Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Joy for Kiwis, tears for Proteas as McCullum's army enters WC final!

Corey Anderson and Grant Elliott produced a superbly timed 103-run partnership to take New Zealand into their first cricket World Cup final with a tense four-wicket win over South Africa at Eden Park on Tuesday.

Anderson (58) and Elliott (84 not out) had been thrust together at 149 for four in the 22nd over of the rain-effected semi-final and calmly took their side within sight of victory before Daniel Vettori joined Elliott to guide their side home to ecstatic scenes in Auckland.

Earlier South Africa captain AB de Villiers (65 not out) and Faf du Plessis (82) had shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 103 from 73 balls to power their team to an imposing 281 for five in 43 overs after almost two hours of play was lost due to the rain.

New Zealand were set a revised target of 298 under the Duckworth-Lewis method and while Brendon McCullum got them away to a flying start with 59, they struggled to keep pace before the crucial fifth-wicket partnership.

Earlier, Du Plessis, who scored his 15th One-Day International (ODI) half-century, held the innings together. The right-handed batsman was involved in a crucial 83-run stand with Rilee Rossouw (39) for the third wicket.

That set up the game for the big-hitters like de Villiers and David Miller. Left-hander Miller bludgeoned his way to a 18-ball 49 fired the team to 281/5 in 43 overs. As per the Duckworth/Lewis (D/L) method, the host need 298 in 43 overs.  

At the start, South Africa openers Hashim Amla (10) and Quinton de Kock (14) failed to make the best of New Zealand's generosity. In the fifth ball of the second over, left-handed de Kock edged a pacer Trent Boult delivery but wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi failed collect it.

In the second delivery of the third over, right-handed Amla also got a reprieve as the batsman pulled a Tim Southee ball only to be dropped by Boult at fine leg.

However, Boult made amends by removing both the batsmen. The left-arm seamer rattled Amla's stumps before de Kock offering a catch to Southee.

At 31/2 in 7.5 overs, Rossouw (39) joined du Plessis in the middle and the duo eased the pressure with sensible batting. The left-right combination stitched a 83-run partnership for the third wicket.

After Rossouw fell to Corey Anderson, offering a catch to Martin Guptill at point, skipper de Villiers and du Plessis started their show.

While du Plessis held the innings together, de Villiers was at his destructive best, finding boundaries at will.

Du Plessis took 85 balls to complete his fifty, while his skipper needed just 32. And as a result of the latter's big-hitting, South Africa collected 152 runs in the final 13 overs and 97 runs in the final eight overs.

In the 36th over, de Villiers was dropped on 38 by Kane Williamson off Anderson. The right-handed batsman jumped on the chance and punished them with impunity. He recorded his 46th fifty in 32 balls. He came up with a a six and two fours in the same over.

Rain halted play after 38 overs and continued for more than 90 minutes. However, de Viliers continued his mayhem even as du Plessis perished after the break due to rain. Miller's pyrotechnics that included three sixes and six fours gave the finish his team needed.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Pricebenders - Unbelievable opportunity!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Guptill slams brilliant double ton as Kiwis march into semis!

Martin Guptill slammed a belligerent unbeaten double ton as New Zealand defeated West Indies by a massive 143 runs to book a semifinal date with South Africa. 

New Zealand rode on Guptill's unbeaten 237 to post a mammoth 393 for the loss of six wickets in the last quarterfinal match at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday. In reply, West Indies were bundled out for 250 with only Chris Gayle scoring a fighting half-century.  

Trent Boult continued his fine form as he removed Johnson Charles early as Lendl Simmons soon followed suit. Marlon Samuels and Gayle hung around for a while but the New Zealand bowlers bowled in tandem and kept picking wickets at regular intervals. 

Gayle entertained with some brilliant stroke play as he scored a brilliant 61 off just 33 deliveries and his innings was studded with eight towering sixes and just two hits to the fence.  

But his innings was soon brought to an end as Adam Milne castled his timber. From there it was just a matter of time before the Calypso Kings collapsed and hand New Zealand an emphatic win. 

Earlier, Guptill sent the ball soaring and the records tumbling by striking a World Cup record of 237 not out in a formidable total of 393 for six.  

Guptill bettered his own national record of 189 not out then overtook Chris Gayle's World Cup record of 215 set against Zimbabwe at the current tournament.

His innings took 163 balls and included 24 boundaries and 11 sixes and he was also the first New Zealander to hit consecutive World Cup hundreds.

West Indies were left ruing a dropped chance in the opening over from Jerome Taylor when Guptill, on four, hit the ball straight to Marlon Samuel who was slow to react and dropped the ball at square-leg.

"It's a pretty cool feeling to be fair. the job is only half done and the bowlers have to go and finish it off," Guptill said in a pitchside interview.

On a sunny day, albeit with a autumnal chill in the air at the Wellington Regional Stadium, Guptill added 143 for the third wicket with Ross Taylor after New Zealand's leading batsmen Brendon McCullum (12) and Kane Williamson (33) were back in the dressing room before the total had reached three figures.

Captain McCullum, who won a rare toss, made a sedate start by his frenetic standards, running a quick single to get off the mark before whipping a four through square-leg followed by a six, the 400th of the tournament, which was caught in the crowd.

