Posts Tagged ‘one-day cricket’

The Amazing Anisa Mohammed And Promising Signs For Women’s Cricket

Off-break bowler Anisa Mohammed today starred with career-best figures of seven for 14 as West Indies demolished Pakistan in the final of the Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament. This means that she now has the remarkable figures of 30 wickets at an eyewatering average of 5.3 from her nine matches against Pakistan.

Her form in the competition, along with that of her teammates such as Stefanie Taylor, who was named Player of the Tournament, meant that the West Indies continued their march up the women’s cricket rankings.

However, while the West Indies’ progression has been excellent, it is the performances of the Asian sides in the tournament that will most hearten the ICC. Pakistan reached the final and lost only to the eventual champions, while Bangladesh finished in fifth to secure ninth place in the world rankings and earn ODI status. Sri Lanka also performed admirably in defeating South Africa to take third place.

All of this marks a significant shift in the women’s game which, despite having a relatively long history in Europe, was conspicuous by its absence in Asia. Not so long ago the three countries mentioned above didn’t even field a side, as cultural factors meant that women who played sport were frowned upon. Indeed, around the time of the birth of Pakistan’s national team players faced protests and court action from the government if they tried to play.

All of which makes their performances in this competition all the more remarkable. Credit must be given to the ICC, as well as the players and individual boards themselves, for this transformation in their fortunes; a transformation that is surely a step in the right direction for widening the following of the women’s game.

Do England Need More Subtlety In Their ODI Batting?

Following England’s humiliating series whitewash in India, many disenchanted fans have called for a complete overhaul of England’s ODI plans involving the inclusion of more aggressive batsmen and have pointed to the need for more six-hitters to make use of the powerplays. Indeed, an article on Cricinfo today makes that very point while you only have to read people’s comments on Twitter and other message forums to know that it is a widely held view.

How long before James Taylor gets an extended run in England's ODI side?

However, is this assumption really correct? It is a fact that England actually hit more sixes in the series (14 maximums to India’s 13) than the hosts. It is also true that England’s batsmen are starting to look more and more like musclebound powerlifters with every passing series. Therefore I would argue that less, not more, power is the answer, especially on the suncontinent, to England’s ODI woes.

In fact what they are actually missing is flair; an ingredient that India’s batsmen have in abundance and an essential quality a batsman must have when facing spin in the middle overs. If you stand Kevin Pietersen next to Gautam Gambhir, or Suresh Raina next to Jonny Bairstow, for example you are immediately struck by their difference in body shape. Gambhir and Raina are wiry and relatively slight, whereas Bairstow or Pietersen have forearms that are threatening to tear their shirts apart at the seams, characteristics that are reflected in their batting styles. Whereas Pietersen and Bairstow look to get on the front foot to the spinners and play them straight down the ground, Raina and Gambhir will sit back and use their wrists to manoeuvre the ball and utilise the full 360 degree arc of the playing surface. The muscular aggression displayed by the first two may well work in the world cup in 2015 when it is held on the faster pitches of Australia or New Zealand, but unless their plans change then the seven-match ODI series against India in 2013 is going to be a long one for England fans.

So what can be done? Well I suggest bringing in a couple of players that pride themselves on accumulation rather than power for the next time England tour Asia. In a nutshell, what England really need is a player of the type of Neil Fairbrother, Graham Thorpe or Paul Collingwood.

Those that know me will be unsurprised to learn that one of the players whose inclusion I advocate is James Taylor, the other being Owais Shah, whose dropping from the ODI side after an excellent Champions Trophy has always puzzled me.

While Taylor’s inclusion is a matter of when not if, don’t expect to see Shah any time soon as he – like Samit Patel who was belatedly included and has been successful - is not one that appears to fit Andy Flower’s blueprint of a ‘new England’ player.

What do you think? Do I have a point or should England continue along their power-hitting route? Please let me know in the comments below.

Who Are You Backing To Win Hong Kong Sixes?

With the quarter-finalists now decided, who is your money on to win the Hong Kong Sixes?

The pick of tomorrow’s matches is perhaps the second quarter-final that sees England take on India in the Kowloon heat as the two sides continue to do battle in all forms of international cricket. Tomorrow also sees the Woodworm All Stars – a team made up the biggest names in cricket – do battle against Sri Lanka after they won both of their last two matches to squeeze into the next round. Their opening partnership of Sanath Jayasuriya and Shahid Afridi is surely among the most destructive in world cricket and is worth the admission fee alone.

