World's Latest Sports Events

Olympics News, Football, Cricket, Free live cricket, Cricket live scores, Premier League football clubs, Gymnastics, Swimming, Athletics, Chelsea Football Club, Athletics, Sports, Beach Volleyball, Football Plays, Football Schedule, Car Racing, Cycling, kabadi, 2008 Beijing Olympics, Latest sports news

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Murray gatecrashes Federer-Nadal Grand Slam draw dominance

The three-year Grand Slam seeding dominance of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal has been broken by Andy Murray as the new British world number two takes the second spot at the US Open starting on Monday.

With top seed Federer back on his number one ranking and Nadal down to third, the pair has still been drawn into the same half at Flushing Meadows. "I played great in Cincinnati," said Federer, who won that title last weekend handily over Murray. "I hope things can go well at the Open."

Federer begins his campaign for a sixth consecutive title at the event, where he last lost in 2003, playing unknown American wild card Devin Britton after Thursday's draw.

Murray starts with Latvian Ernests Gulbis, billed as a name to watch a few seasons ago but still to fulfil potential.

Nadal will provide a huge opening test for returning Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who will be playing on the Tour for the first time since April 30 after proving his innocence in a suspected doping case.

Gasquet crashed out of qualifying last weekend in New Haven, denying himself match play before the year's final major.

Federer, bidding for a 16th Grand Slam title, is pencilled in for a possible quarter-final with Nikolay Davydenko, while Murray could renew his rivalry with Argentine Juan Del Potro in the last eight.

In women's play, Russian Dinara Safin takes the top seeding and opens against a wild card in the shape of Australian Olivia Rogowska, the number 167 teenager who won her lone Grand Slam match in the Paris first round last spring.

Holder Serena Williams starts with compatriot Alexa Glatch, while third-seeded sister Venus plays Vera Dushevina. Former champion Maria Sharapova has a modest 29th seeding as she comes back from nearly a year of shoulder worries.

Belgian Kim Clijsters, who lifted the trophy in 2005, continues her comeback to tennis that began this month as she plays Viktoriya Kutuzova of Ukraine.

Labels: , , , ,

Sania to meet Govortsova in US Open first round

Sania Mirza will open her US Open tennis campaign against Olga Govortsova of Belarus. It will be 71st-ranked Sania's third meeting with Govortsova. Sania won their first meeting and conceding the second time midway through.

The Indian had beaten the 64th-ranked Belarussian in staight sets in 2007 at Cincinnati. However, in their last meeting at the 2008 Qatar Open first round, Sania pulled out in the final set due to muscle cramps.

In her preparation for the US Open, the Indian has been playing on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) circuit. She won the $50,000 Lexington challenger in July and then made it to the final of the $75,000 ITF Vancouver Open earlier this month.

If Sania overcomes Govortsova, she is likely to run into 10th seed Italian Flavia Pennetta, who beat her in the Indian Wells Open in March.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Roger Federer secures Cincinnati title

World number one Roger Federer took the Cincinnati Masters title for the third time with a straight-sets win over fourth seed Novak Djokovic.

Federer followed up Saturday's semi-final defeat of Andy Murray with a 6-1 7-5 win against Djokovic.

After dominating the first set, Federer had to battle back from a break down in the second to seal victory.

The Swiss will now head to New York ahead of the US Open, which gets under way on 31 August.

He is the five-time defending champion at Flushing Meadows and will be confident of claiming a sixth title after his performances against Murray and Djokovic.

"Overall, it's been a great week for me," he said. "I got a lot of matches in before the US Open, so I'm satisfied.

"I started quite slow but then the quarter-finals was a little bit better, and then the semi-final was a great match."

Federer also won Cincinnati in 2005 and 2007, and Sunday's victory gives him a 61st career title and 16th at the elite Masters 1000 level.

"I had twin girls a month ago, it's been an unbelievable summer for me - in my personal life and on the tennis court," said Federer, who also won a record 15th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in July.

"I couldn't be more happy right now. I didn't know if I'd be able to play here because of Myla and Charlene.

"Thanks to them coming earlier - it was good timing! I look forward to coming back here next year."

Djokovic had to suffer defeat in a Masters 1000 final for the fourth time this year, and he joked: "Unfortunately I was born in the wrong era.

"I was very close in most of those finals, but I don't think this is some kind of curse or something.

"Everybody is playing great tennis. Those two guys, (Rafael) Nadal and Federer, and of course Murray, they're all playing fantastic tennis.

"Roger and Rafa are maybe two of the best players that ever played this game. Roger for sure is."

Labels: , , , ,

Vinokourov back in Astana stable

Alexandre Vinokourov has rejoined his former cycling team Astana for the Tour of Spain, which begins this Saturday.

The Kazakh rider, who won the race in 2006, recently returned from a two-year ban for blood doping at the 2007 Tour de France.

The 35-year-old denies any wrongdoing but both he and Astana were removed from the event two years ago.

An Astana statement said: "Vinokourov has signed a contract with Team Astana until the end of 2010."

Vinokourov spearheads a team which also includes American Chris Horner, Kazakhs Assan Bazayev and Maxim Iglinskiy, Spaniards Jesus Hernandez, Daniel Navarro, Jose Luis Rubiera and Haimar Zubeldia and Swiss Michael Schar.

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has a year left on his Astana contract although he is being linked with a move elsewhere.

Lance Armstrong, meanwhile, has already announced that he will quit Astana to form an American-based team in 2010 in partnership with RadioShack.

Labels: ,

Virender Sehwag gives a wish list to Jaitley

Virender Sehwag is reported to have given a wish list to the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) president Arun Jaitley as regards the state selectors.

National selector Yashpal Sharma, former national selector Madan Lal and Hari Gidwani are the names suggested by Sehwag with the idea that these three were not likely to push in players of their choice at the expense of more promising ones.

Jaitley is said to be happy to go with this compromise formula, but a member of the present selection committee, who did not wish to be named, said working out the selection committee and other such matters was not the issue at all. "Sehwag had said he was against the running of the sports committee, which does not consist of prominent players and is said to influence selectors, but in all this, the main issue is lost."

Another former selector, made a controversial statement that had officials of the state association fuming. Kirti Azad told a news channel that call girls had been used to influence selection matters.

Meanwhile, Ishant Sharma returned to the fitness camp at Ferozshah Kotla on Monday. Other player Gautam Gambhir is expected to join the camp from Tuesday. Ishant along with left arm pacer Ashish Nehra, who returned to practice on Friday, and other players was training with Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya.

Labels: ,

Mahendra Singh Dhoni enjoys a ride in a racing car

Indian cricket skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Sunday took a ride in a speeding car in a car rally here.

The rally was organized by the Karnataka Motor Sports Club.

