Little Master returns

2011-02-16 14:46

New Delhi – Superstar batsman Sachin Tendulkar returned to bolster India’s batting line-up today as the World Cup favourites played their last warm-up game ahead of the much-anticipated tournament opener.

India took on New Zealand in their second and final practice match in Chennai ahead of the first World Cup clash against co-hosts Bangladesh in Dhaka on Saturday.

In other action today, three-time finalists England beat spirited minnows Canada by just 16 runs as they looked for a confidence boost after a 6-1 series mauling at the hands of Australia.

As the 14 teams finalise their preparations, yesterday strongly fancied Sri Lanka comfortably beat the West Indies, South Africa thumped three-times defending champions Australia and Pakistan crushed Bangladesh.

Speaking after an International Cricket Council executive board meeting in Dubai, ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said there was mounting excitement ahead of the World Cup, being co-hosted by three nations.

“Whether it is in Bangladesh, India or Sri Lanka, the interest in the event is evident and we are grateful to the three hosts for their splendid efforts in preparing well for the tournament,” he said.

“The World Cup promises to be a showpiece full of colour and passion and will be the pride and joy of each host nation.”

Tendulkar, who has a record 17 629 runs in a stellar ODI career, missed Sunday’s win over Australia, a legacy of the hamstring injury that forced him to cut short his participation in the recent ODI series in South Africa.

He opened for India today in only his third one-dayer since his historic double-century against South Africa a year ago but it was a disappointing return to the side as he was bowled by Tim Southee for just 17.

Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke dismissed his team’s disappointing form in the warm-ups after defeats to South Africa and India and vowed to shape up in time for the main event.

“A practice game is a practice game. So it’s important to maximise the chance to give everybody the opportunity to bat and bowl, and more importantly, to get used to the conditions,” he said.

Following their win in Colombo, Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara urged his bowlers to stem the flow of runs in the first 15 overs.

The 1996 winners produced another near-perfect show against the West Indies with a four-wicket win at the R Premadasa Stadium yesterday, following their 156-run thrashing of the Netherlands.

“It’s good to have won both the warm-up matches,” said Sangakkara.

“I think there is still a lot of work to be done, mainly the first 15 overs. They were a worry and they were not good enough for World Cup cricket.”

Meanwhile, the ICC demanded that stadium bosses in Colombo make changes to ensure there is no repeat of the chaotic scenes which marred yesterday’s warm-up featuring Sri Lanka and the West Indies.

Fans struggled to get hold of tickets and officials and reporters were blocked from entering the R Premadasa Stadium.

There were also problems at the Bangladesh-Pakistan game in Dhaka, where fans were left stranded despite holding vouchers entitling them to tickets, according to Cricinfo.com.

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