THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Sehwag hammers career-best 195
Melbourne, December 26
Virender Sehwag hit a swashbuckling 195 before India lost three quick wickets, including that of Sachin Tendulkar without scoring, and yet the visitors galloped to 329 for four on the opening day of the third cricket Test against Australia here today.

 


Virender Sehwag celebrates his century during India's third cricket Test against Australia in Melbourne on Friday. — PTI photo

Virender Sehwag celebrates his century

Lara, Jacobs lead Windies’ fightback
Durban, December 26
Brian Lara and Ridley Jacobs hit half-centuries as the West Indies fought back after a disastrous start on the first day of the second Test against South Africa at Kingsmead today.




EARLIER STORIES
 
Richardson helps Kiwis recover
Wellington, December 26
A resolute unbeaten half century by Mark Richardson helped New Zealand recover from a dreadful start to finish a rain-shortened first day of the second Test at 151 for five today. The hosts were forced to dig in after paceman Shoaib Akhtar had reduced them to one for two wickets immediately after lunch, with the out-of-sorts Lou Vincent and captain Stephen Fleming both failing to trouble the scorers.

Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar bowls against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Friday. It is the first day of the second Test in a two-Test series. — Reuters photo

Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar bowls against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington

Baroda tottering at 73 for 5
Vadodara, December 26
A devastating spell by Railways medium pacer Harvinder Singh (4 for 17) left hosts Baroda reeling at 73 for 5 after the former folded up their first innings at 353 on the second day of their Elite group ‘A’ Ranji trophy match being played here today.

Weather adds to Punjab's misery
Chandigarh, December 26
Inclement weather continued to hold sway over the proceedings on the four-day Elite Group "A" Ranji Trophy match between Punjab and Mumbai at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium at Mohali, near here, today. Nearly 38 overs were lost to bad weather when the play could start around noon on the first day yesterday. It turned out to be even worse today. 
Mumbai coach Chandarkant Pandit and Nilesh Kulkarni keep themselves warm playing soccer
Mumbai coach Chandarkant Pandit (R) and Nilesh Kulkarni keeping themselves warm playing soccer when play was not possible due to dense fog on the second day of the Ranji Trophy match against Punjab at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Friday. — Tribune photo by Parvesh Chauhan

India A beat Lanka, enter final
Kolkata, December 26
Skipper Hemang Badani led from the front with an unbeaten 85 as India made their way into the final of the Kenstar Asian ‘A’ Teams’ cricket tournament in style with a fluent seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka here today. Chasing a target of 201, the Indians got the required runs in 39.2 overs to garner six points, including one bonus, to boost their points tally to 13 from three outings.



Sri Lanka `A's Mubarak dismissed by Munaf Patel of India 'A' during their match in the Kenstar Asian `A' Teams Tournament at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday. — PTI photo

Sri Lanka `A's Mubarak dismissed by Munaf Patel

Pak veteran cricketers return
Wagah, December 26
The cricket matches with Indian veterans were memorable which helped revive old glorious days of vintage cricket, said Sadiq Mohammed under whose captainship the 14-member Pakistan veteran team crossed over to their country from here today.

Kerala take first innings lead
Palakkad, December 26
Kerala managed to take a 33-run first-innings lead over Uttar Pradesh on the second day of their Elite Group A Ranji Trophy match here today. Uttar Pradesh had reached 48 for no loss at stumps in their second innings.

Flashback ’03 — National sports
Indian sports takes centrestage in the year that was...
Indian sports scaled a new high in 2003 and as the year winds to a close, the sports scenario looks brighter than ever before. Viswanathan Anand became the World Rapid Chess Champion, Nikhil Advani conquered the snooker world, Mahesh Bhupathi continued to make waves in the Grand Slam tennis circuit, Sania Mirza gave a shot in the arm to women's tennis with her doubles victory in the Wimbledon girls doubles championship, Anju Bobby George leapt to a long jump bronze in the World Athletic Championship in Paris and Narain Karthikeyan drove into the big league of formula car racing, as Indian sports hit the centre stage to make the world sit up and take note of this emerging sporting power.

