|SPORTS TRIBUNE||Saturday, February 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
spin doctor bedevils best of batsmen
corners glory for Uttar Pradesh
Malleshwari in the making
EVER since weightlifting was thrown open to women in the Asian Games at Beijing, India has had a steady flow of medals from the international stage. India has had a fairly good record with quite a few competitors having figured in the top bracket of the world weightlifting scene, the prized medal of course being the bronze by Karnam Malleshwari in the Sydney Olympics. The year in progress, however, has a medal feast in waiting for India. The stage is being widened to accommodate women competitors for the time in the Commonwealth Games being held in Manchester in July-August.
The Commonwealth Games has always been a happy hunting ground for India with the men lifters doing exceptionally well. One of the main reasons for the high percentage of medals from this discipline is the liberal rules followed in this particular version of multi-discipline extravaganza.
While the Olympics Games, Asian Games and other international competitions consider only the total poundage lifted for a medal the Commonwealth Games doles out a medal for each category of lift for a grand total of three inclusive of the total in the final reckoning. Thus a good lifter can win a medal in the snatch, clean and jerk and of course the total.
Thus the opening of the weightlifting competition to women means that India would be able to increase the total tally of medals in the competition henceforth in the Commonwealth Games. The competition among the participating countries here is not as tough as it is in other international stages. The main challenge will come from Nigeria, Canada and Australia . There appears to be some question mark against Nigeria’s participation. The International Federation is reported to be considering action against it for violation of drug-related issues. Even then Indian women should be able to pick up minimum of three medals in each of the weight categories they have entered. The competition in the Commonwealth Games will be in seven weight categories and according to Mr. Balbir Singh, one of the members of the ad hoc committee looking after the weightlifting affairs in the country since 2000, India would be hoping to field competitors in all the seven classes. He is confident that India would be able to pick up 21 medals. A former national champion and an Arjuna Award winner, Balbir Singh has the credentials to make such an optimistic prediction. Indian women lifters have indeed a very busy schedule this year.
Apart from the Commonwealth Games they will be taking part in the Junior Asian Championships to be held in Thailand, the Junior World Meet in Kathmandu, the world championships and of course the Asian Games in Korea. With such a long list of competitions the girls will have to in a constant state of preparedness. The government, of course, has been very supportive and has sanctioned the funds for the camps.
While India will depend mostly on the tried and trusted muscle power of Kunjarani Devi who has finished serving her six-month suspension, Sanamacha Channu, Nandini Devi, Sunaina, N.Laxmi, K.Malleshwari and P.Shailaja , Geeta Rani and Bharti Singh in most of the competitions this year, there appears to be number of younger and very talented field in the making if the performances in the centres of excellence opened by the government at Lucknow, Bangalore and Imphal is any indication.
The Lucknow centre manned
by Hansa Sharma and husband G.P.Sharma appears to be bubbling with
talent, mostly from Manipur, Balbir Singh at one stage thought that the
standard in women weightlifting was on the wane has since changed his
mind after watching the young lifters in the centres of excellence He is
now, in fact, very hopeful of Indian women taking large strides in the
coming year. He said the graph will probably go down slightly after the
Commonwealth Games but will pick up hugely with a number of new lifters
coming of age in the years to follow. He singled out P.Shailaja and
P.Harita, both from Andhra Pradesh as special cases. According to him
the two juniors were lifting higher weights then recognised seniors in
the training camps but needed proper diet and medical support and
monitoring if they had to maintain progress. According to him Harita who
won three gold medals in the Youth Championship in Korea in 2000 (her
first competition abroad) was a Malleshwari in the making. Indian
women's weightlifting will need all the assistance the government can
offer. Most importantly the lifters need a good foreign coach, someone
who is result-oriented. Unfortunately, a good coach will cost up to $
10,000 a month where as the maximum India can afford is $ 2000.
spin doctor bedevils best of batsmen
IT happened only last month by the ancient Dutch fort in Galle, southern Sri Lanka. But already that is history as the island nation’s cricketing maestro sets his sights on rewriting the world’s record books.
