Australia beat Sri Lanka to win third straight title

Sunday, April 29, 2007

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Australia won an unprecedented third straight title and fourth overall when they beat Sri Lanka by 53 runs under Duckworth & Lewis method in the rain-curtailed final of the World Cup 2007 here at the Kensington Oval on Saturday.

They earlier won the cricket’s mega event in 1999 and 2003, having also won the World Cup in 1987. It was also their fourth successive appearance in the final, having been beaten by Sri Lanka in 1996.

Sri Lanka played their second World Cup final following their win 11 years ago.

This was the ninth World Cup final since its inception in 1975, and the first staged in the Caribbean.

The match was reduced to 38 overs a side because of rain and after winning the toss, captain Ricky Ponting decided to bat in wet conditions. Openers Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist put on a huge 172 for the first wicket in just 22.5 overs before Hayden fell after giving a fine support to his partner with a patient 38 off 55 balls. He was caught by skipper Mahela Jayawardene off Lasith Malinga.

On the other end, vice-captain Gilchrist continued the onslaught and completed his fifty from 43 balls and his 15th ODI hundred off 72 balls. He added another 52 with his captain for the second wicket.

However, Gilchrist’s hurricane innings came to an end when he pulled a short-length ball from Dilhara Fernando only to get a top edge and Chamara Silva took a good catch at short mid- wicket. His blazing 149 came from 104 balls with the help of 13 fours and eight sixes.

This was the highest individual score in a World Cup final. The previous record was 140 not out by Ponting against India at Johannesburg in the 2003 World Cup final.

Gilchrist also reached the 9000-run mark in One-day International career. He is the second Australian after Ricky Ponting and the 11th batsman overall to reach this milestone.

Later, Ponting was run out at the score of 261. He made 37 off 42 balls. Five runs later, Shane Watson was clean bowled by Malinga.

However, Australia finished 281 for four at the end of the 38th over. Andrew Symonds was not out at 23 from 21 balls and Michael Clarke at eight runs.

Malinga claimed two wickets for 49 and Dlihara Fernando took one wicket at a high cost of 74 runs.

Chasing a rather difficult target, Sri Lanka lost their opener Upul Tharanga in only the third over but veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya and wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sanagakkara played sensibly and gradually accelerated the score. Both completed their fifties and added 116 runs for the second wicket before Sangakkara fell to Brad Hogg for 54. This was his 40th fifty in 200 ODIs and, in all, he faced 54 balls and hit six fours and one six.

Later, Jayasuriya was bowled by Clarke and with this Sri Lanka lost the hope of winning the title.Jayasuriya, in his final appearance in the World Cup he was playing since 1996, scored 63 off 67 balls with nine fours. This was his 64th fifty in 390 matches, already a record of the most ODI appearances. He also became only the second player after India’s Sachin Tendulkar to make 12000 runs in One-day International cricket.

Then another short rain interruption revised the target to 269 in 36 overs. But wickets were falling at regular intervals. They were 206 for seven in 33 overs when bad lights stopped play and Australia thinking the match had been called off began celebrating the victory. But umpire Aleem Dar asked the players to resume the game in the dark to complete the remaining three overs.

However, Sri Lanka finished on 215 for eight to lose the final by 53 runs under D/L rule.Ponting tried seven bowlers, all were among the wickets except Shaun Tait. Michael Clarke was the most successful bowler with two for 33.

Adam Gilchrist was declared the man-of-the-match and Glenn McGrath was adjudged the man-of-the-tournament in his final One-day International as the ninth edition of the World Cup ended with colourful celebrations at the ground.


Pakistan restricts Asif and Gul from county contracts

Sunday, April 22, 2007

KARACHI (Reuters) - The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has decided not to allow pace bowlers Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul to accept contracts with English counties this year, an official said on Wednesday.
"The bowlers have faced fitness problems and it hit the performance of the team. For the moment we have told them not to accept any contracts," Zakir Khan, director of cricket operations, told Reuters.
Gul, 24, had a contract offer from Gloucestershire while Asif, who missed the World Cup with an elbow injury, had previously played for Leicestershire.
Zakir said a decision on allowing other players to appear for English county sides had not been taken as yet.
Younis Khan is signed up to play for Yorkshire while leg-spinner Danish Kaneria is due to play for Essex.
"The board is in the process of finalising a comprehensive international and domestic programme after the World Cup. We want all our pacers fit and available," Zakir said.
Pakistan were knocked out of the World Cup in the first round after losing to West Indies and Ireland


Pakistan looking at John Wright as next coach

Pakistan's cricket authorities have turned to New Zealander John Wright as a possible replacement for coach Bob Woolmer, who died during the World Cup.

Sources in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) told Reuters that some discussions had been held with Wright, 52, to find out if he would be interested in coaching the national side.

"Wright's response was good. The board is also looking at another foreigner, Tim Boon, coach of Leicestershire, as a possible candidate," one source said on Thursday.

The PCB on Thursday named all-rounder Shoaib Malik as captain until the end of the year and former test player, Talat Ali, as manager for two years but did not announce a replacement for Woolmer.

Woolmer, the former England player, was coach from 2004 until March 18 this year when he was pronounced dead in hospital in Jamaica a day after Pakistan lost to debutants Ireland and were eliminated from the World Cup in the first round.

His death is being treated by Jamaican police as murder.

