Archive for Category: Sports
At last, the 2nd test victory for Bangladesh, after a long waiting. In the end what was refreshing for the cricket-loving people in the country was that a set of young cricketers under a new leader didn’t succumb to untoward pressure in Kingstown, St. Vincent to bring more trouble for them after their poor showing in the five-day game.
Four years and six months after their first Test win, Bangladesh sealed a historic second victory when they beat West Indies by 95 runs in St Vincent. Bangladesh’s spin twins Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah weaved a tantalising web to consign a weakened West Indies to defeat. The only resistance came from David Bernard, who defied everything thrown at him for 134 balls to remain unbeaten on 52.
The champagne moment arrived at 4.40 pm local time when Shakib, the stand-in captain, nailed last man Tino Best in front with a dipping full toss with only ten overs left in the day. Best put up his bat as if to suggest he had edged it but the finger was up and the Bangladeshi fielders converged in a huddle of joy, soon joined by a limping Mashrafe Mortaza.
It was an enthralling last couple of sessions in a beautiful setting, the Kingstown stadium ringed by the sea. The cricket was almost sub-continental in its elements. Spinners operated with several close-in men prowling near the batsmen waiting for a mistake, and an over-excited chirpy wicketkeeper, Mushfiqur Rahim, applying immense pressure on the batsmen and the umpires with his appeals exclamations. And when the seamers came on, it wasn’t seam but reverse swing on view with the slinging Rubel Hossain and the grunting Shahadat Hossain trying their best to break through.
The plot thickened in the last session, as Bernard found a willing partner in Nikita Miller, suggesting a replay of Cardiff, where England pulled off a great escape on Sunday. But Mohammad Ashraful, who failed in both innings with the bat, stamped his presence on the game by removing Miller, who’d stayed on his back foot to defend stoutly for 54 balls, with one that straightened to get the edge. Mahmudullah returned to trap Ryan Austin and take out Kemar Roach before Shakib sealed the finish.
Until then, Bernard had proved to be a huge headache to the visitors, standing solidly between them and history. His CV describes him as a stylish batsman but today he added grit to the existing grace. Despite the tremendous pressure, he managed to bat with some elegance, using his wrists to ride the turn and bounce on the final-day wicket. While the rest pushed hard at the ball, he played with soft hands and defended confidently.
The contest with Shakib was top-notch, with the bowler shifting angles and trying everything in his arsenal - left-arm breaks, straighter one, arm-ball, round-arm delivery, over and round-the-wicket - to beat a batsman batting in the zone. He moved forward or back, as the length demanded of him, using his wrists to drop the ball down short of the fielders. When the spin noose tightened, he had the courage to play the pressure-relieving strokes like the lofted drives and the cuts. He survived a close lbw shout in the 44th over against Shakib when a ball straightened to hit the pad in front of the stumps but, that blemish apart, he was pretty solid.
However, Shakib and Mahmudullah ensured no other batsmen would deny them a slice of history. Shakib, hailed by the former Australian spinner Kerry O’ Keefe as the “best finger spinner in the world”, turned in a suffocating spell of left-arm spin to relentlessly force the pressure on West Indies. Shakib was slightly slow through the air in the first innings and couldn’t pose too many problems on a slow track. Today, though, he ripped it slightly quicker and immediately looked threatening. He varied his pace, even his angle, by lowering the arm on occasion and, unsurprisingly, was the better of the two spinners, despite finishing with fewer wickets. He occasionally got the ball to straighten and slipped in a few with the arm.
In his first over Shakib harassed Omar Phillips before going past an attempted sweep to trap the batsman. Later, after Darren Sammy and Bernard had added 37 in 11.3 overs, he struck, removing Sammy with a little bit of help from the batsman. Suddenly, against the run of play and just before tea, Sammy jumped out and sliced an ambitious square drive straight to point.
Even when he was not taking wickets, Shakib kept the pressure on and by keeping the batsmen on a leash, allowed Mahmudullah the space to wreak some damage. At one point in the chase the keeper Rahim shouted out to Mahmudullah: “Just keep hitting the right areas; the pitch will take care of the rest”. Mahmudullah did exactly that to pick up three quick wickets after lunch before he returned to take another two in the last session. He increased the pressure with his accuracy and made the batsmen play at every ball. It paid off - and how.
Floyd Reifer, who was tormented by Shakib, showed himself to be a prime lbw candidate. Time and again, that front leg was pressed dangerously across but he managed to stab and jab his way out against Shakib. But Mahmudullah finally broke through with one that landed and straightened to strike that front leg. His next victim was Travis Dowlin, inducing a nervous prod straight to short-leg. Chadwick Walton walked in and started off with a second-ball six but was done in by one that kept low from Mahmudullah and was struck in front of the leg stump.
