SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Home Truths
Win and act like champs
Kevin OíBrien has certainly changed the way we are going to look at the match coming up on Sunday. Had he not smashed the daylights (or was it the floodlights) out of the England bowlers in Bangalore, we would have quickly concluded that India are the favourites to win this one against Ireland.
Virat Kohli (L) and Harbhajan Singh laugh during a practice session on the eve of their match against Ireland in Bangalore on Saturday. Virat Kohli (L) and Harbhajan Singh laugh during a practice session on the eve of their match against Ireland in Bangalore on Saturday. ó Reuters

Fast Track
Indian bowling must come good
Between the two groups, it is obvious that Group B is more interestingly poised. Apart from the Netherlands, who have won nothing yet, all other teams are in with a chance to go through to the quarter-finals and the two Sunday games will go a long way in separating some of these closely coupled teams in the points table.

A dash of Sherry
Balance vital when walking a tightrope
India walk on a swordís edge, like a tightrope artist and key to their survival is balance. They need to focus on that balance and also be decisive about the steps they take. Nothing great was ever achieved without an act of decision. It doesnít take much courage to do things; it takes a lot of courage to decide what to do.

Aus-SL match abandoned
Colombo, March 5
Rain played spoilsport to a much-anticipated match as the cricket World Cup encounter between defending champions Australia and Sri Lanka was called off after 32.5 overs due to heavy rains here today. After electing to bat, Sri Lanka made a shaky start but recovered to 146 for three in 32.5 overs before heavens opened up at R Premadasa Stadium and play was not possible after that due to incessant heavy rains.




EARLIER STORIES



West Indies cricketers Chris Gayle (L) and Darren Bravo arrive at the Chandigarh airport on Saturday.
West Indies cricketers Chris Gayle (L) and Darren Bravo arrive at the Chandigarh airport on Saturday. Tribune photo: S Chandan

England play Proteas in crucial tie
Chennai, March 5
Smarting under the shock defeat at the hands of Ireland, England take on traditional foes South Africa in a must-win group league game here tomorrow to keep their quarterfinal hopes alive in the World Cup.

Shaheed-e-azam Bhagat Singh Punjab Games 2011 Feb 28óMarch 6 
Ludhiana girls win gold
Ludhiana, March 5
Ludhiana cagers had mixed luck as they emerged champions today in the women's section but went down fighting in the men's section on the penultimate day of the Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Punjab Games here at the Guru Nanak Stadium here.

Kapurthala eves clinch hockey title
Jalandhar, March 5
Star-studded Kapurthala drubbed rivals Tarn Taran 4-0 and clinched the womenís hockey trophy on the concluding day of the Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Punjab Games being held at the Olympian Surjit Hockey Stadium in Jalandhar here today.

Jalandhar boys win in volleyball
Patiala, March 5
The Jalandhar boys had cakewalk in the volleyball final, when they comprehensively defeated Taran Tarn 3-0 to clinch gold in the Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Punjab Games, here today.

Short ones

Sibanda replaces Williams for Zim

New Delhi: Batsman Vusi Sibanda today replaced injured Sean Williams in the Zimbabwe squad for the ongoing World Cup. Sibanda has been added to the squad after Williams fractured his right thumb while training on Thursday ahead of his side's match against New Zealand in Ahmedabad. "Any injury-based replacement requires a written submission to the event technical committee along with a diagnosis from a medical practitioner as to the extent of the injury. The replacement player is a permanent addition to the squad," the ICC said in a statement. ó PTI

Somdev stuns Tipsarevic
Serbia, March 5
It was a fantastic feast of tennis from Somdev Devvarman, who clinched a sensational straight sets victory over Janko Tipsarevic, to pull India back level at 1-1 with Serbia in the Davis Cup World Group first round here Friday night after Rohan Bopanna went down to World No. 18 Viktor Troicki in five sets. Somdev showed remarkable resilience in rallying from an identical down 1-4 in the first two sets. ó IANS


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Home Truths
Win and act like champs
BY sunil narula'

Kevin OíBrien has certainly changed the way we are going to look at the match coming up on Sunday. Had he not smashed the daylights (or was it the floodlights) out of the England bowlers in Bangalore, we would have quickly concluded that India are the favourites to win this one against Ireland.

