Saturday, January 29, 2011

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Friday, January 28, 2011

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Pennetta and Dulko win maiden Slam title

Staring down the barrel of almost certain defeat, Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta staged a remarkable comeback to claim their first major doubles crown as a team and validate their top seeding.
In their first Grand Slam doubles final, the Argentine-Italian duo found themselves trailing 2-6, 1-4 against No.12 seeds Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko, before drawing on their vast reserves of experience and confidence to storm back and claim a memorable 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory.
Speaking after the match, the pair said that their response to finding themselves so far behind was to simply try to extend the match as long as possible. "We were like in shock. I think a set and 4 1 down, in the changeover, we were like looking each other and saying, C'mon, we play less than an hour. We cannot finish the match playing less than an hour in the final," Dulko said.
"We just tried to went for it, don't try to wait for them, try to play more aggressive. Because I think till this moment we couldn't find a good way to play, to win the match. So we just keep fighting and trying."
It was a glamorous match up, and the tennis proved highly entertaining as well. Women's doubles has progressively gone the way of its singles counterpart and is now played predominantly from the baseline, but today it was refreshing to see the four women willing to attack the net and employ tried-and-true doubles tactics throughout the two hour and 11 minute match.
Games went on serve early in breezy conditions on Rod Laver Arena, and it looked like the top seeds would draw first blood, moving ahead 0-30 in the fifth game after Pennetta cracked a forehand return winner down the line. But the less-experienced combination proved resilient, eventually holding serve before embarking on a tear that reaped three consecutive games.
This run was sparked by a crucial point in the sixth game. Azarenka and Kirilenko came out on top of a searching rally - characterised by a series of lobs which forced players to repeatedly switch sides - which Azarenka ended with a short, wickedly sliced backhand that stopped dead. Kirilenko applauded her partner, recognising the artful shot as well as the significance of the moment. The pair would go on to break serve on their way to claiming the opening set in 34 minutes.
Dulko and Pennetta weren't playing badly - they had just come up against a pair that was doing everything better. Azarenka and Kirilenko had more firepower off the ground, were ending points more effectively at net with crisp volleys and powerful overheads, and kept the No.1 seeds under constant pressure.
Despite having never played in a Grand Slam tournament together, Azarenka and Kirilenko maintained their superior form in the second set. Dulko and Pennetta broke serve in the opening game, but Azarenka and Kirilenko broke straight back and surged to a 4-1 lead thanks to some formidable net play.
The top seeds were in dire straits, and desperately needed something to change. After holding serve to remain alive, there was a glimmer of hope when Dulko volleyed a winner after a lengthy rally to help the No.1 seeds break back for 3-4. The top seeds sensed a momentum shift, and showed steely resolve to recover from 0-30 down in the eighth game, forcing two errors from their opponents and playing some excellent tennis at net to level at 4-4.
Despite the No.12 seeds holding serve in the ninth game to remain ahead, Dulko and Pennetta were now hitting more freely and taking advantage of increasingly tense play from their opponents, and they eventually took the second set.
Now with a ton of momentum, the No.1 seeds were not going to blow their chance at snaring a maiden Grand Slam crown. Playing a more cohesive, error-free brand of tennis, they punished short balls and benefitted from Kirilenko and Azarenka's increasing error count.
Azarenka was the main culprit - her exemplary volleying technique disappeared out the window as she repeatedly fluffed points at the net. At one stage she crouched on the court after a missed backhand volley, looking completely shattered after yet another point had slipped away. The wheels had fallen off.
Pennetta sympathised for her opponents - and Azarenka in particular - admitting it was tough to stay positive after letting a big lead slip. "When you have the chance, you have a ball for 5 1, it's almost finished, then you're starting the third set, it's like really tough to come back in the game," she said.
"I think maybe she (Azarenka) start to be a little bit more, you know, nervous and to miss more balls than in the beginning. I think they play very good in the first set ... But I think most important for us that we keep fighting. In the end we believe we can turn the match, so it was good."
From there the No.1 seeds did not ease up, celebrating ecstatically after another error from the No.12 seeds put an end to the compelling contest.
Today's victory iced a stellar 12 months for Dulko and Pennetta. They finished 2010 as the top-ranked doubles team thanks to seven titles from nine finals, and at one stage compiled a 17-match winning streak. They first played together in 2006.
"Last year we played so well," Pennetta said. "We won The Championships, so many good tournaments, but we didn't make any (major) final or we didn't win any Grand Slam. So we start really well to here and I hope to do the same thing in the next one."


