Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chanderpaul century drives West Indies

Shivnarine Chanderpaul brought all his experience into play as he notched up an unbeaten 111 to steer West Indies to 256 for five and share the honours with India on day one of the first cricket Test here today.

At stumps on the first day of the three—match Test series, wicketkeeper—batsman Carlton Baugh was giving Chanderpaul company on 19 off 45 deliveries. The duo have so far added 56 runs for the sixth wicket in 13.4 overs.

Opting to bat, West Indies’ innings revolved around Chanderpaul’s unbeaten knock, for which he faced 167 deliveries and spent 236 minutes on a Ferozshah Kotla track where Indian spinners Pragyan Ojha and debutant Ravichandran Aswhin threatened to run through the visiting side’s top—order. India’s new spin—twins shared the five wickets between them.

Ojha finished with creditable figures of three for 58 in 29 overs while Ashwin had two for 79 in 25.

It was Chanderpaul’s seventh Test century against India and 24th overall. Only Garfield Sobers and Vivian Richards (both 8 centuries each) have scored more centuries against India.

In West Indies’ last tour of this country way back in 2002, Chanderpaul, one of the only two members from the current squad along with Marlon Samuels to feature in that series, had smashed a staggering three centuries in four Test matches.

That the 38—year—old left—hander’s special liking for the Indian attack could be gauged from the fact that he has scored nearly 2000 runs with seven centuries and 10 fifties. And, at a staggering average of over 70.

Chanderpaul got to the century when he swept Ojha behind square for a single in the 83rd over. He had faced 144 balls and spent 195 minutes to reach the landmark.

Chanderpaul found an able ally in opener Kraigg Brathwaite, with whom he added 108 runs for the fourth wicket to frustrate the Indian bowlers, especially in the session before tea.

Brathwaite struck 63 off 212 balls before India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni pulled off a smart stumping off Ojha to bring an end to his hard—fought innings.

The 18—year—old Brathwaite’s dogged resistance, during which he found the fence four times, was very crucial from the West Indies’ point of view as Ojha and Ashwin were beginning to pose problems for the batsmen.

After Ojha’s double blow in the first session, which saw him remove opener Kieran Powell and Kirk Edwards, Ashwin bowled Darren Bravo right after the lunch break to put the visitors under pressure.

But Brathwaite, along with Chanderpaul, stitched together a handy 87—partnership for the fourth wicket to steady the West Indian ship.

Even as Brathwaite got his runs with nudges and steers through the third—man region, Chanderpaul looked intent on attacking the bowlers, especially the spinners, against whom he was not afraid to go down the wicket.

While milking the Indian bowlers, he used the soft hands, the canny deflections too were often seen, and he also played the typical horizontal bat shots pulling the bowlers with utter disdain.

After dispatching Umesh Yadav, the second debutant in the Indian team, for two sweetly—timed boundaries, Chanderpaul took Ashwin to the task, cutting him through point for another four.

Moments later, the veteran of 135 Tests with more than 9500 runs, used his feet against Ashwin to loft the offie over his head for the maximum.

After the tea break, he meted out a similar treatment to Ojha who was hoicked over the long—on boundary. Brathwaite, meanwhile, got to his fifty, his second in this form of the game, with a push to mid—on. Chanderpaul followed suit soon after, to bring up his 57th half—century in Tests.

The tide, however, seemed to have tide in India’s favour in the post—lunch session when Ojha and Ashwin both got a wicket apiece, of Brathwaite and Samuels respectively, who was done in by the Dhoni—Ashwin combo, which gave the skipper his 200th dismissal, the first Indian glovesman to achieve such a feat.

Baugh along with Chanderpaul then kept the Indians at bay till stumps were drawn for the day. While the morning session proved to be fruitful for the spinners, especially Ojha, the scenario changed after lunch. But two wickets in the final session meant India didn’t allow West Indies to run away with a huge total.

While there was turn in the wicket, it was too slow to create problems for the batsmen. Even as Ojha and Ashwin shouldered the bulk of the responsibility, bowling 20 overs each, Dhoni also tried Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh.

Earlier, in the first session, Ojha had struck twice as India enjoyed the upper hand leaving the visitors at 69 for two at lunch.

After Sammy had won the toss, left—arm spinner Ojha, playing Test cricket after almost a year since New Zealand’s tour of India, had Powell trapped in front with big turning delivery in his second over, and the innings’ 12th.

