Feb 032014

Bangladesh vindicated the International Cricket Council’s so-called ‘position paper’s’ bid to resign them to the bottom half of the world game for a substantial period in the series opener, and are not likely to buck the trend in Chittagong.

Admittedly, conditions are bound to prove dryer and slower – insisting on the addition of an extra spinner in the talented Abdur Razzak instead of seamer Al-Amin Hossain. The rest, however, don’t sport the firepower needed.

The case of captain Mushfiqur Rahim and all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan being a veritable two-man army has rung true far too often. The remainder are not stepping up in support consistently enough. Perhaps this week will be different.

What the shorter formats of the international game bring, the ultimate version takes away. Bangladesh must find the balance, if gains are to be made, particularly against a Sri Lanka unit prone to the odd choke.

The tourists were not afforded much of an opportunity to hone combinations in the first match. Almost everyone succeeded, and then some, and it’s only really the young Dinesh Chandimal in need of runs.

The right-hander will have the additional responsibility behind the stumps again, as Prasanna Jayawardene won’t be returning – yet – due to personal reasons. Now is the time for Chandimal to answer critics, perhaps even up the order, above captain Angelo Mathews at least.

The bowling ranks are reasonably unsettled, with seamer Suranga Lakmal growing in stature – and required to lead the attack in the absence of the injured Shaminda Eranga. It has been a long time coming, but Lakmal is finding a welcome groove for the future. The selectors, and new coach Paul Farbrace, will be pleased. The recalled Ajantha Mendis, meanwhile, should replace the injured Rangana Herath.

Key MenOpener Tamim Iqbal is an old hand in a younger order now, and certainly the man required to substantiate selection. The youngsters need guidance.

Dilruwan Perera is doing a masterful job in completing the balance of the XI, with bat and ball, so much so Ajantha Mendis – prolific in Chittagong – will probably be kept out of the XI.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results2014: First Test: Sri Lanka won by an innings and 248 runs in Dhaka2013: Second Test: Sri Lanka won by seven wickets in Colombo2013: First Test: Match drawn in Galle2009: Second Test: Sri Lanka won by 465 runs in Chittagong2008: First Test: Sri Lanka won by 107 runs in Dhaka

Probable TeamsBangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Shamsur Rahman, Marshall Ayub, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Nasir Hossain, Abdur Razzak, Sohag Gazi, Robiul Islam, Rubel Hossain.

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews (captain), Kithuruwan Vithanage, Dinesh Chandimal (wicketkeeper), Dilruwan Perera, Ajantha Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep.

Dates: 4 to 8 FebruaryMorning session: 09:30-11:30 (03:30-05:30 GMT)Afternoon session: 12:10-14:10 (06:10-08:10 GMT)Evening session: 14:30-16:30 (08:30-10:30 GMT)On-field umpires: Paul Reiffel and Nigel LlongThird umpire: Anisur RahmanMatch referee: David Boon

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Dec 082013
Ashes 2013: England face ignominious defeat in Second Test

In its way, what has taken place in this Ashes series so far seems worse than its recent forebear. Then the Australian side contained great players. Some of the best to have adorned the game studded it from top to bottom.

This team are not of that ilk. There is one authentically outstanding player for the ages in the captain, Michael Clarke, a magnificently hostile fast bowler operating at the peak of his powers in Mitchell Johnson and a group of other men hell-bent on revenge and the desire to prove themselves.

In 2006, England came out aware that they might be walking to the gallows despite their marvellous deeds of the previous year. In 2013 they arrived as favourites, strolling in the sunshine created by being three-time Ashes winners.

The discord between these sides is growing by the day. Whatever they say about mutual respect it is evident that they have a fervent dislike of each other. Throughout the fourth day, as England batted vainly to save the match, praying for rain, Australia were sledging.

While Joe Root tried to smile his way into their affections (a tougher ask than fending off a Johnson bouncer at full tilt), the old campaigners, Stuart Broad and Matt Prior, were embroiled in bitter altercations towards the end of the day. They continued the discussions leaving the field. They might have thought that as ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Joe Root is hoping England can Joe Root top scored for England with 87 It can be stated with certainty after the bulk of two Tests are complete that England are sliding down the other side of the mountain from the summit they reached two years ago. The events of the past few weeks have shown that the 3-0 victory over Australia last summer was a chimera.

