Bowlers give india edge
1: Region’s domestic cricket
Trott ton puts England on top
Ponting fined over umpire row
Man U play Birmingham, Blues face Arsenal
Afridi slams Eden Park
Sathish powers Tamil Nadu into semis with brilliant ton
Ex cricketers have ruined Pak: Sohail
Durban, December 27
After being dismissed for 205 in the first innings, the Indians turned the game on its head by bundling out the hosts for a paltry 131 in 37.2 overs with Harbhajan Singh (4/10) and Zaheer (3/36) being the chief wreckers. The Indians found themselves in a mess in the second innings as they were struggling at 92 for four at close on an eventful second day which saw as many as 18 wickets fall.
Virender Sehwag (32), Rahul Dravid (2) and Sachin Tendulkar (6) are among the batsmen dismissed. V V S Laxman and Cheteshwar Pujara were batting on 23 and 10 respectively with the visitors having taken an overall lead of 166 runs with six second innings wickets intact in the must-win game.
It turned out to be a bizarre day at the Kingsmead as fortune fluctuated from one team to the other till the very end. With wickets tumbling like nine pins, India's first innings lead of 74 runs could play a big role. With three full days left in the match, a result is certain.
Earlier, Dale Steyn (6/50) and Morne Morkel (2/68) took two wickets each in the morning as India, after resuming at the overnight score of 183 for six, lost their remaining four wickets for the addition of only 22 runs to the total in 10 overs.
Overnight batsmen Dhoni and Harbhajan struggled to counter the pace duo of Steyn and Morkel, who made batting extremely difficult for the Indians by generating considerable bounce from the strip.
Captain Dhoni and Harbhajan survived only the first four overs before Steyn ended the spinner's uncomfortable stay in the middle.
Harbhajan, who survived a chance in the second over of the day when Jacques Kallis dropped him at first slip off Morkel's bowling, looked extremely uneasy during his short stay at the wicket. Desperate to go for big runs, Harbhajan slashed hard but a thick edge flied to AB De Villiers who grabbed it by diving to his right to send him back for 21. In the every next over, Morkel sent back new batsman Zaheer Khan for a duck when he gave a simple catch to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher. — PTI
India 1st Innings
Dhoni c Petersen b Steyn 35
Harbhajan c de Villiers b Steyn 21 Zaheer c Boucher b Morkel 0
Ishant not out 1
Sreesanth c Boucher b Morkel 0
Extras: (B-1, LB-2, WD-4, NB-) 9
Total (all out, 65.1 overs) 205
Bowling: Dale Steyn 19-6-50-6, Morne Morkel 19-1-3-68-2, Tsotsobe 11-3-40-2, Kallis 8-2-18-0, Paul Harris 8-1-26-0.
South Africa 1st innings
Petersen b Zaheer 24
Smith c Dhoni b Zaheer 9
Amla lbw b Harbhajan 33
Kallis run out 10
de Villiers c Dhoni b Sreesanth 0
Prince b Zaheer 13
Boucher not out 16
Steyn c Dravid b Harbhajan 1
Harris c Pujara b Harbhajan 0
Morkel c Harbhajan b Ishant 10
Tsotsobe c Vijay b Harbhajan 0
Extras: (LB-2, WD-1, NB-12) 15
Total (all out in 37.2 overs) 131
Bowling: Zaheer 13-2-36-3, Sreesanth 8-0-41-1, Ishant 9-2-42-1, Harbhajan 7.2-2-10-4.
India 2nd innings
Sehwag c Boucher b Tsotsobe 32
Vijay c Amla b Morkel 9
Dravid c Boucher b Tsotsobe 2
Tendulkar c De Villiers b Steyn 6
Laxman batting 23
Pujara batting 10
Extras: (B-2, LB-4, W-4) 10
Total: (For 4 wkts in 30.5 overs) 92
Bowling: Steyn 7-1-27-1, Morkel 7-1-17-1, Tsotsobe 6.5-2-16-2, Kallis 6-1-18-0, Harris 4-1-8-0.
