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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flip-flop on ACSU at IPL

After all the hue and cry surrounding the deployment of the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) personnel at the Indian Premier League, the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the International Cricket Council have diametrically altered their positions. The BCCI, which initially declined the offer of the ACSU's services, has relented on engaging Sir Paul Condon's men but now the ICC says it is not in a position to provide the service.

"We cannot do something that cannot be the best," said an ICC spokesman. "It is too late for the ACSU to provide the service because work at a tournament of IPL's scale and length requires at least a month's preparation besides a heavy work force. They would have needed people and time for reconnaissance and surveillance."

The BCCI admitted that it has reconsidered the stand. "We wanted to invite the ACSU but we understand it is too late. There is no point inviting them at this stage," a top BCCI official said. The issue was also discussed at the Working Committee meeting on Wednesday.

It is learnt that the BCCI initially refused because the ICC was demanding a hefty fee to put in place its protocols. They wanted a whopping $1.5 million which, a Board official said, was much more than the budget allocated for the purpose by the IPL.

The change in the BCCI's position came about after its meeting with ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat. Lorgat, who was in Mumbai in connection with the 2011 World Cup Organising Committee meeting on Monday, is believed to have agreed to reduce the fees but the offer came too late. It may be recalled that Condon had once told the ICC that the potential for betting and match-fixing is high in a tournament like the IPL.

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Army strike gold

Army XI's endurance paid off as the Bangalore side pipped local giants Air India to retain the Bombay Gold Cup title. In a match that saw both teams miss almost half a dozen chances each, Mahadik's 62nd-minute drag flick was enough to settle the issue.

The effect of playing back-to-back matches in severe heat and humidity was evident.
Air India suffered the most, having played the tie-breaker against Punjab and Sindh Bank (PSB) on Tuesday. Matching Army's pace was always going to be difficult for the airmen but they managed to do that in the first half.

The home side played the waiting game for most part of the first half, allowing Army to enter their half and then catching them on the break.

It was in the second half that Army dominated the Mumbai champions and stepped up a notch or two.

"We had a game plan in mind and stuck to that. Thankfully, it paid dividends," Mahadik said.

Joga Singh, who was the star in Air India's semifinal win on Tuesday, looked completely off colour. The airmen sorely missed the services of a drag flicker, failing to convert any of the five penalty corners that came their way. "We had to try variations throughout since we didn't have a proper drag flicker. If we would have, then the scoreline might have been different," their coach Gavin Fereira said.

Army, on the other hand, took complete advantage of their fitness, pacing the match in the sultry conditions to perfection.

Mahadik was the centre of their moves on more than one occasion as he has been throughout the tournament. They kept on knocking on the Air India door.

Air India had chances too and were twice denied by the umpire. Joga claimed a deflection that went past Army goalkeeper PT Rao in the fourth minute but umpire Raghu Prasad signalled a long corner, much to his disappointment.

Later in the second half, Dhanraj Pillay's hit from a penalty corner was also disallowed.

Earlier in the day, Indian Oil beat PSB 4-2 to clinch the third spot.

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BCCI offers amnesty, ICL says league on

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has offered a general amnesty to the players associated with breakaway Indian Cricket League (ICL). The so called 'rebels' have been given one month to come back to the BCCI fold on the condition that they would forfeit international cricket for one year.

"We have decided to grant amnesty to all players, support staff and anyone else connected with the ICL provided they cancel all their existing contracts with the league by May 31," BCCI president Shashank Manohar said after the Board's working committee meeting. The players, Manohar said, would be allowed to play in the domestic league.

The ICL said the league will go ahead and those who want to can go. "We have already announced our programme for the Season III. It will be held in October," an ICL spokesman said.

The league also announced that contracts of the non-performers will not be renewed. "Taking forward our Sports Performance Evaluation (SPE) process across all cricket operations, the management has decided not to renew the contracts of some of the players and support staff that have expired. As cricket professionals they are free to decide and explore their options," the ICL said in a statement.

