Test place for Yuvi..??

November 20, 2008

Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh’s match-winning hundreds in the first two one-dayers versus England could finally cement his test berth.

The 26-year-old left-hander slammed the second fastest ODI hundred by an Indian while scoring 138 not out in the first game against England.

He then put on an assured, all-round display with 118 and also took four for 28 bowling slow left-arm spin in the next to put India 2-0 up in the seven-match series.

India’s test selectors could now reward Yuvraj by recalling him to the middle-order slot vacated after former skipper Saurav Ganguly retired at the end of the 2-0 home series win over Australia earlier this month. In the first game in Rajkot, Yuvraj displayed the brutal power he did on his teenage debut eight years ago when he hit a match-winning 84 against Australia in his first one-dayer. In the second England game on Monday, he showed he could also curb his natural instinct, rescuing India from 29 for three.

Chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth believes Yuvraj is primed for a return for the two tests against England next month.

“I see Yuvi as a potential match-winner in Tests too,” he told The Telegraph. “Over the years, he has already shown he’s a match-winner in ODIs.

“There are others in the running as well (for tests), but Yuvi is definitely a front-runner.”

A perceived lack of focus has been blamed for Yuvraj not cementing a test berth despite his superb one-day performances.

SUSPECT TECHNIQUE

The presence of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Ganguly and Vangipurappu Laxman has also meant he has played just 23 matches since making his test debut five years ago.

Some experts believe his technique is inadequate against seaming deliveries on bouncier pitches.

The batsman seemed to have ironed out his flaws when he suffered a knee injury in 2006 during a training session.

He left his stamp during last year’s World Twenty20 triumph in South Africa, hitting England paceman Stuart Broad for six sixes in one over.

Recalled to the test side last December following injury to Tendulkar, he stroked a career-best 169 against Pakistan in the drawn third test in Bangalore, sealing a 1-0 series win.

But Yuvraj’s flop on the subsequent Australia tour cost him his test place.

His future looked unsure after scoring 72 runs in five outings in the one-day series win in Sri Lanka in August, losing the vice-captaincy before being ignored for the Australia tests.

Srikkanth, a former opening batsman, felt confidence Yuvraj remained the key to Yuvraj’s batting.

“I’ve never felt Yuvi has a problem focusing on what he’s required to do. I’ve always seen him as a confidence-player and such players need a couple of good knocks under their belt.”

New Delhi, Oct 30 (PTI) Riding on the unbroken 236-run stand between unbeaten centurions Gautam Gambhir (191) and VVS Laxman (104), India reached a commanding 393 for three wickets at lunch on day two of the third cricket Test against Australia here today.

Resuming on the overnight score of 296 for three, both Gambhir and Laxman milked the Australian attack dry with consummate ease as India went on piling runs, blunting the Australian attack.

Gambhir’s unbeaten 362-ball knock included 25 boundaries and a six, while Laxman, playing his 99th Test, hit 10 fours during his 174-ball stay so far.

It was vintage Laxman this morning as the stylish right-hander tormented the Aussies again with some elegant pulls.

Brett Lee tried to jolt him with some rising deliveries but Laxman didn’t flinch, barring on one occasion when his edge flew through the slips for a four.

Laxman used soft hands for deft placements but the shot that stood out was his full-blooded pull off Mitchell Johnson which raced to the ropes.

A cover-driven boundary off Cameron White brought up his 13th Test century, his sixth against Australia. At the other end, Gambhir maintained his cool, helping himself to the occasional boundaries as well.

The left-hander enjoyed fortune of the brave as well when he was coaxed into a loose shot by White but Matthew Hayden, at the lone slip, could not get his hand to the ball.

Zaheer Khan wreaked havoc as India punctured Australia’s aura of invincibility by inflicting a crushing 320-run defeat on the visitors with more than two sessions to spare in the second cricket Test in Mohali on Tuesday.

With Zaheer breathing fire, India took just one-and-half hours and 18.4 overs to complete the formality and Australia, thoroughly bruised and battered, were subjected to one of their worst defeats in recent past as India went 1-0 up in the four-match series.

Australia needed well nigh a miracle to chase down the monumental 516-run target for an improbable win and with the top order blown away cheaply, their pursuit looked doomed right at the outset.

It was too much to expect the lower middle order batsmen and tail-enders to do what their front-line willow-wielders could not and Australia eventually folded for 195.

Zaheer’s triple strikes in the first hour maimed Australia and since then, their collapse was just a matter of time and formality, which was completed in due course.

This was India’s biggest win against the Aussies, eclipsing the 222-run victory that came in Melbourne in 1977. Michael Clarke (69) was the only face of Australian resistance in the face of some inspiring Indian bowling but his knock didn’t go beyond boosting his personal tally.

Clarke’s 152-ball knock included nine hits to the fence. With five wickets separating India from a win at the end of the fourth day, the dice was indeed loaded too heavily against Australia and whatever hopes they had of saving the Test went up in smoke when Zaheer crashed through Brad Haddin’s (37) defence in the first over of the day.

Zaheer has been tormenting Australia since they landed in India and the persecution was far from over as the left-arm seamer came to singe them with a superlative show of fast bowling in his second over.

Cameron White (1) had barely survived the first ball he faced from Zaheer which angled across to beat his tentative blade but his luck ran out soon and the Australian edged the next delivery for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to pouch a smart catch diving to his right.

Brett Lee was next in the line of fire and he could only grope in thin air as Zaheer landed one just short of length and pegged back his off-stump, putting himself on a hat-trick.

Four fielders were soon manning the slip cordon and a few more hung around the blade but Mitchell Johnson’s (26) straight bat denied Zaheer his hat-trick even if the left-arm seamer’s spell was no less spectacular.

Johnson showed the grit that some of his illustrious batting colleagues lacked and the left-hander decided to lend a helping hand to Clarke who was waging a grim battle at the other end.

They put together a 50-run stand for the ninth wicket to thwart the Indians for a while but that was just an effort to delay the inevitable till Amit Mishra struck.

Johnson could not read Mishra’s flighted delivery and the leading edge resulted into a simple caught-and-bowled dismissal giving the bowler his sixth wicket of the match.

Running out of partners and patience wearing thin, Clarke pulled Amit Mishra in the leggie’s next over and Virender Sehwag took a smart catch at mid-off to drop curtains on Australia’s second innings.

The stifling suspense and the prolonged wait finally came to an end as Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar  on Friday (October 17) emerged as the highest run-accumulator in Test cricket’s history, staking a legitimate claim as the best batsman cricket has known since Don Bradman, both aesthetically and statistically.

After his mission incomplete in Bangalore, Tendulkar redeemed himself in Mohali in his 152nd Test and West Indian legend Brian Lara was toppled from the highest Test run-accumulator’s pedestal. Test debutant Peter Siddle sent down the first ball of the post-tea session. Tendulkar glided it to third man for three runs to surpass Lara’s record of 11,953 runs and raise the bar even higher for posterity.

Relieved to have achieved the milestone that eluded him in Bangalore, an overwhelmed Tendulkar took the helmet off and looked upwards in a silent prayer and suddenly all the hostility surrounding the Indo-Australian Test series evaporated as Ricky Ponting and his men came to shake hands with him.

Sourav Ganguly walked down from the non-striker’s end, patting him on the achievement and firecrackers went off around the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in a pre-Diwali celebration to mark the golden moment in the history of Indian cricket.

Tendulkar arrived here with 11,939 runs against his name from 151 Tests, averaging 54.02 hitting 39 centuries in the process. His ODI record put together– he tops the run-accumulator’s chart there too with 16,361 runs — Tendulkar has scored more than 25,000 international runs with the help of a mind boggling (42+39) 81 centuries and 138 half-centuries.

And all those runs flowed from the blade of someone who, rather reluctantly, swapped leather-flinging with willow-wielding after a blunt Dennis Lillee told the 12-year-old aspiring fast bowler in a Chennai camp that he had no hopes as a pacer. Or probably the blame actually lies with Waqar Younis.

