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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Roger Federer reclaims year-end No. 1 ranking

Roger Federer has reclaimed his spot at the top of the tennis world, securing the year-end No. 1 ranking for the fifth time.

The record 15-time Grand Slam champion is closing in on Pete Sampras' all-time mark of six.
"It means a lot to have returned to No. 1 and to finish the year again at No. 1," Federer said Wednesday after accepting a trophy on court at the ATP World Tour Finals. "It was an incredible year for me both on the court and off the court and to be able to break the all-time Grand Slam record and finish the year on top is amazing."

Federer earned the top year-end ranking after winning his opening two matches at the season-ending tour finals at the O2 Arena. Rafael Nadal, who ended Federer's five-year run as the end-of-season No. 1 last year, had a mathematical chance of overtaking Federer for the top spot but lost his opening match.

Federer struggled in the 2008 season, but reached all four Grand Slams finals yet again in 2009 and won two titles. The first championship came at the French Open, making the Swiss player only the sixth man to complete a career Grand Slam.

At the All England Club, he reclaimed the Wimbledon title by defeating Andy Roddick 16-14 in the fifth set and surpassing Sampras with his 15th major title.

"After having a rough 2008, coming back this year and being able to dominate and play at the top when the depth in tennis is so, so great at the moment, I think it's a wonderful achievement," Federer said after beating Andy Murray on Tuesday. "It's a wonderful feeling."

Up next for Federer, who got married and had twin daughters this year, is trying to match Sampras with a sixth year-end No. 1 ranking. He's tied with Jimmy Connors with five apiece.
But this year's achievement was also special because Federer became only the second player to reclaim the distinction after losing it. Ivan Lendl, who was No. 1 from 1985-87, did it in 1989.
At the ATP World Tour Finals, Federer has twice rallied after losing the first set, first beating Fernando Verdasco on Sunday and Murray on Tuesday. He will face Juan Martin del Potro on Thursday to guarantee a spot in the semifinals of the season-ending tournament.

Del Potro, who is 1-1 in the round-robin tournament, beat Federer in five sets in the U.S. Open final.

"It could be a make-or-break match for us to get through," Federer said. "If that's the case, I'll give it all I have and try to beat him this time. Last time we played, it was a fantastic match in New York."

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Nadal Ensnared in Tennis' Silly Season

Rafael Nadal is weak. His mind is mush. He can't run. What else can we conclude from his performance at the ATP Tour finals?

In three matches, he didn't win a set. Maybe he's finished as a dominant player?

Well, there is one other possibility. The tournament was a disaster.

Great, new sold-out indoor facility. Great to have just the select top players together. But the tournament was not a gathering of the best as much as a sign of a serious problem on tour, one that is costing Nadal.

That's what I'm going with. But the truth is, there are plenty of questions about Nadal, too. It's shocking when a guy known as a warrior says that in decisive moments, he didn't have the "necessary calm.''

But whatever the reason, this tournament was billed as the decider in the great Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal debate. Which will be No. 1 for 2009? Yet we ended up nowhere near a Federer-Nadal final.

We never do. Since their classic Wimbledon final in July of 2008, they have played each other just twice. The sport had a breakthrough moment with that final. And tennis has some momentum, as a recent survey shows. But in trying to milk that momentum, the tour has made demands with a schedule that endangers its best players, its best rivalry.

"Finish(ed) battery,'' Nadal said. "I need to charge a lot.''

This time last year, Nadal owned Federer and was tennis' dominant force, storming the court on every match. Now, he has lost four matches in a row. Storming the court? He isn't even a spring shower anymore.

"Not very disappointing, no,'' he said. "It's disappointing if you arrive here with the feeling that you have a big chance to win. But I didn't arrive here with that feeling ...

"The goal (for next year) is try to play hard and arrive generally in perfect condition. Have the feeling that when you are playing a point, you're not going to have a mistake.''

Nadal looks dangerously spent. The question is whether it's temporary.

You can say it's the result of his excessive work ethic or his throw-everything-into-every-shot style. Those are real issues.

But it's not just him. Andy Roddick didn't come to the tournament because his knee hurts. Federer, who did finish the year No. 1, lost his last two matches, couldn't find the court with his forehand and ran out of steam against Juan Martin del Potro. No. 3 Novak Djokovic was cranky all week, mentally worn out.

In the final Sunday, Del Potro looked like he could he barely find the energy to say "Uncle,'' against Nikolay Davydenko, who won 6-3, 6-4.

