshan said in the pre-match press conference they would play two spinners. He also said Prasanna could be handed a debut though he will be competing for a spot with Suraj Randiv. Dilshan admitted Sri Lanka may consider dropping Jeevan Mendis since they had given him plenty of opportunities, and he has not produced with either bat or ball in the series.

Angelo Mathews has been ruled fit after missing the third game.

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Jeevan Mendis, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Suraj Randiv / Seekkuge Prasanna, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Lasith Malinga.

Australia's main concern surrounds the out-of-form Brad Haddin, but with no other gloveman in the squad, they have no option but to retain him. One possibility would be to bring Shaun Marsh in to open and push Haddin down the order, perhaps squeezing out Steven Smith, who has delivered little with bat or ball so far in the series. But Australia are loath to tinker, and a more likely scenario if the conditions are suitable would be a straight swap of the allrounder John Hastings for Smith, with Haddin to stay at the top.

Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Michael Hussey, 6 David Hussey, 7 Steven Smith / John Hastings, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Xavier Doherty, 11 Doug Bollinger.

Pitch and conditions


The Hambantota pitch didn't offer as much assistance to the spinners as might have been expected, but expect the ball to turn in Colombo. Dilshan said the track looked slow.

Stats and trivia

  • Kumar Sangakkara will play his 300th ODI, the sixth Sri Lankan to reach the milestone.
  • Upul Tharanga needs one more century in 2011 to equal the Sri Lankan record for most ODI hundreds in a calendar year for the second time. The record is jointly held by Tharanga and Sanath Jayasuriya, who made five each in 2006.
  • Australia fare better under Michael Clarke when he loses the toss. They've lost four of nine ODIs when he's won the toss, and only three of 21 games when he's lost the toss.

    Quotes


    "The difference between the other teams and the Australians is if you take their fast bowlers, they have speed and ability to swing the ball and, more than other teams, they pose a massive challenge."
    Upul Tharanga

    "We know that if we can make inroads in their top order, we've got a good chance."
    Australia coach, Tim Nielsen doesn't think Sri Lanka bat deep

Monday, August 8, 2011

Watch Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd Twenty20 Live Streaming

Lessons aplenty for the visitors

August 7, 2011


Steven Smith is stumped by Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Twenty20, Pallekele, August 6, 2011
Australia were schooled in the first match, can they learn quickly?

Match facts
August 8, Pallekele International Cricket Stadium
Start time 19:00 (13:30 GMT, 23:30 EST)

Big Picture
There is no substitute for match conditioning. This much was clear after the first Twenty20 between Sri Lanka and Australia in Kandy, as the hosts showed the benefits of a testing tour of England, as opposed to the training camps in Brisbane and net sessions in Colombo that served as the visitors' preparation for the tour opener. The Sri Lankans also showed far better knowledge of the conditions, bowling plenty of spin on a surface that offered turn, while Cameron White preferred to use his pace bowlers in the latter stages and saw them belted out of sight by his opposite number Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Australia's coach Tim Nielsen described it as a "frustrating" start to the tour, but there will be more gnashing of teeth in store for the tourists if they do not tighten their fundamentals and show a little more understanding of the conditions that confront them. Shaun Marsh and David Hussey in particular looked out of sorts against the accurate spin of Dilruwan Perera, while Mitchell Johnson's first spell of the tour was disheartening in its inconsistency. More encouraging was the bowling and batting of Steve O'Keefe, and the slugging power of David Warner.

Australia need to show the capacity to learn quickly from the reverses of the first match, while Sri Lankan will seek to extend a psychological advantage.

Form guide
Sri Lanka WWWWL
Australia LWLLL

In the spotlight
Tillakaratne Dilshan was the undisputed star of the first match, and the Australians will need to find better ways of coping with his combative attitude and inventive strokeplay. Dilshan was not placed under too much pressure as a captain in the field either, as his bowlers kept the Australians in check. Cameron White said he had resorted to adjusting his field to counter the 'Dil-scoop' and thus created other gaps for the Sri Lankan captain, a rare admission.

Mitchell Johnson was attacked mercilessly towards the end of the innings, and was unable to find consistent line or length, let alone any swing. His work with the new bowling coach Craig McDermott is key to Australia's success in future matches on this tour, and he will want to improve his performance after a shoddy start.

Team news
Sri Lanka seem unlikely to make many changes to a team that performed so soundly and evenly in game one. For the Australians, Aaron Finch's pugnacity may be useful after some of the batsmen struggled for traction in the opener, and James Pattinson could be in line for a T20 debut.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Mahela Jayawardene, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Jeevan Mendis, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Dilruwan Perera, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Dhammika Prasad, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Suranga Lakmal.

Australia (probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 David Hussey, 5 Cameron White (capt), 6 Steven Smith, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Steve O'Keefe, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Brett Lee, 11 James Pattinson.

Pitch and conditions
The surface for the first match confused the Australians somewhat by offering some bounce but also plenty of spin, a combination the Sri Lankans were far quicker to adjust to. Match two will be played on a similarly equal-opportunity surface.

Stats and trivia

* Tillakaratne Dilshan's century was the fifth in T20 internationals
* Dinesh Chandimal was the fifth batsman to be out hit wicket in T20I matches
* Sri Lanka had not previously won a T20I at home, losing their first four such fixtures
* Dilruwan Perera achieved the rare feat of taking wickets in each of his first three overs in international cricket

Quotes
"I had the confidence to play it. It worked and I think after I played the Dil-scoop they changed the field and I felt [it was] more easy to score more runs in other areas."

Tillakaratne Dilshan succeeded in dictating terms to Australia's bowlers in game one

"If anyone scores a hundred off 57 [55] balls it will be hard work to win the game from there. But look, there were some disappointing aspects of the game from our end as well."

Cameron White knows the Australians need to sharpen up after looking rusty in the opener.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Watch Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Twenty20 Live Streaming

Setting the tone for a tough tour


August 5, 2011


Tillakaratne Dilshan bats in the nets, Pallekele, August 4, 2011
Sri Lanka's captain Tillakaratne Dilshan will want a victory, and some runs to go with it

Match facts

August 6, Pallekele International Cricket Stadium
Start time 19:00 (13:30 GMT, 23:30 EST)

Big Picture

Australia commence their tour of Sri Lanka under a captain, Cameron White, who will be flying home once the Twenty20 matches have concluded. Sri Lanka, by contrast will be led in all three formats by Tillakaratne Dilshan, leading the team at home for the first time after taking over the reins for the England tour earlier this year.

Until a narrow victory over England in the second of two T20 matches following the Ashes, Australia's form in the shortest format had been poor, losing comfortably to the Sri Lankans in Perth last October and suffering a 2-0 series reverse against Pakistan in England during the 2010 northern summer. Michael Clarke's retirement from international T20 matches handed the captaincy to White, and he will now be hoping to get the tourists off to a strong start in Kandy.

