SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Series, pride at stake for India
Ishant Sharma runs in to bowl during a training session at the Kingsmead stadium in Durban on Saturday. India play South Africa in the second Test from Sunday. Durban, December 25
Battered into submission in the first Test despite Sachin Tendulkar's batting heroics, world number one India will aim to reclaim their bruised pride and level the series against a rampaging South Africa in the second cricket Test starting here tomorrow.

Ishant Sharma runs in to bowl during a training session at the Kingsmead stadium in Durban on Saturday. India play South Africa in the second Test from Sunday. — AP/PTI

Time to focus on the real picture
Right. Now that Sachin Tendulkar’s 50th Test century is done with, one hopes that this is one monkey off the back of our society’s manic obsession with individuals. Time to look at the bigger picture -- we lost at Centurion, by an innings, and if we don’t improve, this series will be done and dusted in Durban.



EARLIER STORIES

Tame Amla or go down 2-0: Smith
December
25, 2010
Curator promises fair pitch
December
24, 2010
India looking for answers
December
23, 2010
Sachin back in ODI & T20 team
December
22, 2010
India fall flat on the face
December
21, 2010
Master BlaSTER Sachin
December
20, 2010
Strong reply by Indian openers
December
19, 2010
Proteas in cruise control
December
18, 2010
Blown Away
December
17, 2010

IHF hits back at ministry for questioning polls
New Delhi, December 25
The Indian Hockey Federation today shot back at the sports ministry for expressing displeasure over its recently-concluded election, saying the government has no power to declare its poll process "null and void" as it has complied with all the stipulated guidelines.

I am ready for captaincy: Sandeep
Nabha, December 25
As the organisers of the Liberals Hockey Tournament gathered in front of the main entrance at the PPS School grounds here, a grey SUV slowly pulled up and the striking figure of Sandeep Singh emerged from the vehicle. The Indian team’s ace drag-flicker had driven to the venue all the way from his native Shahbad in Haryana to be the special guest at this tournament and to encourage and motivate the young players.

Punjab snare North Zone netball titles
Gurdaspur, December 25
Punjab could not have asked for a better Christmas gift as they clinched both the men’s and women’s titles in the North Zone Netball Championship which concluded at the Guru Ram Dass Academy here today. In the final, Punjab, in the men’s section, demolished the defences of Chandigarh 32-20 while on the distaff side, the hosts’ girls did an encore by beating Chandigarh 24-12.

Anderson boost for England
Kevin Pietersen throws a ball during the team's final training session, in Melbourne on Saturday. The series is level at 1-1 and a win will see England retain the Ashes. Melbourne, December 25
England's main strike bowler James Anderson and Steve Finn are fit to play in the crucial fourth Ashes Test against Australia, captain Andrew Strauss said today. Anderson had been troubled by a side strain but bowled at close to full pace in the MCG nets yesterday and today and was given the all-clear by Strauss to play in the Melbourne Test.

Kevin Pietersen throws a ball during the team's final training session, in Melbourne on Saturday. The series is level at 1-1 and a win will see England retain the Ashes. — AFP

Modi gets relief; disciplinary committee proceedings stayed
Mumbai, December 25
The Bombay High Court today stayed the proceedings of BCCI disciplinary committee probing allegations of financial irregularities against former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi till January 10 next year.

Ranji: Haryana pile up runs
Rohtak, December 25
Haryana and the weather added to Tamil Nadu’s miseries as the hosts reached 379 for six off 116 overs on the second day of the Ranji Trophy quarter-final match here today.Nitin Saini contributed a round 150 for Haryana and though much of the day’s game was affected by fog, Tamil Nadu, despite being on the backfoot most of the time, did manage to chip in with some wickets.

PCB keen to send players for IPL IV
Karachi, December 25
The Pakistan Cricket Board is willing to provide all documents and clearance of its players if the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decides to allow its cricketers to take part in the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League. A senior official of the PCB Subhan told at a press conference here today that the the Board was interested in sending its players for the IPL 2011 to India.

Asian Cup could be end of Park’s career
Manchester, December 25
South Korea midfielder Park Ji-sung is considering retiring from international football after the Asian Cup next month. The 29-year-old Manchester United player has been balancing commitments to clubs in Europe and South Korea for almost eight years.

