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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan in Asia Cup squad
Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer KhanChennai, July 7
The Indian cricket team for the six-nation Asia Cup tournament in Sri Lanka was announced here today with a few surprises like the inclusion wicket keeper Parthiv Patel.
In video (28k, 56k)

Batsmen’s task has become tougher,
says Sachin
Chennai, July 7
Sachin Tendulkar believes that advancement of technology has made the task of a batsman quite difficult. Technology has "changed the complexion of the game" which means players now need to do their home work differently, he said today.

 

Sachin Tendulkar bats during a practice session in Chennai on Wednesday. — Reuters photo

Sachin Tendulkar bats during a practice session in Chennai

Akhtar in Asia Cup squad
Karachi, July 7
Pakistan included fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar when they announced their squad for this month’s Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. ‘’We have selected Shoaib Akhtar after satisfying ourselves that he is 100 per cent fit and with the consent of the captain and coach,’’ Wasim Bari, Pakistan’s chief selector, told Reuters.



Virender Sehwag bats during a practice session in Chennai
Virender Sehwag bats during a practice session in Chennai on Wednesday. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 
Sunil Dutt’s gesture to Vivek
New Delhi, July 7
Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Sunil Dutt has set a noble example by announcing here today that the expenses incurred for the treatment of former Olympian Vivek Singh, who is suffering from cancer, would be borne either by his ministry or from his own pocket.

Sports Minister Sunil Dutt speaks with Gauri Shanker Singh, father of Vivek Singh, who is in hospital, during a charity match at Shivaji Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday. — Photo by Rajeev Tyagi
Sports Minister Sunil Dutt speaks with Gauri Shanker Singh, father of Vivek Singh, who is in hospital, during a charity match at Shivaji Stadium in New Delhi

Manavjit Singh SandhuManavjit on course for Athens
Chandigarh, July 7
India’s Olympic medal hope in shooting, Arjuna awardee Manavjit Singh Sandhu of Punjab has bagged a silver medal in the trap individual event at the Asian Clay Shooting Championship held in Bangkok on July 3 and 4. He was a member of the Indian trap team that won a gold medal in the team event.
Australia's Jason Gillespie bowls during a practice session at Cazaly's Stadium in Cairns, Australia
Australia's Jason Gillespie bowls during a practice session at Cazaly's
stadium in Cairns, Australia, on Wednesday. Australia and Sri Lanka will meet on Friday in the second of the two off-season Test matches. Australia won the first Test by 149 runs. — Reuters

Anju slips to No 5
New Delhi, July 7
One of India’s medal hopes at the Athens Olympics in August, Anju Bobby George dropped one place to No.5 in the latest world rankings issued by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Rehhagel to stay as Greece coach
Hamburg, July 7
Otto Rehhagel has no intention to become Germany coach and rather wants to stay at the helm at Euro 2004 champions Greece, the secretary-general of the Greek football body EPO, Jannis Oikonomidis, said in an interview published today.

Naldehra Golf Club lift trophy
Shimla, July 7
While stressing upon the need for strengthening friendship and cooperation between India and Pakistan, Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh said the holding of the Shimla-Lahore Goodwill Golf Tournament would help in reviving old ties between the two neighbours.

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Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan in Asia Cup squad
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 7
The Indian cricket team for the six-nation Asia Cup tournament in Sri Lanka was announced here today with a few surprises like the inclusion wicket keeper Parthiv Patel.

Announcing the team the BCCI secretary S.K. Nair said the selectors were unanimous in their decision and the meeting was attended by the coach John Wright and captain Saurav Ganguly.

Nair said the meeting was chaired by chief selector Syed Kirmani. The other selectors were Pranab Roy, Kiran More, S. Jagdale and Kirti Azad.

The captain of the Indian team will be Saurav Ganguly and vice-captain Rahul Dravid. The permanent wicket keeper will be Parthiv Patel.

Nair said, “Since Dravid has a back problem the selectors decided to give him some respite from keeping the wickets and include Parthiv in the 14-member squad.”

