Australia win ICC Champions Trophy

Australia have won the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy with a six wicket victory over New Zealand. Set a modest target of 201 to win the Aussies were in a bit of trouble at the start of their innings at 6/2 with Kyle Mills and Shane Bond causing plenty of trouble with the new ball.

Shane Watson and Cameron White saw off the new ball and when the back up bowlers came on runs seemed to come much easier, Watson picked up where he had left off against England in the semi-final and scored another century (105 not out) on the way to victory.

Australia V New Zealand – ICC Champions Trophy Final

SuperSport Park, Centurion – Monday, October 5, 2009 (D/N)

Match Betting

Australia are 2/5 with 888Sport and VC Bet
New Zealand are 5/2 with William Hill and Sportingbet
A Tied Match is 54/1 with Betfair

On what is reported to be a good batting track the toss today will be crucial to New Zealand’s chances of causing an upset against their big brothers, Australia. If the Aussies win the toss and bat, with the form that Ricky Ponting is showing at the moment he could bat them out of the match.

When New Zealand do bowl – whether it be first or second – the new ball is crucial and cannot be wasted, for the Kiwis to stand any chance it is vital they get Ponting to the crease and then quickly back to the pavillion if they are to have any chance.

The Aussie middle order – without Michael Clarke – has struggled of late and with the only other experienced player Mike Hussey misfiring at the moment, if it could be exposed early on could buckle under the pressure like it did against Pakistan.

In the bowling department Peter Siddle has stepped in and replaced the injured Nathan Bracken to complement Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson with the new ball, so the Aussies have few weaknesses there.

For the Kiwis they have shown a good fighting spirit in this competition, their confidence must have been suffering after their recent battering in Sri Lanka so their turnaround has been quite remarkable.

Their batting looks slightly suspect and with the loss of Jesse Ryder and Jacob Oram they have struggled and you have to worry if (when) the Aussie bowlers get stuck into them how they might cope. On a positive note, Grant Elliott has shown he is a gutsy performer who can produce with the bat when the pressure is on and skipper Daniel Vettori is more than capable down the order.

The big problem is though just how early in the proceedings that Elliott and Vettori are exposed. In order to maximise their skills the top order will need to produce a solid foundation for them to build on.

In the Kiwi bowling department Shane Bond looks a massive threat and he could be the key today if he can break through with the new ball and try to get Ponting early on too. Kyle Mills is a proven One Day performer and Vettori has had another decent tournament with the ball so far taking 7 wickets.

For me though the key is Ricky Ponting, if he gets going there is only going to be one real inevitable outcome to the match.

The latest news is that New Zealand have won the toss and will bat first, in a further blow to them skipper Daniel Vettori is out injured and Brendon McCullum will captain the side, at least in Jeetan Patel they have an experienced player to step into Vettori’s shoes.

Teams

Australia – Shane Watson, Tim Paine (WK), Ricky Ponting (C), Michael Hussey, Cameron White, Callum Ferguson, James Hopes, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Nathan Hauritz, Peter Siddle.

New Zealand – Brendon McCullum (C & WK), Aaron Redmond, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Neil Broom, Grant Elliot, James Franklin, Jeetan Patel, Kyle Mills, Shane Bond, Ian Butler.

New Zealand to face Aussies in Final

Both the semi-finals were a story of two sides who’s batting let them down badly. For both England and Pakistan they were both well short of setting a testing total which ultimately cost them.

England’s top six – not for the first time this year – failed them again, they had stumbled their way to 101/6 with a mix of over-attacking shots and poor shot selections before Tim Bresnan and Luke Wright put together a notable partnership of 107. With a contribution from Graeme Swann, England eventually set a target of 258 for Australia to chase.

Ricky Ponting must be at the moment the leading batsman in the world, coming to the crease at 6-1 after Tim Paine was out early, Ponting made batting look like a practise session in the nets as he effortlessly stroked the English bowlers to all parts on his way to yet another magnificent century, and in doing so he brought Shane Watson along with him who also bagged a century as the two made light work of chasing England’s paltry score while putting on an unbeaten partnership of 252.

In the second game it was Pakistan’s turn to come up short with the bat, they got of to a reasonable start putting on 46 for the first wicket and when Shoaib Malik was also out the score was 61/2 in the 13th over. After that they seemed to go backwards with an ultra cautious attitude mainly down to Mohammad Yousuf who scored a slow 45 of 78 balls as he slowed the runrate down.

