【zeus unleashed slot online】CWG, Day 8 ( 8 am to 3 pm) - As it happened

2022-07-02 16:44:40

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Sri Lanka restricts New Zealand to 217******Cricket

Sri Lanka restricts New Zealand to 217

PTIColomboMarch 29, 2011 16:13 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:38 ISTPTIColomboMarch 29, 2011 16:13 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:38 IST
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Lasith Malinga's 3/55 helped Sri L<strong>zeus unleashed slot online</strong>anka to reduce New Zealand to 217 in the first semifinal at Colombo on Tuesday.

Lasith Malinga's 3/55 helped Sri Lanka to reduce New Zealand to 217 in the first semifinal at Colombo on Tuesday.

A clinical display by the bowlers helped Sri Lanka bundle out New Zealand for a modest 217 in 48.5 overs despite Scott Stryis’s fighting half-century, in the first semifinal of the cricket World Cup here on Tuesday.

Pace spearhead Lasith Malinga and spinner Ajantha Mendis, with three wickets each, were the wreckers-in-chief, while Muttiah Muralitharan finished with two scalps as New Zealand’s innings lacked the thurst needed to power them to a challenging total.

Batting first after winning the toss, Styris struck 57 off 77 balls, an innings that was laced with five boundaries, before becoming Muralitharan’s final ODI victim.

The match at the Premadasa stadium is the veteran off-spinner’s final ODI on home soil.

Apart from Styris, Martin Guptill contributed 39 while Ross Taylor made 36.

Bollywood roots for Team India; showers praise on Afridi******Cricket

Bollywood roots for Team India; showers praise on Afridi

PTIMumbaiMarch 31, 2011 13:14 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 13:14 ISTPTIMumbaiMarch 31, 2011 13:14 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 13:14 IST
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Union Minister Praful Patel and Bollywood actor Preity Zinta at PCA stadium in Mohali on Wednesday during the CWC semi-final match between India and Pakistan. Photo: PTI

Union Minister Praful Patel and Bollywood actor Preity Zinta at PCA stadium in Mohali on Wednesday during the CWC semi-final match between Indiwizard of oz slots online nja and Pakistan. Photo: PTI

Bollywood brigade was all praise for Team India, which trumped Pakistan in a nail-biting thriller at Mohali to sail into the 2011 World Cup finals scheduled to be played at the Wankhede Stadium here on April 2.

“INDIA beats PAKISTAN !!! Moves into the final with SriLanka. India breathes normally now..well played India, congratulations. The streets outside were jammed with revelers, screaming shouting waving the tri—color ... had not seen this in ages !! Now for the final (sic),” megastar Amitabh Bachchan wrote on micro—blogging site Twitter.

While, son Abhishek said, “Well done Team India... Diya ghumake! MAA tujhe salaam......Aur SACHIN aapko bhi (sic)!”

Actor Akshay Kumar tweeted, “We are not just INCREDIBLE INDIA, We are OUTSTANDING INDIA as well.. Congrats Boyz, you have put billions of smiles across billions of faces (sic).”

Pakistani actor-singer Ali Zafar said, “Pakistan beat everyone’s expectation by coming this far. Well played India. Congratulations. Great game to watch. God bless everybody.”

Vijay Mallya said, “The Indian cricket team has managed wonderfully and peacefully to do what our Intelligence has failed to do-Keep Pakistan out of Mumbai!.”

Actor Shilpa Shetty could not contain her excitement and broke down. “INDIA WON...and I cried tears of joy! Class act by the Indian team, aggression with maturity, lethal combo! Deserve to be in the finals, fab job (sic),” she said.

Priyanka Chopra said, “Oh my god! What a show of class Team India! The world cup awaits you in Mumbai! Can you hear the unified sound of pure joy.. Indiiiiiiiaaaa (sic).”

Filmmakers Madhur Bhandarkar, Kunal Kohli, Shekar Kapur, Punit Malhotra, actors Dino Moreo, Rahul Bose, Kunal Kapoor, Dia Mirza, Konkana Sharma and Jiah Khan were among others who congratulated the Indian team for the victory.

Praise came in for the Pakistani team and captain Afridi as well for the effort and true sportsmanship.

“What made the game special was that both teams played with dignity (no mother-sister profanities). That’s the way to go India, Pakistan,” singer-actor Meiyang Chang tweeted.

“Love the madness!!! Loadsa Indian fans wearing these T shirts!!! Wow! What a victory! Also met Shahid Afridi and his family, told him I thought Pakistan played with spirit, grace and all their heart,” actor Vivek Oberoi said.

Actor Minissha Lamba tweeted, “Shahid Afridi so graceful..so dignified. I hope one day I could invite him to my humble home for a cup of tea.”

Indian Tennis player Sania Mirza, who married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, said, “Pakistan team proved many wrong by reaching the semi finals. Congratulations to them for a great tournament.”

“Woww Afridi, great sportsmanship. He did win us over, charming,” actor Dino Morea said.

Director Punit Malhotra says, “Saw the post match conference. Credit to Afridi for being so gracious, congratulating and wishing India the best. Truly a sportsman, a big heart.”

“Afridi you were Brilliant you showed grace and dignity you won our hearts.. Good luck to you,” actor Riteish Deshmukh said.

Priyanka added, “Well played Pakistan. You guys are formidable opponents. Be proud of what you’ve achieved in this World Cup.”

Actor R Madhavan said, “The BEST part was to see the camaraderie and mutual respect between the two teams. Not long before the two nations feel the same. God willing.”

Rajapaksa wants it for Murali******Cricket

Rajapaksa wants it for Murali

R. K. RadhakrishnanCOLOMBOMarch 31, 2011 09:35 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 ISTR. K. RadhakrishnanCOLOMBOMarch 31, 2011 09:35 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 IST
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Sri Lankan spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan acknowledges the crowd after their win over New Zealand in the Cricket World Cup semifinal match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, March 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Sri Lankan spin bowler Muttiah Muralitharan acknowledges the crowd after their win over New Zealand in the Cricket World Cup semifinal match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, March 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa wants his country’s cricket team to win the tenth edition of the ICC World Cup for the world’s highest wicket-taker in test cricket Muttiah Muralitharan.

Sri Lanka will meet India in an all-Asian final at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on April 2, to decide on which country takes home the World Cup. This is the first all-Asian final in 10 editions of the World Cup, spread over 36 years of cricket history.

This is Muralitharan’s last World Cup and he has appeared in the most number of cup matches by a Swizard of oz slots online usari Lankan (39). Muralitharan had announced that he would retire at the end of the World Cup. “This will be the most fitting tribute to Muralitharan, who has upheld the true spirit of Sri Lanka. He played the game like a true Sri Lankan,” the President told his country’s team. There would be no better gift for Muralitharan, who has always played the game in its right spirit and never gave up despite the many obstacles in his way, he added. Sri Lanka is in a World Cup final for the second straight time. They have reached the finals thrice, and won it once.

Earlier, soon after the Sri Lankan team beat New Zealand comprehensively on March 29 at the R. Premadasa stadium in Colombo, Mr. Rajapaksa spoke to Muralitharan and appreciated his contributions to Sri Lankan cricket. March 29 was the last time that Muralitharan played competitive international ODI cricket in Sri Lanka. The President told Muralitharan that he joined millions in the country to wish him on his many achievements, a close aide of the President said.

Muralitharan had announced his retirement from test cricket last year. In a fairy-tale end to his test career, on June 22, 2010, he took the last wicket off his last ball in test cricket to reach the magical figure of 800 wickets, a mark no one else ever has and, perhaps never will.

In the match against New Zealand, Muralitharan finished with figures of 2 for 42 off his 10 overs. Muralitharan needs three more wickets to equal Glen McGrath’s record of most wickets (71) in World Cup Cricket.

Among those cheering for Muralitharan and his team will be the Sri Lankan President at the Mumbai stadium. The cricket-crazy nation, like India, will come to a standstill on Saturday as Sri Lanka takes on India. There is a wild rush for tickets to Mumbai. Though tickets are sold out, many are still hoping to get into the stadium once they reach Mumbai.

【zeus unleashed slot online】CWG, Day 8 ( 8 am to 3 pm) - As it happened

Sachin Tendulkar targets final glory******Cricket

Sachin Tendulkar targets final glory

AFPMOHALI:March 31, 2011 03:30 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:31 ISTAFPMOHALI:March 31, 2011 03:30 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:31 IST
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ECSTATIC: Sachin Tendulkar, giving  skipper M.S. Dhoni a celebratory hug after India's incredible win on Wednesday, is thrilled at playing the final in front of his home crowd. Photo: S. Subramanium

ECSTATIC: Sachin Tendulkar, giving skipper M.S. Dhoni a celebratory hug after India's incredible win on Wednesday, is thrilled at playing the final in front of his home crowd. Photo: S. Subramanium

Sachin Tendulkar, who led a charmed life to hit a crucial 85 in Wednesday's semifinal win, is targetting his first World Cup title in front of his home fans in Mumbai.

“The final in Mumbai will be a fantastic occasion. We will focus on the job in hand and try to get the job done,” said Tendulkar of Saturday's title match against Sri Lanka.

Tendulkar again missed out on making 100 international centuries but had the satisfaction of having played in all five of India's World Cup wins over Pakistan.

Now he hopes to be at the forefront of Saturday's campaign where India will look to capture a second World Cup title, 28 years after its first and only triumph.

“It's always memorable to play against Pakistan and to be on the winning side five times against them is a memory I will always cherish.

“But it was a brilliant effort in the field and by the bowlers today. When we batted we had to make sure we got a fighting total. I thought 310 or 315 would have been a good par score.

“Then the ball started stopping and spinning and something closer to 270 was par.”

Harbhajan happy

Harbhajan Singh, who took two for 43, said the semifinal would have made a great title match.

“This was like a final. Whenever India and Pakistan play the pressure is always double. It was a big match for us and for them,” he said.

“We bowled and fielded well and I think we deserved to win. We played good overall cricket. I am looking forward to going to Mumbai and playing in the final.”

Muralitharan's fairy tale ending******Cricket

Muralitharan's fairy tale ending

Kunal DiwanCOLOMBO:March 31, 2011 03:18 ISTUpdated:November 28, 2021 21:25 ISTKunal DiwanCOLOMBO:March 31, 2011 03:18 ISTUpdated:November 28, 2021 21:25 IST

A complete team-man and a very hard working cricketer, says Sangakkara

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A complete team-man and a very hard working cricketer, says Sangakkara

Muttiah Muralitharan's last ODI delivery on home soil, in the 2011 ICC World Cup semifinal against New Zealand, was adorned by a wicket, stirring up memories of the spin legend's last ball in Test cricket which had also gained him a final victim — his 800th.

Skipper Kumar Sangakkara said that the iconic bowler deserved every bit of success, as also the ‘fairy tale endings' that brought him wickets in his last balls on home turf in the two formats.

“He needed eight wickets in his last Test to reach 800 and he did that. He got a wicket off his last ball tonight.

Richly deserved

“Murali deserves these fairy tale endings because he has no ego and no pretences. He is a complete team man and a very hard working cricketer,” Sangakkara said.

“It was kind of overwhelming that he was playing his last game at home after coming out for Sri Lanka for so many years,” he added.

With the co-host suffering a miniature collapse in its chase against New Zealand, the captain said that Murali was padded up and set to enter the cauldron if another wicket fell.

“He has this uncanny ability to hit the ball, that's why he was in next”, the skipper explained.

Murali is Sri Lanka's leading bowler in the current tournament with 15 wickets. He is also three scalps away from equalling Glenn McGrath's record cumulative World Cup tally of 71 wickets.

The Lankan legend has one match to equal or surpass the Aussie and sign off in style on the biggest stage of all, in the final in Mumbai. Sangakkara said Murali was usually chirpy in the dressing room with cricket predictions and what not, but the off-spinner hadn't yet put his money on which team would emerge on top in what will be his third World Cup final.

“He is always talking in the dressing room, always telling us who's going to win and what's going to happen. But he hasn't said anything about the final yet.”

Sri Lankan team arrives******Cricket

Sri Lankan team arrives

PTIMumbai:March 31, 2011 03:17 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:17 ISTPTIMumbai:March 31, 2011 03:17 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:17 IST
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Sri Lankan team led by Kumar Sangakkara (left) arrives in Mumbai on Wednesday for the World Cup final.

Sri Lankan team led by Kumar Sangakkara (left) arrives in Mumbai on Wednesday for the World Cup final.

The Sri Lankan team led by Kumar Sangakkara arrived here on Wednesday to play in the cricket World Cup final at the Wankhede Stadium on April 2.

Having defeated New Zealand by five wickets on Tuesday in Colombo in the first semifinal, Sri Lanka is all set to play its second successive final of the mega-event after finishing runner-up to Australia four years ago in the West Indies.

The summit clash on Saturday would be the first-ever all-Asia final in the history of the tournament.

Big prize money

The eventual winner of the flagship event of the game would be richer by $3 million, while the runner-up would take home $1.5 million out of the total prize pool of $12.52 million.

Sri Lanka has played four one-dayers at this venue, including a league match in this tournament against New Zealand.

Out of those four, it has won two and lost two.

Lanka had been beaten by India and defeated it once each in its first two encounters at the ground in 1986-87 and 1996-97.

In two other non-India games, Lanka was beaten by the West Indies in 1993, while it defeated New Zealand earlier this month.

Indian selectors humiliated******Cricket

Indian selectors humiliated

Special CorrespondentNEW DELHIMarch 31, 2011 03:16 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:16 ISTSpecial CorrespondentNEW DELHIMarch 31, 2011 03:16 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:16 IST
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The five National selectors, headed by K. Srikkanth, returned to their respective homes after being humiliated in Chandigarh on Tuesday. Their ‘mysterious' absence at the Punjab Cricket Stadium (PCA) in Mohali was not to be missed on Wednesday as India clashed with Pakistan in the World Cup semifinal.

The selectors, who had confirmed room bookings at the Taj, were denied accommodation by the hotel authorities. PCA sources confirmed that the selectors were turned back by the hotel despite holding confirmed bookings.

The hotel, which has a tie-up with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), was facing unprecedented demand for rooms. The hotel did not offer any alternative arrangement and the selectors —Srikkanth, Yashpal Sharma, Narendra Hirwani, Raja Venkat and Surendra Bhave — were left with little choice.

The selectors lost little time in leaving Chandigarh. They drove back overnight to Delhi and were watching the match from their homes instead at Mohali. It is learnt the hotel authorities had transferred the room bookings to the International Cricket Council (ICC) even though the selectors' accommodation was the responsibility of the BCCI. The selectors had reported at 3 p.m. and had left the city four hours later by road.

The fiasco, claimed a PCA source, was due to a tussle between the BCCI and the ICC over ticket allocation and hotel bookings. The selectors are often known to fetch for themselves from the airport to the hotel or the stadium but this was a first as far as accommodation was concerned.

The last time a National selector was humiliated was Hirwani when he was evicted from a hospitality box during an Indian Premier League match (IPL) but surprisingly chose to suffer the indignity without any protest.

Incidentally, the selection committee includes two members — Srikkanth and Yashpal — of the 1983 World Cup winning team. The selectors, undoubtedly, deserved better treatment for having done a decent job of the responsibility entrusted to them.

Is Lanka relying too much on its top three?******Cricket

Is Lanka relying too much on its top three?

APCOLOMBO:March 31, 2011 03:15 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:15 ISTAPCOLOMBO:March 31, 2011 03:15 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:15 IST
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Three of the top four run-scorers in the World Cup are Sri Lankans who have amassed more than 1,200 runs among them over seven games all but one played at home on Sri Lankan wickets.

The real test of Sri Lanka's world-beating credentials will come in Mumbai on Saturday when its marauding batsmen face a tough bowling attack on an unfamiliar wicket.

Tillakaratne Dilshan (467), captain Kumar Sangakkara (417) and Upul Tharanga (393) with England's Jonathan Trott lead the pack of World Cup batsmen.

Has the 1996 World Cup winner relied too much on the top three batsmen to come good every time?

The statistics show that the remaining batsmen have averaged a total of 72 runs among them over the World Cup, although admittedly they have not been needed that often.

Playing at home is of course an advantage and seven home games in a World Cup has put Sri Lanka firmly in a comfort zone.

Sri Lanka's team has travelled just once outside its territory since the World Cup began on February 19 when it defeated New Zealand in a group game at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, the venue for Saturday's finale.

Sangakkara's batsmen have so far stuttered just once on the way to the final. And it happened against the only quality bowling they had faced in the tournament thus far when Pakistan successfully defended a total of 277 for seven in group game.

There were some nervy moments on Saturday when New Zealand took four wickets in the space of 25 runs, but the lack of quality bowling denied the Kiwis a victory. Sangakkara anchored the innings with a brilliant 111 against New Zealand at Mumbai, but was not sure what type of wicket he would be getting for Saturday's final.

New Zealand media laments team's exit******Cricket

New Zealand media laments team's exit

PTIWellington:March 31, 2011 03:14 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:14 ISTPTIWellington:March 31, 2011 03:14 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:14 IST
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New Zealand media today lamented its team's exit from the World Cup after it failed to break the semifinal ‘jinx' for the sixth time as it was sent packing by Sri Lanka.

The media, however, praised the Kiwis for putting up a spirited performance and exceeding the expectations in reaching the semifinal stage of the quadrennial event.

TheNew Zealand Heraldsaid the Black Caps, “almost broke the jinx”.

“They deserve suitable plaudits for a gallant effort,” it said.

The New Zealand's national news agency, NZPA, was however, critical as it said, “It wasdeja vuall over again.”

Brave show

New Zealand, on Tuesday put up a brave show against the favourite Sri Lanka making it earn its ticket to the World Cup final, after it was bundled out within its allotted quota of overs for a small total of 217.

Chasing a modest target of 218, the Sri Lankans were going smooth at 160 for one before the Kiwis struck back dismissing four of their batsman for an addition of just 25 runs to the total. But that did not prove enough as the host ran home with the victory in 47.5 overs with five wickets to spare.

Meanwhile, the former New Zealand cricketer Nathan Astle raised doubts about the inability of Kiwis to come out with something innovative rather than sticking to the same game plan that worked for them against South Africa.

“The Black Caps' inability to adapt their game plan is what cost them a place in the World Cup final,” the cricketer toldNew Zealand Herald.

Astle, though, admired the team's much enhanced performance at the big stage saying, “It's just a shame we couldn't get across the line for the final but I think they've proven a few people wrong, myself included.

“They got a lot further than people thought they would and must be given credit for that,” the batsman added.

Fairfax Media described New Zealand's loss as “agonising”, but conceded it had an air of inevitability after the Kiwis skittled to a meagre total, giving the bowlers little to defend.

“They talked a brave game and genuinely believed they could beat the odds again — as they did four days earlier by upsetting South Africa in Dhaka,” it said.

“But after posting such a small total from their 50 overs, the New Zealanders would have known they hadn't done enough.”

Vettori quits T20 cricket******Cricket

Vettori quits T20 cricket

PTIWellington:March 31, 2011 03:13 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:13 ISTPTIWellington:March 31, 2011 03:13 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:13 IST
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Daniel Vettoti has called it a day from Twenty20 cricket after New Zealand's ouster from the semifinals of the ongoing World Cup but said he is yet to make up his mind on his ODI future.

After New Zealand's five-wicket defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in Colombo on Tuesday, Vettori also confirmed that he will step down as captain in all the three formats of the game.

The left-arm spinner, however, said that he remained committed to Test cricket but with New Zealand not scheduled to play an ODI until October, he said he would take time to consider his 50-over future.

“I've played my last Twenty20 match ... (but) it's about six months to the next one-dayer so I have a lot of time to sit down and think about it and talk to my family,” he was quoted as saying by the New Zealand media.

“Tests are a big part of why I play the game, for team and myself, because there is no better feeling than winning a Test,” he said.

Vettori announced his decision to quit captaincy before New Zealand's departure for the Word Cup.

