India-South Africa series
Sehwag, Harbhajan on top
ICL World XI set up title clash with India XI
It is victimisation: Akhtar
Chetan gets easy 1st round
Revolt took Leander by surprise: Vece
Mumbai Indians rope in Hrithik
Ganguly banking on Gul in Akhtar’s absence
Don’t crib, learn to play on turners: Warne
Not many star names for torch relay
Delhi boys, Haryana eves excel
India-South Africa series
What a fine effort it was on the part of the Indians to bounce back in the series, after being down 0-1.
They got the pitch that suited their kind of game at Kanpur, but one has to say that they took the full advantage of it.
Their spinners used the pitch and the conditions to their advantage and ensured that the series was leveled.
When any team comes to play in India, or in the sub-continent, they expect these kinds of pitches.
So it's not unusual for us. It suits India's strengths, and the visiting teams have to deal with that.
Speaking about the third day's play, I think the batting of the India's tail-enders made a big difference.
Sreesanth and Sharma batted for an hour on the Sunday morning and gave India an extremely crucial 60-run lead.
In such a low-scoring game, on a pitch where batting is not easy, a 60-run lead makes a huge difference.
By the time the Proteas had rubbed it off they were already three down. I think the Indian spinners did their job very well.
Harbhajan got four and Viru got three and made sure their team didn't chase a stiff target in the fourth innings.
Partnerships are the key in such games, but unfortunately the hosts didn't allow us to build any.
In such conditions, teams generally target some opposition bowlers against whom they can attack.
I think the visitors had leg-spinner Chawla in their mind as the target bowler, and they did go after him as soon as he came on to bowl. But then he bowled just four overs, so the plan didn't quite work.
Had the visitors been able to set India a target of around 200, it could have been a different ball-game altogether, as I had said in my previous column. But the host bowlers didn't allow us to do that, and credit should be given to them.
I never expected this Test to last for five days, but didn't expect it to end in three days either.
Looking back, I feel it was a good series from the South African perspective, and in the end, 1-1 is a fair result for both teams.
Right from South Africa's fightback after India had scored 627 in Chennai, to their remarkable victory in Ahmedabad, it was a good series.
Proteas will be a bit disappointed that they lost the last Test and didn't go back home with a series win, but they will go back with their heads held high.
As far as individual players are concerned, Neil McKenzie will be quite happy with the way he played on this tour.
He's comeback to the South African side has been incredible, and this tour would have given him a lot of confidence.
On the bowling side, it is a good learning experience for someone like Morny Morkel, who hasn't played in India before. In fact all the batsmen like De Villiers, Smith, Amla got runs in the series.
The series might be over, but there is lot of cricket ahead for the Indian fans. I have already reached India and will be playing for the Mumbai team as the IPL will be starting in four days’ time.
It will be fun to play alongside the likes of Sachin Tendulkar after playing so many matches against him.
And it will be nice to have the Mumbai crowd cheering for you, than against you.
New Delhi, April 14
Sehwag, who notched up 372 runs in the series at an average of 74.40, is followed by Neil McKenzie with 341 runs.
The top 10 is dominated by the Proteas with Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and skipper Graeme Smith completing the top five.
Apart from Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are the only other Indian batsmen in the top 10.
Among the bowlers, Sehwag is at the sixth position with six wickets while young pace sensation Ishant Sharma, who returned from injury for the crucial third Test, is at the seventh spot with five.
Skipper Anil Kumble, S Sreesanth and Piyush Chawla complete the top ten. The South African seamers made their presence felt with pace spearhead Dale Steyn at the second spot with 15 scalps.
Fellow pacers Makhya Ntini, Morne Morkel and spinner Paul Harris are the other South Africans in the top five. — UNI
Hyderabad, April 14
The Chris Cairns-led World team will now face ICL India in tomorrow's title clash. Inzamam-ul-Haq won the toss but his team could manage only 113 before being bowled out in 19.4 overs.
In reply, ICL World achieved the target without much trouble and finished with 117 for four in 17.2 overs.
None of the Pakistani batsmen managed to play substantial innings with Imran Farhat (20) being the highest scorer. Inzamam himself could contribute only one.
