Spainís Fernando Alonso rekindled his love affair with Renault after winning his second race in a row at the Japanese Grand Prix. The twice-world champion was still pinching himself long after taking the chequered flag in front of BMW-Sauberís Robert Kubica and the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen at Fuji.
"Itís completely amazing," a champagne-soaked Alonso told reporters after his 21st Formula One victory. "Itís difficult to believe. Iím very happy and very proud of my team." Alonso was a surprise winner in Singapore two weeks ago, triumphant for the first time in more than a year with Renault taking their first victory since his second title with them in 2006.
Todayís triumph at a Fuji Speedway circuit where the Ferraris and McLarens were supposed to dominate tasted even sweeter for the 27-year-old. "Obviously Singapore was completely unexpected after a very sad Saturday coming from retirement in qualifying," said Alonso.
"Okay, I won with special conditions with the safety car, but we had nothing and we won again. I cannot believe it right now, back-to-back wins." Alonso admitted that the first corner mayhem triggered by McLarenís championship leader Lewis Hamilton and Raikkonen coming together had helped his cause.
"I saw the people in front of me going quite aggressive into turn one," said Alonso, who started fourth on the grid. "I took advantage and put myself behind Robert and from this point the race was easier. From then we had some free air." However, Alonso still refused to commit to another season with Renault, who are hoping to fight off a big offer from Honda for the Spaniardís services in 2009.
"It as a great job from everybody in the factory and this result, these wins are for everybody," said the Spaniard, who rejoined Renault this year after a turbulent season at McLaren spent feuding with Hamilton and team management. "But I said I would make a decision after Brazil. That doesnít mean that I donít know what to do. I know what to do but I will announce it after Brazil." ó Reuters
WHAT cricket is to India, football is to Brazil. The way every Indian is born into a family of cricket lovers, every Brazilian is a born footballer. To produce players like Kaka, Ronaldinho, Diego, Robinho and Pato in one generation is unfathomable for any other nation.
So when Brazilian Eduardo da Silva shifted to India to play for Ludhiana-based JCT football club, people wondered what exactly was he upto? It was obvious that he wanted to play regular football. And that was something he would have struggled to achieve with the Ďoverly-talentedí Brazilian national squad. So he joined JCT on a two-year contract. And immediately he caught the eye of all other big club in the country as well. His attacking instincts and ability to run at defenders set him apart from any other foreign recruit. The I-League, which is peppered with a host of African players, was finally getting a taste of what footballing samba was all about.
Talking to The Tribune Edu, as he is fondly called, said he was enjoying his time with the club and appreciated the affection shown by the fans. "I came thinking the situation would be a lot worse, but when I saw the ground and the other players in training, I instantly knew I had made the right decision. The coach is respected and we trust his acumen. He is doing wonderful things for the club and I am sure he will continue to do so for many years to come," he says.
At heart a Flamengo fan, he is also a Barcelona and Manchester United supporter. While talking about the infrastructure he says, "I have seen things change in the last two years. The I-League has brought in a lot of professionalism to the game. The standard of play, although still not very high, but is definitely improving with every game we play. I have absolute belief that in the coming years, the league will push the overall standard and popularity of the game higher."
When it comes to his future with JCT he gets a tad philosophical. "It has been a wonderful experience playing here. I love the place and the fans, though I wish for their numbers in the stands to increase. My contract runs out this year and I know some other clubs are interested in me. I wouldnít name them but I know it for sure. But all that is for later. As of now I am in love with the club and am taking it one game at a time.My immediate aim is to help the club win the I-League."
form for heroes
MORE than anything else it was time that once defined cricket. An American could understand most sports, but the notion that a contest may last 30 hours and still end in a stalemate upset his calculations and sense of purpose. But Twenty20 has changed it all.
In the six years that the format has carried its frenzy across the world, the key paths to success have become clear. The popularity and level of public acceptance that the Indian Premier League, or the Indian Cricket League have attained are examples of the appeal that the shortest versions of the game holds. Batsmen who belt 35 runs from 20 balls have done their job well. Like when keeper batsman Paul Nixon of Delhi Giants bludgeoned the opposition into submission by pummelling spinners and paceman alike. Playing in the ICL against Ahmedabad Rockets at Hyderabad, Nixon scored 45 off 23 balls, including a 106-yard-long six.
When Reetinder Sodhi of Ahmedabad Rockets straight drove an attempted Shane Bond Yorker for a six, old timers would have considered it sacrilege, but for the modern day follower of the game, it was what cricket was always supposed to be; frantic.
