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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Federer, Baghdatis to clash for title
Melbourne, January 27
Top seed Roger Federer reached his third consecutive Grand Slam final with a solid four-set win over German Nicolas Kiefer at the Australian Open today. The Swiss world number one, watched by his idol Rod Laver, was too consistent for the self-destructing 21st seed Kiefer.

Switzerland’s Roger Federer waves to the crowd after he won an Australian Open tennis tournament semifinal match against Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer in Melbourne on Friday. Federer won 6-3, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2. — AFP photo
Switzerland’s Roger Federer waves to the crowd after he won an Australian Open tennis tournament semifinal match against Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer in Melbourne on Friday

Bhupathi-Hingis in mixed doubles final
Melbourne, January 27
Hopes of another Leander Paes vs Mahesh Bhupathi match up went out of the window after the former, partnerning Nathalie Dechy of France, bowed out in the mixed doubles semifinals at the Australian Open here today.



EARLIER STORIES
 
China’s Zi Yan and Jie Zheng pose with their trophy after winning the Australian Open tennis tournament women’s doubles final match against Lisa Raymond of the US and Australia’s Samantha Stosur in Melbourne on Friday
China’s Zi Yan (L) and Jie Zheng pose with their trophy after winning the Australian Open tennis tournament women’s doubles final match against Lisa Raymond of the US and Australia’s Samantha Stosur in Melbourne on Friday. Zi Yan and Jie Zheng won 2-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-3. — AFP 

Aussies sink Lankan hopes
Adelaide, January 27
Sri Lanka’s hopes of replacing Australia at the head of the triangular series table were scuttled yesterday but only after off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan gave the hosts a few heart flutters at the Adelaide Oval.

Shoaib fit to play final Test
Karachi, January 27
Pakistan today received a big boost ahead of the crucial third Test against India with fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar declaring himself fit and ready for the series-decider. The fiery paceman, troubled by a niggle in the ankle, brushed aside any injury scare to have a good workout in the nets at the National Stadium.

Even umpires have had enough 
Karachi, January 27
After two drab draws and ten days full of yawns, even the umpires, who thanklessly stand in middle with utmost patience and focus, have decided that enough is enough.

Star wives having a ball
Karachi, January 27
While the Indian cricketers are busy finalising strategies and sweating it out in the nets, the better halves of some of these players are directing their energies elsewhere.

BCCI floats three new tenders
New Delhi, January 27
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today floated three new tenders for the appointment of television production company, advertising sales agency and the acquisition of media rights.

Monty Panesar creates history
Chandigarh, January 27
Madhusuden Singh Panesar, nick named Monty, has become the first ever Sikh to be picked as a member of a national squad of any Test playing nation other than India in the history of cricket. Monty has been named in the 16-member England squad to tour India.
Monty, who plays for Northamptonshire, the county once Indian skipper Bishen Bedi represented, is being rated as one of the next generation of spinners in English cricket. Born and brought up in England, this 23-year-old turbaned spinner represented England under-19 for two years.
                                        
Madhusuden Singh Panesar
Madhusuden Singh Panesar

Sultans prevail over Lions
Chandigarh, January 27
Hyderabad Sultans got past Bangalore Lions 6-4 via tiebreaker in a crucial PHL Tier I match at Sector 42 Hockey Stadium here today. Both teams were locked at 2-2 till the end of extra time.



Hyderabad Sultans’ custodian attempts to save a goal during the PHL Tier I match against Bangalore Lions in Chandigarh on Friday. Sultans won the match. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan
Hyderabad Sultans’ custodian attempts to save a goal during the PHL Tier I match against Bangalore Lions in Chandigarh on Friday. Sultans won the match

A Date with PHL
Should hockey go the basketball way?

Chandigarh, January 27
“Should hockey retain its unique identity or go commercial the way the TV channel wants it?” is a million dollar question which many diehard supporters of this national sport of India have on their mind.

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Federer, Baghdatis to clash for title

Melbourne, January 27
Top seed Roger Federer reached his third consecutive Grand Slam final with a solid four-set win over German Nicolas Kiefer at the Australian Open today.
The Swiss world number one, watched by his idol Rod Laver, was too consistent for the self-destructing 21st seed Kiefer, winning 6-3, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 in 2hr 40min and will play Marcos Baghdatis in Sunday’s final.

Federer picked up his game after error-riddled wins over Tommy Haas and Nikolay Davydenko in previous rounds, but he still made 33 unforced errors today.

Federer is looking for his second Australian Open after beating Marat Safin here in 2004 and his seventh Grand Slam crown.

