Fire hazards and empty stands
Not distracted by fixing controversy: Waqar
England ready to start with a bang
Will take confidence from T20 win: Borren
Hussey wanted to prove fitness
Pantawante, Dutt win badminton gold
Ticket rush results in website crash
Ahmedabad, February 21
But the Aussie bowlers hit back to dismiss Zimbabwe for 171.
Earlier,Watson and Michael Clarke struck half centuries but holders Australia struggled for the most part against a spin-oriented Zimbabwe attack before finishing at 262 for six in their opening Group A World Cup match here today.
Watson, continuing his good form that enabled him to score over 800 runs in the 2010-11 season, started on a cautious note before opening up to score a well-crafted 79 off 92 balls, after Ricky Ponting opted to bat first at the Sardar Patel Stadium.
He was also involved in two half-century stands, of 61 with fellow-opener Brad Haddin (29), and 79 off 75 balls with Ponting (28). But his dismissal in the 32nd over, followed by that of his captain almost immediately, somewhat spoilt Australia's plan.
The pair was dismissed in the space of nine balls and it was then left to Michael Clarke, who made an unbeaten 58 in 55 balls, and the lower order batsmen to give the Australian innings a boost.
Vice captain Clarke, who struck four fours, and Cameron White (22), who was dropped on 15, set about the task after the departure of Watson and Ponting. They raised 63 runs in 73 balls, including 32 during the batting powerplay taken between 41st and 45th over.
Their fourth-wicket stand yielded 63 runs off 73 balls.
Clarke looked at ease in his unbeaten knock as Australia finally set their rivals, to whom they have lost just once in 27 previous meetings, an asking rate of 5.26 to win the match under lights.
The Aussies, bidding for their fifth world crown and fourth in a row, commenced the title defence on a sedate note, with the first ten overs producing only 28 runs on a wicket that looked slow and offered low bounce.
Openers Watson and Brad Haddin seemed content to play the waiting game against the pace-spin opening duo of Chris Mpofu and Ray Price, the left arm slow bowler.
It was spin from both ends, when Zimbabwe skipper Elton Chigumbara replaced Mpofu, who conceded just 13 runs in his first five overs, with off spinner Prosper Utseya. The Australian opening pair struggled to score freely against the two spinners, and Haddin was even lucky to have got a reprieve on 16. An Utseya delivery struck the bottom of the middle stump but the bails were not disturbed. — PTI
Watson lbw b Cremer 79
Haddin lbw b Utseya 29
Ponting run out 28
Clarke not out 58
White b Mpofu 22
Hussey b Price 14
Smith c Chakabva b Mpofu 11
Johnson not out 7
Extras (lb-7, w-7) 14
Bowling: Mpofu 9-0-58-2, Price 10-0-43-1, Utseya 10-2-43-1, Cremer 10-0-41-1, Taylor 3-0-23-0, Chigumbura 2-0-18-0, Williams 6-0-29-0.
Taylor b Tait 16
Coventry c&b Lee 14
Taibu c Watson b Johnson 7
Ervine lbw Johnson 0
Chgmbra c Haddin b Krejza 14
Williams c Watson b Tait 28
Chakabva lbw Krejza 6
Utseya c Ponting b Hussey 24
Cremer c Haddin b Johnson 37
Price not out 5
Mpofu c Haddin b Johnson 2
Bowling Tait 9-1-34-2, Lee 8-1-34-1, Johnson 9.2-2-19-4, Krejza 8-0-28-2, Watson 3-0-7-0, Smith 5-0-24-0.
Fire hazards and empty stands
Funny how things go in cricket, isn’t it? Eden Gardens was docked one match, the only one worth the newsprint, because some seats were not handed over to the sponsors, while Wankhede Stadium, with no fire safety clearance, will almost certainly host all its games.
But then, I guess it depends on who’s running the show. And it isn’t the ICC for sure.
