SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

No room for complacency
The Test series is now history and both teams must be eagerly waiting for the one-day series to commence. After all, plenty is at stake — Pakistan are looking forward to further stamp their authority over India, while the Men in Blue are hoping to restore their pride and confidence of their fans by avenging the Test loss. Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq in action during a practice session at the Arbab Niaz Stadium in Peshawar on Saturday. The first Indo-Pak one-dayer will be played on Monday.
Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq in action during a practice session at the Arbab Niaz Stadium in Peshawar on Saturday. The first Indo-Pak one-dayer will be played on Monday. — AFP photo

Harbhajan bruises finger
Peshawar, February 4
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh today suffered a bruise on his finger during the Indian team’s practice session this morning, but it was unlikely to prevent him from playing the first one-dayer against Pakistan here on Monday.



EARLIER STORIES
 
Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh with Pakistani soldiers during a visit to the Michni checkpost near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, about 50 km north of Peshawar, on Saturday.
Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh with Pakistani soldiers during a visit to the Michni checkpost near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, about 50 km north of Peshawar, on Saturday. — AFP

Profile:
End game for Sachin Tendulkar

Athletes play truant as WADA team arrives
Patiala, February 4
A majority of the athletes attending a national camp made themselves scarce as a four-member team from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) landed at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) here yesterday.

Shoaib’s action suspect
The Indians are feeling the heat of the aftermath of a series loss. Many stories are emanating from Pakistan giving us a million reasons for India’s debacle, and more to celebrate Pakistan’s accomplishment.

Respect ICC, Shoaib tells Chappell
Lahore, February 4
Miffed at Greg Chappell’s comments about his action being “different”, Shoaib Akhtar said the ICC has cleared him and the Team India coach should respect the cricket governing body’s decision.

Colts crush Aussies in warm-up game
Colombo, February 4
India were back to their winning ways beating Australia in their second and last warm-up match ahead of the ICC Under-19 World Cup which starts here tomorrow.

Telecast schedule
New Delhi, February 4
Doordarshan will telecast live on DD-1 the five one-dayers to be played between India and Pakistan as per the following schedule:

Namdhari XI, BSF in last four
Mata Sahib Kaur hockey tournament
Ludhiana, February 4
Namdhari XI, BSF, Punjab Police and Friends Club of Roomi registered victories in their respective matches to secure berths in the semifinals (men) of the 20th Western Union Mata Sahib Kaur Gold Cup Hockey Tournament being organised at Jarkhar, about 12 km from here today.

Video

Mohammad Kaif hopeful of getting a regular Test playing spot.
(28k, 56k)

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No room for complacency
Inzamam-ul-Haq

The Test series is now history and both teams must be eagerly waiting for the one-day series to commence. After all, plenty is at stake — Pakistan are looking forward to further stamp their authority over India, while the Men in Blue are hoping to restore their pride and confidence of their fans by avenging the Test loss. Therefore, I have all the more reason to believe that it is going to be a cracker of a series, probably as good as the one we had two years back, if not better.

We are and have always been wary of India’s strength and ability to bounce back. So, there is no complacency in our ranks although the Karachi win has lifted the confidence level of my boys while bringing down the pressure. But the pressure of international cricket always exists and we know that in one-day cricket, the margin of error is minimum.

If we managed to recover from 0-3 and then 39-6 in Karachi to win by 341 runs, it is not necessary that we will always be able to repeat those heroics in a one-day game.

Therefore, perfection throughout the day would be the key to success.

Both teams will start with an even chance of winning the second half of the series. However, Pakistan enjoy a cutting edge because of possessing more effective and utility players in Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan.

In my books, the foursome are the most devastating and multi-dimensional players in world cricket today and they have exhibited their talent, worth and prowess time and again against different oppositions and in different conditions.

As the captain, I feel more comfortable when I have resources like these because they give me more bowling options, provide me the luxury of changing gears at any time while batting first and at the same time keeping hopes alive of chasing any target.

I don’t like player-to-player comparisons and respect every Indian player for the simple reason that he is on tour because he deserves. But certainly, Virender Sehwag is a player any opposition would like to see back in the dressing room as early as possible and I am no different. He has this natural ability to destroy any bowling attack and his presence in the centre not only keeps the scoreboard moving but also unsettles the game plans of the captains and bowlers.

We planned well against him in Faisalabad and Karachi, and would like to carry the same momentum in the one-dayers.

But it is difficult, probably next to impossible, to keep him quiet throughout the series. He will have his good and bad days in the series, so lets hope the bad days are more than the good ones!

Since one-day cricket is quick cricket, it has its own strategies and game plans which are different from the traditional version of the game. Naturally, good all-rounders is certainly one of the most important requirements and most of the times they take precedence over specialists. We would follow the same pattern we adopted against England because we feel that is the right and winning combination for us.

We have Kamran Akmal to open the innings with Salman Butt, and myself, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq and Rana Naved to bat in the middle order, and Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif to be specialist bowlers.

Now it is to be decided if Younis would bat at No. 3 or Malik would bat at No. 6. I understand that we might not always be able to utilise the talent of Razzaq at No. 8, but we have to play according to our strength and ensure that the team wins.

Razzaq understands that and he has responded excellently even at No. 8.

I am not a big fan of the super sub rule for the simple reason that it gives huge advantage to the captain winning the toss. Either the ICC should allow both captains to announce their super sub after the toss or they should scrap this rule. I would like to see it scrapped because it is becoming more complicated for the followers of the game and even more difficult for the captains.

This one-day series also launches our preparations for next year’s World Cup. But I want to make it very clear that there will not be many chopping and changing. I have a pool of 16 to 18 players in my mind and only they would be tried in different positions unless some exceptional talent emerges.

But even those experimentations or the rotation policy, as you may call, would only be implemented once the series is in the bag. To me, winning is of utmost importance because it keeps increasing the confidence of the players and the 2007 World Cup will be all about how you handle the pressure.

There has also been some confusion regarding my participation is all matches in view of my back injury. What I meant was that I will play most of the matches and will only sit out in games that are of academic interest. And this policy is not only for me but also for all the players who deserve rest because we need to protect them from complete burnout.

If the players are not given calculated rests, how will the new faces get a chance to show us what they are capable of? But everything will depend on the situation.

Reverting to the forthcoming series, I believe there will be more tall-scoring games because the pitches in this part of the world suit the batsmen more than the bowlers.

Nevertheless, since there will be early starts in three of the five games, the captain winning the toss might opt to bowl first to extract the early moisture and juice that lay beneath the surface.

So cricket lovers, hold your breath as we resume our rivalry and start the battle for supremacy in one-day cricket. — PTI

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Harbhajan bruises finger

Peshawar, February 4
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh today suffered a bruise on his finger during the Indian team’s practice session this morning, but it was unlikely to prevent him from playing the first one-dayer against Pakistan here on Monday.

“Harbhajan suffered a bruise on the forefinger of his bowling hand while fielding today. And we asked him not to bowl at the nets as a precautionary measure only. He will be available to play in the first match,” captain Rahul Dravid informed reporters.

The off-spinner has a point to prove to the rivals as well as his own supporters after having been mauled in the two Test matches on batsmen-friendly surfaces at Lahore and Faisalabad.

He went wicketless in the first two Tests and was dropped for the third Test, which India lost by 341 runs.

Only 10 players were available for practice as — besides Harbhajan — the four one-day specialists (Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Murali Kartik and S. Sreesanth) also missed the session.

The quartet arrived from Islamabad just after their team-mates returned to the team hotel.

They had earlier missed the connecting flight from Lahore to Peshawar following a delayed departure from Delhi late last evening, team manager G.S. Walia said.

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Athletes play truant as WADA team arrives
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, February 4
A majority of the athletes attending a national camp made themselves scarce as a four-member team from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) landed at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) here yesterday.

On getting the news of the team’s arrival at the NIS last evening, many athletes, particularly throwers and jumpers, left the campus in an attempt to avoid the stringent testing procedures adopted by WADA.

The camp is being held in preparation for next month’s Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

A few days ago, jumpers M. Ranjith and Bibu Mathews had been hospitalised allegedly due to an overdose of dope. Doctors attending on them had confirmed that both had taken an overdose of creatine, a testosterone and a health supplement.

However, senior coaches attached with the camp, including chief coach Bahadur Singh, had denied that the athletes were on dope, while claiming that the jumpers had taken an overdose of health supplements.

Confirming the WADA team’s arrival, the Regional Director (RD) of the NIS, Mr L.Ranawat, said the team members had stayed for the night at a place outside the campus. The officials once again visited the NIS campus this morning and again the athletes played truant to avoid the team.

A top NIS official disclosed that the team members took 15 samples each of boxers and weightlifters. The national boxing and weightlifting camps are also being held at the NIS in preparation for the Commonwealth Games.

Mr Ranawat denied that the team was here to take samples of athletes. He stated that urine samples of only boxers and weightlifters had been collected by the team members.

A top athletics coach attached with the camp, besides Mr Ranawat, said the team members had asked for shot putter Harwant Kaur to be present. However, the WADA team failed to meet her. After attending a training camp in South Africa, Harwant was expected to join the camp today but she did not turn up. 

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Shoaib’s action suspect
Bishen Singh Bedi

The Indians are feeling the heat of the aftermath of a series loss. Many stories are emanating from Pakistan giving us a million reasons for India’s debacle, and more to celebrate Pakistan’s accomplishment.

Considering Lahore and Faisalabad were dead woods, it became really a one-Test lottery, which was won by the more daring and enthusiastic Pakistanis. All said and done, all pluses in the first two Tests were with Indians. In just one game, everything tilted in Pakistan’s favour, making Inzamam and Woolmer cock-a-hoop. It seems all of Pakistan’s moves were well rehearsed and all those of the Indians were shots in the dark.

Well, Dravid has no option but to listen to his critics with his ears and eyes closed. Ditto Tendulkar. Greg Chappell has work on hand. First is to exorcise the ghost of Ganguly. And then, win over the trust of all his wards all over again, before putting them through the tough grind of the fast pace of limited overs cricket.

The Indians would do well to expel the thought of the Test series loss and sharpen their cricket wits on the basis of a large hearted retaliation. One way of doing that is to ensure that the dressing room vibrates with togetherness.

The addition of Kaif, Sreesanth, Kartik and Raina should bring about youthfulness, which will give good cover to experience. Indian fielding will definitely be an edge over Pakistan. So the limited Indian attack will have a sharper look to it, provided the line and length factor is adhered to.

Reverting to the Karachi loss, I was amused to read Inzamam’s and Woolmer’s remarks. The Pakistan captain found flaw with two tons of Dravid as an opener while Woolmer asserted Greg Chappell’s query over Shoaib Akhtar’s action motivated the entire Pakistani team.

I shall abstain from the number of wickets against the controversial bowler’s name. Suffice it to say for now that suspect bowling actions in Pakistan team is not something new. If Michael Holding can go on air suspecting Akhtar’s action and motives, then the ICC ought to sit up and take note. Remember Holding is on the technical committee of the ICC. For the one-dayers, two more suspect actions will be on display - Shoaib Malik and Afridi.

I am not complaining. Simply asserting this is not cricket.

The first of the five one-dayers will be played on the flat pitch in Peshawar. I have a funny experience of the cricket venue in NWFP.

Come what may, the Indians have no room for excuses. In order to wipe off the misery of the Karachi loss, the Indians have to win the one-dayers. Just a reminder that Greg Chappell’s appointment as coach is up to 2007 World Cup. Obviously Greg’s utility as a one-day specialist will be under greater scrutiny. Somehow, I feel the composition of India’s one-day team will be more precise and meaningful. Rahul Dravid too will have a message or two to put across to his counterpart. — UNI

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Respect ICC, Shoaib tells Chappell

Lahore, February 4
Miffed at Greg Chappell’s comments about his action being “different”, Shoaib Akhtar said the ICC has cleared him and the Team India coach should respect the cricket governing body’s decision.

“Regarding Greg Chappell’s comments about my bowling action, it was all very unfortunate to hear. He should understand that the ICC has cleared me more than once and this thing has all been done and dusted for about four years and it’s no good bringing all this stuff up again,” he wrote in a website column.

“He needs to respect the ICC more and understand what they have said about my bowling action. It’s disappointing that he chose to bring this issue up again,” Shoaib said.

Refusing to take the comments made by Chappell lightly, the pacer said, “I am very committed to hard work and won’t give anybody the chance to criticise me any more.” The Rawalpindi Express, whose bowling action remained under the scanner before the ICC cleared him, said he wanted to concentrate on the coming one-day series against India and leave the issue to the Pakistan Cricket Board and ICC consideration.

Shoaib said he was happy with his performance, especially with the bat, in the Test series, as he has been working hard on this aspect of the game. — UNI

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Colts crush Aussies in warm-up game

Colombo, February 4
India were back to their winning ways beating Australia in their second and last warm-up match ahead of the ICC Under-19 World Cup which starts here tomorrow.

The win was built on an impressive bowling display by the Indians as they bundled out the Australians for 174 in 44.3 overs.

Incisive bowling from Ravinder Jadeja, who captured 4-17, broke the back of the Australian batting line-up and at one stage they were reeling at 108 for eight.

Captain Moises Henriques offered prolonged resistance among the top order as he made 44 but failed to get support from other batsmen.

Aussies were given some degree of respectability by Simon Keen (30) and Adam Ritchard (22) but the total proved wholly inadequate as India cruised home with 11.2 overs in hand. Opener Cheteshwar Pujara top-scored with 60. — UNI

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Telecast schedule

New Delhi, February 4
Doordarshan will telecast live on DD-1 the five one-dayers to be played between India and Pakistan as per the following schedule:

February 6 (Peshawar): 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m, 2.15 p.m. to 5.45 p.m.

February 11 (Rawalpindi): 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m., 2.15 p.m. to 5.45 p.m.

February 13 (Lahore): 11.30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3.45 p.m. to 7.15 p.m.

February 16 (Multan): 11.30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3.45 p.m. to 7.15 p.m.

February 19 (Karachi): 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m., 2.15 p.m. to 5.45 p.m. UNI

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Namdhari XI, BSF in last four
Mata Sahib Kaur hockey tournament
Anil Datt

Ludhiana, February 4
Namdhari XI, BSF, Punjab Police and Friends Club of Roomi registered victories in their respective matches to secure berths in the semifinals (men) of the 20th Western Union Mata Sahib Kaur Gold Cup Hockey Tournament being organised at Jarkhar, about 12 km from here today.

In the quarterfinals, Namdhari XI prevailed over PAP XI, Jalandha, 2-0, BSF, Jalandhar, routed Haryana XI 4-0, Punjab Police, Jagraon, pipped Punjab and Sind Bank Academy 5-1 and Friends Club, Roomi, edged out Thapar Academy of Sansarpur 2-0 to advance into the last four stage.

Among girls, Northern Railway, Ambala zone, continued their domination to record second win. They trounced Amritsar 8-0 while Ludhiana XI managed to scrape past Ludhiana Sports Wing 1-0 to set up the title clash.

In basketball (boys), Gurdaspur beat Amritsar 54-27, Jalandhar outclassed Ludhiana 56-35, Punjabi University, Patiala, outnumbered Amritsar 27-23, Baba Lodhiana Academy thrashed Ludhiana 52-32 to move into the next round while in the girl’s section, Amritsar beat Jalandhar 40-16, Ludhiana outplayed Amritsar 34-21 and Kapurthala got the better of Jalandhar 55-52.

In handball, Ludhiana and Patiala lads emerged winners in the semifinal encounters to enter the final. Ludhiana boys beat Ropar 15-14 and Patiala defeated Sangrur 28-20. In the girl’s section, Ropar beat Amritsar 17-10 and Ludhiana outplayed Faridkot 12-8 to make it to the title clash match.

Earlier, the 20th annual sports festival at Jarkhar village, about 12 km from here, began yesterday. The games torch relay started from Guru Nanak Stadium where Mr Gianinder Singh Sandhu, District Sports Officer, Ludhiana, and Mr Teja Singh Dhaliwal, honorary general secretary, Punjab Basketball Association, flagged off the smarch.

Director Sports Pargat Singh inaugurated the festival. Addressing the gathering, Pargat Singh said the department would institute a hockey academy at Jarkhar where the upcoming players would be imparted training.

Mr Sarabjit Singh Kooner, an NRI and a leading sports promoter, donated Rs 5 lakh to the club for the construction of the stadium in the village. Channa Alamgir and Mr Malkit Singh Sandhu donated Rs 1 lakh each to the club.

During this three-day sports festival, competitions in hockey, kabaddi, handball, and volleyball are organisd. Mr Narinder Pal Singh Sidhu and Mr Deepinder Singh, chairman and president, respectively, of the Mata Sahib Kaur Sports Club, said top wrestlers of the region would also be seen in action during the course of this festival.

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 BRIEFLY

Punjabi varsity enter final
Patiala
: Punjabi University, Patiala, downed Kerala University 3-0 to enter the final of the All-India Inter-University Football Tournament being played at Srinagar (Uttar Pradesh).
In the semifinal played on Saturday, Punjabi University students, aided by a brace by Samuel Masih and a last-minute goal by Mandeep Singh, downed their southern rivals to secure a place in the final. In the other semifinal, Garhwal University stunned GNDU Amritsar 2-0 to set up the title clash with the Patiala students. — OSR

Martina Hingis celebrates after defeating Maria Sharapova in the semifinal of the Pan Pacific Open Tennis Tournament in Tokyo on Saturday. Hingis won 6-3, 6-1 to set up the summit clash with Elena Dementieva.
Martina Hingis celebrates after defeating Maria Sharapova in the semifinal of the Pan Pacific Open Tennis Tournament in Tokyo on Saturday. Hingis won 6-3, 6-1 to set up the summit clash with Elena Dementieva. — Reuters

Gymnastics meet
AMRITSAR: Punjab eves clinched the team championship on the penultimaate day of the 46th Senior National Gymnastics Championship being held at Gurdaspur on Saturday. The hosts secured 156.95 points, followed by West Bengal (153.70 points) and Railways (150.90.) Rohit Jaiswal of Uttar Pradesh was adjudged the best gymnast in the men’s individual events with 49.75 points. Ashish Kumar (49.30) of the same state stood second, while Manoj (48.95) of Railways was placed third. — OSR

HP Ranji trials
Mohali
: As many as 130 players from Himachal Pradesh are appearing for the trials for the selection of the state team which will compete in the North Zone Ranji Trophy one-day tournament to be held in New Delhi from February 10 to 18.
The three selectors said the trials would continue on Sunday at the PCA Stadium, following which they would submit a list to BCCI joint secretary M.P. Pandove. Himachal Pradesh play their first match against Services Sports Control Board on February 10. — UNI

Football meet
NEW DELHI: Defending champions Zakir Husain College and last year’s runners-up Jamia Millia Islamia scored victories in contrasting styles to enter the penultimate round of the 19th Zakir Husain Football Tournament for colleges at the Ambedkar Stadium on Saturday.
In a group B league match, Jamia Millia defeated SGTB Khalsa College 2-0. Obed Kahmei and Soreihor Rung Sungh scored the goals, once in each half. In a group A match, Zakir Husain College pounded College of Vocational Studies 7-0. Ankur Singh Bisht, Kenneth Moloi (3), Gaingmlung Kamei (2) and Devson were the goal-scorers. — OSR

Polo tourney
NEW DELHI: Cavalry A swamped Majaara by seven goals to three and a half while Cavalry B routed Sona 12-5 to set up the title clash in the Amity SMS Gold Vase Polo Tournament at the Jaipur Polo ground here on Saturday. Before the title clash on Sunday, hosts Amity will take on Krauter in an exhibition match. — OSR

Rural sports
ROHTAK: Hisar boys defeated Jhajjar 30-17 in the open circle kabaddi match in the Haryana State Half Marathon and Rural Sports Festival that began here on Satuday. In girls section, Hisar got a walkover against Sonepat. In tug-of-war Bhiwani, Jind, Panipat and Karnal registered victories over Mohindergarh, Jhajjar, Sonepat and Kurukshetera. — OC

Randhawa tied 10th
Dubai
: Four consecutive birdies in a remarkable front nine saw Jyoti Randhawa shoot up to a tied 10th position as the highest-ranked Indian golfer returned a superb six-under 66 card today to remain five strokes shy off the lead at the $ 2.4 million Dubai Desert Classic here today. Meanwhile, world number one Tiger Woods carded a five-under 67 to share the lead with Dane Hansen Anders with 16-under 200 in aggregate. — UNI
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