“But whether Parthiv will figure in the final eleven will depend on the team management which usually takes such decisions depending on the situation,” he said.

Among the batsmen are Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S. Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, and Mohammad Kaif.

The bowlers are Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Laxmipati Balaji and Ashish Nehra.

Harbhajan returns to the national side after a gap of six months as he underwent a surgery because of an injury.

Nair said the Indian team was fit and brimming with confidence.

“We are hopeful that they will perform well,” he said.

Other than hosts Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and the UAE will participate in the tournament.

The Indian team will assemble in Chennai on July 13 and leave for Colombo.

Asked about the role of former England skipper Geoff Boycott in the Indian team, Nair said he was yet to complete his programme and submit his report.

“But the coach and the captain were very satisfied with his advice and he has been very useful,” he said.

Asked why the BCCI was not obtaining the services Indian cricket stars like Sunil Gavaskar but relying on former foreign players, Nair said the board would certainly take the services of former Indian cricketers.

“Kapil Dev has been assisting our fast bowlers and we will take the services of a former spinner to help our spinners,” he said.

Asked about any apprehensions over the security of the Indian team following today’s explosion in Colombo by a suicide bomber, he said the issue was not discussed but maximum security would be provided to the players.

Today’s blast took place only one kilometre away from the hotel, Taj Samudra, where the Indian team will be staying during the tour which begins on July 13.

Nair said he would talk to his counterpart in the Sri Lanka cricket board and said: “It is a matter of concern but better security arrangements will be made. Neither the coach nor the captain made any mention of this incident.”

The selectors also finalized the India A team which will play three four-day matches in Zimbabwe from July 22 to August 8, 2004 and a tri-nation tournament in Kenya from August 11 to September 4, in which Pakistan A team will also participate.

The India A team will be captained by Sairaj Bahatule while Hemang Badani will be the vice-captain.

The other players of the 15-member squad are Akash Chopra, Gautam Gambhir, S. Sreeram, Rohan Gavaskar, Dinesh Kaushik (wicket keeper), Amit Bhandari, Munaf Patel, Avishkar Salvi, M.S. Dhone, Ramesh Pawar, Dhiraj Yadav, S.S. Paul, and Yogesh Golwalkar.

The coach of the India A team will be Sandeep Patil.

This team will undergo a coaching camp in Bangalore from July 12 to 18.
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Batsmen’s task has become tougher, says Sachin

Chennai, July 7
Sachin Tendulkar believes that advancement of technology has made the task of a batsman quite difficult.

Technology has "changed the complexion of the game" which means players now need to do their home work differently, he said today.

"Surely, new things are coming up. There are different ways of doing your home work. Now with the help of technology, from software development to camera improvement, there have been changes and changes have been good," Tendulkar told PTI in an exclusive interview here.

The batting genius said bowlers around the world did not have technological facilities 20 years ago but they are now being able to figure out what the batsmen and the captain are trying to do.

"Overall, the whole complexion of the game has changed.

Nothing stays the same in life. There are going to be further developments in technological aspects of cricket. You only try and make yourself better and try to explore different things."

Having tormented bowlers world over, Tendulkar said he only relied on his instincts and did not believe in pre-planning his innings.

"When you go out to bat, all the bowlers are trying hard to get you out. When they try very hard to do that, I basically go with the same frame of mind like what I have done for so many years now, obviously with little changes here and there."

"The idea is to score runs without giving away your wicket and minimise the risk factor... Before playing a particular shot, I plan and decide whether to play the shot or not. All these factors are important and that happens once you are in the middle. You cannot pre-plan ideas," Tendulkar said.

"I go by my instincts - whether it is to play a shot or leave the ball. Going by one's instinct is the best form of batting." Asked to name the five best bowlers and batsmen he had played with or against, he said it was difficult to shortlist them but added that there were a few players in every team whom he admired very much.

"Before I name anyone, I must say Sir Vivian Richards with whom I have not played against is my hero," he said as he proceeded to name his favourite cricketers.

