Flintoff pleased for KP and Monty

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , ,
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Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has praised Monty Panesar and Kevin Pietersen for their performances in the recent Test against India.

Despite receiving a hammering in the 1st Test, England bounced back to level the series with a superb 10-wicket win. It was an impressive team performance, but man-of-the-match Pietersen and Panesar – who took 11 wickets – stood out for Flintoff.

He said: “The one thing England have done over the years is bounce back well. It was a disappointing first Test, and then the second just shows what happens when you've got someone of the quality of Kevin Pietersen in the side scoring runs.

“It seems his reintegration's going very well. Getting all those runs, nearly half of (England's 413), just shows what a key component he is in that side.

“I was so pleased to see Monty do well as well. He's been a great performer for England and left on the sidelines a little bit but I can see now he's going to be challenging Graeme Swann for that number one spinning spot.

“Monty's a fine bowler and the squad are now in a great position where they've got competition for places.”

It is likely England will keep the same team for the 3rd Test next week too. The only potential change is that Steve Finn could come in for the out of sorts Stuart Broad, but a decision won’t be made on this until next week.

Gambling on selection is something discussed in weekly poker blogs all the time, but it does apply to cricket too. Will England risk bringing Finn in after very little cricket?

What England need to do is replicate everything they did well in the 2nd Test. Cook needs to lead from the front, Pietersen needs to show his class and spin twins Panesar and Graeme Swann need to work together superbly for the second match running.

Then, if other members of the team – including the low on runs Jonathan Trott – raise their game too, England could take the lead in this fascinating series.

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Giles handed chance to lead new Era

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , ,
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Ashley Giles has been chosen as the man to guide England in limited overs Cricket, after being appointed as their new One Day and T20 Head Coach. Those over at http://www.cricket-betting.org.uk note how he replaces Andy Flower, who will now focus mainly on the Test team although the Zimbabwean will remain in charge of team preparation and strategies.

It marks a return to the England set-up for former international spinner Giles, who had enjoyed success whilst coaching at County level with Warwickshire. The 39-year-old led The Bears to the County Championship title in September and has received praise for his innovative coaching methods.

Now, Giles has been given the chance to prove himself on the world stage and he admits that he can’t wait to get started:
I am delighted to have been appointed England ODI and T20 Head Coach and to be given an opportunity to coach at international level. I have worked closely with Andy (Flower) in recent years as a selector and am looking forward to continuing to work together and to build on the progress that has been made with the ODI and T20 sides in recent years.

England endured a disappointing defence of their World T20 crown in Sri Lanka earlier this year, going out in the Super 8’s stage, but they will hope to climb back up the rankings under Giles’ leadership.

The change should also give Flower more time to spend more time with his family with speculation suggesting that he was finding it hard to juggle leading England in all formats of the game, and ECB managing Director, Hugh Morris, believes that the change will be a positive move for English Cricket:
England cricket has enjoyed considerable success over the past five years. In order to build on that success we know that we need to look for ways to evolve and it has become clear that the Team Director role needs to change if we are to ensure we are utilising the role as effectively as possible. Bringing in a Head Coach for the ODI and T20 formats allows the Team Director more time to plan for forthcoming series and tournaments and also have a more realistic and sustainable work life balance.
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Third Test to be Tendulkar's Last Chance

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 by Celia in Labels: , , , , , , ,
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The playing future of Sachin Tendulkar has come under severe scrutiny after the batsman failed to impress in either of India’s first two Tests with England this month.

Tendulkar’s career has been a subject of great debate on the Michael Vaughan tips page ever since the iconic batsman scored his 100th international century in March.

Many still claim Tendulkar has a right to be in the Test side currently playing England, as his 54.60 average and +15,000 Test runs show class is permanent.

However, at 39, others want the cricket legend to step down before he harms his reputation, with the third Test in Kolkata his last chance to prove himself to selectors.

For, despite Tendulkar’s dominance in the game over the past two decades, it appears age has finally caught up with him, a factor that former teammate Sourav Ganguly this week claimed may bring his career to an end after the series with England:

“[Tendulkar’s] reflexes have gone down. But that is bound to happen with age,” Ganguly told FirstPost.com. “But what I feel is that Tendulkar is out of form and needs runs. I want to earnestly believe that he will get runs in the two remaining Tests”.

Indeed, the majority of Indian fans will be hoping Tendulkar ups his game in the remaining two Tests, not only for the player’s sake but for India’s status as a major force in Test cricket.

