Month: December 2014

Mo Of The Same Please

Moeen Ali has been one of the highlights of the current tour of Sri Lanka, and on current for he could really make the opening batting slot his own.

Moeen Ali has been one of the highlights of the current tour of Sri Lanka, and on current for he could really make the opening batting slot his own.

England’s one day side has been struggling for some time – but one of the highlights in the current Sri Lanka tour has been Moeen Ali. Ali has also excelled in the test arena – and thankfully England the 27 year old has taken his test form to the one day arena.

When captain Alistair Cook inherited the captaincy from predecessor Andrew Strauss, the 29 year old Cook had initially enjoyed success in the role. England even enjoyed a brief stint at the top of the one day international rankings – but since those highs England have only suffered lows. Kevin Pieterson making claim after claim in his book about team morale and to actually find a KP replacement have been some factors which have seen seen England struggle in recent months.

The most underlining problem for England though however has been their opening partnership, for the best part of a year England have struggled to find the right combination- until now. Several players have been tried in the opening position to accompany Alistair Cook – Kevin Pieterson and Ian Bell who are more middle order batsmen were placed as openers -such was the difficulty England were facing in the opening batsmen department.

Opening batsmen Alex Hales has been included to try and solve this issue – but one thing which might have dissuaded the England’s selectors to select Hales in the long term is the 25 year old’s tendencies to have a bit of ill discipline.

When the one day international squad was announced however it was a surprise to see Alex Hales dropped for Moeen Ali who is also middle order batsmen by trade. Much to the surprise of many myself included- but Ali has been nothing sort of sensational.

The Worcestershire all-rounder is the leading run scorer for England in this five match series, Ali has scored a century and a very entertaining half-century already in this five match series – so it’s no surprise that Moeen Ali has the most runs.

It’s the 27 year old’s aggressive approach makes him suited the role. For so many months the outcry from many has been for England to be more aggressive, with Moeen Ali at the top of the order they can now do that. The maturity that Moeen Ali plays with is very admirable and I feel it’s what makes him a very good opener at one day international level. Where as Alex Hales tries to play to many agressive shots at times Ali however has managed to balance attacking instinct with sensisble batting.

Although it’s to early judge Moeen fairly as he has not played a world cup yet, the early signs look very promising. England look like they just might have found the right player to partner Alistair Cook at the top of the order,with a player many didn’t expect.

Where many players have failed over the years Moeen Ali has so far exceeded, some senior players could do with taking a leaf out of the Worcestershire all-rounders book.

Can Kumar Sangakarra’s Record Be Broken?

Kumar Sangakarra wrote his name into the record books. The former Sri Lanka captain has 474 dismissals in one day internationals.

Kumar Sangakarra wrote his name into the record books. The former Sri Lanka captain has 474 dismissals in one day internationals.

On Wednesday kumar Sangakarra wrote his name into the record books, it wasn’t for the innings of 63 that enabled that 39 year old to rewrite history, although being only the fourth player to score 13,000 runs is a very respectable achievement but it’s Sangakarra’s record behind the stumps we’re talking about.

Just for good measure the 39 year old took another catch to take his career tally to 474 dismissals. A testament to Sangakarra is that he is keeping Dinesh Chandimal out of the side (no pun intended). Sangakarra is not getting any younger, so the former captain who has also studied law can be happy with his achievements.

As for Sangakarra’s record it self that he now has outright, it’s going to be difficult for this record to be broken. The nearest challenger to the Sri Lankan is Mark Boucher with 424 – but with the South African now retired it won’t be Boucher who will take the record (we can ‘Bouch’ for that).

The player who is closest to this record and still playing is Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, or ‘Ice Cool Dhoni’ as he is also known is way behind Sangakarra’s impressive 474 dismissals. MS Dhoni has 312 dismissals to his name, and is the only player realistically who can catch Kumar Sangakarra’s record – but even for the Indian captain this will be difficult, 162 dismissals and counting to make up will be extremely difficult if not impossible.