After watching the whole event, Dhoni expressed his desire to drive one of the racing cars. But as per the rules of the rally, he was not allowed to drive. Instead, he went for a ride as a co-driver with the winners of the rally.

The winner of the race Arjun Baloo, along with his partner Sujeet Kumar, took Dhoni on a speedy trip. Dhoni sat on the front seat of co-driver and enjoyed the thrill.

"He enjoyed the drive very much and he was really excited going in the rally car. That's why we went for one extra round. He really enjoyed it and it was good fun," said Baloo.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Cricket Board CEO Justin Vaughan who was on a visit to Chennai for a local tournament expressed confidence of better performance by his team in the upcoming Champions Trophy to be played in South Africa.

"I think it is a good one day site. If our players come into form, I think South Africa is a good venue for us. It will be early season in South Africa. So I think the wicket will seam around a little bit," said Vaughan.

The ICC Champions Trophy will be held in South Africa from September 22 to October 5. All the matches will be held in two venues, - Wanderers in Johannesburg and Centurion in Pretoria.

A total of eight teams will take part in this year's Champions Trophy. The teams are divided into two groups. New Zealand will face England, South Africa and Sri Lanka in Group B of the tournament while defending champions Australia, West Indies, Pakistan and India are placed in the other group.

The winner will bag a total prize money of four million dollars.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Modi for Test cricket under lights

Is Test cricket boring? The verdict might differ from person to person but a discussion on the matter was very lively when some top cricketing brains of the country converged here on Tuesday.

If only the International Cricket Council was listening to what the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Lalit Modi, Harsha Bhogle and Rajdeep Sardesai had to say on the matter, it would have got a few clues as to how to save the oldest form of the game from the onslaught of the newest form - Twenty20.

Joining the panel discussion on Cricket in Changing Times on the occasion of Bhogle's book (Out of the Box - Watching the game we love) launch, Tendulkar said there was a need to instill passion among youngsters. "When I was 10, I had gone to see West Indies play India. I think the BCCI should do something to develop the passion in youngsters. They can tell schools to get their best students in academics or sports and watch the Test matches which will be an incentive for them and also instill some passion in them. I am sure every youngster is eager to wear an Indian cap," the Little Master said.

IPL chairman Lalit Modi, typically,came out with a formula that will attract more eyeballs. "Test cricket has to be marketed well. Today people have many options but little time. You can do that by making Test cricket a day-night affair. We also have to get a Test match schedule right in place."

Manjrekar felt Test and ODI formats have to be made action packed just as T20 cricket. "There is a sporting excellence needed in every form of the game. T20 provides you cricketing excellence. I think one-day cricket need to be tweaked a bit. Test cricket is different and exciting. A spectator expects it to be more action packed," observed Manjrekar.

Noted journalist Sardesai said cricketers want an IPL cap. "People don't want an Indian cap. They want to play in IPL."

Billiards legend Michael Fereira came up with the issue of other sports not getting their due. Modi said it was because other events have to be marketed well. "We need to get the results at the top and it should be taken to the consumers that's how they will get sponsors and TRPs. Media should also give good coverage to other sports too," Modi said.

Bhogle felt T20 has opened up new cricketing skills but Test cricket will continue to exist irrespective of T20's soaring popularity. His book was a compilation of his columns in a national daily.

Labels: , , ,

Nemanja Vidic vows to prove his commitment to Man United

Star defender Nemanja Vidic has vowed that he will prove his commitment to Manchester United with his performances in the coming weeks.

Vidic's advisor Paolo Fabbri was quoted last week as saying that the centre-back would welcome a switch to Barcelona.

It set alarm bells ringing at Old Trafford, as Vidic has become one of Europe's top defenders since joining three years ago. His wife was also reported as being unhappy in Manchester.

But Vidic insists he is focused only on United's title defence and Fabbri denied making the comments.

"I've never said anything about Barcelona, or Real Madrid or AC Milan - or any club. I never speak about my future so I don't know why someone else does. I showed at Wigan on the pitch how happy I am at this club. Any fan of United only has to see how I played to know how committed I am," The Sun quoted Vidic, as saying.

The 5-0 win at Wigan on Saturday was Vidic's first game back after an ankle injury.

He spoke to Fabbri about the story to voice his concern at the timing of it, after United lost Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.

"I don't want it to have an impact. I'm here and committed. I'll show that with how I play. It's not true that my wife is not happy. I don't know how that rumour came out; she's not what you'd call a famous wife. She's never spoken to a newspaper," he added.

Labels: , , , , ,

Anil Kumble to lead Pietersen

Anil Kumble will lead Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Champions League T20. The RCB have decided not to change their skipper even in the event of Kevin Pietersen's availability for the October 8-23 tournament.

On Tuesday, reports from England suggested that Pietersen will be facing a stand-off with England and Wales Cricket Board over his participation in the CL T20 but a couple of RCB officials told this paper that Pietersen's availability will not have any impact on the captaincy issue. Pietersen, one may recall, was the designated captain of the side.

"We don't know about Kevin but Anil will be our skipper," a top official of the RCB told DNA. Added another official, "We are not sure of the fitness of Kevin. It will be known in a couple of days. But his availability will not change our skipper." RCB are expected to announce the squad on Friday after speaking to team owner Vijay Mallya.
Kumble took over from Pietersen and then led RCB's incredible surge in the IPL II. The team ended up runners-up.

Meanwhile, there are conflicting signals from England over Pietersen's participation. The England batsman, having undergone surgery for Achilles heel four weeks back, should be fit for the tournament which is over 50 days away. One needs six weeks to two months to recover fitness from surgeries on heel and Pietersen would have rested for nearly three months by the time of Champions League.

Sources in England say Pietersen was keen to play in the Champions Trophy from September 22 but the ECB selectors have left him out of the one-day tournament. An ECB official told this paper that it is not known if Pietersen will be fit by October 8.

Meanwhile, the governing council of CL T20 came out with rules for the players qualified to play for two teams in the tournament.

"Under CL T20 rules, provided a player qualifies for more than one team, all those qualifying teams can nominate that player. If the player then decides to play for an 'away' team rather than his 'home' team (the team from the country he is eligible to represent in international cricket), the 'away' team must pay $200,000 compensation to the 'home' team. 'Away' teams are not eligible for compensation if a player chooses to play for his 'home' team," a release said.

Labels: , , , ,

Muhammad Ali beats Bradman to title of greatest sportsman

ormer World Heavyweight Boxing champion Muhammad Ali, 67, has been named the greatest sports star by Australia's No 1 sporting magazine Alpha.

Ali's record in professional boxing's most competitive era has seen him get the nod ahead of cricket legend Sir Donald Bradman. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Diego Maradona rounded out the top five, reports The Herald Sun.

"Ali was an unbelievably skilful, clever boxer who was involved in some of the biggest fights of the 20th century," Alpha editor Heath Kelly said.