Vettori has led the Black Caps in 82 ODIs — winning 41 and losing 33 out of them. In 32 Tests under Vettori's leadership, New Zealand won six, lost 16 and drew 10 matches. He also captained the Black Caps in 28 Twenty20 matches with a win-loss record of 13 each.

Vettori's successor is yet to be named, but Ross Taylor is expected to take over.

Ponting promises something special******Cricket

Ponting promises something special

PTIMelbourne:March 31, 2011 03:12 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:12 ISTPTIMelbourne:March 31, 2011 03:12 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:12 IST
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A “life-changing” chapter of his cricket career over after stepping down as captain, Ricky Ponting says he will now focus on becoming a great teammate and a guy that new Australian skipper Michael Clarke can rely upon to give “something special.”

Ponting, who guided Australia to back-to-back World Cup titles in 2003 and 2007, quit as captain five days after the team was knocked out of the ongoing edition of the mega-event in the quarterfinal stage.

“Being captain of Australia has not only changed my life, it has also taught me the real significance of values, the true meaning of accountability, a deeper respect for mateship and an overwhelming feeling of national pride and responsibility,” Ponting wrote in theThe Australian.

“It has also taught me to become a teacher, a trusted confidant and a better friend. You develop skills that you never thought you had, ensuring you provide your team with the best possible environment and direction to be successful,” he said.

Looking back at his tenure as captain Ponting said the happiest memories of his rein were two World Cup titles and Ashes clean sweep of 2006-07.

“The most untouchable highlight is what I have shared with my teammates and the support group around us. Our record is a benchmark for success in any sport. The World Cup wins, the 2006-07 Ashes clean sweep, the back-to-back Champions Trophies, the extraordinary sequence of Test and World Cup wins all stand up in lights,” he said.

But Ponting said more than the on-field feats, the off-field relationships that he made with his teammates and the people he met would remain extremely special for him.

On just being a batsman in the team now, Ponting said his focus would be “on being the best player I can be, a great teammate, an experienced leader around the group and a guy that my new captain can rely upon to give him something special.”

Australian team for Bangladesh tour******Cricket

Australian team for Bangladesh tour

AFPSYDNEY:March 31, 2011 03:11 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:11 ISTAFPSYDNEY:March 31, 2011 03:11 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 03:11 IST
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Ricky Ponting was on Wednesday included in the Australian squad for the mini tour of Bangladesh next month where he will be taking orders from new captain Michael Clarke for the first time.

The 36-year-old quit as the country's Test and one-day skipper on Tuesday.

But the star batsman made clear he wanted to continue as a player and will be on the plane to Dhaka later this week for the three One-Day Internationals.

Clarke will be in charge of his first tour after being appointed as Ponting's replacement on Wednesday, with Shane Watson as his deputy.

D. Hussey stays back

The squad, though, is without David Hussey who has opted to stay at home with the birth of his first child imminent.

Xavier Doherty, meanwhile, returns from injury.

“Xavier Doherty has come into the squad for Jason Krezja,” said chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch.

“Xavier was not considered for the ICC Cricket World Cup because of a nagging back injury. Jason bowled well in the World Cup, but now Xavier has recovered from injury and he deserves to come back into the squad.”

Impact bowler

With Shaun Tait retiring from one-day cricket, fast bowler James Pattinson has been drafted into the squad and Hilditch is excited about his potential.

“James is a very exciting young fast bowler and we are confident he will have an impact in international cricket,” he said.

The team plays three One-Day Internationals, all in Dhaka, from April 9-13.

The team:

Michael Clarke (capt.), Shane Watson, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, John Hastings, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Steve Smith and Cameron White.

When Mohali roared, Islamabad fell silent******Cricket

When Mohali roared, Islamabad fell silent

Anita JoshuaISLAMABAD:March 31, 2011 02:39 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 10:52 ISTAnita JoshuaISLAMABAD:March 31, 2011 02:39 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 10:52 IST

Once the Indian batting attack was contained with the fall of 4 wickets, the tension eased

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Once the Indian batting attack was contained with the fall of 4 wickets, the tension eased

Given the frenzy that was drummed up for the semi-final encounter between India and Pakistan in the World Cup in Mohali on Wednesday, this was never a day for the faint-hearted. And, it became even more so with the frequent swings in the fortunes of the two teams.

Every time Mohali erupted in a roar of elation over a boundary or a wicket taken by India, an eerie silence would descend on the streets and homes here. And, the reverse would happen whenever Mohali fell silent as India lost a wicket or a Pakistani player went after the Indian bowlers.

War days

According to one old-timer from Rawalpindi, the federal capital's twin city resembled the war days of 1965 and 1971 in the early overs of the match when India's opening pair were going great guns. Such was the silence.

But once the Indian batting attack was contained with the fall of four wickets, the tension eased and youngsters got their motorcycles and cars out to zip across town and into Islamabad where the usually firm traffic police was indulgent; allowing boys to triple-ride their two-wheelers without helmets and move around the fortified city on car-tops.

While the government had declared a half-day holiday, most private offices followed suit knowing fully well that it was pointless to keep their staff at work with their minds totally preoccupied with cricket.

Hoping to cash in on the crowds that had gathered at marketplaces where giant screens were put up to telecast the match, shopkeepers sought to brave the mood; but even their attention was clearly diverted.

Colour of the day

Green and white was the colour of the day as youngsters either donned the team's shirts or painted their faces with the nation's flag colours in anticipation of good tidings.

Some attributed the early celebrations to the fact that Pakistan has had so little to rejoice about in recent years, that they felt it was best to enjoy the thrill of the close encounter with India as long as it lasted.

So much so that as India came closer to bringing the curtains down on Pakistan's run in this World Cup, even singles and doubles were cheered with whistles in an attempt to keep the flagging spirits up. But the writing on the wall was picked up quietly.

Early retreat

The more faint-hearted beat an early retreat from cricket parties, giant screens went blank, and a deathly silence descended on the blighted nation as gloom returned to edge out the joy and excitement that had taken residence over the past week.

India meets Sri Lanka in World Cup final******Cricket

India meets Sri Lanka in World Cup final

Special CorrespondentCHENNAIMarch 31, 2011 02:35 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 10:52 ISTSpecial CorrespondentCHENNAIMarch 31, 2011 02:35 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 10:52 IST

An all-round Indian bowling performance, helped by some athletic ground fielding, propelled India into its third World Cup final.

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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: The Men in Blue celebrate after booking a place in the World Cup Final. Dhoni's men came up with a commendable display on the field after posting what looked like a modest total of 260 against Pakistan in the semifinal at Mohali. Tendulkar (85) was named Man of the Match. India will play Sri Lanka on Saturday at the Wankhede Stadium hoping to re-enact the heroics of Kapil Dev's Devils 28 years ago. Photo: S. Subramanium

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: The Men in Blue celebrate after booking a place in the World Cup Final. Dhoni's men came up with a commendable display on the field after posting what looked like a modest total of 260 against Pakistan in the semifinal at Mohali. Tendulkar (85) was named Man of the Match. India will play Sri Lanka on Saturday at the Wankhede Stadium hoping to re-enact the heroics of Kapil Dev's Devils 28 years ago. Photo: S. Subramanium

An all-round Indian bowling performance, helped by some athletic ground fielding, propelled India into its third World Cup final.

India maintained its unbeaten record against Pakistan in World Cup cricket, securing a 29-run win in Wednesday's marquee semifinal in Mohali to set up a title clash with Sri Lanka.

Sachin Tendulkar rode on his luck to make 85 and Suresh Raina contributed a vital cameo (36 not out) under pressure to help their side's score 260 for nine after winning the toss. Although it appeared an under-par total, the bowlers did their bit to give India its fifth World Cup win over its traditional rival. Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Harbhajan Singh, and Yuvraj Singh shared the wickets, claiming two apiece.

Saturday's match in Mumbai will be India's third appearance in the World Cup final.

Pakistan had seemed in control when it began its pursuit spiritedly. Openers Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez looked comfortable against the new ball as they put on 44. India needed lifting – Zaheer did the job, having Akmal caught off a slower ball.

Hafeez (43) and Asad Shafiq (30) batted well, but fell attempting over-ambitious strokes. When Yuvraj got Younis Khan to lift a drive to Suresh Raina, Pakistan had slipped to 106 for four. India tightened the screws causing the asking rate to climb.

Umar Akmal (29) aimed to relieve the pressure. But just when it seemed as if India would pay for failing to run him out, Harbhajan bowled the young, talented batsman. With Misbah-ul-Haq (56) struggling, M.S. Dhoni's side needed only to gain the wickets of Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi to put the result beyond doubt.

Misbah chanced his arm, but he had left his charge too late. Pakistan was bowled out for 231 in 49.5 overs.

India earlier got off to an electric start, thanks to Virender Sehwag (38), but faltered thereafter as Pakistan fought back. Had Afridi's men held their catches – Tendulkar was dropped four times – they would have inconvenienced India further.

Wahab Riaz (five for 46) kept Pakistan in the contest with a fine display of left-arm fast bowling. After getting rid of the dangerous Sehwag in his first over, Riaz later struck twice in two balls, removing Virat Kohli and Yuvraj, to reduce India to 141 for four.

Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal was excellent as well; he deserved better than figures of two for 44 from 10 overs. He nearly had Tendulkar out twice in successive balls for 23. The maestro was adjudged ‘lbw' on the first occasion, but a review saw the decision overturned. Pakistan appealed for a stumping off the next ball. The third umpire rightly decided a close call in the batsman's favour.

Tendulkar was then reprieved thrice off Afridi's leg-spin: on 27 when Misbah dropped a pull the batsman didn't keep to ground, on 45 when Younis Khan spilt a lofted drive, and on 70 when wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal failed to take a difficult chance. Tendulkar had another moment of fortune, on 81 when Umar Akmal shelled a catch off Hafeez's bowling, before his luck ran out.

We handled the pressure well: Dhoni******Cricket

We handled the pressure well: Dhoni

Special CorrespondentMohaliMarch 31, 2011 00:28 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 ISTSpecial CorrespondentMohaliMarch 31, 2011 00:28 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 IST
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Mahendra Singh Dhoni was smiling after India maintained its clean slate against Pakistan in the World Cup.

The side has defeated Pakistan in all the five matches between the two nations in the premier ODI competition so far. India's third entry in the final was fuel-driven by unity and team-work, said Dhoni.

The Indian captain added, “In this campaign, we have backed each other. This has really worked.”

Asked about his decision to include the third pacemen and leave out off-spinner R. Ashwin, Dhoni explained, “The Pakistanis play spin well and we felt if we fielded only two pacemen and one of them went for runs, the attack would be thin. So we included an additional paceman.”

Dhoni also said, “But this was not a typical Mohali pitch. It got slower towards the end. But our pacemen and our spinners bowled in the right areas. We handled the pressure well. A total of 260 was good but we had to be careful.”

On the final, Dhoni said, “We are confident. Sri Lanka has also played good cricket in the tournament. It should be a good match.”

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said the dropped catches cost his side heavily. Yet, he was willing to give India the credit. “They are playing well as a unit.”

Afridi said Pakistan's inability to build partnerships hurt the side in the end. “We lost back-to-back wickets and this never helps.”

He was all praise for young paceman Wahab Riaz. On Umar Gul's disappointing display, Afridi said, “Anyone can have a bad day.”

Despite the setback against India, Afridi said Pakistan had exceeded expectations in the tournament.

Tendulkar benefits from DRS which he had opposed******Cricket

Tendulkar benefits from DRS which he had opposed

Mumbai:March 31, 2011 00:10 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 00:10 ISTMumbai:March 31, 2011 00:10 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 00:10 IST
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Pakistan bowler Saeed Ajmal ( third from left) celebrates with fellow team members after a possible dismissal of India batsman Sachin Tendulkar during the Cricket World Cup semifinal match between Pakistan and India in Mohali on Wednesday. The appeal was turned down after a review.

Pakistan bowler Saeed Ajmal ( third from left) celebrates with fellow team members after a possible dismissal of India batsman Sachin Tendulkar during the Cricket World Cup semifinal match between Pakistan and India in Mohali on Wednesday. The appeal was turned down after a review.

Sachin Tendulkar, on Wednesday, benefited from the review system he had been consistently opposing while his opening partner Virender Sehwag, a huge admirer of the Decision Review System (DRS), did not in the semifinal against Pakistan at Mohali.

Tendulkar, when on 23 in the 11th over of the Indian innings, was declared out leg before to Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal by umpire Ian Gould.

He called for the DRS and got the reprieve as the available technology showed the ball would have missed the leg stump after striking his pad. In the past, Tendulkar has consistently given a thumbs-down to DRS, saying he was not fully convinced with the controversial referral system, after getting the wrong end of the stick during India's tour to Sri Lanka in 2008.

On India's next visit to the Emerald island last year, Tendulkar had said that instead of DRS, he was more in favour of the ‘Hot-Spot' technology which is an infra-red imaging system used in cricket to determine whether the ball has struck the batsman, bat or pad.

“I am not fully convinced with the referral system (DRS).

When I was here last time I was not convinced with many decisions. I did not feel comfortable, it was an experiment which I felt...,” Tendulkar had said after notching up his fifth double hundred in Tests in Colombo.

Sehwag, on the other hand, had expressed his total support to DRS in Mumbai on November 1 last year.

India v Pakistan******Cricket

India v Pakistan - Live

March 30, 2011 13:51 ISTUpdated:March 30, 2011 13:51 ISTMarch 30, 2011 13:51 ISTUpdated:March 30, 2011 13:51 IST
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【zeus unleashed slot online】CWG, Day 8 ( 8 am to 3 pm) - As it happened

Gritty India makes it!******Cricket

Gritty India makes it!

S. DinakarMohaliMarch 30, 2011 13:11 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 ISTS. DinakarMohaliMarch 30, 2011 13:11 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 IST
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Mohali, 30/03/2011:  Pakistan's Abdul Razzaq is bowled out off Munaf Patel during World Cup 2011 Semifinal Match between India and Pakistan at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on 30, March, 2011.  Photo: S_Subramanium

Mohali, 30/03/2011: Pakistan's Abdul Razzaq is bowled out off Munaf Patel during World Cup 2011 Semifinal Match between India and Pakistan at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on 30, March, 2011. Photo: S_Subramanium

The colourful crowd sang and danced, the beating of the drums grew louder and fireworks lit the night sky. And in an atmosphere surcharged with emotions, India displayed heart, passion and end-game skills to overcome Pakistan by 29 runs in the second semifinal of the ICC World Cup at the PCA Stadium here on Wednesday.

India will meet Sri Lanka in the final at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. Importantly, the team displayed tactical flexibility by fielding three seamers; Mahendra Singh Dhoni's ploy worked.

India's bowling was tight and the fielders were on the ball. Pursuing 261, Pakistan was dismissed for 231 in the final over.

Misbah-ul-Haq (56) changed gears to lead a revival of sorts for his side but it was too little too late. Sachin Tendulkar was adjudged Man of the Match for a hard-earned 85. For Pakistan, young left-arm paceman Wahab Riaz bowled with fire and precision to scalp five.

The gamble

The Indian think-tank gambled by leaving out off-spinner R. Ashwin; Ashish Nehra came in as the third seamer.

An early breakthrough eluded the host. Kamran Akmal and Mohammed Hafeez, with crisp strokeplay, provided a steady start before Akmal fell to a set-piece.

Akmal fancies his chances square of the wicket and the canny Zaheer Khan prised him out on the stroke with a slower delivery.

Meanwhile, Hafeez was in his element, flashing Nehra through covers and whipping the paceman for boundaries.

The impressive Munaf Patel — he got the ball to seam around from back-of-a-length — took out Hafeez when the batsman nicked an audacious paddle sweep.

Dhoni rung in the changes. Harbhajan Singh, bowling a more attacking line and getting the ball to spin in from outside the off-stump, combined effectively with Yuvraj Singh.

Left-armer Yuvraj deceived the compact Asad Shafiq who attempted a cut but the saw the ball coming in with the arm to disturb woodwork.

Soon Yuvraj lured the accomplished Younis Khan for a front-footed drive; the batsman's mistimed off-drive was splendidly pouched by a leaping Suresh Raina.

Frugal pacemen

At 106 for four after 26 overs, Pakistan was under pressure. The asking rate climbed. Dhoni kept Yuvraj going from one end, gave Harbhajan a break and shuffled Munaf and Nehra from the other; both the pacemen were frugal.

The talented Umar Akmal attempted to break the shackles. He rocked back to club Yuvraj over mid-wicket for the maximum.

The Indians struck back.

Harbhajan Singh, operating from round the wicket, nailed Umar with a delivery that fizzed off the pitch and straightened a tad. The batsman's ploy to play back was fatal.

Misbah-ul-Haq got bogged down from one end and Munaf castled the dangerous Abdul Razzaq with his change of pace and leg-cut.

Skipper Shahid Afridi resisted briefly before lobbing a catch off a Harbhajan full toss.

Calculated aggression

Earlier, the calm Raina (36 not out), relying on calculated aggression, guided the tail through the batting Power Play taken in the 45th over. Collecting 43 crucial runs for the loss of a wicket, India did not capitulate this time around.

Wahab Riaz, picked over the experienced Shoaib Akhtar, operated with verve after Dhoni elected to bat. The 25-year-old strongly built left-arm paceman from Lahore angled the ball teasingly away from the right-hander from over-the-wicket and mixed these deliveries with the ones that straightened.

Expecting the ball to seam away, the Indian batsmen often played down the wrong line.

To his credit, Riaz maintained his intensity through varying stages of the innings with spells of 3-0-10-1, 3-0-17-2, 2-0-8-1, and 2-0-11-1.

The impressive paceman nailed a rampant Sehwag and a dogged Dhoni — both played across — with back-of-a-length deliveries that held their course.

Yuvraj flummoxed

Unable to read the length, Virat Kohli was taken at backward point. And Riaz flummoxed the in-form Yuvraj Singh, first ball, with a full delivery that swerved into the left-hander to rattle the timber. The crowd was shell-shocked.

Pakistan needed Riaz to excel on an afternoon when spearhead Umar Gul, going through the horrors, sprayed the ball around.

Gul was taken to the cleaners by Sehwag who flicked, punched and drove the paceman for five scintillating boundaries in the third over of the innings.

The Indian innings revolved around Tendulkar's 115-ball 85. The maestro was majestic when he eased paceman Abdul Razzaq past covers and square-drove Riaz but was fortunate against the spinners.

Charmed existence

In fact, Tendulkar led a charmed existence. He was reprieved on 27, 45, 70 and 81; thrice between cover and mid-wicket and once behind the stumps.

Afridi, who deceived Tendulkar in the air, suffered on three occasions while Hafeez was let down once.

Misbah, Younis, 'keeper Kamran Akmal and Umar Akmal were the erring fielders.

This was an innings when Tendulkar searched for rhythm; he was adjudged leg-before to off-spinner Saeed Ajmal on 24 but the review showed the ball missing leg-stump.

Pakistan fought hard. Hafeez was tidy with his off-spin, the crafty Afridi was luckless and Ajmal got the ball to straighten without appreciable change in his action.

Ajmal eventually consumed Tendulkar when he miscued a stroke through the off-side field.

But then, Pakistan was let down by shoddy catching and ordinary ground-fielding.

Scoreboard

India: V. Sehwag lbw b Riaz 38 (25b, 9x4), S. Tendulkar c Afridi b Ajmal 85 (115b, 11x4), G. Gambhir st. K. Akmal b Hafeez 27 (32b, 2x4), V. Kohli c U Akmal b Riaz 9 (21b), Yuvraj b Riaz 0 (1b), M.S. Dhoni lbw b Riaz 25 (42b, 2x4), Suresh Raina (not out) 36 (39b, 3x4), Harbhajan st. K. Akmal b Ajmal 12 (15b, 2x4), Zaheer c K. Akmal b Riaz 9 (10b, 1x4), A. Nehra (run out) 1 (2b), Munaf (not out) 0; Extras (lb-8, w-8, nb-2): 18; Total (for nine wkts. in 50 overs): 260.