On a picturesque cricket ground built on the field where 17th century Dutch soldiers once used to parade, Sri Lanka’s spin bowling hero Muttiah Muralitharan became the youngest player to take 400 wickets in his international career.
Muralitharan reached his landmark in just 72 Test matches, eight fewer than New Zealand’s Sir Richard Hadlee — and at 29 years, at a younger age than any of his six predecessors. Says cricket commentator Premasara Epasingha: "Murali has many more years of cricket left in him. What his fans are wondering now is just when he will become the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, but just how many wickets he will get before he ultimately retires."
The current record is held by West Indian Courtney Walsh who retired last year with a lifetime bag of 519 wickets. Next come India’s Kapil Dev (434) and New Zealander Sir Richard Hadlee (431), all of them fast bowlers. The latter two have retired.
Of those currently playing, the only cricketer who has taken more wickets than Murali is Australian Shane Warne who has 430 wickets from 98 Tests. Warne reached the 400 milestone last year at the age of 31 — and it will be interesting to see how quickly Murali catches up with him. The duel between these two — arguably the two best exponents of spin bowling in the world today — will come to a head when Sri Lanka tours Australia at the end of this year.
Curtly Ambrose of the West Indies (405) and Pakistan’s Wasim Akram (414) are the only other members of this exclusive "over 400" club — but these two have also retired from Test cricket.
Murali’s 400th wicket sparked celebrations around the Galle ground where Sri Lanka were playing the last of three Test matches against Zimbabwe. Fireworks exploded and the large crowd erupted as Murali took the landmark wicket by clean bowling Zimbabwean Henry Olonga for a duck. Public tributes on radio stations and television channels followed with Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga personally congratulating the young cricketer.
Calling his feat "a brilliant achievement", she told him "You have brought fame to your motherland — and gladdened the hearts of Sri Lankans everywhere".
Murali has proved a remarkable practitioner of the spin bowler’s art — a slim but wiry young man who tosses the ball from hand to hand as he darts in to bowl with a mischievous look.
And then, regardless of the outcome, he grins — because (unlike many of the international bowling fraternity) the menace is in the bowling and not the bowler.
There are some, particularly from Shane Warne’s Australia, who question his bowling action — but such allegations distract attention from Murali’s obvious skill. Says former Sri Lankan cricketer Dennis Chanmugam; "This chap has shown himself to be accurate, canny and persistent — with a stamina and strength that is surprising in one so slim".
He has learned to cleverly conceal his finger movements, pitching the ball accurately and convincing it to perform crafty contortions calculated to confound the most cautious batsman.
And for years he has carried the hopes of a developing country which has successfully matched skills with the best of the developed world. The son of a shopkeeper from Sri Lanka’s minority Tamil community, young Murali has been immensely popular in his homeland — as well as overseas.
In his early days, he was inclined to smile shyly and mumble incoherently when interviewed on overseas tours because he had great difficulty understanding English when spoken with a non-Sri Lankan accent.
Today he has achieved recognition as
one of the greatest cricketers his country has produced. Under normal
circumstances he will become cricket’s leading wicket-taker because,
unlike fast bowlers, slow bowling spinners have a lot of life in them.
— Gemini News
corners glory for Uttar Pradesh
THE badminton hall of K.D. Singh Babu Stadium, Lucknow, has always proved lucky for Uttar Pradesh badminton players. It was in this hall that UP men won the prestigious Rehimtoola Cup (national team championship for men) in 1993-94. And now in 2002 Abhinn Shyam Gupta has brought honour to UP by lifting the men’s singles title in the senior national championships.
True, Abhinn had luck on his side but his grit and sheer determination helped him fight every point and he continued to fight till the last point in every match. The singles title was up for grabs for anyone when national and All-England champion Gopi Chand withdrew from the contest because of an injured foot. The main contenders for the title were Nikhil, Abhinn, Sachin Ratti, Chetan Anand and Arvind Bhatt.
