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Jul 31, 2009

Breaking news: Murali to retire from test match in 2010

Ace Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has set to date for his retirement from Test match cricket. Conversing at the end of the first ODI against Pakistan, he announced that he will retire from Test Match at the end of Sri Lanka's home series against West Indies in November 2010.

"I am not going to play for a long time. I am thinking of next year's West Indies series it will be the last two Test matches I will be playing. That's the right time for me because I will be 38 years old. The 2011 World Cup is my ambition, but I will enjoy playing T20 cricket for a few more years," Murali said.

"The toughest game in cricket is Tests. The hardest element is you have to take wickets and get batsmen out and sometimes you have to fritter two days on the field. You have to mentally prepare yourself for every game. In Twenty20, you look to hold the batsmen and he tries some shots and gets out. Fifty-over cricket is also the same. In Test cricket you have to read the batsmen, set the fields properly and get the wickets," he added.

"I put in a lot of stab in the last one month to be fit. I trained very hard with the physio Tommy and trainers Jade and Mario who helped me to get through the complicated period. I also enjoyed the break. I trained hard although I knew my knee was not right," mentioned Muralitharan, who missed out on the test series against Pakistan owing to a knee injury.

"The doctors said that I have to go through with it and train harder. I can't go for an operation because I will be out for six to seven months. That means my career is almost over and that I am not going to play for long. A torn tendon is a very big injury and it will take a long time to cure. The best suggestion was for me to rest for two to three weeks, train hard and play with a little pain. I was prepared to go through with it. The doctors said that I can definitely play with the injury for about one to two years but in the end when I finish I will have to operate on it," he added.

When asked about the possibility of reaching 1000 test wickets, Murali said, "If I am to get 1000 Test wickets we have to play Test matches regularly. These days we play fewer Test matches."

Jul 25, 2009

Victorious Sri Lanka edge closer to India

Thanks to their 2-0 triumph over Pakistan, Sri Lanka decreased the gap that separates it from third-placed India in the latest ICC Test Championship rankings.

With the win, Kumar Sangakkara's men merged their fourth position while Pakistan slipped behind England to sixth place.

Sri Lanka gained three ratings points & moved to 111, stretching its lead over fifth-placed England to 10 points and bringing it contained by just six of India, which currently occupies third position.

For its part, Pakistan had been just one ratings point behind England past to the series but is now six points adrift.

In the mean time, Australia still leads the table with South Africa in 2nd place.

Jul 24, 2009

Andrew Flintoff tread carefully

Ashes match-winner Andrew Flintoff will only play at Edgbaston if England is totally confident of him getting through the entire five days at full capacity.

Flintoff, 31, overcame the effect of his right knee injury to claim the man-of-the-match award.

Three injections in the worrying joint helped him retain his hostility with the ball throughout the challenge and his rampaging spell on the fifth morning sealed the result.

He has been painful in the aftermath, however, and is resting up, in an offer to be fully fit for the third test match starting next Thursday.

Andrew Flintoff is determined to get through the whole campaign before retiring from Test cricket, and says he will play during the pain, but neither he nor the management will put the good of the team in risk.

"I don't think that sort of decisions take an incredible amount of strength," said coach Andy Flower.

"If guys are fit enough to get through and contribute to winning Test matches then they'll be selected."

This series will be Flintoff's last test series, and the poignancy of the moment was improved by his first ever five wickets haul at Lord's.

"We know what a important contribution his was," Flower said.

"I think one of his main contributions to us over the five days was giving the side self-confidence and belief."

"Definitely with him leading the attack in that last innings, it gave us the belief we'd bowl them out."

England will already miss its premier batsman Kevin Pietersen for the final three matches of the series, with Warwickshire's Ian Bell prepared to fill in on his home ground next week.

Jul 21, 2009

Bangladesh seal a first ever series win away from home

Bangladeshi Standing Skipper Shakib Al Hasan led from the front with 96* as his side beat the West Indies in the 2nd and final test here on Monday and he declared the 2-0 series win was the biggest thing for the cricket side in nine years.

All-rounder Shakib hit the winning runs in style with a six to seal a first ever series win away from home - admittedly against a diluted and inexperienced West Indies side after the senior players boycotted the series over a pay disagreement - and the first time they have won two successive tests.

Shakib & Raqibul Hasan made 65 - both career bests - to set things up for the Tigers, as they successfully chased 215 for victory to win by 4 wickets and claim only their 2nd ever series win.

"In our nine years, this is the biggest thing that has happened to Bangladesh cricket," said Shakib.

