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Surya ends his Mumbai captaincy stint, Tare to lead

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 28 Januari 2015 | 21.24

MUMBAI: Less than three months after he was named as Mumbai skipper with an eye on the future, Suryakumar Yadav submitted his resignation, ending his controversial stint in the post. Stung already by a humiliating innings defeat against Tamil Nadu in the last game, the selectors promptly replaced him at the top with wicketkeeper Aditya Tare, who accepted the offer after having declined it last year, as the new captain. Mumbai are down in the dumps at this stage of their Ranji Trophy campaign (11 points in six games), and need to win both their remaining matches (against heavyweights Baroda and Karnataka) on an outright basis to harbour any hopes of making it to the quarters.

Tare was aware of the massive task his team faces now, but sounded positive. "In every challenge lies an opportunity. We are looking to grab this chance. There is still a lot of positivity in our camp," Tare told TOI from Baroda, where Mumbai will play their next match from Thursday.

Worryingly, the 27-year-old himself hasn't been in great form, managing just 199 runs in nine innings so far this season. "For me, the primary concern right now is that the team must win. Having said that, I have set certain standards for myself, which I haven't lived up to so far this season. However, I am confident of finding my touch again," he said. Tare was confident Yadav would still be able to produce his best. "His form has been one of the positives for us, and I hope he keeps playing like that," the skipper said.

Although Yadav had a successful time with the bat (485 runs at an average of 53.88, including two centuries) as a captain, adverse reports about his behaviour, and Mumbai's free fall this season seem to have convinced the youngster to give away the responsibility. "I don't think captaincy affected my batting. I was batting well and as freely as I have done. I was enjoying my game too.

It's just that something or the other was missing," Yadav said.

The 24-year-old termed the whole episode as a 'learning process' for him. "I'm trying to take the positives out of this. People do make mistakes and I'm willing to learn from mine," he said. Yadav felt that the incident has made him more 'determined and responsible.' "It won't stop me from scoring runs and realizing my big dream of playing for India," he stressed. Meanwhile, left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh, who was embroiled in the IPL fixing scandal in 2013 before being cleared by the BCCI, has made a return to the Mumbai side. The selectors have made three changes. Both the left-arm spinners, Iqbal Abdulla and Vishal Dabholkar have been dropped after having failed to create any impact on a turning track in Chennai.

Team: Aditya Tare (Captain), Wasim Jaffer, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Siddhesh Lad, Sufiyan Shaikh, Shardul Thakur, Nikhil Patil, Akhil Herwadkar, Shrideep Mangela, Badre Alam, Tushar Deshpande, Akshay Girap, Harmeet Singh, Balwinder Singh Sandhu.

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'Dad's army' UAE hope for a moment or two

Life as an associate-nation cricketer is not easy. Unlike some other countries where cricketers are treated like demigods and earn millions, cricketers from associate member nations have to earn their bread and butter first, and only then can they think about the cricket. The UAE are no different.

Almost all the players in the UAE squad - appearing for only the second time in a World Cup after 1996 - work at other jobs. However, they are passionate about the game, and the Cup platform - where they will get to rub shoulders with star teams like India, Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies - can make it all seem worthwhile. UAE, placed in Group 'B', earned their berth after finishing second to Scotland in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. Their performance also gave them ODI status until 2018.

However, the journey from here will only get tougher. They might have the best infrastructure among associate nations but infrastructure among associate nations but their players hardly get enough time to practice due to their regular jobs.

Their star player, vice-captain Khurram Khan, 43, is a flight purser. Khurram became the oldest player to score an ODI hundred when he hit an unbeaten 132 against Afghanistan last year. Incidentally, Khurram had taken the field just hours after a long flight from San Francisco.

Khurram will be the backbone of the side, to be led by offspinner Mohammad Tauqir, who is also 43. Their batting will rely more on Khurram and the Thane-born Swapnil Patil, who played some crucial knocks for the team in the qualifiers.

