Saturday, June 7, 2008

Squads For Trination Tournament 2008


Mohammad Ashraful (c) Mashrafe Mortaza (vc)
Abdur Razzak Alok Kapali
Dolar Mahmud Farhad Reza
Mahmudullah Mehrab Hossain jnr
Mushfiqur Rahim (wk) Nazimuddin
Raqibul Hasan Shahadat Hossain
Shahriar Nafees Tamim Iqbal
Aftab Ahmed Dhiman Ghosh
Junaid Siddique Mosharraf Hossain
Rubel Hossain


MS Dhoni Yuvraj Singh (vc)
Piyush Chawla Gautam Gambhir
Praveen Kumar Pragyan Ojha
Irfan Pathan Yusuf Pathan
Suresh Raina Virender Sehwag
Ishant Sharma Rohit Sharma
RP Singh Sreesanth
Robin Uthappa


Shoaib Malik (c) Misbah-ul-Haq (vc)
Bazid Khan Fawad Alam
Iftikhar Anjum Kamran Akmal (wk)
Mohammad Yousuf Nasir Jamshed
Naumanullah Salman Butt
Shahid Afridi Sohail Khan
Sohail Tanvir Umar Gul
Wahab Riaz Younis Khan

Pakistan favourites against familiar opponents

Will Sohail Tanvir have another standout tournament ...

Match facts

Sunday, June 8
Start time 15.00 (local), 9.00 (GMT)

The Big Picture

The tournament opener between Pakistan and Bangladesh will be the sixth time the teams are playing each other in the last two months. Bangladesh had toured Pakistan for five one-dayers in April, a series that the hosts won 5-0. Though Pakistan will be expected to win tomorrow, beating Bangladesh at home may not be as easy.

While the rest of the world was besotted with the IPL, the Bangladesh players have spent their time training and trying to rectify individual weaknesses. Jamie Siddons, their Australian coach, said the practice sessions couldn't have gone better. Whether their outstanding practice will translate into a match-winning performance remains to be seen.

In such a short tournament, the result of every match is vital. The team that loses on Sunday will most likely have to depend on a three-way tie, unless rain intervenes, to progress to the finals. In such a scenario, the challenge for Pakistan's players, many of whom featured in the IPL, is to readjust their playing styles from Twenty20 to one-day mode.

Form guide - Bangladesh

Last five matches: LLLLL (most recent first)

Player to watch: Despite Mohammad Ashraful's woefully inconsistent performances, he remains Bangladesh's brightest batting talent. His recent form has been poor - 416 runs in his last 20 innings - but coach Jamie Siddons says he's been working on a new cut shot to play at deliveries he used to let go.

Form guide - Pakistan

Last five matches: WWWWW (most recent first)

Player to watch: Sohail Khan, Mohammad Asif's replacement in the squad, picked up a record 91 wickets during the Pakistan domestic season, his first. He made his debut against Zimbabwe earlier this year and has taken four wickets in three ODIs. Also watch out for Pakistan's biggest IPL flops - Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi.

Team news

Bangladesh have left out top-order batsman Nazimuddin and allrounder Mehrab Hossain jnr from their XII for tomorrow's match, while uncapped Dolar Mahmud may have to wait on the sidelines.

Bangladesh (probable): 1. Tamim Iqbal, 2 Shahriar Nafees, 3 Mohammad Ashraful (capt), 4 Raqibul Hasan, 5 Alok Kapali, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza, 9 Farhad Reza, 10 Abdur Razzak, 11 Shahadat Hossain.

Pakistan have plenty of new players in their squad but they are likely to go with the tried and tested. Fawad Alam, the left-arm spinner and batsman, may get a look in if the pitch is on the slower side.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Salman Butt, 2 Kamran Akmal (wk), 3 Younis Khan, 4 Mohammad Yousuf, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Shoaib Malik (capt), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Fawad Alam, 9 Iftikhar Anjum, 10 Sohail Tanvir, 11 Umar Gul.

... or will Bangladesh pull off an upset?

Pitch & conditions

The pitch is expected to be slow and Ashraful said a total of around 250 would be competitive. The weather, however, is a concern with June marking the start of the monsoon. It has been raining over the last week but on the eve of the match it remained largely dry, although dark clouds meant the pitch and outfield were kept under wraps.

Stats and trivia

  • Shahid Afridi had a dud of an IPL, averaging 10.12 with the bat. With no specialist spinner in the side, Pakistan, though, will rely on his bowling - he had picked up 12 wickets at 16.33 apiece in the five-ODI series at home against the same opposition.

  • Bangladesh's batting is weakened by the absence of Shakib Al Hasan, who's gearing up for academic examinations. Shakib was their leading run-getter in Pakistan, and even scored a fighting 108 in the loss in Multan.

  • Salman Butt amassed 451 runs in the home series, and would be looking to punish the Bangladesh bowlers yet again.


    "Obviously my performance in the IPL was really good. I want to carry the success to this tri-series to cement my place in the team. I recently started playing for the country. It is a big responsibility. I am improving day by day."
    Sohail Tanvir, the Pakistan left-arm fast bowler, who was by far the best bowler in the IPL.

    "On a given day we can beat any team. We are improving and have a strong bench strength, with youngsters raring to get the national call. We need more time to rise higher. Everyone is learning at the moment."
    Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh captain, on his team's future.

    "Not really. All our players average in the 20s or less. If one goes out, another one comes in with 20. My job is to make the ones averaging 20 average 35. If he was averaging 35 it would have been a huge blow for us."
    Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, on his team missing Aftab Ahmed

  • Focus shifts to one-day internationals

    The batsmen who featured in the IPL will need to retune their technique and mindset to the 50-over format.

    The success of the inaugural Indian Premier League, a phenomenon that held audiences in rapt attention for 45 days, raised questions about the 50-over format's ability to hold its own against the adrenalin rushes experienced by both players and fans during a Twenty20 match. And now, exactly a week after the climax of the IPL, one-day cricket will face its first trial during the Kitply Cup in Bangladesh.

    Fans, especially in India, have spent the evenings between April 18 and June 1 watching batsmen plunder runs at above eight an over, bowlers taking ten wickets in 20 overs, all of it tightly packed into three-and-a-half hours. The tri-series in Bangladesh will be a test of patience. Spectators will have to appreciate the building of an innings as they sit through the pedestrian run-rate of one-day cricket, and watch as overs are bowled without a six being hit or a wicket falling. For the Indian and Pakistani players involved with the IPL, the challenge will be to readjust their batting styles to the longer format: not to go for broke from the onset, think about keeping wickets in hand, and to give a few overs to the bowler if he's in the middle of a dangerous spell.

    The tournament's format - three league matches - is such that it allows no room for error. India and Pakistan have the most to lose. One slip-up and it will be down to net run-rate to qualify for the final. The irony is that if there's an India-Pakistan final, it is more likely to fade from public memory as most one-day matches eventually do. The tournament needs Bangladesh to produce a remarkable performance for it to be memorable. And apart from the team's cause, Bangladesh's players will be motivated by their lack of demand at the IPL.

    None of their players, barring Abdur Razzak, who bowled two overs in his solitary appearance for the Bangalore Royal Challengers, were bought by the franchises during the auction, or even after as replacements. The slam-bang batting styles of Mohammad Ashraful, Tamim Iqbal and Aftab Ahmed might have had more impact than Jacques Kallis or Wasim Jaffer but poor performances since the World Cup in 2007 left them with no buyers. Bangladesh sprung two surprises in the Caribbean - beating India and South Africa - but they haven't won against major opposition since. They've only got three matches against Ireland to show for their successes and their most recent assignment in Pakistan ended in a 5-0 defeat.