Kumar Sangakarra is still is a very talented player and a great leader despite not being captain – and lets not forget what a great run scorer he is as well ( Sangakarra’s stats back that up). The modern day wicket keeper these days seems to be a batsmen first and wicket keeper second, where as Sangakarra over the years has been immaculate in all departments of his game.

The former Sri Lanakan captain’s record we feel won’t be beaten for some time, if ever and it’s due to one fact – and that’s the emergence of batsmen who do wicketkeeping, rather than wicketkeepers who can bat. Pakistan’s Umar Akmal is a prime example of that.

As a testament to Adam Gilchrist, the Australian’s record was only beaten on Wednesday, I hope as a testament to Sangakarra who has been a brilliant servant of the game, that he keeps the record for a very long time. With Sangakarra’s nearest challenger some 160 dismissals behind, Kumar Sangakarra’s record we feel will not be broken – or at least anytime soon.

Pakistan Vs New Zealand T20 Match Report

Sarfraz Ahmed's quite brilliant 76 off just 64 balls helped Pakistan win the first game of this T20 series.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s quite brilliant 76 off just 64 balls helped Pakistan win the first game of this T20 series.

Pakistan and New Zealand after the drawn test series went into this game looking to build some momentum ahead of the 50 over world cup which is due to start in February,both teams made several changes as both were looking to build some momentum before February’s world cup.

Pakistan had newly re-appointed captain Shahid Afridi back in their side, as well as the inexperienced Harris Sohail, Saad Nasim and Anwar Ali. Pakistan in all made nine changes to their side, only Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammed Hafeez were retained from the test squad.

As for New Zealand their squad showed several changes as well. The Kiwi’s gave starts to Anton Devcich, Matt Henry and Adam Milne, the rest of the New Zealand side did show other changes as well, with most notably Brendan McCullum not being in the side. There was a starting berth for Brendan’s brother Nathan McCullum however and a recall for Martin Guptil.

It was Pakistan who won the toss in this match and they decided to field – and their decision seemed justified as New Zealand slumped to 61-4. Martin Guptil, new boy Anton devcich, Ross Taylor and skipper Kane Williamson were all back in the pavilion.

A brief rally from New Zealand saw the Black Caps put on 51 for the sixth wicket – but when Corey Anderson was out for a very entertaining 48 off just 37 balls, the game seemed up for the Kiwi’s. The score at that point was 112-5, sadly for New Zealand their innings didn’t get any better. The New Zealander’s in the end stuttered to 135-7.

Corey Anderson’s brilliant 48 was off just 37 balls and included four maximums, looked to be in a losing cause. Anderson did have support from Luke Ronchi, the New Zealand wicketkeeper scored an attacking 33 off just 28 balls.

There was also a good contribution at the top of the order from Martin Guptil who scored a near run ball 32 – but other than that the New Zealand scored card contained to many low scoring contributions- and this is what left New Zealand potentially 15- 20 runs short.

Pakistan went into this run chase with the knowledge that they have some very good T20 batsmen in their side. The Pakistani batting line up included Umar Akmal, Awais Zia who is seen as the ‘new boom boom’ and of course the original ‘boom boom’ himself Shahid Afridi.

With such an impressive batting line up, Pakistan would have been confident of their chances of winning this game. Pakistan started their run chase with the opening pairing of Sarfraz Ahmed and Awais Zia. The Pakistani opening pair put on 51 for the first wicket.

The opening stand was broken by a run out by Anton Devcich, at that point Pakistan seemed to be in control – but after another run out, this time Mohammed Hafeez being run out by Luke Ronchi – Pakistan looked like they were stuttering a little bit in this run chase.

A 37 run third wicket stand however did manage to take the sting out of the game it seemed – but when new boy Harris Sohail was out caught by Nathan McCullum off the bowling of Mitchell McClenaghan, it looked there was another twist in the tale.

A fourth wicket stand of 43 between Umar Akmal and Sarfraz Ahmed, who hit a quite brilliant 76 off just 64 balls, which included eight 4’s and two 6’s ended the game as a contest as Pakistan won by seven wickets. Pakistan lead the two match T20 series 1-0, the second game is on Friday.

