Apr 132014
Pietersen to test fitness in warm-up game

Although KP’s finger has been strapped for the past one week, Team’s CEO Hemant Dua refuted reports of his unavailability for Delhi’s opener against Bangalore

Pietersen to test fitness in warm-up game (© AP: File Photo)

AP: File Photo

New Delhi: Delhi Daredevils captain Kevin Pietersen will get a chance to test the injured little finger of his right hand on Monday when the team plays a practice match to get ready for their opening IPL encounter against RCB on April 17.

Although his finger has been strapped for the past one week, Pietersen has batted in the nets and also faced throwdowns during the three-day session at the Airforce ground in Palam before boarding the Dubai-bound flight.

Team’s CEO Hemant Dua said that there is no such information with him that Pietersen won’t be available for the first match, contrary to reports in some quarters.

“I have not received any information as yet that KP won’t be playing the first match. I will get to know better once I reach there tomorrow. We have a practice match tomorrow,” Dua said.

While there is a chance that Pietersen might not field, there is a chance he might just bat to see how his little finger is holding up. In case the doctor tells him to rest, he might just directly play the first match on Thursday.

On Saturday, during team’s jersey launch at a city hotel, Pietersen was asked about the protective padding and he seemed dismissive about the state of the injury.

“I sustained it in England but just trying to protect it and not shaking hands with anyone. But it’s not a big problem,” he answered a query at the launch yesterday.

Apr 062014
Sri Lanka finally taste World Cup success

Kumar Sangakkara struck an unbeaten 52 as Sri Lanka defeated a disappointing India by six wickets Sunday to finally win the World Twenty20 title.

Sri Lanka reached 134-4 in 17.5 overs to complete the long-awaited win in an ICC world tournament after restricting India to an unimpressive 130-4.

Former captain Sangakkara ensured there was no heartbreak this time after Sri Lanka had lost in four ICC world finals over the past seven years, including the World Cups in 2007 and 2011.

Sri Lanka was making its third World Twenty20 final appearance. It lost to Pakistan in the 2009 final and to the West Indies in 2012.

Sangakkara had struggled in this tournament, scoring only 19 runs before this match, but struck form when it mattered most. 

He was quickly in the groove and took control despite a slight slow-down in the middle when the score was 78-4 in the 13th over.

Sangakkara and veteran teammate Mahela Jayawardene had announced that they would not take part in international T20s after this tournament.

Sangakkara proceeded to make it a memorable final outing for both with a fluent 35-ball knock in which he hit six fours and one six.

The left-hander saw the team through in the company of Thisara Perera (23 not out), who completed the victory with a huge six off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and punched the air as the Sri Lanka team ran onto the pitch.

Sangakkara raised his hands with helmet and bat to celebrate the win and was hugged by fellow players and even opponent Virat Kohli.

Sri Lanka then celebrated its first world title since the 1996 World Cup triumph with a victory lap.

Sangakkara and Jayawardene were carried on teammates’ shoulders even as smoke from an elaborate fireworks display enveloped the ground.

”We have waited five finals for this victory,” Sangakkara said. ”I’m happy to have done something for the team. Everyone was looking forward to this win. India is a very good side but we were quite confident of pulling it off today.”

Earlier, the Indian innings could never get the impetus it needed and defending a total less than 150 was always going to be difficult.

Kohli struck 77 off 58 balls with five fours and four sixes but some tight bowling from Sri Lanka restricted the free flow of runs expected from the Indian batting lineup.

The departure of a well-set Rohit Sharma for 29 and a slow 11 off 21 by Yuvraj Singh saw the Sri Lankan bowlers seize the moment.

But India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni defended the decision to send in Yuvraj at No.4 ahead of Suresh Raina and himself.

”He’s a great player but it was just one of those days when he did not click,” Dhoni said. ”I think the credit should go to the Sri Lankan bowlers to have contained us the way they did. They really executed their plans very well, especially in the end overs.”

Kohli, who survived two chances on 11 and 65, completed his fourth half-century of the tournament to finish as the highest scorer of this World Twenty20 with 319 runs.

He was also named player of the tournament. India could score only 19 runs in the last four overs as Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara bowled out beautifully, going for yorkers and full-length deliveries outside the off stump.

India, World Twenty20 champion in 2007, was in line to hold all three ICC tournaments at the same time since it won the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy.

India had defeated Sri Lanka in the final of the 2011 World Cup.

– AP

Mar 312014
Sri Lanka romp into semis after Herath heroics

Herath’s five wickets helped Sri Lanka defend a modest 119 to reach the T20 World Cup semifinals

Herath guides Sri Lanka into semis (© AP)


Chittagong: Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath recorded astonishing figures of 3-5 to help Sri Lanka demolish New Zealand by 59 runs Monday in the race for the World Twenty20 semi-finals.

The spinner rocked New Zealand, chasing a modest 120-run total, in his 3.3 destructive overs to bowl them for 60 in 15.3 overs in Chittagong — the Black Caps’ lowest total in T20s.

The victory gave the 2012 runners-up their fourth successive semi-final place. They play the winners of Tuesday’s game in group two between defending champions the West Indies and Pakistan.

The first semi-final will be in Dhaka on Thursday.

The 2007 champions India take on South Africa in the second semi on Friday. The final will be played in Dhaka on Sunday.

It was fourth time unlucky for New Zealand who played the semi-final only in the inaugural edition of the World Twenty20 in 2007.

Needing some sensible batting to overhaul a paltry total New Zealand batted in a dismal manner with opener Kane Williamson the only man to reach double figures with 42.

He was the eighth man out and with Corey Anderson unable to bat due to a finger injury sustained while fielding, Herath wrapped up the match with Trent Boult’s wicket.