    "I was not picked for the IPL because I had not performed well," Ashraful, the Bangladesh captain, said. "If I perform well this season, maybe I will get a call for next year's tournament." It could have been any of his talented team-mates speaking.

    Pakistan, on the other hand, had plenty of representation in the IPL but only Sohail Tanvir, out of ten players, had a tournament to boast about. As a team they've been in hot form on paper, winning 11 ODIs on the trot, but ten of those victories came at home against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, two series hastily arranged after Australia postponed their visit. They've been starved of quality opposition and this tournament will provide the build-up for their Asia Cup campaign and the Champions Trophy in September.

    The favourites are India, who haven't even arrived in Dhaka as yet. Their year began with a victory against Australia in the finals of the CB Series and although the excitement created by that achievement was huge, the hype and attention the cash-rich IPL got was unparalleled. All the players in the Indian squad were part of the IPL and the three newest faces - Yusuf Pathan, Pragyan Ojha and Manpreet Gony - performed impressively during the event.

    The flip side was that India lost Sachin Tendulkar to a recurring groin injury that he initially sustained during the tour of Australia. He missed the first half of the IPL but featured in seven games of the Mumbai Indians' campaign before pulling out of this trip and the Asia Cup. Sreesanth too picked up a side strain during the IPL. There's also concern over captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who didn't keep in the later stages of the tournament due to a finger injury.

    The Kitply Cup marks the restart of a hectic international calendar. It may not be the most eye-catching tournament but nevertheless, India and Pakistan won't want this series to be remembered for their inability to make the final.

    England closing in on series victory

    Stuart Broad was the pick of England's attack on the third day, picking up two wickets in each innings.

    England didn't quite romp away with the final Test in the manner James Anderson's one-man show yesterday suggested they might, but New Zealand are still starring down the barrel on 177 for 5 after being asked to follow-on. Brendon McCullum produced their first half-century of the match, combining in a resolute stand with Daniel Flynn, before both departed shortly before the close as New Zealand ended still 64 behind with five wickets remaining.

    The late incisions made by Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom mean the task facing England to wrap up the series isn't too daunting. But McCullum and Flynn at least made them expend more energy than the first innings with their fourth-wicket stand of 94. McCullum reined in his aggressive instincts with a 103-ball half-century, countering the swing by standing well out of his crease, which helped him survive a couple of lbw shouts.

    England were just beginning to wonder where the breakthrough would come from when Anderson, returning for a late spell, produced one to nip back through McCullum's defences. Then Flynn, whose innings had been characterised by his unwillingness to chase anything wide, momentarily lost his composure and flashed at Sidebottom, one short of his maiden fifty. However, his 105-ball stay at least showed he'd overcome any lingering doubts following his nasty injury at Old Trafford.

    The follow-on has gone out of fashion in Test cricket, partly because the rate of scoring means there is often time for a team to bat themselves back into the match. Michael Vaughan may have been in two minds about sticking New Zealand back in, but their first innings ended so swiftly - the final three wickets falling for no runs in six balls - that it become a more comfortable decision. Everything pointed Vaughan in that direction, from the dank, overcast weather, to the demoralised New Zealand top order which had to face the music again, 241 runs behind.

    For a period, a three-day finish was looking a distinct possibility as the fragility of the visitors was exploited for the second day running. Aaron Redmond's miserable series continued and, if he couldn't do much about his first-innings dismissal, this time he played a shot that doesn't belong to a Test opener, chasing a full ball from Broad and edging through to Tim Ambrose. Broad was the pick of England's attack, outshining Anderson and Sidebottom, who both struggled with their lines. Following his maiden half-century on Friday, it was timely reward for Broad with the ball after a barren Test at Old Trafford.

    McCullum, remaining at No. 3, responded as he did in the first innings with some powerful cover drives, but England - and especially Broad - thought they had him on 12 when one appeared to graze the outside edge, only for Darrell Hair to stay unmoved.

    Next over, however, a fired-up Sidebottom won a brief duel with Jamie How with a clever piece of bowling by holding the ball cross-seam to prevent it swinging too much. It drew How into pushing at one he could have left, and Alastair Cook held a neat catch at third slip. Ross Taylor briefly counter-attacked, but his flamboyant game is not made for grafting in swinging conditions. His wild mow across the line against Broad belied his quality and was another ugly dismissal.

    Record books were poised, if not quite open, when Anderson began the day with a chance of becoming just the third man to take all ten wickets in a Test innings. It is one of the curiosities of sport that someone who is so dominant one day can lose the Midas touch overnight, and in the end he had settle for a career-best 7 for 43.

    The ball swung far more than yesterday, which actually proved a disadvantage to the England attack, as they resumed the search for New Zealand's last four wickets after drizzle prevented any play before lunch. Anderson twice sprayed four byes down the leg side, while Sidebottom fired one delivery between first and second slip for five wides.

    But it was only a question of when they would find their lines, and the breakthrough came as Daniel Vettori got a thick edge, forcing off the back foot, to Andrew Strauss at first slip. Broad struck twice in his first - and only over - when Kyle Mills chased a full, wide delivery and sent a high catch to Kevin Pietersen at point. Two balls later, Broad produced a beauty to match Anderson's corkers which sent Iain O'Brien's off stump backwards.

    Hopkins was the last man out, giving Anderson his first-class best, and New Zealand's plight was summed up when he was back at the crease before the day was out. After having moments of superiority during the first two Tests, New Zealand are finishing the series a distant second best.

    Asif will find out fate on Sunday

    No charges have yet been laid against Mohammad Asif.

    Mohammad Asif will find out on Sunday whether he will be charged with possession of illegal substances or if he will be allowed to return home.

    Asif has been in detention at Dubai International Airport since Sunday after authorities allegedly found a banned substance in his wallet. He made a statement on Thursday in front of the chief prosecutor though still no charges have been laid against him.

    Sources close to the case confirmed to Cricinfo that the substance found in his wallet was a banned drug, though the urine tests conducted on Asif have come back negative.

    "The factual position is that at the moment he is under detention. Asif says he didn't know how it got into his wallet," a senior PCB official told PTI. "The prosecutor has to decide on Sunday if there is a strong enough case and evidence to try Asif for possession of drugs. He is now under the laws of Dubai and we are keeping our fingers crossed."

    The PCB, it is learnt, is still working through diplomatic channels to have the case resolved as soon as possible, though no Pakistani government official has yet become involved in the matter.

    Million-dollar Twenty20 Champions League announced

    The inaugural Champions League tournament, involving the domestic Twenty20 finalists from England, Australia, South Africa and the IPL, will take place over a 10-day period in late September and early October with US$5 million on offer for the winners.

    The fine detail is yet to be confirmed, but Cricket Australia are currently drawing up the regulations which will deal with the issues of Indian Cricket League players and potential conflicts for players involved with more than one team.

    It is possible that the Indian board will be generous towards ICL players after the success of IPL. It was also agreed, verbally, between the boards that foreign players will turn out for their local teams in the tournament. That undertaking was sought by the England and Australia boards at a meeting in Singapore.

    However, it has been confirmed the event will feature 15 matches over 10 days, and will take place in either the Middle East or India. Alongside the huge sum for the winners, there will be significant prize money for the teams finishing second, third and fourth.