Dravid first to take 200 Test catches
Indian middle-order batsman Rahul Dravid today achieved a rare milestone in his career when he took his 200th catch in Test matches to stay on top of the list in the five-day format of the game. An accomplished slip fielder, Dravid achieved the feat when he brilliantly caught Dale Steyn off Harbhajan Singh, diving in a flash to his left, during South Africa's first innings in the ongoing second Test against India at Sahara Kingsmead Stadium here. Dravid now tops the list of most number of catches in Tests. He registered the feat in his 149th match. Former Australia opener Mark Waugh is at the second spot with 181 catches from 128 Tests, followed by Australia skipper Ricky Ponting (174), former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming (171) and West Indian batting great Brian Lara (164). Nicknamed "The Wall" for his stubborn and gritty display with the bat that holds the foundation of his team's batting line up, Dravid is also considered to possess the safest pair of hands in world cricket. — PTI
Indian middle-order batsman Rahul Dravid today achieved a rare milestone in his career when he took his 200th catch in Test matches to stay on top of the list in the five-day format of the game. An accomplished slip fielder, Dravid achieved the feat when he brilliantly caught Dale Steyn off Harbhajan Singh, diving in a flash to his left, during South Africa's first innings in the ongoing second Test against India at Sahara Kingsmead Stadium here.
Dravid now tops the list of most number of catches in Tests. He registered the feat in his 149th match. Former Australia opener Mark Waugh is at the second spot with 181 catches from 128 Tests, followed by Australia skipper Ricky Ponting (174), former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming (171) and West Indian batting great Brian Lara (164). Nicknamed "The Wall" for his stubborn and gritty display with the bat that holds the foundation of his team's batting line up, Dravid is also considered to possess the safest pair of hands in world cricket. — PTI
1: Region’s domestic cricket
Writing about domestic cricket in these times of IPL, big-money endorsements and the glamour of international games seems a little odd. Not that one doesn’t like domestic cricket. On the contrary, I adore it.
That is where the talent flows from, that’s where you learn the ropes and that’s where you put in all the hard hours. At least that’s the way it used to happen. But things have surely changed (and we can’t say for the better) and that’s why I’m feeling a bit odd.
When writers covering the game have started feeling odd about domestic cricket, can we blame the players if they don’t want to play Ranji Trophy and want to be on the IPL bandwagon instead?
When Punjab’s VRV Singh (for instance) can get Rs 25 lakh for bowling four overs per game in the IPL, should we really be blaming him for looking askance at Ranji Trophy matches, where he will have to bowl spells of 15-20 overs a day and be on the field for four days at a stretch and get only about ten percent of what he can make from the IPL? (He will also get injured). Doesn’t make sense to me. Nor does it make sense to VRV.
The fans too don’t want to have anything to do with a Ranji game when Yuvraj and Uthappa are playing at the PCA Stadium in Mohali, but are willing (almost agog) to spend hours in serpentine queues to get into the same stadium, to watch the same players -- but in an IPL match.
So, we can’t blame the players for thinking of Ranji Trophy as, well, a bit down-market.
In these circumstances, the domestic game takes a beating. That’s what has happened with most other State teams and that is what has happened with Punjab and Haryana. They have gone downhill.
Punjab and Haryana have both won the Ranji Trophy once each (Haryana in 1991 and Punjab in 1993). For Haryana, it is almost inevitable that Kapil Dev was captain when they won the title and for Punjab again it is kind of inevitable that Bishan Bedi was the coach when they won the trophy. Both were pillars of the game and honed their skills in the Ranji Trophy. Without them, both teams have never been able to replicate that success.
This season Punjab were knocked out in the preliminary stage itself, while Haryana fared a little better, losing in the quarter-finals.
Haryana made some smart choices -- like the one of getting Tamil Nadu’s Hemang Badani to play for them. Amit Mishra, their captain, proves to be a handful at the domestic level and they have some hardworking players in the shape of Joginder Sharma. (Yes, the same Joginder who bowled the last over in the T20 World Cup final against Pakistan in 2007. He has almost been forgotten). Haryana have kept their selection policy simple. That is one of the reasons why they have done little better than Punjab this time.
For Punjab, it’s been a case of too many cooks. Or shall we say too many selectors. There is a 12-member selection committee that picks the Punjab team (the Indian team has a five-member selection panel), the team has two physios, one batting coach, one bowling coach and one overall coach above all these people! Preparatory camps that keep running throughout the year. The team still failed to go past the league stage.
