1st ODI: England beat India by 9 runs in Rajkot


RAJKOT: The setting was perfect to lift the sombre mood of many in the country — the fans, the players and an under-fire skipper. After all, England had a pretty young and inexperienced side and Team India did start with the odds in favour, despite their recent run of defeats. But like many occasions in the recent past, they squandered the opportunity and went down by nine runs in a high-scoring match at the newly-built Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) Stadium in Rajkot on Friday.

Just like in the Tests before their Christmas break, the England team got more boxes ticked right than its Indian counterpart. Once again, India's bowling at the death proved to be the bugbear, eventually proving to be the decisive factor in the loss.

Steven Finn showed that to a nicety in the early overs giving nothing to cut or pull and bowling just a little short of good length and into the body. Spinner Joe Root's first spell too read 5-0-17-0 when two of India's better players of spin—Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane--were at the crease. That England had two caught behind and two bowled also showed how straight and full they bowled.

For India, Ishant Sharma tried to adopt the same strategy. But once he went off the mark, he became terrible. So despite bowling two maiden overs and a 1-run over, he proved to be the most expensive Indian bowler, going for 86 runs in his 10 overs without picking a wicket. Even Ashok Dinda, who was picked ahead of Shami Ahmed, and Bhuvaneswar Kumar were ineffective.

Earlier, Alastair Cook won a good toss and their batsmen made the best use of the luck. Every batsman contributed, briskly at that, to put up a formidable 325 for the loss of four wickets. The highlight was their new record first wicket stand of 158 between Cook (75) and Ian Bell (85), surpassing the previous best of 133 between Barry Wood and Chris Tavare at Headingley in 1982. Samit Patel gave the final push with an unbeaten 44 off 20 balls, with six fours and one six late in the innings.

India had chased exactly the same score (325) against West Indies in Ahmedabad in 2002; their highest successful chase away from home was also 330 against Pakistan at Mirpur in Bangladesh during the Asia Cup in 2012. So there was still hope.

Rahane and Gambhir put on 96 runs for the first wicket, 50 of them coming in just 6.5 overs and 66 after 10. But who would have thought that introduction of spin from both ends from the 11th over would put the brakes. Both the shots, which Rahane and Gambhir played to get out, looked to be products of frustration that was slowly creeping in. Virat Kohli too didn't last long.

This silenced the near packed house. But Yuvraj came in and rekindled his love affair with Rajkot. He hit Joe Root for a four over wide off long-on for starters. But just when it seemed like he would pull off an encore, he top-edged a paddle sweep to James Tredwell. The ghost of India's middle order worry was slowly rearing its ugly head. Suresh Raina and skipper MS Dhoni unleashed a late onslaught, raising hopes once again. But the pressure of scoring more than 10 runs per over was too much to handle.
Cheteshwar Pujara hits Ranji triple ton to celebrate ODI inclusion

Cheteshwar Pujara celebrated his inclusion in the Indian ODI squad with a triple-century for Saurashtra in their ongoing Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Karnataka in Rajkot. India play England in the first one-dayer which is also in the same town.

Pujara resumed his innings on 261 at the Saurashtra University Ground and reached his 300 off 356 deliveries on the final day of the Ranji Trophy quarter-final. Saurashtra are, by all practical purposes, through to the semis also riding high on the triple century.

"My plan was to get some practice for the ODI. Once I was set, once I scored my hundred I was in a positive mood and our team was safe," Pujara had told ESPNcricinfo. "Even if I would have got out, we were still safe to qualify."

Pujara also scored a blistering 203 off 221 deliveries against Madhya Pradesh in the team's previous Ranji encounter.

With India having a more or less settled middle-order in Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and skipper MS Dhoni, it remains to be seen whether Pujara will get a look in for the first ODI. The major thing in his favour though, would be the 'home ground' factor.

