India to strengthen batting: Kumble
ICC set to sack Gavaskar
ICC bans sledging, seeks support
Panesar, Broad spark Kiwi collapse
New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming runs between the wickets during the fourth day of the third Test against England in Napier on Tuesday. — Reuters
Kumble honoured with Golden Ball
Top golfers for Punjab Open
Manjeet gets sponsorship, to train in US
Shooters rue lack of govt support
Chennai, March 25
Although South Africa is regarded as a tough team, India's record on home turf clearly makes the hosts favourites provided the weather holds good for all the five days.
With the unseasonal depression in the Bay of Bengal persisting, the sun has been playing hide and seek. Light showers lashed the city yesterday, forcing the ground staff to give up their preparations and cover the pitch.
But the two teams are hardly worried about the weather as Indian skipper Anil Kumble made his intentions clear, saying his team would be keen to snatch a series win.
"It will be the first step to ensure that we keep the good work done in Australia. This is the beginning of a long season of Test cricket," Kumble said.
"We are all geared up, we have to go out there and ensure we do our best. We did that throughout in Australia. We are really confident." Kumble indicated India would go into the match with seven batsmen and four bowlers.
"Playing eleven is not decided, but as of now we are looking at two (medium pacers) and two (spinners). We have Sourav (Ganguly), (Virender) Sehwag and Sachin (Tendulkar) who can fill in as bowlers. We will see. There is no injury issues to any of our players in the team," the leg-spinner said.
Indians players would have guidance of former South African opener Gary Kirsten, who would be with the team for the first time as its chief coach, a position left vacant by Greg Chappell of Australia after the World Cup debacle last year.
Kirsten and India's newly appointed mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton were once a part of the South African dressing room and the visiting side has been bombarded with queries on what it thinks of the duo's association with the rival team ever since its arrival in India.
Graeme Smith's men, some of who played with Kirsten, have cleverly ducked the matter, saying they don't really care what secrets about them may have been passed on to the Indians but clearly having Kirsten and Upton does give a psychological edge to Kumble's men. Besides, the South Africans will be without the services of pace bowlers Andre Nel and Charl Langeveldt due to the raging quota controversy but captain Smith has tried to divert attention from the issue by pinning hopes on the available players.
South African pace attack might not possess the same intensity in the absence of Langeveldt and Nel and this will certainly help the hosts.
The M A Chidambaram stadium has been a good hunting ground for Tendulkar and the master batsman would be hoping to continue his fine form from the Australia tour.
Going by the predictions of pitch curator M Parthasarathy, the match will be result-oriented and the turf would start turning from second day onwards. So far, instead of trying to have a go at each other, the rival captains have chosen to state politically correct admirations for each other's team.
Teams: South Africa: Graeme Smith (Capt), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher (WK), A B de Villiers, Jean Duminy, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Niel Mckenzie, Monde Zondeki, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Nitini, robin Peterson, Ashwell Prince and Dale Steyn.
India: Anil Kumble (Capt), M S Dhoni (WK), Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, V V S Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Piyush Chawla, Wasim Jaffer, R P Singh, S Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan.
Hours of play: 9.30 am to 11.30 am, 12.10 pm to 2.10 pm, 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm.
London, March 25
According to a report in The Times, in an unanimous vote at the ICC executive committee meeting in Dubai last week, it was decided that Gavaskar should be asked to resign because of a conflict of interest between his honorary ICC position and his paid role as a columnist and commentator.
The 58-year-old former India captain has been called to meet International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed at the governing body's Dubai headquarters to account for his controversial media columns.
The ICC is incensed with Gavaskar's comments in his syndicated column where the legendary batsman described England and Australia as ''dinosaurs'' who cannot ''open their eyes and see the reality.''
''Gone are the days when two countries, England and Australia, had the veto power in international cricket, even though the dinosaurs may not open their eyes and see the reality,'' Gavaskar had written in his column.
''The cricketing world has found that India has no longer a diffident voice but a confident one that knows what is good for its cricket, and will strive to get it.''
Gavaskar had also criticised white South African match referee Mike Procter during the controversial Sydney Test claiming, he was biased against Indian players because of their skin colour.
Proctor had slapped a ban on Harbhajan Singh after the Indian off-spinner got involved in a fracas with Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds.
The ruling was subsequently overruled by the appeals commissioner.
''What may have worried these people was the manner in which India defended Harbhajan Singh,'' Gavaskar wrote.
''When all the technology in the world was unable to prove that he had indeed said anything, these guys, especially those in Australia, were unable to stomach it.
''Those worried of the prospect of India's hegemony were conveniently forgetting that only a few years back there were two Australians at the top of the ICC. It is a misplaced belief that they are the only ones with honesty, integrity and have the welfare of the game at heart, while the 'sub-continentals' do not.''
However, a source close to the situation said ''Gavaskar is a cricket legend, but it was felt that his as ICC cricket committee chairman was in direct conflict to his role as a journalist and commentator.
''ICC has not taken a decision in this regard. It is Gavaskar who has to decide now which role he is comfortable with. It's completely up to him.'' — UNI
Sydney, March 25
The ICC said there will still be a room for occasional light-hearted remarks but the use of harsh-swear words will be strictly prohibited.
