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Durban Legend
Durban, December 29

An inspired India made amends for the drubbing at Centurion with a sensational 87-run victory against South Africa in the low-scoring second cricket Test to level the three-match series 1-1 here today.

Indian players celebrate their victory on the fourth day of the second Test against South Africa at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on Wednesday.

Victory Dance: Indian players celebrate their victory on the fourth day of the second Test against South Africa at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban on Wednesday. — AFP


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England retain Ashes with big win
Melbourne, December 29
England retained the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time in 24 years by completing an emphatic innings and 157-run win over Australia on the fourth day of the fourth test. England travels to the final test in Sydney starting Sunday with a 2-1 series lead, but as the Ashes-holder, England needs only to draw the series to keep the urn. Tim Bresnan claimed the final wicket and his fourth of the innings when Ben Hilfenhaus was caught behind for a duck to dismiss Australia for 258.

Yearender 3: Indian hockey
Mediocrity on the field, shame off it
It is hard to get to the top and even harder to stay there. But the toughest job of all is to claw back to the pinnacle once you have been pushed off the perch. There is something psychologically draining about starting all over again. Need a stark example? Welcome to the world of Indian hockey.

Raninder elected NRAI president
Patiala, December 29
Patiala’s Raninder Singh was today elected the full-time president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), beating Uttar Pradesh’s Shyam Singh Yadav in the elections held at the NRAI headquarters in New Delhi.



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Durban Legend

Durban, December 29
An inspired India made amends for the drubbing at Centurion with a sensational 87-run victory against South Africa in the low-scoring second cricket Test to level the three-match series 1-1 here today.

After setting a target of 303, the Indian bowlers put up a disciplined show to dismiss the hosts for 215 in 72.3 overs about an hour after the lunch break to record only their second Test triumph on South African soil.

It turned out to be an extraordinary Test with fortune fluctuating from one team to the other but the Indians eventually tilted the balance in their favour on a bouncy Kingsmead track which saw 40 wickets fall in three and half days.

The Indians, who had lost the first Test at Centurion by an innings and 25 runs, showed great character and resilience to demolish the Proteas in their own den and in conditions tailor-made to suit the home team.

The Indians players jumped in joy and hugged each other after last man Lonwabo Tsotsobe was run out to bring about the moment of glory while coach Gary Kirsten and the other support staff stood up at the dressing room to applaud the players.

S Sreesanth (3/45), Zaheer Khan (3/53) and Harbhajan Singh (2/70) were the pick of the bowlers for India while Ashwell Prince was the top scorer for the South Africans with an unbeaten 39.

It was India's second Test triumph in South Africa. The 123-run victory in the first Test at Johannesburg in 2006 was their first Test victory on South African soil.

The two teams will now travel to Cape Town for the third and final Test starting on Sunday.

Both teams had an equal chance of winning the match when play began this morning with South Africa needing 192 runs and India needing to scalp the seven remaining wickets.

With plenty of time at hand, South African batsmen adopted a cautious approach in the morning and were content in playing the waiting game against some disciplined Indian bowling.

Resuming their chase at the overnight score of 111 for three, both de Villiers and Jacques Kallis found the going tough against the Indian attack and scored in ones and twos before a ripper from Sreesanth broke the dangerous-looking 41-run fourth-wicket stand.

The Kerela speedster came up with a blinder of a delivery that bounced sharply on to Kallis from just short of length and the big man had no other option but to fend at it, only to glove it to Virender Sehwag at gully.

Kallis made 17 off 52 deliveries and hit two boundaries in the process. It seemed Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni came out with a perfect plan as he started the day's proceeding with off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who bowled in tandem alongside Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan.

Dhoni's tactic bore fruit as Harbhajan inflicted the second big blow of the morning to South Africa by dismissing another dangerman De Villiers (33) lbw even though TV replays showed the South African was unlucky.

Bowling from round the wicket, Harbhajan tossed one up on off and middle and got it to bite and straighten which struck de Villiers around the knee in front of the stumps and umpire Asad Rauf had no hestiation in raising the finger but replays later showed the ball was going above the stumps. Soon after de Velliers wicket, another dubious lbw decision ruined South Africa's morning when Zaheer Khan dismissed Mark Boucher in the 43rd over. — PTI

Scoreboard
India 205 & 228
South Africa 1st Innings 131
South Africa 2nd Innings (overnight 111/3)
Kallis c Sehwag b Sreesanth 17
de Villiers lbw b Harbhajan 33
Prince not out 39
Boucher lbw b Zaheer 1
Steyn c Pujara b Zaheer 10
Harris b Zaheer 7
Morkel c Dhoni b Ishant 20
Tsotsobe run out 0
Extras: (LB-1, NB-8) 9
Total (all out in 72.3 overs) 215
Bowling: Zaheer 17-3-57-3, Ishant 11.3-0-36-1, Sreesanth 14-2-45-3, Harbhajan 29-5-70-2, Tendulkar 1-0-6-0.

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England retain Ashes with big win

Melbourne, December 29
England retained the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time in 24 years by completing an emphatic innings and 157-run win over Australia on the fourth day of the fourth test. England travels to the final test in Sydney starting Sunday with a 2-1 series lead, but as the Ashes-holder, England needs only to draw the series to keep the urn. Tim Bresnan claimed the final wicket and his fourth of the innings when Ben Hilfenhaus was caught behind for a duck to dismiss Australia for 258.