Ojha then had Edwards, on a high after slamming a century and a fifty in his last Test, against Bangladesh, caught and bowled with a one that stopped at the batsman. The right—hander pressed forward, looking for the drive but was a touch early into the shot.

The spinner, in the process, made amends for dropping a sitter off his own bowling, the batsmen being Powell, in his first over, with the scoreboard reading 25 for no loss.

The goof—up, however, didn’t matter much as Powell could not add a run to the total. Ojha had figures two for 14 from 10 overs at lunch.

On a pitch that hardly offered any sort of assistance to the quick bowlers, both Ishant Sharma and debutant Yadav, who was preferred over Varun Aaron, struggled to create an impression.

While Ishant bowled within himself, conceding 18 runs in his first spell of seven overs, Yadav was guilty of not pitching the ball up to the batsman.

It was therefore no surprise when Dhoni replaced Yadav with Ojha in the 10th over. The Hyderabad bowler immediately made an impression, luring the batsmen to go for drives, and at same time extracting sharp turn from a Feroz Shah Kotla wicket, which seems have to something for the spinners.

It didn’t take long before Aswhin was handed the ball, in the 15th over, replacing pace spearhead Sharma. Gautam Gambhir was substituted by Virat Kohli after he was hit on his elbow while fielding at forward short—leg, and that could be a cause for concern for the hosts.


West Indies 1st innings:

Kraigg Brathwaite st Dhoni b Ojha 63

Kieran Powell lbw b Ojha 14

Kirk Edwards c and b Ojha 15

Darren Bravo b Ashwin 12

S Chanderpaul batting 111

M Samuels c Dhoni b Ashwin 15

C Baugh batting 19

Extras (B—4, LB—2, NB—1) 7

Total (For 5 wickets in 91 overs) 256

Fall of wickets: 1—25, 2—45, 3—72, 4—180, 5—200

Bowling: I Sharma 18—4—58—0, U Yadav 16—5—48—0, P Ojha 29—8—58—3, R Ashwin 25—3—79—2, V Sehwag 2—0—5—0, Yuvraj Singh 1—0—2—0.

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Warne to turn out for Big Bash

Spin legend Shane Warne will turn out for Melbourne Stars in the upcoming Big Bash League, giving a huge boost to the Cricket Australia (CA)-organised Twenty20 competition.

Warne, 42, who retired from competitive cricket after this year's Indian Premier League, is now set to make a comeback that will see him return to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where he took his 700th Test wicket during the Boxing Day Test in 2006. Warne, however, has not played top-flight international cricket for Australia since helping his country to a clean sweep of the Ashes in January, 2007.

His presence amounts to a massive boon for the Stars and CA.

Sri Lanka gains upper hand

Sri Lanka removed Pakistan's openers early to gain the upper hand on the second day of the third and final cricket Test at Sharjah stadium here on Friday.

Sri Lanka, seeking a series-levelling win after losing the second Test by nine wickets in Dubai, removed Mohammad Hafeez (six) and Taufiq Umar (19) as Pakistan closed on 35 for two in reply to Lanka's first innings total of 413. The first Test in Abu Dhabi ended in a draw.

Pakistan looked shaky from the start as Hafeez was dismissed in the fifth over of the innings, edging an outgoing delivery from left-arm paceman Chanaka Welegedara to slip for Mahela Jayawardene to take a simple catch.

Left-arm spinner Rangana then struck in his third over, inducing Umar to come out of the crease and had him stumped by wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva, much to the disappointment of a holiday crowd of near 8,000 made up of Pakistan expats.

At close, Azhar was unbeaten on 10 and Younis Khan yet to get off the mark, as Pakistan still trails by 378 runs.

Earlier, Saeed Ajmal led Pakistan's fight-back, claiming four wickets, after Sri Lanka, well placed at 300 for the loss of three, lost five wickets in the space of 59 runs.

Sangakkara, who also crossed 9,000 Test runs during the innings, showed pleasure at helping the team. “My job is to keep scoring runs and every Test is a new challenge.”


Sri Lanka — 1st innings: T. Paranavitana c Younis b Gul 4, T. Dilshan c Younis b Ajmal 92, K. Sangakkara c Younis b Ajmal 144, M. Jayawardene lbw b Junaid 39, A. Mathews c Akmal b Rehman 17, K. Silva c Ali b Ajmal 39, K. Kulasekara lbw b Ajmal 15, S. Randiv lbw b Gul 1, D. Prasad c Akmal b Junaid 17, R. Herath (not out) 34, C. Welegedara b Gul 0; Extras (lb-5, nb-6): 11; Total (in 153.3 overs): 413.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-177, 3-261, 4-300, 5-304, 6-330, 7-331, 8-359, 9-413.