Shaman Anwar and Krishna Chandar are the other batting hopes. Except for Khurram, they don't have batsmen who can play long innings. However, the side did well in the last series against Afghanistan, winning 4-0. UAE's bowling is a concern, with only one genuine fast bowler in Mohammad Naveed. However, Manjula Guruge has the ability to swing the new ball and bowl well at the death. Amjad Javed's role as the third medium pacer will also be crucial in the middle overs.

It will be interesting to see how left-arm spinner Rohan Mustafa bowls. His role in the non-Powerplay overs will decide UAE's fate. Another concern is the fielding. With so many veterans in the side, they will be short of legs in the field. Against Afghanistan, they dropped a dozen catches in four matches.

The positive for UAE is that they are under the guidance of former Pakistan speedster Aquib Javed. Javed has played enough in Australia and New Zealand, so knows what has to be done in those conditions. Probably that's the reason they played against Afghanistan on bouncy tracks and managed put up decent totals against a good attack. The world doesn't know much about UAE, and this is their chance to show they belong.

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Super Smith dominates Cricket Australia awards

SYDNEY: Australia's rising batting star and captain Steven Smith dominated the Cricket Australia Awards on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old New South Wales all-rounder became the 10th player to receive Australian cricket's greatest individual honour, the Allan Border Medal, for 2014.

He secured a hat-trick of prizes by also collecting the Test and ODI player of the year awards, becoming only the third man after Ricky Ponting in 2007 and Shane Watson four years later to achieve this feat.

The only other award went to allrounder Glenn Maxwell, who was named T20 player of the year.

Later in the night, former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist and late Aussie captain Jack Ryder were also formally inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame.

Smith, who captained Australia to a 2-0 Test series win over India — in the absence of the injured Michael Clarke — to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, said: "I am surprised to win the three awards. I have had an amazing year. I am joining an illustrious group... and to win these awards is a dream come true," he added.

Smith was the top run-scorer across the three formats of Tests, ODIs and T20Is with 1756 runs at 67.54 during the voting period that started with the ODI against England in Perth on January 24, 2014 and ran through to the fourth Test against India at SCG that ended on January 10 this year.

Paceman Sean Abbott, who was at the heart of the Phil Hughes tragedy, was named Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year.

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Can New Zealand seize the moment?

New Zealand is a team that has always flattered to deceive. Over the years they have always come across as a very good fielding unit bolstered by some great individual talents, but never a world-beating force. So despite making it to the semifinals six out of 10 times, New Zealand have never entered a World Cup as favourites. Not even when they hosted the event along with Australia in 1992.

They actually created a storm in the preliminary stages of that 1992 tournament, winning eight out of the nine matches, thanks in part to Mark Greatbatch's pinch-hitting at the top of the order. Even skipper Martin Crowe was in ominous form. So were Ken Rutherford, John Wright and Danny Morrison.

New Zealand also introduced an element of surprise as they got off-spinner Dipak Patel to open the bowling. But as luck would have it, everything fell apart in the semifinal and Crowe, who pulled his hamstring while batting, watched with a strapped thigh from the sidelines as Pakistan stormed into the final. This current side has some exciting talent, including captain Brendon McCullum. On his day, he can take any attack to the cleaners. Then there is the explosive Corey Anderson, who has the second-fastest ODI hundred, off just 36 balls, to his name. Then there is Luke Ronchi, who recently smashed 170 off 99 balls against Sri Lanka while batting at No. 7 to lift New Zealand from 93-5 to a total of 3605. Ronchi and Grant Elliot, who made 104 not out, added 267 runs for the unbroken record sixthwicket partnership.

And don't forget Kane Williamson, who is supremely talented and technically sound.

In Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Mitchell McClenaghan and Corey Anderson, they have a very good seam attack.

