SPECIAL COVERAGE
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LUDHIANA

DELHI

 

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Younis back as captain 
Karachi, October 7
In another dramatic development in Pakistan cricket, Younis Khan was today reappointed as captain for the Champions Trophy tournament in India, a day after PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan resigned from his post and a new chief took over.

Harbhajan apologises to Sikh community
Chandigarh, October 7
Ace off-spinner Harbhajan Singh today apologised to the Sikh community for “hurting” their emotions by keeping his hair open in an advertisement. Harbhajan, who was pulled up by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, the apex religious body of Sikhs, said he respected emotions of the people of his community and did not do it intentionally.

More trouble for off-spinner
Mohali, October 7
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is likely to take action against Harbhajan Singh for his misbehaviour during a Challenger Series match held at Chennai recently.





BCCI toughens stand on MPA
Ahmedabad, October 7
The BCCI today rejected the International Cricket Council’s offer to hold direct talks with Indian players on the vexed members participation agreement (MPA) issue.

Flintoff urges team to be consistent
New Delhi, October 7
Andrew Flintoff, delighted to be back from injury to lead England at the ICC Champions Trophy, urged his players today to display consistency in their one-day performances.

Chinappa storms into squash final
Chennai, October 7
Top Indian squash player Joshna Chinappa stormed into the final of the Berkshire Open 2006 being held in the USA.

Indian Oil, BPCL enter final
New Delhi, October 7
Indian Oil sneaked past Indian Airlines 2-1, while Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) edged out Namdhari XI 5-4 in the semifinals of the All-India Shastri Hockey Tournament at the Shivaji Stadium here today. Indian Oil will meet BPCL in the title clash tomorrow.

Sania Mirza visits Amritsar
Amritsar, October 7
The surprise arrival of teenage tennis sensation Sania Mirza to the holy city generated tremendous craze among tennis enthusiasts and budding players. 
She reached here in the wee hours in an Uzbekistan flight from Tashkent after losing to Russian Olga Poutchkova at the Tashkent Open Tennis Tournament. Mobbed by numerous young fans at the Punjab State Lawn Tennis Association (PSLTA) courts at the Rambagh Gardens, Sania advised promising young players that they must enjoy the game and never play under pressure. She said this would help them play their natural game and without any tension to achieve greater heights.



Sania Mirza signs an autograph at a tennis ground in Amritsar on Saturday. — AFP

Sania Mirza signs an autograph at a tennis ground in Amritsar

Poncha sets record
Chandigarh, October 7
Rehan Poncha of Bangalore University won the men’s 200 m backstroke event and created a new record with timing of 2:16.35 seconds on the fourth day of All-India Inter-University Aquatic Championship organised by Panjab University here today. In the 200 m breaststroke event, Delhi University’s Sandeep Sejwai made a new record (2:33.43 seconds).

Haryana, Jharkhand to clash for title
Kapurthala, October 7
Haryana and Jharkhand reached the final of the Mata Chanan Kaur Dhanoa Sub-Junior National Women’s Hockey Championship at the Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Government College grounds here today.

Cavalry-APRC team win
Chandigarh, October 7
The joint team from the Cavalry and the Army Polo and Riding Club (APRC), New Delhi, defeated the joint team from Army Service Corps (ASC) and Remounts and Veterinary Corps (RVC) by nine goals to seven-and-a-half during the ongoing Punjab Polo Season-2006 at Patiala today.

Poonia upsets Antil for discus gold
New Delhi, October 7
Krishna Poonia brushed aside the challenge of Commonwealth Games silver medallist Seema Antil aside to claim the women’s discus throw gold in the National Open Athletics Championships, which is also the selection trials for the Doha Asian Games, at the flood-lit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here tonight.

 


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Younis back as captain 

Karachi, October 7
In another dramatic development in Pakistan cricket, Younis Khan was today reappointed as captain for the Champions Trophy tournament in India, a day after PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan resigned from his post and a new chief took over.

Just hours before the team was due to leave for India, new Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Naseem Ashraf told a press conference in Lahore that Younis had taken back his decision not to lead the side in the Champions Trophy and that the team needed someone strong like him to lead Pakistan in such a major tournament.