Umar Akmal had a go at pushing things along a bit with 55 from 62 balls, but when he was out the score was 181/6 in the 41st over. A mini collapse over the next four overs seen them fall to 198/9 and in danger of not making 200 before Mohammad Aamer and Saeed Ajmal got them to 233/9 with a last wicket partnership and at least gave them something to bowl at.

Ultimately like with England it wasn’t enough, try as they did to throw it away New Zealnd got there in the end quite comfortably with a partnership of 104 from Daniel Vettori (41) and Grant Elliott (75no) taking them to a 5 wicket victory. At 126/4 the Kiwis did look like they were about to make a mess of things but skipper Vettori and Elliott steadied the ship and stopped the succession of falling wickets before pressing the accelerator at the end and winning it with 13 balls to spare.

All in all both Pakistan and England lost the game with the bat, with the way Ricky Ponting and Grant Elliott batted in their respective matches another 20-30 runs might not have made much difference anyway but scoreboard presure can do silly things to players and without it the job can look so much easier.

New Zealand’s chances must depend on getting rid of Ricky Ponting early on, the way he is batting at the moment is in a different class and it is rubbing off on his team mates as shown with Watson’s century.

Shane Bond will be key for New Zealand and if he can get into them early on and get rid of Ponting to expose the more flimsy looking middle order – without Michael Clarke – they may well have a good chance.

Daniel Vettori looked to be carrying an injury against Pakistan and he needs to play if the Kiwi’s are to have a chance. His leadership is vitally important and he is always there fighting for them, with his influence with both bat and ball as well New Zealand can’t do without him.

New Zealand V Pakistan – ICC Champions Trophy, Semi-Final

New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg – Saturday October 3, 2009 (D/N)

Match Betting

Pakistan are 4/7 with Totesport and Bet365
New Zealand are 6/4 with Ladbrokes and William Hill
A Tied Match is 64/1 with Betfair

After surviving the late scare of a batting collapse against England in their last match New Zealand will be hoping for a better performance from their batsmen in the second semi-final on Saturday. The addition of Aaron Redmond in for the injured Jesse Ryder should strengthen the Kiwis in this department.

Grant Elliott has been passed fit to play after an injection, New Zealand had flown Scott Styris in to cover for Elliott in case he didn’t make it.

As for Pakistan their batting line up is their perceived weakness as well and stuttered against West Indies and Australia, against India a massive partnership between Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik gave them their only big score so far in this tournament.

Mohammad Aamer comes back in place of Mohammad Asif, while Imran Nazir replaces Misbah-ul-Haq and will bat at the top of the order.

Pakistan have won the toss and will bat, captain Younis Khan seems happier to try and set a target and then rely on his excellent death bolwers – Umar Gul and Naved-ul-Hasanal – to defend it for him.

Teams

New Zealand – McCullum (WK), Redmond, Guptill, Taylor, Elliott, Broom, Franklin, Vettori (C), Mills, Butler, Bond

Pakistan – Kamran Akmal (WK), Imran Nazir, Younis Khan (C), Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal, Naved-ul-Hasan, Mohammad Aamer, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal

Australia V England – ICC Champions Trophy, Semi-Final

SuperSport Park, Centurion – Friday, October 2, 2009 (D/N)

Match Betting

Australia are 8/13 with Sportingbet
England are 8/5 with Boylesports
A Tied Match is 69/1 with Betfair

Hostilities are resumed between the two old enemies less than two weeks since the end of the marathon 7 match ODI series in England. It’s Australia who will take the upper hand from that series into this game after winning it 6-1.

Australia only just managed to get to the semi-finals with a tight victory over Pakistan on Wednesday, though they will surely be confident against the same England team they seemed to hold the wood over just recently.

From England’s point of view they can take heart from the way Australia struggled and almost – but for the experience of Brett Lee – buckled under the pressure of what was effectively a knockout situation.

Which England team turn up on the day will probably be Andy Flower’s greatest concern. He is most likely of the opinion that on their day England are a match for anyone but knows full well that it depends if the team that played Sri Lanka and South Africa turns up, or the one that played against Australia in the previously mentioned series and then reappeared against New Zealand on Tuesday.

