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CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Harbhajan set to miss second match
Sreesanth, Chappell down with throat infection
Rawalpindi, February 9
There were more worries for the Indian think tank as Harbhajan Singh looked set to miss the second one-day international against Pakistan here on Saturday.
Harbhajan Singh during a practice session at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
Harbhajan Singh during a practice session at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Thursday. — PTI photo

Our appeal wasn’t unsporting: Dravid
Islamabad, February 9
Skipper Rahul Dravid today rebutted charges that the Indian team violated the spirit of the game when it appealed against Pakistani counterpart Inzamam-ul-Haq for obstructing the field in the first one-dayer.

Saqlain to lead Pak
Karachi, February 9
Mohammad Saqlain was retained as the captain of a 20-member squad named for the six-match hockey series against India starting later this month.

Front formed to queer Lalu’s pitch
Patna, February 9
In order to isolate the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led Bihar Cricket Association (BCA), four separate cricket bodies, which came into being after the bifurcation of Bihar state, today decided to merge “for the promotion of cricket in the state.”

Davis Cup
Rohan, Prakash take on Koreans today

New Delhi, February 9
Rohan Bopanna and Prakash Amritraj will launch India’s Davis Cup campaign against Korea in the Asia-Oceania Group I first round tie in Changwon, Korea, from tomorrow.


A short-track competitor of the Netherlands trains on the Palavela ice rink on Wednesday. The Winter Olympic Games begin in Turin, Italy, on Friday.
A short-track competitor of the Netherlands trains on the Palavela ice rink on Wednesday. The Winter Olympic Games begin in Turin, Italy, on Friday. — AFP

EARLIER STORIES

 
Players gear up for tough series
Chandigarh, February 9
With just over a week to go for the start of the hockey series against Pakistan, the Indian probables went through the paces during a training camp at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium here today.

Indian probables in action during a training session at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Thursday. — Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari 
Indian probables in action during a training session at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Thursday.

AFI issues notices to ‘missing’ athletes
Patiala, February 9
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has issued notices to several “missing” athletes, directing them to give the reasons for their absence from the national camp at the NIS.The athletes are suspected to be on the “hit list” of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Punjab beat TN in handball
Ludhiana, February 9
Hosts Punjab defeated Tamil Nadu 23-16 in a Group D encounter of the 34th Senior National Handball Championship for Men which started at the indoor multipurpose hall of Guru Nanak Sports Complex here today.

Fransa’s demand turned down
New Delhi, February 9
The Disciplinary Committee of the 10th National Football League (NFL) today rejected Fransa Pax’s demand for a re-play of their January 30 match against Mahindra United as well as their request to reschedule their match against Air-India from which they had abstained as it wanted the Goan club to depose before it.


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Harbhajan set to miss second match
Sreesanth, Chappell down with throat infection
S. S. Ramaswamy

Rawalpindi, February 9
There were more worries for the Indian think tank as Harbhajan Singh looked set to miss the second one-day international against Pakistan here on Saturday.

The Punjab off-spinner sat out of the first tie at Peshawar early this week after bruising his bowling finger during practice and seems not to have made enough progress to be fit in time for the weekend match.

The Indians refused to put a time frame for Harbhajan’s recovery but given the fact that he has not bowled a ball the whole week and missed the practice session this morning indicated that he was unlikely to play.

Team sources said Harbhajan still had a swelling on the bruised finger due to probable fluid collection, although the bowler himself was unaware of the cause.

“He has not bowled as yet. We are monitoring his progress closely and we will take a decision (on playing him) keeping in mind this series and the amount of cricket coming up,” skipper Rahul Dravid said after nets at the Pindi stadium today.

“No time frame can be fixed (on Harbhajan’s return) but we have got a cover (in Ramesh Powar),” he added.

There was more bad news on the bowling front with rookie pacer Sreesanth, as also coach Greg Chappell, being laid down by throat infection.

The pitches in the series have been unkind to the bowlers but it has also exposed the lack of depth in the Indian attack.

Although the Duckworth-Lewis method came into play in deciding the winner at Peshawar, Pakistan’s score remained above the par score at any moment during their chase, giving an indication of the hosts’ batting might.

