IOA pins hopes on shooters
Khan predicts 8 medals
Paes, Bhupathi face off in quarters
Mountain to climb, India reeling at 159-6
Sunil Gavaskar writes
Call for boycott of Champions Trophy
Richardson’s remarks on IPL
Sachin played with ICL rebel Mongia
Kapur fires 67 to be tied 6th
Barcelona will only release Argentine forward Lionel Messi to play in the Olympic Games if they are threatened by FIFA sanctions, according to the club's sporting director Txiki Begiristain. On Wednesday, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that clubs must release eligible under-23 players for next month's Olympic soccer tournament but Begiristain said the circular received by Barcelona made no reference to any punishment. ''The FIFA circular doesn't oblige us to do anything,'' Begiristain told reporters Thursday. Begiristain said that the club's refusal to release the 21-year-old had been prompted by the fact they had to play a Champions League qualifier during the Olympics.
Sprint queen Susanthika Jayasinghe will spearhead the Sri Lankan challenge in the Olympics Games scheduled to be held next month in Beijing. The National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka announced that Susanthika will lead the Lankan contingent consisting of four women and as many men at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games, Daily Mirror reported. The Sri Lankan team will leave for Beijing on August 5. Jayasinghe is the biggest hope for the island nation to win a medal. Susanthika won a bronze medal in the 200m sprint at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 to become the country's first Olympic medallist since 1948. Apart from that, the sprinter has also won a gold medal in the 200m event at the World Championships in Osaka last year.
American Mildred "Babe" Didriksen won medals in high-jumping, hurdling and the javelin in 1932-Los Angeles. She is the only athlete to ever medal in all three events. She won gold medals in the javelin and hurdles and cleared the same height as compatriot Jean Shiley in the high jump (with whom she had tied in the AAU Championship). The jury, however, disapproved of her style and declared Shiley the Olympic champion. After the Games, Shiley and Didrikson split their medals. As a kid Didrikson played baseball, and got the nickname "Babe" because people thought she hit as well as Babe Ruth. Basketball, diving, swimming, track, golf, tennis, bowling, and lacrosse were the sports Babe played as a kid.
n Tumbling (1932): Athletes did flips and twists along a two-foot-wide strip; now part of the modern gymnastics floor exercise. n Solo synchronised swimming (1984-92): Swimmers were awarded points based on routines synchronised to music.
Beijing organisers on Friday expressed regret that Iraqi athletes will not be able to take part in next month's Olympics after the suspension of the country's NOC. The Iraqi government disbanded the NOC in May because of a dispute over how it had been assembled. The IOC set a deadline for its reinstatement but the government did not back down and the ban was confirmed on Thursday. 'The IOC has made its decision according to its regulations.'' Sun Weide, spokesman for the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), said by telephone. The IOC's Olympic Charter forbids political interference in the Olympic Movement and provides for the suspension of an NOC in the event ''any governmental body .... causes the activity of the NOC .... to be hampered''.
Wang Hao will seek to ease his Athens heartbreak, where he made it to the singles final, only to lose to South Korea's Ryu Seung-min. The question hanging over Wang is how he will handle the weight of expectation when only a gold will satisfy Chinese fans.
IOA pins hopes on shooters
New Delhi, July 25
In an honest-to-God appraisal of India's medal prospects, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi said the chances looked very tough, though he pinned hopes on the archers (particularly the women), boxers, shooters and the tennis players to get into the medal bracket, or at least come closer to one.
"Shooters are on top of the medal hope", he noted, though without much conviction. The IOA, along with team sponsors Samsung, gave a reception to the first batch of the Indian sportspersons like archers, boxers and shooters on the eve of their departure to Beijing.
The rest of the athletes and coaches will leave for Beijing in batches, and those training abroad will directly go to the Chinese capital.
Fifty-seven sportspersons and 42 officials (including coaches, doctors and phsiotherapists) will make up the Indian contingent.
Those present included shooters Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Gagan Narang, Samresh Jung, Anjali Bhagwat, Avneet Kaur Sidhu, archer Dola Banerjee and the boxers.
Samsung, who are not only the team sponsors, but also support 16 elite Olympic-bound athletes through their scholarship scheme, will also shower the medal winners with hefty cash awards.
Deputy managing director of Samsung R. Zutshi said the gold winner will be given Rs 20 lakh, the silver medallist Rs 15 lakh and the bronze medallist Rs 10 lakh.
Athletics Association of India secretary-general Dr Lalit Bhanot, in a sincere admission, said he expected the women's relay team and the heptathlon athletes, and perhaps Anju Bobby George (long jump) and the discus throwers, to enter the final round, though winning a medal, he thought, was a bit too far fetched.
