Apr 182014

‘Hyderabad batting lost it in middle overs’

Rajasthan 135 for 6 (Rahane 59, Binny 48*) beat Hyderabad 133 for 6 (Dhawan 38) by four wicketsScorecard and ball-by-ball details

Stuart Binny set to slap the ball, Hyderabad v Rajasthan, Indian T20 league, Abu Dhabi, April 18, 2014Stuart Binny’s unbeaten 48 helped Rajasthan open with a win © BCCI

Hyderabad will be sick of the sight of Australia allrounder James Faulkner. Last year, he took five-wickets hauls in two encounters against Hyderabad, and though this time he didn’t make an impact with the ball, he secured a final-over victory by coolly cracking his first two balls for boundaries. It completed a day where 205 was easily hunted down in the afternoon by Punjab, but Rajasthan huffed and puffed to overhaul 133.

After Glenn Maxwell and Co. had cruised past Chennai’s huge score in the first game of the day, Rajasthan captain Shane Watson had, half-jokingly, said at the toss that he would be happy to chase anything below 200. His team was given a score substantially below 200, but the pursuit was anything but smooth as Hyderabad lived up to their reputation of being tenacious defenders.

Rajasthan sprung a surprise by sending Abhishek Nayar opening, and he began by coaxing the first ball from Dale Steyn through cover for four. That was among the few controlled shots from Rajasthan in the Powerplay as Steyn, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma had the ball swerving around under lights. Nayar was dismissed third ball while Sanju Samson barely middled a ball in his troubled stay before chipping a catch to mid-off in the fourth over.

That brought together the key pair of Watson and Ajinkya Rahane. Bhuvneshwar bowled an outstanding sixth over, beating the bat three times, twice with the ball leaving the batsman and once cutting in. Perhaps it was that pressure that helped Ishant dismiss Watson – who had a strike-rate of 227.77 against him – for the first time in the IPL, leaving Rajasthan at 31 for 3.

Rahane played and missed, had plenty of inside edges and outside edges, was dropped early at first slip, was struck on the helmet by Ishant, but he stuck it out through the difficult phase and kept Rajasthan in the game with a half-century. Even that landmark came through an outside edge to the third-man boundary.

Stuart Binny, the only other Rajasthan batsman to reach double figures, took on the weak link, Darren Sammy, early on but with the asking-rate never too high, he made sure he tucked the ball around to keep the score moving – he had only one dot ball in the final 14 he faced. He found the googlies from the legspinners, Amit Mishra and Karn Sharma, hard to read but his combative 77-run stand with Rahane kept the game tight.

Rahane finally fell in the 16th over, and Rajasthan’s finisher Brad Hodge flailed against spin before perishing for an eight-ball 1. Mishra got both those big scalps, and Hyderabad were sensing a win. Steyn removed Rajat Bhatia, but with eight needed in the final over, Faulkner finished off the game with three deliveries to spare.

Hyderabad’s fancied batting, with a top three reading Shikhar Dhawan, Aaron Finch and David Warner, also had a tough time of it. Though Dhawan and Warner hit 30s, neither could really get going, scoring only at around a run-a-ball. Cameos from KL Rahul and Venugopal Rao took them to 133, though the line-up filled with big-hitters managed only two sixes all innings. Their team mentor, VVS Laxman, felt the total was 20-25 short, but the bowlers made Rajasthan scrap for the win.

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Apr 172014
IPL 2014 Team Preview - Rajasthan Royals
Rajasthan Royals

The Rajasthan Royals won the tournament in 2008 – could they spring another surprise this season?

© REUTERS / Action Images

Since the inaugural IPL season Rajasthan Royals (RR) has always been very selective while picking their players.

Everybody, me included, didn’t gave them a chance during the first season but they proved everybody wrong and went on to win the IPL.

A lot of credit should go to their former captain Shane Warne who backed every player he chose and got the best out of them. He showed them how to play as a unit and that mindset still runs in the team.

But the journey has not been that good since then as they were knocked out from the group stages in the next four seasons though they did qualify for the play-offs last year.

Rajasthan Royals are similar to team which played in the last edition as they retained five players – Sanju Samson, Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, James Faulkner and Stuart Binny for the seventh season of the IPL. 

They also bought back the veteran Brad Hodge and spin sensation of last year Pravin Tambe during the auction. So, in a way, the core of their team is still intact and will be more settled as compared to other teams.

The main change for Rajasthan is that Watson will lead the team this season as Rahul Dravid retired from the IPL last season though he will be associated with the team as a mentor. Their batting looks quite settled but probably lacks firepower. Young batsman Samson was the find of the last season and the team will expect him to do well this time too.