"Away from the ring, Ali's impact was just as great - from his rapid-fire tongue, to his stance against the Vietnam war, to lighting the Atlanta Olympic torch when visibly affected by Parkinsons, he captured the public imagination like no athlete in history," Kelly added.

Alpha's top 10
1. Muhammad Ali
2. Sir Donald Bradman
3. Michael Jordan
4. Tiger Woods
5. Diego Maradona
6. Rod Laver
7. Pele
8. Roger Federer
9. Carl Lewis
10. Lance Armstrong

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Flintoff wants to become best one-day player in the world

All rounder Andrew Flintoff, who underwent a knee operation 24 hours after his heroics helped England regain the Ashes, wants to become best one day player in the world.

Flintoff was devastated last week when told by specialist Andy Williams that he would require more surgery as he has already had four on his right ankle.

"Wearing the three lions is a massive incentive and I want to wear them again," The Sun quoted Flintoff, as saying.

"My aim is to become the best one-day player in the world and play in the next two World Cups for England," he said.

If Flintoff is fit to play in Bangladesh, he could then go to the IPL for a six-week campaign with his Chennai Super Kings franchise.

"I've been an Ashes winner twice and I've played 79 Tests. I'm happy. I enjoyed the celebrations but it has dawned on me that the next time England play a Test match I'm not going to be involved.

"I've never achieved greatness. Look at the greats of our game - Garry Sobers, Ian Botham and Ricky Ponting have achieved greatness over a long period of time. I've done it occasionally," he added.

England coach Andy Flower is confident that Flintoff has not played his final game for England.

"He's had a tough time with injuries and has always fought back. He looks after himself well and is a strong man. I'm sure he'll come back and do great things for England's one-day team," Flower said.

Labels: , ,

Born in USA, coming to F1

Formula One may have been dealt a big blow by the withdrawal of big manufacturers like Honda and BMW. However, it has also resulted in the birth of new teams that will be identified with different concepts, rather than the manufacturer's names.

Among them is a country-specific concept that will make its debut in 2010 in the form of the USF1 team which aims to promote American technology in Formula One. "We will build the car at our headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, and showcase American technology on F1," Peter Windsor, co-owner of the team, told DNA on the phone.

USF1 will be one of the three new entrants to Formula One from 2010. Though the drivers' line-up is yet to be decided, what has added an all-American flavour to the team is the announcement by Chad Hurley, co-founder of the popular video sharing website YouTube to invest in the team.

"As an American, Chad's involvement will not only be advantageous for the team but for F1 as well. The sport has never done a good job of promoting itself in the US. Besides, the involvement of an iconic member of the new media will lend credibility to the sport and create an enormous appeal for the new generation," Windsor said.

Though Windsor's aim is to promote American drivers, he may not have an all-American drivers' line up in the first year itself. "As a new team, we need experienced drivers behind the wheel. Since there are hardly any experienced American drivers, in all probability we will have non-American drivers for 2010."

Windsor is surprised by Force India's decision of not having an Indian driver. "I don't understand why Force India doesn't have at least one Indian driver considering that Karun Chandhok is extremely talented and has enough experience in GP2," Windsor said.

Windsor, who was earlier associated with Williams and Ferrari in managerial capacity, said he was not bothered about the fact that there won't be budget caps for next year.

"Our entry into F1 was not made in haste and it was also not on the premise of a budget cap. Though there are some teams which were assembled because of low costs, we had been planning this project for a long time. Therefore, absence of budget caps won't make a difference to the team," he claimed.

Coming back to the country concept, Windsor said Formula One is a huge brand and in order to become truly global, there could be government backed teams. "If we can have government-aided circuits like the ones in Shanghai and Bahrain, why not do the same with teams?," he asked.

Labels: , ,

Impressed Dravid wants to play at DY Patil Stadium

Impressed with the facilities DY Patil Stadium, veteran Indian batsman Rahul Dravid today said today he wants to play at least one international tie at the venue in Navi Mumbai before quitting the game.

"I did not have the opportunity to play here in the IPL last year. But I had heard so much about the facilities here from others. Now I have been blown away. I hope I will get an opportunity one day to play here. I want to play at least once in an international tie here before I stop playing (cricket)," he said here today.

Dravid, who specially flew in from Bangalore this morning to inaugurate the DY Patil Sports Academy's website '', said the stadium was comparable to the best cricket stadiums in the world.

"The facilities are truly magnificent. This stadium is comparable to any top stadium in the world and is better than most," the former India captain said.

Dravid, who has been recalled to the India ODI side after a two-year gap for the triangular series in Sri Lanka and the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa, said he was impressed with the sports facilities for other games which, he felt, could be utilised by budding sports persons.

"This place can be a training ground not only in cricket but for all disciplines and be a breeding ground for future sports people. I have no doubt that in future this will be the hub," Dravid said.

"When this stadium was started six years ago there was no concept of the IPL. The vision to build these facilities is remarkable," he added.

The sports academy's president Vijay Patil said in his welcome address that sports federations, especially of swimming, tennis and badminton, could utilise the facilities in the complex to conduct even national level meets.

There are five tennis courts, two badminton courts and an Olympic-size swimming pool other than three glass-backed squash courts, according to sports secretary and coordinator of the academy, Avinash Salvi.

Labels: , ,

Australia still missing Warne, McGrath: Harbhajan

A familiar thorn in Australian flesh, Harbhajan Singh offered no sympathy to Ricky Ponting and his grief-stricken teammates on their Ashes debacle and said they are still missing Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

As expected, Harbhajan looked rather amused by Australia's Ashes defeat as he went on to highlight the positive implications of England's Ashes triumph.

"Congratulations," was his spontaneous response when he was told about Australia's defeat and was asked to comment on.

"Honestly speaking, I was too busy with my new house (in Jalandhar) and did not see much of Ashes. But it's great to see other teams dominating Australia. England clearly played better and deserved to win," said the off-spinner, who had had umpteen run-ins with a number of Australian cricketers, notably Andrew Symonds.

On a more serious note, Harbhajan said Australia were struggling to adjust to a life without Warne and McGrath.

"They are clearly missing players of the calibres of Warne and McGrath. You have to remember that bowlers win you Test matches and you have to take 20 wickets to win a Test.

"Warne and McGrath were the biggest pillars in Australian cricket and I think it would take time before Australia find their replacements. They will struggle till similar wicket-taking bowlers break into the scene," explained Harbhajan after unveiling the Compaq Cup, which will be given to the winner of next month's tri-series in Sri Lanka.

Asked if he felt even Symonds too was missed, Harbhajan side-stepped the provocation.

"See, Symonds, as long as he was part of the team, did well for Australia. He is a very, very good player. But I think more than Symonds or even (Adam) Gilchrist, Australia sorely missed Warne and McGrath," he said.