Tendulkar is currently guilty of underperforming in the Indian whites, with three innings against England yielding just 29 runs. The right-hander looks vulnerable against spin and has notched just one half century in 12 Test innings this year.

The importance of Tendulkar to the Indian psyche cannot be underestimated and, with him on form, the rest of the team will pick up too. However, if the 39-year-old cannot find runs during the third Test in Kolkata, selectors face the difficult decision of axing a national legend, possibly for good.

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Dhoni hails Monty Magic

Posted: by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , ,
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Guest Post

India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni has heaped praise on Monty Panesar after the spinner delivered a match winning performance to help England level the series at 1-1. The 30-year-old took eleven wickets in the game as he ripped through the Indian batting line-up in both innings to hand England a convincing win in Mumbai.

The ten wicket victory marks a remarkable turnaround for an England side that were outclassed in last week’s first test in Ahmedabad, where the hosts cruised to a nine wicket triumph. The post-match dissection led to many pundits calling for an extra spinner to be introduced to the side for the clash in Mumbai, and Panesar answered those calls in spectacular fashion after delivering an accomplished display.

Dhoni had expected England to turn to Panesar to help out Graeme Swann on India’s notoriously big spinning wickets prior to the game and he admitted that he was more than impressed with the Sussex man’s contribution: "None of the other bowlers troubled the batsmen in the way that Monty did. All the other bowlers got turn and bounce, but the pace Monty was bowling at made it so much more difficult. I wish we could have bowled fuller ourselves because Pietersen and Cook played really well off the back foot" he said.

With the series delicately poised, attention will now turn towards the third test in Calcutta next week where England will probably once again look to their two front line spinners to make dents in India’s batting line-up. Graeme Swann also had a fantastic game in Mumbai, bagging eight wickets overall, but Alastair Cook will be hoping for more from his pace-men who have yet to really find their feet in this tour. James Anderson and Stuart Broad only managed to claim one Indian dismissal between them in the second test, and with Steven Finn approaching fitness, the selectors could be faced with some difficult decisions ahead of the Calcutta showdown. Perhaps they will relax with a Fruit Machine or two and ponder their decision. Ian Botham is one of many backing Finn’s selection should be he available.

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Monty and KP shine as India loses 7 wickets in one session

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , ,
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This much exciting series took a dramatic turn today. England finished Day 2 at 178/2 with Cook and KP at the crease. Thus, there was every chance for England to put on a good total. But given that wickets have usually fallen in the first session in this series so far, which team would win the first session was not predictable.

KP shined and when he shines, he leaves little chance for the opposition. He tears the opposition apart, mentally and physically. Today it was more apparent than ever. At the end of Day 3, India is on the verge of losing at 117/7. Looking at it straightforwardly, Indian batsmen must be blamed.

But it's the psychological damage done while fielding that did them. I think it also has something to do with Alastair Cook, the confidence, strength, calmness and patience he has shown, as a captain and batsman in both of these Tests. Pietersen, Pujara, Cook, Ashwin and Gambhir have been the only batsmen to score 31+ runs on Dhoni's desired track. How can we forget that? MS Dhoni is the only we should be thanking if we liked this game. He is the one who wanted a real turner. Indian fans must forgive him for forgetting this isn't 1990.

England has spinners, and in fact better spinners than India, as proven in this game. Swann is the best spinner in world cricket and Monty can demolish any batting line-up on his day. England committed the mistake of excluding Monty in the previous Test and assuming Samit Patel can be a frontline spinner in Tests, but they weren't going to commit it again. What Dhoni probably had in mind before this series began was that England clean swept them at their home and India will certainly do the same. He wasn't happy with a Test win, because a 4-0 win had already happened in his mind, he was certain it would happen in reality, his next wish was to defeat England by an innings through his spinners on a real turner, since India lacks quality fast bowlers. But that doesn't mean England still lacks quality spinners. This is 2012 baby, and Indians need to lose their long-held beliefs.

This day has changed the series. Until now, English players and fans had it in their mind, that they are behind, that they have lost something, a Test, on this tour without gaining anything and that Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann's hard work in the 1st Test was a waste. Not anymore. The series will be levelled tomorrow. Both teams will stand equally, with an equal chance to win the battle. If only they can make the right selections, England can be the world beater in Test cricket now, they have the players, they have the potential, they have the approach. It's time to show who plays Test cricket best.

