August 12th, 2006

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Pakistanis play two limited overs games

Pakistan would be playing a couple of one-day matches against West Indies A this weekend at Shenley intsead of a two-day game as planned earlier, a Pakistan team official said on Friday.

Team manager Zaheer Abbas told this correspondent that the two teams have agreed to play two 50-over an inning games so that both of them get a better opportunity of providing their batsmen and bowlers with proper practice from the two-day outing beginning from today (Saturday).

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Bangladesh recall Nafees, Baishya for Champions Trophy

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The Bangladesh cricket team opener Nafees Iqbal and seamer Tapash Baishya are among eight players earning recalls to a 30-man provisional squad for this year’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy in India, the Bangladesh Cricket Board said on Thursday.

Iqbal and Baishya, who have not played for Bangladesh since February, were recalled following improved domestic form, the Board chief executive officer Mahmudur Rahman told reporters. Left-arm spinner Enamul Haque, pacers Hasibul Hossain and Nazmul Hossain, all-rounder Manjural Islam and off-spinner Jamaluddin Babu have also been drafted back into the squad.

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Wicket of Younis best ball I have bowled: Panesar

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Monty Panesar, England’s very popular left-arm spinner, has rated the ball that bowled Younis Khan in the second innings of the Headingley Test as his “best ball in Test cricket”.

With Pakistan chasing 323 on the final day, Panesar grabbed three key wickets, but none was more special than Younis’s, who was looking good for his 41. The ball that bowled him, turned out of the rough, pitching on middle and leg. Younis came forward and missed as the ball turned to hit the top of off stump, just nicking the bail.

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Sri Lanka await return of Sachin Tendulkar

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Sri Lankans can’t wait to welcome back a fit-again Sachin Tendulkar as India arrive here on Thursday night to play a tri-series also featuring South Africa.

Tendulkar, arguably the most prolific batsmen in history with 35 Test and 39 one-day centuries, returns to the Indian team after being out of action since March due to shoulder surgery. The Indian media reported the 33-year-old is fit and raring to resume his brilliant 17-year-old career during the seven-match tri-series that opens here on Monday.

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England plan final Test flourish

All-rounder Paul Collingwood believes England will play their strongest side in the final Test against Pakistan.

There had been calls for England to experiment at The Oval, starting August 17, because they have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series. But writing in his BBC column, Collingwood rejected the idea.

He said: “If anything we want to raise the standards even further and produce an even better performance at The Oval next week.”

The England squad will be announced on Sunday and new players, including Leicestershire seamer Stuart Broad, have been touted as possibilities for the final match.

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Australia to face West Indies in Singapore opener

World champions Australia will clash with the West Indies in the opening match of next month’s triangular One-day International (ODI) series in Southeast Asia, the Indian cricket board announced on Friday.

The day-night tournament, also featuring India, begins in Singapore on September 12 and ends in Malaysia on September 24.

Indian board secretary Niranjan Shah said the first three matches would be played in Singapore and the remaining four, including the final, in Malaysia. “All the matches will start at 1500 local time, except the third (between India and Australia on September 16) which begins at 1400 to enable the teams to finish early and leave for Malaysia,” he said.

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Dravid identifies key areas in Sri Lanka tri-series

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Indian cricket team’s captain Rahul Dravid has identified batting in the middle overs and rotating the strike against the slow bowlers as key areas for his team in the tri-series starting in Sri Lanka on Monday.

“Batting in the middle overs and rotating the strike against the slow bowlers is something we think we should get better at,” he told reporters on Thursday before his team’s departure for the August 14-29 tournament, which also involves South Africa.

“Sri Lanka is a place where we have not done well. We see it as a challenge, an opportunity to try and play some good cricket in tough conditions.”

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Indians arrive in Sri Lanka after military like drills

Indian cricket squad arrived here in Sri Lanka to play a tri-nation limited-overs series, after fine-tuning with what local media was dubbing military training.

Sri Lanka’s ‘The Island’ newspaper carried front-page photographs of Yuvraj Singh in camouflaged dress taking aim with a rifle assisted by personnel from the Indian Parachute Regiment, and other players climbing ropes walking a tight rope in military-like dress.

