India have edge on England
Swann to make debut, Monty in
Dravid will strike form: Dhoni
Complaint filed against Zaheer
Mohali okayed as 2nd Test venue
Argentina hold India 1-1
Chennai, December 10
Since the November 26 Mumbai mayhem, it took umpteen hectic parleys and individual behind-the-door persuasion by both the Indian and English boards to convince that India is safe enough to continue the tour they had abruptly abandoned after the Mumbai massacre.
To their credit, Pietersen and his teammates, including the reluctant trio of Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Graeme Swann, put behind their personal apprehension and decided to board the India-bound flight after security adviser Reg Dickason had given green signal for the series.
But now that the terror scare has been overcome, weather god poses the most serious threat to the Test with the possibility of rain hovering over the eagerly awaited Test.
Despite England returning with a full-strength team, the match on paper looks heavily tilted in favour of the Indians, who bulldozed the visitors 5-0 in ODI series.
To make it worse for the visitors, Ryan Sidebottom has already been ruled out of the series, while fellow pacer Stuart Broad will also be out of action in the first Test.
Though Denmark-born Kent pacer Amjad Khan has been drafted in as Sidebottom's replacement, Harmison, James Anderson and Flintoff would have to shoulder the entire burden in the pace bowling department.
Their batting looked fragile in the one-day series and unless their is a dramatic improvement, England bowlers would not have enough runs on the board to defend.
In contrast, there apparently is no real chink in the Indian armour and though the void created by the twin retirements of former captains Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble would take time to fill, it's not likely to make much of an affect on the team's show against England.
On a high after taming the world champion Australia at home, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his teammates apparently cannot put a foot wrong and England bore the brunt in the ODI series where a 7-0 whitewash seemed looming large over them before the last two ODIs were abandoned following the Mumbai massacre.
Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir don't feel the need to get their eyes in and attack straight from the word go which has made life difficult for the rival bowlers.
While Rahul Dravid continues his battle against a prolonged bad patch, it hardly affected the side because others raised their hands to be counted.
Sachin Tendulkar has proved that he has not lost his hunger for runs and the double century against Australia in Delhi Test underlines the kind of form VVS Laxman is in.
Though Yuvraj Singh remains in and out of the side, the selectors reposed faith in him and now that Ganguly is no more around, this series provides a golden opportunity to the left-hander to cement his place.
In the bowling department, Zaheer Khan is among the best new ball bowler in the world at the moment.
The left-hander has also assumed the mentor's role for youngsters like Ishant Sharma and the result is showing.
With both Zaheer and Ishant breathing fire, Munaf Patel hardly got chance but still managed to impress all with his cerebral approach in the ODI series against England.
The spin department, meanwhile, has seen a quiet passing of the baton with Harbhajan Singh taking over as the spearhead and leg-spinner Amit Mishra effortlessly stepping into Kumble's shoes.
All in all, an in-form India hold a clear edge over the undercooked visitors and England would require an extraordinary effort to do what Australia could not.
Hours of play: 9.30 to 11.30 am, 12.10 to 2.10 pm, 2.30 to 4.30 pm. — PTI
Chennai, December 10
"It's a decision we have taken because we think that the wicket may spin. We had a look at the wicket and I think it would spin and (having two spinners) probably gives us the best attacking option," Pietersen said in the pre-match press conference.
"Swann bowled absolutely fantastically up to this Test match and to give him a debut is well deserved. In terms of our attack, it is pretty important we go with two spinners. It doesn't matter how good you play the spinners. You still got to play spin well on the day. We will be keen and ready for the Indian batsmen. We have to wait and see. Swann did well against India as off-spinner," he said.
The build-up to the series has been far from ideal for the beleaguered Englishmen, who abandoned the last two ODIs after the terror strikes in Mumbai.
Pietersen and co. then had to deal with a fortnight of uncertainty before their security experts gave the go ahead for the Test series.
Pietersen, however, asserted that his men were now firmly focussed on the job that was at hand.
