Tuesday, 25 January 2011

England stumble to third ODI loss

England’s batting line up failed again as Australia eased to a four wicket victory in Sydney and moved into a commanding 3-0 series lead. David Hussey led the way with an unbeaten 68 as the home side reached their target with four overs to spare.Under pressure Matt Prior failed once more after being given out LBW having faced just five balls as England got off to the worst possible start. The mood darkened for England as captain Andrew Strauss was run out for 23 in disastrous fashion by Jonathan Trott. The South African-born Trott called for a single but having changed his mind half way down, both batsmen ran for the same end meaning Strauss was heading back to the pavilion.

Trott looked to make amends for his role in the run out and hit an 83 not out as England posted their sub-par total. Eoin Morgan (30) and Luke Wright (32) offered their support but Brett Lee’s 3 wickets took the game away from England. At the half way stage, big free bet would have seen England’s total as well short of a competitive score.

Australian opener Brad Haddin ensured their response moved along at pace and hit 54 off 59 balls before the wicketkeeper batsman was caught off the bowling of Paul Collingwood. Australia found themselves in trouble after losing Haddin and Captain Cameron White, who was also caught out by a Collingwood delivery, in quick succession. David Hussey soon steadied the ship and, with the help of Steve Smith who hit 26, moved Australia away from 100-5 towards their target.

England Captain Andrew Strauss bemoaned his team’s lack of application and will now look to make amends in the fourth ODI in Adelaide on Wednesday. Strauss and team coach Andy Flower will point to the absence of Tim Bresnan, Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann through injury as reason for their poor performance, but with the World Cup looming, bigfreebet will hope England improve their form ahead of the competition.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

India in good shape for World Cup

India, currently second in the one-day world rankings, were handed a boost with the news that the injured Sachin Tendulkar has been included in their fifteen-man squad for the upcoming World Cup next month. Despite straining a hamstring in this weekend's ODI win against South Africa, he has been included in the squad expected to travel – great news for both him and for India as a whole.

Tendulkar is the world's top run scorer in ODIs with over 17,000 runs, including 46 centuries and 93 half centuries, and as well as being a fantastic athlete, he is also a national icon back in his homeland, and his availability will be seen as a key component to winning a tournament which many pundits and fans around the globe fancy them for and the Cricket World Cup odds reflect this.

India are looking in good shape for the World Cup with their latest warm-up reaching a thrilling and satisfying climax as they beat South Africa by just one run on Saturday. Despite the hosts having seven overs left to find their required runs for victory, a catch by Yuvraj Singh meant that India managed to level the series. This winning habit – which seemed to have deserted them following their heavy defeat in the first ODI – will be essential when it comes to building confidence in time for the World Cup.

The Indian selectors are hoping to put a great deal of emphasis on their reputation as a nation of great spinners, as they name two extra spinners – Ravichandran Ashwin and Piyush Chawla – in addition to the spin king that is Harbhajan Singh, and chairman of selectors, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, has admitted that they are expecting to really make a mark on the tournament.

"This team has been doing brilliantly in the last few years… Of course, there will be tremendous pressure on the players – I really pity them! Let's hope and pray that the team wins the World Cup," he said.

Many people have made India 2011 ICC World Cup tips, and on home soil they should make a big impression.

Whatever happens with the fitness of Tendulkar, expect India to be one of the teams that qualify for the semi-finals – but should the man who has scored a massive 4,000 more runs than his nearest challenger in the one-day form of the game be fit, they seemingly have it all.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Pakistan's eye World Cup glory

The cricket World Cup is fast approaching, and one of the teams which must be fancying their chances - regardless of what the 2011 cricket World Cup odds suggest - are Pakistan. Despite having a reputation as something of a surprise package, they certainly have enough in their locker to produce an upset in the same manner as they did in 1992.

As a batting line-up they have plenty of individuals that can win a match on their own. Shahid "Boom-Boom" Afridi showed during the 2009 T20 World Cup that he can be a genuine match-winner when their backs are to the wall, and as well as their more experienced performers, the likes of Umar Akmal are showing that there is a real strength in depth to their batting line-up. In addition, Abdul Razzaq's ability to smash bowling attacks at the end of an innings is second to none - a point highlighted by his incredible 109 runs from 72 deliveries, which included 10 sixes and 7 fours, against South Africa in 2010.

Their bowling attack is still has a formidable, albeit ageing look about it, with 35-year-old Shoaib Aktar leading the line, and despite shortening his run-up, the Rawalpindi Express is still capable of bowling consistent spells upwards of 90 mph. Umar Gul too will be looking to show more of the form he displayed at the last T20 World Cup when his accurate bowling and intelligent use of the slower ball made runs exceptionally hard to come by for their opponents, and Saeed Ajmal will be looking to use variation in both pace and turn.