Elliot, Trent Boult, Tom Latham and Adam Milne can wheel their arms t good effect whenever the need occurs. And then there are Ross Taylor and Daniel Vettori, the two key spokes in the New Zealand wheel and the elder statesmen. New Zealand are a very likely semifinal candidate in this edition too. But don't forget, like in 1992, they are playing at home, and it won't be surprising if McCullum's team outdo Crowe's and succeed in pushing their team to the final. If they do, it will be a turning point.

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Adam Gilchrist walks into Hall of Fame

Written By kom nampultig on Selasa, 27 Januari 2015 | 21.25

SYDNEY: Former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist and the late former Australian captain and selector Jack Ryder will be inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame at the 2015 Allan Border Medal in Sydney on Tuesday.

Hall of Fame (ACHoF) chairman David Crow on Sunday announced that Gilchrist and Ryder were the selection committee's choice this year. "Adam Gilchrist and Jack Ryder made enormous contributions to Australian cricket," Crow said. Gilchrist played a lot of his cricket in India in the later stage of this career, first leading Deccan Chargers and then Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. He ended his career two seasons ago.

"'Gilly' epitomized the cricketer we all loved to go and watch. He lightened up the game. We all wanted to go to see Gilly because he was such a high-quali ty entertainer. He was able to combine his explosive batting with brilliant wicketkeeping."

The ACHoF recently expanded its criteria to include a player's impact off the field following his playing career. "That's where Jack excelled," Crow said. "He made a great contribution over seven decades at national, state and club level." Gilchrist was humbled by his nomination alongside many of the greatest players to represent Australia. "It's a tremendous honour. I'm thrilled to be given the opportunity to join such illustrious company, childhood heroes and icons of the game from previous eras which you grow up hearing about.

"No one sets out to earn these accolades. You play the game because you love it."

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Tri-series: India-Australia ODI abandoned due to rain

SYDNEY: Rain played spoilsport as the tri-series match between India and Australia was abandoned with the two teams sharing the points, which left the visiting side in with a chance to make it to the final.

After being put into bat, India were 69 for two after 16 overs when play was stopped due to rain at 5pm local time (11:30 IST) and after a wait of three hours the umpires decided to call off the match.

The two teams take two points each from Sunday's match, which means that the final league game between India and England on January 30 at the WACA in Perth will be a straight knockout for a chance to play Australia in the final on February 1 at the same venue.

Unbeaten Australia, who have 15 points after Sunday's no result, have already qualified for the final while winless India and England have two and five points respectively. A team gets four points for a win.

India had lost to Australia and England in their first-leg matches of the double round robin format tournament.

The start of the match was delayed by 40 minutes due to drizzle since morning and there was first rain interruption at 3:30 pm local time (10 am IST) when India were six for no loss in 2.4 overs.

Play resumed with India losing the struggling Shikhar Dhawan for eight in the seventh over and then Ambati Rayudu for 23 in the 13th over.

Dhawan was caught by Aaron Finch at slips off the bowling of Mitchell Starc as the Indian opener dabbed at a delivery that bounced a bit extra from a good length just outside the off-stump without any movement of his feet.

Rayudu was dismissed off the bowling of Marsh with David Warner taking a sensational catch. The Indian batsman had charged and slashed at the ball, carving it high over the infield on the off side and Warner ran from the cover to take a well-judged catch.

Rayudu faced 24 balls from which he hit two boundaries and one six.

India were 62 for two when Rayudu was out and they slowed down, scoring just seven runs from the next 3.1 overs before rain stopped play.

Ajinkya Rahane was batting on 28 while Virat Kohli was giving him company on three when rain stopped play. Rahane had faced 50 deliveries from which he hit two fours.

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Teenage cricketer dies in Pakistan after hit on chest

KARACHI: In another tragic incident on the field, 18-year-old Zeeshan Mohammed died after being struck in the chest by the cricket ball.

Doctors at the Orangi Town general hospital said that Mohammed died from a heart seizure after he was struck by the cricket ball during a club match in Orangi town on Sunday.

