Monday, December 7, 2009

India reached No.1 in ICC Test Rankings

On top of the world

S. Dinakar

After an emphatic innings victory over Sri Lanka

Photo: K.R. Deepak (More reports on page 20) 
 
NUMERO UNO: A jubilant Indian team after its win over Sri Lanka in the third Test at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday. India's 2-0 series victory took it to the number one spot in the ICC Test Rankings for the first time. —

MUMBAI: India reached the No.1 spot in the ICC Test Rankings, for the first time, with an emphatic innings and 24-run victory over Sri Lanka at the Brabourne Stadium here on Sunday.

The host achieved its objective after only 7.4 overs of play on the final day.

Resuming at 274 for six, Sri Lanka was dismissed for 309 in its second innings.

Third with 119 points at the beginning of the series, India now has 124 points. It overtook South Africa, which stays on 122 points. Australia is third with 116, while Sri Lanka, which began the series at No. 2, drops to fourth place with 115. Virender Sehwag, who made 293 in the first innings here, was named Man of the Match and Player of the Series. Sachin Tendulkar invited the support staff to the arena to acknowledge their contribution as a goodly crowd cheered on.

Australia and South Africa are the only other teams to have been ranked No. 1.

Captain M.S. Dhoni said: "It is a complete team effort." Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara acknowledged: "We were out-batted and out-bowled. India was the better side in the series."

Courtesy_

http://www.hindu.com/2009/12/07/stories/2009120757390100.htm


A complete team effort, says Dhoni

S. Dinakar

Competition for places has lifted the standards

— .Photo: K.R. Deepak 
 
DOUBLE DELIGHT: Virender Sehwag poses with the Man-of-the-Match and Man-of-the-Series trophies after India's resounding series win over Sri Lanka.

Mumbai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni was in good spirits as he entered the media room for the post-match press conference. India was now at the acme in Test rankings.

And Dhoni has now won seven of his 10 Tests as India captain. He is yet to lose a Test as skipper.

"It feels great. It has been a complete team effort. Playing well is a constant process. Our preparation and execution of our plans have been good. We have a very strong batting line-up and the bowlers have been doing their job. We have done well in all conditions. Importantly, the core group has remained the same. We have not had too many injuries and have played with the same team for most part," the Indian captain said.

Not too many Tests

He conceded India, apart from the series in Bangladesh, was not playing too much Test cricket over the next six months. "That is not in our hands. But whenever we play Test cricket, we want to do it well. I believe in small steps for the bigger goal."

With India slated to figure in only a handful of Tests next year, Dhoni admitted that South Africa or Australia could overtake India. He added, "But we want to enjoy the moment, not think too far ahead. This is a great moment for Indian cricket."

On what India should do to maintain its current ranking, he said, "Play more Test cricket."

Healthy competition

Dhoni felt the tough competition for places in the Indian team had lifted the standards. "The tougher it is for the new guy to come in, the better it is for him and us. Our bench strength is good now and this is important," he said.

The Indian captain said sharing the same dressing room with the experienced players was a great experience.

He complimented his team for fighting back after losing the toss here. "Zaheer Khan bowled extremely well here. There was some assistance for the pacemen and the spinners in the morning on all the days."

Dhoni called Virender Sehwag a one-of-a-kind batsman and said Gary Kirsten was a fantastic coach.

The Indian captain felt the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) was not foolproof.

Courtesy_

http://www.hindu.com/2009/12/07/stories/2009120752261900.htm


India reaches the pinnacle in Tests

S. Dinakar

Sri Lanka suffers yet another innings defeat as Zaheer strikes

— Photo: K.R. Deepak 

ECSTATIC: Zaheer Khan can't hide his joy as he celebrates with Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh after dismissing Nuwan Kulasekara on the final day.

Mumbai: At the Brabourne Stadium suffused with emotions, the Indians converged in a heap after the fall of the last Sri Lankan wicket.

It was a historic moment for Indian cricket. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men had moved to the No. 1 spot in the ICC Test rankings.

The 2-0 series triumph after India won the final Test by an innings and 24 runs here on Sunday, took the side beyond South Africa as the top-ranked team.

A goodly crowd roared in appreciation and the Sri Lankans, in a gesture that was sporting, walked up to congratulate the Indian team.

Since the Test championship was introduced in 2001, India is only the third country, Australia and South Africa being the others, to reach the acme.

India's rise in Tests is a reward for consistent and often winning cricket, both home and away.

A strong top-seven in batting and the emergence of an incisive pace attack to complement the spinners has made India a worthy side outside the sub-continent. Team India, a fine blend of experience and youth, has fired collectively.

Starting the series in third place with 119 points, India now has 124. South Africa, remaining on 122, has dropped to the second spot. Sri Lanka, which began the series as No. 2, has slumped to the fourth position with 115 points.

Player of the Series

Aggressive opener Virender Sehwag was adjudged Man of the Match and Player of the Series. He whipped up 491 runs in three Tests at a whopping 122.75. Spearheaded by crafty left-arm paceman Zaheer Khan, India needed only 7.4 overs on Sunday to claim the last four wickets.

Sri Lanka was bowled out for 309 in its second innings.

Operating with exemplary control, Zaheer finished with five for 72; this was the paceman's eighth five-wicket haul in Tests.

Crucially, he dismissed Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara (137) in the day's first over with a mean delivery that pitched on off-stump and left the southpaw late.

Zaheer's ability to deviate the ball away from the left-hander from over-the-wicket is high on skill.

Smart catch

Soon, Rangana Herath found the ball climbing on to him quicker than expected as he attempted a pull off Zaheer and Ojha, diving forward, held a smart catch at mid-wicket.

