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Cricket News, February 2005

Pakistan Tour & Politics

It was a month when the Pakistan team's India tour hogged the headlines. Politicians in India and Pakistan didn't waste time talking about patriotism and trying to be in the spotlight. It was also the month when the BJP and its affiliates took to digging up pitches.
It was also the month when BBCI had a court date.

India Cricket Live

Pakistan team arrive in India at last

The Pakistan cricket team has finally arrived in India, ahead of their first Test and one-day series in the country for six years. The players touched down in New Delhi at 1430 hours on a PIA flight amid tight security arrangements. the players, dressed in green blazers and most of them sporting sunglasses, were given a warm welcome from airport staff and wellwishers. The players were greeted by senior officials from the BCCI, including the vice-president Rajiv Shukla, and were adorned with traditional garlands. Then it was into a coach and off to a five-star hotel on the southern outskirts of Delhi.
It is their seventh tour of India since 1952-53. Their last tour was in 1998-99, when they tied the two-Test series at 1-1.

Indian Team for the first test announced

Nineteen-year-old Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper Dinesh Kaarthick was persisted with as the national selectors today named a full-strength 14-member squad for the first cricket Test against Pakistan beginning in Mohali on March 8. The squad, which had no major surprises, saw the return of star batsman Sachin Tendulkar and pacemen Irfan Pathan, Laxmipathy Balaji and Ashish Nehra - all of whom had been nursing injuries.
While Yuvraj Singh edged his way back by virtue of his "past performance against Pakistan", Mohd Kaif and Ajit Agarkar, however, could not find a berth in the team announced by BCCI Secretary S K Nair in Mumbai.
Sourav Ganguly was named skipper for the entire three-Test series. Indian Cricket Team: Sourav Ganguly (Captain), Rahul Dravid (Vice-Captain), Virender Sehwag , Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar , VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Kaarthick, Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, Ashish Nehra, L Balaji, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh. Nair also announced the Board President's XI, which will take on the visitors in a three-day warm-up match in Dharmshala from March 3-5. Board President's XI: Mohammad Kaif (Captain), Dheeraj Jadhav, Satyajit Parab, Shikhar Dhawan, Y Venugopala Rao, Suresh Raina, Neeraj Patel, Parthiv Patel, Ramesh Powar, S S Paul, R P Singh, Gagandeep Singh, R R Bose and R Ramkumar.

India to announce Test squad on Saturday

The national selectors have a relatively easy job to do except for choosing a stumper when they meet Mumbai on Saturday to pick the 14-member Indian squad to face Pakistan in the first cricket Test beginning in Mohali on March 8.
The Committee, headed by former India stumper Kiran More, would also finalise the Board President's XI that will play a warm-up match against the visitors at Dharamshala from March 3-5.
The choice of players for the wicketeeping slot include former India wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, East zone's Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who did duty during the ODIs in Bangladesh and South Zone's Dinesh kaarthick.

HC says no to Zee, ESPN; Pakistan tour ON

The Madras High Court today directed Prasar Bharati to telecast the upcoming Indo-Pak cricket series and gave the Cricket Board the freedom to engage any producer for the purpose of live feed except Zee Telefilms Ltd and ESPN Star Sports.
The interim order was delivered by Justice K P Sivasubramanian on a petition filed by Zee Telefilms challenging the cricket board's September last decision to cancel the tender process for telecasting rights for international cricket matches to be played in the country between October 1, 2004 and September 30, 2008.

Pakistan tour not in jeopardy, says India's cricket chief

Pakistan's cricket tour of India will go ahead as scheduled next month, Indian cricket chief Ranbir Singh Mahendra said, ending speculation the high-profile tour could be cancelled due to a TV rights row.
Mahendra, who took over as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from Jagmohan Dalmiya last September, said there was no way the tour will be cancelled or even postponed. "The tour will go ahead as scheduled," Mahendra told AFP on Wednesday.
ESPN-Star Sports and Doordarshan have also approached the BCCI to find a solution to the crisis after the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Tuesday the series was unlikely to be played if the TV issue was not solved.
The Madras High Court is expected to deliver a judgement this week.