"Any team that turns up for a match will have good chances of winning a Test match. It depends on how you play and perform as a unit. We are considered as underdogs coming to this Test series. In that situation it is all about how you handle the game under pressure. Our planning and everything has been disrupted by the incidents during the last two weeks. But we need to handle the tasks during the next five days," he said.
"The boys have made the decision to come back for the Test series. We love India and the team loves India. We have come with the full squad because we love playing the game in India before large crowds. The boys are raring for the match to start and play cricket," he added.
The English skipper was woefully short of luck at the toss in the one-day series but he is keeping his fingers crossed for things to change in the Test series.
"Probably looks like a batting track to start off with. We will probably look to bat first. It looks a pretty good wicket, so hopefully, we will have some good cricket," he said.
England have decided to go with Matt Prior as wicketkeeper instead of Test regular Tim Ambrose despite his lackluster show in the one-day series. Pietersen said he had full faith in the embattled stumper's ability to bounce back.
"Matt Prior is a better option with the bat. He has improved tremendously with keeping. I don't think he lost confidence with his keeping in the ODIs. It was really tough tour for everybody. He is not the only one to have lost a bit of confidence over the last one month," he said.
Pietersen said in the Indian team, Yuvraj Singh would be under pressure in his comeback Test match.
"There will be lot of pressure on Yuvraj Singh. We have seen him in one dayers. It is interesting to see how he is going to play short balls," he said.
Pietersen, however, refused to call out-of-form Rahul Dravid a weak link in the
"Never ever say that Rahul is a soft link in any batting line up. He is such a fantastic player. He was not one of the best in the world and called wall for nothing. We have got to do a job because he is such a fantastic player. It is going to be tough but we have got to do some hard work," he said.
Asked whether the series would be the toughest challenge of his career, Pietersen said, "Of course it is a tough series. My whole career has been tough and I do not mind playing cricket in tough situations as it is going to be more rewarding." Pietersen lauded his opposite number Dhoni for being a calm leader. — PTI
Team: Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen (c), Paul Collingwood, Andrew Filntoff, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, Stephen Harmison, James Anderson, Monty Panesar.
Chennai, December 10
"As of now, he has been shaping up well and he had time to go home in between. Talent wise we all know Dravid's capabilities and he needs to focus now. He is one of the most committed cricketers you see around and definitely he will get into good scores in this series and make a headway," Dhoni said.
Enquired if the senior batsman would be asked to bat lower in the order, Dhoni said, "You will get to know during the game. I do not really disclose the plans."
According to him, winning the two-match series against England was important as the team wanted to end a successful year on a winning note.
"It is important for us to win the series and end the year on a successful note. This is one of the years in which we have done well in every format of the game. Definitely we are looking forward to a good result in this series," he said.
Dhoni sought the same intensity from his teammates which they showed against Australia and said they needed to play their aggressive brand of cricket.
"Of course, we need to be at the same level. It does not matter which opposition you are playing. In international cricket you have to be aggressive and be controlled at the same time.
"The focus is on execution of our plans to our potential. Then, we will have the chances of doing well. Of course, the intensity will be well up," he said.
Asked about the England attack, Dhoni refused to underestimate the visitors but insisted he was thinking more about India's strength and weaknesses.
"They are a better bowling side. But we are in good nick and we have the basics right. Preparation and plans that we got and our execution have been really good.
"We focus on that rather than thinking about oppositions bowling attack. It is important to set some plans to tackle the bowlers. We do not have any injury worries and will announce our eleven tomorrow," he said.
Dhoni has pledged match fees for the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks. Asked about the donation, Dhoni said, "I do not believe in speaking much. Actions speak louder than words. Whatever we need to do we will do as a team or individual."
Following the terror attacks, a heavy blanket of security has been thrown around the series but Dhoni doesn't see it as a distraction.
"We do not have any control over it. What are in our hands is to be calm and composed and look into the areas of playing cricket. What we are planning to do in the series is important for us. They are around to help us. It does not really bother us too much," he said.
On team composition for the match, Dhoni said, "We have not decided about it. Predictions apart, Chennai wicket always provide some bounce for the fast bowlers. As the match progresses, spinners also get some assistance. In fact when it turns it also bounces a bit for spinners."