Harbhajan and Symonds were the main protagonists of the 2007 'Monkeygate scandal' that threatened to rip apart world cricket.

Harbhajan was accused of calling Symonds a monkey before Justice John Hansen exonerated him of the charge.

Harbhajan said The Oval, venue of fifth and final Ashes Test, offered enough turn and Australia made a mistake by leaving out off-spinner Nathan Hauritz.

"Had I been there, I would have taken 10 wickets and prevented Australia's defeat," he quipped before adding "there was enough turn on the track."

England yesterday pulled off a sensational 197-run victory over Australia in the fifth and final cricket Test to regain the Ashes urn after a four-year gap.

After the defeat, Australia slipped to number four in Test rankings while captain Ricky Ponting suffered the ignominy of being the only the second Australia captain in 132 years of Ashes history to lose two series on England soil.

The other was Australia's first touring captain Billy Murdoch a century ago. Murdoch lost his second series in 1890.

Labels: , , ,

Australia tumble from top, cricket rises from ashe

The jury is still out on whether England's superb Ashes victory will help revive Test cricket in the time of Twenty20, but Australia's tumble from the number one spot arguably heralds the most exciting phase in the history of the game.

Not since the 1960s when England, Australia, West Indies and South Africa looked to be on equal terms has the sport seemed as profuse in talent -- only now, it is far more competitive and infinitely richer in terms of money and texture of play. Better financial rewards have shaped a new, market-driven aggressive attitude that has facilitated greater expression of skill and ensured more results than draws.

A visibly chastened Ricky Ponting, while chomping on humble pie on Sunday, acknowledged that Australia's stranglehold over the game was virtually over and the field was now wide open. Australia have been acknowledged as world champions since 1993-94 and have held the number one position from the inception of the ICC rankings in 2003. The Oval defeat saw them fall to number 4, behind South Africa, Sri Lanka and India.

Yet, only six points separate the top side from the number four suggesting an exciting race for supremacy in the next 12 months. Of these four, India have the opportunity to take the number 1 position if they win a home series 2-0 against Sri Lanka this October. But to retain this position for some length of time, they must win the away series against South Africa late next year - and almost everything else in between - which should be great incentive for MS Dhoni and his team.

This entails maintaining superb form playing overseas and consistency overall. While Indian cricketers had traditionally been poor tourists, there is reason for optimism. The trend was bucked when Sourav Ganguly's team drew against Steve Waugh's side in 2003-4 and though the 2008 series was lost, the Indians succeeded in dismantling the aura of invincibility around the Australians. Since then, they have beaten Ponting's team at home and defeated New Zealand in New Zealand emphatically too.

In that context, Australia's fall from the top has been has not been such a surprise. In the last two years, out of 23 Tests, Ponting has won nine but also lost eight. In this period, he has also lost the services of four or five supremely gifted players. Compare this with 30 victories and just three defeats from the previous 38 Tests he captained, and the unhappy Aussie captain's plight is evident.

Happily for him, though, Ponting has the support of his board and selectors and retains his job, despite being only the second captain to lose two Ashes series. Australia's cricket ethos rarely allows a captain to remain in the team if he loses his job, so if he was sacked, Ponting would have probably retired. That would have meant losing one of the game's best batsmen still.

In the dilemma, the Australian administrators hope, also lies the redemption.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Team Amdavad may star in IPL-4

The fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) that is to be held in 2011 may see a team from Ahmedabad playing in the series. Two new teams are to be added for the 2011 edition and, according to IPL vice-president Niranjan Shah, Ahmedabad is the favourite for the ninth team. Currently, IPL matches are played by only eight teams.

Shah, who is also a senior official of the IPL governing council, said that the ninth team to be inducted for the IPL series will be an Ahmedabad team.

"The last time the auctions were held, Ahmedabad had lost to Jaipur very narrowly," Shah said. "But this time, that is not going to happen as the IPL's success has encouraged many Gujarati businessmen to consider bidding for the ninth franchise."

Ahmedabad was unlucky when the IPL franchises were auctioned in 2008. It finished just behind Jaipur which was picked up by Emerging Media at $67m. Ahmedabad was ninth in the auction where eight teams were selected for the first three editions of the IPL.

The Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium at Motera can accommodate more than 50,000 people and it has ultramodern facilities, ranging from floodlights and a gym, to indoor wickets and a turf wicket.

Giving full marks to the Motera stadium, the Rajkot-based IPL official said, "Infrastructure-wise, Ahmedabad is second to none. The facilities provided here are world-class. Of the grounds on which IPL matches are currently played, not many have the facilities that the Motera stadium offers. So I guess there will be many people bidding for Ahmedabad this time."

When asked for their assessment of Ahmedabad's chances, BCCI sources said Shah is a very effective cricket administrator.

Labels: , ,

Lily Allen's lyrical love of Test cricket is more than just flannel

I'm interested in Lily Allen. Not in her music, I'm afraid, or in most of the other aspects of the life and career that have made her into a sort of national treasure at the age of 24. But if the singer of Smile and The Fear is the shape of cricket supporters to come, then bring on multitudes.

She likes Test cricket, basically. She doesn't care for Twenty20, one-day cricket or coloured uniforms. What she likes about the five-day game, she said in a Test Match Special lunchtime interview on Saturday, is the way its slower rhythms form a counterpoint to her own somewhat hectic life.

She likes Flintoff and Onions and Broad and she also thinks the England team should be wearing shirts and flannels and sweaters with a bit more cream in them, rather than the sort of shocking white adopted this season as a result of some marketing man's brainwave ("A bit football" is her verdict on that).

She's interested in the traditions and the arcana, such as the umpires' signals and what the extras are made up of. Honestly, you'd think she was trying to jump the waiting list for MCC membership.

The shock of seeing a Rolling Stone at Lord's subsided many years ago, but Lily Allen is something else again. Although the 2009 Ashes series was compelling enough to flourish quite happily without PR gimmicks, her presence at The Oval, apparently prompted by sheer enthusiasm rather than a pop star's need to promote something, provided an indication that Test cricket's future is not a matter of an inevitable slow fade into the shadow cast by the Indian Premier League.

As a product of the digital age, she might not be expected to treasure cricket for its infinite range of nuances, such as the way that umpires need to be able to hear the sounds of ball on wood or pad in order to make their judgements. But that's exactly what she told Jonathan Agnew. "I like the beauty of the game," she added, "the whites against the green, the pace of it, and the fact that you're allowed to drink in the stand, which you can't do at football."

It probably helps that she has childhood memories of being dragged along to watch her father playing in pub teams. "The boys played and the girls made sandwiches," she remembered. Even if she showed no interest in the game at the time, something of its qualities may have permeated a deeper layer of consciousness, to be awakened a little later in life.

