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CHANDIGARH

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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

Final battle awaits CSK, MI
Mumbai, April 24
Mired in a financial scandal, the Indian Premier League's third season is set for a grand cricketing finale nonetheless with Mumbai Indians, sweating over talismanic skipper Sachin Tendulkar's fitness, taking on Chennai Super Kings at the D Y Patil Stadium here tomorrow. IPL and controversy have been bed-fellows since the league's very inception but this time, it's a crisis of monumental proportions as allegations ranging from money laundering to betting to match fixing are flying thick and fast.

RCB qualify for Champions League
Mumbai, April 24
RCBs Jacques Kallis plays a shot  on Saturday. Royal Challengers Bangalore today qualified for the Champions League Twenty20 after routing Deccan Chargers comprehensively by nine wickets in the third-fourth place play-off match of the Indian Premier League here. With this win RCB not only secured a place in September's lucrative Champions League Twenty20 but also earned a sweet revenge over Deccan for their defeat in the final of the last edition of the tournament in South Africa.
RCBs Jacques Kallis plays a shot on Saturday. PTI



EARLIER STORIES


Sachin best batsman, Ojha best bowler
Mumbai, April 24
Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar was today named best batsman while Deccan Chargers' Pragyan Ojha bagged the best bowler honour at a glitzy IPL Awards Night here yesterday.

Im short on confidence: Yuvraj
New Delhi, April 24
Out of form Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh conceded he is short on confidence and is not at the peak of his fitness. It was a combination of injuries and lack of form that made Yuvraj one of the biggest disappointments of the Indian Premier League III and the left-hander had no qualms admitting he was not his buoyant self.

Actress Sameera Reddy arrives for the IPL Awards Night in Mumbai on Friday.
Actress Sameera Reddy arrives for the IPL Awards Night in Mumbai on Friday. PTI

Kapurthala lad wins Nepal golf title
Chandigarh, April 24
Aashbeer Saini could not have asked for more. This 16-year-old amateur golfer from Kapurthala created a stir as he clinched the Surya Nepal Masters title defeating local favourite Rupak Acharya by two strokes on the par-72 greens of the Gokarna Forest Golf Resort in Kathmandu today.

Sandeep, Prabhjot, Deepak out of Azlan Shah squad
New Delhi, April 24
Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and strikers Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur were today dropped from the 18-member Indian squad for the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia as selectors chose to infuse new blood in the side. Also missing from the squad to be captained by Rajpal Singh is another drag-flick specialist Diwakar Ram, as the selectors decided to give chance to some new players in the wake of India's poor performance in the World Cup here last month.



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Final battle awaits CSK, MI

Mumbai, April 24
Mired in a financial scandal, the Indian Premier League's third season is set for a grand cricketing finale nonetheless with Mumbai Indians, sweating over talismanic skipper Sachin Tendulkar's fitness, taking on Chennai Super Kings at the D Y Patil Stadium here tomorrow. IPL and controversy have been bed-fellows since the league's very inception but this time, it's a crisis of monumental proportions as allegations ranging from money laundering to betting to match fixing are flying thick and fast.

Besides, the league's conceptualiser and boss Lalit Modi faces a grim future as the BCCI prepares to shut him out after being embarrassed by the Income tax department's raids that have revealed murky financial dealings and benami holdings in at least three franchises.

Junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor lost his job after trying to "mentor" the Kochi franchise' bid while two other ministers in the government -- Shard Pawar and Praful Patel -- are facing the heat for their alleged involvement in the IPL's affairs.

But despite furore off the field, it has been business as usual on it. Ahead of the final tomorrow, Mumbai are keeping their fingers crossed over Tendulkar's finger injury.

The split webbing in his right hand could not have come at a more inopportune time for Mumbai who made their maiden entry into the Twenty20 event final by outsmarting Royal Challengers Bangalore on Wednesday in the first semifinal.

A final call is to be taken on his availability later today but if he's forced to sit out it will be a huge blow to Mumbai's hopes of clinching the coveted title for the first time in three years.

Tendulkar has been in terrific form and was also declared the best batsman in the IPL awards function last night after notching up a tournament-high tally of runs (570 runs) going into the final. Though the batting great has has led his team astutely, others have also contributed significantly to pilot the Mumbai outfit into the summit clash.

Notable performers among these are Saurabh Tiwary, who has come good at every opportunity, Ambati Rayudu, who has also doubled up as a wicket keeper and done a fairly good job, and the big-hitting West Indian all rounder Kieron Pollard.