The only reasonable partnerships in their effort were the stand of 33 between Taufeeq Umar and Farhat and the 22 runs put on by Humayun Farhat and Naved-ul-Hasan.
South African medium pacer Andrew Hall (3-22) and Australian part-time left-arm spinner Matthew Elliot (3-17) were the wreckers-in-chief for the World team.
Elliot was adjudged man of the match as he contributed 26 runs in 22 deliveries to the World's opening partnership of 49 with fellow Aussie Ian Harvey (52 not out in 46 balls, 8x4).
The only time Pakistanis looked to be getting back in the match was when Riaz Afridi claimed two wickets in an over twice.
He scalped Elliot and New Zealander Lou Vincent in his first over and came back to dismiss Australian Damien Martyn (21) and Sri Lankan Upul Chandana (0) to finish with impressive figures of 4-14 from his four overs.
ICL Pakistan XI:
Razzaq c Chandana b Tuffey 11
Taufeeq st Vincent b Chandana 19
Inzamam c Chandana b van der Wath 1
I Farhat c Martyn b Elliott 20
Latif c van der Wath b Hall 1
Raza lbw b Chandana 4
H Farhat c van der Wath b Elliott 10
Naved-ul-Hasan c Martyn b Elliott 18
R Afridi b Hall 1
Arshad b Hall 8
Shabbir not out 2
Extras (b 4, lb 2, w 9, nb 3): 18
Total (all out; 19.4 overs): 113
Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-19, 3-52, 4-53, 5-62, 6-62, 7-84, 8-100, 9-105, 10-113.
Bowling: JJ van der Wath 4-0-18-1, D Tuffey 4-0-24-1, A Hall 3.4-0-22-3, U Chandana 4-0-26-2, M Elliott 4-0-17-3.
ICL World XI:
Elliott c H Farhat b Afridi 26
Harvey not out 52
Vincent b Riaz Afridi 0
Martyn c I Farhat b Afridi 21
Chandana b Afridi 0
Atapattu not out 12
Extras (w 3, nb 3): 6
Total (4 wickets; 17.2 overs): 117
Fall of wickets: 1-49, 2-49, 3-96, 4-96.
Bowling: Shabbir Ahmed 2 0 23 0, Naved-ul-Hasan 4-0-30-0, Abdul Razzaq 3-0-21-0, Arshad Khan 2-0-13-0, Riaz Afridi 4-1-16-4, Imran Farhat 2-0-10-0, Taufeeq Umar 0.2-0-4-0. — PTI
Karachi, April 14
Akhtar was vocal before the Senate Standing Committee on Sports and Culture today in Islamabad and accused the Board of having a separate policy for him and another for the other players.
"I know of instances where established and reputed players have broken rules and been indisciplined. But the captain and manager have covered up their issues. If I even go to a nightclub, it becomes an issue," he said.
The committee held a hearing into the ban imposed on Akhtar earlier this month for repeated violations of the players' code of conduct and a two-year probation.
The controversial fast bowler has lodged an appeal against the ban and an appellate tribunal headed by a former judge of the High Court is due to hold its first hearing on Thursday.
Senator Enver Baig of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians said he had no doubt Akhtar was being victimised and the ban was not justified.
"But the committee members feel that since the ban is under review by the appellate tribunal, we should wait for its decision. On April 26 we will have another meeting to discuss Pakistan cricket affairs," he said.
Baig confirmed that Akhtar was very vocal before the committee and made some strong points.
"He pointed out that he and Mohammad Asif had both tested positive for a banned substance in 2006 but the punishments for them were different. He also pointed out that Asif and Umar Gul were injured but still got central contracts while he was ignored," Baig said.
Akhtar told reporters after the hearing that he was confident that the appellate tribunal would lift the ban.
"I have committed no crime nor have I committed any serious offence. This five-year ban is not justified at all. I will continue to fight it," he said.
Baig confirmed that PCB Chairman Nasim Ashraf had told the committee that Akhtar was warned several times about his behaviour but did not mend his ways.
"Ashraf said the ban came after several warnings to the fast bowler. He also told the committee he would rather resign than make any compromises on discipline for any player," Baig stated. — PTI
Augusta, Georgia, April 14
Jeev was six-over-par at windy Augusta National when he showed great skills and mettle to hit four birdies over a five-hole stretch.