Davydenko is the last man standing on the ATP Tour. A short, skinny guy, winning because of his ability to stay consistent and because the top players were unable to find the patience or muscle to put him away.

The tour schedule is far too long and unrelenting. It is an 11-month season.

"I don't think it's coincidental that you see (Andy) Murray and Roger a little bit hurt now, or Rafa missing four months in the middle of the year, or maybe some odd results from del Potro and myself last week,''

Roddick seemed to agree in October, when he called the tour schedule, "ridiculous.''

"I just hope that the short-sightedness doesn't affect the length of players' careers. In tennis you definitely want your stars around as long as possible."

After years in dormancy, tennis has something going here. A survey showed that 30 million Americans played in 2009, up 12 percent from last year and more than 40 percent from 2004.

On top of that, there's a great rivalry to push, and, also, suddenly an American, Roddick, who is resurgent. So it has to be tempting to keep pushing for more.

But it's on the game's governing bodies to put the players in position to be on the court at their best, not their most vulnerable.

Nadal missed time this year with tendinitis in his knees, a wear-and-tear injury. Some people are asking whether he's done, at 23.

The truth is, you can't draw conclusions from this tournament. These weren't really the top players, but shells of them. They were on fumes.

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Schumacher hasn't ruled out a Formula One comeback:

German driver Michael Schumacher said he has fully healed from a neck injury and indicated he has not ruled out a return to Formula One next season.

Schumacher, 40, made the comments in Brazil, where he won a two-session charity karting race hosted by former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa.

When asked whether he would be back in F1 in 2010, Schumacher replied: "Who knows?"

Schumacher, a seven-time Formula One champion, said he has recovered from the neck injury that kept him from attempting a temporary comeback with Ferrari earlier this year.

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Italians win by one stroke over Sweden, Ireland : Golf

Francesco and Edoardo Molinari became the first brother combination to win the World Cup of Golf, giving Italy its first title in the team event with a one-stroke victory over Sweden and Ireland in Shenzhen, China.

The Molinaris closed with a 4-under-par 68 in the alternate-shot final round on Mission Hills' Olazabal Course. They finished at 29 under and earned $875,000 each in the tournament that featured two rounds of better ball and two of alternate shot.

Francesco, 27, hit a long greenside bunker shot to 3 feet on the 18th to set up a winning par putt by Edoardo, 28.

Sweden's Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson, the winners last year, shot a 69 to tie for second with Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell (70).

Americans Nick Watney and John Merrick had the best round of the day, a 62 that gave them a seventh-place tie at 20 under.

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Tennis: Russian Nikolay Davydenko wins title in ATP World Tour Finals

Russian defeats del Potro in final: Nikolay Davydenko of Russia won the biggest tournament of his career Sunday, beating U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 to take the title in the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Davydenko, who beat top-ranked Roger Federer of Switzerland in the semifinal round, dominated his service games against del Potro, losing five points on serve in the first set and eight in the second.

"Maybe I had good concentration," said Davydenko, who has reached four Grand Slam tournament semifinals but never made a final. "I was surprised."

Del Potro had three chances to break, but Davydenko saved the point in each case.

"He's very fast," del Potro said. "He plays like PlayStation."

Each player was distracted at least once by a crying baby.

"Maybe he's bored watching our match," del Potro said.

In the doubles final, Americans Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Andy Ram of Israel 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 to win their third season-ending title and earn the year-end No. 1 world ranking for the fifth time.

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Brian Lara says West Indies have not much to fear about Australia

West Indies great Brian Lara says his young prodigy, Adrian Barath, proved to the team's veterans there is not much to fear about the Australia cricket team.
Lara, who retired from cricket in 2007, said it will be difficult for West Indies to bounce back after their embarrassing defeat in the first Test at the Gabba despite Barath showing some chinks in the Australia attack.

The 18-year-old became the youngest West Indies player to score a Test century.

"I think it will be difficult," Lara told reporters when asked if he thought West Indies could recover from the defeat.

"Obviously a defeat within three days, it's going to be hard.

"But, there are some positives.

"The likes of Adrian Barath scoring runs, a debutant, should tell the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan if he is back and Dwayne Bravo that there is not much to be feared in the Australia cricket team."

Lara, 40, was honoured at a ceremony in his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd .

Rudd appointed him an Honorary Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his work with young West Indies and Australian cricketers.