‘Arsenal scared of Drogba’
London, December 25
Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba Ahead of the Chelsea-Arsenal Premier League clash, Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that Arsenal are running scared of his striker Didier Drogba. Drogba has scored 13 goals in 13 games against the Gunners, and Ancelotti is backing him to fire again during Monday's match at the Emirates.


Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba

 


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Series, pride at stake for India

Durban, December 25
Battered into submission in the first Test despite Sachin Tendulkar's batting heroics, world number one India will aim to reclaim their bruised pride and level the series against a rampaging South Africa in the second cricket Test starting here tomorrow.

The visitors are smarting from an innings and 25 runs defeat in Centurion, where their famed line-up capitulated so badly in the first innings that it became impossible to salvage the match in the second essay despite Tendulkar's historic 50th Test ton.

In their previous Tests at the ground, India managed a draw in 1992-93 but lost by 328 runs in 1996-97, and by 174 runs in 2006-07.

However, going into tomorrow's game, the omens have been good so far with pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who sat out in Centurion due to a hamstring strain, back to full fitness for the must-win match of the three-Test series.

Add to this, South Africa's not-so-impressive recent record in Kingsmead. Graeme Smith's men have suffered a couple of massive defeats at the venue in recent times (by 175 runs to Australia in 2008-09 and an innings and 98 runs against England last year).

But that would hardly make a difference after the toss of coin tomorrow morning, something that Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not that good at.

The curator has promised a fair track which would have as much for the bowlers as for the batsmen and that should be music to Indian ears considering that the visiting batsmen seemed to have no clue on how to deal with short-pitched stuff on the Centurion pitch.

The batting did come good in the second innings of that highly forgettable match for the Indians but the form of a few remains a concern.

One among them is Suresh Raina, who has scored 32, 3, 20, 3, 1 and 5 in his last six Test innings, and he could well lose his pace in the side to the young Cheteshwar Pujara.

‘Toss will be crucial’

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hasn't been lucky with the coin of late and there are times when the spin of the coin does have a telling impact on the match.

Dhoni's counterpart Graeme Smith can't agree more as his pacers ensured that his decision to field first during the first Test remained vindicated as they rattled the Indian batting line-up in the first innings.

Dhoni will certainly hope that the 'Lady Luck' smiles upon him as spin of coin can again have an impact on the result of the second Test at Kingsmead-- inarguably the bounciest among the South African pitches.

Talking about the importance of winning the toss, Dhoni said, "It will be important, but I think the wicket will behave in the similar way throughout the Test match. The forecast also seems cloudy throughout the Test. And the statistics say whenever it is cloudy in Durban, the ball does a bit.

He further added, "Toss will be crucial because the wicket will be fresh and it will help seamers throughout." The Indian captain said in jest that he wouldn't mind if anyone can tell him what's magic mantra of calling correctly.

"That's a difficult one because you have to pick one of the two options. I don't mind if any can stand up and tell me okay this is the call that will ensure that I win. We will call for that tomorrow," was Indian skipper's answer to the question whether he is practising the spin of coin.

The Indian captain however ruled out the possibility of going with four pacers although the pitch will have good bounce and carry. The reason being the over-rate problems that emerges when one goes in with four quicks.

Gambhir doubtful

Indian opener Gautam Gambhir was today rendered a doubtful starter for the second cricket Test against South Africa after injuring his left hand and the team management will take a decision on his participation before the toss tomorrow. — PTI

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Time to focus on the real picture
Jaideep Ghosh

Right. Now that Sachin Tendulkar’s 50th Test century is done with, one hopes that this is one monkey off the back of our society’s manic obsession with individuals. Time to look at the bigger picture -- we lost at Centurion, by an innings, and if we don’t improve, this series will be done and dusted in Durban.

I guess it is not only our slightly biased cricket supporters who create this whole frenzy. The media helps and now even the International Cricket Council gets its cheap thrills from contests comparing Tendulkar and Don Bradman. Who is better?

Given that no one has seen Bradman bat, quite a weird contest really. Maybe we should have taken some people who are in living memory. Also, Bradman had to contend with uncovered pitches, limited protection, unlimited bouncers, bats that had to be ‘seasoned’ and never had much of a sweet spot or bowlers who didn’t have to bowl 90 overs in a day. And of course, endless months aboard ships, traversing between Australia and England and a few other places.