Steve Smith is again a good buy as he can provide stability in the middle and bowl leg-spin too. Binny has been very good for Rajasthan and a good all-rounder to have in the team along with Rajat Bhatia.

James Faulkner and Kevon Cooper can play the roles of power-hitters coming in lower down the order. Not to forget former India’s U-19 captain Unmukt Chand who is a talented batsman but yet to do justice to his talent.

Ben Cutting and Kane Richardson are some exciting bowling prospects but they lack experience of bowling in sub-continent conditions.

On the other hand Watson, Faulkner, Cooper and Tim Southee are experienced bowlers at International level which is a huge advantage for Rajasthan. In the spin department Tambe and left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla will be Rajasthan’s choice and both are quality bowlers.

Dhawal Kulkarni, the former Mumbai Indians medium-pace bowler will certainly make the playing XI and we might see him as a first change bowler. The role of Watson as a bowler is as important as his batting; he provides the team the all needed balance.

Like their batting, the bowling department also looks settled but they don’t have genuine match-winners.

This year, the Royals will miss out on home advantage as no matches are scheduled in Jaipur which used to be their happy hunting ground.

This is a team that might not have star players but are fearsome competitors on field. It is hard to tell whether they will qualify for the knockout stages or not but if Watson contributes well with bat and bowl, we can expect some surprises.

© Cricket World 2014

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Mar 292014
James Faulkner can even make Chris Gayle lose his cool

“I don’t particularly like them,” said James Faulkner before Australia played the West Indies. He must positively detest them now.

Here’s another Faulkner quote.

“If you can do something to upset somebody and upset their team, it goes a long way towards doing well as a group.”

He got that the wrong way round. The West Indies did well as a group to chase 179, which surely upset the Australians, and the fact that it was Faulkner bowling the final over when Darren Sammy hit successive sixes to win the match has doubtless upset him specifically.

Sammy said:

“The Australians normally have a lot to say. We are here to play cricket.”

Which isn’t to say that the West Indies are mutes. They just save their talking for after the matches. Sammy couldn’t help but remark that his team had handled the pressure better than the Aussies. Faulkner was unavailable for comment.

The Windies also save their bat-flinging and cool-losing for after the match. The willow of Dwayne Bravo may not yet have returned to terra firma, so high was it thrown, while the emotions were sufficient for even Chris Gayle to finally lose his cool.

And oh how he lost it. This video of the celebrations doesn’t even show Gayle’s immediate reaction to the winning six, when he screamed so hard he actually fell over.

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Mar 262014
Faulkner: I don’t like Windies team

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AUSTRALIA’S comeback kid James Faulkner, once fined for screaming an obscenity at Calypso cool cat Chris Gayle, freely admits he doesn’t like the West Indies team.

And the all-rounder will be doing everything possible to get under their skin as Australia’s World T20 campaign goes on the line in Dhaka on Friday night.

“I don’t particularly like them,” Faulkner said of the West Indies team.

“You have to do things to get under their skin and try and irritate them to try and get them off their game.

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“Players do that to me and I do it to other players. It’s a fact of the game. A lot of it is played in your mind.

“If you can do something to upset somebody and upset their team, it goes a long way towards doing well as a group.”

The potential sledging barrage from the 23-year-old all-rounder, set to play his comeback game from knee surgery, will add extra spice to what is almost certainly a knockout game for Australia.

Last year Faulkner was fined 10 per cent of his match fee at a one-day match in Canberra after giving Gayle a strong verbal send-off after dismissing him.

James Faulkner launches a ball in Australia’s ODI match against England at the Gabba.

James Faulkner launches a ball in Australia’s ODI match against England at the Gabba. Source: News Limited

The lingering tensions could also make for some interesting byplay around the breakfast bar at the Australian team hotel, where Gayle and the West Indian team are also staying.

“I haven’t seen him (Gayle) … I’ll say hello though,” Faulkner says.

“I’m always polite. But I won’t be saying ‘hello’ if I’m playing Friday.

“There’s a few players I would like to knock over and more importantly I’d like to beat them. I’m looking forward to it.”

Faulkner, the all-rounder from Tasmania, has impressed everyone in Australian cricket with his almost 24-7 rehab regime since having knee surgery following the summer’s final one-day against England.

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There have been many nights he has gone to bed with his knee in an ice machine and he virtually swore off alcohol to give his knee the best chance of a quick recovery.

“I have been lucky enough that Cricket Australia gave me one of them (ice machines) for a few weeks,” Faulkner said.

“Once I started bowling I was icing it probably five or six or seven times a day.

“I thought I would do anything I could do to get myself back for the World Cup, that’s what you want to play as a young kid, and hopefully I’m in a position where I can be a part of this one at some stage.”

