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S P O R T S

Sunil Dutt catches SAI officials by surprise
New Delhi, July 14
Moved by media reports about the poor accommodation of some of the Olympics-bound sportspersons camping at the residential wing, Union Sports Minister Sunil Dutt made a surprise visit to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium today to make a first-hand assessment of the situation.

Union Sports Minister Sunil Dutt inspects the gymnasium at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday Union Sports Minister Sunil Dutt inspects the gymnasium at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday.
— Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

Teams hope foreign coaches will do the trick
Colombo, July 14
All six teams taking part in the fortnight-long Asia Cup in this island nation have one thing in common — they are coached by foreigners.

GRAPHIC: ASIA CUP schedule

Murali sets sights on 900 wickets
Colombo, July 14
Declaring that records are meant to be broken and setting his bar a notch higher, Sri Lankan ace off- spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has revised his target as he indicated today that he would go in for about 900 Test wickets.

Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan practices in Colombo on Wednesday Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan practices in Colombo on Wednesday. Murali, who skipped his team’s Australia tour, has made himself available for the Asia Cup, which commences on Friday.
— AP/PTI photo

Disgruntled Miandad turns to India
Islamabad, July 14
Discarded by his country’s cricket board, legendary Pakistani batsman and coach Javed Miandad today left for New Delhi to take up an assignment with an Indian television network and evaluate various offers of coaching.






Beibei, the mascot of Asian Cup soccer, is displayed during a rehearsal for the opening ceremony in Beijing
'Beibei', the mascot of Asian Cup soccer, is displayed during a rehearsal for the opening ceremony in Beijing on Wednesday. The Asian Cup will kick off in Beijing on July 17. — Reuters



EARLIER STORIES
 
Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova gets a kiss from Latin pop-star Enrique Iglesias during Andre Agassi's first round match at the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles
Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova (right) gets a kiss from Latin pop-star Enrique Iglesias during Andre Agassi's first round match at the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Ian Crocker reacts after setting a new world record in the men’s 100-metre butterfly event
Ian Crocker reacts after setting a new world record in the men’s 100-metre butterfly event with a time of 50.76 seconds at the US Olympic swimming trials in Long Beach, California, on Tuesday. — AP/PTI photos

Barbados to host 2007 World Cup final
London, July 14
Barbados has been chosen as the venue to host the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup in the West Indies in 2007, while Jamaica will host the opening ceremony and the opening match.

Two-tier system for Cooch Behar tournament
Mumbai, July 14
The junior tournament committee of the BCCI today gave the go-ahead for the two-tier system to be adopted for the Cooch Behar under-19 tournament on the lines of the Ranji Trophy from the coming season. As a consequence, 15 teams would be divided into two groups to play in the elite division championship and 12 other teams would play in the plate division championship, BCCI joint secretary Ratnakar Shetty announced here today.

Mani, Speed to attend BCCI
panel meeting
Mumbai, July 14
International Cricket Council President Ehsan Mani and Chief Executive Malcolm Speed are scheduled to attend the working committee meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India in Delhi. “Ehsan Mani and Malcolm Speed will attend the meeting as special invitees. This has been done as part of the ICC’s endeavour to bring all its units closer,” BCCI joint secretary Ratnakar Shetty said here today.

Argentina beat Uruguay, to face Peru
Piura (Peru), July 14
Argentina set up a Copa America quarterfinal against hosts Peru after their 4-2 win over neighbours Uruguay on yesterday, while Mexico sent unhappy Ecuador packing. Striker Luciano Figueroa’s first two goals for his country steered Argentina clear of a possible quarterfinal with Brazil.

Lacklustre India overcome Belgium
Nivelles (Belgium), July 14
A lacklustre India made heavy weather of their 3-1 victory over lowly Belgium in the first of the two friendly hockey matches here last night. For the winners, who led 1-0 at the breather, Sandeep Singh, Deepak Thakur and Prabhjot Singh scored.

