Against all odds, India No.1

Feel good about this. Against all expectations, India clung on to the title of the No 1 Test cricket team in the world as 2009 readied to melt into 2010 on the penultimate day of the year.

At Kingsmead, Durban, in the Test between England and South Africa, Graeme Swann, twirling and tweaking England to a massive win, proved to be our unlikely benefactor.

Against all odds, India end 2009 on top of the ICC’s Test rankings, and England’s win means the reign of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men at the top will extend longer than one would have thought.

South Africa needed to win their four-Test series against England 2-0 or better to displace India. With the first match of the series drawn and England winning the second on Wednesday, South Africa — yapping at India’s heels in the Test rankings — have no way of toppling India. At least not for the moment.

The other contenders, Australia, who dominated the last decade, have even less chance of catching up with India. Currently at No. 3, Australia thrashed Pakistan in Perth to take a 1-0 lead, but they need a 3-0 whitewash to just hang on to their current position.

For India, the first assignment is a light one — two Tests in Bangladesh in January. The real challenge will come in February when South Africa come calling to play two Tests.

Not bad, to be on top as the decade ends. Can anyone say it wasn’t well deserved?

ICC Keen to Form a Test Championship League

With sagging interest in Test cricket, the ICC is working at various ways to rejuvenate this format, perhaps by creating some form of a Test Championship League (TCL).

It is also looking into India’s concerns over filing of individual ‘whereabouts’ under anti-doping measures which the country’s cricketers have refused to sign as yet.

World cricket’s governing body does not agree with the view that the Umpire Decision Review System has put pressure on the umpires or that the BCCI’s IPL was weaning away players from their national commitments.

In an exlusive interview to PTI, ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat expressed confidence that the issue of Indian players’ objections on WADA ‘whereabouts’ clause would be sorted out.

“We are trying to skin the cat differently,” he said on the issue on which the Indian players have raised strong objections.

Recalling last year’s experience in Mohali where crowds were sparse during the India-England Test match, he said the ICC has since attempted to form some sort of Championship model for Test cricket.

“If you really want to know who is the Test champion then you need better context by creating some form of a Test Championship League and we haven’t got that. That’s something that we are trying to achieve”, he said. More

“There are many ideas all over the place and we have formed a sub-committee that will seek to pull it all together by formulating proposals for the Chief Executives Committee to consider in due course” Lorgat said on some of the ideas the ICC was working on to revive Test cricket.

That included David Morgan’s model of four-day matches and research on day-night cricket.

Asked about India’s objections to the TCL, he said “not all members were in favour of the previous model (World Test Championship) as it impacted their scheduling. This proposal was therefore not agreed to by the ICC Board.

“The whole point is that we should have an open mind for ideas that will retain and grow interest in the game because without question we see Test cricket as the pinnacle of our sport.”

At the last meeting of the Chief Executives, the ICC reconstituted the group looking into promotion of Test cricket. Dave Richardson, David Collier, N Srinivasan, James Sutherland and Nishanta Ranatunga are members of the committee.

Lorgat said surveys from time to time have established that players want to play Test cricket and that is where they see the most enjoyment, the biggest test of their skill and that is the form by which they want to be measured.

“All the evidence points towards Test cricket as being the pinnacle of the sport,” he said.

Asked whether the IPL Twenty20 games have affected conventional cricket and players’ responsibility to the national team, Lorgat said there must be a balance between all the three formats.

“We believe that all three formats are viable but in scheduling we should ensure that we retain balance between the formats,” he said.

Lorgat said it was not entirely true the perception that Test players were shirking their national responsibilities in favour of IPL.

“There is quite a number of players who are seeking to ensure that they are in peak condition for Test cricket by opting out of the IPL and the IPL also encourages international cricket first,” he said.

Answering questions on Indian cricketers’ refusal to sign the anti-doping measures agreement under WADA, the ICC Chief Executive said there was a concern expressed by the BCCI that it (agreement) was “unconstitutional” in India and “we are busy looking into that”.

“We have had discussions with WADA as well and that is a work in progress. We are making good progress with a team working on it together with India and other members and hopefully by the next Chief Executives’ meeting, we will present a revised proposal on how to deal with this one issue on the filing of ‘wheareabouts'”, he said.

