Asif may be included in team after his ban ends: Butt

LAHORE: Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Ijaz Butt said that fast bowler Mohammad Asif may be included in the national team and central contract.

While addressing at a press conference here on Wednesday, the chairman PCB said that Mohammad Asif may regain his place in the Pakistan cricket team after his one-year ban ends while he may also be included in central contract.

Replying to a question regarding Mohammad Yousuf, Ijaz Butt said that the International Cricket Council (ICC) would decide about the fate of the ICL players but the team needs experienced player like Mohammad Yousuf. He may join the national team if he leaves the ICL.

Regarding the Senate’s standing committee for sports, he said that every question would be answered before the Senate committee but the Senate is not authorized to dictate the cricket board.

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Umar Gul’s fine performance in Australian domestic cricket

SYDNEY: Pakistani fast bowler Umar Gul, displaying fine performance in domestic Twenty20 tournament being held in Australia, claimed eight wickets in only three matches.

The 24-year-old fast bowler is representing Western Australia in Australia’s Twenty20 tournament.

He has so far played three matches, claiming eight wickets for 77 runs in 11.2 overs and proved himself the most successful bowler in the event.

In the match held on Sunday, Umar Gul played an important role in his team’s victory by dismissing three Tasmanian players for 21 runs.

Umar Gul showed pavilion’s way to four players of South Australia for just 15 runs in his debut match of Australian domestic career.

Another Pakistani bowler Sohail Tanvir is also playing for South Australia in the event and obtained only two wickets in two matches.

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Sri Lanka in commanding position against Bangladesh

CHITTAGONG: Sri Lanka bowled themselves to a position of strength despite a rearguard rally by Bangladesh tailender Mashrafe Mortaza on the second day of the second and final Test here on Sunday.

Spinners Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan shared seven wickets to bowl out the hosts for 208 in their first innings in reply to Sri Lanka’s strong 384.

It was Mortaza who spared Bangladesh the ignominy of following on, adding 63 for the last wicket with Shahadat Hossain (five not out) after they were reeling at 145-9.

Mortaza hit eight fours and two sixes, one each off Mendis and Muralitharan, in his 89-ball 63. The only other player to offer some resistance was skipper Mohammad Ashraful who made 45 off 100 balls with five fours and a six.

Sri Lankan openers Malinda Warnapura (seven) and Prasanna Jayawardene (six) took their team to 13-0 in their second innings at close for an overall lead of 189.

Mendis, playing only his fourth Test and his first away from home after missing the opening game in Dhaka due to an ankle injury, rattled the home team with his guiles.

He removed Mehrab Hossain (18) and the in-form Shakib Al Hasan for a first-ball duck off successive balls besides taking the wickets of Mushfiqur Rahim (21) and Raqibul Hasan to finish with figures of 4-71.

Mendis, who enjoyed a sensational debut against India last year picking 26 wickets from three Tests, also got able support from Muralitharan (3-62).

The veteran bowler brought to an end a spirited knock by Ashraful, who flayed him for a six and two fours in an over, by having him caught behind.

Earlier Chaminda Vaas dismissed both the openers to deny Bangladesh a strong start in their first innings.

The fast bowler removed Tamim Iqbal for a duck in the opening over and trapped Imrul Kayes leg before for six, Bangladesh slipping to a precarious 26-2.

Mendis picked the third Bangladeshi wicket to fall in the morning when Raqibul Hasan failed to read a straighter one from the bowler and was adjudged leg before.

Bangladesh’s batsmen failed to build on the good work of their bowlers who dismissed the visitors after they had added just 13 runs to their overnight total of 371-6.

Shakib picked three of the four remaining wickets to finish with 4-109.

Sri Lanka lead the two-Test series 1-0 after winning the opening Test in Dhaka by 107 runs.

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Sri Lankan tour to flourish Pakistan’s cricket: Yousuf

SUKKUR: Muhammad Yousuf, Test cricketer Pakistan cricket team, has said that upcoming Sri Lankan cricket team’s tour of Pakistan would be fruitful for Pakistan players, as our boys have not played much international cricket in 2008.

He said that this tour would help flourish international cricket in Pakistan and added that Pakistani cricketers are too much eager to make a strong come back at test level in international scenario.

He was talking to Geo News correspondent Shahid Ali here in Sukkur. He termed Javaid Minadad’s inclusion in Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) “A good move” in perking up the policy of PCB.