Rudd was in the Caribbean to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

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CEAT Cricket Rating (CCR) Felicitates the Stalwarts of International Cricket

CEAT Cricket Rating (CCR) Felicitates the Stalwarts of International Cricket
E Prasanna Conferred with CEAT International Lifetime Achievement Award

-- CEAT International Team of the Year award - Australia
-- CEAT International Cricketer of the Year - Gautam Gambhir (India)
-- CEAT International Test Batsman of the year - Gautam Gambhir (India)
-- CEAT International ODI Batsman of the Year - Virender Sehwag (India)
-- CEAT International Test Bowler of the year - Mitchell Johnson (Australia)
-- CEAT International ODI Bowler of the year - Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka)
-- CEAT International Spirit of Cricket Award - Thilan Samaraweera (Sri Lanka)
-- CEAT International 300 Wickets Felicitation Award - Harbhajan Singh (India)

Tyre major CEAT Limited celebrated the success and glory of International cricket with ‘CEAT Cricket Rating (CCR) International awards 2009’ at a glittering ceremony here today. The awards honored the best of the International cricketers based on their performances as rated by the CEAT Cricket ratings (CCR) for the year 2008 – 2009.

CEAT Cricket Rating (CCR) is the first cricket rating to officially recognize and reward cricketers for their performances in the international cricket arena. This year CEAT Cricket Rating (CCR) awards touched a new high with awards in 9 different categories.

Mr. Harsh Goenka, Chairman, RPG Group said, ‘The CCR International Award function is a reiteration of the close association CEAT has with cricket and our endeavor to recognize the individual brilliances on the international cricket scene.” He added “In India, where cricket is not just a sport, CCR awards plays a pivotal role in paying tribute to not just the cricketing brilliance but also the millions of cricketing fans as well”.

Australia, India and Sri Lanka dazzled at the event by sweeping away all the CEAT Cricket Rating (CCR) awards between them. The awards honor the best of the International cricketers based on their performances in international cricketing both test and ODI as rated by the CEAT Cricket ratings (CCR) for the year 2008 – 2009.

While Australia won the award of CEAT International Cricket Team – cash prize of Rs 10 Lakh. India’s Gautam Gambhir was the winner of the CEAT International Cricketer and CEAT International Test Batsman awards. India’s Virendra Sehwag was the CEAT International ODI Batsman of the Year. Australia’s and Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis – was conferred with the CEAT International Test Bowler and CEAT International ODI Bowler of the year award respectively.

This year CEAT Introduced the CEAT International Spirit of Cricket Award to celebrate the sportsman spirit shown by the cricketers. The CEAT International Spirit of Cricket Award was conferred on Sri Lanka’s Thilan Samaraweera, India’s Harbhajan Singh was given a special award the CEAT International 300 Wickets Felicitation Award.

It was also a day to honour the stalwarts of the yesteryears who have carved a name for themselves as legends of Cricket. Cricketing legend E. Prasanna was awarded the ‘CCR International Lifetime Achievement Award’ The Lifetime Achievement award recipients have been selected on the basis of the Retro-CEAT cricket ratings, and have taken into consideration the performances of the cricketers since 1947. Mr Prasanna received a cash prize of Rs 5 Lakh from CEAT

CEAT has CCR Rating and Awards for both for domestic and international cricketers. CEAT Cricket Ratings has been a pioneer in identifying and honoring the potential cricketing talent of the country. CEAT has also initiated the Under-19 and T-20 cricketing awards taking another step to emphasize its commitment to cricket.

Speaking on the occasion cricket legend Mr.Sunil Gavaskar said, “CEAT International Cricket Rating Awards is one of the most important events on Cricketing calendar as it recognizes the achievements of the players from grassroots to the international arena“. He also added, “CEAT Cricket Rating is a unique rating in that recognized and rewarded Indian and International cricketers for their outstanding performances at the end of the year. CEAT Cricket Rating thrives to focus on identifying the right talent..The ratings are pretty much accurate as you can see some of the modern greats like Brian Lara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ricky Ponting etc winning the CEAT International Cricketer of the Year in the past.”


CEAT Limited, the flagship company of RPG Enterprises, with an annual turnover of Rs. 2,600 crore, was established in 1958. Today, CEAT is one of India’s leading tyre manufacturers and has a strong presence in both domestic & international markets. The company manufactures over 10 million tyres every year and enjoys a major market share in the light truck & truck tyre market. CEAT tyres, tubes and flaps are renowned for their superior quality and durability. CEAT offers the widest range of tyres to all user segments and manufacture world-class radials for all Indian vehicles including: Heavy-duty Trucks and Buses, Light Commercial Vehicles, Earthmovers, Forklifts, Tractors, Trailers, Cars, Motorcycles and Scooters, Auto-rickshaws.

