#CWC15 Diary: Sunil Gavaskar to the rescue, travel blues and no sledging please

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Sunil Gavaskar saved a large number of Indian journalists money, and most importantly, hassles.

Former Indian captain, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, should be accorded some kind of a superhero status.

Throughout his playing career, he was the lone man standing for India against some of the most ferocious bowling attacks in the world.

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Then, during the infamous Mumbai riots in 1993, he once again proved how brave he was by fronting up to a wild and out-of-control mob and saved a family from being lynched.

And he was doing the same on Saturday during India’s match against the UAE in Perth. It may not have been as heroic as his previous attempts, but it did save a large number of Indian journalists money, and most importantly, hassles.

It so happened that Gavaskar, who is at the World Cup as a commentator for STAR Sports, was having lunch at the media dining area and chatting up a group of scribes.

Throughout Sunil's playing career, he was the lone man standing for India against some of the most ferocious bowling attacks in the world.

He was speaking about his recent flight to New Zealand, when he suddenly remembered something and asked the group: “Guys, I hope you all have return tickets from New Zealand?”

That was a good question because almost none of them had booked their return ticket, mainly because it is still not clear where India will play their quarter-final match.

It was then that Gavaskar warned them how strict New Zealand immigration rules are about not allowing entry to any person into the country unless they have confirmed return tickets.

Another crisis situation averted, Superman Gavaskar accepted the thanks from all corners and walked back into the commentary box.

Travel blues
The Melbourne Cricket Ground is one of the most spectacular stadiums in the world.

Don’t understand why some players are complaining about the amount of travel they have to do between the matches.

Let’s see if their issues compare to mine in reaching Napier from Perth, via Melbourne and Christchurch – that is a journey across several time zones and almost 5,500 kilometers from the westernmost end of Australia to the easternmost end of New Zealand.

The trouble started at Perth itself. The incoming flight was delayed by a couple of hours because of a thunderstorm over Melbourne. So, I was up the whole night before reaching Melbourne, only to miss the connecting flight to Christchurch. Which also meant I missed my flight from Christchurch to Napier, which was important if I had to catch the UAE team to file my stories before they called it a night.

To cut a long story short, I reached Napier at 7:30pm, went straight to the team hotel, and bless the accommodating UAE team who were still willing to speak at that time.

No sledging please

Pakistan versus UAE is one match where the opposition cannot get away with sledging.

That’s because all 15 players in the squad will understand each other. The UAE have nine Pakistanis, but the two Indians, two Emiratis and the two Sri Lankans also understand and can speak in Urdu.

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South Africa thrash Ireland by 201 runs in the Cricket World Cup

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South Africa were in outstanding form with the bat against Ireland.

Hashim Amla struck a career-best 159 as South Africa crushed Ireland by 201 runs in their World Cup Pool B match in Canberra.

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The Proteas amassed 411 for the loss of four wickets from their 50 overs thanks to the free-flowing runscoring of opening batsman Amla and Faf du Plessis, who scored 109, with David Millar and Rilee Rossouw adding 110 quickfire runs at the end of the innings.

In reply, Ireland were all out for 210 but did put up some resistance after being reduced to 48 for five in the 11th over.

The win consolidated South Africa's position in second place in Pool B behind leaders India and made them the first team to post back-to-back 400s and the second to register consecutive 200-run wins.

Ireland got off to the dream start when Quinton de Kock edged behind to Gary Wilson from the bowling of John Mooney in the third over to leave the Proteas at 12 for one.

William Porterfield in action

Ed Joyce then dropped Amla when he was on 10 – a costly mistake as the South African batsman went on to make his 159 from 128 balls, including 16 boundaries and four sixes.

Du Plessis was equally as free-scoring at the other end but was also given a life with the score on 60 for one when he edged behind and narrowly missed the hands of slip, instead earning four runs.