The other two games see the hosts Hong Kong take on Scotland and dark horse Ireland take on Pakistan. Scotland, in particular, have been impressive so far in the tournament, with their ruthless efficiency seeing them progress at the expense of the more fancied teams, while Pakistan have one of the players of the competition in Umar Akmal in their ranks.

Whatever happens tomorrow it is sure to be a spectacular and exciting exhibition of hitting.

See a round-up of today’s action here.

A Trott Or A Gallop?

There is no doubt about it. England have been pathetic so far in their ODI series against India. Many reasons have been mooted by the media for their poor performances, from player burnout to hostile conditions, from flat pitches to Jonathan Trott.

Yes, that’s right, England’s leading batsman over the past two years has been blamed, castigated even in certain quarters, for his side’s 3-0 deficit with many suggesting he should be dropped for ‘slow scoring’. I have to confess I was one of those voices and was going to write a column presenting the case for the axe – until I looked for some stats to back up my case. And found none.

I began by looking up the career strike rates for all of the number three batsmen from the main ODI-playing nations and found that, almost without exception, they were close to Trott’s figure of 78.58. Kumar Sangakkara’s was 75.50, Ricky Ponting’s was 80.60 and Jacques Kallis and Asad Shafiq were around the same mark. Gautam Gambhir’s was the only one significantly higher at 86.70, but I think we would all agree that messrs Kallis, Sangakkara and Ponting are exalted company for Trott to be in and will go down in history as some of the greatest number threes.
Undettered, I decided that as that heralded trio had begun their careers many aeons ago and scoring rates have since increased dramatically, then the early parts of their careers must be skewing their overall strike rates. With this in mind, I set about looking up the figures for the past 12 months and found that while their strike rates had risen by a couple of points from those early days, with Sangakkara’s now 77.25 and Ponting’s now 83.33, it was only negligible and was still around Trott’s 80 mark. Again only Gambhir was way ahead with an SR of 95.01.

RARE: Trott hits a six! Credit: REUTERS/Action Images

By this point, I was puzzled, but suddenly remembered another criticism of Trott’s: namely that he didn’t increase his scoring rate throughout his innings and was very one-paced in his approach. So I devised a suitable test – what was his SR in innings where he had made 50 or more – and compared him to the rest again. Once again he came out well as, to my surprise, the strike rates didn’t really change from their overall ones – so much for the perceived wisdom of upping the rate throughout the innings!

By this time I was completely stumped, but fortunately stumbled across a possible solution. Trott hardly hits any sixes. In the past 12 months he has hit an average of 0.08 sixes per match, compared to Ponting’s 0.31 and Sangakkara’s 0.39. Perhaps because of this he had earnt for himself the perception of being a blocker, whereas Ponting and Sangakkara got away with it because they cleared the ropes. To back this up I looked at Gambhir’s ratio, who despite his epic strike rate is not really seen as one of India’s dashers, and was amazed to find it lower than Trott’s at 0.05 maximums per match – hence his perception of being more of a tortoise than a hare.

All of which means, in conclusion, that I must admit my gut instincts with regards to Mr. Trott were wrong. His strike rate is up there with the big boys and his average is even better. Just beacause he isn’t going to empty many bars – and I still won’t enjoy watching him bat – doesn’t mean he isn’t worth his place in the side.

Jonathan, please forgive me for doubting you!

What do you think? Do you agree that Trott’s slow-scoring is down to perception alone, or has the author overlooked a crucial counter argument? Please let us know in the comments below.

India Set Up World Cup Final Clash With Sri Lanka

It might not have been a classic cricket World Cup semi-final, but India did enough to beat arch-rivals Pakistan and set up a final with Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Sachin Tendulkar was dropped no fewer than four times and survived a close stumping appeal on his way to 85 before both teams’ middle orders rather lost their way – Wahab Riaz’s five-wicket haul inspiring a mini-collapse and Pakistan’s engine room failing to click into gear until the game was all but over.

India-Pakistan clashes are typically nervy affairs and this one proved to be no exception. Umar Gul, usually reliable, lost his line and length early on and was savaged by Virender Sehwag, who in turn inexplicably missed a straight ball.

