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Wednesday, Jul 30th

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Toasting a Very Very Special cricketer - Laxman

Five months after the retirement of Rahul Sharad Dravid, Indian cricket bled again as yet another glorious chapter drew to a close. On 18th August 2012, an ultra-emotional Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman, listening to his 'inner voice' decided to hang up his wonderfully worn shoes in a simple press-conference at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium in Hyderabad just 3 days ahead of the 2 match home Test series against New Zealand. It was a gentle kiss good-bye wrapped up in dignity, for that was what Laxman stood for.

For the past couple of days rumors were rife that VVS would exit after the first Test in front of his home crowd at Hyderabad. Why not? This faithful servant of the game had every right to demand a 'farewell Test'. Yet, Laxman rejected the offer to put the team's cause before personal aspirations and chose to make way for youngsters to get acclimatized to the rigors of international cricket ahead of the tough international assignments. So Romantic and Laxman-esque! It would be an understatement to say cricket will never be the same without the Hyderabadi ace.

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Match evenly poised after three days of exhilarating cricket at Lord's

hashim_amla.jpgThere is absolutely nothing to choose between England South Africa heading into the business end of the third and final test of the series at Lord's with the hosts squeezing out a narrow 6 run lead in the first innings on the back of a career defining innings of 95 from 22-year old Jonny Bairstow. South Africa in their second innings ended the day at 145-3 with Hashim Amla taking charge of proceedings with an unbeaten half-century. Day 4 is certain to be 'moving day' as far as this test match is concerned, and should the Proteas batsmen be able to bat through two sessions, England will have their work cut out for them in terms of leveling the series.

Jonny Bairstow and Matt Prior walked out to carry on the England recovery on the third day of the final test of the series at Lord's. But the new ball again proved costly for the hosts as Vernon Philander struck with his very first delivery to send back Prior( 27) who could not deal with the away movement and edged straight to Kallis at second slip. Stuart Broad came next and scored some quick runs with Bairstow, who displayed great timing against the South African pacers.

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VVS Laxman announces immediate retirement from Test cricket

vvs_laxmanLegendary Indian middle order batsman VVS Laxman has decided to retire from international cricket with immediate effect, shocking the entire cricketing fraternity just days ahead of New Zealand's Tour of India. Thirty seven year old Laxman was widely expected to make the current series his last, and there had been rumours circulating in the press that he would go out in style after the first test of the series in his home town of Hyderabad, however, the elegant right-hander has obviously decided to avoid the unnecessary fan fare and make a more private exit from the sport.

Laxman made the announcement at a press conference in Hyderabad today, declaring: "I have always kept my country's success and need ahead of my personal aspirations. And while I would love contributing to the team's success, especially against England and Australia, I think this is the right to give opportunity to the youngsters in home conditions ahead of international assignments.

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VVS Laxman likely to hang up his boots during New Zealand series

vvs_laxmanIndia's star middle order batsman, Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman dropped a bombshell last evening, declaring that he is contemplating retirement from international cricket during the New Zealand series that marks the beginning of a choc-a-block home season for the Indian cricket team. According to concrete reports, the veteran batsman is likely to announce his retirement after the First Test itself. Coincidentally, the first Test is to be played in his home city of Hyderabad and thus it promises to be a perfect swansong for the 'Very Very Special' cricketer.

Laxman was batting's equivalent of Harry Houdini. With a swish and flick of his magic willow, Laxman conjured up graceful strokes with effortless ease. The 37 year old, who formed the core of India's illustrious middle order that boasted of the likes of the great Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul 'Wall' Dravid and Sourav 'Prince of Kolkata' Ganguly, elevated the art of batsmanship to an all new level with his scintillating stoke-play. The monumental contribution of the quartet undimmed by the passage of time sky rocketed India to Number 1 in the ultimate form of the game. To say VVS Laxman was India's stylist in strife is to say, Albert Einstein was a scientist; it tells a criminally bare story. The once medical aspirant was an undisputed master in dissecting bowling attacks with nonchalance.

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Bell, Bairstow lead England fightback on day 2 at Lord's

ian_bellThe third and final test of the England - South Africa series continues to have all the makings of a humdinger while the no.1 test ranking hangs as the prize to the winner. In what can only be defined as another very even day, the pendulum swung South Africa's way and then England's as the hosts ended day 2 with 101 run first innings deficit, but with 5 wickets still in hand to leave this match anyone's game. Perhaps even more crucially is the fact that with 15 wickets having fallen on the opening two days, the match is also all but certain to have a result. South Africa battled their way to 309 in the morning session, led by Vernon Philander, who was last man out for 61. In response, England's top order went the same way as South Africa's did yesterday, slipping to an identical 54-4 before Ian Bell (58) and Jonny Bairstow (72*) saved the day with an excellent 124 run partnership for the 5th wicket. At the close of play, England had progressed to 208-5, and have every chance of taking some sort of first innings lead before having another go at the Proteas batsmen tomorrow.

South Africa resumed batting on day 2 at the overnight score of 262-7 with the fast bowling pair of Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn determined to take the Proteas beyond the 300 run mark. But Stuart Broad had other ideas and got an early breakthrough, exploiting the overcast conditions perfectly to get Steyn caught in the slips for 26. The next man in Morne Morkel counter-attacked the England bowlers and kept Philander company, the latter completing a fine half century from 75 balls. The duo added a more than useful 37 runs from 54 balls for the ninth wicket.

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India to clash with Pakistan in Under-19 World Cup Quarter-final

The quarter-final line-up of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2012 was completed on Thursday with all the Full Members with the exception of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe progressing to the Super League stage. On Thursday, as many as four sides confirmed their berths in the Super League quarter-finals, which will be played in Townsville on 19 and 20 August.

In Group A, England defeated Nepal by 126 runs to set up a quarter-final meeting with South Africa, who had qualified for the last eight stage on Wednesday. In Group C, India outsmarted Papua New Guinea (PNG) by 107 runs to book a date with traditional rival Pakistan, who defeated New Zealand by five wickets to remain unbeaten in Group B. Both the England-South Africa and India-Pakistan quarter-final matches will be played at the Tony Ireland Stadium on Sunday and Monday, respectively.

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South Africa stutter to 262-7 on Opening Day of Lord's Test

With the world no.1 ranking up for grabs there was no room for half-measures, and the Proteas, 1-0 up in the series, took the brave decision of opting to bat first under overcast skies on the opening day of the third and final test at Lord's. That decision backfired miserably as South Africa slid to 54-4 before lunch on the opening morning with Steve Finn picking up 3 early wickets to rattle the Proteas early. The South African middle order though showed plenty of gumption and battled their way to 262-7 by the close of play with JP Duminy top scoring with 61. James Anderson also chipped in with 3 wickets over the course of the day, but the last hour belonged to Vernon Philander, who scored a crucial unbeaten 46 to keep the Proteas in this contest.

The Proteas named an unchanged line-up for the third straight game and would hope their top order would continue to plunder runs against the England bowlers, who got some of their own back late in the 2nd Test. England meanwhile had a couple of changes to their side from the last game with Graeme Swann returning to the playing eleven, but in place of Tim Brensnan, with local lad Steve Finn getting the nod to be the third seamer. Meanwhile Kevin Pietersen's indiscretions had cost him his place in the squad and the South African born Englishman was replaced by rookie Jonny Bairstow.

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