    Western Australia and Victoria from Australia, Rajasthan and Chennai from the IPL along with the Dolphins and Titans from the Pro20 in South Africa have already qualified. They will be joined by the two finalists from the English Twenty20 Cup, which starts next week.

    Following meetings late last week between the ECB, represented by chairman Giles Clarke and chief executive David Collier, Cricket Australia's chairman Creagh O'Connor and chief executive James Sutherland, an agreement was reached yesterday between Clarke, IPL commissioner and BCCI representative Lalit Modi, and Cricket South Africa president Norman Arendse.

    "We are extremely grateful to our great friends from Australia, India and South Africa for their hard work and determination to get this tournament off the ground," Clarke said. "The Twenty20 Cup will be even more fiercely contested this season in the knowledge that the two teams who reach the final will qualify for the Champions League and the chance to win US$5 million."

    This event throws up a number of potential conflicts, not least involving an players linked to the unofficial ICL. Chris Read, Vikram Solanki, Stuart Law, Niall O'Brien and Paul Nixon all appeared in the ICL, and if their counties qualify their inclusion will be a major conflict with the Indian board.

    The other issue that will occur is involving players who are contracted to more than one of the teams involved, for example Mike Hussey who played for Chennai in the IPL and is also from Western Australia. The clash could also happen with overseas players in county cricket, for example David Hussey, who plays for Nottinghamshire and Victoria.

    Somerset chief executive Richard Gould admitted to Sky Sports News: "We've already had some discussions and we're basically looking to mirror what the IPL contracts are. It was first mooted at the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa and it's taken a while but now it's there, I think it's brilliant for club cricket. It gives it much more juice."

    Countries win out over cash

    Mike Hussey, and Albie Morkel who represented Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, will turn out for Western Australia and the Titans in ampions League, scheduled to be held in September this year, according to an agreement reached among the national boathe Chrds before the IPL was formalised.

    It is learnt that the English and Australian boards secured a commitment from the Indian board that the internationals players participating in the IPL would play for domestic teams of their home countries in the event of a clash of interests in the Champions League.

    The agreement was verbal, though, and it is understood the contracts signed by the international players have no clause pertaining to the Champions League. The ECB, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa were among those who had endorsed the IPL before its inception.

    Hussey, who played in four matches for the Super Kings in the IPL before returning home to prepare for Australia¹s tour of the West Indies, is the only player to be affected so far this year. He scored 168 runs at strike rate of 168 and a included a 50-ball century, the third fastest in the tournament. However, he didn't play in a single KFC Twenty20 match for Western Australia, who lost to Victoria by 32 runs in the final.

    Western Australia will also have the services of Shaun Marsh, one of heroes of the IPL, and Luke Pomersbach, both of whom appeared for the Kings XI, Mohali. Victoria, the other Australian team to have qualified, will be up against Shane Warne, the local legend who inspired the victory march of the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.

    Morkel, who played in 13 IPL games for Chennai with modest success, was part of the core team of the Titans who won the Standard Bank Pro20, and scored a vital 17-ball 33 in the final against the Dolphins. The Titans will also have in the their ranks two more IPL players, in AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn.

    There could still be more potential clashes depending on which English teams qualify for the event, as aside from their one permitted overseas players, some counties field as many as six Kolpak players, mainly from South Africa.

    Gony to replace injured Sreesanth

    Manpreet Gony, the Punjab fast bowler, will join the Indian squad for the Bangladesh tri-series as a replacement for Sreesanth, who was ruled out after suffering a side strain.

    Gony, 24, has had a remarkable ascent since making his List A debut a little more than three months ago. He came into national reckoning during the Indian Premier League, where he made a string of impressive performances for the Chennai Super Kings, and was instrumental in taking his team to the final. He finished with 17 wickets from 16 matches at 26.05, which made him the leading wicket-taker for Chennai and fourth highest overall.

    He was picked up by Chennai after finishing as the highest-wicket taker in the Deodhar Trophy, taking nine from three matches at 14.66. Gony made his first-class debut in December last year against Baroda.

    Sreesanth was assessed in Bangalore on Friday, after which it was decided that he would need two weeks to recover from his injury. He will undergo rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy and is expected to be fit in time for the Asia Cup in Pakistan.

    Kitply Cup 2008

    Pakistan Premier League not to be an IPL carbon copy: PCB

    In a conscious effort to ensure that the proposed Pakistan Premier League (PPL) does not look like a carbon copy of the hugely successful IPL, the cricket board in Karachi is toying with ideas like allowing five foreigners in the playing XI of a participating team.

    "We want the PPL to be a bit different from the Indian Premier League. We want the PPL to be distinguished by itself. We plan to announce our concept and plans during or after the Asia Cup," Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB chief operating officer, told the 'Samaa' television channel on Friday.

    Naghmi said a number of ideas have been discussed with the companies in a meeting in Singapore to make next year's PPL a bit different from the IPL.

    "We don't want to exactly copy the IPL. So we are thinking about allowing teams to play five overseas players instead of four in the IPL," he said.

    He said another difference would be that there would be around five teams in the PPL and the sides would be advised to sign overseas players from one country. "Say one team would have only Australian players and the other from India," he explained.

    Imran Khan`s biography set for July launch

    Pakistani cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan`s first official biography, written by New Delhi-based writer Frank Huzur is set for a global launch next month.
    Titled "Imran Vs Imran", the book is being described as "a political biography of Pakistan`s agent of change and the most committed face of democracy in Pakistan".
    Huzur, who is also a poet and playwright, made several trips to Pakistan in the past six months to meet Khan, his family and leaders of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party in order to equip himself with content, to write the book.

    Huzur was also granted an audience by Khan`s ex-wife Jemima Khan in London. Of the book`s 400 pages, an entire chapter has been devoted to Khan`s marriage and subsequent divorce.

    Rare photographs of the cricketing legend and his family will also be a part of the book.
    "Imran Khan, founder-chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, remains an enigma to his political
    opponents," says a flattering introductory note by publishers Falcon Books. "The man who once ruled the 22-yard pitch is being seen as the best bet for Pakistan a country whose tryst with democracy has actually been a cloak and dagger game."
    "He is still as much feared on the political pitch as he had been in his cricketing heydays. Can he become the Prime Minister or President of Pakistan one day in future?" writes Huzur.
    Huzur and his publishing house have decided to contribute 15 per cent of the book`s cover price to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, set up by Khan in memory of his mother who died of cancer.

    Friday, June 6, 2008

    Pakistan confident despite Asif absence

    A lot will be expected from Sohail Tanvir after his magnificent showing in the Indian Premier League.

    Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan captain, is confident there is enough depth in his side's bowling to overcome the loss of their spearhead, Mohammad Asif, who was dropped from the squad after he was detained at Dubai airport for suspected possession of an illegal item.

    "We still have a decent bowling attack in Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir and Iftikhar Anjum," Malik said. "They have been working hard throughout." In Asif's absence, Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, was banking on Sohail Tanvir to replicate his IPL form. Tanvir was instrumental in the success of the Rajasthan Royals - the champions - picking up 22 wickets at an average of 12.09, with a wicket every two overs.

    Pakistan touched down in Bangladesh on Friday for the week-long one-day tournament, which also involves India and the hosts. The tournament is a preparatory event ahead of the Asia Cup in Pakistan later this month, and Malik is looking forward to continuing the team's record-breaking streak.

    "Our target is to maintain the consistency that saw us winning 11 games in a row," Malik said. "We want to continue that streak. Everyone is fit and we are looking forward to a good series."