Fall of wickets: 1-48 (Sehwag), 2-116 (Gambhir), 3-141 (Kohli), 4-141 (Yuvraj), 5-187 (Tendulkar), 6-205 (Dhoni), 7-236 (Harbhajan), 8-256 (Zaheer), 9-258 (Nehra).

Pakistan bowling: Gul 8-0-69-0, Razzaq 2-0-14-0, Riaz 10-0-46-5, Ajmal 10-0-44-2, Afridi 10-0-45-0, Hafeez 10-0-34-1.

Pakistan: K. Akmal c Yuvraj b Zaheer 19 (21b, 3x4), M. Hafeez c Dhoni b Munaf 43 (59b, 7x4), A. Shafiq b Yuvraj 30 (39b, 2x4), Younis c Raina b Yuvraj 13 (32b), Misbah c Kohli b Zaheer 56 (76b, 5x4 1x6), U. Akmal b Harbhajan 29 (24b, 1x4, 2x6), A. Razzaq b Munaf 3 (9b), S. Afridi c Sehwag b Harbhajan 19 (17b, 1x4), W. Riaz c Tendulkar b Nehra 8 (14b, 1x4), U. Gul lbw b Nehra 2 (3b). S. Ajmal (not out) 1 (5b); Extras (w-8): 8; Total (in 49.5 overs): 231.

Fall of wickets: 1-44 (K. Akmal), 2-70 (Hafeez), 3-103 (Shafiq), 4-106 (Younis), 5-142 (U. Akmal), 6-150 (Razzaq), 7-184 (Afridi), 8-199 (Riaz), 9-208 (Gul).

India bowling: Zaheer 9.5-0-58-2, Nehra 10-0-33-2, Munaf 10-1-40-2, Harbhajan 10-0-43-2, Yuvraj 10-1-57-2.

Man of the match: Sachin Tendulkar (India).

Michael Clarke appointed Australia captain******Cricket

Michael Clarke appointed Australia captain

PTIMelbourneMarch 30, 2011 08:23 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 07:18 ISTPTIMelbourneMarch 30, 2011 08:23 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 07:18 IST
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Michael Clarke, who became Australia’s 43rd Test captain, will lead the team in its tour of Bangladesh. File photo

Michael Clarke, who became Australia’s 43rd Test captain, will lead the team in its tour of Bangladesh. File photo

Michael Clarke was on Wednesday appointed as captain of Australia’s Test and one-day cricket teams, a day after embattled Ricky Ponting stepped down after the team’s unceremonious exit from the ongoing World Cup.

Clarke, nicknamed ‘Pup’, who became Australia’s 43rd Test captain, will lead the team in its tour of Bangladesh.

Shane Watson was named as Clarke’s deputy, while Cameron White would continue as the Twenty20 skipper.

The 29-year-old batsman, widely tipped to lead the team, will immediately take charges.

Ricky Ponting had on Tuesday stepped down from the captaincy after the former world champions crashed out of the World Cup after the quarter-final defeat against India.

Ponting was also named in the squad which will leave for the Bangladesh tour.

“First of all I can say what an honour it is to be named captain and also a huge surprise to see Ricky stand down,” Clarke said at a press conference in Sydney.

“I was very much unaware of where he was at and didn’t know he was going to stand down. It was a huge surprise to me.

“I know Ricky will allow me to do my job to the best of my ability,” he added. “We want to be the best team in all forms and that is going to take time.”

Clarke made his debut for the Australian one-day team in January 2003 against England at Adelaide. He was later chosen to make his Test debut against India at Bangalore in October next year.

It's just cricket, not a matter of life and death******Sport

It's just cricket, not a matter of life and death

Vijay LokapallyNEW DELHI:March 30, 2011 02:55 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 ISTVijay LokapallyNEW DELHI:March 30, 2011 02:55 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 IST
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BONHOMIE: Shahid Afridi and Mahendra Singh Dhoni greet each other ahead of the big match at Mohali on Wednesday. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

BONHOMIE: Shahid Afridi and Mahendra Singh Dhoni greet each other ahead of the big match at Mohali on Wednesday. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

“Bhaijaan, yeh bhi le loon(Brother, May I have this too?).” Younis Khan was pleading like a fan. Having grabbed a bat and a pair of new gloves, he was now eyeing a T-shirt as souvenir! Rahul Dravid parted with his valuable stuff most generously.

This was soon after India and Pakistan finished a hard-fought series (winning 4-2), braving crowd trouble at the Ferozeshah Kotla. The match was watched, among others, by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

The acrimony was restricted to the ground. At the hotel, the Indian and Pakistan players were darting from one room to another, busy exchanging cricket gear and gifts. There may have been moments of harsh exchanges on the field like Javed Miandad's ‘frog jump' act to ape Kiran More during the World Cup encounter at Sydney in 1992 or Venkatesh Prasad showing Aamer Sohail the route to the pavilion in the World Cup tie in 1996 at Bangalore. These incidents will still be remembered by the fans, but the bitterness is rarely carried by the players involved.

No animosity

“We never harboured any animosity towards them,' said Maninder Singh, who played 13 Tests against Pakistan. “On the 1989 tour, I spent most evenings with Wasim (Akram), Waqar (Younis) and Salim (Malik). I can never forget Zaheer (Abbas)bhaitaking me home for dinner at Karachi.

“All this pressure or tension was more in the stands. Of course, we would feel the tension sometimes, but then it was the cricketing pressure to perform. Personally, we have always got along well,” he added.

For Mohinder Amarnath, it was simple. Perform when it matters and perform to bring joy to the nation. He seemed to reserve his best for Pakistan.

Mohinder was the architect of India's win at Quetta when the teams met for the first time on Pakistan soil in 1978. The Asia Cup encounter at Dhaka in 1988 and Sharjah the same year were the other occasions in which Mohinder did the star turn for India.

All about self-belief

“The important thing is to have a strong belief in oneself. You should know your inner strength. My mindset was clear. I knew we could beat them, but then, one had to play above the established standards. You may have the talent but you have to play above that when facing Pakistan. I always looked at playing exceptional cricket against Pakistan and upsetting their rhythm,” said Mohinder.

An Indo-Pakistan encounter has always attracted global attention for a variety of reasons. “Do well against Pakistan and become an overnight hero,” was how off-spinner Rajesh Chauhan put it. “There is extra delight in beating Pakistan.”

There's no doubt that any Indian cricketer who played at Sharjah and won against Pakistan would vouch for that. An Indian victory would signal celebrations not just in India but all over the United Arab Emirates. Restaurants would offer huge discounts, depending on who owned it and which team won.

Navjot Singh Sidhu always relished an encounter with Pakistan despite the pre-match tension and expectations that were exacting. “The expectations were sometimes unrealistic because you can't win every match, can you?” asked Sidhu. He has an interesting anecdote to share from the Bangalore encounter. “I did my soliloquy in the room, visualising an Indian win as I played some great shots. I had avoided public contact because everyone had some wisdom to offer and increase the pressure.

“Late into the night, before sleeping, I ordered water melon juice. This guy came, got the bill signed, stopped at the door, smiled and said:“Pakistan se mat haarna(don't lose to Pakistan).” I lost my sleep but we won the next day!” recollected Sidhu, another champion when it came to playing against Pakistan.

Eventful journey

Sydney, Bangalore, Manchester, Centurion… and now Mohali! It has been an eventful World Cup journey since 1992. From the time the Indian and Pakistan teams walked along the boundary line at Sharjah in 1995 to remind the spectators that it was just a “cricket match” to the unprecedented hand-shaking ceremony ahead of the battle at Centurion in 2003, the players have been quite mature while handling the pressures and expectations.

The current players, appalled at the pre-match media hype, are treating the contest as a very important one and not as a matter of life and death. The Pakistan camp is doing what the Indian players have done throughout the World Cup campaign — keeping the television shut. The players on both sides are looking to Wednesday's match to extend their survival in the game's most prestigious competition. They will be battling to win, not fighting a war.

Heavy rain lashes Mohali******Cricket

Heavy rain lashes Mohali

PTIMohaliMarch 30, 2011 01:22 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:37 ISTPTIMohaliMarch 30, 2011 01:22 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:37 IST
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The view outside the PCA stadium in Mohali which witnessed thunder showers on Tuesday. Photo: S. Subramanium

The view outside the PCA stadium in Mohali which witnessed thunder showers on Tuesday. Photo: S. Subramanium

Heavy rains and thunderstorm lashed Mohali on Tuesday night on the eve of the blockbuster World Cup semifinal clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium on Wednesday.

The Meteorological Department has forcasted a partly cloudy sky to prevail in this region with a little chance of light rain by Wednesday evening.

“The local forecast for Wednesday is partly cloudy sky with less chance of rain,” an official of the Chandigarh-based MeT Department told PTI. Dust storm with drizzle had occurred on Tuesday.

According to the MeT’s area forecast, including that of entire Punjab, there could be dust storm or thunderstorm with light rain at a few places in the state on Wednesday.

The MeT said that currently western disturbance is prevailing over Jammu and Kashmir and its neighbourhood while Rajasthan and its neighbourhood have been experiencing an Upper Air Cyclonic Circulation.

According to the Mohali pitch curator Daljit Singh, ball is likely to seam around under the flood lights.

Sri Lanka stutters into the final******Cricket

Sri Lanka stutters into the final

Kunal DiwanCOLOMBO:March 29, 2011 23:04 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 ISTKunal DiwanCOLOMBO:March 29, 2011 23:04 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 IST

Dilshan and Sangakkara lay the foundation in pursuit of a modest target

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THE FINAL BLOW: Muttiah Muralitharan, who took a wicket off his last delivery on home soil, acknowledges the cheers after his spell.

THE FINAL BLOW: Muttiah Muralitharan, who took a wicket off his last delivery on home soil, acknowledges the cheers after his spell.

Dilshan and Sangakkara lay the foundation in pursuit of a modest target

Sri Lanka entered the final of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup with a five-wicket win over New Zealand at the R. Premadasa Stadium here on Tuesday.

Chasing 217, Sri Lanka looked like a sure thing after a 120-run association between Tillakaratne Dilshan (73) and skipper Kumar Sangakkara (54) set it on the right path, but three quick wickets exposed its untested lower middle order to the guile of New Zealand.

With Thilan Samaraweera and Angelo Mathews in the middle, the co-host needed 22 off the last five overs, five wickets in hand and the mandatory batting Power Play in force. But Andy McKay, bowling the 46th over, hurled down a wide that scurried to the boundary, and in the next over, Mathews smote a six and a four off Tim Southee to prevent any more hiccoughs for the co-host, the victory finally achieved with 13 balls to spare.

Sensational pouch

Sri Lanka's first 50 runs came in 10.1 overs, but things slowed down when Jesse Ryder flew from point to take a sensational catch of Upul Tharanga. Dilshan discarded his initial caginess and deposited Jacob Oram for six over mid-wicket and reached his fifty in 71 balls.

Sangakkara followed suit, against Nathan McCullum's off-spin, stepping out and sending the ball soaring back over the bowler's head, a shot that took him past 400 runs in the tournament.

It was when Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara departed within nine runs of each other, and left Samaraweera and Chamara Silva to potter about for eight runs in five overs, that Kiwi hopes soared, and soared some more when Silva was bowled by Southee, 33 still required to win. But Mathews' precious cameo saw Sri Lanka home and into its second successive, and overall third, World Cup final.

Good stand

Earlier, New Zealand's 217 centred on one principal partnership — the 77-run stand between Scott Styris (57) and Ross Taylor (36) for the fourth wicket, but any aspirations to a bigger total were grounded as its last six wickets fell for 25 runs — the last four for four — against Sri Lanka's eclectic bowling attack. Although New Zealand gained 41 runs for the loss of two wickets in the batting Power Play (between overs 41.1 and 46) the conclusive thrust never came.

What did materialise were Malinga's three wickets — one every time the innings threatened to gain momentum — and the spinning out of the rest at the end.

The Kiwis began purposefully enough through Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill but the scoreboard stalled between the big hits.

Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath opened the bowling with Malinga and delivered the first breakthrough in the eighth over when McCullum (13, 21b), attempting to sweep, was beaten by the quicker one which clipped his off-stick.

In the 18th over, Muttiah Muralitharan, playing his last ODI on home soil, snapped up Ryder — the left-hander looking to play on the off-side, but edging to Sangakkara behind the stumps.

Malinga came back for his second spell and disturbed Guptill's furniture with a patented in-swinger.

Styris, now joined by Taylor, despatched two Malinga half-volleys to the fence as New Zealand's 100 came up in the 26th over, and then biffed two more fours off the same bowler in the 32nd.

Soon, Taylor pulled Ajantha Mendis down the throat of deep mid-wicket.

Styris got to his fifty with a gentle drive in the 41st over and Kane Williamson (22, 16b, 3x4) showed intent once the batting Power Play was taken, but Malinga returned and seared one into Williamson's pads to have New Zealand five-down in the 44th.

Nathan McCullum carted a six off Murali, only to be caught behind off a slower Malinga delivery in the next over. Murali marked his last ball on home soil with the wicket of Styris, the ball jagging back to hit the pads.

Styris opted for a review, but the on-field decision of ‘out' stood, giving the legendary off-spinner a fitting home finale.

New Zealand was unable to bat out its quota, as Mendis and Dilshan confined the innings to 48.5 overs.

Scoreboard

New Zealand: M. Guptill b Malinga 39 (65b, 3x4), B. McCullum b Herath 13 (21b, 1x4, 1x6), J. Ryder c Sangakkara b Muralitharan 19 (34b, 2x4), R. Taylor c Tharanga b Mendis 36 (55b, 1x4), S. Styris lbw b Muralitharan 57 (77b, 5x4), K. Williamson lbw b Malinga 22 (16b, 3x4), N. McCullum c Sangakkara b Malinga 9 (9b, 1x6), J. Oram c Jayawardene b Dilshan 7 (9b, 1x4), D. Vettori (not out) 3 (3b), T. Southee c Sangakkara b Mendis 0 (3b), A. McKay b Mendis 0 (2b); Extras (lb-5, w-6, nb-1): 12; Total (in 48.5 overs): 217.

Fall of wickets: 1-32 (B. McCullum), 2-69 (Ryder), 3-84 (Guptill), 4-161 (Taylor), 5-192 (Williamson), 6-204 (N. McCullum), 7-213 (Styris), 8-215 (Oram), 9-217 (Southee).

Sri Lanka bowling: Malinga 9-0-55-3, Herath 9-1-31-1, Mathews 6-0-27-0, Mendis 9.5-0-35-3, Muralitharan 10-1-42-2, Dilshan 5-0-22-1.

Sri Lanka: U. Tharanga c Ryder b Southee 30 (31b, 4x4, 1x6), T. Dilshan c Ryder b Southee 73 (93b, 10x4, 1x6), K. Sangakkara c Styris b McKay 54 (79b, 7x4, 1x6), M. Jayawardene lbw b Vettori 1 (3b), T. Samaraweera (not out) 23 (38b, 2x4), C. Silva b Southee 13 (25b, 2x4), A. Mathews (not out) 14 (18b, 1x4, 1x6); Extras (lb-2, w-10): 12; Total (for five wkts. in 47.5 overs): 220.

Fall of wickets: 1-40 (Tharanga), 2-160 (Dilshan), 3-161 (Jayawardene), 4-169 (Sangakkara), 5-185 (Silva).

New Zealand bowling: N. McCullum 6-0-33-0, Southee 10-2-57-3, Vettori 10-0-36-1, Oram 8-1-29-0, McKay 9.5-1-37-1, Styris 2-0-12-0, Ryder 2-0-14-0.

Man of the match: Kumar Sangakkara.

Akhtar a doubt for tomorrow: Afridi******Cricket

Akhtar a doubt for tomorrow: Afridi

PTIMohaliMarch 29, 2011 16:56 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 ISTPTIMohaliMarch 29, 2011 16:56 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 IST
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Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi on Tuesday said that retiring pacer Shoaib Akhtar is racing against time to be fit for the World Cup semifinal against India and is a doubtful starter for the match to be played at the PCA stadium here on Wednesday.

Akhtar has played just three games in the tournament before being dropped but current and former Pakistan players have been calling for the experienced pacer’s return in the playing eleven in a bid to unsettle the Indian batsmen.

Afridi, however, said that the team management will take a call on the temperamental pacer later in the day.

“Shoaib is not 100 per cent (fit). He is trying his level best to play and we will decide on him in the evening,” Afridi said during the pre—match press conference.

The 35-year-old Akhtar, who has played 163 ODIs for Pakistan, also received support from teammates Umar Gul and Misbah-ul-Haq.

The Pakistani skipper seemed to have started mind games when he said that pressure will be more on India compared to his team during the match.

“We are not the most favourite team for this competition.

India is the most favourite and we have played above expectations. We are enjoying our cricket,” Afridi said.

“If you know how to handle it, there is no need to panic.

I think we will enjoy playing here,” he said when asked if the match was being seen more as a battle of nerves.

Admitting that it is always a big challenge to play against India in their home turf, Afridi said his team was up for the task at hand.

“This game is very important for both the sides. We have prepared well for this game and we are confident,” he said.

Afridi also said the sport has and will always build the bridge between the two nations, who have not played a bilateral series since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

“I think it’s a great sign for both countries and sports, especially cricket always brings these two countries together,” Afridi said.

Afridi said he was honoured to represent and lead Pakistan in the match.

“I am a cricketer first, then a diplomat and ambassador or whatever you may call,” he said.

Praising the Mohali track, Afridi said to an extent it would be correct to say that tomorrow’s contest would be between Pakistan’s strong bowling attack versus India’s formidable batting line-up.

Afridi, who is the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 21 scalps, said he has transformed as a bowler.

“My focus has been on bowling,” the all-rounder said.

He also praised the controversy-ridden Pakistan team for its impressive display in the tournament.

“The guys have been doing a good job over the past 7-8 months. The team has played as a unit,” Afridi said.

We are keeping away from the hype: Dhoni******Cricket

We are keeping away from the hype: Dhoni

Special CorrespondentMohaliMarch 29, 2011 16:52 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 ISTSpecial CorrespondentMohaliMarch 29, 2011 16:52 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 IST
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Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his side was keeping away from the hype surrounding an India-Pakistan duel and staying focussed on the match.

“Our thoughts are on playing good cricket. We are trying to shut everything else away from the mind. We are not even watching television in the hotel room,” Dhoni said here ahead of the Indian training session on Tuesday.

He added, “We are taking one game at a time. This is a big game. As a cricketer you should be able to do what is expected of you in any game.”

Dhoni had words of praise for the Pakistani attack. “They have a good bowling unit. Afridi has been bowling very well. He has been the pick. We have to treat the deliveries on merit.”

The Indian skipper said his side would need to maintain its intensity through the possible 100 overs of the game. “Even if the opposition has an upper hand in 20 overs, it could prove costly,” he said.

Dhoni said he had been batting well even if runs had eluded him. “When you come in at No. 5, 6, or 7, there are not too many overs left. I have come in at times when the situation has not been right for flamboyant cricket. But I should have got runs against Australia.”

The Indian skipper said Mike Horn, a South African explorer and athlete, had been sharing his experiences with the team. “He is not motivating us. The team is already motivated. But he has done some unbelievable things in his life and is sharing those moments with us.”

Big occasion

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said, “If you know how to handle pressure, you will not panic. If you are enjoying the game, you will not feel the pressure. My boys are enjoying the game. It's a big occasion for us.”

Asked about the significance of an India-Pakistan match, he said, “I am a cricketer first, not a diplomat. But I am an ambassador for my country.”

Afridi revealed that paceman Shoaib Akhtar was not hundred per cent fit. “We will take a call on him later,” he added.

The Pakistan captain had a dig at the Indian media. “The Indian media is trying to make big things out of small matters. I never said anything adverse about Sachin Tendulkar.”

