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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

An India Lanka Encounter at Perth and the bend of Ajmal

Today at Perth India play Sri Lanka in the CBS Tri Series – Perth may not be the ideal One day venue with its support for pacers.  Its in fact a re-match of the 2011 WC Finals and MS Dhoni and Virender Sehwag are set to play their first ODI together since the World Cup final.  But after 10 months of the Indian hour of glory after  Wankhede finals, much has changed – the fortunes have nose-dived and the teams have been battered outside their dominion.
At a time when money flowed in IPL auction, Lankans are in disarray as the players are not even paid by their bankrupt board.  The battered and bruised Lankans have had other shocks as well – Geoff Marsh has been rudely taken off, Dilshan found the going too tough and relinquished captaincy !  so Mahela Jayawardene is back at the helm.   India has been playing Lanka rather frequently with  34 of their 129 clashes happening  between 2008 and 2010.

The dasher Virender Sehwag who was dropped against Australia in the inaugural game is most like to play.  Indians who lost time won the CB series is now struggling at the start of the series itself is not a welcome sign.  In the last match, in Australia, Dhoni played with 2 pacers – Vinay Kumar and Praveen and that speaks the volumes of the bench strength  though there is Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav and Zaheer.   Ravindra Jadeja who was sold for so many crores in the IPL 5 and who won the MoM in T20 primarily for his fielding, leaked 41 runs in 16 balls and is most likely to be dropped. 

So a clash of neighbours in a far away Perth.  Lankans would be led by Mahela of a pace centered attack of Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perara, Kulasekara, Malinga and possibly Welegadara trying to exploit the green pitch on a hot day.    India have a career 68-50 advantage, but One dayers are always games where the team that plays better on that day wins, rather than the form or the status of the players !!  Sachin besides that elusive 100th ton is 18 away from 3000 runs against Lanka having made more than 3000 against Australia, a feat which no one else has achieved.  There is talk of India mulling rotation of openers -  Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Tendulkar which would be decent explanation of Sehwag being left out of ODI at MCG.   Despite the dismal performance the team did not change their batting line-up in the 4 test series. 

There are reports that the Sri Lanka Cricket Board  postponed the inaugural T 20 bash amid looming financial crunch and the withdrawal of BCCI from the league.  Without Indian support, SLC cannot organize the tournament as  Sri Lanka Cricket is reported to have  accumulated $69 million in debt after the World Cup. India last month barred its players from taking part in the Sri Lanka Premier League, saying the tournament was being organized by a private company.  In such a depressing scenario,  Sri Lanka’s national cricket board was elected uncontested  recently amid allegations that political pressure had forced favourites to withdraw from the first election in seven years.  Businessman Upali Dharmadasa became president of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) unopposed as front-runner Thilanga Sumathipala withdrew at the last minute.  The sports ministry, which conducted the election among cricket clubs affiliated to Sri Lanka Cricket, dismissed allegations of irregularities.
Sri Lanka Cricket is facing a severe financial crisis over the cost of co-hosting the 2011 World Cup.  SLC has not been able to pay salaries to its staff for October and to around 100 contracted Sri Lankan cricketers since the island nation co-hosted the World Cup with India and Bangladesh in April earlier this year due to the debt that the country's Board is facing.  Some 263 employees of the Board and 94 contracted cricketers' payments remain outstanding to be settled, the officials confirmed.  It is stated that  SLC needs over 30 million rupees monthly to meet its contractual payment obligations and staff wages.  The number of staff has gone up from 12 in 1996 when Sri Lanka won the World Cup to over 260 now and the management is often criticised for its extravagance.

Elsewhere, after the whitewash handed to England there was fresh controversy after the interview of the Man of the Series – the spinner Saeed Ajmal.  There are reports that in the interview with the BBC, Ajmal volunteered the belief that the ICC had allowed him 23.5 degrees to compensate for an accident in which he injured his arm. The ICC, however, were quick to reject the suggestion.

Cricinfo quotes Ajmal as saying "Someone is telling me my action is bad because the ICC allowed me as a bowler 23.5 degrees, because my arm is not good. A few years ago I had an accident. Otherwise, no problem, the action was cleared by ICC."  An ICC spokeman denied that was the case. "There is no dispensation for anyone," he said. "It is worth remembering that his first language is not English and this may have been a slip of the tongue.".  David Richardson, the ICC's general manager of cricket, confirmed that Ajmal's arm is not naturally straight and that Ajmal's action does not fall outside the 15-degree tolerance limit.  "There is a big difference between the 'elbow carry angle' (elbow abduction) and the degree of elbow extension," he said. "There is nothing preventing a bowler bowling with a bent arm, provided he does not straighten it beyond the permitted degrees of tolerance."  In an interview on the ICC website, Richardson added: "In Saeed Ajmal's case he has a 15-degree angle of elbow abduction."  The PCB issued a statement attempting to clarify the situation although their claim that Ajmal's elbow has a natural angle of 23 degrees didn't match Richardson's explanation that it was 15 degrees, which also happens to be the ICC's tolerance limit.

Can you decipher that ?  - a tough rule understood by none and interpreted by everybody – Muralitharan was subjected to humiliation and torture, undergoing bio-mechanics test and more with multiple leads attached to his body and yet called a sinner by some Boards, taunted down-under, now Ajmal the leading wicket taker and the man who took 24 wickets in the present series at an average of 14.7 is under cloud.  The Britons led by Bob Willis had already raised concerns on his action. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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