    Pakistan whitewashed Zimbabwe and Bangladesh 5-0 in the ODI series at home earlier this year, after having beaten India in the final game of a five-ODI contest they lost 3-2 last year. The 11th win helped Malik's side edge past Pakistan's earlier record of ten wins, set in 1990. "Our aim is to win every match and the series. We want to set a record in Pakistan cricket. Our immediate goal is to win every match here and we want to be consistent with our play.

    "I think if you look at few months back, when we were playing against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, everyone was in good nick. We are looking forward to good cricket over the next 10 days."

    Pakistan play the tournament opener against Bangladesh on June 8, and would be favourites after having thrashed the same opposition 5-0 at home. "On home conditions they [Bangladesh] play a lot better and we got to be careful about it," Malik said." I want to win the first game, which would raise our confidence levels and we would learn how to play in Bangladesh since we are playing here after a long time." Malik suggested the composition of the playing XI and batting order would depend on the conditions.

    Sreesanth doubtful for Bangladesh trip

    A side strain puts Sreesanth in doubt for the India's short trip to Bangladesh.

    A left side strain leaves Sreesanth, the Indian fast bowler, in doubt for the Kitply Cup in Bangladesh, which starts on June 8. Sreesanth was expected to join the team on Saturday, ahead of their departure for Bangladesh on Sunday, but has instead been told to report to the medical team at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore.

    MRI scans confirmed the strain and revealed he was suffering from some effusion in the region. Sreesanth's participation in the series will be decided after he is assessed at the NCA.

    Sreesanth had suffered the strain during Kings XI Punjab's final league match in the Indian Premier League, against Rajasthan Royals in Mohali on May 28. His gave away 44 runs from his three overs in that game, which Punjab won, but bowled only one in the subsequent semi-final as Chennai Super Kings chased down an easy target.

    Sreesanth featured in all 15 of Punjab's matches in the IPL, and finished with 19 wickets in the tournament, making him joint-second on the leading wicket-takers' chart with Shane Warne, and three behind Sohail Tanvir's 22.

    Sreesanth had been at the centre of a controversy during the inaugural edition of the Twenty20 league, having been slapped by his India team-mate Harbhajan Singh after the match between Punjab and the Mumbai Indians in Mohali. Harbhajan was barred from taking further part in the tournament, and the BCCI banned him for five ODIs, while Sreesanth was asked to improve his on-field behaviour.

    India play their first match of the tournament, a preparatory event ahead of the Asia Cup later this month, against Pakistan on June 10. No standby had been named in the squad for the tri-series, also involving hosts Bangladesh, and the Asia Cup, but with four other fast bowlers in RP Singh, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan, a replacement might not be necessary.

    Bangladesh v pakistan Live Score Card
    Pakistan v India live scoreBoard

    ICC considers repackaging Tests

    IS Bindra: "The ICC was looking at ways to increase scoring-rates [in Tests]".

    Plans are afoot to make Test matches more attractive and ensure the Twenty20 format does not destroy the traditional five-day game, according to IS Bindra, who takes charge as the ICC's principal advisor next month.

    Bindra said the sport's governing body was concerned at dwindling Test attendance. "We need to learn from our experiences and move forward," Bindra told the Week, an Indian magazine. "We in the ICC have had very serious discussions for the last six to eight months on how to repackage Test cricket, make it more exciting and introduce an element of competition.

    "It does not mean tinkering with the form but we are looking to bringing in more audience in Test matches." Bindra, a former president of the BCCI, declined to reveal the measures being considered but said the "the ICC was looking at ways to increase scoring-rates [and] have a world championship of Test cricket."

    These plans will be unveiled as early as next month when the ICC holds their annual meeting at its headquarters in Dubai. Bindra sidestepped suggestions that Twenty20 will spell more trouble for the 50-over format than Test cricket. "The future of 50-overs cricket is something that one has to look at in the long term."

    "For now, the ICC has laid a stipulation that all Test nations must play a minimum of 30 one-day internationals and 12 Tests each year as part of the existing Future Tours Programme (FTP) that runs till 2012."

    Broad and Anderson dominate New Zealand

    James Anderson: a career-best six-wicket haul.

    James Anderson produced his best Test figures with both bat and ball, and Stuart Broad recorded his maiden Test half-century, as England seized control of the third Test against New Zealand at Trent Bridge with a day of unstinting dominance. By the time bad light had brought a premature end to the day, the Kiwis were floundering on 96 for 6 in reply to England's 364, and their deficit of 268 seemed insurmountable in the face of Anderson's hostile and high quality swing-bowling assault.

    Throughout his international career, Anderson has been like the girl with the curl from the children's nursery rhyme - at times in this series, his performances have been horrid, but today, he was back to being very, very good indeed. He located a full, fast and outswinging length from the very first over of his spell, and in claiming all six of the New Zealand wickets to fall, he finished the day with half an eye on history. Only two players - Jim Laker and Anil Kumble - have managed ten in an innings, but if Anderson can replicate the same form he showed today, his opponents - and team-mates - may not have much say in the matter.

    Ultimately, Anderson is a mood bowler, and there's nothing quite like an early wicket to set his juices pumping. With his third ball of the day, he turned Aaron Redmond inside out with a wickedly jagging outswinger that detonated his off stump, and New Zealand's foreboding was tangible. Out strode their kingpin, Brendon McCullum - relieved of the gloves and promoted to No. 3 - but his talents were wasted in such hostile conditions. He had made only 9 when Anderson flattened his stumps with a carbon copy of the Redmond delivery, and at 14 for 2, the innings was in freefall.

    Ross Taylor counterattacked with the sort of confident recklessness that befits a man with two 150s to his name on this tour, and together with the low-key Jamie How, he guided New Zealand to tea at 57 for 2. But after the break, and armed with a changed and fractionally shinier ball, Anderson picked up where he had left off. Taylor squirted a fat edge to gully and departed for 21, and three balls later the hapless Daniel Flynn - whom Anderson maimed with that tooth-shattering bouncer at Old Trafford - was pinned on the crease and sent on his way for a duck.

    At 62 for 4, How was New Zealand's last obdurate presence, but he was the next to go, and in a disappointing fashion. He hung a limp bat outside off stump, and Anderson's natural outswing curved perfectly off the edge and carried through low to Tim Ambrose behind the stumps. Then, only five balls before the umpires offered the light, Jacob Oram followed in similar fashion for 7. At 96 for 6, with only Daniel Vettori of the recognised batsmen remaining, the hopes of New Zealand snatching a share of the series had receded over the horizon.

    It was quite a contrast to the Kiwis' mood on the first day, when England slumped to 86 for 5 after lunch, but since then they have been subjugated by a succession of impressive performances. And though Anderson stole the limelight with his bowling, his first role of the day came with the bat, as he and Broad compiled an improbable and important eighth-wicket stand of 76. When New Zealand took the field under slate-grey skies, with England evenly poised on their overnight 273 for 7, they doubtless envisaged a swift denouement. Instead they were made to toil lucklessly and with mounting frustration.

    For Broad, it was yet another demonstration of his rich promise as an allrounder. Since his batting breakthrough in partnership with Kevin Pietersen at Napier in March, he has reached at least 25 in each of his last five innings, and his shot selection and patience has borne all the hallmarks of a pedigree cricketer. It was especially appropriate that his best innings to date should come at his new county home of Trent Bridge, where his father Chris made his name as a batsman in the mid-1980s.