He departed soon afterwards skying an ambitious lofted drive which was well held by West Indies's captain Jason Holder running away from the pitch at deep cover.

aylor, who had been short of runs and uncertain of technique during the group stage, played with increasing assurance after a slow start. He ran a series of quick singles and the score mounted steadily against steady but nonthreatening bowling.

Guptill brought up his half-century with seven fours and his century from 111 balls. He took 16 from a Taylor over and a huge six off Sulieman Benn before Taylor ran himself out for 42.

Fifty one came off the batting powerplay before Corey Anderson, promoted in the order, was caught for 15. Grant Elliott joined in the fun with 27 from 20 balls.

The West Indies' bowling and fielding disintegrated with 206 coming from the final 15 overs.

Guptill took full advantage, hitting the first ball by Andre Russell in the final over 110 metres into the stands. Another six went over long-off, a four followed and the crowd rose again to Guptill as the teams left the field.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Australia overwhelm Pakistan to reach semis!

Putting up an impressive show, Australia reached the semi-finals of the cricket World Cup as they defeated Pakistan by six wickets in the third quarter-final at the Adelaide Oval here on Friday. 

Fast bowlers Josh Hazzlewood (4-35) and Mitchell Starc (2-40) and spinner Glenn Maxwell (2-43) helped Australia bowl out Pakistan for 213 in 49.5 overs. Several Pakistani batsmen got starts but failed to make it count.

In reply, Australia got over the line in 33.5 overs with the help of Steven Smith (65) and Shane Watson (68 not out).

Opener Aaron Finch (2) and David Warner (23) fell early as Pakistan looked to take early wickets. Especially, left-armer seamer Wahab Riaz bowled with full steam and fire.

He removed Warner and skipper Michael Clarke (8) to leave the hosts reeling at 59/3 in the 11th over.
However, rising star Smith and experienced Watson forged an 89-run partnership for the fourth wicket to take their side nearer to the target.

While Smith registered his sixth One-Day International (ODI) fifty, Watson recorded his 33rd half-century.

After Smith fell to Ehsan Adil, Maxwell came to the middle and blasted a 29-ball 44 to remain not out along with Watson.

Pakistan also let Australia get away by dropping two crucial catches off Riaz. Watson was batting on four when he was dropped by Rahat Ali at fine-leg.

Later, Maxwell also got a reprieve early during his knock as Sohail Khan dropped a miscued shot at third man.

Earlier, electing to bat, Pakistan struggled from the beginning. Right-handed openers Ahmed Shehzad (5) and Sarfraz Ahmed (10) lost their wickets by playing bad shots.

Sarfraz chased an away moving delivery from pacer Starc to offer a diving catch to Watson at the slips. Shehzad also fell soon. The 23-year-old played away from the body and gave a regulation catch to Michael Clarke at the slips off fast bowler Hazzlewood.

Later, several batsmen got starts but failed to make it count and that proved detrimental for Pakistan.
With his team at 24/2 in the sixth over, skipper and ever reliable Misbah-ul-Haq (34) joined young Haris Sohail (41) in the middle. The right-left combination exercised damage control with a 73-run stand for the third wicket.

Misbah, who will quit One-Day International (ODI) cricket after this World Cup, seemed once again to be a stabilising factor. A flourishing partnership steadied things for Pakistan for a while.
But the 40-year-old Misbah attempted a slog-sweep off spinner Glenn Maxwell that failed to clear Aaron Finch at deep mid-wicket. The skipper left the scene with his team in a spot of bother at 97/3 in the 24th over.

Sohail soon followed his captain to the pavilion as he ended up edging a Mitchell Johnson bouncer into the hands of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

With these two wickets, Pakistan were pushed on the backfoot and failed to recover. Talented Umar Akmal (20) also failed to get going, while veteran Shahid Afridi played true to his character.
Irrespective of his team's precarious situation, the former captain swung his bat at will and made a 15-ball 23. Often blamed as someone who does not show responsibility, Afridi was holed out at deep mid-wicket off a Hazzlewood delivery.

Sohaib Maqsood (29), Riaz (16) and Adil (15) ensured that Pakistan crossed the 200-run mark.
For Australia, Hazzlewood was the pick of the lot as he took four wickets for 35 runs in hus full quota of 10 overs. Left-armer Starc and Maxwell picked two wickets apiece. Seamers Johnson and James Faulkner took a wicket each.

All these contributed to Pakistan's agony. With such a small target, the Australian team that bats deep, were always the favourites to win.

In the second semi-final on March 26, Australia will meet defending champions India, who thrashed Bangladesh in the second last eight contest on Thursday.
Brief scores: Pakistan 213 all out in 49.5 overs (Haris Sohail 41, Misbah-ul-Haq 34; Josh Hazzlewood 4-35, Mitchell Starc 2-40, Glenn Maxwell 2-43) lose to Australia 216/4 in 33.5 overs (Shane Watson 68 not out, Steven Smith 65, Maxwell 44 not out; Wahab Riaz 2-54, Ehsan Adil 1-31).

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Rohit slams maiden World Cup ton as dominant India enter semis!

A dominant India entered the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup in a grand manner as they decimated Bangladesh by 109 runs in the second quarterfinal match at the MCG on Thursday.

In yet another clinical performance, MS Dhoni and company bundled out the opposition for the seventh straight time and continued their golden run in the tournament.

