Archive for March, 2007

World Swimming Championships update

Ironic as it may sound, this is my first ever post on swimming and it is an update on the 12th FINA World Championships currently being held in Melbourne, Australia.

Brendan Hansen has been forced to withdraw from his pet 200M breaststroke event due to a virus. Hansen is the reigning world champion in that category, and his absence makes Kosuke Kitajima the favourite for the event. Hansen is expected to return for the 4*100M medley relay on Sunday.

Ukranian coach Mikhail Zubkov has had his accreditation cancelled after television footage of him grappling with his daughter Kateryna Zubkova was shown on Australia’s Nine Network.

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Arsenal and Chelsea fined £100K

Remember the brawl that took place during the Carling Cup final ?? Yes in  the same game which Chelsea won 2-1 thanks to Drogba and which saw Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and John Obi Mikel get sent off.

Arsenal and Chelsea have both been fined £100, 000 for their involvement in the brawl.

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New Zealand break a few more records

As I write this post, a few more records have been broken in the New Zealand Canada game.

The Canadian innings hasn’t started yet, so I don’t know whether Davison will go bonkers 😀

New Zealand have surpassed their previous highest score in World Cup history- their 363 today beats the 331 they made against Kenya a couple of days back.

Brendon McCullum has again broken the record for the fastest fifty in a world cup. Boucher broke Lara’s record in the game against Netherlands, and McCullum has gone one step further than his South African counterpart. McCullum’s innings is also the fastest fifty to be made by a New Zealander.

It is all coming good for the Kiwis. Lou Vincent, who was their only major worry before this game, hit 101 . The way the Kiwis are playing as an outfit, they are definite contenders for the semifinals.

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Bangladesh beat India, Ireland beat Pakistan

I am a day or so late in posting this one, but here you go… 😀

India and Pakistan  currently boast of some of the finest players ever to step on the cricket pitch. Yet, after their respective losses, both the teams were left scratching their heads wondering what exactly had happened after suffering embarassing defeats to their unfancied rivals.

The inconsistency of both the teams, especially Pakistan, is what endears them to minnows so much. They can make a bad team look extremely good on a day, and at the same time, they can make an excellent team feel like a bunch of school boys.

Pakistan are now out of the World Cup after that loss to Ireland. The total they scored was the same as the score made against Australia in that hopelessly one sided encounter at Lords in June 1999. It was the second lowest total made by Pakistan, and defending it would always be tough. The omission of Kaneria really didn’t help. His tweakers might have bamboozled the Irish. The Zimbabwean spinners showed that, and Kaneria would have been itching to get his hands on the red cherry as he cooled his heels in the Pakistani dressing room. Iftikhar and Sami tried their best, but the Irish managed to hold on and stage a famous win.

India were outplayed in all departments of the game by the Bangladeshis. The Bangla boys seemed to have a desire to win, something that was desperately lacking in the Indians. And the Indian media and public have blasted the very players whom they treat as demigods when they win. I suspect things might return to normal if India thrash Bermuda in their game today, which ironically is a mini do or die.

The common factor in the Indian and Pakistani defeats- the opposition wicket keepers. Niall O’ Brien scored over half of his team’s total and held the innings together from one end with a well grafted 72. Mushfiqur Rahim did the same for Bangladesh, scoring an unbeaten half century. Rahim owes Dhoni one though- if ” Mahi” hadn’t dropped Rahim early in his innings, the Bangladeshi no.3 wouldn’t have been there to steer his side home.

As I write this, Bob Woolmer has expired, and Inzamam Ul Haq has announced his retirement. Pakistani cricket is in turmoil, and they need to beat Zimbabwe in their last group game to take home something from the Carribean

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South Africa vs Netherlands- carnage

It was total carnage, and the South Africa sent a strong message to the rest of the world that this time,they mean business. Yes, it came against the Netherlands, not a team with great credentials, but it was the way in which the Dutch were thrashed which will send shivers down the spine of the other teams.

Hitting six sixes in an over, whatever be the opposition, however small be the ground, is a great achievement in itself and Herschelle Gibbs wrote himself into the history books yesterday by despatching young Daniel Van Bunge six times over the rope in six balls.

The Netherlands started well, as De Villiers fell for a blob to Stelling. Stelling had an impressive first spell and the Proteas scored just 4 runs in the first five overs. It did look like Luuk Van Troost had made the right decision in fielding first. The hiding which followed will probably make Van Troost regret the decision for the rest of his life. His Dutch side will face Australia in their next game, and Ponting’s boys can be as ruthless, if not more, as South Africa were yesterday.