"This series win will give a boost to our confidence, and will help to take us to the next level, and with God's help, we shall go forward. There was not too much stress on us, since the boys have been playing really well. It was a good victory."

Bangladesh were struggling on 67 for four about half-hour before the tea break, but Shakib joined Raqibul and they put Bangladesh firmly on course for victory with a stand of 106 for the 5th wicket either side of tea. Raqibul reached his 50 from 74 balls. About 25 minutes later, Shakib arrived at his landmark, when he troop Kemar Roach for his seventh boundary and the first of three in succession in the fast bowler's 11th over.

But Raqibul became the 4th of five wickets for 55 runs in 16 overs for Darren Sammy, when he gave an easy return catch with Bangladesh still needing 44.

Tiny wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim joined Shakib and inched Bangladesh closer in the 40 minutes he depleted at the crease before he too, drove back a simple return catch to Sammy to leave the Tigers 14 short of the magic number, but they had no last-minute jitters and duly crossed over the threshold.

"We had a good chance to win the game in the second innings, but we did not bat too well," said West Indies Skipper Floyd Reifer.

"We always knew we needed around 280 runs to have a fighting chance to win the game and we fell way short.

"It is pretty hard to defend a victory target of 215. All they needed was one good partnership to have a good chance. But I felt Sammy bowled well, and our guys tried very hard, but it was a tough game."

About the frailty of West Indies' batsmen against spin, he said: "In our domestic first-class competition, the spinners get the most wickets every year. This is something we will have to examine closely as players, as coaches, and try to work out the best way to play spin bowling.

"There are many positives we can take away from the Tests, and take into the One-day International series, so we shall be positive and look to win the ODI series."

Before lunch, Bangladesh had made a good start and reached 17 without loss, after they completed the demolition of the West Indies batting, following a delayed start.

Man-of-the-Match & Man-of-the-Series : Shakib Al Hasan

Jul 20, 2009

England beat Australia to win second Test

Andrew Flintoff got five wickets as England finally broken their 75-year wait for an Ashes victory at Lord's with a 115-run win over Australia on the fifth day of the second Test.

Victory saw England take a 1-0 lead in the five-Test series having stick on for a draw in Cardiff.

Australia set a massive 522 to win - a target that had they achieved it would have surpassed the fourth innings Test world record victory total of 418 for seven made by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2002/03 - were bowled out for 406 shortly before lunch on the Last day.

Fast bowler Andrew Flintoff, who before this match announced he would retire from Test cricket at the end of this Ashes Series, took five wickets for 92 runs in 27 overs, including three for 43 in 10 overs Monday.

It was only the 3rd time in the 31 year old all-rounder's 77-Test career he had taken five wickets in a Test innings. Off-spinner Graeme Swann gave good support with 4-87.

Michael Clarke did his best to deny England with a excellent innings of 136 but ultimately could not stop the hosts beating Australia in a Test at Lord's for the first time since 1934, when they won by an innings and 38 runs.

"To win an Ashes Test match at Lord's feels very special but we're not going to get carried away," England skipper Andrew Strauss insisted.

His Australian complement Ricky Ponting was magnanimous in defeat. "We are disappointed to lose in this type of venue but we were outplayed from the first ball to the last ball.

"Now we have to jump back, regroup and hit the ground running for the next Test at Edgbaston."

Australia resumed on 313 for five, 209 runs adrift of their target, with Clarke 125 not out and Brad Haddin 80 not out.

But starting again is never easy and they were powerless to add to a stand worth 185 with Haddin out for his overnight score.

Haddin edged the 10th ball of the morning, fast bowler Flintoff's 4th, straight to Paul Collingwood who took a good low catch at 2nd slip.

Andrew Flintoff was on fire and hit Clarke on the head with a bouncer, as the batsman took his eye off the ball, before beating him on the outside edge. New batsman Mitchell Johnson was providential on four, after being completely deceived by a Flintoff slower ball that strike him on the pad, that veteran umpire Rudi Koertzen, standing in his 100th Test, had correctly called no-ball.

But it was Swann who, with his second ball Monday, took the wicket England crave when he beat Clarke in the air as the batsman went down the pitch and bowled him off-stump to end the Australia vice-captain's innings of above five hours.

Andrew Flintoff then bowled Nathan Hauritz for one as the batsman shouldered arms and Australia were 363 for eight.

Andrew Flintoff, the star of England's 2005 Ashes series win, though then finished only the third five-wicket haul of his Test career when he bowled Peter Siddle, and celebrated by going down on one knee with his arms extended after leaving his side on the brink of victory.

Fast bowler Johnson, who'd struggled with the ball, defied England with a 62-ball fifty.

