IPL opens with a bang

NORMAN DA COSTA, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:28 PM ET

There was no money or effort spared in making the opening night of the Indian Premier League an unforgettable event. American pop star Katy Perry and Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor performed to a full house in Chennai. The organizers had to dig deep into their coffers to attract the fans after the national teamís appalling display in England, Australia and in the Asia Cup.

And they may have succeeded as a huge crowd was on hand in Chennai to cheer their two-time defending champion Chennai Super Kings against the star-studded Mumbai Indians. But the home team was no match for Mumbai, who pulled off an easy eight-wicket win and served notice it will be the team to beat.

South African Richard Levi lived up to the hype as the worldís best Twenty20 batsman by slamming three sixes and six boundaries in his 35-ball 50 after Mumbai was set to get 113 for victory. Levi and Sachin Tendulkar put on 69 for the first wicket before Tendulkarís innings was cut short when on 16 after fending off a Doug Bollinger bouncer.

ENGLAND BOUNCES BACK

Andrew Strauss and England enjoyed their best day of Test cricket since it began its Asian tour two months ago. Strauss answered his detractors with a fine 61 and England made a solid reply to Sri Lankaís 275 by posting 154 for one in reply.

Two months ago Englandís batsmen were led a merry dance by Pakistanís spinners in a four-Test whitewash and then Sri Lankan spinners tied the England bats for an easy win in the first of the two-Tests.

In Colombo Wednesday, Englandís batsmen knuckled down, concentrated on solid defence and did not take any risks. Sure, it was boring cricket, but England needs to win this Test to square the series and how the result is achieved doesnít matter. A win would also alleviate the pressure on skipper Strauss who has been under the gun after five straight losses and poor form. A win would help England retain its No. 1 Test status.

Strauss and Alastair Cook put on a workman-like 121 for the first wicket with Cook unbeaten on 77 and Jonathon Trott on 15 at the close. Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene tried desperately to get wickets by rotating his spinners ó Rangana Herath, Suraj Randiv and Tillkaratne Dilshan ó with little success. Graeme Swann, though, managed to bamboozle the Sri Lankans with a four-wicket haul. And, with the pitch likely to dry out in the next three days and take some turn, the spinners could well decide the outcome of the game.

WOMEN IN ACTION

Montrealís Suthershini Sivanantham will captain Canadaís womenís team for the qualifying round of the 2014 World Cup to be played in the Cayman Islands April 23-24. Sivanantham is a former Sri Lankan international and one of the most experienced players on the squad. Her vice-captain is Mikaela Turik who plays for New South Wales in Australia. Canada must finish first to advance to the next stage of qualifying in 2013.

normandacosta@hotmail.com


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