Sania falls at last hurdle
Sandeep stars in Indias big win
Aussies pip Kiwis in T20 thriller
Kila Raipur Games conclude
Indian summer started the rot: Ponting
Melbourne, February 15
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has admitted that one of the most challenging summers of his career which saw his side falling from the pedestal started with a Test series defeat to India in October last year.
Pattaya, February 15
A 'tired' Sania, whose only WTA singles triumph has come at the Hyderabad Open in her breakthrough 2005 season, fizzled out after brief fightback in the one hour and 17 minutes long contest.
"No excuses but I just wished I felt fresher," a dejected Sania later said.
"I had a long singles match on Saturday and then had to play the doubles. I felt tired," Sania said.
The injury-ravaged Indian ace was, however, happy to kickstart her new season on a high. Sania, currently ranked 126th on the WTA charts, battled a career-threatening wrist injury last year and was off-court for most part of 2008.
"I couldn't ask for a better way to start the year. I just came back to the tour at the Australian Open and won the mixed and I reached the final in my second tournament. I feel better and better each week," she added.
Sania fought her heart out against her formidable opponent but the Russian drew from her vast experience to halt the India's brilliant run.
The first set was fiercely fought and both the players traded many a breaks but unforced errors in pressure situations did Sania in.
Once she lost the first set, and squandered the chance to break Zvonareva in the opening game of the second set, Sania was all but out of the match.
Nevertheless, Sania's sizzling run in the event will boost her confidence and give a fillip to her plummeting WTA ranking which is currently 126th.
Sania could have got an early lead at the start of the match as she had two break points in the opening game but she squandered both.
Sania then broke Zvonareva in the third game but the Russian did not allow Sania to run away with the lead as she fought back and broke the Indian in the very next game.
After trading breaks in the ninth and 10th games, Zvonareva held her serve in the 11th to make it 6-5.
It was imperative for Sania to win the next game and stretch the set to a tie-breaker but the Russian pounced on the second breakpoint to wrap it up in her favour.
Sania made a good start to the second set, earning a breakpoint in the opening game but Zvonareva warded off the danger.
The first three games went with serve before Zvonareva converted a breakpoint in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead and consolidated it further by holding her serve in the next game.
Trailing 1-4, a comeback looked difficult for the Indian.
The Russian broke Sania once more and then held her serve to claim the title.
Bopanna-Nieminen in SAP Open finals
San Jose, California: Indian ace Rohan Bopanna and his Finnish partner Jarkko Nieminen continued their winning streak as they eliminated fourth-seeded pair of Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins 3-6, 7-6, 10-5 to enter the finals of the ATP Tour SAP Open here. Bopanna-Nieminen, who had pulled off a huge upset by defeating top-ranked Bryan brothers in the earlier round, came back from a set down to upset the fourth seed duo after clinching the second set in a tie-breaker before taking the third set super-tiebreaker at 10-5. ''After the elation of beating the Bryans in the quarters, we had to get back on court and focus again. The first set went by quickly. ''However, we kept ourselves in the game, won the 2nd set tiebreaker and once again won in the super-tiebreaker. We're looking forward to this finals and hope we can keep up the intensity,'' said Bopanna. The right-left combination of Bopanna and Nieminen will take on Tommy Haas of Germany and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the finals.
San Jose, California: Indian ace Rohan Bopanna and his Finnish partner Jarkko Nieminen continued their winning streak as they eliminated fourth-seeded pair of Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins 3-6, 7-6, 10-5 to enter the finals of the ATP Tour SAP Open here.
Bopanna-Nieminen, who had pulled off a huge upset by defeating top-ranked Bryan brothers in the earlier round, came back from a set down to upset the fourth seed duo after clinching the second set in a tie-breaker before taking the third set super-tiebreaker at 10-5.
''After the elation of beating the Bryans in the quarters, we had to get back on court and focus again. The first set went by quickly.
''However, we kept ourselves in the game, won the 2nd set tiebreaker and once again won in the super-tiebreaker. We're looking forward to this finals and hope we can keep up the intensity,'' said Bopanna.
The right-left combination of Bopanna and Nieminen will take on Tommy Haas of Germany and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the finals.
Paes-Dlouhy falter in final
New Delhi: Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy stumbled at the final hurdle, losing the summit clash of the euro 1,445,000 World Tennis tournament in Rotterdam, 2-6 5-7 to Canadian Daniel Nestor and Serbia's Nenad Zimonjic on Sunday. The second seeded Indo-Czech pair squandered six breakpoints - three each in both the sets to lose the final encounter in one hour and two minutes.
