Tuesday, January 31, 2012

India look to regain pride in T20 games

Team India train before 1st T20 match against Australia
Their reputation bruised and battered after the humiliating loss in the Test series, India will be desperate to turn their fortunes around and restore some pride in the limited overs matches, starting with the first T20 against Australia here on Sunday. The Indians slumped to their lowest ebb in the longer version of the last week when Australia mauled the visitors by a 4-0 margin in the Test series.

The drubbing at the hands of Australia was also the current ODI world champion team's eight straight overseas Test defeat following the series loss by identical margin in England last year.

But with some fresh legs - Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Parthiv Patel, Ravidra Jadeja and Rahul Sharma - joining the team for the limited overs matches, MS Dhoni would be hoping for lady luck to smile on him in the first of the two T20 matches tomorrow ahead of the tri-series, featuring hosts Australia and Sri Lanka. With India's famed batting line-up failing miserably in the Test series, there is a scramble for early berths in opening T20 match at the ANZ Stadium. Read More...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Why India’s selection committee and policy need to be revamped

It’s almost as if the shadow of defeat is yet to loom large on those who claim to govern Indian cricket. The events of the past two weeks, post-Sydney surely has pretty much given denial a connotation of immortality, much in the mould of Kim Jong-il. Notoriously, statements coming from the heads and shoulders of the BCCI have been typically ranging from the absurd, audacious, unreal and if you like it, the indifferent almost as if events in Australia are just a make-believe creation than reality. Remorse, it must be said, is in acute shortage of and shame, I am afraid, none whatsoever. Efforts to stem the rot, if any, aren’t visible or worse, aren’t working.

Almost like a rudderless ship, there’s a feeling of sunkenness which is by no means going to be easy to fix. For a Board that doesn’t believe in careful, precise diagnosis of the problems engulfing the sport in this country, a surgery or replacement therapy seems the quick, easy way out. Read More...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pakistani Leader Moves to Ease Feud With Court

Islamabad, Pakistan: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appeared at the Supreme Court in Islamabad in an attempt to defuse a brewing fight with the judiciary and army that has destabilized the country in recent weeks.

The court earlier this week ordered Mr. Gilani to appear to explain why his government had failed to comply with a two-year-old court order to reopen graft investigations into President Asif Ali Zardari.

On Thursday, Mr. Gilani reiterated the government's position that Mr. Zardari is covered by presidential immunity from such a probe. The court adjourned proceedings to Feb. 1.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani waved as he left the Supreme Court in Islamabad, Jan 19, 2012.
Mr. Gilani's decision to attend the hearing and show the court the government respects the institution signals a change of tack by the ruling Pakistan People's Party as it tries to ease tensions with the nation's top judges. Read More...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

India's top order needed to fire

Perth, Australia: INDIA's underperforming top order will need to produce something special when they face Australia in the third Test at the WACA Ground starting on Friday if the tourists are to save the series.

Down 2-0 in the four-Test series and without a century so far with the bat, India could scarcely have picked a tougher venue to try to rediscover their form and resolve after an ugly streak of six away Test losses on the bounce.

Perth's WACA strip is a world away from the low and slow subcontinent pitches India's batsmen thrive on, especially after groundsman Cam Sutherland boldly declared the venue finally back to its venomous best.

Curator Cameron Sutherland rolls his green Test wicket at the WACA in Perth
Sutherland predicted it would be considerably faster and bouncier than when Australia thrashed England by 267 runs there last summer and just two of the 40 wickets fell to spin.

Australian batsman Mike Hussey
said a spicy deck would clearly favour the home side, who have been dominant so far against a disappointing India. Read More...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Iran's uranium enrichment a nuclear 'escalation': US

The United States has said that Iran's uranium enrichment at heavily fortified Fordu underground site near Qom is a "further escalation" in the nuclear showdown with the international community.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, visits the Natanz Uranium
"We are closely monitoring their nuclear programme in general, and this development, given
their track record and what the IAEA inspectors have been able to report, it's not a surprise to us, what we're hearing," state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters.

The state department's response came after Iran announced over the weekend that the Fordo plant near Qom city will be inaugurated soon and will have the capacity to produce uranium enriched to 20%. International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that Iran has begun enriching uranium at Fordu.

"If they are enriching at Fordu to 20%, this is a further escalation of their ongoing violation with regard to their nuclear obligations, including the legally binding UN Security Council resolutions," Nuland said.

"So obviously, we call on Iran once again to suspend enrichment activities, cooperate fully with the IAEA and immediately comply with all Security Council and IAEA Board of Governors resolutions," Nuland said in response to a question.

The inspectors of IAEA, she said, have found that Iran is not complying with its obligations.

"Iran plays this game with the inspectors. They let them go some places at some times when it seems to suit their purposes, but that doesn't change the fact that what the inspectors are now reporting is that they are taking the next step and escalating their violations of their own commitment," she said.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cong free to go with CPM, we can fight polls alone: Mamata

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee
The widening rift between Congress and Trinamool Congress on Saturday came out in the open with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee lashing out at her ally at the Centre and said it was free to quit the alliance.

The Trinamool chief accused the Congress of spreading canard against her party because it had opposed FDI in retail, petrol price hike and interference in the federal structure.

"Congress is spreading canard and is carrying out false propaganda against TC on the issue of assault on the principal of Raigunj University college on January 5 because we opposed FDI in retail, frequent petrol price hikes and total interference into federal structure.

"Lokayukta was forcibly included in the Lokpal bill. They (Cong) had not paid heed to our words. Voting was not done on it," Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat. Read More...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Australia in control after bowlers dominate day one

It may be a new year but India seem bent on going retro in a tribute to the 1990s, a period which saw their ‘tigers at home, lambs abroad’ reputation travel with them. There was the inevitable sense of déjà vu as they were bowled out for a mere 191 soon after tea on Day one of the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Zaheer Khan did bring them back into the game with three wickets at the top of Australia’s order, but India again frittered away the opportunity provided by the early breakthroughs, enabling Australia to end the day at 116-3.

Top-order trouble

India yet again got off to a terrible start in the first session of a Test and lo behold this time too it stemmed from the top. Forget a noteworthy one, today there was no opening partnership at all. Gautam Gambhir flirted with a delivery outside the off stump and edged an easy catch to Michael Clarke in the very first over to give Australia an advantage straight away. This was after Indian captain MS Dhoni won the toss and opted to bat on a pitch that looked like it was excellent for batting but had a tinge of green in it.

Gambhir hasn’t scored a Test century in nearly two years now and very clearly has a problem of playing away from his body that needs sorting out. After a spectacular 2007 and 2008, his form has slowly deteriorated with the past six months being completely forgettable. He missed the tour to the Caribbean courtesy a shoulder injury and thereafter has averaged just 22 from 14 innings. If you look at the 5 Tests he has played for India away from home during this period - his average drops to paltry 13.

With Gambhir gone, the middle order caved into the pressure exerted by some fantastic bowling from the pace trio – Pattinson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus.  Dravid couldn’t replicate his good form from 2011 and and offered an inside edge straight to short leg.  Sehwag lived a customary dangerous life before lack of footwork saw him help an edge on its way to the keeper.  Laxman’s woeful run in his once favourite haunt continued with another cheap dismissal – Pattinson tricking him into driving a full delivery that took a thick edge to third slip. Kohli meanwhile wasted another opportunity to make the number 6 slot his own.