Pakistan also had a foreign coach, Briton Richard Pybus, in the 2003 World Cup when they did not progress beyond the first round.

"The reason the board has delayed naming a new coach is because it is still looking at several candidates some of them foreigners," the source said.

He said Wright, who was coach of the Indian team from 2000 to 2005, was a strong candidate followed by Boon who was video analyst with the England team during their 2005 Ashes win over Australia.

Boon has also been England's under-19 coach and of South African provincial side, Natal.
"The name of Boon has been recommended by someone in the England and Wales Cricket Board," the source said.

Former Pakistan test pacer, Aaqib Javed,


Shoaib Malik likely to be named captain

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shoaib Malik has emerged as the leading candidate for the Pakistan captaincy after discussions between Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials over the weekend. An official announcement on the decision is expected in the next two to three days.
The appointment, if Malik agrees, is likely to be till September, when the situation will be reviewed again ahead of a hectic international season that includes a full series in India and a home series against Australia.
The discussions centred on Malik and Salman Butt but it was narrowed down to the former as Butt currently does not hold down a place in either the Test or ODI sides. "In principle, a decision has been taken to offer it to Malik. There isn't really another suitable candidate around," one official told Cricinfo.
"We have a few assignments in the pipeline over the summer. There may be a series against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi and a match in England so we are talking about Malik for that. We will review the situation in September, ahead of the home season," he added.
Nasim Ashraf, chairman PCB, refused to confirm or deny that Malik would be offered the captaincy but said that a decision was imminent. "No decision has been taken yet," Ashraf told Cricinfo. "We will make the decision in the next two to three days."
Whoever does become the captain, Ashraf added, would take charge of both the Test and ODI sides and is likely to be appointed, initially, on a series-by-series basis. "We will have one captain for both. I think in Pakistan cricket, it is advisable to have one leader in charge of both sides.
"Initially the appointment will be on a series-by-series basis. But eventually, before the India tour later this year, we will make a longer-term appointment," he added.
Though Malik has only played 18 Tests, in a number of different positions in the order, he has been earmarked for leadership by a number of people over the last two years, including Bob Woolmer. He has, however, become a vital cog in Pakistan's ODI outfit and has been among the most consistent batsmen for Pakistan in that form of the game since 2004.
There is a concern that senior players might not so readily accept a younger player as captain but at least Mohammad Yousuf, who said recently he was willing to become captain if it was offered, has sought to play down those fears. "If the PCB wants to appoint a junior player as the future captain, I absolutely have no issue with it", he told reporters on Monday.
"I have never been greedy. I want to serve my country, whether as captain or as an ordinary player, that's enough honour for me."
Younis Khan was originally in place to take over as captain after Inzamam-ul-Haq's resignation and retirement from ODIs, but he turned down the offer citing the mental strain of taking on one of cricket's toughest jobs


PCB appoints selection committee

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced a new, three-man professional selection committee to be headed by Salahuddin Mulla Ahmed, a veteran selector. The other members of the committee are Shafqat Rana, also a previous member, and former Test left-arm fast bowler Saleem Jaffar.
Ahmed has been on the selection committee no less than 13 times before this latest tenure, on various occasions between 1979 and 1999 and has also headed the committee before. Rana has been on three previous committees in 1983-84, 1984-85 and 1994-95.
Jaffar, who is currently coach of the Sind team in the Pentangular Cup 2007, told Cricinfo that having seen the players from Sind region, he has a fair idea of how much talent lies in the province.
"It is a huge responsibility and requires an awful lot of sincerity and devotion. I've seen whole domestic season this year and have been involved with the players directly. And with that experience, I will try and bring out the talent I have witnessed over the past few months," he said.
Additionally, a new selection policy has also been finalised by the board. For any home series, the selection committee will choose the final playing XI after consultation with the captain. For away tours, the committee will select the squad after consultation with the captain, while the final playing XI will be decided by a tour selection committee which includes the manager, coach, captain and vice-captain.
The decision to enhance the influence of selectors in practice is thought to be the result of the experiences of the last selection committee, headed by Wasim Bari, which resigned after the World Cup. Bari and his team were widely perceived to have little or no influence with captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and as their relationship worsened, the captain's hold over selectorial matters was said to be total.
The board experimented with the idea of sending a selector on tour with the team to have a greater say in team matters but that idea appears to have been dropped under the new policy.
The committee will be responsible for selecting the national team as well as the 'A' teams. A separate panel to look after junior teams is expected to be announced within the next few days as well.
A new captain for both Test and ODI sides is also set to be announced this week, while Pakistan are also looking at hiring a new coach.


Not worthy of captaincy, thinking to retire from one-day: Younus

Friday, April 13, 2007

KARACHI: Pakistan cricket vice captain, Younus Khan, discarding the offer of captaincy, has expressed his intention to take the retirement from the one-day cricket also after a month or two.

Younus Khan said that his performance in the World Cup was not worthy of his taking over the captaincy. Besides, he has informed the PCB that he was mulling over taking retirement for one-day cricket after one/two months. He said that the test cricket was the real cricket.

Younus Khan told that the PCB offering him captaincy with full authority had said that the new and stable selection committee would also be constituted. However, he said that he has refused to accept this offer, but he was thankful to the PCB for considering him for this coveted position, he added. He said that the way the team failing in the World Cup was welcomed on its return hurt him most.

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