CEAT has three manufacturing plants - Mumbai (Bhandup), Nasik & Sri Lanka. The company currently exports tyres to nearly 110 countries across USA, Europe, Africa & other parts of Asia. CEAT has a robust network consisting of over 3,500 dealers, 33 regional offices and more that 100 C & F agents. CEAT also has a branded franchisee network ‘CEAT Shoppe’. These Shoppes are retail tyre outlets, providing comprehensive expertise in tyres and tyre services -- all under one roof. The company has a dedicated Customer Service department, comprising Customer Service Managers in all the four divisional offices, assisted by 50 Service Engineers. The board of the company is headed by Mr. R P Goenka, Chairman Emeritus and Mr. Harsh Goenka, Chairman, RPG Enterprises. Mr. Paras K Chowdhary is the Managing Director of CEAT Ltd and Mr. Arnab Banerjee heads the Sales & Marketing division.


The CEAT Cricket Rating was the first rating system in international cricket to recognize and reward outstanding performers in cricket on an annual basis. Conceived in 1995 by CEAT, the CEAT CRICKET RATINGS attempted to answer every cricket-lover’s persistent and perennial query – “Who is the best of the best?”

The CEAT Cricket Rating stands out by virtue of its simplicity. It comprises an objective points system that awards points to cricketers for their batting, bowling and fielding performances. There is a separate CEAT Team Rating (initiated in 1996-97) that assigns points to teams on the basis of their performances in Tests and one-day internationals.

The CEAT Cricket Year commences on 1st May and ends on 30th April of the following calendar year. The cricketer and team that accumulate the highest number of points in their respective categories at the end of this twelve-month period are declared the CEAT Cricket Rating International Cricketer and Team of the Year respectively.

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Cricket-loving Rwanda becomes 54th member of the Commonwealth

Rwanda became the 54th member of the Commonwealth yesterday and the second nation to join that was not once part of the British Empire.

The Commonwealth summit approved Rwanda’s entry at its two-yearly gathering in Trinidad and Tobago. Britain pushed hard for the admission of the former Francophone country.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “Rwanda has made progress towards the Commonwealth’s core values in areas of democratic process, rule of law, good governance, protection of human rights and equality of opportunity.”

After gaining independence in 1962, the French-speaking Rwanda formed close ties with France. But after the 1994 genocide, when France was accused of supporting the Government that was blamed for the deaths of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus, the country turned to Britain and severed diplomatic ties with France.

The current Tutsi-led Government was set up in 1994 with Paul Kagame, the former leader of the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front, as President.

The rebel group was mostly made up of Tutsis, who grew up in English-speaking Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, after their parents had fled earlier pogroms in the country in the 1950s and 1960s.

When these “Tutsi boys” returned to Rwanda with the rebel forces they took not just the English language, now Rwanda’s third official tongue, but also English sports, including cricket — which endeared the country to many Commonwealth nations.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Karthik came, saw and left in a hurry

Wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik came, saw and left in a hurry -- all in the span of 24 hours -- knowing his 23rd Test appearance would take some more time before materialising.

Karthik was plucked out of the Tamil Nadu Ranji team which would take on Himachal Pradesh in Dharamsala tomorrow and flown in as cover for captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had sustained a minor finger injury during the first Test against Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad.

That his injury would not jeopardise his participation in the second Test was evident in the nets yesterday when Dhoni batted with gay abandon, hitting every bowler in sight all over the Green Park.

And once done with batting, Dhoni also sent down some medium pace stuff in the nets, signalling there was nothing to worry about.

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Henry considered quitting international football

Thierry Henry says the outcry over his hand ball in France’s World Cup playoff against Ireland pushed him to the brink of international retirement.

French sports daily L’Equipe quoted the Barcelona striker in an interview as saying he felt abandoned and deeply upset by the virulent criticism he received from former players and politicians.

Henry’s hand ball before passing for defender William Gallas to score helped give France a 1-1 draw with Ireland and a 2-1 win on aggregate, advancing the team to next year’s tournament in South Africa.