Manohar stated that the decision was taken after "a lot many players and support staff had approached us and admitted they had made a mistake and wanted to come back." He made it clear that the players will not get the unpaid amount.

The Board refused to disclose the names of either the players or support staff who have approached the BCCI but DNA has learnt that three coaches based in Mumbai have done so. One of them, who was already sidelined by the ICL, is believed to have even given a letter of intent to return to BCCI fold.

The decision to provide amnesty to the ICL players has evoked mixed reaction from the members who were present at the working committee meeting. At least three members had suggested that the cooling off period should be not less than three years.

The BCCI has also advised the other boards to have a similar approach towards the ICL players but Cricket New Zealand has said it may not adhere to the one-year cooling off period. The NZC indicated that it might allow banned Shane Bond and Daryl Tuffey to return to the national fold as early as August for the Sri Lanka tour.

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Aston Martin to enter Formula One?

FIA's cost-cutting measures for Formula One, to be put into effect from 2010, are becoming an attractive proposition for many prospective entrants. The latest party to have expressed keen interest is David Richards, chairman of motorsport and engineering specialist Prodrive, which manages all Aston Martin's motorsport activities, such as its Le Mans 24 Hours programme.

Richards, who was the team principal of Benetton and BAR Honda F1, remarked that the initial signs coming out from the FIA were encouraging. "They hold the promise to return Formula One to its fundamental ethos, where success comes to those with the most ingenious engineering and best organisation not simply those with the biggest budget," Richards said. He added that the team was very serious about entering Formula One in 2010 provided it was commercially viable. FIA had recently proposed a drastic cost cuts from next year keeping the budget cap to 30 million pounds.

The Prodrive boss, who is also chairman of Aston Martin, had almost entered a team in Formula One in 2008 and is now waiting for the finalisation of the rules for 2010. "Assuming the new rules are commercially viable and there is the potential to be fully competitive, then we are ready to press the go button. We are assisted in this by the extensive preparation work we undertook in 2007 in developing our previous Prodrive Formula One project," he said.

Ironically, what has provided Richards the boost to enter Formula One has been the pullout of Subaru from theWorld Rally Championship. The Subaru rally team was run by Prodrive. "We would be able to house a new style F1 team (to the cost capped regulations) utilising the space vacated by the rally programme," he said.

When asked whether his team would be named Aston Martin, Richards replied saying that it was yet to be decided.

When asked as to how teams would operate under a 30m pounds budget cap, Richards said that it would be like turning the clock back . "The team will have its engineering divison focused on the chassis side while the engine and gearbox would be sourced from outside suppliers," he said.

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'I don't play cricket for awards'

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Wednesday recommended Indian women's team skipper Jhulan Goswami and prolific southpaw Gautam Gambhir for the prestigious Arjuna award.

The announcement came as a pleasant surprise for the world's fastest bowler among women. But she was hasty to add that regardless of whether she gets the award, her contribution to the game would not diminish.

"I didn't get into cricket for awards. My priority has always been to play and excel for my country," an excited Jhulan said.

The announcement came a day after she was handed the responsibility to lead India at the inaugural Women's Twenty20 World Cup in England in June.

With three changes in the side which went to Australia for the World Cup in February, Goswami was optimistic about it.

"The changes have been effected on the basis of the two warm-up matches we played after the announcement of 30 probables," she said. Right-hand bat Babita Mandlik, off-spinning all-rounder Diana David and Latika Kumari, a debutant, were the new faces.

The players who got the axe were middle order batswoman Thirush Kamini, medium fast bowler Snehal Pradhan and left-arm orthodox Sravanthi Naidu. The skipper said that this was not the end of the road for them. "They are young and have age by their side. The doors will open if they perform better," said the skipper.

The skipper explained the need of more utility players for the T20 format. "We looked at bowlers who can bat a bit and batswomen who can roll their arm over," said Goswami, who explained the inclusion of Diana David.