He also didn’t play Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, or even a young Sri Lanka. But still, if figures were to be believed, he’d have around 20,000 runs if he had played 175 Tests.

On the other hand, Tendulkar has been playing forever and has 50 Test centuries, not to mention unbeaten 200 in limited-overs cricket. So appreciate both, forget the comparison and get on with it.

Which brings us to Durban. This is the hometown of Shaun Pollock, one of the greats of South African and world cricket. This is also where Pravin Amre scored a century on debut and then slowly faded away.

Durban is one place where bowlers always find something to bowl with. There are theories that the waters of the Indian Ocean actually creep under the Kingsmead ground during high tide and add moisture to the pitches. Not quite sure if that is true. But the sea is right next to the stadium and seaside humidity and the consequent swing is a factor.

So Zaheer Khan’s return should be welcome. He should be fit, for at least the first ten overs of his spell. But what India would need is to have him fit for the entire Test and series, since, once again, who gets 20 wickets will decide the outcome. Or who takes 20 wickets without giving away heaps of runs.

Also, if you really look at the South Africans, there is precious little beyond Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. India on the other hand are supposed to have one of the best off-spinners to follow-up after Zaheer, Ishant and Sreesanth. So we should get 20 wickets faster.

That is how the theory is. Let’s see how it works out in practice when the fun and games begin again, come Sunday.

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IHF hits back at ministry for questioning polls

New Delhi, December 25
The Indian Hockey Federation today shot back at the sports ministry for expressing displeasure over its recently-concluded election, saying the government has no power to declare its poll process "null and void" as it has complied with all the stipulated guidelines.

IHF secretary general Ashok Mathur took strong exception to joint secretary in the sports ministry, Injeti Srinivas' statement that the election process of the body, which was completed during a special general body meeting on Monday, was "null and void" for not complying with the government guidelines.

"We have adhered to all the criteria of the government. We are the first to accept the age and tenure limitation guidelines by amending our constitution. We also appointed a Retd High Court judge as Returning Officer, and took care of all points.

We held out election on October 3 which was also attended by the government observer. But we couldn't declare the result because of a court case," Mathur told PTI.

"The government was well informed about all the developments. Even the government observer was present during the merger of IHF and IWHF on August 12. We also informed the Registrar of Societies about the merger. So, how can the government say that we did not follow their guidelines." "I was surprised at Injeti Srinivas' statement in the paper today. Who is he to say that the election is null and void without going through all the facts," Mathur insisted.

In a letter to IHF president, Deepika Kachhal, a director in the sports ministry had sought to know the authenticity of reports about the polls conducted on Monday and said the hockey body faces risk of derecognition if it was found that guidelines were not adhered to during the election process. —PTI 

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I am ready for captaincy: Sandeep
Sunil Narula
Tribune News Service

Indian hockey player Sandeep Singh at the All-India Liberals Hockey tournament in Nabha on Saturday.
Indian hockey player Sandeep Singh at the All-India Liberals Hockey tournament in Nabha on Saturday. Tribune photo: S Chandan

Nabha, December 25
As the organisers of the Liberals Hockey Tournament gathered in front of the main entrance at the PPS School grounds here, a grey SUV slowly pulled up and the striking figure of Sandeep Singh emerged from the vehicle. The Indian team’s ace drag-flicker had driven to the venue all the way from his native Shahbad in Haryana to be the special guest at this tournament and to encourage and motivate the young players.

After speaking with them, Sandeep is quite candid in his assessment of the current hockey scenario in the country as he chats with The Tribune. “Young talent is there in the country but these boys will only take up hockey and get motivated if we seniors start winning tournaments at the international level,’’ he said.

Attitude, aloofness and tantrums which are an integral part of any top Indian cricketer’s image are conspicuous by their absence here. Sandeep is quite chilled out, relaxed and speaks his mind in an affable manner.

Asked about the captaincy of the hockey team, he responds: “Yes, I’m ready. If the captaincy is given to me, I’m ready for the challenge,” says Sandeep.