''This is specifically directed at preventing offensive language directed at another person, be it a fellow player, official or spectator,'' said the letter, signed by ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed and cricket operations manager David Richardson.
''You will appreciate this is not an easy issue. International cricket is played and followed by people from a wide range of cultures. What is offensive to some may not be considered so by others,'' the statement said.
However, it still remains to be defined that what will be considered as offensive and what not. The ICC said it will be at umpires' discretion and they will the offence and its degree.
''It is impossible to define which words or combination of words will be regarded as offensive and there will always be a need to take into account the context in which the words are used and for the umpire to apply a degree of individual interpretation and judgement.
''We are, however, asking you, as players, to raise the bar and to set and respect new standards. Players are asked to show a greater level of respect to their opponents, umpires and referees and to recognise that swearing is regarded by the majority of people as obscene, offensive or insulting,'' the ICC said. The cricket's governing body also accepted that recent incidents have proved to be a catalyst for such a decision taken by it.
''We acknowledge that every incident is highlighted and sensationalised in the media, often with very little objectivity, but . . . there have been several controversial incidents on the field which originated from the use by players of language or gestures which are considered obscene, offensive or insulting. ''The ICC acknowledges verbal exchanges cannot be eliminated entirely, so umpires have to decide what they feel are acceptable levels,'' it added.
Meanwhile, the decision has not been welcomed by all as former fast bowler Rodney Hogg criticised the move. ''It will be very hard to police,'' Hogg said adding, ''the game's in a bit of trouble. They have become too officious. I am glad I retired when I did.'' — UNI
Napier, New Zealand, March 25
New Zealand, from a seemingly comfortable position at tea with Matthew Bell and Stephen Fleming well established, lost three wickets for 13 runs after the break and their side ended the day on 222 for five, needing another 331 to win the match.
Ross Taylor (34) and Brendon McCullum (24) were the not out batsmen, though McCullum was dropped by Kevin Pietersen and had another chance bloop just over Panesar's head in the final over of the day from James Anderson.
Panesar ended with three for 49. Broad had two for 40.
To save the match on the fifth day New Zealand must last a minimum of 90 overs from the England attack, with the victory target of 553 undoubtedly well beyond reach.
Should England complete victory tomorrow, it would be the third time New Zealand have lost a three-Test series after winning the first match. They also lost a series 2-1 in South Africa in 1994-95 and in Sri Lanka in 1997-98.
Fleming and Bell resumed after tea on 146 for one and after Fleming took a single off the first ball, Bell fell without adding to his score two balls later when he lapped a ball from Panesar straight to Broad at deep backward square leg for 69.
Fleming had brought up his 46th Test half century and then passed 7,160 career Test runs to ensure he would end his international career with a Test average over 40 before tea.
However, as has been typical of his storied career, he failed to convert another half century into a big score and was caught by Tim Ambrose off Panesar for 66 to leave New Zealand on 156 for three. He finished with a career average of 40.06.
Fleming, who turned just nine of the 55 times he passed 50 into centuries, received a standing ovation from the crowd at McLean Park and was applauded off by the England team. — Reuters
Kumble honoured with Golden Ball
Chennai, March 25 The honour was to commemorate his unique achievement of claiming 600 wickets (in 125 Tests) and emerging as the third highest wicket taker in Tests after Lankan off spinner Muthiah Muralitharan and the Aussie leg spinner Shane Warne. Former cricket captains, except Ajit Wadekar and Kapil Dev, were invited to appreciate the Karnataka legend. The honour came a day ahead of the first Test against South Africa beginning here tomorrow. The special made-to-order 'Gold, Diamond and Ruby' ball has been made by Orra Diamonds. There are 1500 pieces of the finest Belgian diamonds of 37 carats and 640 pieces of finest rubies of 239 carats crafted across the ball, which is mounted on a hand made of wood and gold.
Chennai, March 25
The honour was to commemorate his unique achievement of claiming 600 wickets (in 125 Tests) and emerging as the third highest wicket taker in Tests after Lankan off spinner Muthiah Muralitharan and the Aussie leg spinner Shane Warne.
Former cricket captains, except Ajit Wadekar and Kapil Dev, were invited to appreciate the Karnataka legend. The honour came a day ahead of the first Test against South Africa beginning here tomorrow.
The special made-to-order 'Gold, Diamond and Ruby' ball has been made by Orra Diamonds. There are 1500 pieces of the finest Belgian diamonds of 37 carats and 640 pieces of finest rubies of 239 carats crafted across the ball, which is mounted on a hand made of wood and gold. — UNI
Top golfers for Punjab Open
Chandigarh, March 25
Upcoming 19-year-old Kapurthala boy Gaganjeet Bhullar and Chandigarh favourites Amandeep Johl, Harmeet Kahlon and caddie-turned-pro Harendra Gupta will rub shoulders with Digvijay Singh, Rahul Ganpathy, Shamim Khan, Arjun Singh and Mukesh Kumar in the four-day event which has been brought to Chandigarh by the recently formed Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).
