Windies thump India in fourth ODI

Antigua. West Indies finally regained some pride by crushing India at Sir Viv Richards stadium by 103 runs. All thanks to an inspired performance by their bowling department led by Leg-spinner Anthony Martin who finished with 4-36. India were all out on 146 in the 39th over in reply of West Indies’s 249-8.

The start to the West Indian inning was as usual, they were reduced to 12-2 in the fifth over, soon they were reeling at 103-5 when Simmons got run out at 67 of 78.

Another batting collapse looked ascertain at that stage, but Kieron Pollard was determined to wipe out his image of a minnow basher. His innings of 70 of 72 balls was a blend of caution and aggression, he was well supported by Baugh who scored 39 of 57 balls. Russel’s 14 ball 25 ensured that West Indies ended with 249 for 8, their best score of this season.

India’s chase was derailed by Sammy’s initial burst, who removed both the openers. A very nervous Manoj tiwary was gone for 2 and Parthiv Patel, who lived dangerously perished at 26. Russel then made life tough for Badrinath who holed out to a quick bouncer from the all rounder.

But it was Martin who doomed India when he removed their prolific trio of Virat Kohli 21, captain Suresh Raina 10 and an in-form Rohit Sharma 39. Virat was smartly stumped by Baugh, Raina tried to break free but was caught at mid wicket.

Rohit Sharma, who was unbeaten so far in this series top edged Martin to leave India at 124 for 7. After this, it was always asking too much from the tail.

Time for fringe players to get a go

Antigua. India has already won a five match one day series by getting an assailable lead of 3-0 against West Indies. It’s time they measure the bench strength of the bench strength as this is already a second string team. Team management would definitely want to give Ishant Sharma a chance as in the absence of Zaheer and Shreesanth in the upcoming test series he would have to shoulder much responsibility. R Ashwin may also come in for Harbhajan Singh and Manoj Tiwari may replace Shikhar Dhawan in the opening slot.

Things have been really gloomy for the West Indies side. The second string Indian side has proven too good for them. They have played good in patches but lacked the flair and the killing instinct to win matches. The controversy around Gayle’s selection and Darren Samy’s criticism for not attending the West Indies Players' Association awards ceremony hasn’t helped either. They need some inspiration to lift their side, they would be playing to retain some pride in the next two games.

There have been some pretty good prospects in this series so far for India. Rohit Sharma’s renaissance has been phenomenal, and there has been someone standing up every time the team has been in a dock. If India can beat a test playing nation with their second string team, then in Fletcher’s words, the world champions can dominate world cricket for the next five to 10 years.

No UDRS in India-England series

Mumbai. India’s denial of the UDRS continues. The BCCI has sent a notification to the ECB that it does not want the system in the upcoming India-England test series scheduled in July this year.

India will travel to England mid July for a 4 test match series and according to the ICC rules, UDRS can be used in a series only if both the concerned boards agree for its use in the series.

Indian players have been vocal critics of the UDRS as skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar have been regularly opposing the system for not being 100 percent error proof. On the contrary English players like Graeme Swann have been big fans of UDRS.

"The reason India does not want it is because it will favour our bowlers," said John Emburey, former England off-spinner. "It [UDRS] has been massive for spinners because they are now getting wickets against batsmen playing on the front foot. The system has shown how the ball would go on to hit the stumps and umpires have now got it in their minds that they can declare batsmen out," he explained.

Emburey said the DRS has forced batsmen to use the bat more often against the spinners. "What DRS has done is, it has made batsmen play with their bat rather than hide behind the pad. This gives bowlers more chances of edges and catches because they have to play at the ball," he added.

WI board snubs Gayle again

St. Johns. Explosive opener and Former captain of West Indies Chris Gayle’s exile from the team continues. The Caribbean all rounder was not selected for the third one-day international against India, despite West Indies losing both the initial one-day games of the five match series.

He was also overlooked when the team was selected for the first two games even as he is in prolific form coming back from the IPL where he was the man of the tournament.

Gayle has been in a tiff with the West Indies Cricket Board since he was dropped from the team for the Pakistan series. He then publicly criticized the selection committee in a radio interview and then went on to play in the IPL.

Board officials insist that he will not be considered for selection in the team until he explains his comments and his actions. "The WICB management and the West Indies team management have not yet met with Chris Gayle and as such he has not been considered for selection for the 3rd ODI. The WICB and Gayle are currently working on settling a date for the meeting," said a WICB statement.

Ravi Rampaul and Dwayne Bravo have been rested. Danza Hyatt and Kemar Roch will replace them.