“The day after the match and the next day, I felt alone, really alone,” said Henry, adding that he gave serious thought about quitting the French team. “Oh, yes I did. Friday, when everything had gone too far, I was very worked up.”

After receiving criticism from former players such as former Ireland and Marseille striker Tony Cascarino and French Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot, Henry said it was his friends and family who talked him out of retiring from international football.

“Despite everything that happened, the fact I felt abandoned, I will not drop my country,” he said. “I asked myself the question. Without the support of my loved ones, maybe I wouldn’t have thought the same way. Now, I’ve decided - I’ll always fight until the end.

“It’s been very hard, everything started from something that happens in a game and it went too far. I heard some people giving lectures about this, when I said I was sorry, on the pitch and off it.”

Henry received criticism for wildly celebrating Gallas’ goal in front of dejected Irish players.

“I shouldn’t have done that. But honestly, it was uncontrollable ... Yes, I regret that,” he said.

However, Henry dodged the issue of whether he should have immediately told referee Martin Hansson he had handled the ball.

“I was in a no-win situation,” he said, adding that the incident will not overshadow his whole career. “I don’t think that everything I’ve achieved can be tarnished.”

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Argentina book last hockey World Cup berth

Argentina earned the last spot available for next year's Hero Honda FIH Hockey World Cup to be staged here from February 28 to March 13, when they beat Belgium 4-3 in the final of the last qualifying tournament in Quilmes.

The hosts put up an attacking brand of game and rallied from behind to edge past Belgium in the keenly-contested summit clash of BDO Hockey World Cup Qualifier yesterday.

With the victory of the Latin American country, all the 12 participating nations of the megaevent are now confirmed.

Besides host India and Argentina, other countries to have qualified for the World Cup are Canada, Korea, South Africa, Australia, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Pakistan, and New Zealand.

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add add * ICC needs to inject new life in Tests: Shane Warne

Australia spin legend Shane Warne feels Test cricket will soon be history if the ICC and major cricketing boards fail to take proactive steps to promote the five-day game and save it from extinction.

The former leg-spinner said for any player Test cricket would always be the first priority but to save the longer version of the game the ICC needs to take responsibility and inject new life in it.

"Test cricket to me and to a lot of other ex-players and public is a great form of the game, the best. It has to remain the ultimate, we need to promote it, push it and play an attacking style of cricket. It's where you're judged, earn your respect and get to show what makes you tick," Warne wrote in his column in Daily Telegraph.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Sangakkara says India under pressure in upcoming Test series

Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara has said the islanders would be able to upstage India in the upcoming three-match Test series.

Addressing reporters here on Sunday, Sangakkara said India would be under pressure to maintain their home record of not losing a single Test to Sri Lanka in their previous 14 encounters.

"We know that we have not won a Test match here before so, we are here to change things up. But the pressure is probably on India as it was on during the Australian series to keep their home series record intact," said Sangakkara.

Sangakkara said that the Lankan fast bowling attack was experienced, but it may turn out to be an advantage.

"Inexperience again it's sometimes is a good thing because may be the Indian batsmen have not really played our fast bowler before regularly in longer format of the game. That can work for us," said Sangakkara.

He also said Sri Lanka had the option of playing three spinners in Tests because of the presence of a formidable all-rounder like Angelo Mathews.

"It is a great option to have, especially since we have Angelo Mathews who is bowling so well that gives us that flexibility of playing three spinners if we want to. We got him being a frontline fast bowler and batsman it frees that one spot if the wicket shows us that three spinners are a possibility," said Sangakkara.

The Sri Lankan cricket team arrived in Mumbai on Sunday for the upcoming three-match Test series.

The first test starts on November 16 in Ahmedabad.

The next two matches will be played in Nagpur and Mumbai.

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Cricket fraternity praises Tendulkar

India's cricket fraternity today lavished praise on country's batting icon Sachin Tendulkar for becoming the first player in the game's history to cross the 17,000-run mark.

Sachin Tendulkar, who was chasing the milestone from the onset of the series against Australia, achieved the feat when he, requiring seven runs coming into today's match, played an on-drive to fetch three off pacer Ben Hilfenhaus during the fifth one-dayer in Hyderabad.

"It's really a remarkable achievement. He is one of the best cricketers of the world cricket. I have had some good memories with him, having partnering him for years in one-day cricket," said former India skipper Sourav Ganguly. The southpaw also wished the little master for the 2011 World Cup, to be co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"I wish he scores another 2000 runs by 2011 World Cup. Sachin knows best how to accumulate runs. Once he gets going he becomes unstoppable," Ganguly said. Meanwhile, Mumbai batsman Wasim Jaffer hoped that Tendulkar would also achieve 20,000-run mark.