Uncertainty over tour worries Pak; Likely to seek compensation.

Expressing concern over the possibility of the upcoming series against India being postponed further due to a telecast row, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday said in such an eventuality, it would be difficult for its team to tour at a later date due to prior commitments. A call-off at this stage would also be highly disappointing for cricket fans on both sides of the border and result in heavy loss of revenue, it said.
The tour has already been delayed by four days following the controversy over Ahmedabad as a Test venue for the series. A top PCB official has hinted that the visitors could seek compensation from the BCCI if the tour did not go ahead as per schedule. He pointed out that in the past, there had been instances where compensation had been paid by the host Board on similar grounds and recalled that in 2003, when South Africa had threatened to cancel their tour of Pakistan, the PCB had approached the ICC for compensation before the matter was resolved amicably.

India Cricket Live

BCCI, Zee and the Third Umpire..

The BCCI President Ranbir Singh Mahendra today threatened to call off the Indo-Pak series if the TV telecast issue was not sorted out. The issue is currently in the Madras High Court. The BCCI chief insists that his threat to call off the India-Pakistan series is not an attempt to pressurise the courts.
Under the BCCI's compromise solution during the Australia and South Africa tours, the matches were telecast on Doordarshan while TEN Sports handled the production. However, the makeshift arrangement cost the board about Rs 150 crore and a similar situation could result in more losses. But there may not be any other option.
But Zee TV, which had its $308 million bid turned down by BCCI, says this is an extremely unnecessary situation. Zee says if they are given the rights, they are ready to telecast at a 24-hour notice.
According to ICC rules, a series has to be telecast as a third umpire is needed. The telecast row has already led to the upcoming Indo-Pak series being delayed by three days.
The big fear now is that it could be cancelled.

Now, Pakistan tour in doubt over TV rights row!

Pakistan's tour of India is in doubt because of a long-running court battle over TV rights, the head of the Indian cricket board has said.
"The situation is grim since the International Cricket Council (ICC) rules say that a telecast is a must," Ranbir Mahendra, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), told Reuters on Tuesday. "TV is essential for the third umpire, and the ICC could refuse to post officials for the series. If the telecast issue is not decided by next week, they might step in." There will be no closed-circuit television coverage of the matches against Pakistan if there is no live telecast.
The dispute involves India's largest listed media firm Zee Telefilms and the cricket board. The Madras High Court is hearing a case against the board's decision to abandon a $308 million, four-year deal that Zee won in an auction.

Formbook gives edge to India Discuss More

As Pakistan have not toured India since 1999, there is little recent shared form to go on to predict the outcome of their highly-anticipated Test series. Here is a test by venue view.
Mohali, First Test At Mohali, the venue for the first test, batting sides either fail miserably or prosper. The stadium is located in the suburbs of Chandigarh, just a three-hour drive from the Pakistan border. The highly-anticipated tour opener is statistically most likely to be a draw, as three of the five Tests here have been.
Calcutta, Second Test Pakistan have played their arch-rivals on five occasions at the 100,000-capacity Eden Gardens, and won the only match that has reached a result. The spinners could prove the difference between the sides and the hosts can take a lead in the series with help from their superior spinners like Harbajan and Kumble.
Bangalore, Third & Final Test Eight of the 10 best bowling returns at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium have been achieved by spinners, and in that regard India are superior. India has the edge, but again a draw is possible.

Security tightened around Motera stadium, Ahmedabad

Security has been tightened in and around Motera cricket stadium following report of miscreants threatening to damage the pitch where India is scheduled to play one-day international match against Pakistan on April 12, police said on Tuesday.
Additional police force has been deployed at the stadium and security presence around the pitch has been tightened, police said.
Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) President Narhari Amin told PTI that he had not received any threat call but had only heard about it.