This was Jeev's best finish at a major beating his previous performance in the US Open last year where he finished tied 36th. His four-day score in the year's first major was four-over-par 292.
''I'm really disappointed. I came back pretty strongly at the back nine and left a few out there. I tried but I made too many mistakes on the front nine. My management wasn't up to the mark. I was pushing myself too much and getting result orientated and I paid the price,'' said Jeev, who finished tied 37th in his Masters debut last year.
''I was trying shots which I shouldn't have. On the first and ninth holes I should have just made sure I got the ball up on the green and I didn't.
Jeev suffered double bogeys on the first and ninth holes and dropped further bogeys on the third and fifth holes against a lone birdie on the second.
The 2006 Asian Tour champion then bogeyed the 10th which followed another misadventure in the middle of the fairway, he was staring at a big number for the round.
However, the Indian fought back hard and a birdie on the par five 13th hole sparked his come back.
While playing partner Nick Watney sensationally holed out for an eagle, Jeev converted a 15-foot birdie on the 16th hole and trickled in his fifth birdie of the round from 12 feet on the 17th.
He then dropped a bogey on the last after a blocked drive hit a tree and missing a six foot par save.
Immelman winner, Woods runner-up
Tiger Woods’ bid for a calendar grand slam was put on hold for another year after the world number one posted his second consecutive runner-up finish at the US Masters. Woods started the final round six shots behind eventual winner Trevor Immelman
ye'sterday and needed to produce a bit of magic on a windy day at Augusta National, but the 32-year-old could not produce the spark he needed to win a fifth green jacket. Woods finished with a level-par 72 yesterday and second place overall, three shots behind the winner.
''I just didn't quite have it this week,'' Woods told reporters. ''I just didn't make any putts all week.
I definitely hit the ball well enough to contend, I hit it well enough to put pressure on Trevor but I just couldn't make any putts.
You have good weeks and bad weeks and this certainly wasn't one of my best.'' Woods arrived at Augusta National as the red-hot favourite having won four of his five starts this season and had openly discussed the possibility of becoming the first to hold all four professional majors in the same year.
Tiger Woods’ bid for a calendar grand slam was put on hold for another year after the world number one posted his second consecutive runner-up finish at the US Masters.
Woods started the final round six shots behind eventual winner Trevor Immelman ye'sterday and needed to produce a bit of magic on a windy day at Augusta National, but the 32-year-old could not produce the spark he needed to win a fifth green jacket.
Woods finished with a level-par 72 yesterday and second place overall, three shots behind the winner. ''I just didn't quite have it this week,'' Woods told reporters.
''I just didn't make any putts all week. I definitely hit the ball well enough to contend, I hit it well enough to put pressure on Trevor but I just couldn't make any putts. You have good weeks and bad weeks and this certainly wasn't one of my best.''
Woods arrived at Augusta National as the red-hot favourite having won four of his five starts this season and had openly discussed the possibility of becoming the first to hold all four professional majors in the same year. — Reuters
New Delhi, April 14
Anand, ranked 47 after his heroics in Hyderabad, will be expected to get past the 104-ranked player from Japan.
The continental championships, starting tomorrow, is the final tournament to count in qualification for the Beijing Olympics.
If he gets past the first hurdle, Anand could be up against fourth seeded Chinese Jin Chen, who is up against Yongzhao Ashton Chen of Singapore in the first round.
Among other Indians, Anand Pawar, who won two international tournaments in the recent past, faces 10th seeded Indonesian Simon Santoso in the first round.
Anup Sridhar, the highest ranked Indian at 24th place, has a tough encounter lined up against seventh seed Sung Hwan Park of South Korea.
P Kashyap, ranked 95th, opens his campaign in the tournament against 27th ranked Chinese Yi Lu.
Meanwhile, Saina Nehwal is seeded eighth in women's singles and starts off against Malaysia's Julia Pei Xian Wong, ranked 29th.
The Malaysian girl is ranked just two spots behind the Indian star. Hence, Saina cannot afford to take the match lightly.
India's second highest ranked woman shuttler, Trupti Murgunde (50) is up against 88th placed Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand.