The Sri Lankans have done rather better of late, defeating England in England, but that was their first T20 international since the aforementioned defeat of Australia at the WACA. Lasith Malinga's unavailability is a significant loss for the hosts, particularly as the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium and its new pitches have the potential for greater pace than most other surfaces on the island.

Both sides will want to set the tone for the tour with a first-up victory, as much to build confidence in their transitional teams as to get their opponents worried.

Form guide

Sri Lanka WWWLL
Australia WLLLL

In the spotlight

Angelo Mathews missed the Test series against Engalnd due to injury but eased his way back into some form during the subsequent limited overs matches to demonstrate why he was entrusted with the vice-captaincy before his 24th birthday. Explosive with the bat and intelligent with the ball, he played a key role in lifting the Sri Lankans to a memorable ODI victory over Australia at the MCG last year and will want to repeat the dose on home soil.

Steve O'Keefe, like his captain White, is only in Sri Lanka for the T20 matches, and is intent on showing that he should have been allowed to stay on. Peculiarly, his first-class bowling record is far better than any of his spin bowling rivals in Australia, but thus far the national selectors have declined to employ him further. O'Keefe has made no secret of his desire to push for bigger honours, and he can make a start by performing capably here to back-up the 3-29 he took on his T20 debut for Australia against Pakistan in 2010.

Team news

Sri Lanka's squad includes no fewer than six capable bowlers of spin, while the pace attack looks thin without Malinga, meaning Mathews or Nuwan Kulasekara can be expected to operate with the new ball. Aaron Finch is expected to be available having recovered from a rolled ankle suffered in training, and James Pattinson could be in line for a T20 debut.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Mahela Jayawardene, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Jeevan Mendis, 7 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Suraj Randiv, 11 Suranga Lakmal

Australia (probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Brad Haddin (wk), 4 David Hussey, 5 Cameron White (capt), 6 Shaun Marsh, 7 Steven Smith, 8 Steve O'Keefe, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Brett Lee, 11 James Pattinson

Pitch and conditions

The Australians have been delighted by a hint of pace in the Kandy practice wickets and are hopeful for more of the same from the match strip. The Sri Lankans have trained in the evening to prepare for any moisture that may be present for a 7pm start.

Stats and trivia

  • This is Australia's first T20 international in Sri Lanka
  • It is also the first such fixture at the Pallekelle International Stadium
  • Sri Lanka's captain Dilshan is the oldest man on either side at 34, shading the Australian fast bowler Brett Lee by a little more than a month
  • Dilshan will be looking for a greater share of his team's runs, having made a meagre 23 in the five ODIs against England

Quotes

"Australian usually play very hard. They may be a bit inexperienced. But they are tough opponents."

Tillakaratne Dilshan is not underestimating the Australians

"Definitely I think the way a series should be run, or a tour should be run, is that you start with your Twenty20s, then your one-dayers and then your Test matches."

Brett Lee says the tourists are happy with their Sri Lanka program.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Watch Kings XI Punjab v Rajasthan Royals Live Streaming, IPL 2011

Warne v Gilchrist in Mohali

Match facts

Thursday, April 21, Mohali
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)


Life's good, especially with 700 wickets under your belt: Shane  Warne receives congratulations from Adam Gilchrist on taking his 700th  Test wicket, Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, December 26,  2006
Colours have changed, teams have changed, but life's still good

Big picture

Adam Gilchrist contributed to 59 of Shane Warne's Test wickets either through catches or stumpings, one more than Ian Healy did. And then there were the endless plans that the two would have worked out together. On Thursday, they will be using their cricket expertise and their knowledge of each other's games to try and beat the other guy's team. More than other captains, perhaps, Gilchrist and Warne have left deeper imprints on teams they have led in the IPL. They have won the thing once each too.


This year, Gilchrist seeks to leave his imprint on a new side, the Kings XI Punjab, while Rajasthan Royals have loyally retained Warne. They have had contrasting starts to their campaign. Rajasthan began with two wins before running into two defeats at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders. Punjab lost their first game, didn't bowl exceptionally in their second, but then Paul Valthaty changed it all, winning them that game and the next. While Punjab will look to carry on that momentum, Rajasthan will look to arrest the slide.

Team talk

The last time Rajasthan played, they missed the injured Rahul Dravid and Johan Botha. While Dravid should walk into the XI if he is fit, it will be interesting to see if Rajasthan drop Shaun Tait for Botha. On current form, and considering the all-round skills of Botha, they should. Amit Paunikar hasn't got going as an opener, and his place could also come under scrutiny.

In their last game, Punjab brought in an extra seamer in Vikramjeet Singh Malik. It will be interesting to see if they persist with that winning combination in Mohali.

In the spotlight

At the moment, Paul Valthaty seems to be incapable of committing a mistake. In the last two games, he has scored a century and a fifty, and has also taken four wickets with his split-finger slower balls. If he keeps going in this vein, he is likely to stay on the winning side.

Shane Watson was one of the cornerstones of the success that Rajasthan Royals tasted in their first season. This time, though, he has got off to a slow start, scoring only 33 in two games. Rajasthan will look for some of what he did in Bangladesh immediately before coming to the IPL.

Prime numbers

  • Valthaty needs 36 runs to take back the orange cap from Sachin Tendulkar.
  • Rajasthan's leadin run-getter, Johan Botha with 118, is only the 15th best in the overall list. That represents some of Rajasthan's problems.

The chatter

"He is known to spring surprises on the opposition. So we have to be ready for the challenges thrown at us."
Adam Gilchrist need not be warned about Shane Warne.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Watch India v Pakistan Live Streaming, 2nd Semi-final, World Cup 2011

Mercurial outsiders v solid favourites

March 29, 2011


Match Facts

March 30, Mohali
Start time 1430 hours (0900 GMT)


Shahid Afridi is overjoyed after bowling Harvir Baidwan, Canada v  Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Colombo, March 3, 2011
Shahid Afridi has been at the forefront of Pakistan's imperious turnaround from the spot-fixing crisis.

The Big Picture

Beyond the hype this contest can perhaps be best viewed through the prism of the two captains. Shahid Afridi is the passionate, exhibitionist leader who doesn't mind showing his emotions on the field. He will shout, cajole, plead, laugh, roar and feel every pulsating moment of the contest. It's exactly what this Pakistan team needs after all those controversies, someone who can remind them of the school-boyish joy that this game can provide.

MS Dhoni is the uber-cool captain and, while he can be vocal while dealing with the press, he is almost invisible on the field. Silent nods of appreciation, a quiet word in the ear, calm instructions, a shrug of the shoulder is all you will get from him. And again, it's what this star-heavy team needs. Someone who can be calm and remind them of the basics of the game.