The Pindi track, too, promises a batting feast, and it is going to be another brutal examination for the Indian bowling against the Pakistani batsmen who seem to be least intimidated by a target in excess of 300.

Dravid said the series would be a huge learning curve for his young attack.

“We could do better in bowling. But it is tough on the bowlers to bowl on these flat tracks,” Dravid said.

“We are trying to do something different but in a one-day match not much can be done differently with the bowler restricted to bowl only 10 overs.

“We have an inexperienced attack. We are trying to do better than what we are doing. It is a learning process.”

Dravid rated the Pakistani batting highly. “They are a good batting side. They have had a lot of success in the subcontinent and they are playing well,” he said.

Dravid once again said it was strategy and not experimentation when talking about the changes made in the Indian batting order.

“You may call it experiment. We call it strategy ... We have to be fluid in our approach and not cast in stone,” Dravid said.

“Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s coming up the order and Yuvraj Singh being sent ahead were done keeping in mind their powerful game and the fact that Sachin Tendulkar was holding the other end up.

“We need to set different targets on different wickets and situations. Irfan at number three is no longer an experiment. It has happened often since the Sri Lanka series.”

Dravid felt the Pindi wicket would produce lot of runs, just as it did in 2004.

“It’s difficult to judge a wicket 48 hours before the match. It has been watered and rolled now. But I don’t expect it to be different from the one we last played here when over 300 runs were scored (by each team) or the last match (at Peshawar),” the Bangalore stalwart said.

Dravid said the arrival of Dhoni on the scene was a huge bonus for the side after he had himself kept wickets earlier on in one-dayers.“Dhoni’s average is good and his strike rate is very high. He is a very big plus for us.” — PTI

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Our appeal wasn’t unsporting: Dravid

Islamabad, February 9
Skipper Rahul Dravid today rebutted charges that the Indian team violated the spirit of the game when it appealed against Pakistani counterpart Inzamam-ul-Haq for obstructing the field in the first one-dayer.

Inzamam became only the second Pakistani cricketer to be ruled out obstructing the field at Peshawar on Monday when he blocked a throw with the bat while trying to regain his crease.

Later, in his newspaper column, the home captain criticised the Indian team for making the appeal, saying that it was against the spirit of the game since he was only trying to protect himself against the quick throw.

Dravid said if the team’s action had been unsportsmanlike, the match officials would have taken action.

“In my opinion, and in the opinion of umpires and the match referee whom I have spoken to, the Indian team did not act in any unsportsmanlike manner or against the spirit of the game,” Dravid said in a statement here.

“If that had been the case, the umpires and the match referee would have taken action.”

The Indian captain, however, said the team was against blowing the issue out of proportion.

“We would like not to be questioned further on this issue,” he added.

‘Rahul should have withdrawn appeal’

Rawalpindi: Pakistan’s former Test captains were unanimous in declaring that Rahul Dravid’s appeal against Inzamam-ul-Haq for obstructing the field was against the spirit of the game, even though they insisted that the Indian skipper was within the laws of the game.

The stalwarts believed that while the tense situation of the match perhaps forced the Indians to appeal, Dravid should have shown more responsibility as captain and withdrawn it.

“Indian fielders appealed because the decision could have changed the course of the match as India were losing after being beaten in the Karachi Test. Under different circumstances, India might not have appealed,” former captain Hanif Mohammad said.

Asif Iqbal, who skippered Pakistan on the 1979 tour of India, dismissed Rahul Dravid’s contention that if his actions were against sportsmanship, the match officials would have taken action against him.

“The bottomline is that the fielders appealed and the umpires, in accordance with the law, had to give Inzamam out.

Rashid Latif said Dravid’s action reflected that he was a captain under pressure and 
tension.

“No doubt Inzamam was out but Dravid should not have appealed. If he had appealed in the heat of the moment, he should have withdrawn it. Rahul seems to be under tremendous pressure and tension.

“Dravid has not exposed himself as a sensible captain. I remember Javed Miandad ran out Rodney Hogg in Australia but Mushtaq Mohammad, who was the captain, withdrew the appeal and called back Hogg.

