Champion spinner will turn out for Kochi in IPL
I will miss Chennai says Murali
NEW DELHI: Sri Lankan off-spinner Muthiah Muralitharan says he will miss his previous IPL team Chennai Super Kings and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni but is excited to play for Kochi franchisee, the new entrants in the Twenty20 league.
Muralitharan, who had played a crucial role in CSK’s title-triumph in IPL 3 and Champions League last year, was been signed up by team Kochi for $1.1 million at the two-day auction in Bangalore.
“I played with them for three years and have several happy memories with the team. My wife is also from Chennai and she is upset with this change but it happens in the game. I will miss Chennai, my teammates and miraculous captain Dhoni,” Muralitharan said.

“Chennai had the excellent captain, a wonderful team and tremendous support. We enjoyed playing for them and last year was memorable in which we won the IPL and Champions league. I have taken a lot of wickets for them,” said the veteran, who has 515 ODI and 800 Test wickets in his kitty.
“Kochi is a new venture and we will have new captain and new targets. I am quite excited about this. We will start afresh and try to give our best. I hope to have home like atmosphere in Kochi as well. I hope that people will understand my language (Tamil) in Kochi also,” he added.
The spin wizard, who took 40 wickets in 40 matches for Chennai in last three seasons, said he wants to extend his IPL career for a few more years.

“I want to play IPL for the next two or three more years. I will try to perform with best of my abilities and experience. Team Kochi has put so much faith on me and I will not disappoint them,” said the ace off spinner,
Talking about Kochi’s combination of players, Muralitharan said they need some more young Indian guns.
“Kochi has experienced players like Mahela Jayawardene, Brendon McCullum, VVS Laxman and Sreesanth. Now it is necessary to have some talented Indian youngsters,” he said.
When asked about now CSK spinner Suraj Randiv’s wish to learn the art of Doosra from him, the ace bowler said that he is willing to share his experience with the young bowlers.
“Suraj is a good bowler and future of Sri Lanka Cricket. Definitely I will give him important tips. Rather than the franchise, he is the one who will be benefited by playing for them. I am willing to share my experience and knowledge with everyone,” said Murali.

Asked about his future plans, he said, “You don’t know what is there in store for you. I will be involved with cricket for sure but not as a coach with any national team. May be at a shorter scale.”
Talking about the snub the IPL franchisees meted out to Saurav Ganguly and Sanath Jayasuriya, he said, “This is franchise’s decision. I don’t know what is their thinking and calculations. I am also surprised but they are great players and will remain that.”

Muralitharan, who quit Test cricket in July 2010, said it is his dream that bids adieu to ODI cricket with another World Cup Trophy in his hands.
“We are playing in the sub-continent. India will be the hot favourites but Sri Lanka is also a good team and we have played well recently. I hope that we can win the tournament which is my last one.
“I am happy that my name is there in the team. I want to bid adieu with the title triumph. I consider myself lucky as I was the part of 1996 winning team also,” he said. – [PTI]


Gibbs’ MoM trophy in record run chase up for grabs

JOHANNESBURG: Cricket fans across the world will have an opportunity to win South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs’ man of the match trophy which he won after a record run chase of 438 against Australia in 2006.
Gibbs, who mutually terminated his contract with Cricket South Africa last year, said he would give the prize to one of his Twitter followers.
“Next week I’m giving away my 175 (run) man of match medal vs aus(tralia) in 438 game. Stay tuned for details pls,” he wrote on the social networking site.
He said he was giving away his commemorative valuables as he had wanted the World Cup winners’ medal and he is not getting it.
“In case u peeps ask why I giv(e) away stuff, the only thing I wanted was a wcup (World Cup) winners’ medal, and that’s not gonna happen, so I’ll give wats left,” the 36-year-old tweeted.
Gibbs, who had played 90 Tests and 248 ODIs, has already given away some of his commemorative valuables after promising his more than 19,000 Twitter followers gifts if they give correct answers to his questions.
“OK morn(ing) peeps, just as a small thank u from me, my 20000th follower will receive my last Proteas shirt I will prob(ably) ever wear, Oakleys (sunglasses) and a cap,” he wrote.
The batsman asked his followers if they remember his highest score in primary school when he was a 12-year-old and against which opposition he scored those runs.
The correct answer came after 233 unsuccessful replies and Gibbs adding “a pair of green pads, pullover and cap” to the prize.
Gibbs had scored 207 runs against St Agnes Primary School way back in 1986. – [PTI]


