SPORTS TRIBUNE
 


 

 

Hiccup after the Cup
The Twenty20 victory has already become history. Team India must remove the chinks in its armour at the earliest to make an impact during the rest of the season, writes Ivninderpal Singh
Just a few weeks after the Twenty20 World Cup triumph, Team India has been made to realise that the 50-over version is an altogether different ball game.


Mahendra Singh Dhoni was let down by Team India’s notorious inconsistency; Andrew Symonds proved to be Australian skipper Ricky Ponting’s trump card in the series — Photos by Reuters, PTI
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was let down by Team India’s notorious inconsistency; Andrew Symonds proved to be Australian skipper Ricky Ponting’s trump card in the series

All set for F1 climax
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HE stage is set for the grand finale of the most closely contested Formula One season since 1986. Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, Spain’s Fernando Alonso and Finland’s Kimi Räikkönen are all in the fray for the World Championship title. Hamilton, the 22-year-old sensation in his first season, leads McLaren team-mate and double world champion Alonso by four points, with Ferrari’s Räikkönen a further three behind at 100 points.

The contenders

Lewis Hamilton Fernando Alonso Fernando Alonso
Lewis Hamilton
The F1 rookie has won the Canadian, US, Hungarian and Japanese Grand Prix this year. The Briton will certainly clinch the world title on debut if he finishes first (10 points) or second (8) in the season-ending race.
Fernando Alonso
The two-time world champion has triumphed in the Malaysian, Monaco, European and Italian GP. The Spaniard will pocket his third title if he wins the last race in Brazil and Hamilton fails to get a podium finish.
Fernando Alonso
The “Flying Finn” has raced to victory five times during the 2007 season (Australia, France, Britain, Belgium and China). Has to win the concluding race and pray that the other two top contenders slip up in a big way.

Leading light
M.S. Unnikrishnan

Jyoti Randhawa struggled initially on the Delhi Golf Club course, but he got his act together when it mattered the most to clinch the Indian Open titleL
IKE a lean and mean machine, which works with clock-work precision, Jyoti Randhawa rarely falters at the Delhi Golf Club course. He proved his mastery over the greens and hazards of the course yet again when he retained the Indian Open title for his third win. He thus equalled the record of Australian legend Peter Thomson, who had won the Indian Open in 1964, 1966 and 1976, and helped redesign the DGC course.
Jyoti Randhawa struggled initially on the Delhi Golf Club course, but he got his act together when it mattered the most to clinch the Indian Open title — Photo by AFP

IN THE NEWS
Adieu, gentle giant
Inzamam carved a niche for himself as one of the greatest batsmen in contemporary cricketN
OT many of Pakistan’s great cricketers have been given the opportunity to retire gracefully in front of their own people. Inzamam-ul-Haq was fortunate to get this honour at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, where he made he debut 17 years ago and played his final Test innings. He failed with the bat, scoring just three runs and facing only two balls in the second innings, but the honour given to him by his team-mates, rival South Africans, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the spectators was memorable.

Inzamam carved a niche for himself as one of the greatest batsmen in contemporary cricket — Photo by Reuters

 

 

 

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Hiccup after the Cup
The Twenty20 victory has already become history. Team India must remove the chinks in its armour at the earliest to make an impact during the rest of the season, writes Ivninderpal Singh

Just a few weeks after the Twenty20 World Cup triumph, Team India has been made to realise that the 50-over version is an altogether different ball game. The Aussies clinched the seven-match ODI series convincingly, outperforming India in every department of the game.

As expected, the Australians came out all guns blazing after their loss to India in the Twenty20 semifinal. However, the way the home team went down was quite disappointing. The aggression and killer instinct witnessed during the Twenty20 World Cup from a young team under an untested captain was by and large missing in the encounters against Australia.

Australia rarely gave a chance to the hosts to dominate, except in Chandigarh, where their bowlers let the team down by conceding 16 wides. Indian batting was no match against the mighty Australians. Sachin Tendulkar was among the top run getters, but his scoring rate was relatively slow.

Andrew Symonds performed the twin tasks of consolidation and acceleration with aplomb. He delivered the knockout punch with his 82-ball century at Nagpur, reducing the last one-dayer in Mumbai to a mere formality. India’s Twenty20 hero Yuvraj Singh scored a masterly 121 at Hyderabad, where his knock went in vain, but he failed in most of the other matches.