Of course, India are still favourites. But we are not rushing to that conclusion. We are being forced to admit that Ireland will be no pushovers.

India will have to get it right on a variety of counts. They will have to get the balance of their Playing XI right, get their fielding on track, sort out their batting order and the bowlers will have to show a great deal of discipline. And, of course, they will have to get Kevin OíBrien out very quickly.

The venue will be the same where India tied the match against England and where OíBrien smashed the fastest century in World Cups. But already there is talk that the pitch for Sundayís match will be watered a lot less and will be drier. In fact, this can prove to be a double-edged weapon as the chasing team will be at a disadvantage. That team could well be India.

Experts have also put forth the view that India need to consider going into this match with five frontline bowlers, leaving out a batsman. This theory (like most theories) has it merits and demerits and we are not going to go into these. The fact remains that however docile and placid the pitch is, good bowlers will remain good bowlers. In that tied match, Tim Bresnan had figures of five for 48 from his ten overs.

The Indian camp rues the absence of sporting tracks. Harbhajan Singh has failed to pick wickets and bowled flat because heís afraid of being hit. Shahid Afridi, another spinner, has picked up 14 wickets in three games. Imran Tahir has looked threatening every time he has got the ball in his hands. As a bowler if you are doing the right things then the pitch does not become irrelevant. But it certainly becomes less important.

So, there is absolutely no point in the Indian think-tank blaming lifeless pitches. There is also very little point in slamming the referral system (Ian Bell could have been out but Andrew Strauss was still taking them to the cleaners). Fact is that so far India have batted superbly. But they have bowled badly and have fielded abysmally. We can keep floating various theories about why this has happened but these are the ground realities.

So, instead of clutching at straws, the Indian bowlers and fielders have to get their act right. India have to beat Ireland of course but they also have to be alive to the reality that other strong teams are watching and assessing them.

India, in winning, have to look like a champion side. Itís not just a win against Ireland that is at stake. Itís a whole lot more.

 

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Fast Track
Indian bowling must come good
By Michael Holding

Between the two groups, it is obvious that Group B is more interestingly poised. Apart from the Netherlands, who have won nothing yet, all other teams are in with a chance to go through to the quarter-finals and the two Sunday games will go a long way in separating some of these closely coupled teams in the points table.

South Africa have looked the most convincing in the group. While they have yet to play some of the better sides, my sense is that they should not only get to the quarters but also do that by finishing atop Group B.

It is difficult to see how the English in their current form will overcome South Africa at Chennai. Blaming things on exhaustion will be overcooking the issue.

On the other hand, South Africa have one of the more potent attacks in the competition and I rate them second, only to Australiaís pace-bowling trio in this edition of the World Cup. The inclusion of leg-spinner Imran Tahir has added an edge to the South African bowling and on a usually spin-friendly Chennai track, I see him coming good against the struggling English batsmen.

On current form, it is not too difficult to say that South Africa should win this game but as we know, in this shorter format, itís not necessarily the best team that ends up on top.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Indian bowling. It does not inspire too much confidence and their best chance is to allow their better department to do their job. It is Indiaís batting that is superior to most others and itís a surprise that the think-tank hasnít taken a decision to chase down more totals than set them.

Expecting the batsmen to bail them each time, however, would be wishing upon the stars. Sooner rather than later, the bowling will need to start coming good for the side to go the distance. One only hopes though that the pitches that India would play on from now donít suddenly start to assist spin more than usual and that they allow both batsmen and bowlers an equal chance, and not blatantly assist batting or spin bowlers throughout the tournament.

Irelandís bowling is a tad inexperienced, which is why they will depend on their batting to do the job. One cannot expect Kevin OíBrien to play the kind of innings he played against England every time. The top-order will need to do their job, with the likes of William Porterfield, Ed Joyce and Niall OíBrien needing runs amongst them.

Despite the Irish win over England, India should overpower them at Bangalore. ó PMG

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A dash of Sherry
Balance vital when walking a tightrope
By Navjot Singh Sidhu

Gautam Gambhir (pic) or Virat Kohli should make way for an extra bowler in the side.
Gautam Gambhir (pic) or Virat Kohli should make way for an extra bowler in the side.