Team News

For Australia, Michael Clarke has gone home and David Hussey has just arrived to take his place in the squad. It’s unlikely Hussey will play against England as he has only just arrived in the country, also this will enable the Aussies to stick with the same side and keep the balance with James Hopes at No.7.

For England it is not as straight forward, Stuart Broad is struggling with a slight tear in his buttock and visably looked in pain during practise on Thursday. If he dosen’t make it either Tim Bresnan or Graham Onions should come in for cover, Bresnan may well get the nod as he has the added bonus of being able to bat.

Matt Prior is another one England are not sure about, although he took part in training today Andy Flower said he is nowhere near being ready to play after his virus. Steven Davies is on stand-by and has permission from the ICC to take Prior’s place in the squad. One way or another there is little chance that Eoin Morgan will find himself behind the stumps for this one.

Possible Teams

Australia – Shane Watson, Tim Paine (WK), Ricky Ponting (C), Michael Hussey, Callum Ferguson, Cameron White, James Hopes, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Nathan Hauritz, Peter Siddle.

England – Andrew Strauss (C), Joe Denly, Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (WK), Luke Wright, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson.

Semi-Final line up complete

The group stages are all over now and there are just the 4 teams left, mind you not necessarily the 4 you would have expected. Australia made hard work of their route through, the end of Wednesday’s match against Pakistan was far closer than it should of been and Ricky Ponting looked far from satisfied as his team scrapped in at India’s expense.

In contrast to the Aussies both England and Pakistan had qualified after only two matches each. England are the surprise package so far, no one gave them much hope in a group containing two of the pre-tournament favourites in Sri Lanka and hosts South Africa as well as the Kiwis. In beating South Africa and Sri Lanka, England showed everyone that they can play ODI cricket after all.

After being a disaster against Australia before the start of this tournament, England showed what they are capable of with in restricting Sri Lanka to just 212 in the first game. After at one stage having them at 17/4 – it could be argued they let Sri Lanka of the hook. They then went onto score a massive 323/8 against home favourites South Africa, who not for the first time came up short with the pressure on, finishing on 301/9 of 50 overs, not a bad effort all the same.

New Zealands passage to the semi-finals was less clear cut than Englands. After losing their opening game to South Africa they then fought back beating Sri Lanka after scoring 315 batting first, the much vaunted Sri Lankan batting line up couldn’t cope with that and fell short getting bowled out for 277.

Another twist in that match was the dropping of Muttiah Muralitharan, with Sri Lanka only requiring one spinner, Ajantha Mendis was preferred signaling the changing of the guard.

Pakistan had a more comfortable route to the semi-finals, first up they played the makeshift West Indies team and had to work for the victory but in the end it was a comfortable 5 wicket win. Then against India they were in trouble at 65/3 before a remarkable partnership of 206 between Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf set them on the way to a 54 run victory. After the match between India and Australia was washed out as a draw, Pakistan had qualified with a game to spare.

Australia after all the trauma of making the semi-finals ended up topping Group A, on the verge of losing to Pakistan and being knocked out they scrapped home for the 2 points needed, after adding that to the point for the India draw and the 2 points against West Indies, the Aussies ended up group winners showing how fine the line is between success and failure.

Semi-Final Betting

1st Semi-Final, Friday 2nd October – SuperSport Park, Centurion

Australia are 8/13 with Sportingbet to beat England who are 8/5 with Boylesports. A Tied Match can be backed at 69/1 with Betfair

2nd Semi-Final, Saturday 3rd October – New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

Pakistan are 8/13 favourites with 888Sport and Blue Square to beat New Zealand who are a best price of 6/4 with Sky Bet and Stan James. A Tied Match is 59/1 with Betfair.

India V West Indies – ICC Champions Trophy, Group A

New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg – Wednesday, September 30, 2009 (D/N)

Match Betting

India are 1/7 with VC Bet
West Indies are 13/2 with Totesport and Paddy Power
A Tied Match is 64/1 with Betfair

India would appear to need something approaching a miracle to reach the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy today. First they need pakistan to beat Australia, bear in mind Pakistan are already qualified so probably won’t be pulling up any trees in their quest for victory, and are they really going to want to do any favours for India.

Thats part one of the sequence, India then will have to beat West Indies by a rather large margin to complete the second part of the unlikely miracle. A feat that judging by West Indies previous two performances in this tournament won’t be easily achieved.