India Cricket Live

I am fit to play: Sachin

Putting to rest all speculation about his injury, Maestro Sachin Tendulkar today said he was fully fit and looking forward to a good season in the forthcoming series against Pakistan.
"I'm fully fit and preparing for the big series ahead," Sachin told reporters in Hyderabad before going to nets at the Visakha Stadium, which will host the Duleep Trophy match between West Zone and South Zone from Tuesday.
Sachin played against Australia last October despite not being fully fit and was advised to take six weeks' rest by doctors earlier this year because the injury had flared up again. He has suffered from a spate of injuries over the last two years in his back, toe, finger, ankle and elbow, attributed mainly to wear and tear caused by non-stop cricket since he emerged on the international scene in 1989 as a 16-year-old.

Pakistan's India cricket tour itinerary announced

Pakistan's cricket team will arrive in India on February 28 to play three Tests and six one-day internationals, the Indian board announced on Sunday. The tour opener will be played from March 3-5 versus Board President's XI at Dharamshala in Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
Pakistan will play three Tests against India with first Test from March 8-12 at Mohali. Second Test from March 16-20 at Calcutta and the third and last Test will be played at Bangalore from March 24-28.
After Test matches six one-dayers will be played between the two sides. A one-day warm-up game will be played at Hyderabad on March 30.
The first one-dayer will be held at Cochin on April 2, second one-dayer at Vishakapatnam on April 5, third one-dayer at Jamshedpur on April 9, fourth one-dayer at Ahmedabad on April 12, fifth one-dayer at Kanpur on April 15 and sixth one-dayer at Delhi on April 17.
Pakistan team will return back home on April 18.

India Cricket Live

Shiv Sena demands apology from Kapil Dev

The Shiv Sena has decried former India cricket captain Kapil Dev for calling it "an enemy of the game" and demanded a public apology from him. In a faxed statement, Abhimanyu Gulati, chief of Shiv Sena's Delhi unit, criticised Kapil and said the Sena had never been against any sport, arguing that its chief Bal Thackeray was an ardent cricket fan. "Games are played only between friends and not with cheats. On one side the country is fighting Pakistan-backed terrorists, while on the other we are playing them on the (cricket) field," said Gulati.
The Shiv Sena threatened to oppose the Pakistan team if it set foot in Delhi during its tour of India beginning Feb 28.

Sachiiiin, fans get back in action

Sachin Tendulkar was the star attraction as he batted, bowled and fielded and played throwball for the first time in weeks at the spanking new Visakha Stadium at Uppal. A handful of spectators had turned up at the stadium, and strained their vocal chords with the familiar Sachiiiin, Sachin chant. The star acknowledged the cheers and even took off his helmet to let them have a clear look at his face.
The South Zone team, with Rahul Dravid and Kumble will arrive in the city on Monday in two batches from Bangalore and Chennai.

India Cricket Live

Government: No tricolour for Men in Blue

For years, they've proudly worn their hearts on their sleeves - and the tricolour on their helmets, gloves et al. But the next time Team India takes the field - against arch-rivals Pakistan, no less - they may not be allowed to bear the national banner on their cricketing gear.
The Indian team's practice of sporting the tricolour on clothing and equipment has apparently become a red flag for the government, which has issued instructions to the Indian cricket Board in this regard. In the recent past, there has been a heated debate about whether the cricket squad is 'Team India' or 'Team BCCI'. The new regulation may once again rekindle that argument.
The players themselves aren't too happy. Says Yuvraj Singh: "It's their viewpoint, but I take great pride in playing with the national flag on the helmet. It's a different feeling altogether."