England Vs Sri Lanka Third One Day International Match Report

An entrataining innings of 58 from just 40 balls helped England get back into the five match series against Sri Lanka.

An entrataining innings of 58 from just 40 balls helped England get back into the five match series against Sri Lanka.

England went into this third one day international with Sri Lanka knowing nothing else than a win would do.The Three Lions are trailing 2-0 in the five match series and new that if they were to lose this game against Sri Lanka, they will in turn lose the series.

The match itself belatedly got underway after a delay due to rain, consequently that meant meant the Duckingworth Lewis method came into play. The Duckingowrth Lewis method calculated that this match would be 35 overs a side.

The England side included Alex Hales who comes in for Ian Bell and Chris Jordan who comes in for Harry Gurney, as for Sri Lanka they included specialist middle order batsmen Thilina Kandamby in place of Mahela Jaywawardena who was unavailable for this match.

The hosts Sri Lanka got their run chase off to a terrible start, England managed to reduce their opponents to 31-3 at one stage, Kusal Perrera and Kandamby fell for ducks. A fourth wicket stand of 77 however allowed the Sri Lankan’s to regroup after the loss of the three early wickets – but captain Angelo Matthews was dismissed for 37 off the bowling of Chris Jordan who had the Sri Lankan captain caught behind by Joss Buttler.

That left Sri Lanka on 118-4 , the Sri Lankan’s were in need of another good partnership at that point- but the fifth wicket pairing of Kumar Sangakarra and vice captain Lahiru Thirimanne only managed to put on 32. Sanagakarra would be the next man out, the veteran wicket keeper was caught by Moeen Ali off the bowling of Chris Jordan for 63, which took the former Sri Lanka captain past 13,000 one day international runs. Sangakarra is only the fourth player to pass such a milestone .

At 150-5 and most of Sri Lanka’s more household named batsmen back in the pavilion, the Sri Lankan’s looked like they were going to get bowled out for a cheap score. Sri Lanka though however showed great resolve and thanks to a battling 62 from vice captain Thrimanne and a crucial cameo by Dhammika Prassad, that meant Sri Lanka were able post 242-8, which was a score which seemed daunting for England to chase in 35 overs. Due to the Duckingworth Lewis method however The Three Lions needed 236 to get back into this 5 match series.

England with the opening combination of Moeen Ali and Alistair Cook, went about the run chase in a very positive manner. Ali in particular hit two 4’s and launched 5 6’s over the boundary in a very entertaining 40 ball knock.

At the other end captain Alistair Cook wasn’t quite as ‘cavalier’ in his stroke play- but was looking solid. Cook who has been in disappointing form with the bat in one day internationals was looking for a well overdue half century- but sadly it wasn’t to come in this match, the England captain would be the first wicket to fall caught behind by Sangakarra off the bowling of Prassad. Sangakarra with that catch broke Adam Gilchrist’s record of 472 dismissals which Gilchrist and Sangakarra shared.

Moeen Ali who seemed to be taking quite a liking to Sri Lanka’s bowling attack, fell 19 runs later after a horrible mix up with Alex Hales lead to Ali being run out. England after Ali’s dismissal were 103-2 and were in need of a good partnership to consolidate the good start that was given to them by Cook and Ali.

An old fashioned middle order collapse followed however and England were in danger of losing this game. At 152-5 and with ‘finishers’ Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara back in the pavilion after both fell cheaply, things looked very bleak for England.

Cometh the hour cometh the man they say, in England’s case it was cometh the men, as Joe Root who has been England’s saviour so many times this year alone was accompanied by Joss Buttler. The England pair put on a brilliant partnership of 84 for the sixth wicket.

Buttler finished unbeaten on 55 from just 45 balls while at the other end Joe Root scored a composed run a ball 48. England are back in this series and trail 2-1, The three Lions will be looking to carry on the momentum for the rest of this series and into the world cup which starts in February.