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Greene leads Iowa past South Carolina in Outback

TAMPA, Fla. – All-American running back Shonn Greene figures he’s ready for the next level. After leading Iowa over South Carolina 31-10 Thursday in the Outback Bowl, the Big Ten’s most valuable player said he’ll skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. “I don’t think there’s really a lot more I can do here,” Greene said. “People talk about the Heisman, but I think that’s a lot of politics. I don’t like getting caught up in all of that, so I just figure I’ll try my chances.”

Greene ran for 121 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for more than 100 yards in all 13 of Iowa’s games and scored in all but one.

Greene finished with school single-season records of 1,850 yards and 20 TDs, after sitting out the 2007 season because of academic problems,

The 235-pound junior from Sicklerville, N.J., said this week that he planned to meet with his family and consider information from the NFL college advisory committee before making a decision this month on whether to turn pro.

His Outback performance sealed the deal.

Iowa (9-4) won for the sixth time in seven games since losing three straight to fall to 3-3. South Carolina (7-6) lost three straight down the stretch while being outscored 118-30.

Greene scored on a pair of 1-yard runs to help Iowa build a 21-0 halftime lead, then added an 11-yarder to make it 31-0 late in the third quarter. South Carolina scored on Chris Smelley‘s 10-yard TD pass to Jared Cook and Ryan Succop‘s 48-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

After struggling offensively in lopsided losses to Florida and Clemson, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier decided to start quarterback Stephen Garcia, a highly regarded redshirt freshman from Tampa who was the centerpiece of his recruiting class in 2007.

But Garcia, who nearly undermined his career by being arrested twice within his first month on campus, turned the ball over four times in the first half and was replaced by Smelley after going 9-for-18 for 79 yards and three interceptions.

The 20-year-old’s homecoming turned sour in a hurry. His first pass was intercepted and returned 29 yards set up an Iowa touchdown, then the dual-threat quarterback fumbled on his first run to give the Gamecocks turnovers on two of their first four offensive plays.

The next two South Carolina possessions ended with interceptions. After Bradley Fletcher picked off Garcia in the end zone, Iowa drove 80 yards to take a 21-0 lead on Greene’s second touchdown.

Ricky Stanzi was intercepted twice before halftime, but neither mistake really hurt the Hawkeyes. Iowa was trying to turn’s Garcia’s third interception into a quick TD when South Carolina’s Chris Culliver made a leaping pick in the end zone.

Smelley, who started nine games for South Carolina this season, replaced Garcia at the start of the second half. Moe Brown fumbled on the quarterback’s first completion to set up an Iowa field goal, but the Gamecocks did have some success moving the ball the rest of the game.

Stanzi was 13-for-19 for 147 yards, including a 6-yard TD throw to Trey Stross on the first drive of the game. Smelley finished 16-of-31 for 179 yards and no interceptions.

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Pakistan hope Sri Lanka tour will go ahead

KARACHI: Cricket officials in Pakistan said Wednesday they hoped Sri Lanka’s tour would go ahead next month amid doubts following the sacking of the country’s interim cricket board.

Sri Lankan Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge has fired interim board president Arjuna Ranatunga, who agreed to send his team to Pakistan in January after India pulled out of a much-anticipated tour in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

Media reports have quoted Lokuge as saying that all decisions made by the previous board would be reviewed, raising doubts that the tour of five one-dayers and three Tests would go ahead as planned.

“The change in the set-up is their internal matter and I hope the series will take place,” Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief operating officer Salim Altaf told reporters.

“Pakistan is sure to play this series as we badly need to have an international series at home. We are keen on hosting Sri Lanka even though we will not make much money,” he added.

Altaf said he would discuss the situation with Sri Lankan officials at the Asian Cricket Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

The cancellation of India’s tour was the third major cricket event called off here this year, after Australia refused to tour in March and the ICC postponed the elite eight-nation Champions Trophy set for August until 2009.

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Cricket-Sri Lanka dissolve Ranatunga-led cricket board

COLOMBO, Dec 23 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s government-appointed cricket board headed by Arjuna Rantunga was dissolved on Tuesday, Sri Lanka Cricket said.

“Minister of Sports and Public Recreation Gamini Lokuge has dissolved the Sri Lanka Cricket Interim Committee with immediate effect,” a media statement said.

Ranatunga, Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup-winning captain, was appointed chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket in January.

Sports ministry secretary S. Liyanagama has been appointed to oversee the day-to-day affairs of the cricket administration until a new management committee is installed.

