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Tri-series rivals set sights on Champions Trophy

September 7, 2009 Leave a comment

India, Sri Lanka and New Zealand hope to put in impressive performances in a tri-series starting here on Tuesday to boost confidence ahead of the Champions Trophy.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s India side start as favourites despite missing injured opener Virender Sehwag and paceman Zaheer Khan, having beaten both New Zealand and Sri Lanka in their own backyards in their last one-day series.

India are seeking a hat-trick of wins in Sri Lanka after clinching a pair of bilateral five-match series in August 2008 and in February this year.

Each team will play two league matches before the top two qualify for the final on September 14. The hosts clash with New Zealand in Tuesday’s opening game.

Sri Lanka’s record-breaking Muttiah Muralitharan believes the series will help the teams prepare for the eight-nation Champions Trophy which opens in South Africa on September 22.

“The tri-series will be good preparation for the upcoming Champions Trophy,” said the off-spinner who is the world’s leading wicket-taker in Tests (783) and one-day internationals (511).

“New Zealand have shown in the past few days how much more dangerous they are in the shorter version, winning both Twenty20 matches, and India have happy memories of Sri Lanka after two series wins here in the last 13 months.

“It will be a great test for the Sri Lankan team.”

Daniel Vettori’s New Zealanders salvaged some of their reputation when they stunned the hosts in two Twenty20 internationals last week after being whitewashed in the preceding two-Test series.

“The guys will take a lot of confidence from that,” Vettori said after his team’s Twenty20 success.

“They can take that into the one-dayers. For us, to make the final will be a great stepping stone for the Champions Trophy.”

Focus will be on Indian batsman Rahul Dravid and New Zealand paceman Shane Bond, returning to one-day sides after playing their last match in 2007.

Bond, 34, became eligible to play after severing links with the unauthorised Indian Cricket League, while Dravid, 36, was recalled ahead of India’s busy international schedule for his wealth of experience.

Vettori was impressed with Bond’s form in the Twenty20 matches in Colombo where the fast bowler bagged three crucial wickets.

“It’s great for him to start the way he has and I think he’ll get better and better,” said Vettori.

“He looks confident and when Shane is confident, he’s really a good bowler. I think we’ll see more of that as the one-day series goes on.”

Dravid got the selectors’ nod after a couple of younger batsmen failed to cope with short-pitched deliveries in the World Twenty20 in England in June.

He is only the second Indian after Sachin Tendulkar in the current team to have completed 10,000 one-day runs.

India’s South African coach Gary Kirsten welcomed Dravid’s return.

“It’s good to have him back,” Kirsten said recently. “He is a very experienced player and adds massive value to the team. He is a natural performer.”

India will play New Zealand on Friday and take on Sri Lanka on Saturday in back-to-back matches.

Dutch stun England

June 5, 2009 1 comment

Edgar Schiferli (5 not out) and Ryan ten Doeschate (22 not out) scampered through for an over-throw for the second run needed off the last ball to give Dutch cricket its finest moment.

Tom de Grooth’s 49 off 30 balls led the way for the Netherlands but it was a fine all-round display from the Associate nation to shock the hosts.

England’s 162-5 had been underpinned by an outstanding knock of 71 off 49 balls by Luke Wright but it was not to be quite enough.

Alexei Kervezee (1) fell in the first over of the run-chase when he pulled James Anderson to Stuart Broad at mid-on.

Darron Reekers (20 off 13 balls) gave the Dutch a boost in the next over when he pulled Ryan Sidebottom for a huge six, much to the delight of those in the stands decked out in orange.

Reekers then repeated the trick off Anderson in the next over – this time flatter and over square leg.

The New Zealand-born batsman chanced his arm once too often in the next over, the first from Broad, when another pull shot lobbed up to Owais Shah, who took a comfortable catch at midwicket.

De Grooth brought up the 50 in emphatic style at the end of the sixth over when he thumped Broad into the pavilion for six.

