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haddin, watson lead aus win
Bangalore, March 16
Holders Australia eased to an seven-wicket win over Canada in the World Cup Group A on Wednesday with openers Shane Watson and Brad Haddin getting some useful practice on a perfect batting pitch. The pair looked likely to guide Australia past the Canadian total of 211 but both were out caught with the victory in sight.


Shaun Tait in action during the match against Canada in Bangalore on Wednesday.
óReuters

Shaun Tait in action during the match against Canada in Bangalore


EARLIER STORIES



 

James Anderson reflects Englandís bowling woes
I would certainly agree with the line of thinking that Englandís performance in this World Cup has been as erratic as Pakistan usually are. Their win against South Africa and chasing down of Indiaís target contrasted with their losses to Bangladesh and Ireland. I can only put it down to complacency against the lesser recognised teams.

 
England must win to avoid early exit
Chennai, March 16
Their morale low after a shock loss to Bangladesh, an injury-hit England take on the West Indies in a crucial group B match here tomorrow requiring an outright win to keep their World Cup hopes alive.



West Indies captain Darren Sammy (L) alongwith a teammate during a practice session in Chennai on Tuesday. ó Reuters

West Indies captain Darren Sammy (L) alongwith a teammate during a practice session in Chennai

No fear of playing in India, says Afridi
Colombo, March 16
Rubbishing media reports that Pakistan do not want to play their knockout stage games in India, national team captain Shahid Afridi today insisted that his side has no fears playing in India.

 

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi (top left) says his team is prepared to play at any venue.


Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi (top left) says his team is prepared to play at any venue

Hockey squad looks at Olympics
New Delhi, March 16
The Indian hockey team began their camp under the supervision of national coach Harendra Singh at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium here today. Though the immediate goal of the team would be the Azlan Shah Tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Harendra said he was looking further ahead, at the Olympic qualifiers to be held in India in February, and the 2012 London Olympic Games.

 
Man-U enter quarters
Paris, March 16
Champions League holders Inter Milan showed their class with a brilliant 3-2 win away at Bayern Munich in their Last 16 second leg match to go through on the away goals rule - it finished 3-3 on aggregate ó and ensure there is an Italian team in the quarter-finals. Inter were joined in the last eight by Manchester United, who weakened by injuries still proved too strong for French champions Marseille winning 2-1 at home and on aggregate.

Marseille's defender Rod Fanni (R) and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney vie for the ball at Old Trafford on Tuesday. Manchester United win 2-1. ó AFP

Marseille's defender Rod Fanni (R) and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney vie for the ball at Old Trafford

Anand beats Grischuk in Amber chess
Monaco, March 16
Viswanathan Anand continued with his clinical performance and defeated Russian Alexander Grischuk 1.5-0.5 in the fourth round of 20th Amber blindfold and rapid chess tournament here.

Team Jindal win Cavalry Polo Cup
New Delhi, March 16
Team Jindal Polo won the Cavalry Polo Cup in association with Cartier beating Carnoustie-Cavalry 7-6 at the Jaipur Polo Ground today. Tarun Sirohi opened the account for Team Jindal at the beginning of 1st chukker while Navjit Sandhu equalised for Carnoustie-Cavalry by converting a 30-yard penalty.





 

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haddin, watson lead aus win

Bangalore, March 16
Holders Australia eased to an seven-wicket win over Canada in the World Cup Group A on Wednesday with openers Shane Watson and Brad Haddin getting some useful practice on a perfect batting pitch. The pair looked likely to guide Australia past the Canadian total of 211 but both were out caught with the victory in sight.

Watson led the way, smashing the attack of Canadian part-timers to all parts of the ground in his 94 which included four sixes. He was eventually out, lobbing a catch to Henry Osinde off Harvir Baidwan at long on.

Haddin had earlier perished for 88 after glancing a stray legside delivery from John Davison straight into the gloves of Ashish Bagai to end the opening partnership at 183.

A wide from Osinde ended the game with with 91 balls to spare. Canada had also enjoyed themselves after winning the toss and batting first with opener Hiral Patel making 54 and helping his side make a surprisingly speedy start before the Australian attack led by Brett Lee (4-46) sliced through the middle order. It was Australia's 34th World Cup game unbeaten, a run stretching back to 1999.