Chasing a mammoth total of 303 runs to win, Bangladesh were bowled out for 193 in 45 overs with Nasir Hossain top scoring with 35. Bangladesh openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes started off positively but Umesh Yadav dismissed Iqbal to get the first breakthrough. 

A horrible mix-up saw Kayes walk back to the hut immediately and from then the Bangla Tigers were never really in the chase. Middle-order batsman Mahmudullah who had a brilliant tournament with two magnificent hundreds had to play an innings of his life to deny the defending champions from booking a semi-final berth.  

But Shikhar Dhawan took a screamer at the ropes as Bangladesh were all but sure to board the flight back to Dhaka. Much was expected from the likes of Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim to bail Bangladesh out of trouble. But the trio had too much on their plate and eventually persihed. India will play either Australia or Pakistan in the second semi-final in Sydney next week. The other semi will be played between South Africa and either New Zealand or West Indies. 

Earlier, Rohit Sharma, aided by a contentious decision that gave him a second life, scored his first World Cup hundred on Thursday to help the defending world champions India post a daunting total of 302 for six.  

Rohit was caught in the deep when he was on 90 but was allowed to keep batting when the umpires ruled that Rubel Hossain's delivery was above waist-height and therefore a no-ball, although television replays suggested it was a fair delivery. 

Rohit had initially been forced to abandon his normal cavalier approach as his team mates struggled to score quickly on a windy afternoon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground but exploded later in the innings. 

While Suresh Raina (65) was the only other batsman to make a significant contribution at a rapid strike-rate, Rohit batted for 47 overs to make 137 off 126 balls, highlighted by 14 boundaries and three sixes. 

For a man who scored a world record 264 last year, it was almost sluggish going by his normal standards but no less crucial in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the World Cup.
Of the three matches already played at the sprawling MCG during this tournament, the team batting first has scored over 300 runs and won each time and Bangladesh now face a formidable challenge to break that sequence. 

The MCG can be an intimidating bear-pit of a stadium and India opted to bat first in front of their fanatical supporters, and got off to a flying start, racing past 50 inside the first 10 overs.
Bangladesh, appearing in their first World Cup quarter-final, managed to put the brakes on India's scoring after the fielding restrictions were lifted and they brought on their spinners. 

From the end of the 10th over till the start of the 35th over, India added just 104 runs for the loss of three wickets. 

Shikhar Dhawan was the first Indian batsman to go, stumped for 30, and he was quickly followed by Virat Kohli, who was caught behind for three after a reckless slash at a wide delivery. 

When Ajinkya Rahane departed for 19 in the 28th over, the world champions were suddenly looking under pressure and Bangladesh the team with all the momentum. 

But cricket is a game where things can turn on the smallest of margins and India got two big breaks that proved decisive. 

Raina survived a confident appeal for lbw when he was on 10 then Rohit got a massive let-off 10 runs short of his century when he holed out at mid-wicket. 

The pair put on 122 for the fourth wicket as Bangladesh began to lose their way in the field.
Raina threw his wicket away in the 44th over when he skied a catch behind then Rohit joined him after he was bowled by Taskin Ahmed but their efforts left India in a strong position to join South Africa as the second team in the semi-finals.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

South Africa spoil Sanga, Mahela farewell; storm into semis!

All-rounder JP Duminy claimed a hat-trick as South Africa stormed into the World Cup semi-finals with a comprehensive nine-wicket victory over Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday. 

The victory in the last eight clash was South Africa's first in a knockout match at a World Cup and earned them a date with New Zealand or West Indies in Auckland next week with a spot in the final up for grabs. 

The Proteas will probably have to win the semi-final to finally bury their reputation as World Cup 'chokers' but they went some way to removing the tag with the rout of the 1996 champions, who they restricted to 133 runs off 37.2 overs.  

Under-fire opener Quinton de Kock led the way with an unbeaten 78 from 57 balls as the South Africans comfortably reached their target with 32 overs to spare at the cost of only the wicket of Hashim Amla. 

After losing the toss and being sent into the field, South Africa's highly rated but under-performing pace attack quickly removed both openers but it was spin-bowling that did the most damage to Sri Lanka's cause. 

Duminy took three for 29 and Imran Tahir four for 26, the pair combining to break the back of the Sri Lanka innings with four wickets at the cost of just two runs in three overs to reduce the islanders to 116-8. 

The spell included the ninth World Cup hat-trick, Duminy dismissing Angelo Mathews (19) with the final ball of the 33rd over and returning to send back Nuwan Kulasekara (1) and debutant Tharindu Kaushal (0) with the first two deliveries of the 35th. 

When Kumar Sangakkara was dismissed soon afterwards, Sri Lanka's hopes of reaching a third successive World Cup final looked all but gone. 

Sangakkara, who had been looking for a record fifth successive century, scored a measured 45 but was forced to throw off the shackles as the wickets tumbled around him and holed out in the deep off paceman Morne Morkel. 

A heavy shower appeared out of the blue as if to mourn the final one-day innings of one of the game's great batsmen and the players came off the pitch for a 23-minute rain break.

It only delayed the inevitable, however, and de Kock and Amla were soon at the crease playing with the freedom allowed to a batsman chasing such a low target. 

Amla departed for 16 but de Kock and Faf du Plessis (21 not out) ensured that skipper AB de Villiers, who scored 162 not out in his last innings at the SCG last month, could keep his powder dry for challenges to come. 