Pakistan bowling: Gul 29.3-10-76-3, junaid 27-4-94-2, Ajmal 51-4-132-4, Rehman 45-14-103-1, Hafeez 1-0-3-0.

Pakistan — 1st innings: M. Hafeez c Jayawardene b Welegedara 6, T. Umar st Silva b Herath 19, A. Ali (batting) 10, Younis (batting) 0; Total (for two wkts in 20 overs): 35.

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-35.

Sri Lanka bowling: Welegedara 5-1-11-1, Prasad 4-0-9-0, Kulasekara 3-0-14-0, Herath 5-4-1-1, Randiv 3-3-0-0.

Ganguly to appear for Bengal in Ranji match against Gujarat

Retired India skipper Sourav Ganguly would look to revive the glorious past of Bengal when they begin their Ranji Trophy Super League campaign at home against Gujarat on Thursday.

Known to be the face of East Zone, Bengal's record at the Ranji Trophy has been pathetic in the last few seasons.

The two-time Ranji winners reached the final way back in 2006-07 under coach Paras Mhambrey, but after his exit that coincided with a few in-form players' exodus to the rebel Indian Cricket League, Bengal lost in transition.

There had been experiment with coaches (Bharat Arun, Mohinder Amarnath) and captains alike at the top, but Bengal struggled to hit a purple patch at the highest level of domestic cricket, something that has been tormenting the cricket bosses of this zone.

Last season was no different. Bengal finished a disappointing sixth in their group with 12 points from seven matches that saw them concede a first innings lead to lowly Assam.

Winning the domestic Twenty20 tournament for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was the only solace for Bengal who have set a high goal under coach and former India left-hander WV Raman this time.

Inconsistency in batting had been Bengal's main let-down and the hosts will look to start well against the Parthiv Patel-led side.

Ganguly contributed little to Bengal's cause in his two match appearances, scoring just 20 runs and it remains to be seen how the state benefits from the 39-year-old retired India batsman, even as his inspirational presence is sure to motivate Manoj Tiwary and Co in the dressing room.

The former India skipper, who is now busy with commentary assignments, has assured the Bengal selectors that he would be available for the entire season, something that would also give match practice to the Pune Warriors cricketer before the Indian Premier League tournament.

Skipper Tiwary will once again be the most vital cog in their wheel with better international exposure.

Promising wicketkeeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha will be the one to watch out for, while all-rounder and former skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who hit a 250 last season, will form Bengal's batting mainstay along with Ganguly.

Bengal are likely to open with Arindam Das and Parthasarathi Bhattacharya, who is likely to be handed a Ranji debut.

Ranadeb Bose and Ashok Dinda will spearhead the pace attack, while off-spinner Saurashish Lahiri and leggie Iresh Saxena will form the core of spin attack.

Tiwary said, "We have to focus on the process first because that's the key to get results. Our aim will be on clinching three points first."

Bengal have been clubbed with Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Baroda in group B and with four home matches out of six, the team would look to notch up maximum in their backyard.

With the Eden track that was termed 'ugly' by India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni a bit on the slower side, Tiwary said a tinge of grass would have bound the wicket.

"Pitch as usual on the slower side, but a tinge of grass may bind the wicket. Home advantage is with us since we know the track better," Tiwary said.

Bengal will also have a psychological edge of getting three points against the same team in their last season's meeting.

Gujarat finished ahead of Bengal in last Ranji season and they would look to tread ways with caution before capitalising on the situation.

"The pitch is similar to the one used during the ODI here. It seems a bit slow. Still we do hope it will get better tomorrow morning," Parthiv said.

"All that we must ensure is playing good, consistent cricket for all four days. We have quite a few fresh faces in the side. Hope they come good."

He further added that they would be watchful of Ganguly's presence in the opponents' camp.

"With Ganguly featuring in this game, it will be a good experience though he is in the opposition camp. We may go in with two spinners but a final decision will be taken in the morning," said Parthiv.


Bengal: Manoj Tiwary (c), Wriddhiman Saha (vc & wk), Sourav Ganguly, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Arindam Das, Rohan Banerjee, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, Arindam Ghosh, Partha Sarathi Bhattacharjee, Ranadeb Bose, Ashok Dinda, Mohammad Sami Ahmed, Saurashish Lahiri, Iresh Saxena, Writam Porel, Anirban Gupta.