India will field 14 women and three men in athletics, and no surprise is expected from them as the track and field events will be dominated by the best in the business, who are miles ahead of the Indians.
Volleyball Federation of India secretary-general K. Murugan will be the chef-de-mission of the contingent while National Rifle Association of India secretary-general Baljit Singh Sethi will be his deputy.
Indian Ambassador to China Nirupama Rao has been named as the "Olympic attache" of the Indian contingent, while no decision has been taken about the torch-bearer.
London, July 25
Khan, the Commonwealth lightweight champion who won a silver at the Athens Games four years ago, said: "We have eight boxers going out there and we have a chance to bring back eight medals.
"Every one of these boys is a great fighter. They are all capable and all they have to do is to stay focused." Khan shot to fame after winning a silver medal at the Athens Games at the tender age of 17.
He still regards his Olympic medal as his greatest achievement and is well aware of the potential rewards that are on offer should any of the boxers shine in Beijing.
"Winning the silver medal changed my life and I think it can do the same for these guys. It made me what I am today," he said.
"Winning a medal can change their whole lives personally and financially, so it's going to be a big boost for them and their families." Khan singled out British lightweight star Frankie Gavin as the British team's best medal prospect.
The Birmingham-based southpaw is current world champion after defeating Italy's Dominico Valentino on points in the final in Chicago last November. Khan is happy to give advice to his compatriots about what to expect in Beijing.
"I see myself as a bigger brother to the boys sometimes. I've been there, I've seen it, I've experienced it all so I'm going to give all the advice I can because I want these guys to come back with medals and do Britain proud," he said. — AFP
Paes, Bhupathi face off in quarters
Toronto, July 25 The seventh seeded Indo-Czech pair beat their unseeded Swiss rivals 6-4, 6-4 in contest lasting less than an hour. Such was the domination of Paes and Dlouhy that they held serve throughout the match and did not face a single break point in the opening set. The Indo-Czech pair converted the only break point that came their way in the opener and won 91 per cent of their service points to go one up. The second set followed a similar script and the seventh seeds broke Federer and Wawrinka once before sealing the issue in their
favour. Fourth seeds Bhupathi and Knowles had an even easier passage to the quarterfinal as they were handed a second-round walk over by Americans Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish.
Toronto, July 25
The seventh seeded Indo-Czech pair beat their unseeded Swiss rivals 6-4, 6-4 in contest lasting less than an hour.
Such was the domination of Paes and Dlouhy that they held serve throughout the match and did not face a single break point in the opening set.
The Indo-Czech pair converted the only break point that came their way in the opener and won 91 per cent of their service points to go one up.
The second set followed a similar script and the seventh seeds broke Federer and Wawrinka once before sealing the issue in their favour.
Fourth seeds Bhupathi and Knowles had an even easier passage to the quarterfinal as they were handed a second-round walk over by Americans Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish. — PTI
Mountain to climb, India reeling at 159-6
Colombo, July 25
The Indians are in dire straits on 159 for six, replying to the home side’s first
An undefeated 125 by Tillakaratne Dilshan - the fourth three-figure contribution in the Sri Lankan innings - catapulted the hosts to a commanding position, following which India floundered in the first trial by spin in the series.
Other than Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, all Indian batsmen who perished did so avoidably.
Dinesh Karthik, in particular, in a fit of utter madness, reverse swept Murali in fading light before committing hara-kiri with a slog sweep against a wrong ‘un.
The much anticipated duel between the Indian batsmen and the dreaded Sri Lankan spin combo of Ajantha Mendis and Muralitharan unfolded in the hour before tea.
Predictably, captain Mahela Jayawardene turned to spin after only 10 overs. Indeed, he cleverly probed India’s tension by throwing the ball to the debutante rather than the highest wicket-taker in Test history.
The mystery man Mendis possesses several distinguishable deliveries - an off-break, a leg-break, a googly and a wrist ball, which he pushes through with his middle finger, carrom-like and which is either a top-spinner or a slight leg-spinner.
It was such a slider that completely squared up the experienced Dravid. His bat was well inside the line; he melted away with a horrified look on his face.
Gautam Gambhir had, meanwhile, departed to Murali, beaten in the air to be easily consumed at extra cover.
The Delhi opener had worked industriously to 39 and sensibly restricted his stroke-play to the “V” in front of the wicket, but was seduced by the inexhaustible wiles of the wizard.
Earlier, his more experienced partner and vice-captain, Virender Sehwag had failed to appreciate the gravity of his team having to accumulate 401 runs to merely avert a follow on.
He cantered to 25 off just 16 balls, twice gloriously cover driving Nuwan Kulasekera off the backfoot, before an encore at the expense of Chaminda Vaas - all for boundaries.
But Kulasekera temptingly dug one in outside off-stump and the right-hander only holed out at square leg. It was a no-win shot he had to “fetch” and could never roll his wrists over.
With Gambhir and Dravid departing in successive overs, India had slumped to a critical 79 for three. Saurav Ganguly joined Tendulkar, who had been lustily cheered as he emerged from the pavilion by a motley crowd at this venue with luxurious trees around it.
The Bengal veteran, generally contemptuous of spin, immediately square cut Mendis for four, while Tendulkar delectably used his feet against Murali, whom he once majestically straight drove for four.
As for Mendis, the Mumbai maestro negotiated him noticeably late - a fine example of how to take stock of a freak bowler to start with.
But Murali struck back. He went around the wicket to send down a doosra. Tendulkar, attempting to shoulder arms, played on. A lady responded by ecstatically skipping around the boundary waving a Sri Lankan flag.
Earlier, the Sri Lankans resumed in the vein they left off at 422 for four overnight. Of course, Thilan Samaraweera, one of three centurions on Day two, added only
Wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene fell cheaply to Harbhajan Singh. But Dilshan continued undaunted to nail his fifth Test hundred.
Sri Lanka (1st innings)
Vandort c Karthik b Ishant 3
Warnapura c Dravid b Harbhajan 115
Sangakkara c Dravid b Zaheer 12
M. Jayawardene c Karthik b Ishant 136
Samaraweera c Laxman b Zaheer 127
Dilshan not out 125
P. Jayawardene c Ishant b Harbhajan 30
Vaas not out 22
Extras (b-4, lb-5, nb-18, w-3) 30
Total (6 wkts decl) 600
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-57, 3-212, 4-360, 5-454, 6-545.
Bowling: Zaheer 37-2-156-2, Ishant 33-4-124-2, Ganguly 8-1-24-0, Harbhajan 43-2-149-2, Kumble 37-4-121-0, Sehwag 4-0-17-0
India (1st innings)
Gambhir c Samaraweera b Murali 39
Sehwag c Warnapura b Kulasekera 25
Dravid b Mendis 14
Tendulkar b Murali 27
Ganguly c Kulasekera b Murali 23
Laxman not out 19
Karthik c & b Murali 9
Kumble not out 1
Extras (lb-2) 2
Total (6 wkts, 45 overs) 159
Fall of wickets: 1-36, 2-79, 3-79, 4-123, 5-138, 6-147.
Bowling: Vaas 5-0-23-0, Kulasekera 7-0-38-1, Mendis 18-3-58-1, Muralitharan 15-3-38-4.
Disdain, if not contempt, for bowling
India are in trouble. Their top order has been consumed not by the new tricks of Ajantha Mendis but the old wiles of that magician's magician Mutthiah Muralitharan.
Going out to bat when the opposition has put up no less than 600 on the scoreboard is always a daunting task.
The only plus was that the openers did not have to go to bat in the dying minutes of the day, so they could mentally prepare themselves to pitch up a tent having seen how well the wicket had played while the Sri Lankans were batting.
Make no mistake, in Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh India have as good a spin combination as any team can hope to have but the Lankans were not fazed at all.
If anything the manner in which Samaraweera and Dilshan batted showed a disdain if not outright contempt for the bowling.
True, they had a good platform to come in to bat with Jayawardene and Warnapura having got centuries and stitching a big partnership but both the youngsters are not certain of a permanent place and so there would have been a bit of churning in the tummies as they came to bat.
That was quickly dispelled and as often happens with India when the wickets dry up there is a shortage of ideas.
The relief came through the declaration and India with its world class batting line-up would have not been too worried about the mammoth total put up by the Lankans.
After all, they have men who have more than 10,000 runs in Test cricket as also the only current batsman with two triple centuries in Test cricket and they have a fighter in Ganguly and the elegant Laxman, who is the man for the big occasion.
Laxman is still there but the other big guns have fallen silent. Sehwag made his intentions very clear from the start but he was ambushed.
Gambhir making a comeback to Test cricket looked solid but the cunning old fox Murali had laid a trap for him too.
The ball of the day though was the one that breached "the wall". Dravid has had some great deliveries take his wicket in the past but the stunned bewildered look on his face as he walked off after being bowled by Mendis told the real story.
He will no doubt look again and again at the video and will find that he did very little wrong. The ball was just too good.
The little champion is not one to quake and he was thrusting his front foot right to the pitch of the ball to nullify any turn even if he had misread the delivery. It was when he waited in the crease to Murali that he lost his wicket too.
It was excellent and riveting cricket with two world class batsmen confronting the world's best spinner and one who promises to be so.