Pakistan - who told their players they could be here in the semi-finals? - almost renews itself with each crisis. That's how it has been always: Controversies. Paralysis. Rebirth. Success. And more controversies. This was a big tournament for the survival of Misbah-ul-Haq, in the middle of a great comeback. In a sense, the spot-fixing saga and its sordid aftermath was actually a blessing in disguise since it paved the way for his return. For Younis Khan, too, survival instinct, as a batsman facing a dip in form before the tournament, would have helped in dealing with that crisis. Playing his last tournament, Shoaib Akhtar knew this was the time to let his game do the talking. And for that man Afridi, mentally almost perennially young, this was the best chance to dazzle on the biggest stage. He has taken that chance and led the team with great passion. Kamran Akmal lives and breathes in amnesia. Bad memories don't haunt him - who else could have recovered so well after that nightmarish effort against New Zealand?

And yet nothing much has changed with the way they play cricket on the field. It's still the bowlers who win the games for them. For all that is mercurial about them, Pakistan have lost just one game in this tournament.

India have occasionally limped, at times choked, sometimes dazzled, before beating Australia to reach to the semi-finals. The progress card has the bowlers in the red, the batsmen guilty of not finishing the job, and the fielding has always been almost beyond redemption. Their mode of progress should actually have freed them up in some ways. The batsmen must have realised that they can't try too hard to cover up for their bowlers' weakness, by trying to pile on too much, with the batting Powerplay pulling the rug from under their feet a few times. The bowlers showed they are learning from the serial hiding by putting up a pretty disciplined effort against Australia. In some ways, the pressure must be off them, as not many would be surprised if they leak 300 runs.

It's the batting India depend on. Is there any chink in it barring those Powerplay debacles? Gautam Gambhir hasn't been at his personal best - were he playing at his optimum, he would have rendered Virat Kohli superfluous at No. 4. Yet Gambhir's slightly iffy form has made Kohli vital in that middle order. Prior to the tournament, it was felt that Kohli would be a misfit in the lower order, where Suresh Raina and Yusuf Pathan would be more dangerous, and that he might be wasted even further up. But Gambhir hasn't been at his fluent best and India have turned to Kohli to take them through the middle overs. Gambhir has always raised his game against Pakistan and his form will be crucial on Wednesday as it would then give the middle order the licence to attack.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)

India WWLWW
Pakistan WWWLW

Watch out for...

Virender Sehwag In the past few games Sehwag has - curiously, for a batsman so wonderfully innovative as him - tried to hit every spinner through the off side. He would back away and try to drive, slice or cut and has fallen a few times in the process. Pakistan might well have a spinner bowling at him early and it will be fascinating to see whether Sehwag will retain that off-side bias or be more inclusive, and open, in his approach.

Umar Gul's yorkers: After Lasith Malinga, Gul has probably the best control over the yorker in world cricket today. There have of course been days when the radar has been awry but more often than not he has got them right. The Indian lower middle order will be fully tested by the yorkers, slower ones and the bouncers that he loves to bowl.

Sachin Tendulkar v Abdul Razzaq: Bowlers like Hansie Cronje and Razzaq, more than the Umar Guls and the Shoaib Akhtars, have been reasonably successful against Tendulkar. Cronje used to tease Tendulkar with deliveries shaping away from a length outside off while Razzaq specialises in the opposite: he slides the ball back in, looking for that lbw. He hasn't always had success, but it will be a mini-battle worth watching. Will Tendulkar opt for all-out attack or will he bat with relative care against Razzaq?

Zaheer Khan v Kamran Akmal: Kamran loves to square drive and Zaheer has been able to bend the ball back in to the right-hand batsmen this tournament with the new ball. This contest should be fun.

Umar Akmal v spin: India will rely a lot on the slow bowlers during the middle overs, and Umar is the middle-order batsman who loves to attack spin. He has laid into the likes of Daniel Vettori on the tour of New Zealand and is always itching to cut and slog-sweep.

Team news

The signs are that Ashish Nehra is likely to replace Munaf Patel. Even Yusuf Pathan has been sweating it out in the nets raising speculations that he might push R Ashwin hard for a spot in the team. Ashwin has been really good in the games he has played and has added some teeth to the attack while the nature of the patta track has made India think about bringing in Yusuf.

India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Suresh Raina, 8 Yusuf Pathan / R Ashwin, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Ashish Nehra

Pakistan are thinking of playing three seamers. The choice of the third seamer is between Shoaib and Wahab Riaz. Afridi said Shoaib wasn't 100% fit today but a decision will be taken on the evening preceding the match.

Pakistan (probable) 1 Kamran Akmal (wk), 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Shahid Afridi (capt), 8 Abdul Razzaq, 9 Saeed Ajmal / Abdur Rehman, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Wahab Riaz / Shoaib Akhtar.

Pitch and conditions

It's a batting pitch but what's eating up everyone is the dew factor. Read here for a report on the pitch.

Heavy storms, lightning and rain lashed Chandigarh late on Tuesday evening, immediately adding a light shroud of doubt over the game. For the whole day there were no signs, not even a hint of rain playing a spoil-sport but around 9PM, there were rumbling sounds of thunder accompanied by high-speed winds. The velocity of the winds were so strong that the heavy iron barricades manning the team hotel were blown away.

The weather forecast for Wednesday suggests sunshine during the day with minimal chance of heavy rain. Punjab Cricket Association officials said that they had studied the forecasts for the period ending March 31 and there was "zero precipitation" expected. In simple terms, there were no strong rains expected on the day of the match.

Stats and trivia

  • Afridi is the first bowler in World Cup history to take four wickets in a match on four different occasions in a tournament.

  • MS Dhoni is the only wicket-keeper captain who has played in 100 ODIs.

  • Zaheer Khan is the second Indian bowler after Javagal Srinath (44 wickets) to take more than 40 wickets in World Cups.

    Quotes

    "I feel I have been batting really well. It is just that in some situation I could not bat flamboyantly. If you bat at 5, 6 or 7, and if the top order does really well, it does not give opportunity to lower-order batsmen. The last game was an ideal game where I could have got a bit more runs which were needed at that point of time. So form has been a worry it is just that sometimes there were not many opportunities and when there was an opportunity and there were times I was not able to score in a particular game".

    MS Dhoni on his own batting form.

  • Friday, March 25, 2011

    Watch New Zealand v South Africa Quarter-Final Live Streaming, World Cup 2011,

    Transformed South Africa aim for semis

    March 24, 2011

    Match Facts

    March 25, Dhaka
    Start time 1430 hours (0830 GMT)


    Imran Tahir in action during South Africa's training session, Dhaka, March 24, 2011
    Imran Tahir has been a revelation for South Africa in this tournament

    The Big Picture

    Like the ghost of World Cups past, New Zealand have visited South Africa's campaigns in every tournament since 1992. Each time they have been clear underdogs against a team with a fabled dedication to clinical professionalism, but more often than not they reminded the South African scrooges of the frailty of a rigid formula. The timbre of those reminders has rung with increasing insistence, and when their paths crossed in 2003 and 2007, New Zealand were clear winners.

    The lesson has been learned, and this time South Africa's progress has been notable for its break from the formulaic approaches of the past. In Imran Tahir they've found the final component in a team of near-perfect balance, and have shown a refreshing willingness to adapt as opposition or conditions demand. They have two of the best fast bowlers in the world, but both Robin Peterson and Johan Botha have opened the bowling at different stages.

