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S P O R T S

Singh on Song
Sandeep scores twice as India beat Pakistan 3-2, for their fourth win over arch rivals in 2010
Sandeep Singh celebrates his second goal on Saturday.Guangzhou, November 20
Penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh struck twice to power India to a 3-2 win over Pakistan and into the semifinals of the Asian Games men's hockey tournament here today. It was India's fourth straight victory over Pakistan this year.



Sandeep Singh celebrates his second goal on Saturday. ó AFP

Guangzhou throws up some new heroes
One uncharitable wit has a theory about the slew of medals India won in rowing. According to him, the boats are so old that the only way to stay out of the water is to get from the start to the finish in double-quick time.



EARLIER STORIES

Bajrang lifts India
November
20, 2010
Double delight for Indian rowers
November
19, 2010
Sandhyarani saves the day for India
November
18, 2010
Ashish Kumar, Khade create history
November
17, 2010
harbhajan is two good
November
16, 2010
Advani opens gold account
November
15, 2010
Narang wins silver, Bindra disappoints
November
14, 2010
Great ball of china
November
13, 2010
India aim to tame kiwis
November
12, 2010
Hyderabad test awaits india
November
11, 2010

India in front on Day One
Nagpur, November 20
When your star performer and double centurion from the previous game suffers a traumatic back injury just minutes before the toss, you know luck is not on your side. It was much the same for New Zealand today. After a long and agonizing wait, during which time the ground staff was busy drying up certain wet areas on the outfield, the two captains finally ambled out for the toss. At about the same time, Brendon McCullum, who was limbering up with some warm-up routines on the ground, slipped royally, landed with a thud on his back and got injured.

Menís golf team win silver
Rahul Bajaj, Rashid Khan, Abhinav Lohan and Abhijit Singh Chadha of India celebrate on the podium during the medals ceremony for the men's team golf event at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou on Saturday. South Korea won gold and Taiwan won bronze. Guangzhou, November 20
They missed out on individual medals but Indian golfers had a successful outing collectively retaining the men's team silver in the Asian Games here today. The quartet of Rashid Khan (72), Abhijit Singh Chadha (76), Abhinav Lohan (72) and Rahul Bajaj (72) could not make much of an impact in the individual competition

Rahul Bajaj, Rashid Khan, Abhinav Lohan and Abhijit Singh Chadha of India celebrate on the podium during the medals ceremony for the men's team golf event at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou on Saturday. South Korea won gold and Taiwan won bronze. ó AFP

Medal Tally


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Singh on Song
Sandeep scores twice as India beat Pakistan 3-2, for their fourth win over arch rivals in 2010

Guangzhou, November 20
Penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh struck twice to power India to a 3-2 win over Pakistan and into the semifinals of the Asian Games men's hockey tournament here today. It was India's fourth straight victory over Pakistan this year.

Sandeep Singh scored India's first and third goal in the third and 48th minute while Dharamvir Singh netted a fine field goal in between to ensure India's third successive victory in Group B.

Rehan Butt (fourth) and Shakeel Abbasi (43rd minute) scored for Pakistan. With nine points in their kitty, India are sitting on top of the table with one match to go against Japan tomorrow. Both Pakistan, who play Bangladesh in their last league match, and Japan have six points from three matches. In total contrast to their previous three victories over Pakistan this year -- 4-1 in the World Cup, 4-2 in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament and 7-4 Commonwealth Games -- today India had to work quite hard and deal with a lot of pressure, especially in the second half.

It was India's third victory over Pakistan in 12 Asian Games clashes and 48th overall in 146 clashes.

Both the teams found it difficult to control the ball on the bouncy pitch, which has come in for severe criticism here. India negated the Sohail Abbas factor by conceding only a late penalty corner to the famed striker in the 57th minute as Chetri stopped the drag-flick with the stick and sent it over the bar for a corner.

For India, the players who caught the eye were Sardar Singh who was rock solid in deep defense. Vikram Pillai was the hardworking midfielder while Tushar Khandekar was his ebullient self up-front and Arjun Halappa did his bit while Sandeep was poor in defending but excellent with his drag-flicks.

Both the goals conceded by Rajpal Singh-led India were off defensive errors. On the first occasion there was none to intercept a pass from the right sent in by Pakistan's Shafqat Rasool to their key man Rehan, who had enough time to send the ball past Indian custodian Bharat Chetri with a shot taken through his legs.

The second Pakistan goal was also the result of a bungling defense with Sandeep being the main culprit in not clearing the ball inside the 25 yard line and allowing Abbasi to take it past a clueless Mahadik and find the mark.

The penalty corner through which Sandeep scored India's opening goal was a result of a move from the right flank. He drag-flicked it to the right of rival custodian and captain Zeeshan Ashraf. Pakistan equalised immediately on the counter attack which caught the Indians napping.

But India struck a superb goal midway through the first half to again put its nose ahead. Dharamvir connected the ball superbly, while on the run, sent in the D by Shivendra Singh.

Crossing over, Pakistan were aggressive initially and came close to scoring on two occasions within the first five minutes. But India escaped as Abbasi hit over the bar and Chetri was alert enough to foil a concerted move from right. The Indian goal was breached finally when both Sandeep and Mahadik were found wanting to prevent Abbasi from taking control of a thorough pass into the D sent from the 25 yard line. The former delayed in clearing and the latter just could not prevent the player from taking a shot though he was nearby.

But India struck back within five minutes to score the all-important goal of the match by earning their second penalty corner of the match with a move from the right. Sandeep made no mistake to score his eighth goal of the tournament.

Pakistan then earned their first and only penalty corner but Sohail failed to convert it and then Sardar Singh blocked Rehan Butt's effort right in front of the goal line with his stick in time to deflect the shot above the bar. India then pressed hard for another goal to seal off Pakistan's escape route, and also earned a last-minute penalty corner which was taken after the long hooter, but for the first time Sandeep Singh failed to convert.

India coach Jose Brasa slammed the pitch conditions. "It was very difficult to control the ball on this pitch.

We had a problem in the build up of moves. We had to play a controlled and tactical game. But now we need only one more point to top our group," he said.

"But if we had to play on these type of pitches, it's better For FIH to go back to playing hockey on grass. Our boys will now be more comfortable and confident," he added. ó PTI

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Guangzhou throws up some new heroes
Jaideep Ghosh

One uncharitable wit has a theory about the slew of medals India won in rowing. According to him, the boats are so old that the only way to stay out of the water is to get from the start to the finish in double-quick time. But humour apart, well done Ashish Kumar, Virdhawal Khade, Sandhyarani Devi, Bimoljit Singh and Bajrang Lal Takhar, as also the menís volleyball team and other rowing contingents. Not your regular sporting stars but real people who have done tremendously well in sports almost unheard of in India.

Take the cases of Ashish Kumar in gymnastics or Sandhyarani in wushu. They were playing sports which are traditional Oriental strengths and that too in the lionís den, and coming out with creditable, even laudable, performances. Ashish Kumar surely is the hero of the lot, since he was a part of a menís floor exercise where China and Japan shared gold while Ashish beat off a lot of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Chinese Taipei gymnasts to make bronze.

Khade too has ventured back into uncharted territory in terms of medals, since not one swimmer since Khazan Singh in Seoul in 1986 even came close to making a mark at the Asian level. While Takhar also deserves plaudits, one needs to remember that he is the current Asian champion, so it was pretty much par for the course for him. In fact, given the total Chinese domination of the event, even the other teams did pretty well. The other menís teams were supposed to give a good fight, but the Chinese were way too strong so it really was just a contest for silver and bronze.

What made this little run of success a little more interesting was the observation that the new boats acquired for the Asian Games didnít reach the rowers in time, so they had to fall back on the ones they had used in Qatar four years ago, and some borrowed stuff from the army, to compete. This once more goes to show that whatever successes are coming Indiaís way are not because of the office-bearers or Government agencies, but in spite of them. On the flip side, shooting is a disaster, and all the hoopla surrounding the Commonwealth Games has been well and truly buried. Shooting was supposed to be Indiaís strength, but against some daunting opposition, as expected, they are off target. A couple even missed their targets completely!

So there are a few pleasant surprises, from athletes like Ashish Kumar, and a few shocks, from practically the entire shooting contingent. But one thing is for sure - Indian sports, somewhere down the line, managed to cross a line of self-doubt. Our athletes are unlikely to be world-beaters any time soon, but at least they have done enough to grab public attention. That can only be a good thing.

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India in front on Day One
Sunil Narula
Tribune News Service

Nagpur, November 20
When your star performer and double centurion from the previous game suffers a traumatic back injury just minutes before the toss, you know luck is not on your side. It was much the same for New Zealand today. After a long and agonizing wait, during which time the ground staff was busy drying up certain wet areas on the outfield, the two captains finally ambled out for the toss. At about the same time, Brendon McCullum, who was limbering up with some warm-up routines on the ground, slipped royally, landed with a thud on his back and got injured.

Meanwhile, New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori had won the toss but his star opener was in pain. The Kiwi batting order was frenetically tweaked at the last minute and everything was rushed.

As if pouncing on this confusion in the rival camp, Indian pacer Sreesanth snapped two quick wickets to spread panic in the Kiwi ranks. And, for the first time in this series, India were in a dominant position. New Zealand ended a truncated first day of the third Test at the Jamtha Stadium here at 148 for 7. Only 56 overs were bowled today.

The match started after lunch on the first morning with Sreesanth and Ishant sharing the new ball. After Sreesanthís twin strike, it was the turn of the tall Delhi bowler to get in amongst the wickets. Ishant Sharma struck two blows and Pragyan Ojha collected another couple of wickets to reduce New Zealand to six down with the injured McCullum still in the pavilion (He was in the physioís room all this while getting treatment on his bruised back). At the fall of the sixth wicket, McCullum finally came out to join Jesse Ryder and the two put on 42 runs for the seventh wicket. McCullum finished the day unbeaten on 34. During his stay at the crease today, McCullum looked in discomfort, did not run hard, but hung in there.

One thought skipper Dhoni was going to rue the absence of Zaheer in this game, at least Sreesanth did not think so. Both Sreesanth and Ishant bowled with a lot of energy and hit the right areas to make life difficult for the Kiwi batsmen. They also showed here that if you bowl in the right channels, the pitch suddenly ceases to be such a big worry. Martin Guptill, Tim MacIntosh and Ross Taylor fell cheaply. As did captain Vettori, when he chopped down an Ishant delivery onto his stumps. But Jesse Ryder, New Zealandís reliable left-hander (especially against India) played some audacious shots to bring up his half century from 81 balls with five boundaries.

Given the context of the match and the dangerous situation New Zealand were in, Ryderís knock was gutsy. At the other end, McCullum played some crisp cuts and rasping drives. Fresh from a double century in Hyderabad, McCullum batted confidently and will have to produce another big innings tomorrow to take his team to a decent first innings score. His injury could hamper him though. Earlier, 30-year-old left-arm pace bowler from Wellington, Andy McKay was handed his Test debut for New Zealand, coming into the side in place of Brent Arnel.

Harbhajan Singh, who had been largely out of action as the first six wickets fell, got rid of the well-set Ryder for 59 towards the end of the day and, now the Indian team is into the tailenders. If they can get rid of the remaining Kiwi batsmen early tomorrow, the Indians should fancy their chances of putting up a big score.

Scoreboard

New Zealand 1st innings:
McIntosh b Sreesanth 4
Guptill c Dhoni b Sreesanth 6
Taylor lbw b Ishant 20
Ryder c Raina b Harbhajan 59
Williamson c Sehwag b Ojha 0
Vettori b Ishant 3
Hopkins c Raina b Ojha 7
McCullum batting 34
Southee batting 7
Extras: (B-1, LB-4, NB-3) 8
Total: (For 7 wkts in 56 overs) 148
Bowling: Sreesanth 9-4-20-2; Ishant 13-2-32-2; Ojha 19-2-49-2; Harbhajan 15-1-42-1. 

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Menís golf team win silver

Guangzhou, November 20
They missed out on individual medals but Indian golfers had a successful outing collectively retaining the men's team silver in the Asian Games here today. The quartet of Rashid Khan (72), Abhijit Singh Chadha (76), Abhinav Lohan (72) and Rahul Bajaj (72) could not make much of an impact in the individual competition but their combined four-day score of 10-over 874 got them the silver behind the Korean team.

The combination of Kyoung Hoon Lee, Meen Whee Kim, Ilhwan Park, Jaehyeok Lee totalled a brilliant 22-under 842 to walk away with the gold medal. Chinese Taipei settled for the bronze just a stroke behind the Indian team.

However, in the individual competitions, in which Shiv Kapur won a gold in the 2002 edition, the Indians could not make much of mark. Rashid was highest-placed at tied fourth with a total of three-under 285. Abhinav was tied ninth with a four-day tally of three-over 291.

Rahul was way down at tied 39th after totalling 22-over 310. The Indian women's team, however, disappointed in both the individual and team competitions.

The trio of Shreya Ghei (seven-over 79), Gurbani Singh (81) and Sanjeev Vani Kapoor (79) finished ninth in the team competition with a combined score of 61-over 637 for the four-day event. In the individual leaderboard, Shreya was 22nd with a total of 30-over 318, Sanjeev lay 23rd at 33-over, while Gurbani was 24th with a four-day tally of 35-over 323. ó PTI

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Fourth medal by cueists

Aditya Mehta grabbed the bronze in snooker singles final after losing to Hong Kong's Fu Ka Chun Marco 1-4 in the semifinals to bring bring down curtains on the Indian challenge in cue sports with a medal in the Asian Games here today. Aditya, who lost to his more fancied Hong Kong rival Fu 20-62, 7-60, 68-55, 15-59 and 21-71, secured a bronze as one of the two losing semifinalists to win the fourth medal from the green baize games. The other medals in cue sports were claimed by Pankaj Advani (gold in billiards), men's snooker team (silver) and Alok Kumar (bronze in 8-ball pool singles).

Vijender, Suranjoy win

World number one Vijender Singh (75kg) and Asian champion Suranjoy Singh (52kg) assured India of two more boxing medals by advancing to the semifinals with contrasting victories at the Asian Games, here today. While Vijender out-slugged Korea's Deokjin Cho 13-2, Suranjoy pulled off a hard-fought 4-2 triumph over Uzbekistan's Shahriyor Isakov. Vijender and Suranjoy's triumphs took the total number of Indian boxers in semifinals to four -- the other two being Dinesh Kumar (81kg) and Paramjeet Samota (+91kg).

Athletes aim for good show

After the unexpectedly strong display in the Commonwealth Games, in which they garnered 12 medals, Indian track and field exponents would aim to prove that it was no flash-in-the-pan effort when they open their campaign in the Asian Games athletics events starting here tomorrow. With the shooters, who picked up 30 CWG medals including 12 of the golden hue, coming a cropper in these Games and returning with their tails tucked firmly between their legs, the pressure is on the athletics contingent, numbering 71 including 31 women, to salvage the country's pride that has taken a beating in these Games.

Indian sailors win silver

Indian sailors today won an unexpected silver medal in Open Match Racing team event in the Asian Games at Shanwei Water Sports Centre here. Balraj, Balrkrishna Helegaonkar, Atool Singh, Farokh Tarapore Shekhar Singh Yadav finished second behind Japan while the bronze went to South Korea. This is the first medal from the sailors in this Asian Games and it came on the final day of the competitions in the discipline.

Sania, Somdev assured medal

Sania Mirza created the first upset of the tournament by shocking second seed Tamarine Tanasugarn to enter the semifinals and Somdev Devvarman capped an all-win day assuring India of at least two more bronze medals in the tennis event of the Asian Games here today. Unseeded Sania scored an upset 6-2 6-3 win over Thailand's Tanasugarn to reach the women's singles semifinals. Somdev assured himself of another bronze in the men's doubles by reaching the semifinals along with compatriot Sanam Singh. They beat the Chinese pair of Yan Bai and Zhang Ze 6-2 6-4 . Somdev and Karan Rastogi also inched towards the medal round in the men's singles event by progressing to the quarter-finals.

India win in volleyball

Indian men's volleyball team notched up their second consecutive win with a 3-0 thrashing of Qatar in their final round league match in the Asian Games, here today. India, who had scored a narrow 3-2 victory over Japan in their first final round league match yesterday, spanked Qatar 25-15 25-13 25-20 in 59 minutes. Sanjay Banwari continued his good form with a maximum score of 14 points for the Indian team. The Indian women's team, however, slumped to their second defeat in three matches as they suffer a 0-3 spanking by Japan in their preliminary Group B match.

Indian eves swamp Kazakhstan

Rani Rampal scored three goals as Indian eves kept alive their bronze medal hopes in the hockey competitions at the Asian Games with a thumping 6-0 win over Kazakhstan in their penultimate round robin match at the Aoti Hockey Field here today. With this win, India, who were tied on points with Kazakhstan going into today's encounter, has improved their medal chances and are now lying fourth in the seven-team competition with nine points from five matches. ó Agencies

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