Malik finds Pakistan WC snub tough

KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik has admitted that he is passing through the toughest phase of his life after being ignored by the national selectors for the ICC World Cup next month.
Malik, who failed to make it to the national squad despite finishing among the top performers in the domestic Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with four centuries, said, “It has not been a easy time for me in the last few months.”
“It is a tough phase and being ignored for the World Cup without any creditable reason has been very disappointing,” Malik said in an interview.

Malik, who turns 29 next month, has represented Pakistan in 32 Tests, 32 Twenty20 matches and 192 one-day internationals. He has been out of favour with the PCB and selectors after being dropped for the one-day series against England last September.

He was also ignored for the series in New Zealand and the World Cup with the cricket board not giving clearance to the selectors to consider him.
The board’s integrity committee met Malik twice and asked him to submit relevant documents as it investigated his assets, bank accounts and sources of income.
To make matters worse for Malik, a lawyer in Lahore filed a civil suit demanding the court to investigate the assets of the former captain.

“It has been disappointing to be ignored like this and it is hard to come to terms with what is happening. But what hurts is that I know I am in the best form of my life and if I had been picked in the World Cup I would have done a lot for the team,” Malik said.

The senior player said that he was reconciling to the situation and preparing for a tough battle to convince the board and selectors to select him.
“Cricket is my passion and life and despite all disappointments and setbacks I remain positive about the future. I know I have done nothing wrong and I will make a comeback soon.
“No one can separate me from cricket and I will continue to perform in domestic cricket and let everyone know I am around,” he said. – [PTI]


I was not aware says Aamer

KARACHI: Suspended Pakistan pacer Mohammad Aamer said he was “not aware” of the clauses of his suspension after being hauled up by the PCB for playing in a club level match in Rawalpindi, which forced the board to give an explanation to the International Cricket Council.
Aamer, who remains suspended alongwith teammates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif for their alleged involvement in spot-fixing, bowled five overs in a friendly club level match while under suspension earlier this week.
“Look it was all a misunderstanding and that is all, and I have already sent my reply to the PCB about the whole issue and made my position clear,” Aamer said.

He confirmed the board had asked him for an explanation for playing in the match that was held between Army and a club side.
“I had no intention of violating the terms and conditions of my suspension, especially when I know that the ICC tribunal is due to give its verdict on February 5. But I really was not aware about the clauses of my suspension,” Aamer said.
“It was a club friendly and the PCB had nothing to do with it and that is why I played. I have sent my explanation to the board,” he said.
Aamer claimed that he was unaware that the ban on him applies to even club level cricket.
Aamer’s lawyer, Shahid Karim, who is representing him in the spot-fixing allegations case, said he was not aware of the bowler taking part in any match.
“I think he acted rashly and should not have played even in the friendly, especially since the conditions governing the suspensions on the players are very clear and strict. And secondly, he made a mistake by playing as the verdict is also due next month,” Karim said.
The lawyer confirmed that the bowler was now concerned, but sent his reply to the board.
“I just hope that this matter is now closed as far as the ICC and PCB are concerned,” he said.
Pakistan’s former players believe that the country’s biggest loss would be if Aamer is found guilty by the ICC tribunal, with the legendary Imran Khan saying that the team would miss the left-armer’s services in the upcoming World Cup. – [PTI]


I play my cricket like a boxer: Yusuf Pathan

NEW DELHI: The South Africa tour dispelled some myths about Yusuf Pathan. Yes, he can score outside the subcontinent too, and he can play the short ball as well. In a freewheeling chat Yusuf provided insights into his approach to batting, Team India’s confidence levels ahead of the World Cup and how younger brother Irfan always believed Yusuf could score runs outside India.

