Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pakistan won Bangladesh Tri-Series !

There are different ways of setting a match-winning total and the approaches adopted by India and Pakistan during the Kitply Cup were outstanding examples of contrasting methods which produced the same result - a total in excess of 300. India were 143 for 0 at the end of the 20th over in the first match against Pakistan; at the same stage in the final, Pakistan were 75 for 1 and yet they scored only 15 runs fewer than what India did in the end.

In the league match, India's openers - Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir - carted Pakistan's wayward attack all over the Shere Bangla National Stadium. Their rapid partnership set up a solid platform for the rest to build on without worrying about the run-rate.

Pakistan, on the other hand, chose caution over aggression during the Powerplay overs in the final. It was their capitulation to 26 for 3 that had shut them out while chasing 331, and today, Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal were watchful against Praveen Kumar, the bowler who took the first four wickets in their previous meeting.

After Akmal fell, Younis Khan and Butt continued to build a steady foundation. More significantly for Pakistan, they carried on and seized the initiative. "They were 100 for 1 after 25 overs," Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India's captain, said. "After that they took on the bowlers and played some good shots. It really put the bowlers under pressure. And under the circumstances, we couldn't recover from that."

With Praveen having wrecked Pakistan and restricted Bangladesh in India's earlier games, the rest of the bowlers had the advantage of bowling to under-pressure batsmen trying to rebuild. But today, India's support bowlers were faced with the task of making inroads. Although he dismissed Akmal, Irfan Pathan failed to create any pressure, conceding six boundaries in his first spell of six overs. Piyush Chawla, who had taken 4 for 40 to clean up Pakistan's lower order in the earlier encounter, haemorrhaged runs once Younis and Butt consciously began to attack. The four part-timers Dhoni used were also ineffective: Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan and Suresh Raina conceded 71 for no wicket between them.

Faced with an attack lacking incisiveness, Younis and Butt shifted seamlessly from first to fourth gear. Their approach was that of a calculated assault - aggression with minimal risk. They batted with authority, picking out the gaps. Younis and Butt scored 84 runs between deep midwicket and long-on, but surprisingly the gap was never plugged.

"He [Younis] was scoring through square leg as well, he was sweeping," Dhoni said. "You hardly have fielders in that zone, you know the country [the area between deep midwicket and long-on] area. Having a long-on and a country is difficult. He was picking it from outside off and most of the times he cleared the boundary. He took on the bowlers and he was successful."

Between overs 20 and 40, a period heavily criticised for its lack of intensity after the arrival of Twenty20, Younis and Butt plundered 150 runs, even more than what Sehwag and Gambhir had managed during the Powerplays on Tuesday. When Younis finally got out, Pakistan had eight wickets in hand for the last eight overs, a luxury that allowed them to bat with a carefree approach.

Dhoni admitted there was not much that could have been in the wake of a superlative batting performance. "It [scoring] was really hard to control, you try many fields, you try many lines. There were errors from the bowlers but you can't really blame them. They were batting well and scoring off good balls."

Call it cautious or old-fashioned, Pakistan's methodical approach gave India no footholds from which they could climb back into the game. They came out with a plan, which according to Shoaib Malik, their captain, was to "survive initially and then accelerate", and executed it with precision.

Friday, June 13, 2008

India Vs Pakistan : Tri-Series Final !

Match facts: Saturday, June 14, 2008
Start time 15.00 (local), 9.00 (GMT)

Ancient history favours Pakistan, but more modern events give India the edge going into Saturday's encounter. Pakistan have usually fared better in ODI finals between these traditional rivals, winning five of the seven tournaments where the two sides met in the title clash - but the last of those was in 1999. India have had the upper hand in recent matches, winning five of their last seven games and with their rampaging top-order firing, have steamrollered their way to the final.
A victory on Saturday would add to Mahendra Singh Dhoni's growing reputation as an ODI captain, having already tasted success at home against Pakistan and in the CB series in Australia.
On the other hand, Shoaib Malik is yet to win a ODI series against significant opposition since beating Sri Lanka last May. His side's 12-game winning streak was emphatically snapped by a 140-run defeat in the league match against India, prompting a stinging and public rebuke from PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf.
While this is a battle between arch-rivals, the frequency of matches between the two sides has taken the edge off this game. As Shahid Afridi said, "some of the jadoo (magic) has gone out of the atmosphere and build-up." A win here, though, will be the perfect tonic ahead of the Asia Cup.
Team Performance - IndiaLast five matches: WWWWW (most recent first)
Player to watch: Praveen Kumar's ability to move the new ball both ways has made him a tricky customer for batsmen to deal with. He dismissed Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting cheaply in both finals of the CB series and continued the good work in this series - running through the Pakistan top order and stifling the Bangladesh batsmen. With India's batting in top form, another incisive spell from Praveen could prove very costly for Pakistan.
Team Performance - PakistanLast five matches: LWWWW (most recent first)
Player to watch: Mohammad Yousuf has perfected the art of scoring quickly while rarely seeming flustered or hurried at the crease. An array of conventional shots has ensured the runs keep flowing with minimal risks. He's averaging a phenomenal 81.76 in his last 21 matches, and with Younis Khan and Afridi not in the best of form, he is the lynchpin of the Pakistan middle-order.
India: (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Irfan Pathan, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Praveen Kumar, 11 Ishant Sharma.
With the team progressing smoothly to the finals, India may not tinker too much with their combination. The only change could be Ishant Sharma coming back in place of RP Singh.