    His poise and balance at the crease was exemplary, and any international cricketer would be proud of his back-foot driving, which earned him three more boundaries in the morning session. He did require one massive, and tone-setting, moment of good fortune in the third over of the day when, on 21, he edged Chris Martin firmly to second slip, only for McCullum - unaccustomed to the angles at second slip - to fumble the opportunity.

    After that, Broad's performance was plain-sailing, until he reached the threshold of his half-century. On 49, he was made to sweat as Vettori and Oram pinned him down for 25 balls either side of lunch. But crucially, Broad refused to succumb to a rash slog, and sure enough the loose delivery eventually arrived. Vettori strayed onto his pads, and Broad flicked him away through midwicket for a hugely cathartic boundary.

    Anderson's own career-best was scarcely less impressive, and his disappointment was clear when he finally feathered a nick to the keeper off Oram to give New Zealand their only breakthrough of the morning session. Up until that point he had produced some shots that belied his lowly reputation, including a crunching cover-drive and a confident slog sweep in consecutive overs from Iain O'Brien and Vettori. But his true role was still to come, and by the time his day's work was done, New Zealand's stout resistance in this series had been all but broken.

    Selectors look to Gul to spearhead attack

    Umar Gul faces high expectations after Asif's exclusion from the Pakistan squad.

    Pakistan are hoping that the last-minute withdrawal of Mohammad Asif will not affect their team's title chances in a tri-nation tournament, starting in Dhaka on Sunday

    The selectors are now looking to Umar Gul, the most experienced fast bowler available, to guide a young yet potent pace attack in Bangladesh, where Pakistan are expected to face India in the clash for the title.

    "Asif's ouster is certainly a setback for us," chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed told The News, a Pakistan based daily. "But we still have some very talented fast bowlers and hope that somebody like Umar Gul will step forward and shoulder the responsibility of spearheading our pace attack in Dhaka."

    Asif was dropped from the 16-man Pakistan squad following his detention in Dubai. Sohail Khan, 24, who made his international debut at home against Zimbabwe earlier this year, was included in his place.

    Pakistan's pace attack is also without their fastest bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who is currently trying to overturn a five-year ban. Mohammad Sami was also not considered after his involvement with the unofficial Indian Cricket League.

    Now Gul, 24, heads the pace battery that includes Sohail Tanvir, Rao Iftikhar Anjum and youngsters Wahab Riaz and Sohail. "Gul has time and again proved himself to be a wicket-taking bowler and I'm sure he will respond to the challenge," said Salahuddin.

    He is also expecting a lot from Sohail Tanvir, who was recently crowned as the most successful player of the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL). "Sohail showed he can be really destructive and we hope that he would retain his form in Bangladesh."

    Pakistan's Dhaka-bound squad will assemble in Karachi today to have a practice session before flying out to Dhaka on Friday.

    Ronchi joins Australia in West Indies

    Luke Ronchi will join the Australian squad as a shadow player for fellow wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

    Luke Ronchi, the Western Australia wicketkeeper, will fly to the West Indies as a shadow player for Brad Haddin, who is recuperating from a broken finger. Haddin injured the ring finger of his right hand during the first Test in Kingston and carried the problem through the second Test in Antigua, and although he has since then received treatment for the pain it has had limited success.

    Haddin is now in serious doubt for the third Test, which starts in Barbados on Thursday. Australia had only one Test wicketkeeper for eight years until January - Adam Gilchrist did not miss a match during his career - and now there is the prospect of them using three Test glovemen within the space of four matches.

    Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said it was still uncertain how quickly Haddin would recover. "The need for Luke to remain with the squad will be decided as Haddin's fitness becomes clearer," Hilditch said.

    "Luke has had a very strong season in all forms of inter-state cricket and performed very well on the Australia A team's tour at the start of the 2007-08 season. He is ready for any opportunity that may present itself and will benefit greatly from his time in the Australian environment in the West Indies."

    Ronchi, 27, was impressive during Australia A's tour to Pakistan in September last year, and scored 107 in a four-day match against Pakistan A in Lahore. He was also consistent during the Pura Cup, scoring 444 runs from eight matches at 40.36. His profile increased when he was signed by the Mumbai Indians IPL franchise on a three-year deal but he could not fire in the inaugural edition of the Twenty20 tournament, making only 34 runs in four matches.

    While Haddin remains in doubt Simon Katich is set to play in Barbados after sitting out much of the Antigua match with a bruised rib. Katich was struck by a Daren Powell bouncer while making 113 in the first innings and did not bat in the second innings, also remaining off the field for most of the time while West Indies batted.

    Thursday, June 5, 2008

    Pietersen and Ambrose revive England

    Kevin Pietersen racked up his 12th Test century to revive England's fortunes.

    Never let it be said that Kevin Pietersen is not a man for a crisis. Three months on from his series-saving century on the first morning of the third Test in Napier, Pietersen was back in the runs in similar circumstances at Trent Bridge. After losing the toss and being asked to bat first by New Zealand, England slumped to 86 for 5 in swinging conditions, before Pietersen turned his team's fortunes around with a belligerent 115, his 12th Test century. He added 161 for the sixth wicket with Tim Ambrose - who produced an excellent, disruptive 67 - and though both men fell to the unstinting Iain O'Brien with the new ball, the day's honours belonged, however narrowly, to England.

    It was an invaluable performance from Pietersen, a man whose love of a sticky situation borders on the masochistic. After losing the toss and being asked to bat first by New Zealand, England batted with the looseness that has become a characteristic of the top six in recent matches. Alastair Cook and Michael Vaughan fell cheaply in the first hour, and though Pietersen and Andrew Strauss carried England to a comfortable 84 for 2 at lunch, the biggest meltdown was yet to come. In the space of 18 balls of the resumption, England lost three wickets for two runs - including both their under-pressure batsmen, Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell, for ducks.

    It was a situation reminiscent of England's morning collapse in Napier - 4 for 3 had been the scoreline on that occasion - and then as now, Pietersen's response was to grow in stature to match the adversity. He had done his hard work in the morning session, defending with big watchful strides and leaving Strauss to pick off the bulk of the runs in a deftly compiled 37. After the break, however, when Strauss fell without addition, Pietersen eased through his gears and began striking the ball at the top of the bounce with all his familiar confidence.

    He brought up his fifty from 106 balls with a hockey-style swipe through midwicket off Vettori, and his century followed 88 balls later with a crunching drive through the covers off the disappointing Chris Martin, whose final figures of 12-1-61-0 epitomised New Zealand's lost opportunity. It was the slowest of Pietersen's 12 hundreds, which was a testament to the tough conditions, but once he'd decided to make this his day, the majesty of his attacking strokes took the breath away.

    He could not have turned England's innings around, however, without superb support from Ambrose, who produced his sparkiest effort since his maiden Test hundred in Wellington in March. Then as now, he used his lack of height as an asset, getting inside and underneath New Zealand's off-stump offerings and whipping out the uppercut whenever they dropped short. The only man who consistently plugged away on a decent length was O'Brien, who was surprisingly retained ahead of the rookie Tim Southee, and it was he who ended Ambrose's stay via a thin nick in the 87th over of the day.

    In truth, both Ambrose and Pietersen fell in disappointingly tame fashions - Pietersen to a half-conceived dab to the keeper - but they were not alone in that. It was swing allied to poor technique that accounted for each of the first five England wickets to fall, as Vettori gambled at the toss by choosing to bowl first, and was - at first - well rewarded for his boldness. Since the erection of the new £8.2 million Bridgford Road stand, the highest first-class total at Trent Bridge has been a measly 279, and even after a Pietersen masterclass, England have not yet exceeded that effort.