Just a passing thought. What we are talking about here is another thing. It seems that the BCCI is looking to reduce ticket rates to try and woo people into the stadia. So let me ask you, would you invest time, and a little less money, to go and see Kenya play New Zealand?
The whole game lasted one ball less than 32 overs, so irrespective of how much discount you get on the ticket, it’s not going to be worth it. Neither was Sri Lanka against Canada, for that matter.
Trust you me, no one will pay for such games. For that matter, no one will go and watch even if they are paid to do so. The ICC was aware, well before the tournament, this is how it would be, so this entire exercise of reduced rates for these matches is basically a farce.
Many sports events in India have this fascinating tradition of hijacking school-loads of students and fill the stands. But with much of the student community engrossed in important exams, any hijacking now could well lead to criminal charges. So the stands aren’t likely to get full, not for teams like Kenya or Canada, or a few others.
The match between Australia and Zimbabwe at Ahmedabad saw this hilarious exercise of loud applause suddenly erupting once Ricky Ponting had won the toss - inspired by the recorded applause that goes with American soap operas! It was so loud that one was forced to sit up and peer into the screen, trying to figure out who was hollering. Couldn’t see too many in the stands though. Must be my failing eyesight. More the pity, since the game turned out to be quite interesting.
The ICC knows that if the 50-over format has to survive, the number of teams in the fray have to be less, and the quality of games high. This phase of the World Cup, especially the first lot of matches, will be a disservice to cricket.
Another little irony that catches one’s attention. The ICC goes on about how it is going to eradicate betting, fixing and all wrongs. This, from an organisation which has fixed the schedule to ensure that all the big sides get ‘easy’ matches initially. So essentially, so long as the money pours in, and the money-spinning teams are ‘facilitated’, a little fixing is fine, right?
Hambantota, February 21
Waqar said the controversy is not even discussed in the dressing room and it will not haunt the team in the World Cup. "It (spot-fixing controversy) is not haunting Pakistan at all. We all know we have been through tough times in recent past but that does not mean that we don't have talent," Waqar said ahead of Pakistan's World Cup opening match against Kenya here on Wednesday.
"Despite all these we are a good enough team to beat anybody. None of us is even talking of match-fixing or spot-fixing, whatever it was. It happened in the past and is beyond us now," said the 39-year-old former fast bowler. "We have stopped reading newspapers and watching TV. We are now just keeping our focus on the job. That's what we talk about," he said.
Waqar refused comment when asked about England paceman Stuart Broad's remarks that they were maintaining a distance from the Pakistan players in the aftermath of the controversy. — PTI
Nagpur, February 21
When Steven Gerrards and John Terrys are pitted against the likes Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, there isn't much to choose between the two teams but when the English cricket team takes on its 'Oranje' counterpart, it becomes a mismatched battle. But as England wicketkeeper Matt Prior yesterday pointed out, it would be important to have a good start and taking the Netherlands lightly could end up giving the English a rude shock because World Cups have had a history of having at least one match in which the David manages to down the Goliath.
The English, in fact, don't have to look too far behind for an example. Two years ago in their opening encounter of the World Twenty20 at the Lord's, the Dutchmen stunned the hosts by four wickets which is till date the most memorable achievement by the Oranje brigade. Six players who played that day - Bas Zuiderent, Peter Borren, Pietar Seelaar, Tom de Grooth, Alex Kerevezee, Ryan ten Doeschate - are in the current squad and would be looking to do an encore here.
However, Dutch coach Peter Drinnen is all cautious when reminded of that achievement. "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves as we want to perform to the best of our abilities," Drinnen said. — PTI
Nagpur, February 21
Asked whether 50-over format will prove to be a difficult one for them, Borren said, "Agreed 50-over is a different format but we have played a lot of ODIs. It's not a surprise to us." The 27-year old all-rounder, who did not play the two warm-up games due to abdominal strain, informed that he won't be able to bowl.