Sachin still No 1 Test Batsman

Dubai. Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar continues to rule the tests batsman’s ranking. The little master who will be skipping the upcoming test series against West Indies was on top of the batsman’s chart along with South African all rounder Jacque Kallis. According to the latest ICC test rankings both are on a combined No 1 position as they have 883 points each.

They are followed by Jonathan Trott, Kumar Sangakara and Eliester cook. Two more Indians along with Sachin are amongst the top ten test batsmen. With Virendra Sehwag placed 6th and VVS Laxman on 8th spot.

Dale Steyn is No1 test bowler with 899 points. He is followed by England’s Graeme Swann and James Anderson on number 2 and 3, with Morne Morkel being number 4. India’s pace spearhead Zaheer Khan is placed at number 5 with 748 points and Harbhajan singh is number 7. Jacques Kallis tops the all rounder’s ranking.

India beat West Indies in rain hit game

Port-Of-Spain. The second one dayer between India and West Indies was all about which team improves more. India just did what the doctor has ordered by lifting their game several notches up in the rain hit game. West Indies on the other hand also did slightly better but couldn’t match the grit and professionalism of the Indian side.

Batting first, West Indies, at one stage were looking at 270-280 with 192 for 3 at the 40 over mark. Thanks to another middle order collapse they ended with 240 for 9 at the end of 50 overs. Mishra sealed his career best figures with 4 for 31 while Munaf took 3 wickets.

When Shikhar Dhawan was out with just 8 runs on the board in the third over, it seemed that India was up for a top order wobble. But Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli had other plans, they stitched together a second wicket partnership of 120 and took the team to safety.

The Indian chase was on course when rain stopped play in the 22nd over. When the game resumed they were given a revised target of 83 off 90 balls. It was a bit stiff, but Raina and Kohli, who are fresh from the IPL stint smoked a few big hits to see India home.

West Indies strategy faltered yet again. Both their leg spinners where kept out of the attack till the 17th over on a pitch where Amit Mishra ripped apart the Caribbean batting line up. Their poor show in the field continued as they dropped Kohli when he was on 38. He made the West Indians to pay heavily for this let off as he went on to play a match winning of 81.

We will stay No1: Laxman

Hyderabad. VVS Laxman, who has been named the vice captain for the upcoming test series against the West Indies is confident that the team will put up a good show in the Caribbean islands. He accepted the fact that it will be a tough tour as the team will be missing their key players. India will be without the services of Sachin, Sehwag and Gambhir who have been the corner stones of their recent success in test cricket.

He instilled faith that the young replacements would rise to the occasion and perform up to the mark. He also made it clear that the absence of some of the senior players doesn’t make any difference to him and he will try to perform the best he can.

"We will definitely miss the services of Sachin, Viru and Gautam. That said, even when they were there I always performed to the best of my ability. This time will be no different. Their replacements Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund and Virat Kohli are up and coming youngsters. If we play to our potential we'll definitely win. We won the Test series there last time and we hope to repeat the feat," Laxman said.

The wristy batsman agreed to the fact that playing West Indies in their home conditions is never going to be easy, "West Indies in West Indies is very tough competition. They have good match-winners, so it will be a good contest. How you meet the challenge is very important. I've always given a lot of importance to my performance overseas."

India’s Caribbean sojourn begins with the first test at Jamaica on June 20. Laxman was not only confident of India winning in West Indies but was also upbeat about carrying the form to the England tour and retaining the No.1 test ranking.

India search for convincing win

Port-Of-Spain. The next generation of Indian cricket has been unbeaten so far in this West Indies tour, but top order wobble has been the area of concern for Suresh Raina and Duncan Fletcher.

India has come here as world beaters and that top billing calls in for a clinical performance both with the bat and the ball.

There have been concerns with the opening pair, as they have failed to rack up a decent opening stand in the last two games. Virat Kohli who has been in cracking form of late has literally thrown his wicket in the two outings.

It exerts undue pressure on the middle and lower middle order, which has so far done the job reasonably well. The problem with the Indian batsman seems to be that they are still in the T20 mode. They need to realize that they need to convert these 20s and 30s into big scores. It’s the matter of application and putting a price tag on one’s wicket.

On the other hand Darren Sammy has plenty to worry, his batsman are playing spin as if hand grenades are being hurled at them. In the absence of Gayle and Chandrapaul their batting looks seriously depleted, which played 169 dot balls in the last game.

Their Bowling looks ok but lacks the intent and sting to threaten the Indian batting line up. Fielding too remains a concern against a young Indian team which is brisk between the wickets.
It’s all about improvement for both the teams, and the matter is which team does it better in the second game of the series.