If she makes it to the second round, Trupti is likely to face second seeded Malaysian Mew Choo Wong, who opens her campaign against Vietnam's Ngoc Nguyen Nhung Le. — PTI
New Delhi, April 14
''His first reaction was one of surprise. He wasn't expecting this at all. Leander is a team man and he has always worked to get the team right,'' the senior Paes told mediapersons here.
''He is proud to represent India in the Davis Cup and that is something which comes close to his heart.''
India's Davis Cup players - Prakash Amritraj, Rohan Bopanna, Mahesh Bhupathi - had written to the All-India Tennis Association (AITA) last month that they would not play if Paes continued as captain, alleging that he put personal interests above the team.
But Vece dismissed the allegations saying that for Leander, the team has always been the priority.
''Leander is such a friendly guy. For him the team always comes first. But all this controversy has really hurt him. He has become really guarded now. But he has shown character during the controversy,'' he remarked.
Expressing his happiness after Leander and Mahesh decided to come together for the Beijing Olympics, Paes was confident they will sort out their differences before the event and will be strong contenders for a medal.
''It is terrific to see Leander and Mahesh coming together. More than that, it is good for both of them to play together. They enjoy playing together. They gel well and are spontaneous on court. All the differences between them are off court. On court they play like a team,'' he said.
''They are both intelligent guys. They will work it out for the Olympics. They are a strong medal prospect in the Olympics.''
''Leander and Mahesh are going on to play the circuits from here, Prakash and Rohan will be heading to play circuit too and they will be meeting before September world group play off. But at the moment their priority is Olympics,'' he added. — UNI
Mumbai, April 14
"Hrithik symbolises the spirit of the team," said R Balachandran, director of the newly formed Indiawin Sports - a subsidiary of Reliance Industries which owns the franchise outfit, at a media conference to outline the team's marketing campaign today.
The actor is figuring in a promotional video campaign to muster support for the team through a Hindi song "Duniya Hila Denge Hum (Let's rock the world)".
The franchisee also announced the ticket prices for the first two matches that the team plays at the Wankhede Stadium here and D Y Patil Stadium in Nerul, Navi Mumbai, on April 20 and 27, respectively.
"The ticket price ranges from Rs 250-500 to the upper end Rs 3000-5000 for the first match while for the second match it ranges from Rs 200-400 to Rs 1000," he added. — PTI
Kolkata, April 14
"Umar Gul is in our team. He will serve us well," Ganguly told newspersons here when asked about the Rawalpindi Express' absence from his side.
Shoaib is fighting a five-year ban slapped on him by the Pakistan Cricket Board and the IPL authorities made it clear that the speedster would not be allowed to play unless he gets the ban lifted.
Meanwhile, Ganguly, who shone with the bat in the third and final Test against South Africa, said he would have no problem adjusting to the Twenty20 format of the IPL.
"I'll get to the Twenty20 mode once I practise for a couple of days," he said soon after landing at the NSC Bose International Airport.
Ganguly also did not foresee any difficulty in captaining a mixed team comprising stars from various countries in the IPL.
"Look, it's after all the same game of cricket. Here also one plays with the bat and the ball," he said.
The left-hander was disappointed at missing two hundreds in back-to-back Tests but expressed happiness at the team managing to win the third Test at Kanpur to level the series 1-1.
Playing at his best, Ganguly got out at the same score of 87 in the second innings of the second Test at Ahmedabad and the opening essay of the third Test at Kanpur.
"I have missed two centuries. This diasppointment is there. But both the innings helped the team, which needed these knocks," he said. — PTI
Jaipur, April 14
India drew the three-match Test series against South Africa 1-1 after winning the third match in Kanpur on a crumbling track that invited the Proteas' ire.
But Warne, who is here to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the Rajasthan Royals team, said visiting teams should come prepared for turners.
"I see nothing wrong in this. Every team visiting India expects such kind of wickets. Every team tries to take advantage of the home conditions and their strengths.
I would love to have a spinning track right here if it suits Rajasthan Royals," Warne said here today.
"Don't the Indians have to play on hard and bouncy wickets in Australia or South Africa? That is the whole fun in cricket. You have to play on different kind of surfaces and have to prove yourself on them. It is a great challenge," he added.