Afridi said he wanted a good game of cricket. “Whatever the result, it should be a great match. It should bring the people of the two countries together.”

Pakistan did not practice on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka restricts New Zealand to 217******Cricket

Sri Lanka restricts New Zealand to 217

PTIColomboMarch 29, 2011 16:13 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:38 ISTPTIColomboMarch 29, 2011 16:13 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:38 IST
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Lasith Malinga's 3/55 helped Sri Lanka to reduce New Zealand to 217 in the first semifinal at Colombo on Tuesday.

Lasith Malinga's 3/55 helped Sri Lanka to reduce New Zealand to 217 in the first semifinal at Colombo on Tuesday.

A clinical display by the bowlers helped Sri Lanka bundle out New Zealand for a modest 217 in 48.5 overs despite Scott Stryis’s fighting half-century, in the first semifinal of the cricket World Cup here on Tuesday.

Pace spearhead Lasith Malinga and spinner Ajantha Mendis, with three wickets each, were the wreckers-in-chief, while Muttiah Muralitharan finished with two scalps as New Zealand’s innings lacked the thurst needed to power them to a challenging total.

Batting first after winning the toss, Styris struck 57 off 77 balls, an innings that was laced with five boundaries, before becoming Muralitharan’s final ODI victim.

The match at the Premadasa stadium is the veteran off-spinner’s final ODI on home soil.

Apart from Styris, Martin Guptill contributed 39 while Ross Taylor made 36.

Sri Lanka v New Zealand******Sport

Sri Lanka v New Zealand - Live

March 29, 2011 14:02 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 14:02 ISTMarch 29, 2011 14:02 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 14:02 IST
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Ponting gives up captaincy, but ready to bat on******Cricket

Ponting gives up captaincy, but ready to bat on

AFPSYDNEYMarch 29, 2011 08:32 ISTUpdated:March 30, 2011 02:31 ISTAFPSYDNEYMarch 29, 2011 08:32 ISTUpdated:March 30, 2011 02:31 IST

He says there was no &lsquo;tap on the shoulder' to step down and endorses Clarke as his successor

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Australia's captain Ricky Ponting raises his bat to celebrate scoring a century during the World Cup quarterfinal match between India and Australia, in Ahmedabad, on March 24.

Australia's captain Ricky Ponting raises his bat to celebrate scoring a century during the World Cup quarterfinal match between India and Australia, in Ahmedabad, on March 24.

He says there was no &lsquo;tap on the shoulder' to step down and endorses Clarke as his successor

Ricky Ponting quit as Australia's Test and one-day captain on Tuesday, bowing to pressure after the team's World Cup exit, but said he hoped to extend his career as his country's most prolific batsman.

Ponting, 36, who led Australia in more than 300 Test and one-day matches, insisted there was no “tap on the shoulder” to step down and said he remained available for selection. He endorsed deputy Michael Clarke as his successor.

“I have thought long and hard about what Australian cricket needs. Now is the right time for the next captain to assume the responsibility for both the Test and one-day teams,” he told a press conference.

Successful skipper

Ponting is Australia's most successful Test captain and its leading Test run-scorer, and lies second only to India's Sachin Tendulkar on the all-time list of Test centurions.

But his record, straddling a transition period after the retirement of a host of greats, is tainted with three Ashes series defeats to England, along with occasional flashes of petulance.

Ponting said last week's World Cup quarterfinal loss to India — ending the 12-year reign as champion — prompted his move, which also comes just three months after the latest Ashes loss brought strident calls for change.

“The fact that we went out of the World Cup when we did was the main reason,” he said, while denying he had been forced out by Cricket Australia.

Sole decision

“I will go on the record and say that I have had no tap on the shoulder from anybody, this has been a decision that has been wholly and solely made by me.”

Ponting added that he was excited by the prospect of being unburdened by the captaincy and rediscovering his world-beating batting form.

His fighting 104 in the quarterfinal was Ponting's first hundred in 39 international innings across all formats.

“Today is a new start for me and I am very excited about the future,” he said.

“I will give my complete support to our new captain and continue to do my best to set the best possible example for my teammates and emerging cricketers alike.

“I proved to myself the other day that I still have what it takes to play a good international innings and that was something that was really important to me.”

Ponting endorsed his deputy Clarke as the next captain, starting with the three one-day match tour to Bangladesh in April.

“Absolutely. I think that is the way it will go, for the sheer fact that he (Clarke) has done a terrific job in almost every game he has had the chance to captain Australia,” he said.

“I think he's growing into the leadership role and I would totally endorse Michael Clarke as the next captain.”

Ponting has been under growing pressure since earning the dubious distinction of becoming the only Australian skipper to fail to win the Ashes three times, and said he was proud of how he responded.

“It's something I've had to deal with over the last six to eight months. There's been a lot of those questions out there about me, about my leadership, and even my batting at different times,” he said.

“The thing that I am really proud about is how I have handled it and how I responded with the bat in the last game, under probably the most pressure that the team and I have been under for a long time, was really satisfying.”

He did not say when he might retire altogether. “I have not put a finish date or time on when my international career will be over. I haven't written off playing in the 2013 Ashes and to have another crack at winning another Ashes series in England,” he said.

Ponting stands as one of the modern-day cricketing greats, amassing 12,363 runs in 152 Tests at 53.52, and 13,288 runs in 359 One-Day Internationals.

He has won more Tests as captain with 48 than any other Australian and has the astonishing success rate of almost 72 per cent as the country's one-day leader, winning 164 of his 228 games.

“Ricky Ponting has been an outstanding batsman, one of the best to wear the baggy green,” Cricket Australia chairman Jack Clarke said.

【zeus unleashed slot online】CWG, Day 8 ( 8 am to 3 pm) - As it happened

ICC comes down hard on electronic media******Cricket

ICC comes down hard on electronic media

PTIMohali:March 29, 2011 03:13 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 03:13 ISTPTIMohali:March 29, 2011 03:13 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 03:13 IST
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The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday night barred the electronic media from covering the remaining matches of the cricket World Cup for breaching the media guidelines.

An ICC spokesman said that non-rights holders (NRH) will no longer be allowed to cover the practice session or the press conferences related to World Cup for not adhering to the code of conduct and the media guidelines, which they had signed for accreditation.

The spokesman said, this will be applicable to both the semifinals in Colombo and Mohali and the final in Mumbai. ESPN-STAR Sports has the broadcast rights for the World Cup.

The NRH were given time till Monday night to give an undertaking that they will abide by the terms and conditions for media accreditation, failing which they would be disallowed to cover the event.

Violations

An ICC source said there has been number of broadcast violations during the entire tournament and they have repeatedly brought it to the notice of the offenders but despite the warning they continued to breach the guidelines, promoting the game's governing body to take stern action.

The first semifinal between Sri Lanka and New Zealand will be held in Colombo on Tuesday while the high-octane second semifinal between India and Pakistan is scheduled to be held here on Wednesday.

The final will be held in Mumbai on April 2.

Enthralling encounters and exciting finishes******Cricket

Enthralling encounters and exciting finishes

Vijay LokapallyRakesh RaoNEW DELHI:March 29, 2011 02:47 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 03:08 ISTVijay LokapallyRakesh RaoNEW DELHI:March 29, 2011 02:47 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 03:08 IST

Five of India's finest ODI victories over Pakistan

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REGAL TOUCH: Sachin Tendulkar was simply unstoppable during India's memorable run chase against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup game at Centurion.

REGAL TOUCH: Sachin Tendulkar was simply unstoppable during India's memorable run chase against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup game at Centurion.

Five of India's finest ODI victories over Pakistan

Without doubt, nothing gives the majority of Indian fans more joy than the country's conquests over Pakistan. The two former Worldchampions have fought several enthralling battles and given immense joy, by turns, to their fanatic supporters.

With another close encounter on the cards at Mohali on Wednesday, it is time to recall five of India's finest victories over Pakistan, all accomplished in the face of nerve-wracking tension, overbearing expectations and rising odds.

March 22, 1985 (Sharjah): Four-nation Rothman's Cup: India won by 38 runs.

Fresh from winning the World Championship of Cricket (WCC) in Australia, India was riding high.

However, Pakistan skittled out India for 125 with Ravi Shastri perishing off the first ball. Imran Khan caused the maximum damage with a spell of six for 14. Only Azharuddin (47), Kapil Dev (30) and Madan Lal (11) managed to reach double figures.

The long lunch break, to accommodate Friday prayers, gave the Indians time for a siesta.

“It was an incredible win against all odds. Imran bowled with the breeze, bending it in and seaming it away, but I remember it for Sunny bhai's (Gavaskar) four catches. We had a slender chance, but when Kapil (Dev) asked us to give it our best shot, the team responded brilliantly. After the first wicket, I remember telling Sunny that we can make it. We really made it,” recalled wicketkeeper Sadanand Viswanath.

India kept up the pressure by getting wickets at regular intervals. The formidable Pakistan batting line-up, which included Mudassar Nazar, Mohsin Khan, Rameez Raja, Salim Malik and Javed Miandad, folded up for just 87.

All the five Indian bowlers got wickets, with Kapil leading the list with three. “Our supporters had melted once we collapsed, but they returned when wickets fell. In the end, we had solid support from the stands,” said Visvanath.

Incidentally, this remains the lowest scoring match between the two nations.

March 9, 1996 (Bangalore): World Cup quarterfinals: India won by 39 runs.

This was the first World Cup clash in the sub-continent between the two teams. The Garden city, for once, sat on a power keg, waiting to explode.

“I can never forget the tension. The whole of India wanted us to win. You can't get away from this pressure of winning against Pakistan at all costs. We played like a team and won. It was one of the finest moments of my life. My wife told me that no less than 5,000 people celebrated outside my house in Patiala after the victory,” recollected Sidhu.

The match produced Indian heroes like Sidhu, Ajay Jadeja and Venkatesh Prasad. Jadeja (45) singling out Waqar Younis for special treatment was easily the highlight of the tie. India scored 287 for eight with Sidhu (93) laying the foundation.

When Pakistan began its chase under lights, Aamer Sohail (55) and Saeed Anwar (48) provided the right start before the latter perished. Sohail's intimidating gesture after hitting Prasad for a boundary met with a fitting response from the genial bowler. He castled the left-hander to bring India back into the match. Pakistan slipped from 113 for one to 184 for five and finished at 239 for nine.

September 30, 1997 (Karachi): Second ODI: India won by four wickets.

This was one of India's finest victories on Pakistan soil. Chasing 265, it reached home in the final over — its 47th — in a match that witnessed crowd interruption no less than four times. Poor over-rate, delay in third umpire decisions and on-field injury all contributed to the long drama.

Opener Shahid Afridi (72) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (74) played key roles in Pakistan setting up a stiff target. India responded well with Sourav Ganguly (89) and Vinod Kambli (53) showing their mettle.

A middle-order collapse, however, left India gasping. Robin Singh (31 not out) and wicketkeeper Syed Saba Karim (26) then put the visitor back on the rails and took the team close to victory.

The hero of India's memorable triumph was, without doubt, Rajesh Chauhan . The gutsy off-spinner smashed a six off a full toss from Saqlain Mushtaq to stun and silence the vociferous crowd at the National Stadium. This was India's answer to Javed Miandad's last-ball six in the 1986 Australasia Cup final at Sharjah.

“Vinod (Kambli) gave me his bat as I joined Robin. All Robin said to me was “give me the strike.” Moin (Khan) kept chirping from behind but I knew what I had to do. I hit a six as Saqlain attempted a yorker from round the stumps. Robin still wanted the strike and I gave it to him. He hit a four to finish the match. We played holi with two huge cakes in the dressing room,” remembered Chauhan.

January 18, 1998 (Dhaka): Independence Cup, third final: India won by three wickets.

India set up the then World record for successfully chasing down Pakistan's 314 for five in this 48-over contest. In fading light, it was Hrishikesh Kanitkar who shone the brightest as he hit Saqlain for a four off the penultimate delivery of the match.

Pakistan seemed to be comfortably placed following centuries from Saeed Anwar (140) and Ijaz Ahmed (117), but India raced to 250 for one in 38 overs after losing Sachin Tendulkar. The chief architects of the chase were Ganguly (124) and Robin (82).

Wickets tumbled in a heap as India slipped to 306 for seven and needed nine off the final over. With Javagal Srinath for company, Kanitkar provided a perfect finish to the contest.

“Srinath warned me not to miss the ball. Do whatever but connect. It was on my mind — to connect at any cost! It was pitch dark and I knew my strong areas — midwicket or behind the bowler's back.

“Honestly, I did not feel any pressure because I was really focused. I connected the ball (on the front foot) and the roar from the dressing room could be heard in the middle! It was a lovely feeling to have done it with some of my idols around in the team,” said Kanitkar.

March 1, 2003 (Centurion): World Cup league game: India won by six wickets.

This was easily India's biggest run-chase against Pakistan in the World Cup. “The pressure was immense and we wanted to win it for our countrymen,” was Tendulkar's reaction. He nonchalantly smashed the bowlers around and the team won in style, burying the Pakistan challenge under a flurry of breathtaking strokes.

Anwar's century was instrumental in Pakistan reaching 273 for seven. The Pakistan attack, comprising Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, Younis, Afridi and Abdul Razzaq was ready to test India's batting might. A resolute Tendulkar took strike against Akram and showed the way, meeting fire with fire.

Sehwag complemented his hero with a quick 21 as India touched 50 off just 32 balls. Sehwag and Ganguly's dismissals off successive deliveries did not deter Tendulkar.

A century stand with Mohammad Kaif in quick time kept up the momentum and Tendulkar inched towards a well-deserved century. He, however, fell for 98.

Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid then added 99 to give India a dominating triumph. The team partied late into the night with Tendulkar displaying rare emotions.

This win remains the closest to his heart. “A special one,” he says.

The result also maintained India's unbeaten record against Pakistan in four World Cup games.

Clive Lloyd is the best of the lot******Cricket

Clive Lloyd is the best of the lot

Special CorrespondentKOLKATA:March 29, 2011 02:43 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 03:08 ISTSpecial CorrespondentKOLKATA:March 29, 2011 02:43 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 03:08 IST

Three of the four World Cup winning captains nominate the West Indian great

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HONOURED: Kapil Dev (right) congratulates Clive Lloyd who was chosen as the best World Cup winnng captain.

HONOURED: Kapil Dev (right) congratulates Clive Lloyd who was chosen as the best World Cup winnng captain.

Three of the four World Cup winning captains nominate the West Indian great

Three of the four World Cup winning captains nominated West Indian great Clive Lloyd as the best among them.

In a media interaction, organised by Idea Cellular, Allan Border, Imran Khan and Kapil Dev were unanimous in picking the West Indian, who won the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979.

Border, the winning captain in 1987, said Lloyd had a fantastic record in World Cups which was yet to be matched by anybody.

Superb job

While pitching for the West Indian, 1983 winning captain, Kapil Dev said Lloyd did a great job by leading the West Indies to victory. “Captaining the West Indies was not easy. Lloyd did a marvellous job as a captain by putting players from different countries together to win the cup twice,'' he said.

Imran Khan said Lloyd captained the greatest team in cricketing history.

Kapil had a word of praise for Imran as well. “I have enormous respect for Imran for handling the players of Pakistan.”

He said even Arjuna Ranatunga contributed a lot to make Sri Lankan cricket what it is today. “He was the first guy to come out and give Sri Lanka the confidence to stand up and fight,'' he pointed out. Imran too praised Ranatunga for changing the face of cricket in Sri Lanka.

Speaking on the occasion, Ranatunga, who captained Sri Lanka to victory in the 1996 edition, said he was the lucky one to have learnt a lot from others.

“When I was leading the under-12 side, Lloyd won the first World Cup in 1975. Then when Kapil, Allan and Imran won, I told myself if India can, Pakistan can, why I cannot win the World Cup.

“I learnt a lot from all of them, both good and bad tactics,'' he observed.

But what was Lloyd's take on this?

“You have to see the record over the years. You have to see what Imran, Kapil, Ranatunga and Alan have done over a period. They all are really good as captains,'' said Lloyd.

With the ensuing semifinal clash between India and Pakistan on Wednesday, the discussion turned towards the match. “It should be a good competition and should be an exciting contest. India might have the edge in batting but in terms of fielding and bowling Pakistan is ahead. One who plays well on that day will win the game,'' said Lloyd.

Home advantage

Border said, “I think India-Pakistan rivalry is a step up for the sheer fervour it creates. India is going into the game as a slight favourite. Playing at home is obviously a big advantage.

“But Pakistan also knows the conditions very well at Mohali. It will be a classic contest. It will be a fight between a great Indian batting line-up and the Pakistani bowling.''

Imran said he did not want a one-sided contest.

“I don't want Pakistan to win easily. I predict a Sri Lanka-Pakistan final. Don't get too upset. As long as it is a good match and Pakistan wins, it will be great,'' he said.

And Kapil's riposte was quick. He said there was nothing wrong in dreaming.

When asked whether India would be able to repeat its 1983 feat, Kapil said, “Why not! Everybody goes to the ground with the hope to win. This Indian team has the capability. It has every reason to be there.

“I wish it wins. I am sitting lonely for some many years... One should join me there.''

Sri Lanka has history and momentum in its favour******Cricket

Sri Lanka has history and momentum in its favour

Kunal DiwanCOLOMBO:March 29, 2011 02:40 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:38 ISTKunal DiwanCOLOMBO:March 29, 2011 02:40 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:38 IST

New Zealand will look to buck the odds and upset the host's applecart

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ON A ROLL: Mahela Jayawardene, Lasith Malinga, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thisara Perera go through their paces during a training session at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on the eve of their semifinal clash against New Zealand.

ON A ROLL: Mahela Jayawardene, Lasith Malinga, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thisara Perera go through their paces during a training session at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on the eve of their semifinal clash against New Zealand.

New Zealand will look to buck the odds and upset the host's applecart

Between Sri Lanka and its third World Cup final stands New Zealand, the World Cup over-achiever which has made a habit of gate-crashing into the last-four, but never beyond, in the premier event.

New Zealand bushwhacked South Africa in Mirpur to enter is sixth Cup semifinal and on paper the contest between the Kiwis and the Lankan Lions would appear to be governed by the stark logic of the food chain: ominously tilted in favour of the carnivores.

Sri Lanka is an outfit better-rounded; its premier batsmen have been on a rampage; its bowling variety and three-pronged spin attack has time and again tightened the tourniquet on the opposition; and the site of the semifinal is the R. Premadasa, a Lankan stronghold if ever there was one.

Impressive record

The co-host has won 50 of the 82 ODIs it has played here. Against New Zealand at the Premadasa, Sri Lanka holds a 5-1 winning advantage.

The last time the two teams met, in the league phase, Sri Lanka registered a comprehensive win by 112 runs, as skipper Kumar Sangakkara struck a hundred and Muttiah Muralitharan dismantled the Kiwi chase with four for 25.

For Murali, any match from here on holds the bitter promise of being his last, and the off-spinner was once again on the list of fitness suspects on the eve of the semifinal.

Having strained his hamstring in the earlier game against New Zealand, Murali recovered in time for the quarterfinal against England on Saturday, bowling his full quota, at the end of which he was seen limping.

Sangakkara said the two injuries were unrelated — it was Murali's quadriceps which was under the scanner this time — and that a call on the world's most successful bowler would be taken on Tuesday morning.

Same pitch

The pitch used for the semifinal will be the same one on which Sri Lanka's openers amassed an unbeaten partnership of 231 chasing against England, which pretty much means that winning the toss and batting first would have a limited bearing on the ultimate result.

New Zealand last played Sri Lanka in an ODI at the Premadasa Stadium in 2009 when the visiting side, in pursuit of 216, was shot out for 119 under lights.

New floodlights and a raised track mean that a similar fate might not have to be endured this time, and New Zealand, after facing the horrors of the sub-continent in its last tours to Bangladesh and India, looks a side capable, at least, of mounting a fight.