Test for junior World Champs

Port of Spain. India’s first one day outing after they won the World Cup on April 2 beating Sri Lanka is here. The Indian side which would take on West Indies may look depleted as at least 6 or 7 faces which featured in the summit clash at the Wankhede are missing, but Caribbean captain Darren Sammy will ill afford to take this team lightly. They were comprehensively beaten by the Suresh Raina lead team in the lone T2o game, and the chinks in the West Indies armour were well exposed.

The young Indian players would like to seize this opportunity to cement their place in the squad. Indian batting was a little edgy at the T20 game and Suresh Raina will be aware of it. He would want his batsman to apply themselves better. As far as bowling is concerned Ishant Sharma may come in for Praween Kumar or Munaf Patel.

The West Indies team would like to restore their lost pride. The squad has been strengthened with Dwayne Brawo, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Kieron Polard joining the ranks.

But Darren Sammy is not happy with the pitches he has been getting of late. West Indian pitches which have always been pace bowler’s paradise have suddenly started assisting spin.

This was also the sole reason why they lost 2-3 against Pakistan last month. He is certainly concerned about how his batsman would handle Harbhajan singh and R Ashwin with these spin friendly pitches. He asked for pitches which would assist pace and bounce.

However, the grounds man may not be able to help Darren Sammy’s cause as rain may play spoilsport. The sun has been playing hide and seek at the Oval since the T20 game.

Nadal beats Federer to win 6th French Open title

Paris. King of clay Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6 (7/3), 5-7, 6-1 in a hard fought match to win his 6th French Open title to equal Bjorn Borg record. This was also the 10th overall grand slam title for the Spaniard. The epic clash between the world number one and number three lasted for 3 hours 40 minutes.

Nadal and Federer are arguably the best players the game had ever seen. They have met 25 times and Nadal has managed to win 17 of them, 4 of them coming at Roland Garros. Top seeded Nadal needed to win this match to prevent Djokowich to outplace him, but the Spaniard did just what the doctor has ordered.

Nadal was not at his best at the beginning and Federer raced to 3-0, soon it was set point for Federer with Nadal serving at 5-2, but a drop shot landed just wide and the master of clay bounced back to win the set 7-5.

The next set was a hard fought one, with pendulum swinging every now and then. Even rain interrupted the match for a while. But eventually when the game resumed Nadal clinched the second set by winning the tie breaker 7-3.

It looked it was all over in the third set when Federer was broken to love to slip 4-2 down but he fought back to trail 3-4. He then successfully served to stay in the match in the 10th game, broke for 6-5 and finally won the set 7-5 amidst a huge roar from the crowd.

It looked as if Federer can stage a comeback but Nadal then shut all doors on him, he saved two break points in the opening game of the fourth set, then broke to love for a 3-1 lead and held for 4-1. Soon he had three match points, and the game was over when Federer went long with a forehand.

It’s a Chinese Opener at Paris

Paris. China’s increasing global clout in world sports reached a new high when Li Na became the first Chinese to win a single’s grand slam title ever. She is also the first Asian to do so. The 29 year old defeated Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6—4, 7—6 (0) in the French Open final. Li Na demolished the defending champion 7-0 in the tie-breaker.

Li Na who was the runner-up at the Australian Open made sure that this is going to be her day. Her service was broken only once by the defending champion, while she converted two of her eight break points - one in each set. This was Li’s first title at clay court and fifth overall. Li lead the first set 3—2 when Schiavone sent a forehand wide. She held at love in the next two games, and then won the setpoint when Schiavone sent a forehand long.

The Chinese player opened the second set with her second break of the match, and then saved Schiavone’s first break point in the next game with an ace. But Schiavone broke back in the eighth game to even the score at 4—4. Schiavone came within two points of winning the set on five occasions, three times at 5—5 and two more at 6—6, but couldn’t place the final punch. In the tie breaker, Schiavone, who last year became the first Italian women to win a grand slam proved no match to the power and precision of Li Na.

Li Na felt flat on the red clay at the end of what was the oldest Grand Slam singles final in 21 years, the combined ages of the two players was 60 years and 79 days. She was absolutely ecstatic after her historic win and expressed hope that her rare feat will catapult tennis’ popularity in China.

Krishna Poonia back on track

Jaipur. Ace athlete and gold medal winner at the Delhi Common Wealth Games Krishna Poonia is all set to make a comeback on track after six months. Poonia was recovering from a knee injury which she suffered during the CWG games in October last year. The discus thrower also won a bronze medal at the Asian Games in China.