    For the first hour, the ball manoeuvred as if on a damp deck at Headingley, and Cook - whose technique outside off stump has long been under scrutiny - was unable to survive. He hung a limp bat out to Kyle Mills, and left enough space between bat and pad for the ball to crash off an inside-edge into his leg stump. One delivery later, and Michael Vaughan might have gone as well, as Mills produced the most superb ball of the session - a fizzing legcutter that beat both the edge and the top of off stump by a whisker.

    Vaughan's response was elegant and aggressive. He laid into Martin with three fours in four balls, but no sooner had he got himself set, he was gone, as O'Brien tempted him into one drive too many, and clean bowled him for 16 from 22 balls. It was, however, a useful lesson to those that followed. Scoring opportunities were on offer in spite of the conditions, but watchfulness was of the essence. Bell and Collingwood failed to heed the warning, but Pietersen and Ambrose did not miss out. As a consequence, England are well placed to press home an authority that they once again looked to have squandered.

    Asif hearing deferred to Sunday

    No charges have yet been laid against Mohammad Asif.

    Mohammad Asif's ordeal in Dubai will continue for at least a few more days, after his hearing today was deferred to Sunday.

    Asif has been in detention at Dubai International Airport since Sunday after authorities allegedly found a banned substance in his wallet. He made a statement today in front of the chief prosecutor though still no charges have been laid against him.

    "The hearing has been deferred till Sunday," Shafqat Naghmi, PCB's chief operating officer, told Cricinfo. "Friday and Saturday are weekends there, but Asif recorded his statement today. No charges have yet been laid against him."

    Sources close to the case confirmed to Cricinfo that the substance found in his wallet was a banned, recreational drug, though the urine tests conducted on Asif have come back negative.

    The PCB, it is learnt, is still working through diplomatic channels to have the case resolved as soon as possible, though no Pakistani government official has yet become involved in the matter.

    Asif controversy worries Lawson

    Geoff Lawson answers questions about Mohammad Asif.

    Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, has said the latest controversy involving Mohammad Asif will further disrupt his comeback after a series of injuries. Asif, who is currently detained in Dubai for allegedly possessing a banned substance, will remain there at least until Sunday, when a hearing is scheduled.

    Asif was returning home (via Dubai) after his stint in the Indian Premier League (IPL) when he was held. No charges, though, have been laid against him. He was subsequently replaced in Pakistan's squad for the tri-series in Bangladesh by the fast bowler Sohail Khan.

    "It's unfortunate and would be disruptive for Asif," Lawson told reporters in Karachi. "Personally I don't know the facts, we feel for him. We hope it turns out well for him. It is very unfortunate, we have been thinking about him, he has been missing quite often but was making a successful comeback from injury. It would have been one more step on his way back to full form so from that point of view it's disruptive.

    "Sohail has come in Asif's place and has shown promise, so one person's misfortune is another's good fortune."

    Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan captain, though wasn't perturbed by Asif's absence and was confident of his team's chances. "There is no doubt that Asif is a good bowler but we have other good bowlers who can step up and take their chances," Malik said. "We have Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Rao Iftikhar and Sohail so the attack is in good hands."

    Lawson said the tri-series was ideal for some of his players to adjust to the one-day format after a lengthy stint of Twenty20 cricket during the IPL. He said his players should use this opportunity to fine-tune themselves before the Asia Cup which starts on June 24 in Pakistan.

    "The guys have been playing 20-over cricket for five weeks so they will be in that frame of mind so they need to come back in the 50-overs frame and Bangladesh will be the first step," Lawson said. "It's just a nice little tournament to have in between major events.

    Lawson also denied that he had criticised senior players for not performing to standards in a radio interview he gave in Sydney just before arriving here. The interview had caused considerable consternation in Pakistan, leading to speculation that Lawson might be on his way out.

    "I never said anything about senior players," he said. "They have all to go to higher levels, so we are working better than before."

    Wednesday, June 4, 2008

    Swing to be king in final Test

    England will hope Paul Collingwood comes good after a lean spell with the bat, with a tough series against South Africa ahead.

    Match facts

    Thursday June 5 to Monday 9, 2008
    Start time 11.00 (10.00GMT)

    Big Picture

    England's six-wicket win at Old Trafford has put them 1-0 up in the series, but despite Michael Vaughan's pre-series declaration that on paper England "should win comfortably", there has been little to separate the two teams. New Zealand out-performed England in the first innings, and it was only a mesmerising spell from Monty Panesar - and perhaps New Zealand's own lack of self-belief when the momentum was with them - which turned the match England's way. The visitors have tugged at England's coat-tails all series, however, led by Ross Taylor's exuberant batting. His superb 154 at Old Trafford was followed by another swashbuckling 150, from 154 balls, against Essex, and England have struggled in Nottingham in recent times, too, with India and Sri Lanka both out-swinging their swingers in the past two years. With Tim Southee expected to be recalled, and the South Africans looming on the horizon, England need to end this series more dominantly than they started.

    Form guide

    England LWWDW
    New Zealand WLLDL

    Watch out for...

    Ryan Sidebottom: On his home ground, which traditionally suits the swing bowlers, Sidebottom ought to be a handful. He already has 10 wickets this series, with 4 for 55 in the first Test at Lord's, and continues to trouble New Zealand's left-handers - in particular Jacob Oram. Even if Trent Bridge doesn't offer as much swing as is expected, his immaculate line and length will offer New Zealand nothing.

    Daniel Vettori: The series' leading wicket-taker almost led New Zealand to a win at Old Trafford, and Vettori has attracted praise for his shrewd captaincy, but the six-wicket loss in the second Test will have hurt. At the critical moment of the match, when New Zealand had England eating out of their palms, they fluffed their lines - in spite of Vettori's 5 for 66, bowling with a ball on a string. New Zealand need him more than ever, even if the pitch isn't overly conducive to spin.

    Team news

    England named an unchanged team for the fifth Test in a row, matching a 123-year-old record. Not since 1884-85 have England shown such consistency in selection, and they resisted the temptation to pick Chris Tremlett. Yet again, however, England's middle order needs to fire: it has now been 11 Tests since they managed a score of 400. And for all Peter Moores' backing of Paul Collingwood, he desperately needs runs this week if he is to play the first Test against South Africa.

    England 1 Alastair Cook, 2 Andrew Strauss, 3 Michael Vaughan (capt), 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Paul Collingwood, 7 Tim Ambrose (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Ryan Sidebottom, 10 Monty Panesar, 11 James Anderson

    New Zealand, meanwhile, will make at least one change after James Marshall was left out of their 12-man squad in favour of Peter Fulton, who made a half-century against Northamptonshire. Marshall has struggled at No. 3 in the first two Tests and failed twice in the tour match. Brendon McCullum looks set to keep wicket following the concerns over his back problems, which left New Zealand considering a call-up for Gareth Hopkins. They are also likely to opt for the youthful zing of Southee, who missed out at Old Trafford with a stomach upset. He took 5 for 42 against Northamptonshire, and it's likely Iain O'Brien will be the man to miss out - despite impressing at Old Trafford, bowling into a Manchester gale.