Gaganjeet, who turns 20 on April 27, has been doing pretty well on the Asian circuit, is placed 10th on the PGTI Order of Merit 2007-08. His best finish on the Asian Tour in 2007 was the runner-up slot in the Pertamina Indonesia President Invitation.
Amandeep Johl, Harmeet Kahlon as also Uttam Singh Mundy are capable of showing their best. Another local golfer to watch out for is Harendra Gupta. Awaiting a bright patch are Gurbaaz Mann, Amritinder Singh and Ranjit Singh. Will they strike it rich on the home greens? The Centurian Bank of Punjab Open will tee-off with the pro-am event on March 26. This will be followed by the big prize money event from March 27 to March 30.
Ajai Gupta, tour commissioner of the PGTI, said the big prize money event would be an annual event. “The Punjab Open is a step towards developing this tournament into the most prestigious golfing event of the region,” added Gupta. The Chandigarh Tourism Corporation, Chandigarh Golf Club, Taylormade, Pepsico, Gatorade, Aquafina and Tropicana are supporting the event.
The captain of the Chandigarh Golf Club Sukhjeet Lehal said the greens were playing perfectly and would enable the top professional golfers to give their best.He had a special word for the water feature on the 18th hole.
Manjeet gets sponsorship, to train in US
Chandigarh, March 25
An infrastructure company Omaxe has offered to meet all the expenditure for her training under the famous sprint coach Cedric Hill at VS Athletics Track Club, University of California, USA.
She was given a cheque of Rs 34 lakh by Shiromani Akaki Dal (SAD) leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, and Rohtas Goyal, Chairman and Managing Director, Omaxe Ltd., at SAD Bhawan in Sector 28, here, today.
An elated Manjeet shared her feelings with The Tribune. “I could not think in my wildest dreams that things would be streamlined in such a manner. I was very worried about how to meet the huge expenditure needed for my training,” said a beaming Manjeet.
An Arjuna awardee, Manjeet, at present working as Inspector with the Punjab Police Headqarters at Jalandhar, has the potential to win medals at the Beijing Olympics, the 2010 Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.
“I would strive hard to win medals in these international events,” said a determined Manjeet.
She has to her credit a long list of honours in athletics at the national as well as the international level. She stole the limelight after clinching a gold medal in the 400m relay and a silver in 400m race during the Doha Asian Games in 2006. Thereafter, she bagged a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games at Melbourne in the 400m event, a gold in the Asian Track and Field and Asian Grandprix in 2007 and another gold in the Asian Indoor Athletics Competition held this year at Doha.
“It was during the Asian indoor events at Doha when I set an Asian record in 200m. This was for the first time that I participated in the indoor event where the curve of the track happens to be hill-type. This achievement caught the attention of Director General of Police, Punjab, N. P. S. Aulakh, and Additional Director General of Police Rajan Gupta who approached the Punjab government requesting sponsorship to meet my training expenses,” she said.
Her father, Harbhajan Singh, a retired policeman, and brother Devinder Singh, national junior high jump champion, accompanied Manjeet on the occasion. “This gesture will give hope to sportspersons like me, who have to suffer for paucity of funds,”said Devinder.
Shooters rue lack of govt support
Patiala, March 25 The star shooters, including Mansher, who arrived here to participate in the 6th Sardar Sajjan Singh Sethi Memorial Shooting Championship, which gets underway tomorrow, lamented the lack of government support for them. While interacting with The Tribune, they were unanimous in highlighting the government’s apathy towards shooting. They said due to lack of suitable coaches in the country, they had no option but to hire foreign coaches which proves to be a costly proposition. Likewise they had to import their guns from Italy which also proved to be a costly affair. They demanded that the government should step in and bail out the shooters. The championship is being held under the aegis of the National Rifle Association of India and the Punjab Rifle Shooting Association (PRSA), at the New Moti Bagh Gun Club shooting range. Talking about the shooting range, Gurbir Singh Sandhu, president of the PRSA, said the shooting range, commissioned in 2007, is designed by Serena of Italy and caters to all disciplines of shotgun category: Trap, Skeet and Double Trap. It conforms to International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) and the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), he added.
Patiala, March 25
The star shooters, including Mansher, who arrived here to participate in the 6th Sardar Sajjan Singh Sethi Memorial Shooting Championship, which gets underway tomorrow, lamented the lack of government support for them.
While interacting with The Tribune, they were unanimous in highlighting the government’s apathy towards shooting. They said due to lack of suitable coaches in the country, they had no option but to hire foreign coaches which proves to be a costly proposition.
Likewise they had to import their guns from Italy which also proved to be a costly affair. They demanded that the government should step in and bail out the shooters.
The championship is being held under the aegis of the National Rifle Association of India and the Punjab Rifle Shooting Association (PRSA), at the New Moti Bagh Gun Club shooting range.
Talking about the shooting range, Gurbir Singh Sandhu, president of the PRSA, said the shooting range, commissioned in 2007, is designed by Serena of Italy and caters to all disciplines of shotgun category: Trap, Skeet and Double Trap. It conforms to International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) and the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), he added.
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