“Since he was our first choice captain I spoke to him again and he agreed to change his decision. I also spoke to (Mohd) Yousuf about this and he had no problems with being vice-captain,” Ashraf said.

Younis said he was sorry for having acted in haste in refusing captaincy and having left the nation upset before such a big event.

“In retrospect I should have acted more sensibly. But after speaking to the Board Chairman I could not refuse him and I hope we can now concentrate on doing well in the Champions Trophy,” he said.

Younis had withdrawn from captaincy in dramatic circumstances on Thursday, saying he did not want to be a “dummy” captain. The Board then appointed Mohammad Yousuf as skipper as a stop-gap arrangement.

Younis said he had spent the last few days in “great mental torture” and was happy the episode was over now.

Ashraf also said that he wanted to have better governance in the Board and would ensure there was more discipline in the team.

As for Yousuf, he said he had no problems with the sudden change as being a religious man he believed in fate.

Just 24 hours after Younis stepped down as captain, Shaharyar also announced his resignation as Board Chairman stating that the Oval Test fiasco and the Younis affair had upset him.

The new Chairman did not waste any time in reversing some of the decisions taken by Shaharyar, one of which was to reinstate Younis as captain and the second to sack leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed as the assistant coach of the team for the Champions Trophy.

Mushtaq’s sacking would definitely not go down well with regular captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, presently serving a four-match ban in the wake of the Oval fiasco.

It is no secret that Shaharyar had named Mushtaq as assistant coach to appease Inzamam who has wielded great authority in the last three years.

The former bowler was appointed despite reservations from the International Cricket Council over his role in the match-fixing scandal that rocked Pakistan cricket between 1998 and 2000. — PTI

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Harbhajan apologises to Sikh community

Chandigarh, October 7
Ace off-spinner Harbhajan Singh today apologised to the Sikh community for “hurting” their emotions by keeping his hair open in an advertisement.

Harbhajan, who was pulled up by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, the apex religious body of Sikhs, said he respected emotions of the people of his community and did not do it intentionally.

“If my action has hurt the Sikh community, then I feel sorry for it. I will take note of it (in future),” Harbhajan told PTI.

The SGPC yesterday demanded an apology from the spinner, saying that the religion prohibited a Sikh from keeping his hair open.

“Harbhajan Singh should apologise for appearing in the advertisement if he considers himself to be a Sikh. Our religion prohibits keeping one’s hair open. We also strongly object to his appearing in the advertisement in this fashion,” SGPC President Avtar Singh had said.

However, Harbhajan today slammed the SGPC for taking up the issue in media.

“It’s bad that the SGPC took up the issue in media. If they had any problem, they should have called me like a son and told me. But, their action was wrong,” he said.

Harbhajan said he had no idea that his photo-shoot in this fashion for an advertisement would become so big an issue.

“I respect the emotions of Sikhs and I never knew it will snowball into such a big issue.” SGPC head had said they would seek apology from the (liquor) company which had given the advertisement, also figuring other popular cricket stars Yuvraj Singh and Mahender Singh Dhoni along with the spinner.

Avtar Singh had said Harbhajan should learn something from Monty Panesar, who despite being brought up abroad and playing for England promotes Sikhism.

However, Harbhajan said there were thousands of Sikhs who had even cut their hair and were occupying highest posts in public life, but nobody pointed fingers at them.

“They compare me with Panesar, which is wrong. Comparisons should not be made in the first place, but if they have to, why SGPC does not compare me with Yuvraj Singh and Gurdas Mann (both Sikhs who have trimmed their hair),” he said.

Meanwhile, Secretary Harbeant Singh said the cricketer had committed a “great blunder” and it would be wrong to say that he had done so in ignorance.

“Harbhajan’s action has hurt the sentiments of Sikhs across the world as he has participated in the advertisement for wine with open hair,” Harbeant said.

Harbeant also said mere verbal apology was not enough and Harbhajan must tender a written apology for his “shameful” act besides returning the money which he received from the private company so that the ad could be withdrawn immediately. — PTI

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More trouble for off-spinner

Mohali, October 7
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is likely to take action against Harbhajan Singh for his misbehaviour during a Challenger Series match held at Chennai recently.