After Jose Brasa’s departure, the search is on for a new coach as well and Sandeep has an image in mind. “The team has been involved in a lot of controversies in the past. There is really no need for these type of things. We need a coach who is good at man-management. At this level, more than the game what we need is someone who can maintain a good balance and relationship with the players and the federation. That is what has been lacking in the past and has led to controversies and misunderstanding,” says the player who was the highest goal-scorer in the Asian Games recently with 11 strikes.

“It was just five minutes of bad play in Guangzhou that cost us a win. There are some important tournaments coming up for us like the Azlan Shah and I’m looking forward to that,’ he says.

Sandeep, who is a DSP with Haryana Police, says he still has to find time to complete the training at the Police Academy in Madhuban. “I still have to go through that. It is compulsory. Also, I want to continue with my studies and have joined a correspondence course. For me studies are also very important,” he says. That part will surely come in handy when he has to deal with the media on a regular basis if he does become the captain of the Indian hockey team in the near future.

WR, PSB in final

Western Railway Mumbai will meet Punjab and Sind Bank in the final of the Liberals Hockey Tournament here on Sunday. PSB beat Punjab National Bank 2-1 and Western Railway beat EME Jalandhar 5-1.

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Punjab snare North Zone netball titles
Ravi Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 25
Punjab could not have asked for a better Christmas gift as they clinched both the men’s and women’s titles in the North Zone Netball Championship which concluded at the Guru Ram Dass Academy here today. In the final, Punjab, in the men’s section, demolished the defences of Chandigarh 32-20 while on the distaff side, the hosts’ girls did an encore by beating Chandigarh 24-12.

The men started off on a steady note with their wing attacker Sandeep Thakur and centre Nitish playing their hearts out to secure a seven-point lead after the second quarter. Goalkeeper Karan Sher Singh played a superb game and stopped many an attack from the Chandigarh side. Midway in the third quarter there many cases of rough play but the umpires - Ashok Sharma of Himachal Pradesh and Shafir Ahmed of Jammu and Kashmir - kept their nerve in difficult situations.

At one time it seemed things would go out of hand but timely intervention by the Punjab Netball Association President N.S Tiwana saved the organisers the blushes. Chandigarh boys did try to make a comeback but Karan stood like a rock to stop his opponents from notching up the equaliser. It was in the last quarter that Punjab scored a series of points to close the match at 32-20. In the first quarter the teams shared five points each but as things heated up, the Chandigarh boys lacked both attitude and aptitude to make a fight of it. They also lacked the necessary wherewithal both in defence and attack to put up a challenge as the hosts romped home by a comfortable 12 point margin. Earlier, in the women’s section, the hosts made full use of the home environs to start off well.

They maintained the tempo midway and closed the contest in style at 24-12. For the losers Kanica and Sonam played well but today was simply not their day as the hosts collected points with consummate ease to finish the match with a clear 12-point lead.

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Anderson boost for England

Melbourne, December 25
England's main strike bowler James Anderson and Steve Finn are fit to play in the crucial fourth Ashes Test against Australia, captain Andrew Strauss said today. Anderson had been troubled by a side strain but bowled at close to full pace in the MCG nets yesterday and today and was given the all-clear by Strauss to play in the Melbourne Test.

"He had a bit of a niggle but he seems to have got over that," Strauss told a news conference today. "He's 100 percent fit and available for selection." Finn showed signs of fatigue as Australia claimed a series-levelling win in last week's third Perth Test. But Strauss has backed the 21-year-old quick to handle the demands of tomorrow's five-day MCG Test.

"'Finny' has done some really good things on this tour, taken quite a few wickets," Strauss said. "He was probably a bit expensive in Perth (2-86 off 15 overs and 3-97 off 21).

"But he's young and he's learning and I think he's going to keep getting better. "We're going to have to think about what that best balance is before tomorrow and we'll name the side at the toss." Strauss said he was confident his team could recover from last week's 267-run mauling in Perth. "We had a few days off which was much needed -- it's been quite a long tour -- and we came here and there's been a lot of buzz and energy about the team over the past couple of days," he said.

"There's talk of nearly 100,000 people being there. It's one of the highlights of your career, being able to play at the MCG in a Boxing Day Test.

