Monday, February 14, 2011

ESPNcricinfo Awards: Sachin, Laxman, Steyn and Gul grab Major

Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Dale Steyn have won the top awards in the fourth annual ESPNcricinfo Awards, announced in Bangalore.

The other winners were Umar Gul, Michael Hussey and Tim Southee.

Awards are for the following categories -
  • Best Test Batting Performance: VVS Laxman (India) - 96 v South Africa, 2nd Test, Durban 
  • Best Test Bowling Performance: Dale Steyn (SA) - 7 for 51 v India, 1st Test, Nagpur 
  • Best ODI Batting Performance: Sachin Tendulkar (India) - 200 not out v South Africa, 2nd ODI, Gwalior 
  • Best ODI Bowling Performance: Umar Gul (Pakistan) - 6 for 42 v England, 3rd ODI, The Oval 
  • Best T20 Batting Performance: Mike Hussey (Australia) - 60 not out v Pakistan World Twenty20 semi-final, St Lucia 
  • Best T20 Bowling Performance: Tim Southee (New Zealand) - 5 for 18 v Pakistan, first Twenty20, Auckland

Laxman won the Test batting award for his 96 on a seaming pitch in Durban, while Steyn took the bowling prize for his 7 for 51 against India in Nagpur on a flat batting track. That both players overcame unfavourable conditions and led their teams to historic wins was important in their beating some impressive competition.

The one-day batting award also went to a performance from an India-South Africa game: Sachin Tendulkar's remarkable unbeaten double-hundred in Gwalior, the first in the 40-odd years of the existence of the format.

It brought Tendulkar his second consecutive win in the category. He won last year for his monumental 175 in a lost cause against Australia.

Tendulkar's and Gul's performances were ranked No. 1 by 10 jury members, Steyn's by eight and Laxman's 96 by five.

This contest reflects that the rivalry of India-SAwas the key contest of the year.

India begin World Cup-2011 campaign with a bang, beat Australia by 38 runs

Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh spun India to a thumping 38-run win over Australia  in their first warm-up game of the Cricket World Cup in Bangalore on Sunday.

Chawla (4/31) and Harbhajan (3/15) exploited the conditions to perfection and troubled all the Australian batsmen on a turning track at Chinnaswamy Stadium to earn a morale boosting victory for India.

Earlier, Indian batsmen failed to live up to expectations as they were bowled out for 214 in 44.3 overs after electing to bat. Virender Sehwag top-scored with a 56-ball 54 while Yusuf Pathan made a 39-ball 32. None of the other top-order batsmen could make substantial contribute.

Chasing a modest 215 for a win, Australia were cruising at one stage on 118 for two before Chawla and Harbhajan cast a web around Australians to bowl them out for 176 in 37.5 overs in front of a packed crowd.

Surprise inclusion in the World Cup squad, Chawla proved his critics wrong and brought India back into the match with a double strike in consecutive deliveries in the 29th over and took two wickets later to play a huge role in India's victory.

The leg-spinner was a revelation as he extracted big turn from the track and varied his deliveries to unsettle the Australians.
Ponting, who returned to competitive cricket after a finger injury lay-off, top-scored for Australia with a hard-earned 57 that came off 85 balls after opening duo of Shane Watson (33) and Tim Paine (37) had given them a flying start.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sourav Ganguly retires from cricket

India’s most successful captain — the man who single-handedly galvanised a bunch of talented players into a winning side — won’t play again. The God on the off-side has announced his retirement from competitive cricket.

Breaking his silence on the IPL controversy, he said, he was playing Ranji only to stay fit for the league. And he doesn’t see any possibility of playing IPL again. So he’s hanging up his boots.

But he expressed disappointment at not finding a place in 10 IPL teams in which 70 Indians were selected. “I had the runs. Players of my age, Gilchrist, Dravid and Laxman are still actively involved. I haven’t been able to put the finger on why I was left out.
Cricketing logic and past form suggests I should have been picked. There are several reasons I could have been dropped, but not for cricket.”

So there will be no resurrection for the man, who like a phoenix has sprung surprises every time people thought his innings was over.

But Ganguly doesn’t feel betrayed by Shah Rukh Khan.
“SRK spoke to me about a possible role as KKR mentor. I don’t think KKR needs a mentor. I see no role there. The team already has enough expertise in Whatmore and Akram. I wanted to play and not mentor the team. I didn’t see myself in the sort of a role Kumble has chosen.”

But such is his love for the Kolkata outfit that he was disappointed over how the team has been handled, especially over the past two seasons.

His passion for the game won’t die. His IPL dream flickered when Kochi wanted him after the auctions. But the franchises put a spanner in the works. And Ganguly was left in the cold again.

Ganguly, the man who along with Sachin was part of one of the most destructive opening pairs in history won’t swing the willow again. Rather, he will still be part of the game, but not on the field. “I am mentally preparing myself for an administrator’s role at some stage. I would love to be part of the Cricket Association of Bengal at some point of my life. I also would love to coach the Indian cricket team as well.”

Cricket Association of Bengal is home turf. But the Bengal Tiger could also eye the chair of the Indian Cricket Board. Nothing is impossible for the unputdownable Dada.