p16_Layout 1 - Kuwait Times

England face tough task
to end World Cup jinx
Mashrafe Mortaza
Tamed Tigers hope
to bite at World Cup
NEW DELHI: Bangladesh will need a dramatic
turn in fortunes to ensure another World Cup
does not cause more misery after the Tigers
endured a morale-sapping year in which they
slumped from one defeat to another.
Bangladesh failed to register wins for most
of 2014 till fellow wooden-spooners
Zimbabwe came calling at the end of the year
and were duly thrashed 3-0 in Tests and 5-0 in
the one-dayers. It was only Zimbabwe the
Tigers had beaten, but fanatical fans in the
South Asian nation celebrated as if the World
Cup itself had been won.
Bangladesh have struggled at Test levelwinning just seven of their 88 Tests since their
debut in 2000 — but have always appeared
more suited to the shorter format where they
have recorded creditable wins. A five-wicket
win over Australia at Cardiff in 2005 was their
moment of glory till they knocked India out
of the 2007 World Cup to move beyond the
first round for the only time in the tournament. Bangladesh must beat at least one of
the big four in pool A-co-hosts Australia and
New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England-and also
win against both Afghanistan and Scotland to
keep their quarter-final hopes alive. A mustwin scenario awaits them in the first match
itself-against Afghanistan in Canberra on
February 18 — because a loss like the one
they suffered against the same rivals at the
Asia Cup at home a year ago could prove
costly. “The kind of squad we have, I am confident we can reach the quarter-finals,”
Mashrafe Mortaza, who replaced Mushfiqur
Rahim as one-day captain last year, told AFP.
Former captain and current selector
Habibur Bashar wanted Bangladesh to aim
big, saying it was not enough to target just
Afghanistan and Scotland. “We should aim for
winning at least three to four matches,”
Bashar told AFP.
“ The players should believe they can
defeat any team in the group. On those true
pitches Down Under, any total can be chased
down.” The focal point of Bangladesh’s campaign will be the skillful 27-year-old allrounder Shakib Al Hasan, who has been the
team’s mainstay ever since his international
debut eight years ago.
The left-hand batsman and left-arm spinner goes into his third World Cup as the topranked all-rounder in all three formats, a tribute to his consistency with both bat and ball
over the years. Shakib is the only player in the
team who has experienced Australian conditions recently, having turned out for
Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash
Twenty20 tournament.
Another player to watch is 22-year-old
left-arm spinner Taijul Islam, who grabbed
eight for 39 against Zimbabwe in Dhaka in
only his third Test to record the best Test figures ever by a Bangladeshi bowler.
Soon after, he became the first bowler in
history to claim a hat-trick on his one-day
debut, against the same opponents at the
same venue. Competition will be tougher at
the World Cup, but the exciting young talent
could spring a few surprises. — AFP
Mohammed Tauqir
UAE old guard seek
new breakthrough
DUBAI: Skippered by a 43-year-old and with
a 15-man squad featuring nine players over
30, the United Arab Emirates believe their status as no-hopers could work in their favor at
the World Cup.
The last of the 14 finalists to book their
place at the showpiece event, the Gulf side
are playing in just their second World Cup
and first since 1996.
Now, two decades on, the expat-driven
squad hope to capitalise on their lowly status
although the odds are stacked against them
with defending champions India, 1992 winners Pakistan, two-time champions West
Indies and favorites South Africa all in their
group. Realistically, the best the UAE-whose
players are all part-time and drawn mostly
from Pakistan and India-can hope for is to try
and scratch out a result against Zimbabwe
and Ireland, their opponents in their first two
games. Mohammed Tauqir, one of just three
Emirati-born players in the squad, has been
installed as captain replacing fellow 43-yearold, Pakistani Khurram Khan who had led the
side for six years.
Tauqir has played in 50 international
matches, but just five ODIs. On his ODI debut,
in the 2004 Asia Cup against India, he scored
55 off 73 balls and claimed 1-46 with his tidy
right-arm off-spin. “If we put on a good show
against Pakistan and India, that would be the
icing on the cake,” said Tauqir, who has seen
cricket develop in the Gulf state from a sport
played on concrete wickets on waste ground
to international arenas in Dubai, Abu Dhabi
and Sharjah.
