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Posts Tagged ‘mahendra dhoni’

Rahul Dravid is set to return to One Day International cricket after being included in India’s squad for the upcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka and the autumn’s Champions Trophy. Although Dravid hasn’t played an ODI since 2007, his performances in this year’s IPL and the relative weakness of India’s middle order in the World Twenty20 have encouraged the selectors to bring back ‘The Wall’ in place of Rohit Sharma.

Sachin Tendulkar also returns to the side after sitting out the ODI series against the West Indies, but Virender Sehwag is still out with the shoulder injury that caused him to miss out on the World Twenty20.

The squad in full is: MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh,Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, RP Singh, Amit Mishra, Dinesh Karthik, and Abhishek Nayar.

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India looked to be up against it when they needed 34 from the last four overs (and even when they needed 11 from the final over) in yesterday’s Third ODI against the West Indies, but their captain stepped up to ease them home:

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India evidently used up all their runs in the First ODI against the West Indies, as they only managed 188 at the same ground as they slumped to defeat in the second match. Of the 188, 95 were made by Dhoni, sharing a century partnership with RP Singh to rescue the tourists from the depths of 82/8. For the hosts, the bowlers ran riot, with Ravi Rampaul’s 4-37 doing a large chunk of the damage.

Chasing down such a meagre total was child’s play for the Windies, with the tourists cruising to victory with nearly 16 full overs to spare. Runako Morton made 85 not out and Gayle blasted 64 from 46 balls as the hosts levelled the series at the halfway stage with surprising ease.

The best and worst of India has been on display already in this series, and it is only two matches old. Meanwhile, the West Indian bowlers may just be starting to get going.

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After the sugary delights of the World Twenty20, it’s back to the slightly more balanced diet of 50-over cricket for the West Indies and India with the four-match ODI series which starts tomorrow at Sabina Park.

The tourists have been hit by injury (Sehwag, Raina) as well as the desire to give some key players (Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan) a rest, but a ‘weak’ Indian side still contains the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Ishant Sharma and Gambhir. Whilst their performance at the World Twenty20 was a disappointment, a disappointed India often bounce back strongly, and the inclusion of fresh faces may well prove to be the catalyst for a revival of their fortunes. Dhoni, as ever, will be key.

For the West Indies, an encouraging home Test series (at least in terms of results, the WICB‘s reputation took a bit of a beating) against England was followed up with a seemingly jaded performance against the same side away from home, and the contrast between the Chris Gayle who grumbled and griped his way thought that series and his swashbuckling Twenty20 alter-ego was vivid. The Windies will be hoping that they have the latter at their disposal for the next couple of weeks, as well as his partner-in-boundaries Dwayne Bravo (who is joined by brother Darren in the West Indies side for the first time). Sulieman Benn is also likely to have to play at his best, as he will face a tough examination of his bowling from the side who are traditionally considered the best in the world at playing spin.

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India’s squad for their upcoming tour of the Caribbean makes interesting reading. In the absence of Sehwag and Raina (injured), Tendulkar and Zaheer (rested), and Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathan (dropped), there are one or two names that require a little mental exploration before recognition is achieved.

Ashish Nehra hasn’t played for India since 2005, and Abhishek Nayar, is, I must confess, a mystery to me – although he has made an impression on some, and his 99 in the Ranji Trophy final (as well as his IPL experience) marks him out as someone to keep any eye out for.

Ravindra Jadeja is also a relative newcomer to the full Indian side, having only played a single ODI, but he has impressed in the past for the Under-19 side, and featured in the World Twenty20 side.

The squad in full is as follows: MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Yusuf Pathan, Murali Vijay, Subramaniam  Badrinath, RP Singh, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Abhishek Nayar, Ashish Nehra, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik.

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The ICC World Twenty20 gets underway from Friday. Here’s part one of my preview:

India, the defending champions, will face high expectations after emerging triumphant from the thrilling finale last time out.  The intervening years have of course seen the development of the Indian Premier League, a competition that means India’s players have a wealth of Twenty20 experience (although the national side has only played five T20 Internationals since the last competition, winning only one). Twenty20 superstars such as MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh will certainly strengthen the holders’ chances of retaining the title.

Bangladesh caused a minor shock last time out when they beat the West Indies to make the Super Eight, and hopes will be high that they can reach that stage again. The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib Al Hasan are potential match-winners, but no Bangladeshi player has yet set the IPL alight, and any progression beyond the last eight seems unlikely for the Tigers.

Ireland qualified for the tournament mainly thanks to an impressive performance from Andre Botha. The side will, however, be missing a key player of recent years in Eoin Morgan, who has been called into England’s squad for the tournament.  A surprise result against Bangladesh could see the Irish sneak into the Super Eight (much as they did in the last 50-over World Cup), but on balance the current side (especially without Morgan) may be hard-pressed to repeat the heroics of 2007.