“That’s another issue that the umpires didn’t allow the batsman to continue his innings but the point to be emphasised is that a captain’s reflexes need to be sharp and quick. — PTI

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Saqlain to lead Pak

Karachi, February 9
Mohammad Saqlain was retained as the captain of a 20-member squad named for the six-match hockey series against India starting later this month.

The team was announced by Chief Selector and former captain Chaudhry Akhtar Rasool in the presence of Pakistan Hockey Federation Secretary Brigadier Musarratullah Khan, coach Asif Bajwa and manager Saeed Khan after the conclusion of two-day trials in Islamabad.

Overall, Pakistan made just a few changes to the squad that finished fifth in the Champions Trophy in December last year, leaving out Akhtar Ali and including Mudassar Khan. Shabbir and Mohammad Zubair were added to the squad.

The series, to be played on home and away basis, will open in Chandigarh where the first two games will be played on February 17 and 18 while the third will be played in Jalandhar on February 20.

The second half of the series will be hosted by Pakistan at Rawalpindi (Feb 22), Faisalabad (Feb 24) and Lahore (Feb 26).

Meanwhile, the team is studded with eight players who participated in the one-month-long Premier Hockey League held in Chandigarh last month. They are goalkeeper Salman Akbar, fullback Imran Warsi, halfback Mohd Saqulain, and forwards Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abassi, Adnan Zakir, Mudassar Ali Khan and Mohd Shabir.

Team: Mohammad Saqlain (captain), Salman Akbar, Nasir Ahmed, Zeeshan Ashraf, Mohammad Imran, Imran Warsi, Imran Khan, Dilawar Bhatti, Adnan Maqsood, Sajjad Anwer, Rehan Butt, Mudassar Ali Khan (vice-captain), Shakeel Abbasi, Tariq Aziz, Shabbir Husain, Adnan Zakir, Mudassar Khan, Waqas Sharif, Shabbir Khan, Mohmmad Zubair. — PTI, UNI

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Front formed to queer Lalu’s pitch

Patna, February 9
In order to isolate the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led Bihar Cricket Association (BCA), four separate cricket bodies, which came into being after the bifurcation of Bihar state, today decided to merge “for the promotion of cricket in the state.”

The Association of Bihar Cricket, led by former BJP MP and former Test cricketer Kirti Jha Azad, Bihar Cricket Association (Patna) headed by DIG of CRPF Alok Raj, Cricket Association of Bihar under the stewardship of Adhikari M.M. Prasad and Mrityunjay Tiwari-led Bihar Players’ Association today merged and decided to register the new association under the Company’s Act.

Announcing this at a press conference, Azad, a member of the 1983 World Cup winning Indian cricket team, in the presence of Alok Raj, Prasad and Tiwari declared that all four bodies had now become one.

“A merger of the four cricket associations has taken place to boost cricket in the state,” he said, adding “we will now channelise our efforts for promotion of cricket in Bihar and move the BCCI for affiliation after the new body is registered.”

In reply to a query, Jha said the merger would mean “isolation of the Bihar Cricket Association run by RJD supremo Lalu Prasad who has played the role of dampener to our efforts to promote cricket here.

Later, when approached for comment, Lalu Prasad said the BCA led by him was the ‘real’ representative of the cricket establishment in Bihar.

“These people are making a futile attempt to isolate me. The BCA headed by me is the representative organisation of the cricket establishment in Bihar,” he said. — PTI 

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Davis Cup
Rohan, Prakash take on Koreans today

New Delhi, February 9
Rohan Bopanna and Prakash Amritraj will launch India’s Davis Cup campaign against Korea in the Asia-Oceania Group I first round tie in Changwon, Korea, from tomorrow.

Bopanna will play Hee-Seok Chung in the opening singles and Amritraj faces Hyung-Taik Lee in the second rubber, after the draw was made at Changwon Municipal Tennis courts today.

Captian Leander Paes will partner Mahesh Bhupathi, who is fresh from his mixed doubles title win in Australian Open, to make a strong doubles challenge against Oh-Hee Kwon and Woong-Sun Jun in the doubles on Saturday. The reverse singles will be played on Sunday with Amritraj set to play Chung in the final match.