Punjab coach (the overall coach, that is) Bhupinder Singh does not want to panic. And he shouldn’t, I suppose. These things happen. “We have had some injuries to players and that hasn’t helped. (What were the two physios doing?) Luv Ableesh was our main bowler but he could not play a single game this time. We don’t want to make excuses. The boys did not play to their potential. But we do not want to chop and change too much. They are a good bunch. We have to give them time and they will deliver,” says Bhupi pa (as he is fondly known in these parts). It seems a fair enough assessment by the coach.
But insiders tell a different story. Not all players are happy that veteran Pankaj Dharmani should be captain. Uday Kaul has been the best performer, young batsman Mandeep Singh is a great prospect and for some strange reason talented Bipul Sharma was given only one game this season and so on…there is even talk of former player Vikram Rathore getting associated with the Punjab set-up in some capacity next season.
In the end though – and this is one of the charms of sport -- the story about the Punjab and Haryana Ranji teams is simple. It doesn’t really matter what everybody else thinks and says. It doesn’t matter whether the selection committee is too big or small, or whether the team has three coaches and two physios. If either team wins the Ranji Trophy in the coming years, then they are back. If Punjab can clinch the title, they will achieve what only Bedi as coach could do. If Haryana do it, they will emulate something that only Kapil Dev as captain could ever do.
If they cannot win again, then their standards have declined. Then they are only concerned about the IPL and the sheen of domestic cricket has faded away.
There is a clarity to sports that is both refreshing and cold.
Melbourne, December 27
The South African-born right-hander helped swell the lead to 346 runs after the tourists batted out the entire second day to take full advantage of Australia's record lowest total of 98 in 133 years of Ashes Tests at the famous ground. Trott, who hit 119 on his debut in last year's fifth Ashes Test at The Oval, has proved to be a thorn for Australia in this series with an unbeaten 135 in the first Brisbane Test and today's hundred despite taking a painful blow to the knee.
At the close, England were 444 for five with Trott defiant on 141 and Matt Prior on 75 in a ground record unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 158 to kill off the Australians' hopes of salvaging the Test. The pair eclipsed the previous English record wicket partnership at the MCG of 140 between "Patsy" Hendren and Maurice Leyland in 1928-29.
Andrew Strauss's team need to win only one of the remaining two Tests to retain the Ashes and capture their first series Down Under in 23 years. Trott, who has now amassed 418 runs for the series at 104.5, had some luck along the way and needed a referral to avoid a tight run-out decision on 46, just beating home Ricky Ponting's throw from the deep.
The quirky number three recharged the England innings after fast bowler Peter Siddle had revived Australian hopes alive with three wickets and two catches. The big-hearted paceman single-handedly had kept the Australians in the contest with the wickets of Alastair Cook, Strauss and Kevin Pietersen, before taking two great catches at fine leg off Mitchell Johnson's bowling. Siddle had Cook caught at first slip by Shane Watson for 82 to end an English opening stand of 159 and then had Strauss brilliantly caught one-handed by a leaping Michael Hussey in the gully for 69
Danger batsman Pietersen was trapped lbw to Siddle for 51 after raising his 21st Test half-century.
Pietersen was given out and conferred with batting partner Trott about whether to seek an umpire's review, but walked from the wicket after a few words. Pietersen was the subject of an Australian referral for caught behind off Ryan Harris on 49 after wicketkeeper Brad Haddin persuaded skipper Ponting to seek a review.
But "hot-spot" replays showed no edge and Pietersen stayed, much to the annoyance of Ponting, who argued heatedly with both umpires and had sharp words with Pietersen about the decision, believing he had made contact with the ball. Paul Collingwood's series woes continued when he fell for eight off a poor hook shot straight to Siddle in Johnson's first over of a new spell. Collingwood has scored just 70 in five innings in the series, putting pressure on his place for next week's final Sydney Test.