He has achieved several records. I hope that he reached 20,000-run mark. Whatever he has achieved, it is nearly impossible to achieve for anyone else. I just wish that he keeps on going and gets more and more runs for India," Jaffer said.

Sachin Tendulkar reached the new ODI milestone in his 435th match and 66th tie against the World Cup holders. "It's a great achievement. Anyone playing for 21 years is not an easy job, we are proud of him," said India all-rounder Rohit Sharma. "Sachin has played for 20 odd years and I think, it's wonderful task by a man who has achieved so much. I congratulate him," South Africa cricketer Herchelle Gibbs said.

Sachin Tendulkar made a 141-ball 175 in front of the 35,000 strong packed crowd which erupted in joy when Tendulkar reached the magic figure in company of opening partner Virender Sehwag.

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12-year-old makes world record 439 in inter-school match

Twelve-year-old Sarfaraz Khan's wish for a mobile phone worth Rs5,000 is about to be granted by his father Naushad. On Wednesday, the boy made a record in inter-school cricket by smacking a mammoth 439 in the prestigious Harris Shield tournament at the MB Union Cricket Club grounds, Cross Maidan.

Naushad, who bought Sarfaraz a bicycle after the boy's extraordinary performance in the Giles Shield semi-final last year, said he would be happy to gift his son whatever he wants. "He has made me proud and I want to fulfil his wish," he said.

Harris Shield is the tournament in which a certain Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli piled up a world record 664 runs for the third wicket in February 1988, helping their school, Shardashram Vidyamandir, to score 748 for 2 in 122 overs against St Xavier's School at Azad Maidan.

"After breaking my icon Sachin Sir's record I wanted to create a new record by overtaking Sanjeev Jadhav who had made 422 runs [in 1985-86]," the excited Sarfaraz said.

The previous highest score in the 113-year-old tournament was by Ramesh Nagdev (427*, 1963-64). Sanjeev Jadhav, another Shardashram Vidyamandir student, had the second highest score. Other high scorers include Mumbai skipper and Test discard Wasim Jaffer, who made an unbeaten 400 in 1992-93. Tendulkar, with his unbeaten 346, is the 10th highest scorer.

Sarfaraz's innings, which came in 456 minutes, saw his Rizvi Springfield High School gather a mountain of first inning runs -- 750 for 9 -- against the Indian Education Society, Kandivli, who were tottering at 60 for 6 in 53 overs.

Sarfaraz did not waste deliveries, making the huge score off just 421 balls; he hit 12 sixes and 56 boundaries. He resumed his game on Wednesday -- day 2 -- at 235 runs and scored 204 in the first session before ending up caught, at point, just after lunch.

Rizvi Springfield coach Raju Pathak said: "It was Sarfaraz's debut Harris Shield match. Can you believe it? He is an extraordinary talent. I had to drop senior players to accommodate him in the playing XI. He has been doing extraordinarily well in the last few matches."

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2010 World Cup head calls for African Olympics

A successful World Cup in South Africa will increase the pressure on the IOC to bring the Olympics to the continent for the first time, the chief organiser of next year''s soccer showpiece said on Sunday.

Danny Jordaan, chief executive of South Africa''s World Cuporganising committee, said the decision to award the 2016 Olympics to Brazil "opens the way to the African continent in 2020".

Rio de Janeiro became the first South American city to be awarded an Olympics when it won the race to host the 2016 Games last month.

Jordaan, speaking in a Reuters interview, said the selection of Rio de Janeiro left one glaring omission for the International Olympic Committee to address.

"I think that 2020 must be Africa''s turn," Jordaan said. "The fact that the Olympics now has gone to Rio and to South America leaves Africa the only continent since 1896 still waiting."

He said the choice of Rio over Chicago and other cities "indicates also that there is a shift in the thinking of the IOC that developing countries must be considered".

Jordaan added: "So I think that the IOC will be under pressure to seriously consider an African bid and part of that of course is a highly successful 2010 FIFA World Cup that will increase that pressure.

"We understand the importance of a successful World Cup in our country." He said South Africa, the biggest economy in Africa, would have a strong case if it decided to bid for the Olympics because existing infrastructure was a key factor in winning the Games.

