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AB v Albie in IPL qualifier

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Titans and Proteas team-mates AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel will almost certainly go head to head when the Indian Premier League last-four phase begins in Mumbai on Tuesday.

De Villiers’s table-topping Royal Challengers Bangalore, coached by another familiar South African in Ray Jennings, play Morkel’s second-placed Chennai Super Kings in “qualifier one”, with the winner automatically going through to Saturday’s final in Chennai.

The loser has to be in action again on Friday in qualifier two, against the winner of a prior “eliminator” on Wednesday between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, who finished third and fourth respectively in the ordinary season.

De Villiers may just be the only South African turning out for Bangalore on Tuesday, as veterans Charl Langeveldt and Johan van der Wath have made only sporadic appearances for the franchise this season.

At least De Villiers has played in 13 of the Challengers’ 14 league games, scoring 262 runs at an average of 37.42, although like so many other batsmen in the IPL he has been rather upstaged by team-mate Chris Gayle, incredibly averaging 85, boasting the most tournament runs (511) and smashing the ball to all parts.

In the opposite camp, potentially explosive all-rounder Morkel also sports 13 appearances; he has hit a few trademark massive sixes but not yet managed an innings above 30.

But he still does regular upfront bowling duty for the Super Kings, and has bagged 15 wickets at an average of 21 (economy rate 8.36).

Wednesday’s eliminator will feature the ever-dependable Jacques Kallis for the Knight Riders: he has rattled up 417 runs at 37.90, including four half-centuries – he is in decent nick as his last knock was 59 off 42 balls against the very same opponents they now face again, Mumbai Indians, in a thrilling last-delivery defeat on Sunday.

Kallis lies eighth on the list of top run-scorers at IPL 2011.

Port Elizabeth-born fellow all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate (although he plays internationally for the Netherlands) may accompany Kallis in the Knight Riders’ line-up; he has had five IPL games thus far.

There is probably only an outside chance that the Mumbai Indians will field Warriors favourite Davy Jacobs in the encounter; he has had six games and registered 92 runs at a modest 15.33.

Source: Sport24 – May 23, 2011 / ROB HOUWING

Amla, AB, Botha are contenders for SA ODI captaincy: Duminy

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South African batsman Jean-Paul Duminy stated that it will be a three-way battle for the ODI captaincy between T20 captain Johan Botha, prolific batsman Hashim Amla and the dashing AB de Villiers.

“There are a few contenders. Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, and Johan Botha (for the next South African ODI skipper). I’m sure whoever gets it will do an exceptional job for South Africa. All three of them have the potential to be great leaders,” the South African batsman said on Tuesday.

The southpaw feels that it’s an exciting time for South African cricket as a new era is about to unfold, following the retirement of Graeme Smith from ODIs and T20s.

“We haven’t yet seen who the (next) coach is. There are definitely going to be big changes but exciting nevertheless. It hasn’t been announced that Johan (Botha) is going to be the ODI captain yet. He is our T20 captain. I have worked under him in a couple of games. He is an exceptional leader. But we will see how it turns out.”

Asked why veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis was not being considered for the job, Duminy’s assessment was, “I think he is coming towards the back-end of his career. I guess the outlook is towards the future and probably he (Kallis) doesn’t figure in that. I suppose the idea is to look for a person who will hold on to the job for the next couple of years.”

On the possibility of former India coach Gary Kirsten succeeding Corrie Van Zyl, he said, “I guess it’s up to him. The rumours are the job would be his if he wants it. But what I have heard is he wants to spend some time with his family.

“I’m not sure what will happen in the next two months. But if he gets the job, I’m pretty excited to work with him, I have worked with him in the past.”

Duminy, who has played 12 Tests and 71 ODIs scoring 518 and 1,970 runs respectively, expressed satisfaction over the way he was playing in other formats, but said he wanted to cement place in the longer format of the game.

Asked about the Proteas being labelled as “eternal chokers”, Duminy conceded that they indeed needed to win a major tournament in order to get rid of the tag.

“Until the day we are going to win a major tournament, you guys are going to label us chokers no matter what the game is. That’s how it is. We have got to win a major tournament to get rid of that label. That’s the bottom-line,” Duminy said.

“It is a little bit annoying. I can’t see how that term is appropriate. I think that is other people’s prerogative no matter how we play and whom we play. It is something that will stick.”

Duminy tried to put things in perspective. “At the end of the day, there is always going to be a winner or a loser. Not taking the fact that the (rival) team might have outplayed you, no matter what we do we are going to end up as chokers. You guys offer it,” the sarcasm was evident.

However, the 27-year-old left-hander felt it would be wrong to describe the present generation of cricketers with that term as it came out from South Africa’s history of losses, which they are not associated with.

“At the end of the day, that sort of term has come out a long way. It is pretty much spread in an era in which I didn’t play much of my international cricket. Everybody, who’s played international cricket in the last 10 years, has been tagged with the specific word.”

“I guess the day we win a major tournament it will fall away. I played my first big World Cup this year, so I don’t see how the tag can be attached to me, many of us for that matter. So I’m not worried about it,” he added.

His performance in the longer version hasn’t really been upto the mark and Duminy is eager to change that.

“I didn’t quite put in the performances. There have been patches where I have done pretty well in Test cricket and at times I didn’t do well. I guess, I’m bound to get my opportunities again. I think I have done pretty well in T20 and ODI cricket. Hopefully, I will cement my place (in Test squad) when the next opportunity comes,” Duminy said.

The South African, who plays for Deccan Chargers in the IPL, said though the franchise has not performed well this time, they plan to come back stronger next time round.

“Our performance wasn’t great, we played ourselves down in many games where we were in winning positions. We didn’t close it down. But it is a great experience for us. Hopefully, we will come out firing the next season.”

Asked whether it was difficult for Australian Cameron White, who is likely to take over as skipper in the absence of Kumar Sangakkara for the last game, to motivate himself with the team already out of contention for a play-offs berth, he said, “At the end of the day, we are professional cricketers. It is not about the tournament per say. Its about going there and giving your best. That’s all one can ask for.”

Source: Times of India – May 17, 2011

The glare and the sledge

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National team-mates are pitted against each other often in the IPL but rarely do they have a go at each other. Zaheer started it today, making Gautam Gambhir duck hurriedly against a sharp bouncer. He then walked closer to Gambhir and gave him a cold stare. Kallis stepped it up against AB de Villiers later. He welcomed him with a snorter that took off from outside off stump, and de Villiers just got his head out of the way as it spat up at him. Kallis had a lot to say to de Villiers after the delivery, and the batsman gave it back with a few choice words of his own.

Source: Excerpt from CricInfo – May 14, 2011 / ABHISHEK PUROHIT

Vote AB for SA Fans’ Cricketer of the Year!

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