"He was brought to the hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival," Doctor Samad at the hospital said.

"We have been told he was hit in the chest by a fast bowler while batting and collapsed on the pitch," he said.

The incident comes few months after Australian batsman, Phil Hughes died in a hospital after being hit on the head by a short pitched ball during a Sheffield Shield match by pacer Sean Abbot.

An officer at the local police station said the body had been buried by the parents as there was no case registered and it was an accidental death.

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Tri-series: Rain gifts India lifeline

SYDNEY: Monday was a special day in both India and Australia and crowds came in hordes to watch the tri-series match between the two teams at the SCG. But the weather played spoilsport and ruined what could have been a memorable day.

After India were made to bat first in gloomy conditions, whatever game was possible was held in fits and starts following innumerable stoppages for rain. But after the third intervention, when India were 692 in 16 overs, the rain took over and the game was finally called off at 8 pm local time.

India, however, would not have been too disappointed by the abandonment as it has given them a lifeline in this tournament. The two points they got from this rain-ruined match gets them on to the points table in the tri-series and makes things a bit easier - India now simply have to defeat England in their last league match in Perth on January 30 to make it to the final.

Had India lost Monday's game, they would have had to improve their net-run rate substantially while beating England by a bonus point. That would have been a much difficult proposition. Now, though, the game in Perth has virtually become a semifinal.

The winners will take on Australia in the final, also in Perth, on February 1.

From the morning it was overcast in Sydney and rain was forecast for the day .At one time there was doubt if the game would start at all, since it rained in the Moore Park area quite heavily in the morning. The weather let up in the afternoon for the match to make a 45-minute delayed start.

If India were disappointed at all by the events of the day, it was that they could not test out Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja. Sharma was to play his first game since the third Test and Jadeja would have got his first game on the tour. The Indian think-tank is desperate to test their form and fitness.

The two will now have to wait till the Perth game against England to finally step on to the field. For Monday's game, India dropped Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Akshar Patel for Ishant and Jadeja. For Australia, David Warner and skipper George Bailey, who was suspended for slow over-rate for the Hobart match, returned to the squad. There was not much at stake for Australia as they are already in the final. Bailey, though, was planning to bat higher up the order to get among the runs. Warner, who has played just one good innings - a century against India in the opening game in Melbourne - too would have been eager to spend some time in the middle.

In the 16 overs possible, struggling India opener Shikhar Dhawan again failed to make it count, falling cheaply to Mitchell Starc. For the third time in the tri-series, he was caught in the slips cordon without getting into double-figures. Ambati Rayudu played a neat little innings of 29 in which he clobbered a six, but failed to capitalize on the start he got.

Virat Kohli had just joined Ajinkya Rahane in the middle when rain interrupted play for the third time. The only bright spot for India was Rahane's batting, as he seemed quite secure in the middle despite the Australian pace bowlers getting a lot of bounce on a pitch that was supposed to help the spinners.

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This World Cup, have a ball

Written By kom nampultig on Senin, 26 Januari 2015 | 21.24

For a generation that has grown up watching the lacquered leather disappear into the sea of screaming fans, the 2015 World Cup promises to be refreshingly different in terms of qualitative balance between bat and ball.

Not that the ICC's commercial arm will be in favour of rolling out the green given the tastes of an average Indian fan but there are compelling factors and statistics which indicate that the fast bowlers will play an instrumental role in shaping the destiny of the current event.

What will make this competition different from the preceding ones is the fact that most top teams have bowlers who can consistently bowl over 140 clicks. Add to that the new fielding restrictions, bigger boundaries, two new balls and relatively livelier tracks than the ones in the subcontinent - the captains have little option but to rely more on their specialists.

If hosts Australia have the Mitchells (Johnson and Starc) in their ranks, then co-hosts New Zealand have the likes of Trent Boult and Adam Milne who can give the speed gun a busy time.