Pakistan Team for Indian Tour Announced

Young opener Taufeeq Umar and veteran spinner Arshad Khan were named in a 16-member Pakistan Test squad for the high-profile series against India. There were hardly any surprises as Pakistan selectors decided to more or less to retain the squad that was whitewashed 3-0 in the recent Test series against Australia.
Younis Khan was named the vice-captain in place of Yousuf Youhana while Waqar Younis was appointed as the bowling coach. Paceman Mohammad Sami and Mohammad Khalil were retained in the squad after they passed fitness tests in the morning that were conducted by coach Bob Woolmer and foreign trainers Daryl Lifson, Murray Stevenson and Grant Compton. Pakistan Team for India: Inzamam-ul-Haq (Captain), Younis Khan (vice-capt), Taufeeq Umar, Salman Butt, Yasir Hameed, Yousuf Youhana, Asim Kamal, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wicketkeeper), Arshad Khan, Danish Kaneria, Shahid Afridi, Naved-ul-Hasan, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Khalil and Abdul Razzaq. India Cricket Live

Sachin to lead West vs South in Duleep

Sachin Tendulkar will lead West Zone against South in the Duleep Trophy league tie in Hyderabad from Tuesday in his comeback match following an injury lay-off, national selection committee chairman Kiran More said on Friday in Mumbai.
Tendulkar has not played since turning out for India in the last one-day International against Bangladesh in Dhaka on December 27, but has started practising over the last few days at the MIG Cricket Club ground in Bandra, close to his residence. Tendulkar came on Friday to the MIG Club to give a pep talk to the visiting English county cricketers, who played a match against a local squad. He came to the ground at the request of visiting teams coach Graham Gooch (former England captain) to give a pep talk to the squad members, sources close to the batsman said, adding that he is very keen to play against Pakistan.

PCB clarifies "Pakistan not to play in Ahmedabad"

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday clarified a news item published in an English daily that Pakistan had agreed to play a one-dayer in Ahmedabad. A PCB press release stated: This is apropos a news item published in the Lahore edition of an English daily carrying an Online story. The PCB regrets that the report is not only malicious in intent but it also carries cooked up quotations ascribed to a senior PCB official.
The facts are as follows: After his meeting with the Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, PCB Chairman Shahryar Khan denied reports that Pakistan had agreed to play a one-day match in Ahmedabad. The AFP correctly reported him as saying our stance on not playing in Ahmedabad is based on security. Reports that Pakistan had cleared Ahmedabad or we are ready to play a one-day match there are baseless.

2011 cricket World Cup in Ind

Talks are on with the International Cricket Council (ICC) to stage the 2011 World Cup in India, former Indian cricket board president Jagmohan Dalmiya said Friday. "The 2006 Champions Trophy has been allotted to India and the deliberations for the 2011 World Cup are also going on," Dalmiya, who accompanied ICC president Ehsan Mani to meet Sports Minister Sunil Dutt, said after the meeting. Mani is meeting various ministers and government officials to seek tax exemption, specifically for the 2006 Champions Trophy, and for future ICC tournaments like the World Cups.
ICC had allotted India the 2002 Champions Trophy. But the tournament, the most important after the World Cup, was shifted to Sri Lanka after the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government refused to give tax exemption. ICC could take a final decision on the 2006 Champions Trophy venue during its Board of Directors meeting in New Delhi on March 17-18.

India Cricket Live

It's official: Pakistan Cricket Board okays India tour

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Friday accepted an Indian proposal to shift a Test venue from Ahmadabad to Kolkata and agreed to play a sixth one-day international there instead. Pakistan had declined to play a Test at Ahmedabad, the epicentre of the 2002 Gujarat riots in which at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. The PCB also said that the India tour - the first by a Pakistani team in six years - would be delayed by a few days.
Indian board president Ranbir Singh Mahendra presented the venue-switch proposal to the PCB after a working committee meeting in New Delhi Thursday.

Tendulkar should not rush into Pakistan series, says Boycott

Prolific Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar should skip the upcoming high-profile cricket series against Pakistan if he is not fully fit, according to legendary England opener Geoff Boycott. "My opinion is he should not be in a hurry," Boycott told the Bombay-based 'Mid-day' newspaper on Friday. "'Take your time Sachin, till you are fully fit' is what I would tell him."
Tendulkar, 31, has been in and out of the team since August due to a tennis elbow injury. He missed one-day tournaments in the Netherlands and England before returning for the last two home Tests against Australia in October.
The master batsman appeared to have aggravated the injury after playing four more Tests -- two each against South Africa and Bangladesh.