    But while South Africa's approach may have changed, there is a familiar look to their results from the group stages. West Indies, Netherlands and Bangladesh were dispatched with consummate ease. The loss to England may have raised old fears about the 'C' word, but that defeat never threatened South Africa's march to the second round and they immediately shrugged off the 'chokers' tag (a phrase that seems to be focussed on more obsessively in the media than it is by anyone in South Africa's camp) with a thrilling, last-over win against India.

    How could New Zealand, who floundered against Australia and Sri Lanka and made the quarter-finals thanks mainly to a meltdown that only Pakistan could have delivered, possibly hope to derail the mighty South Africans? Outgunned with both bat and ball, and struggling with injuries, they will have to resort to the sort of scrapping, street-wise cricket for which their previous World Cup campaigns have been renowned. A transformed South Africa are determined to correct the mistakes of the past, but the return of Daniel Vettori will inspire New Zealand and this match could well be won by whichever team is better able to maintain temperament and composure.

    Form guide

    (completed matches, most recent first)

    New Zealand LWWWL
    South Africa WWWLW

    Watch out for...

    Imran Tahir may not be South Africa's leading wicket-taker in the tournament so far - that title belongs, surprisingly, to Robin Peterson - but his inclusion is symbolic of South Africa's new approach to limited-overs cricket. He's also their first attacking wrist spinner in a cricketing generation, and should find conditions in Mirpur to his liking. If New Zealand's top order can survive the early onslaught from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, Graeme Smith will turn to Tahir, confident in his ability to pick up cheap wickets with a variety of legspinners, sliders and wrong 'uns.

    New Zealand have a couple of limited-overs stars in their ranks, such as Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder, but their strength as a team is their potential to gel and become more than the sum of their parts. Their captain, Daniel Vettori, is the vital ingredient in that formula. Whether with bat, ball or in the field, Vettori seems to inspire by his very presence and as a seasoned cricketer he won't be intimidated by South Africa. There have been hints that Vettori could give up ODIs after this tournament, giving him an added incentive to go out on a high.

    Team news


    South Africa gave away nothing in terms of likely selections or injury troubles in the lead-up to the game, and there's been no word on whether or not AB de Villiers has recovered from injury. Given the importance of the match, it's likely he will play even if not fully fit, and perhaps not be asked to keep wicket. That means wicketkeeper Morne van Wyk will keep his place in the XI, possibly at Faf du Plessis's expense. With Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel slotting back in in place of Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell, South Africa will probably fill the remaining slots with their three spinners.

    South Africa (probable): 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Morne van Wyk (wk), 7 Johan Botha, 8 Robin Peterson, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

    Brendon McCullum has apparently recovered from a painful knee, and Vettori is also set to return. New Zealand have been affected by several injuries in this tournament, with Kyle Mills suffering a quad strain and Hamish Bennett's tournament ended by an injury to his ankle and Achilles tendon. Daryl Tuffey has been called up as cover, but if Mills is fit he'll be the first choice to partner Tim Southee with the new ball.

    New Zealand (probable): 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Jesse Ryder, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Kane Williamson, 6 Scott Styris, 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Daniel Vettori (capt), 10 Tim Southee, 11 Kyle Mills.

    Pitch and conditions

    Both teams will know just what to expect from the Mirpur wicket, and although Graeme Smith said that he was surprised by the amount of grass on the track, it should still play on the slow, low side and aid spinners. Hot and humid weather is expected, and so dew could come into play if evening is cloudless, although its impact should be minimal.

    Stats and trivia

    • South Africa and New Zealand have met 51 times in ODIs, with South Africa winning 30 to New Zealand's 17. Four of their matches have ended with no result. In World Cups, however, New Zealand have won three of the five matches the teams have played, and prevailed in both 2003 and 2007.

    • Jacques Kallis has more runs against New Zealand in ODIs than any other South African, having scored 1385 at 41.96, including three hundreds and nine fifties in 42 matches.

    • Tim Southee is New Zealand's leading wicket-taker in the tournament, with 14 scalps at 15.07. Ross Taylor leads their run-scoring table, with 245 at an average of 81.66 and a strike rate of exactly a-run-a-ball.

    Quotes

    "There are so many South Africans all around the world that if we stress about that we won't sleep at night. Things have changed a lot since Allan Donald was in the side."
    Graeme Smith on the Allan Donald factor.

    "I don't have any form because I haven't played."
    Daniel Vettori is forthright on what he thinks about his own form.

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Watch Australia v India, World Cup 2011, Quarter-Final

    Battle of the flawed heavyweights

    March 23, 2011

    Match Facts

    March 24, Ahmedabad
    Start time 1430 hours (0900 GMT)


    Virender Sehwag has a bat in the nets, Ahmedabad, March 23, 2011
    Whether Virender Sehwag will play Australia in Ahmedabad is not yet public knowledge

    The Big Picture

    This match can be seen through several prisms: champions of the world v pre-tournament favourites, misfiring middle order v misfiring middle order, pace-reliant attack v spin-heavy attack, athletic fielders v incompetent fielders. Australia against India is a clash between teams with obvious imperfections. The loser goes home while the winner heads to Mohali, to play Pakistan on March 30.

    If any of Ricky Ponting's men are relatively weak-willed, compared to the Australians of campaigns past, they have had plenty to help them focus in the days leading up to this quarter-final. An Australian paper reported Cricket Australia were going to discuss Ponting's future as captain. An English paper reported Ponting was going to jump before he was pushed. An Indian paper reported sinister allegations about Australia's game against Zimbabwe, prompting an angry retraction demand from the ICC. Whether they were planted to drive Australia to distraction is debatable, but none of the stories was substantiated.

    Off-field dramas aside, Australia's progress in this World Cup was smooth at first - a comfortable win against Zimbabwe, a smashing one against New Zealand - and then uninspiring, when they laboured against Kenya and Canada. In each of those matches, at least one weakness was evident: a captain struggling for form, a middle order troubled by turn, spinners incapable of striking, and fast bowlers with wonky radars. All of these frailties were exposed by Pakistan, who ended the legendary unbeaten World Cup run on 34 matches. Australia's successes have been built around the opening partnership of Brad Haddin and Shane Watson, and the energy of Brett Lee. That might not be enough to topple India - but it might, for MS Dhoni's team is far from the shoo-in semi-finalist it was expected to be.

    Before the World Cup began India's batting line-up was thought to possess the armour of God, their bowling was considered less formidable but effective in home conditions, and the fielding was known to be average. As their campaign played out, it became evident that the armour didn't fit the middle order - there were collapses of 9 for 29 and 7 for 51 - and the bowling, while adequate on helpful surfaces, was mediocre on flat pitches. The fielding has not been average. It has been abysmal. Slow anticipation, slower approaches to the ball, failure to cut off angles, and plain lethargy have allowed opponents to run at will.

