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India get $265,000 for finishing third

Written By kom nampultig on Selasa, 15 April 2014 | 21.25

DUBAI: India on Tuesday received a cheque of $265,000 for finishing third, while South Africa pocketed $475,000 for claiming the top position in the ICC Test Team Rankings at the April 1 cut-off date.

While South Africa finished as the number one team, Australia claimed the second position and won $370,000. England, meanwhile, received $160,000 for finishing fourth.

South Africa have been holding the number one Test spot since August 2012, and is the fourth side, after Australia, India and England to achieve this distinction.

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson presented the cheque to his Cricket South Africa (CSA) counterpart Haroon Lorgat, who received it on behalf of the side that topped the Test rankings for the second successive year.

South Africa also retain the mace, which is presented to the number-one ranked Test side.

Richardson praised the South African team for its achievement.

"I congratulate South Africa for topping the rankings for the second successive year in our pinnacle format. To retain the top Test spot in a season that saw some very interesting, competitive and high-profile series is an achievement to be proud of.

"With the top eight Test sides closely matched, and every side aiming to claim the coveted number-one Test position, I'm looking forward to another exciting, challenging and competitive season, which will go on to strengthen Test cricket's reputation as the most enduring and respected format," Richardson said.

Lorgat said: "I am truly honoured and humbled to receive the Reliance ICC Test prize money, not just on behalf of the players and the team management but on behalf of all South Africans. The players appreciate the enormous privilege of representing our country and taking on the responsibility that goes with it."

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India full of brilliant fielders now: Jonty

DUBAI: There was a time when he felt that Indians were just not comfortable diving to stop a ball but South Africa's yesteryears' fielder-par-excellence, Jonty Rhodes, says the current Team India is full off "brilliant" fielders who have taken their standard to a new level.

Rhodes, who is the fielding coach of reigning IPL champions Mumbai Indians, said his opinion of Indian fielders not being up to it has changed.

"You see the current Indian team and it is full of brilliant fielders, not afraid to dive around. The Sri Lankans have always been agile fielders but in recent years the Indians and Pakistanis have taken their standard of fielding to a new level," Rhodes told the IPL's official website ahead of the seventh edition of the event starting on Wednesday.

"Good fielding is no more just the monopoly of countries like Australia or South Africa. It has become an integral part of most cricket teams.

"Also in IPL, if you see some of the greatest catches taken, it will not feature only the international players. A number of young Indian domestic players have pulled off stunners, and that, excites me," added the South African, who became a sensation for his sheer agility on the field during his playing days.

Rhodes said younger members of the team like Virat Kohli have succeeded in emulating some Australian techniques in fielding.

"Virat, for instance, catches the ball with reversed cup (finger pointing skywards). Now, he has been exposed to international cricketers from a young age and that it is possible he has picked that technique up," Rhodes explained.

"I personally feel that technique helps you get under the ball well and move your feet more briskly. However, there is no one way - Ravindra Jadeja is a brilliant fielder and he catches the ball with straight cupped hands," he said.

Asked if improving standards are making the fielding coach's job tougher, Rhodes said, "In these times the players cannot hide in the field and so you need all your players to be good fielders. The expectation of the captain becomes high and hence a fielding coach's job becomes more challenging."

Rhodes said fielding is toughest in the Test format even though T20 is considered a young man's game.

"Test cricket! No doubt about it. Sometimes, the whole team has to sit in the dressing room for two days as your batsmen go on and on. At other times, it gets tiring spending hours in the field and the energy levels dip. In the T20 format, I can pep the boys up by telling them, 'Come on! It's only 120 balls' but motivating them to field for five hours straight can be difficult.

"However, having said that, I imagine my basic preparation for the team would remain the same. I start preparing the team for fielding two-three days prior to the match. That's all I can do, at the end of the day. I get out of the picture once they take field," he said.

On his experience of working with the Mumbai Indians, Rhodes said one of the most satisfactory aspects of it has been improving Munaf Patel's fielding.

"...when I first joined Mumbai Indians, Munaf Patel was in our squad. There were people who said to me, 'Well, good luck on that' because he was considered to be one of the worst fielders in India .... It took a bit of time but then he realized that he had to be prepared for every ball to come to him. Eventually, he ended up a much improved fielder," Rhodes said.