Donald's compliment

Tim Southee — whom Kiwi bowling coach Allan Donald considers to have the potential of becoming the best swing bowler in the world — has been a revelation.

Southee's 15 victims in the tournament include Jacques Kallis, caught magnificently by Jacob Oram at the boundary, the wicket starting South Africa's familiar slide at Mirpur.

Oram himself has snared 12 and while skipper Daniel Vettori though hasn't been in the wickets, has been miserly (economy rate 3.60) and led the team admirably. Nathan McCullum too has been effective with his off-breaks.

New Zealand's openers pale in comparison to the prolificacy of Sri Lanka's, but Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum have combined for 353 in seven matches.

Ross Taylor has been the team's most consistent batsman, and Jesse Ryder, with an 83 in the quarterfinal, looks to be getting into a groove.

In the 2007 World Cup, Sri Lanka thrashed New Zealand by 81 runs in the semifinal at Kingston, Sangakkara's hundred and Murali's four-wicket haul being the major factors in the result, which prompts one to mull over yet again on the importance of Murali taking the field on Tuesday.

The teams (from):

Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dilhara Fernando, Rangana Herath, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Muttiah Muralitharan, Thisara Perera, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva and Upul Tharanga.

New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (captain), Brendon McCullum, Daryl Tuffey, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, Nathan McCullum, Andy McKay, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson and Luke Woodcock.

Umpires: Steve Davis and Aleem Dar;Third Umpire: Marais Erasmus;Fourth Umpire: Billy Doctrove;Match Referee: Chris Broad.

Match starts at 2.30 p.m.

Cricket will help to build bridges: Lorgat******Cricket

Cricket will help to build bridges: Lorgat

COLOMBO:March 29, 2011 02:36 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 02:36 ISTCOLOMBO:March 29, 2011 02:36 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 02:36 IST
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ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, on Monday, hoped the high-profile semifinal between Pakistan and India will build a bridge between the two nations. This is the first meeting between the two teams on Indian soil since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Lorgat believes the match could build a bridge between the two nations.

“Cricket is there to build bridges,” said Lorgat. “If it does then it would be a just reward for the beautiful game of cricket.”

He also said the World Cup has removed doubts over the future of the 50-over format of the game.

“I am satisfied that we have delivered a successful World Cup and with three matches to go I am confident that any doubts over the future of ODI cricket are now bizarre,” Lorgat said.

Since last year there were calls for a major overhaul of the 50-over format which was deemed to be under threat from Twenty20 cricket.

But Lorgat said talk of ODIs being in crisis was self-inflicting.

“As a game we were self-inflicting a crisis on 50-over cricket. Some great — and some not so great — players were questioning the future of 50-over cricket, although there was no evidence of a crisis with stadiums packed,” said Lorgat.

Open mind

“The ICC kept an open mind, allowing administrators to explore or experiment,” added the ICC chief of the innovations of split innings of 25 overs used in Australia and the introduction of power-plays.

“As the governing body we conducted a survey of 676 million people in five markets — England, New Zealand, India, South Africa and Bangladesh — that showed there was not just an interest but a passion for ODIs,” he said.

— Agencies

Vettori shocked by decision to play on used track******Cricket

Vettori shocked by decision to play on used track

IANSColombo:March 29, 2011 02:33 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 02:33 ISTIANSColombo:March 29, 2011 02:33 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 02:33 IST
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New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, on Monday, expressed shock over the host's decision to play on the same track at the Premadasa Stadium, where England lost badly, for the semifinal on Tuesday.

“They've told us we're playing on the same track which is very surprising for us. Playing a World Cup semifinal on a used wicket, we thought it would be mandatory to prepare a fresh wicket. But obviously not,” said Vettori,

Vettori said he was tempted to add one more spinner.

“So for us we'll have a good look at McKay and Tuffey and see if they're a good option to come in instead of the third spinner.”

The Black Caps have flown in fast bowler Andy McKay in place of injured paceman Kyle Mills. Asked whether he expects Sri Lanka to go with three spinners, Vettori said: “We're playing on the same wicket, so I assume they'll go in with the same team.”

Vettori said they will have to put their sensational quarterfinal victory over favourite South Africa behind them. “It was obviously a tremendous result, but Sri Lanka are a completely different proposition. We need a different and a better game plan if we have to succeed,” he said.

He said their loss against Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup semifinal will not play on their minds when they take the field on Tuesday.

The Black Caps had a poor run before the tournament, but the turnaround has been amazing.

We'll take a call on Murali before the match: Sangakkara******Cricket

We'll take a call on Murali before the match: Sangakkara

Principal CorrespondentCOLOMBO:March 29, 2011 02:31 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 03:09 ISTPrincipal CorrespondentCOLOMBO:March 29, 2011 02:31 ISTUpdated:March 29, 2011 03:09 IST
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VITAL COG: Muttiah Muralitharan did not practise on Monday as he has been advised complete rest to speed up his recovery.

VITAL COG: Muttiah Muralitharan did not practise on Monday as he has been advised complete rest to speed up his recovery.

Neither Sri Lanka nor New Zealand will be looking at past results ahead of their semifinal clash, to be played at the R. Premadasa Stadium here on Tuesday.

New Zealand qualified for this stage with a quarterfinal upset of South Africa at Mirpur, while Sri Lanka romped into the last four with a ten-wicket destruction of England in Colombo.

“It's going to be a new day, what's happened before is gone. We have to keep our heads, stay focussed and not play for the crowd. It appeared all too easy against England, but the kind of opening partnership (the 231 between Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan) we had does not come too often,” said Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara on Monday.

Sangakkara said that a decision on the inclusion of spin ace Muttiah Muralitharan, who is suffering from a troublesome quadriceps, would be taken on the morning of the game, and only then would the possibility of a three-way spin attack be considered.“Everybody around Murali has been trying to get him match-fit. It's a crunch game and I hope he plays...It's an on-going assessment and we'll take a call in the morning. Also, teams around the world have become better against spin and we can't just expect to go out and bowl and expect things to turn our way,” he said.

Murali did not practise on Monday, since he has been advised complete rest to speed up his recovery.

Amazing achievement

Meanwhile, New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori, who will step down as captain after the tournament, said his team would fight hard to make its first final.

“I look at the positives of making the semifinals. Everyone wants to talk about our record of making them and not going on any further, but I think it's an amazing achievement for a small country… and hopefully our recent experience at ICC tournaments, with the Champions Trophy we went one step further and made the final against Australia. So we can look on that and hope it's a starting point for us going past the semis,” he said.

Vettori said the team was on a high after its quarterfinal win, and that coach John Wright had been instrumental in getting it back on track.

Pat for Wright

“I think there's a positive mindset within the group…but we can't afford to be up and down in the knockout stages. We know how strong Sri Lanka can be in their home conditions. John's been fantastic for us, I've loved working with him and he's brought a lot of passion to the team, and his knowledge of people over here and grounds has been a tremendous help as well.

“I don't think there are any favourites for Tuesday. Who are the batsmen who can stand up and who's the bowler who can have a great day and get the wickets of Sangakkara and (Mahela) Jayawardene? Because that's going to make the difference rather than being a favourite team,” Vettori said.

Vettori was also appeared to be mentally prepared to surrender the captaincy after the World Cup.

“I thought I was lucky enough to captain the team for four years. I'll be 32 so I think it's time for someone new to come in. After four years, some fresh ideas and a different voice...That's the way I've looked at it the whole way along.”

Mohali pitch to have slight covering of grass******Cricket

Mohali pitch to have slight covering of grass

PTIMohaliMarch 28, 2011 20:22 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 ISTPTIMohaliMarch 28, 2011 20:22 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 IST
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The much-anticipated World Cup semifinal clash between arch rivals India and Pakistan on Wednesday is set to be played on a batting pitch which will also offer some purchase to the fast bowlers as “slight” grass will be left on it, according the groundsmen here.

The pitch at the PCA Stadium still sports some grass two days before the match and sources said that the groundsmen will have slight cutting at the most, fearing breaking up of the surface.

This means that the fast bowlers will have more purchase from the wicket than the spinners.

“It will be a good batting pitch. We are going not going to cut the grass much as it may lead to breaking up of the surface. At the most, we may have slight cutting,” sources in the Punjab Cricket Association toldPTI.

“The ball will seam a bit under the lights. It will be a typical Mohali wicket, with generally good pace and bounce, which is its basic nature,” PCA curator Daljeet Singh said.

Another factor, which is expected to play a role in the outcome of the match, is dew. Over the last few days there has been heavy dew with the outfield being wet at night.

“We have been observing how much dew falls during these days,” Daljit said.

Considering the dew factor and with the pitch likely to lose pace later, the team that wins the toss is expected to bat first. Bowlers will have tough time to grip the ball in the second innings.

Both teams could take calculated risks******Cricket

Both teams could take calculated risks

S. DinakarMohaliMarch 28, 2011 19:55 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:39 ISTS. DinakarMohaliMarch 28, 2011 19:55 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:39 IST

Shoaib Akhtar is capable of adding teeth to the Pakistan attack

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The image of Shoaib AKhtar (right) facing off against Sachin Tendulkar in the 2003 World Cup is etched in the memory. File Photo: V.V. Krishnan

The image of Shoaib AKhtar (right) facing off against Sachin Tendulkar in the 2003 World Cup is etched in the memory. File Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Shoaib Akhtar is capable of adding teeth to the Pakistan attack

Finding the right path can often prove hazardous in the labyrinth of knock-out games in the World Cup. Teams can stumble and lose their way in the maze.

This, indeed, is a time when some tough decisions may need to be taken. The side that backs its choices with both conviction and courage could emerge victorious.

There are a few calculated risks that could be taken by both India and Pakistan ahead of the high-voltage semifinal on Wednesday.

The Shoaib Akhtar factor: The old warhorse can still generate speed in short bursts. The ‘Rawalpindi Express' will not be short of motivation either having announced his retirement after the current World Cup. He would want to depart in a blaze of glory.

The image of Akhtar facing off with Sachin Tenudlkar at the Centurion in the 2003 edition of the competition is etched in memory.

The faster Akhtar, thundering in, bowled at Tendulkar, the quicker he was carved to the fence by the maestro. Tendulkar innovated and created with reflexes and timing, upper-cutting a furious lifter from Akhtar for a six.

Still hungry

The exceptional Tendulkar has retained his fitness and hunger. Akhtar, however, has been dogged by temperamental flare-ups, fitness concerns and inconsistent form.

Yet, he could provide Pakistan's attack the cutting edge with his air-speed, bounce and the precious ability to make an impact in a big game. His selection will be a high-stakes gamble by Pakistan considering it was Akhtar who sent down a string of full tosses to Ross Taylor as Pakistan imploded in the league game against New Zealand.

Someone such as Akhtar could enable the opposition break the shackles imposed by the other bowlers. There are chances too that he could snare a couple of crucial wickets and open up the sluice gates.

Will it be Akhtar, an emotional choice as well, or young left-arm paceman Wahab Riaz who will figure in the eleven? Akhtar has the X-factor in his favour, but the Pakistan team-management will think hard — cricket is not ruled by sentiments.

The case for S. Sreesanth: There is a debate for the second seamer's slot in the Indian camp. Will it be Munaf Patel, who seemed to go off the boil against Australia, or left-armer Ashish Nehra who will figure in the Indian eleven.

Munaf might seam the ball on the track in Mohali. Unimpressive in the competition so far, Nehra has the ability to bring the ball into the right-hander, send down telling yorkers.

Yet, Sreesanth, a quintessential swing bowler, could prove an inspired selection. The paceman leaked runs against Bangladesh in unhelpful conditions at Mirpur in the opener. Subsequently, he has spent his time on the sidelines.

Swing friendly

Could Sreesanth move from the periphery to the centrestage? Although, the pitch here should suit batsmen, there could be a measure of assistance for the pacemen from the track and the conditions might encourage swing.

With an ideal wrist and seam position, Sreesanth can test the Pakistani batsmen with his lateral movement from an off-stump line.

There might be some early freshness in the pitch for the pacemen if the Indians field first. And there are chances that the ball could dart around under the lights here. The evening moisture on the track could get the ball to skid.

If India follows the ‘horses for courses' theory, the selection of Sreesanth might prove an aggressive ploy against the Pakistanis. The batsmen from across the border are more comfortable against spin than well-directed swing and seam bowling. In fact, there have been occasions when the Pakistani batsmen, caught at the crease or playing away from the body, have collapsed against swing and seam delivered with precision.

Ball may reverse

Sreesanth could combine effectively with the in-form Zaheer in a potent right-left pairing of contrasts. There is also a possibility that the ball will reverse here.

The inclusion of Sreesanth could delay the induction of the impressive R. Ashwin by a few early overs but the off-spinner could still have a significant role to play in the bowling and batting Power Plays.

On the flip side, Sreesanth's inconsistency works against him. He often goes for glory and concedes easy runs in the process. And in a high-pressure game such as this World Cup semifinal between two traditional rivals, ‘control' is a precious commodity.

The role of Intikhab Alam: The Pakistan manager comprehends every blade of grass at the Punjab Cricket Association ground. After all, he was the coach of the Punjab team in the Ranji Trophy not so long ago. The former Pakistan captain's inputs to the side on the conditions would be of immense value.

Alam, former leg-spinning all-rounder and Pakistan captain, is calm, affable and adds immense value to the side. Strategically, his role will be crucial.

Meanwhile, the players are seeking calm ahead of the storm on Wednesday. The Indian cricketers are receiving pep talks from experts on the mind.

There is so much to an India-Pakistan duel.

Indian team has strenuous practice session******Cricket

Indian team has strenuous practice session

PTIMohaliMarch 28, 2011 19:06 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 ISTPTIMohaliMarch 28, 2011 19:06 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 IST
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India's Sachin Tendulkar (right) and Virender Sehwag during a practice session in Mohali on Monday. Photo: S. Subramanium

India's Sachin Tendulkar (right) and Virender Sehwag during a practice session in Mohali on Monday. Photo: S. Subramanium

With just two days to go for their World Cup semifinal clash against arch rivals Pakistan, the Indian team on Monday underwent a strenuous three-hour net session which was mainly devoted to batting.

After a couple of days rest and a few optional sessions since their five-wicket victory over defending champions Australia, the team got down to serious business at the net session at the PCA stadium this afternoon with all the batsmen devoting enough time to fine-tune their strokes.

The players trooped in at around 3 p.m. and headed straight to the nets at the PCA which has excellent practice facilities.

Sachin Tendulkar, who is just one short of completing a phenomenal 100 international centuries, was the cynosure of all eyes as he had an extended session at the nets with his new bat which has already generated considerable interest.

With the PCA track expected to assist the fast bowlers, Tendulkar asked two net bowlers to pitch the ball short at him as he practised the cut and the upper cut shots. The two bowlers were asked to pitch the ball on a plank placed in the middle so that the ball skidded and rose sharply.

Although it was still not known whether express speedster Shoaib Akhtar will feature in the Pakistan team, Tendulkar was not taking any chances and was apparently preparing for his short-pitched stuff.

Initially, Tendulkar’s net stint was focused on these deliveries as he essayed the cuts and upper cuts with ease. He then asked a left-handed bowler to bowl at him and he dealt with the angles without much difficulty.

While Tendulkar occupied one of the nets, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir, who was clad in a white T-shirt unlike his colleagues who wore the red practice apparels, were at the other strips.

The champion batsman batted for about 45 minutes before taking a break during which he was seen ‘hammering’ his new bat to make it match worthy. Sehwag, who soon joined him at the bench, and the video analyst of the team then took turn to knock the bat.

Yuvraj Singh, who is having a dream World Cup with four man-of-the-match awards in his kitty, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin were among those who were in the second batch at the nets.

Coach Gary Kirsten threw down the balls at Yuvraj who seemed to middle the ball well as he played a flurry of strokes. At times, Kirsten walked down to have a word with him.

Tendulkar then returned for his second stint at the nets and it was Kirsten who bowled to him. The star batsman asked Kirsten to bowl at certain lengths as he practised his shots.

After his batting session was over, Kirsten and Tendulkar had a lengthy discussion as they watched the other teammates practice.

Even as the batsmen had a gruelling session, bowling coach Eric Simons kept an eye on the bowlers as they went about their paces.

S. Sreesanth, who has found himself on the bench after a disastrous opening match against Bangladesh, bowled at a brisk pace from a long run up while Ashish Nehra also looked quite nippy.

Simons was seen talking to both Nehra and Sreesanth, apparently giving them some useful tips.

Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, understandably, did not exert too much at the practice session.

Mike Horn, the renowned South African explorer who has defied odds to achieve his goals, was also present at the practice session and was seen interacting with the players.

Horn, who had given motivational speeches to the players before the World Cup, has joined the team ahead of the crucial game against Pakistan on the request of the team management.

First three wickets will be crucial: Gul******Cricket

First three wickets will be crucial: Gul

Special CorrespondentMohaliMarch 28, 2011 18:25 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 ISTSpecial CorrespondentMohaliMarch 28, 2011 18:25 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 IST
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Pakistan bowler Umar Gul.

Pakistan bowler Umar Gul.

Umar Gul has been humming in this World Cup. The crafty right-arm paceman's movement and control coupled with his ability to operate effectively during various stages of the innings have fuelled Pakistan's campaign in this competition.

Gul has been the pace spearhead for Pakistan with 14 wickets from seven games at 14.50 (economy rate 3.86). The paceman, hitting the right areas, is seeking early breakthroughs for his side.

“The first three wickets will be crucial for us. India depends on its top three. So, I'm looking to get them out,” he said here on Monday.

Confident

Gul added that he would enjoy combining with Shoiab Akhtar. “I have always liked bowling against India. At the moment I feel that I am at the peak of my ability. And I feel very confident when Akhtar is on the other end. Akhtar is a team bowler and has done well in the past against India.”

Gul added, “Nobody is upset with Akhtar and everyone has been supporting him. After the match against New Zealand, he was given rest. His focus is on the semifinal and has been practising for the past four days.

The in-form Gul was certain that Pakistan would be able to handle the pressure. “This game is very crucial for both the countries. It will also bring both the countries closer, so it is good for the two nations and the players.”

Morale high

He conceded India possessed a strong batting line-up but said, “No doubt India has a good batting line up. But we have the bowling. I am happy with my performance and Shahid Afridi has been the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 21. So we have an advantage in the bowling. Our morale is quite high.”

Gul said inputs from coach Waqar Younis and former Pakistan seamer Aaquib Javed had been of immense value to him. “I have worked out a lot with them in recent months, rediscovered my bowling form,” he said.

The paceman said the spot-fixing scandal had only made the side stronger. “We have supported each other and performed against South Africa and New Zealand. The atmosphere in the dressing room is good and we are focussed. Even those who are not in the eleven are looked after well by the coaching staff. We have maintained unity.”

On India's 4-0 record against Pakistan in the World Cup, he said, “The important thing is to play good cricket and win the semifinal. We should not think about past matches.” The dew, he felt, might impact the game on Wednesday.

Gul also said the Pakistan cricketers looked forward to playing in the Indian Premier League.

Imran Khan slams Malik over match******Cricket

Imran Khan slams Malik over match-fixing comments

PTIKolkataMarch 28, 2011 17:16 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:31 ISTPTIKolkataMarch 28, 2011 17:16 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:31 IST
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Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan on Monday lashed out at Interior Minister Rehman Malik for his warning to Pakistan cricket team against indulging in match-fixing during their crucial World Cup semifinal against India in Mohali.

The cricketer-turned-politican hit out at the minister’s statement and said he should better keep a watch on himself as he was absconding few days back.

Imran, who heads the Tehreek-e-Insaaf party, also made fun saying that the minister did not know English and his comments might have been misconstrued.

“I would rather watch Rehman Malik than the cricket team.

I am serious. He was absconding. My worry is not the cricket team but it’s him,” Imran made a terse statement when asked about Malik’s comments.