Last batsman Ryan Harris could not bat due to a foot injury. Brad Haddin brought up a gutsy half century in an 86-run eighth-wicket partnership with Peter Siddle, but they could only delay the inevitable. Haddin ended the match on an unbeaten 55 with four boundaries and a six. After Australia resumed on 169-6, Chris Tremlett dismissed Mitchell Johnson in the second over of the day when the tailender edged a seaming delivery onto his stumps. — AFP

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Yearender 3: Indian hockey
Mediocrity on the field, shame off it
Vaibhav Sharma
Tribune News Service


In July, Indian women’s hockey sent out another shockwave as the team was embroiled in an alleged sex scandal. The videographer was sacked, the chief coach MK Kaushik (pic) was rounded up and he ultimately made his exit.

It is hard to get to the top and even harder to stay there. But the toughest job of all is to claw back to the pinnacle once you have been pushed off the perch. There is something psychologically draining about starting all over again. Need a stark example? Welcome to the world of Indian hockey.

Winner of eight Olympic gold medals, one World Cup, two Asian Games golds and two Asia Cups, the team today struggles to find a foothold every time it enters the field, and issues off it do not help. The captain has a problem with the foreign coach, the striker with the captain and everybody has a problem with the federation.

The year started on a pretty disastrous note with the controversy of player payments hitting the sport. Around just the second week of January, while the team was in Pune for the World Cup preparatory camp, the players came out in the media alleging non-payment of their dues by Hockey India (HI).

The players then turned down an offer of Rs 25,000 each from HI, went on strike and it seemed like they would face a ban from the World Cup. But better sense prevailed ultimately. Still, the sentiments of the players could aptly be described in Deepak Thakur’s words. “Nothing comes before the nation, not even money. But why is it that only the players have to think about the nation and not the administrators? We have an important event round the corner and that’s why we raised the issue now. Had we raised it earlier, it would have been swept under the carpet,” Thakur had said after the timing of the strike had led to allegations about the players being greedy.

Shivendra Singh celebrates a goal against Pakistan during the Commonwealth Games. India won a silver medal at the Games.
Shivendra Singh celebrates a goal against Pakistan during the Commonwealth Games. India won a silver medal at the Games.

It seemed then that the issues had been sorted out and the nation was set to embrace the World Cup with arms open. But just about a week before the tournament, a charity event was lined up in Chandigarh, which would have seen the team play a match against some celebrities. The event was ultimately cancelled with the organisers claiming that the players had demanded Rs 5 crore to participate. The controversy was later hushed up, but the damage had been done and players, who had looked like crusaders till a few days ago, were turned into mercenary bloodsuckers.

Finally, on-field action took centre-stage and the World Cup began in New Delhi. The tournament got underway with the ‘Mother of all Games’ on Day 1-- India taking on Pakistan. The match was being billed as the acid test, the one that would decide the course of India’s campaign.

It started perfectly, with the hosts beating Pakistan a convincing 4-1. But that was about the only thing that went right for them. They lost 2-5 to Australia and by the same margin to Spain. Then in a do-or-die match against England, they lost 2-3 and were also held 3-3 by South Africa. It was an utterly dismal campaign which was rounded up in worse fashion as India lost to Argentina 2-4 in the seventh-eighth place play-off.

It is also important to mention that just before the World Cup, a captaincy controversy had hit the team. While Spanish coach Jose Brasa was believed to be backing Prabhjot Singh, Hockey India stuck to Rajpal Singh, fuelling reports of a massive rift within the side.

The men’s team moved on and the next notable tournament for them was the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia. The meet brought a little cheer to the demoralised looking side as they were declared joint winners, alongside South Korea, after a rain-hit final. This was followed by the four-nation Hamburg Masters, and it was looking like that action was finally shifting to the field. Or so one would have thought.

In July, Indian women’s hockey sent out another shockwave as the team was engulfed in an alleged sex scandal. The videographer was sacked, the chief coach MK Kaushik was rounded up and he ultimately made his exit.

After so much turmoil, and the general pessimism around the Commonwealth Games, to expect anything for the sport was looking like sheer waste of time. Nonetheless, the Games went off in superb fashion, and the men’s team, which had never won a medal at these Games, won their first, a silver, losing to Australia in the final. The women’s team, however, could not match their 2006 silver and went out without a medal.

At the Asian Games in the following month, the men’s team had to settle for a bronze after losing to a unfancied Malaysia in the semi-final.

Soon after, Rajpal resigned, hit out at coach Brasa and opened another can of worms when the two medals were seemingly working as a balm.

It has been quite a year for the sport, and for the sake of National honour, people’s love for hockey and its position as the National game, let’s hope the news in 2011 is all made on the field. Win or lose, the teams should with heads held high, knowing that they gave it their all.

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Raninder elected NRAI president
Aman Sood
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 29
Patiala’s Raninder Singh was today elected the full-time president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), beating Uttar Pradesh’s Shyam Singh Yadav in the elections held at the NRAI headquarters in New Delhi.

NRAI officials confirmed that 27 members of the governing body voted in the elections. Since the elections were held only to elect the president, only the governing body members were allowed to vote.

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