She tweeted about the Ashes to her million-plus followers ("More than Bumble," she told Agnew with a giggle). Here's one: "Broad is a genius. And he doesn't have a beer gut." And another: "Collingwood is dull. He'll probably still be batting when I'm back here at The Oval on Saturday, having scored no runs." She'll be on the selection panel by Christmas.

In a time of economic recession, the news for cricket is encouraging, from the confirmation that a team is more likely to win when led by a man who is good at captaincy to the England women's inspiring victory in this year's World Cup, and from the literary success of Joseph O'Neill's Netherland, set among cricketers in New York, to rising participation figures exemplified by the discovery last week that my old village club, which struggled 30 years ago to put out three teams on a Saturday and one on a Sunday, now has five flourishing age-group sides playing in leagues from under-nine to under-17, drawn from a colts division more than 70 strong.

And by showing that victory over the old enemy can be achieved amid a slightly less frenetic atmosphere than the one surrounding the series four years ago, the 2009 Ashes reaffirmed not cricket's place in the national life but its idiosyncratic role as a force for good. Lily Allen, watching all that and identifying the good bits, is on to something.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lightning Bolt strikes 200m gold in record time

Usain Bolt set a World record of 19.19 seconds on Thursday to add the World championship title in the 200 metres to his gold in the 100m.

Exactly one year after taking gold at the Beijing Games with a record of 19.30, Bolt had an even greater run. Like the record in the 100m on Sunday, he shaved .11 seconds off his previous mark.

Alonso Edward of Panama was second, a massive .62 seconds behind. Wallace Spearmon of the United States took bronze.

“I never expected a World record tonight,” said Bolt. “I was really tired but I told myself I had to just try and do my best - now I am tired. I was too upright. It wasn’t a good race, but it was a fast one.”

Labels: ,

Dravid must make his return relevant

Considering last week's events, diehard romantics of Indian cricket might be excused in believing that they were watching a rerun of an old blockbuster instead of a new film for a new season.

Sourav Ganguly and John Wright, it is being widely speculated, will team up again as captain and coach -- albeit for Kolkata Knight Riders -- and Rahul Dravid finds himself back in the one-day squad.

Of these, Dravid's return is obviously the more significant, but in some ways also the moresurprising. For almost two years, the formerIndia captain has not even been within miles of being in the one-day team; just when he would have decided to consign the blue uniform to the attic, Messrs Srikkanth & Co have asked him to revise his calling card.

From every available indication, Dravid's return is not based on compassion. There has been undisguised concern within the administration (and which has also spilled over to fans) over Team India's recent results: a quick exit from the World T20 and a huff 'n' puff victory over the West Indies. This could have compelled the selectors to plump for experience to steady the boat.

Hacking youngsters in favour of a senior statesman when the stated policy had been to build a young side for the next World Cup is contentious (some might argue retrograde), but the precious Rohit Sharma has sadly muffed up far too many opportunities to retain the faith of even his supporters.

It is no secret that MS Dhoni has not been enamoured of Dravid being in the limited overs sides, but the past three months have not been particularly kind to him as captain. Several young batsmen have proved inconsistent or technically inept and with Viru Sehwag still injured, he might be fortunate that someone with vast experience is still around.

Indeed, Dravid's fantastic ODI record could provide relief to Dhoni. With 10,585 runs to his name (the third highest aggregate by any Indian) and an average just short of 40, he has been a class act. However his strike rate is a none-too-daunting 71.22, and while this includes scores of matches where he played the pivot to the strokeplayers, Dravid has to improve this rate substantially to make his return relevant.
Like all lovers of Test cricket, I have been delighted by the Ashes contest which reaches its climax this week. What has intrigued me, however, is the hostile reception Ricky Ponting has received from the crowds at most grounds.

There must be something about the Australian captain's personality (it can't be his batting surely) which people other than just Harbhajan Singh and Sunil Gavaskar also find irksome. Among post-War Australian captains the English have loved to hate, Ponting now stands alongside Ian Chappell.

In the all-time list of most disliked captain from either side in an Ashes contest, however, Douglas Jardine remains unmatched.

The story goes that during the controversial 1932-33 series, the England captain was waving flies away from his face on a hot, humid day when a voice boomed across the stadium, "Hey Jardine, let them be, they are your only friends in Australia." Ponting, all said and done, has more.

And finally, cricket's big sacrifice has not been in vain. By all accounts, Usain Bolt was a promising fast bowler in his school days in Jamaica, till he was weaned away into athletics.

Would Bolt have been in the same class as, say Mike Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose et al? Perhaps even better, but perish the thought. Who then would have run the 100m in 9.58 sec and redefined the limits of human achievement?

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Usain Bolt clone emerges in Jamaica

Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt may have set the race tracks around the world on fire with his record breaking feats, the latest being three golds at the World Championships in Berlin, Germany, but there is a replica in the making back home.

The Jamaican Amateur Athletics Association (JAAA) has zeroed in on 13-year-old Shawn Salmon, who also hails from Bolt's hometown Trelawny.

According to the Sunday Express, Samon possesses the same steely determination and muscular build that top sprinters need.

But the comparison doesn't stop there. He also holds the 100 metres record at Bolt's old school, Waldensia All-age in Trelawny, and he is in the sprint team at William Knibb Memorial High School, where Bolt was also a pupil, under the watchful eye of his old coach Dwayne Jarrett.

Like his hero, Shawn also competes in both the 100 metres and 200 metres events.
"Shawn has got great potential and there are a lot of similarities to Usain when he was his age," said a member of staff at William Knibb.

Shawn admitted he hopes to emulate his hero one day. "He is my idol and I want to be just like him when I grow up," he said.

"I believe if I train hard, one day I will be able to run at the Olympic Games," he added.
The high school has a great track record in athletic success. Apart from Bolt, Olympic sprinter Michael Green is also a former pupil. Such has been Jamaica's success that it is being called the Isle of Might.

Labels: , ,

Phelps is one of the most amazing athletes I have seen: Stephanie Rice

Since her three-gold feat at the Beijing Olympics, Stephanie Rice has been regarded as one of the best women swimmers ever. However, herglamour quotient has made the 21-year-old a popular name on the fashioncircuits as well.

Phelps is one of the most amazing athletes I have seen: Stephanie Rice

Labels: , ,

'I really think Ali feared me', says 'Smoking' Joe Frazier

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier, who is famous for his trilogy of Heavyweight Championship fights with Muhammad Ali, has said that he still retains a disdain for the treatment he received from Ali.

Frazier, who for a decade had impaired vision in his left eye, could not see after Ali punched his right eye closed.

The history between the pair, which is featured in a DVD released this week, demonstrates the depth of the feud, highlighted by Ali's verbal assaults on race and religious grounds.

"Ali was nervous and he taunted me, saying I was ugly and all sorts of things. But, I think that was his way of building himself up, by running off at the mouth," The Herald Sun quotes Frazier, as saying.