Earlier, Australia got their act together in the nick of time to bowl out Canada for 211 after Hiral Patel tore their attack apart with a swashbuckling half-century.

Patel was caviler in his approach as he took the Aussie attack by the scruff of its neck to score a 45-ball 54, before the Australia bowlers, led by Brett Lee (4/46) fought back to bundle out Canada in 45.4 overs.

After Ashish Bagai elected to bat bat first, Canada looked on course for a total much better than what they actually ended up with, but inexperience cost the associate nation dear.

Canada started on a rousing note with Patel going after the fearsome Australian fast bowling duo of Lee and Shaun Tait at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. After Mike Hussey dropped John Davison at square leg in the first over, there was no looking back for Canada.

Australia's fielding was not up to the mark as Shane Watson dropped an easy one off Mitchell Johnson later. Patel began the proceeding, which in a matter of few minutes turned out to be a brutal assault, with a slice through cover point off Lee, before doing a repeat two balls later.

Soon a majestic drive followed through mid-off and Canada were up and running. One of the fastest bowlers in the world, Tait was in for a shock as Patel walloped him over extra cover for a six, much to the delight of the handful of Canadian supporters.

Davison then got into the act, driving Lee through cover and then picking him over mid-wicket for boundaries. A slow bouncer from Lee, however, cut short the 40-year-old's final hurray in international cricket.

Davison was left in an awkward position as he gave a catch to wicket-keeper Brad Haddin. The wicket of Davison failed to deter Patel's spirit as he continued to dominate the Australian attack.

Smarting from the treatment meted out to him at the start of the innings, Lee could just watch in amazement as Patel pulled him over deep square leg. Mitchell Johnson's introduction in place of Tait hardly made any difference to Patel as he carted him over backward point for a boundary and then slashed the bowler over third man for the maximum.

Johnson was bent on pitching it full and wide and Patel made use of the profligacy. The Australians at this stage were scurrying for cover as Canada brought their fifty in just 4.4 overs, the fastest in this World Cup. They bettered Bangladesh's effort, who got took a delivery more to get to the mark against India in the tournament opener.

Patel got to his fifty with a cheeky single to mid-off but an innings, which was studded with five boundaries and three sixes, came to end when Watson induced a thick edge for Johnson to complete a simple catch at third man. Thanks to Patel's onslaught, Tait's first spell of two overs went for 17 runs, while Lee conceded a hopping 24 runs in his first 12 balls. ó PTI

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James Anderson reflects Englandís bowling woes

I would certainly agree with the line of thinking that Englandís performance in this World Cup has been as erratic as Pakistan usually are. Their win against South Africa and chasing down of Indiaís target contrasted with their losses to Bangladesh and Ireland. I can only put it down to complacency against the lesser recognised teams.

The form of some of their bowlers has definitely played a part. James Andersonís expensive bowling cannot be a surprise to those who have followed his performances when there is no swing or seam movement. He is one of those who have been best when there has been assistance from the pitch or atmosphere and it seems he hasnít spent enough time working on other aspects of his bowling. It is noticeable that Anderson has no Plan B to operate with under sub-continental conditions. Although, to be honest, he is not the only one who falls in this bracket.

 
James Anderson has been woefully short of form as the conditions are not conducive to his style of bowling
James Anderson has been woefully short of form as the conditions are not conducive to his style of bowling.

The West Indies may have come to the World Cup not ranked very high but their performances in the last three matches were heart-warming. That said, those games were against the lesser-ranked sides and it will be interesting to see how they do in the England and India games.

To me, it had looked like that they had gone in with a bowler short in the earlier games. To have only Roach and Benn as frontline bowlers and expect the other non-frontline bowlers to do the job will be risky against sides like England. With Gayle expected to come in, my sense is that they will go in with Russell and drop Miller. They will need more than two frontline wicket-taking bowlers against the better batting line-ups of England and India.

The Chennai track was a subject of some debate and there has been talk of it being covered with tents to ensure that it retains some moisture. While the England-South Africa game did produce an exciting result, I would prefer a Bangalore-like pitch where the batsmen have a better chance of getting runs. You do not want to get into a situation where the pitch assists the bowling more in one innings than the other ó either through exaggerated seam movement or spin. World Cup games should not be too dependent on the winning of the toss.

The other game worth a watch would be between New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka would have gone into the tournament as favourites for some but I certainly think that they do not have the bowling line-up to win it. The favourites tag comes naturally with being hosts but I feel that apart from Malinga and Muralitharan, the back-up bowling is a bit of an issue. Like the West Indies, apart from the two strike bowlers, the others need batsmen chasing high run-rates to make them a wicket-taking threat and to win the World Cup, I think youíll need to be able to bowl teams out when your batting doesnít perform. Otherwise you will have to have such a strong batting that you can elect to chase targets in every game.

New Zealand have improved as the tournament has gone on and much of the credit must go to their top four batsmen. On paper, they do have the capability to get the runs quickly in this format. With the game being played outside Sri Lanka - in India where their record isnít as good - there is an even chance that it will be keenly fought. ó PMG

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England must win to avoid early exit

Chennai, March 16
Their morale low after a shock loss to Bangladesh, an injury-hit England take on the West Indies in a crucial group B match here tomorrow requiring an outright win to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

England have endured a roller-coaster World Cup so far having won two games, including the humdinger against South Africa, holding India to a tie but their loss to minnows Ireland and Bangladesh have made this one a must-win bout even to be able to think of quarterfinal qualification.

Presently they are in the fifth position with just five points. With four teams competing for the three quarterfinal places from the group after South Africa booked their berth with a clinical win over the Ireland yesterday, even a win will not suffice for England and they have to await the results of the match between India and West Indies and then pray South Africa defeat Bangladesh.

India, with seven points, are in the second place while the West Indies and Bangladesh have six points apiece. But English cricketers are insisting that the team always brings out the best in crunch games and can still win the World Cup.

Coming into the tournament as underdogs, the West Indies, led by Darren Sammy, have a slight edge having won all their last three games after the loss to South Africa, but they have not yet been fully tested in the ties having played against lowly-ranked opponents.

They have their last big match against India here on Sunday. Inconsistency has been the hallmark of England's campaign so far as is evident from their bouncy journey and their woes have only compounded with doubts over the fitness of Strauss and key strike bowler Graeme Swann, who kept away from practice yesterday after recovering from a stomach bug.

Batsman Jonathan Trott, however, has expressed hope that they will be fit for the vital match tomorrow. Any setback on that front will badly hit the English as the side has already suffered two pull outs (hernia-hit Kevin Pieterson and Stuart Broad) midway. Though the English players, including Strauss, have been discounting fatigue of a long season as a reason for their inconsistency so far, but it does seem to have impacted them.

The current World Twenty20 champions' hopes to lift the elusive ODI World Cup suffered a severe a jolt when they lost to Bangladesh in a closely-fought encounter in Chittagong.

The humiliating defeat came after England showed remarkable resilience to bounce back from the jaws of defeat against South Africa in a thrilling match here, which also raised questions about the team's ability to tackle slow tracks where the ball does not come on to the bat. ó PTI

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No fear of playing in India, says Afridi

Colombo, March 16
Rubbishing media reports that Pakistan do not want to play their knockout stage games in India, national team captain Shahid Afridi today insisted that his side has no fears playing in India.

"I have never said anything along the lines that we don't want to go to India. I never said that," said Afridi, "We are here to play the World Cup, so wherever we have to play we will go and we have no fears over going to India. I think a cricket match has always brought the people of both countries together and has the capacity to improve the relations between the two," he added.

There is a possibility of a quarterfinal clash between the two South Asian rivals at Ahmedabad. The relationship between the two nations has soured since the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008, which was blamed on extremists based in Pakistan.

The incident also prompted India not to have any bi-lateral cricket series with Pakistan, although both countries played against each other in the Champions Trophy in South Africa in 2009.

Afridi, however, said that he has always enjoyed playing in India. "I have always enjoyed cricket in India, never enjoyed anywhere more than in India, I get maximum enjoyment there," said Afridi.

