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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sachin wants to break this record by an Indian

The Indian Master batsman Sachin Tendulkar made unbeaten record 200* and he took twenty years to make this. Tendulkar become a first cricketer to hit a double century in the four decade long history. He wants to break this record by an Indian.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Warne shuns cricket for poker

The unexpected was always the essential stock-in-trade of the Australian cricketer Shane Warne. His ability to deceive opposing batsmen through the arts of spin and flight had brought him 708 victims in five-day test matches - a record, at the time - when he retired from international cricket at the beginning of 2007, and he has shown the same ability to produce surprises off the pitch.

A few months ago, it was reported that he was considering invoking his mother’s ancestry and seeking a German passport, an ingenious device for making him a European Union citizen and sidestepping quotas governing the number of non-EU players in English county cricket, where he plays for and is captain of Hampshire.

Now comes the announcement that he has joined the professional poker circuit, signing with the online company to play in the World Series of Poker, starting in this week’s Aussie Millions tournament in his hometown, Melbourne.

Warne, 38, said that he expected to play in events in the United States, New Zealand, South Africa and Britain during 2008 and that he still had a great deal to learn about poker.

Not the least surprised appears to be Hampshire, which will lose him for part of its season. The club’s chairman, Rod Bransgrove, told the BBC: “We are confident he will be back, but it looks as if we will have to start the season with somebody else.” He will meet with Warne to discuss his schedule on Feb. 15.

Warne retains an unparalleled capacity for attracting off-field headlines. Lasting fame would be guaranteed by his cricketing feats alone. A supreme master of perhaps cricket’s most difficult discipline, slow bowling spun from the wrist, he revived this complex and subtle art from a point where, in the late 1980s, it had seemed close to extinction.

In 2000, a panel of experts convened by Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, the game’s annual reference work of record, voted him among the five most important players of the 20th century. He was the only current player, and the only specialist bowler, in the quintet.

Along with this, though, were the off-field escapades that cost him the one cricketing honor he coveted, the captaincy of Australia. In the midst of cricket’s match-fixing scandals, it was disclosed that he and another Australian player, Mark Waugh, had been disciplined after receiving money from a bookmaker.

In 2003, Warne was banned for a year after failing a drug test, saying he had taken a substance banned for its potential as a masking agent because he wanted to look slimmer on television. In a colorful personal life, a tendency to send raunchy text messages to his inamoratas has been a delight to the salacious British tabloid papers.

Warne has been quoted as saying that poker has a lot of similarities to cricket. On the face of it, he would seem too expressive of feature to conjure a successful poker face. One reason for Warne’s charisma as a performer has been that it is rarely hard to assess his feelings while he is playing.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Flip-flop continues on Dravid to open

The filp-flop over whether Rahul Dravid will open the innings versus Australia in the first Test in Melbourne continues.

But according to some reports Mr Dependable will get the nod as opener, along with Wasim Jaffer.

However, according to sources in the team, no final decision has yet been taken finally out.

Rahul Dravid will indeed open the innings alongside Wasim Jaffer in the Melbourne Test on Boxing Day.

That paves the way for the in-form Yuvraj Singh, while Virender Sehwag will have to sit out

The team management's decision to make Dravid open the innings in the three-day warm-up game against provincial side Victoria did send out the message that Virender Sehwag might not find a place in the side for the 1st Test.

Also there was a message about Yuvraj Singh to find a place in the playing XI.

According to the Indian team's media manager though, no final decision has been taken on whether Dravid will be asked to open the innings.

Dravid has opened in 13 innings before this, and he has an average of 33 in that position. That includes 2 hundreds, both of which came during India's tour of Pakistan last year.

