Master BlaSTER Sachin
Maestro still going strong
Privileged to have associated with
Harris wrecks England as Oz level
I am still the best option for Indian hockey: Brasa
Borriello back to haunt Milan
Barcelona whip Espanyol 5-1
Saina makes it year to remember
Centurion, December 19
India ended Day Four at 454 for 8, still 30 runs behind South Africa with just two wickets remaining.After India lost four quick wickets in the morning, captain MS Dhoni and Tendulkar came together to defy the SA bowlers.
The duo were not at any discomfort facing the South African bowlers as they scored at a brisked pace, raising hopes of saving the match though there is more than one day's play left in the match. Tendulkar, who came in at the fall of nightwatchman Ishant Sharma at 214 for three in the morning session stood rock solid while Dhoni was even more aggressive than his senior partner at one stage.
Dhoni gave Dale Steyn some special treatment by hitting the South African strike bowler for a flurry of fours, that too after the home side had taken the new ball.
South Africa took the new ball after 2.1 overs in the post-lunch session but Tendulkar and Dhoni were undeterred as they punished Morne Morkel with three fours in the same over -- two of them coming from the Indian captain's blade.
Tendulkar raised his fifty, his 60th in Test cricket, with a cracking four off Steyn, a slap through extra cover. He had faced 94 balls for his fifty.
Dhoni also punished Steyn for a four in the same over and then hit three boundaries off Jacques Kallis as he raced to his 20th Test fifty in quick time, from just 41 balls with the help of nine fours. Surprisingly, the Indian duo did not take much chance against left-arm spinner Paul Harris who was hit for just a four -- by Dhoni.
Earlier, India lost the wickets Rahul Dravid (43), VVS Laxman (8) and Suresh Raina (5) and nightwatchman Ishant Sharma (23) in the morning session and trailed by 207 runs as they reached 277 for six at lunch. Resuming at 190 for two, the visitors added just 87 runs from the 33.4 overs they faced in the morning session which started half an hour before scheduled time to compensate for loss of time on the first day.
The SuperSport Park has eased out considerably with fast bowlers not posing too much of a problem as they had done on the first day but Dravid and Ishant started cautiously and runs came in trickles initially.
Dravid dug deep, playing the balls on merit while Ishant showed intent to play shots and hit three fours -- two off Lonwabo Tsotsobe and one of Dale Steyn. He added 16 runs to his overnight seven before getting out.
South Africa had to work hard for the breakthrough which eventually came in the form of Ishant's wicket with the Indian offering a simple catch to Hashim Amla while trying to work a Steyn delivery to the square region nearly an hour into the morning session. — PTI
India 1st innings: 136
South Africa 1st innings: 620-4 dec
India 2nd innings
Gambhir lbw Steyn 80
Sehwag c Smith b Harris 63
Dravid c Boucher b Morkel 43
Ishant c Amla b Steyn 23
Tendulkar batting 107
Laxman c De Villiers b Tsotsobe 8
Raina c Harris b Kallis 5
Dhoni c Boucher b Steyn 90
Harbhajan c Kallis b Harris 1
Sreesanth batting 3
Total (for 8 wkts) 454
Bowling: Steyn 27.2-5-103-3, Morkel 28-5-91-1, Tsotsobe 24-3-98-1, Harris 30-5-88-2, Kallis 13-3-56-1.
Centurion, December 19
The 37-year-old right-hander, who has spent a remarkable over 20 years in international cricket, has perhaps every batting record that is there to be taken under his belt and adding to the countless tally is the historic hundred that he struck against South Africa in the ongoing opening Test here.
Much before his debut on November 15, 1989, Tendulkar's precocious talent was there to be seen when he shared an unbeaten 664-run stand with buddy Vinod Kambli in the Lord Harris Shield Inter-School Game in 1988.
The 1989 international debut was far less spectacular, in fact forgettable. A Waqar Younis bouncer left him with a bleeding nose but Tendulkar did not wince and the next two decades saw him punishing bowlers all over the world on all kind of surfaces.
His first Test century came in England next year at Old Trafford and the diminutive Mumbaikar rose in stature after the 1991-92 tour of Australia, hitting sublime centuries on a Sydney turner and a Perth minefield.
The rest is history. No existing batting record seemed safe. Other than Brian Lara's Test match highest of 400 not out and first class highest score of 501 not out, every batting record became Tendulkar's.
A staggering 14,366 runs scored in 174 Tests before the ongoing one at a robust average of 56.55 confirmed Tendulkar's greatness in the longer version of the game. And in the 442 ODIs he starred in, a whopping 17,598 were added to his mountain of runs at a healthy average of 45.12.
He is steadily inching towards the 50 ODI tons mark as well having scored 46 already.