You almost won the ODI series for India:
I wish I could have won the last match. I was confident that we had the team to beat the South Africans but somehow it didn’t happen. But we have shown tremendous signs of progress in this series. Compared to the last couple of series we have played in South Africa, this was by far our best performance. An ODI series win would have been the perfect icing on the cake, but now we don’t have time to think about what could have been. We have to move ahead and think about the World Cup. We are pleased with the way we fought in the series and now we hope to play in a similar fashion in the World Cup.
You’ve surprised many cricket pundits with your batting exploits on bouncy SA pitches:
Irfan always told me that with my kind of batting style, I could do well outside India. So, the confidence was there, thanks to my brother. Even when I was in and out of the Indian team, my family and brother stood by me. I like to fight and never give up till the last ball.

What about the team’s performance in the absence of some big batsmen?
In South Africa, we didn’t have the regular top three. When the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir return, our confidence levels will be higher. But without them, we still fought well against a top team in their home conditions. We all worked hard in our individual capacity. But the biggest input we got was from coach Gary Kirsten. He knows the conditions very well and that turned out to be of great help. The team management devised a lot of strategies and we stuck by them.
You seem to have made a habit of showcasing your skills when chips are down:
I’ve batted on several occasions in similar situations for my domestic and IPL teams. I’ve even won matches from losing positions for Baroda. At the international level, the century against New Zealand before the SA tour gave me a lot of confidence. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish any of the matches in South Africa but I hope to do so in the World Cup.

What about the pressures of playing World Cup matches at home?
I think it’s my job to bat till we reach the finish line. I don’t think much about pressure. You get nothing out of putting pressure on your mind. You should believe in your natural ability and the strength given to you by God and the rest will follow. My job for Team India is to play without complicating things. The situation is best explained when a cricketer is compared to a boxer who needs to keep using his hand to defend himself without thinking too much about the pressures and surrounding. I always play my cricket like that. As far as the World Cup pressure is concerned, we expect the fans to support us both during the good and bad times. Their encouragement is needed most when we lose a match. That really helps us to get back the confidence. I’m sure the Indian public will be behind us all the time. – [TNN]


Mike Tyson becomes a dad for eighth time

MELBOURNE: Former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson has become a father for the eighth time.
According to Radar Online, Tyson and his wife Lakiha Spicer welcomed their second child - a baby boy - on Tuesday.
It is Tyson’s eighth child from a list of ex-wives and girlfriends, reports the Daily Telegraph.
It is also his first since the death of his 4-year-old daughter Exodus, who died in May 2009 when her neck was caught in the cord of an exercise machine.
The couple married just 10 days after Exodus’ death. They have one daughter together, 2-year-old Milan.
“Mike and Lakiha are very happy and everyone is doing great,” a source told the entertainment website.
Spicer delivered the boy in a Las Vegas hospital, where she was admitted Monday in preparation for the birth. – [ANI]


Mahela Jayawardene to lead Kochi?

NEW DELHI: After settling their ownership pattern, the captaincy issue is on a sticky wicket with the Kochi IPL franchisee. They have now locked horns about who would be leading their team for Twenty20 event this year.
According to the sources, some of the owners are keen on having an Indian skipper so that it would help the team to woo Indian sponsors while the others are batting for former Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene to lead the side.
Sources said that the idea of bringing in former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly into the team stemmed from the fact that the team lacked a big Indian star in the line-up. It was also reliably learnt that Kochi was targeting Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh in the Bangalore auction earlier this month. But Kolkata Knight Riders bought Gambhir while Yuvraj was sold to Sahara Pune Warriors.
Sources also insisted that the hunt for an Indian star is still on from Kochi’s side. “But it looks like Mahela will lead the side in absence of a big Indian player,” a source close to the development told TOI on Thursday. – [TNN]