The matches will be shown live on Zee Sports.

Schedule: Friday (from 7 am IST): Hee-Seok Chung v Rohan Bopanna and Hyung-Taik Lee v Prakash Amritraj; Saturday (from 9.30 am IST): Oh-Hee Kwon/Woong-Sun Jun v Leander Paes/Mahesh Bhupathi; Sunday (from 7 am IST): Hyung-Taik Lee v Rohan Bopanna and Hee-Seok Chung v Prakash Amritraj. — PTI

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Players gear up for tough series
Ramandeep Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
With just over a week to go for the start of the hockey series against Pakistan, the Indian probables went through the paces during a training camp at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium here today.

Though the record of the Indian team in the previous seven series against Pakistan is nothing to write home about — it has won one, drawn one and lost the rest — the players are working hard to reverse the trend.

The enthusiasm of the boys was palpable as they took part in a practice session. The coach, Rajinder Singh Jr, was confident that the players selected for the series were the best available. When asked why Len Aiyappa, the highest goal scorer in PHL Tier I, had been left out, he said, “I don’t have a say in selection matters.”

When asked who were the players to watch out for, Rajinder said all 20 probables were quite good and to single out anyone would not be right.

Only 14 players took to the field with Ignace Tirkey and Vikram Pillay being unwell and four others, including captain Dilip Tirkey, away. The training session started with a rigorous warm-up routine under the watchful eyes of trainer Sampat Kumar.

Though the players were not very forthcoming, Ignace, when asked about the upcoming clashes against Pakistan, said, “Pakistan play their hockey hard and they are always tough to beat.”

Harpal Singh, another promising player, said Indo-Pak matches were always close and this series was also expected to be keenly fought. “The hockey tournaments leading up to the series have had an effect on the fitness of the players and this can have an impact on the outcome of the series,” he added.

Tejbir Singh, returning to the team after a gap of two and a half years and highly regarded by Australian hockey great Ric Charlesworth, who credited him with having the unique quality of opening up any rival defence, echoed Harpal’s views. However, he said rescheduling was not possible as the hockey season was in progress. He said it was a big plus for the team that most of the players were in their early 20s.

Rajpal Singh, who has fully recovered from the injuries he suffered in a road accident, was all praise for the facilities provided to the players. “This time we are really happy with the way we are being looked after,” he said.

The first match of the series will be played on February 17 at the Sector 42 stadium. The second encounter will be held at the same venue on February 18. Jalandhar will host the third tie on February 20, while the Pakistan leg of the series begins on February 22.

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AFI issues notices to ‘missing’ athletes
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, February 9
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has issued notices to several “missing” athletes, directing them to give the reasons for their absence from the national camp at the NIS.The athletes are suspected to be on the “hit list” of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Confirming this development, Mr Lalit Bhanot, Secretary of the AFI, said over the phone from New Delhi that letters had been posted to the athletes yesterday and the federation would be taking action against the erring athletes after receiving replies from them.

Twelve top athletes who were attending the senior national athletics camp here in preparation for the Commonwealth Games suddenly absented themselves when the WADA team paid a surprise list to the NIS last week.

Till this evening, contrary to the expectations of senior coaches, the athletes had not joined the camp.

The list, reportedly being carried by WADA officials when they landed at Patiala, includes the names of Harwant Kaur (discus throw), Naunidh Singh (110m hurdles), Gurpreet Singh (110m hurdles), PS Sreejith (400m), Bhupinder Singh (400m), Maha Singh (long jump), Amritpal Singh (long jump), Navpreet Singh (shot put), Ranvijay Singh (shot put), Anil Kumar (100m), Malkit Singh (shot put), Kulwinder Singh (shot put), Harwinder Kaur (discus).

Mr Bhanot also denied rumours that the domestic circuit meets slated to be held at New Delhi and Patiala on February 15 and 19, respectively, had been put on hold due to the missing athletes.

However, Mr Bhanot said while the February 15 and 19 meets will be held on schedule, the Federation Cup slated to be held in New Delhi on February 24 had been postponed by a couple of days.