By all accounts the team that the West Indies Cricket Board decided to send to this Champions Trophy have more than done themselves proud and at no stage yet have they looked totally out classed, ok they struggled with the bat against Pakistan but then bowled well and fought back on a wicket that probably wasn’t the best for batting on. Against Australia they looked out of the match on two or three occasions and each time fought back until they eventually succumbed to a 50 run defeat.

India will have to improve on their performances to date if they are to beat West Indies by the appropriate margin, but by then it might just be too late if Pakistan can’t do them the big favour needed.

Ishant Sharma has looked low on confidence so far in this competition but would expect India to stick with him for this match. While for West Indies, Dale Richards is out with a dislocated shoulder.

Probable Teams

India – Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (C & WK), Virat Kohli, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra.

West Indies – Devon Smith, Andre Fletcher, Keiran Powell, Travis Dowlin, Floyd Reifer (C), David Bernard, Darren Sammy, Chadwick Walton (WK), Nikita Miller, Tino Best, Gavin Tonge.

Australia V Pakistan – ICC Champions Trophy, Group A

SuperSport Park, Centurion – Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Match Betting

Australia are 8/15 with Ladbrokes and Totesport
Pakistan are 7/4 with Sportingbet
A Tied Match is 59/1 with Betfair

A win for Austalia sees them through to the semi-finals at the expense of India. It’s hard to know what to expect from the unpredictable Pakistan team, the fact that they are already in the semi-finals would suggest that they will probably take their foot of the gas.

Although on the flip side, a side playing for fun with no pressure might just go out there and produce the goods, add to that the fact that they will most likely rotate the squad and you have an intriguing position where a couple of new faces might come into the side with a point to prove. Skipper Younis Khan has indicated that Mohammad Asif, Fawad Alam and Iftikhar Anjum are all set to get a run out.

For Australia they have now lost vice-captain Michael Clarke who has lost his battle with his back injury. Like his team mate Nathan Bracken, Clarke finds himself on the way home so that the medical staff can have a better look at a persistent injury which at the moment seems to be blighting his career.

Ricky Ponting knows that victory will take them through to the semi-final and in Clarke’s absence will be looking to himself and Mike Hussey to provide the big match experience with the bat and Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson to do the business with the ball.

Probable Teams

Australia – Shane Watson, Tim Paine (WK), Ricky Ponting (C), Michael Hussey, Callum Ferguson, Cameron White, James Hopes, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Nathan Hauritz, Peter Siddle.

Pakistan – Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (WK), Younis Khan (C), Mohammad Yousuf, Fawad Alam, Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamer, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Asif.

England V New Zealand – ICC Champions Trophy, Group B

New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg – Tuesday, September 29, 2009 (D/N)

Match Betting

England are 4/5 with Sportingbet and William Hill
New Zealand are 11/10 with Totesport and Bet365
A Tied Match is 54/1 with Betfair

Today New Zealand find themselves in the win or bust situation of the competition, well almost anyway. There is a slight chance they can go through with a defeat, but it would need to be a very slim one, and even then it might not be enough. They will be hoping for better luck with the weather than India had yesterday.

It seems remarkable that the Kiwi’s have eleven fit men to put on the field such is the extent of the amount of injuries they have had. Added to the loss of Jacob Oram and Jesse Ryder, Daryl Tuffey has now broke a bone in his hand and needs to return home for surgery.

Aaron Redmond has been called into the squad to replace Jesse Ryder and he looks certain to come in as a straight swap at the top of the order. Ian Butler – himself returning from illness – will probably replace Tuffey.

For England their only worry is Matt Prior, Steven Davies is in the country on standby but hasn’t yet been named as a replacement in the squad, would imagine England would want to wait and see how Prior is before the semi-final before any decision is made, so would expect to see Eoin Morgan behind the stumps again today.

England may decide to give Ryan Sidebottom a run out as nothing is riding on this match for them, either Graham Onions or Stuart Broad – who is carrying a knee injury – could possibly sit this one out.

Possible Teams

England – Andrew Strauss (C), Joe Denly, Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan (WK), Ravi Boapra, Luke Wright, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson.

New Zealand – Brendon McCullum (WK), Aaron Redmond, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, Neil Broom, Daniel Vettori (C), James Franklin, Kyle Mills, Shane Bond, Ian Butler.