"It's a big Test match. Our heads have got to be firmly on the cricket. "We'll have a couple of hours off on Christmas Day with our families and have a nice lunch but we don't want to have any regrets, think 'Oh, we should have prepared better for this Test match'." Strauss said his batsmen needed to take a patient approach on an MCG drop-in wicket which was expected to play low and slow.

"Sometimes it can be pretty tough to score here," he said. Patience (is vital), which can be quite hard when there's a big crowd here and you've got a bit of adrenalin going -- to remain patient and calm is quite tough. "But these conditions shouldn't be that alien for us, it should suit our style of play.

"I think (spinner) Graeme Swann will come into the game more than he did in Perth so there's plenty of reason for us to be optimistic about this game. "I can't think of anything better than to come over to Australia and win the Boxing Day Test. That would be a very good feather in all our caps."

Strauss said the struggling Paul Collingwood would retain the number five batting position and ruled out a promotion for Ian Bell. "He's a fighter and an experienced campaigner. These sort of scraps bring out the best in him," Strauss said of Collingwood.

Despite their heavy Perth defeat, England still have the upper hand going into the final two Tests of an enthralling Ashes series, needing only one more victory to retain the coveted urn against Australia.

England last won a famous victory at the MCG in 1998 with Dean Headley taking 6-60 in the second innings as the tourists won by just 12 nail-biting runs. Australia's only loss at the MCG this decade was against South Africa two years ago as the Proteas won their first series in Australia. — AFP

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Modi gets relief; disciplinary committee proceedings stayed

Mumbai, December 25
The Bombay High Court today stayed the proceedings of BCCI disciplinary committee probing allegations of financial irregularities against former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi till January 10 next year.

Modi's counsel Ram Jethmalani said that after hearing the civil suit filed by Modi, the vacation judge of the High Court Justice S J Kathawala held that a prima facie case has been made out for staying such proceedings.

The next date for Disciplinary Committee meeting was scheduled on December 27 and 28 at New Delhi.

The senior lawyer argued that Modi had filed the suit contending that under Rule 1 (q) of the BCCI Rules and Regulations there can only be one disciplinary committee which has to be appointed by the Board at every Annual General Meeting (AGM). But the Board had not appointed any disciplinary committee in its AGM held September 29, 2010.

He also added that the BCCI was acting contrary to its own constitution and bye-laws. The constitution of a separate disciplinary committee to hear the charges against Modi was in effect an attempt to amend the constitution and bye-laws of the BCCI without following the procedure for amendment as contemplated under Tamil Nadu Act and Rules, which are applicable to BCCI.

The counsel argued that an application was therefore moved before the disciplinary committee to discontinue further proceedings on behalf of Modi. He said on December 11, 2010 BCCI held a special general meeting for extension of period of earlier Disciplinary Committee and for constituting another Disciplinary Committee under Rule 1(q). — PTI

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Ranji: Haryana pile up runs
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, December 25
Haryana and the weather added to Tamil Nadu’s miseries as the hosts reached 379 for six off 116 overs on the second day of the Ranji Trophy quarter-final match here today.Nitin Saini contributed a round 150 for Haryana and though much of the day’s game was affected by fog, Tamil Nadu, despite being on the backfoot most of the time, did manage to chip in with some wickets.

Lakshmipathy Balaji, Sunil Sam and R. Ashwin shared the wickets equally but Haryana were still very comfortably placed wityh just two days to go. At the close of play, skipper Amit Mishra and Dhruv Singh were holding the fort. Brief scores: Haryana 379/6 off 116 overs (N Saini 150, Sunny Singh 102, L Balaji 2/92, S Sam 2/56, R Ashwin 2/76).

Mumbai in trouble

Jaipur: Opener Vineet Saxena hit his ninth century in first-class cricket and added 206 runs for the undefeated second wicket stand with skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar as Rajasthan finished second day's play at 236 for one as Mumbai's dream of winning a hat-trick of Ranji Trophy titles looks like a distant reality. With only dismissal of the day being veteran opener Aakash Chopra (17), Saxena (111 batting, 284 balls, 415 minutes, 14x4, 1x6) and Kanitkar (96 batting, 255 balls, 380 minutes, 14x4) made the opposition bowlers toil throughout the day. — PTI

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PCB keen to send players for IPL IV

Karachi, December 25
The Pakistan Cricket Board is willing to provide all documents and clearance of its players if the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decides to allow its cricketers to take part in the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League. A senior official of the PCB Subhan told at a press conference here today that the the Board was interested in sending its players for the IPL 2011 to India.