That in fact is the last time Dravid opened the innings.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Test of temperament

Playful banter and jelly beans cause a flap at Trent Bridge

There's only so much self-flagellation you can take, so it was a relief to escape the woe-is-us bloodletting of the Tour de France with a trip to Trent Bridge for the second Test match against India. In contrast to the repeated revelations of cycling's iniquity, there was something decidedly wholesome about Nottingham's cricket ground. Perhaps it's because the stadium is so well designed - its modern stands manage to feel just as homely as its 19th-century pavilion, and there's none of the jostling you get at larger-capacity grounds. Perhaps it's because of the family atmosphere, with spectators self-editing their chants for good taste. Perhaps it's because Trent Bridge only sells wine in 175ml bottles, and so, at £3 a pop, getting drunk is rather an extravagance.

And yet . . . et in Arcadia ego. Cricket is no stranger to controversy, and by mid-afternoon we were in the middle of a full-blown confrontation, involving an Indian player, both umpires and the England captain. I won't spoil the surprise, but suffice it to say this was a diplomatic incident involving performance-enhancing substances being consumed on the pitch, not to mention a flagrant breach of health and safety laws.

While most sports bemoan the influence of drugs, thugs and bungs, cricket usually gets its knickers in a twist about other things, such as a dodgy lbw decision, or a bloke falling out of a pedalo. Last year Pakistan forfeited an entire Test match because they felt their honour had been impugned, in a gesture that managed to be both admirable and utterly laughable at the same time. Maybe because it's a game stretched over such epic time frames, cricket has always refused a sense of perspective. A decade ago it was captains causing uproar because they hadn't shaved, and stewards refusing to let you into pavilions without a blazer or a penis. (Happily, they've modernised, and now you just need the blazer.) Today, it's pompous Tannoy announcements at the start of every session, reminding spectators that any intrusion into the playing area carries a £1,000 fine and possible prosecution - a point re-emphasised by the security men who stand guard around the wicket, their black suits and earpieces suggesting that any violation will be met with a loaded .38 pressed to your neck.

Anyway, back to the incident. Towards the end of a beautiful day, Zaheer Khan, one of India's less competent batsmen, made his way to the crease. He asked for his mark, faced one ball, then turned and walked straight for the slip cordon, where he started shaking his bat angrily at England's Kevin Pietersen. Now, I wouldn't put it beyond Pietersen to get up someone's nose just by being there, although the papers reported the next day that Pietersen had been giving Zaheer a few unwelcome words of batting advice.

But the truth was much darker. According to Graham Gooch, the England team had been - quite openly - ingesting high-energy sugar lozenges, known on the street as jelly beans, and one of the players had left some on a good length as a little welcome present for Zaheer. Naturally shocked and offended, Zaheer remonstrated fiercely and called the umpires over to complain. One of the jelly beans was impounded as evidence. (Probably.)

By the way, a final thought on the Tour de France: why did cycling commentators sound so surprised that the Tour had hit yet another low? They need to revisit King Lear: "The worst is not/So long as we can say, 'This is the worst.'"

Buffoonery over brilliance

A small Indian contingent waited outside the dressing room for several hours after India had sealed the second Test at Trent Bridge. As the cricketers celebrated with beer and bhangra indoors, the fans frolicked with drums, flags and posters outside. Glimpses of their heroes were met with loud cheers; anyone within earshot was mobbed.

Amid the frenzy, Sreesanth emerged. Almost no one took the initial step of greeting him; one young man even sniggered, "Don't approach that fellow, he might hit you." It took a pleasant smile from Sreesanth to break the ice, following which he obliged with autographs and photos. He was so charming that one young girl asked, "Sreesanth, are you nice only when you wear your glasses?"

And therein lies the single biggest paradox in the Indian team at the moment - Sreesanth's normalcy off the field compared to his maniacal instincts on it. Nobody, not even the bowler himself, knows which Sreesanth is going to take the field on any given day. Very rarely has India seen match-winning potential and extreme buffoonery combine so explosively. When it comes off, like at the Wanderers last year, it makes for gripping theatre; other times, like at Trent Bridge, it's slapstick.