Dhoni also took the opportunity to thank England for defying terror and going ahead with the series.
"It is good on their part to come. Just as an Indian,
I am grateful to them for
Complaint filed against Zaheer
Chennai, December 10 Zaheer was miffed with security officials after one of his friends was denied entry into the hotel yesterday, police sources said. The paceman came down from his room and got into an argument with the security personnel who prevented his friend from entering the hotel since his name was not in the list of approved guests. Zaheer's friend, a Tamil Nadu cricketer, was eventually allowed to enter the hotel but only after being thoroughly frisked which angered the bowler even more.
Chennai, December 10
Zaheer was miffed with security officials after one of his friends was denied entry into the hotel yesterday, police sources said.
The paceman came down from his room and got into an argument with the security personnel who prevented his friend from entering the hotel since his name was not in the list of approved guests.
Zaheer's friend, a Tamil Nadu cricketer, was eventually allowed to enter the hotel but only after being thoroughly frisked which angered the bowler even more. — PTI
Mohali okayed as 2nd Test venue
Mohali, December 10 ECB Managing Director Hugh Morris said Mohali will hold second Test as they were satisfied with the security arrangements, thus ending a long spell of uncertainty. "The ECB security experts are very satisfied with the arrangements. The ECB is delighted to play the second Test match at Mohali," Morris said. Morris was accompanied by ECB's security adviser Reg Dickason and Players Welfare Association chief Sean Morris as they inspected the PCA stadium, hotel Taj and held meeting with Punjab and Chandigarh police before giving the final nod. He also said the English Board and its players were "delighted that everything is put to place here in Mohali." Morris also thanked the BCCI, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and the PCA for ensuring the England team is back to play Test series. In fact, the visit of the ECB security adviser and others to Mohali had been reduced to a formality when they had cleared the two-Test tour after inspecting Chennai as the venue of the first Test. It was only after the clearance given following the Chennai stadium inspection
the England team decided to head for India after brief preparatory stay at Abu Dhabi.
Mohali, December 10
ECB Managing Director Hugh Morris said Mohali will hold second Test as they were satisfied with the security arrangements, thus ending a long spell of uncertainty.
"The ECB security experts are very satisfied with the arrangements. The ECB is delighted to play the second Test match at Mohali," Morris said.
Morris was accompanied by ECB's security adviser Reg Dickason and Players Welfare Association chief Sean Morris as they inspected the PCA stadium, hotel Taj and held meeting with Punjab and Chandigarh police before giving the final nod.
He also said the English Board and its players were "delighted that everything is put to place here in Mohali." Morris also thanked the BCCI, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and the PCA for ensuring the England team is back to play Test series.
In fact, the visit of the ECB security adviser and others to Mohali had been reduced to a formality when they had cleared the two-Test tour after inspecting Chennai as the venue of the first Test.
It was only after the clearance given following the Chennai stadium inspection the England team decided to head for India after brief preparatory stay at Abu Dhabi.
Moscow, December 10
The 27-year-old Indian will be up against Beijing Olympics silver medallist Yankiel Leon Alarcon of Cuba in the semifinals on December 13.
The Cuban beat Botswana’s Khumiso Ikgopoleng 7-0 in a last eight bout. Today’s win has not just assured Akhil of a bronze medal but also $2,500 in prize money.
“I was slightly nervous to start with because the first bout is always crucial. He (Schneider) was not attacking and I also stuck to counter-punching. I kept my guard down, like I usually do and gained in confidence as the bout progressed,” Akhil told PTI after the bout.
Akhil, who was a quarter-finalist in Beijing, was in rampaging mood today and didn’t allow his opponent to land a single scoring punch in the first round, at the end of which he led 4-0.
The diminutive counter-puncher built on the lead in the next two rounds, scoring
Though Schneider managed to hold his own in the third and fourth rounds by landing six blows, Akhil’s first-round lead gave him a comfortable six-point cushion.