“We are also targeting one or two wins. It’s
a challenging but a realistic target. These
players are capable of causing an upset.”
Khurram Khan, who hails from Punjab and
was born on the same day in 1971 as the captain, will be key to his team’s chances.
Vice-captain Khurram has played 10 ODIs
in his 11-year career but boasts an average of
53.37, a figure boosted by his undefeated 123
in a six-wicket win over fellow World Cup
qualifiers Afghanistan in Dubai in November.
The UAE won that series 3-1. Khurram’s
score allowed him to surpass Sanath
Jayasuriya as the oldest ODI centurion in the
history of the game.
The UAE are coached by former Pakistan
fast bowler Aqib Javed, who played in the
1992 World Cup winning team. His input will
be crucial for a side expected to struggle on
the hard, bouncy pitches, particularly in
Former Ireland captain Trent Johnston,
who knows how to engineer a World Cup
shock after his side defeated Pakistan in the
2007 tournament, believes the UAE attack will
toil. “The bowling is a concern with only one
true paceman in Mohammad Naveed,” said
Johnston. “However, Manjula Guruge will
swing the new ball and bowl well at the
death.” — AFP
LONDON: England have never won the World
Cup, despite hosting four tournaments,
including the first three editions, while it is
nearly 25 years since they last appeared in a
final. They certainly won’t be among the
favorites in Australia and New Zealand, where
they will have to conquer longstanding problems of a lack of penetration with the ball and
an inability to up the run-rate in the final
stages of an innings if they are to beat the
world’s top one-day sides repeatedly.
But thus far England’s decision to ditch Test
captain Alastair Cook, who had scored just
one fifty in his last 22 one-day innings, from
the World Cup squad on the eve of the team’s
departure for Australia, and replace him as
skipper with Eoin Morgan, appears to be
working out.
Ian Bell, who made a superb 141 in a threewicket defeat by Australia in Hobart last week,
and Moeen Ali have formed a sound opening
partnership in Cook’s absence.
Meanwhile the new captain neatly evaded
a verbal bouncer from Kevin Pietersen when
the axed England batsman-playing in
Australia’s domestic Big Bash Twenty20 tournament-said Morgan would “love to have me
in the England team”. But if Pietersen’s comments about England have a certain predictable quality, recent revelations that
Morgan had been the subject of a blackmail
attempt by the current partner of his former
girlfriend were bizarre.
The England and Wales Cricket Board following talks with British police, contacted the
potential blackmailer, who they said had
“apologised”, with ECB managing director Paul
Downton insisting the issue had been
“brought to a swift conclusion”.
Quite what it did for Morgan’s peace of
mind is another matter, with the former
Ireland batsman insisting it had no bearing on
his duck in Hobart. On the field, it appears
England are content to keep the big-hitting
Alex Hales in reserve for the time being. With
Bell and Ali putting on 113 for the first wicket
in 18 overs in Hobart, before Joe Root helped
Bell add 121 in 19 for the third wicket, the top
order looks in reasonable shape.
However, the final 10 overs yielded only 59
runs and it was in this instance that Pietersen’s
absence left some England fans thinking of
what might have been.
“We played good cricket in stages...the last
10 overs let us down a little bit,” said Morgan
afterwards in words that could be applied to
so many of England’s one-day performances.
England’s attack lacks extreme speed or
Eoin Morgan
sharp spin, although fast bowler Steven Finn
showed signs of a return to form with five
wickets in the recent Tri-Series win over world
champions India.
But that England were unable to defend a
total of over 300 against Australia in Hobart
was a concern, especially as senior pacemen
James Anderson and Stuart Broad, both
returning from injury, had a combined return
of none for 117 in 19 overs.—AFP
Lanka bank on Sangakkara
and Jayawardene hit show
NEW DELHI: Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela
Jayawardene will join hands for the last time
in their brilliant careers to plot Sri Lanka’s
World Cup campaign, hoping to make
amends for two successive heartbreaks. The
missing link in the enduring partnership
between the two 37-year-olds that started at
the turn of the century is the absence of a
World Cup triumph despite coming so near.
Jayawardene was captain when Sri Lanka
reached the final of the 2007 World Cup in the
Caribbean, only to see Australia cruise to a 53run win in near-darkness in Barbados.