If Tiwary and Rayudu can be complimented for building on the strong base provided by Tendulkar's mastery at the top, Pollard has wielded the bat like a pickaxe and provided a pulsating finish to the innings.

Pollard has turned around things irrevocably in the last few overs when things looked a bit dicey for his team in the last few matches. The imposing Trinidadian's blistering 13-ball 45 not out and unbeaten 33 in the same number of balls literally took away the stuffing out of Mumbai's rivals in the last two matches he has played against Delhi Daredevils and the Royal Challengers.

Mumbai would hope that the other batsmen, especially Sanath Jayasuriya who is expected to play if Tendulkar is unable to do so, comes up with the all-import ant innings and set things up for the team.

The bowling has functioned as a well-knit unit with three out of five doing the job very well at every outing. Lasith Malinga has been outstanding at the beginning and end and Harbhajan Singh has been rarely collared in the middle overs. And the home advantage with the packed crowd rooting for Mumbai has also been a major plus.

The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Super Kings have their task cut out. A major worry has been the indifferent form of Matthew Hayden in the second half of the tournament. PTI

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RCB qualify for Champions League

Mumbai, April 24
Royal Challengers Bangalore today qualified for the Champions League Twenty20 after routing Deccan Chargers comprehensively by nine wickets in the third-fourth place play-off match of the Indian Premier League here. With this win RCB not only secured a place in September's lucrative Champions League Twenty20 but also earned a sweet revenge over Deccan for their defeat in the final of the last edition of the tournament in South Africa.

Deccan picked up the third finisher's prize of Rs 1.75 crore with this victory while Chargers took home Rs 1.25 crore. Rahul Dravid top-scored with a fine unbeaten 35 while Kevin Pietersen remained unconquered on 29 to see their side home in 13.5 overs after RCB, riding on skipper Anil Kumble's four for 16, bowled out Deccan for a paltry 82 in 18.3 overs.

Dravid in Jacques Kallis' (19) company first added 36 runs in 7.2 overs for the opening wicket before sharing an unbeaten 50-run stand with Pietersen to seal the convincing win for RCB. Kallis, who faced 32 balls and struck three fours, was the only RCB wicket to fall, caught and bowled by leg spinner Rahul Sharma. Dravid struck three fours during his 30-ball innings while Pietersen decorated his 21-ball stay at the crease with one boundary and two sixes.

Earlier sent into bowl, Kumble spun the web around Deccan batting line up, picking up four wickets while Kallis (2/3) and Praveen Kumar (2/18) provided him able support from the other end to bundle out the Hyderabad outfit cheaply. The other wicket takers were Dale Steyn and Nayan Doshi, son of former India Test bowler Dilip Doshi, who got one apiece as five Deccan batsmen failed to open their accounts. PTI

Scoreboard
Deccan Chargers:
Gilchrist c Kallis b Kumble 4 (4)
Mishra lbw b Kumar 0 (1)
Anirudh b Kallis 40 (39)
Rohit c Pietersen b Kumar 0 (4)
Symonds c Uthappa b Steyn 2 (8)
Smith b Kumble 5 (10)
Venugopal c White b Doshi 24 (27)
Harris lbw b Kumble 3 (10)
Sharma b Kallis 0 (6)
Harmeet not out 0 (0)
Ojha c Kallis b Kumble 0 (2)
Extras: (lb 1, w 3) 4
Total: (all out; 18.3 overs) 82
Bowling: Kumble 3.3-0-16-4, Kumar 4-0-18-2, Steyn 3-1-11-1, Doshi 4-0-17-1, Pietersen 1-0-10-0, Akhil 1-0-6-0, Kallis 2-1-3-2.

Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Kallis c & b Rohit 19 (32)
Dravid not out 35 (30)
Pietersen not out 29 (21)
Extras: (b 1, lb 1, w 1) 3
Total: (1 wicket; 13.5 overs) 86
Bowling: Harris 3-0-14-0, Symonds 3-0-17-0, Ojha 3.5-0-22-0, Rohit 3-0-24-1, Harmeet 1-0-7-0.

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Sachin best batsman, Ojha best bowler

Mumbai, April 24
Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar was today named best batsman while Deccan Chargers' Pragyan Ojha bagged the best bowler honour at a glitzy IPL Awards Night here yesterday.

