Friday, June 26, 2009

India vs West Indies 1st ODI Highlights

India Bat

WI Bat I


Watch cricket highlights - India vs West Indies - the 1st ODI played at Kingston Jamaica on June 26, 2009.

Scoreline: India 339/6 Yuvraj Singh 131 (102), Dinesh Karthik 67 (77), Dhoni 41 (46), Yusuf Pathan 40 (38)
WI 319 all out: Chanderpaul 63 (59), Sarwan 45 (42), Gayle 37 (33) - Nehra, Pathan 3 wickets each

It’s amazing how T20 cricket changes the way we look at a high run-chase, with 60 odd to get in 40 seemingly gettable nowadays.

The over-hyped short ball against Indian batsmen reared up today again. A lot has been made of it, when the reality is Raina is the only one in the current team who has consistently looked awkward - in fact, it’s surprising, it took so long for bowlers to stumble onto this fact as a consistent weapon against him. Rohit Sharma has been getting out to the pull shot, but those who’ve seen his initial career will recall his performances against Lee and others in Australia. Gambhir too has had his own successful method to combat the short ball which includes the flay over/through slips and the pull shot.

The Yuvraj-Dinesh thing was scratchy initially, almost like they were trying to adapt to ODI cricket having played back-to-back in the IPL and T20 WC - Dwayne Bravo looked the most dependable of the WI bowlers today, while his half-brother (Daddy same, Mummy different) Darren who obviously seems to have watched a lot of Lara made a pretty neat debut. Now if someone could whack some sense into the selectors and get Lendl to replace Morton at the top, WI could well bounce back into the series.

Pregame: A pretty meaningless 4 match ODI series is about to kick off today. No test matches. One good thing with this series is that its end marks the beginning of a decent break for the Indian team. No Sachin, Sehwag, Zaheer (through injury) for India while WI miss Edwards (injured) and Lendl Simmons (shockingly cast astray). Darren Bravo, younger bro of Dwayne makes his debut though, while Raina has been given a break for India - a good time for him to work out the short ball rather than be embarrassed any further in the Windies and lose the confidence he’s built up over the last couple of years. Smart move, that one. Irfan too is not in the Indian squad, but Abhishek Nayar finally gets a call-up.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Highlights - T20 World Cup Final

Sri Lanka Bat

Pakistan Bat
Celebrns + Post Match

Watch cricket highlights - Pakistan vs Sri Lanka - the 2009 T20 World Cup Final.

Scoreline: Sri Lanka 138/6 Sangakkara 64 (52), Angelo Mathews 35 (24) - Abdul Razzaq 3-20-3, Afridi 4-20-1
Pakistan win in 18.4 overs: Shahid Afridi 54 (40), Kamran Akmal 37 (28), Shoaib Malik 24 (22) - Malinga 3.4-14-0

I consider myself one of the bigger Afridi fans around, but I doubt I ever thought in all those years of Afridi-cricket wallowing in the pits of destitution, that he’d turn up at the final stages of a World Cup, much like Shane Warne did in ‘99.

Sangakkara, despite getting ok scores through this tournament, barring the game vs Australia has looked out of sorts. But today it was a completely different person having to temper his initial seize-the-game mode in search of someone at the other end. A very defendable total in a Cup final (in the company of Mathews) eventually resulted, but clever and calm cricket by Pakistan made it a walk-through in the end.

Amazing for Afridi to be the man of the moment considering his ignominious duck in the 2007 final which had translated to effigy-burning times despite being the Player of the Tournament then.

The comments section in this site had to be closed down after it became too much to handle. It started when India played Bangladesh and then climaxed after India exited the tournament. Would just like to say to some of those visitors - there are many Indians (like myself) who like good cricket whether it’s played by India, Pakistan, Australia or whoever and Pakistan players like Afridi and Akram (in the past) are respected and enjoyed as much as Indian players. So think about that, whenever comments are reopened here, and do stick to the cricket, considering this is a cricket highlights site. Hope everyone enjoyed the tournament. Back with the India tour of WI in a few days. Until then, have a virtual smoke on me.

Recall: Sri Lanka won the Super 8 encounter - not that it counts for too much - the Pakistan team was different at the time - Razzaq was missing and Afridi was still getting into his stride.