    New Zealand 1 Jamie How, 2 Aaron Redmond, 3 Peter Fulton, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (wk), 6 Daniel Flynn, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori (capt), Kyle Mills, Tim Southee/Iain O'Brien, Chris Martin

    Umpires: Steve Bucknor and Darrell Hair

    Pitch and conditions

    Trent Bridge's reputation as a ground for the swingers has been further enhanced with the magnificent new stand on the Bridgford Road side. New stands and buildings can, according to players, create their own mini micro-climate thus making the ball swing, and judging by the scores made at Trent Bridge this season, the theory makes sense. The biggest total has been an under whelming 279 and teams' first-innings scores have averaged a meagre 197. Sidebottom, Kyle Mills and the other match's swingers will be queuing up for first use.

    Stats and Trivia

  • England have won 16 of 53 Tests played at Trent Bridge.

  • New Zealand have only won once in eight attempts at Trent Bridge, losing five and drawing two.

  • Michael Vaughan averages 51.66 at this venue, significantly higher than his career tally, with two hundreds against India.

  • New Zealand own the record of the third-highest fourth-innings chase, 440 against England in 1973, at this very venue.

  • New Zealand are all set to try out a new, high-tech form of 'micro-shine' trousers, which have a special patch to help players shine one side of the ball.


    "There was a choice to make, but in international cricket there is never much time to work on things technically. This was an opportunity after two back-to-back Test matches to go away, have a look at it from the outside rather than going straight back into cricket and seeing what I really needed."
    Collingwood believes his decision to rest and have a few indoor sessions was the best

    "In a strange way Manchester has just added to our confidence because we were so close, and we know we are so close, to this England team. We were written off before the tour but if you take a couple of sessions out of that match, we were the dominant team."
    Jacob Oram hopes his side will be inspired, not demoralised, by their recent defeat

  • Australia have 'come back to the pack'

    Brett Lee was flying high in Antigua, but there was not as much excitement from the rest of the attack.

    Ricky Ponting has admitted Australia's bowling attack has "come back to the pack a little bit in Test cricket" as they struggle to match the Warne-McGrath era. Australia were unable to force a result in the second Test in Antigua on Tuesday despite bowling for a full day, and Ponting is considering altering his plans for the final game in Barbados from June 12.

    Stuart Clark could return to the new-ball duties he has craved, with the developing Mitchell Johnson dropped to first-change, while Beau Casson is in line to to replace Stuart MacGill. Ponting also expects to use more of the part-time spin of Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds.

    Brett Lee was outstanding in taking career-best figures of 8 for 110 in Antigua, but there was less impact from his support staff. "As far as our attack goes, we've probably just come back to the pack a little bit in Test cricket," Ponting said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "We've got Brett and Stuey [Clark], who are outstanding Test bowlers, and we've got Mitch, who is a work in progress, and we could very well have a young spinner the next game. I'm excited about that."

    Ponting said it had been challenging operating without Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. "Brett's done a very good job of standing up in Glenn's absence over the last 12 months and will continue to lead the attack well I'm sure," he said. "The next spinner is the interesting one for me. We'll see how that pans out."

    Johnson, who is playing his first overseas Tests, has taken only five wickets in the opening two matches and is expected to be part of a bowling reshuffle. "I don't have any concern with Mitch," Ponting said. "We're probably going to look at Stuey opening the bowling more often than not now, for a number of reasons, like in these sorts of conditions. Mitchell is a great athlete, and generally he'll do what I ask of him."

    Chanderpaul rises to career high

    Shivnarine Chanderpaul continues to be a run machine for West Indies.

    Shivnarine Chanderpaul's outstanding performance in the second Test against Australia, in Antigua, which helped secure West Indies a draw, has lifted him to a career-best position of No. 5 in the world rankings.

    Chanderpaul was twice unbeaten in the match, for 107 and 77, and claimed the Man-of-the-Match award as West Indies kept alive their hopes of squaring the series, although the Frank Worrell Trophy is now safely back with Australia. Chanderpaul's double continues a prolific run of form, following on from his 118 in the first Test, and he currently averages 156.50 in the series.

    In the past 12 months he has played nine Tests and scored 1,062 runs at 106.20, including five centuries on away tours to England and South Africa as well as this home series against Australia.

    Chanderpaul is now level with South Africa's Jacques Kallis and just three points behind Mohammad Yousuf. Michael Hussey currently holds the No.1 spot, followed by Ricky Ponting and Kumar Sangakkara.

    West Indies' captain Ramnaresh Sarwan just missed out on a return to the top 20 in after his fifth-day century. Sarwan scored 65 in the first innings and then 128 in the second and that performance has lifted Sarwan back to 21st place.

    From the Australians, Simon Katich is the most significant mover following his first-innings century and has climbed 12 places to 56th.

    After missing the first Test through injury, Jerome Taylor has climbed back into the top 20 of the bowling rankings. He took five wickets in the match - including Ponting in both innings - and moved up 12 places in the tightly packed rankings. It is the highest ranking of Taylor's 19-match career and he is now just three points behind Matthew Hoggard in 13th spot, who is currently trying to force his way back into the England side.

    Brett Lee strengthened his position in fourth spot and is also holding the highest rating of his career. Lee was the outstanding bowler in Antigua, with match-figures of 8 for 110, on a docile surface. This included a destructive burst of reverse-swing in the first innings. He is closing the gap on team-mate Stuart Clark, who is currently occupying third spot.

    Muttiah Muralittharan is still in first position with Dale Steyn just behind him. With Sri Lanka hosting India in a Test series next month and South Africa playing in England around the same time, those two will be jostling for top place.

    ICC Player Rankings




    AUS 911
    AUS 895
    SL 893
    PAK 880
    WI 877
    SA 877
    AUS 843
    SL 810
    PAK 799
    ENG 750

    ICC Player Rankings




    SL 897
    SA 892
    AUS 854
    AUS 811
    SA 777
    ENG 719
    SL 709
    IND 708
    PAK 684
    NZ 675

    Sohail Khan replaces Asif in tri-series squad

    Sohail Khan has had an impressive first-class season, picking up a Pakistan record 91 wickets in his debut year.

    Sohail Khan has replaced Mohammad Asif in Pakistan's 16-man squad for the upcoming tri-series in Bangladesh, which will involve the hosts and India. The series is due to begin from June 8.

    Asif was originally selected in the squad on Sunday, the very day he was detained at Dubai airport for suspected possession of an illegal item. It is unlikely now that Asif will be back in time to play in the tournament. Selectors told Cricinfo that they were not aware of Asif's situation when they picked the squad.

    Khan has had an impressive first-class season, picking up a Pakistan record 91 wickets in his debut year and he has impressed many with his pace and stamina. He was rewarded for his efforts with an international call-up against Zimbabwe earlier this year in an ODI series. In three ODIs so far, he has picked up four wickets, with a best of 3 for 30 against Bangladesh.

    He wasn't part of the original squad because selectors felt that Wahab Riaz's left-arm provided a more seasoned limited-overs option. Khan spent a week at a fast bowlers' camp in Lahore under the eye of Wasim Akram, where it was widely felt that despite his undoubted promise, there were still areas he needed to work on. Outside of his bowling, his poor fielding is considered a serious concern within the selection committee. The Pakistan squad leaves for Dhaka on June 5.

    Watson replaces Hayden in Australia one-day squad

    Australian all-rounder Shane Watson will replace injured opening batsman Matthew Hayden in the upcoming one-day series in the West Indies, Cricket Australia said on Wednesday.

    Chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said Watson was an exciting replacement for Hayden, who returned to Australia with an Achilles tendon injury after playing no part in the Test series in the Caribbean.