Tournament's most prolific batsman, Tendulkar, who turned 37 today, has 570 runs in his kitty from 14 matches with five fifties. He beat competitions from Royal Challengers' batsmen Jacques Kallis (553 runs from 15) and Robin Uthappa (374 from 15) and Chennai Super King's Suresh Raina (463 from 15) and Murali Vijay (432 from 14) for the Jury Award for best batsman. Tendulkar, who is uncertain to lead Mumbai Indians in Sunday's IPL final against Chennai Super Kings after splitting his right hand webbing during the first semifinal on April 21, was also named best batsman and best captain in the Viewers' Choice category.

Left-arm spinner Ojha is the most successful bowler of IPL III with 21 wickets in his kitty from 15 matches. He beat competition from his team-mate Ryan Harris, Ravichandran Ashwin (Chennai Super Kings), R Vinay Kumar (Royal Challenger Banaglore) and Zaheer Khan (Mumbai Indians).

Delhi Daredevils' AB de Villiers was declared best fielder while West Indian Kieron Pollard was named for best debut performance for his superb all-round performance with the bat and ball. Among other Jury Awards, Kallis, who also have 11 wickets from 15 matches, was named for the most consistent performance award.

The jury consisted of Lalit Modi (chairman), Sunil Gavaskar, Brian Lara, Javagal Srinath, Simon Taufel and Harsha Bhogle. The Awards Night was boycotted by the top brass of the BCCI.

BCCI President Shashank Manohar, Secretary N Srinivasan, and IPL vice-chairman Niranjan Shah stayed away from the event while team owners Vijay Mallya (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Preity Zinta (Kings XI Punjab), Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra (Rajasthan Royals), Gayatri Reddy (Deccan Chargers) and Jay Mehta (Kolkata Knight Riders) turned up. The entire IPL Governing Council, barring Sunil Gavaskar and IS Bindra, also shunned the event though most of the players came to attend the ceremony. PTI

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Im short on confidence: Yuvraj

New Delhi, April 24
Out of form Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh conceded he is short on confidence and is not at the peak of his fitness. It was a combination of injuries and lack of form that made Yuvraj one of the biggest disappointments of the Indian Premier League III and the left-hander had no qualms admitting he was not his buoyant self.

"I am short on confidence in my batting and fielding. I haven't had a big knock. I accept I have not been in the greatest touch," Yuvraj said. "Last year was really upsetting. And injuries have made it very frustrating in the last five months. This is the time a batsman starts peaking but I am not. I am working hard and, the moment I break my barrier, I will be back," he told 'The Week'.

"Currently, my body is on the right track but I need to get a big score. I need to win a match to get back into the groove," Yuvraj explained. The dashing Punjab player, otherwise known for his athleticism, had to sacrifice his favourite point position and field elsewhere in the IPL.

Yuvraj said he approached Jonty Rhodes, arguably the best fielder ever and now part of Mumbai Indians support staff, to find a way out. "I told him I lacked confidence in fielding. He asked me to get back to basics and to stay low while fielding and practise a lot with tennis balls," he said.

Yuvraj said he was hurt by reports that he underperformed for Kings XI Punjab in IPL III and was sulking after losing captaincy to Kumar Sangakkara. "It is a very strong allegation, very hurtful. It means you are betraying your country or team. That I won't take," he said. PTI

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Kapurthala lad wins Nepal golf title
Donald Banerjee

Aashbeer Saini with his trophy
Aashbeer Saini with his trophy

Chandigarh, April 24
Aashbeer Saini could not have asked for more. This 16-year-old amateur golfer from Kapurthala created a stir as he clinched the Surya Nepal Masters title defeating local favourite Rupak Acharya by two strokes on the par-72 greens of the Gokarna Forest Golf Resort in Kathmandu today.

It was the first major win for this junior Punjab player from a field of top professional golfers from Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanika. Ashbeer fired a final round of one under 71 for a tournament total of 11 under 277. In the process he showed his nerves of steel when he fired two back to back birdies despite vociferous fans cheering for Rupak Acharya of Nepal.

Despite this win Ashbeer had to concede the prize money of 4,86,000 Nepalese rupees to second-placed Rupak as the Kapurthala lad is an amateur. However Aashbeer carried home the championship trophy for being the best amateur of the tournament.

An elated Ashbeer said:" Those big putts on the 16th and 17th were very special and I just cannot describe how happy I am. I played some of the best golf I have every played. I had three eagles, my best low score and a four round total that I have never come close to matching before. It really is a special feeling".

Starting the day four shots in front of Rupak, the youngster from Punjab hardly showed any sign of nerves as he reeled off five straight pars. With the others in the leadergroup also not making any move, the leader seemed comfortably placed with a handy lead. But in a little less than twenty minutes, all that changed. Teeing off on the sixth, Ashbeers drive nestled next to the base of a tree, just off the fairway. Having to chip out from there, he could not prevent the loss of a shot, making his first bogey of the round. Right on cue, Rupak stepped up to his putt and rolled in a 15-footer for his first birdie which saw the lead being cut down by half. And the Nepalese golfer took the lead for the first time with a good birdie putt on the 14th.