Nightmarish debut for Pakistan club
Patiala, December 26
For Pakistan’s Ideal Hockey Club, it turned out to be a nightmarish debut as they went down fighting to ITBP, Jalandhar 3-5 in a pre-quarterfinal match of the 28th All India Liberals Hockey Tournament at the Ripudaman College grounds here today.

Sangrur win in volleyball
Sangrur, December 26
Hosts Sangrur easily won their opening matches in boys and girls section, respectively, in the Punjab State Junior Volleyball Championships, which started at Mastuana Sahib today.

Minor Districts meets
Sangrur, December 26
Punjab Cricket Association has decided to conduct Minor Districts tournaments in different age categories to select their combined teams for the next season in January and February, according to a circular issued by the PCA. 

Negi in joint lead
New Delhi, December 26
Delhi's Parimarjan Negi put it across Archit Mokshi of Maharashtra to remain in joint lead along with Y. Sandeep of Andhra Pradesh after the sixth round of Parsvnath National Under-11 Chess Championship for boys now in progress here at Bapu Samaj Sewa Kendra.
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Sehwag hammers career-best 195

Sachin Tendulkar leaves caught off by Australia's Brett Lee
Sachin Tendulkar leaves caught off by Australia's Brett Lee during the third India-Australia cricket Test. — PTI photo

Melbourne, December 26
Virender Sehwag hit a swashbuckling 195 before India lost three quick wickets, including that of Sachin Tendulkar without scoring, and yet the visitors galloped to 329 for four on the opening day of the third cricket Test against Australia here today.

Sehwag’s career-best knock and his fifth Test century ensured India, 1-0 up in the four-match series, kept themselves on course for a huge first innings score after winning the toss and electing to bat.

Skipper Sourav Ganguly survived the Brett Lee fury and was batting on 20 along with VVS Laxman on six at close.

The Indians were cruising along comfortably at 278 for one at one stage before the world champions made important inroads into the formidable batting line-up by grabbing three quick wickets including the prized scalp of Tendulkar for a first-ball duck.

But by then the Indians had put on some quick runs on the board to somewhat neutralise the Australian advantage.

Sehwag’s rollicking knock, his first century on Australian soil, provided ample entertainment to a strong 63,000 crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Sehwag’s century also bettered Sunil Gavaskar’s 118 in 1984 as the best knock by an Indian batsman at the MCG.

His 195 came from 233 balls after his five-hour-and-12 minute stay at the crease and included 25 fours and five sixes.

An Indian supporter holds up a banner about Australia's captain Steve Waugh on the first day of the third Test
An Indian supporter holds up a banner about Australia's captain Steve Waugh on the first day of the third Test. India lead the best-of-four-Test series 1-0 after defeating Australia in Adelaide on December 16, their first Test victory in Australia in 22 years. — R
euters photo

India’s opening partnership yielded 141 runs as Sehwag joined hands with Aakash Chopra (48) to weather a hostile new ball spell from Lee and Nathan Bracken in the first 90 minutes of play.

Sehwag was hit on the helmet by Lee twice, and Chopra had to be given ice treatment after being shaken by a Bracken short ball. But the pair hung in and laid a solid foundation for later batsmen to build on.

However, Sehwag had to thank his luck as the Australians dropped him thrice besides messing up a run out chance when the opener was just on four.

As Sehwag pushed Lee to cover for a single, Chopra failed to heed his partner’s denial for the second run.

Steve Waugh threw to the bowler’s end but Lee, instead of lobbing it back to the wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, tried to break the stumps and missed the target.

Then, in first sign of what was in store for Australia, Sehwag clubbed Stuart MacGill in his first over of the day for two consecutive fours.

The aggressive batsman then had the benefit of doubt for a stumping appeal on 36 off MacGill. And he responded to that with two stirring fours off Brad Williams to reach his half century.

Sehwag again had a slice of luck on 66 when Simon Katich could not hold on to a straight forward catch, the bowler being Bracken.

Scoreboard

India (1st Innings):

Chopra c Katich b MacGill 48

Sehwag c Bracken b Katich 195

Dravid c Martyn b Waugh 49

Tendulkar c Gilchrist b Lee 0

Ganguly batting 20

Laxman batting 6

Extras (lb-3, w-1, nb-7) 11

Total: (for 4 wkts in 90 overs) 329

Fall of wickets: 1-141, 2-278, 3-286, 4-311.