"We are keen on this and if the Indian board requires us to provide any clearance or NOC for any player we will do it," Subhan said.

He added that the PCB had already written to the BCCI on the issue last week and were awaiting a reply from them. The issue of Pakistani players taking part in the lucrative T20 league that attracts players from all cricketing nations has been a contentious issue since the terror attacks in Mumbai in November 2008.

Pakistani players have not been able to take part in the last two editions of the IPL despite efforts made by the PCB. In the inaugural edition in 2008 over a dozen Pakistani players played and Sohail Tanvir was adjudged best bowler of the tournament. — PTI

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Asian Cup could be end of Park’s career

Manchester, December 25
South Korea midfielder Park Ji-sung is considering retiring from international football after the Asian Cup next month. The 29-year-old Manchester United player has been balancing commitments to clubs in Europe and South Korea for almost eight years.

Before joining United in 2005, Park spent two seasons at PSV Eindhoven. Asked about retiring, Park said: "For now I can't say anything. Maybe after the Asia Cup I will." Park will join South Korea as it tries to win the Asia Cup for the first time since 1960 after United plays Sunderland on Sunday.

His four Premier League goals this season - including the winner against Arsenal two weeks ago - have helped to lift United to the top of the standings.

"I totally believe we will still be No 1 when I come back," Park said. "Playing for the national team is an honour but I am going to miss several games, so it is quite disappointing. "But Manchester United have a big enough squad to be very strong and they will do well without me." The final of the continental tournament in Qatar is not until Jan 29. — AP

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‘Arsenal scared of Drogba’

London, December 25
Ahead of the Chelsea-Arsenal Premier League clash, Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that Arsenal are running scared of his striker Didier Drogba. Drogba has scored 13 goals in 13 games against the Gunners, and Ancelotti is backing him to fire again during Monday's match at the Emirates.

"I think Arsenal are a bit afraid of Drogba because he has always done well against them," the Sun quoted Ancelotti, as saying. "If he plays to his best on Monday, we will have a good opportunity to win again. We have a good record against Arsenal and they know our skills very well," he added. Ancelotti further said that Chelsea have slipped to fourth after taking just three points from their last five games because many players were not available due to injuries.

"When you are in a bad moment it's very difficult to put the youngsters in because you don't want to put responsibility on their shoulders," Ancelotti said. "But now we have had two weeks without a game and have used that break to our advantage," he added. — ANI

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 BRIEFLY

PCB to continue waiting game
Karachi
: The Pakistan Cricket Board is waiting for the United Kingdom's home department to take a call on the asylum application of wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider. Admitting that Zulqarnain had violated his central contract with the board by leaving the team hotel in Dubai before resurfacing in London during last month's series against South Africa, a PCB official said the PCB didn't want to make early judgements on the case. "We immediately suspended his contract on disciplinary grounds but we don't want to do anything more until we know what happens to his application," the official said. — PTI

No place for Beckham: Wenger
London
: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said that he would love to sign David Beckham during next month's transfer window, but insisted that he does not have a spot for the midfielder. "I would consider signing Beckham, but we have Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky, Arshavin and Eboue who can play on the flanks," the Sun quoted Wenger, as saying. Beckham, who had spent the last two winters on loan from Los Angeles Galaxy at AC Milan, had earlier confirmed that his move to the Italian club would not happen again. "I won't be going back to AC Milan this time because is not possible to go onto the roster for such a short length of time," the 35-year-old had said. — ANI

Players slam manager Chowdhury
New Delhi
: Team manager Pradeep Chowdhury's out-of-the-blue decision to part ways with the Indian football squad has not gone down well with national players, who are preparing in Dubai for the Asian Cup, scheduled to be held in Doha from January 7.

Reacting strongly to Chowdhury's decision to return to India following a reported fallout with chief coach Bob Houghton, skipper Bhaichung Bhutia said, "This is not something we needed at this time.I'm very disappointed at his decision to leave us at such a difficult phase." — PTI 

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