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The second season of the IPL (or the first season of the SAPL, if you prefer) gets underway this weekend, so here’s the lowdown on the teams taking part:

Bangalore Royal Challengers
Bangalore’s main pre-season activity was the purchase of Kevin Pietersen and KP will join a host of his fellow countrymen in Kallis, Steyn and Boucher. Last year the Royal Challengers finished seventh of eight teams, with only 4 wins, and Rahul Dravid didn’t look much of a Twenty20 batsman last time out, so it is to be hoped that the signing of Pietersen and the availability of Nathan Bracken following injury last year will improve things.

Zaheer Khan has departed to the Mumbai Indians in a swap deal for Robin Uthappa, but Steyn and Bracken – when available – should be enough to keep the bowling up to standard. Nevertheless, the Royal Challengers are unlikely to be amongst the favourites for the competition this year (although as Rajasthan showed last year, the odds may not be a fair indicator of each team’s relative chances).

Chennai Super Kings
Initial indications are that Chennai look strong again this year. Matthew Hayden’s retirement from international cricket means he is available for the whole competition, and new signing Andrew Flintoff, if fit, could potentially be the archetypal IPL all-rounder. In addition, MS Dhoni remains a potent threat.

Last season, the Super Kings lost out to Rajasthan in the final on the last ball, and the squad looks good enough to go one better this time around if fortune (and fitness) favours the Super Kings.

Delhi Daredevils
Dehli have been hit by the loss of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Asif, but have added Australian master blaster David Warner and English duo Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah. Perhaps most important of their new additions is ‘Dirty’ Dirk Nannes, a Twenty20 specialist who has been part of successful Middlesex and Victoria teams in the shortest form of the game.

Dehli also have the likes of Sehwag, Gambhir, Vettori, de Villiers and McGrath at their disposal, so if the Daredevils can get the make-up of their side right, they have a strong chance of success. The fact that most of their overseas stars will be available throughout may lead to the odd selection problem, but they will be problems of the sort that other franchises would like to have.

Deccan Chargers
Last year’s wooden-spoon winners in dead last place, the Chargers suffered heavily in the batting department as Shahid Afridi, Scott Styris and even Herschelle Gibbs failed to live up to expectations. he has been recalled, and they have a preponderance of all-rounders having also added Dwayne Smith and Ryan Harris.

RP Singh is also under pressure after a disappointing season last year, as is Chaminda Vaas, and Fidel Edwards’s arrival should improve the effectiveness of the bowling unit. In all, there is some hope for a better performance this year, although it would be hard for the Chargers to do any worse.

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In these troubled and unpredictable times, it’s comforting to have some constant, reliable events to fall back on: Liverpool being drawn against Chelsea in the Champions League, England being rubbish at Twenty20 cricket, and Sachin Tendulkar scoring centuries.

Sachin’s latest against New Zealand was his 42nd in Test cricket, and his 85th in international cricket overall. Enjoy the highlights of his partnership with MS Dhoni below.

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England were looking a little wobbly in their second innings of Second Test at 43/3, but arguably the two least glamourous batsmen in England’s lineup put them back on track. Strauss and Collingwood, neither of them what you might call marquee players, put on an unbroken partnership of 129 runs to leave the tourists with a 247-run lead, 7 second-innings wickets in hand, and two whole days of play left.

Strauss in particular seems to have rediscovered his best form – he now has nearly 200 runs in the match, which is remarkable given his relative lack of preparation. Collingwood, under pressure from Shah for his place in the side, slipped somewhat under India’s radar to make a solid 60 not out. If the two of them can stay there for a period tomorrow morning, the hosts could find themselves with a very large target to chase.

Earlier in the day, India had been dismissed for 241, 75 runs short of England’s first innings total. Flintoff and Panesar both finished with three wickets as only Dhoni and Harbhajan offered any real resistance, putting on 75 for the 7th wicket.

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After a grinding third day when a mere 166 runs were scored, the Fourth Test between India and Australia exploded into life on the fourth day.

It ended with Australia needing another 369 to win and square the series, and the target could have been much lower were it not for some ‘interesting’ tactics from Ricky Ponting.

Earlier in the day, India’s middle order collapsed (after the openers had made a good start – you can see footage of the opening session here) handing the tourists the initiative. Ponting, however, made the decision to up the over-rate by using part-time bowlers, allowing Dhoni and Harbhajan to battle their way to a century partnership.

369 runs on a fifth-day Indian pitch is a huge challenge, but if there’s a side in the world that can do it, it’s Australia.

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Anil Kumble has bowled in a Test match for the final time (see his final over here), more than 18 years after doing do for the first time. His retirement comes at a convenient time for India, with MS Dhoni and Amit Mishra seemingly ready to take over his captaincy and bowling commitments respectively, and questions being raised about his place in the team.

Kumble’s inestimable contribution to Indian cricket will be well remembered, and feats such as his 10 wickets in a single innings against Pakistan will be part of the sport’s folklore for years to come.

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Gambhir and Laxman both scored double tons for India against Australia, and both were special: Gambhir’s effort showed real maturity from the new Sehwag, whilst Very Very Special‘s was very, very special.

Meanwhile, Australia toiled in the field until India declared, with Brett Lee finishing the innings with figures of 1-119 and even Ponting bowling a couple of overs himself.

Things do not bode well for the tourists.

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