IHF preserving Pillay for Olympics: Gill
Akhtar gets away with a warning
Murali braves controversies to make history
Neha to lead hockey team
Johl extends lead in
New Delhi, May 8
“We have never shunted him (Pillay) out. In fact I told him just a month and half ago not to worry since he was being preserved for the Olympics,” Mr Gill told PTI here in an exclusive interview.
Mr Gill, who had announced that the team for the Olympics would only include players who could play the entire duration of a match, declined to comment on Pillay’s fitness.
“Who is IHF to say that Pillay is fit? We will have a camp and would take advice from SAI and Sports Ministry. They always send their experts. Only medical tests are not enough.”
“Medical fitness and physical fitness are two different things. I am medically very fit, but cannot say so about my physical fitness. I could not last 10 seconds on the hockey field with junior players,” he said in an apparent reference to the medical report submitted by the player that declared him to be fully fit.
Mr Gill said with the Olympic Games still three months away, it would be too early to say who would feature in the team for the event.
“How can we name the team three months in advance? No one can do that?” he said adding that the Federation would pick the best-available team.
“The IHF stance on all players is that whoever can represent the country in Olympics, will represent. There can be no other stance,” Mr Gill said.
He also described the controversy surrounding Pillay’s exclusion as “uncalled for.”
“It’s totally uncalled for. (But) we can’t stop people from saying what they want. They can ask for any player’s inclusion and we can’t prevent them from asking. We have even got letters that some retired players should be included,” the IHF supremo said.
“People have said that I have excluded players from the South because I come from North. But if you see the junior team, there is not a single player from North apart from Sandeep Singh, who is from Haryana.
Mr Gill said more names could be included in the list of probables and when he had said one or two players might be picked from outside the list, he did not mean exactly that many.
“One or two is a colloquial term. We can say a couple of more players can be included. When I said one or two more, that did not mean that the exact number was given.”
When asked whether the so-called star tantrums of Pillay had resulted in differences between the player and the coach, Mr Gill said “not much serious note should be taken of this. These things always happen. But these are temporary things.”
On when the team would be selected for the Athens Olympics, Mr Gill said it would be picked during a camp in Germany after a four-nation tournament in Holland.
He, however, said the training in Germany could be confirmed only after the general elections were over.
“Germany is waiting for a green signal. Election is tying up everyone here. We will have to speak to the Home Ministry and SAI after the polls.”
Mr Gill also defended the IHF’s decision to experiment with the team despite criticism from various quarters and said the federation was doing its best to promote the game in the country.
“How is that we are now the Asian Games champions, Asia Cup champions, Afro-Asian Games winners? We are also champions in various categories. How did this happen if we are not promoting hockey,” he said.
Mr Gill also dismissed criticism that it was he who selected the team and the selectors hardly played any role.
“We all sit together, we have a meeting and then select the side. There is no problem with the selection of the team. No one ever said this team was badly selected.”
“We had the problem only during the Australian tour because half of the players were playing in the juniors (Asia Cup).”
On Jugraj Singh, who has been included in the fitness camp at Barog, Mr Gill said the step was to help the player get back into action at the highest level and it would be wrong to think that he was being tested for the Olympics.
“Jugraj is a very valuable player. The turnaround in Indian hockey was because we had a penalty corner expert after a long time. Our goal scoring went up, we could score field goals, we could score from penalty corners,” Mr Gill said.
“But I don’t think he will be fit for the Olympics. We have brought him for the camp where he can be rehabilitated for future events. The world does not end with the Olympics. If he can come back to the team, why not, he is a youngster. He has 10 years to go.”
On India’s preparations for the Olympics, where the eight-time gold medal winners India will look to win a medal after 1980, Mr Gill said the IHF was concentrating on the training aspect of the team.
“We are basically concentrating on the training aspect. Training has to be tough because the Olympics are a different ball game altogether.”
“We are good at the Asian level and in four-nation tournaments but not doing well in the Olympics... We have to ensure that we are in the first four, then there is a matter of chance.
“In Atlanta and Sydney we should have been in the semi-finals but for some elementary mistakes by certain players. We have to ensure that such mistakes are not made again.”