Poonia has set her sight for a podium finish at the 2012 London Olympics. She was going through a rehabilitation program at the NIS Patiala since February. She missed the two legs of Indian Grand Prix at Patiala (May 3 and 7) and the three legs of Asian Grand Prix in China last month.

Krishna will return to competitive athletics at National Inter—state Athletics Meet (June 11—14) in Bangalore with an aim to make it to the Asian Championships (July 7—10) in Japan and be in top form at the World Championships (August 27—September 5) in South Korea.

Poonia is the first Indian woman to have won an individual gold in track and field events in the Commonwealth Games. She threw the discus to 61.50m at the Commonwealth Games and 61.94m at the Asian Games where she won the bronze medal.

Maiden Indian F1 race to heat up Dec Delhi chills

Delhi. The wait for our very own Indian F1 Grand Prix just got a little longer. The first ever F1 race which was earlier scheduled on October 30 will now be organized either on December 4 or 11.

The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council decision in Barcelona to re-instate the Bahrain GP into the F1 calendar has forced the Indian GP to be shifted towards the end of the year. Bahrain GP was scheduled to be the 2011 season opener, but due to internal unrest in the country it was postponed.

This means the Greater Noida F1 circuit will be abuzz with Formula One cars during the coldest season of the year in India. Usually during December-January, Delhi is hit by intense fog and organizers are afraid that it may play spoilsport, as bad visibility can hamper proceedings in the F1 circuit. An extended season will also mean that drivers, race officials and engineers will have a very hectic schedule and will have very little break before the next season.

But looking at the brighter side, it’s going to be the coolest race in Asia, as mercury usually remains below 10 degrees and fans will definitely cherish the chilly weather. Also to host the season finale is a very prestigious feat for India.

Sania falls one step short of French Open Doubles Title

Paris. Sania Mirza and her Russian partner Elena Vesnina chose the wrong day to go off color and hand a prize money of euros 330,000 to the unseeded Chech dual of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. They lost the French Open Women’s doubles final 4-6, 3-6 in an hour and 21 minutes.

The Indo-Russian pair has to settle down for euros 1,65,000. More unforced errors doomed the pair which was everyone’s favorite to win the title. Sania also missed out to become the first ever Indian to win a women’s doubles grand slam title.

The match was almost lost in the initial moments as the Czech pair raced to 5-1 and it was always some catching up for the Indo-Russian dual. They tried hard but they were not in the sort of form which they have displayed in the last fortnight.

Caribbean Calypso begins with 20 over dash

Port-of-Spain (Trinidad). The second string players of Indian cricket would like to better India’s T20 record against the West Indies. India have played two T20 games against the Caribbean side and failed to win any of them but this seems to be their best chance. Even after wearing a depleted look, the young Indian side looks favorite to win the lone T20 game at Trinidad, it is mainly because their rivals are without the menacing Chris Gayle, Chandrapaul and allrounders Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Brawo.

This West Indies tour is a test not only of India’s bench strength but also for Duncan Fletcher, who has the challenge of taking a world champion side to new levels. In this tour India will be without the services of most of its key players with Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj singh, Gautum Gambhir and Virendra Sehwag missing out.

Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel would most probably be opening the batting with Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, S Badrinath and Yusuf Pathan to follow. Munaf Patel along with Praveen Kumar will shoulder the pace attack while Harbhajan Singh will lead the spin attack with R Ashwin to give company.

West Indian captain Darren Sammy would except Kemar Roach, Ravi Rampaul and Andre Russell to make early inroads in the Indian battling line up and restrict them to a low score and then would hope to chase it down.

Trott is England’s Player of the Year

London. Jonathan Trott reaped rich dividends for being England’s best batsman in the last season in all formats of the game. He won the England Player of the Year award given by the ECB. The award is given on the basis of votes by the British cricket media. He was voted ahead of Alistair Cook who scored 766 runs in the last winter’s Ashes.

Trott was absolutely phenomenal in the last 12 months, he scored 1,317 Test runs at an average of 94.07, as well as 1,132 one-day runs at 56.6. His overall test average of 66.77 is next only to Don Bradman.

Trott almost effortlessly scores his runs and maintains a sense of calmness, he may not be as flamboyant as KP but he is very effective. He piled on 203 against Sri Lanka at the recent Cardiff test which England won dramatically on the final day.