Virender Sehwag was the one dropped to accommodate Pujara and it won't be a big surprise if the Saurashtra lad is asked to open the innings along with the under-fire Gautam Gambhir. That will mean Ajinkya Rahane has to be benched again.

Yuvraj Singh leads Indian run charge with blistering fifty

NEW DELHI: Yuvraj Singh and skipper MS Dhoni started hammering Pakistan bowlers to lead Indian innings in the second Twenty20 international at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad.

Virat Kohli and Yuvraj led Indian recovery, adding 35-run partnership for the third wicket before the former got run-out.

Pakistani pacer Umar Gul rocked India by dismissing Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane in quick succession after openers gave India a blistering start.

Indian got off to a rollicking start with 44-run opening wicket stand by Gambhir and Rahane. Gambhir hammered three boundaries on the trot before being caught plumb in front of the wicket.

Earlier, Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez won the toss and decided to bowl against India.

India have made one change, bringing in Ravichandran Ashwin in place of Ravindra Jadeja while Pakistan have retained the same playing eleven.

After being drubbed in the series opener in Bangalore, the hosts desperately need to win the second game to level the series and the pressure will be on Dhoni and his men to deliver the goods when it matters the most.

Pakistan, on the other hand, lived up to their reputation of a strong bowling unit with three specialist pacers - Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir and debutant Mohammad Irfan - wrecking havoc on a pace-friendly Chinnaswamy track.

‎1st T20 : India v Pakistan, Bangalore



The two-match T20 and three-match ODI series has been squeezed in between India's ongoing full series against the England cricket team, which has taken a break to go home for Christmas and New Year holidays. India and Pakistan last played a bilateral series in 2007.

India did well in the T20s against England after being humiliated in Tests but bowling remains a persistent headache for them in all the formats. Except for a spirited show put up by Ashok Dinda, none of the Indian bowlers made an impact on the English batsmen. Parvinder Awana, Ravichandran Ashwin and Piyush Chawla have all struggled to get wickets This may prompt skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to give a chance to either Abhimanyu Mithun or Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Surprisingly, Yuvraj Singh was the most successful bowler with six wickets and he also batted stupendously for India. India would want the Chandigarh boy to continue with his good touch against a very tricky opponent.
Flamboyant Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and skipper Dhoni himself have had some runs under their belts and they would like to continue in the same vein against Pakistan. It will be interesting to see if Dhoni gives a chance to Ambati Rayudu, considering his past performances in this format of the game.


Sachin Tendulkar retired from ODI--Good Bye God



"When I retire is something I will decide because when I started it was not decided by someone else. Those who are advising me about retirement did not bring me into the team. I get my strength from my coaches and family."

Sachin Tendulkar's decision to retire from ODIs was taken over the "last 72 hours," though he formally informed the BCCI only last night.

According to sources close to the cricketer, BCCI president N Srinivasan was informed only last night.

"Once he was back in Mumbai after the Nagpur Test, he switched off his phone and became incommunicado for at least three days. The only possible way to contact him was through Anjali's (wife) number as he wanted some time to himself," a very close friend of Tendulkar said.

"By Friday night, he had intimated his family and close friends that he wants to quit ODIs. Accordingly, he informed BCCI president N Srinivasan last night about his decision, making it clear that he doesn't want to play against Pakistan," the source added.

There are strong indications that Tendulkar would start his preparations for the four-match Test series against Australia by playing in Mumbai's final Ranji Trophy league game against Gujarat, in Mumbai from December 29-January 1.

Asked about retirement from Tests, the source added, "Any decision on that will only be taken after his performance against Australia. The four-Test series will make it 198 Tests for Sachin and if he does well, he might just think of going to South Africa to complete 200 Tests."

Earlier, BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said, "It was not sudden. He informed us before the selection about his decision. He spoke to me and the president about his decision."

BCCI chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty added, "What he has expressed is his concern that India has to prepare for the next World Cup. From that point of view, he felt that it was time that he retired."