Senior members of this team have frequently told us that they pride themselves on their honesty. This means that on the occasions they have been up against it there has been plenty of straight talking in the dressing room. It is time for the boys to fess up again and this time there may be no going back.

The second Test has been dreadful for England. If the fourth day was better than the third it was a matter of fine margins. Bowled out for 172 on Saturday, they were left with a purely nominal 531 to win yesterday when Australia, wary of impending rain, declared their second innings at 132 for 3.

There was a modicum of resistance but it was surrounded by some strokes that in the circumstances beggared belief. For the second day in succession, the tourists’ batting was imbued with stupidity, fear and a desperation not to show fear. Johnson is stalking England. In recognising that, they are dealing badly with the others. That is the effect dominant bowlers have had throughout history.

England were left 180 overs to bat, either to win or save the game, which was 112 more than they managed in their first innings, 28 more than they lasted in their epic draw at Brisbane three years ago and 32 more than South Africa held out for in achieving their own improbable draw at Adelaide last year. It was stretching the bounds to suppose there could be a reprise.

To suggest that England were not prepared for this series is completely to undervalue the meticulous nature of their coach, Andy Flower. He does not have a middle name but if he did it would be Preparation.

The attempt to counter the threat of Johnson was carefully planned. Two English left-arm seam bowlers, Tymal Mills and Henry Gurney, accompanied the squad for the first month of the tour. They peppered England’s batsmen in the nets and Mills won particular plaudits.

But there is only one Johnson, of course. Perhaps Mills and Gurney should have grown drooping moustaches to capture the menace more precisely.

The depth of the tourists’ discomfort, starkly exposed on Saturday when Johnson took 7 for 40, including a breathtaking burst of 5 for 12 in 18 balls, emerged quickly again yesterday. Alastair Cook, the captain on who so much depends, hooked in Johnson’s first over and was splendidly caught at long leg.

It was a stunning shot for a man attempting to save a Test match, unless he really thought England should be trying to win it, in which case his brains really are scrambled. Yet there was still a repeat of it 10 overs later.

Michael Carberry had seemed composed yet he, too, decided to take on the short ball and he, too, was well caught on the leg-side boundary. Australia were dangerous enough without gifted wickets.

The partnership between Root and Kevin Pietersen that followed demonstrated that not all the fight had gone out of England. Pietersen struck three sixes, including the 19th of the match, making it a record for the number of sixes in an Ashes contest.

Before he could add more, he became the victim of Peter Siddle for the ninth time in Tests. He played Johnson like a virtuoso but Siddle, rather more unsung, has his number.

Root seemed set for a hundred before he also was dismissed by a bowler who was not Johnson. It was unfortunate as he edged Nathan Lyon into his body for Brad Haddin to react quickly and take a one-handed diving catch. It was a memorable 200th Test catch.

Ian Bell, who had batted sublimely in the first innings, was guilty of a woeful lapse yesterday, hitting a Steve Smith full toss in the air. Ben Stokes was out to the second new ball after a decent but uncertain vigil. It was something that England made the second new ball.

Oct 202013
Second Test preview: Bangladesh v New Zealand

Plenty of promise from both sides in the series opener, but now it’s time for it all to count toward a series result. Once again, spin will prove crucial, as will patience and fortitude.

Spinner Sohag Gazi is hoping to repeat the all-round heroics he showed in the drawn first Test against New Zealand as Bangladesh seek a rare series win against the visitors this week.

The 22-year-old shone in the series opener in Chittagong earlier this month. He became the first cricketer in history to score a century and claim a hat-trick in the same Test, propelling him to instant stardom in the success-starved nation.

Gazi, who has played seven Tests in his fledgling career, returns on Monday to the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka – scene of his outstanding nine-wicket debut against West Indies last year – for the second and final Test of the series.

The off-spinner, who has since emerged as a bright all-round prospect, scored an unbeaten 101 in the first Test against New Zealand before taking 6-77 in the tourists’ second innings including a hat-trick.

“In the second match my aim will be to keep this streak,” Gazi said. “I don’t know if I will break a record again or not, but I am thinking about taking a five-for again.

“Actually, there is nothing different to do. The manner in which I bowled in the last match, I will try to bowl in a similar way. I will work on the little mistakes that I made in the previous game.”