The IHF chief ruled out appointing a foreign coach in near future but said it would be considered if a suitable person was found.
“If we find a suitable coach we will certainly consider. But we haven’t found (as yet) and I don’t think we will find it in near future. Till the World Cup there is no chance of any foreign coach being appointed.”
Asked to name some of the junior players who had bright prospects, Mr Gill said “it is very difficult to predict who will become a good player in the future. Some of them drop out, some stop playing hockey.”
“We must now find out who are the players who can perform well against the Europeans. We have proved ourselves in Asia.” — PTI
Lahore, May 8
Akhtar and three other players appeared before a four-member medical commission formed to assess the spate of injuries during Pakistan’s 2-1 Test series loss to India in March-April.
But Akhtar’s injury, sustained after he fell in his follow through in the decisive Test at Rawalpindi, was seen as suspicious and was particularly inquired.
“After the game, on 14th April 2004, the MRI scans showed no injury and subsequently other bone scans were done in Lahore which did show intense stress but the commission found the injury inconclusive,” said PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan at a press conference here.
Pakistan team members were also cautioned to show more commitment on the field.
“We have not panicked after the defeat but the manner of abject surrender in the last Test was disgusting,” said Khan.
Pakistan lost by an innings and 131 runs on the fourth morning, handing India their first ever Test series win in Pakistan.
“Subsequent scans on April 28 revealed damage around the 11th rib but there was no conclusive evidence that the injury was sustained during the Test or Akhtar was carrying an old injury.”
“The PCB has accepted the player’s (Akhtar) own contention at face value that he was in pain and could not take the field on the final two days of the Rawalpindi Test,” said Khan.
Akhtar said: “I am disappointed (with PCB’s ruling) but at the same time I will continue to give my best for the country.”
Khan defended team captain Inzamam, coach Javed Miandad and manager Haroon Rasheed.
“They (the management) tried to handle Akhtar but he maintained that he was injured,” said the PCB chief.
The medical commission has strongly recommended no sporting activity for four weeks and a repeat of bone scan, MRI scan and CT scan after four weeks of the first scans for further evaluations.
The PCB has asked Akhtar to have more tests on May 26 but the pacer conveyed to the board that he was leaving for England tomorrow to play for the Durham county and would send the reports from there.
However, the PCB found Akhtar’s conduct as “unacceptable”.
“The board has taken a serious note of Akhtar’s conduct after he left the field which according to the doctors and team management was demoralising to the team morale,” said Khan.
“Accordingly, the board has decided not to invoke any penalty against Akhtar but he has been warned and will not be, in future, be given any special treatment.” — PTI
Harare (Zimbabwe), May 8
Mahela Jayawardene caught Tinashe Panyangara at deep mid-on in Sanath Jayasuriya’s first over to complete Zimbabwe’s rout for 102 in the second innings 15 minutes before tea on the third day.
Zimbabwe scored 199 in the first, and Sri Lanka finished its reply of 541 an hour into today’s play at Harare Sports Club. The total was set up by captain Marvan Atapattu’s 170 and Jayasuriya’s 157.
Zimbabwe, which has never beaten Sri Lanka in 14 meetings, surpassed its previous heaviest defeat by an innings and 219 runs against South Africa in November 1999 at the same ground.
Offspinner Muralitharan began the day tied for the all-time Test wickets record of 519 with West Indies paceman Courtney Walsh, who retired in 2001, and had to wait until his eighth over for his 520th.
With his last ball of the eighth, he induced Mpulelo Nkala on 24 to hole out to Jayawardene at silly mid-off.
“I was quite nervous and tense out there. It took me quite a while to get it,” Muralitharan said.
He ended a 45-run rescue mission by Nkala and Alester Maregwede, who came together at 18-5, then made Maregwede his 521st victim with a caught-and-bowl from the first ball of his ninth over, setting up a hat trick.