Tendulkar is also the only batsman in the world who has scored a double ton in ODIs, a feat he achieved in Gwalior against South Africa in February. This feat was included in 'Times' magazine's top 10 sports moments of the year.
Centurion, December 19 Terming Tendulkar's feat of scoring a half century of centuries as incredible, Kirsten said the success of the iconic batsman was due to his desire to do better all the time and his humility to learn. "It is an incredible feat. It must be a special one and he deserves it. He has the techniques to play almost all the shots in the book," Kirsten said, praising Tendulkar on becoming the first cricketer to score 50 Test tons here. "The key to his success is his approach to the game, his humility to learn and try to do better all the time. He diligently prepares for every match. For him, a Test match begins two days earlier, preparing for it. I am privileged to have associated with him for the last three years," Kirsten said. "His success at the top level under the huge expectations in India is remarkable. It is quite different in India than other countries and the adulation he got there is amazing. At any time, Tendulkar will be surrounded by 300 people," he said. Kirsten said despite the seniormost player in the team, Tendulkar was the one who spends most time at the nets and faces maximum number of balls. "He wants to face the maximum number of balls at the nets. You will not see him play a loose shot at the nets. He is focused all the time, he wants to do better all the time," said Kirsten. "He has been phenomenal this year. I think he is playing better than ever. He is enjoying his cricket at present," he said. The former South African opening batsman said despite his personal achievements, Tendulkar was a perfect team-man who wants to do his best for the team's cause. "He is a perfect team-man and he always gives his best every time he goes out to a cricket field. He has been a huge motivational factor in the side in the past three years I have been associated with the team," Kirsten said. About India staring defeat in the Test, Kirsten admitted S Africa are in a strong position. "We have a lot to work tomorrow. South Africa are in a strong position. But let us see what happens tomorrow. May be there is help from rain also," he said. "But, the players have done well in the second innings. They have shown we can also play on equal terms. —
Terming Tendulkar's feat of scoring a half century of centuries as incredible, Kirsten said the success of the iconic batsman was due to his desire to do better all the time and his humility to learn.
"It is an incredible feat. It must be a special one and he deserves it. He has the techniques to play almost all the shots in the book," Kirsten said, praising Tendulkar on becoming the first cricketer to score 50 Test tons here.
"The key to his success is his approach to the game, his humility to learn and try to do better all the time. He diligently prepares for every match. For him, a Test match begins two days earlier, preparing for it. I am privileged to have associated with him for the last three years," Kirsten said. "His success at the top level under the huge expectations in India is remarkable. It is quite different in India than other countries and the adulation he got there is amazing. At any time, Tendulkar will be surrounded by 300 people," he said.
Kirsten said despite the seniormost player in the team, Tendulkar was the one who spends most time at the nets and faces maximum number of balls.
"He wants to face the maximum number of balls at the nets. You will not see him play a loose shot at the nets. He is focused all the time, he wants to do better all the time," said Kirsten. "He has been phenomenal this year. I think he is playing better than ever. He is enjoying his cricket at present," he said. The former South African opening batsman said despite his personal achievements, Tendulkar was a perfect team-man who wants to do his best for the team's cause. "He is a perfect team-man and he always gives his best every time he goes out to a cricket field. He has been a huge motivational factor in the side in the past three years I have been associated with the team," Kirsten said.
About India staring defeat in the Test, Kirsten admitted S Africa are in a strong position. "We have a lot to work tomorrow. South Africa are in a strong position. But let us see what happens tomorrow. May be there is help from rain also," he said. "But, the players have done well in the second innings. They have shown we can also play on equal terms. — PTI
Perth, December 19
Such a result seemed unfathomable when Australia made just 268 on the first day after being sent in to bat, and even less so when England cruised to 78-0 early on the second day.
However, recalled fast bowler Mitchell Johnson's stunning four wickets in 27 balls on day two as part of his first innings haul of 6-38 turned the series on its head and another century from the rejuvenated Mike Hussey (116) in Australia's second innings sealed England's fate.
Having been beaten by an innings in Adelaide in the second Test, it was Australia's first win in six Tests, when an England victory would have guaranteed the tourists retained the Ashes.
If England did harbour any hope of a record fourth-innings chase it was quickly erased late on day three, when their top five batsmen all went cheaply, including Paul Collingwood falling for 11 on the final ball of the day.
It was just a matter of time on Sunday for the Australians, who were led by Michael Clarke, with captain Ricky Ponting watching from the pavilion with a fractured little finger on his left hand.
Despite the injury, the out-of-form Ponting said he was confident of being fit for what now shapes up as a blockbuster Boxing Day Test at the MCG in Melbourne starting on December 26.
The skipper had no cause for concern as he watched from off the field, with Harris starting the rout by clean bowling night-watchman James Anderson for three, with England losing its last seven wickets for only 39 runs.