SC tells DD, Ten Sports to give names for panel
New Delhi, July 14
The Supreme Court today proposed to set up a three-member panel to determine the issues for deciding damages in the Indo-Pak cricket series telecast dispute between Prasar Bharti Dubai-based Ten Sports and the latter’s Indian distributor Modi Entertainment.

Former German tennis star Steffi Graf holds her three-year-old son Jaden Gil  as she watches her husband Andre Agassi play his first round match against Alex Bogomlov Jr Former German tennis star Steffi Graf holds her three-year-old son Jaden Gil (left) as she watches her husband Andre Agassi play his first round match against Alex Bogomlov Jr. at the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles on Tuesday. — AP/PTI

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Sunil Dutt catches SAI officials by surprise
M.S.Unnikrishnan & Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 14
Moved by media reports about the poor accommodation of some of the Olympics-bound sportspersons camping at the residential wing, Union Sports Minister Sunil Dutt made a surprise visit to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium today to make a first-hand assessment of the situation.

After making a surprise visit to the stadium in the morning, the minister turned up again in the evening, speaking not only to the athletes bound for Greece but also a large number of local athletes training there.

The minister listened to the grievances of the athletes and gave an assurance that things would improve in the coming days. He went around inspecting the areas which he thought were not being maintained, much to the dislike of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials, who were taken by surprise.

Sunil Dutt did not put the blame on anybody’s door, but tried to make an objective assessment. When asked whether an inquiry commission would go into the lack of facilities for sportspersons at the Nehru Stadium, the minister replied that he was not in favour of the commissions.

“I am myself an inquiry commission...that is why I am here,” he shot back. He has also called the meeting of the SAI officials tomorrow to tale stock of the situation and work out solutions for the sportspersons.

Sunil Dutt is the first Union Sports Minister who has taken personal interest in the upkeep of the stadium and visited the various areas there. In the past, the ministers used to pass on the blame and responsibilities on the SAI officials, instead of taking immediate corrective measures.

The athletes and the administrators of the Sports Authority of India have always dreaded holding a national camp in Delhi during the summer in view of the perennial water crisis and shortage of rooms due to various coaching camps.

Some of the national campers bound for Ukraine, and other athletes, who are training in Delhi for the Inter-State Athletics Championship to be held in Chennai from July 18 to 20, poured their hearts out to the minister, but Dutt, instead of arriving at any subjective conclusions, tried to understand the problems from all perspectives and instructed the officials to take quick remedial measures.

A top administrator of the SAI said the insistence by some of the national campers for allotment of airconditioned rooms could not be complied with as the SAI had only a limited number of AC rooms at the residential wing, and it had to function within the framework of certain rules and regulations.

They quoted the example of former sprint queen PT Usha, who had to take special written permission from the Sports Ministry to be allotted a separate room in the VIP wing of the stadium so that she could stay with her personal coach OM Nambiar whenever she trained in Delhi or attended national camps.
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Teams hope foreign coaches will do the trick

Colombo, July 14
All six teams taking part in the fortnight-long Asia Cup in this island nation have one thing in common — they are coached by foreigners.

The trend of hiring the services of foreign coaches to change the fortunes of the team seem to be catching up in Asia, where cricket thrives. Latest to join the bandwagon are Pakistan, who fired former captain Javed Miandad and sought the guidance of Englishman and former South Africa coach, Bob Woolmer.

After the team lost the historic home series — both one-day and Test series— to arch rivals India, Miandad was the most stark casualty. Now, Pakistan are hoping that Woolmer can help them retain the cup they won four years ago in Bangladesh.

India are pinning their hopes on John Wright, a former New Zealand captain, who has been with the team from 2000, to lift the Asia Cup. Interestingly, two Indians are coaching the two minnows —UAE and Hong Kong — in the tournament.