An interesting factor for the selectors will be the Pakistan Cricket Board's decision to send a list of probable World Cup players to the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ASCU) so that they can be cleared of any chance of wrong-doing in the wake of the recent spot-fixing scandal before they are allowed to represent their country on the world stage.

Although this approach will no doubt be seen as a step in the right direction, it will not help their chances of lifting the trophy - especially when you consider that Danish Kaneria was not given clearance by the PCB to travel to the UAE for the Test series against South Africa despite being cleared by Essex police of his alleged involvement in a spot-fixing case for Essex earlier this year.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Brilliant England ready for final moment of glory

In a series that has been near-perfect, England are preparing for a final hurrah at the SCG as they look to seal the series in style as well as holding onto the Ashes.

Those following the Latest scores know that only the rain can deny England the victory in Sydney, but with the visitors already 2-1 up, a draw will still mean they have triumphed in the backyard of the old enemy for the first time in 24 years.

They enjoyed another dominant day on Thursday, sparkling with the bat, hitting 644 – a record high for an English side in Australia – and then ripping through the Aussie line-up with the ball.

As Ian Botham said in commentary, the fact England made a record score and then left the hosts reeling on 213-7 on the same pitch, shows the gulf in class between the two sides.

The blip at Perth aside England have been dominant in every department. Six of the top seven batsmen have scored centuries during the series, with record breaker Alastair Cook leading the way at the top of the order.

With the ball every front-line bowler has contributed – often working as teams to hunt down the Australian batsmen. Graeme Swann is a prime example of this. The Aussies may have designed the pitches to try and nullify his threat but his tight, disciplined bowling holds up one end, strangling the scoring and allowing Strauss to rotate his seamers at the other.

Those seamers, be it Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad or James Anderson – have all bowled to a tailored plan to each Australian batsmen. The temptation for a bowler is to go for a wicket with every ball, but the selflessness among the players means the team always comes first, with obvious results.

Australia clearly have problems, the shadow of that all conquering team looms large over the class of 2011 and a lack of foresight by the Australian selectors during the tail end of that golden era is starting to bite.

Livescore cricket
pundits note how England can only beat what is put in front of them and they have done so in the most convincing fashion possible – bettering Australia in every department.

In the long-term such one-sided series are not good for the game – the 2005 series was so special because it went to the wire in virtually every test.

But after all the hammerings England took at the hands of Australia over the past 20 years, you can’t begrudge them a bit of sweet, well-earned revenge.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

England edge closer to series win

What an odd contrast this Ashes series has provided. So close in many respects, England have dominated to the point of the contest being rendered one sided.

Before the fourth test at Melbourne, tote betting pundits note how Ricky Ponting was pictured on the front page of an Australian newspaper all smiles as he looked forward to building on their win at Perth by pummelling England into submission as they melted in the cauldron that is the MCG.

Fast forward to the final test at the Sydney Cricket Ground and Australia find themselves in a relatively similar situation as they did prior to their Melbourne capitulation; Able to match England in some respects, but streets behind in others.
Their batting performance at the SCG erred on the side of respectability, but a good first hour from England could well put paid to another test match.

On a surface which offered something for everyone, the Australian top order lacked any sort of batting intelligence and application to make the most of a pitch which, while giving the bowlers plenty of encouragement, has consistent pace and bounce which should allow a batsmen willing to leave alone plenty of deliveries to make progress.

With Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus adding respectability to a batting card which teetered on the brink of collapse throughout, Brad Haddin proved to be a case in point. Wafting at a wide and short ball from Jimmy Anderson, the ball should have been left well alone, but one of the most dangerous weapons Australia possesses was left walking back to the pavilion wondering what might have been.

At times the Australian innings stalled in the face of consistent bowling and looked bereft of ideas. What a contrast with their approach at the MCG; swinging blindly at balls which should have been dealt with easily and safely. The batsmen seem clueless in the face of constant pressure and lacking a game plan to execute.

Those who get free bets believe that all is not lost however. A comeback of sorts and some mindless batting from Kevin Pietersen meant the door remains open for Australia to level the series, and at least have something to take away and move forward with.

As with most mornings in this exhilarating series, the first hour is crucial. England are 113 runs behind and are three down; a decent partnership early on and England can move serenely past the Australian total with wickets in hand.

Anymore rash decision making from English batsmen would invite unnecessary pressure and spoil what was meant to be the icing on the cake. This one is England’s to lose – why can’t all test series be this engrossing?