New Delhi: Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy stumbled at the final hurdle, losing the summit clash of the euro 1,445,000 World Tennis tournament in Rotterdam, 2-6 5-7 to Canadian Daniel Nestor and Serbia's Nenad Zimonjic on Sunday.
The second seeded Indo-Czech pair squandered six breakpoints - three each in both the sets to lose the final encounter in one hour and two minutes. PTI/UNI
Brisbane, February 15
Sandeep scored in the third, 19th and 60th minutes to lead from the front, while Shivendra Singh (23rd minute), Tushar Khandekar (40th), Arjun Halappa (42nd) and Ignace Tirkey (48th) also chipped in with one goal each.
India, who had beaten the combined state side 8-1 yesterday, led 3-0 at half time.
India broke into an early lead when Aussie defender Nick Russ was struck on the foot inside the circle. The resultant penalty corner was executed to perfection by Sandeep as he flicked low to the left of Australian Olympic goalkeeper Stephen Lambert.
The Indian midfield again tormented their opponents, repeatedly breaking through their defence.
The Indian captain was soon at it again making it 2-0 with a powerful drag-flick, this time to Lambert's right.
Shortly after, Vikram Pillay stole the ball in the midfield and mounted an attack with young striker Sarwanjit Singh to set up Shivendra who drove home the visitors' third goal.
India soon suffered a blow when Rajpal Singh, who scored a hat-trick yesterday, was struck on his shin by defender Jason Wilson. The winger could take no further part in the match as he had to be sent to hospital for stitches.
India shuffled their players after the break and surged further ahead with Khandekar making it 4-0 in the 40th minute. Two minutes later, Halappa produced a breath-taker when he exhibited classic ball control and body feints before deftly pushing past Lambert from a narrow angle.
The Indian domination continued as Ignace Tirkey found the mark in the 48th minute with his trademark backhander atop the circle which was followed by Sandeep rounding off the tally from the sixth penalty corner 12 minutes later.
India will next play the Australian Development squad here on Tuesday. PTI
Sydney, February 15
Chasing 151, New Zealand came close to overwhelming the target before losing McCullum at a crucial juncture and eventually finishing at 149 for five wickets.
Needing 14 runs off the last over of the bowling of Nathan Bracken, Nathan McCullum (10 not out) -Brendon's elder brother - hit a four and a six off the last two balls but that was still not enough in the end.
Earlier, a Brad Haddin-led Australia got off to a brisk start before losing momentum and it took useful contributions from David Hussey (41), Adam Voges (26) and David Warner (23) to reach a modest total of 150 for seven.
Chasing 151, New Zealand got off to a wobbly start after Peter Siddle removed in-form Martin Guptill (0) and Peter Fulton (1) off successive overs to reduce the visitors to 12 for two.
However, Brendon McCullum and Neil Broom (36) steadied the rocking Kiwi boat with a 61-run stand in eight-odd overs which put the visitors back on the track.
James Hopes removed Broom in the 11th over and Australia would have seen McCullum's back as well but Hussey squandered a catch off his own bowling.
McCullum responded by hitting Hopes for a six followed by back-to-back fours to reach his fifty in that productive 17th over that yielded 20 runs.
Adam Voges then took a sensational catch off Ben Hilfenhaus to remove McCullum and that proved decisive in the end. PTI
Warner c Vettori b O'Brien 23
Haddin c & b Southee 15
Ferguson b Butler 8
D Hussey c Broom b Vettori 41
Voges lbw b Elliott 26
White c Vettori b O'Brien 16
Hopes not out 16
Henriques run out 1
Siddle not out 1
Extras (lb 1, w 1, nb 1): 3
Total (For 7, 20 overs): 150
Fall of wickets: 1/34, 2/38, 3/52, 4/104, 5/128, 6/135, 7/138
Bowling: James Franklin 1-0-6-0, Tim Southee 4-0-31-1, Iain O'Brien 4-0-34-2, Ian Butler 4-0-30-1, Daniel Vettori 4-0-23-1, Nathan McCullum 2-0-14-0, Grant Elliott 1-0-11-1
New Zealand: (target: 151 runs)
McCullum c Voges b Hilfenhaus 61
Guptill lbw b Siddle 0
Fulton c Haddin b Siddle 1
Broom c Ferguson b Hopes 36
Elliott not out 23
Franklin run out 3
N McCullum not out 10
Extras (b 3, lb 10, w 2): 15
Total (For 5, 20 overs): 149
FoW: 1/5, 2/12, 3/73, 4/131, 5/137
Bowling: Peter Siddle 4-0-24-2, Nathan Bracken 4-1-16-0, Ben Hilfenhaus 4-0-32-1, James Hopes 4-0-40-1, David Hussey 4-0-24-0. UNI
Kila Raipur Games conclude
Kila Raipur, February 15
Ten-year-old Gurmail lifted seven bricks with his teeth and six- year- old Interjeet Singh lifted 15-kg weight.