"He had a lot of respect for me. And, I think he feared I could beat him. So, he used his tongue before the fights to try to upset me and to get his own adrenaline going. I really think he feared me," he added.

Despite protests, Frazier's corner threw in the towel before the 15th round, which meant that Frazier had lost the rematch. Frazier was never again the force he used to be and accepts his place in history, aware that a few seconds between rounds 14 and 15 in Manila could have changed the world's perception of his talents.

"You have corners and trainers and managers who care. I had impaired vision in my left eye and I was struggling to see out of the other. I didn't hold anything against anybody for the fight being stopped," Frazier said.

"I would have been in real trouble if both my eyes closed. But, to learn Ali was ready to quit at the same time my corner called an end to the fight was a bit disappointing. He ended up in more physical strife than me, but he got the verdict and all the accolades that go with winners," he added.

The 65-year-old further said that all that happened in "The Thrilla in Manilla" fight is history now and everyone must move on.

"I am at peace with the world. I could never understand why he went on at the mouth about so many things. I've always believed it doesn't matter what colour your skin is. I couldn't figure out what he was on about. I can only hope he asks the Lord for forgiveness for the wrongs he did me," Frazier said.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Big East, Champs Sports Bowl agree

he Big East announced a four-year agreement Tuesday that will give the Champs Sports Bowl the choice of any conference team not headed to a Bowl Championship Series game.

But under the deal, the conference runner-up may have to step aside in favor of Notre Dame once during those four years.

The Big East's No. 2 had gone to the Gator or Sun Bowls under an arrangement that also involved Notre Dame as well as the Big 12. That agreement ends after this season.

The new deal allows the Champs Sports Bowl to pick Notre Dame over a Big East team once, if the Fighting Irish's record is at least 7-5 and within two wins of the Big East's No. 2 school, said Steve Hogan, the chief executive of Florida Citrus Sports, which runs the bowl.

That means a 9-3 Big East team could lose its spot in the bowl to a 7-5 Notre Dame squad.

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto defended the arrangement as good for both the conference and Notre Dame, which is a Big East member in other sports.

"We provide them with the opportunity to get to a bowl like the Champs Sports Bowl and they provide us with the opportunity to upgrade to a bowl like the Champs Sports Bowl," he said.

Hogan said the bowl did not require that the Big East include Notre Dame in the deal.

"You could fairly say that a Big East deal would have been done if Notre Dame wasn't part of the package, but the fact that they are makes it that much more attractive," he said

Notre Dame has been part of the Big East bowl package since 1998, when it became clear that all the bowls were making conference tie-ins, said John Heisler, Notre Dame's senior associate athletic director. The Irish have taken the Gator Bowl spot just twice since then, he said.

"As this evolved, for us it was a BCS-or-bust type situation," he said. "So this kind of became something that seemed to make sense based on our relationship with the Big East, and it's now been added to by some scheduling opportunities between us and Big East schools."

The Big East champion goes to a BCS Bowl. The runner-up this season will head to the Gator Bowl. The league also has tie-ins this season to the Meineke Bowl, International Bowl, Bowl and St. Petersburg Bowl.

The league has not announced any other deals for next season, but Marinatto said talks with the Sun Bowl and others are ongoing, and he expects more announcements soon.

The Champs Sports Bowl will be played either Dec. 27, 28 or 29, 2010, and will pay each participant about $2.5 million.

Hogan said the Big East's opponent has not been determined, but the bowl remains in talks with the ACC, which had previously played a Big 10 opponent in the game.

"We remain in discussions on that side of the ball, along with several other conferences," he said. "I'm hopeful that we can close out that side of our game in the next week to 10 days."

Labels: ,

No respite for Andrew Flintoff

One of the enduring images which accompanied England's 2005 Ashes triumph was of Andrew Flintoff's (in AFP photo) heroic bender. Should the team somehow repeat the feat at the Oval in the coming days, it is unlikely that their all-rounder will be able to do likewise.
Rather than drinking for England, and indeed the Rest of the World, to celebrate as he did four years ago, Flintoff will have to board a plane for Belfast.

In another outstanding example of bizarre scheduling, England have agreed to play a One-Day International against Ireland only three days after the decisive fifth Test which also marks the end of Flintoff's Test career.

Flintoff was yesterday named in the squad for the game ~ together with six other members of the squad for the Ashes match ~ and for all England's other imminent limited overs assignments.
It is a sure indication that the selectors have taken him at his word: that although he is finishing with Tests, he intends to become the best one-day cricketer in the world.
By picking Flintoff, despite his dodgy knee, for Ireland, for the two Twenty20 matches and the seven ODIs against Australia which follow and for the Champions Trophy against South Africa, the selectors are giving him every opportunity.

"I hope there is no wishful thinking," said Mr Geoff Miller, national selector. "He is retiring from Test cricket so his focus is going to be on one-day cricket and we're hoping he will play as many as possible because that's what he has designated himself for.
"We're trying to build a squad and a side so that people are comfortable about where they play.
“We know what Andrew is capable of and he knows what he's capable of. If we have to monitor Andrew day by day we will do that. But at the moment he's in our squad and an integral part of our side."

England picked one debutant in the squads, Joe Denly of Kent. Denly has been on the selectors' radar for some time as a regular part of England Lions teams and has the additional benefits of being only 23 and having learned his cricket in England.
"He's an exciting prospect," said Mr Miller.
"We have monitored him very regularly and he's played extremely well not just in one-day cricket but in four-day cricket as well. It will be very interesting to see how he reacts.
"He's a very strong character, very effervescent and how he plays is how you see him as a character."

There is no place in the one-day squad for Kevin Pietersen, who is recovering from Achilles surgery.
The selectors hope he will be fit for England's full tour of South Africa starting in November.
Ian Bell has been dropped, which is slightly surprising since he has been entrusted with the number three spot in the nerve-jangling Ashes match.
It lent a hollow ring to Miller's words of support.
"We don't have a concern about Ian Bell," he said. "We don't pick players if we have a concern. We're confident they can do a job for us."
Good enough for the Ashes, but not for a few one-dayers.

Labels: , ,

West Windies leave out stars

The West Indies will be without their leading players for the Champions Trophy in South Africa next month.

The West Indies Cricket Board yesterday again left out the players who had chosen to strike during the Test, one-day and Twenty20 series against Bangladesh in July in the Caribbean. Former skipper Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo and Jerome Taylor are the main stars absent.

The side will again be led by 37-year-old Floyd Reifer and include two uncapped players in all-rounder Royston Crandon and wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton.
Walton, a Jamaican who represents the Combined Colleges & Campuses, appeared in both Tests against Bangladesh but did not appear in the limited overs matches. Crandon (26) is a hard-hitting right-hander and off-spinner from Guyana.