Faulkner after hitting 69 at No. 9 as Australia chased down 300 against England at the Ga

Faulkner after hitting 69 at No. 9 as Australia chased down 300 against England at the Gabba. Source: News Limited

Faulkner won a place in the heart of Australian cricket lovers when he became a matchwinner with the bat at the Gabba in January, scoring 69 at No.9 as Australia chased down 300 against England.

He is currently regarded as a bowling all-rounder, with his crafty fast-medium pace, but revealed an ambition to bat much higher up the order in all formats.

“I think my one-day batting has really come along,” he said.

“I am batting at seven or eight at the moment and in all seriousness I want to be batting up the order at some stage in my career in one day cricket and likely Test cricket as well.

Jan 202014
Cricket World Player Of The Week - James Faulkner
Monday 20 January 2014 

by Daniel Grummitt

James Faulkner batting

James Faulkner smashed England’s bowlers at the Gabba.

Action Images / Paul Childs

James Faulkner is this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week after compounding England’s woes on their tour of Australia by winning the hosts a match they looked certain to lose.

Chasing England’s impressive total of 300 for eight, which was built around Eoin Morgan’s superb 106 off 99 balls, Faulkner and last-man Clint McKay added an unbroken 57 for the tenth-wicket to break English hearts and hammer what looks like being one of the final nails in Alastair Cook’s ODI captaincy coffin.

McKay made only two off the 57 runs that Australia scored, while Faulkner ended on 69 off only 47 balls, having hit five sixes. Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell had helped set up the chase with half-centuries, but when Faulkner came to the crease Australia appeared certain to lose.

David Warner and Maxwell then hit half-centuries in the third ODI as Australia secured the series at the earliest attempt after England had posted an inadequate total.

Across the Tasman Sea, Luke Ronchi helped New Zealand win their Twenty20 International series 2-0 over the West Indies by smashing an unbeaten 51 off only 28 balls. Corey Anderson then bludgeoned 68 off only 40 balls as the Kiwis upset India in the opening match of their five-game ODI series. There were also useful performances from Ross Taylor (55), Kane Williamson (71) and Mitchell McClenaghan (4-68), which rendered Virat Kohli’s 123 irrelevant.

In Sharjah, innings of 91 and 95 from Angelo Mathews and debutant Dilruwan Perera respectively looked like helping Sri Lanka win their Test series against Pakistan. However, a century from Ahmed Shehzad in Pakistan’s first innings helped limit their deficit and set up the thrilling final day.

© Cricket World 2014

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Jan 182014
Thorpe urges England riposte

Batting coach Graham Thorpe has challenged England to bounce back from recent disappointments in the third one-day international.

Alastair Cook’s men, having fallen to a 5-0 Ashes defeat and lost the opening ODI, looked set to beat Australia for the first time this winter yesterday.

But James Faulkner’s remarkable 69 not out – most of which came in a 10th-wicket stand of 57 alongside Clint McKay, who made two – took Australia to an amazing win with three balls to spare.

Thorpe admitted the England dressing room was a downbeat place afterwards but has urged the players to respond.

“It was tough to be in a dressing room like that last night,” he said. “Some of the coaches have seen it before.

“We have had bad moments in our careers and we’ve had good moments but the most important thing is that it’s our job to make sure they are picked up and ready to go again.

“There were some good things from last night’s game and some things that we have to address.

“But I think if we can stand up and actually win tomorrow’s game it would be an enormous achievement and show enormous strength in the side.

”We have to demand that from the players. When you put on an England shirt that’s what you have to do.”

While such a riposte would be highly impressive, Thorpe does not believe it is beyond England.

He added: “If the guys are in the right state of mind and they’re ready to look Australia in the eye again and get out there and perform, and play with pride, and keep developing themselves as cricketers then we’ll stand a good chance tomorrow night.

“It’s not the time for us to sulk and feel sorry for ourselves. We have to stand up and keep going forward.”

Thorpe revealed, too, that England may look to freshen up their XI in Sydney, with a win essential to keep their hopes of a series triumph alive.

“We haven’t had a big meeting about it today, but come tomorrow we have to look at the side which we pick,” he said. “Do we need to change things for tomorrow?

“Part of this is learning about players and can they stand up in this environment and perform? That’s what we have to find out on this trip, for our planning when we come back (for the World Cup).

“It’s not just the immediate series, which is not lost.”

Jan 172014
Ashley Giles: I won't scream and shout at England players

So disturbed were they by this latest, though not first, setback on this tour that Alastair Cook did not try to explain to the press what might have gone wrong. He has run out of reasons, excuses and apologies by now.

Instead, in came Eoin Morgan, the gallant centurion who had scored one of the great one-day hundreds. No one asked him about that, of course. How, Morgs, did England mess that one up?