Zaheer then switched to round-the-wicket and hustled Nuwan Kulasekara with a short-pitched ball around his off-stump; the Sri Lankan was snaffled up in the cordon.

And when Muttiah Muralitharan nicked off-spinner Harbhajan Singh to Dhoni, the Indians celebrated.

Muralitharan batted despite injuring two ligaments of his bowling fingers and is a doubtful starter for the two-match Twenty20 series.

Little went right for Sri Lanka after it had the better of the exchanges in the first Test.

This said, the islanders were at the receiving end of at least four faulty umpiring decisions in the final Test.

Sangakkara has renewed calls for the Umpire Decision Review System to be implemented in all Test series.

However, India's two successive innings victories strongly indicate it was the superior side in the series. The top seven Indian batsmen averaged 50 plus. And when M. Vijay replaced in-form opener Gautam Gambhir in the last Test, he came up with a polished innings of 87.

Lankan batsmen fail

The Sri Lankan frontline batsmen could not make an impact at crucial moments. Mahela Jayawardene notched up 373 runs at 74.60, but 275 of those runs were from a single innings in the drawn Ahmedabad Test.

Sangakkara scored 241 runs at 48.20 but failed to make an impression until his valiant 137 in the second innings here but by this point the series had been decided.

Thilan Samaraweera had an ordinary series with 151 runs at 37.75. The intrepid Tillakaratne Dilshan — 248 runs at 49.60 — blitzed hundreds in the first and the third Tests but was desperately unlucky with umpiring decisions in both the innings here.

And the Sri Lankan spinners struggled against fleet-footed Indian batsmen. Muralitharan ended up with nine wickets at 65.66 and Ajantha Mendis' two strikes at Kanpur — his lone Test of the series — came at 81.00.

Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath bowled well in phases for his 11 wickets at 48.81 but struck chiefly in the latter stages of the innings.

Comeback paceman S. Sreesanth's five for 75 in the Sri Lankan first innings at Kanpur opened up the Test series for India. Then Zaheer impressed in Mumbai as the Indian pace attack made a difference.

At the end of it all, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman rejoiced with the younger bunch. It was a compelling sight.

Tendulkar invited the support staff to the arena; he was acknowledging their contribution.

SCOREBOARD

Sri Lanka - 1st innings: 393.

India - 1st innings: 726 for nine decl.

Sri Lanka - 2nd innings: N. Paranavitana lbw b Sreesanth 54 (144b, 8x4), T. Dilshan lbw b Harbhajan 16 (27b, 2x4), K. Sangakkara c Dhoni b Zaheer 137 (261b, 20x4, 1x6), M. Jayawardene c Dhoni b Zaheer 12 (24b, 1x4), T. Samaraweera c Laxman b Zaheer 0 (13b), A. Mathews c Dhoni b Ojha 5 (8b, 1x4), P. Jayawardene lbw b Ojha 32 (42b, 3x4, 1x6), N. Kulasekara c Laxman b Zaheer 19 (68b, 4x4), R. Herath c Ojha b Zaheer 3 (10b), M. Muralitharan c Dhoni b Harbhajan 14 (9b, 3x4), C. Welegedara (not out) 0 (1b); Extras (b-12, lb-1, w-1, nb-3): 17; Total (in 100.4 overs): 309.

Fall of wickets: 1-29 (Dilshan), 2- 119 (Paranavitana), 3-135 (M. Jayawardene), 4-137 (Samaraweera), 5- 144 (Mathews), 6-208 (P. Jayawardene), 7-278 (Sangakkara), 8-282 (Herath), 9-307 (Kulasekara).

India bowling: Harbhajan 34.4-5- 80-2, Ojha 23-4-84-2, Zaheer 21-5- 72-5, Sreesanth 13-4-36-1, Sehwag 9-2-24-0.

Courtesy_

http://www.hindu.com/2009/12/07/stories/2009120759502000.htm


'We were outplayed'

Special Correspondent

MUMBAI: Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara said the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) should be implemented for all series. "When the ICC has said the review system should be implemented for all series, I do not know why it was not implemented for this series. It was a handicap for us," he said.

Rough decisions

Sri Lanka received a few rough umpiring decisions in the Test and Sangakkara said, "the absence of the review system cost us around 500 runs and a lot of wickets."

He, however, said India was the better side. "We were out-batted and out-bowled, mainly out-bowled." Sangakkara said his spinners could not build pressure. "They did not send down too many maiden overs."

The pacemen created chances but the opportunities were not cashed in by Sri Lanka, he added. The Sri Lankan called Dhoni a good leader but said the Indian had some distance to travel yet as a Test cricketer.

On India getting to the World No. 1 spot in Tests, he said, "The way India has played in this series, it probably deserves to be there."

Hurt

Sangakkara said Test cricket was not played among only four countries. He was hurt that Sri Lanka was not a part of the ICC discussions on introducing a two-tier system in Test cricket. "We were the No. 2 Test side in the world then and we were not even consulted."

Looking back at the third Test here, Sangakkara said Virender Sehwag's 293 made the difference. "We had nearly 400 runs on the board in the first innings. And we were looking at restricting India to within 450 in the first innings. Had that happened, it could have been a very competitive match and we could have set India a good target on the last innings when there would have been turn and bounce for our spinners. Sehwag took it away from us."

He also said Dhoni's century was influential. "His century at the end made it extremely hard for us."

Sangakkara added, "We are a better side than the 2-0 scoreline suggests. The series could have been a lot closer."

Courtesy_

http://www.hindu.com/2009/12/07/stories/2009120752251900.htm



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