India tour not idyllic for Ashes preparation: Ponting

Australia captain Ricky Ponting fears that his country's forthcoming tour of India in October may obstruct their preparation for the Ashes series commencing in November 25 at Brisbane.

Ricky PontingRicky Ponting said that preferably, Australia should not play on dry and flat Indian pitches in the run-up to the Ashes series against arch-rivals England at home.

"If you were trying to sit down and map out your perfect preparation for an Ashes series or a home series it probably wouldn't be playing two Test matches in India," said Ponting.

"But you don't live in an ideal world. That's the way international cricket is these days," Ponting was quoted as saying by 'The Australian'.

Australia play two Tests followed by three one-day Matches during their India tour.

Talking about Australia's three-wicket defeat against Pakistan in the 2nd Test at Leeds, Ponting admitted that he had misjudged the batting situation after winning the toss.

"We were definitely playing catch-up from stumps day one. That's my responsibility, to get those sorts of things right and make those decisions," Ponting said.

Australia were bowled out by Pakistan for just 88 - their lowest total in 26 years - on the first day of the 2nd Test at Headingley, in a Test that also ended Pakistan's 15-year wait for a win over Australia.

Sachin deserves World Cup victory: Morrison

Sachin Tendulkar deserves a World Cup win under his belt but to realise this dream the batting icon wants players like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni to fire in the 2011 home event, says former New Zealand fast bowler Danny Morrison.

"Sachin Tendulkar, the master, deserves to have some sort of winners medal hanging round his neck but it's not all about him. Cricket is a tough game and it's also about whether Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni can carry for India. Can they do it for Sachin?," Morrison said at an ICC audio-cricket show.

The cricketer-turned-commentator also feels that India will be strong contenders to lift the ICC World Cup 2011.

"I think India has the best chance to lift the World Cup this time round. It has to be good for them playing on home turf. It adds pressure but that's part of hosting.

"You feel that India want something special to happen and this year I think you've got to go with the India team to follow the 1983 side led by Kapil Dev," said Morrison, who claimed 126 ODI wickets and 160 in Tests.

India will co-host the 2011 edition along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in February-March.

McCullum almost quit NZ team for the IPL

Brendon McCullum reveals that he nearly turned his back on the country to entrust to an entire season of the IPL, before he changed his mind while on holiday in Fiji. The star NZ keeper & batsman made the revelations in his book Inside T20, co-authored by journalist Dylan Cleaver. In the book, he mentions the crash that the Indian Twenty20 league had on his psyche.

"I felt I had some unfinished business in the 2nd season of the IPL. However, the fact that the tournament did not go according to expectations did not sit well with me. I desperately wanted to turn it around," McCullum wrote.

"I must admit I came really close to not playing for NZ. I went to Fiji for a holiday with my wife and I had a long hard look regarding the cricket that I have to play.

McCullum said that the whole issue of whether he should sign or not sign with NZ cricket misty his thoughts during this period. He said that he had to give something up to understand it and he chose not to give up his full and total commitment to New Zealand.

Pakistan complete a 2-0 series win over Aussies

Pakistan beat Australia in 11 runs after their 23-run win on Monday to seal the Twenty20 international series 2-0.

Pakistan post a challenging 162 for nine in 20 overs with six of their batsmen reaching double figures, including the Akmal brothers Kamran and Umar who scored 33 and 25 respectively.

Skipper Shahid Afridi, who took two brilliant catches on Monday, struck with the ball this time. Afridi took two wickets for 30 from his four overs of quickest leg-spin to reduce Australia to 104/5.

Michael Hussey, who steered Australia to win in the Twenty20 World Cup semi-final in St Lucia when Pakistan appear to have the game won, kept his team in the match batting at number seven.

Left-hander Hussey scored 25 from 14 balls but his dismissal lbw to Umar Gul spelled the end of his team's hopes and they were finally all out for 151 from 19.4 overs.

The teams meet at Lord's next Tuesday in the 1st test of a two-test series.

Match Summary

Pak 162/8 20 over

Umar Akmal 25
Kamran Akmal 33

S. O'Keefe 3/29
Dirk Nannes 3/30
Aus 151 allout 19.4 over

M. Clarke 30
David Hussey 33

Shahid Afridi 2/30
M. Aamer 3/27

Man of the match: Mohammad Aamer

Pakistan beat Australia by 23 runs in 1st T20i

Pakistan beat Australia for the 1st time in 13 matches across in all formats of cricket as they won the first T20 international by 23 runs at Edgbaston.

They were grateful to Umar Akmal's career-best 64 runs in just 31 balls that helped Pakistan to a total of 167 for eight after they had been 47 for four.

Australia, chasing 168 to win, were 144 allout with off-spinner Saeed Ajmal three wickets for 26 runs off his four overs and teenage left-arm faster Mohammad Aamer doing the mass of the damage.

Victory put Pakistan 1-0 up lead of the 2nd and final T20 international here on Tuesday.

Match Summary

Pak 167/8 20 over

Umar Akmal 64
Kamran Akmal 23

Shaun Tait 2/25
Dirk Nannes 2/41
Aus 144 allout 18.4 over

David Warner 41
David Hussey 34

Saeed Ajmal 3/26
M. Aamer 3/27

Man of the match: Umar Akmal