Bowling: Lee 21-5-80-1, Bracken 23-6-58-0, Williams 19-6-65-0, MacGill 14-2-70-1, Katich 4-0-18-1, Waugh 9-0-35-1. — PTI
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Lara, Jacobs lead Windies’ fightback

Durban, December 26
Brian Lara and Ridley Jacobs hit half-centuries as the West Indies fought back after a disastrous start on the first day of the second Test against South Africa at Kingsmead today.

The West Indies, who were 50 for five shortly before lunch, were 232 for eight when rain stopped play 25 overs early.

West Indian captain Lara (72) and Jacobs (58) both survived chances as they put on 98 for the sixth wicket in 79 minutes to stem an onslaught by South Africa’s all-pace attack.

Fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, who took nine wickets when South Africa won the first Test by 189 runs in Johannesburg, was again South Africa’s most successful bowler, taking four for 56, but the South Africans finished the day frustrated at not being able to finish off the West Indian batting.

Tailenders Vasbert Drakes, who made a Test-best 40 not out, and Adam Sanford (13 not out) put on an unbeaten 41 for the ninth wicket as the tourists finished with a reasonably respectable total in conditions which were difficult for batting.

“We didn’t bowl very well after lunch. Our concentration started going away. We thought we could bowl them out for 150,” Ntini said after the day’s play.

Wavell Hinds started the slide without a run on the board when he attempted to leave the last ball of the first over from Shaun Pollock, and edged it to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.

In his next over, Pollock found the outside edge of Ramnaresh Sarwan's bat and the catch flew to Jacques Kallis at second slip to dismiss Sarwan for four.

Ntini first struck in the sixth over when Daren Ganga, on six, prodded outside his off-stump and was caught by Pollock at first slip.

Scoreboard

West Indies (Ist innings):

Hinds c Boucher b Pollock 0

Ganga c Pollock b Ntini 6

Sarwan c Kallis b Pollock 4

Lara c Pollock b Ntini 72

Chanderpaul c Hall b Ntini 0

Baugh c Kallis b Nel 21

Jacobs lbw b Nel 58

Drakes batting 40

Dillon b Ntini 6

Sanford batting 13

Extras: (lb-6, nb-6) 12

Total: ( 8 wkts, 65 overs) 232

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-4, 3-15, 4-17, 5-50, 6-148, 7-172, 8-191.

Bowling: Pollock 20-2-53-2, Ntini 20-7-56-4, Hall 8-1-38-0, Nel 12-4-41-2, Kallis 3-0-29-0, Rudolph 2-0-9-0. — AFP
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Richardson helps Kiwis recover

Wellington, December 26
A resolute unbeaten half century by Mark Richardson helped New Zealand recover from a dreadful start to finish a rain-shortened first day of the second Test at 151 for five today.

The hosts were forced to dig in after paceman Shoaib Akhtar had reduced them to one for two wickets immediately after lunch, with the out-of-sorts Lou Vincent and captain Stephen Fleming both failing to trouble the scorers.

As wickets tumbled at the other end, opener Richardson amassed a steady knock of 53 and will be hoping he and Robbie Hart (3 not out) can push New Zealand towards the 200-mark on the second morning.

Bowling menacingly in short spells, the recalled Shoaib also claimed the wicket of Scott Styris for 36, who had figured in a 53-run partnership with Richardson before edging a lifting delivery through to wicketkeeper Moin Khan.

Craig McMillan also participated in a 50-run partnership with Richardson, but shortly after the milestone was reached, he was unlucky to be given out leg before to Shabbir Ahmed.

Television replays revealed that McMillan had got a sizeable piece of bat on ball before it hit the pad.

SCOREBOARD

New Zealand (1st innings):

Richardson not out 53

Vincent b Shoaib 0

Fleming lbw b Shoaib 0

Jones b Razzaq 16

Styris c Moin b Shoaib 36

McMillan lbw Shabbir 26

Hart not out 3

Extras: (lb-7 nb-7 w-3) 17

Total: (5 wkts, 71 overs) 151

FoW: 1-1, 2-1, 3-41, 4-94, 5-145.