Younus Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq – two of Pakistan’s most experienced cricketers, and two who usually save their best for matches against India – then dropped simple chances to offer Tendulkar further chances.

He eventually fell 15 short of a century having played far from his best innings before Riaz rose to the occasion in style, returning five for 46 and picking the perfect stage to return a career-best performance.

His efforts, were in vain however, as despite a fast start from Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan fell away dramatically, and once Hafeez was dismissed – to an uncharacteristically bad shot – India were always likely to close out the game.

Yuvraj Singh registered just the second golden duck of his ODI career but struck twice with the ball in quick succession to further pin Pakistan down and the look of shock on Umar Akmal’s face when he was bowled by Harbhajan Singh left little to the imagination.

Pakistan were perhaps stunned by their own inability to cope with the situation of playing India in a World Cup (five times they have played, five times they have lost now) in front of 40,000 screaming fans in Mohali.

In the eyes of many Pakistan fans, Misbah is the main culprit for the defeat. His 56 in 76 balls was a valiant effort, but he hardly played an attacking stroke before the required run rate had shot up to 12 an over and he was left with the tail-enders.

In his defence, he would not be expected to take on the role of the aggressor while Akmal, Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq were at the crease. Their failures to go on and make big scores quickly merely increased the pressure on him.

Had he been unbeaten on 40 and one of those players had have smashed 50 in 35 balls then he would be a hero. Yesterday was India’s day and therefore Misbah was cast as villain.

Now India take on Sri Lanka on Saturday with both teams bidding for a second World Cup triumph and Mahendra Singh Dhoni looking to complete a full house – he has already led India to the number one spot in the Test rankings and the ICC World Twenty20 title in 2007, as well as guiding the Chennai Super Kings to both Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 glory.

Yuvraj Inspires India – Now For Clash With Pakistan

India answered a lot of searching questions during the course of their five-wicket win over Australia in their World Cup quarter-final in Ahmedabad. The majority of the 42,000 fans in the stadium went away happy with what they had seen and for the first time in 15 years, an Australian captain will not be lifting the World Cup trophy.

Going into the match, many questioned India’s temperament – did they have what it takes to beat Australia in a match that really mattered in the latter stages of a competition? They proved they did thanks to an outstanding bowling, fielding and batting display.

Led by Yuvraj Singh’s unbeaten 57 and brace of wickets, the only blemish was the mix-up which saw Gautam Gambhir run out; but Yuvraj made sure that he was there at the end to see the game through.

We also questioned whether India’s batsmen could cope with the extreme pace offered by Australia’s bowling attack – Shaun Tait, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson – but they dealt with the challenge admirably. And Sachin Tendulkar shone through once again, his half-century taking him past the mark of 18,000 One-Day International runs. It is surely inconceivable that anyone will ever score that many again.

A word for Ricky Ponting, who came into the game in no sort of form and under intense pressure – not something he has become unused to following the recent dip in his side’s performances – only to produce a fine century.

Although he was able to deliver when his country needed it most, few of his colleagues, with the honourable exceptions of Brad Haddin and David Hussey, were also able to weigh in, resulting in Australia setting India a target that they always knew, provided they didn’t lose wickets in the way they have been throughout the tournament, would be attainable.

Yuvraj, on the other hand, in and out of the side in the last 12 months, has come into form at just the right moment. He has now scored 341 runs in the tournament, with a century and four half-centuries to his name. He averages the small matter of 113.66 and has also taken 11 wickets at 24.63 including a maiden five-wicket haul against Ireland.

What we now have in store is the match-up that many cricket fans will have been dreaming of as India and Pakistan meet in what promises to be an unmissable semi-final in Mohali on 30th March.

Yuvraj has an excellent record against Pakistan and India have never lost a 50-over match in a World Cup against their arch-rivals. However, Pakistan showed how strong they were with a ruthless demolition job against the West Indies in the opening quarter-final having finished on top of a competitive Group A.

They do have recent history of beating India in Mohali and have already gone way further in the tournament than they did in both 2003 and 2007. Aiming for a repeat of 1992, when they won, and 1999 when they reached the final, they will need their own talisman – Shahid Afridi – to inspire them as Yuvray has been inspiring India thus far.