Tahir's four victims included Mahela Jayawardene to leave the other retiring Sri Lanka batting great with a tally of four runs in his final innings in the 50-over format.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

De Villiers, Behardien shine as Proteas crush UAE by 146 runs!

Skipper A.B. de Villiers (82-ball 99) and Farhaan Behardien (64 not out in 31 balls) helped South Africa defeat the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by 146 runs in a cricket World Cup Pool A game at the Westpac Stadium here on Thursday.

Continuing his rich form, de Villiers flayed the UAE bowlers and milked six fours and four sixes. He took his tally of sixes in the tournament to 20 -- the highest in a World Cup. Australian left-handed opener Matthew Hayden hit 18 sixes in the 2007 World Cup.

The 31-year-old skipper forged a 108-run partnership with David Miller (48) for the fourth wicket. That set up the stage for right-hander Behardien to come out all guns blazing. South Africa posted 341/6 in 50 overs.

In reply, South African three right-arm pacers -- Morne Morkel (2/23), Vernon Philander (2/34) and Dale Steyn (1/40) -- generated a lot of pace, swing and bounce and were all over the UAE. They never allowed a partnership to flourish and it resulted in the UAE getting bowled out for 195 in 47.3 overs.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Swapnil Patil (57 not out) and Shaiman Anwar (39) provided some resistance. India-born Patil registered his second One-Day International (ODI) fifty.

But it was always a tough task for them to overhaul the big target against the high-quality bowling line-up the Proteas possess.

Man-of-the-match De Villiers also contributed with the ball, removing two UAE batsmen. Spinners Imran Tahir and Jean-Paul Duminy took a wicket each.

With this win, South Africa consolidated their second position in Pool B with four wins from six matches. They entered the quarter-finals, while the UAE slumped to their fifth consecutive loss.

Earlier, barring Hashim Amla (12), most of the batsmen chipped in with crucial contributions. Though young wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock (26) recorded his highest score in the tournament, pressure will increase on him to make way for Faf du Plessis in the quarter-finals.

The 22-year-old left-hander played 45 deliveries and stitched a 68-run stand with Rilee Rossouw (43) before Amjad Javed dismissed the former in the 16th over. Rossouw also didn't last long and fell in the 19th over bowled by off-spinner Mohammad Tauqir.

With South Africa at 96/3, left-hander Miller joined his skipper in the middle and the duo scored at a good pace. Meanwhile De Villiers scored his 45th ODI fifty in 54 balls. He and Miller took their team to 198/3 in 35 overs.

Medium pacer Mohammad Naveed went through Miller's defence and that brought Duminy (23) to the middle. The left-hander was involved in a 53-run partnership with de Villiers before the latter fell one run short of what could have been his 21st ODI century.

Later, Behardien raced to a 27-ball 50. He collected 23 runs in the final over bowled by Javed. With the help of five fours and three sixes, he registered his third ODI fifty as South Africa scored 101 runs in the final 10 overs. It proved to be too much for the UAE.

For the UAE, Naveed took three wickets, while Javed, Tauqir and Kamran Shazad picked a wicket each.

Brief scores: South Africa 341/6 (A.B. de Villiers 99, Farhaan Behardien 64 not out; Mohammad Naveed 3/63) beat United Arab Emirates 195 (Swapnil Patil 57 not out, Shaiman Anwar 39; De Villiers 2/15, Morne Morkel 2/23, Vernon Philander 2/34).

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Sizzling Sangakkara breaks records as Sri Lanka rout Scotland!

Kumar Sangakkara became the first batsman to hit four successive centuries in one-day internationals to help Sri Lanka wrap up their World Cup pool campaign with a 148-run romp over Scotland at Bellerive Oval on Wednesday.

His team had already booked a place in the quarter-finals but Sangakkara's insatiable appetite for runs continued unabated as he added 195 runs with Tillakaratne Dilshan (104) against Scotland's limited bowling resources on a perfect batting track.

Down the order, captain Angelo Mathews (51) clobbered six sixes in a 21-ball blitz in the frantic final phase of the innings when ropes were cleared and wickets tumbled regularly.

Freddie Coleman (70) and skipper Preston Mommsen (60) tried their best but Scotland simply lacked the batting firepower to chase down such a huge victory target and folded for 215 in the 44th over.

For Sri Lanka, who rose to second in Pool A with the win, Dushmantha Chameera and Nuwan Kulasekara justified their selection claiming three wickets apiece.

Earlier, Mathews won the toss and decided to bat first but Scotland did well to restrict Sri Lanka to 46-1 after 10 overs.

Dilshan and Sangakkara counter-attacked near the halfway mark when Dilshan hit Davey for back-to-back fours and followed it with a six.

Sangakkara also accelerated and soon the former captains got into a competition -- who reaches the century first.

Dilshan completed his 22nd ODI hundred in the 34th over with a single that brought Sangakkara on strike and the 37-year-old southpaw achieved his own on the very next ball.

Sangakkara went on to consolidate his position at the top of the tournament's run-getters' list with a scintillating knock that contained 13 boundaries and four sixes.

Dilshan hit 10 fours and a six in his fluent innings before falling to Josh Davey (3-63) in the 35th over.

After Dilshan's exit, Sangakkara hit Alasdair Evans for four boundaries and a six in a 24-run over.

Davey dealt a double blow in the next over, dismissing Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara off successive deliveries to become the tournament's highest wicket-taker.