The squad
Jhulan Goswami (captain), Amita Sharma -- (vice-captain), Mithali Raj, Anjum Chopra, Rumeli Dhar, Sulakshana Naik (wk), Anagha Deshpande (wk), Priyanka Roy, Reema Malhotra, Gouher Sultana, Harmanpreet Kaur, Poonam Raut, Babita Mandlik, Latika Kumari, Diana David.

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At Kingsmead, all the kings' men prevail

Yusuf Abdulla held his nerves and Piyush Chawla bowled a superb penultimate over as Kings XI Punjab beat favourites Mumbai Indians by three runs. The two bowlers conceded eight and seven runs respectively in the last two overs as the IPL has been thrown wide open by the Wednesday night's results.

Mumbai Indians were cruising towards victory when JP Duminy was in the middle but Abdulla got the better of his compatriot to pave the way for Kings' win after Chawla removed dangerous Harbhajan Singh in the 19th over.Irfan Pathan gave away only 20 runs in his four overs as the Mohali side successfully defended a modest total of 119.

For Mumbai, the first 19 balls yielded only 12 runs while costing them the wickets of Sanath Jayasuriya (0), Sachin Tendulkar (1) and Shikhar Dhawan (3). Earlier, Kumar Sangakkara's unbeaten 45 saved Kings the blushes as the side fumbled and faltered their way to 119 for eight. The Lankan waged a grim battle with a 44-ball 45 on a day when only three of his teammates returned double digit scores.

Yuvraj Singh's decision to bat first backfired and by the first strategy break, the Punjab side crawled to 50 for 3.

Openers Karan Goel (12) and Ravi Bopara (6) just could not get going and the first three overs yielded only 10 runs. The subdued start would have pleased any rival captain but not Sachin Tendulkar who tossed the ball to Harbhajan Singh in the fourth over and the offie struck with his third delivery.

Kings XI Punjab: RS Bopara c Tendulkar b Bravo 6, K Goel st Shah b Harbhajan Singh 12 (1x6), KC Sangakkara not out 45 (2x4, 1x6), Yuvraj Singh c Khan b Duminy 10 (1x4), M Jayawardene c Dhawan b Jayasuriya 7, IK Pathan c Bravo b Khan 7, WA Mota b Malinga 5, PP Chawla b Malinga 0, RR Powar run out (Shah) 10 (1x4); Extras (B4 LB2 W11) 17; Total (8 wickets; 20 overs) 119 (5.95 runs per over); FoW: 1-18, 2-18, 3-41, 4-52, 5-84, 6-97, 7-97, 8-119; Bowling: Zaheer 4-0-19-1, SL Malinga 4-0-12-2, Harbhajan Singh 4-0-23-1, DJ Bravo 3-0-24-1, JP Duminy 3-0-23-1, S Tendulkar 1-0-7-0, ST Jayasuriya 1-0-5-1

Mumbai Indians: ST Jayasuriya c Yuvraj Singh b Pathan 0, STendulkar c Jayawardene b Malik 1, S Dhawan lbw b Abdulla 3, JP Duminy c sub (T Kohli) b Abdulla 59 (4x4), DJ Bravo c Mota b Powar 15 (1x4, 1x6),AM Nayar b Pathan 15 (1x4),Harbhajan Singh c Goel b Chawla 6 (1x4), SS Tiwary not out 6, Z Khan not out 0; Extras (B1 LB1 W8 NB1) 11; Total (7 wickets; 20 overs) 116 (5.80 runs per over); FoW: 1-1, 2-4, 3-12, 4-45,5-94,6-101, 7-113; Bowling: IPathan 4-0-20-2, VMalik 2-0-12-1, R Powar 4-0-23-1, YAbdulla 4-0-19-2, P Chawla 3-0-26-1, K Goel 2-0-11-0, WA Mota 1-0-3-0

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