Lokuge has the option of calling board elections or appointing a fresh government-controlled interim committee.

“We will take a decision within a week,” Lokuge said

India, S Africa in race to dethrone Aussies: Chappell

Perth (PTI): India and South Africa are in the race to dethrone “the ageing and wounded” Australia as the world’s number one cricket team, commentators said on Monday after the Proteas had walloped the Aussies by successfully chasing 414 runs to win the first Test in Perth on Sunday.

The Australian media put Ricky Ponting and his team on the mat by calling some of the key players “over-rated, lacking form or too arrogant for their own good.”

Former Australian skipper Ian Chappell took a look at the credentials of two of Australia’s nearest rivals and said that in the race to unseat the kangaroos “there are differences that favour India over South Africa”.

He went on to say that India has a well-balanced attack that has experienced a good deal of success against Australia, while South Africa’s pace attack has still only displayed the potential to rattle Ponting and Co.

Chappell said another big difference was the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

“Dhoni is a good aggressive captain who challenges the Australians, while Graeme Smith relies on a conservative approach rah-rah speeches.

“South Africa is a very determined team and they field as though their life depends on it but they play a conservative brand of cricket that was never going to beat the Australia of old. This is a lesson India learned a while ago and they are even better equipped for toe-to-toe combat with Australia now that Dhoni has ascended to the Test captaincy,” he said.

Off the field we are friends: Yuvraj

Mohali: Yuvraj Singh reacted sharply to Kevin Pietersen’s “pie-chucker” comment but added he and the England captain were good friends off the field. The aggressive left-hander said such remarks actually strengthened his resolve.

In a rather hilarious press conference, he said, “I knew the first question would be this, that’s why I announced ‘the pie-chucker is coming!’ When I got up in the morning and read the newspapers I asked myself, ‘what does this mean?’

“A few friends told me that it meant a ‘useless kind of bowler’. It shows Pietersen hates getting out to me. Well, a useless bowler getting him out on so many occasions could be because of useless batting!”


Then, Yuvraj acknowledged Pietersen’s ability as a batsman. “But that’s all right. He’s phenomenal player and batted like a champion.”

Yuvraj said Pietersen had attempted to get under his skin. “This brought out the best out of me in the second innings in Chennai. I tried the same when he batted here and it brought out the best in him.”

Added Yuvraj, “I don’t seek to make friends on the field. But off it, Pietersen and I get along well.”

He dwelt further on the subject of on-field chat. “Sometimes it fires you up, sometimes it backfires. So I really don’t mind the chat. I look forward to the challenge every time I get on to the ground.”

Yuvraj was not willing to call Pietersen his bunny. “You play so much cricket, you’re bound to get out to someone. But I know he hates my bowling, and I’m happy with that.”

On his coming on to bowl on day two, Yuvraj said, “Obviously, Dhoni told me to come and bowl. Pietersen almost goofed up on the sixth ball. But I think that made him stronger and he got a hundred.”

The punishing left-hander said he was willing to give bowling tips to Pietersen. “I’ll tell him how to bowl in the rough. We’ll have a chat about this when we finish the game.”

Yuvraj spoke about a sense of bonding in the Indian team. “The team is gelling very well, enjoying each other’s success. With Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton around, the atmosphere in the dressing room is good.

“If we are under pressure, we know we have a bunch of guys who can come up with match-winning knocks or spells. Our bowling has been exceptional. Along with Harbhajan, Zaheer has been the frontline bowler and Ishant is doing well, so we have a great all-round bunch of players.”

The spouthpaw said his match-winning partnership with Sachin Tendulkar in Chennai would forever stay in his memory. “Getting 85 not out on the last day in Chennai was special for me because you don’t chase 387 everyday.

“With Sachin there at the other end, the scene will remain in my memories. A couple of other things, like winning in Australia and the Twenty20 victories are also right up there.”

Ability in Tests

Yuvraj said he never doubted his ability to come good in Tests. “I never had a doubt. I knew the runs will come if I spent some time in the middle. If you work hard on your game, the runs will come.”

On the Indian team’s work ethics, he said, “Everyone has taken responsibility. In tough situations, someone puts his hand up.

“We back each other, we enjoy each other’s performance. There is great unity in the team and we are like a bunch of schoolboys having fun.”