The 93-year-old veteran Dalip Singh had the eyebrows of those present raised when he sprinted across his relatively younger competitors to finish the 100m race in 22.23 seconds.
Even 60 years athletes left the youngsters awestruck as they crossed the 100 m line. The packed stadiums, consisting 20,000 spectators cheered each event with excitement.
The cycle race received a roaring response from the crowd. The bullock carts sprinting across the ground, kabaddi teams or girls striving to win the 400 m, the cheer could be heard even from a distance.
The Nihang Singhs gave another scintillating demonstration of martial arts like breaking a coconut on the head by a blindfolded Nihang warrior.
Maghar Singh, who had ridden on two horses yesterday, took his clan of young warriors on a round of the track for yet another another breath-taking performance.
After wining a title in the 1500 m, Satnam Singh got another medal by winning the 800m event.
The equestrian show presented by the personnel of P.P.A. Phillaur was applauded.
Sarabjot Singh, Lakhvir Singh and Rajvinder Singh scored a goal each as Grewal Hockey Club, Kila Raipur, beat Haryana Eleven by three goals to nil to clinch the Bhagwant Memorial Gold Cup.
The following stars of yesteryears were honoured for their lifetime of achievement in the field of sports: Daljeet Singh Grewal Lalton (athletics), Gurmeet Singh (gold medal in athletics for blind), Bela Singh Dehlon (bullock cart racing), Gurmeet Kaur Butahari(football), Varinder Singh (hockey Olympian), Gurdeep Singh Pannu (hockey), Malook Singh (Equestrian), Amrit Gill (cycling).
Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal, announced a grant of Rs 10 lakhs to the Grewal Sports Association. He also said any possible help would be provided to make these games bigger and better.
Melbourne, February 15
The summer saw the end of Australia's domination in world cricket which was evident from their 0-2 defeat in the four-match Test series in India and Test and ODI loss at home against South Africa.
"It's been a challenging year, there is no doubt about that, going back to the start of the Indian tour. We knew India was going to be challenging and it probably ended up being exactly what we thought it was going to be," Ponting told 'Daily Telegraph'.
Ponting, however, insisted it was quite satisfactory to see new talents emerging and handling responsibilities during the summer.
"The whole year, there have been some challenges, but it has been an exciting one for me as well. To see the new fresh faces makes it an exciting time," he said.
Ponting does not consider Australian players overworked with too much cricket.
"I don't think there is too much, it has been a busy year for us. The thing is we are fully professional cricketers and if that is all you are expected to do, then that's challenge you face," he said.
Asked whether the decision of the national selectors to rest him for two one-day games against New Zealand a correct one, Ponting said, "No, that's exactly why I came back. I was rested when we were 1-0 down, when we went 2-0 down I was on the phone to my manager at eight o'clock that morning and I spoke to him at length about what we should do.
"I spoke to the coach (Tim Nielsen) and the chairman of selectors and Michael Clarke, who had captained the team the night before. I told him what I was thinking and before you knew it I was back leading my country." Ponting does not think Twenty20 cricket as a threat to the one-dayers. PTI
Waugh, McGrath to play in charity match: Test greats Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor and Glenn McGrath will feature in a charity T20 cricket match to raise funds for Victorian bushfire sufferers. Current Australian players David Warner, Nathan Bracken, Moises Henriques, women cricketers Lisa Sthelaker and Ellyse Perry, and former Test star Michael Slater will also feature in the game, to be called Australia's Big Bash, at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on February 22. Organisers hope the match will raise USD 500,000 for the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal, with the SCG staff donating their services. PTI
Lillee to help Watson ready for IPL: Injury-prone Australian all-rounder Shane Watson will train under fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee to revive his career with target to competitive cricket in the Indian Premier League starting in April. Watson is currently following a recovery plan for his stress fractures in his back and his physiotherapist Victor Popov said the all-rounder will start bowling during the IPL. "Lillee has already started working on Watson's bowling action. He'll go to the IPL and play the first couple of games as a batsman. I think he will be ready to bowl competitively in the second week of the IPL," said Popov. PTI