Zimbabwe (Ist innings): 199 Sri Lanka (Ist innings): Atapattu b Hondo 170 Jayasuriya c Hondo b Taibu 157 Sangakkara c Taibu Jayawardene c Utseya Dilshan c Utseya b Mahwire 10 Samaraweera c Taibu Jayawardene b Panyangara 4 Vaas c Matsikenyeri Maharoof lbw b Mahwire 40 Zoysa not out 28 Muralitharan c Maragwede Extras: (b-2 lb-13 nb-6 w-3) 24 Total:
(all out, 125.1 overs) 541 FoW: 1-281 2-312 3-369 4-387 5-399 6-403 7-414 8-457 9-496. Bowling:
Hondo 27-6-103-1 (nb-4), Panyangara 26.1-2-101-3, Mahwire 18-1-97-3 (nb-2 w-2), Nkala 7-1-41-0 (w-1), Utseya 12-2-55-0, Matsikenyeri 15-2-58-1, Taibu 8-1-27-1, Chigumbura 12-2-44-1. Zimbabwe
(IInd innings): Matsikenyeri c Jayawardene Taylor c Muralitharan b Vaas 4 Ebrahim c Jayawardene Taibu lbw b Zoysa 0 Chigumbura c Jayawardene Maragwede c & b Murali 22 Nkala c Jayawardene b Murali 24 Utseya b Maharoof 0 Mahwire c Jayawardene Hondo not out 15 Panyangara c Jayawardene Extras: (lb-2 nb-2) 4 Total:
(all out, 32 overs) 102 Fall of wickets: 1-13 2-15 3-17 4-17 5-18 6-63 7-64 8-64 9-72. Bowling:
Vaas 8-2-24-1, Zoysa 10.5-2-30-5, Muralitharan 8.1-1-27-2, Maharoof 4-0-18-1, Jayasuriya 1-0-1-1.
— AP, Reuters
Zimbabwe (Ist innings): 199
Sri Lanka (Ist innings):
Atapattu b Hondo 170
Jayasuriya c Hondo b Taibu 157
Sangakkara c Taibub Matsikenyeri 11
Jayawardene c Utseyab Chigumbura 37
Dilshan c Utseya b Mahwire 10
Samaraweera c Taibub Panyangara 6
Jayawardene b Panyangara 4
Vaas c Matsikenyerib Mahwire 28
Maharoof lbw b Mahwire 40
Zoysa not out 28
Muralitharan c Maragwedeb Panyangara 26
Extras: (b-2 lb-13 nb-6 w-3) 24
Total: (all out, 125.1 overs) 541
FoW: 1-281 2-312 3-369 4-387 5-399 6-403 7-414 8-457 9-496.
Bowling: Hondo 27-6-103-1 (nb-4), Panyangara 26.1-2-101-3, Mahwire 18-1-97-3 (nb-2 w-2), Nkala 7-1-41-0 (w-1), Utseya 12-2-55-0, Matsikenyeri 15-2-58-1, Taibu 8-1-27-1, Chigumbura 12-2-44-1.
Zimbabwe (IInd innings):
Matsikenyeri c Jayawardeneb Zoysa 11
Taylor c Muralitharan b Vaas 4
Ebrahim c Jayawardeneb Zoysa 2
Taibu lbw b Zoysa 0
Chigumbura c Jayawardeneb Zoysa 0
Maragwede c & b Murali 22
Nkala c Jayawardene b Murali 24
Utseya b Maharoof 0
Mahwire c Jayawardeneb Zoysa 2
Hondo not out 15
Panyangara c Jayawardeneb Jayasuriya 18
Extras: (lb-2 nb-2) 4
Total: (all out, 32 overs) 102
Fall of wickets: 1-13 2-15 3-17 4-17 5-18 6-63 7-64 8-64 9-72.
Bowling: Vaas 8-2-24-1, Zoysa 10.5-2-30-5, Muralitharan 8.1-1-27-2, Maharoof 4-0-18-1, Jayasuriya 1-0-1-1. — AP, Reuters
Harare, May 8
He needed just seven victims to smash retired West Indies paceman Courtney Walsh’s world mark of 519 Test wickets and it was expected to be a formality considering his awesome Test achievements.
Murali dismissed Mluleki Nkala at Harare Sports Club today in Zimbabwe’s second innings on the third day of the first Test to earn the significant 520th wicket.
He had to wait until his eighth over before he persuaded Nkala to present a sharp chance to Mahela Jayawardene at forward shot leg to spark celebrations among the entire team.