After a couple of Indian coaches failed to deliver goods, India decided to summon the services of John Wright. The decision came in for bitter criticism. Even the BCCI expressed its displeasure whenever India failed to deliver. But now it is a thing of the past. He is a much-liked man having transformed team India into the second best team in the world after Australia.

Sri Lanka, the first Asians to start the trend of hiring the services of foreign coaches, have John Dyson, an Australian, as their current coach. They had first hired Dav Whatmore of Australia and went on to win the World Cup when the event was co-hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Whatmore is now trying to change the face of Bangladesh, who are yet to taste their first Test win after Test match status was conferred on them. Their best moment was upsetting Pakistan during the 1999 World Cup in an inconsequential match.

Bangladesh also hired the services of players like Gordon Greenidge in the past. But they have not been able to make major changes in their performance.

The United Arab Emirates, who are grouped with India and hosts Sri Lanka, are being coached by Syed Abid Ali, a former India cricketer from Hyderabad. The UAE, whose record has not been impressive ever since their debut in the World Cup in 1996, are hoping that they would be able to do better this time under the Indian coach.

Hong Kong, who are making their debut at the international level, are being coached by Robin Singh, who had donned Indian colours. Considered a shrewd coach, the allrounder from Chennai will surely know that he would be expecting a miracle if the team crosses the first hurdle and makes the second phase in the Asia Cup. — UNI
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Murali sets sights on 900 wickets

Colombo, July 14
Declaring that records are meant to be broken and setting his bar a notch higher, Sri Lankan ace off- spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has revised his target as he indicated today that he would go in for about 900 Test wickets.

“I intend to play at least for another six years. My ambition is to pick up on an average 50 wickets every year. I have been bagging on an average 80 wickets in the part two or three years,’’ he said in a chat with a group of Indian mediapersons at NCC stadium during a practice match between India and a Sri Lankan team.

With 527 wickets already in his kitty, by his own claim he would be close to the 900 mark. With more Tests scheduled to be played in the next few years, the off-spinner appeared confident of reaching the figure. Earlier, he had declared that he would aim for at least 800 Test wickets after becoming the world’s highest wicket-taker surpassing the mark of Courtney Walsh of the West Indies.

Refusing to name any target, Murali, whose record of 527 wickets was equalled by Australian leg- spinner Shane Warne during the second Test match between Australia and Sri Lanka Down Under, said “You cannot set any target. Because one has to be fit for that. My ambition is to play at least for six years and retire at the age of around 38. It is not too late for a spinner,” he said.

On Shane Warne’s achievement, he said, “I am not selfish. It is good for the world of cricket. I know records are not permanent and are meant to be broken. I am happy for him.’’

He stated that he was fit now for the multi-nation Asia Cup beginning in the island nation on Friday.

“Murali, who skipped the Australian tour for “personal reasons’’, was busy at the nets. He had a long session yesterday and today.

Stressing that he had not been permitted to bowl the controversial “doosra’’, he said he would bowl all his other three deliveries — top spinner, the one that comes in and the other that turns away. — UNI
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Disgruntled Miandad turns to India

Islamabad, July 14
Discarded by his country’s cricket board, legendary Pakistani batsman and coach Javed Miandad today left for New Delhi to take up an assignment with an Indian television network and evaluate various offers of coaching.

Miandad will work as an expert commentator for Zee TV during the Asia Cup cricket tournament in Sri Lanka, and would stay in India for over three weeks.

“I have accepted to work for Zee TV despite a similar offer from some of the Pakistan television networks and I am looking forward to a fruitful and happy stay in India, which I always have had in the past,” he said before his departure.

By accepting the new assignment, Miandad has joined the ranks of his former colleagues — Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Rameez Raja and Imran Khan — who have done stints as commentators in India for various channels.

Still bitter about the way he was sacked by the Pakistan Cricket Board, Miandad said he was happy that Intikhab Alam had accepted to coach Punjab and earn the distinction of being the first Pakistani cricketer to coach in India.