Tendulkar was hit on the mouth by Waqar in his debut Test series in Pakistan with dripping blood drenching the shirt of the cuddly teen with curly hair. Nineteen long years since the incident and bowlers around the world continue to bleed even to this day for a folly of one of their predecessors. Worse, the torment is far from over.

Almost as a matter of revenge, Tendulkar lorded over the bowlers since that 1989 series, eclipsing virtually every batting record and piling on mountain of runs and setting new benchmarks for batsmanship in the process.

Impeccable technique, perfect temperament and unflinching commitment to his craft have made Tendulkar a paragon of all batting virtues and his single-minded determination and an incredible ability to insulate himself from anything unwarranted have only added to his aura.

With no real chink in his batting armour, bowling to him is often a trauma for the bowlers, although Shane Warne preferred to call it nightmare. Equipped with every shot in the book and endowed with the flair to blend routine with recherché, Tendulkar grew in stature with ever game before eventually attaining cult status. Don Bradman anointed him as his heir and euphoric Indians fans deified him.

He did burn his fingers with captaincy before renouncing it but the aura and idolatry remained intact. Unlike others, his name is not debated in selection meetings. They just enquire about his fitness. Loudmouth opponents like Australia refrain from sledging him, not as a favour but out of fear as it often brings out the best in Tendulkar. Bowlers fancy his scalp and whenever hit for a boundary, considers it comeuppance.

For his legion of fans, Tendulkar has been nothing sort of a messiah. Every time he walked out in the middle and took guard, he was expected to excel, regardless of opposition, condition and everything else. And on most occasions, Tendulkar did just that and his cult grew.

His impeccable demeanour on and off the field and a childish love for the game have endeared Tendulkar to all, making him a genuine ambassador of the game. With this new feather added to his already well-decorated cap, Tendulkar is now in a league of his own.

List of world’s top Test cricket batsmen after Sachin Tendulkar broke Brian Lara’s record to become the leading run scorer today (Name, country, Tests, runs, centuries):

Sachin Tendulkar (IND) 152* 11,955 39
Brian Lara (WIS) 131 11,953 34
Allan Border (AUS) 156 11,174 27
Steve Waugh (AUS) 168 10,927 32
Rahul Dravid (IND) 127* 10,341 25
Ricky Ponting (AUS) 121* 10,239 36
Sunil Gavaskar (IND) 125 10,122 34.

Besides Tendulkar, only Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting are the active cricketers in the list while Brian Lara, Allan Border, Steve Waugh and Sunil Gavaskar have already retired.

On a night of mixed fortune for Indian cricket, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was named the ODI Player of the Year, Yuvraj Singh won the Twenty20 International Performance of the Year Award but pacer Ishant Sharma failed to win the Emerging Player honour at the annual ICC awards function in Dubai on Wednesday (September 10).

West Indies’ Mr. Dependable Shivnarine Chanderpaul was adjudged Cricketer of the Year after a fine performance in Tests as well limited over cricket while South African fast bowler Dale Steyn earned the Test Cricketer of the Year Award.

India ODI captain Dhoni beat off tough competition from team-mate Sachin Tendulkar, Australian fast bowler Nathan Bracken and Pakistan stalwart Mohammad Yousuf to take the prestigious award.

Yuvraj was deservedly honoured for his stupendous six sixes in an over off Englishman Stuart Broad in the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa last year.

Ishant lost out to Sri Lankan mystery spinner Ajantha Medis who took the Emerging Player of the Year Award.

During the voting period, Dhoni played 39 ODIs and scored 1,298 runs at an average of 49.92 and at a rate of 82.46 runs per 100 balls faced. In that time, he hit a century and nine fifties making sure he led his team from the front.

Dhoni also effected 62 dismissals (46 catches and 16 stumpings) as wicketkeeper, which is almost twice as many as the next best, albeit having played more matches than any other keeper. He is currently ranked number one in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for ODI batsmen.

Tendulkar, however, found a place in the 12-man World ODI Team of the Year for the second year running, along with his captain Dhoni. Tendulkar was chosen along with Herschelle Gibbs of South Africa for the openers slot in the team led by Australia’s Ricky Ponting who got the leadership position for second year in a row and named in the team for third year running.