New Zealand lost opener Martin Guptill (five) in the fourth over, run out in Herath’s first over.

After playing four dot balls, New Zealand’s most dangerous batsman Brendon McCullum jumped out off Herath and was stumped.

Herath then trapped Ross Taylor (nought) leg before and bowled Jimmy Neesham off successive deliveries to push New Zealand on the back foot.

It became 5-29 in Herath’s third over when he had Luke Ronchi (two) leg before wicket to improve on his previous best figures of 3-25 in the 2012 semi-final against Pakistan in Colombo.

Fellow spinner Sachitra Senanayake took 2-3 in his three overs.

New Zealand’s previous lowest Twenty20 total of 80 came against Pakistan at Auckland two years ago. It also becomes the third lowest total ever in all T20s, behind the Netherland’s 39, also against Sri Lanka here last Monday and 56 by Kenya against Afghanistan at Sharjah last year.

Earlier left-arm paceman Boult and Neesham took three wickets apiece to wreck Sri Lanka for a paltry 119 in 19.2 overs after they were sent into bat.

Left-armer Mitchell McClenaghan took 2-24.

Boult had opener Kusal Perera (16) in his first over and then dismissed Tillakaratne Dilshan (eight) and Kumar Sangakkara (four) to give New Zealand a headstart to the match.

Mahela Jayawardene, who top-scored with a 32-ball 25, added 30 for the fourth wicket with Lahiru Thirimanne (20) before the former captain was bowled round his legs in the 15th over.

Thisara Perera hit three boundaries in his 13-ball 16 before Neesham took three wickets in 14 balls to rout the pre-tournament favourites.

Sri Lanka were without their regular T20 captain Dinesh Chandimal, suspended for a slow over-rate. Lasith Malinga stepped in as skipper.

Thirimanne and Herath had replaced Chandimal and Ajantha Mendis in the team which lost to England on Thursday.

New Zealand kept faith in the same side which beat the Netherlands on Saturday.


Mar 242014
Argentina cricket program targets slum poverty

Published: 3:14PM Tuesday March 25, 2014 Source: AP

Children living in a slum in Argentina’s capital are playing cricket as part of an initiative to help them escape poverty and crime.

Villa 21-24 in Buenos Aires is a slum so dangerous that most outsiders don’t dare enter. But the kids playing the ball-and-bat sport in a dirt training ground say they’ve found new hope in a sport that is mostly restricted to the elite.

The International Cricket Council even awarded the children’s Caacupe team with its Best Spirit of Cricket Initiative. The council said the pairing of these marginalized kids with students from St. George’s College, an upscale school, has improved their life both on and off the pitch and sets an example worldwide.

“It’s a real recognition not only of the development of this project but also of the way in which we are coaching the children” said Daniel Juarez, a former player from one of Buenos Aires’ most renowned cricket clubs, and the mastermind behind the initiative.

Cricket originated in Britain but is also widely played in South Asia and the Caribbean. The sport was introduced to the slum in 2009 as a way to integrate children to a game that traditionally was reserved for Argentina’s upscale private schools. Its twice-weekly training sessions now include up to 30 children between ages of 8 and 15.

For the poorest citizens, crowded in “misery villages” throughout Buenos Aires, sport has become a rare escape from a life of frustration, crime and drugs.

The cricket project is one of the key activities in the Caacupe community center, which is named after a virgin saint popular among Argentina’s rural and poor communities.

It also has some illustrious benefactors.

Sometimes referred to as the “slum pope,” Pope Francis while he was cardinal of Buenos Aires was one of the driving forces in founding the slum’s community center and remained intimately connected to its operations.

The Rev. Pepe Di Paola, a close friend of the pontiff, is patron of Caacupe cricket and was heavily involved in its initiation.

“It has to do with sport being a living school, a channel of values,” said Di Paola, who is known for his work fighting the drug trade in Argentina’s slums.

Several members of the youth team are also attending cricket training lessons taught at private schools and three of them have been selected to play for national Argentine youth division teams at international tournaments.

“Kids from the slum have had the chance to play in big games … some of them have even gotten to travel by airplane to other places,” Di Paola said. “It has been a really positive experience.”

Fourteen-year-old Alexis Gaona joined the club in its early stages and has developed a passion for cricket. Last year, he travelled to Peru to play on an Argentine under-13 team.

“You can really use it in life as well. From here you have a reference for the rest of your life,” Gaona said.

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Mar 202014
Shillingford to make comeback with tweaked action

Shillingford was suspended from bowling by the ICC after he was reported to the ICC for suspected illegal actions during the Test series in India last year

Shillingford to make comeback with tweaked action (© AP)


Suspended West Indies spinner Shane Shillingford returns to action this weekend after undergoing remedial work on his bowling action.

The 31-year-old off-spinner is set to appear for third-placed Windward Islands, when they face leaders Jamaica in the Regional 4-Day Tournament starting Friday at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

Shillingford was suspended from bowling by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after he was reported to the ICC for suspected illegal actions during the Test series in India last year.

“Obviously, I am extremely happy that I will be playing this weekend,” said Shillingford who has played 14 Tests for West Indies, grabbing 65 wickets at 32.32 apiece. He has never appeared in a One-day or Twenty20 International.

“I have put in a lot of hard work over the past few months. It was a bit tough at first, but once the coaches told me what I had to do, I went straight to work. I just had to be really patient and I worked really hard.”

Shillingford underwent remedial work in Barbados under the guidance of former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler Vasbert Drakes with input from West Indies Head Coach Ottis Gibson.

“I am happy for the advice that I have received from the coaches, especially Vasbert, and I must also thank everyone for the support they have given me during this period,” he said.

Shillingford also underwent a biomechanical bowling analysis conducted by a research team at the University of Western Australia March 4 in Perth.

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