India walk on a swordís edge, like a tightrope artist and key to their survival is balance. They need to focus on that balance and also be decisive about the steps they take.

Nothing great was ever achieved without an act of decision. It doesnít take much courage to do things; it takes a lot of courage to decide what to do. India need to be bold in their strategising for the rest of the World Cup and deal with the situation tactfully.

Playing with seven batsmen is living on hope. That only works when India bat first. That ruins half of the teamís chances with the toss, since calling correctly only has a 50 per cent chance of success. Losing it would dump India on the other side of the equation and that side is not looking pretty.

India must play with five specialist bowlers. Saying that the fifth bowler will concede as many runs as the part-timers is a fallacy. A regular bowler knows how to take wickets and wickets put the opposition on the backfoot.

India must choose only one from among Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli and get an extra bowler in. What is the point of having Gambhir, Kohli and also Sachin Tendulkar in the side? They all play the sheet-anchor role.

Play R. Ashwin instead. He is a better bowler than Piyush Chawla, who is a lottery. Ashwin is mean as a miser and his height allows him extra nip and zip. He is an unknown commodity and he stifles the batting. He was the most consistent bowler in IPL, which is an international tournament. He has rubbed shoulders with the best in the world.

India need to stay away from the parish-pump politics and see which players are most suited for the situation. Collapse of the Indian teamís character stems from the compromise corner.

There are some options that India can consider. They can play the usual seven-four combination; but ensure that Ashwin is in the XI.

Alternately, they can drop either Gambhir or Kohli (I would keep Gambhir, since he is a left-hander) and go in with five bowlers. In the batting, the most vital positions are numbers five, six and seven. Drop Gambhir or Kohli, promote Dhoni to No. 4 and then you can have Yuvraj, Pathan and Harbhajan. Bhajji has a Test century, and surely can do justice to that slot.

Zaheer Khan can tonk the ball and Ashwin isnít a bunny with the bat. Add Ashish Nehra to the mix, and you have the most balanced Indian team!

Look at Australia. They played four fast bowlers, even in Colombo. The trick is to play to your strengths, and India must do the same.

Also, let India not get caught in the trap of preparing pitches for the world. Do we get rank turners in Australia or dead docile tracks in South Africa? Do we get rough abrasive pitches in England? They play to their strengths and so should we. To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice.

The more we play on flat tracks, the lesser our ability to dominate South Africa, Australia or England. India are not there for charity and rolling out the red carpet. They are out there to win.

Itís a hard game played with a hard ball. India need to play hard.

The goal is never important. It is the means that take you to the goal which are more important. There is no point taking aim at the target if you are loaded with blanks. Right now, India are firing too many blanks. They need to find new ammunition and blaze away in their quest for the Cup.

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Aus-SL match abandoned

Shaun Tait celebrates the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan in Colombo on Saturday. Sri Lanka were 146 for 3 in 32.5 overs before rain stopped play.
Shaun Tait celebrates the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan in Colombo on Saturday. Sri Lanka were 146 for 3 in 32.5 overs before rain stopped play. ó Reuters

Colombo, March 5
Rain played spoilsport to a much-anticipated match as the cricket World Cup encounter between defending champions Australia and Sri Lanka was called off after 32.5 overs due to heavy rains here today. After electing to bat, Sri Lanka made a shaky start but recovered to 146 for three in 32.5 overs before heavens opened up at R Premadasa Stadium and play was not possible after that due to incessant heavy rains.

Captain Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera were batting on 73 and 34 respectively. The heavy downpour began at around 5 pm local time and that forced the players indoors and it continued for more than two hours to deny Sri Lanka resume their innings.

The umpires finally decided to call off the match at around 7:45pm, leading to the two sides taking one point each from the abandoned Group A game.