Kiefer, who was playing in his first slam semi-final, self-destructed with a faltering service and was never able to put enough pressure on Federer, twice double-faulting on break point and committing a total of 53 unforced errors.

It improved Federer’s record over Kiefer to 8-3, winning their last seven meetings. Federer has yet to be beaten in 11 matches this season.

The win extended Federer’s record-breaking winning streak on hard courts to 51 — 17 more than the next best by Pete Sampras.

Cypriot Marcus Baghdatis capped an extraordinary Australian Open by reaching his first Grand Slam final with a stirring five-set fightback victory over Argentina’s David Nalbandian here yesterday.

The 54th-rated Baghdatis added fourth seeded Nalbandian to his list of seeded victims at the year’s first slam with a 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win in three-hour twenty-seven minutes to reach Sunday’s final.

The 20-year-old, a junior champion here three years ago, became only the fourth unseeded player in 25 years to play in the Australian Open final.

Baghdatis, cheered on by a large group of chanting Greek expats inside a packed Rod Laver Arena, underlined his rich promise with his second win over Nalbandian after beating him in the semi-finals at Basle last year.

Baghdatis’ win over Nalbandian improved his record against top-10 players to 5-3, with all three losses coming against Federer.

Henin-Hardenne, Mauresmo in final

Amelie Mauresmo reached her first Grand Slam final in seven years when Kim Clijsters retired from their Australian Open semifinal yesterday, ending the prospect of an all-Belgian final with Justine Henin-Hardenne.

Henin-Hardenne, the 2004 champion, beat Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the first semifinal.

WTA Championship winner Mauresmo was leading second-seeded Clijsters 5-7, 6-2, 3-2 and 15-love when the Belgian withdrew because of an injured right ankle.

She had her ankle heavily taped in the changeover and only played one more point before retiring.

Henin-Hardenne, seeking a fifth Grand Slam singles title, is on a 13-match winning stretch at Melbourne Park going into the final. — Agencies

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Bhupathi-Hingis in mixed doubles final

Melbourne, January 27
Hopes of another Leander Paes vs Mahesh Bhupathi match up went out of the window after the former, partnerning Nathalie Dechy of France, bowed out in the mixed doubles semifinals at the Australian Open here today.

Paes and Dechy ended up on the wrong side of the super tie-breaker in the third set and went down 6-3, 4-6, 4-10 to sixth seeds Daniel Nestor of Canada and Russian Elena Likhovtseva.

Bhupathi, however, gave the Indian fans a lot to cheer as he kept himself on road for a third mixed doubles crown on the trot after reaching the final with Martina Hingis.

The Indian doubles star and the 25-year-old “Swiss Miss” defeated the fifth seeded home contenders Paul Hanley and Samantha Stosur 6-3 6-3.

Bhupathi had won the title at Wimbledon and the US Open last year with Mary Pierce and Daniela Hantuchova, respectively, last year.

Paes and Dechy played a percentage game. They had less unforced errors (three against four) and more winners (14 to 10) than their rivals. And both the teams had equal number of breaks, two.

But Nestor and Likhovtseva played to perfection the super tie-breaker where the team reaching 10 points first wins the match.

Paes-Damm win

Seventh seeds Leander Paes and his partner Martin Damm will stake claim on the men’s doubles title at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament after claiming a straight-set victory in the semifinals here yesterday.

The Indo-Czech pair ended the run of an unseeded duo of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski of Poland by scoring 6-2, 6-4 win at the Margaret Court Arena.

Paes and Damm lived up to their higher seedings by playing a clinical game against their inexperienced opponents and completely outperforming them in almost all the departments during their 79-minute encounter.

Paes is making his second final appearance here, the first time being in 1999 when he was top seed with compatriot partner Mahesh Bhupathi and the duo were upset by fifth seeds Patrick Rafter of Australia and Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden.

The Indian would look for a similar upset, albeit in his favour this time, as he and Damm challenges top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan in the title clash.

Sanam bows out

Indian challenge in the junior section came to an abrupt end after third seed Sanam Singh crashed out in the third round of the boys singles event at the Australian Open here yesterday.

After sweating it out for one hour and 45 minutes in the scorching heat, New Zealander Austen Childs came from behind to pull the rug from under the feet of the Indian on his way to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

In the beginning, it was in fact the Chandigarh-based teenager who was calling the shots in the first set and broken once, he came back with a vengeance and converted two break points to win the set in just over half-an-hour. — PTI, UNI

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Aussies sink Lankan hopes

Adelaide, January 27
Sri Lanka’s hopes of replacing Australia at the head of the triangular series table were scuttled yesterday but only after off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan gave the hosts a few heart flutters at the Adelaide Oval.