    For a long time during West Indies' chase, it seemed as though India would make the quarter-finals by beating only the three weakest teams of their group, which would have vindicated this forgiving format designed to prevent the upsets of 2007. But Zaheer Khan saved the day, as India expect him to. Zaheer apart, India have relied on Yuvraj Singh for an extraordinary number of wickets, as well as consistent runs in the middle order. The key, though, is at the top, where Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag have provided tremendous starts. But even if they do it again against Brett Lee and Shaun Tait, it may not be enough.

    Form guide

    (completed matches, most recent first)

    India: WLWWT
    Australia LWWWW

    Watch out for...

    The batting Powerplay was conceived as an asset for the batting team, an aid in the pursuit of fast runs. In the months leading into the World Cup, it began to be a banana skin, with wickets falling as batsmen resorted to rashness during the fielding restrictions. India have slipped spectacularly on it during the tournament, scoring 9 for 154 off 130 balls. During the batting Powerplay, India lost 1 for 32 against England, 4 for 30 against South Africa and 4 for 28 against West Indies, squandering positions of immense strength. Australia haven't mastered it either, making only 4 for 121 off 100 balls. Those five tricky overs could make or break a campaign tomorrow.

    If the stakes weren't large enough to fire up Ponting, the talk about his captaincy and retirement will have strengthened his determination to end his form slump with a cathartic performance. Ponting has been dismissed by the short ball - a strength turned weakness - in this World Cup and by spin, a more traditional subcontinent susceptibility. His composure has also been strained. Eight years ago to the day, Ponting ended India's World Cup dream in Johannesburg with a century of frightening brutality. He plans to watch videos of it in the hope that it will help him reproduce something similar in Ahmedabad.

    Sachin Tendulkar watched that World Cup slip out of India's grasp as the bowlers conceded 359 in the final. He was then dismissed in the first over of the chase. The Player-of-the-Tournament prize was little consolation. He has the opportunity to write a wonderful script tomorrow - a 100th international century in a victory that will dethrone the World Champions. But cricket, like life, is never perfect.

    Team news


    Virender Sehwag missed the last group game because of an inflamed knee and India are keeping news of his fitness under wraps. He batted on Tuesday and on the eve of the game as well, but Dhoni said they might wait as late as match morning to take a decision on his participation. If Sehwag does not play, India are likely to field the same XI that beat West Indies.

    India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag/Gautam Gambhir, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Gautam Gambhir/Suresh Raina, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 R Ashwin, 11 Munaf Patel.

    Australia have had an unchanged team since Michael Hussey replaced his brother in the XI, and they are likely to do the same against India. The weakest links have been middle-order batsman Cameron White and offspinner Jason Krejza and potential replacements could be David Hussey and allrounder John Hastings.

    "We haven't finalised our 11 yet. We'll have a bit more of a think about things this afternoon, make sure all our players have got through training well, with no injuries or illnesses," Ponting said. "There's a good chance that any of our guys could come in for this game. Coming off a loss last game wasn't ideal for us, and we have to have a look at what we think is going to be the best make-up and balance for the game tomorrow."

    Australia (probable): 1 Brad Haddin (wk), 2 Shane Watson, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Cameron White/David Hussey, 6 Michael Hussey, 7 Steve Smith, 8 Jason Krejza/John Hastings, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Mitchell Johnson, 11 Shaun Tait.


    Pitch and conditions

    Australia played their World Cup opener at Motera, where they started slowly against Zimbabwe before accelerating to a formidable total. Ponting expected tomorrow's pitch to be similar to that one. "It was pretty much what you'd expect for a subcontinent wicket: a little bit slower, spun a bit more in the second innings of the game maybe than the first," he said. "We're going to send our coaches down late tonight to have a look at the ground and see if there's any dew about. I think it's supposed to be 41 [degrees] or something [similar], so it will be nice and hot for the boys out there."

    Stats and trivia

    • India have lost their last four games in Ahmedabad. They batted first in three of those matches.

    • Brett Lee has 50 ODI wickets against India, the highest by an Australian bowler. Four of his nine five-wicket hauls are against India.

    • India have not won a game against Australia in a global tournament while chasing. Their last win against Australia in a World Cup was in 1987.

    • In 14 ODIs against India in India since 2007, Australia have won eight and lost five.

    Quotes

    "People have been talking about the short-pitched ball a lot, and not to forget the best batsmen in the world don't like facing the short-pitched deliveries. One good thing, it's not something new to us. It follows us. Wherever we are, the shadows of short-pitched deliveries can be seen. I don't think it's a new strategy."
    MS Dhoni hopes that familiarity will breed confidence when Lee, Tait and Johnson thunder in.

    "Maybe we've just learned to keep our mouths closed a bit more. A lot of that chat hasn't really happened since [Glenn] McGrath and [Shane] Warne went out of the team. Hopefully, our cricket will do the talking on the field tomorrow."
    Ricky Ponting on sledging and whether there will be plenty of it during the quarter-final.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Watch Pakistan v West Indies, World Cup 2011, Quarter-Final

    Form book no guide in crunch contest


    March 22, 2011

    Match Facts

    March 23, Mirpur
    Start time 1430 hours (0830 GMT)


    Shoaib Akhtar in action during Pakistan's fielding practice, Mirpur, March 22, 2011
    The end of the line for the Rawalpindi Express? Shoaib Akhtar's international career could finish in Mirpur on Wednesday

    The Big Picture

    The last time West Indies were in Dhaka, they couldn't have been in more of a rush to get away - in every sense. First there was their on-field performance, as clinical as anything ever witnessed in a World Cup encounter, as a potentially awkward tussle with Bangladesh was done and dusted in barely 30 overs of one-sided action.

    Then, however, came the darker aspect of the day's events. As the West Indies team bus pulled out of the Shere Bangla stadium, it was pelted with rocks by an irate section of the Bangladeshi support - in the mistaken belief, it was later reported, that their own defeated countrymen were on board. Chris Gayle's alarmed tweet buzzed around the world in minutes, and though the team was later garlanded with flowers by an apologetic supporters' group, the lack of amusement was tangible. "Is it ok for me to say thank god I left bangladesh???!!!" added Sulieman Benn once the team had departed for India.

    But now they are back, amid drum-tight security, and while the venue may not be to their liking, the opportunity could hardly be more alluring. Of all the teams in a tricky Group B, arguably no-one had a smoother on-field run to the quarter-finals than West Indies. Unlike England, whose struggles against the lesser teams turned every one of their subsequent games into nailbiters, the Windies took the polar opposite approach. They won the games in which they were favourites with such ease - with only the Irish coming close to giving them a scare in a 44-run defeat - that back-to-back defeats against England and India couldn't rattle their rock-solid Net Run Rate.

    As a consequence they may start as underdogs in the knock-outs, but West Indies have landed the opponents that most suit their hot-and-cold style. Pakistan surpassed expectations to finish top of Group A, and in doing so they bookended the single most remarkable statistic in World Cup history - Australia's 34-match unbeaten run that began in the wake of a Moin Khan-inspired 10-run defeat at Headingley in 1999, and came to an end at the hands of Umar Akmal in Colombo on Saturday. But as their remarkable defeat against the apparent weaklings of New Zealand demonstrated, there's never any point in predicting predictability from Pakistan.