Warne, who will captain the Rajasthan Royals in IPL, said he was impressed by the young talent pool that India has.
"I am quite pleased with what I saw. We have a young talented bunch. They are dynamic and skill is there," he said.
"After being with the youngsters I am feeling young too. Opportunities create wonderful things. I am looking forward to pass on my knowledge to these youngsters. I hope that they learn a few tricks," he added.
The tweaker, who bid adieu to his international career after last year's Ashes series against England, said he was working on his fitness to get back in shape for the IPL.
"I bowl in nets while workout in camps of the state team. I am not in best of conditions but while bowling in nets I have been able to remove some of the cobwebs which might have developed while was away from top level cricket," he said.
"I have been doing strengthening exercises and loosening out. I am anxious to have a go," he added.
On a lighter note, Warne said apart from IPL, Bollywood was also an enticing option for the Australian cricketers.
Aussie pace spearhead Brett Lee has already made some inroads into Bollywood and Warne feels a couple of more are also capable of making a mark.
"There are few others like my fellow Australian Shane Watson who are good enough to excel in films," he quipped. — PTI
Not many star names for torch relay
New Delhi, April 14
These names were released by sponsors Samsung, and they have also roped in a couple of young musicians and an upcoming actress. Otherwise, no big guns feature in the torch relay.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had earlier announced that Sachin Tendulkar, Milkha Singh, Shiny Abraham, Anju Bobby George and Pullela Gopichand would be running in the torch relay.
The participation of Tendulkar looks uncertain in view of the inauguration of the high-profile Indian Premier League Twenty20 Championship on April 18.
With no other big names figuring in the torch relay as of now, the IOA is either keeping the information under wraps or there may not be many high-profile runners due to security reasons.
The IOA seems to have got into a defensive mode after the media flashed that Rahul Gandhi and Kiran Bedi would not be running in the Torch relay, to refute its claim.
The IOA is also not willing to confirm the exact route of the torch relay though it is understood that the torch will pass through a three-km distance on the India Gate-Rajpath stretch.
The Olympic flame will arrive in Delhi on April 16 under heavy security. The Indian security agencies are also taking no chances due to the threat posed by Tibetan demonstrators and other political activists.
Delhi boys, Haryana eves excel
Jalandhar, April 14
Earlier in the day, in Greco Roman style, Uttar Pradesh clinched the overall trophy with 74 points while Haryana-A and Maharastra secured 2nd and 3rd positions with 68 and 45 points, respectively.
In the girls section, Haryana lifted the trophy with 84 points and Uttar Pradesh ended up on the runners-up position with 84 points.
Olympian Kartar Singh disclosed that a team of Indian senior wrestlers would participate in the forthcoming Olympic qualifying at Switzerland from April 18 to 20, 2008.
The second group would proceed for the same competition at Warsaw (Poland) from May 2 to 4, 2008.
Local bodies minister, Manoranjan Kalia, chief guest, announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh to the organising committee, while Punjab DGP, N.P.S. Aulakh presided over the function.
Results: Free style: Boys: 50 kg: Surender (Delhi-A) 1, Harphool (Delhi-B) 2 Luxman and Amit (Maharastra & Haryana) 3; 63 kg: Sandip (Haryana) 1, Ranjit (Maharastra) 2, Sher Singh (Haryana) and Arun (Delhi-A) 3.
Greco Roman: Boys: 50 kg: Manohar Singh (Punjab) 1, Sham Lal (Rajasthan) 2, Vikram (Haryana-A) and Manjeet Kumar 3; 63 kg: Ravinder Tomar (UP-A) 1, Bacclur Toma (Haryana-B) 2, Sagar (Maharashtra-A) and Shiv Prasad Yadav (Bihar) 3.
Girls: 43 kg: Pooja (Haryana-A) 1, Harvindera Kaur (Punjab) 2, Amarjeet Kaur (Chandigarh) and Kavita (UP-A) 3. 52 kg: Seema (UP-B) 1, Gargi Yadav (UP-A) 2, Rakhi (Haryana-A) and Pratibha (Chandigarh) 3.
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