T20 World Cup - The Highs of the Lows

With a World Cup filled with disappointments coming to a close, thought I’d put together a bunch of some of those moments. Many of my favourite cricketers are included here mostly cos they made me feel good to be down at 3 am in the night - highlights done and reflection on the day’s game lulling me to elusive sleep.

Afridi fifty seals title for Pakistan

Shahid Afridi stood tall with a mature 54 to guide Pakistan home.

It wasn't the edge-of-the-seat final that would have signed off the ICC World Twenty20 in style, but that won't matter to Pakistan who gave their nation a something to savour amid troubled times. From the moment Tillakaratne Dilshan, the tournament's top-scorer, fell in the opening over Pakistan had a grip on the match. Shahid Afridi, who emerged as their trump card, guided his team home in the 19th over with an unbeaten 54, as their supporters celebrated deliriously.

Pakistan won't be playing at home for the foreseeable future, but the following they have had at this event has reinforced the notion that England can be a surrogate home. The masses were cheering from early on as Abdul Razzaq - a great individual comeback-story among the team's resurgence - claimed three key wickets in his opening burst to leave Sri Lanka on 32 for 4. They never looked back despite the best efforts of Kumar Sangakkara.

Occasionally the tension rose as the required rate climbed, but each time Afridi was on hand with one of his most mature innings. He hit consecutive balls from Muttiah Muralitharan for six and four in the 14th over, a calculated assault against a key bowler. The destination of the trophy was sealed when he swung a huge six over midwicket off Isuru Udana in the 18th over - the moment when Sangakkara gambled on one of his weaker bowling links - and followed that with another boundary off a high full toss.

Shoaib Malik played his part with 24 off 22 balls in a match-winning stand of 76 after Kamran Akmal had given early impetus to the top-order. The batsmen knew they didn't have to take many risks and played Ajantha Mendis better than any other team as he went for his most expensive spell of the tournament.

Pakistan's rise from rank outsiders to champions is an extraordinary display for a team that had to beat Netherlands by a significant margin to even stay in the event during the group stages. However, they have peaked at the right time and couldn't have produced a more complete performance for a final. They fell five runs short two years ago at Johannesburg, but this time there was no mistake.

Prime Numbers

  • 22

    Number of dot balls Pakistan bowled in the first six overs.
  • 53 for 1

    Sri Lanka's average score in the Powerplay overs, before this match. Here, they were reduced to 34 for 4 after six.
  • 129

    The number of runs Shahid Afridi has scored in his last three innings, since moving up to No.3, at a strike rate of 148.27. This run also includes his first two half-centuries in Twenty20 internationals, in successive games.
  • 13

    The number of wickets for Umar Gul in the tournament, exactly as many as in the 2007 edition. In 2007 he averaged 11.92 at an economy rate of 5.60. Here his average was 12.15 at an economy rate of 6.44.
  • 64

    Kumar Sangakkara's score, his second half-century and his highest score in Twenty20 internationals.
  • 3 for 20

    Abdul Razzaq's bowling figures, his best in Twenty20 internationals, and his second three-wicket haul in six matches.

Sri Lanka, who have been the model of consistency, were caught off guard by aggressive tactics. In a stirring atmosphere, Pakistan were on top of their game from the start as 17-year-old Mohammad Aamer belied his inexperience with a tone-setting opening over. In a clear plan he bowled short at Dilshan who was distinctly discomforted by the approach. Against the fifth ball Dilshan tried to take the initiative with a scoop over short fine-leg, but only managed to pick out the man on the edge of the circle. He had middled virtually all his attempts at the shot during the tournament and what a time for it to go wrong.

With the tournament's leading run-scorer heading off Pakistan were buoyed and Sri Lanka shaken. Jehan Mubarak was promoted to No. 3, but he couldn't survive the second over when he came down the pitch and got a leading edge into the covers to give Razzaq his first.

Sri Lanka briefly rallied as Sanath Jaysuriya suggested he could marshal a turnaround. Favouring the leg side he swung Razzaq for six with a forceful short-arm pull and collected four more next ball, but it was a short-lived response when an inside edge crashed into the stumps. Razzaq was flat on his face at the moment of dismissal after slipping in his follow-through but it was Sri Lanka who were feeling unsteady.

Younis Khan went on the attack and his decision to post a wide slip paid rich dividends when Mahela Jayawardene steered the ball straight to Misbah-ul-Haq at ankle height. Razzaq was playing his cricket with a new lease of life after being giving another crack at international level. He wasn't part of the original squad, but Yasir Arafat's injury that prompted the switch now looked like a stroke of fortune.

