Archive for February, 2007

Royals conquered

The way this game started, I thought we might well see 10 + goals- kinda like the football manager games where thrashing teams by a margin by greater than 5 goals is quite routine.

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw in the first 6 minutes- to tell you frankly- you don’t put on the idiot box and expect to see goals being scored every two minute in a 5th round FA cup clash.

Heinze was the unlikely scorer of the first goal, Saha the second and Solskjaer the third… and to tell ya, Reading’s defence would not like to look at the replays of the first three goals. Kitson pulled one back for Reading in the 23rd minute, and after that United were subject to constant bombardment from Reading.

Some poor finishing and inability to find the back of the net would have frustrated many Reading fans, but England U-21 international Leroy Lita scored in the 84th minute to reduce the margin to 1. The game could have very well gone into ET for all its worth, but United hung on- and their reward- a 6th round clash vs Middlesbrough

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2006 FIFA World Cup quiz

Take this quiz to test how much you actually remember about the 2006 World Cup.

1.) Eventual World Cup winners Italy conceded 2 goals in the entire tournament- one was the penalty Zidane scored in the final. Give me the name of the player who scored the other goal ??

2.) Who was the only English player to figure in FIFA’s all star team of the World Cup.

3.) What was unique about the first and last goals scored in the tournament ??

4.) Which player, who made his world cup debut for his country by coming on for a Liverpool player, wore his first name on the back of his shirt instead of his surname? The player also became his country’s youngest player at a world cup in that game.

5.)Horacio Elizondo, who was the referee in the final between the Italians and the French, showed a total of 3 straight red cards in the tournament. One was of course Zinedine Zidane- name the other two players.

I’ll add some more questions. In the unlikely event that I messed up my facts, please do not hesitate to leave a comment so that I’ll rectify the error.

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Chelsea to swoop for Sidwell

The People
are reporting that Reading medio Steve Sidwell is on the wishlist of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

Sidwell’s contract runs out at the end of the 2006-2007 season and Mourinho is reportedly considering bringing the player to the Bridge. Now for the list of Chelsea’s midfielders-people who can play in midfield-

Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele, John Obi Mikel, Joe Cole, Shaun Wright Philips, Michael Essien. Add Arjen Robben and Lassana Diarra to that list .

Sidwell has age on his side- he is just 24, and he has been a key figure for the Royals after joining them in 2003. Alan Pardew, who currently manages Charlton, brought him in as a 20 year old  for an estimated initial fee of 75, 000 pounds. Sidwell impressed Pardew during his loan spell at Brighton, where he found the net 5 times in 12 games. He has since gone on to play 162 games for Reading.

It is unlikely that Sidwell will get as much time on the pitch at the Bridge as he currently gets at the Madjeski. Yet, I think having an home born midfielder will do Chelsea a world of good- for Sidwell knows the English game very well. Acclamatising won’t be a problem for him.

Reading have performed above expectations this season after winning promotion to the Big Boys’ league by winning the Championship last season. They are currently sixth in the table, and have a 5th round replay against leaders Manchester United to come.

Qualifying for Europe might keep Sidwell at the club where he has been such a pivotal influence over the last few years. Joining Chelsea would mean a return to London for Sidwell, who is a product of Arsenal’s youth system. Celtic are also reportedly interested in securing his signature.

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Aussies move down in ICC rankings for the first time

After suffering a 5 wicket defeat against the Black Caps at Eden Park, which also happened to be their 4th consecutive one, the Aussies will lose their top spot in the ICC ODI Rankings for the first time since October 2002. The rankings were first instituted in October 2002- for your information 🙂

South Africa have trounced both India and Pakistan at home recently and will move to the top with 128. The Aussies will drop to second with 126.

I still believe that the Aussies are an overall much better team than the Proteas though :p

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What a way to get out Mr. Sehwag !!!!

Yuvraj Singh showed why he is such an integral part of the Indian one day outfit with a 83 ball 85 as India won the fourth ODI at Vizag with seven wickets to spare.

Due credit must also be given to Robin Uthappa, who blew away the Sri Lankan bowlers at the start of the Indian run chase with a ballistic 52.  Dilhara Fernando, whom the Karnataka batsman greeted with 4 fours in his opening over, will certainly not forget his innings.

However the focus of this post, is, as you might have guessed from the title- Virender Sehwag.

He made 19 in the second ODI, and 12 at Rajkot, and critics were baying for his head when it was announced that despite his indifferent form over the recent months, he was on the plane to the Carribean.