Bowling: Shoaib Akhtar 11-4-14-3, Mohammad Sami 19-9-39-0, Shabbir Ahmed 15-3-31-1, Danish Kaneria 8-3-10-0, Abdul Razzaq 18-3-50-1. — Reuters
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Baroda tottering at 73 for 5

Vadodara, December 26
A devastating spell by Railways medium pacer Harvinder Singh (4 for 17) left hosts Baroda reeling at 73 for 5 after the former folded up their first innings at 353 on the second day of their Elite group ‘A’ Ranji trophy match being played here today.

Baroda, the former champions, who are now placed 7th in the group with only 4 points from six outings, still need another 131 runs to avoid follow-on.

After Railways were bowled out for 353 in their first knock, 46 minutes after lunch, Baroda began on a chaotic manner picking up only 47 runs for 5 wickets from 25.2 overs. While seamer Santosh Saxena drew the first blood dismissing opener Rishkesh Parab in the very first over of the innings. Harvinder virtually made the Baroda batsmen dance to his tunes as he returned magic figures of 11-4-17-4.

Satyajit Parab made a paintaking 31 off 70 balls before falling prey to Harvinder.

At close, Nayan Mongia on 17 and Tushar Arothe, who is playing his 106th Ranji match, the last match before his retirement from first class cricket, was on at the crease.

Earlier resuming at their overnight score of 278 for 6, Yere Gaud (54), Harvinder Singh (31) and Kulamani Parida (32) helped the side reach a commanding total of 353 off 142.3 overs. For Baroda, Rakesh Patel had the major share of wickets claiming 4 for 40 followed by Ajit Bhoite (3 for 91) and Tushar Arothe (2 for 60). — UNI
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Weather adds to Punjab's misery
Gopal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Inclement weather continued to hold sway over the proceedings on the four-day Elite Group "A" Ranji Trophy match between Punjab and Mumbai at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium at Mohali, near here, today.

Nearly 38 overs were lost to bad weather when the play could start around noon on the first day yesterday. It turned out to be even worse today. A thick blanket of fog continued to hang over the region preventing the play from resuming. When the sun was finally able to pierce the thick fog nearly two sessions of the play had been lost. The match finally started at 2.20 pm bring palpable relief to the hosts. But the play could be possible only for 45 minutes as the light faded again, forcing the players back to the pavilion.

During the brief period of play, Mumbai batsmen proved hard to dislodge. Punjab seamers, in the absence of Vineet Sharma, who could not bowl as he pulled his hamstring yesterday, toiled hard to wrap up the innings.

But the Mumbai batsmen, particularly all rounder Robin Morris, proved a hard nut to crack. He negotiated whatever was hurled at him. Resuming his innings from the overnight score of 45, he hit three more fours to remain undefeated on 64 when the play came to a premature end. Mumbai were 180 for eight at close, adding 28 runs to the overnight score.

In fact, Punjab seamers took some time to claim the first wicket as the play started for the day. Left-arm seamer Amit Uniyal sent back Nilesh Kulkarni when he caught behind. Mumbai immediately lost the second wicket when Gagandeep Singh castled wicketkeeper batsman Vinayak Samant for his fourth wicket of the innings. But that was all the seamers could achieve as the deteriorating light forced the closure of the day.

Mumbai have nothing to lose irrespective of the result of the match as they have already qualified for the semifinals. Punjab, with 11 points from the six previous matches, would be hoping the weather to clear as early as possible, eager as they must be to add crucial points to the tally. This being the last league match, Punjab would have to go all out to take at least the first innings lead in whatever time is left in the match as they still have a chance to restrict the rivals to manageable total.