Siddle was on the spot again to snap up a low diving catch at fine leg to dismiss Ian Bell for one off Johnson. Prior also had some good fortune when he was called back by umpire Aleem Dar when he walked after being caught in the slips when on five. Dar consulted with the third umpire and it was proved that Johnson had over-stepped for a no-ball, giving the England wicketkeeper a reprieve. — AFP
Australia 1st innings 98
England 1st innings
(overnight 157 for 0)
Strauss c Hussey
b Siddle 69
Cook c Watson b Siddle 82
Trott batting 141
Pietersen lbw b Siddle 51
Collingwood c Siddle
b Johnson 8
Bell c Siddle b Johnson 1
Prior batting 75
Extras: (b-10, lb-1,
w-3, nb-3) 17
Total: (5 wkts, 136 ovrs) 444
Bowling: Hilfenhaus 29-9-72-0, Harris 25-7-83-0, Johnson 25-2-103-2, Siddle 26-8-58-3, Watson 10-1-34-0, Smith 18-3-71-0, Clarke 3-0-12-0.
Melbourne, December 27
The International Cricket Council (ICC) said Ponting pleaded guilty to a charge of "arguing or entering into a prolonged discussion with the umpire about his decision." Ponting's fine equates to around USD 5,400.
The ICC said the matter had been determined by match referee Ranjan Madugalle without the need for a full hearing. "Ricky's actions as captain of his country were unacceptable," Madugalle said in a statement. "A captain is expected to set the example and not get involved in a prolonged discussion with the on-field umpires and question their decision.
"While pleading guilty to the charge, Ricky understood that the discussion went far too long. "He apologised for his action and stated that he has nothing but respect for the umpires and his on-field actions were not intended to show disrespect to Aleem Dar or Tony Hill." Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland was reluctant to pass judgment on Ponting's on-field behaviour, which drew a disapproving slow-handclap from sections of the crowd.
"At this stage, I wouldn't be saying whether it's good for the game, let's see what the actual substance was," he said, speaking before the ICC announced its decision. "The match referee is effectively the tribunal, if you like. If there is a report, he's the one who hears the report and makes a judgement on it." Pietersen was on 49 when wicketkeeper Brad Haddin persuaded Ponting to go for a review.
But "hot spot" replays showed no edge and Pietersen stayed, much to the annoyance of Ponting, who argued with both umpires and had sharp words with Pietersen about the decision, believing he had made contact with the ball. Australian fast bowler Peter Siddle weighed in as Ponting clashed with Dar, wagging a finger at the Pakistani match official.
It was the first of two reviews to go against Australia before tea on the second day of the fourth Test at the MCG, with Dar calling on the third umpire to rule that Matt Prior was not out. Pietersen had played and missed at a Ryan Harris delivery, with the ball going between bat and pad. Wicketkeeper Haddin appeared to be the only Australian player who appealed for the "catch" and persuaded Ponting to call for the review. — AFP
London, December 27
He was instrumental in some fluent United football against Sunderland and almost scored with a sublime chip. Manager Alex Ferguson believes the goals will come soon. “Wayne had a couple of tries against Sunderland," Ferguson told MUTV. "He was very unlucky with the chip and there were a couple of shots saved by the goalkeeper. "He is getting there. The important thing is he is playing well. That is refreshing."
To have established themselves so firmly at the top of the league despite Rooney scoring just once in the league this season is a testament to United's strength in depth and their defensive solidity.
With his shock declaration that he wanted to leave the club now a fading memory and a few weeks in the Dubai sunshine in the tank, a revitalised Rooney will have the effect of a "new signing" in the January sales as United step on the gas.
Manchester City are emerging as a genuine title threat, having bounced back from their home defeat by Everton to beat Newcastle United 3-1 on Sunday. The problem for manager Roberto Mancini is that his side
have been far more impressive away from Eastlands where they have struggled to score goals.
With Carlos Tevez looking hungry, City will hope to improve that situation against Aston Villa on Tuesday and then against Blackpool on New Year's Day. “We have an incredible four games in 10 days and we will make changes against Villa because we must recover in the 38 hours and that is not an easy thing to do," Mancini said.
Third-placed Arsenal and fourth-placed Chelsea, who meet later on Monday at the Emirates, will be wary of City and with United looking stronger as each week goes by, they have precious little room for error. Chelsea are at home to a dangerous Bolton Wanderers side on Wednesday while Arsenal travel to Wigan Athletic.