The Australians eventually ground out an unspectacular five-wicket win, reaching 219-5 in reply to Sri Lanka’s 218-8 off 50 overs.

But Muralitharan sent a few late shudders through their camp when he grabbed 2-3 in the 41st over to leave them still chasing 42 runs with 57 balls remaining.

In the end, batsmen Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke steered their team home with a 42-run partnership.

The Australians had played a steady but unremarkable innings up to that point, anchored by 52 off 89 balls from opener Simon Katich.

Just as the Sri Lankans before them had failed to set the match alight, so too did the Australians, with Damien Martyn making a sluggish 46 off 72 balls.

Opener Adam Gilchrist with 34 off 33 and Andrew Symonds with 32 off 33 had set a livelier pace. Nuwan Kulasekera finished with 2-32 off nine overs while Muralitharan took 2-35 from 10, snaring both Symonds and Martyn.

Sri Lanka had earlier struggled without the services of big-hitting opener Sanath Jayasuriya, who has a thigh injury.

He was replaced by Upul Tharanga who opened with Jehan Mubarak. The pair started steadily, keeping the run-rate ticking at four an over until their 53-run stand was ended by Symonds.

Scoreboard

Sri Lanka

Mubarak c Lee b Symonds 34

Tharanga c Martyn b McGrath 31

Sangakkara b Hogg 25

Jayawardene c Symonds b Bracken 25

Atapattu c Martyn b Bracken 32

Dilshan b Hogg 1

Arnold not out 27

Vaas c Hogg b Symonds 15

Ganegama b Symonds 7

Kulasekara not out 2

Extras: (b-4, lb-4, w-8, nb-3) 19

Total: (8 wkts, 50 overs) 218

Fall of wickets: 1-53, 2-96, 3-100, 4-155, 5-161, 6-167, 7-195, 8-207.

Bowling: Lee 10-0-40-0, McGrath 8-1-26-1, Bracken 10-1-45-2, Symonds 9-1-48-3, Hogg 10-0-35-2, Hodge 3-0-16-0.

Australia

Gilchrist c Ganegama b Kulasekara 34

Katich c Sangakkara b Dilshan 52

Hodge b Kulasekara 5

Martyn b Muralitharan 46

Symonds c Tharanga b Muralitharan 32

Clarke not out 16

Hussey not out 25

Extras (lb-2, w-7) 9

Total (5 wkts, 48.2 overs) 219

Fall of wickets: 1-47, 2-73, 3-115, 4-175, 5-177.

Bowling: Vaas 8.3-0-41-0, Ganegama 6-0-41-0, Kulasekara 9-0-32-2, Muralitharan 10-0-35-2, Bandara 10-0-44-0, Dilshan 5-0-24-1. — AFP

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Shoaib fit to play final Test

Karachi, January 27
Pakistan today received a big boost ahead of the crucial third Test against India with fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar declaring himself fit and ready for the series-decider.
The fiery paceman, troubled by a niggle in the ankle, brushed aside any injury scare to have a good workout in the nets at the National Stadium.

“I am fit and will play in the third Test,” declared the bowler briefly before walking down to have a closer look at the track, sporting a green top.

While Akhtar confirmed his participation, at least for the time being, the same could not be said about skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq who missed the training session but was present to supervise the team's preparations.

Inzamam's six-day rehabilitation programme ends on the morning of the day of the Test. — PTI

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Even umpires have had enough 

Karachi, January 27
After two drab draws and ten days full of yawns, even the umpires, who thanklessly stand in middle with utmost patience and focus, have decided that enough is enough.

South African arbiter Rudi Koertzen, a member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Elite Panel of umpires, has supported a change in rules to allow calling off a Test match at tea break if a result is not possible.

“There is nothing wrong if the ICC considers a change in laws that allows such Test matches to be called off at tea with the consent of both captains when a last-day result is not possible,” he was quoted as saying by The News.

Koertzen, who supervised the first two Tests between Pakistan and India, confirmed he and Australian umpire Simon Taufel had spoken to both captains —Inzamam-ul-Haq and Rahul Dravid — at tea time on the final day in Faisalabad.

He said both agreed to the match being ended at teatime, as no result was possible. “We tried to do a similar thing at tea break on the final day of the second Test but we didn’t succeed,” he said and added that match referee Ranjan Madugalle, however, did not want to take a call on it and asked the two teams to carry on until eight overs remained in the game. —UNI

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Star wives having a ball

Karachi, January 27
While the Indian cricketers are busy finalising strategies and sweating it out in the nets, the better halves of some of these players are directing their energies elsewhere.