"It is very tough to name the best past or present bowlers. I can name a few I have played with. I started in Pakistan in (1989) where I played against Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Abdul Qadir. In New Zealand Richard Hadlee, Danny Morrison -- these two were top bowlers.

"When we played England, Angus Fraser who was really bowling well, Davon Malcolm, Chris Lewis and Ian Botham. In West Indies Ian Bishop, Courtney Walsh, Malcolm Marshall, Curtley Ambrose and the Benjamin brothers.

"In Australia obviously Craig McDermott, Bruce Reid, Merv Hughes, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee. from South Africa Alan Donald, Shane Pollock -- all these guys were good in their own way -- but it is very tough to name just five bowlers -- not to forget Muralitharan who has taken more than 500 wickets."

Amongst the batsmen, Tendulkar singled out Pakistan's Javed Miandad, New Zealand's Martin Crowe; West Indies' Brian Lara, Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Richie Richardson; Australia's Allan Border, David Boon, Steve Waugh and Mark Waugh.

"Among the Indians, we have Sunil Gavaskar. From the present lot I like to watch Sourav, Dravid, Laxman, Yuvi, Sehwag and Kaif... they are brilliant players. It is not easy to find such talented players and at the same time playing for the same team."

Asked whether the bowling standards had changed since his debut, the batting maestro said, "nobody becomes a great bowler overnight.

"Wasim Akram took 15 years to get his bearings.

Similarly Waqar played 13-14 years, Imran also played 17-18 years. So no one becomes great overnight. There is a time frame for everything. There is always a start in one's career and if one keeps performing consistently, he becomes a great bowler. It is a process and no one can speed it up. It takes 'x' number of years and after those years the world starts recognising you as a good bowler. You've got to go step by step."

Asked to name some young Indian players who had the potential to make it big, he said, "it has been a wonderful experience to see the progress of the younger lot in India.

You definitely feel proud of the younger lot when they are coming up well." Tendulkar said Munaf Patel and Sairaj Bahutule were good bowlers.

"Then there are a couple of guys like Sreesanth and Siddharth Trivedi who are also good, promising bowlers. I can speak more about the bowlers because they come and bowl to us often at camps.

"I have also heard about Tamil Nadu's Dinesh Karthik for his wicketkeeping and batting. Talents come out because of such healthy competitions." — PTI
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Akhtar in Asia Cup squad

Karachi, July 7
Pakistan included fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar when they announced their squad for this month’s Asia Cup in Sri Lanka.

‘’We have selected Shoaib Akhtar after satisfying ourselves that he is 100 per cent fit and with the consent of the captain and coach,’’ Wasim Bari, Pakistan’s chief selector, told Reuters.

Akhtar had to go through a stringent fitness test after first saying he could not be considered for the tournament because of a rib cage injury and then saying he was available.

Bob Woolmer will be coaching Pakistan for the first time at the tournament since being appointed coach last month in place of Javed Miandad.

The Asia Cup from July 16 to August 1 includes Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

Squad: Yasir Hameed, Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir, Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Yousuf Youhana, Moin Khan, Abdur Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, Rana Naveed-ul-Hasan, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Shabbir Ahmed, Danish Kaneria. — Reuters
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Asia Cup to go ahead

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan cricket board says the six-nation Asia Cup cricket tournament will go ahead despite suicide bombing by Tamil Tiger rebels that killed four people and wounded seven others in the capital.

“There is no change in our plan,” Sri Lanka Cricket spokesman Ray Illangakoon said.

Sri Lanka will host the Asia Cup from July 16 - Aug. 1. The participants include India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

Most of the matches will be played at two stadiums in Colombo. — AP
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Sunil Dutt’s gesture to Vivek
M.S. Unnikrishnan

New Delhi, July 7
Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Sunil Dutt has set a noble example by announcing here today that the expenses incurred for the treatment of former Olympian Vivek Singh, who is suffering from cancer, would be borne either by his ministry or from his own pocket. “Either I would pay, or my Ministry”, he said.