Gibbs made 25 runs off his first 28 balls and then scored 43 off the next 7. Warners Park is not a big ground mind you, the distance from the middle of the pitch to the ropes is about 66 yards. If you were an Oranje fan, the sight would not have been very pleasurable, but if you were a neutral or a Proteas fan, you would have felt delight at Gibbs’ hitting and pity for Van Bunge, who has got himself into the record books for all the wrong reasons.

Anyway, Johnny Walker will now have to donate 1 million US$ to a charity of Gibbs’ choice.

Mark Boucher joined in the fun, and ended up scoring the fastest fifty in World Cup history, surpassing Brian Lara’s 52 off 23 balls against Canada in the last edition.

Kallis ended up scoring his first World Cup century, one of his easiest ones till date. A total of 18 sixes were scored- a record in itself- Kallis scored three off the last three balls- the last over went for 30 runs.

The Dutch knew that the match was well and truly over even before they batted, and they chose to give themselves some match practice. Ten Doeschate scored a half century, and the Dutch crawled their way to 132/9 from their quota of 40.

The question which arises after this game is simple- Should weaker sides be allowed to participate in such contests and then get massacred the way the Dutch got yesterday? Yes as well. Matches like these in cricket will not be as competitive as games in soccer. A Holland vs South Africa game in football will probably see the Dutch winning, but not by something like 10-0. One wonders whether the Dutch will recover from the psychological scars inflicted upon them by the Proteas. Had the game gone on for 10 more overs, 500 would have been a real possibility. I’ll still say that exposure is the key, and the Dutch need to play teams like South Africa more often. For that matter, South Africa’s A side will also be good exposure for them. Their bowlers need to be taught that bowling one paced, full length balls on a small pitch is asking for trouble.

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Anybody remembers March 12, 2006 ??

The Cricket World Cup, cricket’s quadrennial extravaganza starts tommorrow. But today, March 12, 2007 also marks the first anniversary of the ” greatest ODI game to be played”- The SA vs Australia game at the Wanderers on March 12, 2006.

I wouldn’t delve into the game too much, but the game was a first in many ways. It will be remembered as the first game in which a side batting second chased a score of above 400 to win. The game also erased memories of the painful exit seven years ago at Edgbaston ( the 17th of June 1999) at the hands of the same team for the Proteas.

The game at Edgbaston was described by Steve Waugh as ” the best cricket match I’ve played in ” I am quite sure that Graeme Smith would have felt the same after his side chased down 434 with one ball to spare.

One man whose contribution in that game I feel has not received its due- Johan Van Der Wath- his quickfire 35 made victory possible. Nothing to take away from Gibbs, Smith and Boucher- but Van Der Wath’s innings was crucial because of the time that it came at. Boucher would also have had the 2003 D/L fiasco against Sri Lanka at the back of his mind.

A short summary of that game for you.

Australia ( 434/4)

Ponting : 164

Mike Hussey : 81

Simon Katich : 79

Adam Gilchrist : 55

lost to South Africa ( 438/9)

Herschelle Gibbs:175

Gibbs could have so easily made a double century that day. He fell in the 32nd over with the score one run below 300.

Graeme Smith:90

Mark Boucher : 50

Johan Van Der Wath : 35

South Africa have stuttered in their two World Cup warm up games- just managing to squeak past Ireland, and losing to Pakistan. Let us see how they fare in this year’s world cup. A poor start might lead to a bright end ????

South Africa will face off against Australia in Group A, for those who want to see the two teams slug it out again.

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Champions League second round results

Liverpool 0-1 Barcelona ( Eidur Gudjohnsen)

Liverpool progress on away goals. The game was a tight one, but Liverpool held on to eliminate the defending champions.

Olympique Lyonnais 0-0 AS Roma ( Francesco Totti, Mancini) 

Roma had a De Rossi goal disallowed early on, but goals from Totti and Brazilian Mancini saw them run out comfortable winners at the Stade Gerland. Mancini’s second goal was a brilliant individual effort, as he showed great skill to skip past Lyon’s defenders. The normally reliable Cris was caught napping when the first goal went in, headed by Totti.

Valencia 0-0 Inter Milan 

Another game where the home side progressed on virtue of away goals. Silva’s 87 minute strike at the San Siro saw Valencia hold Inter to a draw a fortnight ago and yesterday night at the Mestalla, the Spanish giants drew to dump Inter out.

Chelsea 2-1 FC Porto ( Arjen Robben, Michael Ballack/ Ricardo Quaresma) 

The only game of the evening which saw both teams on the scoresheet. Chelsea looked to be going out at half time thanks to former Barcelona winger Quaresma’s goal, but two second half strikes from Robben and German skipper Michael Ballack ensured that the Blues went through to the last 8

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