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Thursday, 6 November 2008

India vs Australia Fourth and final Test

New captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Wednesday promised India would cope with the "crucial" loss of banned top batsman Gautam Gambhir as they chase a Test series win against Australia from Thursday.

India will hand Murali Vijay his Test debut in the absence of opener Gambhir, who has top-scored with 463 runs to help his team to a 1-0 series lead but lost his appeal against a one-match ban for elbowing Shane Watson.

Gambhir's loss is one of a number of distractions for Dhoni, who is playing his first match as full-time captain after Anil Kumble's retirement. The match will be ex-skipper Sourav Ganguly's last before retiring and Venkatsai Laxman's 100th.

"Gambhir's absence will be crucial because he was the man in form and scored a lot of runs. A good start is what really matters and then you can capitalise on it to put a big score on the board," said Dhoni.

"Right now we are planning to go with newcomer Murali Vijay as he has been doing very well in domestic cricket. We have confidence in him and hopefully we get the start we need," he added.

"We don't want to put pressure on him and want him to play his normal game. We know the opposition always tries to put pressure on a debutant."

Dhoni pledged not to be sidetracked by the celebrations involving Laxman and Ganguly and said he would not feel extra pressure in his debut as full-time skipper. The wicketkeeper has deputised as captain in two previous Tests.

"I don't think these are distractions. It makes no difference whether I am a stand-in or regular captain," Dhoni said.

"We are focused on the things we need to do here. We have prepared well and executed our plans well in this series and that's the most important thing," he said.

"It's a big match but we don't want to put pressure on ourselves. We just need to stick to the basics. Whatever we have being doing till now we need to do the same here. We have to go out and play up to our potential."

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting said his team needed to be at their best in a match they must win to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

PCB banned Yousuf for joining ICL

Karachi, Nov 5 (IANS) Hours after Pakistani batsman Mohammad Yousuf joined the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) in Delhi, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) banned him from playing for the country and is preparing to sue him.Zakir Khan, PCB’s Director of Cricket Operations, said Wednesday that the board has terminated the central contract of the 34-year-old player and will soon be sending a legal notice to Yousuf, asking him to pay up the money spent by the PCB over his legal battle with the ICL.

“Our policy towards the ICL is clear. Any players signing up with the league will be banned from playing for Pakistan and Yousuf is no exception,” Zakir told IANS.

Yousuf joined the ICL last year after being overlooked by Pakistan for the inaugural World Twenty20 Championship in South Africa in September. But former PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf persuaded him to quit ICL and instead sign up a deal with the official Indian Premier League (IPL).

But the ICL sued Yousuf over the u-turn and it was the PCB that fought the player’s case.

However, Yousuf has again fallen out with the PCB and rejoined ICL.

Zakir Khan said the board has spent a substantial amount on Yousuf’s tiff with the ICL and now the batsman will have to pay up that amount or face the consequences.

He refrained from giving any details about the amount, but it is understood that the PCB spent millions of rupees hiring a top lawyer to fight Yousuf’s case.

Pakistan cricket squad leaves for Hong Kong Super Sixes

Karachi, Nov 5 (IANS) Hoping to regain the Super Sixes title later this week, Pakistan’s cricket squad left here Wednesday night for Hong Kong to feature in the two-day spectacle to be played Nov 8-9.The Pakistan squad led by middle-order batsman Faisal Iqbal includes Mohammad Salman, Waqas Ahmed, Raheel Majeed, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Talah and Kamran Younis.

Pakistan will be among eight teams in the Hong Kong Super Sixes tournament to be staged at the Kowloon Cricket Club over the weekend. Pakistan, arch-rivals India, England and South Africa are in one group, while Australia, hosts Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and an All Stars team will be in the other group.The teams comprise of six players with one player as substitute. The Hong Kong Sixes tournament was first held in 1992 and is sanctioned by the International Cricket Council. Pakistan won the inaugural event 16 years ago.