Boundaries kept flowing though as Mathews hammered Matt Machan for four successive sixes to race to a 20-ball fifty before perishing in his quest for the fifth of that 25-run over.

At 216-1 in the 35th over, Sri Lanka threatened to go beyond 400 but lost eight wickets for 147 runs and fell short of the mark.

Sangakkara also went past Australian Adam Gilchrist's (52) World Cup record of most dismissals by a wicketkeeper.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

India decimate Ireland to take pole position!

India took apart a diligent but limited Ireland attack to sweep to an untroubled eight-wicket victory at Seddon Park on Tuesday which confirmed they will top Pool B in the cricket World Cup.

After dismissing Ireland for 249 with an over to spare when their spinners established a stranglehold on the top-order batting, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan played themselves in for a token couple of overs.

They then launched a full-blooded attack, alternating flowing drives with explosive pulls while also pushing around the ball for comfortable singles.

Dhawan was dropped on five when John Mooney failed to hold a fierce caught-and-bowled chance. After scoring five further runs he was dropped again off the unlucky Mooney, this time at backward point when diving captain William Porterfield parried a stinging cut but was unable to hang on to the rebound.  

Those were the only times the Irish bowlers looked like taking a wicket and the duo took the score to 174 when Sharma chopped medium pacer Stuart Thompson on to his stumps and was out for 64 from 66 balls.

With the Indian supporters making a tremendous din, Dhawan took a single to complete his eighth one-day century from 84 balls with five sixes but was then caught off the following ball he faced from Thompson.

Virat Kohli (44 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (33 not out) took their team to victory with 13.1 overs to spare.

Porterfield elected to bat on a warm afternoon before a capacity crowd of 11,000 packed into a picturesque ground in New Zealand's fourth largest city and all seemed set fair for the Irish when the captain and Paul Stirling put on 89 for the first wicket from 15 overs.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni turned to his spinners and Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina responded by first frustrating then dismissing the Irish batsmen who found boundaries hard to come by after the initial flurry.

Stirling (42) lofted a simple catch to long-off off Ashwin's bowling and Ed Joyce was bowled for two trying to cut a ball from Raina which was too full for the shot.

Porterfield was reduced to pushing the ball for singles and was finally caught for 67 skying the ball while trying to accelerate.

Niall O'Brien was the top scorer with 75 including three sixes, one of which was helped over the boundary rope by Mohammed Shami leaping high to try to take the catch.

O'Brien, swinging vigorously to the leg side, kept the scoreboard moving but wickets fell regularly at the other end, including that of the dangerous Kevin O'Brien who was caught behind for one from a thin edge off Shami.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Feeble England out of World Cup after defeat by Bangladesh!

England were knocked out of the World Cup by a spirited Bangladesh who grabbed a quarter-final spot following a dramatic 15-run victory in a tight Pool A match in Adelaide on Monday.

Put into bat, Mahmudullah struck Bangladesh's first World Cup century and starred in two key partnerships to lift Bangladesh to 275 for seven. 

Three-times finalists England made a mess of their chase on an Adelaide Oval track that held no demons and folded for 260 in the penultimate over. 

Bangladesh looked a bundle of nerves towards the end but Rubel Hossain (4-53) claimed two wickets in the 49th over to trigger wild celebrations among their fans. 

England made a decent start to their chase before losing their way in the crunch match. 

Adjudged leg before wicket on 11, opener Moeen Ali successfully got the decision overturned but the bearded right-hander was run out after a mix-up with Ian Bell (63). 

Bell, who hit Mashrafe Mortaza for three boundaries in an over, pulled and drive with impunity, adding 54 runs with Alex Hales (27). 

Mortaza dismissed Hales but it was Hossain's double strike in the 27th over that turned the match on its head. 

Done in by extra bounce, Bell was caught behind while Eoin Morgan hooked to the fine leg fielder to fall for his fifth duck in last 11 innings. 

England's problems were compounded as James Taylor perished chasing a wide delivery and Joe Root fell for 29. 

But Josh Buttler (65) and Chris Woakes (42 not out) injected life into the chase with some lusty hitting before Hossain dismissed Stuart Broad and James Anderson in the 49th over. 

Earlier, Mahmudullah struck Bangladesh's first World Cup century and shared partnerships with Soumya Sarkar (40) and Mushfiquir Rahim (89) to help their side overcome a poor start. 

With England needing to win both remaining pool matches to keep their quarter-final hopes alive, Morgan won the toss and decided to field, hoping his bowlers would capitalise on the early morning conditions. 

Morgan set attacking field with a three-man slip cordon and Anderson found enough movement to induce two edges in his first seven deliveries, reducing Bangladesh to eight for two. 

Mahmudullah initially struggled to find the middle of his bat but grew more confident with every over and added 86 runs with Sarkar to consolidate the innings. 

England could not, however, maintain the pressure and Chris Jordan struggled for rhythm and conceded 15 runs in his second over. 

Jordan dismissed Sarkar in the 21st over and Moeen sent back Shakib Al Hasan but Mahmudullah and Rahim compiled Bangladesh's record World Cup stand to thwart England. 

Mahmudullah found an able ally in Rahim and the duo mixed caution with aggression to keep the scoreboard ticking over. 

Mahmudullah looked a bundle of nerves approaching the 100-mark, which he eventually reached in the 44th over, scurrying for a single before embarking on an emotional celebration with Rahim. He added another three runs before being run out after a 138-ball knock that included seven fours and two sixes. 

Rahim continued punishing the English bowlers, hitting eight boundaries and a six in his 77-ball knock, his third half-century of the tournament.

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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Messi completes hattrick in 12 mins, sets multiple records in process!

Lionel Messi isn't human. It's really that simple.

The Barcelona superstar reminded everyone of his extraterrestrial talents on Sunday, netting a hat-trick in a 12-minute span to help his side obliterate Rayo Vallecano 6-1 at the Camp Nou.

The diminutive Argentine scored his 28th goal of the season from the penalty spot in the 56th minute, and then proceeded to find the net again in the 63rd minute before completing the trifecta shortly after. His third goal was the best of the bunch.

The goal gave Messi 32 career hat-tricks with Barcelona, surpassing Athletic Bilbao legend Telmo Zarra for the most all-time with a Spanish club.

In addition, he also got a leg up on perennial rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the ongoing battle between the two men that shows no signs of slowing down. Following are the records created:
  • ALL-TIME HAT TRICK RECORD FOR SPANISH CLUB. No other Spanish club player ever made 32 hat tricks. Messi now has 24 in league games, five in the Champions League, two in the Spanish Cup and one in the Spanish Supercup. He leaves Telmo Zarra (31), Alfredo Di Stéfano (28) and Cristiano Ronaldo (27) behind him.
  • ALL-TIME HAT TRICK RECORD IN LEAGUE GAMES. Messi's 24 in La Liga pass Ronaldo's 23. Di Stéfano and Zarra – each with 22 – and Mundo, with 19, are way back.
  • LEAGUE SCORING LEADER FOR 2014/15 SEASON. Leo's trifecta versus Rayo give him 30 league goals this season, and tie him with Ronaldo, who had led all season until today.
  • SIXTH STRAIGHT SEASON WITH OVER 40 GOALS. It's an incredible streak. Messi now has 41 goals in 38 games this season.
The victory also pushed the Blaugrana into top spot in La Liga, surpassing Real Madrid, who surprisingly succumbed to Bilbao on Saturday evening.

All things told, not a bad day at the office for Messi and company.

Maxwell ton puts Oz in QFs despite Lanka's heroic chase!

Australia stormed into the World Cup quarter-finals with a 64-run victory over Sri Lanka, fired by a spectacular maiden one-day international century from Glenn Maxwell at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Sri Lanka signalled that they are also in fine form for the knockout stages by having a good crack at what would have been a record run chase with Kumar Sangakkara becoming the first man to score three successive centuries at a World Cup. 

They were always up against it after Maxwell's 53-ball 102 had helped Australia to 376-9, however, and it is the co-hosts who are now almost certain to finish second in Pool A and avoid champions India or South Africa in the quarter-finals. 

On a night when the 40,000 crowd were thrilled by a feast of batting, it was Maxwell's deployment of the full array of shots in his prodigious armoury that proved decisive. 
His hundred came off 51 balls, just one shy of the record for the quickest World Cup century, and he shared a 160-run partnership with Shane Watson, who hit 67 to celebrate his recall to the team. 

Maxwell was dropped by a back-peddling Sangakkara on 95 and there was a nervous wait on 99, his chance of sharing the World Cup record with Irishman Kevin O'Brien disappearing when the umpire ruled a leg bye off the 50th ball he faced. 

The century came up soon enough with two runs to mid-off, though, and his emotional celebration after reaching the milestone in his 43rd one-day innings was a graphic illustration of what it meant to a player often dismissed as a show-pony. 

Steve Smith (72) and skipper Michael Clarke (68) had earlier steadied the innings with a partnership of 134 after openers David Warner (nine) and Aaron Finch (24) had been dismissed inside the first 10 overs. 

Maxwell hit 10 fours and four sixes in his innings and the pyrotechnics continued when Sri Lanka came out to bat, Tillakaratne Dilshan setting the tone by spectacularly hitting six fours off Mitchell Johnson's third over. 

Johnson had already dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne caught behind for one in his opening over to bring Dilshan and Sangakkara together at the crease. 

While their 130-run partnership continued, it looked like Sri Lanka had a chance but once James Faulkner (3-48) trapped Dilshan in front for 62, it looked like an uphill struggle. 

Sangakkara had already become only the second player after Sachin Tendulkar to score 14,000 runs in one-day internationals and was not going to be denied his century, which he reached in as many balls with two runs to backward square. 

He departed soon afterwards for 104, leaving Dinesh Chandimal, who hit 52 off 24 balls before retiring hurt(turning point of the match), and Angelo Mathews (35) to lead the rearguard action. They were finally dismissed for 312 after 46.2 overs.

Vettori passes 300 as NZ ease to win over Afghans!

Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor got some valuable time at the wicket as New Zealand did what they needed to looking ahead to the World Cup quarter-finals with a six-wicket victory over Afghanistan at McLean Park on Sunday.

Guptill, who had got starts in all four of his previous innings, was run out for 57, while Taylor, who had scored just 29 runs in four previous innings, was 24 not out as New Zealand scored 188-4 in 36.1 overs.

Afghanistan had been dismissed for 186 in 47.4 overs with Daniel Vettori becoming the 12th man to take 300 one-day international wickets when he produced another impeccable spell of left-arm spin bowling.

