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CRICKET ROUNDUP

Ricky Ponting

DURBAN, South Africa: Australian captain Ricky Ponting will miss the rest of the Twenty20 world championships due to injury and is doubtful for the upcoming tour of India, team officials said.
Ponting suffered a hamstring strain while batting during Australia’s six-wicket loss to Pakistan at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Tuesday night.
Ponting’s injury, which did not allow him to field against Pakistan, comes ahead of Australia’s must-win clash against Sri Lanka in Cape Town today.
The winner will qualify for the semi-finals along with Pakistan from group F, while the loser will crash out of the tournament.
Team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said Ponting’s injury could keep him out of the game for four weeks, making him an unlikely starter for the seven-match one-day series in India starting on September 29.
“Over the next three to five days we will have a much better indication of where it’s heading, so we will know whether he will have to go home or be able to go to India,” Kountouris told reporters. “Hopefully, he will take some part in the series in India. The best case scenario is a couple of weeks. The worst case scenario is four weeks.” Kountouris said Ponting strained his hamstring while running between the wickets against Pakistan.
“He just took off for a run and felt it a bit,” the physiotherapist said.
“He was stretching his left leg because he was not sure if there was a problem. I don’t think he has had a hamstring strain before.
“He wasn’t really sure what it feels like.”
Ponting, who won the ICC’s player of the year award for the second successive year, arrived in South Africa just two days before the tournament began on September 11 following his wife’s illness.
But Kountouris said the late arrival or the return to action after a four-month break had caused the injury.
“It can happen anytime,” he said. “We get them anytime in a season.
“He’s been here for a week now so really I could not say with confidence that it had anything to do with it. It’s just coincidence.”(AFP)

I’d rather watch than play, says Gilchrist
JOHANNESBURG: Adam Gilchrist has become the latest Twenty20 sceptic following the Australians’s defeat to Pakistan, saying he would rather watch the quick-fire form of the game than play it.
“The more I play it, I am starting to, not so much like it as a player, but love watching it,” wicketkeeper Gilchrist said in the aftermath of Tuesday’s six-wicket defeat at the Wanderers.
Australia, who must beat Sri Lanka in Cape Town on Thursday if they are to advance to the semi-finals, also suffered a shock defeat to Zimbabwe in the opening round of the tournament in a result which went some way to undermining their all-conquering reputation.
The usually prolific Gilchrist has had a quiet tournament, failing to pass 50 in any of the Australians’ four matches to date. The opener said the format seemed to negate some of the skill factor although he admitted spectators were lapping up the close finishes that have been absent from so many recent 50 over matches.
“I am still not totally convinced that over the short term, the skills get to come through as much as they do in the longer formats, so that is evening the games up which is a great spectacle, but we’ll see over time,” said Gilchrist who insisted the Aussies were taking the tournament seriously. Despite the enthusiastic response from the spectators, a number of high-profile players have been distinctly unimpressed by Twenty20.
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori has expressed hope the format is “not the future of the game” while West Indian skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan said ahead of the tournament that Twenty20 was “not really to my liking.” (AFP)

Harper leaves Kenya with some disappointment
NAIROBI: West Indian Roger Harper yesterday called for a proper cricket development programme in Kenya to prevent the sport lagging behind.
The 44-year-old Guyana national is leaving the country on Friday after 20 months of coaching the national team.
His only achievement was winning the World Cricket League title in February but a dismal performance at the World Cup in the Caribbean and the inaugural Twenty20 championships in South Africa sullied the former West Indies coach’s credentials.
“We have had our high points and also times when we could have done better,” said Harper, who opted to return home after turning down an extension of his one-year contract.
“I would like to think that we’ve made some positive steps as a team and some of the young players have grown, and even though I wouldn’t be here, I look forward on them to building on the foundation that has been laid and even going to greater things.”
Harper, who is credited with building a cohesive and disciplined playing unit, said the team’s future success would depend on the committment of the players and cricket administration in building sound structure of development.
He accepted the team’s batting lacked consistency and termed the fielding as “outrageous” during the World Twenty20 championships where Kenya took a big hammering against New Zealand and Sri Lanka in the opening round matches in Durban and Johannesburg last week.
“Beating the top-ranked teams is never going to be easy,” Harper said. “Kenya did well in winning the associate members tournament but we were a little of bit of disappointment in our perfomance at the World Cup and the Twenty20. The players did not believe on themselves when it came to playing against the big teams.” (AFP)

* LONDON: Former England batsman Usman Afzaal said Wednesday that he hopes to reignite his international career by signing a three-year contract with Surrey.
Thiry-year-old left-hander Afzaal, who began his career at Nottinghamshire, last played for England six years ago.
“My dream is to play more cricket for England, and I see this move to Surrey – where I will be under pressure to prove myself in a quality side – as a stepping stone to being recognised by the English selectors once more,” said the Pakistan-born Afzaal who has scored more than 11,000 runs since making his first-class debut in 1995. (AFP)

Pak get Musharraf praise, bonus for Aussie win
ISLAMABAD:
Pakistan’s cricketers received  praise from President Pervez Musharraf and a 10,000-dollar bonus  each for their win against Australia in the Twenty20 World Cup,  officials said yesterday.
“The president spoke to captain Shoaib Malik late Tuesday and  congratulated him and the team for an outstanding performance,”  Musharraf’s spokesman Major General Rashid Qureshi told AFP.
Pakistan upset Australia by six wickets in a group F match of  the Super Eights on Tuesday to virtually seal a semi-final place in  the Twenty20 world championships being played in South Africa.
“The team’s performance has made the country proud,” Qureshi  quoted Musharraf as telling Malik, who put on a century partnership  with Misbah-ul Haq in the match.
Musharraf, who is also patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Cricket Board, hailed the team’s “very spirited performance and praised  Malik’s leadership and how well the seniors and juniors in the team  have gelled as a unit,” Qureshi said.
Pakistan’s second win in the group has left them needing a point  in the last match against Bangladesh in Cape Town on Thursday to  move into the last four.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has also announced a cash reward of  10,000 dollars for each player following the victory, a spokesperson  said.

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