Four years later in India, Sangakkara was at
the helm in the title clash when Mahendra
Singh Dhoni’s home team inflicted a six-wicket defeat despite a magnificent 103 off 88
balls by Jayawardene.
The two veterans, who go into the World
Cup as the leading run-getters in one-day
cricket among those still playing, took the setbacks in their stride and looked positively
ahead at the future.
“We may not have won those two tournaments, but reaching two successive finals
showed we played consistently well,” said
Jayawardene. “Hopefully we can cross the line
this time.” Jayawardene will hang his boots
after the World Cup, having already retired
from Test and Twenty20 cricket last year to
concentrate on his fifth appearance in the
showpiece event.
Sangakkara will also bid farewell to limitedovers cricket after the World Cup, but remains
undecided about prolonging his Test career
after enjoying a tremendous run with the bat
in recent months.
The World Cup gives both a last chance to
bow out in a blaze of glory and the signs are
already encouraging that this could be Sri
Lanka’s year in Australia and New Zealand.
In Sangakkara and Jayawardene’s final T20
appearance last April, Sri Lanka won the
World Twenty20 in Bangladesh to end a
drought of major titles since they took the
World Cup in 1996.
Angelo Mathews’ men won more one-dayers (20 out of 32) than any other team in 2014,
including the Asia Cup title that also featured
defending World Cup champions India and
Sri Lankans dominate the run-getters’ list
for the year gone by with left-handed
Sangakkara leading the pack with 1,256 runs,
followed by Mathews in second place with
1,244 and opener Tillakaratne Dilshan in
fourth with 990.
Unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis
topped the bowling charts with 38 wickets,
but still failed to make the World Cup squad
as the selectors went with left-armer Rangana
Herath and off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake
Sri Lanka will sweat over the fitness of
Kumar Sangakkara
pace spearhead Lasith Malinga, who was history to claim three hat-tricks in one-day
picked for the World Cup in a gamble by the internationals, is expected to be fit by the
selectors despite being sidelined following tournament opener against New Zealand on
an ankle surgery in September. The devastat- February 14, but is not guaranteed a place in
ing sling-armer, 31, who is the only bowler in the side yet. — AFP
Pakistan cricketer plagued
by ghost at team hotel
WELLINGTON: Pakistan team management
says cricketer Haris Sohail was left “visibly
shaken” after a ghostly encounter in a
Christchurch hotel room.
Sohail fled what he believed was “a supernatural presence” which shook his bed at the
Rydges Latimer hotel, taking refuge in the
room of a team coach after the encounter earlier this week. Team manager Maveed Akram
Cheeva said yesterday Sohail, 26, phoned a
member of the coaching staff to say he had
been woken by his bed being shaken. The
coach rushed to Sohail’s room and found him
shaken and feverish.
Cheeva said management tried to persuade Sohail the fever may have caused a
nightmare, but the player was adamant his
experience was supernatural. The hotel’s management says it knew of “no active ghost” on
the premises.
Pakistan media reports said Sohail, an allrounder who has played nine one-dayers and
three Twenty20 internationals, was so “traumatized” by the experience he has been
unable to train and was forced to miss a oneday warmup match against a New Zealand
President’s XI.
Sohail took the field in a second warmup
game in Christchurch on Tuesday and made 6
runs from 25 balls. Cheema said Sohail was
examined by the team doctor after his
encounter and found to be in good health.
“He’s OK and he’s concentrating on cricket as
he should be,” he said. “He had a fever. We
think it was the fever that caused it but the
player still believes his bed was shaken by
something and it was a supernatural something.” Sohail joins an elite group of international cricketers who have had ghostly experiences. England fast bowler Stuart Broad
switched rooms at London’s Langham Hotel
last year after a ghostly experience. Broad told
the Daily Mail newspaper he had woken in the
night and “all of a sudden the taps in the bathroom came on for no reason. I turned the
lights on and the taps turned themselves off.
Then when I turned the lights off again, the
taps came on. It was very weird.”
Australia allrounder Shane Watson fled to
the room of teammate Brett Lee after becoming spooked in his own room at the Lumley
Castle Hotel in England in 2005. — AP