The slide had started with a moment of madness from the opener Dale Richards who added 20 runs in two overs before he had a brain freeze. He ambled out of the crease after being hit on the pad by Shahadat Hossain, all the while looking anxiously at the umpire for the verdict on the lbw appeal, which went in his favour, but was run out by a direct hit. That allowed Bangladesh the opening and they stormed through.
When the day started, it looked as if Bangladesh were dawdling with the bat and not showing enough urgency to either go for quick runs or leave many overs as possible to bowl out West Indies. However, Darren Sammy took a five-for to bowl them out and that proved a blessing in hindsight as it allowed their spinners enough time to bowl them to a euphoric triumph.
Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh allrounder, is the first player up for sale from Pool F.
There were no bids for him initially but just before the hammer went down, Kolkata made a bid at the base price of $50,000. It was the start of the most dramatic sale at the auction.
Kings XI Punjab entered the race, competing against Kolkata, for Mortaza. The bids spiralled slowly towards $400,000 and the auctioneer asked Punjab if they want to go $410,000, Priety Zinta nodded. The raises were slow and the bidding went on and on and on. Kolkata touched the $500,00 mark. Punjab went further at $550,000. The atmosphere in the room grew quieter as the bids rose and the auctioneer attempted to speed up the process. Kolkata was the first to bid $600,000 for Mortaza at which point Punjab bowed out of the race. It was the longest lot in the auction, almost as long as a short chess game. Kolkata’s purchase of Mortaza was a bit similar to Ishant Sharma’s surprise $950,000 tag at end of the auction last year. It is a 1100% appreciation from base price for Mortaza, beating the 575% for Ishant Sharma last year.
Bet there are celebrations in Narail, Mortaza’s hometown. What a moment for Mortaza, he’s the first Bangladesh player to be bought at the IPL auction this year. Wonder what Shakib is thinking? He’s had such a fabulous year with bat and ball and yet there were no bidders for him. Do the franchises look at ICC rankings? Mortaza’s base price was $50,000 and he went for $600,000. I think I missed out England allrounder Samit Patel who was on sale in the previous pool. He remained unsold.
There are ten players in Pool E. Tamim Iqbal, the Bangladesh opener, is the first player from the pool up for sale. His bidding starts at $50,000 but there are no bidders. All the Bangladesh players - Shakib, Ashraful and Tamim - have not been bought.
Australia have named their Twenty20 International and One Day International squads to play South Africa with an eye on the future.
Veteran opener Matthew Hayden has been left out with David Warner and Ryan Harris coming into the Twenty20 squad while Shaun Tait has been recalled to the ODI squad. “The announcement of these squads for the KFC Twenty20 Internationals and the Commonwealth Bank Series is a clear indication we are now in full-scale planning for the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 and the 2011 ICC World Cup,” chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch commented. “Winning a fourth consecutive ICC World Cup and our first ICC Twenty20 title is an ambitious project. For this reason there will be very few players selected from this point that we can not see playing a role in achieving this goal.
“The omission of Matthew Hayden from the KFC Twenty20 and Commonwealth Bank Series squads is not a reflection on his performances in the recent Test series but rather a strategic decision made by the National Selection Panel as we plan for these signature events. His possible selection for the upcoming tour of South Africa will be discussed as with all players when we select a squad after the round of interstate matches at the beginning of February.”
Mitchell Johnson has been rested while Michael Clarke will sit out the Twenty20 Internationals after sustaining ligament damage to his right thumb in the final Test in Sydney.
Long-term injury had already ruled out Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds and Shane Watson. The first Twenty20 takes place in Melbourne on January 11th before the first of five One Day Internationals is held on January 16th, also in Melbourne.
Australia Twenty20 squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Mike Hussey (vice-captain), Nathan Bracken, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, David Hussey, Shaun Marsh, Shaun Tait, David Warner, Cameron White
Australia ODI squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Nathan Bracken, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Shaun Tait, Cameron White
Source: Cricket World 2009
South Africa, who lost the opening match in Melbourne by 52 runs, make three changes to the line-up with Hashim Amla and Morne Morkel also selected.
Amla replaces Jacques Kallis at the top of the order and Morkel replaces Makhaya Ntini while Parnell is in the side at the expense of Melbourne debutant Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
“It was always our plan to give every player in the squad at least one match,” explained coach Mickey Arthur. “We will certainly need to continue rotating the bowlers at the least in the ODIs,” added Arthur.
“There is a lot of cricket coming up when we get home for the return series against Australia and we must take the anticipated workload of the bowlers into account and make sure that they are fresh and ready to go.”
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Mark Boucher, Albie Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Johan Botha (captain), Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn.