The Super Girl
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Tendulkar’s ODI 200 in Time’s top 10 sports moments
Newcastle beat Liverpool
Warne cosying up with Hurley
Odafe’s double sinks Bagan
EB rout AIFF XI
Players’ earnings to be reduced: Report
‘As long as my mum thinks I’m the best in the world, I’m happy’
New Delhi, December 12
The girl from Hyderabad won back-to-back titles -- Indian Open Grand Prix, Singapore Open Super Series and defended the Indonesian Super Series -- before clinching the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in October here.
Saina, who dropped to fourth in the world rankings, is likely to inch closer to the number one spot with this resounding victory. Saina played a tactical game after she lost the first game and clawed her way back with some fast-paced rallies and powerful smashes to outwit the Chinese world number five.
In the second game, Saina jumped to 11-5 from 5-5 but Shixian narrowed the gap to 11-10 before the gutsy Indian surged ahead to 19-11 by registering seven straight points.
But Saina missed a couple of points on the baseline and nets to allow Shixian close the gap to 19-16. But with the Chinese hitting the shuttle out, Saina was back into the match.
In the edge-of-the-seat decider, Saina and Shixian were locked in a gruelling battle and didn't concede an inch to each other. The Chinese kept pushing the shuttle at the back court but Saina was in no mood to relent as she retrieved everything and sent down some powerful cross court smashes to open up a 5-0 lead.
But a couple of misjudgements on the baseline allowed Shixian to narrow the gap. The Chinese started playing fast rallies and caught Saina at the nets to make it 6-7 but a series of unforced errors and a sensational cross court smash saw Saina change sides with an 11-9 lead.
Back into her winning side of the court, Saina involved her rival in long rallies and waited for Shixian to make mistakes. A controversial baseline call gave Shixian a lead of 14-13 but Saina didn't give up and wrested the lead at 15-14, before being locked at 16-16.
From here on, Saina walked away with a three-point cushion with a smash, a net dribble and round-the-head drop to move to 19-16. Shixian gained another point with a smash to make it 19-17.
But Saina soon achieved the match point with another smash that floored Shixian and with the Chinese hitting the shuttle out, Saina threw her racquet to the audience in celebration.
'Title will make up for Asian Games'
New Delhi: After clinching her career's fourth Super Series title with a thumping victory in the Hong Kong Open, ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal today said the triumph has made up for the disappointment of last month's Asian Games debacle. "It was fantastic especially since I didn't do well in the Asian Games. I didn't train much before this tournament and didn't expect to win. May be because I practiced a lot before the Asian Games so I decided to relax but I am very happy to win it here," said Saina, who had lost in the quarterfinals of the Asian Games in China last month. Saina beat China's Shixian Wang 15-21 21-16 21-17 to lift her third Super Series title of the year and said she was confident of pulling off a win even though she lost the first game. "I was nervous in the first game but I was confident at the same time. After I won the second game I gained more confidence. I was on the slower side and I expected her to hit negative shots and she did. "In the third game the strategy was to have a lead before I moved to the slower side and I was leading 11-9. I was moving well today and was confident of pulling off the match," she said. Saina is the only Indian female shuttler to break the Chinese stranglehold in badminton and the Hyderabadi said she went into the match with a never-say-die attitude. "It is always difficult to beat Chinese players because they are physically strong and have good strokes but it is not impossible. I went with this attitude," she said. Saina had earlier won back-to-back titles -- Indian Open Grand Prix, Singapore Open Super Series and defended the Indonesian Super Series -- before clinching the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in October here. "I always wanted to win more tournaments and also become the number one but I didn't expect to be number one by this year one and it would be another big dream come true. It will give me a lot of confidence," she said. — PTI
New Delhi: After clinching her career's fourth Super Series title with a thumping victory in the Hong Kong Open, ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal today said the triumph has made up for the disappointment of last month's Asian Games debacle.
"It was fantastic especially since I didn't do well in the Asian Games. I didn't train much before this tournament and didn't expect to win. May be because I practiced a lot before the Asian Games so I decided to relax but I am very happy to win it here," said Saina, who had lost in the quarterfinals of the Asian Games in China last month.
Saina beat China's Shixian Wang 15-21 21-16 21-17 to lift her third Super Series title of the year and said she was confident of pulling off a win even though she lost the first game.
"I was nervous in the first game but I was confident at the same time. After I won the second game I gained more confidence. I was on the slower side and I expected her to hit negative shots and she did.
"In the third game the strategy was to have a lead before I moved to the slower side and I was leading 11-9. I was moving well today and was confident of pulling off the match," she said.
Saina is the only Indian female shuttler to break the Chinese stranglehold in badminton and the Hyderabadi said she went into the match with a never-say-die attitude.
"It is always difficult to beat Chinese players because they are physically strong and have good strokes but it is not impossible. I went with this attitude," she said.
Saina had earlier won back-to-back titles -- Indian Open Grand Prix, Singapore Open Super Series and defended the Indonesian Super Series -- before clinching the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in October here.
"I always wanted to win more tournaments and also become the number one but I didn't expect to be number one by this year one and it would be another big dream come true. It will give me a lot of confidence," she said. — PTI
Johannesburg, December 12
"We definitely have a few plans for (Sehwag)," coach Corrie van Zyl told the Afrikaans daily Beeld. "Sehwag would realise very quickly that he was now in South Africa and not on the tame pitches of his homeland. I know he has been successful against us in the past, but that was mainly in India. Look at his record in South Africa. It is easier to bowl to him here than in India, where the bowlers are punished heavily for every small error," Van Zyl said.
Sehwag was recently described as the most destructive batsman in world cricket today by West Indian legend Vivian Richards and the Indian opener is currently toiling hard to get acclimatised with the conditions here. Team India coach Gary Kirsten said Sehwag was of immeasurable value to the team.
"Even if he gets just 30 or 40, he does it so fast that he always places the opposition's bowlers under pressure. He also makes it much easier for the other batsmen around him, by taking the pressure of them," Kirsten said.
Sehwag has hit five centuries against South Africa in a 12 Tests, with his 319 off just 304 balls against the Proteas in Chennai in 2008 remaining his highest test score. — PTI
London, December 12
‘The Time’ said. "In February, however, India's Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest run scorer of all-time, hit the magic milestone against a powerful South African squad. "Tendulkar smacked three "sixes" - the cricket equivalent of a home run - during his epic performance, and the build up to 200 was exhilarating. "When he reached 199, the home crowd in Gwalior waved Indian flags, and roared, knowing they were about to witness history.
The diminutive Tendulkar, dubbed "The Little Master," slapped a single past the South African fielders. The world's 1.5 billion cricket fans had a moment they'd never forget," it said. — PTI
London, December 12
Strikes from Yaya Toure, Adam Johnson and a Robert Green own goal secured three precious points for City yesterday, who now trail Arsenal by goal difference ahead of the Gunners' visit to Manchester United on Monday. Toure opened the scoring after 30 minutes, the Ivory Coast midfielder combining with England international Gareth Barry to rifle an unstoppable shot past Hammers keeper Green.
Toure was responsible for City's second goal on 73 minutes, surging into the West Ham penalty box and firing a low shot which cannoned off the post and into the net off the desperately unlucky Green's back.
Johnson — who had came on as a substitute to replace Mario Balotelli after the volatile Italian striker earned a booking for dissent — completed the scoring with a well-taken effort on 81 minutes.
West Ham defender James Tomkins scored a late consolation for West Ham, heading in from a corner on 89 minutes. The defeat left the Hammers bottom on goal difference, four points adrift of safety.
Manchester City assistant manager Brian Kidd said the result was a testimony to the work of boss Roberto Mancini, comparing the Italian to his former mentor at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson.
"The work the manager puts in on the training ground is immense. Tactically, technically, he deserves it," Kidd told Sky Sports television.
"I was privileged to work with Sir Alex at Manchester United and I see so many traits in the boss. He's a fantastic manager," Kidd said.
Reigning champions Chelsea will reclaim top spot if they beat Tottenham in their visit to White Hart Lane today. In yesterday's late match, Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton and Andy Carroll scored in the last 10 minutes as the Magpies beat Liverpool 3-1 to the delight of Pardew, controversially appointed as successor to the sacked Chris Hughton earlier this week.
Barton scrambled in an 80th minute effort to give Newcastle a 2-1 lead before Carroll launched a 25-yard exocet to make the game safe. The goals shattered Liverpool, who had fought their way back into the game with a Dirk Kuyt equaliser after Newcastle skipper Kevin Nolan had given the home side the lead on 15 minutes.
"It's been a long two or three days," said Pardew. "It was a great victory and not many teams can score three against Liverpool. The result is important because that's the business we're in. There's a lot of pressure on myself and the players made it easy." — AFP
London, December 12
"They were so passionate they looked like honeymooners. It was electric," an on-looker outside the hotel told the paper. With eyes closed and arms wrapped around each other, the unlikely couple were reportedly spotted exchanging kisses after coming out of Warne's luxury 1,750 pound-a-night suite - less than one mile from Hurley's London home.
The paper also added that on their second night together, they were locked away in the same suite for more than 11 hours. The pair were also said to have enjoyed a night out together with Hurley's close friend and Hollywood actor Hugh Grant, while there was no sign of actress' husband Arun Nayar, or her eight-year-old son Damian, according to the tabloid.
Three years ago, 45-year-old Hurley married Indian origin multi-millionaire textile heir Arun in a series of lavish high-profile ceremonies. It was also claimed that Hurley has been flirting with Australian sporting giant Warne, 41, for months via Twitter.
And on Wednesday, he flew into the UK to shoot interviews for his new TV show Warnie, which is about to launch down under. He was driven from London's Heathrow to the Royal Garden Hotel in Knightsbridge - a popular choice for touring cricket teams. But within minutes, Warne, now divorced, was driven to the nearby Bentley Hotel in South Kensington. — ANI
Margao, December 12
Zakeer Mundampara, who gave a good account in the midfield, sent a cross to odafe who got the better of two rival defenders before essaying a firm right-footer that beat goalkeeper Paul all ends up. The early goal was the impetus Churchill needed as they put pressure on the rival defence and found the net again through odafe, but the Nigerian was called off side by referee S Suresh.
Churchill's midfield combined well and, along with their strikers, troubled the bagan defense that was beaten by a long ball from Charan Rai and Odafe, who found space inside the box, unleashed a shot which went in after a deflection by defender Harpreet Singh.
Bagan meanwhile had three chances to score but Jose Baretto and Edeh Chidi failed. In the second half, Baretto, playing as withdrawn striker, kept Bagan's attack moving as they put relentless pressure on Churchill in search of a goal, but the rival defense was up to the task. — PTI
Kolkata, December 12
East Bengal now have six points and climbed to the top of the table while AIFF remained on one point. Floated by the federation, the young AIFF outfit under experienced Desmond Bulpin showed a lot of promise in the first half as they thwarted East Bengal's raids through Singh and Ozebe.
AIFF XI matched in pace even as on a couple of occasions they remained unscathed with the red-and-gold brigade attacking from all flanks. But their resistance only lasted 45 minutes as they conceded goals in a flurry in a contrasting second half.
East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan conceded AIFF XI boys for their show in the first half, saying, "It was tough 45 minutes. Initially, they matched us and it showed they had their homework. But all credit to my boys for the way they turned it around after the break." — PTI
Wellington, December 12
New Zealand Cricket Players' Association boss Heath Mills has reviewed a draft version of the playing agreement and raised a number of concerns with the Kiwi players who have put their names forward. The two-page document stipulates that if the players are bought by big-spending franchises at the auction, they will be committed to signing a playing agreement for the next three years.
In the original contract, players received the majority of their fee they have been bought at, whether they played or not as long as they were available for their franchises.
Kyle Mills, who signed for USD 150,000 with Mumbai Indians in late 2008, was paid close to the full amount when available despite not being selected in the final XI and rolling the arm over just once, the newspaper said. — PTI
Graeme Swann knows England can retain the Ashes in Perth this week but says the tourists can't afford to get ahead of themselves.“People will argue we got lucky in Adelaide last week because it banged it down with rain 20 minutes after lunch. We're certainly not taking anything for granted. Yes, win in Perth, we win the Ashes, but we're not talking about it."
The caution is understandable but England made most of their own luck to beat Australia by an innings and 71 runs last Monday and take a 1-0 lead in the series. Another win in Perth would see them retain the Ashes as holders since Australia could do no better than draw the series 2-2. Swann himself stands on the verge of becoming the world's No 1 bowler of all types, with a real chance of overtaking the South African fast bowler Dale Steyn any time in the next fortnight depending on how he bowls.
He would be the first England bowler since Steve Harmison and the first English spin bowler since Derek Underwood to stand atop the world. But that is to get ahead of everything, as Swann recognises. "People bring up stats but I'm not going to compare myself to the greats who came before," he said.
"I am forever telling Alastair Cook that I don't believe in stats and rankings but if it's putting me high up I'm going to start believing them a bit more. Actually, I don't give a monkeys; as long as my Mum thinks I'm the best spinner in the world, I'm happy. But if we win the Ashes and I drop to 20 that's fine."
To have taken 5 for 91 in the second innings at Adelaide was exactly what England and Swann required after he took too much time to settle in the First Test at Brisbane. Now a faltering Australian order has doubts about him again and will think twice about attacking him.
It was only two years ago yesterday that Swann made his belated maiden Test appearance against India. Then it was as the second spinner on a turning pitch. Two wickets in his first over and he has hardly looked back. It is not too much of a stretch to say that he has put the dying craft of orthodox finger-spinning back on the map. Of all exponents to take more than 100 wickets in Tests, only Muttiah Mura-litharan has a better strike-rate (a wicket every 55.05 balls compared with 56.09) but with his corkscrew wrist he barely counts as a finger-spinner. Swann has been helped by the increasing number of left-handers in the game, the greater willingness of umpires to give out players to certain strokes, especially the sweep, and the Decision Review System.
— By arrangement withThe Independent
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