“I am not averse to taking up coaching assignments in India. There are few offers but I will decide after talking to various Indian cricketers and officials,” he said, adding that he had been sounded by the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai to coach the boys at its academy.

Miandad said it was ironical that former Pakistani cricketers were travelling to India on coaching assignments, while the PCB was busy hiring more and more foreign experts to train local cricketers.

Besides chief coach Bob Woolmer, the PCB has hired Barry Richards and Greg Chappell as batting consultants and Darryl Foster as bowling coach, in addition to two South African physical trainers.

“After removing me as coach, they have taken the same team for the Asia Cup which I built during the past one year,” Miandad said.

“I moulded this team after the disastrous performance in the World Cup and made it fit enough to defeat South Africa and give a close fight to India during the recent series. They do this to me every time.” — PTI
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Barbados to host 2007 World Cup final

London, July 14
Barbados has been chosen as the venue to host the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup in the West Indies in 2007, while Jamaica will host the opening ceremony and the opening match.

The announcement was made at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Montego Bay, Jamaica during the Award of Matches ceremony, last evening.

The ceremony, which outlined the allocation of matches for each of the eight venues, was attended by government and cricket officials, sponsors, media and representatives of the host venues.

Barbados will also host six of the Super Eight matches while Jamaica, apart from the opening ceremony and opening game, will host a semifinal and six first-round matches involving the West Indies.

St Lucia will host the second semifinal and six first-round matches involving England while Antigua and Barbuda will get six Super Eight matches.

All other venues — Grenada, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts and Nevis — will host six Super Eight matches each. — UNI
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Two-tier system for Cooch Behar tournament

Mumbai, July 14
The junior tournament committee of the BCCI today gave the go-ahead for the two-tier system to be adopted for the Cooch Behar under-19 tournament on the lines of the Ranji Trophy from the coming season.

As a consequence, 15 teams would be divided into two groups to play in the elite division championship and 12 other teams would play in the plate division championship, BCCI joint secretary Ratnakar Shetty announced here today.

“The whole format of junior cricket has been reviewed in order to make it compact so that all junior tournaments of the board will be completed by the third week of January, after commencing in the third week of October, to help the junior cricketers prepare for their examinations”, Shetty said.

“The under-19 three-day games would be played on the Ranji Trophy format with the teams split into elite and plate divisions,” he said.

The committee, which met here under the chairmanship of senior BCCI vice-president Kamal Morarka, also decided to make changes in the under-15 and under-22 championships by which two teams from each zone would qualify for the inter-zonal knockout stage instead of one team at present, Shetty said.

“The committee also accepted in toto the report of the two-member special committee comprising Shetty and Punjab Cricket Association secretary MP Pandove to review junior cricket,” he added.

The recommendations have to be formally ratified at the BCCI’s working committee meeting in Delhi on July 18 and 19, Shetty informed. — PTI
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Mani, Speed to attend BCCI panel meeting

Mumbai, July 14
International Cricket Council (ICC) President Ehsan Mani and Chief Executive Malcolm Speed are scheduled to attend the working committee meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India in Delhi.

“Ehsan Mani and Malcolm Speed will attend the meeting as special invitees. This has been done as part of the ICC’s endeavour to bring all its units closer,” BCCI joint secretary Ratnakar Shetty said here today.

“They will attend the meeting on July 18,” he added. The BCCI’s all-powerful committee is scheduled to continue its deliberations on the next day, too.

Mani and Speed have made visits to some other full-member countries of ICC with the same agenda in mind. — PTI
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Argentina beat Uruguay, to face Peru

Uruguay’s goalkeeper Luis Barbat fails to stop a head by Argentine captain Roberto Ayala during their Copa America match in Piura
Uruguay’s goalkeeper Luis Barbat fails to stop a head by Argentine captain Roberto Ayala during their Copa America match in Piura, Peru, on Tuesday. — AP/PTI photo

Piura (Peru), July 14
Argentina set up a Copa America quarterfinal against hosts Peru after their 4-2 win over neighbours Uruguay on yesterday, while Mexico sent unhappy Ecuador packing.