Sunil Dutt said he would be writing to the Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital in Mumbai, where Vivek Singh is undergoing treatment, not to charge the player for his treatment, but forwad the bills to his ministry.

“If we don’t share the sorrows of others, we cannot become good human beings, good citizens, and above all good Indians”, he observed, while addressing the gathering assembled to witness a charity hockey match between the Indian women’s team and former Olympians, in aid of Vivek Singh, at the Shivaji Stadium here today.

The Hockey Journalists’ Association, which organised the match, has assured a sum of Rs 4 lakh to Vivek Singh out of the proceedings of the match, while the former Olympians have contributed Rs 1 lakh from their own pockets. Sunil Dutt had earlier sanctioned Rs 2 lakh from the Ministry while the Indian Hockey Federation had given Rs 1 lakh to the ailing player. The Nehru Hockey Society, the Delhi Hockey Association and the Indian Women’s Hockey Federation have also contributed to Vivek’s treatment.

Sunil Dutt suggested to the sports federations to create a corpus fund to help suffering sportspersons as has been done in the film field. He said it would not always be possible to raise funds for former sportspersons in distress as has been done in the case of Vivek Singh. He said the film fraternity got together by organising stage shows and charity events to raise over Rs 4 crore, and from the interest of this corpus fund, help is being extended to former actors and actresses who have fallen on lean days.

Sunil Dutt said though he has been a member of Parliament for the past 20 years, he has been made a minister only now. He said when he was asked by Congress president Sonia Gandhi which ministry he would prefer, he expressed his desire for the Health or Sports Ministry.

He said he was planning to initiate various schemes to channelise the energies of the youth for productive purposes, to help them create their own individual identities. “If our youth are given the facilities and opportunities, they would become number one in every field”, the minister asserted.

Sunil Dutt also requested industrial houses to contribute liberally for setting up a Sportsmen Welfare Fund because some major companies were patronising only cricket and film stars now.

The charity match itself generated a lot of interest with the Olympians and the women players asking for no quarter and giving none. The match went to extra time to settle the goalless tussle, but neither team were prepared to concede an inch, despite the oppressive heat.

Vivek’s father Gauri Shankar Singh and brother Rahul Singh also played the match. The Olympians on view were Ashish Ballal, Ashok Kumar, Zafar Iqbal, Mohd Shahid, Mohd. Nayeem, Mervyn Fernandez, V Bhaskaran, Ramandeep Singh, Mukesh Kumar, Ajit Pal Singh, M P Ganesh, B P Govinda, Warinder Singh, Harbinder Singh, Abdul Aziz and Joaquin Carvalho. Nandi Singh was the coach.
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Manavjit on course for Athens
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
India’s Olympic medal hope in shooting, Arjuna awardee Manavjit Singh Sandhu of Punjab has bagged a silver medal in the trap individual event at the Asian Clay Shooting Championship held in Bangkok on July 3 and 4. He was a member of the Indian trap team that won a gold medal in the team event. Mansher Singh of Delhi won the individual gold medal. The Indian team comprised Mansher Singh, Manavjit Singh and Anwar Sultan.

The result is especially heartwarming as this is the last major international competition before the Olympic Games in Athens in August. Mansher Singh and Manavjit Singh, have already qualified for the Olympics.

Manav has been undergoing a rigorous physical fitness programme, thereby losing a lot of weight which had adversely affected his gunfit and scores in the recent past. For top level performance the gun must fit the shooter like the proverbial glove fits the hand’’. Any loss or gain in weight alters the gunfit and results in low scores. The difficulty in India is that there is no one who can adjust the gun stock perfectly. Manavjit has now had a new stock made for his gun from the Perazzi gun factory in Itlay, which is acknowledged as the best in the world. Manavjit’s score of 118/125 indicates that he is well on the way to reaching his peak form, which should be achieved during the Olympic. His previous best of 122/125 is required to get him on the victory podium at Athens.