Twenty-20 has ripped the MCC coaching manual into smithereens. Having said that, it has still managed to hold its own. Batsmen who score at a run-a-ball are pass`E9. They can only invite defeat. Spinners who turn the ball away from the bat and make cross batted strokes prone to being mishit are crucial to the format. Medium pace bowlers whose slower ones never quite arrive, elude punishment. Net bowlers almost delivering from a standing start without the benefit of a run up suddenly claim wickets because their opponents are forced to take them on.
But not everyone is seeing the shiny side of the ball. Monty Panesar, who when not beset with self doubt, is arguably the finest exponent of finger spin in the past 40 years appeared just thrice for his county Northamptonshire last year in the T20 games. Monty lacked conviction while bowling to batsmen who used their bats more like sledgehammers and the poor man ended up with figures of 1 for 59 in six unfortunate overs. Thatís what Twenty-20 can do to some cricketers!
Like we have seen in this edition of the Indian Cricket League (ICL), spinners bowling tight and full to a field of five men in the deep have managed to restrict batsmen to singles and undo them when they strike for glory. It is not really easy to hit a low, slow moving object for a six. Many spinners in the current ICL have figured out that if there is no pace on the ball, the batsmen will struggle to find the timing to clear the rope. Bowlers who could never break into the Indian team are striking it rich, both figuratively and literally.
A concept like the ICL might not be considered as financially viable an option as the IPL, but it has given the underdogs of Indian cricket a swing at their share of glory.
Indians are not used to medals in kick-boxing, so the Indian medal haul in Naples (Italy), at the 7th World Junior and 3rd World Cadet Championship, held from September 24 to 27, came as an extremely pleasant surprise.
Indian kick-boxers won silver medals in the aero kick-boxing older cadet boys individual without step and with step events. First it was Vasu Goyal of West Bengal, a class V student, who won a silver medal in individual without step event and minutes later Amitarshu Panda of Orissa won another silver medal for India in individual with step event.
It was a great effort on the part of Indian participants as till the last moment they were not sure of getting a visa and were able to reach the venue only a couple of hours before the championship began. Only three participants were able to make it to Naples while three others were denied a visa without any specific reasons being given.
All the selected members of the team had applied for visa well in time and after completing the necessary formalities at the consulate in Kolkata. The three who were denied visa were good medal prospects.
We heard at Naples that some participants from other countries too were also not given a visa. Some of the Muslim countries could not make it because of the holy month of Ramzan. Even then players from 43 countries, representing five continents, (1,400 players and officials) participated in this mega event held at the beautiful city of Naples.
Russia once again proved its supremacy in kick-boxing in k1 style, light contact, low kick and full contact events while Hungary was unstoppable in team fight and semi-contact events. Crotia, Canada and England dominated in musical forms and aero kick-boxing events.
Conducting such a mega event in a magnificent style and with limited resources speaks volumes for the organisers, especially of Falsoni, the founder and president of the world body of Kicking-boxing Associations. Availability of more skilled persons would have added glory to the games. The decision of some judges, during the championship, were not found to be up to the mark.
Indiaís good showing can easily be attributed to the untiring efforts of Harichandan, president Indian Kick-boxing Association. It was the same man who was responsible for making sure that atleast three kick-boxers got a visa. Indiaís future in the sport looks assuring provided the budding sportsmen are provided with the right facilities and grooming, that too at the right age.
Harichandan has plans to invite foreign coaches and some of them are likely to come to India in December. Kristina, a former world champion and referee with WAKO is likely to be the first on the list of invitees. President of the Punjab Kick-boxing Association K.S. Sandhu has agreed to arrange a tour for Kristina to Punjab and it is likely to give the sport a much-needed boost in the state. The coaches and judges will also benefit from her visit as she is a reputed referee and an outstanding coach.
(Gursharan Singh was manager of Indiaís kickboxing team to the World Championship in Naples)
Indian Test teamís captain Anil Kumble has been a loyal servant for the Indian team. But now, it seems, he has started losing his sting. His performance in the Bangalore Test against Australia was hardly anything to write home about. His bowling looked flat and extremely predictable. I know that he was injured and that he must have decided to bowl thinking he would help the team. But he had options and he should have defintiely made better use fo them. He is a legend in his own right but he should remember that just like all other seniors in the side, he too is accountable for his actions.
Sourav Ganguly has been an inspiration for the Indian team. He was the man who changed the way people looked at an Indian side, and stopped considering them mentally fragile even before a single ball had been bowled. The Greg-Ganguly spat showed the ugly side of Indian cricket to the public and it was the ex-skipper who had to pay the price as not only did he lose his captaincy but was also dropped from the team. Now that finally ĎDadaí has decided to hang his boots, all the bickering should stop. He will always be remembered as the man who inculcated youth culture in the team. It is yet to be seen whether he is able to put up a good show in the on-going series or not, but he is defintely worth more than just a series.