Sehwag seemed to be in good touch in the Vizag ODI and we saw glimpses of the old Sehwag in his knock of 46. Just as he was looking set for a big one- Sehwag chose the most bizarre way to get out. Lasith Malinga opened the bowling in the seventeenth over, and Sehwag cut the ball to third man. He ambled away to the non strikers end and started walking towards the end of the run. The ball had by then reached Kumar Sangakarra, the wicket keeper, who removed one glove and then hit the stumps at the non strikers end with a perfect throw. Sehwag was caught totally unawares, and TV replays showed that he was short of his ground.  He paid the price for being so lazy though !!!!

Sehwag is a treat to watch when he is in full flow, and one hopes that he doesn’t repeat this again in the Carribean.

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Pakistan announce 15 member World Cup squad

1992 World Cup winners Pakistan have announced their 15 member squad to go to the Carribean this March.

1.) Inzamam Ul Haq ( c)

2.)Younis Khan ( Vc)

3.) Shoaib Malik

4.) Mohammad Hafeez

5.) Imran Nazir

6.) Abdul Razzaq

7.) Mohammad Yousuf

8.) Kamran Akmal

9.) Shahid Afridi

10.) Shoaib Akhtar

11.) Umar Gul

12.) Mohammad Asif

13.) Rana Naved Ul Hasan

14.) Danish Kaneria

15.) Iftikhar Rao 

Inzamam, his deputy, Mohammad Yousuf , Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Akhtar are the only survivors from the disastrous 2003 campaign in Africa, where they were knocked out in the first round, only managing to beat minnows Namibia and Holland.

Imran Nazir and Danish Kaneria are surprise inclusions. Nazir’s recent form at the top of the order in the tour of South Africa might have landed him a spot. Kaneria, who hasn’t played too much ODI cricket over the years for Pakistan is a surprise inclusion.

Yasir Hameed has been overlooked. And one could say that the selectors have been a little harsh on him. So has Imran Farhat. Azhar Mahmood, who made a return to the squad in SA, won’t extend his stay.

Doping tests are to be conducted on Akhtar and Asif, the results of which are expected in the first week of March. Asif has been Pakistan’s best bowler in South Africa, and there are questions whether he is physically exhausted ,given the workload that he has been shouldering.

Kamran Akmal retains his spot despite a horrific recent run, and Moin Khan gets the cold shoulder. Rana Naved has also had a similar dip in form, and Umar Gul’s inclusion is subject to his recovery from the ankle injury that made him miss the tour of South Africa.

Afridi is banned for the first two games too, and that means that this injury ravaged, low on confidence Pakistan side have an uphill task ahead of them if they are to make it to the final. They have a relatively easy group- the hosts, Zimbabwe and debutants Ireland are the other teams in Group D.

Pakistan’s problem has been their inconsistency- one day they can be superb like the 350 odd they made at Durban and the other day they can barely muster a challenging total- like yesterday’s game at the Wanderers where Pollock destroyed them with 5 wickets in his opening spell.

Much will depend on how Inzy, Younis and Youhana bat. If Gul, Asif and Akhtar are fully fit, few teams would like to face them.

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Indian squad for the World Cup announced.

At about 1 PM IST ( Indian Standard Time), the Indian selectors announced their 15 member squad for the quadrennial extravaganza in the Carribean.

Batsmen :

1.) Rahul Dravid ( Captain)

2.) Sachin Tendulkar ( Vice Captain)

3.) Saurav Ganguly

4.) Virender Sehwag

5.) Robin Uthappa

6.) Yuvraj Singh

Wicket keepers :

1.) Mahendra Singh Dhoni

2.) Dinesh Karthik

Bowlers:

1.) Zaheer Khan

2.) Munaf Patel

3.) Irfan Pathan

4.)Ajit Agarkar

5.) Anil Kumble

6.) Harbhajan Singh

7.)S. Sreesanth

So, it is the same 15 member squad for the second ODI against Sri Lanka that the wise men have picked for the World Cup.

VVS Laxman, Mohammad Kaif, Ramesh Powar and Gautam Gambhir do not see their name in. Suresh Raina, Chappell’s blue eyed boy, hasn’t been picked too.

The bowling is nothing of a surprise.

The line up looks quite good on paper, but it is a team which isn’t the greatest fielding outfit.

Yuvraj Singh hasn’t played for quite a while. Pathan has struggled with form and injury too. Sehwag sees himself selected. It was probably the fact that he is a genuine match winner on his day that tilted the balance in his favour.

Powar , IMO is unlucky. Kumble isn’t the Kumble of old, and Harbhajan doesn’t take too many wickets these days. Powar has proven in recent times that he is capable of doing the job- wickets as well as containing. It is probably his lack of experience which went against him.

I think India will play the 7 batsmen -4 bowler combination as they have so often done in recent games.

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