The bowlers have won the first skirmish for it was only that and the Indians will come better armed and better prepared for the next time, so it remains to be seen who can win the battle for their team. Let's just hope the rain stays away. — PMG
Melbourne/London, July 25
The ICC yesterday decided not to shift the high-profile tournament out of Pakistan but the decision has not gone down well with the Players' associations who have called on their governing bodies not to send a team.
"If it continues in Pakistan at this volatile time, unfortunately many of the world's best players won't participate, which is not a good outcome for cricket," Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief Paul Marsh said in a statement.
"Based on the independent information and advice received, we maintain that risks are simply too great for the ACA to recommend that our players tour Pakistan at this time. We would expect Cricket Australia to adopt the same position," he added.
The ICC, after a teleconference with the eight participating nations, decided to retain Pakistan as the venue despite opposition from the cricket boards of Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa.
Marsh said the ICC's decision was disappointing and despite security reports giving an all-clear, Pakistan remained a risky place to hold the biennial event.
"The ACA continues to have serious concerns with our players touring Pakistan for the Champions Trophy and we are disappointed with the ICC's decision," Marsh said.
England's Professional Cricketers Association chief executive Sean Morris was slightly guarded in his reaction but he admitted that security of players remains at risk.
"We've still got some very serious concerns, despite the fact that the Pakistan Cricket Board have made every effort they can to try to make it as safe as possible," Morris was quoted as saying by 'BBC Sport'.
"But, unfortunately, in that part of the world there are some matters that are beyond anyone's control. I think one thing that the England and Wales Cricket Board has said - and something we are very well aligned on - is the one thing you are never going to compromise on is security." — PTI
Richardson’s remarks on IPL
New Delhi, July 25
Soon after Richardson's statement that the "ICC was concerned" about the risk of corruption that the IPL poses because of the huge money on offer to the players, an angry BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah shot off an e-mail to Lorgat pointing out the comprehensive anti-corruption measures put in place by the IPL.
In his e-mail, Shah objected to the South African's statement that the multi-million dollar league was susceptible to match-fixing because of the twin reasons of excessive cash and the hype surrounding it and said Richardson should not have "unnecessarily discussed such matters through the media".
"The BCCI has specifically objected to Richardson saying that 'ICC is concerned' about the threat of corruption and the potential temptations that come with it," a report on the website cricketnirvana.Com said.
The website also claims that the influential Indian Board is likely to push for Richardson's removal during Lorgat's India visit on August 6-7.
Richardson remarks came after ICC's Anti Corruption And Security Unit (ACSU) Chairman Sir Paul Condon in a presentation during the annual conference in Dubai said that the IPL brings with it the biggest threat to the game in terms of corruption since the days of cricket in Sharjah. — PTI
Mumbai, July 25
Tendulkar and Mongia had opened the innings for Lashings' XI against St Bede's School Headmasters XI at the school ground in Essex on June 27.
While Tendulkar sizzled with an 84-ball knock of 98, Mongia hit 72 off 41 balls, according to the club website.
Tendulkar had batted at number two and the left-handed India discard Mongia at number three on June 24 for the same side, making 32 and 66, respectively, against Eastbourne College XI at the latter's ground. Mongia has aligned with the rebel Indian Cricket League.
Interestingly, Mumbai left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni was also part of the Lashings' squad which also contained New Zealand's ICL rebel Chris Harris.
The cricket board has stopped Piyush Chawla and VVS Laxman from signing up to play for English counties due to the presence of ICL rebels in their ranks.
The BCCI has maintained right through that it would have no truck with ICL and also banned players who have taken part in the Essel Group-bankrolled rival league that took off much before the board's own and highly successful Indian Premier League.
Moscow, July 25
However, the other Indian in fray, SSP Chowrasia had an uneven round as he shot two-under 70 and was lying at the 42nd spot.
Delhi based golfer Shiv Kapur made a great start as he hit four back-to-back birdies from the 10th to 13th to end at four-under at the turn.
But he could not reproduce the same form in his front nine in which he had only birdie on the seventh to end the day just two strokes off the pace.
Winnner of the Indian Masters, Chowrasia was off the blocks with a birdie-brace, before he hit a bogey on the third hole. He ended the turn two-under after carding a birding on the seventh.
Chowrasia started his return journey with a bogey on the 10th but made amends with a 12th-hole eagle. However, a bogey on the last hole spoilt his day as he finished lowly 42nd.
At the top, there was a four-way tie for the lead between Joakim Backstorm and Fredrik Henge (both Sweden), Finland's Roope Kakko and Englishman David Carter.
All of them carded 65. South African Darren Fichardt was a stroke behind at the sole fifth spot. — UNI