The West Indies have also recalled fast bowlers Tino Best and Daren Powell.
Best, who played in the Tests against Bangladesh, has not appeared in one-dayers since May 2006. Powell, who declared his unavailability for the Bangladesh series, returns for the first time since March against England in the Caribbean.

Squad: Floyd Reifer (captain), Darren Sammy (vice-captain), David Bernard Jr, Tino Best, Royston Crandon, Travis Dowlin, Andre Fletcher, Nikita Miller, Daren Powell, Kieran Powell, Dale Richards, Kemar Roach, Devon Smith, Gavin Tonge, Chadwick Walton.

Labels: ,

India looking for hat trick

Aiming for a title hat trick under coach Mr Bob Houghton but hampered by lack of international match exposure, defending champion India will bid for a second consecutive Nehru Cup, taking on Lebanon in a tricky opener of the five-nation tournament on Wednesday.
Under Mr Houghton, India won the 2007 edition of the Nehru Cup before clinching the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup at home, which gave the country a berth in the elite AFC Asian Cup, to be held in Doha in January 2011, after 24 years.
The Nehru Cup will give Houghton a chance to test his boys how they measure up to at least two quality sides ~ Syria and Lebanon ~ who are now vying for a place in the Asian Cup.
Bhaichung Bhutia's side are a confident lot after a seven-week training tour of Dubai and Barcelona.

They played friendly games against Spanish third division sides in their month-long sojourn in Barcelona where they used top class facilities at Nou Camp. The sore point though would be the lack of international fixtures. The Indians played their last such match in January though Houghton claimed that the Spanish third division sides "were of our level". Houghton himself picked last edition runners-up Syria as the favourites to win the tournament at the Ambedkar Stadium, considering that the West Asians are inside top 100 in Fifa rankings at 95th and have beaten sides like China besides drawing Korea this year.

Sunil Chhetri's injury will give Sushil Kumar and tall Mumbai forward Abhishek Yadav the chance to be in the playing XI more often along with captain Bhaichung Bhutia upfront as has been done in the friendly games in Barcelona. East Bengal captain Syed Rahim Nabi has also been tried by Houghton as a striker in Spain.

With the 2011 Asian Cup in mind, Houghton has also indicated that he may start with younger legs in deep defence and in that case taller players Gouramangi Singh and Anwar may be seen in action. In the midfield also, Houghton is likely to field the younger Anthony Pereira at left wing more often than senior player Renedy Singh who has had minor injuries in recent times. In fact, Renedy was tried at the right wing position in four friendly games in Barcelona as Steven Dias' substitute. With the absence of Chhetri, talismanic captain Bhutia will have to find more goals for India besides trying to once again inspire his side to title victory.

The Sikkimese said his ongoing tussle with Mohun Bagan on his suspension issue has distracted him in the preparations of this tournament. But having said that he will have to put his distractions aside and try to motivate his teammates in front of the home crowd in a country virtually starved of international football matches. More than 20,000 people came to the Ambedkar Stadium in the final against Syria on August 29, 2007 to cheer the home team, which won 1-0.
Exuberant fans celebrated wildly and Bhaichung and Co. would want to see similar scenes here again on 31 August.

Labels: , , , ,

Secret Whispers for Independence Cup

The Independence Cup is the feature in a six race card framed for tomorrow. Nine runners are in the fray for this 1,400m contest for horses in Class III.With visiting jockeys B Prakash, Neeraj Rawal and S John riding in the race, the contest will be fierce.
Secret Whispers is in a winning streak and his connections apparently targetted this richly endowed race as his opening attempt this season.
Keeping nothing to chance, in form jockey S John is summoned from the South. He is expected to guide Secret Whispers to victory in a three cornered contest involving Arctic Force and Fabulous Emperor.
Selections: 1.45 p.m.: PRINCE OF GOLD 1, Shanghai Girl 2, Chitrita 3. 2.20 p.m.: MYSTERIO 1, Flying Jaguar 2, Bossy Boss 2. 2.55 p.m.: MASTER MARVEL 1, Promissory 2, Brave Italiano 3. 3.25 p.m.: BOLD REPLY 1, Succeeding Star 2, Right Again 3. 4.00 p.m.: SECRET WHISPERS 1, Arctic Force 2, Fabulous Emperor 3. 4.35 p.m.: CARLITO 1, Grace N Grit 2, Adriana 3. Day's best: Master Marvel.

Labels: ,

Ex-South Africa captain Shaun Pollock believes one-day international cricket is still the best limited-overs form of the game.

Looking ahead to next month's ICC Champions Trophy to be played at The Wanderers and Centurion, Pollock said: "Having played a lot (of 50-over cricket), maybe I'm a bit more of a sucker when it comes to appreciating the game.

"The fast 20-over game has caught the imagination of many but if you get off to a bad start then you can cost yourself the game.

"There is a lot of skill involved in the 50-over game and it's over a much longer period, so that allows teams to have a bit of a mishap and recover from it and you've got time to implement tactics.

"I think ODIs are still the best format of limited-overs cricket, especially with regard to making sure the best team comes out on top," he said.

Pollock knows all about that. He was part of the South Africa squad that came out on top in the first staging of the ICC Champions Trophy, when it was known as the ICC Knock-Out, in Bangladesh in 1998.

The tournament has had several facelifts since then but now, with just the top eight-ranked international sides involved in a short, sharp contest of 15 matches in two weeks starting on 22 September, Pollock believes it is set up perfectly for a great spectacle.

"A lot of sports have gone that way (involving just those sides at the top end of the rankings)," he said. "Tennis and golf are just two that have done it.

"It's always good when you've got the best teams competing against each other and that's exactly what you'll have here.

"All those teams will be based in one place, it will all take place around Johannesburg and so it will be easy to go and view and it will give you some fantastic cricket.

"It's a great format, I'm glad the tournament's come here and I'm glad they're continuing with the (ICC Champions) Trophy," he added.

Pollock is also excited by the added touches at this year's event, including a total of four million USD prize money, match of the match prizes of a watch worth 8,500 USD, a special Champions Trophy jacket for each member of the winning team and value-for-money ticket prices starting from just ZAR35 with the highest price for a ticket to the final only ZAR 140.

"It's good for the game. There need to be incentives for the players and spectators and for everyone involved so that all forms of the game are looked after from Test matches, to the 50-over game to the 20-over game. The better we market them, the better we make everyone with regard to their mindset to play in them (and) then it's obviously going to be a better spectacle and that's what you want," Pollock said. (ANI)

Labels: , ,

Tried to be what I wasn't: Rohit

Rohit Sharma must have sensed it. After Rahul Dravid's name was announced in the list of probables for the Champions Trophy, everyone expected the out-of-form Sharma to make way for the former skipper in the ODI squad. And on the eve of the selection committee meeting, the 22-year-old was aware that the first blip of his young career might just be round the corner.