The training was part of India’s preparation in the southern city of Bangalore, before the tournament which also involves South Africa. “It’s nothing extraordinary, whatever we do is blown out of proportion,” Indian skipper Rahul Dravid told reporters in Colombo when asked about the exercise.

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Vaughan predicts fantastic England show in Ashes

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Injured captain Michael Vaughan warned on Friday he is confident England can retain the Ashes with or without him this winter.

The 31-year-old, who led England to their first Ashes win for 18 years last summer, insisted however he has not yet given up hope of taking part in the series against Australia starting in November. “I’m very confident in whoever leads the team to produce a fantastic winter ahead and make sure we retain the Ashes,” Vaughan told Sky Sports News.

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Andrew Strauss enters frame for Ashes captaincy

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Duncan Fletcher has indicated that Andrew Strauss could well be in contention for the England captaincy in this winter’s Ashes, after bouncing back from a 5-0 drubbing in the one-dayers against Sri Lanka to secure the team’s first Test series victory for 11 months with back-to-back wins against Pakistan.

“Andrew has captained very well in the sense that he has started with a new side,” Fletcher said. “It wasn’t easy for him going through that loss to Sri Lanka but he is a really strong character.

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Pakistan making efforts to regroup for The Oval finale

The four-match Test series against England may have been a lost cause for Pakistan after the stunning defeat at Headingley but the tourists are making efforts to regroup and finish the otherwise frustatingly one-sided contest on a victorious note with a comeback at The Oval next week.

“It has been a disappointing series so far,” admitted Pakistan manager Zaheer Abbas. “We are already 2-0 down and can’t make a real comeback but ending the series at a 2-1 by winning the fourth Test would be far, far better than returning home with a 0-3 result and our boys know it,” he added while talking to this correspondent on Friday.

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Shoaib ready to test his fitness at Shenley today

Speedster Shoaib Akhtar was on Friday aiming to prove his fitness ahead of the final Test against England at The Oval by giving a convincing showing against West Indies A at Shenley today (Saturday).

A Pakistan team official said on Friday that Shoaib, who has not played for Pakistan since January this year, was raring to go against West Indies A in the first of two warm-up one-day games at the Shenley Cricket Centre.

Shoaib played a low profile league game last weekend where he managed to impress with his whirlwind batting more than his bowling. He would be looking for a better showing with the ball against West Indies A over this weekend in a bid to win a Test recall.

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Dravid wary of in-form Sri Lanka, explosive South Africa

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Indian cricket team’s captain Rahul Dravid on Friday predicted a tough triangular One-day International (ODI) series against South Africa and hosts Sri Lanka, saying both rivals were a force to reckon with in world cricket.

“Sri Lanka are playing very good cricket at the moment and are always difficult opponents at home,” Dravid told a media conference ahead of the August 14-29 series in Colombo.

“And let’s not forget South Africa. They are not the number two team in the world for nothing. Any side that chases down a 400-plus score has to be very explosive,î the Indian captain added.

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2007 World Cup to be free of sponsorship disputes

The Cricket World Cup 2007 organisers are confident the tournament will not witness any disputes between rival telecom companies — Cable and Wireless and Digicel.

Cable and Wireless is one of the official sponsors of the tournament and were official sponsors of the West Indies team before Digicel took over in 2005.

Penny Commissiong Chow, marketing and communications manager of the World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC), said the organisers were conscious of the issue of ambush marketing and appropriate steps were being taken to ensure a smooth process.

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Flintoff, Gough in provisional squad for Champions Trophy

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England’s selectors have included veteran fast bowler Darren Gough in a 30-man provisional squad for this year’s ICC Champions Trophy in India although there was no place for new spin sensation Monty Panesar.

The squad released on Thursday includes five players uncapped at One-day International level — Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Mal Loye, Graham Onions and Michael Yardy — but some are likely to miss out when the travelling squad is cut to 14.

Gough, who will be 36 by the time of the October-November tournament, has not featured in an England one-day squad since last year’s series against Australia.

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