But Swann, who dropped a tricky caught and bowled chance off Johnson, bowled him for 63 to seal England's victory.

Jul 15, 2009

Flintoff retire from Test cricket at end of Ashes

Andrew Flintoff to quit Test cricket at the end of the ongoing Ashes series against Australia, the injury-flat England all-rounder announced here on Wednesday.

The 31 years old, who has played 75 Tests for England since his debut in 1998, will though persist to make himself available for selection for One-Day Internationals & International Twenty20 fixtures, report issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said.

Andrew Flintoff was the big star of England's 2005 Test series win over Australia as the team recovered the Ashes for the first time in 18 years.

But injuries have shattered his career and he now has to overcome a knee problem, continued in last week's drawn first Test against Australia, if he is to play in the 2nd match of the current Ashes series starting at Lord's here on Thursday.

"My body has told me it's time to stop," Andrew Flintoff, who had to have an operation of his right knee after injury in April cut short his stretch in the profitable Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL), said in an ECB statement.

"Since 2005 I've had two years when I've done nothing but rehab from one injury or another," added Flintoff, who awaiting last week's Test had not played for England this season because of injury.

"It's been something I've been thinking about for a while and I think this last problem I've had with my knee has confirmed to me that the time is now right."

England skipper Andrew Strauss, still waiting on Flintoff's fitness before he knows his team for the 2nd Test, said he'd been expecting the Lancashire star's decision.

"From a player point of view, this is not that surprising - it has been coming for a while, with the injuries he has had," he said.

"We are obviously very disappointed and feel for him, because he is still an attractive young guy. But he knows his own body better than anybody.

"We respect his decision and hope he can go out with a bang."

Former England skipper Michael Atherton praised Flintoff's input to his country's team but questioned the timing of his decision.

"It's curious timing because apparently if Flintoff didn't play in this game and England did well and won, what do they do?

"Do they go back to Flintoff with the end of the series looming when he's not going to be playing beyond that? It's not yet certain he'll get a grand ending or farewell."

Even so, Atherton said Flintoff will feel "absolutely fulfilled" when he looks back on his career.

"He has been a very good Test match cricketer, not a great one but a very good one who had a great series in 2005. His career's not over because he'll want to play some more one-day international cricket. I think he'll feel absolutely fulfilled."

Another former England captain, Graham Gooch, said Flintoff's retirement from Test cricket likely a "big loss" but said the modern workload of Tests, one-day and Twenty20 cricket was a big load.

"It is a big loss for English cricket, because he has a presence about him. He's not been the biggest power on all the Test matches he's played. But he does have a presence, and that brings others along with him," Gooch told BBC Radio.

"He has the aptitude to be able to get big players out. Certainly that was shown at the height of his career when England won the Ashes in 2005."

Sri Lanka first home series win over Pakistan

Sri Lanka sealed the three test match series with a seven-wicket victory in the 2nd Test on Tuesday after the unpredictable tourists suffered a spectacular collapse.

Pakistan, sitting good-looking at 285-1 just before lunch on the third day, collided to 320 all out after the break to leave Sri Lanka a winning target of 171 on a good batting pitch at the P. Sara Oval.

Sri Lanka sailed home with two days to spare to record their first home series win over Pakistan after losing three of their five previous series & drawing the other two Series.

Sangakkara, 31, took over as a Skipper after Mahela Jayawardene stepped down in March to focus on his batting and allow his successor to build a team for the 2011 World Cup.
Sangakkara, a long-time assistant to Jayawardene, showed he was cut out for the job with creative leadership in the two Tests.

His utilize of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath in the two Tests in the absence of the injured Muttiah Muralitharan bordered on a reckless risk, but it paid off handsomely both times.

On a seamer-friendly wicket in the first Test at Galle, Sangakkara throw the ball to Herath on the 4th morning when Pakistan needed only 97 runs to win with eight wickets in hand.

Rangana Herath eradicated the two overnight batsmen, Mohammad Yousuf and Salman Butt, with his first four balls and finished with a career-best 4-15 as Pakistan lost their last eight wickets for 46 runs.

On Tuesday, Skipper Sangakkara handed the new ball to spinner Rangana Herath, instead of his fast bowlers, and the left-armer once again dismissed Yousuf with his 2nd delivery to trigger another Pakistani collapse.

Herath completed with 5-99 and seamer Nuwan Kulasekera took 4-37 as Pakistan lost their last nine wickets for 35 runs after debutant Fawad Alam's superb 168 and Younus' 82 had put the tourists in an excellent position.