    "Approximately 18 months ago we identified Shane as someone we thought could open the batting for Australia in one-day cricket and in the opportunities he has had since, he has played that role extremely well," Hilditch said.

    "He also adds great flexibility to our bowling attack in this format of the game."

    The 26-year-old Queenslander was once touted as a match-winning all-rounder for Australia but a horror run of injuries has restricted him to just three Tests and 65 one-day internationals.

    Hilditch said Watson had worked hard to maintain his fitness levels and was ready for another chance with the national one-day side.

    "Shane is an exciting young player and deserves his opportunity to return to the Australian side," he said.

    Asif likely to remain in detention

    Board officials are concerned that the test results on the substance Asif was detained for have still not arrived...

    Mohammad Asif is likely to remain in detention in Dubai for another three to four days, a Pakistan board official has said, quashing widespread speculation that he had been released or had charges against him dropped.

    Asif has been detained at Dubai International Airport since Sunday after an allegedly contraband substance was found in his wallet. Since then, the PCB has appointed legal counsel for him and sent a senior board official to Dubai to handle the case.

    Discussions took place between Asif's lawyer and prosecutors yesterday, though with no immediate resolution. A PCB official told Cricinfo that results from a urine test authorities carried out on Asif are still awaited, as are the results of a test on the substance itself. The fact that it has taken them so long to get results is in itself a concern, the official said.

    Further complicating the matter is the fact that there has been a death in the UAE's royal family, which generally means that the various states will observe a period of mourning now over the next few days and that public offices may remain closed.

    Several TV channels and newspapers reported today that charges against Asif had been dropped. Dawn newspaper reported the Pakistani ambassador to the UAE as saying that and that Asif was due to head back to Pakistan on the first available flight.

    "These are incorrect as far as we know," a PCB official told Cricinfo. "The charges haven't even been laid against him so far. As far as we know of the process, the airport prosecutor lays the charges down and passes on to the public prosecutor who will then decide whether or not this should go to trial. That process, we have been told, can take three to four days. But we are concerned that they have not come back still with results of the urine test, which they carried out on Sunday and the tests on the substance."

    Tuesday, June 3, 2008

    Chanderpaul and Sarwan seal draw

    Ramnaresh Sarwan's 128 helped West Indies avoid any major problems on the final day...

    A fighting century from Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul's trademark resistance saved the match for West Indies but not the Frank Worrell Trophy, which Ricky Ponting's men secured with a tense draw in Antigua. Australia have become accustomed to walking all over West Indies in recent years, but their domination deserted them at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, where they fell five wickets short of the ten final-day breakthroughs they required.

    A couple of late successes gave Australia a sniff with the new ball when the match seemed all but over, however it was Chanderpaul who guided his team home and finished unbeaten on 77 to secure the first draw between the sides since 1995. For most of the day Chanderpaul had stonewalled with Sarwan, realising that their huge chase of 372, while tempting, was realistically out of reach. They seemed to have done the job and saw West Indies through almost to the final hour when Ponting's last gamble, throwing the new ball to Mitchell Johnson, paid off first delivery.

    Johnson found some extra bounce and Sarwan, on 128, tried to fend the good bouncer and skewed a catch to Michael Hussey at gully. When Brett Lee added Dwayne Bravo, whose leading edge was snapped up by Brad Hodge at point, Ponting was no doubt having flashbacks of Sydney in January, when his men snatched a last-minute win against India. There was no fairytale ending this time and Ponting's conservative decision to give his attack just one day to dismiss West Indies had come back to bite him.

    Skittling West Indies quickly was always going to be tough on a benign pitch, and although Lee gave it a good crack in the first session the defence of a familiar pair made the job even harder. Five years ago Chanderpaul and Sarwan were national heroes when they each made centuries up the road at the Antigua Recreation Ground to guide West Indies to the Test-record fourth-innings chase of 418 against Australia. The pair knew the situation was different this time; on that occasion they had more than two days to fight their way to the target.

    Even so, Sarwan seemed to be aiming for victory before lunch when he hustled to a half-century from 68 balls. He was prepared to slash at risky aerial cuts through and over the cordon and he drove confidently. His problem was that at the other end, Lee was troubling his partners in another fast and fiery spell. West Indies lost three wickets before lunch and after the break their mindset changed; they were only interested in salvaging a draw. Chanderpaul was designed for this sort of task but for Sarwan it required a greater degree of urge control. His aggression had to be checked and to his immense credit the captain did the job superbly. He was a rock in defence but was still happy to punish loose balls, cover-driving well and cutting when given width.

    Sarwan had one nervous moment on 92 when a fairytale finish beckoned for Stuart MacGill, who thought he had the key breakthrough in his final Test. MacGill, bowling better than at any time on the tour, drew Sarwan out of his crease with a ripping legbreak that pitched on leg and turned past the bat. Brad Haddin whipped off the bails and the Australians were confident, but the TV replays were inconclusive.

    It was a perilously close call and given their misfortune with umpiring earlier in the game, nobody could begrudge West Indies when the third official gave Sarwan the benefit of the considerable doubt. At the time the Sarwan-Chanderpaul partnership was worth 49 but of more concern to Ponting was the time the pair had eaten up. Australia picked up no wickets in the second session and a worried Ponting even turned to the rarely seen medium-pace of Hussey.

    Sarwan brought up his 11th Test century with a sweep for four off MacGill two balls before tea, reaching the milestone from 181 deliveries, and if he hadn't saved the game he had at least dragged it in from a dangerous Australian current. After the break it was more of the same and desperation crept in for Ponting, who changed his bowlers and field with increasing hopelessness as he searched for a crack that would lead him into West Indies' lower order.

    That moment came with the new ball but Chanderpaul remained resolute. For a man who once spent more than 11 hours at the crease in a Test in Antigua, it was a task to be relished. Chanderpaul's half-century came slowly - it took 148 deliveries - and it wasn't until Johnson and the retiring MacGill dropped in a few bad balls that he finally loosened up, only to go into lockdown again when he lost Sarwan.

    The pair had been forced to work hard following some early tremors. West Indies were set their lofty target when Australia declared at their overnight total of 244 for 6 and the visitors' spirits lifted even more with a pair of early wickets. Lee bowled fast and short and picked up Devon Smith without scoring when the batsman half-heartedly guided a shortish ball straight to Hussey at gully. When Stuart Clark chipped in with Xavier Marshall, who was softened up by Lee's barrage and feathered a Clark bouncer behind, West Indies were wobbling at 19 for 2.

    Sarwan and Runako Morton steadied things with a 65-run stand when Lee was resting, but as soon as the spearhead returned for a second spell he ended the partnership with his first ball. Morton was simply too slow to react to a cracking inswinger that also cut back off the pitch and struck him dead in line, giving Mark Benson one of the easier lbw decisions of his umpiring career. Then came Chanderpaul.

    By the close it was West Indies who were happiest with the result. After the first session they knew they had no real chance of winning and a hard-fought draw was a satisfying finish. Australia would be disappointed that victory eluded them, and yet they emerged with the Frank Worrell Trophy.

    Their selectors have some thinking to do ahead of the third Test, with MacGill's departure leaving a gap in the attack. At least Simon Katich, who was off the field for most of the match after suffering bruised ribs during his first-day century, is likely to be fit for the series finale in Barbados. Australia enter that game with a 1-0 advantage and will be desperate not to finish it with a 1-1 series draw.