Things started getting hot when Varanasi lad Ravinder started the rout of seeded players. He toppled top seed and hot favourite Chetan Anand in four games 7-4, 7-5, 3-7 and 7-3 in the quarter-finals. Lanky Chetan Anand lacked aggressiveness and was off colour right from the start. However, Ravinder deserves all credit for his fine performance with long rallies and never allowed Chetan to settle down. But this was up to which Ravinder could go (semifinal) because he lost the next match to Karnataka’s Arvind Bhatt 7-1, 7-5, 7-1 without putting up any fight. Throughout the match Arvind remained in control of the match.
Another favourite, Sachin Ratti, made his exit in the quarter finals when he was defeated by Nikhil Kanetekar in five games. Sachin made a great start by blanking out Nikhil in the first game. But Nikhil, a known fighter, fought back to win the next two games rather easily. The fourth game went to Sachin. In the fifth and final game Sachin was leading 5-3 when his weak points caused him the defeat. Sachin is very weak at the net and though he started the match at a fast pace he could not keep it up through out the match. Sachin needs to improve his stamina if he wishes to win big battles.
Abhinn proved the luckiest of all to have won the title. In the quarter finals he almost lost to Vidya Dhar. After two games Dhar was leading 5-3 but Abhinn fought back to win the match. The same story was repeated in the semifinal when Nikhil was leading 5-3 and then 6-4 in the final game but Abhinn used all his fighting qualities to win the match. By doing so Abhinn had taken revenge from Nikhil to whom he had lost at Bhilai recently.
Abhinn repeated the same story in the final. Trailing 1-5 in the fifth game against Arvind Bhatt, he managed to level the score at 6-6 and then won the match and the title. It must be said to Arvind’s credit that he played good badminton. He is hard working and willing to learn and all he needs is to keep up the tempo. In the women’s section, Aparna Popat once again proved that she was still the best woman player in the country. She won all her matches with ease, including the final when she humiliated Trupti Mutgunde of Air-India easily. Trupti had shown some promise in her earlier matches especially in the semifinal when she defeated PVV Luxmi by a margin of 7-0, 7-3, 7-0. But the final was a different shuttle game.
Shuttlers from the north (Delhi,
Punjab, Haryana, J&K, H.P., Chandigarh and Rajasthan) disappointed
with their mediocre game and lack lustre performance. Punjab and Delhi
players generally perform well at the national level but this year no
one from their ranks gave a good performance. The performance in the
ladies events was equally dismal. The standard of the game in this
region is going down and it is high time that the organisers sit
together and make effective plans for the future.
Plan team for future
WITH another cricket World Cup round the corner, the BCCI has hardly done anything to find the perfect winning combination for India. The Indian team does lack attacking bowlers who can rip through the rival batting order twice in a Test match or once in a one-day match. Despite the fact that Indians have quality batsmen, the bowlers fail to deliver. The BCCI should plan a team for the future with genuine fast bowlers and allrounders and quality batsmen.
SANJEEV K. TRIKHA, Ambala City
Many renowned sportspersons have brought honours to Kerala. They include PT Usha, Leelamma Thomas AM Bharathan and Jimmy George. The list also includes, TPP Nair, popularly known as TP. Nair hails from Kannur. As the younger generation might not know, TP is the former Indian volleyball captain under whose captaincy our nation won a silver medal, the best achievement for Indian volleyball, in the fourth Asian Games in 1962 at Jakarta. The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development should ensure that former Asian Games captains like TP should be considered for the "lifetime achievement" award.
R. KANDETH, Jeddah
Involvement of zonal cricketers in talent hunt is necessary because at the junior level the selectors have almost failed to spot genuine talent. Most of the selectors see only score books to select a team or they select their favourities. Talented, hardworking and physically fit players remain neglected .
SK SOOD, Jawalamukhi