"I will only bat," he said. The former New Zealand colts batsman, however, refused to be drawn into the controversy regarding whether it was right on the part of the ICC to slash the number of teams to 10 for the next World Cup. "This issue is not really something I am focusing on at the moment. We need to prove ourselves on the field. But Associates offer a lot to the World Cup," he said. — PTI
Melbourne, February 21
He, however, had claimed that he would be fit by the second group match of the World Cup. The right-handed batsman had a strong training session with Western Australia and he was selected to play against Tasmania but had to be withdrawn when higher powers at Cricket Australia intervened, a report in 'Daily Telegraph' said. Had Hussey played for WA, it would have been a major embarrassment for CA, the newspaper said.
The report also claimed that Greg Chappell met with Hussey in Perth earlier this month and the national selector had told the latter that his days in international ranks were numbered. But Chappell denied that he had not told Hussey to consider retirement.
"That's untrue," Chappell said. Chappell said there was nothing sinister in Hussey not playing in the Sheffield Shield and the decision was taken after discussion between CA medical staff and their WA counterparts.
"In the nets yesterday he was pretty excited by the way he pulled up, but in discussions between Cricket Australia medical staff and West Australian medical staff, they decided it was probably imprudent to try and rush it," said the former India coach. — PTI
Pantawante, Dutt win badminton gold
Ranchi, February 21 The Nagpur girl, who was briefly ranked No 1 in India after she surprised everyone with a runner-up finish in the Nationals, came back from behind to oust Kerala's P C Thulasi for the title. In the men's singles summit clash, Guru Sai of Andhra Pradesh also made a spectacular return after going down in the first set to defeat Karnataka's Aditya Prakash. Having ousted top seed and statemate Sayali Gokhale in the semifinals yesterday, the 21-year-old continued her fine run as she pipped Thulasi 14-21, 21-17, 21-15 in close encounter. "I'm really happy with the performance. I want to do well at the national levels and keep playing more," she told reporters. Her father is an athletics coach and mother a former athlete. She came to prominence after making the final of the Nationals and in the Estonian Open that catapulted her to the No 1 spot in the women's singles rankings in India. It may be noted that top Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal has stopped playing domestic badminton, while Aditi Mutatkar also did not play enough tournaments. Having entered the National Badminton Championship as a qualifier earlier this year, Arundhati in her road to the final ousted defending national champion Trupti Murgunde before Aditi Mutatkar stopped her dream run. She followed this by winning the silver medal in the Estonian Open International Badminton tournament where she started as a qualifier. "My goal in 2011 is to get good international ranking by the year end," the rising star of badminton said. — PTI
Ranchi, February 21
The Nagpur girl, who was briefly ranked No 1 in India after she surprised everyone with a runner-up finish in the Nationals, came back from behind to oust Kerala's P C Thulasi for the title. In the men's singles summit clash, Guru Sai of Andhra Pradesh also made a spectacular return after going down in the first set to defeat Karnataka's Aditya Prakash. Having ousted top seed and statemate Sayali Gokhale in the semifinals yesterday, the 21-year-old continued her fine run as she pipped Thulasi 14-21, 21-17, 21-15 in close encounter.
"I'm really happy with the performance. I want to do well at the national levels and keep playing more," she told reporters. Her father is an athletics coach and mother a former athlete.
She came to prominence after making the final of the Nationals and in the Estonian Open that catapulted her to the No 1 spot in the women's singles rankings in India. It may be noted that top Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal has stopped playing domestic badminton, while Aditi Mutatkar also did not play enough tournaments. Having entered the National Badminton Championship as a qualifier earlier this year, Arundhati in her road to the final ousted defending national champion Trupti Murgunde before Aditi Mutatkar stopped her dream run.
She followed this by winning the silver medal in the Estonian Open International Badminton tournament where she started as a qualifier. "My goal in 2011 is to get good international ranking by the year end," the rising star of badminton said. — PTI