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India take lead after Monty exposes India's veterans

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , , ,
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England tour of India continues to be exciting. The teams were evenly matched on Day 1 of the 2nd Test as the English ripped 6 wickets as India put on 260 odd runs. England were ahead for most of the day as the 6th wicket fell at 169. Pujara, who scored 206* and 41* in the 1st Test, is batting on 114 and Ashwin on 60. The umpiring was disappointing in the 1st Test and today as well. Pujara was out on 94, caught off Swann. The ball first hit Cook's toe, standing at slip and then was caught by another fielder. After checking it out from only one angle, which was clearly inconclusive, the 3rd umpire ruled that he's not out. India is the only team who doesn't use Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), which is pathetic. The lack of use of technology is apparent in this series. It seems as though the BCCI are reluctant to spend on it, despite being the richest cricket board. No wonder they are the richest. It happens with every team that wrong decisions are given against them, but England seems to be the one most affected. That's because these decisions prove to be pivotal, by coincidence or perhaps because it demoralises England more than other teams. Whatever the case may be, England are a happier bunch with the review system active. It doesn't seem right that a rule is applied in all matches except India's matches. If a rule has been passed by ICC, it must be applied to all International matches. And then, not viewers would have known about this at the start of this series.

Monty Panesar made an impressive comeback, by taking 4 wickets, as predicted by Shane Warne. It was his day. England must be regretting their decision not to play him in the 1st Test, but they should be happy they chose him sooner rather than later. Though Steven Finn is still injured so it was an easy decision. Playing Tim Bresnan in the 1st Test definitely didn't make sense. Monty couldn't have done worse. It's worth the risk to try spinners in India. Why Samit Patel is playing is beyond my ability to comprehend though. He doesn't ever look confident enough to take a wicket in Tests. Plus, he has had more success with the bat than bowl and he doesn't have the making of a Test batsman either. Johny Bairstow replaced Ian Bell, who has gone home to witness the birth of his child. It will be interesting to see how Bairstow, who is playing his 5th Test, bats and if England will omit Patel to keep both Bairstow and Bell in the team in case Bairstow succeeds in impressing.

India are ahead of England at the moment, given India won the toss again and will make England bat last and how the pitch has played so far and their quota of spinners but if England can wrap up the 1st Indian innings early, they'll have a chance to take lead. The English batsmen must come to the party this time as captain Cook, deserves a better chance to win than the hard fought two men against eleven battle in the 1st Test.

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Unbeatable Cook leads England fightback on Day 4

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , ,
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England tour of India
1st Test: 15-19 November
Day 4
Brief scores: Ind 521/8 dec. Pujara 206*, Sehwag 117, Yuvraj 74; Swann 5, Anderson, Pietersen, Patel 1 each; Economy rates: Anderson 2.77, Swann 2.82, Patel 3.09, Pietersen 3.12, Bresnan 3.84, Broad 4.04
Eng 191 Prior 48, Cook  41; Ojha 5, Ashwin 3
Eng 340/5 Cook 168* Prior 84*; Yadav 2, Ojha 2
Alastair Cook is trying to ensure this series is not a re-run of previous England tours to India. Showing utmost strength and patience, he led the England fightback on Day 4 as a captain leading from the front. Scoring hundreds in both of his previous Tests as captain as well as today, he becomes the only captain to score a century in first three Tests.

Some of the best Test matches are those which are drawn by fighting back from a terrible position. England has been featured in its fair share of such matches. In these games, the lower order and keeper Prior have stepped up to the plate, Cook has been a run machine for the past 3 years, Collingwood played his part when he was there, Jonathan Trott scored runs consistently from the start of his career (Aug '09) till the end of last year but Kevin Pietersen has failed when it has mattered the most. How does his batting average matter then? Your best players are those who win and save the most matches for you, who can handle pressure when it matters most.

The game at Chennai in '08 is an unforgettable one. Kevin Pietersen was England's captain back then, and he set India a target of 387, declaring at 311/9 with 29 overs to go on Day 4. Sehwag made this feat easy, not only achievable with 83 from 68. Sure, the following batsmen had some work on their hands but with such a flashy start, there can be no lack of confidence. Players like Jonathan Trott mostly care about their personal performance, but they are valuable because they care too much about it. There is no doubt about Kevin Pietersen's ability to demolish a team on his own or to be one of the most entertaining but to be a valuable asset in Test cricket, he needs to bat better when it matters. And not just score 40 something, but save the game like Cook and Prior are doing in this Test. Test matches are games of big runs. At least in one of the innings, the team must score 400+ to win or to draw. And this task is for the main batsmen, the middle order.