The spinner and Yuvraj, who represented India Blue, had a spat with India Red’s S. Sreesanth and Murali Kartik, respectively, during the final of the series.

On the misconduct of the players, BCCI Joint Secretary MP Pandove said: “The episode will be looked into by the match referee. If he finds the matter not very serious, he would summon the guilty players to reprimand them. Otherwise, the matter would be reported to the board by the match referee, after which an inquiry committee would be constituted to look into the matter,” said Mr Pandove. — TNS

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BCCI toughens stand on MPA

Ahmedabad, October 7
The BCCI today rejected the International Cricket Council’s offer to hold direct talks with Indian players on the vexed members participation agreement (MPA) issue.

“It has been made clear to the ICC that they cannot deal directly with the Indian players. They have to come through the Board,” BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah today told PTI on the phone.

Shah’s comments follow ICC General Manager, Cricket Operations, Dave Richardson’s suggestion that the international body be allowed to involve the Indian cricketers in discussions regarding the MPA.

Shah said not only the BCCI, but the cricket boards of Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh had also expressed similar viewpoints on communication between the ICC and players.

“Not only me (BCCI), but the Sri Lanka Cricket, Pakistan Cricket Board and Bangladesh Cricket Board have said at the recent ICC meeting that on any issue related to the players, the ICC has to approach the boards first,” he said. — PTI

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Flintoff urges team to be consistent

New Delhi, October 7
Andrew Flintoff, delighted to be back from injury to lead England at the ICC Champions Trophy, urged his players today to display consistency in their one-day performances.

“It is going to be a busy six months,” he told reporters today. “I don’t think you need to re-affirm that. That is something we are very much aware of.”

The England all-rounder has not played since an ankle surgery in July and is still assessing his ability to bowl.

“My fitness is good,” he said. “I’ve not played a great deal of cricket this summer. I missed probably 13 or 14 weeks.”

England have been frustrated by injuries since last year’s epic Ashes triumph with captain Michael Vaughan and key bowlers Simon Jones and Ashley Giles still sidelined.

They face India on October 15 and Flintoff appealed for consistency from his team. — Reuters

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Chinappa storms into squash final

Chennai, October 7
Top Indian squash player Joshna Chinappa stormed into the final of the Berkshire Open 2006 being held in the USA.

Chinappa, 20, seeded eight, will take on top seed, Sharon Wee of Malaysia in the final tomorrow.

In the respective semifinals of the championship with the top 20 players not competing, Chinappa, ranked 51 in WISPA World Rankings, had to strain every sinew to get the better of sixth seed Dianne Desira (Aus-35th ranked) 9-1, 10-8, 9-2, 10-8 in a 42 minute-duel.

On the other hand, Wee, ranked 22, had no difficulty in disposing of Samantha Teran (Mexico) 9-3, 9-4, 9-6 in 33 minutes.

Earlier, Chinappa registered a hard fought win over second seeded Tricia Chuah (Malay) 9-6, 7-9, 10-8, 4-9, 9-1 in the second round in 51 minutes.

Starting the year ranked 75, Chinappa, who had moved up from 54 to 51 this month, had made the semifinal grade of the Liberty Bell Open (Jan 2006), lost in the quarterfinals of Buller Challenge Cup (Feb 06), Open De La Cite (May 06) and Transparans Open (June 06) and then lost in the second round of the Qatar Airways Challenge Cup in Hyderabad in July before making the pre-quarterfinals of the Crocodile Squash Challenge Cup also in July this year.

The Berkshire Open is being held at Wiliams College, Massachusetts. — PTI 

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Indian Oil, BPCL enter final
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, October 7
Indian Oil sneaked past Indian Airlines 2-1, while Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) edged out Namdhari XI 5-4 in the semifinals of the All-India Shastri Hockey Tournament at the Shivaji Stadium here today. Indian Oil will meet BPCL in the title clash tomorrow.

In the first semifinal, Indian Airlines and Indian Oil battled it out without conceding much ground to each other to be locked 1-1 at the end of the regulation time. Indian Oil took the lead when Bikramjit Singh converted a penalty corner in the 42nd minute. But Indian Airlines pulled off the equaliser through skipper Sameer Dad, who scored off a Brojen Singh pass in the 61st minute. Indian Oil clinched the issue when Hamza Mujathabha struck a golden goal in the 74 minute.