Now that he has been dropped from the squad, Sharma, who is in Chennai with the Mumbai team to play the Buchi Babu tournament, looks back at his 41-ODI-old career, in which he's managed just 695 runs at an average of 24.82. "Whatever I have done so far, I'm happy with it," he told The Indian Express over the phone. "But I think, I could have done better in One-dayers."

He cannot blame the selectors for not giving him enough opportunities as they persisted with him despite his poor run with the bat. Sharma, however, failed to fulfill the promise he showed in Australia in 2007-08, when he had scored two half-centuries.

After a decent show in the World T20 initially, Sharma, who opened the innings in Virender Sehwag's absence, failed to fire in the crunch matches. His poor run continued in the West Indies where he aggregated just 15 runs in three games. "I think I tried to be what I wasn't. I was too keen to score runs quickly but I'm learning from my mistakes," Sharma admitted.

Having realised what went wrong, Sharma now wants to rectify that and look ahead. "I never think of selection when I go out to bat. I never think about it too much. It's better to concentrate on things that are in your hands. My job is to bat and score runs," he said. "And that is the only thing on my mind right now."

Labels: ,

Buzz Up Ashes: KP says it's time for a hero

Injured England batsman Kevin Pietersen has said that with the fifth and final Ashes Test taking place next week, it is time for somebody to stand up and be counted.

In an article for News of The World, KP says: "It's time for a hero. This has to be a week when every single England player looks in the mirror and asks: Do I want to be hero? Because it's there for the taking, the chance to be the nation's saviour."

KP further asks: "What could be more important than the match which will decide the Ashes? And what better opportunity for somebody to become England's hero?

"The players selected this morning have an opportunity to emulate Freddie and to carve their names in history as the men who fought back against the odds and delivered when the country demanded it the most. To me, that would be the most exciting thing in the world," says KP. It won't matter how many Test centuries you've scored or how many five-fers you've taken, the only thing that counts is what you do in the final Test when the Ashes depend on it," he says.

He also says that this is a time for calm assessment and not for distractions.

"So, my advice to the boys is to switch off the TV and the radio, concentrate on what they've got to do against the Aussies and focus on nothing else . . . because nothing else matters," he says.

He said that he would be visiting the dressing room on Thursday morning for a an hour or so "to see if the lads are smiling and to let them abuse me for a while. I won't be telling them what to do or how to do it because that's not my job."

Labels: , ,

Buzz Up Players fresh after long break: Kirsten

Although India won the ODI series in the Caribbean 2-1, it was a bunch of exhausted players that coach Gary Kirsten was dealing with at the end of the season. But after all 16 players, who had toured the West Indies in June, underwent their fitness assessments in Delhi and Mumbai over the last two days, the South African said they were a refreshed lot after a month-and-a-half-long break.

And though he will also get to assess Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid over the next few days, Kirsten will have to wait before he gets a proper look at Virender Sehwag, who is out with a shoulder injury.

"Sehwag is undergoing rehabilitation at the moment. I think things are looking really good there," said Kirsten. He also said that Sehwag's fitness would be assessed in a few days time at the NCA. "We are very happy with his progress and hopefully have him ready soon."

While the former South African opener spent Monday at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium with the likes of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and RP Singh, in Mumbai the indoor academy at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai was his ground zero. The coach said he was satisfied with the present fitness levels of the eight players - Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan, S Badrinath, Dinesh Karthik, Pragyan Ojha and Abhishek Nayar - who participated in the session.

"It's been two good days. The purpose of it was to meet with up the guys while they got some time off, so we made a decision way back in the West Indies to get together. That's one area we feel that we can work on as a team. We wanted to do a series of assessments and obviously this was the first one," said Kirsten.

Good response

"The guys responded really well. In fact, they are pretty much in good condition or in a condition that we would like them to be at this stage. Obviously there are improvements to be made and we understand that, but we are very happy with the way it went," he added.

Kirsten said though there were a few injuries that surfaced after the West Indies tour, most of the players had recovered. "There were a fair amount of niggles after we left the West Indies. Everybody has recovered pretty well. I spoke to Nitin today and apart from the ones that we know everyone is in a pretty good condition," he said.

Kirsten also informed that Tendulkar, who was expected to show up at the BKC on Tuesday, would be undergoing his fitness assessments soon. "We have brought the squad that was in the West Indies. Sachin was also to be part of that but he is unavailable today. We really could not get everyone available at such short time but he will be doing his tests in the next day or two," he said.

Labels: , , ,

Buzz Up Sri Lanka 293-3 at close vs. New Zealand

Mahela Jayawardene scored an unbeaten century to put Sri Lanka on top as the hosts reached 293-3 at the close on the opening day of the first test against New Zealand on Tuesday.

Walking to bat with his team looking vulnerable on 16-2, Jayawardene first played a supporting role as a flamboyant Tillakaratne Dilshan went on the offensive, and later took over the lead as he guided Sri Lanka to a dominant position.

Dilshan was bowled by seamer Iain O'Brien for 92 after lunch in sight of his ninth test hundred, hitting 12 fours and a six in 72 balls as he opened for the first time in test cricket instead of the out-of-form Malinda Warnapura.

The dismissal signaled the end of a valuable 118-run stand.

"I am really disappointed to get out at 92," Dilshan told reporters, but he said he had relished the opportunity to open the batting.

"It's much easier, there is no pressure," Dilshan said. "Now I can play my own game. I feel much more comfortable batting at the top-order."

Dilshan said he was under pressure after Sri Lanka lost quick wickets but his aggression put the pressure back on the Kiwis. He said the hosts were now looking to post a first innings score of at least 450.

Jayawardene paired with Thilan Samaraweera in the best partnership of the day, an unbroken 159 runs for the fourth wicket.

Jayawardene's 108 not out was his 26th test hundred that came off 217 balls in nearly five hours at the crease.

Seam bowler Chris Martin returned the best bowling figures for the Kiwis, taking 2-59.

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori won the toss in the morning and sent Sri Lanka in to bat, hoping to generate some swing from a Galle pitch softened by heavy rains in the past few days.

The match started 90 minutes late due to a wet outfield caused by overnight rain.

Martin responded well to his captain's plan, striking on his third delivery of the innings with the hosts yet to score, to have Tharanga Paranavitana caught behind.

Kumar Sangakkara made just 8 before he was caught by Daniel Flynn at mid-wicket off Martin as the hosts stumbled to a precarious 16-2.

Martin said the pitch assisted the seam bowlers for a shorter period than expected and credited the Sri Lankan batsmen for their discipline.

Sri Lanka recalled spinner Ajantha Mendis for the match at the expense of left-arm bowler Rangana Herath, despite his match-winning performances in the last series against Pakistan.

Offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan and regular wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardena also returned to the side after injury layoffs.

Labels: , , ,