Scoreboard

Mumbai (1st innings):

Vinayak Mane lbw Gagandeep 19, Wasim Jaffer c Ricky b Vineet 01, Bhavin Thakkar c Madan b Vineet 0, Amol Mazumdar c sub ( Sawal) b Gagandeep 55, Vinod Kambli lbw Uniyal 17, Ramesh Powar c Madan b Gagandeep 0, Robin Morris batting 64, Nilesh Kulkarni c Madan b Uniyal 02, Vinayak Samant b Gagandeep 0, Usman Malvi batting 4

Extras ( lb 14, nb 4): 18

Total ( for 8 wickets in 62.3 overs): 180

FoW: 1-12, 2-16, 3-36, 4-67, 5-70, 6-149, 7-160, 8-161

Bowling: Gagandeep Singh 25.3-11-53-4, Vineet Sharma 9-4-24-2, Amit Uniyal 18-3-66-2, Reetinder Sodhi 10-3-23-0.
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India A beat Lanka, enter final

Kolkata, December 26
Skipper Hemang Badani led from the front with an unbeaten 85 as India made their way into the final of the Kenstar Asian ‘A’ Teams’ cricket tournament in style with a fluent seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka here today.

Chasing a target of 201, the Indians got the required runs in 39.2 overs to garner six points, including one bonus, to boost their points tally to 13 from three outings.

The men from the emerald islands are on 10 points from three matches, while Pakistan have culled a solitary point from two outings.

The Sri Lankans, who batted first on winning the toss, found the Indian bowling too hot to handle and folded up for 200 in 47 overs.

In reply, the hosts lost Sanjay Bangar (15) and Mohammed Kaif (0) early on, before Badani and opener Gautam Gambhir (51) added 85 runs for the third wicket to swing the game in India’s favour.

In-form batsman Gambhir (86 b,6x4) continued his fine show to notch up his third 50 plus score in the tournament in as many innings. He had earlier got 113 and 82 in the first two matches.

Badani, who had not been able to found his touch so far, decided to prove his detractors wrong with a fine innings, emebellished with spectacular shots, which included eight fours and a six.

Once Gambhir departed, Yuvraj Singh (33 not out; 34 balls, 3x4) joined man of the match Badani and the two remained unseparated with a 71-run stand for the fourth wicket to carry India through to victory with 10 balls to spare.

Scoreboard

Sri Lanka 'A':

Kalavitigoda c Bangar b Bhandari 0

Jayantha c Mongia b Bahutule 65

Mubarrak lbw b Patel 0

Arnold c Gambhir b Bangar 9

Nawaz lbw b S Singh 57

Silva b Patel 17

Jayawardene c Bahutule b S Singh 1

Maharaoof c Kaif b Bhandari 6

Zoysa c Gambhir b Bangar 20

Herath not out 10

Kulasekara lbw b Bangar 2

Extras (lb-8, nb-2, w-3) 13

Total (all out,47 overs) 200

Fall of wickets: 1/0, 2/3, 3/39, 4/124, 5/153, 6/159, 7/162, 8/176, 9/196.

Bowling: Bhandari 8-2-33-2, Patel 10-0-33-2, Bangar 9-1-43-3, Bahutule 10-0-52-1, Sarandeep Singh 10-1-31-2.

India 'A':

Gambhir c Arnold b Zoysa 51

Bangar c Nawaz b Kulasekara 15

Kaif lbw b Maharoof 0

Badani not out 85

Yuvraj not out 33

Extras (lb-5, nb-7) 17

Total (3 wkts, 39.2 overs) 201

Fall of wkts: 1/43, 2/45, 3/130.

Bowling: Zoysa 10-1-40-1, Maharoof 6-0-23-1, Kulasekara 8-0-48-1, Jayantha 3-0-13-0, Arnold 6.2-0-39-0, Herath 6-0-33-0. — PTI
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Pak veteran cricketers return
Our Sports Reporter

Wagah, December 26
The cricket matches with Indian veterans were memorable which helped revive old glorious days of vintage cricket, said Sadiq Mohammed under whose captainship the 14-member Pakistan veteran team crossed over to their country from here today.

The Pakistan team came to India on December 18 through the same land route to play Goodwill Veterans series, which was won by India 2-1.

Sadiq Mohammed said the whole team was very happy from the response they received from the Indian crowd. It helped in reviving the old nostalgic memories.

He said a number of former Indian players were their friends and they were able to meet them after a long gap.

He said, "Insha Allah, the thaw between both the countries will prove long lasting and pave the way for development of sports in South Asia".

The captain said all SAARC countries must evolve a common plan to give impetus to all disciplines of sports in the region. He said this must be discussed in the forthcoming SAARC meeting in Islamabad from January 4.