The second semifinal between Namdhari XI and BPCL, too, was closely contested with the teams sharing two goals at the end of full time. But in the tie-breaker, the experienced BPCL proved to be better marksmen.

Namdharis took the lead in the 24th minute through Bachitar Singh’s field goal which was neutralised by Amar Aiyamma who converted a Ravi Pal Singh pass. BPCL struck four goals in the tie-breaker after extra-time proved barren. Irshad Ali, Ravi Naikar, Ajay Saroha and Prabhdip Singh scored for BPCL, while only Gurcharan Singh, Gurpreet and Gurvinder could find the target for Namdharis.

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Sania Mirza visits Amritsar
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, October 7
The surprise arrival of teenage tennis sensation Sania Mirza to the holy city generated tremendous craze among tennis enthusiasts and budding players.

She reached here in the wee hours in an Uzbekistan flight from Tashkent after losing to Russian Olga Poutchkova at the Tashkent Open Tennis Tournament.

Mobbed by numerous young fans at the Punjab State Lawn Tennis Association (PSLTA) courts at the Rambagh Gardens, Sania advised promising young players that they must enjoy the game and never play under pressure. She said this would help them play their natural game and without any tension to achieve greater heights.

Freely interacting with budding stars, Sania said they must concentrate on physical fitness to withstand the pressure of playing at different venues in the country and abroad.

Sania would be flying to Bangkok tomorrow to participate in another WTA tournament.

The chief coach of PSLTA Om Prakash presented a replica of Golden Temple to Sania.

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Poncha sets record
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 7
Rehan Poncha of Bangalore University won the men’s 200 m backstroke event and created a new record with timing of 2:16.35 seconds on the fourth day of All-India Inter-University Aquatic Championship organised by Panjab University here today. In the 200 m breaststroke event, Delhi University’s Sandeep Sejwai made a new record (2:33.43 seconds).

Results: Men: 200 m individual medley: Rehan Poncha (Bangalore University) 2:14.47 sec, 1; Nalang Kapil ( Shivaji University) 2:16.70 sec, 2; Abhishek V ( Bangalore University) 2:16.98. 200 m backstroke: Rehan Poncha (Bangalore University) 2:16.35 sec, 1; Nalang Kapil (Shivaji University) 2:16.76 sec, 2; Srinand Srinivas (RGUHS, Bangalore) 2:21.84 sec, 3. 50 m butterfly stroke: Aniketh Albert D’Souza (Mangalore University) 0:26.82 sec, 1; Rehan Poncha (Bangalore University) 0:27.22 sec, 2, Varun Divgikar (Mumbai University) 0:27.34. 200 m breaststroke: Sandeep Sejwal (Delhi University) 2:33.34 sec, 1; Abhishek V. (Bangalore University) 2:38.66 sec, 2, Ajinkya Kalele (RTM, Nagpur) 2:43.82 sec, 3.

Women: 200 m individual medley: Ghorpade Pooja (Pune University) 2:44.10 sec, 1; Divya MS (2:44.15 sec) 2; Ritu Sejwal (Delhi University) 2:49.82 sec, 3. 200 m breaststroke: Divya MS (Bangalore University) 3:00.98 sec, 1; Tejashree G. (Mumbai University) 3:07.01 sec, 2; Mridula D (VTU, Belhaum) 3:16.04 sec, 3. 50 m butterfly stroke: Praveena B (Kerala University) 0:32.13 sec, 1; Ghorpade Pooja ( Pune University) 0:32.52 sec, 2; Divya MS ( Bangalore University) 0:33.71 sec, 3. 200 m backstroke: Sony Cyriac (Kerala Agriculture University) 2:39.58 sec, 1; Amreen Malik (Andhra University) 2:42.53 sec, 2; Gurbinder Kaur (PU) 2:45.71 sec, 3. 50 m freestyle: Manusha M (Calicut University) 0:29.59 sec, 1; Rohini AR (Kerala University) 0:30.23 sec, 2; Amreen Malik (Andhra University) 0:30.67 sec, 3. Waterpolo (semifinals): Calcutta University b Amravati University 14-06; Pune University b Kerala University 16-12.

