Mahendra Singh Dhoni is enjoying one of those charmed lives as a captain. First came that World Cup triumph a month ago and, before a jam-packed MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai Saturday, the talismanic wicketkeeper led Chennai Super Kings to victory in the money-spinning Indian Premier League finale.
The curtain came down on the seven-week, 74-match tournament with Dhoni’s Kings crowned champions following a 58-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Kings piled on a massive 205 for five in 20 overs and then restricted Bangalore’s powerful lineup to 147 for eight.
An opening partnership of 159 between Murali Vijay (95) and Aussie Michael Hussey (63) and, an outstanding spell of three wickets for 16 runs by spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, paved the way for victory. One of his scalps included West Indian ace Chris Gayle who he dismissed for a duck in the very first over. Dhoni’s team pocketed $1 million (U.S.) for the win.
Cooking and on Trott-ing
Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott picked up where they left off following the tour of Australia. Both knocked off centuries as England battled to 287 for two to trail visiting Sri Lanka by 113 runs after three days of play in the first Test at Cardiff. The two joined forces with England at 47 for two and Cook ended the day on 129 and Trott on 125.
Meanwhile, England will have to do without its ace seamer James Anderson after it was revealed he sustained a Grade 1 side strain on Friday. Apart from missing the next two days he will likely also have to sit out the second Test next week. He collected three wickets for 66 runs in Sri Lanka’s first innings knock of 400.
It was a dumb move
Wasim Akram, that great Pakistani pace bowler, agrees with our assessment last week that the Pakistan Cricket Board made a dumb move by dumping the charismatic Shahid Afridi as the ODI captain.
“It was wrong to sack Afridi, who has recently brought glory to the country against all odds,” Akram was quoted as saying. Afridi, who led Pakistan to the semis of the World Cup, was sacked after a fallout with coach Waqar Younis, also a former captain.
“Arguments between captains and coaches are not new in Pakistan cricket. Afridi was hailed as a national hero after the World Cup, and came back from the West Indies after winning the ODI series only to find out he has been sacked. What is the PCB up to?” said Akram.
But Pakistan had no problems thrashing Ireland by seven wickets to win the first of two one-day internationals at Belfast Saturday. Ireland was bundled out for 96 in 36 overs, thanks to some superb bowling from left-arm quickie Junaid Khan (four for 12) and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal (three for seven). In reply, Mohammad Hafeez cracked 52 as Pakistan reached its target by scoring 97 for three in 27.3 overs.
Spicing up the IPL
Gabriella Pasqualotto can’t bat, bowl or field, but she has grabbed most of the Indian Premier League headlines normally reserved for the players.
Pasqualotto happens to be one of the cheerleaders employed by Sachin Tendulkar’s Mumbai Indians, until she found her centre stump uprooted and sent home to South Africa after posting a blog about IPL players at post-match parties.
“I wrote what I experienced as a cheerleader. But I am considering taking legal action because I feel that I was fired over something small and silly,’’ Pasqualotto told South Africa’s The New Age.
“Usually only after day-matches there is an exclusive after-party and at night is when it all happens. The music pumps, the drinks flow and the cricketers come and go,’’ she wrote.
“The real fun happens in the VIP rooms where the players and night owls can cause scandal!
“Ol’ Graeme Smith (South Africa’s Test captain) will flirt with anything while his girlfriend lurks behind him. The Aussies are fun but naughty, such as Aiden Blizzard and Dan Christian.’’
According to South African newspaper The Witness, the 22-year-old was one of 40 women chosen for the IPL cheerleading squads in April.
She adds the Indian players have their minds focused on the game and nothing else.
“M.S. Dhoni (India’s captain) and Rohit Sharma have been very polite and keep to themselves in the dark corners. Hotshots like Tendulkar with families at home are never present. The likes of Jonty Rhodes and Albie Morkel (both South Africans) are notorious for having a good time,” she added.
India’s squad for the tour of the West Indies in June continues to suffer one blow after another with an assortment of injuries. At least six of the players who lifted the World Cup are out — Gautham Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni misses the ODI part of the tour but returns to lead the Test squad. Gambhir was appointed captain of the ODI team, but a shoulder injury will keep him out for six weeks. The team will be captained by Suresh Raina. Ace player Sachin Tendulkar requested permission to spend more time with his family and it was granted as India has a tough tour of England in July ... Sri Lanka has turned down an invitation to tour Pakistan later this year over security concerns. In 2009 gunmen attacked Sri Lanka’s team bus and that resulted in the death of six policemen and several of the players were injured. Test teams have since boycotted tours to Pakistan. Hard on the heels of Shane Warne’s retirement comes news his coach, Terry Jenner, passed away at age 66. Former Australia captain Allan Border said, “Terry was a very, very strong influence on Shane Warne. That says it all.”