This is where the Kapurthala lad showed his nerves of steel. Not only did he restore parity with a birdie putt on the 16th. But continued his good game in the last two holes to capouture his first title outside the junior circuit.

Leading scores: 277 Ashbeer Saini (Indian amateur) 70-70-66-71; 279 Rupak Acharya (Nepal) 68-72-70-69; 286 Mithuyn Pereira (Sri Lankan amateur) 70-72-73-71; 287 Mohd Milon Ahmed (Bangladesh) 73-76-67-71; 288 Shiva Ram Shrestha (Nepal) 74-71-69-74; 294 Rabi Khadka (Nepal) 72-73-78-73, Mohd Rezaul Karim (Bangladesh) 71-74-76-73 and Sanjay Lama (Nepal) 71-77-75-71.

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Sandeep, Prabhjot, Deepak out of Azlan Shah squad

New Delhi, April 24
Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and strikers Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur were today dropped from the 18-member Indian squad for the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia as selectors chose to infuse new blood in the side. Also missing from the squad to be captained by Rajpal Singh is another drag-flick specialist Diwakar Ram, as the selectors decided to give chance to some new players in the wake of India's poor performance in the World Cup here last month.

Goalkeeper Adrian D' Souza and striker Gurvinder Singh Chandi, who played in the World Cup, also failed to find a place in the squad for from May 6-16 event. The players were selected after a two-day trial at Balewadi, Pune, which ended yesterday.

The selection trials were attended by Hockey India selectors BP Govinda, Balbir Singh, Madhu Yadav and Sita Mehta and government observers Ajitpal Singh and Zafar Iqbal.

The Sqaud: Goalkeepers: Sreejesh PR, Bharat Chetri. Defenders: Sardar Singh, Dhananjay Mahadik, Amit Prabhakar, Rupinder Pal Singh. Midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, Ravi Pal Singh, Prabodh Tirkey, Bharat Chikara, Vikas Pillay, Danish Mujtaba. Forwards: Rajpal Singh (Capt), Tushar Khandker, Shivendra Singh, Mandip Antil, Arjun Halappa, Sarvanjit Singh. Standbys: Jaswinder Singh, Ajitesh Roy, Vikas Sharma, Bikas Toppo.

Officials: Jose Brasa (Head Coach); Harendra Singh (National Coach); Clarence Lobo (Coach); Gundeep Kumar (Coach) Match Schedule: May 6: India v China May 7: India v Pakistan May 9: India v South Korea May 10: India v Australia May 12: India v Malaysia May 15: India v Egypt May 16: 3-4 Position Playoff and Final. PTI

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 BRIEFLY

Man Utd beat Spurs, got top
London:
Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 on Saturday to blast two points clear of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League. Chelsea play Stoke City on Sunday in a game the west Londoners must win to regain the initiative. United, who have two games left to play, are on 79 points to Chelsea's 77 with Arsenal third on 71. After a goalless first half, the hosts romped home thanks to two Ryan Giggs penalties and a goal from Portuguese winger Nani. Reuters

Bhullar, Kapur make cut
Jeju Island:
Shiv Kapur (73) and Gaganjeet Bhullar (75) today made the cut despite returning over-par cards in the second round of the weather-hit Ballantine's Championship, which has been reduced to a 54-hole tournament. Both Kapur and Bhullar share the 34th spot with totals of one-under 143. However, three other Indians in fray missed the cut which was set at one-over. PTI

Lokesh, Devender shine
NEW DELHI:
Powerful knocks by Lokesh Sharma (71) and Devender Lochav (70) enabled Niz Sports beat Presidium XI by 23 runs in the 20th All India Om Nath Sood Cricket Tournament for the Sperry Cup at the RSKP ground, Pitampura here on Saturday. Niz Sports: 222 (Lokesh 71, Devender 70, Sanjay Bamal 29, Sawan Saini 4 for 42, Kapil Yadav 2 for 22, John Anthony 2 for 33). Presidium: 199 (John Anthony 33, Dharamveer Beniwal 28, Prayag Raj 27, Yogesh Nagar 23, Hitesh Gemini 3 for 39, Pradeep Parasher 2 for 28, Sonu Rathi 2 for 32, Joginder Singh 2 for 32). TNS

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