As far as predictions go – as Chetan Narula says during his latest Cricket World @ The World Cup podcast, it will come down to who handles the pressure and the situation the best on the day.

One thing is for sure – it is a game nobody can afford to miss.

What Do You Make Of Pakistan?

Mercurial. Pathetic. Inconsistent. Just some of the adjectives being used to describe Pakistan’s performance at the Cricket World Cup. And that’s just from a few posts on our forum.

Particularly galling for Pakistan fans was the way in which they succumbed to a 110-run defeat at the hands of New Zealand, which followed a win over Canada and an impressive 11-run success against Sri Lanka.

Ross Taylor played a blinder, smashing 131 not out in 124 balls but he had been gifted two birthday presents when wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal dropped him twice when he had yet to reach double figures.

At the highest level, teams cannot afford to carry players whose skill in one discipline is not up to scratch and increasingly, Akmal’s glovework is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Pakistan have, in the last year used five wicket-keepers – Kamran, his brothers Umar and Adnan as well as Zulqarnain Haider and Sarfraz Ahmed, but for the moment, Kamran appears to be the man in favour, if not the man in form.

If he was performing with the bat then he might be forgiven a few fumbles but, like Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad at the top of the order, is having a bad tournament.

There are only so many times that experienced hands Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan can get their side out of trouble.

The role of Abdul Razzaq in the side has also been questioned in some quarters. Not seen as quick enough to open the bowling, and nor, if Taylor’s assault is anything to go by, an option at the end of an innings, is he wasted at number eight in the order?

He was the only player who showed much resilience with the bat against New Zealand although Pakistan will point to innings he has played against England and South Africa in recent memory where coming in low down he turned matches around in style.

That can’t happen every game and although captain Shahid Afridi has been impressive with the ball, he too is struggling with the bat. Might he too benefit from moving down the order.

Perhaps a solution might be to shift Abdul Razzaq up the order to number three, replacing one of the misfiring openers – probably Shahzad given that Hafeez is a handy off-spin option – and bring in another bowler?

We must not forget that is still a team in transition, following the loss of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir to suspension and the non-selection of Mohammad Yousuf, but, as seems so often to be the case with Pakistan, there are more questions than answers following their latest performance.

Do you have any answers? Will they confound their critics by bouncing back to even go as far as the final? Or will they run out of luck and crash out at the quarter-final stage?

A Topsy-Turvy Cricket World Cup Week

It’s been a topsy-turvy few days at the Cricket World Cup 2011. We’ve seen Ireland topple England to register the tournament’s first upset, Canada push Pakistan hard before the West Indies dismissed Bangladesh for just 58 in a match that we expected to be a lot closer.

Bangladesh’s fans partied after their own victory against Ireland as if they had won the World Cup but their mood changed following the West Indies match and reports emerged that they had thrown stones at the West Indies team bus, breaking a window.

They thought they were attacking their countrymen, so lauded a few days earlier for a hard-fought 27-run win against a team that would go on and down England in fine style.

Kevin O’Brien’s 50-ball century and innings of 113 in 63 balls will live long in the memory of all who saw it as he helped his side recover from a precarious position of 111 for five chasing 328 to see his team over line with balls to spare.

He may never play as well again, but he helped Ireland write their own piece of World Cup history with the highest run chase ever achieved.

England, who are chasing an unlikely hat-trick of Ashes, ICC World Twenty20 and World Cup success, have some serious questions to answer having conceded, on average, more than 300 runs in each of their matches so far.

They were almost turned over by the Netherlands, escaped with a tie against an Indian side that has similar bowling issues and finally embarrassed by Ireland, who were completely deserving victors and good value for their victory.

Ireland’s win did the campaign to keep the Associate and Affiliate nations out of the World Cup no favours either. However, with the skills they showed in Bangalore, don’t rule out Ireland making big impacts in future ICC World Twenty20 events.

Following the excitement of the England-Ireland game, we unfortunately had to sit through some one-sided games – New Zealand thumping Zimbabwe and South Africa hammering the Netherlands but a plucky Canada showed plenty of grit and determination to bowl them out for 184.

They were therefore very much in the game but their hopes were extinguished by another fine performance in the field – led by the (other) man-of-the-moment Shahid Afridi, who took his second five-wicket haul.