Shopping, sightseeing and savouring the local delicacies top the agenda of these star wives accompanying their famous husbands on this cricket tour.

So, we have a Mrs Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman and Agarkar keeping themselves busy by hanging out at up-market shops and eateries.

Tendulkar and Agarkar’s wives arrived here only yesterday while the spouses of Dravid, Sehwag, Ganguly and Laxman had joined their husbands in Lahore and Faisalabad.

The wives spent most of their time in Lahore and Faisalabad, where the first two Tests were played, shopping at the famous bazaars and purchased different kinds of dresses, clothes, jewellery and antique items.

“The wives don’t usually come to the ground, they prefer to stay back in the hotel and go out shopping or visit famous eateries or do some sightseeing,” said an Indian team official.

Coach Greg Chappell is also accompanied by his wife who was spotted visiting the historical places in Lahore and Faisalabad as also some of the bazaars.

However, before venturing out in this port city, the special guests were given a security briefing for their stay in Karachi, a venue which was rejected by the Indian cricket board during the 2004 tour due to security concerns. However, India did play a one-dayer during that series. — PTI 

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BCCI floats three new tenders

New Delhi, January 27
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today floated three new tenders for the appointment of television production company, advertising sales agency and the acquisition of media rights.

The tenders will be available for five days starting January 30, a BCCI release said here today.

The bids would be screened on the day following the submission and the winning bid would be selected on the day after, BCCI Vice President Lalit Modi, also Chairman of the Board's Marketing Sub-Committee was quoted as saying in the release.

The tender documents are available at the Brabourne Stadium office of the BCCI and can be acquired on the payment of Rs one lakh per bid. — UNI

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Monty Panesar creates history
Prabhot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
Madhusuden Singh Panesar, nick named Monty, has become the first ever Sikh to be picked as a member of a national squad of any Test playing nation other than India in the history of cricket.

Monty has been named in the 16-member England squad to tour India. Monty, who plays for Northamptonshire, the county once Indian skipper Bishen Bedi represented, is being rated as one of the next generation of spinners in English cricket. Born and brought up in England, this 23-year-old turbaned spinner represented England under-19 for two years.

Though he made debut in first class cricket in 2001 with a game against Leicestershire by claiming 12 wickets in the game, he had to wait till this morning to make it to the national squad of England.

Monty, who played only six first class games in 2002, went to Australia in 2002 as a 
member of the National Academy team.

Last season was perhaps his best as he took 46 English County Championship wickets at an average of 21.54 to earn praise and recommendation of his coach, Kepler Wessels. He subsequently went to Adelaide to attend special programme in fielding and batting at Darren Lehman's Academy in December last year.

Though many Sikhs have represented England in hockey and also in track and field, but Monty becomes the first to tour India as an English cricketer.

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Sultans prevail over Lions
Arvind Katyal

Chandigarh, January 27
Hyderabad Sultans got past Bangalore Lions 6-4 via tiebreaker in a crucial PHL Tier I match at Sector 42 Hockey Stadium here today. Both teams were locked at 2-2 till the end of extra time.

Didar Singh, Shakeel Abassi, Sameer and Vikram Pillay converted for the Sultans while for Lions Arjun Halappa and Sandeep Michael converted the strokes.

Earlier in the match, once again Len Aiyappa of Bangalore Lions sounded the board through a penalty corner in 15th minute which charged the spirited Lions. After just seven minutes, Jorge Lombi, playing for Sultans, pushed the ball into the goalpost and levelled the score at 1-1.

In 31st minute, Didar Singh exhibited superb game play when he gave a pass to Sardara Singh, who further passed the ball to Shakeel Abassi of Pakistan, and gave 2-1 lead to Sultans. But in the fourth quarter, when match progressed to 40th minute, Argentina’s Jordi Quintana, playing for Lions, restored parity.

Sultans are now front runners with 13 points in the tournament followed by Bangalore Lions with 12 points. But the Lions have played seven matches so far while rest of the teams have played eight matches.

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A Date with PHL
Should hockey go the basketball way?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
“Should hockey retain its unique identity or go commercial the way the TV channel wants it?” is a million dollar question which many diehard supporters of this national sport of India have on their mind.

“Yes we will listen to the TV channels to the extent of making this sport popular besides generating some money for the players. But we cannot do it at the cost of losing its uniqueness. There are 20-odd disciplines in the Olympic Games. And each sport is different from others,” is what the President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), Els van Breda Vriesman had told this correspondent during the last edition of the Champions Trophy in Chennai last month.

There appears to be either a communication gap or a major contradiction in what the FIH says and what it has allowed in the second edition of the Premier Hockey League (PHL) in progress here.