Four wickets inside the Powerplay meant Sri Lanka had little choice but to play it safe as Younis turned to his spinners. Sangakkara was calmness personified amid Sri Lanka's problems aware that the hopes of a decent total rested on his shoulders. He paced his innings expertly, reaching fifty off 44 balls despite the problems that surrounded him, but only found support when joined by Angelo Mathews.

The final five overs brought 59 runs and if any attack could make a game out of 138 it was Sri Lanka's. However, early wickets were key and they didn't materialise as Akmal and Shahzaid Hasan played sensibly. The wizardry of Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan and the accuracy of Lasith Malinga have provided wonderful entertainment over the last weeks, but on this occasion couldn't conjure the magic spell that was needed.

As Afridi and Malik embraced mid-pitch after the winning moment the emotion showed what this victory means for Pakistan. They needed this success most and perhaps that drive was the deciding factor. The country faces a difficult few years of rebuilding, but this victory will have brought great joy and, hopefully, belief of a brighter future.

All-conquering England take title

Katherine Brunt kept headline punsters and New Zealand's line-up busy.

After all the anticipation the first women's World Twenty20 final was somewhat of an anti-climax but in the end the better team prevailed to become Twenty20 champions at Lord's. Katherine Brunt's career-best 3 for 6 set up a target of 86 and though England took 17 overs to chase it, they won't spend sleepless nights worrying.

The match was really won and lost in the first ten overs in which New Zealand limped to 30 for 4 after failing to counter Brunt's inswing and going for some ridiculous shots of their own. Brunt, sporting a black-eye that gave her a scrappy look to go with her fierce bowling, got the best out of a pitch that had life early. She bowled full to get maximum effect out of the inswingers but also sneaked in some shorter deliveries that lifted awkwardly.

Two of Brunt's wickets were a result of poor shot selection - Doolan bizarrely went for a tentative scoop and popped a catch to the wicketkeeper, and Rachel Priest tried to hook a shorter delivery only to offer Brunt a return catch.

But she can certainly take all the credit for her first dismissal, that of New Zealand's top run-getter Aimee Watkins. Offspinner Laura Marsh had beaten Watkins two balls before. Brunt came in for her second over and pitched the first ball on middle and off and it straightened to take the off stump as Watkins missed the line and went for a drive. With New Zealand's in-form batsman out, Brunt proceeded to put the pressure on the new batsman Amy Satterthwaite, with yorker-length deliveries. She kept up the pressure in her next over that Satterthwaite was forced to play out as a maiden.

Nicki Shaw picked up from where Brunt left off - not only in the bowling department but also in the wicket-celebration one as the two had a dance-off after Shaw bowled Nicola Browne with one that angled in to the right-hander. New Zealand had a little breathing space when left-arm spinner Holly Colvin came to bowl in the 11th bowler. She gave away three wides in her first over and was unlucky to have two catches dropped of her bowling - a tough one by her - after that. By the end of the 16th over, New Zealand's batsmen had faced 59 dot balls. In the last five overs they managed only 32 runs and lost the final four wickets.

England's batsmen may have taken their time to chase the paltry total, but it wasn't because New Zealand's bowlers really tested them. Often the quality of the opposition makes you look better or worse than you are. Against India, New Zealand's seamers looked almost unplayable, their fielders sharp and accurate. But today, against a much stronger batting side, they seemed bereft of inspiration.

Sian Ruck and Kate Pulford bowled well but not the sort you need when defending 85. Charlotte Edwards hit Ruck for a four by moving to leg and making room to cut and Ruck countered that with an inswinger that bowled Edwards, who tried to make room again. Pulford got outswing to right handers and bowled just outside off stump, beating Claire Taylor's bat thrice in an over. However, with no slip employed England prospered; Sarah Taylor edged one from Pulford and it went for four after beating a diving Priest behind the wicket.

Fittingly Claire Taylor, the Player of the Tournament, hit the winning runs. She ended one run short of being the leading run-getter. This is the second time in three months that England have beaten New Zealand in a World Cup final and future encounters between the two sides will be just the more gripping to watch.

In today's Sunday Telegraph Scyld Berry wrote that if England win the match, they would become the first international side of either gender to be champions in all three formats. England have done that but more importantly proved through this tournament that Twenty20 suited to women and can be a format used to make the game more popular.