In the bowling department, too, the Aussies eclipsed the Indians. Pacers Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken bowled their hearts out on placid Indian pitches. Chinaman bowler Brad Hogg bamboozled the Indian batsmen, who are reputed to be the best players of spin bowling.

Indian pacers Zaheer Khan, S. Sreesanth and RP Singh failed to provide early breakthroughs or contain the flow of runs in the final overs. Spinners Harbhajan Singh and Murali Kartik fared a bit better, with the latter being the wrecker-in-chief in the Mumbai match.

In the field, the hosts dropped some crucial caches and often failed to stop quick singles and twos. Sreesanth virtually dropped the match, if not the series, when he failed to latch on to a chance given by Symonds at Nagpur. The latter, who was on two at that stage, went on to make a match-winning hundred.

The Australian batsmen were able to convert singles into twos due to some lax fielding. The Indian batsmen were hampered by their sluggish running between the wickets and the vigilant fielding of the opposition.

Is the Twenty20 hangover still not over or is the team composition to blame for the defeat? Whatever may be the reason(s), the think tank needs to plug the glaring loopholes in all three departments of the game to put Team India back on track. Consistency is the name of the game, and this essential element seems to be missing.

“Captain Courageous” Mahendra Singh Dhoni has to formulate strategies suited to the demands of the longer format. Moreover, it’s time to form the one-day team with an eye on the future.

India won the Twenty20 World Cup without the services of heavyweights Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. With the return of the seniors, the team got the experience but lost its youthful outlook.

Though Sachin and Sourav showed glimpses of their golden touch, they failed to inspire the team. The time has come for the phasing out of these seniors, though it should be done slowly. One option is to rotate the trio, with two playing at a time.

The upcoming series against Pakistan at home and later against Australia Down Under will test India’s prowess and ability to bounce back.

Twenty20 is just one form of cricket. Rather than resting on its laurels, the Indian team should draw inspiration from the triumph in South Africa to excel in one-dayers as well as Tests.

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All set for F1 climax

THE stage is set for the grand finale of the most closely contested Formula One season since 1986. Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, Spain’s Fernando Alonso and Finland’s Kimi Räikkönen are all in the fray for the World Championship title.

Hamilton, the 22-year-old sensation in his first season, leads McLaren team-mate and double world champion Alonso by four points, with Ferrari’s Räikkönen a further three behind at 100 points.

The driver gets 10 points for winning a race, eight for finishing second, six for ending third and five for being placed fourth.

Hamilton needs finish only second in Brazil tomorrow to take the title and could even finish far lower than that and still be champion if his rivals slip up.

He would have made history as the first rookie champion, as well as the youngest, at the previous race in China, but skidded out on worn tyres while entering the pit lane for his second stop.

“What Hamilton has to do is finish the race, more than win it,” said the 68-year-old triple world champion Jackie Stewart.

Stewart recalled how he had been in a similar position to Hamilton in 1968, his fourth season in Formula One, when compatriot Graham Hill led a three-way battle to the final race in Mexico.

“Three of us went into it capable of winning the championship — Hill, Denny Hulme and myself. After 10 laps, Denny had a suspension failure and I had a fuel pump failure,” he said.

“Graham won it and won it well. In fact it was almost better that he did win it, because I’m not sure that I was ready to be the world champion and be able to carry it out in the best possible way.”

Alonso, who along with Räikkönen can still win the title in Brazil, has fallen out big time with McLaren and Hamilton over his treatment at the British team since switching from Renault.

As the world champion, he expected to be treated as number one and has become increasingly irritated at what he perceives to be McLaren’s favouritism towards Hamilton.

His persistent complaining has prompted the FIA to send one of their men to Interlagos to spy on McLaren’s team strategy to ensure their stated race equality programme is all its cracked up to be.

It promises to be a cracking race. May the best driver win! – Agencies

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Leading light
M.S. Unnikrishnan

LIKE a lean and mean machine, which works with clock-work precision, Jyoti Randhawa rarely falters at the Delhi Golf Club course. He proved his mastery over the greens and hazards of the course yet again when he retained the Indian Open title for his third win.

He thus equalled the record of Australian legend Peter Thomson, who had won the Indian Open in 1964, 1966 and 1976, and helped redesign the DGC course.

It was also Jyoti’s fifth title at the course in the past five years, which included two Open crowns and three PGTI (Professional Golf Tour of India) titles.

Jyoti works his way up slowly and surely, but once he gets his swings and putts right, there is no stopping him.