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Punjab beat TN in handball

Ludhiana, February 9
Hosts Punjab defeated Tamil Nadu 23-16 in a Group D encounter of the 34th Senior National Handball Championship for Men which started at the indoor multipurpose hall of Guru Nanak Sports Complex here today.

Gaurav and Naveen of Punjab scored six and five goals, respectively. The hosts led 13-6 at the breather. For Tamil Nadu, Onkar scored 10 goals, while Jaipal netted five.

Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Tripura, too, won their matches. In the opening match of the meet (Group A), Gujarat defeated Delhi 36-26 with main contributions coming from Parveen and Anil, who scored nine and six goals, respectively, while Shiv Narain found the target four times. For Delhi, the main scorers were Sunil and Jaipal who scored 10 and five goals, respectively.

In a Group B match, Karnataka beat Haryana 23-18. Both teams were tied 8-8 at half time. P John and M Mathew of Karnataka scored seven and five goals, respectively, while Rakesh (4) and Bhoop (3) fought well for the losers.

The match between Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh turned out to be a battle of nerves which the former won 25-24.

In another match, Tripura pipped Orissa 15-10. — OSR

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Fransa’s demand turned down
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, February 9
The Disciplinary Committee of the 10th National Football League (NFL) today rejected Fransa Pax’s demand for a re-play of their January 30 match against Mahindra United as well as their request to reschedule their match against Air-India from which they had abstained as it wanted the Goan club to depose before it.

The committee meeting, chaired by S.R. Dev of Madhya Pradesh and attended by S.A. Hamid of Jammu & Kashmir and Capt S S Virk of the SSCB at the Football House, rejected the Fransa demand for a re-play of the match against Mahindra United.

“The result stands as the protest is on a decision of the referee based on a point of fact,” the committee noted.

Fransa had skipped their subsequent match against Air-India and the AIFF suspended their other two matches before giving them an ultimatum on Tuesday to explain their conduct and rejoin the league, or else face the consequences.

Regarding possible disciplinary action against players and officials of the club, the committee said, “For the sake of natural justice, the committee is of the opinion that the concerned players and officials be invited to appear before the Disciplinary Committee of the NFL at the earliest.”

The committee also rejected protest by Sporting Clube De Goa regarding the result of their match against JCT and Mohammedan Sporting’s protest regarding fielding of ‘ineligible player’ by Air-India.

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 BRIEFLY

Negi begins with win
Moscow: Double Grandmaster norm holder Parimarjan Negi gave himself the best birthday present by scoring a fluent win over former women’s world champion Zhu Chen of China in the first round of Group ‘A2’ in the Aeroflot International Open Chess Tournament at Hotel Delta-Gamma. But the fancied Indian trio of Krishnan Sasikiran, Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Sandipan Chanda could not get off to a favourable start in the ‘A1’ section. — PTI

Srinath on panel
Colombo
: Former Indian fast bowler Javagal Srinath has been named in the three-member Bowling Action Advisory Panel (BAAP) to identify bowlers with potentially flawed actions at the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup underway here. Other two members on the panel include ICC’s High Performance Manager Richard Done and biomechanist Marc Portus, the member of the ICC’s panel of human movement specialists, ICC said in a statement on Thursday. — PTI

Kapur tied 11th
Perth
: Notwithstanding the lone bogey on the 14th hole, Shiv Kapur had his best opening round in recent past and the Indian outscored childhood hero Fred Couples on his way to an impressive four-under 68 that fetched him the tied 11th place in the Johnnie Walker Classic here on Thursday.
Among his compatriots, Gaurav Ghei had a level-par show for the tied 67th place, while veteran Jeev Milkha Singh was undone by a treble of double bogeys as he stuttered to six-over 78 to finish way down the leaderboard. — UNI

GND varsity win
AMRITSAR: Hosts Guru Nanak Dev University won the All-India Inter-University Gymnastics Championships in both men and women sections here on Thursday.
In men’s section, Guru Nanak Dev University amassed 245.05 points while Vikram University, Ujjain, stood second with 214.50 points and Calcutta University, Kolkata, finished third with 202.25 points. In women’s segment, the hosts repeated the performance and won the championship. Kurukshetra University was second and Calcutta University remained third. — OSR

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