South Africa is still dealing with concerns about security, transport and accommodation for the World Cup, which runs from June 11-July 11 next year.

Organisers are expecting 450,000 foreign visitors for the first African World Cup, which is being held in a country with one of the world''s highest rates of violent crime.

Jordaan said that security questions were being taken extremely seriously and he pointed to the lack of major problems associated with recent high profile sporting events in the country, including the Confederations Cup, the British and Irish Lions rugby tour and Indian Premier League cricket.

"We have 9.5 million tourists every year to South Africa -- surely we would not have seen a one million year-on-year growth in tourism if it was not a destination where people can come on vacation and be safe," Jordaan said. "(Security) is a matter that we take very, very seriously."

Jordaan said winning the right to stage the World Cup was an event as important for South Africa as the release of Nelson Mandela from jail and the end of apartheid in 1994.

"When the envelope was opened and it was South Africa, I think it was almost a second liberation for us," Jordaan said. "It was a huge moment of joy."

He said it was crucial for South Africa''s national team -- who have suffered a string of recent defeats -- to do well in the World Cup if all races in the country were to "get connected".

"It is a very important issue," he said.

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Pakistan qualify for 2010 hockey World Cup in India

Pakistan booked a place at next year's World Cup in India by winning a qualifying tournament in France at the weekend.

Former Olympic champions Pakistan beat Japan 3-1 in the final in Lille on Sunday to secure of one of three qualifying slots in the 12-nation tournament, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) said on its website (

The other two places will go to the winner of the second qualifying tournament currently in progress in New Zealand, and the final qualifier starting in Argentina next week.

England, Olympic and world champions Germany, Netherlands and Spain qualified from Europe and join Pan American champions Canada, African champions South Africa, Oceania Cup champions Australia and Asia Cup champions South Korea at the event.

India qualify as hosts of the Feb. 28 to March 13 event in New Delhi.

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College Basketball 2009-10 Preview: Dick Weiss' Top 25

Kansas' offseason was a wild ride, with out-of-control brawls against members of the school's football team, guard Brady Morningstar being arrested and then suspended for a DUI and an ongoing soap opera involving McDonald's All-American freshman forward Xavier Henry, who initially signed with Memphis, was released from his letter when John Calipari left for Kentucky, committed to Kansas, then almost changed his mind before comming to his senses.

But basketball season is here and all of that has been forgotten.

The Jayhawks are a near unanimous preseason No. 1 in almost every poll. They have a proven coach in Bill Self, who won a national championship in 2008, and has five Big 12 titles on his resume. They have a young team, with only two seniors, and Henry on board leading an influx of talent.

All they have to do is put it together on the court.

"Everything is a sense of urgency," Jayhawks senior point guard Sherron Collins said. "We have a bull's-eye on our back and we can't get caught up in the hype. My message is to take everything seriously, don't take anything for granted."

1. Kansas: Junior center Cole Aldrich, a 6-11, 245-pound menace in the paint, and Collins, who might be the best point guard in the country, both could have declared for the NBA draft following the Jayhawks' NCAA Sweet 16 run last spring and been first-round picks. But they stayed, along with three other holdovers from the 2008 national championship team, to try to win another. Self has at least three more future pros - freshman guard Xavier Henry, sophomore forward Marcus Morris and St. Anthony's (N.J.) product Tyshawn Taylor, a sophomore point guard - and they should make the Jayhawks the class of the powerful Big 12 once again.

2. Texas: In almost any other season, the Longhorns would easily be No. 1, but they're not even favored in their conference with Kansas on top. Rick Barnes has built a team with as much versatility and depth as the 2003 Final Four team, if not more. Center Dexter Pittman and power forward Damion James are back for their senior seasons, and Barnes has upgraded his backcourt with the addition of Florida transfer Jai Lucas, impact freshman Avery Bradley and 6-7 freshman swingman Jordan Hamilton.

3. Michigan State: The Spartans saved the Final Four last season in downtrodden Detroit when they defeated UConn and advanced to the championship game before falling to North Carolina. Tom Izzo has guided Michigan State to 12 straight NCAA bids, the 2000 title and four trips to the Final Four this decade. They could return as a new one kicks off. Junior point guard Kalin Lucas, a Mateen Cleaves clone, is the best player in the rugged Big Ten and should combine with Chris Allen, Durrell Summers and Korie Lucious to give Michigan State the best backcourt in the country. The preseason has been injury-plagued in East Lansing, including senior power forward Raymar Morgan, who can't afford to miss much time with an ankle injury as Izzo searches for a physical presence in the paint to replace Goran Suton.