Muralitharan, who turned 32 last month, was the youngest and fastest (87 Tests) to reach the 500-mark in a home series against Australia in March.
The Sri Lankan had held twin world records of 43 hauls of five or more wickets in a Test innings and 13 of 10 or more in a match.
He had already proved to be Zimbabwe’s nemesis, claiming a career-best 9 for 51 on his home ground at Kandy in 2002 and later rating it as “one of the five favourite performances of my career”.
Australian leg-spin wizard Shane Warne, Muralitharan’s closest rival with 517 wickets, has no option but to wait and watch as his team is scheduled to tour Zimbabwe only after Sri Lanka.
Muralitharan has never been out of news since making his Test debut at home in 1992 against Australia, such is his extraordinary talent and debatable bowling action.
The Sri Lankan, born with a bent elbow, was called thrice for ‘chucking’ by Australian umpires and then reported in March by English match-referee Chris Broad for suspect action during the third Test against Australia at Colombo.
Unlike West Indies captain Brian Lara’s world batting record of 400 not out against England in the fourth and final Test at Antigua last month, Muralitharan’s feat will raise eyebrows in certain quarters.
But there is no denying the fact he played a key role in reviving the dying art of off-spin, having an uncanny skill to turn the ball prodigiously even on unresponsive pitches.
He is often virtually unplayable at home, where tracks are prepared to suit his trade.
Ask left-handed Indian opener Sadagoppan Ramesh, who was bowled by a peach of a delivery from Muralitharan in the 2001 Colombo Test.
“It was probably my best-ever ball, pitching outside leg and then clipping the top of off-stump,” said Muralitharan.
It reminds one of Warne’s so-called “Ball of the Century” in the 1993 Ashes Test at Old Trafford, which pitched outside the leg-stump and turned more than a yard to disturb the off-bail to leave batsman Mike Gatting flummoxed.
Muralitharan has a knack of making lives miserable for batsmen with his huge turn and disconcerting bounce. His ability to bowl long spells without losing concentration makes him one of the most feared spinners in the world.
Muralitharan has also added a deceptive “doosra” to his armoury, a delivery which leaves the right-handers instead of coming in to them like a normal off-break.
He has played a big role in making Sri Lanka a major force in international cricket as he is the only proven match-winner in the squad capable of producing wicket-taking balls at unexpected moments.
He is Sri Lanka’s best bet away from home, having led his team to their maiden Test triumph in England in 1998 with a memorable 16-wicket haul on a batting pitch at the Oval.
Yet, the man who gave many sleepless nights to batsmen has himself spent many anxious moments because of his bowling action, the latest being a trip to Australia in April for remedial work with a biomechanical expert.
It appears that the debate whether Muralitharan is a true or flawed genius will never die down.
Legendary former Australian captain Steve Waugh recently called the Sri Lankan the “Don Bradman of bowlers” and a “rubber-wristed illusionist”.
“He is a unique type of bowler. He gets people talking about cricket. He’s the sort of player you want in the game. He is great to watch and makes Sri Lanka competitive in world cricket.”
Muralitharan has taken all criticism in his stride and continues to bowl in the only manner he knows to tease and torment the batsmen.
“I have a deformity on the elbow because it’s bent. I can’t straighten it whatever is said and done. I can’t change me,” he said. — AFP
Boxer Qamar’s Ouster
New Delhi, May 8
Indian team manager Asit Banerjee admitted Qamar lost his light-flyweight bout on a highly controversial note but said he did not want to spoil the show by lodging a complaint.
Qamar, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist, yesterday lost to Japan’s Toshiyuki Iqarashi after an evenly-contested fight that saw both boxers tied with 28-28 points and the winner was determined by jury on the average of punching rate.
“Most people here were not happy with the decision. Though it was a close-bout, the decision should have come in our favour,” Mr Banerjee told PTI over the telephone from Karachi but added “the purpose of our visit to Pakistan is also to win hearts”.
“Boxing is a game of discipline so we have accepted the decision, but I suggest that referees and judges be more serious and more particular as regard to such close bouts in important competitions like this.”