Sreesanth baffles. Before the start of the fourth day of this second Test, he spent 15 minutes asking the groundsman to clear up the footholds at the Pavilion end. When play began, he was running in from the Radcliffe Road end. A high-velocity beamer, a huge front-foot no-ball and a shoulder-barge capped a wretchedly erratic spell. But he still conjured up gems amid the rubbish. When least expected, a perfectly pitched away-swinger would beat the bat; another would hustle the batsman. Like some random number generator, one ball in ten would surprise.

What Sreesanth could have done with was some introspection. Here was an ideal chance to play second fiddle, an opportunity to sustain the pressure at one end while Zaheer Khan got aggressive at the other. Had Sreesanth made the batsmen play more often, it was he who had the better chance of taking wickets, what with them trying to see out Zaheer at the other end. Instead he turned showman, waiting for the cameras to focus on him, and responding to a few sledges from the crowd. "I think he has a great example in Zaheer," said Rahul Dravid at the end of the match. "Zaheer has been as aggressive as anyone, without going over the top - just performing and getting wickets."

Coming from a state that's a cricketing backwater, Sreesanth was bound to be overawed by all the attention. Three years back he was a first-change bowler for Kerala in the second division of the Ranji Trophy; now he's expected to win Test matches. It's a gigantic leap and one that few 24-year-olds can achieve seamlessly. There's a lesson for Sreesanth to learn from Tinu Yohannan, his predecessor from Kerala who managed just three Tests, unable to cope with the expectations. India cannot afford to lose another talented youngster as they did the likes of Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Sadanand Viswanath, Maninder Singh and Vinod Kambli.

So how does the team get the best out of him? A rap on the knuckles is an easy short-term solution but here is a young lad who needs careful handling. Greg Chappell, it is learned, knew how to deal with him - coaxing and admonishing in equal measure.

Team-mates have in the past been exasperated with Sreesanth's "naatak" (theatrics) but acknowledge that he is a vital member of the side. The good thing is, he has been talking to India's bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad, who rarely bowled a ball in anger during his playing days - except once, when taunted by Aamer Sohail in a high-pressure World Cup quarter-final. "It's a concern," said Prasad when asked about Sreesanth's on-field antics, "but we're trying to tell him not to cross the line. We need to respect the game and the rules. He needs to focus on his cricket rather than the other stuff."

Dinesh Karthik, one of Sreesanth's closest friends in the team, will no doubt understand his situation, having struggled to come to terms with international cricket when he was first picked, before returning far more assured. A chat with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, another superstar from a traditionally non-cricketing state, could help. Seeking out an elder statesman like Anil Kumble, a highly aggressive yet unassuming bowler, wouldn't be out of place either. Nobody is asking Sreesanth to mellow down - in fact he needs all the aggression he can summon - but more channelising, and less Bollywood, will be the way to go.

Candy upstages cricket

To be successful as an international sportsman, a certain degree of arrested development is undoubtedly a useful character trait. After all, any profession that requires you to "play" for a living is best left to those who still giggle at fart jokes and delight in the delinquency of dressing-room humour. But at Trent Bridge this week, England's cricketers were left looking rather childish, after an incident involving jelly beans that has become the talk of the tabloids.

"It's not the reason we've lost a game of cricket, because of some jelly beans," said England's captain, Michael Vaughan, but his protestations were falling on deaf ears. Not since Dean Jones demanded that Curtly Ambrose remove his wristbands during a one-day international in 1992-93 has something so innocuous roused such a vehement response. Fuelled by a sense of righteous indignation, Zaheer Khan swung the second new ball both ways at will to cut England's batting to ribbons, and set his side up for a famous win.

There was more to the story of course. England lost a crucial toss and were ambushed on a damp first-innings track, and to compound that misfortune, India's batsmen responded with the sort of unilateral determination of which few of their followers believed they were capable. And then, when Vaughan himself was threatening to charm the initiative back to his team, he was bowled freakishly off his thigh pad - a moment of misfortune that India's fans might argue was karma, given the controversial dismissals of both Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

All in all, it added up to a classic no-holds-barred Test match - a contest from first day to last, and one that bloomed like a lotus flower on that magnificent fourth afternoon. And yet, all that mattered in the aftermath was the saga of the sugar-coated candy, which perhaps says more about the attention span of the average news consumer than the cricketers who've been vilified for their actions.