“The guys probably shouldn’t be as harsh as they will be on themselves,” he said. “Naturally they will be, but if you look through today’s game we’ve done a lot of things right. It is quite tough. We let a good side come in at the end and we allowed them to play. We didn’t finish as well as we would have liked. We’re as surprised as anybody at the result.”

England’s death bowling will come under closest scrutiny and Morgan admitted that allowing James Faulkner to retain the strike at the end proved fatal. “We allowed Faulkner to play like he does, which obviously isn’t part of our plans,” he said. “With a No 11 batting at the other end you’d expect him to face the majority of the balls.”

Cook’s options in the final overs were limited after Boyd Rankin was forced off with a hamstring injury. Morgan was also on the sidelines with a calf problem, and both are doubtful for Sunday’s third match in Sydney. The loss of Rankin could be offset by Stuart Broad’s return from his break but Morgan’s loss would be a major blow. “We’ll see over the next 24 hours how I pull up tomorrow and travel to Sydney,” he said.

The limited-overs coach, Ashley Giles, has the unenviable task of picking the players up after an eighth consecutive defeat in all formats against Australia – dating back to last summer. England’s record number of consecutive losses across all formats is 10 – a figure that is in danger.

“One thing I won’t do is scream and shout at them,” Giles said. “They’re all pretty low and we need to pick them back up, they need to get some energy back. But we need to analyse as well. We didn’t quite get it right and we need to learn along the way.

“As long as we’re learning and improving, I’ll be happy. We were just a hair’s width away from winning the game,” he added.

Faulkner admitted his mind had been racing at the end. “There was a fair bit. The crowd was quite loud,” he said. “I’ve been in that situation a fair few times, being the all-rounder at the end, and a lot of times I haven’t been successful and have stuffed up the game, so it was just nice to get the boys over the line. I thought it was a great team effort to chase down 300.”

Faulkner said he started to believe he could pull off an unlikely win when the No 11, Clint McKay, proved he could keep out England’s bowlers. Asked if he thought it was over when McKay came in with more than 50 still needed, he said: “It was looking that way, wasn’t it? But Clint McKay hung around, he’s got a beautiful forward defence and we saw it again tonight.”

He added: “When we needed about 30 to win the crowd started to get behind us and I thought we had a real chance. After that we started to hit the fence and everything turned our way.”

Jan 172014
Video - Giles Says England Are Gutted After Brisbane Loss
Friday 17 January 2014 

by John Pennington

England’s limited overs head coach Ashley Giles says the team are ‘gutted’ after they were beaten by one wicket in the second One-Day International against Australia in Brisbane.

James Faulkner blasted a brilliant unbeaten half-century as Australia successfully chased down 301 to win with three balls to spare.

England had dominated for long periods of the match as Eoin Morgan hit 106 and Australia were struggling at 120 for five.

Giles says he and the team are gutted that they weren’t able to register their first international win since arriving in Australia but he does see plenty of positives in the way the team played.

Video content from ECB Cricket on YouTube.

© Cricket World 2014

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Jan 172014
The finishers are dropping lower (and so are England)

Time was, your ‘finisher’ batted at six in one-dayers. Then it was seven. Today, Australia had a man who now averages 53 in 50-over internationals batting at nine. It worked out okay for them.

The last wicket partnership

At 244-9, Australia were some way from victory, but James Faulkner engineered a win by hitting 69 off 47 balls. For four balls of the over, he blocked or hit sixes and then he looked for a single off one of the next two. He found that single four overs in a row, allowing him to monopolise the strike such that his batting partner, Clint McKay, faced just nine balls out of 33 – even though he was blocking everything.

Credit where it’s due or was it England’s fault?

Well, it was a bit of a masterclass from Faulkner in how to chase down a steep total accompanied by the tail, but it was also a bit of a noviceclass in how to prevent someone from doing that.

The singles were arguably more damning than the sixes, but after Ben Stokes had been lifted over the ropes three times in two overs, it also seemed odd to keep him on for the penultimate over. He promptly went for two more. There’s much to be said for backing your players and giving them a chance to fight back, but in hindsight this was wrong.

It was also wrong that Ravi Bopara only bowled five overs. Whatever you might presume about how Faulkner might have waded into his medium-pace, the evidence disagreed. Ravi only conceded 19 runs and Faulkner scored just seven off the 10 Ravi deliveries he faced.

Death bowling

England are deeply mistrustful of dibbly-dobbly medium-pace, but dibbly-dobbly often works. What rarely works at the death is the most generic form of fast-medium, as purveyed by Stokes and Bresnan. This is what professional cricketers spend most of their life facing. The timing’s ingrained.

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