"I just wanted him to be the best Munaf Patel he could be. In the 2012 season he did pretty well in the field. Every time the ball would go up and we saw Munaf under it, we all were like 'Oh, there's another drop!' When we looked up, he'd have gobbled it up. The more catches he took, the more confident he became," he added.

"Like it does in batting and bowling, confidence plays a big part in fielding. For instance, Yuvraj Singh is one of India's greatest fielders but during the recent World Twenty20, he struggled to take his catches. That's because he was out of form with the bat and hence low on confidence."

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Tendulkar joins Mumbai Indians training

ABU DHABI: The Mumbai Indians players were buoyed by the presence of Sachin Tendulkar, who joined the team's training session on Tuesday as the high-profile franchise starts its title defence against Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 7 on Wednesday.

The MI players were overjoyed as Tendulkar, who reached Abu Dhabi late Monday night, came in the team's practise outfit at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Having retired from all forms of the game after the Test series against West Indies ended on November 16 last year, Tendulkar seemed to be itching to have a hit in the nets.

He has already been named as an "MI Icon" recently and will also do his bit to promote the franchise's cause of "Education for All".

The legend padded up and had a half-an hour session at the nets during which he was a picture of concentration as if he is going to be a part of the playing XI.

He also did his customary knocking facing throwdowns from a member of the support staff.

"It was a lesson for the youngsters in the manner Sachin went about his drills. If someone thought that he wanted to hit a few balls for fun, they were mistaken. His drills were just like it used to be before a match," an MI source said.

Tendulkar also keenly watched the Rohit Sharmas and the Kieron Pollards at the net session and was seen talking to chief coach John Wright.

The highest scorer of all time in international cricket, will be a part of the team's think-tank where in he will be providing inputs to coach Wright and skipper Sharma on team combination and strategies.

The iconic cricketer had said a few days earlier about how he would want to contribute with his expertise as Mumbai Indians aim to do an encore like Chennai Super Kings did in 2010, 2011 editions of the cash-rich league.

"I have been a part of the Mumbai Indians team since its inception and am delighted to continue my association. This season with Mumbai Indians will be a different experience for me and I look forward to closely interacting with the experienced support staff and sharing my learnings with the exciting youngsters in the team," he was quoted as saying earlier this week.

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'Sachin will be sick of me by end of IPL'

MUMBAI: Sachin Tendulkar will be "sick of me" by the end of IPL-7 says Michael Hussey, who plans to talk about the game and life after international retirement with the iconic cricketer during his stint with Mumbai Indians over the next month and a half.

"I hope so. I am really looking forward to spending time with him and talking about life and cricket. He will probably be sick of me by the end of the IPL," Hussey said when asked if he will be exchanging thoughts with the recently-retired Tendulkar.

The 40-year-old Tendulkar, who was part of MI's triumphant campaign in the last edition, has been appointed the side's mentor ahead of the upcoming extravaganza starting tomorrow in Abu Dhabi.

Hussey, who had been part of many a remarkable wins with the Chennai Super Kings, will don the blue jersey this time around.

"It will be different but I am excited by the challenge of joining a team that I have admired and respected over the six years," Hussey was quoted as saying by IPL's official website.

The retired Australian great is excited at the prospect of playing at the Wankhede Stadium, which he feels has the "best atmosphere I have ever experienced".

Asked about the rivalry between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings and if it will take a bit of work to adjust, he said, "I don't think so. I have had some great battles with Mumbai Indians over the years and look forward to many great battles with CSK over the next few years."

Talking about maintaining high level of fitness, he said, "I have still been able to work hard on my fitness and strength and I am still playing in the Big Bash in Australia. I may be a little rusty early in the tournament but I think I won't take long to get up to the required level."

Asked if he suffered from withdrawal symptoms after retirement form international cricket, the 38-year-old responded in negative.

"No, quite the opposite actually. I don't miss the stress, pressure, expectation and media attention. T20 is fun and easier on the body as you get older."

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Baroda pip UP to win national T20 title

Written By kom nampultig on Senin, 14 April 2014 | 21.24

MUMBAI: Baroda pipped Uttar Pradesh by three runs to regain the National T20 title for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in a thrilling last ball finish at the Wankhede stadium on Monday.

Chasing a challenging target of 145, the Venkatesh Prasad-coached Uttar Pradesh team needed 11 runs off 7 balls but lost the plot as the batsmen at the crease, Praveen Kumar and Upendra Yadav, couldn't manage to overhaul the target and UP finished at 141 for six.