Pakistan: (probable) 1 Salman Butt, 2 Kamran Akmal (wk), 3 Younis Khan, 4 Mohammad Yousuf, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Shoaib Malik (capt), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9, Umar Gul, 10 Wahab Riaz / Sohail Khan, 11 Iftikhar Anjum.
Besides Malik and Afridi, Fawad Alam is the only spinner in the squad and he might not be risked in the final as he hasn't made much of an impact in his limited chances at the international level. Pakistan are likely persist with four fast bowlers in their XI.
Pitch and conditions: The pitches used in the tournament have come in for praise from Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach. "The ball has not spun much but it has good bounce. It has been a terrific pitch to play on," he said. India's coach Gary Kirsten was also satisfied with the pitch and felt it would remain good for batting through the match, reducing the importance of the toss.
"It's always a great clash and we know it's not going to be the same as it was the other night. It's going to be a different Pakistan team out there."Kirsten warns his team against complacency. Source:

Dhoni hardly worried for Tri-Series Final against Pakistan

Rampaging form and beleaguered opponents tilt the scale pretty much in India's favour but complacency, and not Pakistan, pose the most serious threat to Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team in the final of the cricket tri-series here tomorrow.
With runs flowing from the top order blades and the bowling attack mowing down rival line-ups with regularity, Dhoni hardly had a reason to worry as his team bulldozed Bangladesh and pounded Pakistan with characteristic ruthlessness in two lop-sided league contests to storm into the final.
In contrast, a depleted Pakistan reached the summit showdown not before India had inflicted on them their worst defeat against the arch-rivals.The 140-run thumping in fact had a ripple effect with a livid Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Nasim Ashraf shooting off a stinging e-mail to team manager Talat Ali seeking immediate explanation and questioning the team's ability, along with that of coach Geoff Lawson and the captain Shoaib Malik.And with Ashraf set to attend tomorrow's final, Malik and his teammates would surely feel the heat.
In contrast, Dhoni's team has hardly put a foot wrong since their arrival here and the India captain said he was expecting the openers and new ball bowlers to give the side a good start tomorrow.
"I am really happy about the team performance. We have played two matches and in both ties, we had good starts both in batting and bowling. I wish the same kind of performance continues in the final against Pakistan also," Dhoni said. PTI

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gambhir century helps India to easy win against Bangladesh

India 223 for 3 (Gambhir 107*, Sehwag 59) beat Bangladesh 222 (Raqibul 89, Ashraful 36, RP Singh 3-46) by seven wickets .

A fifth ODI century for Gautam Gambhir and another quickfire fifty from Virender Sehwag extended India's domination in the Kitply Cup, as they thumped Bangladesh by seven wickets and 14.5 overs to spare in Mirpur. Bangladesh needed to win by a bonus point to book their place in the final, but they always going to fall short of a fighting total after a miserly opening burst from Praveen Kumar. Raqibul Hasan's 89 would have given the most die-hard of supporters a glimmer of hope during the break between innings; however, once Sehwag and Gambhir found their rhythm, an India-Pakistan clash for Saturday's final was never in doubt.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bangladesh Tri Series - Pakistan's True Test

Pakistan have won 12 ODIs on the trot - beginning with a dead rubber against India in November 2007- but, as impressive as that feat is, don't let it fool you. Eleven of those wins came against relatively weak sides: Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Pakistan have not faced tough opponents since their tour to India and Tuesday's match will provide a fair indication of their progress.
Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, said the emphatic nature of the wins against Bangladesh - six in a row, the smallest margin being 23 runs and the largest being 152 - was down to his team's clinical performances. "After the Bangladesh series in Pakistan, I sat down and analysed the games," Lawson said. "In the end I was really happy with the way we played. We played well enough to not let them into the game. We've won 12 in a row for very good reason. We haven't let Bangladesh sneak into the game and show what they've got."
That maybe true but the Asia Cup, which starts later this month, and Champions Trophy in September will test whether Pakistan have built a formidable outfit under Shoaib Malik, who began his tenure as captain in May 2007. Especially since Pakistan's two most recent series against strong teams - India and South Africa - ended in defeats.
"One of our goals is to equal Australia's record [21 consecutive wins]," Lawson said. "To get to 22 wins we've got to play every game seriously and probably have to beat India a few times." For that to happen, the players who have been cashing in against the weaker teams must continue to churn out match-winning efforts, while the others must raise their performance.