Eden Gardens loses India-England fixture

In a major embarrassment to the BCCI, the ICC has ruled out Eden Gardens as the host of the game between India and England on February 27. The ICC's inspection team, which included some of the leading experts in the field of stadium and ground preparation, felt that Eden Gardens would not be ready in time. No alternate venue for the match has yet been named. The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and the three World Cup stadiums in Sri Lanka were all given the go-ahead by the ICC.
"Regrettably, Eden Gardens has not made sufficient progress to justify the level of confidence required to confirm that the venue would be ready in good time," Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said. "This was no easy decision to take and while it is most unfortunate, it is absolutely necessary." The Cricket Association of Bengal is having an emergency meeting to discuss the development.
Kolkata was to host three other matches in the World Cup, but the status of those games is still unclear. "At this stage no decision has been taken on those matches," an ICC spokesperson said. The India-England clash was the only chance for fans in Kolkata to see the home side.
BCCI president Shashank Manohar said that there was no need for the BCCI to call any emergency meeting, but pointed out that he would consult his "office bearers" to finalise the venue for the match. It is learnt that Bangalore is tipped to be a favourite. "99 % it will be Bangalore," an ICC source said.
The news of switching the match from Kolkata comes just two days after the tournament director, Ratnakar Shetty, waved away worries over readiness of World Cup venues. Media personnel had been barred from a recent inspection of Eden Gardens.
The venue, one of the largest cricket stadiums in the world, has hosted some of the highest-profile matches of the previous two World Cups held in the subcontinent including the final in 1987 and the semi-final in 1996. No international matches have been held in Kolkata since the Test between India and South Africa in February as the stadium was being renovated.
"All venues had ample time in which to prepare for World Cup matches," Lorgat said. "We had been understanding and had provided extensions to the deadline dates but unfortunately we are now at a point where we must carefully manage our risks.
"The Central Organising Committee had provided venues with a deadline of 30 November 2010 to complete all construction work and then to be match-ready by 31 December 2010. An extension was granted by the ICC for five venues, which were again inspected over the past week. Sadly, Eden Gardens in Kolkata was unable to meet the final deadline date of 25 January 2011."
The ICC is still deciding on the new venue for the India-England match. "We will work with the new venue, the tour operators and the ticket distributors to manage the logistical challenges that will surely arise," Shetty said.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Amir plays club game, ICC seeks explanation

The ICC has written to the PCB asking for details into the appearance of Mohammad Amir in a friendly club match. Amir is currently provisionally suspended from all levels of cricket facing charges of spot-fixing placed by the governing body in the aftermath of the Lord's Test during Pakistan's tour of England in 2010.
Amir took part in a game in Rawalpindi on Monday, though the contest is not believed to carry any official status. But under the ICC's anti-corruption code of conduct, Amir - and Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, the other two players suspended - are not allowed to play even at club level if those clubs are affiliated to the regional cricket body - in this case the Rawalpindi Cricket Association - which is in turn, affiliated to the PCB. It is believed that the club Amir turned up for is not affiliated to the Rawalpindi association.
A spokesman for the Pakistan board said they were also investigating the matter. "Yes, we have come to the knowledge of Amir playing a match in Rawalpindi and we are investigating the matter," Nadeem Sarwar told AFP.
At the moment it is believed that the ICC has only asked for details of the appearance, after which it will decide whether or not it constitutes a breach of the code. Local officials in Rawalpindi say Amir apologised after appearing in the game, saying he wasn't sure whether or not he could play in a game at that level.
Amir, along with Butt and Asif, was suspended by the ICC after the spot-fixing row centering around pre-planned no-balls broke during the Lord's Test between England and Pakistan.
An ICC anti-corruption tribunal heard the case relating to the three suspended players in Doha, Qatar, last month and is due to announce its verdict on February 5.