    The other three quarter-finals involve clear favourites, and it would be a shock if any of India, South Africa and Sri Lanka failed to advance to the semis. This one, however, is anyone's game. On form, Pakistan should shade it, and a potential semi-final date with India in Mohali will ensure their resolve is at its sharpest. But as West Indies showed on their last trip to Mirpur, when they get on a roll they have players who can prove unstoppable.

    Form guide

    (completed matches, most recent first)

    Pakistan WWLWW
    West Indies LLWWW

    Watch out for...

    In their Chennai defeat against England, West Indies threw punch after punch to leave their opponents weak at the knees, but they lacked the subtlety in between whiles to make their position count. Nevertheless, the star of their show was undoubtedly the 22-year-old Andre Russell, whose performance with bat and ball could and should have been the decisive factor. His energetic seamers claimed career-best figures of 4 for 49, and he followed that up with a rough-diamond 49 from 46 balls. In a contest that could be decided by individual brilliance, he has two strings with which to make his bow.

    Pakistan have long cultivated a reputation as mercurial performers, but scarcely a match goes by these days without a command performance from Umar Gul. He's picked off 13 wickets in his six outings in this World Cup, including nine in the past three games, in which time he has been promoted to new-ball status as well. His effortless variations provide a threat at any stage of an innings, but never more so than at the death when his pinpoint yorkers can prove unhittable. With Chris Gayle at the top of West Indies' order, and Kieron Pollard lurking at the bottom, his ten overs could prove instrumental in deciding the course of the match.

    Team news


    Chris Gayle and Kemar Roach are expected to slot straight back into the team after missing the India fixture, in place of Kirk Edwards and Ravi Rampaul, who will count himself unlucky to miss out after picking up figures of 5 for 51 in that match. There could also be a recall for the veteran Shiv Chanderpaul, who was dropped after a tally of 70 runs in four matches at the start of the tournament, but whose experience in such a crunch fixture could be invaluable. Ramnaresh Sarwan is the likeliest man to miss out, although Devon Thomas could conceivably hand the keeping duties to Darren Bravo.

    West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Devon Smith, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Darren Sammy (capt.), 7 Devon Thomas (wk), 8 Andre Russell, 9 Sulieman Benn, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Devendra Bishoo.

    Chanderpaul's return would mean four left-handers in West Indies' top five, and so the offspin of Saeed Ajmal is being seriously considered in place of the effective but unassuming left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman. Shoaib Akhtar, with his retirement imminent, will hope to earn a recall in place of Wahab Riaz, who was expensive against Australia, but the variation offered by his left-arm line is not an asset that Shahid Afridi would wish to dispense with in a hurry.

    Pakistan (possible) 1 Kamran Akmal (wk), 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Shahid Afridi (capt), 8 Abdul Razzaq, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Wahab Riaz.

    Pitch and conditions

    Darren Sammy reckons the Dhaka wicket looks like "a cricket pitch", which is just as well really. Still, Bangladesh managed to make it look like a minefield on West Indies' last visit to the venue, as Sammy, Roach and Benn routed their opponents for 58 in 18.5 overs. There is some grass on the surface, but it ought to be full of runs, as Virender Sehwag demonstrated during his 175 in the opening match of the tournament. The weather is set to be humid, with some prospect of dew in the second innings.

    Stats and trivia

    • West Indies have won 64 of their 114 ODIs against Pakistan, but just two of the past 13 completed matches, dating back to January 2005.

    • Shahid Afridi's highest score in four World Cup campaigns is 37 against Zimbabwe in June 1999. However, he has claimed 17 of his 24 wickets in the current tournament.

    • West Indies are bidding to reach their fourth World Cup semi-final, and their first since 1996. Pakistan reached the semis in five of the first seven tournaments, but haven't got that far since losing the final in 1999.

    Quotes

    "This is a ground where we executed our plans perfectly so it's good to be back here. We feel loved by the people and we are ready for tomorrow."
    Darren Sammy dispels the notion that the stone-throwing incident has affected West Indies' attitude to Bangladesh

    "It was a great win. We really worked hard before this tournament and I don't think in my 14-year career we've ever worked as hard. Definitely, the expectation is greater now. We are feeling more confident."
    Shahid Afridi reflects on the achievement of beating Australia in Colombo.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Watch England vs West Indies Live Streaming World Cup 2011

    Chaotic entertainers face the final curtain


    Match Facts


    March 17, Chennai
    Start time 2.30pm (0900 GMT)


    James Anderson does some stretching during practice, Chennai, March 16, 2011
    Stretched to the limit: James Anderson could pay the price for his poor form in the tournament to date

    The Big Picture


    "Did I entertain you?" was the poignant sign-off that Brian Lara uttered at Barbados four years ago, after his final international appearance had ended with a cruel run-out and a one-wicket defeat at the hands of England in the 2007 World Cup. The same question - and the same affirmative answer - would undoubtedly apply to England's chaotic campaigners this time around. Then as now, the players in question are braced for a humiliating early exit from the grandest of global tournaments, but given the treats they've served up so far, there's no doubt they'll be missed if they fail to scrape into the knock-out stages.

    After five cliffhangers in five contests, the permutations are simple. Anything less than a victory, and England are gone, eliminated in embarrassing fashion for the fifth World Cup in succession. Even if they do rally themselves for one last push towards qualification, it might yet be a futile gesture, with Bangladesh and West Indies in a position to squeeze England back down to fifth spot if they can both win their final fixtures against South Africa and India respectively. It's an "arse-nipper", as Graeme Swann succinctly put it earlier this week. But England being England, they wouldn't settle for anything less.

    However this make-or-break fixture pans out, England are sure to be recalled as the story of this World Cup, for without them what would the point of this first month have been? While the big guns in Group A have chugged effortlessly to the last four, Group B has been a thrill-a-minute with three of the four qualifiers still to be decided. That is thanks almost entirely to the fluctuating standards of an England squad that has forgotten how to close out a contest - no matter what the calibre of opposition may be. Mental exhaustion is clearly a factor, but the adrenaline of impending elimination may aid them in their bid for survival.

    After their miserable stop-over in Chittagong, the squad has limped back to Chennai, the scene of their finest performance of the tournament to date, even if the finesse was limited to the final 16 overs of their effort in the field. A two-paced and spin-friendly wicket enabled England's bowlers to tap into some long-forgotten knowhow from their Ashes victory in Australia, although their batsmen had already steered them into familiarly choppy waters in being bowled out for 171 in 45.4 overs.

    Quite what West Indies will make of such maverick opposition is anyone's guess. With ferocious hitters such as Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard in their ranks, allied to the more conventional class of Darren Bravo, they are more than capable of shredding a bowling attack that has slipped onto auto-pilot all too frequently. Meanwhile the pace of Kemar Roach and the competitiveness of Sulieman Benn provide an edge with the ball that cannot be underestimated, as Bangladesh among others can testify.