Striker Luciano Figueroa’s first two goals for his country steered Argentina clear of a possible quarterfinal with Brazil.

Mexico kicked off the group B double bill with a 2-1 win over Ecuador, who finished bottom of the group with three straight defeats.

The Mexicans finished top with seven points and stay in Piura to face the runners-up in group C on Sunday, which could be Paraguay or Chile.

Second-placed Argentina travel to Chiclayo for Saturday’s showdown with the hosts and Uruguay qualify as one of the best third-placed teams.

Argentina, beaten by Mexico on Saturday, and Uruguay had both qualified before kicking off their match but still served up a typically full-blooded River Plate derby.

‘’This game was similar to the one against Mexico,’’ said Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa. ‘’The difference is that we scored in this one and we didn’t against Mexico.’’

Uruguay coach Jorge Fossati, whose team had conceded eight goals in losing two World Cup qualifiers when he took over, was delighted with his side’s improvement at the Copa America.

‘’We gave everything, just as a Uruguayan should when he’s wearing his country’s shirt, but without going over the top,’’ he said.

Uruguay defender Joe Bizera was sent off in the 35th minute while team-mate Carlos Diogo produced arguably the worst tackle of the tournament when he lunged two-footed at Cristian Gonzalez’s shins. Remarkably, he escaped with a yellow card.

Fabian Estoyanoff fired Uruguay ahead with a right-footed volley after seven minutes before Argentina replied with two quick goals.

Cristian Gonzalez slotted home a 20th-minute penalty after a foul on Cesar Delgado, then Figueroa scored from close range less than one minute later.

That blow, followed by Bizera’s sending-off, would have floored many teams.

But the tenacious Uruguayans equalised in the 38th minute when Vicente Sanchez connected with a loose ball and scored with a 25-metre left-foot shot.

Argentina dominated the rest of the game but appeared set to be frustrated until captain Roberto Ayala scored with a brilliant header from a corner in the 81st minute. Figueroa sealed the win with his second goal in the 90th minute.

Claudio Suarez, the world’s most capped international, made his first appearance of the Copa and the 172nd of his Mexico career in the game against Ecuador.

Striker Adolfo Bautista was Mexico’s hero, winning the 27th minute penalty from which Hector Altamirano opened the scoring, and helping himself to the second on the break just before halftime.

Agustin Delgado headed one for Ecuador as they staged a late fightback. — Reuters
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Lacklustre India overcome Belgium

Nivelles (Belgium), July 14
A lacklustre India made heavy weather of their 3-1 victory over lowly Belgium in the first of the two friendly hockey matches here last night.

For the winners, who led 1-0 at the breather, Sandeep Singh, Deepak Thakur and Prabhjot Singh scored.

India, who are being trained by five coaches — two Indians (Rajinder Singh, Jagbir Singh), two Germans (Oliver Kurtz, Gerhard Rach) and a Dutch (Frank Leistra) — lacked coordination and muffed some easy chances.

The Indians, who earlier this month had a disastrous four-nation tournament in Amsterdam, have come here to prepare for the Athens Olympics.

They are scheduled to take part in a four-nation tournament in Dusseldorf, starting from Friday.

It was in the 10th minute that the visitors opened their account when Arjun Halappa was fouled in the circle by host defender and were awarded a penalty corner. Teenager Sandeep Singh, with a strong drag flick, sent the ball home.

India kept attacking but all their moves lacked penetration and the forwards hardly looked threatening. The hosts defended their citadel by crowding the area and the visitors neither had the stamina nor the toughness to cut through.

It took another 41 minutes for India to increase their lead when Dhanraj Pillay set up Deepak Thakur in the circle and the youngster made no mistake in sending the ball into the cage.

The hosts reduced the margin, as they countered and panic spread in the Indian defence which conceded five penalty corners. Two were wide off the mark and two were saved by goalkeeper Adrian D’souza but he could not stop the fifth one hitting the target following a goalmouth melee.