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Haryana, Jharkhand to clash for title

Kapurthala, October 7
Haryana and Jharkhand reached the final of the Mata Chanan Kaur Dhanoa Sub-Junior National Women’s Hockey Championship at the Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Government College grounds here today.

Haryana defeated Delhi 3-0, while Jharkhand beat UP by a similar margin in the semifinals. The final will be played tomorrow.

In the semifinal between Haryana and Delhi, the first goal was scored by Monica in 32nd minute, followed by two goals by Rani in the 42nd and 58th minutes.

In the other semifinal, Shalwanti Minzore put Jharkhand ahead by converting a penalty corner in the 13th minute. Shabnam Lakra scored two field goals in the 15th and 35th minutes to make it 3-0 for Jharkhand. — TNS

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Cavalry-APRC team win

Chandigarh, October 7
The joint team from the Cavalry and the Army Polo and Riding Club (APRC), New Delhi, defeated the joint team from Army Service Corps (ASC) and Remounts and Veterinary Corps (RVC) by nine goals to seven-and-a-half during the ongoing Punjab Polo Season-2006 at Patiala today.

In the second match of the day, the joint Patiala and Sehgal Stud Farms team defeated Taragarh team by eleven goals to seven-and-a-half.

Two matches are scheduled to be held tomorrow on the basis of which the contestants for the Punjab Cup finals, to be held on October 10, will be decided. 
— TNS

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Poonia upsets Antil for discus gold
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, October 7
Krishna Poonia brushed aside the challenge of Commonwealth Games silver medallist Seema Antil aside to claim the women’s discus throw gold in the National Open Athletics Championships, which is also the selection trials for the Doha Asian Games, at the flood-lit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here tonight.

Krishna Poonia cleared 60.10 metres in her very first attempt to ensure the gold as after that she could not really get her rhythm right, with three fouls to boot.

Seema Antil also had her best throw of 54.20 in her very first attempt which she could not improve upon and had to settle for the bronze.

Harwant Kaur of Punjab, also a strong aspirant for the top prize, took the silver with an effort of 54.35 metres in her third try.

Krishna Poonia later claimed that she threw the disc with an injury on her left foot which was supported by her husband-coach Virender Poonia.

The Railway quartet of Vihal Saxena, Amit Kumar Saha, Vilash Neelgund and A Aravind set a new meet record in the men’s 4x100 m relay when they posted a time of 39.89 secs which improved upon the existing meet record of 40.22.

Services with a time of 40.87 bagged the silver, while Jharkhand ran away with the bronze.

The women’s shorter relay was also won by Railways represented by Poonam Thomar, Deepti Jose, Ranjita Roy and G D Gowramma. They clocked 46.31 seconds to push Delhi to the second place, while policewomen finished third.

In men’s javelin throw, the last event of the night, Railways made a clean sweep of medals. Gajender Kumar cleared the spear by 75.06 metres in his fifth attempt to bag the gold, while team-mate Anil Kumar ensured the silver with a throw of 73.96 metres in his second attempt. Om Narayan picked up the bronze with his best throw of 71.88 metres on his first try.

In the men’s 20km walk, Services made it one-two when Gurdev Singh and P S Jalan bagged the bronze and silver with timings of 1:27:58.4 and 1:29:32.0 respectively, Gurmeet Singh of Police accounted for the bronze.

In the absence of Anju P George, the women’s triple jump was dominated by Railway girls who made it one-two-three.

Monisha Dey picked up the gold from the pit with a leap of 13.33 metres in her last attempt, Salamma Antony took the silver with 12.70m in her second try after fouling the first, while Kalpana Das, with an effort of 12.60 in her final attempt, bagged the bronze.

In the hotly contested 200m men’s heats, Vishal Saxena and BG Nagraj of Railways, Ritesh Anand of Jharkhand, K.K. Biju of Services, Aravind A of Railways, Mohd Muddasir of Karnataka, B Ramu of Services and Amish Pothen of MP qualified for the medal race tomorrow.

The heats for the women’s 200 m and 800 m races were also held. The finals of these events will be held tomorrow.

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