Gujarat: Parthiv Patel (c), Niraj Patel, Bhavik Thakar, Priyank Panchal, Rajdeep Darbar (wk), Amit Singh, Ishwar Chaudhary, Rikin Chauhan, Salil Yadav, Rujul Bhatt, Sunny Patel, Prathmesh Parmar, Mehul Patel, Jayesh Makla, Faizal Dudhat.

3 Pakistan Cricket Players and Agent Get Prison Terms in Fixing Case

 The judge in London’s monthlong cricket corruption trial imposed prison sentences Thursday on the four men involved, including a 30-month jail term for Salman Butt, the captain of Pakistan’s national team.

The longest term, 32 months, went to Mazhar Majeed, the agent for the three players sentenced. Butt’s teammate Mohammad Asif drew a one-year sentence, and another teammate, Mohammad Amir, received six months. Amir, 19, is to serve his time in a institution for young offenders.

The judge, Jeremy Cooke, who admonished the men for “the insidious effect of your actions on the international game,” said that if they behaved they would be released under supervision halfway through their sentences. He ordered the players to pay compensation toward the cost of their prosecution, with the highest sum, about $49,600, imposed on Butt.

The scene in Southwark Crown Court, close to the Thames in South London, was tense. Butt, 27, and Asif, 28, appeared stunned as the judge read out the sentences. Afterward, security guards led the men to their cells. The lawyer for Amir said his client planned to appeal.

The trial, which rocked the cricket world, centered on a sting operation conducted by the now-defunct News of the World newspaper during Pakistan’s tour of England in summer 2010. It followed years of suspicions that powerful gambling syndicates based on the Indian subcontinent were bribing players to fix parts of high-profile matches, or even to throw them entirely.

The case hinged on a secretly recorded meeting at a London hotel at which Majeed took £150,000 in marked notes, or about $240,000, from a reporter posing as an agent for the syndicates. The three players were found guilty of a scam that involved bowling three so-called no balls — foul deliveries — at predetermined points in a test match between Pakistan and England at Lord’s, the London ground that is the spiritual home of cricket.

Majeed also boasted at the meeting that he could fix matches involving Pakistan outright in return for about $1.6 million.

Much of the concern has focused on Pakistan’s national team, but a special corruption unit of the International Cricket Council, the Dubai-based governing body of the world game, has been investigating the possibility that other teams have been involved in similar scandals.

Cricket experts have said corruption has the capacity to destroy the game unless policing is expanded, perhaps to the extent of posting officials from the unit, which includes former police officers, at all top international matches.

Amir, 18 at the time of the match, entered a guilty plea to the corruption charges early in the trial, a fact that was sealed on Cooke’s orders until the trial’s resolution. At sentencing, Cooke, addressing Amir through an Urdu interpreter, said that in determining his punishment he had taken into account Amir’s age, his vulnerability to pressure from the older players and his plea. “It took courage,” he said, to plead guilty, according to a BBC account. “You come from a village background where life is hard.”

Earlier this year, the players were barred from all forms of cricket for five years by the International Cricket Council, which had conducted its own inquiry. Cooke said he took that into account in passing sentence, but some powerful figures in the game have said publicly that the punishment, especially in Butt’s case, should be reviewed in light of the evidence at the trial and extended to expulsion for life.

Cooke scolded Butt at the hearing, saying he deserved the heaviest sentence of the three players because the evidence showed that he was “the orchestrator of this thing.” Cooke also said Butt had done “a terrible thing” in corrupting Amir, who was regarded by many as a natural successor to the legendary fast bowlers in Pakistan’s past.

In 1992, Pakistan won the sport’s World Cup, and it has continued to be an international power. For many of the nation’s 170 million people, cricket has been a source of pride in a society plagued by a history of military coups and political corruption. Pakistan has also been accused by the United States of conniving with the Taliban in mounting suicide bombings.

Inevitably, cricket fans will compare the penalties imposed on Butt with the fate of Hanse Cronje, the former South African captain who until now had been the most prominent player caught in a corruption scandal.

In 2001, after a lengthy inquiry in South Africa into match-fixing between South Africa and India, Cronje was barred from the sport for life. He died the next year, at 32, in a plane crash in Johannesburg. Two other South African players were suspended for six months but later resumed their international careers.