Seven minutes before the final whistle, the Indians struck for the third time through Prabhjot Singh to give some respectability to their victory margin. — UNI
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SC tells DD, Ten Sports to give names for panel
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 14
The Supreme Court today proposed to set up a three-member panel to determine the issues for deciding damages in the Indo-Pak cricket series telecast dispute between Prasar Bharti Dubai-based Ten Sports and the latter’s Indian distributor Modi Entertainment.

A Bench of Mr Justice N Santosh Hegde, Mr Justice SB Sinha and Mr Justice SH Kapadia directed the three parties to supply by July 23 names of two persons each for selection of the three-member committee.

The dispute over telecasting rights between Ten Sports and Prasar Bharti had threatened the blackout of the Indo-Pak Test and one-day series earlier this year on Doordarshan.

The signals of the matches’ telecast were allowed to DD by Ten Sports only on the direction of the court, after it had ordered Prasar Bharti to deposit Rs 50 crore as guarantee money in the bank through the Court Registry for determining revenue sharing between the three parties.

The court told the counsel for the parties today that it would finalise the terms and reference for deciding the damages after the proposed committee had determined the issues, while fixing the next hearing for July 29.
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 BRIEFLY


Spanish soccer fan Pablo Carral with the Euro 2004 ball
Spanish soccer fan Pablo Carral with the Euro 2004 ball that David Beckham shot into the stands when he missed a spot-kick in England’s penalty shootout against Portugal. The ball, which landed in Pablo’s arms, has attracted a bid of over $3.46 million in an auction on an Internet auction site. — Reuters

PK Raja to be Olympic referee
NEW DELHI:
Army Sports Control Board’s P.K. Muralidharan Raja has been selected by the International Boxing Association to perform the duties of referee and judge in the Athens Olympics.
Raja made the grade after a stringent qualifying seminar for Olympic referees held at Abu Dhabi from July 4 to 10, Indian Amateur Boxing Federation said in a press note on Wednesday A total of 32 referees have been selected from all over the world to do the duties in boxing events at Athens. — PTI

Globosport
BANGALORE:
Globosport has tiedup with Athletes1 of the UK to help talented cricketers of South Asia play in the English country cricket.
Globosport, the sports management division of tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi’s Globo Media Solutions, and Athletes1 would work together to identify playing opportunities for cricketers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh with a focus on county cricket. Globosport had already identified four current international cricketers and would be announcing the first county deal for one of them within a few days, Aniban Das Blah, vice-president, Talent and New Initiatives, said in a press note here on Wednesday. — UNI

Aerodynamic suit
SACRAMENTO (USA): Australia’s Cathy Freeman won the 400m Olympic gold at Sydney wearing one. Dutch and US speedskaters set eight world records wearing them. Even Tour de France cycling star Lance Armstrong has one. Now the United States athletics team at the Athens Olympics will be garbed in the latest aerodynamic apparel, high-tech fine fashions ranging from full-body suits to crop tops, shorts, singlets and briefs. The “Swift Suit”, two years in the design process, features a white torso with blue lower-body coverings and red sleeves. While the torso is smooth, the arms feature dimples like a golf ball to better move through the air. — AP

Champion banned
BEIJING: Chinese weightlifter Shang Shichun, a gold medallist at last year’s world championship, has been banned for two years for failing a drugs test and will miss the Athens Olympics. Her punishment was handed down by the China Weightlifting Association. Shang, who set three world records at the championships, was also ordered to pay a $ 600 fine, the Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday. — AFP

Rutnagar honoured
MUMBAI: Veteran sports journalist Dicky Rutnagar was felicitated at a function here on Wednesday by the President of the Cricket Club of India (CCI), Raj Singh Dungarpur. He was presented a plaque with the photograph of batting genius Sachin Tendulkar by former Indian captain Polly Umrigar. — UNI
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