After today's abandoned game, both the sides now have five points each but Sri Lanka have played four matches, one more than Australia. ó PTI

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England play Proteas in crucial tie



Englandís Matt Prior (L) and Kevin Pietersen at a training session in Chennai on Saturday.
Englandís Matt Prior (L) and Kevin Pietersen at a training session in Chennai on Saturday. ó AFP

Chennai, March 5
Smarting under the shock defeat at the hands of Ireland, England take on traditional foes South Africa in a must-win group league game here tomorrow to keep their quarterfinal hopes alive in the World Cup.

Andrew Strauss-led England, who have just three points from as many matches, having tied their encounter against India after the hard-fought win over the Netherlands, need an outright win in tomorrow's battle to seal the issue as otherwise their qualification for the knockout stage will depend on the outcome of other remaining two matches and other group matches.

Ireland, in particular have three more matches and possess capabilities to surprise the well known teams, which could cost England dearly at the end of the league stage.

England campaign has moved from disappointment to regaining confidence to now in a crisis. If they stutter, they may well have to pack their bags.

England play Bangladesh next on March 11 at Chittagong and West Indies here on March 17. However, the South Africans have displayed their wares to good effect and are keen to grab the opportunity to avenge their 3-1 series loss at home in 2009.

Going by the current form, Proteas batsmen and bowlers are much better placed than the English, whose bowling and fielding are below par. Moreover Graeme Smith's side is placed at the top of the group table at the moment with two confident wins over the West Indies and the Netherlands.

Backed by solid all-round strength, especially the varied bowling attack, which has been sharpened with the addition of Pakistan-born leg spinner Imran Tahir. ó PTI 

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Shaheed-e-azam Bhagat Singh Punjab Games 2011 Feb 28óMarch 6 
Ludhiana girls win gold
Anil Datt
Tribune News Service

A basketball match in progress during the Shaheed-E-Azam Bhagat Singh Punjab Games on Saturday.
A basketball match in progress during the Shaheed-E-Azam Bhagat Singh Punjab Games on Saturday.

Ludhiana, March 5
Ludhiana cagers had mixed luck as they emerged champions today in the women's section but went down fighting in the men's section on the penultimate day of the Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Punjab Games here at the Guru Nanak Stadium here.

In the women's final, hosts Ludhiana, led by international Kiranjeet Kaur, defeated Kapurthala 65-55. Kiranjeet netted 30 points while the main scorer for the losers was Rajinder Kaur who scored 19 points. In the bronze medal match, Jalandhar trounced Gurdaspur 54-14.

The menís final, between Ludhiana and Jalandhar, turned out to be a battle of nerves in which the former gave many anxious moments before losing by a narrow margin (94-101).

Ludhiana, whose players are mostly from schools and colleges, put up stiff resistance against their experienced opponents Jalandhar, comprising BSF and Punjab Armed Police players.

Ludhiana's Amritpal Singh and Sunil Bajaj played well scoring 28 and 18 points, respectively while the dependable Talwinder Jit Singh and Amjot Singh were a pale shadow of themselves, accounting for 14 and 10 points. Jalandhar skipper, international Jagdeep Singh played the pivot role, sinking in as many as 44 baskets and was ably assisted by Gukirpal who contributed 28 points.

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Kapurthala eves clinch hockey title
Kusum Arora
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 5
Star-studded Kapurthala drubbed rivals Tarn Taran 4-0 and clinched the womenís hockey trophy on the concluding day of the Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Punjab Games being held at the Olympian Surjit Hockey Stadium in Jalandhar here today.

In another match for the third and fourth positions, Amritsar defeated Ropar 4-2 in the menís category. Amritsar again shone in the womenís section, beating Patiala 8-1.

Dr. Daljeet Singh Cheema, Advisor to Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, awarded medals to the winners and the second and third placed teams in both the womenís and menís categories. The cash prize to the winners would be awarded tomorrow by the CM during a closing ceremony at the Surjit Hockey Stadium.

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Jalandhar boys win in volleyball
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 5
The Jalandhar boys had cakewalk in the volleyball final, when they comprehensively defeated Taran Tarn 3-0 to clinch gold in the Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh Punjab Games, here today.

Muktsar beat SAS Nagar to win gold in the womenís event played at the Polo Ground Indoor Multi-purpose Hall.

The tall Jalandhar lads gave absolutely no chance to their counterparts from Taran Tarn.

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