Ireland celebrate a wicket

The pair worked well in tandem and punished Ireland's bowlers, Du Plessis bringing up 150 for South Africa with a huge six in the 24th over as he and Amla plundered runs.

Amla reached his century from 100 balls, narrowly before Du Plessis, whose ton came up after 103 balls.

By this point South Africa were cruising and went into the drinks break at 228 for one after 37 overs.

The partnership was finally broken in the 39th over when Du Plessis swung and missed at a Kevin O'Brien delivery, with the ball hitting his middle stump.

Joyce made amends for his earlier drop by catching Amla, with AB de Villiers departing shortly after for 24 to leave South Africa on 301 for four with just over eight overs remaining.

Millar and Rossouw picked up where Amla and Du Plessis had left off with some free hitting, Millar blasting 46 from 23 balls and Rossouw plundering 61 from 30 balls, including six boundaries and four maximums.

It left Ireland with an imposing target of 412 to win the match and they stuttered to 21 for three after Paul Stirling (nine), William Porterfield (12) and Joyce (zero) were all dismissed by the fifth over.

Joyce was caught at first slip by Amla at the first attempt, somewhat rubbing more salt into the wound after the Irishman's earlier dropped catch.

Amla also snapped up Niall O'Brien at first slip for 14 thanks to an impressive catch, after his view of the ball was impeded by wicketkeeper De Kock diving in front of him.

Wilson's departure for a duck after he was caught on the crease by Kyle Abbott (four for 21) left Ireland rocking at 48 for five but they rallied to 129 before the loss of their next wicket, Andy Balbirnie for 58.

 Kevin O'Brien (48) kept Ireland's innings ticking over but victory was never a possibility, with Max Sorensen (22) and George Dockrell (25) unable to change the course of the match.

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Steyn to make 100th ODI appearance against Ireland

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Dale Steyn has yet to hit top form at the 2015 Cricket World Cup

South African fast bowler Dale Steyn plays his 100th one-day international today looking to regain top form despite being distracted by mountain fires raging near his home in Cape Town.

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“Massive fire behind my house in Stonehurst! Plz be safe and watch out for the mountain animals trying to escape it, porcupines, tortoises.” Steyn tweeted.

Team-mate Faf du Plessis had the same worries too, tweeting: “Crazy mountain fire near my new house. Hope they can stop the fire before it does more damage.”

Steyn was to address the pre-match press conference yesterday ahead of South Africa’s Pool B match against Ireland at the Manuka Oval in Canberra, but was replaced by Farhaan Behardien at the last minute.

The 31-year-old Steyn, who was down with flu a few days before the start of the World Cup, has managed just one wicket from three matches against Zimbabwe, India and the West Indies. These are small pickings for one of the most destructive fast bowlers in the modern game and Steyn will be needed to be at his best if South Africa are to have a shot at their maiden World Cup title.

Behardien was confident the mountain fires were not going to stop either Steyn from celebrating his landmark one-dayer.

“Of course it does affect you in some sort of way, but we have quite a strong support structure around us, the people, the friends and the family that’s here,” Behardien said.

“If there’s any opportunity to help them out or comfort them, we will do so, but I don’t foresee it being a problem at all for both Dale and Faf.

“It’s just one of those things. But the World Cup is quite important, it’s actually very important.”

Steyn’s 100th one-dayer has come 10 years after his debut, indicating how he chose to pace himself in the shorter format to concentrate on Test cricket.

Behardien said he had faced Steyn in domestic matches but was glad that they were on the same side more often than not.

“It’s not fun facing Dale Steyn when he’s at full tilt,” the all-rounder said. “We all know what a wonderful performer he’s been over the last 10 years, the number one Test bowler.

“The fire and energy he brings to the bowling unit is awesome. A hundred caps is a wonderful achievement. Something I aspire to do, something most cricketers aspire to do.

“One hundred caps playing for your country is a massively proud moment. “We will try and celebrate his 100th game with a win. We will be fighting tooth and nail come tomorrow.”

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