TV rights cost BCCI Rs 150 crore

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has admitted to have incurred a loss to the tune of Rs 150 crore during the series against South Africa and Australia due to its failure in awarding the telecast rights. The on-going imbroglio over awarding the telecast rights have cost the BCCI approximately Rs 150 crore during the South Africa and Australia series, BCCI Secretary S K Nair disclosed in a letter to Saurashtra Cricket Association secretary Niranjan Shah.
The letter was in response to Shah's query about the telecast rights row written to BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra.
The ad hoc arrangement with Prasar Bharti was likely to fetch Rs 130 crore for the two series but the income was still far less than what could have been earned had the telecast rights been awarded before that, Nair said in the letter. BCCI had decided to award the four-year telecast rights for all international matches to be played in India to Zee Telefilms for USD 308 million for 144 playing days. But the entire issue got locked in a legal battle as BCCI decided to withdraw its Letter of Intent to Zee after ESPN-Star Sports, another bidder for the rights, moved Mumbai High Court against the awarding of rights. The Board, therefore, had to make an ad hoc arrangement for telecast of these two series with Prasar Bharti.

ICC president dismisses two-tier Test cricket

Less than a week after the ICC seemed to suggest that it was prepared to consider reducing the number of matches involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, Ehsan Mani, the ICC's president, has said that weaker countries need exposure if they are to develop.
An ICC spokesman had indicated to Cricinfo that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe might be limited to home appearances only across a six-year cycle, as part of a two-tier system to combat the twin problems of fixture overload and uncompetitive matches.
The ICC is thought to be coming under pressure from some of the top eight countries who see often one-sided series against the weakest teams as an unnecessary burden on their players as well as being commercially unattractive. But Mani made clear his view was that once a member, always a member. "If weaker teams have a problem," he argued, "it's the problem of the international cricket community, and we have to find the ways of helping them."

Fitness: Cloud over Irfan Pathan, Balaji

The big worry emerging after the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy is whether the Indian pace machine will be in top gear for the big series against Pakistan. Two of India's young fast bowlers - Irfan Pathan and L Balaji - are still struggling to recover from injury lay-offs. Zaheer Khan was the lone man standing at the Wankhede Stadium, the best bowler of the tournament.
Pathan, a key component of the Indian challenge, has been rested due to persisting stiffness post-training.

Tsunami relief match between Kapil XI and IMA tied

The Airtel Cup Tsunami Relief match played between a team led by former Indian Test captain Kapil Dev and Indian Military Academy (IMA) ended in a tie here today at the Somnath Stadium. Both teams scored 159 runs.
Former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin top-scored with 59 runs for Kapil Dev XI after Kapil won the toss and elected to Bat first. He was declared the man of the match.
Kapil Dev notched up two wickets off 36 runs in seven overs.

Tendulkar to play Duleep match against south

Much to the delight of his fans, Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar would start his preparations for the Indo-Pak series in a Duleep Trophy match at the newly built HCA Stadium at Uppal Industrial Park in Hyderabad. He would represent west zone against south in the five-day semifinal match at the new venue, approved by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for hosting first class cricket matches.

'Azhar's contribution can't be ignored', Kapil Dev

Cricket legend Kapil Dev on Saturday came out in defence of Mohd Azhauddin saying that the former skipper's contributions to the game cannot be ignored. "Azharuddin has made more than 10000 runs. He has played for the country for 15 years. We cannot ignore these achievements," Kapil told reporters a day before Kapil Dev XI and Indian Military Academy XI plays the Airtel Cup for Tsunami Relief in Dehradun on Sunday.
Stating that the charges against Azharuddin have not been proved, Kapil said the day any evidence came to fore, he himself would be the first person to "hit" the former skipper.