Captain Brendon McCullum had given his side a rollicking start with 42 runs from 19 balls before Kane Williamson (33) and Guptill took them to 111 for one without looking troubled.

Williamson, however, was caught by Samiullah Shenwari at mid-wicket off Shapoor Zadran in the 19th over before Guptill was run out with 44 runs needed and Grant Elliott dismissed in the same fashion 12 runs short of the target.

Taylor and Corey Anderson (seven not out) saw New Zealand home after Vettori had taken 4-18 from 10 overs.

The 36-year-old has taken 12 wickets in the tournament at an average of 11.33 and economy rate of three runs per over.

Vettori bowled the third over of the match to enable Tim Southee and Trent Boult to swap ends and bowled Usman Ghani on his first delivery, then took Nawroz Mangal's (27) wicket in the 16th over for number 300.

He is the ninth player to take more than 300 wickets in both tests and ODIs and later took two wickets in successive deliveries in the 20th over but missed the hat-trick.

Vettori's first over had put Afghanistan on the back foot after captain Mohammad Nabi had chosen to bat on a wicket considered the best batting surface in New Zealand, before Boult struck twice to reduce them 24 for three.

Mangal and Shenwari managed to see off the opening bowlers before Vettori struck again and then had Nabi caught by Taylor for six and trapped Asfar Zazai lbw on the next delivery to reduce Afghanistan to 59 for six and in danger of being bowled out for under 100.

Najibullah Zadran, who survived the hat-trick ball, and Shenwari (54) then combined for an 86-run partnership that helped them post a score in excess of 150.

Sensational Saina sails into All England finals!

London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal today scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to reach the final of the All England Badminton Championship, the most prestigious tournament, with a straight-game victory over Sun Yu of China in the women's singles competition here. 

The World No. 3 Indian, who reached the semifinals of the event in 2010 and 2013, defeated the unseeded Sun 21-13 21-13 in a match that lasted for 50 minutes at the Barclaycard Arena. 

Saina is now just one step away from joining Indian legends Prakash Padukone (1980) and P Gopichand (2001) who have bagged the prestigious title in the past. 

The girl from Hyderabad, who will turn 25 in 10 days, will face reigning world champion Carolina Marin, seeded sixth, of Spain, who defeated Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying 21-18 21-11 in another semifinal clash tomorrow. Saina has a 3-0 record against the Spaniard.

After disposing her nemesis Yihan Wang of China, third seed Saina was faced with the task of taming the towering Sun, ranked World No. 18, who had seen off the likes of Nichaon Jindapon, Li Xuerui and Ratnachok Intanon over the last three days.

The Indian had come into the match with a 1-1 record against Sun, who had defeated her during the 2013 China Open but all that didn't matter as Saina stamped her authority with her wide repertoire of stroke. 

Saina, who had beaten Sun at the Australian Open in June last year, lagged 0-2 behind early on as Sun showed her intent to move to 4-1. 

A couple of quick points and Sun led 6-1, but Saina soon drew her rival in long drawn battle of rallies, as she scripted her recovery to move to 8-10 before the Chinese surged ahead into the break with a slender 11-10 lead. 

After the interval, Saina changed her tactics and was soon rewarded with a couple points as she stretched her lead to 16-12. 

The Indian soon made it 19-13. An unforced error from Sun gave Saina the advantage of seven game points and the Hyderabadi sealed it when the Chinese hit the shuttle hard and long. 

In the second game, Sun once again opened up a narrow 3-2 lead but Saina kept drawing her to the net, where she looked comfortable.Finally Saina wrapped the game and match 17-13.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Ireland stun Zimbabwe by clinching last over thriller!

Ireland pulled off another World Cup upset over a test-playing nation after big innings from Ed Joyce and Andy Belbirnie proved just enough to hold out by five runs in a Pool B match Saturday.

Alex Cusack (4-32) claimed four wickets after Joyce smashed a century at more than a run-a-ball to help Ireland to a big score of 331-8.

Joyce made 112 runs off 103 balls with nine fours and three sixes at Bellerive Oval and shared Ireland's biggest-ever third-wicket stand of 138 with Belbirnie, who scored 97 off 79 with seven fours and four sixes before he was run out in the final over.

Despite imperious centuries from Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams, the Irish bowlers' early inroads ensured the target was narrowly out of reach.

Earlier, two brilliant innings from Ed Joyce (112) and Andy Balbirnie (97) guided Ireland to a mammoth 331/8.

Asked to bat, left-handed Joyce led the Irish by scoring his third One-Day International (ODI) century while Balbirnie smashed a quick fire 97 off 79 deliveries to give Ireland another chance of beating a Test playing nation at the World Cup.

Ireland started poorly, losing opener Paul Stirling (10) early in the third over. Captain William Porterfield stuck it out in the middle to score a patient 29 off 61 deliveries but eventually gifted his wicket to left-arm spinner Sean Williams (3/72) with Ireland at 79 in the 21st over.

Thereon, a brilliant 138-run third-wicket partnership between Joyce and Balbirnie gave the Irish the platform to put up a big total. Joyce stroked nine beautiful boundaries and three sixes in his 103-ball knock while Balbirnie hammered his second ODI half-century which included seven fours and four huge sixes.

Right-hander Balbirnie had a super chance of scoring his maiden hundred in his 15th ODI but was run out while trying to accelerate on the first ball of the last over.