    A fortnight ago in Dhaka, West Indies routed Bangladesh for 58, one match before those same Bangladeshi batsmen put the skids under England's campaign with a thrilling two-wicket victory in Chittagong. Likewise, the same South African outfit that crumbled to a six-run defeat against England put West Indies firmly in their place in their opening match of the group stage, with AB de Villiers' century easing them to a seven-wicket win.

    If England have lost the games they were expected to win, and vice versa, West Indies have taken a much more sedate route towards the quarter-finals. They are not there yet by any means, and could face an anxious final game against India if they don't come up with the goods in this contest. But come 2.30pm on Thursday, it'll be time to board the rollercoaster once again. Given what we've seen from West Indies' opponents so far in the competition, this one promises to be emotional.

    Form guide

    (completed matches, most recent first)


    West Indies WWWLL
    England LWLTW

    Watch out for...


    Against South Africa last week, Chennai provided a surface that Graeme Swann would wish to roll up and lug with him around the subcontinent (although the number of internal flights might persuade him to dump it somewhere in transit ...) With sharp turn and vicious bounce, it was Swann's spell that sowed the first seeds of doubt in South Africa's hitherto serene progress, and though he picked up the solitary wicket of Graeme Smith, his efforts emboldened every other member of the attack. The scenario was markedly different against Bangladesh in Chittagong, however, when the dew-sodden surface denied him what he felt were his just rewards, and led to a 10% fine for an audible outburst. With more floodlights in prospect, he might hope to get through his stint in the first innings.

    Kieron Pollard has a career average of 21.87 in 36 ODIs, figures which scarcely do justice to the hype he has attracted in his short career, particularly in the Twenty20 format. But in a nip-and-tuck contest against Ireland last week, he unfurled his full repertoire in a savage and game-changing onslaught. His 94 from 55 balls included a ballistic tempo-change in the Batting Powerplay, a facet of the game that England have consistently failed to exploit. If England's bowlers fail to nail their lengths - and who knows what length works for a man with such a keen eye? - he is capable of ending their campaign in a matter of overs.

    Team news


    Injuries were England's biggest problem in the early stages of the tournament, but now it is illness that is undermining their preparations. Andrew Strauss and Graeme Swann both missed training on Tuesday, although they are expected to be fit, while attention now turns to Ajmal Shahzad, who bowled three jaffas and a lot of dross against Bangladesh, but nevertheless looked their most potent source of wickets. If he is deemed unfit, then James Anderson could earn a reprieve after reports in the press had suggested he was set for the axe. Chris Tremlett's suspect temperament held up well in extreme circumstances in the Ashes, but this would be quite a cauldron for his maiden outing of the campaign.

    England (possible) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Matt Prior (wk), 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Paul Collingwood, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Ajmal Shahzad/James Anderson, 11 Chris Tremlett.

    Chris Gayle missed the Ireland victory with an abdominal strain but he is expected to reclaim his place at the top of the order. Nikita Miller is the first-choice spin twin for Sulieman Benn, although the success of Imran Tahir in the England game has tempted Darren Sammy to consider a wristy of his own. "It's food for thought," said Sammy, "whether we should play [Devendra] Bishoo tomorrow."

    West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Devon Smith, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Devon Thomas (wk), 9 Nikita Miller, 10 Sulieman Benn, 11 Kemar Roach.

    Try picking the XIs for tomorrow's game by playing Team Selector.

    Pitch and conditions


    Strauss anticipates another low turner, which may yet influence the selection of an extra spinner, although neither Michael Yardy nor James Tredwell are treated with much confidence at present.

    Stats and trivia


    • England and West Indies have faced each other on five previous occasions in World Cup history, although West Indies' only victory came in their first encounter, in the 1979 final at Lord's.

    • The teams have faced each other on three previous occasions in India - in the 1987 World Cup, in the 1989 Nehru Cup, and in the 2006 Champions Trophy. England have won two of those three encounters.

    Quotes


    "West Indies haven't been put under real pressure other than the South Africa game and the challenge for us is to put them under pressure right from ball one and see how they respond."
    Andrew Strauss believes England are more battle-hardened than their opponents

    "If there is dew just get the towel and wipe the ball. Simple." Darren Sammy makes light of the problems that afflicted England against Bangladesh

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Watch India v South Africa Live Streaming World Cup 2011

    SA's batsmen and India's bowlers under scrutiny



    R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla prepare to bowl at the nets, Bangalore, February 25, 2011
    Will two of these three play or only one?

    Match Facts


    March 12, Nagpur
    Start time 2.30pm (0900 GMT)

    The Big Picture


    India haven't lost a game yet but haven't escaped the darts from the critics. Why hasn't Harbhajan Singh taken wickets? Why Piyush Chawla? Why not R Ashwin? Why are the batsmen fumbling? Why do the fielders always fumble? Why is Zaheer Khan finding no support from other seamers? Why do they never bowl yorkers?

    South Africa have lost one game but that loss threw up the same old question. Why do they choke? The two pre-tournament favourites face each other on a batting track where conventional wisdom would dictate that the team with better bowling and fielding should prevail. However, on their day, both teams are inherently strong enough to beat any logic.

    Both teams have kept the team-sheet under wraps. Perhaps they really haven't yet decided. The news from the South African camp offers hints but there is nothing conclusive. Imran Tahir is a doubtful starter but he is not ruled out. AB de Villiers' back is better but it's not sure whether he will keep. If he keeps, Morne van Wyk might lose his spot and they may toy with bringing Lonwabo Tsotsobe in. Johan Botha might replace Tahir. And so it goes on. The logic is easy to understand: It's a batting pitch, so why not push AB to keep and play an extra bowler? If they hadn't choked against England, that decision would have been far easier to make.

    India have their own puzzles to solve. MS Dhoni talked about going in with three seamers but he also said Ashwin might play. Barring Zaheer, India's seamers haven't really eased their captain's headaches. Sreesanth was poor in the first game, Munaf Patel has looked fine but there is no guarantee that he won't bleed runs if the batsmen take to him, and Ashish Nehra is yet to regain full fitness. Nehra was Dhoni's go-to man under pressure but suddenly, in the middle of a mundane home ODI series against New Zealand in November 2010, his form gave away and he is yet to recapture it. The Ashwin-Chawla debate has been analysed to death and it will be interesting to see what unfolds tomorrow.

    Form guide

    (completed matches, most recent first)


    South Africa LWWWW
    India WWTWL

    Watch out for...


    Virender Sehwag has gone relatively quiet after the first game but he can be expected to fire on a big stage. He has been over-aggressive in a couple of games but against South Africa he is likely to return to his pre-tournament mood of trying to play as many overs as possible.

    JP Duminy will be crucial for South Africa if they decide to go in with an extra bowler. In the recent few games, especially in the home series against India, he showed that he can shoulder the responsibility of leading the middle order. He might well be at the forefront when South Africa take their batting Powerplay and his battle against his nemesis Harbhajan could well be the key.