“I know the minister, he does not have a strong command over the English language. So perhaps, he must have said something and something else could have been interpreted.

There are much better things to do. I don’t think Pakistan team will be bothered about it.”

Confident

The skipper of the victorious 1992 team said he was confident that the national team would put pride before all else to try and beat India in Wednesday’s clash at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali.

Earlier, Malik told mediapersons, “I gave a warning that there should be no match-fixing. I am keeping a close watch. If any such thing happens, we are going to take action.”

Malik was speaking in Karachi ahead of the World Cup semifinal clash between India and Pakistan in Mohali on Wedndesday that will showcase one of the world’s most intense sporting rivalries.

Spirited New Zealand takes on rampant Sri Lanka******Cricket

Spirited New Zealand takes on rampant Sri Lanka

PTIColomboMarch 28, 2011 16:43 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:33 ISTPTIColomboMarch 28, 2011 16:43 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:33 IST
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Ross Taylor: &quot;We are proud of our history of making semifinals, but looking at this team we want to make history and go one step further and make the final. We genuinely believe we can do that and we want to show that tomorrow&quot;.

Ross Taylor: &quot;We are proud of our history of making semifinals, but looking at this team we want to make history and go one step further and make the final. We genuinely believe we can do that and we want to show that tomorrow&quot;.

Sri Lanka’s brute batting force and shrewd bowling would be up against a sprightly New Zealand, aiming for a maiden summit clash berth in the World Cup, when the two sides clash in the first semifinal of the mega-event here on Tuesday.

Despite making the semifinals in six out of 10 World Cups, New Zealand have always been dubbed the underdogs who have never made the final. But the Kiwis believe this could be their breakthrough tournament.

New Zealand, after creating an upset in the quarterfinal by beating title-favourites South Africa, will be hoping to spring a similar surprise on the 1996 champions and 2007 runners-up.

“We are proud of our history of making semifinals, but looking at this team we want to make history and go one step further and make the final. We genuinely believe we can do that and we want to show that tomorrow,” vice-captain Ross Taylor told reporters here.

New Zealand qualified last from Group ‘A’, but stunned South Africa, who qualified first from Group ‘B’, in Dhaka on Friday when they beat them by 49 runs.

The spirited performance has created quite a buzz about the team which has a reputation of punching above its weight in major international events.

“We are taking a lot of confidence from our last game against South Africa. We have got an advantage that we have played against Sri Lanka in Group matches and we did a few things wrong there. Hopefully we can rectify that tomorrow,” Taylor, who is also the highest run getter for the Kiwis in the competition told reporters.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are one of the leading contenders to win this year’s World Cup.

All four of their top order batsmen have scored hundreds in the competition so far but the lower half is a bit of a concern considering the number five, six and seven have just one half-century between them.

Sri Lanka had a comprehensive 10-wicket win over England in their quarterfinal on Saturday where they beat them with 63 balls to spare, but captain Kumar Sangakkara said despite the easy win, his team wouldn’t take the New Zealanders lightly.

“We can learn a few things from the England game and rectify a few things. New Zealand are a good side. What I have seen them is that in big tournaments they lift their game. They are a united bunch and I think our semifinal will be a close encounter. We need to play hard without thinking too far ahead and I don’t like to overrate us,” Sangakkara said.

Sri Lanka did beat New Zealand in a Group game in Mumbai, but Sangakkara said history hardly mattered in the knockout stage.

“Things like psychological advantage and all others takes a second place when it comes to proper cricket and good performance on the field. You can’t think of what’s gone before. Group stage games are long gone and I don’t t think New Zealand are thinking about that,” Sangakkara said.

Sri Lanka are expected to again go with a three-strong spin attack, a ploy they used against England and Australia.

Murali doubtful

However, there are doubts over off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who is nursing a hamstring injury.

The Kiwis, on the other hand, have no major injury and have in fact been boosted by the return to form imposing all-rounder Jacob Oram, who grabbed four wickets and a couple of athletic catches in the quarterfinal win over South Africa.

Wright likes New Zealand aggression******Cricket

Wright likes New Zealand aggression

PTIWellingtonMarch 28, 2011 16:30 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 ISTPTIWellingtonMarch 28, 2011 16:30 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:55 IST
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New Zealand batsman Brendon McCullum (L) talks with captain Daniel Vettori (R) as coach John Wright (C) looks on during a training session at the R. Premadasa Cricket Stadium in Colombo on March 28, 2011. New Zealand will face Sri Lanka in an ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final match at the stadium on March 29, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI

New Zealand batsman Brendon McCullum (L) talks with captain Daniel Vettori (R) as coach John Wright (C) looks on during a training session at the R. Premadasa Cricket Stadium in Colombo on March 28, 2011. New Zealand will face Sri Lanka in an ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final match at the stadium on March 29, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI

New Zealand cricket coach John Wright has given his players the go ahead to be at their aggressive best against Sri Lanka when the two sides face off in the first semifinal of the cricket World Cup in Colombo on Tuesday.

New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori and substitute player Kyle Mills were fined 90 and 120 per cent of their match fees after involving in an altercation with Faf du Plessis during the quarterfinal against South Africa.

However, coach Wright did not read too much into the incident and said aggression is important for success and allowed the team to go full throttle against Sri Lanka in their semifinal.

“I like the aggression of the team, particularly in the field. That’s important. We’ve got to play with passion and they’re showing that. The odd thing happens ... but that’s international sport,” Wright told New Zealand media from Colombo.

The incident had happened in the 28th over when Vettori and Mills, who had brought drinks to the ground, were deemed to have verbally harassed du Plessis after AB de Villiers’s runout.

Mills, who interestingly pleaded not guilty to his antics, headed home after being ruled out of the rest of the tournament because of a muscle injury and was replaced by Andy McKay.

“It made reasonably interesting viewing for those out there. It happened and it was dealt with. The players on both sides knew there was a lot at stake, which is what you expect of any South Africa/New Zealand contest,” Wright said.

“I think the boys were committed, they wanted to win and made their presence felt. We’re all pretty pleased right now.

We did a lot of preparation for that game and achieved plenty of game-plan targets.”

The former India coach, who turned the hapless Kiwis into potential match-winners after taking over the job barely a month before the team left for the sub-continent, feels the team needs to bat well against Sri Lanka especially after falling 20 runs short against South Africa.

“We were probably 20 runs short (against South Africa), but knew if [we] got 220-plus it was defendable. We’re making up for it in the field and with the ball.”

“We have to bat well (against Sri Lanka), that’s the key for us,” he said.

“I think the boys are learning — you need those wickets in hand going into the last overs and you set those targets.

“We’ll look inwards and focus very much on trying to get better as a unit,” he said.

The Black Caps, who are playing in their sixth World Cup semifinal in 10 tournaments, have won many ICC fairplay and ICC spirit awards.

Good spell by Godson******Cricket

Good spell by Godson

Principal CorrespondentNAGERCOIL:April 02, 2011 03:19 ISTUpdated:April 02, 2011 03:19 ISTPrincipal CorrespondentNAGERCOIL:April 02, 2011 03:19 ISTUpdated:April 02, 2011 03:19 IST
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G. Godson took five for 17 as V-90 CC defeated Sunny Colts CC by 111 runs in the TNCA-Kanyakumari DCA first division cricket league here.

The scores:

I div.: Packer Colts 110 in 19.2 overs (Sivakannan four for 23, Thoubeek three for 18) bt Sunny Colts 91 in 24.5 overs (C. Rajeev Kumar three for 10, K. Sheriff three for 24).

V-90 205 for seven in 40 overs (J. Gireesh 40, S.S. Mathialagan 38, P. Merico Roy 37, Bhagavath Kumar three for 26) bt Sunny Colts 94 in 18.1 overs (G. Godson five for 17, J. Stanley three for 21).

II div.: Eagles 153 for six in 25 overs (B. Sadiq Mohideen 38, Abdul Hai 27, Arockiya Vijayan three for 13) lost to Bharath 154 for nine in 24.3 overs (E. Vasanth 44, Subramanian 36, Haneef three for 20, Abdul Hai three for 27).

Sunshine 113 in 25 overs (Yazar three for 24) lost to Bharath 114 for five in 18.3 overs (Yazar 40).

Cosmos 141 for eight in 25 overs (Ramu 73, R. Vijay four for 19) lost to Commando 146 for nine in 25 overs (P. Tamilarasan 49).

Eagles 158 for eight in 25 overs (Salman Khan 59, Mose three for 23) bt Kumari 128 in 22.5 overs (Ayyappan 59, Abdul Hai three for 41).

Sunshine 98 in 19.1 overs lost to Eagles 102 for three in 15.4 overs (Rafeek 26, Thofeq 33).

Bharath 120 for seven in 25 overs (Vasanth 29, Subramanian 29) lost to Cosmos 124 for eight in 25 overs.

You just cannot stop the little master!******Cricket

You just cannot stop the little master!

Vijay LokapallyNEW DELHI:April 01, 2011 23:54 ISTUpdated:April 02, 2011 03:52 ISTVijay LokapallyNEW DELHI:April 01, 2011 23:54 ISTUpdated:April 02, 2011 03:52 IST

Past players have silently admired Tendulkar's amazing passion to keep improving

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NEVER ENOUGH: Sachin Tendulkar, seen here after a practice session on Saturday, plays with an amazing passion to improve, innovate and dominate. Photo: K.R. Deepak

NEVER ENOUGH: Sachin Tendulkar, seen here after a practice session on Saturday, plays with an amazing passion to improve, innovate and dominate. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Past players have silently admired Tendulkar's amazing passion to keep improving

You just can't stop him from playing cricket. Twenty-one years into the profession, no one, not even in private, discusses any retirement possibilities for this senior statesman of world cricket.

“Leave it to him,” said Sunil Gavaskar once. “It should be his decision,” insisted the wily Wasim Akram.

True, Sachin Tendulkar would not waste a moment in taking the big decision when the time comes. “The thought (of retirement) has not occurred to me even once,” the batting guru told this correspondent last year. Bad news for bowlers!

Bowlers, without exception, continue to shiver when confronted with the challenge of snaring, or, to speak strictly, containing him. His attitude reflects his mindset. It says, “Born to rule.”

Classic

No batsman played Akram with assurance. Tendulkar did. Few batsmen could clobber Shane Warne. Tendulkar did. Their rivalry on the field lifted the game a few notches, the bowler plotting and the batsman thinking, each anticipating the other's next move.

It was classic cricket in the middle. Some of it was recreated in his duel with Dale Steyn recently in South Africa.

We have watched Tendulkar evolve as a batsman. His eyes rarely wander when the bowler begins his run.

With a steady head, he keeps the body as close to the ball as possible. And the bat is unerringly straight. He brings an aesthetic balance to his stance, so calm, so assured, so classic.

Many past cricketers, some of them greats, have silently admired his amazing passion to keep improving, innovating and dominating.

As Kapil Dev once remarked, he is “an institution.” The cricket world continues to marvel at the little master's monumental contribution towards not just serving but enhancing the game too. His dependability and desire to excel are infectious.

Continues to grow

His work, really, is a process that has grown with time. And it continues to grow. Like a young student, he celebrates a victory wildly. When the team loses, Tendulkar mourns, too, quietly.

Tendulkar hates losing. For confirmation, check with Navjot Singh Sidhu. It had rained the entire day in Kandy (in 1993) and the team had retired to the serene confines of the hotel.

A knock on the door woke Sidhu up. “Chal TT khelte hain(let's play table tennis),” was the tempting invitation from Tendulkar. He was armed with two rackets. Sidhu was game.

Tendulkar, who prided in his table tennis skills, was soundly beaten. The session was over in quick time. Sidhu wore a smile.

The next day Tendulkar knocked again. “Chal, TT khelte hain.” The result was the same.

And then Sidhu got a three-day breather. Our man was practising furiously. One more request followed. Tendulkar won that day and Sidhu never received another “Chal TT khelte hain” invitation again.

Childish streak

This childish streak to win, and only win, continues to motivate Tendulkar even today. He is not a bad loser, for he never fails to appreciate the opponent. He is known to respect a good performance, even if it comes from the junior-most member of his team.

Rising benchmarks

His enthusiasm and camaraderie is best seen in the intensity with which he takes his partner's runs. His benchmarks keep rising in number and scale.

One remembers a rainy afternoon at Hobart. “The ground is flooded. How will you play cricket now?” I asked.

“You have indoor nets,” he pointed to a hall.

“But what if the indoor school is flooded too?” His mischievous smile summed it up. “Then I will play book cricket.”

You really can't stop him from playing cricket!

Will Dhoni's men emulate Kapil's Devils?******Cricket

Will Dhoni's men emulate Kapil's Devils?

S. DinakarMumbai:April 01, 2011 19:36 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 02:58 ISTS. DinakarMumbai:April 01, 2011 19:36 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 02:58 IST
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GRAND FINALE: On the eve of of the most important games of their lives, rival captains M.S. Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara get a close look at what they'll be playing for at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. Both India and Sri Lanka will be attempting to win their second World Cup title in their third final appearance. Photo: K.R. Deepak

GRAND FINALE: On the eve of of the most important games of their lives, rival captains M.S. Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara get a close look at what they'll be playing for at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. Both India and Sri Lanka will be attempting to win their second World Cup title in their third final appearance. Photo: K.R. Deepak

The images linger. Kapil Dev, light on feet and brave of heart, plucked a sensational catch at deep mid-wicket to end a rampant Vivian Richards's tenure in the 1983 World Cup final at Lord's. You can freeze the frame.

Now, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's powerful team is just one match away from reclaiming the Cup of Joy. The host faces a formidable rival in the summit clash — the first between two sub-continental teams — of the ICC World Cup in Mumbai on a Super Saturday.

Will another moment of inspiration decide this final? Kumar Sangakkara, another wicketkeeper-batsman, leads a versatile Sri Lankan side of belief and ability.

With a gilt-edged opportunity to make history as the first side to win the World Cup on home soil, India cannot afford any slip up. Here, let's look at the protagonists and the conditions that could influence the contest.

The Malinga factor

The Indian batting is strong and in this context, the pace, precision and swing of Lasith Malinga could hold the key.

Malinga's unique sling action — his right arm is parallel to the ground at the point of release — makes it hard for the batsmen to pick him. In reverse swing, the ball moves towards the shiny side and batsmen watch the hand carefully to read movement. This is easier when someone has a conventional action.

In Malinga's case though, one half of the ball is covered by his palm and fingers while the other faces the ground. For the batsman, it is almost impossible to spot the shiny side.

The speedy slinger with a quick-arm action will be a distinct threat, particularly in the later stages of the innings.

The two legends

The timeless Sachin Tendulkar could, finally, be a part of a World Cup-winning squad. The maestro could also embrace the magical 100th international century on his home ground.

Muttiah Muralitharan, battling a host of niggles, was buzzing around at the nets in typical fashion on Friday morning; the champion bowler is likely to play. This will be the off-spin wizard's last international. What a stage to make an exit!

The presence of Tendulkar (464 runs in the competition so far at 58.00) and Muralitharan (15 wickets at 16.80) should lift their sides.

The Mathews blow

Sri Lanka will be without influential all-rounder Angelo Mathews in this high-pressure game. Mathews, nursing a quadriceps injury, has been replaced in the squad by off-spinner Suraj Randiv.

All-rounder Thisara Perera, already a part of the team, might come in for Mathews. The lanky Randiv, who has troubled the Indians in the past, could be in as the second spinner.

The conditions

There should be fair carry and some seam movement for the pacemen here. And the breeze from the Arabian Sea could assist swing. The Indian think-tank appeared veering towards playing three seamers in the final.

Ashish Nehra is out with a fractured finger and Santhakumaran Sreesanth could take his place. If the ball swings, Sreesanth will be in the business. R. Ashwin has bowled capably but the Indians are aware that the Sri Lankans are fine players of off-spin and are familiar with the carrom ball.

The toss

This is a surface where the team winning the toss has to back itself to survive a period of early assistance to the pacemen and put runs on the board. A total in excess of 250 might, indeed, be challenging.

The pitch does become slower in the second half and the fielding side has an opportunity to apply pressure. An improved Harbhajan Singh could be a factor on this track.

Zaheer and Lankan top-three

Openers, Tillakaratne Dilshan (467 runs at 66.71), Upul Tharanga (393 at 65.50) and No. 3 Sangakkara (417 runs at 104.25) have batted with an amalgam of flair and solidity. But then, India's Zaheer Khan (19 wickets at 17.57) could nail Dilshan, who has a tendency to shuffle across, with the one that comes in. The crafty left-arm paceman might probe the left-handed Tharanga and Sangakkara too with his ability to straighten or move the sphere away from them. With the gifted Mahela Jayawardene not in the best of touch, the Sri Lankan middle-order could struggle if India makes early inroads.

Sehwag, Yuvraj and Raina

Sehwag (380 runs at 54.28, strike rate 123.37) has a liking for the Sri Lankan bowling. He relishes the big stage too. Much like Sehwag, Yuvraj (341 runs at 85.25) can swing games. The left-hander has applied himself in pressure situations, been judicious with his stroke-play. When Yuvraj arrives, Sangakkara could bring on Muralitharan.

Suresh Raina and the batting Power Play

Raina has been calm and collected, gathered runs with timing and placements. He has made a difference. With him around, India has not imploded in the batting Power Plays. This time around, the left-hander could be up against Malinga during this crucial phase.

The teams (from):

India: M.S. Dhoni (captain), V. Sehwag, S. Tendulkar, G. Gambhir, V. Kohli, Yuvraj, S. Raina, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Munaf, Sreesanth, Y. Pathan, R. Ashwin, P. Chawla.

Sri Lanka: K. Sangakkara (captain), T. Dilshan, U. Tharanga, M. Jayawardene, T. Samaraweera, C. Silva, T. Perera, N. Kulasekara, M. Muralitharan, L. Malinga, S. Randiv, D. Fernando, A. Mendis, R. Herath, C. Kapugedera.

Umpires: S. Taufel & A. Dar;Third umpire: I. Gould;Fourth Umpire: Steve Davis;Match Referee: J. Crowe.

Match starts at 2.30 p.m.(IST)

Keeping the faith in Sangakkara, Dhoni******Cricket

Keeping the faith in Sangakkara, Dhoni

Nandakumar MararMUMBAI:April 01, 2011 18:57 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 ISTNandakumar MararMUMBAI:April 01, 2011 18:57 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 IST
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India captain MS Dhoni and his Sri Lankan counterpart Kumar Sangakkara (R) pose with the World Cup trophy in Mumbai on Friday. Photo: Vivek Bendre

India captain MS Dhoni and his Sri Lankan counterpart Kumar Sangakkara (R) pose with the World Cup trophy in Mumbai on Friday. Photo: Vivek Bendre

Maintaining focus is tough enough on wicket-keepers when energy levels dip and concentration levels fluctuate.

Kumar Sangakkara and M.S. Dhoni, captains facing off in the World Cup 2011 final, are shouldering multiple responsibilities on the field. As team leaders, both have to calculate allocation of overs among bowlers, keep an eye on run-rates and decide field placings in Power Plays.

Switching between multiple duties, at the same time taking an overall view of match situation as the team leader is an amazing jugglery of roles both the Lanka and India captain have pulled off with authority over six league ties and two knockouts.

Sangakkara has been decisive in front of the stumps as well, averaging 104.25 (eight matches, 417 runs) so far, with one century and three half-centuries at number three.

Dhoni has been quieter as a specialist batsman, highest 34 off 50 balls against Ireland in the league.

Calming influence

Runs don't tell the full story of his ability to get the best out of heavyweights preceding him in the Indian batting line-up and calming influence as the team leader on bowlers when mind games are on in the middle.

The collapse triggered by South Africa bowlers at Nagpur left the Indian skipper fuming on 12 not out, otherwise batsmen have done the job for him so far in the tournament. Saturday's final at the Wankhede is another opportunity for Dhoni to unleash the full range of his strokeplay or drop anchor at one end allowing other hitters to flourish.

