Favourites continue forward march
Sandeep salvages 3-2 win
Hayden punished with pay cut
English ODI players’ release ‘to ignite revolt
Butt powers Pak to 8-wicket win
Pakistan opener Salman Butt bats against Sri Lanka during the first one-day match at National Stadium in Karachi on Tuesday.
I did not want to be part of a sham: Randhir
Favourites continue forward march
Melbourne, January 20
Pre-tournament favourite Murray zipped through to round two in double-quick time when his opponent retired injured. The fourth seed was leading Andrei Pavel 6-2 3-1 when the Romanian quit after 45 minutes with a back injury that had kept him out of the sport for most of last year.
“I guess if you want to do well in the tournament, it’s good to conserve some energy ... hopefully that was a good thing,” the Briton said, weighing the pros and cons of his short outing in 37 degree C heat. Next up for him is Marcel Granollers.
World number one and top seed Nadal took just 32 minutes longer to thrash Belgian Christophe Rochus 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in the night match. The Spanish muscleman won 83 points to Rochus’ 40 - including 47 clean winners to seven in a dominant display. “I played well, moving the ball very well around the court. The only thing you think is ‘win’. It was quick so that was better,” he said.
Nadal, whose best performance at the Australian Open was when he reached the semifinals last year, faces Roko Karanusic of Croatia in the next round.
Serena cantered through with a 6-3, 6-2 win over China’s Yuan Meng. The American second seed is seeking a fourth title after winning here in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
“It was a little hot for me today,” she smiled, sipping a drink. “It was a case of taking my time, not giving 1,000 percent, you know? I was getting super thirsty out there - at one stage I had to stop and have a drink of water. It was definitely extreme conditions,” she added, stifling a sniffle. “I do have a little bit of a head cold ... I hope that goes away.”
Serena was joined in the second round by big sister Venus who enjoyed a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Germany’s Angelique Kerber.
Sixth seed Venus is still seeking a first singles title at Melbourne Park despite having five Wimbledon and two U.S. Open crowns to her name. “Yeah, I’m in the second round. Definitely was the goal,” the reigning Wimbledon champion mused. Next up for her is Carla Suarez Navarro.
World number four Elena Dementieva survived the heat to see off Kristina Barrois. Unbeaten so far this year after picking up titles in Auckland and Sydney, Dementieva beat the German 7-6, 2-6, 6-1. “It was a very tough match, especially because of the weather conditions today. Also it was not easy for me to come here after playing so many matches in a row,” the blonde Russian said.
Last year’s men's runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was on song, beating Juan Monaco 6-4, 6-4, 6-0. “I played without pain,” he said, referring to a recent back injury. “So it was a nice match. That's it.”
Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt suffered a drawn-out agonising exit from his home Grand Slam when he was beaten 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 by Chilean 13th seed Fernando Gonzalez. It was Hewitt’s first opening round defeat at the Australian Open since 2002, when he was suffering chicken pox.
Finalist at Melbourne Park four years ago, Hewitt slid down the rankings after undergoing hip surgery last August and only returned to competition this month. “I’ll probably look back at it in a couple of days’ time, look at where I could have improved and whatever,” the world number 70 said. — Reuters
Mar del Plata, January 20
India, who made a comeback to international hockey after almost a year, beat Argentine 2-0 in the first Test yesterday.
Centre-forward Shivendra Singh (12th min), Prabhjot Singh (40th min) and captain Sandeep Singh (59th min) scored the goals for the visitors while Mario Almada (13th) and Pedro Ibarra (46th) found the net for Argentina.
For the second consecutive day, the Indian mid-fielders and linkmen Vikram Pillay, Rajpal Singh and VS Vinaya were outstanding at their work, setting up the forwards with accurately measured passes.
The constant pressure on the Argentina goal finally bore fruit in the 12th minute when Shivendra deflected home from a Sandeep set piece to give India a 1-0 lead after Argentine medio Tomas Argento obstructed Thakur just outside the box.
However, the lead was shortlived as the hosts equalised in the very next minute through wily Almada who was lurking dangerously around the Indian striking circle and was quick to wrong foot the Indian defence.
In the 30th minute, India got a golden opportunity to surge ahead but Shivendra fumbled with only Argentine goalkeeper Vivaldi to beat.
Minutes before the half time, Khandker ensured that both the teams were locked at 1-1 at the half time with a goal line save after Argentina was awarded a shot corner following Sandeep's deliberate stick check.
India came out all guns blazing in the second half to regain the lead in the 40th minute off a counter attack set by Shivendra. Exhibiting classy baseline control and skills, Prabhjot and Khandker initiated the move and zeroed in before the former found the target to give the visitors 2-1.
Six minutes later the Indians paid the price for their over aggression when Matias Rey stole the ball from Rajpal and sent a long overhead to unmarked Lucas Vila who took full advantage of Indian defender's casual attitude to set it up for Ibarra who made no mistake in levelling the scores.
Skipper Sandeep eventually came up with the winner off a penalty corner in 59th minute when his powerful drag-flick convincingly beat Argentina custodian Vivaldi.
Although, Argentina tried hard to equalise, Indian defence stood their guard. The third Test will be played here tomorrow. — PTI
Hayden punished with pay cut
Melbourne, January 20
Hayden, who retired recently after being dropped from Australia's ODI and Twenty20 squads, had his lucrative CA retainer slashed after being sent home from Australia's tour of the West Indies last May with an Achilles tendon injury, a newspaper report claimed.