Dhoni’s captaincy

Asked about Dhoni’s captaincy, Yuvraj said, “He’s very cool-headed. He always has a Plan B. I don’t see that in most captains. Like when Pietersen and Freddie (Flintoff) got a few runs together, he slowed down the game.

“The moment we had two wickets, we pounced on the batsmen… He’s always thinking, he’s always asking for suggestions from everyone.”

Stuart Broad said he hugely enjoyed dismissing Rahul Dravid. The paceman said the plan was to bowl a consistent line and length and make it difficult for the Indians to score quickly.

He compared Ian Bell’s run-out of Sehwag with some of dismissals effected by Jonty Rhodes.

Gambhir holds fort, prevents collapse

Mohali: Gautam Gambhir stone-walled even as Yuvraj Singh cut loose. Cricket is a team game that is often played out in partnerships. And India has been finding the right answers in stressful situations this home season.

The 54-run unbeaten association between the two left-handers of contrasting heights — the duo forced the bowlers to bowl different lengths — swelled India’s lead to 285 with six wickets remaining going into the final day.

Outside chance

At stumps on day four of the second and final Test at the PCA Stadium, India was 134 for four in its second innings. England was in with an outside chance after V.V.S. Laxman was run-out and India was down to 80 for four.

Then, Yuvraj (39 batting, 40b, 5×4, 1×6) joined Gambhir. Kevin Pietersen, rightly, kept attacking fields for most part but missed a trick by not employing Andrew Flintoff for a longer period against Yuvraj. Flintoff has troubled Yuvraj with his bounce and movement in this series.

Panesar gets the stick

Monty Panesar had dismissed Yuvraj in the first innings but then a left-arm spinner is hardly the right option against a left-handed batsman in a pressure situation. Yuvraj took a heavy toll off Panesar even as the left-armer struggled with his action. Under the circumstances, Flintoff was under-bowled.

Gambhir’s innings (44 batting, 155b, 3×4) was a lot about character and fight; the Indians have played tough, hard-nosed cricket this year. Ahead 1-0 with just one full day left in the series, India’s ploy was to completely shut the door on England.

When the Indians batted again, the England pacemen hit the right areas. There was a measure of assistance for the pacemen from the surface as well. Wickets had fallen in clutches in this Test and India — despite a 151-run lead — had to ensure against a collapse.

Gambhir’s determined knock has to be seen in this context. He concentrated hard and put a lid on his attacking instincts. The left-hander played close to the body, was sure about his off-stump, and countered movement with front-footed play.

Creating pressure

James Anderson and Stuart Broad created pressure from either end with the new ball. The duo, rightly, employed a fuller length and got the ball to deviate late.

It was, however, a brilliant display of fielding that ended the opening partnership. Racing in from short cover, Ian Bell dived full length to shatter the stumps and catch Virender Sehwag short of the crease.

England continued to strike. Rahul Dravid committed the error of not getting on to his front foot to a good length off-cutter from Broad and Sachin Tendulkar opened the face of the willow to an Anderson delivery well outside the off-stump.

Flintoff steamed in to bowl an unerring stump-to-stump line and Anderson probed the batsmen with two-way movement. There was some encouragement for off-spinner Graeme Swann but the England close-in fielders failed to snaffle half-chances.

Fog delays start

Earlier, fog delayed the start by two hours but the Indians brought the England first innings to a swift conclusion. In a collapse beginning late on Sunday, England slumped from 280 for four to 302 all out.

Harbhajan Singh varied his trajectory and spun the ball in from a shade outside the off-stump for most part. However, he struck with a different kind of delivery — one that pitched on middle and spun to leg. Attempting to work the ball, Matt Prior got a nick.

Then, the left-handed Broad shouldered arms to a Harbhajan delivery angled into him from round-the-wicket. The off-spinner had done well to switch angles to the southpaw.

Impressive record

Harbhajan extracted turn and bounce, bowling in a relaxed frame of mind. His bowling has often come under the scanner in the last few months but Harbhajan — to his credit — has 63 wickets in 13 Tests (including the on-going match) this year.

He is snapping at the heels of South African paceman Dale Steyn who leads with 64 scalps in 12 Tests so far.

Left-arm paceman Zaheer Khan bowled with precision. Zaheer is at the peak of his ability; his run-up, load-up, wrist and seam positions, and the release blend into one synchronised motion from both over and round the wicket.

Zaheer speared one through Swann’s defence; swing does sting.

The paceman is just three short of 200 wickets in Test cricket.