Sangakkara is playing his second final in the 50 overs-format (after the 2007 WC), Dhoni participating in his first. Whatever the outcome, these two masters in multi-tasking will set a new trend in World Cup history, the first time wicket-keepers will be leading the respective squads out to battle in a title clash. Donning the gloves for 50 overs, then donning on the pads is a demanding task in a day-night game, captaincy only makes the task tougher.

Captains list: 1975 WC final: Clive Lloyd-Ian Chappell,1979: Clive Lloyd-Mike Brearley,1983: Kapil Dev-Clive Lloyd,1987: Allan Border-Mike Gatting,1992: Imran Khan-Graham Gooch,1996: Arjuna Ranatunga-Mark Taylor,1999: Steve Waugh-Wasim Akram,2003: Ricky Ponting-Saurav Ganguly,2007: Ricky Ponting-Mahela Jayawardene,2011: M.S. Dhoni-Kumar Sangakkara.

Sangakkara: Pressure is all on India******Cricket

Sangakkara: Pressure is all on India

Special CorrespondentMUMBAIApril 01, 2011 16:28 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 02:58 ISTSpecial CorrespondentMUMBAIApril 01, 2011 16:28 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 02:58 IST
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Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni appeared relaxed and confident here on Friday. He also expected Sri Lanka to be a tough opponent in Saturday’s final.

“I have always said that Sri Lanka is a good side. It has some brilliant individual players and combines well as a unit.” The Indian captain added, “We are mentally and physically prepared. We will give it our hundred per cent and play as a team. These things are in our control. But the result is not always in your control, somebody out of nowhere could come up with a match-winning display.”

Dhoni said his side was peaking at the right time. “We have slowly gained momentum. Actually, the format of the tournament gave us the space to get into the groove. During the competition, we have grown as a team.”

Giving indications that paceman S. Sreesanth could figure in the final, Dhoni said, “Actually, he did not bowl badly in the first match but we could not bring him back because we wanted to feature the best possible eleven for the conditions. He has been in the sidelines but if given an opportunity, he could do the job. We will look at the idea of the third seamer in the game.”

Dhoni added that whenever given an opportunity, off-spinner R. Ashwin too had done the job. “Actually, whether it is two spinners or three pacemen, we have kept our options open.”

The Indian skipper said he often rotated the attack to prevent the opposition from playing to a plan. “We have seen that some teams are very predictable about who will open the attack and who will bowl first change. I do not want that to happen with our attack.”

Paying a tribute to off-spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan, who will be playing in his final international match, Dhoni said, “He is a great bowler and a character. He was with us for three years at the Chennai Super Kings. I am sure, even if he is on one leg, he will play the final.”

Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara acknowledged India was the favourite but said the home team would be under greater pressure.

Asked about overwhelming crowd support for India since only a few hundred Sri Lankan fans would be present on the ground, Sangakkara said, “Actually, it can cut both ways. If a team does not do well on a particular day, there could be a lot more pressure.”

He said, “We should not become too emotional. At the same time, we should not become too cynical. I think we should find the right balance. Our cricket is not individual driven. We have always come up with a collective approach.”

Sangakkara said Sri Lanka had come through a tough period and now the people back home were celebrating the country's progress to the final. On Muralitharan, he said, “His mood is very upbeat. He is talking, laughing and joking like he always does. We are hopeful he will play tomorrow.”

Sangakkara said when the time comes, the side's middle-order would perform. On maestro Sachin Tendulkar being on 99 international centuries, Sangakkara said, “This really sets it up, doesn't it? Tendulkar on 99 hundreds playing a World Cup final on home ground.”

Dhoni says team went hungry before semifinal******Cricket

Dhoni says team went hungry before semifinal

APMUMBAIApril 01, 2011 16:00 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 16:00 ISTAPMUMBAIApril 01, 2011 16:00 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 16:00 IST
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A scheduling mix-up meant MS Dhoni’s men went without food for the entire morning before the World Cup semifinal against Pakistan.

Dhoni told a news conference on Friday that his players couldn’t get breakfast at the team hotel and had to eat quickly right before the toss in Wednesday’s match.

“The first meal that we had was just before the toss because food was not served at the hotel,” Dhoni said. “They said that it would take an hour to serve breakfast, so we turned up at the field but there was nothing actually at the ground.”

Dhoni, who won the toss and elected to bat first in that game, said such things could distract players.

“What is important is what you can do about it. You may scream, you may shout but you will not get the food. So what is important is to use the time in the best possible manner. We went to the field and did our warm-up and had our food before the toss,” he added.

Angelo Mathews to miss World Cup final******Cricket

Angelo Mathews to miss World Cup final

APMUMBAIApril 01, 2011 15:59 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 15:59 ISTAPMUMBAIApril 01, 2011 15:59 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 15:59 IST
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All-rounder Angelo Mathews has been ruled out of Sri Lanka’s squad for Saturday’s World Cup final against India due to injury and has been replaced by off-spinner Suraj Randiv, the International Cricket Council said.

“Mathews suffered a strain to his right thigh muscle, which occurred during his side's semi-final victory over New Zealand in Colombo,” the ICC said in a statement on Friday.

Once replaced, a player may not return to the squad. Sri Lanka also had veteran left-arm seamer Chaminda Vaas available on standby, and choosing Randiv may mean there are doubts over the fitness of star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who has struggled throughout the tournament with various injuries.

Nehra most likely ruled out of World Cup final******Cricket

Nehra most likely ruled out of World Cup final

PTIMumbaiApril 01, 2011 14:18 ISTUpdated:September 26, 2016 20:52 ISTPTIMumbaiApril 01, 2011 14:18 ISTUpdated:September 26, 2016 20:52 IST
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Ashish Nehra picked up the injury while attempting a catch against Pakistan in the semi-final match on Wednesday. File photo

Ashish Nehra picked up the injury while attempting a catch against Pakistan in the semi-final match on Wednesday. File photo

India were dealt a blow ahead of Saturday’s World Cup final against Sri Lanka in Mumbai with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni saying that pacer Ashish Nehra is “most likely” out of the match due to a fractured right-hand finger.

There was widespread speculation over Nehra’s fitness and Dhoni said the lanky pacer, who returned impressive figures of 2/33 in the semi-final against Pakistan, was virtually out of the reckoning.

“Nehra is most likely ruled out. He has got multiple fractures (in his right hand finger),” Dhoni said at the pre-match press conference.

But opener Gautam Gambhir, who left the field during Pakistan’s innings due to a hamstring problem, is expected to be fit for the final.

“Gautam looks right now. He is most likely to be fit for the game,” was Dhoni’s response when asked about the left-hander’s fitness status.

Nehra picked up the injury while attempting a catch against Pakistan when fielding at deep midwicket. He hurt himself while trying to pick up a pull by Shahid Afridi off Yuvraj Singh’s bowling.

Nehra had missed the first two matches of the event due to a sore back. He went for 65 runs in 8.4 overs against South Africa in a group game after coming back.

He was then left out for India’s next two games, before making a comeback in the semi-finals.

ICC lifts ban on Indian electronic media from World Cup final******Sport

ICC lifts ban on Indian electronic media from World Cup final

PTIMumbaiApril 01, 2011 13:53 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 ISTPTIMumbaiApril 01, 2011 13:53 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 IST
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Sri Lanka's captain Kumar Sangakkara speaks during a news conference ahead of the World Cup final match against India in Mumbai on Friday.

Sri Lanka's captain Kumar Sangakkara speaks during a news conference ahead of the World Cup final match against India in Mumbai on Friday.

The ICC tonight lifted the ban on news television channels covering the world cup finals following intervention by Information and Broadcasting Ministry, but will seek legal action against them for alleged violation of media guidelines.

”...the ICC has decided to commence legal action against the companies involved and will also seek to recover damages through the courts in India rather than bar the stations from the ICC Cricket World Cup final,” cricket’s global governing body said in a statement.

Earlier this morning, representatives of the channels, who had gone to attend the pre-match press conferences of the rival captains and ICC President Sharad Pawar in Mumbai were barred from covering the events.

A similar ban was imposed on the channels before the Indo-Pak semi-finals at Mohali and was lifted on the day of the match.

The I and B Ministry took up the issue with the ICC on behalf of the broadcasters specially a day after the cricket body was given tax exemption by the Union Government on its incomes in the world cup.

The ICC statement in the evening said it has decided to begin legal proceedings against “offending” Indian news channels who have “repeatedly breached” the News Access Guidelines for Broadcasters for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.

Despite a lengthy meeting at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in New Delhi, the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) and the Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) refused to give assurances that they would desist from breaching the broadcast guidelines in their news programming, it said.

Haroon Lorgat, the ICC Chief Executive, said: “I am very disappointed that it has come to this. However, we need to do everything to protect our exclusive commercial rights and those of our partners. If that means we have to resort to legal action, that is regrettable but necessary“.

“At the Ministry’s request, we travelled to New Delhi to meet with the NBA and BEA in an attempt to resolve the issue but they were unfortunately not willing to conform to the guidelines agreed with the ICC prior to the event,” he added.

“To ensure that there is no misunderstanding it is important for me to repeat that the News Access Guidelines for Broadcasting the ICC Cricket World Cup were issued in January 2011 and all news broadcasters were reminded of these Guidelines in a letter from the ICC on 27 January,” he said

The ICC said accreditations were issued to the reporters and cameramen on the condition that these guidelines were observed.

Subsequently those guidelines were breached on several occasions, particularly in respect of the “blatant commercialisation” of ICC World Cup footage and proprietary data by certain news broadcasters.

“In the interests of the event, we have agreed to reinstate their accreditation for the final match of this hugely successful World Cup. However, following a number of written warnings to the channels concerned, it is now time for the ICC to act through the courts,” the statement said.

Sources in the Ministry said I and B Minister Ambika Soni had taken up the matter with the ICC, including its President Pawar telling them the deadlock with the news channels was “not that big an issue which could not be overcome“.

The ICC is understood to have told her then that since Doordarshan has access to the footage, there was no problem in airing the match for Indian people.

Despite marathon negotiations to resolve the matter last night, the News Broadcasters’ Association (NBA) and the ICC could not reach an agreement on terms of coverage.

The TV channels, had faced a similar ban ahead of the semifinals between India and Pakistan in Mohali before Soni had stepped in to help their cause.

The Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) and the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) had then approached the Information and Broadcasting (I and B) ministry on the matter following which Soni had stepped in.

The news media had then been allowed inside the venue at Mohali after the Minister signed an undertaking that the issue would be resolved in a meeting later. The said meeting was held yesterday but the two sides could not reach a compromise.

Prediction of glory is hard to make******Cricket

Prediction of glory is hard to make

Ted CorbettLondon:April 01, 2011 02:48 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 02:48 ISTTed CorbettLondon:April 01, 2011 02:48 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 02:48 IST
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UNIQUE: Saturday's will be the first all-Asian World Cup final and the first in which both sides will be led by wicket-keepers - M.S. Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara.

UNIQUE: Saturday's will be the first all-Asian World Cup final and the first in which both sides will be led by wicket-keepers - M.S. Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara.

Semifinals are notoriously limp, turgid and irritating so take no notice of events in Premadasa and Mohali. Semifinals are also won by the favourites so we can look forward to the final in busy Mumbai where India will fulfil its destiny and Sri Lanka retreat to its heavenly island muttering that all the fates are its enemies.

Perhaps the sporting gods have already decreed that Sachin will score his 100th hundred in his home town on this day of days. That is also his destiny but he played so wretchedly against Pakistan — for top score for heaven's sake — that the prediction of glory is hard to make.

My most fervent wish is that the final passes peacefully. I have pleasant memories of the Mumbai seafront area and nights of comfort in the Taj besides huge admiration for the courage of those journalists who risked all to bring the horrors of the invasion to our screens two years ago and the police and soldiers who brought it to an end.

Now it is the ideal stage for the confrontation of opposites. India, boasts of so many well-trained, experienced stars against Sri Lanka's stroke players and experimental spinners. It is, of course, the first all-Asian final and the first in which both sides have been led by wicket-keepers.

Different mould

The two men who will stand, leap, scream and direct from behind the wickets on Saturday are from a different mould. Their fellows ought to disown them for they have few of the characteristics of the usual run of men with their own oversized gloves and of captains who have suffered the slings and arrows of ill fortune that go with leading a one-day side.

M.S. Dhoni is the calm influence India has needed to follow the long, strong leadership of Sourav Ganguly. He is able to bat forcefully, arrange operations and portray the cool which, so my children tell me, is the only word that covers every occasion. He is also a fine, correct keeper who barely knows the meaning of “dropped catch.” Somehow his concentration never wavers although it did at the height of the error-strewn Mohali match.

Kumar Sangakkara is more vivacious, a batsman of the finest class and just as accomplished with the gloves. He disdains the grand gesture of an Afridi, or the growling of Vettori but his word is law and his faith in his team absolute.

India's only triumph came 28 years ago, too remote to be relevant and Sri Lanka's success in 1996 will be a vague memory to most of its team today. Except for the smiling hero Muttiah Muralitharan who, like every conjuror, gestures with his left arm before performing his magic tricks with his right. He played at Lahore in 1996 and 15 years on he still has a bagful of magic.

Both teams will expect fireworks, a bumpy ride that leaves the result in doubt 10 overs from the end. It must be India but it will certainly not be victory at a canter.

Fans' conduct******Cricket

Fans' conduct - a good augury

Vijay LokapallyNEW DELHI:April 01, 2011 02:44 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 03:06 ISTVijay LokapallyNEW DELHI:April 01, 2011 02:44 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 03:06 IST

The India-Pakistan match was a great advertisement for sporting exchanges

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REFRESHING SIGHT: That the fans from the nations across the border have displayed much maturity and tolerence in recent times is a welcome sign. File Photo

REFRESHING SIGHT: That the fans from the nations across the border have displayed much maturity and tolerence in recent times is a welcome sign. File Photo

The India-Pakistan match was a great advertisement for sporting exchanges

The Indians, cricketers and their supporters, had grown tired of losing to Pakistan. Irrespective of the venue, the result, more or less, could be predicted. Pakistan would win. The trend was set by that last-ball six by Javed Miandad at Sharjah in 1986.

Prior to that, India won some epic duels against Pakistan at Quetta, Melbourne and Sharjah, too. But the series of losses that India suffered and the fractured relations between the two countries did impact the behaviour of the players and spectators. Such was Pakistan's dominance that a sporadic Indian victory would trigger off wild celebrations among its supports anywhere in the world.

There was no easing of pressure even in a non-competitive contest. This was sometime in the 1990s. Moin Khan teased Ajay Jadeja, “We are winning!” Jadeja joked “It's just a charity match.” Notorious for his irritating “chirping” from behind the stumps, the Pakistan wicketkeeper retorted, “So what? We can't be losing to you.” That then was the background of an India-Pakistan encounter, even when playing to raise funds for a cause.

Electric atmosphere

The atmosphere would always be electric. Tension would fill the air. The Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium in the deserts of United Arab Emirates would reverberate with religious and jingoistic fervour in the galleries. It was acrimonious, on and off the field, and it was hugely competitive. India could lose to anyone but Pakistan. And Pakistan could not bow to India. Cricket was fierce and the rivalry intense.

Sporting encounters would hardly pass off peacefully. Crowd invasion and interruptions would mark India-Pakistan sporting matches. Tempers would rise with the minute in hockey. Throwing of stones at the rival players was an accepted norm for the spectators on either side of the border at the end of a hockey match. The spectators, more often than not, would emerge as poor advertisements for sporting exchanges between the two countries.

Pakistan and Ravi Shastri had nothing in common but there were moments when they found joint mention by spectators in India even when they were not involved. “Pakistanhai hai! (down with Pakistan!)” and Shastrihai hai!” were refrains from the spectators at various cricket grounds each time India did well; and not always with Pakistan as opponent. The sporting Shastri would joke about it and sometimes wanted to know if he was being remembered by his ‘fans'.

Appalling spirit

K. Srikkanth's shirt being ripped in Karachi by a spectator and Inzamam-ul-Haq, incensed following a remark by a spectator at Toronto, charging at him in the stands, only showed the appalling spirit in which the players and their supporters behaved and treated the games. Walk outs by teams, led by Bishan Singh Bedi (at Sahiwal, 1978) and Imran Khan (at Ahmedabad in 1987), have not been forgotten.

Gradually, things changed. Spectators displayed maturity and tolerance. There was appreciation for the rival team and it was best exemplified by a fan during India's 2004 tour to Pakistan. The kid had Indian and Pakistan national flags painted on either cheek. It was in sharp contrast to the Eden Gardens at Calcutta in 1999 when the Test match, after crowd trouble, was completed before empty stands.

At the World Cup hockey match in Delhi last year, the fans' behaviour was exemplary. A “Pakistan hai hai!” refrain found no support and there were applause for a good “move” on the field, even when it came from the Pakistan camp. The incident-free match, which India won 7-4, was a refreshing reflection of the new-generation of sports fans at India-Pakistan encounters.

Welcome change

The impeccable behaviour of the Mohali audience was a welcome change from the times when jingoism ruled the galleries not long ago. There was no “Pakistan hai, hai!” refrain in the stands and the sparse number of fans from across the border was reportedly made to feel at “ease” and “at home”. They were not garlanded, but not hooted either. This, the administrators would tell you, was the biggest gain from the India-Pakistan World Cup semifinal on Wednesday. One, however, would never know the reaction of the passionate spectators had Pakistan come close to a win.

The spirit in which the players competed and conducted themselves was excellent. The smiles on their faces during tense moments said it all. And the near-absence of sledging and abusive language at a batsman's dismissal was pleasantly surprising. Old timers would have different tales from the past.

Fitting conclusion

Shahid Afridi complimenting the Indian team and wishing it well was a fitting conclusion to a match that would be remembered as much for its intensity as for the matured response from the spectators in a throwback to Chepauk in 1999 when Wasim Akram's team received a standing ovation for a great Test win. He still reveres the moment!

5,000 policemen deployed for World Cup final******Cricket

5,000 policemen deployed for World Cup final

Staff ReporterMumbai:April 01, 2011 02:08 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 ISTStaff ReporterMumbai:April 01, 2011 02:08 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 03:54 IST
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A 5,000-strong force of the Maharashtra police and officers of specialised security agencies will be stationed at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium for the ICC cricket World Cup final on Saturday.

Already the area around the stadium, with the sea on one side, has turned into a fortress, bolstered with stringent measures for the coast and air space.

“Preparations of the police are complete. Senior police officers from Maharashtra have been deployed on a large scale. Around 3,000 police personnel will be stationed here as part of the security arrangements. The police have done comprehensive planning for a strict bandobast. The Police Commissioner himself has taken the initiative to keep the spectators safe during the game,” Home Minister R.R. Patil told journalists after reviewing the arrangements at the stadium on Thursday.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik also took stock of the measures.

In addition to the Maharashtra police, battalions of the National Security Guard, the Rapid Action Force and the Central Industrial Security Force have been pressed into service.

Local holiday

The State has declared a local holiday for Mumbai and its suburbs. However, exams will be held on schedule. Mr. Patil appealed to the people to cooperate with the security agencies.

ICC board to meet on April 4******Cricket

ICC board to meet on April 4

PTIMumbai:April 01, 2011 01:12 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 01:12 ISTPTIMumbai:April 01, 2011 01:12 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 01:12 IST
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The ICC executive board will meet here on April 4 to discuss a host of issues, including the new Future Tours Programme, and will also review the ongoing World Cup, which will conclude on Saturday with the final between India and Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium.

The board meet follows the ICC chief executives' committee (CEC) meeting which will be held here on Friday.

During the April 4 meeting, both CEC and the executive board will receive preliminary reports on the World Cup, an ICC statement said.

The CEC will also consider a report from its working group on the mechanics for future bilateral Test and ODI cricket competition between the full member nations.