For example, Ms Vriesman was categoric that division of game into four quarters in place of conventional two halves has been permitted for the PHL on experimental basis. “The FIH may not necessarily accept this experimental rule. The chances of allowing time outs to teams — on the pattern of basketball — by retaining the conventional two halves of play looks more probable to be accepted by the FIH,” she had opined besides ruling out “a combination of the two — four quarters with time outs” to facilitate TV channels to generate revenue by using the “breaks”.

The FIH views on the issue notwithstanding, the organiser of the PHL have been using this combination (experimental) rule to a mixed response from both the players, past and present, and the spectators.

“There is no doubt that TV coverage and holding of the PHL has revived public interest in the sport, but we should not allow hockey to ape basketball. Let hockey retains its uniqueness. Frequent breaks not only upset the rhythm of the players but also affect the flow of the game,” feels Mr Satinder Walia, a former international player, umpire, coach and judge.

His views are corroborated by none other than the skipper of the 1975 World Cup champion team, Ajit Pal Singh. Many other hockey stalwarts, too, share the view that either of the two should be tried as experimental rule.

Other issue that is agitating teams and their officials is the introduction of the third umpire.

“It is a good rule but technical delegate should not go beyond the purview of this experimental rule,” says Mr Satinder Walia, holding that conversion of a penalty corner award into a penalty stroke by third umpire in the match between Sher-e-Jallandhar and Maratha Warriors was “unlawful”.

The role of the third umpire is restricted to three things, including goal line awards and some technical infringements or obstructions inside the striking circle. “It has no jurisdiction to change an award to a severe penalty,” adds Mr Walia.

Further, the objective of the FIH has been to increase the playing time, minimising breaks and time wastage on the ground. “But see the role of third umpire. It took so long, almost two minutes, to give its verdict on that disputed penalty corner which it changed to a stroke to the great dismay of my team, Maratha Warriors,” rues Mr Walia. Spectators do not like such “technical interruptions”.

Many other players, coaches and team officials agree that some problems would be encountered till new set of rules amiable to TV coverage emerge after experimentation. “Teething troubles are natural,” felt a member of the technical committee. All said and done, we are not only satisfied but encouraged as public response has been overwhelming to the PHL.”

A public holiday, on account of Republic Day ,notwithstanding, an enthusiastic and responsive crowd had filled the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium even before the first of two Tier-I games could get underway yesterday.

And those present included not only veterans like Tarlochan Singh Bawa, Balbir Singh Senior, Ajit Pal Singh and his wife, Kiran besides Harmik Singh, Ajit Singh, Vasudevan Bhaskaran, Shiv Jagday (former national coach of Canada), Sukhvir Grewal, Ramandeep Grewal, Pargat Singh and Gurdishpal Singh, but also a number of families enthusiastically attached to the game.

And to add to the excitement, noted Punjabi folk singer Harbhajan Mann, too, had a date with the sport yesterday. Accompanied by his children, he walked into the stadium to watch both the games. Bowing before public pressure, he had to sing a couplet from one of his popular numbers.

Yesterday, while local heroes Chandigarh Dynamos went down 0-1 to Hyderabad Sultans, the other team from north, Sher-e-Jallandhar, scored twice in the first quarter to beat Maratha Warriors 2-1 to stay in hunt for top position in the league.

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 BRIEFLY

Punjabi varsity cyclists shine
Patiala:
Punjabi University cyclists pedaled their way to glory by winning three gold medals, an equal number of silvers and two bronze medals in the All-India Inter-University cycling championship held at the university velodrome here today.
Sarpreet Singh, won the gold in the 4 km individual pursuit and he was followed by his team-mate Harpreet Singh in the second place. Harpreet Singh won the gold in the 20 km point race for men while his team-mate Amandeep Singh stood third. — OSR

Tennis meet
AMRITSAR:
Guru Nanak Dev University secured the third place in the North-East Inter-University Lawn Tennis Tournament which concluded at Panjab University, Chandigarh on January 26.
The GNDU team, comprising Arjun Talwar (captain), Kushagra Mahajan and Nikhil Sharma, entered the semifinal after defeating Aligarh University. However, they lost to Panjab University in the semifinal. They beat Allahabad University to secure the third position. — OSR

Football match
NEW DELHI:
India will take on Yemen in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup-2007 match at the Ambedkar Stadium here on March 1.
Delhi Soccer Association secretary N. K. Bhatia said here on Friday that the All-India Football Association (AIFF) has also allotted the AFC Under-19 Women’s Championship to Delhi, which will be held at the Ambedkar Stadium from March 5 to 9. — OSR\

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