India Cricket Live

Vengsarkar opposes new ICC rule on chucking

Former Indian skipper Dilip Vengsarkar on Friday criticised the International Cricket Council's (ICC) new rule which allows bowlers to straighten their arms by up to 15 degrees, saying that it amounted to legalising chucking. "All those with illegal bowling action should be hauled up and rehabilitated. Only after that they should come back and play cricket," Vengsarkar, also the chief of BCCI's Talent and Development wing, said at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Vengsarkar doubted whether it was possible for the umpires to decide on the field whether a bowler was straightening his arm by only 15 degree or more. The new rule would come into effect from March 1.

Star-less cricket dropped from 2006 Asian Games

The likely absence of top stars like Sachin Tendulkar of India and Shoaib Akhtar of Pakistan has forced cricket out of the Asian Games in Qatar next year, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced in New Delhi. The Asian Cricket Council (ACC), headed by Jagmohan Dalmiya of India, had not committed the top players from the continent for the December 1-15 Games, council secretary general Randhir Singh said here on Saturday.
There are four Test-playing nations in Asia -- India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- and cricket is played in almost all Asian countries, including China who were recently admitted to the International Cricket Council (ICC). The non-Olympic sport was introduced at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, but was discarded at the next edition in Manchester four years later due to the lukewarm response from the major cricketing nations. Only Australia fielded its best team at Kuala Lumpur. India divided their top players in two teams, sending one to Kuala Lumpur and the other to Toronto, Canada for a one-day series against Pakistan.

Dravid's India 'A' win 2005 Challenger Trophy

Skipper Rahul Dravid guided India A to a six-wicket victory over India Seniors in the final of the 2005 Challenger Trophy tournament. Set 212 to win by Sourav Ganguly's India Seniors, who were skittled out for 211 in 47.2 overs after electing to bat first, India 'A' won the match by six wickets with eight balls to spare. Match Details.

Unanimous support on ICC's new chucking rules

The chief executives of all 10 Test nations have unanimously passed the changes which allow bowlers to straighten their arms during delivery by up to 15 degrees. The new interpretation will apply to all ICC-sanctioned matches from March 1, and Speed said yesterday he had no reason to believe any Test nation would challenge the legality of the system should one of their players be reported.
When bowlers such as Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan had their bowling actions investigated, those who have made the reports have been accused of bias and individual boards have made stringent efforts to discredit the procedures. Under the new procedures, bowlers with discernibly suspect actions will be reported at game's end by match referees or umpires, then be sent to one of several standardised biomechanics facilities to have their bowling scrutinised over two days. He then remains banned from bowling in all cricket until his action is deemed clear by biomechanical experts or a specially assembled appeals board, known as the Bowling Review Group. Should a bowler be cleared and then subsequently reported again within a two-year period, he must stand out of the game for 12 months, then have his action re-assessed and cleared before competing again.

India Cricket Live

Teams for Challenger Series announced

The countdown for the India-Pakistan cricket series has officially started with the announcement of the teams for the Challenger Trophy. The four-match limited overs tournament brings together 36 of the best one day players in the country. However, as was feared, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar has not been named in any of the three squads because of his elbow injury.
Sourav Ganguly (India Seniors), Rahul Dravid (India A) and Virender Sehwag (India B) will lead the three teams in the N K P Salve Challenger Trophy cricket tournament to be held in Mumbai from February 7 to 10.
The team for India Seniors includes L Balaji, who is making a return after almost six months away from the game. Delhi's Shikhar Dhawan has been rewarded for a good domestic season.
India A, led by Rahul Dravid , includes Irfan Pathan's elder brother Yusuf. Dinesh Karthik is one of the three wicketkeepers, who will be hoping to cement his place.
India B, led by Sehwag, has a mix of seniors and juniors. Rohan Gavaskar gets a chance to earn back his one-day place, while Ambatti Rayudu, long on the fringes of selection, is also there. Ashish Nehra has the chance to prove his fitness. In Picture: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Editor: Nishanth Gopinathan.