The 12-man squad was chosen by a specially-appointed selection panel chaired by West Indian batting legend Clive Lloyd. Virender Sehwag is the only Indian included in the 12-man World Test Team of the Year led by South African Graeme Smith.

In other awards, Simon Taufel of Australia won the Umpire of the Year Award for the fifth year in a row, the Netherlands’ Ryan ten Doeschate was declared Associate Player of the Year, England captain Charlotte Edwards chosen Women’s Player of the Year while the Spirit of Cricket Award went to Sri Lanka.

Yuvraj beat off tough competition from his captain Dhoni, Chris Gayle of the West Indies and Australia’s Brett Lee, who became the first bowler to take a hat-trick in the World Twenty20 Championship in South Africa.

On 19 September last during a Twenty20 World Championship match against England in Durban, Yuvraj smashed every delivery of the 19th over off England’s Staurt Broad beyond the boundary rope, in the process registering a 12-ball half-century and putting his team on course for victory.

It was the first time a player had hit six sixes in a single Twenty20 International over. Herschelle Gibbs did it in an ODI during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 in the West Indies while Garry Sobers became the first batsman to achieve the feat during a first-class match back in 1968.

For the best cricketer award, Chanderpaul had to fight off tough competition from Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardena as well as South Africans Graeme Smith and Dale Steyn to become the fifth player to win the coveted Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy.

The West Indian crisis man follows the footsteps of India’s Rahul Dravid (2004), Andrew Flintoff of England and South Africa s Jacques Kallis (joint winners in 2005) and Ricky Ponting of Australia (2006, 2007) to take the top award.

During the voting period, the left-hander from Guyana played eight Test matches, scoring 819 runs at an average of 91.00, including three centuries and six fifties, all of which were against the top seven teams in the world. He also played 13 ODIs during that time, finishing top of the averages with 74.75 having scored 598 runs, a haul that included a century and five fifties.

He is currently ranked number one in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen and is sixth in the rankings for ODI batsmen.

For the Test Player of the Year, Steyn beat off Chanderpaul, Jayawardene and Proteas team-mate Jacques Kallis to win the first ICC award of his career. During the 12-month voting period, Steyn put in some remarkable performances, taking 86 wickets at an average of just 18.10 in the 14 Test matches. He was the only bowler to earn an average less than 21.50 (of those who played more than three matches).

The 25-year-old had the best strike-rate with a wicket every 31.9 deliveries and he boasted two 10-wicket matches and six five-wicket innings.

List of Winners:

Cricketer of the Year Award: Shivnarine Chanderpaul (WI)

Test Player of the Year Award: Dale Steyn (SA)

ODI Player of the Year: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Ind)

Women’s Cricketer of the Year: Charlotte Edwards (Eng)

Emerging Player of the Year: Ajantha Mendis (SL)

Associate ODI Player of the Year: Ryan ten Doeschate (NL)

Twenty20 International Performance of Year: Yuvraj Singh (Ind)

Spirit of Cricket Award: Sri Lanka

Umpire of the Year Award: Simon Taufel

World Test Team of the Year (in batting order):

Graeme Smith (SA, captain); Virender Sehwag (Ind); Mahela Jayawardena (SL); Shivnarine Chanderpaul (WI); Kevin Pietersen (Eng); Jacques Kallis (SA); Kumar Sangakkara (SL, wk); Brett
Lee (Aus); Ryan Sidebottom (Eng); Dale Steyn (SA); Muttiah Muralitharan (SL); 12th man: Stuart Clark (Aus)

ICC World ODI Team of the Year (in batting order):

Herschelle Gibbs (SA); Sachin Tendulkar (Ind); Ricky Ponting (Aus, captain); Yunus Khan (Pak); Andrew Symonds (Aus); Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Ind, wk); Farveez Maharoof (SL); Daniel Vettori (NZ); Brett Lee (Aus); Mitchell Johnson (Aus); Nathan Bracken (Aus); 12th man: Salman Butt (Pak).

“His exemplary leadership and demeanour under pressure, especially in the World Twenty20 and the tri-series in Australia, mark him out as the ideal role-model for millions of young Indians .