Injured Nehra ruled out******Cricket

Injured Nehra ruled out

Special CorrespondentNEW DELHI:April 01, 2011 01:11 ISTUpdated:September 26, 2016 20:35 ISTSpecial CorrespondentNEW DELHI:April 01, 2011 01:11 ISTUpdated:September 26, 2016 20:35 IST
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India suffered a blow ahead of the World Cup final when left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra was ruled out due to an injury he suffered during the semifinal against Pakistan at Mohali on Wednesday.

Nehra, who needed medical attention on the field when he attempted to catch Shahid Afridi at midwicket, is learnt to have suffered multiple fractures on his fingers in the right hand.

Nehra could be out for six weeks since his injury requires surgery.

Nehra had played a crucial role in India's 29-run victory with an analysis of 10-0-33-2.

Confident India riding a crest******Cricket

Confident India riding a crest

S. DinakarMohali:April 01, 2011 00:50 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 02:58 ISTS. DinakarMohali:April 01, 2011 00:50 ISTUpdated:November 17, 2021 02:58 IST

Sri Lanka plagued by injury concerns for Muralitharan and Mathews

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PACE POWER: Ashish Nehra  acquitted himself well  by lending admirable support to Zaheer Khan in the semifinals against Pakistan. Photo: S. Subramanium

PACE POWER: Ashish Nehra acquitted himself well by lending admirable support to Zaheer Khan in the semifinals against Pakistan. Photo: S. Subramanium

Sri Lanka plagued by injury concerns for Muralitharan and Mathews

The Indians are riding a crest entering the summit clash. The side has grown in belief with situations throwing up heroes.

Looking back, the rousing partnership in adversity between an inspired Yuvraj Singh and a cool-headed Suresh Raina against an Australian side that was closing in for the kill at Motera was the turning point.

That was a game where the hunter became the hunted. This was the spark the Indian campaign needed. From here on, the home side would be different force.

There have been outstanding performers. The incisive Zaheer Khan has seamed the ball, swung it conventionally, reversed the sphere, changed his pace and harnessed the angles. And this champion left-arm seamer has delivered at different stages of the innings.

Yet, for most part of the league stage, Zaheer lacked support. The others were just not stepping up.

Crucial role

In this context, R. Ashwin's role has been crucial. Although the off-spinner did not figure against Pakistan, his control and variations enabled India to finally settle down as a bowling unit from the game against the West Indies at Chepauk. That was another defining display.

This has been a hard, demanding campaign for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men. Overcoming rough phases in the league, the side is finding the right answers at the business end of the tournament.

The Indians were humming in the arena on Wednesday in the big semifinal. The side came together as a pack; the bowling was tight and the fielding predatory.

Good fielding can be infectious. With Raina and Virat Kohli swooping on the ball in the in-field, less athletic men are putting in a greater effort too.

And the bowling is looking more potent. Stunning stops can lift sides.

Worthy opponent

Sri Lanka is a worthy opponent in the final in Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. India will enter the duel as favourite.

Yet, the islanders will be snapping at the Indian heels. Kumar Sangakkara leads a side that can create opportunities. It can also make the opposition pay for mistakes.

The Sri Lankans are unlikely to be as charitable as the Pakistani fielders, who put down Sachin Tendulkar on four occasions.

No side that gives the premier batsman of the other team so many ‘lives' deserves to win. Pakistan dug a hole for itself.

The chances are that the Sri Lankans would plan and pace their innings much better than Pakistan. Shahid Afridi's men never backed themselves on the chase.

Misbah-ul-Haq offered some resistance in the end but the dour defence that dominated the first half of his innings virtually put Pakistan out of the contest.

Even if Misbah desired to anchor the innings, he should have at least worked the ball for singles and twos so that the pursuit remained within manageable limits.

Strong top-order

Sri Lanka's strong top-order and its varied attack will test the Indians. But then, Dhoni's men would seek to slice through the rather vulnerable middle-order.

The islanders have injury concerns. Off-spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan and mercurial all-rounder Angelo Mathews are battling worrying niggles.

Promising off-spinner Suraj Randiv and old warhorse Chaminda Vaas have been called in as cover. Sri Lanka would be keeping its fingers crossed vis-a-vis fitness issues.

The Sri Lankan bowling is a lesser threat without Muralitharan's bite and guile. And pace bowling all-rounder Mathews offers depth and balance to the side.

The Indian team-management, playing ‘horses for courses,' fielded three pacemen at Mohali. To their credit, Munaf Patel and Ashish Nehra bowled with heart, skill and accuracy.

But with Nehra now out with injury, Ashwin could return for the final where the surface is expected to favour the spinners.

&lsquo;Big players take the challenge'******Cricket

&lsquo;Big players take the challenge'

Nandakumar MararMUMBAIMarch 31, 2011 20:10 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 02:10 ISTNandakumar MararMUMBAIMarch 31, 2011 20:10 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 02:10 IST
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Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's skipper in the 2007 World Cup, made way for Kumar Sangakkara to assume leadership and mould the team his way. The former looks back at how the 1996 World Cup victory under Arjuna Ranatunga's inspired captaincy infused self-belief in future generations, as a confident Lankan squad confronts India in the 2011 WC decider at the Wankhede stadium.

He points out that Sri Lanka's strength in world cricket is its variation.

Excerpts :

On any new hero likely to emerge in this final:

A : I think big-game players take it upon as a challenge and enjoy the atmosphere to do something special. Both teams have that kind of a quality, so why not. Something of that magnitude might happen, you never know.

On the excitement of playing a WC final:

A : For a lot of players, it was a dream to play for Sri Lanka. Now they are on the verge of winning a World Cup. The feelings after the semifinals were fantastic. The fans enjoyed, we sat down and let the guys enjoy. We had a very good chat on how we are going to approach the final. A lot of individual players want to be achievers, so it is fascinating to see how they approach a tournament like this.

On Sri Lanka in 2007 WC final and this group:

A : Comparing the teams, I think they are two different sets of players. Every time you go to the final, you try to find the right combination, the right individuals to fit into those roles. It is difficult to compare. Everyone had their uniqueness in 2007 and now each one have different roles to play. For example, what Tillekaratne Dilshan did in 2007 and what he is doing now, there is a big difference.

On impact of 1996 win on Lankan cricket:

A : What we have realised after 1996 is that we have a lot of talent coming through the system. The credit should go to the 1996 bunch, especially Arjuna Ranatunga and the senior group. They have shown us the meaning of belief in ourselves, using their natural talent and playing our normal natural game. The focus was on winning and finishing games, being brutal and aggressive against good opposition.

On benefits from the 1996 World Cup win:

A : We have done the same with our younger generation as well. Guys like Lasith (Malinga), Ajantha (Mendis), Angelo (Matthews), we let them express themselves, allowed them to play the natural way at the national level and achieve their goals. We realised the variation we have and the approach is different. A lot of opponents find it difficult to analyse a team like Lanka and cannot have a set game plan as we can be unpredictable.

On an all-Asian WC final for the first time:

A : I would have been disappointed if Asian teams hadn't done well in our conditions. We are playing in the sub-continent, the wickets suit us. There was a lot of pressure on sub-continent teams. Pakistan lost in the semifinals, but everyone has done really well in these conditions, purely because all three teams are much better.

Our challenge would be going forward; the next World Cup is going to be held somewhere else. If two or three sub-continent teams qualify next time, then we might call it a power shift. Still, it is good we have played some effective cricket.

On Kumar Sangakkara and his captaincy:

A : Regarding Sangakkara, he is fantastic. He has set goals for himself like with his batting and everything over the last five or six years. He is very determined to be a better player. Seeing him at practice sessions, the way he works, is remarkable. He had a vision, exactly whom he wanted on the team and how he wanted to prepare, especially the younger guys he had earmarked. He got them ready for this.

On Murali's last WC match:

A : I think we started the World Cup thinking that we would win it. As a team and even Murali individually shares that sentiment as well. He wants to win for Sri Lanka. So we are not going to change from that.

On Muralitharan relishing one last chance bowling to Sachin Tendulkar:

A : I think what he has achieved on the field everyone has seen it. He is a remarkable personality, sometimes a pain in the dressing room. He tends to think he is a better batsman than Sachin sometimes. We will truly miss him in the dressing room when he says goodbye.

Pat for the Indian captain******Sport

Pat for the Indian captain

Rakesh RaoNew DelhiMarch 31, 2011 18:34 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 03:21 ISTRakesh RaoNew DelhiMarch 31, 2011 18:34 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 03:21 IST
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NEW DELHI 31/03/2011:Former Cricket Captains Clive Lloyd,Kapil Dev,Imran Khan,Arjun Ranatunga and Allan Border at the ‘Champions of the World-Keep Cricket Clean’ Campaign ,in New Delhi on March 31,2011. Photo:Sandeep Saxena

NEW DELHI 31/03/2011:Former Cricket Captains Clive Lloyd,Kapil Dev,Imran Khan,Arjun Ranatunga and Allan Border at the ‘Champions of the World-Keep Cricket Clean’ Campaign ,in New Delhi on March 31,2011. Photo:Sandeep Saxena

Kapil Dev describes him as a “gambler.” Imran Khan finds him “courageous.” Clive Lloyd feels that the team follows him. Allan Border admires his boldness when it comes to taking decisions.

Praise from the four World Cup-winning captains for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's leadership qualities is not without reason. Over a period of time, Dhoni has often chosen to go with his gut-feeling instead of conventional wisdom and achieved the desired results.

In the capital for a promotional event, the quartet, along with the 1996 World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga, spoke on various aspects of the ongoing edition on Thursday.

Courageous

“The fact that Dhoni admitted (after Wednesday's semifinal) to having misread the pitch and as a result, kept (Ravichandran) Ashwin out of the final XI, shows that he is brave. It is sign of a courageous captain,” hailed Imran, a known admirer of the Indian skipper.

Lloyd found that Dhoni “was just above everyone else (when it came to captaincy). He is bold and loves to take on challenges. Let's not forget that he has some very good players who will back him to the hilt.”

Kapil, all admiration for Dhoni, said, “Don't judge his captaincy on whether he wins the World Cup or not. He is already one of the best Indian captains. Border hailed Dhoni's brave decisions and said, “Like Ponting, he is bold and I like that.”

Besides Dhoni's captaincy, the skippers shared their views on Wednesday's India-Pakistan semifinals and the prospects of Saturday's final.

Kapil and Imran agreed that both India and Pakistan did not perform to their potential at Mohali. Imran was more forthcoming and said.

Asked what would be their suggestions to Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara ahead of the final, Ranatunga said, “When our President is advising the captain, I would not like to say anything.” This immediately prompted Imran to say. “Like our Interior Minister (Rehman Malik)!”

Imran said, “The pressure of playing the semifinal is always more than that of the final. Everyone wants to be part of the final. So my suggestion is, enjoy the pressure, enjoy every moment of the final. That's the best way to perform.”

Kapil, who described Sri Lanka as a “dangerous team” with the potential to play some “extraordinary cricket”, agreed with Imran's views and said, “Just go out there and enjoy your cricket.”

&lsquo;Zaheer is an intelligent fast bowler'******Cricket

&lsquo;Zaheer is an intelligent fast bowler'

Nandakumar MararMUMBAI:March 31, 2011 18:31 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 02:31 ISTNandakumar MararMUMBAI:March 31, 2011 18:31 ISTUpdated:April 01, 2011 02:31 IST
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Indian fast bowler Zaheer Khan reacts after taking the wicket of Pakistan opener Kamran Akmal during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 semi-final match between India and Pakistan at The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium in Mohali on March 30, 2011 AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA

Indian fast bowler Zaheer Khan reacts after taking the wicket of Pakistan opener Kamran Akmal during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 semi-final match between India and Pakistan at The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium in Mohali on March 30, 2011 AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA

Zaheer Khan will see a familiar face amidst new surroundings at the Wankhede stadium — Sudhir Naik.

Naik, one-time coach under whom the India new-ball spearhead learnt the ropes at National CC and later did apprenticeship in Mumbai club cricket, is the curator.

Lush outfield with sandy patches near the ropes, freshly-laid wickets and imposing stands at the World Cup 2011 venue will be a novelty for the left-arm pace ace.

Naik knows every inch of the Wankhede outfield and also how the tracks will behave, so the helpline for Zaheer is close at hand on his second WC final appearance. “The wicket will be a batting track, so even teams batting second in the final can look for runs,” said the curator.

“Both league matches here (Sri Lanka-New Zealand, Canada-New Zealand) helped batsmen, among whom only Kumar Sangakkara took full advantage of the wicket and paced his knock beautifully.”

The coach is looking forward to catching up with his former National CC student, now leader of India's bowling attack and this tournament's second highest wicket-taker. “I have enjoyed all his spells with the old ball so far in this World Cup,” said Naik, describing Zaheer as a complete bowler.

“Accuracy is allowing him to change bowling line at will, change ends and change field placements when he wishes. If Plan A doesn't work, he switches to Plan B or Plan C.”

Transition

Naik's first impressions of Zaheer at the National CC nets. “He wanted to bowl fast when I saw him first time in 1996, he had only pace and nothing else. In the first season he ended up playing for our club, then was picked for Mumbai U-19,” said the curator noting with pride the transition of his pupil into a lethal bowler for India.

“Experience has helped him so much. He is an intelligent fast bowler.”

Zaheer was an engineering student before getting engrossed in the mechanics of reverse swing. “Aerodynamics and reverse swing are concepts talked about by coaches now, he was quick to understand it long time ago due to his science background,” said Naik. “The MRF Pace Foundation training helped him develop strength, his stint there developed the muscles needed for bowling fast.”

Zaheer, already India's highest wicket-taker (19 wickets in eight games), could have increased his haul with a good bowler at the other end, feels Naik.

“India is missing a good bowler to partner him. Batsmen take a single off him and go to the other end, so pressure exerted by Zaheer goes off. Cricket history shows how fast bowlers operating in pairs can be deadly, the West Indies used four at one time,” said Naik.

Changing times

Times have changed and India opened with off-spinner R. Ashwin against the West Indies in a league game and Australia in the quarterfinal. “Even Harbhajan Singh getting wickets at the other end would have helped tighten pressure on batsmen,” said Naik, pointing out that fast bowlers mature around 28, 29 and 30 years.

“Zaheer has such a hold over batsmen that even captain M.S. Dhoni brings him on whenever team needs a breakthrough.”

The last two knockout games saw the 32-year-old left-armer at his devastating best, deceiving Mike Hussey, Cameron White in the quarterfinal, Kamran Akmal and Misbah-ul-Haq in the semifinal.

“Every time the ball is in Zaheer's hands, rivals feel the heat and even viewers get excited as if something is going to happen,” said the Wankhede curator, looking forward to a contest between his pupil and classy Sri Lanka on a wicket supposed to favour batsmen.

Pressure

Is the pressure on him as a curator similar to those faced by players gearing up for the title clash? “I am doing this for a long time and have got used to it,” said Naik about the work by his team to set up a fitting finale for World Cup 2011.

The Indian bowling unit rose to the occasion in the last two matches, chipping in with wickets or tight spells in the make-or-break knockouts.

As leader of the pack Zaheer gets another chance to deal the body blows.

Watching the contest with pride will be the curator, wishing runs for batsmen at the Wankhde and wickets for his former student (two wickets behind leader Shahid Afridi at 21).

Taufel, Aleem Dar to be on******Cricket

Taufel, Aleem Dar to be on-field umpires for final

Special CorrespondentMumbaiMarch 31, 2011 16:00 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:44 ISTSpecial CorrespondentMumbaiMarch 31, 2011 16:00 ISTUpdated:October 01, 2016 00:44 IST
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Simon Taufel (in picture) and Aleem Dar will be the on-field umpires for the World Cup final. File Photo: R. Ravindran

Simon Taufel (in picture) and Aleem Dar will be the on-field umpires for the World Cup final. File Photo: R. Ravindran

Simon Taufel, regarded as one of the best umpires in world cricket and winner of five ICC Umpire of the year award finally gets his first chance to officiate in an ICC World Cup final.

Thanks to Australia’s elimination at the hands of India in the quarter-finals at Ahmedabad, the 39 year old will stand with Pakistan’s Aleem Dar at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday.

The 42-year old Dar was the on-field umpire with West Indies’ Steve Bucknor in the 2007 final played between Australia and Sri Lanka. Bucknor and David Shepherd officiated the final of the 2003 and 1999 world cups played in South Africa and England.

Taufel who has run umpires’s seminar for Indian umpires in Bangalore has officiated in 166 one-day internationals, including 22 World Cup matches, while Dar has stood in 145 one-day internationals, including 21 World Cup matches. While Taufel officiated his first ODI in January 1999, Dar officiated his first ODI in February 2000.

Taufel, Dar, Ian Gould (third umpire) and Steve Davies (fourth umpire) featured in seven matches in the run up to the final.

India, deserving winners against Pakistan: English, Australian media******Cricket

India, deserving winners against Pakistan: English, Australian media

PTILondon/MelbourneMarch 31, 2011 15:36 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 15:38 ISTPTILondon/MelbourneMarch 31, 2011 15:36 ISTUpdated:March 31, 2011 15:38 IST
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Sachin's Tendulkar chancy 85 helped India overcome Pakistan to reach the World Cup final. Photo: AP

Sachin's Tendulkar chancy 85 helped India overcome Pakistan to reach the World Cup final. Photo: AP

The British and Australian media marvelled at Sachin Tendulkar's astonishing luck and hailed India as deserving finalists of the cricket World Cup, saying Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men were way better than Pakistan in dealing with pressure during the engrossing semifinal.

In a piece headlined, ‘India retain grip to reach dream showpiece', ‘Daily Telegraph' writer Derek Pringle said Pakistan didn't deserve to win after dropping Tendulkar, who top-scored with 85, four times during the match.

“The Great Game between these feuding neighbours failed to materialise after India won a faltering match to take their place on Saturday against Sri Lanka in the World Cup final.

They were deserved winners, mostly because a team who squander five chances, as Pakistan did when India batted first, do not deserve to win anything let alone the semifinal of cricket's biggest tournament,” the newspaper said.

“This is probably Tendulkar's last chance to win the World Cup so perhaps that, as well as having his hundredth international hundred hanging over him, added to the pressure of an already tense occasion. Yet, whatever it is that disrupts the little master's flow, it afflicted him yesterday and he should have been out on 27, 45, 71 and 80.

“Before those let-offs, he had also survived an lbw and a stumping, both of them adjudicated by TV replay, by a hair's breadth.”

The ‘Herald Sun' in Australia also said that Pakistan lost the match because of the four dropped catches.

“Pakistan drop their bundle,” read the headline.

“They say one moment can decide a match, but four moments sealed Pakistan's fate as they dropped batting wizard Sachin Tendulkar four times on their way to a World Cup semifinal loss to India.”

‘The Guardian' in England ridiculed the dropped catches and said, “to drop him once was unfortunate. To do it four times beggared belief.”

“Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan captain, seemed to go through all five of the stages of grief. Denial as he patted Misbah-ul-Haq on the bum after he dropped the ball at midwicket. Anger as he ran his fingers through his hair when Younus Khan fluffed one at extra cover. Bargaining with the umpires over those referrals.

“Depression when Kamran Akmal let an edge fly by his gloves, and finally meek acceptance when Umar Akmal spilled a final chance at mid-off. Finally Tendulkar hit the ball to Afridi who took the catch just in time to save his sanity.”

Wide-selling British tabloid ‘The Daily Mail' said “Tendulkar cashes in on missed catches as India enjoy a drop of luck to reach World Cup final.” The paper was, however, critical of India's famed batting's performance.

“They came into this World Cup semifinal under unbearable pressure, but India coped with the expectations of a nation and survived a stuttering batting performance to take their seemingly pre-ordained place in the final,” it said.

On the dropped catches of Tendulkar, the paper said even the Indian maestro would have been embarrassed to reach his 100th international ton after getting so many lives.

“Pakistan's hapless fielders dropped the Little Master no fewer than four times and Tendulkar was also reprieved twice by technology,” it said.

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