Then there's the lethal South African combination of Dale Steyn & Morne Morkel where one relies on sheer pace and swing while the other is only too happy to bounce people out. The duo feed off each other and have accounted for over 200 wickets bowling in tandem. England have done well to preserve James Anderson and the athletic Lancastrian has looked sharp in the ongoing tri-series Down Under. The 6 ft 7 in frame of Steve Finn invokes images of batsmen negotiating disconcerting bounce from back of the length and India have already got the taste of it at the Gabba recently were he nabbed five. The West Indian side may be in complete shambles following the latest revolt but they have in their ranks a decent pace battery led by captain Jason Holder. It's another story if they will be able to fire as a cohesive unit given the reported acrimony in the camp.

When it comes to the pace department, Pakistan have always managed to keep their noses ahead. But this time though they don't seem to have bowlers like Imran Khan had at his disposal in 1992. Neither do they have game-breakers like Wasim Akram who changed the course of the 1992 final with one magical spell at the MCG. They do have Mohammad Irfan, the supposedly tallest cricketer (7 ft 1 in) in world cricket, who has suffered more breakdowns in his short career than Indo-Pak relations. If the let-arm seamer gets going, he's likely to extract more juice from the Aussie tracks than any other medium-pacer.

Sri Lanka have relied heavily on Lasith Malinga, but the 31-year-old has just come off an ankle surgery and still has to bowl at full throttle.

India are looking at the possibility of opening the bowling with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Stuart Binny. It doesn't really inspire confidence as they function at harmless speeds. Umesh Yadav does bowl at a brisk pace but he does travel far when attacked. Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma have had issues with their form and fitness and the duo has struggled to move the ball on or off the pitch.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

In recent times, Australia and New Zealand haven't been happy hunting grounds for spinners and statistics confirm this. A recent survey says that in Australia slower bowlers average 55 balls per wicket while the quicks who concede 35 since 2009. But the spinners do enjoy a better economy rate (4.86) as opposed to fast bowlers (5.21).

The current tri-series backs this with fast men like Starc (11 wickets) accounting for 49 wickets in four matches while the spinners have only 8 wickets to show for their efforts.

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South Africa: Perennial contenders

South Africa's re-entry into world cricket in 1991 had raised hopes of the Proteas dominating the game as they had an abundance of talent but unfortunately they failed to make a mark in global tournaments. Since their debut in the 1991-92 World Cup in Australasia, the South Africans, who have earned the 'Chokers' tag because of their inability to pull off key matches, had failed to make it to summit clash. Their best show was a third place in the 1999 edition of the tournament.

Even though they are perennial favourites in every World Cup, the South Africans don't seem to have luck on their side. Come February, the Proteas will be keen to redeem their honour and beak the jinx as they take guard Down Under. The 2015 squad may not be the best-ever team to leave the African shores to compete in a World Cup, they, however, have two weapons of mass destruction - captain AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn.

The 30-year-old de Villiers, who is the most destructive bats man in all formats of the game, showed that he is in the pink of form as he blasted a century against the West Indies last week. The South African was on a record breaking spree as he struck a 44-ball 149. AB's ability to turn the game on its head in quick time makes him a very dangerous customer.

The South Africans have a couple of other proven performers in the form of Faf du Plessis, big hitting David Miller, Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw. However, Hashim Amla and JP Duminy will have to play a massive role if the Proteas fancy their chances of winning the maiden Cup. Duminy is the leader in the lower order who has successfully shepherded the batting tail over the years. He has the ability to assess conditions expertly and knows when to start adventurously or to play "test cricket" according to the requirements of the game.

Steyn is a lethal weapon which is wild and untamed. The 31-year-old speedster is a pure delight to watch and a batsman's nightmare. The aggressive Steyn never lets his guard down and therefore the rivals cannot afford to let their guard down.

However, there are one or two question marks hovering over the team. In terms of the lower order, the South Africans have not have contributed as consistently as they would have liked.

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