Earlier, Pakistan team went to the Golden Temple to pay obeisance.
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Kerala take first innings lead

Palakkad, December 26
Kerala managed to take a 33-run first-innings lead over Uttar Pradesh on the second day of their Elite Group A Ranji Trophy match here today.

Uttar Pradesh had reached 48 for no loss at stumps in their second innings.

Resuming at 13 for no loss, Kerala were reduced to 47 for three before Sujith Somasundar (66) and Ajay Kudua (37) steadied the innings with a 103-run stand for the fourth wicket.

Scoreboard

Uttar Pradesh (Ist innings): 214

Kerala Ist (innings):

Deepak c Elahi b Chopra 17, Somasundar lbw b Mishra 66,Vipin Lal lbw b Zaidi 3,H. Kumar c Malviya b Zaidi 11, A. Kudua lbw b Mishra 37, S. Nair c Chopra b Mishra 2, S. Oasis c Raina b Chopra 18, S. Kumar lbw b Chopra 44, A’ Padmanabhan c Raina b Zaidi 9, S. Cheruvathoor not out 6, P. Chandran c & b Chopra 0.

Extras: (B 19, LB 13, NB 2) 34.

Total: in 77.3 overs 247.

FoW: 1-30, 2-35, 3-47, 4-150, 5-152, 6-153, 7-220, 8-239, 9-245.

Bowling: Zaidi 14-3-37-3, Mishra 14-3-41-3, Chopra 33.4-9-69-4, Pandey 5 -0-18-0, Verma 5-2-12,-0, Elahi 5-0- 26-0, Yadav 1-0-4-0, Raina 1-0-8-0.

Uttar Pradesh IInd (innings):

Prakash batting 26, Yadav batting 15.

Extras: (B 6, LB 1) 7.

Total: (in 19 overs) 48.

Bowling: P. Chandran 4-0-10-0, S Cheruvathoor 1-0-6-0, S. Nair 5-1-13-0, S. Kumar 5-3-5-0, A’Padmanabhan 3-0-6-0, S. Oasis 1-0-1-0. — UNI
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Flashback ’03 — National sports
Indian sport takes centrestage
in the year that was...
M.S. Unnikrishnan

Indian sports scaled a new high in 2003 and as the year winds to a close, the sports scenario looks brighter than ever before. Viswanathan Anand became the World Rapid Chess Champion, Nikhil Advani conquered the snooker world, Mahesh Bhupathi continued to make waves in the Grand Slam tennis circuit, Sania Mirza gave a shot in the arm to women's tennis with her doubles victory in the Wimbledon girls doubles championship, Anju Bobby George leapt to a long jump bronze in the World Athletic Championship in Paris and Narain Karthikeyan drove into the big league of formula car racing, as Indian sports hit the centre stage to make the world sit up and take note of this emerging sporting power.

Indians not only excelled in the competitive arena, but off it too — on the organisational front. The successful conduct of the inaugural Afro Asian Games in Hyderabad sent out the message that India was capable of hosting such multi-sport events with unmatched competence and generous hospitality. No wonder, the success of the Afro-Asiad helped India earn a lot of goodwill not only among the Asian and African countries, but also among a number of European countries. This goodwill factor played a vital role in India pipping Canada to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games. India will host the Games in New Delhi.

It was no mean task to outbid the claims of the powerful Hamilton (Canada), but the 50-odd-member Indian delegation, comprising the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Anjali Ved Bhagawat, Randhir Singh and Suresh Kalmadi, played their cards well to clinched the bid with an overwhelming majority at the Commonwealth Games Federation meeting in Jamaica, in November.

Indian sports is looking up thanks to a sporting political leadership, under the benign leadership of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He has understood the significance of sports in channelising the energy of the youth in a constructive and productive manner, by loosening the purse strings, so that the necessary facilities could be created to help the youth scale greater sporting heights.

But for the Prime Minister's unqualified support and liberal financial aid, the Afro-Asian Games would not have become a reality. And Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu rose to the task of hosting the games in a magnificent manner to make it a event to remember, and cherish. He created world class facilities and provided unmatched hospitality to leave everyone satisfied, at the end of the grand spectacle.