Yadav smashed a six off the penultimate ball after Kumar just scored a single in the four balls he faced. With a boundary needed to win, Baroda's left-hand medium pacer Rishi Arothe kept his cool to dismiss Yadav with a low full toss.

Baroda had previously won the title at the Brabourne Stadium here in 2012. Earlier, put in to bat, Baroda posted 144 for seven.

They were led by left-handed skipper Aditya Waghmode's quickfire 31-ball 42 (8x4).

Waghmode and right-handed Kedar Devdhar shared an 80-run stand for the first wicket but the former's dismissal in the tenth over triggered a collapse and pulled down the run-rate.

Baroda lost wickets in quick succession and could add just 64 runs in the last 10 overs.

Praveen Kumar and Ali Murtaza scalped two wickets each while Amit Mishra and Prashant Gupta got a wicket apiece.

In reply, UP suffered a set back when opener Mukul Dagar was dismissed in the fourth over but Prashant Gupta and Eklavya Dwivedi forged a 98-run stand for the second wicket to steer the team towards the total.

Last-match centurion Gupta continued in the same form as he made a 53-ball 68 that was laced with eight fours and a six, while 'keeper-bat Dwivedi made 56 off 47 balls that comprised six fours.

UP lost the plot after Gupta was caught brilliantly at mid-on by Abhijit Karambelkar in the 17th over and later lost quick wickets to finish short of the finishing line.

Left-arm medium pacer Lukman Meriwala, who was the highest wicket taker in the tournament, scalped 3 for 31.

Brief scores: Baroda 144 for 7 (A Waghmode 42, K Devdhar 26; P Kumar 2 for 24, A Murtaza 2 for 22) beat Uttar Pradesh 141 for six (P Gupta 68, E Dwivedi 56; L Meriwala 3 for 31).

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Prasad bats for more Indian coaches

MUMBAI: Saying that Indians are second to none, former pacer Venkatesh Prasad today advocated having more Indian coaches in the Indian Premier League set-up.

Out of eight IPL teams, only Kings XI Punjab have an Indian Head coach in Sanjay Bangar.

"It is an Indian Premier League. It is good to have a mix of foreign coaches, foreign players, because you are definitely going to improve your knowledge of the game, but it is not that all foreigners are knowledgeable.

"Please let us not go by that. I think that is something which people need to understand," said the 44-year-old former bowler, who guided Uttar Pradesh to the finals of the Syed Mushtaq Ali All T20 event.

"I have seen so many players who are better than the foreign players. So many coaches in India who are better than the foreign coaches, who are part of the IPL set-up now," added the Bangalore-born Prasad who played 33 Tests and 161 ODIs for the country between 1996 and 2001.

Prasad, who had been associated with the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings as bowling coach in the past, is not part of any IPL franchise this year and he termed it as 'disappointing'.

"It is disappointing in a way because it is something that I feel every franchise needs to look at - having Indian coaches as part of their team management - for a simple reason that only four foreign players can play in the 11 and the remaining other seven are Indians," he said.

Prasad said the break from his vocation will help him analyse things from outside that he hoped would stand him in good stead next year.

"It is disappointing to miss out but there is always a learning (process). It is always good to step back and then look at the scenario from outside and then learn a few more things, so that you are better as a coach and better as a person when you start doing this, hopefully from the next year onwards," he said.

"I am going to be part of the media and keep watching games and keep analysing them. I would be able to watch and analyse the games and obviously learn a few things by doing those. So, I hope to increase my knowledge," the former Karnataka player added.

Prasad further said coaching in IPL side was a big challenge as everything is result-oriented.

"It is an amazing challenge because you are only looked at as per your achievements and the results that you have given to the team. It's not about what sort of a contribution you are making to the team. That is a sad part actually.

"Here not only the franchise owners or people should not only look at results but also look at developing players. Whether the people in the management, the coaching staff are they doing that or not, that is also very important. But that is not the case in most of the franchises, I would say, because they are only looking at the result," he said.

Prasad, who took 96 and 196 wickets in Tests and ODIs respectively, recollected his experience of having been part of the last six IPLs as part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise first and then Chennai Super Kings.