Bangladesh are hoping the wicket will offer some assistance to the Bangladesh spinners after they were frustrated by a flat batting pitch in Chittagong for long periods.

New Zealand scored 469 in their first innings before Bangladesh amassed 501, only the third time the hosts have passed the 500-run mark in their history.

Providing stark evidence of the ease of batting, the two teams together struck 27 sixes, which equalled the all-time record for most sixes in a Test match.

“There will be some advantage for spinners in Mirpur,” Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said on Sunday. “We’re taking our preparations to keep it in mind.”

New Zealand in contrast were mulling an extra seamer as their spinners failed to make any impact the first Test.

Bruce Martin finished with match figures of 2-175 from 43 overs while débutant leg spinner Ish Sodhi could claim only three for 169 from 39.1.

“This is something (an extra seamer) we need to look at and work out the balance of our team,” said New Zealand captain Brendan McCullum. “Obviously if we do include the extra seamer in place of one of our spinners, we have got (a) number of options.”

New Zealand batsman Peter Fulton said the pitch at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium could favour the spinners.

“It looks very dry, not a lot of grass on it. It is similar to the Chittagong game, preparing it to be low and slow,” he said.

“The wicket may turn more than it did in Chittagong. We are preparing for every scenario.”

Bangladesh, with eight defeats in their past 12 matches, are rooted at rock bottom in the international rankings below Zimbabwe, with New Zealand just one place above in eighth place.

Key Men
Sohag Gazi, on the back of his outstanding showing in Chittagong, is again the one to watch. Conditions are bound to play right into his hands.

Should the Kiwis go with one specialist spinner, a lot of responsibility will be placed on the shoulders of Ish Sodhi. Will the Indian-born slow bowler crack? Time and circumstances will tell.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results
2013: First Test: Match drawn in Chittagong
2010: One-off Test: New Zealand won by 121 runs in Hamilton
2008: Second Test: Match drawn in Dhaka
2008: First Test: New Zealand won by three wickets in Chittagong
2008: Second Test: New Zealand won by an innings and 137 runs in Wellington

Probable Teams
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque, Marshall Ayub, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim (captain, wicketkeeper), Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Sohag Gazi, Abdur Razzak, Robiul Islam, Rubel Hossain.

New Zealand: Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie, Brendon McCullum (captain), 7 BJ Watling (wicketkeeper), Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner.

Dates: 21 to 25 October
Morning session: 09:30-11:30 (03:30-05:30 GMT)
Afternoon session: 12:10-14:10 (06:10-08:10 GMT)
Evening session: 14:30-16:30 (08:30-10:30 GMT)
On-field umpires: Bruce Oxenford and Ravi Sundaram
Third umpire: Local appointment
Match referee: Javagal Srinath

Sep 042013
Zimbabwe Move Second Test To Harare
Wednesday 4 September 2013 

by John Pennington

Zimbabwe and Pakistan will play the second Test in Harare

REUTERS / Action Images

Zimbabwe will play Pakistan in the second Test of their two-match series that begins next week in Harare.

The build-up to the Pakistan series was disrupted by threats of a player strike over unpaid salaries and Sean Williams refused to play in the opening match.

Harare will therefore play host to both Tests – the first of which is already underway – as the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) looks to cut costs.

Reuters report that logistical reasons were also cited as a reason for not playing the second Test in Bulawayo, adding that Sri Lanka have been asked by Zimbabwe to postpone a scheduled tour later this year.

The Sri Lankans are due to play two Tests, three One-Day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals in October and November.

However, final confirmation that the tour is off has yet to be relayed to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

The second Test against Pakistan begins on 10th September.

© Cricket World 2013

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Fixtures & Results

23rd August: 1st T20I, Harare
PAK 161-5 beat ZIM 136-5 by 25 runs
24th August: 2nd T20I, Harare
PAK 179-1 beat ZIM 160-6 by 19 runs
27th August: 1st ODI, Harare
ZIM 246-3 beat PAK 244-7 by 7 wickets
29th August: 2nd ODI, Harare
PAK 299-4 beat ZIM 209 by 90 runs
31st August: 3rd ODI, Harare
PAK 260-6 beat ZIM 152 by 108 runs

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