Finally, if Bangladesh’s disappointing loss at the hands of the West Indies proved anything, it is that even a match between two Test-playing nations can end up being dreadfully one-sided.

That is the beauty of sport – the underdog will have its day but on others, evenly-match teams can produce games that don’t live up to their billing.

Back in August, New Zealand beat India by 200 runs in a One-Day International. Was anyone then claiming that India shouldn’t be playing ODI cricket?

World Cup 2011 Hat-Tricks And Batting Feats

There have been only seven instances of a bowler taking a World Cup hat-trick, but two of those came within 24 hours of each other when quick men Kemar Roach and Lasith Malinga both achieved the feat in Delhi and Colombo respectively.

West Indian Roach took six for 27, ending his side’s game against the Netherlands with three in three while Sri Lankan Malinga then returned six for 38 to hustle out Kenya’s lower order with a series of deliveries that would have tested any batting line-up, let alone the beleaguered African side’s.

Remarkably, Malinga’s feat means he has now taken two World Cup hat-tricks – prior to Roach he was the previous man to take a hat-trick when he memorably knocked over four South Africans in four balls in Guyana in 2007. On that occasion, just as against Kenya, the hat-trick was spread over separate overs but unlike in Colombo, Sri Lanka still couldn’t quite force victory in Guyana with Robin Peterson hitting the winning runs.

In his joy at getting South Africa out of a tight spot, his celebrations included him hitting the stumps with his bat, an action repeated by Tim Bresnan – but for different reasons after he was dismissed – for England against India. He had bowled beautifully earlier in the day, taking the tournament’s second five-wicket haul (Shahid Afridi having managed the first).

He then slipped from second to fourth on the list of best bowling analyses with Roach and Malinga cottoning on to the blueprint of how to bowl fast and take wickets on unresponsive, slow subcontinental wickets. They bowled straight and full and got stunning rewards and it will be fascinating to see whether other bowlers will now follow suit.

The likes of James Anderson and Dale Steyn, who traditionally rely on movement through the air and off the pitch, for example, will have to mix things up and change their lengths if they are to succeed.

And one final point – Jonathan Trott has just equalled the record of Kevin Pietersen and Sir Vivian Richards in needing just 21 innings to reach 1000 One-Day International runs. His international record is outstanding and, just like Michael Hussey, Graeme Swann and Andy McKay, he is further proof that sometimes, taking your international bow once you know your own game inside out is the best way to go.

There will always be exceptions to that particular ‘rule’ – Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Clarke and Steven Finn to name just three – but like everything in cricket, it’s about finding the right balance.

What Can We Expect From The Opening World Cup Games?

Just hours away from the opening ceremony now and excitement levels ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 are being ramped up to a very high level. Although the opening stage of the tournament is set to pit a number of highly-ranked sides against the lower-ranked associate nations, there are some potentially interesting match-ups early on.

The first game of the competition sees Bangladesh play India. While India are the overwhelming favourites to win the game, Bangladesh famously beat them in 2007 and dumped them out of the competition, so India will be taking nothing for granted.

Then we have New Zealand against Kenya – although New Zealand enter the tournament with little in the way of form, they should be too strong for Kenya, an outfit far removed from the team that reached the semi-finals in 2003.

Sri Lanka, who many are tipping for overall glory, then meet Canada and although the Canadians gave England a serious fright in a warm-up game, with home advantage, and coming off the back of a winning run, Sri Lanka should boss the game and take some early points.

Australia then play Zimbabwe and although the four-time champions aren’t playing at their best at the moment, undoubtedly missing Mike Hussey in the middle order, neither are a Zimbabwe side that has been badly hit by injuries. They stand a chance if their big players – Brendan Taylor, Tatenda Taibu and Elton Chigumbura – all fire with the bat but Australia should be too strong.

England will be wary of their opening match against the Netherlands following their embarrasment at the hands of the men in orange in the opening match of the 2009 ICC World Twenty20. It would be an even bigger upset if the Dutch beat them over 50 overs but they do have recent victories over Bangladesh and Kenya under their belt so will be nothing if not confident going into the encounter.

Despite the six-week competition being yet to get underway, we’d like you to make your predictions – who do you think will win the tournament overall? Check out what Cricket World’s John Pennington and Jim White think below – and then leave us your views.