Man-of-the-match Johnson picked up 3-44, he and Harris both claiming nine wickets for the Test.
Ponting lauded Australia's first-day batting on a lively wicket, and the performance of Johnson.
"To get 270 on that wicket on the day one was the difference," he said.
"We set the game up on day one and Johnson's spell on day two was probably one of the all-time great Ashes bowling performances.
"You could just see Mitch had that glint in his eye this week." England captain Andrew Strauss digested his team's first loss of the tour and said it was not time to panic.
"We've got a few things to look at and work on," he said.
"But you need to put it in perspective and we've played a lot of good cricket on this tour so far.
"We have to learn lessons from this and retain the buoyancy and positivity in the dressing room and I am sure we can win in Melbourne if we do that.
"Now is not the time to panic." — AFP
Australia 2nd Innings: 309
England 2nd Innings:
Strauss c Ponting b Johnson 15
Cook lbw b Harris 13
Trott c Haddin b Johnson 31
Pieterson c Watson b H’haus 3
Collingwood c Smith b Harris 11
Anderson b Harris 3
Bell lbw b Harris 16
Prior c Hussey b Harris 10
Swann b Johsnon 9
Tremlett not out 1
Finn c Smith b Harris 2
Extras (LB-8, NB-1) 9
Total (all out, 37 overs) 123
Bowling: Hilfenhaus 10-4-16-1, Harris 11-1-47-6, Johnson 12-3-44-3, Peter Siddle 4-1-8-0
New Delhi, December 19
"I think that the solution for Indian Hockey is not there in India. It will come from outside the country. Indian Hockey certainly needs a foreign coach," Brasa said from Madrid.
"Nobody from Hockey India or SAI has called me after my departure. I am still waiting for their call. If they say no, then I will decide about future I can not live without Hockey and coaching and can coach any international team. But my first choice is India again," said Brasa who is taking part in a coaching workshop in the Spanish capital.
"I think there is no reason not to renew my contract. The Indian team has performed well in last 18 months. Don't judge them on results only. Players performance graph has also gone up and up," he added.
Mulling whether to pick a foreign or a local coach for the team, Hockey India recently got a statement from the legndary Dhanraj Pillay saying that he is the best person for this job.
But Brasa feels that he can prepare the team for Olympic qualifiers better than anyone else.
"I think I can help them more than anyone else since I know all the players and their capabilities better. I know how to bring the best out of them. Any other foreign coach will run away from the problems but I did manage to get results in those circumstances and will do that in future also," said the Spanish coach whose contract expired on November 30
During his tenure, the Indian team clinched silver in the Delhi Commonwealth Games, a bronze medal in the Asian Games as well as the Azlan Shah title.
Apart from the final verdict on his contract, Brasa is also waiting for the Sports Authority of India to clear his dues. — PTI
Rome, December 19
Victory was vital for Claudio Ranieri's team, who would have fallen 13 points off the leaders had they lost.
Instead they are now just seven points behind Milan whose lead will be cut to three points should either Juventus, Napoli or Lazio win on Sunday. Ranieri was understandably happy.
"Of course a win against the league leaders means a lot, if we'd have lost we'd have suffered a notable psychological blow.
"Winning has kept us alive, although we're aware of our difficulties. French winger Jeremy Menez, who created the winning goal, said this victory was vital.
"It was important to win most of all to show that we're still in it, that we're Roma," he said.
"We have a great team.
"Before heading off on holiday we've won an important game.
"We believe in the title and we always have. The season is long and we hope we'll continue to do well after the winter break." Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri complained that his team had not been clinical enough.
"As we didn't play particularly well we deserved a draw but when you're not nasty enough in the right moments, these things can happen," he said.
Given the high stakes it was perhaps unsurprising that the match was a largely cagey affair. The first half in particular featured almost no attacking from Roma, who seemed content to simply defend the edge of their box.
Even so, Milan struggled to create much.
Just five minutes in Robinho was released down the left by Andrea Pirlo and after twisting and teasing Philippe Mexes he dummied the Frenchman, leaving him on the seat of his pants, and cut inside but stabbed a weak shot wide. — AFP
Madrid, December 19
Spanish World Cup winners Pedro Rodriguez and David Villa grabbed two goals apiece with compatriot Xavi Hernandez, one of three players shortlisted for the Ballon D'Or crown, netting the other as Barcelona triumphed in the Catalan derby, and opened up a five-point lead over second-placed Real Madrid yesterday.
Barcelona signed off 2010 in the perfect fashion, ending Espanyol's 100 percent home record emphatically with a 5-1 thrashing and putting pressure on Real to win their game-in-hand against Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Real have won all seven of their home matches in the league while Sevilla's confidence is rock bottom after four successive league defeats.
Espanyol had a perfect seven wins and were flying high in fourth, however, Barcelona turned in a mesmerising display making it a remarkable 26 goals in their last five league matches with a drubbing of their local rivals to maintain their flawless away record with an eighth win.
"My team never cease to surprise me," purred Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. "Espanyol had only conceded two goals at home in the league before this match and it isn't a coincidence that they are up near the top of the table.
"It is a great night for us because not only did we beat our local rival, but we also beat a very good team." Barca should have scored in the eighth minute with Dani Alves setting up Lionel Messi, but the Argentine somehow fired over the goal to let Espanyol off the hook.
Messi made amends on 18 minutes by creating the opening goal with Pedro showing neat control to lay the ball off and Messi fed a incisive pass back into his team-mate's path.
Pedro raced clear and showed great composure to drill home.
The hosts were carved open again on 29 minutes as Barcelona released Xavi on the right. The playmaker watched as his centre ricocheted back to him and showed great technique to drive a volley into the opposite corner.
Barcelona made the running after the break and made it 3-0 close to the hour mark with Messi again the creator.
The Argentine dribbled at incredible speed to leave three opponents in his slipstream and goalkeeper Carlos Kameni spilled his shot which allowed the alert Pedro to prod in the rebound.
Pablo Osvaldo quickly pulled a goal back for the home side, but Villa registered his tenth and 11th league goals of the campaign on 75 and 83 minutes to cap a memorable win.
It was an extra special night for Barcelona star Andres Iniesta who was warmly applauded by the home crowd that remembered his touching world Cup final tribute to former Espanyol captain Dani Jarque - who died of a heart attack on August 8, 2009, at the age of 26.
After scoring the extra-time winning goal for Spain in the final, Iniesta lifted up his jersey to reveal a t-shirt for his close friend Jarque, declaring: "Dani Jarque, always with us".
In other matches, Valencia took advantage of Espanyol's defeat coming from behind to win 2-1 at promoted Real Sociedad on Saturday. — AFP
New Delhi, December 19
After a highly promising last year during which she won the Indonesian title, Saina proved once again why she is the brightest star in Indian badminton as she went several steps ahead this year.
The Hyderabadi became the first female Indian shuttler to win three back-to-back titles when she clinched the Indian Open Grand Prix Gold, Singapore Super Series and defended the Indonesian Open in June.
But the icing on the cake came in October when the 20-year-old won the Commonwealth Games gold medal at the Sri Fort Complex.
She didn't stop there and her insatiable hunger for success guided her to a third Super Series title when she won the Hong Kong Open last month to wipe out the disappointment of losing in the quarterfinals of the Asian Games.
Twin honours at the national level added to her aura as she was conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Padma Shri awards.
"It has been nothing less than a dream year for me because even though I played in just five super series events out of 12 Super Series, I won three of them and it is a great feeling. Commonwealth Games and Asian Games were important this year and I won the gold in Delhi, which was also a memorable moment. I also received the Padma Shri and Khel Ratna award. What else can a player wish for," said Saina.
National coach and her mentor Pullela Gopichand also said that it has been a remarkable year for Saina.
"I has been a remarkable year for Saina. She has been playing like a champion and won back-to-back tournaments. She missed many Super Series events or else she could have been number one by this year end but that is not the priority, winning more tournaments is. Saina has been handling pressure pretty well," Gopichand said.
If Saina continued her giant strides, this year had a new star in men's singles. Even as established names such as Chetan Anand and Arvind Bhat struggled with injuries and poor form, P Kashyap increased his fan base when he won the Commonwealth Games bronze medal.
The lad from Andhra Pradesh, who had finished runners-up in the Spanish Open and Open Volant d'Or last year, notched up some brilliant wins, defeating Indonesian Mohammad Hashim and England's Rajiv Ouseph during his campaign at the Sri Fort Complex.
He was consistent on the international scene as well and his exploits helped him end the year at a creditable 23rd in the international rankings. Ajay Jayaram also brought laurels to the nation, when he won his maiden international title -- the Smiling Fish International Championship in Thailand -- before adding another one at at the Yonex Czech International held in Brno.
Anand Pawar also made his return to the scene after being laid low by a back injury, by winning the Scottish Open.
The women's doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa also had a resurgence of sorts. The combo, who started playing together only last year, won an unexpected gold medal in the Commonwealth Games.
If the seniors were making India proud on the international stage, the juniors were not far behind as rising shuttler H S Prannoy of Kerala won a silver medal for the country at the Youth Olympics Games in Singapore.
PV Siddhu also won all the tournaments she played in recent times, including the junior national title, following in the footsteps of Saina.
With their new found confidence, Indian shuttlers also did well in the team events, winning the Commonwealth Games silver medal in the mixed team event, which was another first for the country. — PTI
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