Coming back to today's play, Nick Compton played 128 deliveries but scored only 37. This is something to be worked upon. There isn't much use of surviving so many deliveries if you aren't scoring many runs. All his hard work didn't account to much considering England must score 500+ to save the match and 37 doesn't make a big part of that. Cook was unbeatable, he was unshakeable. The good thing is that he not only scores runs consistently but also scores big. His early centuries were between 104 and 127 but he now has scores such as 235* (vs Australia), 189 (vs Australia), 294 (vs India) and currently standing tall at 168* against India. Cook now has 21 centuries under his belt, which means he is only behind three Englishmen who have scored 22 tons each. He'll turn 28 next month and taking his career into account, it is unlikely that the ECB will drop him over a tiff. He probably has many more years of cricket left in him, so it is most likely he'll register his name in the list of top run getters and century makers in world cricket. English cricket is being taken to newer heights. Now England have a World Twenty20 championship in their kitty, Ashes '05, '09 and '10, Alastair Cook will probably become the first Englishman to reach 10,000 Test runs. The only feats remaining are the World Cup and a 400-wicket taker.

After the solid fightback from Cook and Prior, England should be able to save the game from here. I mean, it's still a tough task but it'd be disheartening to see England lose from here. Swann, Broad and Bresnan are pretty much all-rounders so I believe England will come through. That will give England the perfect start to the series. Though Bell is heading home for the birth of his child and Tim Bresnan needs to be replaced with Steven Finn or Monty Panesar so England will have some selection to do.

Catch the action live at 9:30 local time (4 am GMT). See you soon with hopefully some good news. Cheers.

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Swann takes 5 as India make England toil on Day 2

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,
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England tour of India
1st Test: 15-19 November
Day 2
Brief scores: Ind 521/8 dec. Pujara 206*, Sehwag 117, Yuvraj 74; Swann 5, Anderson, Pietersen, Patel 1 each; Economy rates: Anderson 2.77, Swann 2.82, Patel 3.09, Pietersen 3.12, Bresnan 3.84, Broad 4.04
Eng 41-3 (18 overs) Cook 22*, KP 6*; Ashwin 2, Ojha 1
England vs India is usually exciting and the 1st Test at Ahmedabad is proving to be no different. Under Alastair Cook, England set out on a brand new mission - that of triumphing in India. England's record in India is not something to be proud of, but they have a better chance of winning this time. England were used to losing but their approach has been changing since Ashes 2005. The captaincy of Paul Collingwood has done them much good and they have cared more about winning in recent years. This is only his 3rd Test as captain but I believe Alastair Cook is a strong and stable person and he can replicate Collingwood. Ryan Sidebottom and James Anderson, who is still here, prospered by the faith showed by Collingwood and it seems Cook believes in his players as well. He is the one who played a big role in bringing Kevin Pietersen back for this series. KP must be raring to score big after his absence from England matches. India is also keen to win as they are seeing this as "revenge series". Their drubbing in England last year (Tests: England beat India 4-0; One-day: England beat India 3-0 in a 5 match series; Twenty20: England beat India 1-0) is fresh in their minds. Unfortunately, Suresh Raina, who commented he wants to give some pain back, is not playing.

The only England bowler who can be praised in this match is Graeme Swann. The man never fails to perform. He does what Trott does with the bat. Other England bowlers lacked lustre and clearly missed injured Steven Finn. As is often said, Nick Compton is tailor made for Test cricket and scored runs in the warm-up games as well. Cook and Compton looked like a solid pair and I won't blame Compton for getting out the way he did. Some deliveries are such that any batsman can be pardoned. James Anderson, who is the permanent nightwatchman for England, was sent in yet again, though he didn't last long this time. England always sends a nightwatchman in this situation nowadays but it definitely shouldn't be this way. I think a nightwatchman is sent when only a couple of overs are left and you can't afford to lose a wicket and perhaps to surprise the opposition, since they have plans for the big batsmen. But, this is a decision which should be taken on impulse. A nightwatchman is not always needed, like when you are trailing behind by 500 and can't let the opposition mentally dominate you. India celebrated the fall of three wickets today. And England were shaken up thrice. Now, when either side looks at the scoreboard, they'll see the wickets as three, not two, even though No.11s usually score less than 10.

Adressing the media after the play today, Samit Patel said Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell can smash big tons. I agree, these 3 are the key. Alastair Cook is most consistent, Kevin Pietersen can dominate and change the game on his own and Ian Bell has often succeeded in helping England to draw.

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