The final round belonged to the Haryana-boxer, who picked up three more points to complete the formalities.
“The coaches - GS Sandhu and Jaidev Bisht - asked me to keep moving around the ring at good pace and that did the trick for me. My fitness is nowhere near what it was during the Beijing Olympics but it is good,” said Akhil.
“My target is the gold medal. The bronze and silver medals are the ones you get by luck. Next up for me is a Cuban boxer and though he is formidable, I am ready for the challenge,” he said.
Among the other bantam weight results, world champion and local favourite Sergey Vodopyanov, whom Akhil beat in the second round of Beijing Olympics, scored a comfortable 13-7 win over Uzbek Hoorshid Tojibaev.
Vodopyanov next faces Beijing bronze medallist Veaceslav Gojan of Moldova, who defeated Azerbaijan’s Rahim Najafov 15-7. — PTI
Buenos Aires, December 10
India dictated terms for most part of the match but could score only once through a solo by right winger Mandip Antil in the 44th minute.
Argentina, to their credit, waged a grim battle and the reward came in the 61st minute when Santiago Montelli scored the equaliser from a penalty stroke.
The hosts began aggressively, trying to break the ice as their rivals took time to settle. They forced two penalty corners in quick succession but while the first flick went wide, the second was well taken by Indian custodian Mrinal Chaubey.
India soon got their bearings and mounted sorties with regularity. They dominated the midfield and created openings around Argentina's semi-circle with crafty interchanges and off-the-ball running.
However, they failed to find the target, especially with the opponent goalkeeper Ezequiel Olivero doing a good job under the bar.
A few attempts from forwards Danish Mujtaba, Jay Karan and Pramod Kumar missed the mark by inches. After his hat-trick in the first 'Test', a lot was expected from Diwakar Ram but the Indian captain was not on target either.
Diwakar got at least three opportunities to sound the board but twice he flicked wide and was foiled once.
After a goalless first half, India continued their attacking mode and finally forged
Antil, a robust Haryana lad, forced his way into the striking circle beating three defenders before unleashing a rasping shot to the left of Olivero.
India could have increased their tally but for failed deflections from flank cross-hits. Substitute Dharamvir Singh also missed a sitter to add to India's woes.
Argentina, however, stepped up the pace towards the final phase and was rewarded with a penalty stroke after Agustin Cabrera was deliberately obstructed in a goalmouth melee. Santiago Montelli made no mistake with the spot hit to give them the equaliser. — PTI
Jalandhar, December 10
The winners are Major R.S. Rai who bagged a gold medal in the Free Pistol (NR) Championship 50m, men’s (services) individual category with a score of 276 points followed by Capt. N.P.S. Raghav who won silver medal by scoring 270 points. The third position was bagged by Capt. Poshuk Ahluwalia by scoring 266 points.
Similarly, in the Free Pistol (NR) Championship 50m junior men’s (Services) individual Sandeep Bhalothia won a gold medal (EMR) with a score of 266 points while the silver medal was bagged by Sepoy Vijay Singh by scoring 262 points.
As many as 56 shooters from the Army participated in the championship, which included 48 men and 8 women shooters.
Aiming high to make it to the next 2012 London Olympics the men from the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) at the Infantry School, Mhow, said they were leaving no stone unturned to establish themselves at the international level, and a grand entry in the Olympics was their first priority.
Talking to The Tribune Major Rai said, “We owe our success to AMU, Mhow, and Infantry School. At AMU we are getting the best of the facilities including weapons, equipment, ammunition and latest training methods with fine ranges as well”.
Apart from this the men in the olive green are getting training from Russian coach Olympian Pavel Smirnoff.
“We are at par with any of the shooting association in India. And with a coach of international repute the training is precise with the best tactical and technical development”, said Capt. Raghav.
It is pertinent to mention here that one of the largest and the oldest Military Training Institution of the Indian Army the AMU has produced some of the best shooters in the last some years.
These include Allan Daniel Peoples, Pemba Tamang, Vijay Kumar and Mohinder Singh to name a few.
At present some of the members from AMU are part of National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), New Delhi.
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