Tottenham Hotspur complete the top five after a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa on Sunday and are on a nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions. — Reuters
Auckland, December 27
"I must say it's small, but the people who are coming for Twenty20 cricket, they want to see some big shots, so for Twenty20 I think it's a perfect ground." Afridi didn't think the new layout made the arena of adequate standard for one-dayers.
New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor had a different view. Taylor believed bowlers would still get reward in ODIs if they bowled well and to a plan.
"Those boundaries square are some of the bigger ones in the world." He also said the previous alignment made Eden Park a ground that favoured left-handed batsmen, whereas now things had probably been evened up. — ANI
Rohtak, December 27
Tamil Nadu will now meet Rajasthan in the semi-final to be played in Jaipur from January 3-6. In another fog-hit day when 55 overs were possible, Tamil Nadu finished the proceedings at 285 for six in 79 overs courtesy Sathish's ton (106, 15x4, 131 balls) and his 91-run fifth wicket stand with skipper Dinesh Karthik who found some touch back with an useful half century (57, 95 balls, 8x4).
Amit Mishra and co, have every right to feel upset that Tamil Nadu were lucky enough to scrape through to the semis after having one of the most indifferent seasons in recent times. It was even more tragic that despite having upperhand during most of the sessions, Haryana would in any case have lost due to poor run quotient had a ball not been bowled today. It was pity that foggy weather became their undoing.
Even on the day, Haryana new-ball bowlers Joginder Sharma and Sanjay Budhawar did well to dismiss two in-form batsmen in Abhinav Mukund and K Shrivasudevdas respectively. While Mukund (34) was caught by Dhruv Singh off Budhawar, the wily Joginder rattled Shrivasudevdas' stumps as Tamil Nadu were reeling at 91 for four in the 34th over. But Sathish came in and started playing shots from the word go.
Rajasthan knock Mumbai out
Jaipur: The match was all but over by the end of second day itself but Rajasthan players had to wait till Monday evening when they officially knocked out defending champions Mumbai to enter the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy. They will now meet Tamil Nadu in the semi-finals which will be played at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium from January 3-6. Having already batted Mumbai out by the second day and further consolidating with a healthy 232 run lead by the penultimate day, it was just a case of going through the motions on the final day. Former India U-19 captain Ashok Menaria completed his maiden century. Menaria scored 121- an innings that was studded with eight boundaries and five towering sixes. He was the last man out but only after Rajasthan has batted for another couple of hours and taken their total to a mammoth 589.
Jaipur: The match was all but over by the end of second day itself but Rajasthan players had to wait till Monday evening when they officially knocked out defending champions Mumbai to enter the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy. They will now meet Tamil Nadu in the semi-finals which will be played at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium from January 3-6.
Having already batted Mumbai out by the second day and further consolidating with a healthy 232 run lead by the penultimate day, it was just a case of going through the motions on the final day. Former India U-19 captain Ashok Menaria completed his maiden century.
Menaria scored 121- an innings that was studded with eight boundaries and five towering sixes. He was the last man out but only after Rajasthan has batted for another couple of hours and taken their total to a mammoth 589.
Baroda in semis
Baroda: Railways fought their heart out but Baroda qualified for the Ranji Trophy semifinals on the basis of their first innings lead as their quarter-final clash ended in a draw here today. The average first effort, both in batting and bowling, cost Railways dear as they were always doing the catch up job after that, though their performance improved as the match progressed. —
Baroda: Railways fought their heart out but Baroda qualified for the Ranji Trophy semifinals on the basis of their first innings lead as their quarter-final clash ended in a draw here today. The average first effort, both in batting and bowling, cost Railways dear as they were always doing the catch up job after that, though their performance improved as the match progressed. — PTI
Islamabad, December 27
"Ex cricketers like Rameez have ruined Pakistan cricket, because when the likes of Rameez were introducing the current format of domestic cricket, they should have thought about introducing teams like Quetta to the first class structure and why they gave Quetta first class status and why they didn't give other more deserving regional teams first class status, if they were keen on increasing the number of first class teams." — ANI
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