Though the games were projected as "Friendship Games", the competitions were intensely fought, and the Indian sports persons were richer by the experience. India triumphed in both the men's and women's hockey competitions, with the men's team getting the better of Pakistan twice in the run up to the title. In football too, India made their mark, by progressing to the title round. In other events like shooting, track and field and tennis, India did well, and the country can take pride in initiating a games movement, which would bring the two continents of Asia and Africa closer, if the concept catches up, in the coming years.

After winning the Commonwealth Games bid, India are now thinking of bidding for the Olympic Games. And why not? Though, the logistics involved are mind boggling.

Yes, cricket, as always, was the apple of every sports person's eye, and the victory scripted by Rahul Dravid, Venkat Sai Laxman and Ajit Agarkar at Adelaide was a nice icing on the sports cake, to sign off the year in style, and India look like pulling off yet another surprise at Melbourne, to make it a truly memorable year.

One interesting picture that has come out of the success of Indian sports persons is that despite the Government enlarging the sports base, and loosening the purse strings, the individual sports persons who have brought glory to the country, have achieved such feats on their own stem. That Anju Bobby George took the financial risk of training abroad at great expense to realise her full potential and her efforts bore fruit when she won a bronze in the World Championship, bears out the fact that true talent can never be hidden under a bushel, and it will flower, given the right kind of grooming. Now Anju has found a benevolent sponsor, who has agreed to underwrite over Rs 35 lakh for her preparation for the Olympic Games in Athens, 2004. Anju is considered an Olympic medal prospect, and she cannot now crib that she was not given the facilities to train under the right people, and in conducive environment.

With the sponsors coming out in droves not only to back successful cricketers, but also sportspersons of all hues, talented sportspersons do not have to worry about mundane things like sports kits, basic facilities, travel amenities, expert coaching, etc.

India is slowly, but surely, emerging as a major sporting destination as international events like ATP and WTC tennis tour events are held in Chennai and Hyderabad respectively. There is talk of Hyderabad bagging a Formula I car race event. Having exposed to modern training methods, and top-notch sports persons, Indian sportspersons are coming on their own. Sports stardom is no more the sole preserve of the cricket icons and the stray tennis stars.

A stunning goal of a Baichung Bhutia catches as much national attention as an injury to hockey star Jugraj Singh. The entire nation prayed for Jugraj Singh, when he met with a crushing car accident. The Government, the Indian Hockey Federations and several other institutions and individuals went out their way to fork out lakhs of rupees to help out Jugraj and see him back on his feet.

The Indian sports fans were stunned to disbelief when they heard of Leander Paes' hospitalisation with a suspected brain 'tumour'. But to the relief of the entire nation, it was found to be a lesion in his brain, and not a tumour. Now Leander is fully fit, and back on the tennis court. And his millions of fans have heaved a sigh of relief, including his estranged tennis partner, Mahesh Bhupathi.

Incidentally, Globe Sports, the event management company floated by the Bhupathis, are doing a wonderful job in the promotion of sports. They were responsible for bringing the first World Women's Tennis event to Hyderabad this year, and has taken up Sania Mirza under its wings. It also looks after the endorsements of cricketer Zaheer Khan. With top-level sports people at the helm, Globe Sports is a welcome addition to sports management in the country.

The year 2004 is expected to usher in a new era as Indian sportspersons are expected to create some impact in the Athens Olympics. With the Central Government doling out liberal cash incentives for medal winners, sportspersons have everything going for excelling in their chosen disciplines.

And the role played by the Sports Authority of India in picking and nurturing young boys and girls from the remote parts of the country, to enlarge the sporting base of the country, deserves high praise, in our hour of glory.
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Nightmarish debut for Pakistan club
Our Sports Reporter

Patiala, December 26
For Pakistan’s Ideal Hockey Club, it turned out to be a nightmarish debut as they went down fighting to ITBP, Jalandhar 3-5 in a pre-quarterfinal match of the 28th All India Liberals Hockey Tournament at the Ripudaman College grounds here today.

The other teams to have reached the last eight state were CISF who downed Namdhari XI 2-0, Indian Navy who scraped past a fighting Centre of Excellence, Patiala and Rock Rovers, Chandigarh who trounced PAU, Ludhiana 3-1.

