Monday, April 03, 2006

Goa Jinx: India Won, Lead ODI Series 3 - 0 Against England

Paul Collingwood hit a defiant 93 after England had slid to 100-6 but Irfan Pathan took 4-51 as India ended up winning by 49 runs in the 49th over.

India batted first, making a ground record 294-6, Suresh Raina (61) putting on 142 in partnership with Yuvraj.

Kevin Pietersen was out with a stomach bug so England lacked some firepower.

India's score was the best total achieved in six matches played at the Nehru Stadium in Margao, which attracted a fair few England fans from the nearby beaches of Goa.

England coach Duncan Fletcher made it back from South Africa just before the toss, and the tourists made two changes from the line-up who lost in Faridabad.

Sajid Mahmood replaced Kabir Ali while Vikram Solanki came in for Pietersen.

For India, captain Rahul Dravid moved up to open the innings with Gautam Gambhir dropped.

Ajit Agarkar and Munaf Patel (on debut) made their first appearances of the series.

The wicket immediately looked unappetising for batsmen and it was no surprise when James Anderson struck in his fourth over, bowling Virender Sehwag through the gate.

The surface was slow and dry, and with the sun baking down began to crumble from the off - with any score over 200 would have been a decent effort.

But Dravid (46) played with typical intelligence and seemed set for a long innings before Collingwood bowled him off the inside edge.

That ended a more than useful 78-run partnership between the skipper and pinch-hitting number three Pathan (36).

Pathan, who had hit one big six off Ian Blackwell, also fell when tamely giving point a catch off Flintoff.

Almost immediately, Liam Plunkett then had the out-of-sorts Mohammad Kaif caught behind for a duck and India had to adjust their ambitions momentarily with the score on 131-4.

There then came a major let-off for the hosts when Geraint Jones missed a chance to stump Raina off Ian Blackwell for 13.

That would have made it 151-5, but instead Yuvraj and Raina made England pay.

Yuvraj was going at better than a run a ball and after reaching his fifty he swept Blackwell for a big six.

England's tactics went haywire in the heat. Mahmood - with no match practice and still struggling for fitness - was asked to bowl eight overs.

The last of those was smashed for 22.

Yuvraj, who faced just 76 balls, and Raina both fell to Flintoff in the final dash for runs in which Mahendra Dhoni finished with a cameo 13 not out.

England needed everything to go their way when they batted just to make a match of it.

But Pathan's slower balls and cutters saw the innings unravel immediately, with Andrew Strauss, Blackwell and Owais Shah all deceived by the left-arm seamer leaving England 47-3 in the 11th over.

Matt Prior played some nice shots but was then run out after a terrible mix-up with Flintoff, who promptly slogged Ramesh Powar's second ball to deep mid-wicket.

After Solanki had perished to Harbhajan Singh, Collingwood and Jones put on 105 for the seventh wicket, and both played some excellent shots.

The wicket appeared to have flattened down a little and for a short while the two right-handers were scoring at around 11 runs an over, the required rate.

But when each man was caught in the deep trying to hit sixes the fun was over for the day.

Source: BBC Sports


Fed Ex Double Delight

Ljubicic, the world number six, battled gamely throughout, taking all three sets to tie-breaks.

But Federer was able to raise his game when it mattered, winning the key points to claim a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (8-6) win.

The victory gave Federer the Indian Wells-Miami Masters Series double for the second year in a row.

"To win back-to-back like this is unbelievable," said Federer.

"I never thought I'd do it again. It really feels great.

"It was tough today, he made me work very hard.

"He could have pushed me further if he'd played better on big points in the tie-breaks.

"But he was going for big serves with great variation. He made me work but I expected that - three tie-breaks is the most extreme you can have."

The Nasdaq-100 Open is often referred to as tennis' unofficial fifth Grand Slam and for Ljubicic it would have been the biggest title win of his career.

Despite the tight scoreline, Ljubicic never quite threatened to upset the form book.

He matched Federer blow for blow in the first set but the world number one took the tie-break 7-5.

It appeared Federer might run away with it when he took the first break of serve of the match midway through the second set.

Ljubicic battled back to earn another tie-break and then led by a break in the third set.

But he was unable to take advantage of his opportunities as Federer fought back in the third to wrap up victory.

"I played well but it's still a loss; it feels a bit rough," Ljubicic told reporters.

"He never misses in tie-breaks and comes up with his best shots when it's important."

Source: BBC Sports


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Kuznetsova Won Miami Title

Kuznetsova, seeded 12th, won the all-Russian final with a superior serve and dominating forehand.

She ended the one hour 30 minute match with her fourth ace to clinch her first title since 2004 and biggest win since capturing the 2004 US Open.

"I've been working so hard and I deserve to be here," she said.

The victory marked her sixth career singles title and will take her back to 10th in the world rankings.

She said her game plan against Sharapova was to play aggressive and control the pace.

"I had to get inside the court more. I was a bit defensive at times so I just tried to play my game," Kuznetsova said.

Sharapova reached the final after Tatiana Golovin retired in the third set with a left ankle injury.

"It was tough," said Sharapova, who was distracted by a small plane dragging an advertising banner for much of the first set.

"I couldn't put two points together. I was tired from my previous match and now I need some time off."

Sharapova had been bidding to become only the third woman after Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters to win the back-to-back American events at Indian Wells and Miami in the same year.