    Team news


    How the teams arrive at the final playing XI will give us an insight into their state of mind. Will South Africa attack with an extra bowler? Will India play an extra spinner?

    India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 MS Dhoni (wk/capt), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Ashish Nehra/Piyush Chawla/R Ashwin, 11 Munaf Patel

    South Africa(possible): 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Faf du Plessis, 7 Morne van Wyk/ Johan Botha, 8 Robin Peterson, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe

    Pitch and conditions


    As Graeme Smith said, they've been rolling it for four days. It will be hot and dry and dew is not expected to be a factor. Smith made it clear that the toss would have minimal effect.

    Stats and trivia


    • Imran Tahir is the only South African bowler to take four or more wickets twice in a World Cup game

    • Sachin Tendulkar has been out lbw 38 times in ODIs. Only Sanath Jayasuriya (47), and Inzamam-ul-Haq (39) have been dismissed more times.

    Quotes


    "I don't think this is the be all and end all of the World Cup. This part is about qualifying and then going into the knockouts with some confidence. I hope it is another really good game for the World Cup.."
    Graeme Smith puts the game in perspective.

    "If I have two bowlers who are giving 70 runs from 20 overs, I would be quite happy with them even if they don't take wickets because ultimately the pressure turns on the batsmen to score runs in today's format ... Harbhajan is doing his job and if the batsmen are not willing to take risks, he is stopping the run-scoring opportunities and breaking the momentum."
    MS Dhoni backs his lead spinner.

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Watch New Zealand v Pakistan Live Streaming World Cup 2011

    New Zealand brace for in-form Pakistan

    March 7, 2011

    Match Facts


    March 8, Pallekele
    Start time 14.30 local (09.00 GMT)


    Can you spot Shoaib Akhtar's head as he bowls during a net session, World cup, Pallekele, March 7, 2011
    The fast bowlers could find the Pallekele pitch more to their liking than the ones in Colombo and Hambantota

    The pressure on the Test teams in Group A, unlike those scrumming in Group B, is of a milder nature. The teams in Group B are securing quarter-final qualification first and looking after their positions in the process. Unless Zimbabwe scores an unlikely upset, however, all four Test teams in Group A are ensured of a place in the knockouts. They are merely jostling for places at present. Of the strongest, New Zealand are the weakest. Their opponents on Tuesday, Pakistan, are the only team to win everything so far.

    New Zealand have beaten Kenya and Zimbabwe - by a ten-wicket margin no less - and another victory against Canada will see them through. It's that brittle performance against Australia, however, that is an indication of the difficulty they will face against formidable sides. On paper, like previous New Zealand teams, this one also has the facets of a fighting outfit.

    They have explosive hitters, theoretically bat extremely deep, and have an abundance of bowling options, fast and slow. Their fielding, as ever, is among the best. Their problems are a combination of form, poor technique, and impatience that led to several batsmen chasing and edging wide deliveries against Australia. It's the batting that needs fixing first, for without runs on the subcontinent there is little hope, and they'll have to do it against one of the tournament's most in-form bowling attacks.

    The odds on Pakistan being the only team with a 100% win record halfway into the league stage would have been rather high at the start of the World Cup. They weren't being talked up in the lead-up to the tournament - the spot-fixing scandal and the uncertainty over the one-day captaincy overshadowing their performances on the field. But they put Kenya and Canada away and in between those victories toppled tournament favourites Sri Lanka.

    Their middle order has largely been solid, and the one time it failed - against Canada - their bowlers raised their game to meet the challenge. They've met and beaten New Zealand in a one-day series immediately preceeding the World cup. Play to potential and Pakistan will expect to dispatch them again tomorrow. Slip, and it could be the opening New Zealand need to rediscover their efficient game.

    Form guide

    (completed matches, most recent first)

    New Zealand WLWWL

    Pakistan WWWLW

    Watch out for...


    Shahid Afridi the bowler, who has been a vastly more dangerous opponent than Afridi the batsman in recent years. He is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, with 14 from three matches, including two five-wicket hauls. He tests batsmen with legbreaks, straighter ones and googlies. And then there's the fast ball that tears at batsmen at 130 kph, leaving them no time to react if they've come ill prepared. Afridi has at least four more matches to beat Glenn McGrath's tournament record of 26 wickets - in 2007 - and needs 13 more. He, as always, is Pakistan's talisman in the field, and if New Zealand give him a foothold, he will swarm all over them.

    Tim Southee won't be ranked high on the list of the tournament's most dangerous bowlers but he's done tidily so far, picking up seven wickets at an average of 12.42 with an economy of 3.43. He swings the ball both in and out, bowls a probing wicket-to-wicket line, and has a useful yorker during the end overs. The challenge for him, however, is to strike and maintain a low economy on the subcontinent, where conditions are different from the ones he thrives in. Pallekele is an unknown quantity and there are indications that the pitch there could be faster than elsewhere.

    Team news


    New Zealand completed a clinical dismantling of Zimbabwe to put their campaign back on track and there seems to be no reason to change that winning combination. Brendon McCullum suffered from some soreness but is expected to play against Pakistan.

    New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendon McCullum (wk), 3 Jesse Ryder, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 James Franklin, 6 Scott Styris, 7 Nathan McCullum, 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Hamish Bennett.

    Pakistan are likely to make one change and bring back Shoaib Akhtar, who missed the game against Canada, for Wahab Riaz. Abdur Rehman, the left-arm spinner, is recovering from his leg injury but is unlikely to be risked against New Zealand.

    Pakistan (probable) 1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Kamran Akmal (wk), 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Abdul Razzaq, 8 Shahid Afridi, 9 Shoaib Akhtar, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Umar Gul.

    Pitch and conditions


    Misbah-ul-Haq said the pitch was hard and had grass, indicating that there would be bounce. Daniel Vettori agreed, but no one can say for certain. Pallekele hasn't hosted an international game before. New Zealand, however, have played at the venue located in the hills near Kandy and bowled out a Sri Lanka A side for 91. The weather forecast is thankfully clear.

    Stats and Trivia

    • Pakistan lost their first World Cup match against New Zealand in 1983. They won the next six.

    • Younis Khan averaged 21 and 12 in the previous two World Cups with a high score of 32. He's averaging 42.66 in this one with two half-centuries in three innings.

    • New Zealand's openers, Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill, average 135 and 118 in this World Cup. They have been dismissed only once each in three innings.

    Quotes


    "We've not been able to put consistent team performances together. That's pretty much where we've let ourselves down in the past. Hopefully there is some confidence from the Zimbabwe game. If we can bring the same performance in this game then it's going to be huge for us in the tournament."
    Daniel Vettori hopes his team will build on the Zimbabwe win

    "They just can't target me, because before me there are three or four batsmen who can get hundreds. They can't wait for me only. We are playing with six batsmen so every batsman is important."
    Misbah-ul-Haq attempts to divert New Zealand's focus from him.

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