For Lahore's Ideal Hockey Club, junior World Cupper Imran Khan dazzled with his quick runs down the middle and he was well supported by skipper Arshad Zahid. In fact, Imran was the cynosure of all eyes and not once did he put a stick wrong and many of his interceptions were superb in the entire match that had to be played under fading light.

In the first quarter of the match, the Pakistani club mounted intense pressure on their rivals and this move paid off when the ITBP citadel fell. Centre half Sultan Ashraf and Imran Khan combined well to set up Safdar Butt on the Right. Much to the dismay of ITBP, Safdar’s scorching hit was deflected home by Rizwan-ul-Haq.

Stung by this reverse, it was pay back time for the Jalandhar securitymen who attacked with vigour. Just before half time they struck when Bir Singh was floored in the danger area by right back Nadeem Anjum and the resultant stroke was easily converted by Bir Singh himself.

The second half saw more action and the ITBP players started attacking in waves. They could have even scored but for some splendid goal keeping by Waquas Butt. After an evenly contested second half and with both teams locked at 1-1, tie-breaker was applied in which ITBP scored four while Ideal Club managed just two goals leaving the former winners by a 5-3 margin.
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Sangrur win in volleyball
Our Sports Reporter

Sangrur, December 26
Hosts Sangrur easily won their opening matches in boys and girls section, respectively, in the Punjab State Junior Volleyball Championships, which started at Mastuana Sahib today.

Sangrur who are the holders in boys section defeated Bathinda 25-16, 25-11 in a one sided match. In the beginning of the match Bathinda boys tried to put up some fight but they had no answer to the powerful smashes of Sangrur players. The match lasted only 15 minutes.

In the girls section Sangrur faced stiff resistance from Faridkot. Sangrur won 26-24, 25-12.

The first game was a cliff hanger with both the teams fighting for every point. But after losing the first game Faridkot girls easily gave up in the second game. Last year’s winner Ludhiana also moved to the next round disposing of Muktsar 25-7, 25-18 in another match.

Earlier, the tournament was inaugurated by Dr B.S. Poonia, Secretary, Akal College, Mastuana.

Results: Boys: Ropar b Hoshiarpur 25-23, 22-25, 25-17 Jalandhar b Faridkot 22-25, 25-22, 25-18 Muktsar b Fatehgarh Sahib 25-21, 25-22 Sangrur b Bathinda 25-16, 25-11.

Girls: Gurdaspur b Ferozepore 25-12, 25-10 Ludhiana b Muktsar 25-7 25-18 Amritsar b Hoshiarpur 25-9, 26-24 Bathinda b Jalandhar 23-25, 25-13, 25-17 Sangrur b Faridkot b Faridkot 26-24, 25-11.
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Minor Districts meets
Our Sports Reporter

Sangrur, December 26
Punjab Cricket Association has decided to conduct Minor Districts tournaments in different age categories to select their combined teams for the next season in January and February, according to a circular issued by the PCA. The minor districts have been divided in to two groups. Group A includes Faridkot, Bathinda, Sangrur, Ferozepore Mansa, Muktsar, Fatehgarh Sahib while group B has Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Ropar and Moga.

The competition for Under-15 group will be held at Bathinda and Hoshiarpur for group A and B, respectively, from January 3 to 11. Under-17 competitions will be held from January 30 again at Bathinda and Hoshiarpur for group A and B respectively Faridkot and Kapurthala will host the group A and B competitions respectively, in under-19 category from January 17 to 25. Faridkot and Kapurthala will also host senior category competitions from February 13 to 21.

All the districts have been told to send their entries to PCA latest by December 25.
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Negi in joint lead

New Delhi, December 26
Delhi's Parimarjan Negi put it across Archit Mokshi of Maharashtra to remain in joint lead along with Y. Sandeep of Andhra Pradesh after the sixth round of Parsvnath National Under-11 Chess Championship for boys now in progress here at Bapu Samaj Sewa Kendra.

Both Parimarjan and Sandeep have 5.5 points apiece followed by as many as six players, including S.P. Sethuraman, on five.

In the girls' section, Bhakti Kulkarni of Goa ended the dream run of overnight leader D. Tejasri in a keenly contested game. — UNI
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