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Sunday Morning QB: Former Jets coach Eric Mangini's a Brown clown in Cleveland

Eric Mangini was fired by Woody Johnson on Dec. 29, one day after the completion of the worst December collapse in Jets history. His paranoid, ultra-secretive, hard-driving style suffocated the organization, and the list started with Johnson and worked its way through the building and into the locker room.

He wasn't out of work long, however. He was hired by the Browns on Jan. 8. What did Mangini learn from his Jets experience? Apparently nothing at all. The fact that he got another head coaching opportunity immediately convinced him that his way was the right way.

Mangini is running the Browns into the ground and he could be fired again the day after the season ends. In 10 months, he has turned the Browns into a complete disaster. They are 1-7. They have scored five offensive touchdowns - one fewer than the Saints have scored on defense. Thankfully, they have a bye Sunday.

Mangini's hand-picked general manager, George Kokinis, was fired last week. Mangini and Kokinis were close friends - they were roommates when they were low-level employees of Bill Belichick in Cleveland 15 years ago, and Kokinis is a member of the board of directors of Mangini's foundation. But indications are that not only weren't they on the same page, a power struggle developed that Kokinis could not win.

Is Mangini the next to go? Browns owner Randy Lerner was asked by the Cleveland Plain Dealer if he saw a scenario where Mangini would not be back in 2010. "No," he said. But what is he supposed to say with eight games to go? Lerner said he wants to bring in a "strong, credible, serious leader within the building to guide decisions in a far more conspicuous, open, transparent way." It's hard to imagine any established NFL executive will take this job and want to keep Mangini.

Mangini would have benefitted by going back to being a coordinator and reinventing himself. Instead, he took a job offering more money with more power. He was fired by the Jets but wound up with a better job, if not a better team.

"He had winning seasons two of three years with the Jets, got a new job in 10 minutes and tripled his salary," one NFL source said. "That made him become more entrenched in his views."

It obviously convinced Mangini that he was a victim in New York. He is reportedly making $3.9 million a year in his four-year Browns deal. That's about double what the Jets were paying him. Getting another job so quickly validated in his mind that he was right and the Jets were wrong.

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Mike Lupica After World Series victory, New York Yankees will now deal with 'budget' concerns

For any other team, even a team like the 2009 Yankees that finished 101-48 after A-Rod returned, you would say now comes the hard part, deciding which players they should keep and which they should let go. But these are the Yankees, who have a $100 million payroll with just four star players Jeter, A-Rod, Sabathia, Teixeira that most teams in baseball can't match with their entire rosters.

Everything came together with this team, a great New York Yankee team, the way it usually does with teams that win it all in sports, that have a dream run like this. But this team is the one that was able to commit $425 million in long-term contracts to three players last winter: Sabathia, Teixeira, Burnett.

The Yankees did this one year after committing around $400 million on three players: A-Rod, Mo Rivera, Jorge Posada.

Nick Swisher is a nice player, gave the Yankees more offense - and more right field - than anybody thought he would. Phil Hughes and Phil Coke and David Robertson finally gave the Yankees youth and real arms in the bullpen ahead of Rivera. Melky Cabrera is a nice player in center.

All of them helped make the Yankees the best team in baseball again, and Brian Cashman deserves the credit he is getting for getting the mix right, finally.

And yet: Cashman knows and baseball knows that it doesn't happen unless you start with Sabathia and Burnett and Teixeira. It doesn't happen if after spending a quarter of a billion on the two starters he had to have - and Sabathia probably could have gotten $200 million if he'd held out a few days, that's how badly Cashman had to have him - Hal Steinbrenner didn't find another $180 million under the bed for Teixeira.

The Yankees do have hard decisions to make on Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. We will start to hear about how they have a "budget," really they do, and that maybe 2010 is the year when they get under the magic number of $200 million. It is just cosmetic, and they will still be miles ahead of the field. If they were under $200 million this year, they still would have been $80 million ahead of the Phillies.

But if the object is to win every year, and the object IS to win every year, and the question is money, both Damon and Matsui give them their best chance to repeat.

Matsui is 35, but he is also a DH, and when did that become a young man's game? Damon is a perfect No. 2 hitter for this batting order and before he slumped at the end of the regular season, looked like he might be on his way to 30 home runs and 100 RBI in that spot.