He had struggled to find his touch on the first two days, but hit a five-under 67 on the third day to pull himself back on track. His three-under 69 on the final day sealed a three-shot win over the second placed Chang Tse-Peng of Chinese Taipei, earning him a prize of $79,250.

Son of a retired Army General, the 1972-born Gurgaon-resident has learnt most of his golfing skills in Delhi. No wonder he knows the DGC course like the lines on his palm. Had he not been a golfer, he would have excelled as a shooter or horse rider, thanks to his Army background, as he is proficient in both.

His passion for motorbikes, which gives him a “big high”, is well-known too.

Yoga keeps Jyoti fit and ready, which was evident when he walked up to the 18th hole with a spring in his feet, not a wee bit tired.

Married to Chitragandha Singh, sister of fellow golf professional Digvijay Singh, Jyoti dedicated his Indian Open title to his new-born son Zorawan. The family was on hand to hail his win, and Jyoti cherished every moment of his triumph.

The Open title has renewed his confidence in himself as when he won the title for the second time last year, he had ended a two-year winless run. It was just as well, because Jyoti’s first major title was the Hero Honda Masters in 1998, which he retained in 1999, and then went on to add the Indian Open and the Singapore Open titles in 2000, the Suntory Open in 2003 (Japan Tour), the Volvo Masters of Asia (Malaysia) in 2004, the Bilt Open and the Indian Open in 2006.

His title win in Japan was the first ever by an Indian, which fetched him 20 million yen (about $189,700). Jyoti also retained his European Tour card after a solid rookie season in 2006 where he finished 68th on the Order of Merit with three top-10s.

He earned the European Tour card with strong performances in the Dubai Desert Classic and the Qatar Masters with top-15 finishes in 2005, the same year when he received the Arjuna Award after winning the Volvo Masters.

In 2002, he became the first India7n to win the Order of Merit title in Asia, after making a brave comeback from injury. He had broken his collarbone following a motorcycle accident and battled with injuries in 2005 as well, but still finished third on the Order of Merit with earnings of $329,835.

Jyoti’s motto in life is to “give your best, and success will follow.” Sure enough.

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IN THE NEWS
Adieu, gentle giant

NOT many of Pakistan’s great cricketers have been given the opportunity to retire gracefully in front of their own people. Inzamam-ul-Haq was fortunate to get this honour at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, where he made he debut 17 years ago and played his final Test innings.

He failed with the bat, scoring just three runs and facing only two balls in the second innings, but the honour given to him by his team-mates, rival South Africans, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the spectators was memorable.

The 37-year-old former captain said it was a bit disappointing for him not to break Javed Miandad’s record and become the country’s highest run-getter.

“It would have been nice to have got the record but I was not particularly gunning for it because it belongs to a man who was a better player and from whom I learnt a lot about batting. So perhaps it is best that the record remains with him.”

Inzamam picked the 1992 World Cup win as his most memorable moment and Imran Khan as his favourite captain. — PTI

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MAIL
Multi-sport glory

Apropos of Prabhjot Singh’s write-up “Young India on a roll” (Saturday Extra, September 29), nobody had given India even an outside chance of winning the Twenty20 World Cup. But they proved the cricketing pundits and cynics wrong by lifting the Cup.

Podium finish
Jeetender Singh won the first medal for India at the 4th Military World Games in Hyderabad. He got the bronze in the 400m hurdles
Jeetender Singh won the first medal for India at the 4th Military World Games in Hyderabad. He got the bronze in the 400m hurdles — Photo by PTI

The young brigade led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni fired on all cylinders to decimate strong title contenders South Africa, England, Australia and eventually Pakistan. Thus they made amends for India’s ignominious ouster from the ODI World Cup.

Of late, India have bagged three international crowns — the Nehru Gold Cup football tournament, the men’s Asia Cup hockey championship and the inaugural Twenty20 Cup. Viswanathan Anand made it four by winning the World Chess Championship after seven years.

These feats have enhanced the country’s prestige in the international sporting arena. However, various Indian teams need to be consistent while performing at the highest level.

Tarsem S. Bumrah, Batala

Oz on top

The mighty Aussies reasserted their supremacy in one-day cricket by beating India in the seven-match series. It was a sweet revenge for the “Wizards of Oz”, who had been ousted by India from the Twenty20 World Cup.

The Indian batting came a cropper in the Vadodara match, while their bowling was put to the sword in virtually every game.

Surinder Singh, Patiala

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