Mr Banerjee, who is also the vice-president of India Amateur Boxing Federation, said “Qamar is a boxer with brain and brawn and he was very upset after the bout. We are trying to pep him up.”
Qamar had expressed his extreme disappointment after the defeat yesterday saying “I am shattered because I came here with hopes to get a ticket for Olympics which is a dream for every sportsman.”
Indian coach G S Sandhu was, however, reported as saying by a Pakistani newspaper that the decision by the jury was biased as Qamar had clearly enjoyed an edge over his rival.
“Qamar is our ace boxer. We have great respect for our Pakistani boxing officials and we always support them but in return we get this type of treatment,” he said.
Two other boxers from India, who have booked only two Olympic berths via the first two Asian qualifying events in the Philippines and China, Diwakar Prasad and Vijender will fight their quarterfinal bouts today.
Diwakar will compete in bantamweight category while Vijender would be seen in action in lightwelterweight.
Around 150 Asian boxers from 32 countries are vying for the final 18 places in the Athens Olympics boxing competition, which will have 62 Asian boxers in all. — PTI
Greene wins 100 m at Japan GP
Osaka (Japan), May 8 Greene
pulled out of the US indoor championships in February because of a
strained right hamstring. At the worlds last year, he was going for a
fourth straight title in the 100, but he pulled up in his semifinal
heat with a quadriceps injury and had to go home. “I’m back,”
Greene said. “I’ll make believers out of them. If they don’t
believe in me now they soon will. ... I wouldn’t be running now if I
didn’t think I could win gold in the Olympics.” — AP
Osaka (Japan), May 8
Greene pulled out of the US indoor championships in February because of a strained right hamstring. At the worlds last year, he was going for a fourth straight title in the 100, but he pulled up in his semifinal heat with a quadriceps injury and had to go home.
“I’m back,” Greene said. “I’ll make believers out of them. If they don’t believe in me now they soon will. ... I wouldn’t be running now if I didn’t think I could win gold in the Olympics.” — AP
Neha to lead hockey team New Delhi, May 8 The Indian eves will leave for Japan on May 10. The team is: S.S. Nilan, Sushila Lakra, Anjana Barla, Fulmani Soy, Gurpreet Kaur, Neha Singh (Capt), Simerjeet Kaur, Amrita Ming, Sarita Lakra, Rajni Bala, Rajwinder Kaur, Sushma Kiran Ming, Sumitra Tirkey, Premsheela Kujur, Dipika and Anita Ekka. Ranjinder Singh will be the coach and Ms Anurita Saini coach-cum-manager, Ashok Ahuja doctor, P.S. Anupama umpire and Eliza Nelson judge.
New Delhi, May 8
The Indian eves will leave for Japan on May 10. The team is: S.S. Nilan, Sushila Lakra, Anjana Barla, Fulmani Soy, Gurpreet Kaur, Neha Singh (Capt), Simerjeet Kaur, Amrita Ming, Sarita Lakra, Rajni Bala, Rajwinder Kaur, Sushma Kiran Ming, Sumitra Tirkey, Premsheela Kujur, Dipika and Anita Ekka.
Ranjinder Singh will be the coach and Ms Anurita Saini coach-cum-manager, Ashok Ahuja doctor, P.S. Anupama umpire and Eliza Nelson judge.
lead in Macau Open Macau, May 8 Overnight rain delayed the start of the tournament by four hours. The Macau Open is the 10th leg of the Asian tour. In second place was American Jason Knutzon, who added a third round 68 to move to 12-under 201. “The key is to go out and keep having fun. There is quite a strong field following me and it’s not going to be easy,” Johl said. The Indian had led by a stroke in the previous two rounds.
Macau, May 8
Overnight rain delayed the start of the tournament by four hours. The Macau Open is the 10th leg of the Asian tour. In second place was American Jason Knutzon, who added a third round 68 to move to 12-under 201.
“The key is to go out and keep having fun. There is quite a strong field following me and it’s not going to be easy,” Johl said. The Indian had led by a stroke in the previous two rounds. — AP
Anju finishes 4th
at Osaka Clijsters pulls out ACU seminar
Clijsters pulls out