"We expected the spinners to get some bite off the new ball because if it landed on the glossy side it would slip through and hopefully hit the pads," said Sangakkara.

"We walked onto the ground idea of starting with the fast bowlers from both ends, but I throw the ball to Rangana, who came up with a wicket in his first over.

"No matter who bowled, we wanted someone to stand up and do something special for us. happily we had two people, Kulasekara and Herath, who bowled superbly in partnership."

Sangakkara, whose team lost to Pakistan in the World Twenty20 final in England last month, hopes to complete a 3-0 rout when the 3rd Test starts at the Sinhalese sports club here on July 20.

But he said he was concerned that Sri Lankan batting had not touched 300 in the four innings so far.

"We have got a lot of work to do with the batting," he said. "Everyone is batting well, but we just want to go on and bat for hours and hours."

Jul 14, 2009

Bangladesh's second Test victory ever

Mahmudullah finished a memorable debut Test, when he brutally exposed West Indies' frailty to spin, and bowled Bangladesh to a historic 95-run victory in the 1st Test on Monday.

The 23-year-old Mahmudullah captured five wickets for 51 runs from his 15 overs, as WI, chasing 277 for victory, were all-out for 181 in their second innings about 20 minutes before the scheduled close on the fifth and final day at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex.

All rounder Shakib Al Hasan formalised Bangladesh's second Test victory ever, when he attentive Tino Best lbw plumb in front for nine with a dipping full toss, and ended with three wickets for 39 runs from 28.1 overs.

The result means that Bangladesh lead the two-Test series 1-0 with the final match start on Friday at Grenada's Queen's Park Stadium Complex.

Bangladesh's victory which came about 4-1/2 years after their solitary Test win against Zimbabwe on home soil in Chittagong was made more remarkable because their new Skipper and primary fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza spent the entire West Indies innings off the field nursing a knee injury he aggravated earlier in the match.

"I feel much better now following this victory," said captain Mortaza. "Special thanks to Shakib for deputising for me, and the way he knob the side.

"It was probably a blessing in costume when we got bowled out which gave us more time. We were looking to bat until lunch and get a lead of about 300 or more, but we lost five wickets quickly.

"But we included good spinners like Shakib and Mahmudullah and they bowled really well, so special thanks to them and the rest of the bowlers because we were operating one bowler short because of my injury - and we still won."

Bangladesh had pushed their claims almost from the start of the West Indies innings, and had limited the hosts to 66 for two at lunch.

They got the breakthrough quite unexpectedly, when Raqibul Hasan ran Dale Richards out for 14 with a direct hit from gully, after umpire Asoka de Silva turned down an lbw appeal from Shahadat Hossain, and the batsman absentmindedly walked out of his crease.

There was added success for Bangladesh, when Shakib had left-hander Omar Phillips lbw for 14 to go West Indies 33 for two, but the Tigers could make no more headway, as West Indies captain Floyd Reifer joined Travis Dowlin, and they batted out the remainder of the session.

Bangladesh also play three One-day Internationals and a Twenty20 International on their five week tour of the Caribbean.

Jul 13, 2009

Ashes: England to escape from the first Test

England last pair Jimmy Anderson & Monty Panesar proved their country's unlikely batting heroes when the hosts defy the rules of probability by drawing the first Ashes test against Australia on Sunday.

Australia, who had dominated the match in all sections for the first four days, were moving inexorably to what emerged an inevitable 1-0 lead in the five-match series as the England batsmen found new ways to gift their wickets.

Ex-Skipper Paul Collingwood was the exception, fighting a single battle for the best part of six hours. But when he was out for 74 England still needed six runs to make Australia bat 2nd innings with a minimum 11.3 overs left in the day's play.

Panesar was greeted with the vast cheer he gets whenever he chases a ball in the field or comes out to bat as England's last man. Unlike his fielding, however, Panesar can bat and he played determinedly straight to everything the Australian bowlers could hurl at him.

"I was pretty anxious but Jimmy and I were communicating pretty well," Panesar told a news conference.

"We just said to each other play the ball directly and watch the ball hard. Now we're sitting here with a draw."

Two boundaries to Anderson off destructive paceman Peter Siddle persuaded Australia captain Ricky Ponting to bring on occasional off-spinner Marcus North to accompany the specialist Nathan Hauritz.

Ponting protected his decision by saying both men spun the ball away from the left-handers and would get their overs finished quickly in the final hour.

But England captain Andrew Strauss said he think left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson would have been a better choice & Anderson did not hide his relief at facing North rather than a fast bowler.

"Certainly when Marcus North came on we thought we had a great chance," he said.