Team India leaves for Caribbean challenge

Mumbai. A young and inexperienced Indian cricket team left for the West Indies tour under the leadership of Suresh Raina. It is also the first assignment of Duncan Fletcher after his appointment as team India coach. Team India’s mission Caribbean looks an uphill task as the team wears a depleted look with most senior players pulling out due to injury concerns and to rest.

Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Virendra Sehwag and Gautum Gambhir will miss the complete tour, while Dhoni, Laxman, Drawid and Zaheer will join the ranks for the test series. Team India will face their first challenge after being crowned World Champions 2 months ago.

Suresh Raina, stand in captain for the lone T 20 and the one day series termed this opportunity as a turning point for him. Clad in blue team India blazer Raina said, "I feel very proud to be leading this Indian team. We have recently won the World Cup and now we have a new coach in Duncan Fletcher and we hope to do well in the West Indies."

India will play a Twenty20 in Trinidad (June 4) and five ODIs on June 6 (Trinidad), June 8 (Trinidad), June 11 (Antigua), June 13 (Antigua) and June 16 (Jamaica).

The ODI series would be followed by a three-match Test-rubber in Jamaica (June 20-June 24), Barbados (June 28-Jul 2) and Dominica (Jul 6-Jul 10).

ODI and T20 squad: Suresh Raina (capt), R Ashwin, S Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh (vc), Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra, Munaf Patel, Parthiv Patel (wk), Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Vinay Kumar, Manoj Tiwary, Shikhar Dhawan.

Test squad: M S Dhoni (capt), VVS Laxman (vc), M Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, S Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel.

Sachin, Durrani clinch top honours at BCCI awards

Mumbai. Sachin Tendulkar and Salim Durrani notched top honours at the fourth annual BCCI award ceremony in Mumbai. The little master was honoured with the Poly Umrigar trophy and a cheque of Rs. 5 lakhs for his outstanding run in all forms of cricket in 2009-10, Salim Durrani was awarded the CK Nayudu Lifetime achievement award with a cheque of Rs. 15 Lakhs for his outstanding service to Indian cricket.

BCCI also gifted Rs. 2 Crore each to all the members of the world cup winning team. While Gary Kirsten could not come for the award ceremony, new coach Duncan Fletcher graced the occasion. BCCI president Shashank Manohar handed out trophies to the winners.

Speaking on this occasion Mahendra Singh Dhoni thanked the fans in and outside India for their support which egged on the players to win the World Cup. Sachin Tendulkar thanked his team mates for their support and felt proud to be holding the trophy for the second time. But the star of the show was 76 year old Durrani, who remembered his old days and expressed his gratitude in a choked voice.

Five reasons why CSK retained IPL trophy

Jaipur. By drubbing Banglore Royal Challengers in the IPL final at Chepauk, Chennai Super kings became the first team to win the IPL title twice and that too in successive years. Let us try to dissect the jigsaw puzzle of how Chennai successfully defended their title and reached the helm all over again.

1. Retaining the same team

Chennai was the only team other than Mumbai which retained four players from the last season. Not only they retained Dhoni, Raina, Vijay and Albie Morkel, they also bought back players like Michael Hussy, R Ashwin, Shadab Zakati and S Badrinath. This made the core of the team unchanged and while other teams struggled to strike balance and understanding between the players, CSK enjoyed comfort of a settled side.

2. The MSD advantage

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the goldfish of world cricket today. His maverick ways and the ability to remain cool in tense situations make him the best captain around. He pulls a rabbit out of his hat every time you think there’s no way out. His self believe and calmness rubs on the team. His contribution as a batsman and wicket keeper is an added advantage.

3. Team effort

By far Chennai was the best team in the tournament. While other teams heavily depended on individual players (like Bangalore relied on Gayle and Mumbai on Sachin), Chennai always played like a team. Every time they were in trouble somebody rose to the occasion. Like Raina and M Vijay were not in the best of form in the league stage, but they performed in the last two games to make CSK the champions.

4. Chepauk: The CSK fortress

The Chepauk ground at Chennai was turned into a virtual fortress of their own by CSK. The team won all the 8 matches including the summit clash played on their home ground. On match day the stadium turned into a sea of yellow CSK supporters which was like a 12th man for the team. Their cheering and support egged on the team to do better.

5. Spin Web

CSK spin twins R Ashwin and Shadab Zakati where difficult to score. Especially R Ashwin was the go to man for his skipper. Dhoni threw the ball to him every time he needed a breakthrough and Ashwin willfully obliged. He dismissed Gayle cheaply twice in the last three encounters which doomed RCB. He regularly bowled in the first six powerplay overs and not only dismissed batsman but also checked the flow of runs. Suresh Raina also chipped in with his part time off spins.