Afridi, whose first Test century came at Chennai in 1999, and also scored fourth fastest hundred in the ODIs off just 45 balls against India at Kanpur in 2005, said whenever the two nations meet there is always pressure.

"For both teams, the pressure is always there and whoever handles the pressure wins the match. But before that we have an important match against Australia and I think we have the capacity to beat them," said Afridi. ó PTI

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Hockey squad looks at Olympics
M.S. Unnikrishnan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 16
The Indian hockey team began their camp under the supervision of national coach Harendra Singh at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium here today. Though the immediate goal of the team would be the Azlan Shah Tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Harendra said he was looking further ahead, at the Olympic qualifiers to be held in India in February, and the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Harendra, who was assistant to Spanish coach Jose Brasa till the Asian Games in China, takes his job as national coach as a challenging one, and his efforts would be to put India on the pedestal once again.

Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Ajay Maken's interaction boosted the probablesí morale, as he promised that the camp would be a continuation of the team's preparations for the Commonwealth and Asian Games last year, culminating in the London Olympics.

Maken said not only hockey, but also all other chosen disciplines would be given sustained training and foreign exposure in the run-up to the Olympics, to be held from July 27 to August 13, 2012. He said India needed to make a "strong presence" in the event by considerably enhancing their medal tally, to carry forward the good show at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.

It may be recalled that the Indian athletes got sustained, top-class training and foreign exposure before the Commonwealth and Asian Games last year, through initiatives taken by former Sports Minister M.S. Gill, and Maken is now giving further impetus to the programme.

The hockey team will have a hectic schedule before the Olympics, including the Azlan Shah Cup (May 5 to 15), the first Asian Champion Trophy at Ordos, China (Sept 3 to 11), Tri-series in Perth (Oct 12 to 19), four-nation tournament in Perth (Oct 20 to 23), Champions Trophy in India (Nov 26-Dec 4) and the Olympic qualifying tournament in New Delhi (Feb, 2012).

Maken said that there would be 26 disciplines for the Olympics and India would make sustained efforts to qualify for 16 -- athletics, archery, badminton, boxing, gymnastics (artistic - menís), hockey, judo, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.

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Man-U enter quarters

Paris, March 16
Champions League holders Inter Milan showed their class with a brilliant 3-2 win away at Bayern Munich in their Last 16 second leg match to go through on the away goals rule - it finished 3-3 on aggregate ó and ensure there is an Italian team in the quarter-finals.

Inter were joined in the last eight by Manchester United, who weakened by injuries still proved too strong for French champions Marseille winning 2-1 at home and on aggregate.

A double by Mexican Javier Hernandez was enough to give their manager Sir Alex Ferguson his 100th Champions League victory. Inter's victory looked far from assured when they were trailing 2-1 in the second-half but they fought back well. ó PTI

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Anand beats Grischuk in Amber chess

Monaco, March 16
Viswanathan Anand continued with his clinical performance and defeated Russian Alexander Grischuk 1.5-0.5 in the fourth round of 20th Amber blindfold and rapid chess tournament here.

The triumph over Grischuk came in the rapid game and this was the third mini-match that Anand won following his victory over Boris Gelfand of Israel in the third round.

It may be recalled that Anand had beaten Veselin Topalov in the opener and had then played out two draws with Vladimir Kramnik in the second round. Levon Aronian of Armenia and Magnus Carlsen of Norway, however, remained at the helm following fine performances. ó PTI

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Team Jindal win Cavalry Polo Cup
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 16
Team Jindal Polo won the Cavalry Polo Cup in association with Cartier beating Carnoustie-Cavalry 7-6 at the Jaipur Polo Ground today. Tarun Sirohi opened the account for Team Jindal at the beginning of 1st chukker while Navjit Sandhu equalised for Carnoustie-Cavalry by converting a 30-yard penalty.

In the second chukker Samir Suhag converted two 30-yard penalties while Sirman and Jagdeep scored once each for Carnoustie-Cavalry. In the third chukker, Suhag converted two penalties (one 60-yard and one 40-yard) while Sandhu and Ravi scored one goal each for Carnoustie-Cavalry.

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