Dhoni seeks improvement in batting
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni says there are areas that India needs to work on, following his side's five-wicket win over the Netherlands in a Group B match of the cricket World Cup in Delhi on Wednesday.
"Quite a few of the objectives have been achieved, but there are areas we need to improve. The powerplay overs, the lower order shouldn't have come in to finish this [Netherlands match] off. And fielding, we have been consistent," Dhoni said after India chased down the Netherlands' target of 190 in 36.3 overs to register their third win of the tournament.
He reasoned that Ashish Nehra was replaced with Yusuf Pathan only after one over with the new ball owing to lack of assistance for fast bowlers on the Feroz Shah Kotla wicket.
"There was nothing really for fast bowlers with the new ball. The batsmen were just hitting through the infield. It's always better to use the spinners up front and use the fast bowlers later with the old ball."
Despite chasing a modest total, India, for the second successive time, faced some worrying moments before Yuvraj Singh led the way with an unbeaten fifty.
"Yuvraj batted brilliantly again," Dhoni said.
India's batting line-up is one of the most formidable in the tournament and Dhoni is pleased to have such an array of stroke-makers in the side.
"They are the pick of our batting. We rely on good starts," he said when asked about Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
"We have got 2-3 batsmen who can attack the opposition, and also have 2-3 batsmen who can attack as well as defend, play according to the situation. It's a good mix," Dhoni said.
About the chase, he said "It's always challenging to chase a modest target against good opposition."
Image: The Netherlands players celebrate the dismissal of Gautam Gambhir
Photographs: Getty Images
Afridi backs Kamran despite flop show
Pakistan cricket captain Shahid Afridi conceded that the team is suffering because of fumbling wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, but insisted that he would not be dropped, as a change would upset the side's balance in the ongoing World Cup.
"Kamran has done a lot of hard work for this World Cup, but he has not lived up to that level, and we suffered a lot after he couldn't perform," said Afridi on Thursday.
"Kamran has won lots of matches for Pakistan in the past, he is a very talented cricketer, and I think we are at a stage where we shouldn't panic. There are other players who are not performing -- it's not only Kamran," the skipper said in defence of the struggling stumper, whose misses proved costly in the 110-run loss to New Zealand in a group match.
Afridi said an off-colour player needs to be backed instead of dropped.
"We need to back them. If we make several changes we can face problems in future matches, so we will see if Kamran plays the next game or not. From my side, I think we should give Kamran confidence.
"He is a good player and we expect that he will do better."
Pakistan face Zimbabwe in their next group match on Monday and Afridi said the team needs to regroup quickly. He also pleaded with Pakistani fans to be patient with the players.
"Because of the way we have batted, bowled and fielded everyone should get angry, but then we have to forget this anger and we should have confidence for the next match," said the flamboyant all-rounder.
"Everyone realises that we have made big mistakes but if you look at Pakistan cricket over the last 50-60 years it's quite normal for our team."
Afridi also asked openers Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez to strike form as their continued poor show was putting a lot of pressure on the middle order.
"We are here with perfect openers and I don't think we can take a chance on Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez. But we might open with Kamran, that's one of the options," said Afridi.
Image: Kamran Akmal
Niall O' Brien's missing bats found
Irish cricketer Niall O'Brien's bats, which went missing after his team's World Cup group match against India, have been found.
Ireland's media manager Barry Chambers said the bag containing six bats of the player was found and would be reaching the player soon.
"Niall's bag contained six Gary Nicollas bats, including one given to him by India's Suresh Raina, have been traced in the luggage of the Indian team," Chambers said.
He claimed there was no truth in reports that suggested that Niall had cooked up the story that his bags had gone missing as he was upset over his run out and the loss to India on Sunday.
Reports had suggested that O'Brien lost his temper and broke the glass door of the dressing room during the match against India in Bangalore.
Image: Niall O'Brien
'Bat first to win in Chittagong'
Bangladesh face England in a World Cup showdown on Friday but the result could be decided even before a ball is hit in anger, according to the man responsible for the pitch at Chittagong stadium.
Co-hosts Bangladesh desperately need to beat a rejuvenated England side, who stormed back from the brink to sink South Africa by six runs in their last match, if they are to keep alive their chances of reaching the last eight.
However, the battle between the sides may be won -- or lost -- depending on who wins the toss for the Group B encounter.
"Whoever wins should definitely chose batting first as the wicket is flat and batting-friendly," a pitch curator, who did not want to be named, told Reuters at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
"The team which bats first will be the favourites to win the match."
England have had to deal with their fair share of setbacks since the tournament started three weeks ago.
Their chances of winning their first 50-over World Cup was in serious jeopardy after a scrappy win with eight balls to spare against the Netherlands, a dramatic tie with India and a confidence-rocking loss to the Irish.It seemed that their campaign was back on track with the heart-thumping win against South Africa but within 48 hours of that rousing result, they were left reeling again when two of their best players -- batsman Kevin Pietersen and all rounder Stuart Broad -- had to pack their bags and fly home to nurse injuries.
Image: Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara during England's training Session at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong.