It’s do-or-die for India
Lack of discipline led to loss: Coach
Kiwi spinners make England toil
BCCI being run by idiots: Astle
My job is to take wickets: Sreesanth
Anand closes in on Linares title
Top pros for golf grand finale
Indian athletes bag 12 gold
It’s do-or-die for India
Santiago (Chile), March 7
India might be just two matches away from qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics but it is easier said than done as they first need to defeat Chile and then come up against Great Britain, who beat them by 3-2 margin yesterday.
India have never missed an Olympics since their debut in 1928 and the consequences of failure to do so are too damning to even visualise.
A defeat tomorrow will most certainly knock them out of the contention. Thus, at the moment, the onus is on India to perform and win both their remaining matches.
The Indian team would have welcomed a day's break today to reflect upon not only their loss to Great Britain yesterday but also the immediate future.
The situation is such that the Indians are virtually assured of a place in the final where they will renew their tussle with Great Britain. India are on nine points, the same as Austria but with a healthy and almost unassailable goal-difference.
Austria need to beat Great Britain tomorrow and then hope for Chile to do the same against India. Should Austria lose to Great Britain, as is expected, then, it would pitchfork India into the final while rendering their match against Chile inconsequential.
In the event of a surprise Austrian victory, India will have to beat Chile to qualify for the final on superior goal difference.
India's advantage is that they would be playing last and so will have a clear picture as to what is required of them.
By all accounts, Austria have virtually given up on squeezing past India into the final. Austrian coach Horst Rouss admitted as much after his team struggled to beat Mexico 3-1 as he felt that the task before his team was too great a challenge.
Saturday's fixtures (IST): Great Britain vs Austria (11.30 pm); Russia vs Mexico (1.30 am, Sunday); India vs Chile (3.30 am, Sunday). — PTI
Santiago, March 7
"Frankly, I am not worried or concerned that we lost the game today, but was rather disappointed that the players did not restrain themselves and we needlessly took two yellow cards at a time when we were in control," Carvalho said.
"Had we been more disciplined in our game, the result would have been different," he told reporters at the post-match media conference yesterday.
Half-back Vikram Kanth and forward Shivendra Singh were sent out for indulging in rough play, reducing India to 10 men.
Carvalho asserted that India would yet make it to Sunday's final by defeating Chile in the concluding league match and that it would be a "different ball game" when they next play Great Britain.
He admitted that lapses in the midfield and deep defence helped Britain to sustain pressure and that the match-winner was a result of avoidable mistakes.
"At 2-2 and a minute left, I thought we had the situation under control, but again, we committed a couple of mistakes and it led to Britain's third goal," Carvalho said.
Reflecting on the positives from today's defeat, the coach said. “At least we now know what Britain is capable of.
“The last time we played them was in Champions Challenge when they were entered as England. But both our teams have undergone some changes since last year. As such, it was important that we get to play them, and having done so, I am now confident that we will win on Sunday and qualify for the Olympics.”
Great Britain coach Jason Lee felt that the match could have gone either way, but paid tribute to his players for keeping their composure despite conceding an early goal.
“The match went according to our expectations, but I think we need to be careful not to take yellow cards, for playing with one man less is obviously a disadvantage,” Lee said.
He added that the result did not really count considering that Sunday's final would decide the qualifier. — PTI
Now that the dust is settling on India’s tumultuous tour of Australia, it’s time to examine events with a degree of calmness.
Lest anyone thinks otherwise, the most significant achievement of the visit was the Test performance, especially the victory at Perth. Indeed, had it not been for the appalling umpiring in the 2nd Test at Sydney, India may well have accomplished the unprecedented - a Test series win Down Under.
Cricket is ultimately about sustaining a side’s showing over five days and 450 overs, exploiting and negotiating a sporting, then changing character of a pitch, switching tactics accordingly, not to mention demonstrating application over an extended period. The straitjacket of limited overs cricket simply does not throw up such challenges.
This winter’s display in Tests also established that 2003-04 - when India drew a Test series in Australia - wasn’t a fluke. This was also testified by the fact that India, thereafter, triumphed away against Pakistan, the West Indies and England; and recorded a maiden Test (not series) win in South Africa.
Whatever has happened in Indian cricket since Kapil Dev’s team’s unexpected success in the 1983 World Cup has occurred in spite of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). This is so because the governing body took India in a wrong direction of an overload of one-day cricket - to the detriment of India’s competitiveness in all spheres.
The 1990s, for instance, a bleak period in Indian cricket history, when India failed to win a single series outside the sub-continent and were eliminated before the semi-finals of the two World Cups (in 1992 and 1999) held outside South Asia.
Indeed, the International Cricket Council’s Future Tours Programme forcibly brought the BCCI and India back to track, not to mention the momentous decision to appoint John Wright as coach of the national squad.
It is indeed a tragedy that where money is being distributed like sweets for feats in much less demanding scenarios, no financial reward has been granted by the BCCI for the truly historic turnaround at Perth. India’s rise to second spot in the ICC LG Test Championship amply indicates how important an exhibition this was.
In this context, it may be best to appreciate that the clinching of the Commonwealth Bank one-day series is neither historic, nor does it make India world champions in one-day cricket. Even after this, India continue to languish at number four in the ICC LG ODI rankings.
India’s greatest attainment in limited overs cricket in Australia is still the conquest in the 1985 Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket.
Yet, the CB Series outcome has manifold significance. The ability of young and relatively inexperienced cricketers to immediately stride the big stage with candour and ebullience is a new phenomenon in Indian cricket. It reflects that the system - the academies - may at last be bearing fruit; that players are emerging - as in Australia - ready for the international plunge.
To borrow a cliché, Mahendra Singh Dhoni led by example. Notwithstanding his inability to cope with Test tracks outside the subcontinent, he maintained his pristine statistics in one-dayers, his wicket-keeping continued to be as good as in the Tests and, vitally, he emitted the equanimity of a seasoned gambler.
To entrust Joginder Sharma with the last over in the World Twenty20 was daft, but, thanks, to Misbah-ul-Haq’s stupidity, it paid off. But to extend the onerous responsibility to Irfan Pathan in the second CB Series final was absolutely sound - whether this succeeded or not. Praveen Kumar may have earlier bowled better than Pathan, but the latter was the most tried and tested among India’s trio of medium pacers.
Dhoni has considerably vindicated his demand to drop Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. He has also been equally shrewd in picking his XIs. Time will tell if he is as incisive with bowling changes and field settings.
Twelve months ago, England romped home in the CB Series finals by the same margin. Look at where they are today. A breakthrough will only have been achieved if India register consistency.
Robin Uthappa needs to gel with Sachin Tendulkar to provide comfort at the top of the batting order; and Yuvraj Singh has to be more reliable.
There have been chinks in Australia’s armour for a while; but these still had to be exposed. India have magnificently done so!
Hamilton, March 7
The touring side trailed their hosts by 184 runs with two days to play. Paul Collingwood was unbeaten on 41 with debutant Tim Ambrose on 23 at the close after Michael Vaughan (63), Andrew Strauss (43), Ian Bell (25) and Kevin Pietersen (42) were dismissed during the day.
England scored at barely two runs per over as New Zealand bowled a tight line and length with spinners Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel extracting prodigious turn and steep bounce from the pitch.
Vettori finished with figures of two for 60 off 38 overs and Jacob Oram conceded only 18 runs from 16 overs. Of the 93 overs bowled in the day, 34 were maidens.
Pietersen's 42 came off 131 balls, a strike rate of 32.06, less than half his career record of 64.68 runs per 100 balls. — Reuters
New Delhi, March 7
Astle, who is playing in the unsanctioned Indian Cricket League (ICL) along with other international stars, told UNI, “Earlier, the BCCI mentioned in its contract that the players who retire immediately will not be allowed to play for the IPL but now Adam Gilchrist, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne , everybody is playing for it.
“BCCI people are just idiots,” he said.
He also accused the BCCI of influencing the decisions of the International Cricket Council (ICC) with all the money and power associated with it.
“It’s a shame that the BCCI is running the ICC,” Astle said.
He pointed out that a prime example of how the Indian board had managed to dictate terms to the ICC was the Harbhajan-Symonds controversy in which the Indian off-spinner was acquitted even though an earlier hearing had found him guilty of making racist
“If it would have been a New Zealand player the ban would have stayed. But since the BCCI has so much of money and power with it, the ICC had to bow down to their demands.”
Astle stated that the controversy was blown out of proportion and the players were to be blamed for it. The 36-year-old all-rounder, who played 81 Tests for New Zealand, will play for Mumbai Champs in the ICL’s second edition. — UNI
Kochi, March 7
Sreesanth, who missed the Tests due to a shoulder injury but was drafted in the team for the tri-series which India won, picked only nine wickets conceding a huge 232 runs in the seven matches he played for an economy rate of 5.75.
But the flamboyant fast bowler defended himself, saying his job in the team was to take wickets and he was not worried about how many runs he gives in the process.
"I am basically a wicket-taking bowler. I concentrate on my bowling and not on how much runs I concede. My job is to take wickets. The team also wants the same," said the bowler known for his aggression.
Sreesanth, however, said it felt great to be a part of the team that defeated the Aussies and attributed the success to the players' not losing their focus on cricket despite off-field controversies.
"Australia were number one in the world for the last 10 to 15 years, but that has changed now. It is a beginning for India," said Sreesanth, on returning home from Delhi.
Sreesanth said players refrained from discussing controversies during the tour.
"The players never discussed such things. We just concentrated on cricket. Our job was to perform."
On Praveen Kumar, who won the man-of-the-match award in the second final of the tri-series, Sreesanth said "I know him from Ireland series. Kumar has been a revelation, while Ishant Sharma, another success on the tour, has the height advantage," he said. — PTI
Bangalore, March 7
World number seven Venus was back in form as she beat Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 6-3 in 90 minutes in the quarterfinal today, while third seed Serena demolished unseeded Anastasia Rodionova 6-1, 6-4.
Fourth seed Patty Schnyder was the first player to reach the last four, wearing down big-serving Uzbek Akgul Amanmuradova to win 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.
China’s Yan Zi stunned top seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia in the quarterfinal. World number 54 Yan clinched a thrilling 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory in just over two hours and will meet Schnyder for a place in the final.
Americans Venus and Serena, who have 14 Grand Slam titles between them, are tied at seven-all in their head-to-head meetings.
“(It) would have been nice if we’d met in the final,” Venus said at a press conference.
Venus, 27, showed considerable improvement from her inconsistent display in the second round against Chinese Shuai Peng when she committed 15 double faults.
Second-seeded Venus led 5-1 in the opening set before the Russian seventh seed broke her twice as she won three straight games.
Venus, a former world number one, squandered five set points before breaking her 21st-ranked opponent in the 10th game to take the set.
Venus took control of the second set, making a crucial break in the fourth game after the two had traded early breaks.
Left-hander Schnyder used clever placements to tire her taller, 23-year-old opponent. Amanmuradova, ranked 83 in the world, outgunned the world number 12 from the baseline to win the first set but the wily Schnyder countered in the second.
Schnyder, 29, went 3-0 up before Amanmuradova rallied to 4-5 but the Uzbek double faulted at a crucial point to hand her opponent the set.
“I had a slow start but then I found my game, especially on my serve,” Schnyder told reporters.
Amanmuradova’s series of unforced errors cost her dearly in the final set after the two had traded early breaks. She saved three match points to push the set into the tie-breaker which the experienced Schnyder clinched, dropping just one point. — Reuters
New Delhi, March 7
Both made the grade via the men’s and women’s singles quota places, respectively, from the South Asian region during the ongoing Olympic Qualifying Tournament for the Asian zone in Hong Kong, a Table Tennis Federation of India statement said today.
The top seven in the qualifying competition and the best finisher from the five regions (East, South-East, West, South Central) in both men’s and women’s categories make it to Beijing.
Sharath and Neha failed to advance beyond Stage II of the qualifying tournament but emerged best in the regional playoffs.
Sharath finished second in Stage I of the qualifying competition and in Stage II won two matches while losing the other two.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist made it to the Chinese capital by emerging as the best finisher among South Asian competitors.
In the women’s section, Delhi girl Neha Aggarwal upstaged her more fancied compatriots Poulomi Ghatak and Mouma Das to book a ticket to Beijing.
The three Indians played among themselves for a quota from the South Asian region but ended on equal points. Neha qualified on the basis of winning more games in the playoffs. — PTI
Linares (Spain), March 7
The draw came easy for Anand as Ivanchuk could not do much with his white pieces and when Magnus Carlsen of Norway was also forced to split the point with Levon Aronian of Armenia, it meant that the Indian ace goes into the last round with a half-point cushion and white pieces to back him.
Barring a disaster in the last-round game against former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, Anand is assured of at least a shared first place in the category-21 tournament and is likely to retain the title he won last year.
The impact that white pieces have in high-level chess was quite evident when Anand was asked about his prospects in the event with just one round to come. “Tomorrow I have white, and at least I got all these games out of the way and I still keep my lead,” Anand said after drawing his game.
While not much happened on the leading boards, Topalov kept his date with destiny after scoring a hard-fought victory over tailender Peter Leko of Hungary. The Bulgarian, on seven points, is a full point behind Anand but still has a chance to jointly win the title if he can have his way against the Indian ace.
The other game of the day was quite catastrophic for Latvian- turned Spaniard Alexei Shirov, who simply missed an endgame finesse in a level position and went down to Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan.
With Anand on eight points and Carlsen half a point behind, there is much speculation among pundits about who all are going to tie for the second spot if Anand draws and Carlsen is unable to force matters against Radjabov. A likely scenario could be a clear second spot for Carlsen, while Aronian and Topalov will share the third place.
Anand was in his usual equalising mood with black and achieved it easily against Ivanchuk in the Sozin variation employed by the latter.
A couple of pieces changed hands early in the game and a central breakthrough was enough to give Anand an easy game thereafter. Peace was signed in just 23 moves. — PTI
Top pros for golf grand finale
New Delhi, March 7
The event, now in its 13th year, is the only stand-alone Pro-Am on the Indian professional golf circuit.
Giving this information, Sayeed Sanadi of Tiger Sports said the top five professionals on the current PGTI Order of Merit - Lam Chih Bing, Digvijay Singh, Rahul Ganapathy, Mukesh Kumar and Shamim Khan - had confirmed their entries in a total of over 22 professionals vying for top honours.
Defending champion and No.1 on the PGTI Order of Merit Ashok Kumar will be looking to retain his title.
For the first time, a lady professional, Shalini Malik - who played in the Ladies Masters in December last year - will also be seen in action.
The exclusive field comprises a heady mixture of top-notch CEOs from across the country who will get a chance to rub shoulders with the top pros in this event sponsored by Honda SIEL Cars India and co-sponsored by Avaya Global Connect & ITC Hotels Ltd.
The four-venue event teed off in Bangalore and covered Kolkata and Mumbai before reaching its final stop. The respective winners from each city will also be seen in action in the grand finale.
The total prize money is Rs 12 lakh, with the maximum individual amount being Rs 330,000 (including appearance money).
While the professionals will be playing for prize money, some gala prizes await the amateurs, with the winning team (three amateurs) getting an all-expenses-paid trip for a couple to South Africa.
Kochi, March 7 Sri Lanka, which was expected to give India a stiff fight, bagged three gold, three silver and eight bronze, while Pakistan pocketed two gold and four silver medals. Of the eight meet records, six were set by athletes from India, while rest of the two went in favour of Pakistan’s Zafar Iqbal, who erased the men’s triple jump record and Sri Lanka’s DDP Priyadarshani in the women's 100 m. In the women’s long jump, Olympian Anju Bobby George shattered the meet record by clearing a distance of 6.50 m. Promising 19-year old Mayookha Johny, who in the recent Federation Cup Athletics Meet at Bhopal won the gold with a leap of 6.32 m, failed to win any medal. India’s Preeja Sridharan (5000m), Seema Antil (discus throw), Chatholi Hamza (1500m), Surender Singh (5000m) and Satyender Kumar Singh (shot put) also created records. Much was expected of Chitra K Soman, Asian 400m champion, but she had to be content with the silver with a time of 53.69 secs, while the gold was pocketed by compatriot Mandeep Kaur (53.34 secs). — PTI
Sri Lanka, which was expected to give India a stiff fight, bagged three gold, three silver and eight bronze, while Pakistan pocketed two gold and four silver medals.
Of the eight meet records, six were set by athletes from India, while rest of the two went in favour of Pakistan’s Zafar Iqbal, who erased the men’s triple jump record and Sri Lanka’s DDP Priyadarshani in the women's 100 m.
In the women’s long jump, Olympian Anju Bobby George shattered the meet record by clearing a distance of 6.50 m. Promising 19-year old Mayookha Johny, who in the recent Federation Cup Athletics Meet at Bhopal won the gold with a leap of 6.32 m, failed to win any medal.
India’s Preeja Sridharan (5000m), Seema Antil (discus throw), Chatholi Hamza (1500m), Surender Singh (5000m) and Satyender Kumar Singh (shot put) also created records.
Much was expected of Chitra K Soman, Asian 400m champion, but she had to be content with the silver with a time of 53.69 secs, while the gold was pocketed by compatriot Mandeep Kaur (53.34 secs). — PTI
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