On an American news channel recently, the anchorwoman Mika Brzezinski first refused to read, then burned and finally shredded the day's lead story - Paris Hilton's release from jail, which had been given precedence over a major political development. India's fifth victory in 75 years of Test cricket in England has similarly been shunted down the pecking order.

"It's all been blown out of proportion," said Vaughan. "I know it's a great story, but the guys eat jelly beans, jelly babies and chewing gum for energy out in the middle. A few were brought on at the drinks break, and one or two might have been left on the floor as a prank for the new batsman. If we offended Zaheer in any way, we apologise, but there were no jelly beans thrown from the slip cordon, they were just left there. Again it's not the reason we've lost a game of cricket."

Vaughan looked rather embarrassed at the barrage of questions, and even refused to answer one query as to the exact significance of the "prank". Either way, the saga rather undermined England's tough-nut image that Matt Prior had attempted to portray on Sunday evening.

"It's important to have 11 people hunting together on the pitch," he said, "creating an intensity and an environment that's uncomfortable for people to bat in." Somehow, peppering the opposition with boiled sweets doesn't give off the same aura that you'd find in an Australian slip cordon.

Images of Zaheer brandishing his bat in the direction of Kevin Pietersen were flashed around the world over the weekend, but in the manner of his bowling, as well as his emphatically humourless reaction afterwards, Zaheer emerged with every ounce of the dignity that he had laid on the line during the incident. "I just felt it was insulting," he said. "I'm here to play cricket."

His captain, Rahul Dravid, was delighted with the net result, and tweaked England's embarrassment ever further. "If he's going to perform like this, can we please get him upset after every game!" he said. "I've never seen him as fired up. He came into the dressing-room really keyed up, so please, if you're going to upset our boys, and they're going to perform like this, I'll be more than happy."

And yet, if England's childishness (or "mental disintegration" as Vaughan would dearly love to be able to call it) was seen to backfire on one of India's players, then it arguably scored a direct hit on another. Sreesanth, the breakdancing bundle of energy from Kerala, had a shocking Test match. Teased for his apparent resemblance to Harry Potter while batting, he bowled like one of Voldemort's stooges - ineffective, erratic and at times downright ugly. He sent Pietersen, the object of India's ire, crashing to the turf with a whistling beamer, and then aimed a vicious bouncer at Collingwood after overstepping by almost a metre.

"I hope to God that wasn't meant to be," said Vaughan. "He's young and a really good talent, but I don't see how you can be bowling a two-foot-over-the-line no-ball. It's a tactic that could be used in most games, and it's something we don't want to see." Dravid, for his part, said that Sreesanth would be taken to one side and that the matter would be dealt with internally.

"Sree is a talented bowler, but he's young and very excitable. He's going to learn along the way, and it's part of our responsibility to see that he learns."

Sreesanth may have emerged from a fiery match with a 50% fine, but India emerged with a precious 1-0 lead, and when all the jellybeans have been done and digested, that tasty fact will remain. "We lost this match because we didn't get enough runs in tricky conditions," said Vaughan, in a vain attempt to keep the cricket at the centre of the attention. Had England taken that attitude a few days' earlier, they still might not have averted defeat, but they'd have done away with the embarrassment.

Resurgence of Indian Cricket

I've been reading articles and people's comments on the last test match and how Indian cricket is on the up again, I think people are getting a little bit carried away.

I think that there should not be to much read in to the last test, India won a "very very" favourable toss, England played very under par on day one and landed themselves in it.

We'll see a repeat of the Lords Test at the Oval except this time we wont let India off the hook.

What do others think?