Kevin O'Brien (24) and wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Wilson (25) also played important cameos at the fag end of the innings to take Ireland to the highest total by an Associate team in World Cups and third highest in ODI history.

The Zimbabwean bowlers looked totally unimpressive even though Tendai Chatara (3-61) and Williams picked up three wickets each.

Pakistan show how dangerous they can be!

Pakistan made a winning return on Saturday to the venue where they defeated New Zealand in their 1992 cricket World Cup semi-final before going on to win the tournament for the first and only time. 

After a shaky start to the Cup, including a crushing defeat by West Indies in Christchurch, Pakistan showed enough at Eden Park on Saturday in their 29-run win over pre-tournament favourites South Africa to demonstrate what dangerous opponents they can be. 

The match proved a triumph for Sarfraz Ahmed who came into the team in the dual role of opening batsman and wicketkeeper. 

Sarfraz took three sixes of a JP Duminy over before he was run out for 49 attempting the second run which would have taken him to his half-century. 

He then equalled the one-day world record by holding sixcatches when South Africa batted.
"I am very thankful to the world and Pakistan for this opportunity. I want to thank all those who supported me, including my family. This is my World Cup debut match," Sarfraz said in Urdu after he was chosen as man-of-the-match. 

"Beating South Africa, who are playing really good cricket, after that everybody believes now, the players, the team, can take a lot of confidence from it. When runs are on the board, it is always pressure on the opposition," added Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq. 

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis told a news conference he had always known how good Sarfraz was and added his team had started to play the good, aggressive cricket it had been known for in the past. "We have started finding the right combinations, people have started believing in themselves. They have started trusting their abilities. I am very thrilled but there is a long way to go," he said. 

Pakistan's batting was again fragile and their fielding often erratic although the catching was sound. But their fast bowlers rose to the occasion and the three-left armers Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz and Rahat Ali each took three wickets. 

"They bowled with real pace and purpose," said Waqar, a former master of the fast bowling art. "We knew we had to get them out to win this game. Teams who are playing aggressively have been more successful." 

Asked if the present side could emulate Imran Khan's 1992 side, who had also made a bad start to the tournament, Waqar said: "Look, I hope, I hope that it turns out to be the same. But we really have to work hard. World Cup are pressure games. 

"In 92 Pakistan lost early games, they came back very strongly. They had they had the belief, Imran Khan had the belief and I believe and I hope that that belief is coming into our dressing room."

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Bangladesh tame spirited Scotland!

Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan hit fluent half-centuries as Bangladesh overcame a spirited Scotland at the Saxton Oval in Nelson on Thursday.

Chasing a tough total of 319 to win, Bangladesh made 322 for the loss of four wickets and ensured they kept their hopes alive in the tournament.

Scotland rode on Kyle Coetzer's brilliant 156 to post 318 but the Bangladesh batsmen mixed caution with aggression and with calculated risks overhauled the target. 

Earlier, a splendid century by opener Kyle Coetzer (156) helped Scotland post an imposing total of 318/8 against Bangladesh in a World Cup Pool A encounter.

Coetzer's second One-Day International (ODI) century and the first against a Test playing country is also a first by a Scottish player in World Cups. The highest score by a batsman from an Associate team helped the minnows put up the second highest team total for an Associate at the quadrennial event which can give Scotland their first win in World Cup history.

Scotland did not start well after being put in to bat, losing two wickets in the first 10 overs. However, two important partnerships thereon helped create the platform for them to post the 300-plus score.

A 78-run third-wicket partnership between Coetzer and Matt Machan (35) and a fourth-wicket stand of 141 between Coetzer and skipper Preston Mommsen (39) guided the minnows.

Right handed bat Coetzer produced the innings of his life, smashing 156 off 134 balls to give the non-Test playing nation a chance to earn their first win against Bangladesh in four meetings.

Pacer Taskin Ahmed was the pick of the Bangladeshi bowlers, picking 3/43, while spinner Nassir Hossain clinched 2/32.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Amla, Du Plessis hit tons as Proteas decimate Ireland!

South Africa buried a hapless Ireland under a mountain of runs as Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis smashed centuries in Proteas' comprehensive 201 run win in a Pool B match of the cricket World Cup. 

Amla's attacking 128-ball 159 and du Plessis' 109 off as many balls powered South Africa to a mammoth 411 for four, the second highest score in the World Cup history.  

India's 413 for five against Bermuda in the 2007 edition remains the highest score.
The two batsmen put up an impressive 247-run partnership for the second wicket as Amla hit 16 fours and four sixes, while du Plessis struck 10 boundaries and a six. 
Later David Miller and Rilee Rossouw went hammer and tongs as South Africa scored 230 in the last 20 overs, leaving the Irish bowlers bruised and battered. The last 8.3 overs fecthed 110 runs. 

During their belligerent unbroken partnership, Rossouw found the fence six times and cleared it thrice in his 30-ball 61, while Miller hit four boundaries and two sixes in his 23-ball 46. 

Andy Balbirnie (58) and Kevin O Brien (48) were the only Ireland batsmen who resisted the fierce Proteas pace attack with their fighting knocks while others crumbled as the team was bowled out for 210. 

Kyle Abbott gave away only 21 runs in his eight overs and took four wickets while Dale Steyn (2/39) dismissed two batsmen as Ireland were shot out in 45 overs.

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