The right-hander greeted Adil Rashid’s second ball with a reverse-sweep to the boundary as the Dutch continued to threaten a major surprise.

Rashid struck an important blow in his next over when he spun a leg-break past the bat of the advancing Bas Zuiderent (12) and James Foster effected a neat stumping. The Dutch then picked up another 13 off the remainder of the over to show their setback was only temporary.

At the halfway point the batting side were two ahead of England at the same point, needing 72 off the last 10 overs.

Peter Borren (30 off 25 balls) brought the required rate down to close to a run-a-ball when he thumped Paul Collingwood over midwicket for his second six. The England skipper did claim a key wicket at the end of the over, however, when he removed de Grooth one short of his 50.

The fourth-wicket partnership totalled exactly 50 off 30 balls.

Next man ten Doeschate played a scintillating cut to the third man boundary off Rashid to help bring the equation down to 35 off the last 5 overs.

Borren should have been run out on 28 but a poor throw from Collingwood made life difficult for Foster, who failed to take the ball with the batsman well out of his crease. The right-hander did fall in the same over, however, when he top-edged a pull to Shah at short third-man.

Twenty one were needed off 18 balls but then Anderson bowled an excellent 18th over – during which he conceded just four runs and claimed the wicket of Daan van Bunge (8), caught by Wright on the cover boundary.

Rashid missed the chance to run out ten Doeschate in the penultimate over and he was made to rue the error when the batsman hit the next ball for four, via Wright’s outstretched hands as he attempted a miraculous catch on the boundary.

Seven were then needed off the last over, bowled by Broad, and what proceeded deserves telling in full.

The fast bowler should have run out ten Doeschate off his first delivery when he missed from close range as the batting pair attempted a quick single.

History then repeated itself when Schiferli made a desperate dive for the crease as the bowler knocked down the stumps. Replays showed that Broad had dropped the ball and cleaned out the stumps with his hand.

A caught and bowled chance then went begging next ball off ten Doeschate as one run was taken. Yet another scrambled single was achieved from the next delivery and then ten Doeschate took one more to leave Schiferli needing two to win off the last ball, which was achieved in the most dramatic of fashions.

Wright and Ravi Bopara had earlier got the hosts off to flying start by racking up a century stand by the end of the 11th over.

Thereafter, however, wickets fell at regular intervals as the Dutch fought back strongly.

Persistent rain during the afternoon had necessitated the opening ceremony to be cancelled but no overs were lost from the match despite play starting 20 minutes later than the scheduled 5.30pm start.

England suffered a blow ahead of the match when star batsman Kevin Pietersen was ruled out by a recurrence of his Achilles problem.

Bopara got the tournament, and his side, off to a flyer by slicing the first ball from Dirk Nannes over Bas Zuiderent at backward point for four and then driving the other side of the fielder for another boundary two balls later.

England’s 50 came up off 39 balls and the 100 came up 32 balls later when Wright slapped a full-toss from Borren to the long-on boundary.

Bopara (46 off 34 balls) fell in the next over when he pulled a ten Doeschate slower ball to wide midwicket and Pieter Seelaar nicely judged a steepling catch. It may not have been a wicket to the slow left-armer but it still enabled Seelaar to indulge his ‘penguin’ celebration.

Shah (5) followed soon after when he flicked to Kervezee at deep backward square leg off Schiferli.

Eoin Morgan (6) was the next to go when he reverse-swept Borren � off another slower ball – to Bas Zuiderent at short third-man.

Seelaar put down a very sharp return catch with Wright on 66 as the attempted late onslaught was led by the opener.

Wright finally went in the next over, however, when he holed out to Borren at midwicket off ten Doeschate.

England skipper Collingwood (11) was the last batsman to go when he chipped a full delivery from Seelaar down the throat of long-on.

That was not to be the end of the England skipper’s despair.