Lorgat said that everything else exists and in fact there was no difficulty in carrying out doping tests in and out of competition.

Leander Paes to take on Mahesh Bhupathi in US Open Men’s Doubles Final

Leander Paes to take on Mahesh Bhupathi in US Open Men’s Doubles Final

New York: The US Open Men’s Doubles Final will witness an interesting contest, as both Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are all set for a showdown in the grand finale. Leander and Lukas Dlouhy defeated Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(8-6) in the semifinals. The second seeds Paes-Dlouhy will now meet third seeds Bhupathi and Mark Knowles in the final.
In another semifinal, Bhupathi and Mark Knowles defeated fifth seeds Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram 6-4, 6-2 in straight sets. Leander Paes, along with his partner Cara Black (Zimbabwe) reached the finals of Mixed Doubles. They beat Su-Wei Hseih of Chinese Taipei and Kevin Ullyet of Zimbabwe in the semifinals.

Gambhir ruled of Tri-Series in Sri Lanka, Virat Kohli gets Nod

Gambhir ruled of Tri-Series in Sri Lanka, Virat Kohli gets Nod

Colombo: The Indian cricket team received a severe blow, as its in-form batsman Gautam Gambhir has been ruled out of the Compaq Cup tri-series in Sri Lanka due to a groin injury. Gambhir has been advised 10 days’ rest by the doctors. Virat Kohli will fly down to Sri Lanka to replace him. Gambhir will return home shortly. India will start its tri-series campaign against New Zealand tomorrow.
The Indian batting line-up has been weakened further in the absence of formidable openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Gambhir was injured during the recently concluded Corporate Cup, which was later aggravated further.

Sehwag not interested in being the captain

Virender Sehwag stated that he is not willing to be the captain of the Indian team.

Sehwag said, “I don’t want to be a captain, I have already told the selectors that. I have said a new player should be made vice-captain and be groomed to be a captain. I want to continue scoring runs and keep winning matches for the team,”.

The current captain and vice-captain is Dhoni and Yuvraj respectively.
Sehwag, who plays for the Delhi DareDevils, also said he will be fully fit before the Champions League which starts from October 10. Sehwag considers Sourav as the best captain. “Sourav has been the best captain India has ever had,” he said.

“Sourav took over as captain when the team was passing through a very bad patch. The team was struggling to come out of the match-fixing scandal. He had a responsibility to put together a new team and he did a splendid job,” Sehwag said.

India’s Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi into the quarterfinals of the men’s doubles of the US Open

New Delhi: India’s Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi got through and secured their spots into the quarterfinals of the men’s doubles of the US Open with their partners.

Paes-Lukas Dlouhy beat Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer

The duo Paes and Lukas Dlouhy beat the Austrian duo Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-4.

They will now play against South Africa’s Wesley Moodie and Belgium’s Dick Norman to set their place for semi-finals.

Bhupathi and Mark Knowles of Bahamas beat Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei and Dudi Sela of Israel 6-4, 6-4. They will now meet Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic and France’s Michael Llodra.

Samaraweera powers Sri Lanka to a 97-run win over Kiwis in Tri-Series

Colombo: Thilan Samaraweera smashed a century to power Sri Lanka to a 97-run victory over New Zealand in a tri-series match in Colombo today. Lasith Malinga also did the trick with ball, as he bagged 4 wickets to help the Lankans to bowl out New Zealand for a paltry 119, while the victory target was 217.
Thilan Samaraweera hit his maiden century to help Sri Lanka reach 216/7 in 50 overs after winning the toss and elected to bat. Samaraweera was the top scorer with 104. Angelo Mathews made 51. For New Zealand, Shane Bond took 3 wickets, while Ian Butler took 2 wickets.

Chasing a victory target of 217, New Zealand lost wickets at regular intervals and were reeling at 41/6 at one stage. They finally bowled out for 119 in 36.1 0vers. Grant Elliott was the top scorer with 44, while Ian Butler made 25. For Sri Lanka, Malinga took 4 wickets, while Kulasekara and Jayasuriya took 2 wickets each.

Thilan Samaraweera was adjudged “Man of the Match” by virtue of his maiden century. India is the other team in the tri-series tournament.