FEARS QUICKLY DASHED GROS ISLET, St Lucia: West Indies Women trounced Pakistan Women by six wickets in the final one-day international cricket match on Saturday night to clinch the four-match series 3-1 and join Australia at the top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s Championship. Chasing a modest 183 for victory at the Beausejour Cricket Stadium, the hosts cantered home in the 43rd over with their inspirational captain, Stafanie Taylor, stroking an attractive unbeaten 87 from 107 deliveries, to pick up the Player-of-the-Match award. The win was the Windies Women’s third on the trot after losing the opening game two Fridays ago and more importantly, saw them sweep the contests designated as ICC Championship games and grab the six vital points required to move to the top of the points table alongside the Aussies on 16 points. A qualifying tournament for the 2017 Women’s World Cup, the top four sides from the Championship will gain automatic qualification for the event scheduled for England. “We executed really well throughout the series. We recognised the importance of trying to dominate this game and again, we did that really well,” head coach Vasbert Drakes said. “Our objective was to move up to the number one spot and it was a great series to do that and certainly that was one of the biggest motivating factors.” Sent in, Pakistan Women were restricted to 182 for five off their 50 overs, thanks to superb bowling from pacer Shamilia Connell, who snared three for 32 from her 10 overs. Off-spinner Anisa Mohammed picked up two for 30, while Hayley Matthews strangled the visitors with her off-breaks in a 10-over spell that went for just 20 runs. Asmavia Iqbal top scored with 44 not out off 43 balls batting at number seven, while Bismah Maroof chipped in with 41, Javeria Khan, 25 and captain Sana Mir an unbeaten 24. In reply, West Indies lost Matthews without scoring with six runs on the board in the fourth over and were further set back when they also lost the other opener Kycia Knight for 19 at 32 for two in the ninth. However, any fears of a West Indies Women collapse were quickly dashed as Taylor took control in two telling partnerships. First, the right-hander put on 54 for the third wicket with Deandra Dottin, who struck 25 from 43 balls with a four and a six. When she departed in the 23rd over to a catch at the wicket off leg-spinner Bismah, Taylor found an ally in former captain Merissa Aguilleira, who stroked an important 37 off 62 deliveries with two fours. Taylor played with assurance, gathering 10 boundaries to dominate the innings and record her second straight unbeaten half-century of the tournament. Overall, she finished with 261 runs at an average of 130, to also cop the Player-of-the-Series award. The two teams will now turn their attention to the three-match Twenty20 series, which bowls off in Grenada on Thursday. – CMC
“It is disappointing to win a World Cup and you’ve not played international cricket after that. To remove the winning World Cup coach [as well], it’s just a mess. I am not about fighting it anymore.” While selectors said Sammy’s dropping was due to his lack of individual performances, it has been widely speculated that the St Lucian all-rounder paid the price for his criticism of the WICB just moments following the Windies’ capture of the T20 World Cup in India. However, despite all that has transpired since, Sammy said he did not regret his decision then to blast the board. “Put me on that podium again and I will do it even better. I believe a man has to speak his heart. It was just an extension of what my team went through flowing from me. JUST A MESS LONDON (CMC): Discarded Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy has supported the view of two of his former teammates that the sacking of head coach Phil Simmons has negatively impacted West Indies’ performance in the ongoing series against Pakistan. Speaking here this week, the 32-year-old criticised the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) decision, noting that such actions had now become a trend, and said that he could tell the Caribbean side was not in a “happy mood” in the United Arab Emirates. “It’s disappointing but not surprising,” the two-time T20 World Cup-winning skipper was quoted as saying. “It’s been a trend of how my former employers operate. It was sad. They will say it did not have an effect on the team, but from the pictures being posted on social media, I could tell my team was not in a happy mood.” Simmons was sacked even as the squad departed the Caribbean for the UAE last month, over what the WICB described as “differences in culture and strategic approach”. West Indies subsequently produced a plethora of limp performances as they suffered 3-0 whitewashes in both the T20 and the One-Day International series. They have since also conceded the three-Test series where they trail 2-0, with one game remaining in Sharjah starting tomorrow. Earlier this month, all-rounders Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, who contested the limited overs series, said the sacking of Simmons had demoralised the players and created chaos in the camp. Sammy, who was also fired in August despite leading the Windies to their second T20 World Cup last April, described the entire situation as “a mess”. “Everything in life happens for a reason. I am still on a high. I refuse to let people dictate my mood,” he said.
But Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said later he was not ready to conclude that Iran’s top leaders were behind the attacks. Some lawmakers also have questioned the administration’s statements. Wading into the debate, Bush said the Quds Force was instrumental in supplying the weapons – “we know that,” he said – and that the Quds Force was part of the Iranian government. “That’s a known,” he said. “What we don’t know is whether or not the head leaders of Iran ordered the Quds Force to do what they did.” Pressed again on the subject, Bush displayed some irritation and said, “Whether \ Ahmadinejad ordered the Quds Force to do this, I don’t think we know. But we do know that they’re there and I intend to do something about it. And I’ve asked our commanders to do something about it. And we’re going to protect our troops.” Ahmadinejad has denied Iran was behind the attacks. Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee emerged from a classified briefing Wednesday saying they wanted more information about Iran. The committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, said it was unclear to him precisely what the administration knows about the Tehran government’s ties to the weapons found in Iraq. “There seems to be some disarray,” said Levin, D-Mich. He said he eventually hopes to see some declassified information on the subject. Bush came into the news conference after receiving a briefing from Baghdad by Gen. David Petraeus, the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. Bush said he talked with Petraeus about coordination between Iraqi and coalition forces, and that while it seemed to be good, more work was needed on developing an efficient command-and-control structure. Bush responded carefully when asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s accusations Saturday that the United States was undermining global security and provoking a nuclear arms race. Bush said Putin was “the same strong-willed person” he has known since 2001 and there is a “complicated relationship” between Washington and Moscow. On other matters, Bush said: The agreement announced Tuesday to shut down North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for fuel assistance was “a good first step.” He said he strongly disagreed with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton that it was a bad deal. He would not comment on the 2008 presidential race. “I will resist all temptation to become the pundit-in-chief.” He also would not comment on whether he authorized members of his administration to leak the identity of Valerie Plame, a one-time CIA officer whose husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, criticized the administration’s case for the Iraq war. Similarly, Bush refused to say whether he might pardon I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby is on trial on charges of lying and obstructing the investigation into the Plame’s identity. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Iran was a dominant theme of reporters’ questions because of conflicting statements about U.S. intelligence in Iran and recurring speculation that Bush is looking for an excuse to attack the Islamic republic, which is believed by Washington and its allies to be seeking nuclear weapons. Defending U.S. intelligence that has pinpointed Iran as a hostile arms supplier in Iraq, Bush said, “Does this mean you’re trying to have a pretext for war? No. It means I’m trying to protect our troops.” There have been mixed signals in the administration about Iran’s involvement in supplying Shiite groups in Iraq with a particularly lethal type of roadside bombs known as explosively formed penetrators. Three senior U.S. military officials, at a weekend briefing in Baghdad, said the highest levels of the Iranian government had ordered the weapons smuggled into Iraq. They based their claim on the belief the weapons are moving into Iraq through the Iran’s Revolutionary Guards elite Quds Force. WASHINGTON – Challenged on the accuracy of U.S. intelligence, President Bush said Wednesday there is no doubt the Iranian government is providing armor-piercing weapons to kill American soldiers in Iraq. But he backed away from claims the top echelon of Iran’s government was responsible. Bush, at a news conference, also said he would fight any attempt by the Democratic-controlled Congress to cut off money for the war. “They need to fund our troops and the need to make sure we have the flexibility necessary to get the job done,” he said. The House is expected to vote Friday on a nonbinding resolution opposing Bush’s decision to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq. The meeting with reporters in the East Room was Bush’s first news conference since Dec. 20 and the first since he announced the troop buildup in Iraq. The four-year-old war hangs heavily on his presidency, and Bush’s approval rating in an Associated Press-Ipsos poll in February matched an all-time low of 32 percent.