Trott heroics keep England alive

Jonathan Trott's calculating century ensured England stayed in the series with a 21-run victory that upset Australia's national holiday in Adelaide. The tourists began the game needing to win and the scenario won't change when they head to Brisbane for Sunday's fifth ODI, but they have been boosted by an end to four consecutive limited-overs losses.
Trott's perfectly timed 102 off 126 balls stood tall on a day that was meant to be a celebration of all things Australia, but the home supporters left unhappy as the series score-line in the seven-game contest settled at 3-1. Trott, bowling his steady medium pace, even managed the valuable breakthroughs of Cameron White (44) and David Hussey (28) to end the pair's rescue act.
England's 8 for 299, which was reduced slightly by effective slow bowling, was more than enough for Australia, especially when the dangerman Shane Watson fell for a bright 64. England's bowlers did not allow the batsmen to gain any rhythm on a sluggish pitch and were able to wait for the locals to make mistakes as they tried to force the pace.
The opener Brad Haddin burned brightly for 20 before chipping Chris Tremlett to cover and Shaun Marsh (1) was caught and bowled by James Anderson (2 for 57). Michael Clarke's run struggles continued when he was bowled on 15 by the frugal Paul Collingwood and the side was 4 for 116 when Watson aimed a big drive and was caught behind off Ajmal Shahzad. Steven Smith managed a personal best of 46 and Brett Lee registered 39 as the game wound down, with the pair seeing the side to 7 for 278.
While Trott's bowling was a bonus, his best work was undoubtedly done with the bat. His century built on Matt Prior's brutal 67 off 58 as the top order maintained a ferocious pace.
Trott backed up his 84 not out in Sydney on Sunday with a much more fluent contribution that drove England towards a formidable total. He unfurled a couple of delightful straight drives, including one off John Hastings to move to 85, and reached his century with a single to midwicket.
He didn't push on after the milestone and played-on to Hussey shortly after raising his bat, walking off with six boundaries and a long ovation. The only major discomfort he experienced before then came on 30 when he found himself at the same end as Prior after his defensive shot rolled on to the base of the stumps. Lee followed through but his wild throw back to the bowler's end was wide and Trott survived.
Collingwood, who launched Lee for six to midwicket in the Powerplay, and Michael Yardy provided some late muscle to ensure the big score. Collingwood passed 5000 ODI runs, the first England batsman to do so, during his run-a-ball 27 while Yardy grabbed an unbeaten 39 off 27. Hussey, the offspinner, was called late, knocking over Collingwood and then dismissing Shahzad in the final over.
Hussey, who sneaked 4 for 21 off four overs, and Smith (3 for 33 off seven) collected career-best figures as they restricted batsmen who had enjoyed the offerings of their faster team-mates. Xavier Doherty also enjoyed the conditions as he gave away 44 from his 10 overs.
Prior and Trott delivered the early pain to the Australians after the visitors won the toss. He and Trott put on 113 at almost a run a ball for the second wicket following the early loss of Andrew Strauss for 8. Prior wasted little time in getting going and his half-century came when he pulled Lee off the front foot for six, with England moving to 1 for 100 after 15 overs.
Smith, the legspinner, picked up Prior in his second over when he cut to point and had more success when Kevin Pietersen (12) chipped to long-on. Two balls later Ian Bell exited without scoring, leaving England stuttering at 4 for 158.
Australia's fast bowlers seemed in trouble from the moment Lee's first over went for 12, with him starting with five wides down the leg-side. Lee finished with 1 for 68 off eight while Bollinger also struggled at the start and finish, giving away 55 in nine. The generosity helped England ruin the hosts' party, but the visitors still require victory in the remaining three games to steal the trophy

Martin Guptill cherishes new role

From being dropped for the ODI series in Bangladesh last October, Martin Guptill is now an integral part of the New Zealand team. He opened the innings in all three formats during the ongoing series against Pakistan and, in the last six months, has transitioned from being someone struggling to find a place in the team to a key cog in the set-up.
Guptill began 2010 with 189 against Bangladesh in the Hamilton Test. He made 91 against them in the third ODI in Christchurch but his form fell away after that knock. He scored only 85 runs in the five-match Chappell-Hadlee series and a solitary half-century in the two Tests that followed against Australia. His form slumped further in the tri-nation tournament in Sri Lanka, where he made just 11 runs from three games, which included two ducks. He was dropped for the tour of Bangladesh and was picked in the New Zealand A squad for their trip to Zimbabwe instead.
"It was extremely difficult," Guptill told NZPA. "You feel like everything is running against you, whether it be on or off the field. You beat yourself up inside, trying to get that confidence, and it just doesn't work. You've got to try and stay as confident as possible and hopefully the results come from that. I just went back and had a look at what I was doing well and what I wasn't, and just started doing the little things right."
Guptill had a steady tour of Zimbabwe with the A team and was recalled to the Test squad for the series in India after New Zealand lost the ODIs 4-0 to Bangladesh. He did not play the first Test but got a chance at No. 3 in the second in Hyderabad, where he made 85 in his comeback innings.
"The first week in India I started to get that confidence back," Guptill said. "I think it was after the second training before the first Test, I started seeing the ball well and hitting the ball well, and from there I went to the second Test and got that 85. From there I think I've been on quite a high and hopefully it goes well for another couple of years."
Guptill failed to impress in the third Test against India but made 70 in the second ODI in Jaipur. He was New Zealand's best batsman in the two-Test series against Pakistan at home that followed, making 163 runs at an average of 40.75. Guptill, who batted at No. 3 in the first Test, opened in the second in Wellington. New Zealand coach John Wright was impressed with Guptill's opening qualities and he has now been earmarked as a regular opener in the one-day series as well leading into the World Cup.
"It's what I'm comfortable with, so at the moment I'm happy with where I'm batting, but I'm also happy to bat at No 3. I don't find there's too much [difference]. I'll bat anywhere for New Zealand," he said.
The Guptill-Jesse Ryder combination that was tried in the first ODI against Pakistan in Wellington is likely to be New Zealand's preferred combination for the World Cup. They put on 84 runs off 60 balls.
"The guy's [Ryder] a fantastic talent and hopefully he stays fit over the next couple of years so he can put some big numbers up for New Zealand. I love batting with Jesse. We give each other a bit of stick out there and just try to make batting as fun as we can."
However, Guptill, who signed to play for Derbyshire, will open with Jamie How in the third ODI against Pakistan on Saturday as a result of New Zealand's rotation policy for the series. "It's not really disruptive, there's a good feeling in the camp at the moment. We're just looking forward to getting some good weather and getting on to the park for these last four games, which are vital for us going into the World Cup."
New Zealand lead the six-match series 1-0 after the second ODI in Queenstown was washed out on Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

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Australia vs England 4th ODI live 26-01-2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Watch live Bolton Wanderers vs Chelsea 20:00

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