CA officials believed Hayden had suffered or exacerbated the injury while playing for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL last April though the former opener had pleaded that he suffered his chronic tendon injury throughout his distinguished 16-year international career.
The Australian board had applied a clause in its Overseas Club Playing Agreement to deny Hayden a portion of his retainer and any compensation or insurance for missing the Caribbean tour.
"CA appears to be taking a stance that it cannot be held liable for any injuries suffered in the IPL - even though it gives its top players the green light to go, the report in 'Daily Telegraph' said.
"The case sends a warning to other Australian stars that they could be left on a limbo by their employers if they are injured in the IPL, with the second version of the tournament scheduled for April," it added.
Australian Cricketers Association stepped in to compensate the Test legend out of its own player insurance pool.
Australian Cricketers Association boss Paul Marsh, however, said CA's handling of Hayden's case was "inconsistent".
"Our issue was that we believed it was inconsistent with how similar issues of this nature had been handled previously," Marsh said.
"Our proposal to CA was that Matthew not be penalised by Cricket Australia in this instance."
Marsh said he has now put all players on high alert, advising them of the potential of a financial penalty by CA if they are injured during the IPL.
"We have used this opportunity to educate players that CA may financially penalise them if there are issues of this nature going forward.
"It is far from the biggest issue that we are dealing with, but we would like to ensure that the correct principles are met." — PTI
London, January 20
The second season of Indian Premier League (IPL) begins on April 10 and runs until May 24, but in a document sent to the 18 first-class counties, ECB managing director Hugh Morris has said England's Test stars will only be available for 14 days if they are to earn the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the board, which is an IPL requirement.
A report in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ today said under Morris’s directives, Pietersen and Flintoff, along with any other England Test player, who might get tapped up, must report back by noon on April 25.
“Morris, not unreasonably, wants them to play in the round of championship matches preceding the opening Test against the West Indies on May 6,” the daily said.
However, IPL commissioner Lalit Modi has already made it clear that players who join this season must commit to a two-year deal and play for at least a month each year.
Under those conditions, there seems no way that Pietersen and Flintoff, England’s two most desirable players to the franchise holders in terms of box-office appeal, can play in the IPL.
“Even if the players refuse to sign their central contracts, which they have yet to do, they still need an NOC, which the ECB have the power to withhold,” the newspaper added.
“There is another problem. England’s one-day players unlikely to be involved in the early Tests, such as Samit Patel, will be allowed to play IPL until May 10 (the one-dayers against the West Indies start later).
“That would see them past Modi’s minimum stipulation of four weeks and Nottinghamshire have already given Patel an NOC, though he still needs one from the ECB as well.
“Such players could quickly become a source of envy, risking dressing-room harmony,” the daily added.
The ECB also has its hands tied as the next year’s IPL dates are yet to be finalised, so the board is not in a position to give NOCs that must hold good for two years.
More complications arise over players on the fringes of playing Test cricket for England, such as Ravi Bopara.
It is not inconceivable that Bopara could be in the Test team come May, but the IPL auction, and therefore the contracts with the franchises, are finalised next month. — UNI
Karachi, January 20
Pakistan stormed to a 1-0 lead in the three-match series after Butt struck his eight career century and helped produce a 168-run opening stand with Khurrum Manzoor (83).
All Butt's hundreds have come against Asian teams, including five against India and two versus Bangladesh. Butt was on 100 from 117 balls with 13 fours when Pakistan finished on 220 for two in 45.5 overs chasing 219 runs.
Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar returned to the one-day team after a gap of 14 months but failed to claim a wicket.
Manzoor, who hit nine fours in his 128-ball innings, was out in the 38th over after hitting straight back to spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.
Younis Khan (20) was the second man out, caught off Farveez Maharoof.
Paceman Rao Iftikhar returned career best figures of four for 42 and Umar Gul took three wickets to bowl out Sri Lanka in 45.2 overs on a good batting track.
After a slow start of seven runs in five overs and 32 in 10, the youngsters even neutralised the threat of unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis, who failed to claim a wicket in his seven overs.
Butt took only 66 balls to reach his 10th fifty with seven fours while Manzoor brought up his third half century in his fifth international from 93 balls. — Reuters
I did not want to be part of a sham: Randhir
New Delhi, January 20
When the IOA divested the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), headed by KPS Gill, in May 2008 of the powers to administer the game in the country at the behest of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), it was intended to put the game back on a pedestal.
The IOA constituted a five-member ad hoc committee, headed by IOA president Suresh Kalmadi, Randhir Singh, treasurer A.K.Mattoo, Aslam Khan and Uttaranchal Olympic Association president Rajiv Mehta, but over the months, the ad hoc committee failed to function as a co-ordinated unit.
“A couple of members were taking decisions without our knowledge, and I did not want to be part of such a sham”, Randhir said here today.
He said the purpose of the IOA taking direct charge of the hockey affairs was to take the national game to its pre-eminent position.
“But someone apparently was taking decisions on behalf of the ad hoc committee arbitrarily”, Randhir said, adding that he, Kalmadi and Mattoo were very keen that hockey was put in a league of its own.
Though selection committee chairman Ajit Pal Singh was surprised at the quitting of Randhir Singh from the ad hoc committee, he said the selection committee enjoyed full freedom. He said no final decision had been taken on the appointment, though Jose Brasa of Spain had come to Delhi a couple of days ago, at the invitation of the Union Sports Ministry. The IOA and the Ministry bosses were “satisfied with his presentation”.
A source said Brasa was invited at “government expenses”, and apparently stands a fair chance of getting the top job, though Ajit Pal Singh insisted that no name had been finalised yet.
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