"It has been a huge challenge for me being a part of six IPLs. And in that for four years I was part of Royal Challengers Bangalore and twice I was with Chennai Super Kings. I was part of the team when we won both IPL and Champions League for CSK and I have played the finals of Champions League for RCB.

"In that way I have gained a lot and it has been a huge challenge to work with the players, work with that sort of set up when people are only looking at the result, where it is result-driven or result-oriented.

"That really pushes you to the hilt and there are a lot of preparations that one has to work over, especially for the support staff. It is easy for the players. Coaching is probably the toughest job I have come across," he said.

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Bowling could be RCB's Achilles heel

BANGALORE: If a woefully out-of-form Yuvraj Singh does not quickly bat with the panache he is famous for, his employers Royal Challengers Bangalore would rightly rue splurging Rs 14 crore on him and wonder if that sum could not have been better utilised by buying half-a-dozen young, hungry Indian cricketers.

RCB had already retained three supreme match-winners — Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers — and logic would have demanded that they build their team around the trio. But the expensive purchase of Yuvraj ensured that there was not enough money to spend on quality Indian cricketers. Perhaps none understands this better than Yuvraj himself and hence the onus would be on him to prove that he is not yet over the hill.

When on song, Yuvraj is an explosive batsman and the strengths he brings to the table makes RCB one of the most formidable batting line-ups in IPL 7. A top-order comprising Gayle, Parthiv Patel, Kohli, AB de Villiers, Yuvraj, Vijay Zol and Albie Morkel would test the best of bowlers in the T20 format.

Gayle, who has slammed 180 sixes in the IPL (the next best being Suresh Raina with only 115), is the most feared batsman in T20 cricket, just as de Villiers is the most innovative and Kohli a relentless run-hungry machine. Should Yuvraj too come to the party, RCB would be the team to beat this season.

The bowling, though, does not inspire the same confidence. There is not a single pacer or spinner, who could be termed a match-winner on the lines of a Lasith Malinga or Sunil Narine. But since the batting is the obvious forte, the team could go in with additional bowling options.

A lot would depend on fringe India bowlers Varun Aaron, Ashok Dinda and hopefuls Abu Nechim Ahmed and Harshal Patel and their ability to forge an effective combination with the likes of Mitchell Starc, Morkel and Ravi Rampaul. If they strike, RCB's spirits will soar like never before.

Strength: Batting. Packed with impact batsmen Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Yuvraj Singh

Weakness: Bowling. Lack top-class spinner or paceman.

Opportunity: Vijay Zol in batting; Yuzvendra Chahal (leg-spin); Sachin Rana (all-rounder).

Threat: Injury, illness. Poor back up strength for main players.

Support staff: Brijesh Patel heads cricket operations. Daniel Vettori is head coach. Allan Donald is bowling coach. Trent Woodhill is batting and fielding coach.

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Rishi hopes for IPL double with Sehwag

NEW DELHI: Sharing the dressing room with Sachin Tendulkar is a memory that Rishi Dhawan would cherish all his life and now the young Himachal Pradesh all-rounder is confident that he would have an equally great time playing alongside Virender Sehwag for Kings XI Punjab this season.

"What do I say about Sachin paaji. It was special to spend time with him. The IPL winning moments with him will stay with me forever. He used to point out all my faults at the nets and I became a better player as the tournament went on. Now it is great to play with Viru paaji," Dhawan said while recollecting his stint with Mumbai Indians, who won the IPL last season.

The 24-year-old was bought for Rs three crore at the back of a solid show in the Ranji Trophy where he was the highest wicket-taker besides scoring 450 runs.

He said his focus this IPL is to perform his dual role so well that he gets a shot at being the seaming all-rounder India is looking for a long time.

The expectations have increased from the lad from Mandi after he did well in the recent domestic T20 games in Mohali.

"There is no point putting pressure on myself ahead of the IPL. It has been a good time for me and my family since the auction. I am not really distracted by the attention and the focus is on playing good cricket. Hopefully, it will get me into the Indian team," Dhawan said.

Getting into the national team like any upcoming player is the ultimate dream for Dhawan, who can realise it rather quickly given that India are still unable to find a seaming all-rounder for the long run.

Stuart Binny could not do much in the recent chances he got while Irfan Pathan has been out of the team owing to form and fitness.

"I am trying the best I can irrespective of the level I am playing at. It now depends on the selectors, when they think of giving me the opportunity."