Manav returned to India on Monday and is slated to fly of Itlay on July 8 to continue his shooting practice and psychological training under this coach Marcello Dradi. He will return to India at the end of July and depart for Athens to participate in the Olympic Games along with the other qualified shooters on August 3. The trap event is being held on August 14 and 15, immediately after the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on August 13.
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Anju slips to No 5

New Delhi, July 7
One of India’s medal hopes at the Athens Olympics in August, Anju Bobby George dropped one place to No.5 in the latest world rankings issued by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The 27-year-old long jumper, who won India’s first medal in a World Athletics Championships in Paris last year, moved down from No. 4 with a total ranking score of 1248 points. Anju, who is preparing for the Olympics by participating in prestigious competitions in Europe and America, had finished a disappointing fourth in the Rome Golden Gala on July 2 clearing 6.41m.

Making the biggest leap in the rankings was Tatyana Lebedeva, the world triple jump champion, who upset No.1 Tatyana Kotava to win in Rome clearing 7.01m. The Russian, who did not have a rank earlier, is now ranked No. 2. Also entering the top six was American track queen Marion Jones. Jones, who broke into the top ratings last week, was ranked No. 6. — PTI
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Rehhagel to stay as Greece coach

Hamburg, July 7
Otto Rehhagel has no intention to become Germany coach and rather wants to stay at the helm at Euro 2004 champions Greece, the secretary-general of the Greek football body EPO, Jannis Oikonomidis, said in an interview published today.

‘’Mr Rehhagel told me for the second time on Tuesday that he wants to stay in Greece. He said it for the first time two days ahead of Sunday’s Euro final in Portugal,’’ Oikonomidis told Germany’s Die Welt daily.

Rehhagel is a national hero in Greece after leading the team to the Euro 2004 title on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over hosts Portugal in one of the biggest upsets in football history. Rehhagel came to Greece in 2001. — DPA
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Naldehra Golf Club lift trophy
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 7
While stressing upon the need for strengthening friendship and cooperation between India and Pakistan, Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh said the holding of the Shimla-Lahore Goodwill Golf Tournament would help in reviving old ties between the two neighbours.

Speaking at the prize giving ceremony of the Tournament held at Naldehra, he said such events must be organised in the field of sports, art and culture so that the distrust and enmity that had been created between the two countries could be wiped off.

The President of the Pakistan Golf Federation, Lt Gen Muhammad Tariq, said such sports events could be instrumental in reviving emotional ties between the people of the two countries, who shared a lot in common.

The Chief Minister awarded the trophy to the winners Naldehra Golf Club and the runner-up trophy to the Lahore Gymkhana Golf Club. The best card was awarded to Mir Maaz Mehmood of Pakistan and second best card to Monish Dhian Chand.

The longest drive prize went to Dr Zahid A. Khan and the closest pin prize to Vijay Singh.
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 BRIEFLY


Portugal's Brazil-born midfielder Deco balances the ball on his head during his presentation as the new recruit for Spanish soccer club Barcelona
Portugal's Brazil-born midfielder Deco balances the ball on his head during his presentation as the new recruit for Spanish soccer club Barcelona on Tuesday.
— AP/PTI

OFFER TO ROONEY
LONDON:
Premier league club Everton said on Tuesday that they have offered teenage sensation Wayne Rooney a new five-year contract until 2009 for a club record salary.
But no financial details were given. “The offer is the biggest ever made in this club’s history,” said club boss Trevor Birch. “We believe this is the right offer for Wayne, which fully reflects his growing stature in football.” Everton could rid themselves of their rising debts if they decide to sell the 18-year-old Rooney, who rose to stardom with four England goals at Euro 2004 in Portugal. Manchester United and Chelsea are said to be after Rooney, but according to the Everton board must come up with at least 60 million euros. — DPA

SHARAPOVA
NEW HAVEN
(USA):
Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova already wants to be out of the spotlight — at least for a few days. Sharapova, 17, has been on an almost nonstop tour of interviews and appearances since she beat Serena Williams 6-1 6-4 in the Wimbledon final on Saturday. She’s recognized on the streets, and groups of photographers follow her wherever she goes.
— AP
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