Asked about his role, the shy cricketer said: "I see myself more as a batting all-rounder. Every match I play I make sure I give equal attention to both batting and bowling."

Dhawan took to the game at a tender age of 13 and was mostly confined to the pleasant environs of Himachal Pradesh's third largest city. A decade later, the little-known all-rounder has become the latest millionaire in Indian cricket. Ask him about the journey and he prefers to credit it all to the almighty.

"God has been kind. I don't know what I will do with the money. I was hooked on to the TV in Amritsar where I was watching the auction. Everyone was really happy with the news," he signed off.

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Daredevils can't afford a slow start

Written By kom nampultig on Minggu, 13 April 2014 | 21.24

NEW DELHI: It was inevitable that something had to give when the Delhi Daredevils finished dead last after the sixth edition of the IPL. The team seemed in disarray so the owners decided to wipe the slate clean heading into the seventh season.

The GMR-group owned franchise did not to retain a single player heading into the IPL-7 auction. One man they went all out to get was Kevin Pietersen. The charismatic former England captain was simply devastating in his short stint with the Daredevils in 2012 and one of the chief reasons why the side managed to top the league standings that year.

The knee injury that sidelined Pietersen last year was a massive blow to the team and it reflected in their performance. The Daredevils have built their side around Pietersen and new coach Gary Kirsten's aim is to get them out of the rut as soon as possible. The Delhi team, though, has a big worry with skipper KP suffering from a presumed fractured finger, which he has been carrying around taped up since he arrived in the Capital.

When it comes to batting firepower, the side is well stocked with the likes of the in-form Ross Taylor of New Zealand and South Africa's Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy. The Daredevils have picked their side intelligently, banking on domestic as well as international experience.

The side spent Rs 12.5 crore on Dinesh Karthik, who has proved his immense utility to Mumbai Indians over the last couple of years, as has his Tamil Nadu teammate Murali Vijay. Bengal's Manoj Tiwary and Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Jharkhand's Saurabh Tiwary complete an impressive domestic lineup. But unlike previous years there is hardly any 'Delhi connect' to this side, with Milind Kumar being the sole representative from the Capital.

The spin bowling department is another area of concern for the Daredevils. Pietersen might have dubbed Jharkhand left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem as his 'superstar' but he is still far short of being world class, while leg-spinner Rahul Sharma failed to live up to the promise that he showed with Pune Warriors in 2012. With pitches in the UAE expected to be low and slow much like they are in India, lack of slow bowling options might haunt the side.

In terms of pacers, the side is well stocked with the likes of T20 specialists Wayne Parnell and James Neesham and Indian players like Mohammad Shami, Jaydev Unadkat and Rahul Shukla.

Pietersen and Kirsten's first priority will be to get the side to gel as fast as possible because it's not an easy task to start from scratch especially in fast forward form of T20. Daredevils can ill-afford another slow start in IPL-7 because once you're downhill on a slope it's very hard to hit the brakes.

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Pietersen races against time to be fit

NEW DELHI: Kevin Pietersen is nursing a fractured finger on his right hand and is racing against time to set the tone in the initial IPL 7 matches, according to sources close to the Delhi Daredevils camp.

Pietersen has led the team, along with head coach Gary Kirsten, in the three practice sessions here at the Palam Air Force ground. Although he interacted with players right through the five hours of training, he didn't hone his cricketing skills as the ring and little fingers of his right hand were heavily strapped.

KP did not have a full-fledged batting session in the nets and did not take part in fielding drills either. All he did was face some throwdowns, using mostly the top hand of the bat to guide the balls through.

"KP has a fractured finger. That is why he isn't taking an active part in the drills. A well-known doctor has been called to attend on him but he will only meet him in the UAE. He is supposed to be treated there so he can recover faster and take part in the first match. But he is certainly racing against time. It could be touch and go for the first couple of matches," a source told TOI on Saturday.

However, Daredevils officials present at the ground tried to play down the issue. "It's just a sore hand. He had an injury earlier and it's just sore from that. KP is just taking precautionary measures by not going through the extensive drills," said the official.

Pietersen had told TOI on arriving in New Delhi earlier in the week that he was wearing the protective gear to shield an injured finger. "It's a niggle but I am wearing the gear to make sure I don't hurt it any further while shaking hands," he had said.

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